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This interactive card game features trading, the development of settlements, and general cultural progress.
Players: 3 - 5
Time: 45 - 60 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 602 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English). Game components are language-independent.
Average Rating: 3.7 in 3 reviews
If all games go bad, play this! One of the best trading card games. Every gamer should have this. Takes about 15min to get the hang of it but its worth it. Only fun with 4 or more players but can be played with 3. This game is worth its value and it can be played in any location. Anybody can learn this. Have fun!
Res Publica is a very interesting card game which reminds me of a sort of slow motion Pit (Parker Brothers).
The object of the game is to collect sets of cards. You get to draw the first sort of card (people) at the end of each of your turns. When you turn in a set of 5 people, you receive a village--which allows you to draw the second sort of cards for each one you possess. These civilization cards can be turned in (in sets of 5) for more victory points.
Of course the important part of this game is trading. On your turn you get to make ONE offer. This can be something you are looking for, or are offering up for auction. Each opponent gets ONE chance to either offer or request. You can then pick from the best counter offer.
Over the course of the game, you have to be very careful about watching what other players are looking for, and keep this in mind. And making the correct counter offer is critical as trading advances the game.
The game moves along nicely with lots of carefully worded trades. The only downside is that the first players to get their villages seem to be at a rather significant advantage. And sometimes the card deck order will keep a player from completing a set for some time. And this happens in about a third of the games I have played, and is the only reason I keep it from being 5 stars.
Take the feel of Settlers of Catan and combine it with any trick taking card game, and you have Res Publica. One of those "you must have such-and-such before you can build such-and-such" games. However, this being strictly a card game, with a very unique player interaction/bidding-type system, is what makes this game worth playing. To obtain the sets of tribe or civilization cards you need to garner points, each player in turn has two options in the way to request a trade of cards. You may request one or two types of cards, as in, "I'm looking for . . .". Or, you may offer one or two types of cards from your hand, as in, "I have . . .". But, you cannot do both in the same turn! This process goes around the table with the other players presenting their offers, and you choose which one, if any, you wish to accept. This verbal interplay is the major strategic element of the game, with the rest of the game mainly being a lay-your-groups-and-draw-more-cards routine.
The high quality cards and graphics accent the theme of growing civilizations very nicely, also giving a microcosm semblance of playing the Civilization board game. For a unique and fun 45 minute card game with a sound theme and excellent interplay, Res Publica fits the bill nicely.
What can you say about a game that is effectively another in the long line of suit collection card games? How can Dr Knizia make this one stand out from the others, and does it fit the adopted theme? I say adopted because this is obviously another abstract game that the building civilizations theme has had added later.
Its differences from others begin in that there are in play two totally separate stacks of cards (people and civilization advances). Each deck of 60 though is divided into 5 suits of 12 identical cards each. In the case of peoples they are AngloSaxons, Goths, Huns, Langobards and Vikings. For civilizations we have Alchemy, Architecture, Trade, Metalworking and Shipbuilding. There are also 20 score cards used when sets are revealed. These are 10 settlements worth 3 points and 10 cities which vary in value from 9 down to 4.
Before play the two main decks are shuffled, the settlement cards are stacked together and the city cards arranged in descending value with the 9 value city on the top. Each player is then dealt a hand of 4 people cards.
During a player's turn they trade, then reveal any sets of 5 identical cards to score, and finally draw replacement cards before play passes to the left. What makes Res Publica different in play is that initially only people cards are used, a set of 5 gaining you a settlement worth 3 points. Only then do civilization cards become available to the players with settlements. Sets of these score cities, which decrease in value as the game progresses, thereby making early scoring desirable. This also, however, has a catch-up effect for other players in that the early leader will at first have no others to trade civilization cards with, and thus take longer to build up a set. Also, as score cards are laid out for all to see, trailing players can trade preferentially with each other to close the gap.
Trading itself is the other area where Res Publica has a different feel, and unsurprisingly it is this which is the crux of the game. Trading is limited in that the player whose turn it is may conduct only one trade in that turn, and this from a defined formula. They may either
- request one or more cards
- offer one or more cards from their hand
Once the last civilization card is drawn there is one final round and then all players may display any scores before the game ends. Points for settlements, cities and 1 point per pair in hand are tallied. The player with the most points wins.
As I said earlier, Res Publica obviously began life as an abstract game, but the theme fits the gameplay nicely and you do not feel forced to perform actions out of character with this. Groups of similar people lead to settlements, which encourages trade, leading to greater advances and then cities. It all fits nicely, plays easily and comes to a satisfactory conclusion. It isn't, however, particularly exciting. There is no real intensity in the trading as offers are carefully worded and considered. A player may not suffer setbacks beyond others offering only poor trades, and kingmaking is a definite possibility. These though are not enough to spoil enjoyment of a well constructed and interesting card game. With plenty of competition in this area Res Publica holds its own without becoming an essential purchase. Good, but not great.
SWD [referring to the Queen edition of the game]: This is a second edition of a game published by Hexagames in 1991, which I think must make the first edition one of the first games Reiner had published, and it is a revision, rather than a simple reprint. The basic game is obviously the same, but extra bits have been added (the settlements being one), the scoring has been refined and tied in more closely with the theme and the graphics are much better. Those in the original were definitely dowdy.