Monday, 4 July 2016

Histrio from Asmodee games and Bombyx board game unboxing and review

I will admit, I am not particularly theatrical, in fact the only time I have ever been to the theatre was a school trip to see Macbeth many, many years ago.  Luckily Histrio is not about acting (I would be awful) its about managing a theatre troop of animal actors and acrobats.
"Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts."
   –William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Munificent Theatrical Festival takes place once a year and all the producers in the kingdom bring their most talented actors and most extravagant shows to impress the King at Court. Leading up to the festival, recruiters search far and wide for performers of the highest caliber, in order to put on the best show the kingdom has ever seen. However, it is not just the quality of the performance that matters, but also whether it satisfies the King's ever-changing mood. There’s no way to tell who will come out on top until it’s time to take the stage, when only luck, influence and time will tell who earns the most acclaim… and the most gold.

Histrio is a strategic card game in which two to five players compete to put on the best theatrical performance. Over the course of two seasons, players recruit performers, send managers to influence the King's mood, and carry out secret requests. At the end of each season, Ecus are given out to the players with the most successful shows, as it relates to the King's mood. After the second season, the player with the most Ecus wins the game. 

The box art is charming, really full of character, but do not let it deceive you, this is a game for all ages, with plenty of tactics and strategy.

So whats in the box?

 You will need to assemble the stage first, which does not take too long, and there is a space in the box for it to fit back perfectly.
 When its built you can see a swing meter at the top, that moves according to the Kings mood, if he wants to see a tragedy play, or a comedy play, and when it swings you rotate the stage with a handy switch on top to show a different backdrop for each mood.
 The game could have done this without it, but it looks so good, and if you look at the picture of it flatpacked you can see hidden art of mice running around, and characters behind the curtain, again not needed, but a lovely touch.
 You then get a huge pile of playing pieces for5 players, who each get 8 caravels, and 3 managers.
 The models are really nice and detailed, and feel high quality.
 You then get a big bag of coins (Ecus) they come in 3 denominations, bronze 1, silver 5, and gold 10.
A nice touch is one side has a happy face, the other a sad face, and this is used at the start of the game to decide if the king starts wanting a tragedy or comedy by flipping the coin.
 There are colour coded cards numbered from 1-8 for each player, so they can secretly play them to show which location they are going to.
 The Actor cards clearly show if they are comedic, or tragic, there level, and if they give some extra bonus, such as sending a manager to the stage to gain ecus, or lets you steal a coin from another player.
 You get acrobat cards, these stay with your troupe through the game, and you can use their abilities once in each season, (you play two complete seasons in a game)  All of them have different abilities you can use to help you, or hinder your opponents.
You can also claim coin cards, or draw from the secret agenda deck, giving you other secret objectives to work on to gain ecus to win.

So onto the basics of how it plays.....

Traveling the Kingdom

At the beginning of the game, an Encounter card will be placed beneath each city in the Kingdom. You will begin each game turn by selecting a Travel card, indicating where you intend to send your Caravel for recruiting. You and your opponents will all reveal your cards at once and place your Caravels in front of the city you’ve selected. If you are alone at a city, you will receive all cards displayed there, but if you and an opponent have selected the same city, you will instead each take a Secret Request card. Then all players will move their Caravels onto the city board, showing which cities they cannot return to. You can regain access to a city by obtaining an Experience 1 Actor with the ability to replenish our cards, or if you run out of travel cards entirely.
After the game turn, new cards are placed in front of each city, meaning you have a chance to take more than one card per turn—although your opponents may be thinking the same thing.

 However, more cards may not always be better, and there are a number of cards you may be able to grab. Actor cards each have their own effect, depending on their Experience level, Chameleons are tricky actors, who can flip between tragedy and comedy as necessary, and Acrobats are specially trained performers who give you special abilities on future turns. If you have your eye on a particular city, you may be able to secure its offerings by using an Acrobat, such as the Ox, who blocks opponents from a city of your choice, or the Bear, who claims a city’s cards, even if there are others present. 

The Favour of the King

In addition to the effects of each card, you may also discard your actors in order to influence the King's mood. Any actor you discard will nudge the King's mood toward their specialty equal to their number of experience points. You might like to use this ability to discard unwanted cards, to intentionally sway the King’s humor in favor of the show you’re organizing, or if you’re lucky, both. Often, however, you will often be forced to make difficult decisions about whether a card is more valuable in your hand or at Court. 
When the season comes to an end, you and your opponents will receive Ecus for three particular accomplishments: having actors in your troupe that match the King’s mood; playing and satisfying a Secret Request card; and pleasing the King overall. To please the King, a show must have more experience in the King’s desired style of show than the other. The show that has the highest difference in favour of the King’s mood will have these Ecus doubled. It pays to please royalty!

Supreme Theatrical Acclaim

Not knowing what the King will prefer at the end of each season presents you with a major question: do you play it safe and keep a balanced crew, or do you go all in on your ideal show and hope it’s loved by the King and the Court? Consider your options carefully as you travel the kingdom, recruit talented performers, and artfully scheme to put on the best show. If you fill the King’s heart, he may fill your wallet in return, and whoever has the most Ecus at the end of both seasons wins the game and the kingdom’s theatrical acclaim!
 Here Olivia stacked up on Tragedy actors, and swung the mood to a tragedy gaining a good amount of coin from the kinds favout.

 The manual is beautiful, and one of the best I have seen, full of clear rules, and diagrams, its apleasure to read, and will have you playing fast, and its easy to refer to if you ever need to.
 Plenty of full colour diagrams guide you through the game.
Finally on the back page is a clear step by guide, and this is not found enough in my opinion in games.  It makes it handy to keep near you and covers most things.  When you have read the rules once, you will refer to this, but when your going you will not need it too much, but still very handy to have.


For looks, this is one of the best games I have played, the components are truly lovely, the stage though not really required as it could be done with cards looks beautiful, and really adds to the theme, the artwork, as I have said before is charming, and draws you into the world, and with that combined with the stage and coins, it really gets you into the theme of managing a theatre troop.  It is more tactically deep then you may expect, you have to take into account where you will go to recruit actors, hoping your opponent does, or playing out weak locations first, and of course managing the kings mood, as you can discard an actor you collect to swing the kings mood, but if you discard a 4 happy actor it will swing it that wayu, but hes also a 4 happy actor you could have in your troop to get a good play.  When to use your acrobats is also key, and those and secret missions can swing a game your way at the end.

Olivias Thoughts........

I LOVE it!, i love the little stage and the pictures of all the animals, and the money, its really easy to play when you know it, but you have to think a lot to get the best actors, and jeep the king happy, its good for all ages of people, as i liked it and daddy liked it too.



You can pick one up by finding your local game store here with an RRP of £34.99 it will provide plenty of fun for all, and if you like the theatre then it will prove a massive hit on theme. If you don't like the theatre still give the game a chance, its great fun, and the theme and art, charm and quality ofcomponents will win you over.

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