Revolution!: The Palace Game Expansion Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 13 and up
  • For 4 to 6 players
  • About 1 hour to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Auctioning, Bidding, & Trading
  • Worker Placement & Area Control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • While the current government tumbles and is torn down, there is no better time or opportunity to ensure your future!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The revolution continues and spreads in the hearts and minds of the people and now from town to city. The secret war for dominance and control has a new battle ground and new players. Within the Palace is the center of the government and the most coveted of individuals to vie for support. If you have the Royals as friends, your cause will certainly be made all the easier. But with great opportunity comes greater challenges. Four new officials have entered the game and they will either prove to be useful tools or roadblocks on your path for a new order.

Revolution!: The Palace, by Steve Jackson Games, is a game expansion for Revolution! and is comprised of 1 Palace tile, 24 bid resource tokens (6 Force, 6 Blackmail, and 12 Gold), 50 Influence cubes (in 2 different colors, 25 per player), 2 Player Screens, 2 Score tokens, 6 “200/300” Score tokens, and 6 Bid boards (now with 16 officials). Like the base game it expands. all the components are of high quality and blend seamlessly with all the original game components or replaces them.

Unless it is not completely obvious, you must have a copy of Revolution! to play this expansion.

Game Set Up

Note: The expansion allows for up to 5 or 6 players, but needs 4 at minimum instead of 3, according to the rules. However, we found we could play the game just fine with 3 players.

To set up the game, give each player 25 Influence cubes , 1 Score token, and 1 Player Screen all of the same color. Each player will also be given 1 Bid board (should contain 16 officials and not the base 12), 1 Force token, 1 Blackmail token, and 3 Gold. There is now a second Score token available to all players that increases the maximum to 200 and 300 points that can be tracked. These are not needed for the initial game set up, however, and should be put aside until needed.

Place the game board in the middle of the playing area and place the Palace tile in the center of the board, overlaying the park space. Separate the Force, Blackmail, and Gold tokens into three different piles next to it. All players should now place their Score token on the outside numerical track of the game board, bomb-side up, on the exclamation marked square.

The Palace and the new Bid boards for the players to use and fight for

The Palace

The Palace is a new area the players can attempt to control throughout the game. There are no new rules for this area and players can add Influence cubes to it by winning a bid for the Viceroy. What is new is the Guardhouse, a unique spot just outside of the Palace.

The Guardhouse does not count as an area space and can be contested over throughout the entire game. It’s easy to see why. When a player occupies the Guardhouse with their Influence cube, no other player can move or remove that player’s cubes on the board! No shifting, no reassigning, no swapping. Nothing. That’s a really nice perk and it doesn’t even require the player to have an influence majority in the Palace, either.

New Officials to Own

The expansion comes with 4 new officials to bribe, threaten, and coerce.  Using the resources (Force, Blackmail, and Gold), the players will influence these new key town officials and all the others, too, by bidding on them. Each official, in turn, influences a specific part of the town. By buying the official, the player temporarily gets to use that official’s influence. The new officials are briefly described here:

  • Viceroy: helps influence the Palace and allows the player to occupy the Guardhouse
  • Messenger: provides supports and the ability to re-assign 2 Influence cubes to new spots in an area on the game board
  • Mayor (immune to Force and Blackmail): provides the ability to influence (place an Influence cube) any open space in an area
  • Constable (immune to Force and Blackmail):  provides support and Blackmail material

To learn more about Revolution!: The Palace, see the expansion’s official web page.

Prediction

If it weren’t for the Guardhouse, I’d think the Palace wasn’t anything more than one more area to attempt to control. The Guardhouse, however, can be a real game changer. Never mind the Palace itself, which awards the player with majority control a nice bonus of 55 Support points at the end of the game. Certainly nothing to scoff at, but that’s not what makes the Palace a prize worth fighting for.

It doesn’t take long before you realize that the best of plans can be turned upside down when an opponent starts rearranging Influence cubes on the board. This can cost players the game and make them suddenly focus on an official they had zero intention of interacting with. If used correctly, the very crafty player can shift Influence cubes around so as to make two or more players fight for an official while they go pursue another without interference.

The Guardhouse changes all that and gives the player the ability to keep their Influence cubes where they want them. Of course, this privilege will cost them and that’s the beauty of it. The Guardhouse is only granted to the individual who wins the bid for the Viceroy who is also used to gain influence in the Palace. This should make the Viceroy a very popular pick and make bids for that official very costly.

The other new officials that are now available to bribe in the expansion provide the player with the ability to shift the influence of the board in their favor, or at the very least, really mess with their opponents. The Messenger is of particular interest to me as I can quickly see that official becoming the “Jerk” of the bunch. Moving 2 Influence cubes around the board (of the same color or different from any location) can be a real headache.

After I explained the new bits of the game to my little Geek, I asked him his thoughts.

“Oh, I see. So the Guardhouse will make sure you don’t win, Dad?” ~ Liam (age 7)

What a clever little boy. Let’s get to the game and see if his point-of-view is spot on.

Final Word

The Palace game expansion does two things to the game. First, it provides additional bits for more players. More friends and family around the table is always a good thing. Second, it increases the number of things the player needs to think about without adding more weight or difficulty to the game. This makes the introduction and use of the expansion an easy task as it does not introduce anything terribly new or require the players to drastically reconsider how the game should be played.

The Palace itself is a neat new area to fight for, but is not as big a game changer as I thought it would be. The Parent Geeks I played with went after the Guardhouse like crazy, but their game suffered for it. It was treated like a “new toy” and allowed the rest of us to quietly go about beating them soundly with the base game areas and officials. The second game was a much different experience and the Guardhouse was continually turned over and matched with the Messenger. This caused a great deal of pain for some of the players who were dependent on area Support points to win the game.

My little geek had no problem playing with the new officials or the Palace. To him, it was just one more thing to put his cubes or resources on. In fact, he was actually grateful for the new area and officials to bid for. This gave him more flexibility and maneuverability. He liked it so much, he doesn’t want to play the game without including the expansion.

Parent Geeks also enjoyed it and fought over the Palace like it was the last jelly donut on Earth. Halfway through the game they realized it wasn’t as good as they thought it was, and the level of intensity to control it quickly died down. This was due mostly in part because they burned all their resources to attempt to get it. I must admit I found the entire craze for the Palace to be a wonderful circus to observe.

Gamer Geeks had no problem with the expansion and started using the Palace much in the same way as the Parent Geeks, but very quickly caught on that it wasn’t the key to victory. The very crafty players started to do some nasty combos with the Guardhouse and Influence cube moving, but the rest of the players quickly punished such behavior by firing right back. Owning the Guardhouse became something of a liability.

And on that point…

Gamer Geeks, this is a great expansion that will make the secret war of political intrigue and bribery all the more challenging as more players are allowed to enter the game. The new area is not as big of a game changer as you might imagine, but it can be put to good use if combined with other abilities provided by officials. A few new possible strategies and tactics are introduced, but the game itself remains fairly unchanged.

Parent Geeks, if you want to get more players to the table to engage you in a revolution, this expansion is going to be a sure win. By putting 2 additional people at the table, the bidding will be all the more intense and the game will go much faster for it. The four new officials will give you some additional places to bid on, but the real story is how you use the Palace. Don’t be tricked into thinking that the player who controls it will own the game! Nothing could be further from the truth! But do recognize that the addition of a new area and a new way to temporarily control the board is most certainly a new tactic that could lead to victory.

Child Geeks, this expansion will not increase the difficulty of the game, nor will it require you to relearn how to play it. There is only one new rule that is very simple to understand and everything else the expansion provides seamlessly attaches to the game. If you are like my son, I have no doubt you’ll want to use the Palace area all the time.

Revolution!: The Palace is not a terribly exciting expansion, but nor is it a bad one. It’s like adding a few cherries to the top of an already delicious cake. It certainly doesn’t hurt the cake and it does nothing to improve the cake other than to make it more satisfying. To be honest, I think this is the only type of expansion Revolution! could use and still be a successful game. If the expansion made the game more complex, I would think the game is trying to be something it is not. What the game is and how it plays is perfect. It plays well, challenges, entertains, and keeps players coming back for more. Upsetting the balance with an expansion could be harmful to the whole. But, again, the expansion doesn’t do that. On the contrary, the expansion recognizes the strengths of the game and uses those to implement some new ideas and paths for the player to ponder and wonder.

Overall, wonderful. While it does not take the game to new places, the expansion does deliver fun. For those who have played and enjoyed Revolution!, the expansion is sure to be a winner.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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