Witches of the Revolution is, perhaps surprisingly, a cooperative deckbuilding game. Set during the days of the American Revolution, Witches of the Revolution posits a history where, instead of facing persecution, various covens of witches came to the defense of the nascent nation, working to aid the revolutionary army and undermine the British. Each player will control a coven, and all will work together to accomplish their objectives while preventing the rise of tyranny.
Andrew: Ok, so first thing’s first – I think the theme is amazing. It’s a really unique twist and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. While the theme penetration is limited in some ways, the flavor of the art and the setting are really intriguing to me, and I think it adds a lot to the game.
Mechanically, as mentioned, Witches of the Revolution is a deckbuilder. Each player will start out with a basic coven deck – these are the witches initially at the player’s disposal. Each witch shows several icons, each of which can be spent to either overcome negative events, work toward the objectives, or to recruit new witches into the cause.
Jess: Your starting coven is composed of Seekers – novice witches who only have 2 magic icons each. However, Seekers can also be played to take additional actions on your turn, potentially letting you get more done.
Each turn, new events will be triggered, threatening the witches and their allies. These events inevitably have negative consequences for the players, and if too many events come out, the game will end in an immediate loss. Therefor, players must spend actions (and witches) to gather the necessary magical icons to counter these events before they are overwhelmed.
The ultimate goal of Witches of the Revolution is for the players to work together to complete 4 objectives. These objectives, chosen randomly at the beginning of the game, represent milestones the witches are working toward which will swing the revolution in their favor. Each Objective has a number of icons which need to be removed before that objective is considered complete. Countering events that share icons with these objectives is the main mechanism for working towards completing objectives, and if you can manage to complete all of your objectives before hitting a loss condition, you win!
While decisions in Witches of the Revolution are relatively limited (you are generally either recruiting new witches or trying to counter events), there are several unique aspects to the game’s design that give it some unexpected strategic twists on the classic deckbuilding formula.
First of all, central to deckbuilding is the idea of getting new, more powerful cards, as well as shedding less-powerful cards. However, 2 things in Witches of the Revolution complicate that concept. The first is that, each time a player cycles through their coven deck, the moon track advances (which increases the recruitment cost), and a new event comes out. This means that cycling your deck too frequently can overwhelm the board with events and make recruiting new witches prohibitively expensive.
The second challenge to traditional deckbuilding tactics is that the recruitment action itself almost inevitably causes you to lose cards. Normally that would be great – you get rid of weaker cards and in exchange have more powerful ones. But since cycling your deck triggers negative consequences, having a smaller deck means you’re doing that more frequently and, well, you see where this is going.
Another interesting twist is that Witches of the Revolution really encourages you to help out your fellow players. When someone takes an action to counter an event, every other player can contribute one (or sometimes more) of their witches to the effort. This is incredibly useful in taking down higher-difficulty events, but, again, each spent card brings you one step closer to milling through your deck, triggering more events, increasing the cost of recruiting, and bringing the game ever-closer to a loss.
Witches of the Revolution is an interesting game. While its mechanics are ultimately fairly simple, and its challenge can feel uneven based on the luck of your draw, there’s an interesting mechanical core at work here. Ultimately, we do wish the theme had come through more in the game – with something this truly unique, it feels like a shame how quickly it becomes an abstract set-matching puzzle. By your third turn, all you’re doing is matching icons to icons and trying to be as efficient about it as possible; the theme gets lost almost completely, and that’s a real shame.
These criticisms aside, we had a good time with Witches of the Revolution. While it’s not (ugh, sorry) a truly revolutionary game, there is enough ‘new’ here that it will undoubtedly appeal to not only folks who like deckbuilders to begin with, but probably some people who aren’t as enthusiastic about the genre. We recommend checking it out!
(Gameosity received a review copy of this game. We were not otherwise compensated.)