Hegemony: Lead Your Class to Victory Board Game Review

Hegemony ​is ​a socio-economic euro-style ​game, ​and effectively, ​ ​each ​player ​has ​a ​different ​class of citizens they are attempting to lead to victory.  And by victory, we obviously mean, collect the most points.  One of the most interesting things about Hegemony is the ​dynamic ​between ​these ​four ​completely ​different ​classes and their ​goals; there's ​a ​lot ​of ​symbiosis ​in ​this ​game, ​and ​it's ​really ​clever and as clever as that may be, it’s by far and away not even the best part of this game.

The ​capitalist ​class ​wants ​to ​build ​companies ​and ​make ​a profit ​from ​those ​companies. ​The working ​class ​wants ​to ​get ​all ​their ​people ​into ​jobs ​and ​improve ​their ​lives ​with ​health ​care ​and ​university ​and ​things ​like ​that.  The ​middle ​class ​is ​kind ​of ​balancing ​between ​the ​two: they ​want ​to ​get ​people ​into ​jobs, ​but ​they ​also ​want ​to ​own ​little ​boutique ​shops ​and ​make ​their ​own ​little ​businesses ​because ​they’re like ​little mini-​capitalists. ​ And ​then ​balancing ​all ​that ​is ​the ​government, ​whose ​job ​is ​basically ​just ​to ​try ​and ​help ​whoever's ​in ​last ​place, ​because ​they ​get ​points ​for ​giving ​bonuses ​to ​people, plus ​they ​want ​to ​keep ​everyone in check: just ​like ​herding ​a ​particularly ​voracious ​shower ​of ​cats.  In a nutshell, that is the basic system of the game.

There are ​also ​markets to consider.  Firstly there is the internal market, ​because some players will produce ​different ​goods and services to ​buy ​and/or ​sell. ​There's ​food, education, health care, and ​​luxury items. ​The ​prices ​of these are all set by the players that produce them, which are also in competition with each other to sell to the Middle and Working class who need healthcare to increase their population, or luxury items and education to increase their prosperity. 

​Then there are the ​international ​markets ​(which ​can ​be ​tweaked ​by ​the ​player’s ​actions).  These provide another means to sell goods and services, but also for goods and services to be bought.  So although all prices and markets can be tweaked and adjusted, they are always all in conflict and competition.  It’s fascinating.

Mechanically; Hegemony is a pretty straightforward game.  Each round is simply made up of playing just one card per turn followed by an optional bonus action.  Yet, stringing those five cards (that make up your entire round) into some sort of semblance of strategy, is pretty tough.  Fair warning dear reader, it can also be a pretty long game, and I’m not entirely sure how or where that time gets eaten up, as this game certainly doesn’t feel long when you’re playing it.  However,  ​one of the great things about this game is that you ​can ​explain ​every ​rule ​using ​very ​real-world ​terms. ​Although everything has been abstracted; everything ​makes ​sense. 

​As ​soon ​as ​you ​start ​thinking ​about ​the impact of going on strike, or what the benefits are from increasing the fiscal policy, it ​just makes ​sense. So although it may seem like a lot is going on and there is a lot to remember with these quite large individual player aides (which are brilliant, FYI) it all makes for a very ​grounding ​experience.

For ​me though, ​what ​makes ​Hegemony ​such ​a fantastic ​game, ​is ​the ​fact ​that ​I've ​come ​away ​from ​each playthrough with a story.  ​Although ​I ​don't ​remember ​turn ​to ​turn ​the ​specifics, ​we ​told ​a ​story around the table. There has been ​a ​narrative ​to ​each ​game ​that ​I ​think ​I'm ​probably ​going ​to ​remember ​for ​a ​very, ​very ​long ​time.  And that is very rare.

The other thing that helps set Hegemony apart is the theme.  Although on the face of it a game about the divisions and goals of the class system may not sound like the most riveting of subjects, the deeply ingrained theme in each and every facet of the game mechanics makes the overall experience of playing this game all the richer.

Even if this type of game isn’t really in your board game wheel house it is one you should absolutely try.  There really aren’t many games like it.

Hegemony was awarded the Polyhedron Collider Best Game of the Year 2023.  You can hear us wax lyrical about it in episode 140.

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