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Subject: Solferino under the lens rss

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Philipp Klarmann
Germany
Bad Schönborn
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Let us face it. Wargaming can be a dreadful hobby. Unfinished products tossed into the market, sub optimal playability choices and simply uninteresting historical situations combine to make it all distinctly unpleasant.

We spend hours and hours poured over rules-booklets, playing important rules wrong and then, after a few turns, the more or less beautiful game goes back onto the shelf to gather dust.

With this encouraging prospect, I dared to take another stab at one of those games which I had a vivid memory of having enjoyed it a few times, even twice doing a whole battle to the end, but never finished my business with it as I had not tackled the big one.



So, Risorgimento from GMT it is: an interesting effort for the time. GMT was still rather young, as were we, and Berg had the skillful hands of Uli and Dirk Blennemann and their crack play-testers to reign in his efforts. Furthermore, the game was accompanied by a campaign game by Peter Perla (say hi, Peter) which I never touched to this day but will.

I open the box for the big one: Solferino it is (Magenta was already splendid and inspired me to tours and a small magazine game and an article with Luc Olivier) A battle of magnificent proportions, with inept leadership, feats of high courage and misery. Easily one of the most under-gamed battles of the hobby, but deserving a closer look. Berg decided to use his tried system and implemented brigades with regiments. This leads to masses of counters in the game...so, Uli and Dirk took the knife (I presume) and cut out: divisional leaders, more than one rating for the units (so, they have only cohesion and movement), and a few more chrome rules. As it stands, one can call this game almost elegant, were it not for the simple mind-boggling amount of counters on the map.



But they move simply and rather easily for a game this size.

The game starts with the Austrians soundly asleep on the map with the French and Piedmontese armies coming onto the map. This is splendid to play out as it gives just the right amount of movement and development to make you understand the battle moves.
Then, it all bogs down one of the largest fisticuffs ever seen on this planet. Tens of thousands packed tightly, shoving and moving on a small piece of real estate.



It is now 12 pm in the game after 5 turns of madness and around approximately 10 hours real time. I moved several hundred counters each turn, rolling hundreds of D10 rolls and the first Austrian corps is breaking, the French are having problems, the Piedmontese are hurtling themselves against the 8th corps of Benedek. It is Solferino. It is bloody. It is damn fun, a sort of mental matchstick building exercise with the backdrop of bullets, cannons roaring and the charges of the infantry. It is not the brightest of all games, it has its smaller problems, but it succeeds triumphantly in recreating the huge mess that this battle was. It keeps on dragging me back to the table and play another 4 or 5 activations just to see who finally cracks and how. It is a true soldier's battle, the leadership has not much room, so it is up to the single units to attack and die.

A solid thumbs up if you enjoy that sort of brawl and the history behind this forgotten battle. It is way beyond any sane man's tolerance in length. But it shines on so many levels.
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Eric Teoro
United States
Bloomington
Illinois
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Your review pushed me over - just ordered from a seller here. Thanks.

 
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Christopher Clark

Coralville
Iowa
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I played this solo years ago and liked it.
Wasn't able to finish (I think I had to refloor my house, so had to tear it down).
 
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Roger Hobden
Canada
Montreal
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Nice review.

 
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Ellis Simpson
Israel
Ra'anana
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Nice review. I played a fair bit of the campaign game, and really liked it. I always felt it would have had more visibility if it had covered a more popular area of conflict - especially the American Civil War. I only dabbled with the battles, but your review might prompt me try them again.
 
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William Byrne
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Thanka for the review! After selling this game several years ago, I have just repurchased and am looking forward to doing it justice. Game length? Sanity? Hey, I play GBACW. Risorgimento certainly won't make me any crazier.
 
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