Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, and the Great Conde, oh my. It also has Tilly, Wallenstein, Horn, Pappenheim, and the Cardinal-Infante, plus the whole gang of kings and princes and generals that we love to read about.
This is a Slitherine/Matrix/Ageod game of the Thirty Years War. The game has actually been released by the Ageod part of the gaming triumvirate. They have also released such titles as, The Wars of Napoleon, The Rise of Prussia, Revolution under siege etc..
This war was caused by the Bohemians offering their crown from the head of the Catholic Hapsburg Ferdinand II, to the Protestant Frederick V of the Palatinate, a small part of the Holy Roman Empire. The empire was once described as neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Frederick V is called the 'Winter King', because that is how long his reign of Bohemia lasted. The Bohemians, in a fit of religious rage, threw two of Ferdinand's councilors out of a window to land seventy feet below into a dung heap. Miraculously they both survived, thus proving that politicians, like cats, usually land on their feet. This was the spark that set off the greatest conflagration since the reformation began. On the outside it was a religious war. In reality at times Catholic fought Catholic and Protestant fought Protestant, depending less on the states' religious views than their own policy.
The war was a high mark in man's inhumanity to man. The devastation and desolation this war caused in central Europe affected it for the next few hundred years. The sack of Magdeburg was that centuries 'rape of Nanking'. The scale was smaller, but the savagery was just as intense. The woodcuts and printed sheets of the horrors were the first large propaganda outpouring to hit Europe.
The Thirty Years war saw the change from completely rigid linear tactics to the reforms of Maurice Prince of Orange. It also was the watershed between countries moving from half trained militia and mercenary armies, to having fully professional standing armies.
Enough of the history, now let's get to the game. This review is of the 1.01 version.
The game has three tutorials and five scenarios these are:
1. Basic Rules
2. Recruitment, Production, and Decisions
3. Advanced Concepts and Tips
1. The Bohemian revolt 1618
2. The Danish Phase 1625
3. The Paladins 1622
4. The Swedish Intervention 1630
5. The Thirty Years War 1618
The scenario of the whole war, 1618-1648, is a whopping 369 turns.
The player chooses to play either the 'Protestant powers' or the 'Empire'. You are the leader of your coalition and control diplomacy, economics, and of course your military.
The map is of the whole of middle Europe, with some of the scenarios focusing on smaller portions of it.
You are given four pages of options to tweak the AI and other parts of the game to your desire. For those not faint of heart you can also tweak the 'scripts' that the game runs on.
Your forces' supply and attrition will be your main focus. The troops under you will melt away like ice cream in the hot sun. As Spain was described during the Napoleonic wars "a small army is defeated and a large army starves". Your armies are much like a chained bulldog, formidable only in a small area and useless out of it. You will be continually juggling your meager purse between all of the different choices that you can or have to make. Mutual exhaustion between the contending forces at times, resemble the fourteenth round in a championship boxing match (oops showed my age), or for the uninitiated, the last round of any Rocky movie. The turns are in the WEGO mode, that is you and your opponent both decide on your moves and actions and then it is played out simultaneously on the map.
Your forces have to be integrated with leaders, with that and all of the myriad of choices you have as a coalition leader for economic,etc. It is good to see that there are so many tutorials and also that they are set up not to overwhelm the new player with too much information at once.
The game is a grand scale work of the Athena engine. For those of you who already own Ageod games, its purchase is a no-brainer. For the gamer who has not played any of their games, there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome, but well worth it in the end. The Athena game engine is particularly well suited for time periods where the action of armies is more fluid and not stagnant as in World War I.
This screenshot shows the landing of Gustavus Adolphus, the king of Sweden, landing in the HRE in 1630.
For The Thirty Years war game might I suggest a little light reading, specifically Thomas Hobbes 'Leviathan'. Removing my tongue from its firm position in my cheek. Try this, 'The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy', by Peter H. Wilson. If you are like me, and like pc and board games take a look at GMT games.
Game: Thirty Years War
Steam Release: 6/9/16
Review Date: 6/20/16