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The Battle of Tours, 732 A.D.» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A brief comparison to Infidel rss

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Alex Grant
New Zealand
Auckland
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I'm fairly new to wargames; I've been enjoying playing games like Julius Caesar, Space Empires: 4X, Commands & Colors: Ancients, Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan and Infidel. Coming from the Eurogame world, I definitely have a preference for games with mounted maps and other high-quality components.

When I heard about the 20 Decisive Battles series I was interested. 20 low-complexity games based on famous battles with mounted boards all in a nice compact package. And after reading the rules for Battle of Tours I saw it was based on a version of the same Men of Iron system used by Infidel. So I signed up for the Honeymoon Option for their first four games.

Since this game is fairly similar to Infidel I thought I would compare the two. I'm assuming you're already familiar with Infidel.

Components

Battle of Tours comes in a nice small box. It's about about the same dimensions as a standard GMT box, except only 40% of the depth (2cm vs 5cm). But it's not a cardboard box. It's a thick plastic counter tray with clear plastic lid. The counter tray has extra room on the top for the board and rules.



The counter tray, complete with components. Sorry about the grainy images.

Both games have 1/2" counters, but I definitely prefer the Infidel counters. The Battle of Tours counters are much darker, and a little harder to read. Not bad enough to be a problem, but after seeing this I realised how good the Infidel counters are. They pack a lot of clear information in a small space.



Battle of Tours comes with a small d10. I assume this is because of the limited space in the box (there isn't enough depth available for a full-sized die). But you can easily get another die to use instead.



Here you can see the maps compared. The Battle of Tours map is about half the size of the small Infidel maps and a quarter of the size of the large Infidel maps. The Battle of Tours map is nicely mounted with a linen finish. I also like the Battle of Tours artwork, especially the rivers that look etched into the board.

The other big difference in the components is that Battle of Tours has the map and counters for one battle, whereas Infidel has six. That's quite a difference in replayability.

Gameplay

Here you can see the game setup, ready for play.



Battle of Infidel is basically a simpler version of the game system used in Infidel (no charging, no counter-charging, no return fire, no forced retreat/retire,...). I started playing this solo to learn the rules, and was planning to give a comparison of the feel. But I ran into a problem.

It's Too Small

Those three words are all that mattered to me.



With the small map, the hexes are very small. So small that the units extend over the edge of the hexes. When the units are all facing the same way they fit, but this is a game where facing is important and once they get into the fray of the battle they get disorganised. And then they start to overlap. And even when they don't overlap, units that get disordered from losing a combat roll have to be flipped. And I couldn't flip them without moving the other counters out of the way. And that got really annoying really quickly. Enough that I didn't want to finish my solo learning game (for comparison I played Infidel solo three times and enjoyed it before finding an opportunity to play an actual opponent).

So, ironically, the compactness of the game that initially attracted me to the game is what also put me off it. I was really looking forward to this game, especially after listening to Hardcore History: Thor's Angels (http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/hharchive/Show-41---Thor*s...), which gives a nice introduction to the period (I previously knew nothing about this battle), but I found the physical issues too frustrating to continue. I realise some people may consider this shallow, but there are just too many games out there that don't cause me this frustration.

I recommend sticking to Infidel.
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B Schneider
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Thanks for the brief review of the components. While I wait for my copy to show up in the mail, I can only hope I don't reach the same conclusions!

Even though you quit early due to the components, do you think you may try it again for the game play? Or did it strike you as merely a dumbed down version of Infidel, which you seem to hint at and not worth playing?

I feel I must add, though, that the pivotal battle of Tours is not covered by Infidel (which AFAIK takes place hundreds of years after this battle), so for those interested in the quick sense of replaying Charles the Hammer's saving of Christendom, this seems to be the one...

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Alex Grant
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I didn't mean to imply it was merely dumbed down. There was definitely enough to game to be interesting. The situation is quite different from Infidel. The two armies start very close together and there is far less room to manoeuvre. It's hard for the Muslims to flank due to both the river on the right and the hill that the Franks occupy (there's a nasty penalty for attacking uphill).

I'm unlikely to try again but that's mainly because I have too many games and too little time. I still haven't played Labyrinth, Wilderness War, Hannibal, Napoleon's Triumph and several more that I'm keen to try. Not to mention all the games I like that are in desparate need of more plays. I blame GMT and their seductive Fall Sale

Yes, you're right, Infidel just covers battles of the Crusades. Still Muslims vs Christians but with the Christians as the aggressor, and with knights which make a huge difference.
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Kevin Duke
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Fwiw, though this game has only now been released, the design actually precedes Infidel.
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Richard Berg
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"...though this game has only now been released, the design actually precedes Infidel."

But they system doesn't . . . as INFIDEL use the system from MEN OF IRON.

As for the dislike of the game because it was "too small", well ,what can I say. Everyone has their own sticking point . . . it is sort of like complaining that the 7 Dwarves in Snow White ruined it for you; they were too short.

As I said, to each his/her own . . .


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Mark Goss
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Lindsborg
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I have found that if you 'clip' or 'trim' your counters, they fit much better in the hexes. Overall, I really like this game and I would like to check out some of the other games in the series from TPS.

Bonus! 'Rattenkrieg', the postcard format game is included as well and has mounted counters! Overall a nice presentation! Between TPS and Worthingtion Games, we have some long overdue new blood in the wargame market.

Thanks!
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Minty Hunter
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BROG wrote:
"As for the dislike of the game because it was "too small", well ,what can I say. Everyone has their own sticking point . . . it is sort of like complaining that the 7 Dwarves in Snow White ruined it for you; they were too short.


In fairness to Alex, I don't think he was critiquing smallness regarding scope or content or value for money. It was purely a physical/mechanical issue: when facing matters and the battle ensues, then you struggle with spacial issues due to the compactness.

I think it's closer to "Quite excited to see this new film about 7 dwarves, but the cinematographer forgot to adjust his camera angle, so the whole movie features Snow White and the tops of 7 heads..."
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Freddy Dekker
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Allthough I was very pleased to hear about mounted boards.

Than pleasantly suprised by the 'game comes in it's own countertray'

I will admit that the size issue has put me off buying this one.

Ofcourse this may still be a wonderfull game,and as stated the component quality is very good, even the more a pitty component size should be a deal breaker.

I will confess that I have been spoiled by games like hold the line and conflict of heroes.
Large board, huge counters {granted: big price aswell}
Some times I think it is a pitty that I ever bought those cause I used to be perfectly happy with small counters.

Now I find I try to avoid them, allthough a really interesting them {or cheap deal} may still make me buy them.

It's like having driven a mini all your live and than suddenly being pushed into a large american car.
From than on, every car will seem too small.


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