Review: Steam Noir Revolution – join fun in the uprising
From the outside, the cry could be heard and it gradually grew in strength. The government building was facing towards a large Klassens square, that yesterday was decorated with the remains of Christmas. This morning, there was a cleaning staff, the tree is now gone and with it also the festive mood. Pierre in his office shifted uneasily. He felt, that something was wrong. Those shouting voices were closer and closer.
At the very exact moment, when he decided to stop work and look out the window, the door flung open and there stood a little man with tousled hair. He smiled. But it was not a friendly grin. Behind him was shadow of other characters. Pierre began to back away and his movement was stopped by the window.
On the street below, there was a huge crowd. It stood facing the government building, but it was suddenly strangely quiet. There was quiet even in the room, as if everybody was waiting for a cue. Distant and oddly blunt bangs sounded through the air, like when you a throw a melon from height onto the pavement. Suddenly figures stepped out from the door and started moving towards him and before he could protest, they caught him and tossed him through a closed window. Next clap marked the moment, when Pierre’s body hit the square and became lifeless. Silence stopped and was replaced by collective chanting: Long live the revolution!
Similar environment is ready for you now, but you do not have to worry for your life. Everything will be safe and fun in card game Steam Noir: Revolution. Daniel Danzer created it in 2013 and is unfortunately not very well known outside his home Germany. It was published thanks to the support of the German community server StartNext.de and published by a small publishing house Spielpunk. Illustration of the card were done by Felix Mertikat.
Like any good card game, also this game is in a relatively small box, with a robot waving flag. Inside you will find one double scoring board, sheet with fifty tokens (mainly revolution points, but also one token for each side of the conflict) and, of course, mainly cards – 120 of them altogether.
The biggest pile of cards is formed by factions. But when you divide them according to background colors of character portraits, then their number disappears and they become divided into five piles by thirteen. You can find all possible members of your rebel forces on them, ranging from students (who are usually at the forefront of power reversals), workers, police forces, suffragettes and mechandros. Here is the place, when you first realize, that Steam Punk: Revolution does not bear its name just for fun.
It is clear from the previous lines, that the five factions will fight for victory in attempt to take over the government. Defenestration was only the beginning. And so were also the already presented cards. Because there is still one other side to the conflict – emperor cards, who is target of your anger, but will be fighting back. And there is also one revolution, victory and temporary support card for every player in his colours.
In the middle of the table, there will be only two small piles, each containing four random cards from a shuffled deck. First of these decks is dedicated to leader and cards are drawn from the deck containing ten cards, while second deck consists of the revolution cards. And when we say, that this means one card for each faction, it is clear, that one of the parties will not participate in the current round. If multiplayer, emperor gets one extra bonus card (+5 in four and + 10 in five players), that will increase his points income.
On the table, you put together a scoring track and put scoring chips of all colors on start. Each player now selects one of his secret factions, which he will support during the whole game. But no one knows, who favors which color. To do this, everyone will also receive five support cards – one from each party.
A shuffled deck of playing cards is source of nine cards for each player, which they take into hand. Each player chooses now two of them, that he finds least suitable and puts them in front of player on his left. Now everyone picks up two cards, that were given them from their neighbor, add them to their hands and choose again two cards to discard. But this time, their journey stops on the discard pile. This means, that each of the opponents now has seven cards for the game itself.
Rebellion lasts for a long three months, which are further divided into twelve weeks. Each of these weeks will be represented by one round and before end of each month, there is a big scoring waiting for players. Each player first secretly chooses one support card. He it trying to choose a side, which he thinks will be the best at the end of the month. He should adjust his choice according to cards, he is holding in his hand and will try his best to provide support for this party during following weeks.
Every week starts with revealing one card from the leader deck and another one from revolutionary deck. Their values are bonuses, that given fraction gets added to its total at the end of the week. Now it is up to each player to select one card and put it rotated towards one of these two decks – if they chose emperor’s pile, he becomes a traitor.
Now everybody reveals value of the card played, but let it lie on the table. In next two weeks, two other cards will join them. These may not be ordinary, but also reinforcement card can be played at this moment. It gives bonus to any faction selected. Only after playing a trio of support cards, final scoring for the entire week follows.
By simple addition, players determine, which party won the most support for this week. Its biggest supporter in this round (whoever contributed most points to it) obtains two points and owner of highest card gets one additional point. In case of a tie, points are earned by both factions. Acquired tokens are put on players temporary support card for now.
But that’s not all, because now players need to find out, if partial victory for this week goes to emperor or rebels. Winner’s card goes to the right column of the scoring scale and side of the conflict now receives points equivalent to value of the card. Tokens are thus moved forward on the track.
Before next week, players have the opportunity to exchange their cards from their hands and draw back one of cards played this turn. Next week are done in similar way. At the end of the month, players will contribute with help of saved up tokens and their top temporary support card to success of their party. But only those, that get the most points after adding power given by all players, will reward its supporters with real victory points. Only then can players turn their received tokens to points.
Game continues with two more months, where choice of support each players is decreasing. Rivals can select one of the parties they have not already chosen in past rounds for temporary support. At the end of the game, players will contribute points from their secretly selected side (from the beginning of the match) and only now can be determined, who actually won. First however, it is important to discover, whether they were not all beaten by the emperor. At this point (emperor victory), player, who has the fewest points wins! Conversely, if the revolution was a success, the strongest faction and the player who chose it can celebrate.
Steam Noir: Revolution is a very interesting and thoughtful card game, in which you are balancing on an edge of a knife. On one side is the side of the Emperor, against which you are trying to succeed in the uprising and on the other hand, there is desire to be at the forefront of rebel forces, when joined alliance wins. But what if everything fails and present regime will stay in power? You become uncomfortable dissidents, closed in jail and awaiting another ringing with keys (new revolution).
Some revolutions are just not easy to win. Players will convince themselves firsthand in this game. Opposing sides of the emperor, which can sometimes player directly support to foil the plans of their rivals, may strengthen too much in a power struggle and you will not stand a chance against their forces. That’s what you have to be very careful at the beginning of the game.
The game provides an excellent atmosphere, that absorbs you completely. Really cleverly devised mechanisms, that cooperate together well, guarantee a thrilling experience during the whole game. Each competitor has even a hidden choice of a side, that can at the last minute turn around the whole order.
With number of players, you will notice significant differences here. In the lowest amount of three opponents, you especially can look forward to greater strategic appetizer without the need to cooperate, with more control over entire course of match. The emperor’s just not that strong to be feared. Which significantly changes, when you add fourth opponent. Ruler suddenly gets +5 bonus each week and players must unite to reduce his power. And with five, emphasis on cooperation and also conflicts is even more growing.
Do not be fooled by seemingly simple exterior of this card game. This game is really difficult not only to learn, because it contains a lot of new and innovative ideas, but also to manage later. You should put it on table primarily with experienced players, which you might surprise with such clever design. Beginners will be lost in all the rounds, scorings and options, without a steady target.
But this game probably succeeds also, because it provides a really interesting experience overall. Each round has a different evolution and ever-present tension. You must respond to the cards, that are played by others, and it often happens, you are forced to change your approach and strategy after the unveiling of the first card. But there can also be bluffing from others involved. You never know, what tricks are your rivals preparing to win this!
In doing all this, the game still remains relatively quick and whole twelve weeks will play within the hour. After all the time passed, you are still not sure, who is really in the lead. Only mixing and handling of all cards, including assessment, takes up quite a lot of time, which is perhaps the only significant negative.
Steam Noir: Revolution attempts to simultaneously optimize way players deal with common decks. Rules clearly delegate three role for players – one mixer (continually shuffles discard pile), another is the dealer and last is the organizer (responsible for emperor deck). If you stick to these roles, you will get a reward in smoother game without any hitch and waiting. Graphics of the game is definitely interesting and nicely complements the atmosphere of the game.
Steam Noir: Revolution is an advanced card game, in which you can experience the excitement of the insurrectional struggle. You have to anticipate efforts of opponents, with whom you have also one thing in common – you all want to overthrow the emperor, who participates in the game with you. And during the game, traitors and cowards appear, who will cross and hide under his wing. Do not hesitate to join the fight against the regime too and start living, its worth it!
Review: Steam Noir Revolution – join fun in the uprising
Steam Noir: Revolution leads players into an alternative history of Januskoogen world, where rebels are trying to throw down goverment of evil emperor. But he will resist them during the match, using his army and all forces, he has under influence. Players must therefore balance cooperation and competition in a way the leader does not defeat them all, but at the same time, they remain at the top of the resulting reign. Each of these rivals supports secrectly one side of the conflict, which he wishes to be in power, when this whole uprising ends. But its not so simple, because a political situation is really unstable. All rebels are playing their support cards according to their ambition and trying to grasp as many points for them as possible. All this in a two-level schoring mechanic, which is truly unique. Game offers elaborate experience and mechanics, you have never encountered before. But at the same time, they are limiting factor, when learning the game, because rules for both weekly and monthly scoring are less degestible. You have to realize connection in all this, before you can start being a good player. But once you penetrate in all this rebellion stuff, game will make it up to you. Its a little different in every player number, above all in emphasis on cooperation against emperor. And this diferentiation is a good thing. Steam Noir: Revolution is great and unique card game, which should be known better. It provides you a spot on top of the revolution chain, where you and your tactical skills belong.