Get into...Red Rising
by Stonemaier games
Get into…Red Rising overview
‘Enter the futuristic universe of Red Rising, based on the book series by Pierce Brown featuring a dystopian society divided into 14 castes. You represent a house attempting to rise to power as you piece together an assortment of followers. Will you break the chains of the Society or embrace the dominance of the Golds?
‘You begin the game with a hand of random characters from the Red Rising universe. You will manipulate this hands of cards throughout the game by deploying characters, activating abilities, and adding new characters to your hand. Whenever you acquire a new character, you will gain a special bonus based on the location from which you gained it. When certain thresholds are reached, the game ends. Calculate your final score from the combination of character cards in your hand plus points for Helium, Sovereignty, the Fleet Track, and Influence’
(quoted from the Red Rising Instruction Manual)
Get into…Overall thoughts
We were excited to receive this copy of Red Rising for review as we are big fans of the Stonemaier games. Given that there was a time when we had never played a Stonemaier game, we now have amassed quite a collection. Our favourites are Viticulture and Viticulture World, Libertalia and Wingspan as well as our go to Roll and Write Rolling Realms. These games are all so well made and well thought through offering just the right amount of strategy and challenge whilst still being a solidly enjoyable came to play. We were keen to see how this one would stack up. Admittedly before receiving it, this one had been on our radar following a chance encounter with a playthrough from Before you play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5AmdRM1078
This one is an intriguing card drafting and hand management game where you can ‘lead’ which essentially involves playing a card to activate and ability and then taking a new card from a location on the board along with a bonus, or ‘scouting’ where you take a card from the communal deck and then place it out into one of the 4 areas – taking that location bonus. Each card has an inherent value for scoring but will score additionally for certain conditions being met. This means that you spend the entire game trying to optimise your hand to score the most points you can. You can never be certain when the game will end and will need to keep track of your opponents as reaching 7 on the fleet track, having 7 helium and gaining 7 influence in the institute can all trigger the end game. It will be triggered if one players reaches two of those milestones or all there milestones have been reached by any combination of different players. It means you have to prepared to optimise your hand at any given moment and end up hoping you can pick up a key card before the end is triggered.
It takes a little getting used to and we found that reading the cards out loud helps until you become more familiar with the characters. You don’t need to know the characters from the story in order to play but I feel that as you play more and more; you learn how the different castes work and you at least then know what kind of cards you are looking for etc. There is quite a lot of text on the cards and if your eyesight is anything like mine, you may need to pick them up to read them or ask your friendly opponent to clue you in before choosing your strategy.
We also found that there is some luck in the drawing of the cards or you need to try to cycle the deck to reach cards you need for optimal scoring. We had a couple of games where one player had a starting hand of optimal cards that went with each other and then other games where you would try to score cards but that particular card never came out. This could be a little frustrating or one sided but luckily it didn’t happen too often.
I think this is one of the games that benefits players to play multiple times – getting to know the castes and the characters in order to work out the most successful strategy.
The instruction manual says that a good score is 300+ points and I have to say we haven’t scored close to this yet so it looks like we have more work to do.
This is different to anything else we have in our collection and its fun to try to manage your hand. The decisions are really tricky and this makes it one that you want to keep going back to, to see if you can get even better at it. As with most Stonemaier games, you can see the amount of love and thought that has been put into it and the production quality is high. We enjoyed this one and will continue to learn and develop our strategies as we aim to try to score the elusive 300+ points.