A review copy of Witches of the Revolution was provided by Atlas Games. I would like to thank Atlas Games for supporting my blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.
I teach kids for a living, and in all the grades that I have taught, from time to time, we discuss the American Revolution. It’s kind of a big deal, and we usually go into great depth when discussing it. It’s a great story, a rag tag group of inexperienced soldiers takes on the biggest and baddest military in the world, and wins! We all know the basics, right? Wrong! Recently I learned something about the Revolution that I never knew before, a great secret the textbooks and our Founding Fathers didn’t want anyone to know… the balance was tipped in our favor… by witches!
In Witches of the Revolution, designed by M. Craig Stockwell, and published by Atlas Games, you take on the role of a leader of one of these covens, helping this rag tag group overcome the tyranny that suppresses it, leading the way to eventual freedom. To do so there will be many obstacles that you must overcome, in the form of an event deck. Acquire too many events at one time or run out of time (events), and you will be overwhelmed, falling to the enemy! The balance between liberty and tyranny must also be closely watched, for it you fall too far into the grasp of tyranny, the revolution is lost! All is not bleak, your coven has four objectives they must complete, finish these quests and you are sure to be victorious, earning your freedom!
Witches of the Revolution, a cooperative 1-4 player game, is an interesting take on one of the biggest and most important times in American history. The idea that witches helped tip the scales in the favor of the American people was a theme that I was immediately attracted to. I mean, come on, revolutionary witches? The irony of Salem looming on their horizons? How could I not be interested? The event and objective cards contain cool illustrations depicting events from the Revolution, some real and some fictional. The theme comes through with the cycles of the moon, the cool illustrations, and even the Tyranny Track.
The games is played over a series of 5 rounds, starting with the Add a Recruit phase, in which a new card is added to the leftmost Recruit space on the board. If there is a card already occupying this space all cards are shifted to the right. If there are already three cards occupying all the spaces, the rightmost card is discarded. The next phase is the Add an Event phase. As in the previous phase a new card is now added to the Event space on the board. Any cards already in the Even area are shifted right. After a card is added players check to see if moving an Even card triggered any Liberty or Tyranny icons. Players also check to see if the last card has been moved into the end game slot for their number of players. If the end game has not been triggered players move on to the Act and/or Recruit phase. In this phase players may play card to overcame any available events, clearing them from the board. They may also, optionally, decide to recruit a new card from the Recruit area. Next is the Discard phase in which the active player may choose to discard any number of cards from their hands. Last is the Draw phase, this is also optional, and at times may be beneficial not to do so. If a player chooses to draw, they must draw up to five cards. Play continues until the players have won the Revolution, completing the four objectives, or have succumbed to Tyranny, by reaching maximum Tyranny, having the Event cards reach the loss space, or adding the last card of the Event deck to the Event line.
There are some interesting choices to be made within the game itself. I mentioned earlier that a player may choose not to draw up cards, this causing them to reshuffle their deck. Shuffling the deck causing the moon token to advance on the Moon Track. As the moon rises higher and higher, the cost of resolving events does as well. Events are resolved through playing a certain number of icons, found the Recruit cards. As the moon rises this will increase the number of icons needed to satisfy these events, making the game harder to overcome. Adding Recruits to your deck is another interesting decision. A departure from traditional deck builders, Witches of the Revolution requires you to banish, or discard, any cards uses to pay to recruit a new card. Banishing cards can thin out a player’s deck quicker than they like, causing quicker reshuffles, and more moon movement. The Liberty track also affects the game, as the token moves down in Tyranny. As the war tips in the wrong direction it becomes harder and harder to recruit new people to help you win this war. Taking away recruiting discounts, increasing Recruit costs, and eliminating the ability to recruit altogether, once again, making the game that much harder to win.
How does it solo? Amazingly well. The game provides for solo play right out of the box, allotting for solo end game points on the Event track. The game feels right playing solo, and is actually the way I prefer to play. It seems to be built for solo play, with multiplayer added on. I’m not sure if this was they way it was originally designed, but, it felt that way to me! I like the choices, the game play design, and even the difficulty. The replayability, especially in a solo game, is excellent. There are time when the game feels like it may be out of control, only to have the scales tip in your favor when you least expect it to.
The components are well done. The game board is thick and sturdy, as are the token. The insert in the box is custom for this game, and has a little spot for everything. It was really well thought out and makes the start time even faster. The cards look great, and really encompass the theme of the game. The harder event cards even include a little blood stain on the bottom corner, differentiating them from the other cards. The amount of cards ensures there is lots of replayability in the game box. I have played this game right about a dozen times as of this writing, and have not had the same set of cards come out twice. I really enjoyed the deck building design. Having to banish your cards to buy new ones making buying cards a real dilemma. There are times when two cards will be banished for just one in return. This thins out your deck, and while this would be a positive in most deck builders, shuffling your deck more, in this one, means moving the moon track. Moving the moon track makes buying cards and completing events more expensive! So, do you really need that card? The balance is this game is very delicate and it makes it so much more exciting!
I was predisposed to like this game based on the theme alone. I am happy to say that I was not the least disappointed in the game play. The mechanics are solid, and the theme is thoroughly represented. It plays fairly quickly, and scales nicely for the number of players. The game was quick to learn and intuitive in its execution. I really enjoyed the choices, or sacrifices as I thought of them, that I had to make, all in the name of freedom! I really recommend this game to people who enjoy deck builders and are looking for something a little different.
Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to save the Revolution! Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!
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