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Aporta Games' Revive was one of the most hotly anticipated games at Essen Spiel 2022. You wouldn't know it from the title or the box art but Revive is notionally set in a post-apocalyptic world. It's 5000 years since the world was destroyed, and the 1-4 players represent rival factions emerging from an underground bunker to explore and 'revive' the frozen Earth. Don't get too excited about the theme, tho'; it sets up the premise for the game but it barely registers as you play.

Revive is actually a medium-weight 'points salad' engine-building euro game where you're playing cards for their top or bottom value, mostly to generate resources which you then spend to explore (turn over unrevealed tiles), populate a 'city' hex or place a building out on the board to gain the benefits from adjacent hexes. When you explore, you get to add a card to your hand from those in the display - bolstering your thin starter deck, deck-builder style, and you can upgrade slots on your individual board so that cards of a matching colour give you extra resources. Meanwhile, you're also moving markers along tracks on your board to unlock spots at which you can spend lightning bolt power tokens to take a free special action in addition to the two standard actions you're allowed each turn. Players have asymmetric abilities, one of which they can use when they play a card showing the star icon, with others unlocked when population meeples are played onto the main board.

Tho' you may never feel like you're actually 'reviving' a desolate world, there is a distinct game arc to players' expansion across the board. Provided you can afford the indicated cost in food and/or books, you can explore tiles adjacent to any of your pieces but you have to pay an extra food for each hex between you and the tile you are exploring. Likewise with buildings (that cost gears to place) and population (which cost books); for each hex you place them beyond the hex that's adjacent to one of your previously placed pieces, it costs you a food. The game then is about generating and juggling resources; and you're limited in how many of each you can stockpile. It's also a hand management game; getting the best use out of your cards and knowing when to take a 'hibernation' (rest) action to pick up a new hand from your reserve/discard pile and reset the lightning power bolts. There's even a bonus for 'hibernating' so it never seems like a wasted turn.

Other than the occasional competition for the hex locations on the board with the best adjacent bonuses, there's not a lot of player interaction; tho' you can play with the option of being able to use a card placed out by an opponent on their board. Do this and you mimic the benefit of that card and consign it to that player's reserve. Mostly when you do this you are doing that player a favour, both because you are opening up a spot on their player board for them to play another card and because cards in the reserve pile get picked up after the player's next 'hibernation' action; so if you mimic their card, they'll get to recover it a rest sooner than they otherwise would.

You can play Revive as a story-based campaign, adding small modifications to each subsequent play, but since the story does little to enliven the paper-thin theme and the modifications are relatively minor, you might just as well incorporate them all or at least offer them as options from the outset; for example, the option we mentioned of being able to mimic a card played by an opponent. On the other hand, playing the game as a campaign does at least guarantee that players return for at least five plays, particularly as Revive is a game that you'll get more out of as you become increasingly familiar with its intricacies and the way in which its elements synergise.

The dual-layer boards are a boon, especially as they incorporate slots for you to drop in additional tokens when you unlock them. You may find some elements of the game a little awkward tho': the three different colour tracks on your board are fine but there are some locations that need to be reached by two of the tracks before they can be unlocked and it's all too easy to miss that on a first play. Also, setting up the central board with all its randomised face-down exploration tokens and each of the player boards with their various building and population meeples may be a bit fiddly for some folk: this isn't a game you can just tip out of the box and play; you'll need to allow 10-15 minutes to set it up.

#Revive #Aporta #eurogame #enginebuilder #postapocalyptic #handmanagement #exploration #deckbuilder

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