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Subject: in jelly babies left uneaten shock! rss

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dave boulton
United Kingdom
etchingham
E. Sussex
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This game has for a long time languished on my game shelves slowly being crushed by newer and heavier (in play weight as well as physical heft) games for some time now, as of a recent play it will find itself returning to the top of a stack!

The game deals with a collapsed United States which financial and sociopolitical strife has riven into 28 independant areas (it seems the non internal states of Alaska and Hawaii have given up entirelly and either set up as independant countries or allied themselves with still strong partners). As a modern day Lincoln or Garibaldi you or your oppanants strive to reunite these "Shattered States" into a single powerful country once again afore anarchy pulls it apart into warring independant kingdoms.

First off this game isn't pretty, the box is cheap, the componants are cheap and the board especially looks very cheap, true it does remind me of a rather (1990ish) computer generation inspired map of America some what reminiscent of the one used by Santiago in Harsh Realm (another sci fi episodic tv show killed off afore it was given a good chance, mind you coming out just slightly after the 1st Matrix film can't have helped its success yuk ) which the publisher may have been aiming at, but in comparison to more modern games of its ilk the game is at best utilitarian and at worst down right ugly. Counters are small and single coloured and all have the same picture, cards are on flimsy card stock and came on a sheet seperated by punch holes leaving a rather raggedy edge and are entirelly uncovered. The map itself is printed on (admitedly solid) paper and prooved hard to flatten after many years of shelf campage.

Under this ugly duckling however, is a fun experience for fans of games like Axis and Allies.

The game is played in a maximum of 12 turns, in each turn all players may attack from each of their areas should they wish to.

Winning is a matter of land possession pure and simple, dependant on the number of players this may be as many as 18 areas in a 2 player game to 10 in a 6 player one. 7 areas of the map are coloured red these are also important to victory as to be victorious you must as well as sheer volume of areas also hold specified numbers of red areas as well. (but red areas DO count to the total of areas owned) I do not know why the areas that are coloured red were chosen, someone more educated than I on the geographic, social or political map of the United States may be able to explain why but to me it looks just like they are are fairly evenly spaced about the board.

A turn has a preperation phase in which everyone acts and then player turns in which everyone goes in order. In the preparation phase everyone aquires money, more troops and cards. The cards are fun and of 2 types; National and Foreign, players gain 1 national card for each area they hold and may purchase more, Foreign cards may only be purchased (although for half the cost of nationals). National cards allow a varity of affects both battlefield and on a more strateigic national scale. (hence their name?) These range from the placement of riot markers to diminish an area's income and troop recruitment or nuclear bombs to blast massed troop formations or even assassinations to completely negate a players entire turn! Foreign cards come from one of 5 decks: Japan, Canada, Europe, The Caribbean and Mexico, you may only purchase a card if one of your areas has a coastline or border on the appropriate deck. The foreign decks themselves have somewhat of a (rather un P.C.?) national flavour to them; Japan is all about hi tech; fighters and technology while Mexico has hordes of troops and cheap substandard armour. The foreign cards have weaker abilities than national cards generally allowing only battlefield level assisstance. Many of the cards cost money to play but many are free.

Area cards; each area has a card for it (the exchange and management of which can be rather confusing) which change hands often. Most of the areas have a unique ability, some very powerful others not so, they may allow a free foreign card of an associated deck per turn as well as makeing purchase of same deck cards cheaper or allow a free "card" unit per turn (units represented on the board are infantry only, more powerful assets such as armour and close air support come on the foreign cards and must be purchased for and discarded after each battle) It is possible to negate an areas ability for a turn by playing riot counters on the area. Keeping track of all these abilities is important to success and rather tricky but not in a frustrating way.

Combat is a simple d6 rolling affair in essence but complicated somewhat by card play. (although again not annoyingly in anyway, card play on pivotal battles is often the key to success!) both the attacker and defender may play upto 3 cards on any battle, also many area card's abilities allow additional affects in battle and these are always "on" unless the area in question is rioting. Each side rolls a number of dice equal to the number of troop counters involved. In even a normal battle the defender is given a slight increase in chance to hit which can be further modified by attacks over rivers or mountains, coastal or airbourne invasions. ((both dealt with by national cards or specfic area abilities) Combat is real time so everyone still alive at the beginning of a turn gets to roll each round. after troops have been rolled for military asset cards are rolled; tanks allow a (generally) significant chance of a hit on a single roll, artillery rolls 4 dice but only hits on a 1 and fighters roll against every enemy troop hitting on a 1 or 2 but only during one round of combat. Combat is heavyily dice oreintated ala Axis and Allies but fun in a rather sanguine way.

Once everyone has made their attacks all discard excess cards. (you may only hold upto 5 national cards and 5 Foreign cards (in any combination) at the end of the turn) Elimanted players return in a new area (which is a nice touch ) and finally a game end roll is made ifn appliacble. This rule I am unsure on, it certainly gives a sense of urgency to preceedings and does give a specific game end but not everyone may like it and instead ellect to play to a final "proper" victory. In essence starting on turn 5 (of the potential 12) 2 d6 are rolled and if the total does not equal or exceed the just finished turn number the game ends right there and the winner is decided by who holds the most area cards. Its not a difficult rule to ignore though so perhaps I should not make too much of it.

So in comclusion I like this game alot, while playing everyone was so engrossed in what was happening we entirelly forgot to eat the bag of jelly babies open at the side of the board! Half or more of which were still left at the end! An unheard of event! While it is crying out for a spiffy AH or FFG remake with luscious cards and cute plastic pieces the componants do not distract from a solid and fun wargame. It is simple enough (in my opinion) to try non gamers with but at the same time (again in my opinion) has alot for more experienced gamers to sink their teeth into, especially for those fond of Axis and Allies type games. I already have visions of a crafted board with moulded mountain and river borders, little city or monument pieces to denote "red" areas and "themed" troops. (we used A&A Europe figures as they seemed less fiddly then the cardboard counters. Although quiet how the Germans managed to get to America is another matter entirelly...)

I have had a (breif) look on the interent and so far it seems that Engelmann Military Simulations (the games publishers) no longer seem to be tradeing (or possibly in existance?), this is a pity as the game has much going for it and I would reccomend it to many. I am not sure how those computer moderated cyberboard things work but this game deserves one of those!
 
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simon thornton
United Kingdom
Liverpool
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I haven't played this in a long time although there was a period 15 years or so ago when this got wheeled out numerous times by me and my gaming buddies.I do remeber one eventful game when the Missippi (or equivalent ) space got nuked about 10 times why everyone was fighting over that space I have no idea but it seemed to be very popular.

I tihink we always finished the Jelly Babies thougth.
 
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Christopher S.
United States
New York
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Six years later I will say that this comes out regularly at our gaming club. I really think that a smart company could do worse than buy the rights, upgrade the components, do a few rules tweaks and have a solid seller on their hands...very fun game with 5 or 6 people hooting and hollering over the table. It deserves better than to be all but forgotten.
 
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