Of all area control games I’ve played, Liberté has the most challenging decisions of them all. Behind its French revolutionary façade lies an opaque game where players don’t directly control a faction. Matches can close with a narrow margin in victory points or end swiftly with a monarchist coup. It’s one of my favourite Martin Wallace designs despite a few shortcomings.
Before rising to stardom as a game designer, Cohle Wherle was known for being an avid gamer. He could be found on Boardgamegeek, sharing his thoughts on highly combative titles like Dune, wargames or the 18XX series. His first designs, like Pax Pamir and An Infamous Traffic kept that belligerence and added his own sardonic wit.
It should be expected, then, that Root would be about cute animals and the violent struggle for power between them.
Bloodthirsty vikings battle at the end of the world in Blood Rage. Players rally their monsters and troops to fight, not in pursuit of a goal, but for its own glory. It’s a streamlined, hyper aggressive game of area control and card play.
Every time I see it, I want to play it again. But every time I do, I walk away disappointed. It’s a game on the cusp of being great, in the same way a car without brakes is almost complete.
Dune has battles, but it’s not a game about combat. There’s treachery, and negotiation, but deals alone cannot secure victory. The highly asymmetrical factions give their leaders incredible power, but they are balanced in such a way that they are but a tool in the fight for the desert planet.
Forty years after its original publication date, its multi layered mechanics and superb theming have made Dune one of the best games I’ve ever played.