This review was originally written and posted by Ruud2009 on Ameritrash.nl Days of Ire: 1956 Budapest is a card-driven wargame in the spirit of Twilight Struggle, but more accessible and with beautiful artwork. Just my kind of game. Because of these reasons the game was high on my wishlist for Essen 2016. Even though the game was sold out in no time at Essen 2016, I finally managed to get a copy. Is Days of Ire as good as I expected?
Days of Ire: Budapest 1956
Katalin Nimmerfroh, Dávid Turczi, Mihály Vincze
Cloud Island, Korana Games, Ludo Nova, Mr. B. Games.
Action Points, Cooperative Play, Competative, Cards, chits, tokens
Moderate language dependency
You can play Days of Ire cooperative or competitively. When playing against each other, one player takes on the role of the Soviet oppressor whilst up to 3 other players take on the role of the Hungarian resistance. The cooperative variant of the game is basically the same with ‘the game’ playing the Soviet oppressor and players playing the resistance. I’ll start this review with the gameflow of the competitive variant. I will then discuss the differences in the cooperative variant.
Days of Ire: Budapest 1956 is set in a period of time when the Hungarian people went up against the Soviet oppression. After a week the Soviets withdrew themselves from Hungary and a ceasefire was agreed. In the game the Soviet oppression is symbolized by the different event cards, which the player have to face and defeat. After 7 days (rounds) the game is over and the winner is determined. If there are 4 or less Soviet Event cards in play the Hungary players win the game. If there are more than 4 events on the board, the oppression is too strong and history has to be rewritten.
Besides this victory conditions the Soviet player wins if morale of the rebels is reduced to zero or if all players are injured.
The setup of the competitive game isn’t very difficult. The Soviet and the resistance player will sit across each other, each facing their own side of the game board. This board shows us all kinds of historically relevant places in Budapest, which are connected with red lines. The board also shows us a calendar track (starting on October 23th), which tracks the days of the uprising.
Besides the calendar track there is also a moral track and a support track. These represent the state of mind of the Hungarian population.
The Soviet player starts by placing his starting units at several locations. We’ve got snipers, tanks and militia throughout Budapest. These are obstacles the Hungarian player(s) have to overcome. Besides these units, the game starts with at least three event cards in play.
The soviet player shuffles three decks of cards. Each belongs to a certain period of time within this week. The top 6 cards of the event deck are placed below the gameboard as a market. These can be bought and played by the Soviet player. The Soviet player also shuffles the headline deck and draws four cards from this deck. These cards provide him with actions and events which he can use to his advantage.
Finally the Soviet player receives the SPA deck which will determine the actions of the militia.
The rebels get three tank tokens, which they can acquire during the game. The 22 fighter tokens are shuffled face down and two tokens are randomly placed on each location. One of the two tokens on each location is revealed and placed face up. These fighters can be recruited during the game and will fight the Soviets when recruited.
Each rebel players draws five cards and get a standee, which is placed at the University of Technology location, Bem Statue of Corvin Passage (depending on the number of players).
Days of Ire is played over 7 rounds. In the competitive variant each round consists of the following phases. The cooperative variant is quite similar, except that the Soviet and SPA phase are automated by a deck of cards.
During this step the Soviet players can play any number of cards from his hand to earn Command Points. These Command Points can be used to play other cards.
There a two types of cards. There are red cards (which benefit the Soviet player) and green cards (which benefit the Hungarian player). Each red card let you choose. You can either use it for its command points or you can execute the effect of the card. When playing green card the event is always executed if you want the Command Points. You can forfeit the Command Points to cancel the effect of the event.
The Soviet player can spend the earned Command Points to buy event cards from the market and place these events on the game board. Events either show a number or an X. The number is the cost in Command Points to purchase the card. The cost of an X card is determined by the number of X cards on the board. Many events relate to certain locations or other events. If the requirements on these cards isn’t met, these cards cannot be played.
During the Army step the Soviet player can use any remaining Command Points to move his tanks which are on the board (1 CP) or to place extra tanks on the board (3 CP). Tanks enter play on
Csepel, Szena square or HWPP HQ.
Any Headline cards which were played during the Headline Step for their events are executed during this phase.
The market will be reset during this step. Two cards from the current market may remain, but the other cards are discarded and replaced by new cards.
Depending on the number of players, a number of standees will be on the board. Each standee (player) has a number of actions. If you’re playing with one revolutionary, this revolutionary will have four actions. Two revolutionaries will have two actions each etc.
With their actions the revolutionaries can move from location to location and play their cards to resolve the event cards on the board. Each card has symbols on it and each event requires a certain number and combination of symbols for it to be resolved. Fighters in the same location as the event cards also contribute their symbols.
Each revolutionary has one free movement per turn. He can use this to travel to one adjacent location. Each additional step requires you to discard a card from your hand. When you are moving you can always take up to two fighters with you as long as the location you’re traveling to hasn’t reached its fighter-limit yet. Adjacent locations on the board are connected through a red line.
Actions and soviet tanks
The revolutionary can take the following locations:
- Activate a resistance fighter: Most resistance fighter start the game face down and inactive. You can activate these by using an action when you’re at the same location. The fighters can be used immediately;
- Resolve an event: If you have the required symbol you can resolve an event. You immediately gain the reward mentioned on the event card.
- Attack militia: For card or fighter token with the ammo symbol you may discard one militia;
- Destroy tank: If you have three Molotov cocktail symbols, you can use these to destroy one tank. This will increase your moral on the track as well;
- Action: Play and use a card with the keyword action;
- Take of give cards from/to other revolutionary player(s);
- Draw one card;
- Draw a number of new cards equal to moral. These cards are drawn face down. So you’re either really lucky or not.
Whenever a revolutionary takes an action in a location with a Soviet tank, the tank will fire. The Soviet player rolls a die and on a 1, 2 or 3 the tank hits the revolutionary. The revolutionary immediately gains one wound.
Now, the Soviet player gets to use his militia. He does so by using his SPA cards. He has the following options:
- Take all previously played SPA cards and add them to your hand;
- Play one of your SPA cards to:
- move militia: you get three movement points to spend on one or more militia tokens. You can move one militia three spaces or move more than one militia token;
- move snipers: a sniper may move one space, unless he is at the same location as a revolutionary;
- spawn militia: place two militia tokens on a location with a red star;
- attack: you can activate a location with SPA troops to have them attack. You roll two dice. Your goal is to roll as low as possible. The strength of your army is 3 per sniper and 1 per militia. If the result of you lowest die is less than your army strength you have one hit. If the results of the dice combined is less than your army strength you have one additional hit.\
- Threaten: if the Soviets have a strength of 9 or higher the moral track is moved one space towards the Soviet side.
The cooperative variant
When playing cooperative the same three phases as mentioned before.
One after another four Zhukov cards are drawn and executed. If the Zhukov card shows a Hungarian flag and the support track is on the side of the revolutionaries the effect of the Zhukov card has to be executed. This is the same when a card shows a Soviet flag and the support track is in favor of the Soviets.
Otherwise the effect of the card isn’t executed and the support track is reset to its starting point.
This phase is identical to the competitive revolutionary phase.
Every militia adjacent to a revolutionary moves into the same location as the revolutionary. Snipers always move and will move towards the nearest revolutionary. Everywhere where the revolutionaries are within shooting range, they will be attacked.
Days of Ire had a high ranking on our Ameritrash 2016 list. It has beautiful artwork, an appealing cover and used the card-driven wargame mechanic. Since I first read about the game I’ve actually been to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Off course this isn’t actually Hungarian Budapest, but still it made the game even more appealing to me.
As mentioned the game can be played both competitively and cooperatively. I’ve played both variants and I think both variants are really fun to play.
The competitive variant of the game is an easy accessible version of Twilight Struggle. Unlike Twilight Struggle you actually get to play a single revolutionary running around the board and taking actions, which makes the game a little less abstract. For me this is a plus when comparing the game to Twilight Struggle itself. Twilight Struggle is a really great game and I love it, but it is quite abstract. And although Days of Ire isn’t a very thematic game (basically you’ll focus on gaining the necessary symbols at the appropriate locations) I really like it. And both sides feel well balanced. And the game work with all player accounts. Another plus when comparing it to Twilight Struggle.
When playing cooperative it still has the Twilight Struggle vibe, but it also resembles Pandemic. The Soviet deck really keeps the pressure, forcing the revolutionaries to take action. Just like in Pandemic locations will keep getting more dangerous until the revolutionaries do something about it. This requires the players collecting cards, combining symbols and trading cards to resolve the events on the board. This basically is the same as in the competitive variant. The fact that revolutionaries can move around quite quickly and each have their own hand of cards, makes it a tense game.
And so our curiosity is fulfilled with a great game. And, in my humble opinion, Days of Ire has become quite an innovative war game as this game plays differently than the games I’m used to playing. I have to admit I’m not a seasoned wargamer, but still I’m quite happy with the game and can’t wait to play it again!
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I have seen a few 'Twilight Struggle' comparisons with this game. Having played it a few times I'm not really feeling it.
The element that most closely resembles TS is playing the opposing sides cards for Ops and having to enact the events. However, in my opinion, this doesn't give 'Days of Ire: Budapest 1956' a TS "vibe".
Moving your pieces around to complete missions and collect items, or to frustrate the opposition in their attempt to do this reminded me far more strongly of Covert.
I think rahdo said it best: It's Twilight Struggle for the Soviets, Pandemic for the Hungarians.
I honestly think this would be great for an Orphan Black retheme. Neolutionists would be the Soviets, Clone Club would be the Hungarians. Each side could even have variable character powers. The Clone Club will have the clones minus Rachel their allies would be cards that help them. Neolutionists have Leekie, Rachel, Ferdinand and Westmoore.