Having played a few games now, I'm thoroughly impressed. This is a great game, a perfect blend of board game and miniatures game, with the individualization of an RPG -- all set in my favorite historical gaming period, WW2! Cost is no longer a factor now that I've seen what this game has to offer.
The game parts are excellent. It uses 20mm figures, real metal that are painted to a high quality tabletop standard. The figures are mounted on a special base, with a dog tag and serial number for your specific man. You play on a board of heavy, interlocking card stock with nicely done art much like a game mat used in RPGs or board games. All cards and markers provided are sturdy and good quality.
The game play is deep. It's a man-to-man level of combat, really a rifle team with possibilities for support weapons. The turn is divided into three action phases, where actions you can take are randomly determined by story cards. You also have a hand of cards that are linked to the men you've chosen for your squad. These cards drive just about everything, and managing your card choices makes for some really tough decisions. Each soldier also has a stat card that interacts with the board as well, either enhancing or hindering actions you want your soldiers to take.
It's a dice free game, with your deck managing everything for you. It's really an ingenious system. On top of this, you don't have any charts or tables to look at and book keeping is not an issue for the level of detail the game achieves. The rules are straight-forward.
Objectives are randomly determined at the start of the scenario. Random events can trigger, which can also change your objective. This happened twice in the last game I played. The scenario gives you a certain number of turns to complete your mission. Ultimate victory is done by totaling victory points, from killing enemies like many other games, and bonuses earned and objectives achieved during the game.
The most amazing aspect of this game is each soldier is unique. I mean... really unique. If you buy the game, you won't have the same soldiers I do. Each one has his own stats and cards. Your squad is truly unique to you and no one else will ever have it. I believe the starter box is the only box with the same troops, but even with the same names the stats are different. Talk about individualizing a game!
To give you an idea of the flow of the game, here's a quick write up of a game I played recently.
Currently the game is Americans versus Germans (Brits are in Kickstarter right now). I'm a sucker for playing the US, so I chose that force. First step was to determine a scenario and find out what was required. I had to take two soldiers, Harrison and Fields, plus 12 points of other men. Harrison is the leader, and I could've upped him to a Staff Sergeant or dropped him to a Corporal (or something like that) but I took him as a sergeant. I added a few more men for a total of five for this mission.
Meet Sergeant Harrison 022-210, PFC Fields 092-795, PFC Campbell 381-300, PFC Andrews 885-777, and PFC Carter 065-271. (I just like throwing in their dog tag numbers for fun. There's a minor game function for the number, but otherwise they're for flavor.)
OK, so the squad is assembled and the scenario begins. We're in France shortly after D-day. Sgt Harrison and PFC Fields decide to go scrounge food from a farmhouse up ahead. Andrews, Campbell, and Carter decide to tag along in case they find anything good! What they will find are Germans in the area.
Here's a shot of the whole board. It's actually late in the game when I took this picture, so the models are all over the place. The Germans have taken some casualties, too. But this gives you an idea of where we played. The board is very small, and actually you can play games on boards twice this size. Since we're still learning, we kept it small.
My mission card, drawn before turn one, is for me to enter the board from behind the farmhouse on the right (the picture is from the US side of the board) and exit from the road on the left about 2/3 down the board. It's a simple recon patrol, with the hopes of getting some food from the farmhouse.
Turn one draws a random event. An old lady runs out of the farmhouse and starts shouting at all the soldiers to leave her farm. All soldiers start the game as spotted. This is huge, since your soldiers start hidden from enemy view, and they must be spotted first. It can be tricky to do, and if the cards are against you, you might not be able to spot. If not spotted, you can't be shot at. So we're all in the open thanks to the angry French grandma.
The Germans, seeing the old lady cursing the Americans, open fire from across the board. Despite good cover between the farm house and fields, the Germans wound Sgt Harrison right at the start. Being wounded means a soldier's stats are all cut in half. This seriously hampers my leadership from turn one!
The Americans hunker down in cover and try for return fire. But with Sgt Harrison wounded and Carter carrying a short range Thompson, we're not doing so well. Soon, we draw another random event and this has us change up our mission. So the US mission becomes to survive the encounter and count their own models as VPs. Quite thematic!
As the game progresses, the Germans push the Americans into the corner. It seems like they're going to crush us, but luck turns and we start pinning and wounding the Germans. The American's make a tentative push out of their corner, and take out a German! One of the Huns moves through the house, and PFC Fields rushes to engage him. The hand to hand lasts a few turns, but ultimately Fields succumbs and is taken prisoner! (The Huns must be looking for intel and trying to capture prisoners.)
Unfortunately for the Germans, I draw some hot cards that let me move up and engage the German holding Fields captive. PFC Carter rushes in, and now he and Fields are on the German. They beat him, opting to kill rather than capture. In the meantime, Andrews and Campbell take out more of the Germans, pushing them back. Come turn eight, the Germans have only two men who are pinned (which reduces their stats as well) and no leaders left to rally them. We call it, and it's an American victory. Sgt Harrison lives to fight another day!
|Carter has rescued Fields in the farmhouse, killing the German captor|
|Poor Schulze and Koenig are trying to hold on in the trees after their squad has been depleted of manpower|