“Beware the Ides of March,” or at least that is what we were taught Julius Caesar was warned less than a month before his death. In reality, he was warned of an impending political shake-up over the next month. Whether he was told that or not, what we do know is a conspiracy within the government led to his death. In Liberatores you play out that conspiracy, but what side will you be on?
What is Liberatores like?
Liberatores is a hidden role, deduction game where you take on the role of a Republican trying to overthrow Caesar and installing democracy, an Agent trying to protect Caesar or a Competitor who wants to overthrow Caesar secretly hoping to take his place instead. Nobody else knows who you are or what your end goal is and keeping it hidden can determine your success! No matter what role you are playing the goal of the game is to get influence to your side of the board.
Each turn the players must perform one of three main actions by influencing one of the available citizens. Depending on which action you choose the citizen has a variety of effects that could take place.
The first option is to endorse the rightmost citizen in the display to Caesar. When a citizen is endorsed to Caesar Caesar’s influence grows by the number on the card and if it gets to +15 then the Agents immediately win. When a citizen is endorsed the endorsing player also triggers all Caesar abilities on their cards and player board. The most important ability being the income you receive from Caesar as a thank you for endorsing the citizen to him.
The second option is to bribe a citizen, wherein you choose any citizen on the board and pay their bribe cost to move the influence towards the Liberatores side.
The last option is to hire a citizen. When you hire a citizen you may choose any citizen on the board, pay their hire cost and move them in front of your or another player’s board providing an ability of some sort that can be triggered by specific actions.
After completing the main action you can activate other citizen abilities of the hired citizens in front of your player board or your wife and Pincerna which are on every player’s player board.
Play continues for 7 rounds (unless Caesar’s influence reaches 15) and at the end of the 7 rounds the team with the most influence wins. However, if the Republicans win, they must make sure the Competitor does not have the most influence on their team, because if they do, then Caesar has been overthrown only to see a new dictator arise.
Liberatores is not for everyone. I played with a few different groups of people and while some really liked it, others did not. Of course, if hidden role and deduction games are not for you, then you should probably choose another game to play.
I, personally, enjoyed my plays of Liberatores. I’m not a huge fan of deduction games, but what I liked about Liberatores is you could do a lot on your turn to make sure your team would win, but you needed to really work with everyone at the table in order to truly ensure success.
Since money is so tight, you have to ensure that there is always some money floating around, so that you aren’t forced to endorse too many citizens to Caesar. That is, if you are a Republican. If you are the Agent, you are more than happy to allow more and more citizens be endorsed.
Managing money correctly also allows you to buy servants at the end of your main action and give them to the player you think is the Agent allowing you to gain some extra influence at games end. Guess right and you get two influence, guess wrong and you’ve wasted 2 Lira which may cause a citizen to be endorsed giving Caesar some influence that you could not afford to give to him.
My favorite aspect of this game is that it doesn’t rely on you figuring out who the other team is as much as some other hidden role games do. You can still do pretty well if you do the best you can do in order to make sure every one of your moves are optimal. In addition to that, everything is public information except for the role itself, so you can watch what people are doing and try to figure out who they are.
- Tying income into endorsing Caesar requires good planning to avoid giving him too much power and allowing the Agent to win
- Having every action be public knowledge allows for an easier deduction of who is who
- Giving a hired servant or citizen to another player allows for some player interaction and can mess up the plans of your opponents
- The first game should be chalked up to a learning experience because of the income economy. It is easily missed that you can’t endorse too many citizens to Caesar back to back.
- Understanding that the Competitor is hoping to have the most influence of any of their Republican teammates can be confusing and hard to figure out how to identify who that might be.
After a play or two the game is much easier than it at first seems. However due to the nuances in gameplay the first couple plays can be difficult to feel like you understand what all is going on.
- Players: 3 – 6
- Playing time: 40 – 60 minutes
- Suggested age: 13+