Publisher: This & That Games
Game Designer: Eugene Shenderov
Artwork: Charles Wilcher
Ages: 12 and up
Playing Time: 5-30 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $30
Most Glorious Comrade and its partner Most Incorruptible Patriot are two fast-playing card games from This & That Games now funding on Kickstarter. Both games are for 2-6 players and share the same mechanics, with the differences being themes of the old Soviet regime and cold war US politics. Comrade has players vying for the affections of the Proletariat (the workers) while in Patriot, players amass the most voters in order to become President and win the game.
Both games come with 52 card decks broken down into scoring and power cards, first player cards, discard area card, leaders and instructions on how to play on 5 of the cards. The game rules are few and simple to follow while easy to read and understand on the cards, getting you up and running in just a few minutes.
The quality of the cards is very good, coming as a print on demand product from DriveThruCards, I expected to the quality to be good and they don’t disappoint. The cards are durable with a nice finish and the art is very good, conveying the theme that permeates the game nicely. The cards are adorned with stylized art typical of the Soviet era propaganda posters and the text is done in English but with Cyrillic characters.
Since both games share the same mechanics, with the only differences being theme and player powers, I will just explain how Most Glorious Comrade plays with some comments about Most Incorruptible Patriot when applicable.
Setup is a snap, just remove the specified cards listed in the rules when playing less than five players and shuffle the remaining cards, putting the deck in the center. Place the Gulag card (detainment camp in Patriot) out for the discard pile, players select a leader card then take one card for their opening hand and everyone begins with 2 million Proletariat in their tableau before lastly, deciding who the starting player will be.
Gameplay is just as simple as setup, during every turn players draw a card from the deck and then play one from their hand, with a 3 card hand limit. The goal of the game is to be the first to amass 10 million Proletariat in your personal tableau, in Patriot the first to 10 million voters wins.
Every card play does one of two things, helps you or hurts others. Placing Proletariat in your tableau brings you one step closer to the 10 million victory mark, likewise, playing one of the Overthrow! action cards, you can reset the current balance of the game and possibly launch yourself ahead of everyone else. Doing this of course is all a gamble because you never know what you’re going to get.
Each player takes on the role of an historic Communist figure in the game, each with their own special power. Trostky, Castro, Lenin, Stalin, Guevera and Zedong are featured in Comrade while Patriot includes Rhee, Ataturk, Nixon, Churchill, Truman and Kennedy. These powers do mitigate some of the randomness to a degree and can come in handy at the right time, giving the game its main strategic element.
The powers run the gamut of having players discard Proletariat to force everyone to do the same or in the case of Stalin, to take control of another players Overthrow action. The final one, Trotsky, can end the game rather quickly with the right draws since his power is every 1 million Proletariat card counting as 3 million in value. Once used, your power counts as your play for the hand.
That’s pretty much all there is to Most Glorious Comrade, it’s a very straightforward card game that as you can see, has a lot of randomness to it. It plays on average about 10-20 minutes but it can stretch on longer if enough Overthrow cards keep redistributing player tableau’s, keeping anyone from reaching 10 million too quickly. The game comes with some rule tweaks for different player counts, removing a third of those powerful Overthrow action cards and labeling six of the cards for 5+ players.
Having too many of the Overthrow cards in play can really make the game a bit too swingy and while this is definitely a big part of the theme conveyed here, the workers struggle, a little too much of it adds far more randomness than would be needed. So cutting some specific cards out helps limit that a bit and was a good design decision.
The game plays well with any group from 2-6 but I think the game is best with four and above. With a lower player count, some of the cards don’t really carry the same weight because of the limited Proletariat in play. Cards like Perestroika, where cards are redistributed, don’t really have as drastic an effect as they do in a four player game and above.
Theme in both games is very well handled, with intelligent use of historic incidents, people, art and flavor to create decks that I found very engaging.
The variable player powers do mitigate some of the randomness from the luck of the draw and offer the game’s best strategic option. This randomness will not fit well for gamers who like to develop a strategy since there’s very little of it here aside from the use of player powers and the occasional timing of an Overthrow card. Which is to be expected in a draw one, play one format card game.
That does make Most Glorious Comrade a good fit for casual gamers, making it a solid option for after dinner play with non-gaming friends or as a quick filler. The games replayability does suffer a bit with the randomness as once you’ve played it, there’s not a lot more to explore since luck does play such a large factor.
One of the little art design touches that I found rather clever was how the image for the Proletariat (and voters in Patriot) builds up from a slightly blurred and lightly populated image to reach a crescendo at the highest value of 4 million. Here the cards have rich colors and a fully realized scene reflecting each country’s identity beautifully. Although, I’m still not sure why the British Union Jack is seen in the Patriot version, either way this is a nice touch that some gamers may overlook when just worrying about numbers on the cards for scoring.
Most Glorious Comrade and Most Incorruptible Patriot are decent little fillers that are fast to play, scale well from 2-6 and offer a very thematic look at the two sides of the Cold War. Neither game really sets itself apart aside from theme however, leaving Patriot as simply a reskin of Comrade.
The gameplay is fairly fun but very lite, with randomness and luck limiting the use of any strategies aside from player powers and the occasional timing of an action card. That doesn’t make it a bad game, just keeps it at the quick party game level which I believe is where it’s aimed at. With limited strategy, replayability takes a bit of a hit as there’s not a lot new that repeat plays will uncover.
If you love the theme of the Cold War and are in the market for a pair of quick playing fillers, these will fit the bill for you!
Company Website: http://www.thisandthatgames.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thisandthatgames
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me.