Masters of Science and Technology

A preview of Rex, a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare

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Rex, a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare for three to six players, will begin bombarding tabletops this quarter. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the tale of the war-ravaged Mecatol City following a surprise attack by ambitious and treacherous Sol forces.

In our last preview article, we looked at some of the core mechanics of Rex, and saw how its warring factions compete to claim influence in the wake of massive devastation. We also examined the unique abilities of the Lazax, the once-great former rulers of the galaxy, now desperately clinging to power while scrambling to mount a viable defense. We learned how the politically and militarily entrenched Lazax have greater access to resources than their rivals, a distinction exemplified by their special faction ability.

But what are Strategy cards, and how exactly does a player claim them? Today, we’ll take a closer look at these vital military and political assets, and we’ll see how the Universities of Jol-Nar, as the galactic gatekeepers of technology and information, gain a distinct advantage in their acquisition and use.

Underhanded tactics and powerful weapons

Purchased using an auction system during an early phase of each round, Strategy cards represent technological and tactical benefits that can be employed at various key moments throughout the game.

At the start of each Bidding phase, a number of Strategy cards equal to the number of players are drawn and placed facedown near the game board. In turn, each card now becomes the prize in an auction for which players spend their hard-earned influence (see our last preview).

Strategy cards like Diplomatic Interference offer valuable one-time effects and are discarded from play.

It’s important to note, however, that throughout this process, the Strategy cards in question remain facedown. This way, while the players know they are competing for some advantage, the exact nature of that advantage remains hidden to them all (except for the Jol-Nar, but we’ll get to that in a moment).

Once won, Strategy cards convey a range of helpful effects to their owners. Most of these cards, like Diplomatic Interference, simply state a triggering condition followed by an effect. Representing anything from savvy political maneuvering to outright sabotage, these cards are generally discarded when played.

Other Strategy cards, however, are differentiated by one of two icons in their upper left corner. The attack or defense combat icon indicates a Strategy card that can only be played during battle (and even then, only during the “Commit Strategy Cards” step of the Battle phase).

We’ll go into more detail on the specifics of battle in a future preview, but suffice it to say that attack and defense Strategy cards are designed to destroy or protect leaders, respectively. Leaders are characters who take part in battle, and are vitally important to a player’s chances of success. Each leader has a strength value that is added to the overall strength of an attacking or defending army. If a Strategy card unexpectedly removes your chosen leader from a fight, you’ll likely find yourself suddenly and uncomfortably outgunned.

Left: An attack Strategy card. Right: A defense Strategy card.

A player, at the start of any battle in which he is involved, can commit one of each type. If he wins, he retains both cards and may commit them again to future battles.

Leave nothing to chance

To win combat in Rex, you will do well to know your enemy, remember which weapons he has at his disposal, and try to predict his decisions. If the attacking Hacan use their X-35 Biological Weapon (attack card), you’d better have chosen your Atmospheric Ionizer (defense card) to counteract the effects, or you’ll lose your leader...and probably the battle as well.

So why leave such vital matters to the mercy of chance, guesswork, or faulty memories? As the galaxy’s undisputed technological authorities, the Jol-Nar possess invaluable inside information about who is wielding what against whom. First, during the Bidding phase, the Jol-Nar player is the only one able to look at the Strategy cards being bid upon. He can use this coveted intelligence to keep track of which weapons and countermeasures are being purchased (and by whom), to help save his own influence for only the best purchases, or (if he’s feeling particularly mischievous) to bluff his opponents into overspending for cards that are useless to them!

The Universities of the Jol-Nar Race Sheet. Click to enlarge.

Additionally, the Jol-Nar are able to gain advance knowledge of an enemy’s battle plans before a fight. Normally when two forces meet in combat, their leaders, attack cards, defense cards, and number of committed troops are revealed simultaneously before a winner is determined. The Jol-Nar, however, are able to demand that their opponent reveal one of these elements in advance, giving them a distinct advantage in the coming fight. Is your enemy powering up his Energy Rifle? Now you’ll be sure to bring your Magen Shield. Will he be protecting himself with the Atmospheric Ionizer? Bring your own Energy Rifle, against which the Ionizer offers no defense!

Finally, the Universities of the Jol-Nar boast the ability to secretly look at the top card of the Influence deck during the Maneuvering phase, potentially predicting an upcoming Sol Offensive and avoiding its destructive wrath. What else happens in the Maneuvering phase, and what exactly does the Sol Offensive card mean for the great city of Mecatol Rex? For that, you’ll have to check back for more previews.

Visit our website often to learn all the exciting details of Rex, and look for it on store shelves later this quarter!

 

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