Les Miserables – Escape Velocity Games – Review

Les Miserables - Escape Velocity Games - Review 1

"Les Misérables, Eve of Rebellion, is a unique game which will blow the minds of people who think a good card game is Uno or Go Fish. Literary buffs and book worms are going to say ‘ooh-la-la.’ Hobbyists are going to want this in their collection for its unique strategic play."

Les Miserables - Escape Velocity Games - Review 2

Theme and What is it?

This game is based on the famous novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables.  It is a card game where points are awarded when certain conditions are met.  Each card is a character from the novel with different actions available to them.  I have not read or seen Les Misérables but I’m told that there is a greater depth to the game when comparing the character abilities to the real story.  I have read over a summary of Les Misérables and can see how that might be so.

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Gameplay Mechanics

I find the mechanics in this game to be unique.  It could be set collection but I’m not quite sure that fully captures what is going on in this game.  There is a tableau of three face-up cards, a draw deck, a ‘save’ pile, and a ‘kill’ pile.  Each card has a character illustration and name.  At the top of the card is an action which players may use on their turn.  In the middle of the card is a list of conditions, if met, will award a player victory points.  The bottom of the card has a quote from the story.  The game consists of taking turns drawing more cards, accomplishing character actions, scoring, and killing or saving characters.

Players take turns one at a time.  On a turn, one may either draw a card from the tableau or from the face-down draw pile in the middle.  Alternatively, players may use an ability on a card in their hand or score it.  If a card is taken from the tableau, they remain face-up for all players to see.  If taken from the draw pile they may be turned upright or kept face-down.  If a player chooses to play an action, they read and accomplish the instructions on the card.  Scoring is a different animal.

When scoring a card, players read through each of the conditions to see if they can accomplish them.  If the card gives points for saving certain people, they will look at the face-up cards of characters which have been saved.  This pile is laid out in a cascade fashion so that names and symbols show.  An example of a scoring condition would be that 5 crown symbols be in the save pile.  Another might be that Cossette has been saved.  They receive point markers depending on how many points they earned.

If the scoring condition has to do with having a certain number of kills, the player will secretly look through the face-down kill pile to see if the condition has been met.  Trust is required here.  Once a player has scored a card, they must then decide whether to kill the character that was scored or save them.  If killed, they will go face-down on the kill pile.  They will be placed face up in the save pile if they decided to save the character.

The beginning of a game is mainly spent collecting cards.  The game ends when all the cards from the draw pile are gone.  Each time a card is taken from the tableau it is replaced by a card from the draw pile.  This means that if there is only one card left in the draw pile the game ends if someone takes a tableau card.  Because players do not want to end the game right away, they start to take actions.

The strategy in this game comes from keeping track of who has what cards and what is in the kill pile.  This is done by memory and with the aid of a reference card.  You want your opponent to save or kill their characters without scoring so that you can meet your own scoring conditions.  You don’t want to use your high scoring cards right away because their conditions probably won’t be met until more people are either saved or killed.  The character abilities can sometimes force players hands to save or kill someone they hadn’t intended to.

Les Miserables - Escape Velocity Games - Review 4

Initial Impressions

I did not have much of an opinion one way or another.  I liked that the box looked like a book.  I didn’t know the story.  It only conjured up an image in my head of High School literature class.  Perhaps I was a bit tainted towards thinking this was going to be in a subject I didn’t care for much.  I do have a tendency to think a small game is not as much fun as well.  Even so, I liked the design and artwork.  I was intrigued when I saw the cards.

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Game Build Quality

Everything is as it should be in this game.  The cards are sturdy and the point markers are cardboard.  The box opens like a book and has a magnet to keep it closed.  It will look good on a bookshelf.

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Artistic Direction

I really like the artwork in this game.  The cards have an old weathered look to them and the handwriting script at the bottom of the cards is a nice touch.  You feel like you are playing a French game.

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Fun Factor

I enjoyed building a strategy around when to use my cards and when to score them.  I liked being able to keep some hidden and others revealed.  The character abilities allowed for some interesting strategic moves to be made.  Overall, I didn’t get into as much strategy as is possible because you have to get to know the characters better.  This means that when you play with others who have not been exposed to the game as much as you have then you are going to have the advantage.

Les Miserables - Escape Velocity Games - Review 8

Age Range & Weight

The game is not too difficult to learn.  It takes more time to understand the strategy.  It is not going to appeal to a younger audience even if they have the capacity to understand the rules.  I do think this would be an awesome homeschooling game if the student is learning about Les Misérables. 

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Conclusions

This is a game you will play many times.  You will not get bored because you will be learning characters, their abilities, and scoring requirements.  I enjoy this game at different numbers though I found it goes much faster with more than 2 players.  The cards in the draw pile go down faster and create a different dynamic.

I would recommend this as a family game.  It is not too long and the game experience will improve with repetition.  I can see this being a wonderful game to introduce people to the board game hobby.  Les Misérables, Eve of Rebellion, is a unique game which will blow the minds of people who think a good card game is Uno or Go Fish.  Literary buffs and book worms are going to say ‘ooh-la-la.’  Hobbyists are going to want this in their collection for its unique strategic play.