War HUH what is it good for? Thur night games evidently. Three Thursdays in a row to be accurate.
I spoke about Triumph and Tragedy last week and said I would be revisiting it. I didn’t know I would be so quickly and then again the week after. The gaming gods are fickle.
It’s still my favorite game played this year. I’m going to talk about some of the bits I didn’t touch on last week. It’s all complimentary so feel free to skip it.
For such a relatively simple game there is so much gaming goodness effortlessly squeezed in here and a lot of it subtle. This has always been my experience with GMT games.
Many many (many) years ago I played CIV 2 multiplayer on the PC in work on a super idle Good Friday. It went on for a long time. The one thing I found about the game which was a surprise was how important posturing was. Actually getting stuck in and attacking was the road to ruin but you could achieve so much more and more importantly cheaply with the threat of violence. The first half of this game is all about positioning yourself and threatening as opposed to attacking. Ok that’s not 100% true. It could be about attacking but it’s also all about having the cajones to do it.
The old adage of making the other guy die for his country rather than dying for yours is important to your victory in T+T. Picking your fights are key. Don’t get involved in a pointless battle. Don’t over commit. The game has a lovely balance governor whereby If you do knock seven bells out of an opponent there’s always the third player waiting patiently for you both to spend yourselves before sweeping in and seizing victory.
In one game we played I took Russia and mid game I built up a big low tech horde and swept into Poland driving the axis forces before me but the one thing I quickly realized was I was setting the allies up for a handy win so I stopped (or at least I would have if we had played more of the game). It’s a long game it needs more than a Thur night games session to finish or it needs to be started with the later 1940 scenario.
Another thing I like about this game is the three factions play very differently. The Russians start with expensive factories, relatively small forces but less threats facing off against them. The Axis forces start with a brace of armies both German and Italian, a pile of resource cards and Eastern Europe looking awfully vulnerable. The allies start with a good sized but weedy force in France and England staring down the throat of the Axis. The allies are playing a waiting game, the Americans are coming to help but not for a while.
It’s surprising how close this plays to the real life events of WW2. Certain counties are easier to sway to your side others are more trouble than they’re worth based on location or how defensible they are. I struggled for the whole game to get Turkey over to my side diplomatically because a military take over would have been too costly. Didn’t happen.
The economy is an interesting mechanic. In peace time it’s about how far along the factory track you are and also how far along the population track you are. The lowest of these two is how many resources (gold) you generate each turn. To increase factories you spend development cards you had to buy with your resources. Population is based on owning provinces rich in population. As Russia this is difficult. You may own a large chunk of the map but it’s sparsely populated. On top of that factories are expensive to build for Russia compared to other nations. Some targets like Poland and Hungary are too tasty to pass up.
The game speeds up time. Be careful if you’re quite old with this one. For the three hours or so we played it time slipped by at a rapid pace. There is no down time. Every action is important to either execute or watch. It’s a pleasure from start to finish and it’s always interesting.
The shorter version is a god send (one of the old gods). You start in 1938 with everything poised to kick off. You start in the same spots but with a huge hand of cards and a big stack of resources to spend. The first turn is a big one with you distributing your largesse. Then is all kicks off. Less time is available to influence. It’s more straight in bare minimum of kissing. I really liked this version. I found the full version excellent but you can get the shorter version done in three hours which is not bad for a GMT game especially one of this scale.
Ok I’m going to finish this now. It’s sounding all gushy. This is a superb game. It’s only limitation is it’s three player. If you have two players available to you and you like a good solid map based conquest game try this. Try it at Knavecon in September. Chances are I’ll be playing it too