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Posted on Mar 22, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam…”    Brett Myers’ “Dual Powers Revolution 1917” Board Game Review

“Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam…” Brett Myers’ “Dual Powers Revolution 1917” Board Game Review

By Rick Martin

Dual Powers Revolution 1917   Board Game Review.  Publisher: Thunderworks  Games   Game Designer:   Brett Myers, James Kyle and Keith Matejka  Price  $39.95

Passed Inspection:  beautiful artwork and components, solo or two player, lots of historical information, easy to learn, player reference cards are provided, high replay value for a low price

Failed Basic:   some information on Petrograd and its suburbs would have been helpful as it forms the area of conflict on the map; rules are short but need an index

“In March of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne of Russia. In his place, a conservative Provisional Government formed, representing the official authority of the state. Opposed to the newly formed government stood the Petrograd Soviet, an elected council of workers organized by socialist activists.

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Over the following months, an internal struggle for power and influence would dominate the country and spark a social revolution. In this state of dual power, or dvoevlastie, charismatic and powerful leaders would rise with the tide of public dissatisfaction and change the course of Russian politics forever.

In Dual Powers, 1-2 players direct the forces on one side of this struggle through political action, social maneuvering, and military conflict. The player with greater support at the end of the game will shape Russia’s future and either launch or suppress the impending Civil War.”

            —description from the publisher

Dual Powers is an exciting new card and counter area control game by Thunderworks Games.  It started on Kickstarter, as many games do today, and exceeded its fund raising goal rather quickly.

The box artwork and component artwork is simply stunning and is very evocative of the Soviet Union’s stylized propaganda artwork.  Kuddos must go out to Luis Francisco and Kwanchai Moriya for the graphic design and illustrations.  The cards and counters have an almost sensual tactile feel to them (and I don’t say that about every game) owing to the texturing and thickness of the cards and chits.

The components include:

1 Game Board
6 Region Tiles
1 Score Marker
1 Blockade Marker
1 Day Marker
1 Month Marker
1 Will of the People Marker
3 Objective Markers

64 Cards
– 48 Command Cards
– 6 Leader Cards (3 Red, 3 White)
– 8 Historical Information Cards
– 2 Player Aid Cards

64 Unit Tokens
– 8 Leader Tokens
– 3 Red Leaders
– 3 White Leaders
– 2 Trotsky (1 Neutral, 1 Red)
– 26 Faction Tokens
– 10 Red Units
– 10 White Units
– 6 Neutral Units
– 27 Opposing Unit Tokens (used for Solo Play)
– 3 Difficulty Tokens (used for Solo Play)

The 12 page rule booklet is expertly laid out and contains plenty of examples of play.  The only thing that I found lacking was an index.  A complete index would help with trying to find that one rule that you may have overlooked.

The game is for 2 players but full solo rules are also included.

The goal of the game is for your side to sway the political landscape in 1917 Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) towards your faction be it the Provisional Government or the Petrograd Soviets.  You can use political maneuvers, blockades, charismatic leadership and military conflict to put your faction in control.  You will have a hand of Command Cards which allow you to influence factions in various parts of Petrograd, move units and leaders, shift blockades or refresh spent units.  Each Leader Card or Command Card you play, shifts the calendar on the board forward by days or months. If, on your turn, or as allowed by a Command Card or a Leader Card or if the 15th of each month or the last day of the month occurs on your turn, you may also conduct espionage actions, inspire the will of the people, recruit leaders, double move your forces, draw more Command Cards or refresh spent units.

Wooden components are also included.  The Will of the People marker allows the player who owns it to control the masses of the population while the Blockade marker keeps units from entering specific areas of the city.

The turn sequence is as follows:

  1. Draw Command Cards
  2. Select a Secret Objective from one of 6 areas on the Petrograd city mapboard
  3. Perform Actions or Bonus Actions
  4. Adjust the Score
  5. Cleanup/House Keeping Phase

The game’s calendar acts as the turn tracker.  The calendar shows the months of April t o November of 1917.  Then the lower part of the calendar matrix shows days 1 to 31.  There are special dates marked on the calendar track – Trotsky Returns from Exile and Trotsky Joins the Bolsheviks. If the month passes to November without a clear victory by one side or the other before November, the game ends and the Russian Civil War begins!

Once you learn the rules, the game rhythm begins to feel secondhand.  As you gain experience playing to outwit your opponent, your plans can become more and more devious.  For example, an area of Petrograd had become the main area of unrest during a given month.  Units from my faction (the Bolsheviks) were not well represented there and the Provisional Government had blockaded the area so that I couldn’t add people who were sympathetic to my cause.  I ended up activating Stalin who allowed me to move the blockade to another area which allowed me to reinforce the area with people sympathetic to my cause.  This greatly helped me with the Victory Points I needed to win the game in October of 1917.

The solo rules offer a slight modification of how the game is played by adding more uncertainty to the actions of your opposition.  The solo game’s victory conditions are modified by the level of difficulty you choose at the start of the solo game set up (1 to 6).  Since the game’s main engine, so to speak, is based upon the Command Cards played, you simply draw five face down Command Cards for the opposition and play them, 1 per turn, in the order that you drew them. It works beautifully without cluttering the game play.  In addition, the thronging masses of Petrograd’s population seem to teeter in their alliances to either the Provisional Government or the Bolsheviks a little more dynamically than in the two player game.

If the Command Cards are the “engine” to the game, Leader Cards are the game’s driver.  They are the single most important aspect to mobilize the masses to your side and influence thing such as blockades.  A well played Leader can take the masses in a region who are waffling on who to follow and make them in to your invincible army of followers!

The following Leaders are included in the game: Lenin, Stalin, Zinoviev and Trotsky for the Bolsheviks and Kornilov, Kerensky and Lvov for the Provisional Government.

Important historical notes on the Leaders and events of the time period are also included.  I wish that the designers had included information on the city of Petrograd itself since the city is the arena in which the events of the game take place.

A full game can be played in less than an hour but the speed of play doesn’t denote a simple game system.  The different moving pieces, so to speak, make for a game that takes a while to master and the multiple ways to score victory points make the game play deeper than it looks upon first glance.  I must admit that even after several review plays, I’m still learning the subtleties of the game!  That, my friends, is a great reason to play and play again.

Dual Powers Revolution 1917 is a great game.  Not only does it teach its players about the dynamics of an unsettled time period in world history but its beautiful artwork makes it a visually pleasing game to have on the game table for an afternoon.  There is an amazing amount of replay value for Dual Powers low suggested retail price.

Make no mistake; Dual Powers will be back on my game table soon, comrade!

 

Armchair General Rating: 98 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!  Rick is also the designer of Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader.

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