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Triumphus Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look:

Designer: Laura Varney and James Browne
Publisher: Fairview Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 8+ 
Playing Time: 15-30 min.

From the publisher: 
The enemies of the throne have been vanquished! Victory is the new crown of out great society and THE TRIUMPHUS is upon us. There is only one catch: The Emperor, in a sophomoric fit of rage, has separated his Imperial Merriment Planner from his post – and his head. 

This is your chance to either attain riches and acclaim beyond measure or wind up like the last poor soul. 


The Emperor is holding trials for the new planner needed for our nation’s most important celebration. 


You must bring your best food, acrobats, décor, offering, and wine. Triumph over your competitors to win the favor of the high court and all the land. 


Your life depends on it!

***

TL;DR: Triumphus is simple enough to introduce to your non-gaming friends–simple rules, simple iconography, simple game play. But once you get past its simple façade, Triumphus’ game progression leaves players with more difficult choices, forcing them to push their luck in order to win.

Review:

Set Up:
Getting Triumphus to the table and ready for play is simple–separate the two decks based on the card backs. The cards with the brown backs are supplies, and the cards with the blue backs are rewards. Shuffle the decks and deal each player five face-down supply cards and place five reward cards face-up in the center of the table within reach of all players. Take the remaining supply cards and reward cards and create draw decks, placing them within reach of the players.

Supply cards: Supply cards each contain one supply that can be used to purchase a reward card from the face-up options. Players cannot have more than 10 supply cards in their hand at the end of a turn.

Reward cards: The reward cards serve as the game’s victory points as well as a currency system. The cost of the reward card is designated by the supply icons included on the card. The victory points or sell value for the reward ranges from 4-7 points as designated on the reward card.

Gameplay:
On a player’s turn, they have the option of taking up to three actions. Actions can be performed in any order but can only be performed once per turn.

Exchange supplies: Take up to three cards from your hand, discard face-up, and take an equal number of supply cards from the supply deck. (If at any point the supply deck is empty, players shuffle the discard pile and create a new supply deck.)

Each of the five supply types.
Collect a reward: Take supply cards from your hand to meet the purchase condition of a reward card, discard face-up, and claim the reward card by placing it face up in front of you. Replace the empty reward card space with a card from the reward card deck.

Examples of reward cards. The cost is represented by the icons at the bottom, while the point value is at the top right.
Sell a reward: Select one of your claimed rewards, draw a number of cards equal to the reward card’s value, and then turn the reward face-down. Face-down reward cards are worth one point at the end of the game.

Players may also choose to pass.

Play continues until all 25 reward cards have been claimed. Once the final card is claimed, the game ends and points are tallied. Face-up reward cards are worth the value printed on the card, while face-down rewards cards (i.e. sold rewards) are worth one point each. The player with the most points wins.

Theme:

Triumphus is lightly-themed around ancient Greece/Rome represented in the art and iconography. While the theme wasn’t essential for the game play, it works well and looks good on the cards. I was originally drawn to this game based on the art and thematic elements and was not disappointed by the thematic elements.

Back and front of the wine supply card.
Artwork and Components:
The version that I reviewed was a prototype and all items are subject to change. That being said, I would not have been disappointed if it were the final version. I enjoyed the art and the card quality was good.

Back and front of the reward cards.

Strengths:
Simple to teach – In the instances that I taught the game, we went from rules to play in under 3 minutes.

Looks good – I don’t want to talk too much about the art since it is not final, but I like it. It was what originally drew my attention to the game and I think that it adds a little thematic flair on a game that is otherwise light on theme.

Offering supply card.
Encourages press-your-luck without being a PYL game  – I really liked the ability to use potential victory points as currency. This was probably my favorite part of the game because it forces players to not only track their scoring throughout the game, but also track their opponents and view their rewards as potential points and potential currency. As the rounds progress, players have to start looking past what they can/cannot do, and also at what their opponents could do. With each decision, players have to not only consider the cost and potential benefit of their action or inaction, but also that of their opponents. For example, a player could sell a four point card to get four supplies that might be the supplies they need to get the available seven point card. But if they don’t draw the necessary supplies they may have just lost three points. But if they don't get it, will one of their opponents claim it, and if they do, what if the next card is lower that discourages the selling of a reward? This game is not for the risk averse.

Ends with a bang – Since the rewards are face up, you can get a pretty good idea of the player scores as you approach the end of the game. This makes the decision to sell rewards much more agonizing. Players must consider the risk of selling to potentially get another reward vs. selling and not getting the reward vs. not selling and having an opponent sell and obtain the reward. Triumphus may start innocently enough, but it ends with teeth.

Weaknesses:
...Or with a whimper – The only negative I had with the game is based on one specific play, so it may not be common, but it is a possibility and could occur at any point in a game.

When the final five rewards were available, they were all four-point cards. This happened before, but this was at the end of the game. All of the players had six and/or seven point cards face-up, so there was no desire to sell for the possibility of getting a four point card. Selling a six point card, even if you obtained the four point card on the same turn, would result in a net loss of one point. On top of that, even if you got the cards necessary to get a four point card that same turn (losing one point in the process), you may not have enough resources to purchase another four point card on your next turn, which would then require you to sell another card to get a four point card. All the players knew this and were averse to taking the sell action as the game score was close and whomever started sacrificing their six or seven point cards would drop in placing. Worst case, it could be like quicksand that could suck you into last place. 

But this is where things went south – of the three actions available to players they are all optional. A player can pass, and pass, and pass, and that is what ended up happening. Player one would trade in only one card (they only had one and no reward card can be purchased with only one supply) for a new card. Players two-four would pass. Player one would trade in their one card again. Players two-four would pass, and so on and so forth. We went through a few rounds of this before two of the players became frustrated and sold cards to claim cards just to end the game. And as we all suspected, it cost them more points than they received.

Since the game’s end is triggered by all of the reward cards being claimed, coupled with players being able to pass as a turn option, games can end in an infinite-loop of passing and frustration. I didn’t see anything in the rules that would address this, so my recommendation would be if you see your group in a pass-pass-pass-pass loop, force players to take a different action.

Final Thoughts:
Aside from the game-that-wouldn’t-end scenario, I liked Triumphus for what it was. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. It was easy to teach and what starts as a simple collect/purchase card game quickly turns into players sweating their decisions and trying to determine the probability of success if they sell their rewards. It’s a lot more push your luck than you would think on the onset, and fortune favors the bold.

Players Who Like: Simple, travel-friendly card games that start easy and build with self-applied pressure.


Check out Triumphus on:

      https://www.facebook.com/FairviewGamesAsheville/     https://www.instagram.com/triumphusgame/?fbclid=IwAR1KRq9P4vwJ9uZqi2Y8JO-K-bjveIi-uMRAUkylnBKm0M_IXGKxq8hMsTE     

Coming to KICKSTARTER in September 2019.



Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma.

See Nick's reviews HERE.
Triumphus Kickstarter Preview Triumphus Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Nick Shipley on August 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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