Ring Side Report- Review of Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Colombia

Game: Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Colombia

Players: 2 or 4

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Playtime(setup/play/clean-up): 150 minutes

Set Ending: Yes

TL;DR– Smart, interesting twists on a standard war game. 92.5 %

How You Play: Think Risk+ on  3-D rails.  In this game you take the rolls of either the Founders of Colombia or the Vox Populi.  Turns involve revealing a victory condition, voting on a new option for the players/upkeep, buying new units/structures, then moving and battling.  This continues until the event deck ends or someone has ten points.  Each turn you get a hand of five cards that give you additional options and are spent for votes, money, or point in battle/abilities.  While all this is going on, Booker is running randomly through the city destroying all of your hard work as he move to get the girl and whip away the debt.

Mechanics:  The mechanics of this game are a mix of some newer ideas in the gaming world.  Players have a deck of cards that give votes/battle points/money that you draw from.  This deck gives a new mix to the basic Risk idea of place people/roll dice.  Also, since you NEVER have less than five cards, you don’t have a runaway victor problem.  Also interesting is the fact that when you win a vote you become first player.  I almost didn’t want to be first player because I want to react to what my opponent did!  Really complimenting the theme through mechanics is the upgrade system.  Each time you win a fight, get first player, or a few other  things, you get to upgrade your cards.  This gives you more money, votes, attack, or unlocks a special ability on a card.  Also, preventing runaway victor is you cannot have three more upgrades than your opponent.  Games that auto-balance show elegance in design!  Fights are a simple die rolls by building a die pool based on the number and type of  people in each attack.  A problem here is the winner can never choose who to destroy in an attack.  I would have liked a card power that allows this, but it’s a small problem over all.  A final mechanic that reflects a part of the game is the skyline.  Since you can only move one space over land and only move four people, troop movement is critical.  However, you can skyline as many spaces as you want.  When you do, you roll three dice and look for thumbs up.  If not, you have to discard cards to keep your unit you are trying to move.  Can’t?  Then your unit dies.  In my play through, I underutilized this and it cost me the game.  Just like in the video game, you can move behind your enemy’s battle lines and wreck his day!  The random deck of events and victory cards also gives a nice flavor to this game as well as the random timeline cards for Elizabeth.  Lots of replay in a well thought out war game.  I just wish it was more than two or four player.  4.5 /5

Theme:  This game oozes theme.  Plaid Hat was handed the keys to the kingdom and got the basis for a great video game and they ran with it.  Everything feels like it’s in the world of Bioshock.  Nothing is out of place.  The power-ups in the game make appearances as cards that tip battles just like the game.  Bookers/Elizabeth’s random movements feel like two people moving through a world as you and your friend battle over it.  Every piece of the game feels like it belongs.  It feels like it’s 1910 in this box.  5/5

Art/Components:  Everything in the box belongs.  The money looks like video game money.  The first player token is big and great.  The board looks good, although it is a bit cramped and I wish the lines between places were a different color to help delineate the different areas.  I wish some of the art was a bit different as some things only differ between the two sides in that they are either red or blue.  Also, Plaid Hat likes to sculpt different looking figures for units, but the units do not really differ.  It’s a nice touch, but I want the different figures to do something different, but they all roll the same simple die.  Besides that, I left the game happy, and I don’t really like war games.  I’d play this again   4.5/5

Instructions:  The game has good instructions.  Some events make understanding what happens a pain for order of operations.  Here’s an example:  I used a card that removed a card from my enemy’s deck.  He also used the same card.   My card happened first as I was attacking.  Then his card happened and he removed my remove card I just played.  Did my card happen?  There are a few corner cases where events get strange.  Besides not covering the strange corner cases, the rule book is pretty good and well laid out.  Also, BONUS POINTS FOR VIDEO OF HOW TO PLAY!    4.5/5

Final Thoughts:  All be honest, when I first saw this game, I thought it was a cash grab by both the game designer and the video game developer.  Having played this game, I have to happily say I was wrong.  This is an awesome game of sup’ed up Risk with hands down better mechanics and story.  I loved my play through.  The game feels like it’s a new game set in a world I love.  If you hate randomness in your battles, then you will hate this as dice rolls DO play a large part of the combat.  But, there is so much more to this game.  Smart tactics in three dimensions.  Clever deployment of troops, structures, and upgrades.  Political discussions that give you advantages but drain your recourses down the line.  I just wish I could use this with more people!  92.5%

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