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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Liberté
Series:  Essen 2010 Releases
Theme:  French Revolution
Format:  Board Games


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Product Awards:  
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2002

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90-120 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Martin Wallace

Publisher(s): Valley Games, Warfrog

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Product Description

Liberté covers the French Revolution from 1789, including the meeting of the Estates General, to Bonaparte's coup d'état in 1799. Player’s fortunes rise and fall along with the groups that they choose to support. Clever (or devious) players might even decide to support different sides at the same time to help ensure their victory! In a time of trouble, any tactic may be considered acceptable, including sending rivals to face the guillotine. Just be certain that your characters aren't the next to be eliminated!

Speaking of characters, Liberté features an entire cast! From Marat to Robespierre, from Danton to Desmoulins, Liberté allows each player the chance to determine the fate of every major player in the French Revolution. Some will hold sway over the masses, and others will meet their fate at the hands of the Radicals.

Liberté is played in four turns. In each turn there will be a variable number of rounds in which each player increases influence in one of three factions: the Royalists, the Moderates, and the Radicals. After each turn, an election will be held to determine which of the three groups forms the government. The player that best uses their characters to win election seats will find themselves one step closer to victory.

The Valley Games reprint of Liberté features beautiful new artwork, new player boards, and upgraded rules resulting from thousands of plays from Liberté's legions of fans. This is a game for people who love history, interaction, or just great games. This reprint will rectify the color issues of the original as well as implement a slight rules modification to eliminate the stagnancy of having 3 "1" cards all face up on the table to choose from. The cards will all be redone as actual portraits of the characters.

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2002

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews

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Liberte: Don't lose your head in this excellent game!
February 22, 2006

Designed by: Martin Wallace
Released by: Warfrog Games
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
Number of Players: 3 - 6
Time: 2 - 3 hours

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review first appeared in Fire & Movement magazine #129

From the moment I first heard word of this game I knew I just had to have a copy. The French Revolution is a fascinating period in history and, sadly, there have only been precious few games designed utilizing this rich period in history. One of particular note was Azure Wish's La Revolution Francaise, but the rules were so complicated and butchered that it was virtually impossible to play.

Granted, this new Martin Wallace design is not a highly detailed simulation of the Revolution. It is, after all, a German-style game which stresses playability over historical reality. That's OK, however, as it does inject at least some of the flavor of the period and avoids being simply an abstract representation. The best news, of course, is that it is quite fun and exciting to play. I just wish it provided more opportunity for one to shout, "Off with their heads!"

Warfrog has taken tremendous steps in upgrading the production quality of their most recent games. Liberte is no exception. Included are a forest of wooden bits, an attractive map of France and sturdy, high quality cards. My one gripe ... and it is a biggie ... is that the colors on the cards do not match the colors of the provinces on the map. Since many of these subdued colors are similar, there was considerable confusion in determining the proper province represented on the cards. True, the borders on the map illustration on the cards do vaguely correspond with the map provincial borders, but this is difficult to spot without close scrutiny. This was a constant source of confusion in all of the games I've played. I understand that the map and cards were printed by different printers using supposedly 'universal' colors, but the proof is in the pudding. They simply don't match. How this managed to get past the final development process is outrageous.

This one major snafu aside, the remainder of the components are top-notch, functional and pleasing to the eye. This makes the enjoyability of the game even greater. Plus, I'm really impressed with the artwork on the box, which was done by Peter Dennis. The entire box cover appears as if it is a painting hanging in the luxurious halls of Versailles.

On to the game. France is divided into six regions, each containing four to five provinces. Three main factions are vying for political control: the Royalists (white blocks), the Moderates (blue blocks) and the Radicals (red blocks). Players will take turns placing these faction blocks into these regions in order to grab the majority of blocks (influence) in as many of the provinces as possible. Ultimately, this will earn votes for the factions and hopefully translate into victory points for the player. This certainly doesn't sound original, but the rules governing the placement of these blocks and the breaking of ties makes the game truly unique.

Game play is largely determined by the use of cards. The majority of the cards depict a particular region, along with 1 - 3 faction block symbols, all of the same color. When a player plays a card, he may place the indicated number and color of faction blocks into one or more of the provinces within the region depicted on the card. A few cards, known as 'Club Cards', afford the player the ability to place a faction block in ANY region and province. The power of these cards, however, is somewhat limited by the fact that they only allow the placement of one faction block. Clearly, a player's strategy is certainly heavily influenced by the cards he possesses. However, new cards are selected via a 'drafting' method, as three cards are always face-up beside the deck. Players can either take one of these face-up cards, or draw the top card from the face-down deck. Thus, a player does have some control as to which cards he obtains, and choosing which cards to take is a key element to success.

The only problem encountered with this aspect of the game is that it is quite possible that all three of the cards that are face-up in the drafting pile will be the less desirable "1 block" cards. This will usually prompt the players to draw the top card from the face-down draw pile, meaning the face-up pile will remain stagnant for an extended duration. One idea is to help rectify this occurrence is to discard the three face-up cards when this occurs and place three new ones in their place. This will also help the deck recycle faster.

As mentioned, there are some significant restrictions governing the placement of blocks into the provinces, most centered around the magic number of '3'. When a player places blocks into a province, he marks that stack of blocks with one of his control markers. If he adds more blocks to that particular province on a subsequent turn, they must be of the same color and must be added to the existing stack. Further, a stack may contain no more than three blocks and, of course, they must all be of the same color. A province may contain no more than three stacks of faction blocks (there may be more than one stack of the same color, but each will be controlled by a different player) and each player may only control one of those stacks. Thus, deciding which faction to place into a particular province is a crucial decision and will have long-term implications on a player's ultimate success or lack thereof.

Instead of playing a card in order to place faction blocks into the provinces, a player may play a card bearing a cannon symbol to place a control marker into the battle box. France will fight three battles during the course of the game, one following turns 2 - 4, respectively. The player who has provided the most support for these battles AND has the best General in his personal display will earn valuable victory points. So, one has to make a decision on whether to utilize a card to place faction blocks in the province, or place a control marker in the battle box in an attempt to lead France to victory. Another tough decision in a game filled with them!

When a player opts to play a card and place blocks, in addition to the decision as to where to place the faction blocks, a player must also decide whether he wishes to retain the played card in his 'personal display' or discard it. A player may only possess four cards in his display (plus a one card bonus if the card depicts the 'Sans Culotte' symbol) and these cards are incredibly critical in the breaking of ties during the election process. Generally, a player will only want to maintain cards which depict 2 or 3 blocks, as these are much more valuable in the tie-breaking process. To further make this decision tougher, however, a player must carefully analyze the board to determine the provinces wherein he is likely to be in a tie-breaking situation, as well as the particular faction he is backing in that province. Maintaining cards of these factions is very important.

The decision factors don't stop there, however. When resolving the battles following turns 2 - 4, even if a player has the most control markers in the battle box, he cannot claim the victory if he does not have a General present in his personal display. Some cards .. a scant 10 in the entire deck .. depict the silhouette of a General, so these cards are essential to maintain if the player has a desire to win one or more of these battles.

During the course of a turn, the only way a player can acquire new cards is to not play a card. Since a round can end fairly quickly, the choice on whether to grab a new card and pass on the opportunity to place faction blocks or a control marker is tricky. Of course, the three cards which are currently available in the face-up 'drafting' row will greatly influence the decision on whether to play a card or select a card.

A turn ends when the blocks of one faction expire. In the interests of fairness, however, each player will get an equal number of turns. Once this occurs, an election is held in each province to determine the faction which receives the most votes.

Elections are held in a pre-set order, which is critical when making a decision whether to participate in a tie-breaking procedure or not. Often, a player will elect to NOT attempt to break a tie in an early province, as it would be wiser to save a particular card in his personal display for a more crucial election later in the round.

Each province is examined independently in rectifying the election process. There are several possible outcomes:

  1. One stack of faction blocks has the most of any stack in the province. This is a clear-cut victory for that particular faction and their marker is moved up one space on the Election Track. The player who controlled this stack receives one of the blocks from that stack, while ALL of the remaining blocks and stacks remain in place on the board.
  2. Two or more stacks are tied for the most faction blocks. This is a fairly common occurrence, particularly since no one stack can contain more than three faction blocks. In this case, the players controlling the tied stacks each have, in turn order, the opportunity to break the tie in their favor by sliding forward a card from their personal display. The card must depict blocks which match the faction they control which is involved in this tie. For example, if Keith controls a Royalist (white) stack and is involved in a tie with Jim, who controls a Moderate (blue) stack, Keith must, if he desires to attempt to break the tie in his favor, slide forward a card from his personal display which depicts white blocks. Jim would have to slide forward a card depicting blue blocks.

If only one player opts to slide forward a card, he immediately wins the election. He receives one faction block from the stack he controls and that faction's marker is moved up one space on the Election Track. The card he slid forward is discarded. Unlike the case when there is an outright victory, however, ALL remaining faction blocks in that province are returned to the general stockpile. This helps maintain an ample supply of blocks in the general stockpile from round to round. Plus, it opens up that province again for more heated competition in subsequent rounds.

If both players slide forward cards, the player whose card depicts the most faction block symbols wins the election, with the same consequences as listed above. If both cards have an identical number of blocks depicted, however, then the election is deadlocked and NO faction receives the vote. ALL faction blocks are removed from the province and returned to the general stockpile. Both cards are discarded.

This election resolution procedure is quite entertaining and novel. I don't recall another game which uses a mechanism quite like this one. Cards played not only determine the location and quantity of markers you can place, but are subsequently used in election resolution procedures. The multiple uses of these cards makes proper card selection, play and hand management critical skills. The game is filled with tough, tough decisions and a multitude of choices. More than one player commented on just how many decisions and choices are present throughout the game. Very, very nice.

The only exception to this election procedure is the capital city of Paris. When resolving the election in this grand city, players do not cease sliding forward cards if there is a tie after the first tie-breaking round. Rather, each player involved in the tie may continue to slide forward a card until the tie is broken. All cards slid forward are discarded. If the tie is not broken, the same fate as discussed above is suffered (no votes receives, all faction blocks in the province are discarded and the players discard all of the cards they slid forward). However, if a player does claim an election victory, he receives ALL of the faction blocks in the stack he controlled and that faction's marker is moved up a number of spaces on the Election Track equal to the number of blocks in that stack! Such is the power of controlling Paris!

When elections in all of the provinces have been resolved, the faction whose marker is furthest along on the Election Track has won the overall election and forms a new government. Victory points are awarded to the players as follows:

  1. The player who gained the most blocks of the ruling faction during the election province receives 5 victory points.
  2. The player who received the second-most blocks of the ruling faction receives 2 victory points.
  3. The player who received the most blocks of the faction which finished second in the election (the major opposition party) receives 3 victory points.

From this victory point schedule, one can readily see the importance of backing the winning and secondary factions in the elections. With so many provinces and so many card playing options, properly managing such a task is quite daunting, indeed.

So, what if there is a tie in determining the faction who won the overall election? A similar procedure as used in resolving ties in the provincial elections is utilized to break the tie. All players, in turn order, have the opportunity to slide forward one card from their personal display. As usual, the card slid forward must depict blocks which match one of the tied factions. The faction receiving the most additional votes (blocks depicted on the cards) wins the election. Of course, the cards slid forward are discarded.

Every player who possesses a block of the new ruling faction is considered to have a presence in the new government, which is very important as it allows the playing of certain action cards. Thus, it is usually wise to attempt to gain at least one faction block of each of the three factions in order to insure that you will have a presence in whatever faction takes control of the government.

If there is a tie in determining the player who possesses the most blocks in the winning or opposition faction, players break the tie by sliding forward cards in a similar fashion. If a tie ultimately cannot be broken, then the first place players each receive 3 points, while players tied for control of the opposition faction would each receive 2 points. Ties for second place in the majority party would yield 1 point apiece for the tied players.

Rounds 2 - 4 offer additional methods in which to earn victory points. I've mentioned the battles, wherein beginning in turn 2, players can commit control tokens to the battle box in an effort to lead France to victory in battles at Valmy, Fleurus and Arcola. A battle is resolved at the conclusion of turns 2 - 4, with the player possessing the most control markers in the battle box claiming the victory ... but ONLY if he has a General in his personal display. If more than one player tie for the most control markers and each have a General, the strongest General (as determined by the number of blocks depicted on his card) carries the day. If there is still a tie, another subordinate General card may be slid forward by each player in an effort to break the tie. If the tie cannot be broken, the battle is lost and a Royalist marker is placed in that battle box. This will be an important consideration as the game progresses. Of course, the spent General cards are discarded.

Battles are extremely important as they will earn the victor 4, 3 and 5 victory points, respectively, in rounds 2 - 4. However, by committing troops to these battles, a player is forgoing the opportunity to place faction blocks into the provinces. Further, the struggle for control of the battle box is usually quite intense and the winner takes all. There are no points for second place. Determining whether the risk is worth it is yet another tough choice.

In turns 3 and 4, several provinces become increasingly important. If a player manages to win the election in one of these provinces, he earns 1 or 2 victory points, depending upon the province. Naturally, this makes these provinces a hotbed of contention in the latter rounds amongst the players.

I can hear the questions already ... how do you catch the leader or bring down a player who got lucky with the cards? The game provides a devastating method by the inclusion of a variety of special action cards. These are drawn in the usual manner and can be used in addition to the playing of a regular card. The effects are numerous, most having the result of forcing a player to discard a card from his personal display or remove faction blocks from the map. By using such cards as Purge or Guillotine, a powerful '3 block' General or Personality can be removed from a player's display. This can be quite effective when utilized just prior to the end of a turn and the resolution of a key province or battle. Trust me. I've been victimized by just such a tactic, costing me a key battle.

Further, another key tactic is for the remaining players to attempt to force ties in the provinces wherein the player who is ahead on the victory point track has control of faction blocks. Ties will force that player to utilize his powerful cards from his personal display in efforts to break these ties. Thus, he will soon find himself depleted of these cards, thereby making it easier to overcome his advantages.

The most powerful card in the deck is the Terror card, as it allows for the removal of an entire stack of faction blocks from a province AND the guillotining of one personality card from any player's display. However, the power of the card is mitigated by the fact that it can only be played when the Radicals are in power, a situation which did not occur in one of our games until the end of the final turn. In another game, however, three Terror cards were played in one round with devastating effects. If a player can maneuver the Radicals into power and make sure he has a presence in their government, he can wield a mighty and terrible power.

After all elections have been resolved and victory points awarded, a new turn is begun. Markers on the Election Track are set to zero and the Order of Play for the new turn is determined. This is done in victory point order, with the player possessing the most victory points going first. This does give a bit of an advantage to the players on the bottom of the victory point chart as they will have the opportunity to play last in the round, which is a desirable position.

Players then retrieve back into their hands any cards remaining in their personal display. Then, they may discard cards before drawing new cards to bring their hand back up to seven cards. The rules aren't clear on this, but we drew one card at a time in turn order until we all possessed seven cards. Since cards may be selected from the three face-up cards or the top of the draw pile, we figured it would be fairer to have each player draw one card, then repeat this cycle until we all had completed our hands. Otherwise, if we allowed each player to fill to seven cards before the next player had the same opportunity it would be possible for one player to get lucky and have the opportunity to draw several powerful cards in succession.

The game continues in this fashion for four complete turns, after which the player with the most victory points is victorious. Maybe.

Maybe? You see, there are two other conditions which can trigger the end of the game. If either of these conditions occur, the game ends and victory points are inconsequential.

  1. Royalist Counter-Revolution. Fourteen provinces on the map are marked 'CR'. If at ANY time during turns 3 or 4 that the Royalist (white) faction controls seven or more of these provinces, the game ends with a Royalist Counter-Revolution. Every battle which was lost by the players and thereby marked with a Royalist block is considered part of this seven province requirement.

    If this does occur, the winner is the player who possesses the most 'white' points. This is determined by adding together the number of Royalist faction blocks you control on the map, together with the number of white blocks on the cards you possess in your personal display AND in your hand. It matters not who currently has the most victory points!

    This is an extremely clever mechanism, one which requires constant vigilance by the players, especially those ahead on the victory point track. It hasn't occurred in any of our games, but I can only imagine the wind being sucked right out of the apparent leader if the Counter-Revolution were to occur, denying him the victory. Delicious!

    This also provides an opportunity for players who may be far behind on the victory point track to ultimately turn the game in their favor. Undoubtedly it would require careful planning and plotting, but it no doubt could be managed.
  2. Radical Landslide. If at the end of any election phase the Radicals gain 17 or more votes, they have won an electoral landslide. In this event, the winner is determined in a similar manner as that used in the event of a Royalist Counter-Revolution. The player possessing the most 'red' points wins. These points are determined by adding the number of Radical faction blocks you possess, the number of Radical blocks you control on the map and the number of red blocks on the cards in your personal display AND in your hand.

    Again, this provides a method wherein players who are far behind on the victory point chart can still radically alter the course of the game and claim a victory. Since the cards are a bit weighted in favor of the Royalists and Moderates in the early turns, but sway more to the Radical influence in the latter turns, this Radical Landslide is much more possible in turns 3 and 4. Just one more thing players need to worry about and prepare for.

Wow! These sure sound like a truck-load of rules, doesn't it? But, in reality, it isn't. In fact, the rule book is a very concise 3 1/2 pages. For the most part, it is easy to understand and follow. It does take a turn or so for everyone to adjust to the mechanics and proper use of the cards, but once this understanding is gained, the game flows very smoothly. After an initial playing, the rules can easily be taught and understood in about fifteen minutes.

As you can tell, I am thoroughly enjoying this game, as has most of the players I've had the pleasure to play it with. I feel very confident that my enjoyment and appreciation of this fine game will continue climb as I gain more experience and a better understanding of the strategies to be employed. It's a journey I'm certainly looking forward to as the game appears to have great depth and is loaded with that most important factor of all: FUN!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great theme, Greater Game.
May 02, 2004

Here in Korea, at a local amusement park (Lotte World), there is a fairly fun roller coaster called the French Revolution. And while the roller coaster is a pretty neat one - I still have no idea as to why they call it this. It reminds me of a majority of euro-board games, where the games is good - but the theme doesnt match at all. And Liberte (Warfrog, 2001 - Martin Wallace) was purported to be about the French Revolution. Was it to follow the example of the roller coaster?

Now, over the last few years, Ive come to the realization that when Martin Wallace designs a game, chances are that the game is excellent. I have yet to play a game of his that I do not like (although Lords of Creation was only okay), and his newer games, such as Age of Steam and Princes of Renaissance, seem destined to become classics - fascinating and very deep, with a fair amount of complexity. Yet my favorite Wallace game is definitely this one. Liberte is in my top ten board games of all times, and for good reason! The components are stunningly cool, and the mechanics, while excellent in their own right - replicate the theme (French Revolution) exceedingly well. Some of my most enjoyable game moments have come from playing this game!

A board with a map depicting France is placed in the middle of the table, divided into six regions - each divided into five provinces. Four of the provinces are marked with VP values, and 14 of the thirty provinces are marked CR, because they are the determining factor in a Counter Revolution. Two decks of cards are shuffled, with the A deck being placed on top of the B deck - and seven cards are dealt to each player. Three cards are placed face up next to the remainder of them, which become a draw pile. Each player takes a pile of round tokens in their color, placing one of them on the 0 space of the victory point track. Piles of red, blue, and white faction blocks are placed next to the board, with a corresponding marker for each color being placed at the zero spot on the election track. Also, two faction blocks of each color are placed on the second space of the turn track. Two black markers are put on the board, one on the first space of the turn track, and the other on an election order track. There are four turns in the game. I will explain the first turn, and then tell how subsequent turns occur.

Turn order is determined randomly, and a marker from each player is placed on a turn order track, to help remember whose turn it is. An Action Phase now begins. The first player can take one of three actions (take a card, play a card, or pass), and then the next player goes, etc. If a player chooses to take a card (which causes them to lose two cards if they have nine or more cards), they may choose one of the face-up cards to put in their hand (which is immediately replaced), or the top card from the deck. If, however, a player chooses to play a card, they can play one of the cards from their hands. Most cards allow players to influence a province. These cards are colored to match one of the six regions on the board, and show a number (from 1-3) of faction blocks on them of a certain color. The player plays the card, placing that many faction blocks of that color (red = radical Jacobins, white = Royalists, and blue = Moderates) in any province in that region. The player can start a new stack - placing one of their tokens on top of the stack, or add to an additional stack they own. They must follow these rules, however:

- The player can only control one stack of blocks per province.

- The blocks in a stack must be of the same color.

- The amount of blocks can be at maximum of three.

- Only three stacks of blocks may be in a province.

- All blocks in a stack are controlled by the same player.

Some cards are Club cards, which are basically wild, and can be played into any province on the board. After the player plays any card, he can discard it, or add it to his Personal Display - face up in front of him. Only four cards maximum may be in the personal display, and players cannot remove them normally once placed. If any card in the Personal Display has a Sans Culotte symbol on it, the player may have one additional card there. Special cards can also be played by players, which have a variety of effects, from removing faction blocks from provinces, to executing Personality cards in players displays.

As soon as all the blocks of one faction are depleted, the election phase occurs. Using the election marker, each province has an election, in a certain order. The highest stack in a province gives the corresponding faction one vote (up to three in the Paris province) - and the corresponding marker is moved up one on the election track. If a tie occurs, players may - in turn order - advance one of the cards in their Personal Display (if the blocks on the card match the color of their faction in that province), adding these blocks to their total. Only one card per province may be advanced in this way (multiple in Paris), and are discarded after use. One block of the winning faction is removed and given to the player who controlled that stack. In case of ties, ALL blocks in the entire province are removed. The faction who receives the most votes, after all provinces have been accounted for becomes the new government. The player with the most blocks of this color gets five victory points, and the player with the second most blocks gets two victory points. The faction with the second most votes is the opposition party, and the player with the most blocks of that color gets three points. All faction blocks are returned to the common stock, and after the first turn - the six blocks placed on the turn track are also added to the mix. The turn marker is moved one turn, and players pick up all cards that they have in their Personal Displays. Players can discard as many cards as they wish, and hands are refilled to seven cards. Turn order for turns 2-4 are determined by victory points, with whoever having the most points going first, etc.

On the second, third, and fourth turns, players can use cards to place tokens in the Battle Box (at the bottom of the board). They can do this if a card they play has a cannon icon on it, allowing them to place one of their tokens in the Battle Box. After the Action Phase, the Resolve Battles phase occurs. Whichever player has the most tokens in the Battle Box gets the victory points for that battle. (3-5). Ties are broken by advancing cards with a General icon. If a tie occurs, no one scores the points, and a white faction block is placed in the battle box to show that the battle was lost.

On the third and fourth turns, the player who wins the election in the four provinces with victory points in them gains those victory points. Normally, at the end of the fourth turn, the player with the most points is the winner. However, there are two other ways players can win. One is the Royalist Counter-Revolution: if at any time during the third and fourth turns - the Royalist faction controls seven or more CR provinces (a white block in the battle box counts towards this total), then the a counter-revolution immediately occurs and whichever player controls the most white faction blocks on the board (and on cards in the Personal Displays) wins immediately - regardless of whoever has the most points. The other game-ending condition is the Radical Landslide. If at the end of an election, the Jacobins gain 17 or more votes, they win the election by a landslide; and all players add up the amount of red blocks they control, plus cards in their Personal Displays. Whoever has the most is the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The components are quite good - especially the faction blocks, which remind me quite a bit of the blocks included in Columbia war games. The player tokens are of other colors, and are easily distinguished form the three faction colors upon which they rest. The blocks stack well, incidentally, and the players tokens are small enough that they dont fall off (a problem Ive run into other games.) The cards are of a good quality, and the illustrations on them, as well as on the box are quite thematic and fitting for the time period. The board is nice, and the colors are striking and different; but this causes one problem with the game - even for those of us who arent color blind (Heaven help those who are). Some of the card colors, that supposedly match the board colors, are off - and not just be a small shade. Its not too big of a deal, because the colors can usually be identified, but its a small flaw in an otherwise perfect game. The only other comment I have about the game components is that two black pawns were included in the box. The rules dont mention them, and I have no idea what use they are for - but hey - whos complaining about extra pieces.

2.) Rules: Ive said it before about Warfrog games, and Ill say it again - put your rules in a better format! I have enjoyed every game Ive played, but when a game set of rules has a degree of complexity this great, one shouldnt have to strain their eyes with poor formatting to read the rules. I didnt have any questions from the rules, but I had to read them several times, squinting all the way, and was slightly annoyed about the lack of illustrations (although there were a few examples). Im not sure why Warfrog does this - maybe to save money? Would a few extra pages hurt that badly - raise the font from the six points its at now? Anyway, the game is a little confusing to new players at first - it seems a bit chaotic to them, but after a round, they usually get it. There is very little text in the game, except for those on the special cards, and I didnt see them getting that much use.

3.) Ages: However, as much as I love this game, its one I usually reserve for my gaming group. I have talked casual players into playing this game, and they did enjoy it - but its such a meaty game that people who are looking for a quick, fast, and good time will not enjoy the intricacies of the game play. Because of this, I dont recommend it for teenagers or younger, as they may not feel they get enough fun out of the game.

4.) Fun Factor: Speaking of the fun factor, I dont play many games I enjoy more than this one. After wetting our feet in our initial play of the game, we discovered that the game play strategies were wide and varied. The Battle Box tie breakers, the special cards, the shouting of Liberty, and other shouts are all high points of our games. I really enjoyed the three-player game, but then found that games with 5 or six players had a whole new feel - just as fun.

5.) Game End: One of the best features of Liberte is the fact that there are two alternate game-ending conditions. Neither of these is impossible to achieve, especially if more than one player sets their mind to them. Its absolutely fascinating how a player in last place can suddenly win, because they were watching what they were doing, and decided to control the Royalist party at just the right time. Players must be on guard at all times (as I havent been, much to my chagrin) or they will watch all their carefully laid plans go up in smoke to a radical landslide or the stinkin counter-revolution.

6.) Theme and Strategy: There is a small amount of luck in the game, from the cards, but due to the card picking process, I doubt a better player will lose very often. Superior strategy makes this game fun, and knowing what provinces to control (and more importantly - which NOT to control) is the key to victory. The theme, the French Revolution, fits the game like a glove, and all the names of the characters on the cards are key players to this drama in history. The game does not make light of the time, but rather treats it in a historical fashion. Liberte is one of those rare games where the theme is excellent AND the game mechanics are even more so.

Its not too easy to find a copy of Liberte today, but if you can, I highly recommend picking it up. Martin Wallace is certainly one of the greatest designers of our era - and I consider this his best work - which is impressive indeed. The theme is fun, and the strategy, while seeming somewhat chaotic, is rather deep and enjoyable. Liberte almost has the feel of a war game, a political game, and an area placement game - but supercedes those genre to create a unique game, one Ive never seen duplicated. Liberte is one of those few games that I am ALWAYS in a mood to play, and Im certainly glad I have it in my collection!

Tom Vasel

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A fun -- and treacherous -- strategy game.
June 19, 2002

Our group has played Liberte four times now, with the first three games ending in 'counter-revolution.'

To be sure, there is a bit of 'luck of the draw' element in this game, as there are in most games with cards. However, there is a tremendous amount of strategy in each turn, and a player who is too casual in studying the board might find his/her lead undermined by a counter-revolution or radical insurection. We have found the latter a real challenge to achieve, but as you can see by our game results, counter-revolution is a real threat on turns 3 and 4.

The counter- and radical-revolutions do open opportunities for players far behind the leader to win the game, but more importantly, they force the leaders to deploy faction blocks in locations and ways so as to stave off these instant victories. The 'defensive' (pre-emptive) placement of faction blocks by players in the lead can keep the point gap from widening wildly, and thus keep players in the running to the last turn.

And beware of those action cards! Deploy a general too soon, and you risk losing him -- and your hopes for battle victory -- to the guillotine's blade. A timely played Bread Shortage may swing the balance in a critical region. And then there's the sweeping effect of the Terror card!

All in all, Liberte is one of the better strategy games around, and it does capture the French Revolution theme well without becoming a historical simulation.

Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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