By: James Freeman
If you are not familiar with cheapass games (except recent ventures) the premise is that they provide a stripped down version of a game. You will need to provide dice, tokens, etc.. etc... etc. The game I am going to review is Veritas, but if you don't mind using your own components there are several games in this line I enjoy (I highly recommend Fish Cook).
It is the Dark Ages, and you are the Truth. Or at least, some version of the Truth. Your goal is to stay alive, and it’s not easy. You start out in just two books, in a single monastery, somewhere in France. Over time, you will be copied and spread across the land. Your enemies include the other Truths, who are also struggling to stay alive. And also fire. Nobody likes fire. To win, you must be crafty, wise, and lucky. All the things that keep the Truth alive.
Veritas is a Euro-style board game about the preservation of truth in Dark Ages France. Each player represents some "truth" that's trying to be preserved for posterity by diligent book-copying monks. Players place and copy book tokens in monasteries, then pick up stacks of books and spread them around France. Each turn, a monastery will burn down, and the books in it may be destroyed. After the monasteries have burned down, players can move through them, so travel on the board gets faster as the game progresses. When scoring chips are drawn, each player whose ideology dominates a region scores points. The first player to score 100 points wins, becoming the dominant truth as the Dark Ages end.
(Your Own) Components
For your play, each player will need 40 colored stackable chips each. I used full sized poker chips, but they are a little too big for the board. If you have smaller sized poker chips that would be ideal.
When you're talking about cheapass games from their earlier games, you have to base the review solely on gameplay, not on components. To this extent, the game is a winner for me. I know most reviews you will read for this game will complain about the random nature of the fires, but unless your an arsonist, who plans a fire? Thematically this fits perfectly into the game.
The game thrives at the moment. You have no idea where the next fire is going to break out, so you have to make your best play at that moment. Should you expand? Should you double down in the areas, you already control? Is someone running away with the game and you need to put an end to that? When I first saw that the game played to a hundred, I thought that was a bit long, but after several plays, i understood why. The game and strategies change as more fires break out and you need that many points to get your strategy in place or change strategies.
The game plays best with a full complement of players. If you play with lower player counts, you are supposed to block out specific pieces of the board. I understand why due to the nature of the scoring. It is very easy to rack up points if someone cannot reach the areas you control. For this reason alone I strongly recommend playing with 5-6 players.
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