from Draco Ideas
If you've watched the Kickstarter video, you should have a very good idea of the essential contents: approx. 220 cards, of which 18 are terrain cards, while all the rest are split between two decks, one for the German side and one for the American. What gave the game box its heft though were the 16 oblong, double-sided map tiles. This is a feature that I really like, as virtually all previous card-based attempts to simulate part of WWII, such as The Last Crusade or Nuts! have simply relied on cards for everything - units, equipment and terrain. Instead Draco Ideas have included a modular board that is assembled into a 4 x 3 grid oftiles that creates a playing area that is slightly larger than 27 x 18 inches. so, a final map board is created that is larger than the standard 22 x 17 inches of a typical folio game and capable of considerable variation in its permutations of terrain. This is an excellent design feature, especially for the basic game which the company have chosen to call Battle Royal and this basic game will have to be the main focus of my review, as this is the only section of the rule book as yet translated into English.
Once assembled, they look like this.
Don't worry, if you are wondering whether the outer edge of the final layout has unsightly holes. There are pieces provided to fill them. Just don't be like me and in my haste to get started, didn't realise their purpose and threw some of them away. Fortunately, there are an excess number of the connecting pieces which when cut in half exactly do the job. Anyway, I've only got to wait till next year and I'll have a completely new English set!!
Personally, I would have preferred the tiles to have been simply straight-edged. But, as I always go for laying plexi-glass over modular terrain to prevent shifting, that's largely an aesthetical point. My other minor concern is how well the cardboard connectors will stand up to the wear and tear from assembling the map. Apart from the few games I've played, I've also tested them out by simply assembling the tiles repeatedly. The indications are that they do stand up well to the job.
To return to the rule book, I've already commented on the accuracy of the current draft, but what I'm even happier about is the clarity of the rules. They are well organised and well sequenced taking you through the essentials of the game in logical order and above all make sense at a first reading.
Though a few more illustrations would have been nice, as the text is quite dense to fit so much in, there is a good balance of examples for each important point and so far I've not picked up an example that seems to contradict the rules. Now that is something that happens all too often in far more expensive products. If the extensive scenario section, referred to earlier, that makes up two thirds of the rule book is as tight as this, I shall be very satisfied next year when I get my hands on the completed English edition. [By the way, if the rule book is not yet set in stone, one small language point I would love to change is Shooting; please, please, please, could we have Combat or at least Firing instead?]
To give you some idea of what seems original for a game at this level, I'd like to list just a few instances that I particularly like:-
Supply: instead of the normal rule governing what a unit can or cannot do when it is in supply or out of supply, here the distance your troops have advanced towards the enemy HQ and the continuity of the supply line determines how many extra Action Points you get to operate with that turn. A neat touch!
Suppression: not the result of a die roll, but the fact that more than one unit has targeted the same unit.
Covered Movement: just the fact that, in an essentially easy and fast playing game, such things as infantry gaining cover from moving with vehicles gets included.
Additional Equipment: the combination of both cards and counters to represent additional equipment along with a distinction between equipment that is deactivated or not deactivated when used.
Specific cards for historical Generals: including good ole George Patton and Erwin Rommel - another reason for me to long for the translation of the Campaign material!
Terrain: integral terrain on the map tiles plus additional cards such as trenches, bridges, bunkers and landing craft [for the existing Operation Overlord Campaign and The Sword Campaign that is one of the unlocked Stretch Goals], buildings.
These to me are some of the bells and whistles on a very solid set of rules that take this game beyond previous games of this scale.
All in all, this is a well designed package that in the Spanish version got things right and so, perhaps not surprisingly, has almost doubled its Kickstarter funding, with 20 days to go. Expansion packs that bring in the British, Italians and Russians are already underway and form part of the varying pledge levels on Kickstarter.
Even if you just buy the simple English edition, you're getting not just a basic generic fast playing tactical card game of WWII with lots of flavour and colour, but a surprisingly varied set of rules for its small footprint and the potential for a much more extended experience through the wealth of Campaigns.
Hasta La Vista!
[Pardon the cheesy ending, but I really do hope to see you later, when I return next year with a review to take in all that my typical English lack of foreign language ability has not been able to cover.]