Full disclosure: A preview copy of Triumphus was provided by Fairview Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
Alright, we’re back on the Kickstarter grind, and so quickly after Gen Con! Since I’m writing this before Gen Con, I don’t really have anything to say about the convention or any of the games I picked up there, so I won’t. Let’s take a deeper look at Triumphus, instead, coming from Fairview Games.
In Triumphus, you’re living out the best days of the Roman Empire (as far as you know) when the emperor announces that he killed his party planner. That’s a bummer, but what can you do. You have to become the next party planner. That’s the only obvious outcome. Will you be able to throw the biggest bash in the entire empire? Or will it end up being a bit Visi-gauche?
Pretty much none required. Shuffle up the Reward Cards;
Flip five face-up in the center of the play area. Then, shuffle the Supply Cards:
Deal each player 5 Supply Cards. You should be ready to start!
The game’s flow is pretty simple. Your goal is to throw enough parties to convince people that you’re the talk of the town.
On your turn, you’re going to do up to three actions, in any order you’d like:
Discard Two Cards
You may discard two Supply Cards and draw two new ones. Not much to say there.
Buy a Reward Card
You may discard three or four Supply Cards with icons matching a Reward Card to take one of the five Reward Cards from the center. Once you do, immediately draw a new one to replace it, if one’s available.
Spend a Reward Card
You may flip a Reward Card over to draw a number of cards equal to the Reward Card’s point value. The flipped Reward Card is only worth 1 point at the end of the game.
End of Game
The game ends once the Rewards Cards are completely depleted. When that happens, count up your total points (Reward Card Values + 1 point / Flipped Reward Card). The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Generally, not that many. The scores will be lower, since the Rewards Cards are likely going to be spread across more players. Beyond that, the player with the most points wins!
- Get the pattern down. There’s a concrete order to how you should take your turns, since the only way to draw cards is to spend cards. You should cycle, buy, and spend, if you can, and if that doesn’t work out, try to spend, then cycle, then buy. Ultimately you want to be buying every turn, if you have the ability to do so. If not, you run the risk of falling behind.
- Don’t waste cards. This is the key. You basically want to end the game with zero cards in hand; that means you’re optimally maximizing the number of points that you scored (somewhat; if you end up with one card in hand but you managed to get a higher-value card along the way it probably balances out). If you’re spending cards for basically no reason, you’re just burning your points, and games aren’t often decided by a ton of margin either way.
- Remember what’s already been taken. I say this mostly for the Reward Cards that feature three of a resource (and are worth 6 points). Once you see one go away, there’s not really a reason to keep three of a Supply Card type in your hand (unless you plan to really utilize them well). If you haven’t seen the one for your triple and you don’t really need to discard anything, go wild; it can be really optimal if you manage to score one, since it only costs three cards.
- Try to restrict the Reward Cards. If you’ve got the ability to buy both a cheap and a valuable card, buy the cheap one first, generally, is what I’d say. There’s no guarantee your opponent will be able to pick up the valuable one, especially if you’ve seen a lot of Supply Cards of one type end up in the discard, so you might be able to get lucky off of that. Just be careful, naturally, because every time you take a Reward Card, a new one flips, and your opponent might get lucky on that flip. Not much you can do to stop it.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The art is very cool. It’s got that sorta fresco-style going for it, which I really appreciate!
- The game’s portable. It’s just cards, so kinda throw it in a backpack or Quiver or something and take it on the go. It also doesn’t use up much space; you could pretty easily play it in a car if you had a way to display the Reward Cards easily. Or just hold them, too.
- Plays pretty quickly. It’s a quick cycle and you don’t need to repeat it that many times. You can usually power through it in about half an hour or so; no big deal. It’s not a long game by any means, though it’s longer than what I’d traditionally think of as a filler game.
- The cards flip … weird. It’s the opposite of the way I’d expect, which is frustrating. Hopefully that’s just an issue with the prototype; I would be a bit more irritated if that was the way they printed the final version of the game.
- If everyone has a bad draw the game is gonna be a bit slow. We had one game where nobody was getting the right cards to buy anything, so we ended up slogging for like, two full cycles where players were just cycling cards. It wasn’t very exciting, but it thankfully hasn’t happened since.
- The game’s core cycle doesn’t interest me greatly. I think that I just don’t feel like there’s enough going on for how long the game takes. For a filler, sure, it’s a quick cycle and it’s decently fun, but we’re usually hitting upwards of 30 minutes with this. There are a fair number of cards and you just kinda buy cards, spend cards, and cycle cards. I’d want to see something that I find more engaging for it to maintain my interest long term. It could also help if the game were a bit lighter overall, but given the number of cards it definitely gives off the impression that it’s a bit deeper than I’ve found it to be.
- Luck’s a pretty important factor. A lot of the game comes down to what cards you can draw when, and that can stymie you. There’s nothing worse than drawing up to over 10 cards and then still not being able to buy anything and having to discard down. You just wasted points, and it feels terrible. Similarly, after struggling for two rounds and not being able to play anything, it’s annoying when the exact card that gets flipped happens to be much more valuable (and is immediately claimed by your opponent).
Overall: 5.75 / 10
Overall, Triumphus falls a bit flat, for me. I think that’s due to it occupying a space that I’m not super keen on: the spot between filler and a light game. Due to its usual playtime, I think that it strikes me as more of a light game than a filler, but it is definitely streamlined like a filler would be. This isn’t much of a problem, per se, but it means I went in with a certain expectation that I don’t think the game was equipped to satisfy. That said, it does have some positives: I really enjoy the art, for one; it captures the time period well and looks stylized but still colorful in ways that I appreciate. I’d honestly love a deck of cards that had a similar art style to the Supply Cards. It’s also, as I mentioned, very portable, and that’s always good (even better for a filler game). I just don’t think I’m particularly engaged by the core gameplay elements of it, as it reminds me of an engine building game without the actual engine, which isn’t my particular cup of tea (I had a similar problem with Chocolatiers). To wit, I’d probably rather play Splendor or Realm of Sand, since the engine-building is a major part of the game and I feel less like I’m cycling cards. If that’s not a big deal to you or you’re looking for a pretty casual card game, however, Triumphus may be your speed.