Recommend
69 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Triumph & Tragedy» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Triumph? Or Tragedy? Craig Besinque's Latest rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


Triumph & Tragedy, Second Edition
A game for 2-3 players by Craig Besinque


"I should have no objection to go over the same life from its beginning to the end: requesting only the advantage authors have, of correcting in a second edition the faults of the first."
- Benjamin Franklin


Introduction
Triumph & Tragedy is a game set around the era of World War II, but starting in 1936 with the build up to war. The game can be played with two, but really is designed to be played with three people.

This is a review of the Second Edition.

The game itself pits three factions against one another in a race to supremacy, the classic Western Allies (Britain and France to start), the classic Axis (Germany and Italy), and the Soviets. There are also a number of countries that will help tilt the game in favour of or against any of the parties.

Components
The second edition comes with a mounted map board, which was a complaint against the original, as well as rules, a play book, blocks for all the units, stickers to be applied to same, and thick large deluxe counters for marking various bits of information on the map.

BGG image by Russell/Karen Morse (morsecrossing)

Also included are two deck of cards, action and investment, for helping the game along.

Rules & Game Play
There weren't any major rule changes in the second edition, but there were a few tweaks. The summary is posted here.

For the uninitiated, Triumph & Tragedy proposes to allow players to take on one of the big three factions in the era of World War II and attempt to win. In order to win, you can do one of three things:
- you can win through military conquest
- you can win by economic supremacy
- you can win by developing the atomic bomb

The game uses blocks to hide your nation's units, both type and strength. Technology advances are expressed through the use of cards.

The game begins in 1936 and every faction follows the set up rules for their nation. The units in the game are undifferentiated in terms of production cost, so if you have the opportunity to build one strength step, whether you're building a unit of infantry, or a fortress, or an aircraft carrier, the costs are all the same - one production point per step.

Similarly, you need production to buy cards - one production point per card. Doesn't matter which deck you're buying it from.

The turn order and direction is randomly determined each year, and in turn order, every player will follow the same steps. First, there's production. You spend production points, which are the lowest of your industry, population, or resources (only if at war for the latter) and buy units and cards in whatever combination you like.

Then, during the government phase, you take turns playing cards. During this phase, if you play a card for a certain country, you're stating that you want to influence that country to come to your side. If you manage to get three influence markers down, that country will become your ally and you'll be able to muster units there at the moment they do. Influence in a country also allows you to potentially intervene if someone else invades them or even force them to declare war on you!

This is also the phase where you can build factories to improve your industry, or develop technologies, including trying to get the Atomic Bomb built.

Finally, there are four seasons of potential military action. Again in turn, each player declares if they're going to do someone on the board in each season and plays a card. Players all reveal simultaneously and the lowest letter goes first. If you play a card out of season, you can only activate two units if you're the Allies or the Soviets, and four if you're the Axis, so avoid doing that if you can.

Determining the right mix of action and tech cards each turn, as well as which countries you wish to try and influence (or conversely remove the influence of your opponents from), and furthermore building up your units for a likely inevitable war is at the heart of this game. Gaining the alliance of other countries, especially if they're of strategic importance (like Turkey or Persia) or likely to cause difficulty for your opponent (like the time the Allies make Czechoslovakia a firm ally on the first turn and I as the Axis could do nothing about it).

Combat in this game follows a very keep-it-simple system. It uses blocks to maintain a fog of war, and there's a table printed right on the board showing the order of firing for all unit types. Defenders always fire first, with exceptions for a surprise round when war is declared, and technology cards. Battles last exactly one round, and if there is no victor, you'll need to try again next season or next year.

The hardest way to win is to develop the atomic bomb. There are four phases for building the atom bomb, and you you must follow them in order, and you can only build one step per year. Since technology requires you to have a pair of matching cards to develop a tech, this is an improbable but extremely satisfying way to win.

The economic victory is difficult but by no means impossible. The longer the game goes, the more likely this scenario is, especially if the various factions have strong board positions with interlocked defensive capabilities.

Victory by conquest is by far the most likely and easiest to achieve. The Allies need to exercise patience as their opening board position means they need time to build up and hope that the Americans arrive sooner rather than later. The Axis has their best chance before 1942, but can be in it for the longer haul. The Soviets can become a juggernaut later in the game and potentially unstoppable. The short term tactics and long term strategy varies by faction.

Conclusions
This game is what I imagine would happen if you crossed EastFront (or perhaps given the scale, EuroFront) with something like Quartermaster General. You're taking the period right before World War II, and giving players options that feel right, even though you're likely to obtain rather ahistorical results.

And that's ok.

The most interesting part of the game, to me anyway, is the government phase when you're trying to influence other countries diplomatically to join your side. The USA cannot become the staunch ally of either the Axis or the Soviets, but you can choose to spend cards there to make it harder for the Allies to bring them (and their massive troop muster) on board. There's definitely going to be some ahistorical outcomes there, but it's part of the tricky balance because the cards you use to influence countries diplomatically are the same ones you need to activate troops seasonally, so there are some choices to be made there.

The combat system being simple along with the all unit types counting the same production wise is balanced by both the mix of blocks available to each major power, and the firing order on the table.

The tempo of the game and the feel of when a power has a reasonable shot at winning also feels right. Odds are very good that the Axis will follow the historical path of invading France because that gets them half way to a conquest victory and is also necessary to keep the Allies at bay for a time. The Soviets for their part can invade Persia and possibly India to try and go for a long term economic win, thereby putting pressure on the Axis to declare war and invade.

There are just so many different variable to take into account in how this game can play out that the ahistorical nature of it really drops by the wayside and it becomes a fun experience.

The game can last as little as 90 minutes and as much as four hours, but plan on 2.5-3 for sure. Most of the times I've played it we've had a surprisingly quick ending to a game followed by one that's gone the distance. It's just the fickle nature of the beast.

Craig Besinque is one of my favourite designers. My favourite game by him is EastFront, and I also really admire (but am bad at) Rommel in the Desert. This latest design of his is definitely a triumph.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favourites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph, Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
67 
 Thumb up
5.56
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff C
Canada
BC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
How many games Roger?

I dont think Ive had a game thats gone less than 6 hours...
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James McHaffey
United States
Rancho Santa Fe
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
leroy43 wrote:
The game can last as little as 90 minutes and as much as four hours, but plan on 2.5-3 for sure.

Nice review and I agree with most of what you said but how the heck do you finish a game in 90 minutes? Are you guys a bunch of pacifists? We average 4-6 hours with the longest coming in at about 8 hours. While at peace a year can be as quick as 15 minutes but once full scale war breaks out, years are about 45-minutes with the couple over an hour. I just don't see 90 minutes unless someone loses Berlin or London with a silly oversight...
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Reisinger
msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Talonz wrote:
How many games Roger?

I dont think Ive had a game thats gone less than 6 hours...


6 hours Geoff!!?? Holy smokes!!

I've played about 6 games total, the fastest being about 2 hours and longest 4.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C Sandifer
United States
Lutherville
Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've played ~15 games of T&T. For us, game length is extremely bimodal: either 2-3 hours or 6+ hours.

If Germany or Russia score an ultra-aggressive win, the game usually lasts 2-3 hours. If that doesn't happen, the game can easily go 6+ hours. Even games that end "early" (in '43 or '44) can last 6 or 7 hours.

An important note: In my group, war tends to break out *very* early: 1937 or 1938. Once even in 1936, when Germany immediately made Spain a satellite and invaded a lightly defended France. Early war makes the game much longer.

We tried to fit our first 2-3 games into a single evening. Bad idea. Due to a lack of time, we had to clean up without a proper finish. Now we won't start any later than 3 or 4 pm, in case it goes the distance.

If we set aside a chunk of time and the game ends quickly, though, we'll just play the "short" game immediately afterwards. Which can also go long.

Edit: I should add that T&T is literally the only 6+ hour game that I'll play, pretty much. I think it's fantastic, even if it sometimes lasts a while.

10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Aventura
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Our group played this over a dozen times, and with experience we noticed games tended to go the distance since players were better at preserving the balance of power and preventing an outright win. Our last handful of sessions all went the distance and all lasted 6 + hours. Ultimately I was done with T&T cause it was just becoming too much of a slog, often lacking dynamism in the second half of the game.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Lowecore wrote:
Talonz wrote:
How many games Roger?

I dont think Ive had a game thats gone less than 6 hours...

6 hours Geoff!!?? Holy smokes!!

I've played about 6 games total, the fastest being about 2 hours and longest 4.

I think the last game I played was with Geoff at BGG.CON, and it was ~8 hours. Part of that was that it went to 1945 (every game I'd played before had ended early with a military victory), and we had a lot of arguing with each other over who needed to attack whom (which I think was the best part of the game). That made the mid-game great, but the last 2-3 hours were a slog, more an endurance contest than fun.

The game has a lot of elements that I love, but I aggressively don't love enough of the fundamental elements ("I hope I draw a Spring card," "I hope I draw a Rumania card," "I hope I draw an Atomic II card," etc.) that I don't feel much desire to play it again. By comparison, Rommel in the Desert and EastFront are two of my three favorite games.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff C
Canada
BC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wkover wrote:
I've played ~15 games of T&T. For us, game length is extremely bimodal: either 2-3 hours or 6+ hours.


Now that is very interesting.

I take it the fast games are military victories that catch someone napping? So presumably as people get more experienced or skilled these should become harder to obtain?

My only games faster than 6 hours have been two player.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Rivera
United States
Fountain
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To add to how long the game takes: I've now played about 20 games and the average with our group is just under 3 hours. With 4 hours being a 1945 ending and about 90 minutes for a Axis Blitzkrieg that left us all unprepared.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C Sandifer
United States
Lutherville
Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Talonz wrote:
I take it the fast games are military victories that catch someone napping? So presumably as people get more experienced or skilled these should become harder to obtain?


Some of the quick games are due to inexperience, or someone trying out a new strategy (which might go really well or very poorly). Some are also due to hot/cold dice.

By the way, I haven't played a single game of T&T where all players were of equal experience. We typically have at least one new player per game, which can lead to interesting results - both in terms of wacky strategies and game length.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Hobden
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
Avatar
Nice review.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Johnson
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
mb
kuhrusty wrote:


... we had a lot of arguing with each other over who needed to attack whom (which I think was the best part of the game). That made the mid-game great, but the last 2-3 hours were a slog, more an endurance contest than fun.

The game has a lot of elements that I love, but I aggressively don't love enough of the fundamental elements ("I hope I draw a Spring card," "I hope I draw a Rumania card," "I hope I draw an Atomic II card," etc.) that I don't feel much desire to play it again. By comparison, Rommel in the Desert and EastFront are two of my three favorite games.


A certain amount of arguing/diplomacy is fun, too much slows down the game and can lead to group-think.

Interestingly, given that I share your love for RITD and EF, I totally disagree about the card draws. While it is frustrating to not get a card you *want*, it is almost never a card you actually need. To some degree, you adjust your strategy based on what you draw.

Technology cards are all nice-to-haves, the atomics are the hardest & most frustrating to get... Which is probably reasonable... Sometimes I find that saving a card I need for tech, may cause me to forgo an industry build.

Diplomacy, while frustrating, is nicely balanced. If you want the quick/sure path, just conquer them... I've lost at least 2 games as the Axis by not being aggressive enough vs. the minor countries and trying to do diplomatically what I could have done quickly militarily.

Military cards are almost never a problem, assuming your aren't trying to cheap out and draw the bare minimum. If you need a spring card (to attack) spend for more cards or save one... For non-attacks you can do an emergency.

Remember that you have many different paths to victory and be willing to adapt to both your opponents and your card draws.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.