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Average Rating: 4 in 1 review
The list of Reiner Knizia games for exactly 2 players may not be long, but it must, since it includes Lost Cities, be considered distinguished! In Revolution, an easily learned game of taking turns placing a very few tiles, we have a worthy and highly playable addition to the list.
This game, in which a 5x5 board represents the city of Paris, has an intriguing bit of tangency with Liberte, Martin Wallace's excellent though far more complex game which is also allegedly themed around the France of 1789. In Revolution as in Liberte, besides the main ending condition, there are two other possible ways the game can end, and you have to keep a sharp eye on those to make sure you don't give away an easy win while wending your way toward the ordinary 'victory point' conclusion of the game.
In Revolution each player has tiles numbered from 0 to 9 to play plus a flag in his own color. When you play a number in a square, the number counts for you in that square as well as in the four squares abutting it horizontally or vertically. (Fewer, of course, if it's on an edge of the board.) When it's impossible for your opponent to play a number high enough to take a particular square away from you, you put one of your 12 claiming markers onto it. Victory is achieved by the first player to claim 12 squares.
Meanwhile, don't forget about those pesky 'other' victory conditions! First, if your opponent claims the square your flag is on, you lose immediately. The other way the game can end involves the three 'buildings' that occupy squares on the board. You take turns placing these buildings at the beginning of the game, so they're not on the same spots in every game. If one player controls all three buildings, he wins the game. Interestingly, ONE of the three buildings (Notre Dame) is controlled, unlike every other square on the board, by the player with the LOWER total of his number tiles in the surrounding squares.
The game works slick as a whistle. The one spot where you have to lowball creates just enough counterflow in the placement game, and the different ending conditions require just enough tactical vigilance, to imbue the 20-minute march to claiming 12 spots with a gratifying number of interesting choices and opportunities for clever play. In a two-player game with no hidden information and no dice to roll or cards to draw, this is quite a nifty accomplishment.