How The Mighty Have Fallen
A preview of Rex, a board game of diplomacy, conquest, and betrayal
Ancient and benevolent founders of the Galactic Council and rulers of the galaxy for over 24,000 years, the mighty Lazax could not, for all their knowledge, foresee the Sol incursion that would herald their final days. Nevertheless, the established power of the galaxy and the masters of Mecatol Rex are not easily forced aside. Leaderless, under siege, their forces in disarray, the Lazax still claim substantial advantage in exploiting the influence and loyalty of their capital city. But will their considerable wealth and remaining influence over their own city prove enough to repel this assault and reaffirm their power?
In August, we announced the upcoming release of Rex, a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare for three to six players. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the fateful story of once-proud Mecatol City in the months and years following the death of the last Lazax emperor.
Although the ferocity and swiftness of the Sol assault took them by surprise, the well entrenched Lazax were able to muster considerable political and military support for a subsequent resistance. Today’s preview will examine some of the core mechanics of Rex, and how its warring factions struggle to acquire much-needed influence in the midst of a chaotic urban conflict. And while Rex’s six unique races feature special abilities that make each a viable candidate for victory, we will focus on the benefits of the Lazax. Their centuries-old mastery of the city makes them the faction best suited to accumulate and wield influence, even as they desperately cling to power.
The support of a city
Influence is a game currency that represents hidden weapons caches, political support, and other resources (both tangible and intangible) as found in Mecatol City. In the context of the game’s mechanics, influence is essential; it is used to “purchase” a wide range of necessary assets:
- Early in each round, players bid influence to acquire Strategy cards. These weapons and tactics provide a variety of bonuses and are often used during battle.
- Given the Hacan-enabled blockage in the airspace over Mecatol City, troop deployment demands a considerable commitment of resources. Influence must be spent whenever a player wishes to move units from his reserve onto the board.
- Over the course of the game, dozens of destroyed leaders and units will be sent to the casualty pool. Influence can be spent to recruit their replacements.
Future previews will provide details on Strategy cards, combat, and troop deployment. For now, suffice it to say that influence is a vastly important element of Rex. Players will want to acquire it whenever possible, as running out will bring a faction’s military endeavors screeching to a halt. But how does one go about accumulating the most influence?
The spoils of war
The moment the dust from the Sol fleet’s opening salvo settled and the bleak recognition of its implications set in, the savviest leaders in Mecatol City started planning. In the confusion, which of the city’s remaining locations would be safest? Most profitable? Most politically vital? With each faction seeking to further its own agenda, the struggle ensued for dominance of the city.
Gaining influence in Rex is a matter of controlling influential locations. The icon to the right indicates an influence-producing area, which can potentially generate these all-important tokens based on the results of a card draw at the start of each round. By maneuvering into an area in which influence has been placed (then surviving any subsequent battles against contenders for the area), a faction can lay claim to two influence per unit controlled in the area, per round.
But beware! The Sol dreadnought fleet continually sweeps Mecatol Rex from orbit, systematically bombing entire sectors of the city and annihilating unprotected armies and influence alike with impunity (Check back to learn more about this relentless bombardment in a future preview). This creates a unique challenge: how can a faction collect the most influence while simultaneously avoiding the fiery wrath of the orbiting attackers? Leaders must maneuver their forces out from under the protection of shielded districts, engage their enemies in combat, lay claim to whatever resources they can, and escape back to safety, all before grim death rains from above!
Influence cards like the one on the left are drawn at the start of each round, instructing players to place Influence tokens on one or more of the board’s areas, like the one on the right.
Paying them their due
Given these obstacles to wealth, it is helpful to have additional means of income. The Lazax maintain substantial political clout, as exemplified by a special ability that ensures that they seldom lack influence. Whenever another player wins a bid for a Strategy card (a process we will examine more closely in our next preview), he must pay the Lazax player rather than returning the spent influence to the influence pool.
The Lazax Empire’s Race sheet. Click to enlarge.
Not only does this mean a healthy influx of resources, but it gives the Lazax player plenty of leverage when bidding for new technologies or tactics. The wealthy Lazax player can confidently “bid up” the price for a Strategy card, satisfied in the knowledge that his position is win-win. Either he wins the card he was after, or he loses the auction... but collects valuable influence from the winner.
As the Lazax race sheet also indicates, these ancient leaders of the galaxy have access to another unique asset: Mechanized units. With double the combat effectiveness of standard units, Mechanized units provide a indisputable advantage on the battlefield, and with the resources to field them quickly, the Imperial Lazax remain a forced to be reckoned with.
Check back for more on Rex in the coming weeks, and look for it to bombard your local retailer in the first quarter of 2012!