Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Eurogames/Descartes Editeur, 2 players, ages 12 and up, about 30 minutes; $34.95)


I have a certain fondness for election games. Tyrus, the new release from Eurogames, combines an election theme concerning two warring factions competing for control of an ancient city with the simple mechanics of “rock-paper-scissors” to create an intriguing game of bluff and counterbluff.

Tyrus is the creation of Laurent Escoffier and David Frank. Within its box is a very simple game board depicting 6 buildings (2 each of Citadels, Markets and Temples), 60 wooden tiles (30 each in ivory and brown), 9 green election cards, 9 two-sided representative tokens, a first player marker and an instruction booklet in several languages including English.

Each player chooses a set of wooden tiles and places his set face down next to him. Then, he draws nine tiles at random and stands them in front of him, keeping them hidden from his opponent. This tiles make up that player’s starting “hand”. The “first player” is determined by flipping the first player marker. Now, an election card is turned to indicate which type of election will be held and, as a result, which type of building will count in determining the election’s outcome.tyrus

Beginning with the first player, each player, in turn, places ONE of his tiles, facing its owner so that only the owner can see the tile’s value, in ANY of the buildings on the board. When each player has placed three tiles, the results of the first election are calculated.

All tiles played in the two buildings involved in the election (be they Citadels, Markets or Temples) and ONLY these two building are revealed. Their modified values are then determined.

Tile sets are identical for each player. There are three “professions” (think of them as “suits”) with tiles numbered from 1 to 10. The professions are soldiers, merchants and priests. The twist here is that
the effectiveness of the tiles depend on WHERE they are played. Soldiers are effective in winning votes for the Generals. Merchants are effective with the Merchant Guildmasters. Priests exert power in the Temples. However, these tiles can do more than that. They can also BLOCK votes.

Each tile has the power to block an enemy character of another profession. 1 Soldier can block 1 priest. 1 Priest can block 1 merchant. 1 Merchant can block 1 soldier. To block an opposition tile from “voting”, your tile must be placed in your OPPONENT’S city. You can always block an enemy tile by placing tiles in your own city. (For example, you’ve already placed soldier tiles in your city during a General election and your opponent has now placed a tile there. You suspect that the enemy tile may be a merchant to neutralize some of your soldier votes. By placing a priest tile in your city, you can counter the effect of the enemy merchant.)

The player with the most votes wins the corresponding Representative token and places it in the Election Chart in the column of their color. (If the election result is a tie, the token goes in the center column so neither side gets credit.) Now, all face up tiles are discarded and each player randomly picks three more tiles to his hand and gets ready for the next election.

As Don Corleone said in The Godfather, “Keep you friends close and your enemies closer”. The better you know the player sitting across from you, the better you will do in predicting future moves. Place your tiles to misdirect him. Make him believe you’re going all out to win an election but hold back so that he over-commits his limited assets allowing you to rack up victories later on. Use your tiles to neutralize his and protect yours. This bluff/counterbluff seesaw continues until either one player wins three consecutive elections OR one player has won more elections after the ninth election result is determined. (In case of a tie, the player holding the highest combining total value of tiles gets credit for the win.) The ambiance of Tyrus benefits/suffers (choose the word according to your own preferences) from overproduction. The tiles are beautifully done but you’re paying for it with the game’s comparatively high retail price.

Tyrus is simple yet challenging in forcing you to prepare and respond to possible future moves. The essence of the game is to know your enemy – and then act! If misdirection and subtlety rank high on your list of gaming preferences, then Tyrus is the game you’ll elect to play. – – – Herb Levy

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Summer 2004 GA Report Articles


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