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Virtual Revolution

Published by Studio H and distributed by Hachette Boardgames, Virtual Revolution is set a generation in the future in 2047 in a dystopian universe where people spend most of their lives plugged into addictive virtual reality worlds known as 'verses: think Westworld meets The Matrix. The game is based on a 2016 French cyberpunk movie that relatively few of us have seen and, uniquely, it's the director of that movie, Guy-Roger Duvert who designed the game, along with Cyril Villalonga.

Virtual Revolution is notionally for 2-4 players but it's demonstrably more interactive with three or, better still, the full four player complement, and you can expect games to run to around two hours. It's essentially an area control game played over five rounds of three turns each where players are competing by adding influence in sectors in the map and they're boosting their income and scoring points by recruiting and using agents and placing out internet servers. There's an engine-building element because players' actions will often cascade into a chain where, for example, an agent is recruited, activated for their benefit which then gives rise to a further action or benefit... Cards can also be used to increase the strength of an action. Turns tho' are something of a balancing act as the actions you take often force you to draw corruption cards which function as a kind of negative set collection element: they are only activated if you have the number in your hand (usually five) needed to trigger an end-of-round raid from Interpol.

The corruption cards introduce quite a high luck quotient into what is otherwise a strategy game: you can be unfortunate and draw situational corruption cards that hit you with a heavy potential penalty while an opponent happens to draw cards that happen to have no effect on them at all. Early on in the game, the situational nature of the corruption cards you draw may well help direct your strategy - pointing you away from actions or 'verses that will be affected by the cards you've drawn. Likewise, the random end-of-turn 'Necroterrorist' cards that appear primarily designed as a catch-up mechanism to handicap players in the lead are also situational so may affect some players rather more than others; tho', to be fair, the game incorporates mechanisms for players to seize advance notice of what the Necroterrorists will be targeting that round.

Tho' there is a fair amount going on in the game, turns are reasonably straightforward so Virtual Revolution isn't overly difficult to learn or play. There are a lot of icons but the iconography is clear: this isn't a game where you'll be constantly clinging on to the rulebook to decode your options. We've also been very impressed with the various different wooden meeples and, in particular, with the artwork. Given the game's provenance we might've expected it to feature stills from the movie but it instead makes extensive use of the art of Benjamin Sjoberg.

The Board's Eye View team have enjoyed our plays of Virtual Revolution and it's prompted us to try to track down and watch the movie; maybe that was Guy-Roger Duvert's intention from the outset :-)

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