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Thinking Out Loud

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Review >> Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court

Chad Ellis at Your Move Games was gracious enough to donate a copy of Succession for the Geekway to the West. I played the game several times, and am glad to write up a full review -- the least I can do for Chad's generosity. Here's a snapshot of the review. The full Succession review (detailing the components, gameplay and negotiations) can be read at BoardGameGeek.com.

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OVERVIEW: Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court, is a no-holds barred game of bluffing, negotiation, bribery and bidding by Chad Ellis and Robert Dougherty of Your Move Games. It's designed for 3-5 and is listed at 90 minutes game time.

Your Move Games really crammed a lot into the box, providing a very good value for the price point (about $25 US online). Overall, I love the game from a conceptual standpoint, and while the mechanics support the concept quite well, Succession ends up being a bit long for what it is, and is highly group dependent -- you simply can't afford to play this with folks who refuse to "leave it at the table" after a game of duplicity, backstabbing and deal-breaking. That said, if your group enjoys power brokering and diplomacy, Succession offers a top notch free-wheeling and clever gaming experience.

THEME: The aging king must choose the successor for the throne. In a humorous twist, that ain't you. Nope. You're not important enough to be king. But you are important enough to influence who will become king. Ah, and that's where the game lodges the players.

You are not one of the candidates looking to become the king. Instead, you are a sycophant or stod trying to ride the coattails of whoever ends up being crowned the king. Through spreading rumors, manipulating opinion and taking credit for other people's efforts, you are trying to convince the candidate who eventually is crowned the king that you're responsible for their rise to glory. Or at the very least, that the other players were trying to sink them and never liked them anyway.

YOU MIGHT LIKE SUCCESSION IF YOU LIKE: Basari, Cash & Guns, Cosmic Encounter, Dragon's Gold, Fantasy Business, Mall of Horror

THE BOTTOM LINE: 7/10 -- I really dig the concept and implementation of the game. Great production qualilty (except the peeling cardboard coins). Clever interplay of mechanics and concepts. Everything is for sale -- how you play or apply a card, how you cast your votes, who you assign blame to... everything can be manipulated for a price or the right favor. You need to carefully balance your position so you don't peak too soon and appear that you're doing too well, or you'll get crushed. A lot more nuance and subtlety than I think most people will give it credit for.

Arbitrary and ruthless player targeting is a big part of the game -- so be warned. Grumpy players who hold grudges shouldn't play. Has some of the wheeling/dealing and evokes a slight Cosmic Encounter vibe with me (a good thing). It's certainly not for everyone due to the negotiations and backstabbing, but with the right crowd, Succession should be a smash hit.

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