Big chunky box, beautiful artwork, loads of components! Unboxing this beast of Revive felt a little bit daunting...
I had read the theme ahead of buying this game, and I knew that it had a post-apocalyptic vibe to it (5000 after the fall of mankind), and you are to lead your tribe to explore the now-frozen surface of the Earth. You search for artifacts whilst building, populating, and gathering resources. The base game has four very asymmetric starting tribes which have a reversible side that is unlocked with the campaign mode.
On your turn you take up to two actions, of which you have a choice of five actions; Play a card, explore a tile, populate, build a factory, or FLIP THE SWITCH (nowhere near as exciting as it should be), as well as free actions like powering your machines for brucey bonuses. On any turn, you can choose to hibernate which resets your board and cards, as well as giving you a hibernation bonus.
Game end is triggered once the final artifact has left the board, then each other players gets one final turn, making turn count potentially asymmetric. There is as-you-go scoring, and end-game scoring, using private objective markers meaning that you aren’t able to predict how the scoring will turn out until the end.
The cover art is stunning, mirrored with the back of the board, depicting a bright yellow daffodil against a dramatic backdrop of ice, snow and desolation. Each of the tribe faction boards are equally beautiful and as unique as each other their abilities. The design of each tribe gives a helpful clue as to how each tribe play. For example, the green Nadair looking reminiscent of Jabe representative of the Forest of Cheem (for the Whovians out there) use and generate books as a resource, which is represented as green on cards and machine tokens.
One place that the artwork is let down is with the cards; There are three types of cards and sadly each card has the same artwork for each yellow card, each green card, and each grey cards. Perhaps the designers didn’t want to over-complicate the design of the cards in an already complex game, or perhaps budget/time constraints were a factor?
Set-up is a length... Think along the lines of Brass Birmingham, getting all your factories in the right locations, but there are five different market rows to prepare for playing the game as well as your own tribe faction board and machine.
Although there are a lot of components and iconography to get your head around when you first open the Revive box, I don’t feel that this is as complex as a game as other games it has been compared to. Most of the iconography is fairly intuitive once you’re a few turns into the game; yellow cards and yellow machine tokens = food, green cards and green machine tokens = books, grey cards and grey machine tokens = gears.
The game comes with a handy dandy player aid which nicely summarises your action choices, but would benefit from a fuller player aid with iconography cheat sheet on there for the benefit of the first few plays rather than having to refer to the lengthy rulebook so often. One major plus is that the tribe abilities are described in great detail within the rules to alleviate any ambiguity.
Each game of Revive varies dramatically because:
- Each of the four basic tribe factions play very differently and will tilt your game-play in different direction from your opponents
- Variations on starting cards – even the six basic starting cards are all slightly tweaked compared to your opponents
- Artifact goal (victory point) cards are different on each playthrough
- The map is built by using a small number of starting tiles in the centre, then the rest of the map tiles are distributed randomly across the rest of the board
- The four corner pieces of the map can be populated to additional victory points, and these four are randomly selected from a choice of ten possible pieces
- CAMPAIGN MODE! Once you are comfortable enough with the game, there is a sealed deck and two sheets of additional components for a short run of campaign games. These unlock additional tribes and other stuff, but no spoilers because I’ve not opened mine yet!
One drawback of playing Revive is its lack of player interaction. You can’t build whether others have already built, and if you populate where others have already populated then you are taxed with one extra resource for other tribes already there. Your board size is the same, whether you are playing at 2-, 3-, or 4-player, which is why I recommend this at 4-player – otherwise the board is so vast that you are unlikely to cross paths with other tribes and the game end is usually triggered before the board gets overcrowded, even at maximum player count. No deals, alliances, trading etc. Other than build/populate being affected, and another player potentially taking a card from a market row that you had perhaps wanted, or exploring a tile before you managed to, this game borders on parallel-play.
The map tiles and tribe boards are made of sturdy cardboard. Dual-layered boards for the tribe machines are always appreciated. Cards are a decent quality, and as there is no shuffling like with a deckbuilder, you can get away without sleeving the cards. A really nice feature of this game is that everything slots in ‘just so’, like unlocked the token on your tribe ability slots perfectly into the progress track along the edge of your machine, or the token for resource tracking fits perfectly in its intended dock.
One slightly frustrating thing in Revive is that when you are playing a card, and you have to play them by sliding them into your tribe machine card slots, it can be difficult to slide the card underneath the board, and it would benefit from being slightly raised to make it less fiddly to put the cards in.