A review copy of Cog and Commissars was provided by Atlas Games. We would like to thank Atlas Games for supporting our blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.
Here in the States Election Day has just passed. For most states new appointed officials have been named, while in other the recounts are beginning. As with every Election Day there are some who are pleased with the results, and others who are less than. Those who are happy have a few years to relish in their wins. The unhappy masses, most look for other ways to spend their time, and frustrations, like becoming a robot Propaganda Minister set on brainwashing the citizens into joining your cause, for example. Sound like fun? Then I’ve got a game for you!
Cogs and Commissars, designed by Matt Haga, illustrated by Zoran Cardula, and published by Atlas Games is a 2-6 player card game that plays in about half an hour. In this “take that” style card game you take on the role of the before mentioned Propaganda Minster. You are battling one or more other parties in a race to control the proletariat, bourgeois and commissars rousing them to your cause. When you have gathered enough support you may attempt a revolution! Beware, your opponents may be craftier than you think, and squash your revolution before it gets off the ground.
Cogs and Commissars is a fast paced, action packed game that harkens back to the days of the Red Scare. The game comes with six preconstructed 30-card decks, or you may choose to build your own. Each deck has it’s own Faction Leader, with names like Simulenin, Computin, and Automarx granting you a special power. Once the decks have been chosen or constructed each player gains two proletariat citizens and draws seven cards to begin the game. The rules are very simple, consisting of four actions each turn. The first step is to produce citizens. This is done by flipping the top two cards of your draw deck. You will gain citizens based on the color of the star on the lower left hand side of the card. Yellow stars produce Proletariat (worth 1 point), blue stars produce Bourgeoisie (worth 2 points), and red stars produce Commissars (worth 3 points). It is important to note that citizens may not be traded in for larger point values, for example three proletariat cannot be traded for a commissar even though the point totals are the same. Certain cards will have effects that target certain citizens therefore making it necessary to keep all citizens their original colors.
The second action is a discard and draw phase. You may choose to discard any or all of your cards thereby drawing back up to 7 cards. The next phase, Propaganda allows players to play any number of Propaganda cards from their hand. The last phase is the Action phase. Players will play 1 action card (denoted by a yellow gear) from their hands. Blitz cards (denoted by a blue lightning bolt) can be played at any time, as many as the player chooses, both on the player or opponent’s turn. Play continues back and forth until one player reaches 15 citizens. Once this number is achieved they may play a Revolution card. Other players may counteract the Revolution card using cards of their own. However, if a player manages to recruit 20 citizens their appeal is too strong, their revolution cannot be stopped, and they win the game.
For anyone who even remotely remembers, has read about, or knows anything about the Red Scare, this game holds a lot of fun references. From the Faction leader names, mentioned above, to the cards themselves, with names like Control the Media, Define the Truth, and Stifle Free Speech. The artwork on the cards, box, and even the token is spot on, and perfect for the theme. As with all Atlas Games the quality of the components is amazing. The cards are made well, the tokens, are a nice, thick cardboard stock. I love the extra mile that they go with the insert as well. It is made for just for Cogs and Commissars, making sure that all the components have a perfect space designed just for them. The game includes 6 reference cards that, after the initial reading, make the instruction manual obsolete.
The one thing missing from this game was a solo option. I’m not talented enough to design my own, but can foresee that someone may, making this game even more amazing for me. In the meantime, I have played with various friends, and even my daughter, and they have all enjoyed it. I introduced it to a friend who is a non-gamer, she really enjoyed the theme, and at times laughed at loud at the references the cards made. All in all this has been a great game to play with a group of friends when we need a break from heavier games. I’m sure that by now you are not surprised to hear that I highly recommend Cogs and Commissars. 🙂