Scott NunemakerUnited States
I've been hungry for some more variety in solitaire games. I can only play Onirim and Friday so many times. I decided to pick up a couple of Victory Point Games solitaire titles.
So, tonight, the (teeny-weenie little red Victory Point Games) die took me to a solitaire wargame.
I decided to try A Blood-Red Banner: The Alamo.
Here are six things to know:
1. The Battle of the Alamo was a legendary battle fought during The Texas Revolution in 1836 (right around this time of year...late February, early March). A couple hundred Texians (Mexican texans) were defending their position in the Alamo (an old mission church and hospital) against 1500-ish Mexican soldiers under Mexican President Santa Anna. It was a no-win situation for the Texians. The Alamo would fall (but always remembered). This game attempts to recreate the feel of this battle from the Texian point of view.
2. Victory Point Games prints games on demand (likely in small batches). Therefore, the components are lackluster compared to big publishers. However, their games are reasonably priced and many titles can be upgraded for a premium. I found the quality to be more than acceptable for the price I paid.
3. Most of their titles come in poly zip-lock bags. Highly portable! Yeah! I travel often. I will have no trouble packing a couple of these games in my luggage. This title comes in a bag that is about 4.5"x11". Of course, you can usually opt to upgrade titles and receive a box and mounted map.
4. The game is meant to be just as much a history lesson as it is a board game. The event cards provide important bits of information that help explain the historic battle. In some respect, it's more of a teaching tool than a game. This is far from a heavy wargame. (VP rates it a 2 out of 9 on a complexity scale)
For Example the "Blood Lust" event floods the board with any unplaced Mexicans, and the "Long Rifles" event gives a quick tidbit on the types of weapons at play here. This is not a simulation, but a history lesson for sure. In fact the rule book comes with optional rules that encourage you to explore "what-if" situations.
5. The game involves a ton of luck. Most decisions and outcomes depend on die rolls and random card text. It didn't bother me, and I still had plenty of decisions to make about where to move and what column to attack. It's solitaire, the AI needs to be somewhat random or it would just be a puzzle.
At the beginning of the game I had Davey Crockett and William Travis well placed to defend against Col. Romero and Col. Duke. Mexicans advance and retreat along the colored arrows in a linear manner while the Texians can move along the wall and in-and-out of The Alamo.
6. You never really win the battle. However, you "win" the game by surviving all 24 event cards. The game does a really good job of capturing the onslaught of advancing troops with limited defenses. However, The Alamo space has some decent defensive abilities represented by the blue arrows and dashed lines (adjacency modifications). Close attacks get bonus DRMs. By the end of the game, I was really feeling surrounded and even lost Davey Crockett on the wall to the advancing Col. Romero. Meanwhile Travis was in the Alamo defending all the other advancements. The "Ladders & Crowbars" card appeared at the end of the game. All of a sudden the advancing enemy had a fresh supply of tools to facilitate storming The Alamo. This event really hit home that I was under siege!
I enjoyed playing this light non brain-burning game and learning about this part of American history. This would be a great game to include in American History classes. I look forward to trying more of their solitaire titles!