We finally got round to playing The Liberation of Rietburg. I was very excited to play this as I love the fantasy genre in all its forms....I grew up with Dungeons and Dragons and as far as books are concerned, along with Tolkien, some of my favourite authors include Robin Hobb, David Eddings and David Gemmell.
So when we opened the shop and bought this to sell, I just had to stick a copy in our library. Of course, we had a list of games we wanted to play through already so this duly got added to the end of that list and this week we found ourselves at the end of said list and there was Liberation waiting to be played.
The set up for the game was smooth given the amount of cards that are being sorted and dealt out to various locations at the start of the game. We have Task cards, Encounter cards (these encompass creatures and objects), Narrator cards (these have 2 halves to them with each half having their own instructions on what to do), Friends cards and Character cards as well as quiver and willpower tokens. This section of the rulebook was well laid out so the set up was done in no time. We did initially forgot to add the face down task cards at the very start, but aside from this slight hiccup, we were all good.
As for the gameplay, players take it in turns to play through their character cards (we started with 3 but there are opportunities to gain more through battling creatures), choosing one of 3 possible actions from each card, moving, attacking, revealing encounters or gaining willpower or quivers. Once all 3 have been used, that player needs to revitalise their character which involves turning over the next narrator card and following the instructions, which mainly consists of adding encounter cards to the various locations either face up or face down.
The trick with the narrator cards is that these act like a time keeper for the game. There are only 10 of these used so you really have to use your resources wisely and work together to be able to overcome the encounters at the 6 locations and the task cards that will require you to fulfil certain conditions to complete them. To win the game, the players need to complete 4 of these task cards before the narrator deck runs out so you can see here that there is not a lot of time to go off and do your own thing or waste turns on futile encounters.
My brother and I really enjoyed this race against the game. As you take on the first few encounters you may be lucky enough to uncover one of the task cards and maybe even complete one before everyone has to revitalise their characters and you feel like you are on track to win the whole game. Then a narrator card will add extra cards to a location you were on the verge of completing and push you back. Luckily, you pick up friends in the course of playing and these will grant you extra actions and then there are objects which allow you to perform one off benefits, but then some task cards require you to have 3 objects in your trophy gallery without using them so there is always that to weigh up too. And when creatures are defeated, they may have extra benefits like removing encounter cards completely from the game, though these may end up being an object (something that we did ponder over for a bit as we discussed our options), and you still have to spend actions to defeat these extra creatures.
VICTORIOUS IN OUR EFFORTS TO LIBERATE THE CASTLE OF RIETBURG!
During the setup in the rulebook, it gave advice for your first game which I think will be very appealing for first time players. This involved ignoring encounter cards with a red background, these were removed from the game before we started shuffling cards and setting up the game board, and ignoring the narrator cards that had red backgrounds on them too.
This new player variant helps to ease you into the game, understand the rules and get a feel for what the game is all about. I would recommend only using this variant for your first playthrough as this is a largely easy game to get to grips with and you will find within a few turns that you know how the rules work and, barring any unfortunate decisions, how to navigate the game.
For those new players, the game also provides 2 handy player reference cards with explanations for all the symbols in the game, of which there are many but with these easy explanations and the clear symbols themselves you will have no issue in understanding what they mean. When we played it for the first time, after a couple of turns we didn't even reference these cards again.
For replayability, this game has it in spades. There are 6 characters to choose from, you have a variety of task cards to choose from, not all the narrator cards are used either and you are unlikely to go through the entire encounter deck due to the players racing against the narrator cards. All these combined gives you a game that you can come back to again and again, with the same people, maybe as the same characters or trying out different characters with a new combination of tasks to be completed. Even in one game, you might not even see some of the face down encounters and tasks!
For the theme, this is a generic high fantasy theme, but it does a good job of putting you into a perilous quest where the odds are stacked against you, but like any good Dungeons and Dragons campaign or the entire story of Lord of the Rings, being the underdog good guy battling a seemingly unrelenting horde of evil, well....that is a trope that still works to this day.
So to sum up, whether you are new to board games or a board game veteran, there is a lot in this game to discover and a lot of depth to it. If you want to try this game, we have it in our games library and also in stock if you want to pick up a copy yourself. And if you are interested in learning how to play, head over to our Youtube channel and check out the latest Jump In! Let's Play! video: