Review: Histrio – theater for the King

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It’s not the first time, that king organized a theater festival in the capital. And that is also, why there is such competition in acting this year. I remember, when we had almost no strong competition, only a few street artists. But now, many actors ran away to other theaters, and victory is not only a matter of good planning and performing arts, but also luck. Why is that? Because winner will be decided by devious king himself, based on his current mood.

King is this time appointed by two powerful designers: and . These are authors of a new board game , that came into our hands. It was published officially in by company. And on the stage, we will be accompanied by original graphic style scored by . This whole creation is then distributed by .

Box clearly indicates, that this game will be all about acting. It has a classic square dimensions and there is a dramatic scene from the theater on the lid. The audience seems satisfied and animals are taking it pretty seriously. But we will not be simply watching, we want to participate as well. So we should be pleased to find some assembly instructions beneath rulebook.

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These relate to cardboard sheets. From their parts, players will build their own theater. But there is also one thin and long game board with eight numbered towns and deck of player cards. There are actors at different levels in the package, divided into skill levels by digits in the upper right corner (1-5) and next to it, there are also printed effects of the card on parchment. There are also acrobat cards and secret demand, both with text, as well as bonus cards worth a few coins. Now these coins are another thing, we should mention. They are all plastic and come in three values ​​(gold, silver and bronze). For individual players are ready decks bound to cities (eight pieces) and miniatures – eight caravels and three managers.

At the beginning of the game, each one of the opponents selects his own color and gets all the corresponding components together with three more bronze ecu coins. Players expand game board among themselves and accompany it with revelation of one encounter card for each city (ie actors, acrobats and bonuses, all included and shuffled into one deck). Then, they only need to build (or later place) cardboard theater and set indicators (on the top) to comedy or tragedy. Where the pointer gets tilted, there goes also mood of the king. This is determined by a coin toss for beginning of the match.

In each round, players first simultaneously choose city, they would like to visit with their theater. Each rival secretly select one card corresponding to this city and places it in front of himself. Only when all completed their selection, all destination are revealed and to indicate their intentions, players place caravels miniature in front of that city.

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From then on, players will have to stick to turns and resolve cities nicely from left to right. Consequences of the visit will vary depending on whether there is only once theater company on-site or must share that place with another group of artists.

Once in a while, there are more opponents in the city. Cards of bonuses and acrobats are placed aside without any consequences. Disappointed actors (cards from the city) go to the royal court, where their difference between tragedy and comedy values affects king’s mood. Accordingly, pointer of tragedy/comedy (on the roof of cardboard theatre) is moved in one direction or another. Each tied player also gets one secret requirement card, which can be played at the end of theater season.

Whenever a player is visiting a city alone, he takes one or more cards lying there and evaluates them one after another. He receives coins for bonus cards and puts acrobats ahead for later use. Skills of acquired actors vary according to their level – they can allow players to take back already used city cards, steal money from opponents, but even force them to pay some ecu into treasury (the most powerful ones). Such actors remain in his band until end of the season. Only one of them can be sent to the court to affect mood of the king.

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It will play its role, when encounter card deck is empty. Until then, cards are added to all cities at the end of each round, so they even can have multiple cards. Then players will receive a financial reward for actors in their group with the right specialization (comedian and tragedian). Compared their totals then determines overall tone of their play. For that, players will get another reward. Moreover, this is the right time to playing secret requirements and complete them.

Then, a new season follows. This is time, when players can finally take back their used city cards and their caravel miniatures. Game ends after the second season, when players add up their accumulated ecu coins and winner is the one, who has the most of them.

Histrio is a nice looking board game, which is playing entirely on the lighter and more relaxed string. And that means two things: game is fast and easy, but at the same time there also is a risk, that it would not offer enough challenges and interesting elements.

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And both comments are true. This game is more or less family size and also with regard to its complexity. But often, these games are great fun for anyone and here Histrio fortunately will not disappoint. It contains a good dose of chaos, that can not be controlled and everything is changing under your hands (we shall return to this), but it’s still fun and interesting game, that works pretty well.

Although there is a variation in the rules for this, it still does not play so good with two or three. It is best in higher numbers, thus ideally by four and five players. This is moment, where conflict during gameplay excels the most as well as need for good city choice ,whose cards are disappearing and changing constantly. And  thischaos eventually takes on a bit longer, although 45 minutes is not so terrible for such experience.

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But just constant picking up and replenishment cards means, that game does not allow for reasonable plannig and a large part of development depends on luck. Player knows his options and other chances, because caravels from previous rounds indicate cities, where each player has been and cannot visit them again. Fortunately, there is no order, because all players reveal cards together.

Ties are handled well. And you will experience them often enough. Players may even go for such tied results willingly from time to time, if all interesting cities are blocked. Such round may even bring them a secret mission card. And sometimes it is really worth it.

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Histrio is a game, that will not be pleasing to everyone (well, beside processing). But if you find correct audience, that can appreciate it, then it can really show off. Certainly, large part of impression and experience is done by processing, that is truly luxurious. We believe, that if game looked only half as nice, we probably would not be talking about it now. But luckily, graphics are something to remember it for, but still is not everything found here. Do you want nice looking, yet simple exciting family game? Histrio is available to you as great entry game!

DesignerBruno Cathala, Christian Martinez
ArtistJérémie Fleury
PublisherBombyx
Year Published2016
# of Players2 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4, 5 players
(13 voters)
Playing Time40
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(5 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(5 voters)
CategoryAnimals, Bluffing, Fantasy, Renaissance
MechanicAction Queue, Hand Management, Simultaneous Action Selection
FamilyComponents: 3-Dimensional (3D), Components: Miniatures, Theme: Anthropomorphic Animals
Primary NameHistrio
Alternate NamesFourberies, Hoftheater

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Histrio – theater for the King
Final word
Histrio is conceptually clear choice to be the next succes in line of entry family games. And as such, they would definitely be great, because these players will not be doing much lament about chaos and lack of control. But then there will be a crowd of players, who will decline to play it because of these properties. And we, unfortunately, have to take it into account during the evaluation, although it is otherwise a nice and functional game. Players send their miniatures to the cities and trying to influence the mood of the king in favor of their play, whether it is a tragedy or a comedy. Histrio is true to the theme and can entertain as well as knows, how to look beautiful.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
astounding processing
simplicity
common auction for cities
swinging mood of the King
suitable for families
there is something to do each round
Cons
worse with two
chaos, chaos, chaos
3.5
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