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"Les Batailles de St. Albans" is the game you get with the magazine Vae Victis #96.
First of all, there's in the magazine 4 pages talking about the War of the Roses. For people like me who has never read about it before, you can play the game knowing something...
The game represents the 4 pages as a very good wargame would represent a book about the war. I mean, "Les Batailles de St. Albans" is very simple, very basic, and of course it doesn't have every detail of the only two battles of the war it depicts (of course, the two battles of St. Albans). I.e., the first scenario is about the battle of May the 22th, 1455. As you read about it in the magazine, you'll see there were many more soldiers and commanders in it than the ones in the game - the game is just a portion of the whole conflict (the second scenario is from Feb 17th, 1462).
So, is the game bad? Not by all means. As the articles in the magazine are just "appetizers" - if the subject holds your attention you'll probably go after books (or google it…), the same happens with the game. Maybe you'll find the event compeling, and then you can go after more complex games (like Richard III:The Wars of the Roses). At least you can have some notion about a medieval wargame if you haven't before.
In short, you shouldn't buy this edition of Vae Victis for the game. It's just part of the package. But the magazine is very good (more on that later) and you can use the game to introduce wargames to a non-initiate. You won't spend more than 30 minutes explaining (there's just 2 pages of rules) AND playing it. In fact, among all the wargames I know, this is one of the most simple of them all, so it's very useful to show to the occasional gamer.
I bought the magazine for other reasons, and I'm glad the game came along. If it seems too simple, I believe that's the true purpose of it.
About the scenarios -
In the first (pictured above) York enters the map from the east (yellow line, please do amplify the picture to see my markers) and gets a minor victory if he can capture the King (red circle). The King does not move by itself and can only be moved by a Lancaster unit after York captures him at least once (so, in the beginning he is stranded in the Church of St. Pierre). York gets a major victory if he captures the king AND kills Somerset. Otherwise Lancaster wins. The scenario is quite good.
The second one is, I think, better. The positions are reversed - Lancaster enters the map from south (yellow lines) and must capture the King (red circle). Now he has some Cavalry that can be quite strong in combat. Instead of a human barricade, York has his soldiers quite far, and each line can only be moved from a certain turn onwards (purple numbers). Lancaster wins a minor victory if he has less than 9 casualties and controls the King, and a major one if he has also killed 8 or more units from York. York gets a minor victory if he has killed 9 or more units from Lancaster, and a major one if he has also the King under his control.
I have played each scenario a couple of times and it seems to me they are both balanced enough. They work well in solitaire, too.
By the way, there's a little errata: the commanders have the wrong colors… please check the file section!
About the magazine -
Vae Victis is by far the best wargame magazine I know. In this edition you'll find many reviews of board wargames (7 short ones, 6 long ones), 9 about rules for miniatures and 4 about other wargame magazines. There's a long article about the birth of the United Provinces (8 pages), many pages about the new miniatures and books on the market, one scenario for Combat Commander (very interesting, the axis player use German units and deck AND Romanian units too), one for ASL (representing a conflict depicted in a 5-page article) and, of course, the article about the War of the Roses and the game!
But I should note everything is in French…
The battles of St Albans are part of a series named "A la Charge!" which also comprises these games :
- À la charge: Normands et Byzantins from Vae Victis magazine #87
- Les Rois Francs from Vae Victis magazine #100 (special edition with die-cut counters).
An introductory wargame but not simplistic.
The magazine #100 is on my wishlist (in fact, every VV with a Combat Commander scenario!)
The game, altough simple, is not simplistic. Some comments painted the game as bad, but I believe those critics are missing the point - as you said, it's an introductory wargame.
Thanks for the excellent review.
- Last edited Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:18 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:17 pm
I have used "Les batailles" in a post explaining about wargames in a Brazilian site:
It's in Portuguese, 'tough (and of course)...