Having played Revolution: The Dutch Revolt at Bay Area Games Day, I decided I liked it enough to give it another spin in short order.
It held up well to another play. The playing time was somewhere between 5 and 5.5 hours this time, which was still fine. We didn’t exactly play at a breakneck clip, thus so far the evidence is that with reasonable groups, it should take a reasonable amount of time.
One tip: Play this game in good light. The graphics definitely can be a little murky, and the lighting at Games Day wasn’t great; but when played in my apartment under brighter light, everything was much crisper. This is not to imply I approve of the graphics, which definitely have issues. Just get a good lamp is all I’m saying.
About the endgame: Last time I commented that I liked the fact that you can’t simply trash whoever is ahead on the last turn. This is true, more or less, but it merits some qualification. Being a multi-player, fairly open game, there is a certain element of “don’t be ahead until the last turn” going on here, and players certainly can go after the leaders (and some factions, like the Nobility, are more subject to this than others, like the Reformers). This is a fact of life in this style of games. But the order of magnitude of whacking the leader is comparable to Tresham’s other games – perhaps a little less than Civilization (classic), but more than 1829/25. Compare to the total gratuitous leader-hosage in Vinci, A Game of Thrones, The Napoleonic Wars, Sword of Rome, Risk, 7 Ages, Advanced Civilization, etc., and Revolution looks awfully good.
Another point worth mentioning is that it seems that the “conservative” factions (Catholics and Hapsburgs) are tougher to play than their “progressive” counterparts (Burghers and Reformers). They start with a strong position, but that is fairly quickly eroded. The Hapsburgs especially seem to be tricky. I don’t get the sense that things are significantly unbalanced, but bear in mind that you want to keep you eyes on the Reformers.
I like Revolution and will definitely play it again. It’s in a nice niche for a meaty game – it’s a bigger game than Age of Steam or 1825 of Goa, or even Die Macher, but not by a huge margin; but it’s definitely a lot more accommodating than Civilization or 7 Ages or the bigger 18xx games. The rules have just a few pointy bits (like the Water Beggars) and you’ll likely have to make or find some player aids, but overall the game plays fairly cleanly once you get going. You’ll likely have to stop on occasion the first game to sort out a few edge cases (and make sure to get the one piece of significant errata off of BoardGameGeek), but it’s nothing too major. The first “turn 0” is a nice mechanism for getting the board set up and easing players into the rhythm of the game.
It’s too bad about the price and availability in the US though. At today’s exchange rates, you can buy a copy for about $81 direct from Phalanx. This includes a whopping $30 shipping. This is rather steep but not totally out of control given the overall quality of the product and its relative uniqueness (the high prices on Reef Encounter, Ys, or even Diamant, just to pick a few, are far less justifiable). And if you’re going to Consimworld Expo, you can get a special deal whereby you can buy a copy for $85. I got mine direct from Phalanx, but saved a little by bundling it with a copy of Heart of Africa. Of course, Heart of Africa turned out to be wretched, so maybe that wasn’t such a big win after all. Regardless, I’d feel better if it were closer to $50. I think I’ll get my money’s worth, but it’s not a no-brainer at the current price.