Authors and publishers like to take historical settings as topics - and most of the time they are welcomed by gamers. The two-player board game “Revolution of 1828” by Frosted Games and Pegasus Spiele also picks up on a historical, maybe even a formative Epoch of US history: the first dirty campaign in a US election campaign - at least that is the editorial processing of the game theme. It was the presidential candidates Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson who offered each other the political exchange that one would expect from an exciting election campaign today. In our review of the board game “Revolution of 1828” by Stefan Feld, we reveal whether and who this connoisseur title can playfully and thematically convince.


The two-player title "Revolution of 1828" is a majority game, set against a historical setting in the United States - the board game can be chronologically arranged between the American Civil War and the colonial era. More specifically: Thematically, the action revolves around the election campaign between the presidential candidates Dr. Quincy Adam and Andrew Jackson.

Quincy or Jackson, that's not a question here

As a player, you would really like to believe in the theme of “Revolution of 1828”. Not least because the attractive illustration of the box seems to promise a historically impressive game event. If you follow the editorial processing of the board game, this election campaign is said to have been the first in which dirty campaigns were used to emerge as the victor - and thus President of the United States - from the political power struggle.

These electors want to be convinced - then there are bonus points for delegates. Photo: André Volkmann

These electors want to be convinced - then there are bonus points for delegates. Photo: André Volkmann

Following the logic, the players slip in the footsteps of the two presidential candidates to win the election campaign. At this point, “Revolution of 1828” suffers: The instructions fail to interest the players in the historical setting: Who is Quincy Adams, who is Andrew Jackson? Is that what the players agree with, if they even think of it? How do the two political camps differ? Not at all. The fact that the tiles have to look the same for both sides is thanks to the mechanics and is understandable. However, the fact that the game board is completely identical for both parties gnaws at the motivation.

As a player, you embody a presidential candidate and are supposed to pull delegates to "your side". Because both sides are completely identical, however, the identification with the political groups is completely bleak. Worse, players just don't care why they're doing what they're doing. As a result, the topic seems artificial. In games from the pen of the experienced author Stefan Feld, this is not uncommon - and also not a problem if the mechanics at least know how to cast a spell.

Solid mechanics meets coincidence

"Revolution of 1828" is a majority game, but also rather reduced in terms of play. The game board consists of colored territories in the USA in 1828, and another black area depicts the press, which can influence the election campaign in its own way through its reporting. The structure is simple: At the beginning, three game tiles are placed in each area - randomly, blindly drawn from the enclosed bag. The colored delegate tiles are just as much a part of it as campaign campaigns (brown) or the “dirty campaigns” (black).

Then the players take turns choosing one of the tiles on display and taking appropriate actions: Delegates are placed in their own state area or special campaigns are carried out on the campaign tiles, including blocking bonus moves, swapping actions or additional moves. The dirty campaigns are initially used as wild cards and replace delegates, and under certain circumstances - precisely when you as a player have to pull the "editor" over to your side - are rated as minus points.

Filth campaigns: These black game tiles only serve as jokers - and sometimes give you minus points. Photo: André Volkmann

Dirt campaigns: These black game tiles are only used as jokers - and sometimes even give you minus points. Photo: André Volkmann

The simple process ends with a climax in each territory: the player who takes the last tile from an area also receives the corresponding elector (or the editor from the press area). On the one hand, the electors bring extra points in the interim scores, but at the same time also mean that the player who has drawn the pawn towards him has to make another move, which is mandatory. From this a kind of "strategy" develops, at least to some extent, which includes predicting future own and opposing moves. When all tiles have been distributed, an intermediate scoring takes place, which gives the players points based on the number of “convinced” delegates and electors. 

This is usually not particularly complex, especially because not only delegates but also campaign actions are randomly distributed from the board during the preparation phase. Some actions then fizzle out without any effect, other actions work completely arbitrarily and the mechanics of the minus points due to the dirt campaigns tend to balance out over the four rounds to be played.

The player who draws the last tile from an area also takes the elector - then he receives a bonus move. Photo: André Volkmann

The player who draws the last tile from an area also takes the elector - then he receives a bonus move. Photo: André Volkmann

Occasionally, those tactical tricks unfold that show that "Revolution of 1828" is basically not a bad or not very entertaining, but a solid and well thought-out two-player game: A player pulls the elector towards him, forcing him to help in his mandatory bonus move the “agenda” encourages the opponent to take a tile from a certain region and thus increases his lead in points - planned and carefully considered. In those moments, the title reveals what it really could have been: a tactically demanding majority game that brings the opponent to the brink of defeat with foresighted moves. 

Frosted Games upgrades the rather simple game at least with the excellent material: heaps of tiles, thick cardboard, lots of color and successful illustrations indicate what the author, draftsman and publisher are capable of. It's a shame that the exciting setting hardly finds a chance to actually find itself in the game. The instructions get sick at the introduction of all things: the focus is always on the mechanics - nothing is interwoven with the topic. Even the admittedly detailed, historical appendix on the last pages of the rules manual is of little help: the strong topic remains pale.

Images of Revolution of 1828

Infobox

Number of players: 2 
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 30 to 40 minutes
Difficulty: low
Long-term motivation: low

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
Author: Stefan Feld
Graphics: Alexander Jung
Year of publication: 2019
Language: German
Cost: 25 Euro

Summary

The weak implementation of the topic has one advantage: You don't have to be a lover of historical settings to like "Revolution of 1828", because the history of the USA after the American Revolution is hardly illuminated in this board game anyway. The board game is abstract, its mechanics reduced by basic rules and anything but complex. The joy of “Revolution of 1828” by Stefan Feld was great - after all, we like some board games from his pen (just think of Carpe Diem or Aqua Sphere.

With the board game from the Kenner series by Pegasus Spiele, the historical background should have been a real bonus, for us it should have been. It was disappointing that the story of the story, of all things, didn't work out. Regardless, the main thing is that quality comes across as playful: in fact, “Revolution of 1828” has some good moments. You can annoy your opponent, give yourself an advantage, and predict moves wisely. The game is interactive, never reduced to its own play area and therefore purely playful solid.

In the end, the title is aimed at all those family players who want to compete against each other in classic duels in a board game with high demands. In this area, “Revolution of 1828” works well. Fans of Stefan Feld's games will have fun with the abstract title as always, everyone else can at least fill in gaps with the 30-minute games.

And now for all attentive readers: The word election campaign has not yet appeared in the conclusion. And that is exactly where the biggest problem of "Revolution of 1828" lies.

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