Liberté

By Martin Wallace
 

Overview

Liberté covers the French Revolution from 1789 and the meeting of the Estates General to the Directory and Bonapart’s coup d’etat in 1799.
 
The game is played in four turns. In each turn there will be a variable number of rounds, followed by an election to see which faction becomes the government. There are three factions, the Radicals, (red), the Moderates, (blue), and the Royalists, (white). The most common action is for a player to play a Personality card to place faction blocks on the board. He shows that he controls these blocks by placing one of his tokens on the stack.
 
The cards are divided into two sets, the 'A' deck and the 'B' deck. The first deck tends to favour the Moderates and Royalists, with the Radicals gaining strength when the second deck comes into effect.
 
The election is triggered when all of one type of faction block has been exhausted. The faction blocks will determine which faction forms the next government. Players are attempting to score points by having the most influence in the government and opposition. Points can also be picked up in later turns for being the general in charge at a victorious battle, and for winning elections in specific provinces.
 
Normally the player with the most victory points will win. However, there are two sudden-death end game conditions that may alter the outcome. The first is the radical landslide, triggered by an overwhelming electoral victory by the red faction, and the second is the Royalist counter-revolution, triggered by Royalist control of a certain number of key provinces. In both cases victory is determined by a different set of criteria, in which accrued victory points do not count. The player who is ahead on points must be aware that one mistake could lead to defeat at the hands of the Jacobins or the Royalists.
 
At first you may find yourself a little confused over what you need to do to win. However, by the end of the first game you will have a much better idea of what strategies to employ in the next game.
 
Liberté is for 3 to 6 players will normally take between 90 and 120 minutes to play.
 

Components

  • Rules
  • Map
  • 110 cards, (sets A and B)
  • Faction blocks, (24 white, 28 blue, and 30 red)
  • Player control tokens, (6 colours, 20 per player)
  • Turn and Election markers, (2 black, 1 red, 1 white, and 1 blue marker)
  • Player Aid Cards, (English, French, and German)

Starting the Game

Each player should select a set of control tokens. Each player will need to place one token on the zero space of the Victory Points track. Whenever a player gains victory points he should move his token along the track to record the total he has won so far. Place the Turn marker on the first space of the Turn Track. Shuffle the ‘A’ deck of cards and deal out seven to each player. Shuffle the ‘B’ deck and place it under the remains of ‘A’ deck. Then place the deck by the side of the map and turn over the top three cards to form a display.
 
Place the faction blocks by the side of the map, in stacks according to their colour. Take two of each colour, six blocks in all, and place them on the second space of the Turn Track. These blocks will be added to the available stock at the start of the second turn. Place the red, white, and blue Election markers on the zero space of the Election track.
 
Please examine the Player Aid card to gainfurther information concerning the cards.
 

Playing the Game

The turn sequence is as follows:
  1. Determine the order of play.
  2. New cards, (not in the first turn).
  3. Action phase – players complete a variable number of action rounds.
  4. Resolve battle, (not in the first turn).
  5. Resolve the election and score victory points.
Each phase should be completed by all players before proceeding to the next phase.
 

1. Determine Order of Play

In the first turn the order of player is determined randomly. One player should place one control token from each player in his hand and draw one blindly to determine the first player. The order of play will then go clockwise from the first player. Each player should place one of his control tokens on the Order of Play track to show when he will take his turn.
 
In the second and subsequent turns the order of player starts with the player with the most victory points, then the player with the next highest VPs, and so on, ending with the player with the least VPs. In the case of a tie decide randomly which player will take precedence. Once again tokens should be placed on the Order of Play track to show the present order of play.
 
At the start of the second turn add the six faction blocks on the Turn Track to the stock.
 

2. New Cards

Ignore this phase in the first turn.
 
Players pick up any cards they have on their personal display, (this term will be explained below), and place them back in their hand, (there is no upper hand limit). Then, in play order, each player discards as many cards as he wishes on to the discard pile. If, after players have had the opportunity to discard cards, a player has less than seven cards then they refill their hand to seven cards. Cards may be taken from those on display by the deck or from the deck itself. Any cards taken from the display are replaced immediately with a card from the deck.
 
As soon as the deck is exhausted shuffle the discard pile to make a fresh deck of cards.
 
CARD PILES
During the game cards will either be discarded to the discard pile or placed back in the box, (due to decapitation). Any cards placed back in the box never re-enter the game. Cards on the discard pile may end up being re-shuffled, thus re-entering the game.
 

3. Action Phase

In play order each player carries out ONE of the following actions. Once each player has completed an action a second action round is carried out, then a third, and so on, until one set of faction blocks is exhausted. Actions are:
  1. Play a card.
  2. Take a card.
  3. Pass.

A. Play a Card

The active player may play one Personality or Club card from his hand. The card will always allow the player to place faction blocks. In addition, some cards are marked with a cannon, which means they can be used to place one control token in the Battle Box INSTEAD of placing faction blocks. Some cards are also marked with a figure, which means they are a 'Sans Culotte' leader. This is explained in detail below.
 
If the card is used to place faction blocks then the number and colour of blocks that can be placed is shown in the upper left hand corner of the card, (which will show between one and three blocks, either red, white or blue). If the player is using a Personality card then these blocks can be placed in any province that matches the background colour of the card. If a player is placing more than one block then he can stack them or place them in separate provinces, as long as he sticks to the rules below.
 
The background colour of Club cards does not indicate where the faction block can be placed, instead the block, (always one), can be placed in any province.
 
Faction blocks come in three colours, red for radicals, blue for moderates, and white for Royalists.
 
When placing blocks the main rule is to think of the number three, as follows:
  1. The maximum height for a single stack is three faction blocks.
  2. A province can only contain a maximum of three separate stacks of faction blocks,(a stack may consist of one block).
  3. A player can only control one stack of blocks in a province.
  4. All the faction blocks in a single stack must be the same colour.
  5. All the blocks in a stack belong to one player. A player can never add to another player's stack.
When a player places a faction block or a stack of blocks in a province then he also places one of his control tokens on top to show that he controls that particular stack. A player may always add blocks to one of his previously placed stacks, as long as he does not break the rules stated above. A player cannot move or remove faction blocks, except through the use of Special cards, (explained below). A player may not be able to place all of the faction blocks on the card, due to there being not enough such blocks left, in which case he places as many as he can.
 
After the player has played the card he can either discard it or place it on his Personal Display, i.e. face up in front of him. A player can have up to four cards in his Personal Display. He cannot voluntarily remove any cards from his display, except through the use of Special cards. He may have one additional card in his display if that card is marked with the 'Sans Culotte' symbol. Cards in a Personal Display may be used during the Election Phase to break ties. Any cards left on display will go back into the player's hand, which allows a player to recycle powerful cards.
 
If there is a cannon symbol on the card then the player may choose to place one of his control tokens in the Battle Box INSTEAD of placing faction blocks, (remember that there will only be a battle in the second and subsequent turns, so don't go placing tokens in the box in the first turn). Whatever the value of the card only one control token can be placed in the box. The card can still be placed on the player's Personal Display. There is no limit to the number of tokens that can be placed in the Battle Box.

B. Take a Card

If a player has less than nine cards then he can take one card, either one of the three cards on display by the deck, or from the deck itself. Any card taken from the display is replaced immediately. If a player has nine or more cards then he can still take a card but before doing so he must discard two cards from his hand. A player can have more than nine cards in his hand, (this will only occur at the start of a new turn when he picks up cards from his Personal Display)

C. Pass

In the unlikely event that a player does not wish to perform an action then he may simply choose to pass. This does not stop him performing an action when the order of play returns to him in the next round of actions.

The End of the Action Phase

The Action Phase will end when the stock of all of one colour of faction blocks is exhausted, (i.e. on the map). However, play still continues until the last player has completed his action, which means that all players will have the same number of actions
 

4. Resolve Battle

In the second and subsequent turns there will be a battle. The player who leads the Revolutionary army in this battle will gain victory points. The player who has the most control tokens in the Battle Box AND has at least one General card in his Personal Display will lead the army and win the VPs. A General card is distinguished by its silhouette, (see the Player Aid Card). Directly underneath the present turn space is a box with the name of a battle in it. The number in the box is the number of VPs earned by the victorious player.
 
Note that a player with a General on display may win the VPs even if he has less tokens in the box than another player but that other player does not have a General card on display.
 
If there is a tie for the number of tokens in the box then in play order each player may advance one General card from his Personal Display. The player who advances the highest value General, (i.e. card with the most blocks on it), wins the VPs. Any advanced cards are discarded.
 
If there is still a tie then nobody leads the battle and the battle is lost. If this happens then take a white faction block and place it in the box with the named battle that was just fought. If there is no white block available then remember to place one after the election has been resolved and blocks have become available.
 
A lost battle counts as a controlled counter-revolutionary province when determining a sudden-death victory, (explained in more detail later on).
 
All control tokens are removed from the Battle Box and returned to their respective owners. If a player won the battle and there was no tie-break situation then he does not have to lose any General card, they stay on his Personal Display.
 

5. The Election and Victory Points

The new government is now elected. Remove all player tokens from the Government Box. Place the three coloured Election markers on the zero space of the Election Track. Place a black marker on the first space of the Region Track.
 
Each region consists of a number of provinces, which are numbered to show the order in which they are to be resolved. Resolve the election in each province in a region, as indicated, then advance the black marker and resolve the next region, and so on, until all six regions have been resolved.
 
An election in a province will normally return just one vote – which will move one of the election markers up one space on the election track. The only exception is Paris, which is explained in more detail below.
 
The highest single stack on a province returns one vote for the faction that matches the colour of the stack, either red, white, or blue. The player who controls the stack takes one faction block from that stack and retains it until the end of the election. All remaining faction blocks remain in the province. The election marker of the winning faction is advanced one space along the Election Track. Note that two stacks of the same colour faction are not added together – it is the highest stack that wins.
 
As there is a stacking limit of three faction blocks so ties will be a regular event. In the case of a tie each tied player, in play order, may advance one Personality or Club card from his Personal Display that has blocks on it that match the colour of the faction that he controls in the contested province, (the background colour on the card is of no relevance). The player who advances the highest value card, (as shown by the number of blocks on card), wins the election in the province. A player does not have to advance a card. If there is a winner then he takes one faction block from his stack and a vote is registered for that faction on the election track. If the tie is not broken then no vote is registered. Whatever the result, after the election in the province has been resolved, ALL faction blocks in that province are removed and returned to the stock. The purpose behind this rule is to make sure there is an adequate recycling of faction blocks. Any cards used to break a tie are discarded.
 
PARIS
The Paris province is an exception to the standard election rules. The winner of the election takes all of his faction blocks and retains them, instead of taking the normal one block. Each faction block in the winning stack counts as a vote on the Election Track, which means the election marker could be moved up to three spaces. If there is a tie then this is resolved as above, by advancing cards. However, if after the first cards are advanced there is still a tie then players repeat the process, advancing a second and possibly third card until the tie is broken or all players exhaust their supply of eligible cards. If no player wishes to advance a card then the election is tied, with no faction gaining any votes. As in a regular province all faction blocks in the province are returned to the stock after the election has been resolved. Any cards used to break a tie are discarded.
 
VICTORY POINT PROVINCES
There are four provinces that contain a circle marked 1VP or 2VPs. In the third and fourth turns the player who wins the vote in these provinces, (i.e. takes a faction block from his stack), will also gain VPs as indicated in the province. If nobody wins the election in such a province then no VPs are claimed.
 
EXAMPLE 1: The election sequence reaches Picardy, where there is a stack of three red faction blocks controlled by Rob, two blues controlled by Richard, and another two blues controlled by Simon. The red stack wins the election in the province, despite the fact that there is a total of four blue faction blocks. Rob takes one of the red faction blocks from his stack and keeps it in front of him. The red election marker is moved up one space along the Election Track.
 
EXAMPLE 2: The election sequence reaches Paris. Richard has three red faction blocks, Simon also has three red blocks. Rob has one white block. There is a tie, which means cards may be used. Richard goes before Simon in the turn order. He decides to advance Murat, who is a 'red' personality. Simon decides not to advance a card. Richard wins and takes all three of his faction blocks and retains them in front of his position. The red election marker is moved up three spaces on the Election Track. As there was a tie all remaining faction blocks, including the white block, are removed from the province and returned to the stock.
 
THE NEW GOVERNMENT
The election ends when each province has been resolved. The faction that receives the most votes, i.e. its marker is furthest along the Election Track, will form the next government.
 
If there is a tie on the track then players may advance cards from their personal display, as if breaking a tie in a province. After all players have had the opportunity to advance a card the tied faction that has the highest total of points, (shown by blocks on the cards), advanced in its favour wins the election and forms the next government. If there is still a tie then repeat the process until the tie is broken, (in the same way that a tie in Paris would be broken). All advanced cards are discarded. If the tie is still not broken and players cannot advance any more cards, or choose not to, then the radicals take precedence over the moderates, who in turn take precedence over the Royalists. Leave the election markers on the track to show which is the present government. If there was a tie then move the two non-government markers back by one space.
 
Players now claim victory points. During the election phase players will have taken faction blocks from the map, as they won elections in provinces. The player who holds the most faction blocks of the same colour as the new government wins 5VPs. The player who holds the second highest number of blocks in the government wins 2VPs. The player who holds the highest number of blocks in the faction that came second to the government, (i.e. the opposition), wins 3VPs.
 
EXAMPLE: The radicals, (red), won the election, the moderates, (blue), gained the second highest number of votes, becoming the opposition. The player with the most red faction blocks wins 5VPs. The player with the second highest number of red blocks wins 2VPs. The player with the most blue faction blocks wins 3VPs.
 
In each of these cases a tie is broken by the tied players having the option to advance a card from their display which has the same colour blocks on it as the faction that they are competing for points with. The player who advances the highest value card wins the VPs. All advanced cards are discarded. If there is still a tie then players may advance a second card, in the same way they would break a tie in Paris. If there is still a tie and no player has any more cards to advance, or chooses not to, then each tied player shares the VPs. A tie for first place in government gives each tied player 3VPs, (player or players in second place do not score VPs as normal). A tie for second place in the government gives each tied player 1VP. If there is a tie for first place in the opposition then each tied player gains 2VPs.
 
If there was a tie for first place in government which is then broken then the player who lost the tie-breaker still gains the VPs for second place.
 
Each player who took at least one faction block of the same colour as the new government has a presence in that government. To show this they should place one of their control tokens in the Government Box at the top of the Election Track. Having a presence in the government is a prerequisite to using Purge and Terror special cards.
 
All faction blocks held by the players should be returned to the common stock. Faction blocks on the map remain there.
 
Now move the Turn marker on one space and start a new turn.
 

Special Cards

In addition to playing a Personality or Club card a player can play one Special card, (these have a cream background). A player can choose to a player a Special card on its own but he cannot play two Special cards in one round if he does not play a Personality/Club card. He may play the Special card before or after he plays a Personality/Club card. The effect of the Special card is resolved immediately. Special cards are discarded after they have been played.
 
PURGE: You must have a presence in government to play this card. You may discard one face up card that is part of a player's personal display, including your own. The card is placed on the discard pile.
 
GUILLOTINE: You may remove any Personality card, (not a Club card), which is face up on a player's Personal Display. The personality is 'dead' and should be placed back in the box.
 
EMIGRATION: You may remove any one Royalist Personality card, (one marked with white blocks), that is part of a player's Personal Display and place it on the discard pile.
 
TERROR: You can only play this card if the present government is radical, (red), and you have a presence in that government. You remove one complete stack of faction blocks from any province that also contains one or more red faction blocks. The removed blocks are placed back in the stock. You may choose to remove the red blocks that allowed the action to be taken in that province, (i.e. radicals can guillotine themselves). You may then 'guillotine' one Personality or Club card, which means selecting any card on a player's Personal Display and placing in the dead box.
 
BREAD SHORTAGE: You may remove one faction block of the same colour as the present government from one province. In the first turn any faction block can be removed.
 
RELIGIOUS PROBLEMS: You may remove one red or blue faction block from a province.
 

Ending the Game

The game can end due to one of the following three conditions:
 
END OF FOUR TURNS: The game always ends after four turns. The player with the most victory points is the winner. In the case of a tied the tied player with the most Personality/Club card points on display wins. If there is still a tie then the players remain tied.
 
ROYALIST COUNTER-REVOLUTION: A successful Royalist counter-revolution will occur immediately if seven or more provinces marked CR are controlled by white faction blocks. It is up to the players to spot this condition and if it is missed then it cannot be claimed retrospectively. A CR province is regarded as being controlled if there is a single white stack that is higher than any other single stack in the province. Note that if there are two or more white stacks of the same height then the province is not controlled by any stack, and so does not count towards the counter-revolutionary conditions. Every battle for which no player claimed points is regarded as a lost battle and counts as a single controlled province, which reduces the number of provinces that need to be controlled on the map.
 
A counter-revolution can only occur in the third and fourth turns. If a successful counter-revolution does occur then the winner is determined by players adding together the number of white points they have – which means adding together the number of white faction blocks they control on the map to the number of white blocks on cards they own, both on display and in hand. The player with the most such points wins the game. VPs count for nothing. In the case of a tie the tied player with the most white points on cards, (both in hand and on display), takes precedence. If there is still a tie then it remains unbroken.
 
RADICAL LANDSLIDE: If at the end of an election the radical red faction gained 17 votes or more, i.e. they go off the end of the Election Track, then the game ends with a radical landslide. The winner of the game is determined by players adding together the number of red points they have – which means adding together the number of faction blocks they hold and control on the map to the number of red blocks on cards they have on display and in hand. The player with the most such points wins the game. VPs count for nothing. A landslide may occur in any turn. If there is a tie then the player with the most red points on cards, (both on display and in hand), takes precedence. If the tie is still unbroken then the players remain tied.
 

Credits

Liberté was designed by Martin Wallace.
All artwork by Peter Dennis
Graphical layout by Ian Legge
Rules proofread by as many people as possible.
 
Playtested by Simon Bracegirdle, Rob Mulholland, Richard Spilsbury, Matthew Ellis, Eddie Richards, Geoff Brown, Geoff Brown, Martin Burroughs, James Hamilton, Chris Boote, members of the Man of War games club. The designer would also like to thank the many people who have played the game and offered comments at various conventions. The designer would also like to thank the organisers of those conventions, in particularly Baycon, Stabcon, and Ramsdencon.
 
Thanks to Nuala O'Rourke. Tim Cockitt, and Audrey Bown.
 
Special thanks to James Hamilton for making it possible to produce Liberté.
'Liberté' is © Martin Wallace 1999.