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Note: Ported from my comment entry by request

All I can say is wow. I'm generally not very generous with my ratings, but Fog of War really spoke to me, and I lost my first game!

Repeated plays might poke holes in the system, but until then, I am totally on board with everything this game tries to do. While I can't exactly comment on balance until it gets tabled more, I can at least describe the experience to the best of my ability.

Fog of War foregoes traditional wargaming tropes (I wouldn't even call it a wargame, to be honest) to represent, well, the fog of war. Most games feature either hidden units or rotatable blocks that face one player to ensure that there is a sense of mystery and/or surprise that simulates the fog of war. Fog of War (the game), however, abstracts the actual combat details in favor of maneuver and logistics.

That is to say, rather than focusing on the nitty-gritty of warfare, FoW takes a step backwards and has players jockeying for position over anything else. This is done through the clever use of cards and planning your operations in advance (think Xidit-style programming). For every space/country on the map, there is a corresponding space on the board as well as a corresponding location card for each player (both players have a deck of cards the describes every space on the map). Players will either play cards to an operation in planning or to the board itself for defense provided they meet the correct requirements.

The bulk of the game revolves around its programming mechanism. How it works is you basically have a hand of cards that describe forces available to you and what type they are (simply ground or naval or both in the case of air support) and on your turn you can either add these cards to existing operations already in their planning phase or load them up into a new one (by pairing them up with a hidden location card). The key to this is that you cannot launch a planned operation until two turns after it was initiated. In other words, if you plunk down cards for a new operation (basically planning an attack on an area), you won't be able to actually execute it for two turns unless you want to incur a penalty. Conversely, waiting until the last minute provides a bonus, but more time for your opponent to possibly plan against it. Similarly, if you own a territory on the map, you can play cards directly to the board for defensive purposes, face-down so that nobody knows what's truly sitting there. There are plenty of dummy cards for bluffing which means that someone can overcommit to an operation - let me tell you, finding out that your stack of 8-strength going off to fight a stack of 0's is quite a sobering experience.

Combat, then, is quite simply a game of numbers. If you double your opponent's forces, you win. If you win, you leave your forces on the map and can recall them later. Conversely, if your opponent doubles you, then you lose and you all go to the dead pile (to be possibly recruited later). The key here is that if neither of you doubles each other, then you both lose half your forces and need to resolve the fight again next turn, which gives you both an opportunity to stack that fight even more.

What occurs over the course of the game is this emergent feeling of wonder as it begins to unravel and reveal itself. While the objectives for each player are pretty straightforward, achieving them through what is ultimately a cat-and-mouse game of deception and trickery makes it truly mesmerizing. You begin to realize that you are open on every front and you can't possibly protect everything - where do you concentrate your efforts without opening yourself up to an easy counterattack? What holes need to be plugged up? It's all superbly wonderful and demands that you explore the game more and more.

It has been a long time since I felt so good losing a game and I would definitely recommend everyone try this out.
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Paolo
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I am still on the fence for this.
But your review pushes me in the right direction
Thank you!
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Brian Herr
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I just played this for the first time last week at GenCon. Even speaking as a dyed in the wool grognard hex-and-counter wargamer, I have to agree. This game was a boatload of fun and filled with tension the whole way. I played as the Allies, and barely squeaked out a win with my very last available cards in the very last battle - the Russians attacking the Balkans, as I remember.

I was skeptical when I sat down and found out how simplistic the combat resolution was. Whaddya mean, there's no differentiation between armor and infantry?!? Once I got into the flow of the play and how a year progressed, including the advantages and disadvantages of being the "winter" player, I felt myself getting hooked by this heretical - You're saying there's no counters on the board... ever? - wargame. I would gladly play this any time. And the truly beautiful part is that since there aren't a million pieces and a 20+ page rule book, I might actually find an opponent at my gaming club!

It's kind of like trying broccoli and finding out it's good.
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