Tribune may very well be my favorite worker place game.
Which quite frankly, is somewhat astonishing to me given that it ranks a mere 7.2 on BoardGameGeek. While I used to say anything above a 7 is a great game, these days competition is increasingly tough as games continue to get better and better, and I find myself being skeptical of anything below a 7.5 Now obviously, it should go without saying that your own ranking of a game should take precedence over a group ranking. Yet I always find a disconnect between myself and the "horde" fascinating. Why am I so dismissive of a game other seem to love? Why do I love a game that the masses think is merely ok? I value the opinion of all gamers much more than I do any other ranking system such as Gamespot, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, etc. And so when such a disconnect exists, I like to be able to pinpoint why. If I can....then great, problem solved. If I can't....then I toss and turn each night, unable to reconcile conflicting sets of opinions.
Take B-Sieged for instance, which I covered here. Despite being even lower than a 7, that didn't bother me at all as I can see easy reasons for the disconnect in opinions. Or my review of Quacks of Quedlinburg here....despite merely enjoying it, I can 100% see the mass appeal it brings to the table. Yet for Tribune....I don't see a reason it's not a high 7.
Tribune is a fascinating mix of worker placement, set collection, backstabbery and multiple win conditions. And it works amazingly well. The game begins with a determination of how you'll actually win this game, of the potential victory conditions and how many you have to achieve. This gives players a simultaneous sense of direction as well as variability. From there the players play round by round, placing workers to collect "people", and then playing sets of "people" to achieve a faction's favor, which comes along with its own set of initial and recurring bonuses. But rest not on ye laurels young one....a faction can be taken over by the next player quite easily. Do you go for an early faction takeover, thus getting some nice early game positioning? Or do you build up your forces, marshaling for a takeover that might last the whole game? No decision in this game is easy.
Additionally the bonuses and worker placement locations tie in neatly off each other. There's some tense bidding, some blind guesses, paying coins into a Colosseum that you'll then take straight out again should you control the gladiators. In the meantime, some players are so distracted by going for everything, that they forget to focus on winning and instead end up as the proverbial jack of all trades, master of none.
Tribune is incredible. Every time I play it it feels stimulating, every win feels earned, every decision tight. I appreciate the game design, I appreciate the gameplay, the art works well for the game....my only real critique would be the lackluster expansion. This game has outlasted Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep and more...worker placement as a genre is one that I in theory love, but find myself eventually trading them away, and yet Tribune has lasted since roughly 2014. So why a 7.2? I don't know I'm afraid....but you have a solid recommendation from me.