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Freedom! is an asymmetric card driven wargame that models a relatively unknown yet surprisingly important siege between the Ottoman Empi...

Freedom! a Kickstarter preview Freedom! a Kickstarter preview

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Greece


Freedom! is an asymmetric card driven wargame that models a relatively unknown yet surprisingly important siege between the Ottoman Empire and the Greek rebel insurgents in the city of Messolonghi.  The siege in question is actually the third siege between greek insurgents demanding their freedom from the Ottoman Empire during the early 19th century, none of which I knew anything about prior to receiving this game.

The designer Vangelis Bagiartakis has written a fascinating designer's diary on bgg that is well worth a read if you're interested in the development or history of this game. https://www.boardgamegeek.com/freedom-designer-diary

Gameplay

Watch my rules overview to get an idea of how the game plays.  However, there are far more professional efforts which I will link to below.

Players control the two opposing forces and fight out the siege over 6 rounds. In each round, 7 cards will be played for a maximum total of 42 actions per player per game.  The Imperial player, however,  could end the game early if they manage to infiltrate just one of their units into the forts on the wall or into the Southern City, effectively assaulting the city from the Lagoon. 

Ready to go
The rebel player is largely stuck grinding out a victory over the full 6 rounds unless they are able to reduce the morale of the besieging units enough to where they give up and go home. However, nothing about this is a grind for the defending player. You as the defender, are as much a part of the action and must try to follow your own plan whenever possible to get a win. In other asymmetric games, the 'defender' is often just reacting to the aggressor's moves. As the insurgents, it never felt like I was just along for the ride.

I've played three full games of this and in each, they were all well balanced between my opponent and me. The only aberration I experienced was during the very first replenishment of the first game, my plea to the government, as the insurgent player was successful, (I rolled an 11) and had one point in my plea track which made my roll 12, i.e. a successful plea. This allowed my rebels to storm into the lead early on, but I eventually lost the game as my supplies completely dried up in the second period.
An early success for the rebels, unlucky for some
This timing and handling of the plea for government is crucial to manage for the insurgents to be successful.  Likewise, the Imperial Plea for aid is markedly different and nowhere near as significant, however, it is this asymmetry, not just in this mechanism, but in unit's attack, movement and replenishment abilities that really immerse players into a siege mentality, no matter which side you're controlling. There is a constant back and forth struggle, between both players that is evocative of what I imagine a siege to be like.
 
Like other card-driven games, cards are either played for the event or the action points. I should highlight, which for some reason,  it got lost on the editing floor, that when a player plays a card with their opponent's event, the opponent, on their next turn, can discard a card from their hand to have the previously played event happen.  This is an excellent innovation on the standard cdg mechanic, which serves to make the game that bit more accessible and forgiving.  This ability to 'play' your own event previously used by your opponent is unique and I would not be surprised to see the mechanic 'borrowed' by other designers for future projects. 

There are layers of games, area control, tight economic engine, and well balanced between both forces. Integrated into a whole that is engaging for both sides. The insurgents are just as much fun to play as the Imperials.
A selection of all components

Components

I have been sent a prototype and I am stunned by how good the art currently is.  I am reluctant to criticise a prototype's components but I would like there to be unique art for most of the cards. In many cases, the same art is used albeit the card events are similar. I hope they can commission the same artist to do many more pieces for the game.

The graphic design is a little dark in some places and the clouds across the board feel a bit redundant. The overall look of the board is fantastic and I'm sure will only get better as the game raises development funds through Kickstarter.
I'd love there to be unique art everywhere

Criticisms

The biggest criticism I have, and it's probably more justified to level this at our hobby rather than the game, is its theme, it is quite obscure, and serves a niche within a niche. This may serve to hinder the game's adoption amongst potential backers which would be a shame. I think wargamers who may well be very interested in the theme could be but put off by the 'simpler than Twilight Struggle' tag, (let's not discuss whether TS is a wargame or not...). Conversely, casual gamers who would be enticed by a siege game set in the Crusades, or even Leningrad which subjectively are far more accessible, may be put off by a siege in a city they've never heard of, and in a war they don't know.

Conclusion

Any game that I enjoy playing and at the same time helps me to learn something new is, in my opinion, excellent. This game has that property in spades, I knew nothing about the siege of Messolonghi before hearing about this game, and now I know some of the major events of the siege itself from reading the card texts and have also wished for some Messolonghi-related books to learn some more. 
These are glorious, more please...
We often talk about gateway games into the hobby and although this isn't one of those, it is an enjoyable foray into the CDG genre sitting firmly towards the more accessible end of the spectrum. This doesn't detract from the gameplay itself, there's still plenty to consider and mull over each turn. As much as I would like to pull out Labyrinth or TS more regularly, as an introduction to CDGs for interested players, this is a much easier teach and would be my gateway CDG game of choice. 

The underlying mechanics of this game are solid and as polished as any published title from any game publisher. The rulebook itself needs some work and the graphic design across most components could do with a little attention (I do love the art though). Freedom! is coming to Kickstarter at exactly the right time to secure some more funds to push it through the final stages of its design and I salute Phalanx Games for picking this up and giving us the opportunity to support it.  I will follow the campaign with interest. 

This project is live on Kickstarter right now, visit the project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/phalanxgames/freedom
These comments are all based from a prototype version of the game which is subject to change. 

A preview from the designer himself:


Bonding with Board Games preview:

Detailed review from the Players Aid:

Publisher: Phalanx Games
Players: 2...
Designer: Vangelis Bagiartakis
Playing time: 2 - 3 hours

In The Name of Lykourgos by Miltiadis Michalopoulos   I do have a confession of sorts to make, for some reason the hist...

In the Name of Lykourgos by Miltiadis Michalopoulos In the Name of Lykourgos by Miltiadis Michalopoulos

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Greece

by





 I do have a confession of sorts to make, for some reason the history of Sparta just never grabbed me like some other parts of Greek history. Oh, I knew the perfunctory facts about Spartan life, but besides its role in the Persian, Peloponnesian and Theban wars, I never really read more of its history than that. I remember reading about Agis and Kleomenes (the book uses a K instead of the usual Cleomenes), but they weren't the parts of Plutarch that I read over and over again. By the eras of the Diadochi and the first Epigoni, Sparta had ceased to be a major player in Greece. So in the histories of that period it is hardly mentioned. After its humbling by Antipater, it seems to just disappear.

 'In the name of Lykourgos' (Lykourgos is in essence the Spartan Solon), is an award winning book that brings to life the years 243-146 B.C. The book starts with the history of Sparta from its beginning to its preeminent place in Greece, and then its fall engendered by Thebes and Epamonidas.

 The real meat of the book begins with the ascent of Agis to one of the thrones in Sparta (there were two), and his attempt to bring Sparta back to its glory. The author shows here the differences between Agis's idea of what Sparta was in its glory years compared to the actuality. His short life and even shorter campaign to reverse time is eye opening for several reasons. The book also goes into the different ideas and reasons behind Agis's thoughts and those of his followers, who may have had other reasons to back him other than just admiring his plan. Like the Gracchi and other reformers, Agis and his companions were more than willing to cut corners or even completely go against the political system in place to force through his policies. The ideas in their heads and whether they were being pragmatic or were just misled about how the 'good old days' were, only they can tell us. With Agis's death it looked like the reform movement was killed in its cradle; that is until Kleomenes gains the throne. Strangely, Kleomenes father, in his role as co-king, was one of the most bitter enemies toward Agis and his reforming plans. So it is somewhat ironic that when Kleomenes comes to the throne he becomes the institutor of almost all of Agis's planned reforms. This is another historical tale of the lone warrior fighting against the changing times. The days of the city state controlling Greece's future were over. Still, Kleomenes came within an ace of bringing Sparta back to being a player on the world stage.

 Greece was now a pawn to be played with by the Macedonian kings, and the two leagues of cities: Aetolian and Achaean. Even this age was short lived with the shadow of Rome looming from the west. The author continues with the story of Sparta down to the Roman conquest of Greece. 

 This is an excellent book to learn not only everything about the Spartan government and way of life in its glory years, but also its tumultuous history as it fades from sight. 


Robert


Book: In the Name of Lykourgos
Author: Miltiadis Michalopoulos
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers
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