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Invasion 1066: Stamford Bridge» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A great game with a challenge for the English rss

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Easy Alias
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This is a short (60 to 90 minutes), low-complexity medieval slugfest using the same system as Invasion 1066: The Battle of Hastings.

The components are great -- handsome counters and map in a nice color scheme. The map makes use of two scenes from the Bayeaux tapestry. 11x17 map, half-inch counters.

The battle was something like Waterloo, in that one side needed to seriously weaken one formidable enemy force before a strong enemy reinforcement arrived; except in this case it was as if Napoleon managed to shoot Wellington through the neck early on and was then able to withstand the Prussian wave. (I.e. the English king, Harold Godwinson, handled a large Viking force led by Harald Hardrada -- in part by killing Harald himself -- and then stood firm against a surge of Viking reinforcements.)

(As a side note: Harald Hardrada led a fascinating life, and the wikipedia entry for him, at least, is worth a read. Exiled at 15; moved to what is now Russia where he served in the army of Yaroslav the Wise; then entered the Varangian Guard in Constantinople for years; served with them in actions from Sicily to the Euphrates; returned to Norway, became king, and then attempted to seize the throne of England.)

The game has straightforward alternating turns with phases of archery, movement, defensive reaction archery, combat, and rallies. All units are able to move in each turn (hallelujah), apart from some limits placed on movement in the beginning of the game. There is no stacking apart from leaders. The game uses facing, and zones of control, but the restrictions are not onerous (i.e. units may change facing easily and may also voluntarily move out of enemy zones of control).

Successful archery volleys leave targeted units disordered, making them weaker and unable to attack unless they rally. The game uses a morale check system which can result in groups of neighboring units routing once a threshold of losses has been reached. As in the Hastings game, this can lead to exponential chaos as the battle progresses.

(Speaking of archery, there's a grammar/usage improvement in this game, compared to Hastings, which purists will love: missile units which have taken their shots in a phase are flipped to show "Loosed" rather than "Fired." Let the argument begin . . . )

Units in this system do not combine their strengths when attacking the same target; rather, they attack sequentially. This is one of the factors requiring careful tactics and decision-making. Which units should attack which? Furthermore:
--Since victorious units must advance when eliminating an opponent, and flanks which are then exposed provide the enemy an attack bonus in the following turn, do you want to attempt every attack you're eligible for?
--Can you move your archers in range to soften up opponents? Remember that that combat losses of the weak archer units will make the morale failures and routs more likely.
--Is it worth risking your leaders in combat to get the attack bonus?
And there's more going on in this relatively small game.

I enjoy the Hastings game very much, and I like this one too. As other commenters (and the designer himself) point out, this game differs in that it's more of an open-ended battle right out of the gate. I do find, in my plays so far, that Harald and his Viking army seem to have an advantage, largely because they earn more victory points for eliminating the strongest Anglo-Saxon (i.e. English) units than vice versa. The designer explains the logic of this in the notes: Harold had to preserve his strongest units for other challenges to his reign, so the victory conditions reflect that. I find that this quirk turns the game into a tight, enjoyable, unforgiving test for the Anglo-Saxon player: Harold must be judicious with his strongest units, the housecarls. Whether he leads off with a broad frontal assault against Hardrada, or tries to pick off Vikings around the edges, he needs to have enough strong units in good order in later turns to withstand the wave of reinforcements.

I find this series system to be a good one -- my two cents is that next the designers should turn to Poitiers (1356), give the cavalry some more movement points, and let the Black Prince have at John II.
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Norman Smith
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Thank you, I enjoyed your observations. A game in which cavalry have the open space to fully employ the cavalry rules would certainly bring something new to the table.
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Brian McCue
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Nice review.
easyalias wrote:
I find this series system to be a good one -- my two cents is that next the designers should turn to Poitiers (1356), give the cavalry some more movement points, and let the Black Prince have at John II.

I was hoping for Fulford, myself.
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Jim Marshall
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brianmccue wrote:
Nice review.
easyalias wrote:
I find this series system to be a good one -- my two cents is that next the designers should turn to Poitiers (1356), give the cavalry some more movement points, and let the Black Prince have at John II.

I was hoping for Fulford, myself.


I'd love to see Fulford too. Although in fact I will see it later on today, because I live there ....
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mark sheppard
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"The Lord will raise a standard up and lead his people on."-King Alfred the Great
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Hi Norman,
I was listening to the" Advance after Combat"podcast recently and they reviewed your Hastings game and it received a 8 out 10 by Mitchell Land who designed the Next War game series by GMT .
Cheers
mark
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Norman Smith
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Hi Mark, thanks for letting me know, I had no idea...... and thank you Mitchell.
 
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