Liberatores Preview, Pre-Essen

Theme and What is It?

Veni. Vidi. Vici!

Rome wasn’t built in a day! I just made that phrase up, you can quote me. 

The problem with Rome during the days of Caesar, was that it was full of Romans. The infighting, subterfuge, class issues, lack of tacos, and an over arching hate of the Caesar’s politically, made it just a rough place to live, if you were in politics. 

Liberatores is about this push and pull of the ruling class, over that of the masses, the plebs. 

You are either playing as an agent of Caesar, a new Caesar wannabe, or politicians who think they know best. This is not a game about the actual politics, so much so as the political backstabbing and infighting and sucking up required to stay in power. Do you have what it takes to have your political aspirations come true?

Gameplay Mechanics

One of the things Moadieas does well is boils gameplay mechanics down to it’s base mechanics, so that decisions are limited, but outcomes are large. This is a game by Yan Yegorov, but don’t think for a second that it is not all Moaideas that helps charm its audience. 

Some publishers focus on games for kids, others on minis, others yet on kickstarter. Moaideas focuses on games that limit player choice to a few boiled down options, that make the rest of play very interesting. Mini Rails had two choices at any given time, Tulip Bubble was sell, then buy, and choice was limited to which flower, and here, in Liberatores, you can sway a person to side with Caesar, with the Liberatores, or hire them, to give you additional secondary abilities. 

I have quickly become a fan of this boiled down game mechanic. In the world of analysis paralysis, this type of limited choice, with large outcome is great. Games that allow hundreds of choices, still generally have a few choices that are most commonly taken. This simply gets rid of the choices that are not taken, to force players to make good choices with limited numbers of things a player can do. The implication however, is that the choices made, are a whole lot more powerful, and therefore, making a bad choice, hurts the player significantly more. 

Left, Right, or employ. These are your choices… 

Initial Impressions

The box art that is chosen by Moaideas is always pretty, and for me thought provoking. The game theme is interesting.

The downside of Moaideas in general, is that the choices they make for theme, do not overly excite me. This is however, said with an abundance of caution, one cannot judge a game only by it’s theme. 

The idea of a market bubble in Tulip Bubble is interesting, but what makes the game is the knowing the bubble will burst. In Mini Rails, the game theme, honestly, was so overly uninspiring, I almost didn’t play it. 

That would have been a great loss, as both are outstanding games, that have used less than exciting game themes, to give nuance to a game that the gameplay is what makes the game great. This game is very similar, I think Roman history is fascinating, but the theme does not excite me. Knowing, however, that it is a Moaideas game, I knew to look past the original idea, and look at the base mechanics. 

All in all, Left, Right, Employ, is a simple, yet rich mechanic, that give players immense power, with limited choice. This, I like.

Quality of Components and Insert

The game is a simple playboard, 6 player boards, two size cards, money, and influence chips. 

Everything is adequate. I am a bit surprised at the feel of the cards, of both sizes however. They do not feel as thick or matte’d as I prefer. I hope they stand up to much use, as this game could easily become a group favorite, due to it’s simplicity. 

The player board and play board, are both of good quality, with good lines. 

Artistic Direction

The art of Moaideas game is generally of a understated elegance. It could easily go on a coffee table, or even an art gallery, and feel right at home. 

I like the ideas of games as art, so perhaps Moaideas is playing towards my likes! (I’d like to think so, but they have been doing this sort of art before MG ever started reviewing them.)

I am a huge fan of the art Moaideas chooses to use in their games. Liberatores is no different. Five Senators, overlooking Caesar in a judging hypocritical old politician manner. Simple, elegant, beautiful.

Fun Factor

As a preview copy of Liberatores, I received the copy this morning. Sadly I have not been able to round-up the required 3-6 players. I do not want to say this game IS fun, without having had played it.

However, I like the boiled down game mechanics that Moaideas is quickly becoming famous for, and for that reason, I can unapologetically say, I believe this game will be fun. The tug of war between the conspirators, and the Caesar sympathizers should create a good juxtaposition for even the most astute and keen observer of people. As sometimes, even a conspirator will need money from Caesar. This means, you will never know, what the action someone is actually taking.

Based on the instructions alone, I think this game looks great, and great fun. I will get it play tested soon I hope, and add any new information here.

Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion

The game range suggestion is 15+. Due to the nature of the game being somewhat a social deduction game, I tend to agree. I have seen too many teenagers get upset during these types of games, and could not encourage a younger player to try it. However, the content is not graphic, or any reason why a parent with a mature child could not enjoy the game.

Conclusions

I like Moaideas, this is already well known. 

I also like games that have boiled down decisions. I think this game with the right audience could be a huge title. It feels clean, and simply is enjoyable (theme and mechanics).

As a lover of all things Moaideas, I will likely suggest after having had played it, for others to put this onto their shelves. In an abundance of caution, since it has not yet been played through, I cannot yet give it a “BUY” rating. Once the game has been played, I will update my rating, here in the conclusion. I think I know what it might be, but I’d rather be sure prior to suggesting anyone spend their hard earned money on an as yet un-played preview game.