Garibaldi: The Escape
English language edition of Garibaldi: La Trafila
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The year is 1849. Giuseppe Garibaldi is fighting to defend the Roman Republic, which has fallen to the French Army. On the morning of August 3rd, after a night of bombings, Garibaldi is forced to disembark in Magnavacca. With him are only Major Leggero and Anita, his wife, severely ill with fever. The Austrian patrols are already moving! The hunt is on! The escape has begun! Garibaldi: The Escape is a gripping bluffing game suitable for the entire family.
Little did I realize how much fun would occur with playing Garibaldi, a new game by the Italian designer Gabriele Mari and laid around Ravenna, Italy, in 1849. The premise revolves around Garibaldi trying to escape from the Austrian soldiers and make his way to freedom.
A friend of mine reminded me of the past novel, The Leopard, about Garibaldi's life. Not being an Italian, I wasn't sure the game would live up to expectations. However, you could tell from the game rule commentary the designer loved doing the design and wanted to promote the history of the beloved country.
You start this way with the game. You look at a gameboard with approximately 190 small circles with the area around Ravenna superimposed. The Garibaldi player has a beautifully designed hidden screen for recording all his moves with those circled numbers. The game lasts for 30 turns, and Garibaldi moves first with the Austrian soldiers second. The game is technically designed for 2-6 players, although my friend and I played the two-player version. In that version the second player plays one group of three Austrian units and, then, a second group of two Austrian units. All these five Austrian units are to converge on Garibaldi and stop him from escaping and further promoting Italian nationalism.
So far, so good. Next, Garibaldi usually draws four cards from the movement/event deck. The Austrian soldier units draw five cards for each set of units. In a 5-6 player game the Austrian soldiers are allowed different numbers of cards. As the movement/event cards are drawn, one notices immediately the "white" and "red borders" of each card section. The white is always read by the Austrians. The red is always read by Garibaldi.
Movement during the game becomes quite "iffy." You have three types of movement for each player: water, horseback, and walking. The "walkers" can only only go through the green-labeled roads. The "horseback riders" can only go through the gray- and white-labeled roads. The "water boats" can only go through the blue-labeled roads. That can present "iffy" situation when the Austrian units, for example, hold five cards of "horseback." The Austrians want to walk as well as ride as well. Unfortunately, the Austrians will be forced to discard if certain cards cannot be used because of the terrain.
Garibaldi, in our game, decided an "end run" around five sets of Austrian units. The Austrians valiantly tried to save the day by reading aloud certain event cards. These cards, as we discovered in checking the rules, can only be used once as part of the turn. The event cards are discarded underneath a likeness of the game box design, 1849, at the end of the turn. We were concerned--and the rules did not completely clarify--whether Garibaldi could replenish his hand immediately after an event card had been played, relieving him of certain cards.
To continue, only one set of Austrian units can use the event cards. For example, an event card might suggest Garibaldi should either discard one random card or two cards or lose the next movement turn. The event card that favored the Austrians in one play turned out to be a card that allowed one Austrian unit--in this case, Sant 'Alberto--to return to the starting home base (136). That proved to be within one circle of where Garibaldi had escaped in the last four turns.
One is reminded that every time Garibaldi is almost discovered, a Garibaldi likeness token must be placed on the numbered circle by the Garibaldi player (up to five tokens). So far we have seen that a turn for each player consists of the following:
Play one of four cards, movement or event.
Announce the mode of transportation or read and act on the event.
Replenish the hand to four cards.
Record the ending number of the circle.
Sounds easy, huh? Still, our game progressed with Garibaldi slipping through the tightly drawn net. Garibaldi announced with the likeness tokens two more positions before the 30 turns elapsed. In the end, I missed Garibaldi by one move as he slipped into one of the red circles, a sanctuary for Garibaldi's final escape.
Actually, the game proved as enjoyable as Taxi or some of the other "chase" games. I learned something about the importance of Italian history, and the suspense would definitely recommend the game. Unfortunately, our gaming evening had to draw to a close without my having to play Garibaldi and see if alluding the Austrians would be possible again from a different player.