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Revenge of the Dictators (Preview)

March 29th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Have you ever dreamed of taking over the USA and running things YOUR way?  As patriotic as I am, there are admittedly some things I’d love to see change in order to make our great nation a better one.  I’ve played both “SimCity” and “Tropico”, so I know what I’m talking about…people may hate me for the smoking and alcohol ban, but they’ll thank me when their body parts aren’t planning a mutiny when they turn forty.  “Revenge of the Dictators”, a game that’ll be launching on Kickstarter in March of 2016, is a competitive game for 2-5 players to where each player is trying to overthrow the President of the USA and become its Dictator. Before we begin, I’d like to thank Bart from Black Box Adventures for providing me with a prototype for preview purposes.  It’s important to stress that prototypes are not often reflective of the final product, making everything you see in this article (including the rules) subject to change.




Firstly, let’s talk components.  The game includes 1 map of North America, 10 Dictator cards, 117 Command cards (73 Action, 28 Interruption, 14 Founding Father, & 2 DEFCON cards), 12 Presidential cards, 11 Nuclear Zone 1 cards, 12 Nuclear Zone 2 cards, 8 Nuclear Zone 3 cards, 9 Nuclear Zone 4 cards, 40 Roadblock tokens, 15 Nuclear Zone 4 tokens, 4 No Fly Zone tokens, 5 Pawns, 5 6-sided dice, and 1 20-sided die.  The PDF rulebook I was given is about 18 pages in length, though most of it explains what the various cards do.  Most of the game takes place in the USA (no Alaska), but parts of Canada and Mexico are included on the map.

So you’re probably wondering, “if I’m trying to take over the USA, then what are all these Nuclear Zones about?” For starters, the dictators/players will need to disarm some nuclear facilities in order to remove the nuclear threats targeting their home countries.  In a way, they’ll have to work together to do this (there is a universal DEFCON timer), but then again only one player will be the “Grandmaster Über Dictator”.  Essentially, players start their player pawns in Hawaii and will be racing across the US to confront the President in Washington D.C. and take things over for themselves.  However, their chances of doing so won’t be very high if they fail to disarm a bunch of nuclear facilities along the way.

I won’t delve too deeply into game setup, but each player will receive one dictator card (which everyone can see and gives them a special ability) and one nuclear zone card from each of the four decks (which will be kept secret).  The four nuclear zone cards given to you are for your eyes only.  Each player receives four command cards to form their starting hand.  Three Founding Father cards are randomly picked face-down and both DEFCON cards are then shuffled into the command deck…the order is important so that players aren’t dealt any of the latter five cards.  The Presidential deck is shuffled separately, though it’s recommended that the “Oops” card is removed for the benefit of starting players.  Both Mexico and Canada will be seeded with one randomly placed Nuclear 4 token.  The DEFCON marker starts at 5.




On a player’s turn, they’ll get a total of three actions (though they can use less if they want to).  The order and combination are up to the player, though the travel action can only be used once per turn.  These actions include:

Travel – Move your pawn from one location to another following the roads (straight lines). You can only move to another location if there is an actual connection between those locations. The Travel action is also used for other elements in the game (Roads / International Flights and Nuclear Zones / Nuclear Facilities / Disarming a Nuclear Facility). Special means of transportation (i.e. “Amtrak”, “Helicopter”, “March”) do not count as a Travel action.

Draw a Card – Draw one card from the Command deck.  You may draw more cards than your hand size limit permits you to have, though you’ll need to discard any excess cards at the end of your turn.

Play an Action Card – You are only allowed to play Action cards during your own turn (in comparison to Interruption cards which can be played at any time for no action). Some Action cards cost more than 1 action to play as shown by the number in the bottom right-hand corner.

The board itself is divided into 4 nuclear zones, as represented by the four nuclear decks.  Every zone has locations that may or may contain nuclear facility, represented by the nuclear sign as shown on the map legend.  The dictators/players may only disarm their own nuclear facilities (via the four cards they were given at the beginning of the game).  Disarming nuclear facilities in zones 1, 2, and 3 improve your chances when confronting the President.  Disarming a nuclear facility in zone four grants you a random bonus.  Disarming a nuclear facility involves being on location, revealing the matching nuclear card, spending their travel action plus one additional action, and rolling a single 6-sided die.  On a roll of 3-6, you succeed.

Once you reach Washington D.C., you’ll first have to make sure that the President is present by drawing a card from the Presidential deck.  You’ll have to do this at the start of your turn, before ANY actions are used as you’ll have to sacrifice your entire turn to confront him.  If the President is there, you’ll roll a 20-sided die and compare its value to the chart in the manual.  The more nuclear facilities you disarm, the better your chances.  For example, if you haven’t disarmed ANY nuclear facilities, then you’ll have to roll a 20.  Disarming three, on the other hand, means you’ll have to roll a minimum of an 8.  If the President isn’t there, the player may play out their turn as normal unless the card drawn says otherwise.




The DEFCON level acts as a timer of sorts.  There are 2 DEFCON cards in the Command deck and there is one DEFCON card in the Presidential deck.  As these are drawn, the DEFCON marker goes down a number and changes things both on and off the board.  For example, roadblock tokens are placed on each road between nuclear zones 1 and 2 when the DEFCON marker hits 4.  At DEFCON 1, each player gets 2 more turns and unless someone confronts the President successfully, everyone loses the game.  You can increase or decrease the difficulty of the game in various ways, should you find the game too easy or hard respectively.  For example, you can remove some or all of the Founding Father cards and/or a DEFCON card from either or both the Command and Presidential deck to make things easier.

The meat of the game lies with all of the different cards that can be played.  In fact, there are about seven pages in the PDF manual dedicated to explaining what they all do.  The “EMP” action card, for example, makes everyone in a chosen state lose their turn.  The “Engineer” can be played so that you don’t have to spend your travel and additional action (though a roll is still required) and the “Just What I Needed” card lets you search the Command deck’s discard pile for a card of your choosing, which is then placed into your hand.  Some action cards like “Amtrak” allow you to bypass roadblocks should they be present.  Interruption cards like “CIA” forces a player to reveal their nuclear facilities to everyone, though “Diplomatic Immunity” cards exist to cancel it.  There are plenty more cards I haven’t covered and to the game’s credit, they keep things interesting.

“Revenge of the Dictators” may look complicated, but it’s really not.  I like that players are encouraged to work together to beat the DEFCON timer and to do this, they’ll have to set their opponents back just enough to keep them from pulling ahead but not too much to where they spend all of their efforts sabotaging each other.  If all players did was play cards on one another, then the nuclear zones stay online and the chances of overthrowing the President becomes almost impossible.  In other words, you’ll need to “sort of” play nice with your fellow dictators so that you can complete your hidden goals.  “Revenge of the Dictators” is one chaotic race across the US that you won’t want to pass up if you enjoy cutthroat & competitive games.

You can learn more about and support the game via its Kickstarter page:


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