Mage Company published a new edition of Reiner Knizia’s trading game; Res Publica: 2230AD. It has been re-themed and the rules are revised.
Res Publica is a trading game from Dr. Reiner Knizia and it was first published in 1991 by Hexagames and later, in 1998, by Queen Games, who also published a second edition in 2000 and a revised third edition in 2011.
This means that the game is basically twenty-five years old. That’s boardgaming centuries ago!
So what did Mage Company change to make it appeal to today’s gamers? Well, slow down, let’s begin with explaining how basic Res Publica works.
Res Publica has two basic elements: trading and set collection. There are two types of cards that you can collect, namely People cards (5 different ‘races’) and Civilizations cards (5 different ‘technologies)’ . Every players starts with four random People cards and in your turn you can do two things. Firstly, you can offer or ask for up to two types of cards. ‘I want a Hun or a Viking’ or ‘I want one Goth and two Shipbuilding’. Then in clockwise order player, depending on if you offered or asked for something, tell you what they want from you in return or what they have to offer in return. So maybe someone has one Goth card and two Shipbuilding card, then he can say: ‘I want three Vikings in return’. Then the active player whose decides if he or she wants to accept that offer. You can’t negotiate. It’s one offer and one offer only.
The second thing you can do is display a group of five identical cards, five Huns for instance. When you display five People cards, you can buy a Settlement. This gives you three points. When you display five Civilization cards, you can buy a city. Cities have a descending point value, which means the player who builds the first city gets more points than the last city builder.
At the end of your turn you draw one People card from the draw deck and, for every settlement you have built, you draw one Civilization card. You can never draw more than three cards.
The last round is initiated when the Civilization card deck is empty. Players get points for their settlements and cities and for every pair of identical cards they have in their hand. The player with the most points is the winner.
There, I gave you a quick overview of the first edition rules. However, it does not end there. Queen, when they published the later editions, have added some cards and rules to the game. First, they added a new type of People card; the Monks. There are five of them and they can only be used to build one of the two available Churches, which gives you seven points. Secondly, they have added a set of five new Civilization card, Books, and they can only be used to build one of the two available Libraries. They allow the placement of only four instead of five civilisation cards when you build a city.
Now there’s another version.
You probably have already guessed it, looking at the box cover, but the early European civilizations theme is gone. We’re in space now with six different alien races and six different technologies.
There are no Huns or Vikings to be seen. We have to deal with the Galeash, Terrans or Ornopeans now. And Trade and Metalworking are changed in Bionic Implants or Warp Speed for instance. A City is still a City, but the Settlements or converted into Space Stations to fit the theme.
The five Books from the third edition became six Cloning Facilities and Library turned into a University, costing three Cloning Facilities instead of two. Similarly, the five Monks became the Aturian race and the Church card is converted to a Resort card, costing three Aturians. These card kept the same function as they had in the third edition.
So, you can still play the game with the earlier rules if you want to, the cards just have other names and another appearance.
Whether you like the new space theme or not is a matter of taste. I’m not opposed to it, but you can’t deny that Huns or Goths are easier to pronounce and remember than Damarkos or Skythris. However, maybe you just need to get used them. The artwork looks good. That’s a plus.
OK, what did they add to the game then?
Well, to begin with, they have added a new race and a new technology. The six new Pilot ‘race’ can be used as a wild card for the five basic races, so it can’t be used as an Aturian. The six new Trooper cards are added to the Technology deck and they can be used to block the ability of an opponent’s building for a turn. So you can, for instance, block an opponent’s Space Station, so she can draw fewer Technology cards next turn.
There one new building, a New Colony, that you can build for three identical Race and three identical Technology cards. From now on, once during every turn, this card gives you the option to give one card from your hand to another player and discard another card to your own discard pile (In this edition, every player discards their cards when they display them to their own Technology and Race discard pile) and then look through and pick one card from a discard pile from another player.
The biggest change from the earlier editions is the addition of the Planets. The planets, one for every player, are separated into four districts and every district has its own mission. If you complete a mission, you get bonus points. The missions are: build two Space Station and get seven points, display five different Technologies and get five points, make three trades during the game in your own turn and get three points, build two cities and get five extra points.
That’s it. The new edition is a reality.
What do I think of this new edition? Let me first say that if you didn’t like the old editions, you are not going to be convinced by this one. They’ve added a couple of features, but the basic game is exactly the same.
I don’t think the game becomes more difficult with the new Planets and the new Races and Technologies. The enjoyability of the game totally depend on the ability and willingness of your group to trade. Otherwise it’s just a game of drawing cards and hoping you draw the right ones. That results in a luck-fest and that’s not desirable. The Planet mission that gives you an extra three points if you trade successfully helps to guide the game in the right direction.
This and the other Planet missions are a good thing to focus on and they are more difficult to complete than you might think, even the ‘trade three times’ one isn’t that easy. So, yes, I do think the Narkh-Aduul Planets are nice addition to the game.
The Pilot is just OK, a bit redundant maybe, because you mostly acquire them only by drawing them and not by trading. So, it doesn’t add a lot to the game. The Troopers make the game even more interactive and add a ‘take that!’ element to the game. So it depends on whether you are a fan of direct confrontation whether you like them or not.
The New Colony card wasn’t very popular in the games I’ve played, because it seems only worthwhile when you get it very early and you also want to use your technologies early to buy the cities that are worth more point, so there’s a conflict there.
Well, that’s it. Res Publica 2230AD; an older game with a new theme and some new features. It’s OK. A bit more interesting than the original, but it’s still not mind blowing.