A re-visit to Liberté

I played Liberté for the first time back in 2004.  I didn’t much care for it, and I never got back to it.  I traded my copy away, and pursued other games.  As it happened, Liberté went out of print, but the author, Martin Wallace, began to build quite the oeuvre of games noted for their flavorsome themes, integrated mechanics and deep strategic replay values.  Liberté began to take on the status of a “grail game”.  (A game many people wanted but could not afford or find.)

Simultaneously I had developed an esteem for the games of Martin Wallace.  And with the passage of time, I realized my tastes in games had significantly shifted from where I was in 2004 when I had last tried Liberté.  So earlier this year, I was able to trade for a copy of this game.  As it turns out I ended up getting a first edition, which pleased me.  Apparently a second edition had come out, suddenly making this game no longer quite so valuable.  Whatever the circumstance, I was happy to get the Warfrog edition, as their spartan graphic style appeals to me.

So we played this game last week.  We struggled a bit to absorb the rules, but as is so often the case, we found the play of the game easier than expected.  Not surprisingly we did muff a couple of rules, but the game was largely played as intended, and if we play again I think we can correct our understanding of the rules going forward.

My original assessment was the game was a sea of color, and too much to process.  There are three faction colors and up to 6 player colors.  In our game we had just 4 players, which cut back on the amount to process.  For whatever reason, this time I was able to read the board much more easily.  So my chief complaint from before was not bothering me so much.  And thus I felt I was able to better assess what the game was trying to do.

My sense is that you are trying to ride a surfboard.  You want to be the chief backer of whichever political party is going to lead the government.  If that seems impossible, then you want to be the second honcho of the ruling party, or the head honcho of the opposition.  Seeing which party is likely to be on top means you have to assess the board.  Stacks of faction blocks topped with player markers quickly fill the board, creating a swath of color to decipher.  I would totally understand if a player declared they would not care to do this.

But I actually enjoyed myself a fair bit with this game, and hope to play again relatively soon to cement my understanding of how to play.


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