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Subject: Review of rules, components and gameplay, with pics and rules Q&A rss

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Graham Dean
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Escape from Colditz

Review

This is an attempt to review the components, rules and gameplay of the classic 1950s board game Escape from Colditz. This game is rightly regarded as a classic, despite having a few significant flaws. My intention with this review is to help those who have not played the game before and are unsure of the rules.

This review is of the original Parker Brothers edition. There have been other versions by Gibson’s Games, and a modern Spanish language version came out recently.

Overview

The game is set in the legendary Colditz castle during World War II, when it was used as a prisoner of war camp. The Germans used the castle to keep the most persistent of the escapers in one place, which was thought to be ‘Escape Proof’.

One player takes the roll of the Germans and tries to prevent the other players from making a successful escape, which they do by confiscating equipment, arresting POWs and placing them in solitary confinement, and generally obstructing the Allied play.

All the other players take the rolls of the various nationalities who were at various times imprisoned in the castle: British (Red); American (Blue); Dutch (Orange); Polish (Green) and French (Brown). These players try to collect equipment necessary for an escape attempt by moving their pawns around the board. Once they have enough, players can make an attempt to get one or more of their pieces to one of the red, white and blue Allied symbols around the edge of the board.

Players agree a time limit (usually 2 hours is recommended), and a target number of escapers (usually 1 or, more commonly, 2 are used). The Germans win if no Allied player reaches the targeted number of escapers within the agreed time; otherwise one of the Allied players wins if they are the first player to reach the desired number of escapers.

Components (or What’s in the box)



The box is large and difficult to store, thanks to a large bi-folded game board. Depicted on the board is a map of Colditz Castle, with locations within and some of the grounds in the surrounding area.



Also provided are:
Opportunity Cards.
Security Cards.
Do or Die Cards.
Civilian Escape Kit cards.
Escape Equipment cards (Rope, Wire Cutters, Key, Pass).
Appel player aid.
Two dice.
Rules booklet (with thematic reproduction front page).
16 Black pawns
8 pawns in each of five colours (Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Brown).

The opportunity and security cards all come with a short piece of flavour text, as well as the instructions on how to use the card. Information on how to use each individual card does not appear in the rules (or anywhere else), and this has caused some debate about certain specific cards and their correct usage.

In addition to the components necessary for the game, there is also a booklet giving historical detail. This is a lovely touch, and makes fascinating reading. It also helps to immerse the players in the theme, which is probably the main strength of Escape from Colditz.



The cards come in a rather nice insert which is produced to resemble a red cross parcel, which is a nice touch as it adds nothing to gameplay but does help to bring out the theme.



Another feature which adds to the theme is the rules booklet. The cover sheet of this is a reproduction of a piece of propaganda from the war about how Allied POWs should not try to escape.



The components are of good quality and with proper care have stood the test of time remarkably well. Considerable thought has gone into providing extra thematic components and historical information, which while unnecessary to play the game, do enhance the gaming experience.

Setup

The board is laid out, and the players choose one person to play as the Germans. Allied players place their pawns in the hexagonal pattern of white spaces in the centre of the castle – the number of pawns and their positions being dependent on the number of players.



The number of pawns available to the German player is also dependent on the number of players. The pawns are placed on the black circles or in the barracks, with certain restrictions on the total numbers which start outside the barracks, or inside the castle. The German player can start the game with one piece per Allied player inside the castle, and between 2 and 7 outside, with the remainder left in the barracks.



Play starts with the Allied player sitting to the left of the German player.

Gameplay

Movement

Players take it in turns to roll two dice. The resulting number is the number of spaces which the player can divide between his/her pieces, in any combination. Pieces are not allowed to double back on themselves in the same move, but players are free to allocate all the movement to a single piece, or to move each piece a small amount.

Note that pieces may not move through other player pieces, creating the possibility of blocking and obstruction.

Additional movement rules for the Germans

In order to help the German player move around the castle, there are a number of black circles on the board which (for want of a better way of describing them) operate as teleport spots. A German playing piece may move from the Barracks to any black spot on the board using only one pip from their dice roll. A piece may not move from the board to the barracks and then back to the board in the same turn, but may move to another location on subsequent turns. Thematically this represents the ability of the Germans to deploy troops freely around the castle.



In this example, the German player may, on his/her turn, move one of the piece out of the barracks to the black spot shown, and then move to arrest the escaping Allied piece.

Doubles

If a player rolls a double they roll the dice again and add the scores together. A player may end up rolling the dice up to three times on their turn.

Opportunity cards

If a player rolls a 3, 7 or 11, they are entitled to draw a special card which gives certain special abilities. In the case of one of the Allied players, these are Opportunity cards.



No player may hold more than 3 opportunity cards at any time. If a fourth card is indicated, the player play a card; discard down to three cards, or give away one of his/her cards to another Allied player.

Security Cards

If the German player rolls a 3, 7 or 11, that player is entitled to a Security card.



These cards are analogous to the Opportunity cards accumulated by the Allied players, and the same restrictions apply – the player may not hold more than three cards in his/her hand at any time.

Civilian Escape Kit

The goal in the initial phase of the game is to gather together the equipment needed for a successful escape. The precise equipment will vary depending on the sort of escape being planned, but no escape may be attempted unless the player has first collected a Civilian Escape Kit.

This kit consists of food, a disguise, compass and papers. This represents what would be required to evade recapture once a POW has escaped from the confines of the castle itself, and is travelling through Germany and the occupied territories to a safe or neutral area.



These items can be acquired in a number of ways. Players may trade with each other, so that if one player can easily get two compasses, they can exchange one with another player for another item of equipment.

Otherwise, a player must position two of their pieces into a space which has the relevant symbol in it. For example, a disguise may be obtained by positioning two pieces at the same time into the Laundry or the together into the Theatre (both rooms show the disguise symbol of a hat).

Another alternative is for a player to place one piece into each of the two relevant rooms at the same time. The pieces must then be moved back to the white hexagonal zone in the middle of the inner courtyard, at which point the item of equipment is awarded (unlike when both pieces are in the same room together).

There are no cards to indicate when individual items of kit have been earned, but once a player has all four items they receive a Civilian Escape Kit card.

The final method is to move four pieces into four different locations around the board, each of which has one of the four different symbols. If this is done at the same time, that player receives the Civilian Escape Kit card.

It is important to note that until a player has a piece of escape equipment, the German Officer may not arrest them and place them in Solitary Confinement.

Escape Equipment

In addition to a Civilian Escape Kit, a player also needs to gather together equipment necessary to make it out of the castle. There are four such items, which are rope, wire cutters, a key and a pass. Players may have multiple copies of a single type, and do not need to have some of them if they don’t want to.



Getting arrested

While the Allied players are moving around gathering equipment and trying to escape, the German player is of course busily involved in trying to stop them. The main method of this is by arresting the Allied players.

A German piece arrests an Allied piece by moving onto the same spot. This can only be done if the Allied player has a piece of escape equipment or is outside the castle. If this is done the German piece is taken to Barracks and the Allied piece goes to the cells.

Since the German player cannot arrest the Allied player until that player has a piece of escape equipment, the Allied players can move around the castle with impunity at the start. The exception to this is when a piece has moved outside the confines of the castle. No Allied pieces are allowed in those areas, and so all pieces are automatically subject to arrest. It should be pointed out that some of the cells for solitary confinement are outside this area, and house rules are necessary to deal with this. If a player is released from solitary in this area, and is heading back to the castle, they should be exempted from this rule. Also, a piece re-entering the castle would not need a key or pass.



An Allied player may, if they wish, choose to sacrifice one of their pieces to clear the way for another piece, by removing the German piece back to barracks. This is done in the same way as for the German player – by moving their piece into a space occupied by a German piece. The German player may not refuse this.

When a piece is arrested outside the castle, the German player confiscates an equipment card from the Allied player affected. This confiscation can be prevented by the playing of a Hideaway opportunity card.



The German player should also note that there is a limited number of spaces in the cells, which becomes a greater factor with more players. If the German player makes an arrest and there is no more room, one of the Allied pieces has to be released to make room.

Solitary confinement

A piece, once arrested, goes to the cells. The Allied player can only release a piece from here by rolling a double or using a Release from Solitary opportunity card.



Safe zones

There are certain areas on the board where Allied pieces are immune from arrest. These are indicated by the light blue spaces. While on one of these spots, the piece may not be arrested and does not have to reassemble for an Appel, or parade – an event which can be triggered by a Security Card.



Searchlights

Yellow circles indicate areas illuminated by searchlight. POWs may pass through these areas, but can at no time end their turn on such a space. This rule is only given on the player aid (see below), and not in the rulebook. The player aid also gives some guidance on the other features on the board.



Special cards

There are a couple of opportunity cards which deserve special attention. The Staff Car card, and the three different Tunnel cards.

The Staff Car opportunity card refers to a specific location on the board, and is inspired by a genuine incident at Colditz castle during the war.



There are three different Tunnel cards, which each relate to three different tunnels on the gameboard. Each of these are based on tunnels dug by POWs in attempts to escape.



As soon as a player uses a Tunnel card, they must move two of their pieces into the tunnel, after which they must keep two pieces in the tunnel at all times or lose the ability to use the tunnel. A tunnel, once in use, can only be detected by the Germans through the use of the appropriate Security card.



This can be frustrating for the German player, since the ability to detect and close a tunnel comes from luck (drawing the appropriate security card) rather than any application of skill. One possible variant to fix this might be to allow the German player to examine the top two cards of the Security cards deck, and select one of them, placing the other at the bottom, to allow him/her to cycle through the cards more quickly.

Do or die

The Allied players are also given a Do or Die card at the start of the game, which is dealt to them face down, and which they are not allowed to look at.



All Do or Die cards have the same text, except for the number of dice to be rolled. If a player decides to use their card, they turn it over and reveal the number of times the dice are to be rolled (the doubles rule still applies). The player then rolls the dice the indicated number of times, and if s/he can move a piece to one of the Allied escape spaces it is considered to be a successful escape. The risks to using this card are great, however. If a player is unable to make a successful escape, all the pieces are removed and the player is removed from the game.

This card has probably been the most controversial inclusion in the game, as it is extremely random. Many players choose to play without them, and this is easily done without affecting gameplay. It can also lead to someone appearing from nowhere and ‘stealing’ a win.

A Successful Escape

A piece is said to have made a ‘home run’ (as the POWs of the day called it) when it reaches one of the Allied symbols around the edge of the board. The winning conditions are agreed between players at the start of the game, but is usually 2 successfully escaped pieces.



What’s good about this game?

thumbsup Escape from Colditz is all about theme. This is certainly not a case where the theme has been pasted on – it is very clear to see that the designers have set out to recreate historical events in a fun way, rather than design a well balanced game and then choose a setting. The theme is also a very appealing one, especially although not exclusively boys.

thumbsup The game has a nicely thematic presentation and comes with extra components, some of which are not part of the game at all. This is a nice touch, and as remarked above do enhance the gaming experience.

thumbsup This is a co-operative game – up to a point, which was extremely innovative in its day. Obviously one of the players takes an adversarial and asymmetric position as the Germans, which is the first departure from the truly co-operative model. The second point is that although the Allied players are free to co-operate (and probably need to if any of them are going to escape), only one of the Allied players can win in the end. Players must therefore strike the balance in helping each other enough, but not too much.

thumbsup The replayability factor is quite high, due to the relatively freeform nature of the game. However the early phases don’t vary a lot – it’s all about collecting equipment and Opportunity cards in preparation for an escape. Replayability could also be improved with more cards, to increase the variety.

thumbsup Player interaction can be very high, but this is a game where it depends on the people playing. Since Allied players are allowed to trade cards and work together in the early phases, and can co-ordinate escape attempts to stretch the German player’s resources, the opportunity to interact is present throughout. However, a group with one or more players prone to analysis paralysis can lead to long gaps between turns and decrease this. I should also say that in my experience a lot of player interaction comes from arguing about the rules.

thumbsup The game builds naturally to a climax. The initial phase of the game is collecting a civilian escape kit, followed by the escape equipment necessary for your planned escape route. Once a player has done this, the pieces are manoeuvred into position to make an escape. All the time the tension is building to the moment when pieces start to leave the inner courtyard and head towards the areas of the board where they aren’t supposed to be. Escapers have the best chance if several Allied players try to escape at the same time, so the players have to try to escape quicker than the other Allied players. Very exciting stuff with the right group.

thumbsup This game tells a story as you play. I have never played a game of this and not had a vigorous discussion afterwards about the different events which happened during the game. A very indication of theme, story and player involvement.

What’s bad about this game?

thumbsdown By far the biggest issue with this game are the rules. The rules as given quite simply do not cover all the situations which can arise, and even when they do are sometimes open to multiple interpretations. The rules do state that where there is a dispute the German player decides, but this leads to some subjectivity and a high degree of variability between playing groups. At its worst, this can lead to big arguments between players, especially if the German player behaves vindictively.

This has lead to the development of numerous house rules, and it is always wise when sitting down to play a game with a new group to check what house rules they play with.

NOTE: Although there are quite a lot of thumbsdown coming up, they are all minor niggles, rather than major problems. I want to stress that despite the quantity of negative points I do not regard Escape from Colditz as a ‘broken’ game. Quite the reverse.

thumbsdown Game mechanics are occasionally out of balance. One example is the tunnels. If the Allies are lucky and use one of the Tunnels which exit beyond the barbed wire, there is nothing the German’s can about it unless they draw the right Security Cards. An unlucky German player can get very frustrated!

thumbsdown The victory conditions for the Germans, while being very simple to understand (prevent x number of escapees), can be a little unsatisfactory in execution. The game is balanced to allow escapes eventually, and whether the German player can win is dependent on how closely the Allied players work together and what time limit has been agreed. In other words it is largely (but not completely) out of the German player’s hands. The roll of the Germans can sometimes feel closer to that of Games Master in a Role-Playing Game, rather than an equal participant in a board game.

thumbsdown Escape from Colditz is a roll and move game. However in actual play this doesn’t feel like a major issue due to the way this is handled. Two dice are used, players roll again on doubles, and the score can be split among any combination of the players pawns, so there are almost always interesting decisions to make on every turn. The fact that a score of 2 is a double, and 3 allows the player to acquire an Opportunity Card, mean that good things happen on even the low rolls.

thumbsdown With a large number of players there can be downtime while a player waits for their turn to come around again. This is not usually a problem unless someone in your group has severe analysis paralysis. In most games this is not an issue.

thumbsdown As an Allied player your POWs can be arrested and thrown into solitary confinement. If this happens to too many of your pieces at a critical phase of the game it can be frustrating to be effectively removed from the game while you wait to release your men.

thumbsdown The Do or die cards are felt by many players to be a bit random. A player can steal a win just by playing the card and beating another player who had played a better game. The downside is also quite extreme – eliminating the player from the game.

Conclusion

Escape from Colditz is a lot of fun to play, and plays well for up to 7 players. It does require one player to take an asymmetric role (the Germans) which I have never found to be a problem in any gaming group. I believe the main reason this game does not rank higher than it does is due to the poorly written rules, which quite frankly do not cover every situation which can arise. However, this game is definitely an example of one which is greater than the sum of its parts. While there are always a few niggles over the rules, we have always had a very enjoyable evening when playing this game.

The basic premise (escaping from somewhere) seems to be almost an ideal one for a board game, and it seems a little strange that there should be so few out there. Escape from Colditz is ripe for a ‘Euro-style’ makeover and reissue. In the meantime, if you manage to get hold of a copy I recommend you get hold of the rules clarification file from BGG, play this game and have fun.

Rating 3.5 out of 5


Historical Note

This game inspired me to look into the history of Colditz Castle during WWII, and I can thoroughly recommend it. Major PR Reid – who designed this board game based on his experience as an internee and successful escaper from Colditz during the war, wrote a couple of books and worked as an advisor on the making of a film in the years after the war. Both are worth looking into if you find the history of the period interesting.

Postcript

A modern Spanish language version came out in 2006, published by Devir Games. Does anyone know why there was a Spanish reissue and not an English one? Is there a particular interest in Spain in the theme? It seems a little odd since Spain were (theoretically at least) neutral during WWII. Can anyone help? Are the Spanish really interested in Colditz Castle?

Future editions

As mentioned above, to me Escape from Colditz is ready for a modern revamp and reissue. It is already nearly a great game, and with a better rulebook, some rule modifications and maybe some component improvements (although the existing components are perfectly acceptable), it could be truly great.

If anyone does get round to producing a new English language edition, I would like there to be a greater variety of opportunity and security cards. This is the major factor affecting replayability, and I am sure there are other historical events to inspire additional cards.

Also it is occasionally possible for the German player to find themselves in an escape situation where they don’t have the right security cards for the situation, through no fault of their own. I am thinking particularly of the tunnels, where the German player is powerless to act without the Tunnel Discovery card, or at a pinch the Shoot to Kill card. One rule modification would be to allow the German player to draw two cards at a time, and choose one of them to keep and one to go back into the deck. This would allow the player to cycle through the cards faster, and exercise more skill in card selection.

Can anyone provide an update on whether a future edition (following on from the recent Spanish language version) is being planned?

Rule Ambiguities

My intention is to incorporate the questions and opinions of any comments to this review into this section, in an effort to provide a useful Q&A resource for players of the game. In most instances the adjudications are merely the application of common sense and not controversial at all, but situations can arise which are less easy to resolve. Players should always bear in mind that the final arbiter in any game is the German player.

Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made, or provide alternative interpretations, or add additional questions.

d10-1 Can the Allied players block the German ‘teleport’ spots?

Q; There is nothing in the rules to prevent the Allied players from positioning their pieces over an unoccupied German ‘teleport’ spot, thus preventing the German player from deploying around the castle.

A; To me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. The ruling might be that Allied players are not allowed on to the deployment spots, or that they can pass over them but not end a turn there.

d10-2 Can the doorways be blocked?

Q; One tactic I have seen the German player use is to position a piece in doorways, thus blocking access to the areas where equipment can be gathered.

A; Again, to me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. I have read that the rules forbid blocking access, although I haven’t found that myself.

d10-3 Can the Allies be arrested while in rooms within the castle?

Q: The Germans are allowed to arrest Allied pieces in the castle once the player has acquired items of escape equipment. Does this mean only the inner courtyard (excluding the rooms), or are the rooms included in the inner courtyard?

A: Thematically it would make sense for the Allies to be at risk of arrest anywhere, especially the rooms inside the castle. However I have suffered from this, where I have found myself in a situation where all my pieces were in the cells when the game reached the escape phase, and I completely missed out on the exciting end stage.

d10-4 Can the Germans follow down a rope?

Q: If an Allied piece has just moved down a rope, playing a rope card to do so, can a German piece give chase down the same rope?

A: This is a tricky one, as while it would certainly be possible for a German sentry to climb down a rope to give chase, it would be far more realistic for the German sentry to give the alarm to his compatriots on the ground. This has never happened during any game I was playing, but I would probably come down on the side of the German’s being able to give chase provided it was done in the next turn.

d10-5 When an Allied player has to get back to the Appel zone to take equipment, how is this movement handled?

Q: When an Allied player has sent two pieces into different locations to get the same piece of equipment, they are required to move both pieces back to the white Appel zone before actually getting the piece of equipment. Is this done by roll and move, or is it done in the same way as when an Appel card is played by the Germans, by picking the pieces up and placing them in the white area?



A: The rules state that ‘both POWs must move directly to the roll call area’. This implies the pieces are picked up and placed in the white Appel area, but could also be interpreted as meaning the pieces must head directly back there via the roll and move method without visiting other locations. My own preference is for the pieces being picked up and moved, rather than roll and move.

d10-6 Can a tunnel be shared between nations?

Q: A tunnel has to have two pieces in it at all times, or the tunnel is lost. Can the pieces be of different nationalities? A follow-up question would be, once a player has played a tunnel card and moved his/her pieces into it, can another Allied player move their pieces into the same tunnel while it is active?

A: The rules state ‘Escape Officers may combine members of their respective teams if they wish and may employ false trails, distractions and double bluffs to confuse and outwit the German Security Forces’. While this is not specifically about tunnels, my own feeling is that this is at the discretion of the Allied player who played the tunnel card, but I also feel that making the tunnels a special case and not allowing sharing of a tunnel would also be an acceptable interpretation.

d10-7 How many pieces can travel down a rope?

Q: If a player plays a rope card, how many pieces can move down the rope? It is not as though the rope is used up by people moving down it.

A: In our games we decided that the Allied player could move any number of pieces down a rope as long as it was in the same turn that the card was played. On subsequent turns we treated it that the rope would have been hidden away again or discovered, since you could not leave escape equipment lying around obviously.

d10-8 How many nationalities can travel down the same rope?

Q: Similar to the sharing of tunnels question, if a rope card has been played, can another Allied player move down the rope.

A: The rules do allow the Allied players to combine forces, but in spite of this my answer to this would be no. This is because the move down the rope could only be done after the rope card had been played and before the German’s next turn, and this would not give an equal distribution of opportunity to all the Allied players.

d10-9 How long does a rope stay in place?

Q: If a player plays a rope card, how many pieces can be moved down the rope, and over what duration? Can a player move only one piece down per rope card; as many as they like in the turn the rope card was played; or does the German player have to move a piece to that location to remove the rope?

A: My preferred interpretation is that the rope lasts for the whole turn of that Allied player, and so s/he may move as many pieces down the rope as the dice roll allows on the turn the card is played. At the end of that player's turn the ability to use the rope is lost. This means that if a player wants to move 3 or more pieces down a rope they may need to wait for a high roll of the dice, which simulates waiting for the right opportunity.

d10-1d10-0 How many can pass through a gap in the fence?

Q: If a player plays a wirecutters card, how many pieces can move through the gap, and over how many turns?

A: This is similar to other questions regarding the rope. However in this case my own feeling is that a cut in the fence is less visible than a rope hanging out of a window. Also if a player has several pieces making an escape, and makes a low roll, the possibility of the gap magically resealing itself, leaving a stranded Allied piece in mid escape wandering around the outer courtyard would be farcical. The interpretation we use is that the gap stays in existence for ‘that escape’ (which is a poorly defined term but has never caused us a problem), but that after this the German’s are held to have fixed the hole.

d10-1d10-1 Can the Germans follow through a cut wire fence?

Q: Once an Allied piece has made it through the wire fence and is heading for the Allied symbol, can the German player pass through the wire fence to give chase?

A: The answer has to be yes, otherwise the escape becomes an unexciting farce. We allow any number of German pieces to give chase through the same space that the Allied piece escaped through for the duration of the escape attempt. Once the escape has been resolved the German piece come back inside the fence and the gap is assumed to be closed.

d10-1d10-2 If a German player has passed through the fence to give chase, can the piece be left on the other side after the escape has been resolved to block off that route?

Q: If the German player gives chase and moves a piece through the wire fence, once that particular escape is resolved can the German player leave the playing piece where it is, or must the piece be brought back through the fence?

A: My own interpretation is no, as this would completely block off an escape route to a single escaping piece, which would be unthematic. There would be nothing to prevent the German player advancing a piece and resting it on the Allied escape spot.

d10-1d10-3 If the Germans can pass through the wire fence to give chase, can they pass through the fence at other times?

Q: If the Germans are allowed to pass through the fence to give chase to an escaping Allied piece, are they allowed through the wire fence at other times? The area outside the fences represents occupied territory, so the presence of German pieces would be consistent with the theme.

A: The most common interpretation is that the German’s are not allowed through the wire fences. The German pieces have to obey the usual laws of movement, and so can’t pass through walls or jump over 30 foot walls – nor can they pass through fences. I would only allow one exception to this (see below),

d10-1d10-4 Can the Germans pass through a wire fence which has not been cut to give chase to Allied pieces escaping through the Chapel tunnel?



Q: The Chapel tunnel is unique in that the exit is on the other side of the fence, and so an escape via this route does not require the use of wire cutters. Can the German’s give chase if this escape rout is used, or are they blocked by the fence.

A: I have seen both interpretations used and recommended. My own feeling is that while it is unthematic to allow the German pieces to walk through a wire fence (see below), it is also unthematic to allow escaping Allied pieces to walk through Germany and German occupied territory without fear of recapture. I therefore allow German pieces to pass through the wire fence and give chase in this circumstance.

d10-1d10-5 How many can use a pass or key?

Q: If a player plays a pass or key card, how many pieces may move through the controlled space?

A: My own feeling, consistent with the use of wire cutters and rope, is that any number of pieces can pass through but only in a single turn.

d10-1d10-6 When can players trade cards?

Q: The rules allow the trading and exchange of cards at any time. Can this ability be used to avoid confiscation of equipment by the Germans?

A: No. This is the only restriction I place on the ability to exchange cards.

d10-1d10-7 Can the Germans arrest an escaping piece who has a pass before, during or after they
pass a controlled space?


Q: Once an Allied piece has played a pass card and moved onto or through a pass space, can the German player still arrest that piece? Surely the card means that the German Security staff have been satisfied by the documents and their suspicions are not aroused?

A: Yes, the Germans can arrest the Allied piece in this circumstance. The pass card allows a piece through a controlled spot, but does not provide immunity from arrest. Several attempted escapes were foiled by the guards calling back someone who had previously been cleared.

d10-1d10-8 Can the German’s re-arrest a piece straight out of solitary?

Q: Can the German player leave a piece outside the cells, and simply re-arrest a piece when it is released?

A: This happened to me once, and I hated it. There is certainly nothing in the rules to prevent this, so I was unable to successfully argue the German player out of this decision, but it felt ridiculous to me for the Germans to be constantly releasing and re-arresting a piece. My own feeling is that this behaviour is ‘not in the spirit of the game’, which is a difficult concept to put into unambiguous rules. My own ruling would be that once released from the cells and Allied piece should be allowed to move into the inner courtyard or other rooms before being re-arrested.

It is important to note that if a piece is released from the cells placed externally to the inner courtyard, this piece should be allowed to head back towards the inner courtyard without being arrested, as long as the piece is moving, and all moves are consistent with entering the castle. Such a piece should not be required to use a key or pass to enter the castle, although, again, this is not covered in the rules.

d10-1d10-9 When collecting equipment for the kit, what happens if you get part of it – no tokens to
show what each player has got?


Q: When an Allied player gets a piece of escape equipment (rope, wire cutters, key or pass), s/he gets a card to show this. However there are no cards for the individual pieces of the Civilian Escape Kit (compass, disguise, food and documents) there are no cards provided to indicate possession. In other words, how does an Allied player show ownership of part of a Civilian Escape Kit?

A: We keep track using pencil and paper, which seems a bit awkward but we couldn’t come up with anything better.

d10-2d10-0 How big a drop can each rope card handle?

Q: Ropes are used to move down a drop, but there are both 30 foot drops and 60 foot drops marked on the board. Does a rope card indicate the ability to complete one drop regardless of height, or does in represent the possession of 30 foot of rope, meaning that two rope cards need to be played for the 60 foot drops?

A: The rules don’t comment on this, but the most common interpretation is that each rope cards represents 30 foot of rope, meaning two cards are required for the larger drops.

d10-2d10-1 If escape equipment cards run out, can players still get that piece of equipment?

Q: Players acquire escape equipment (rope, wire cutters, key and pass) by moving around the castle and from opportunity cards, and as such there is no upper limit on the number of these resources which could in theory be obtained. However, there are a limited number of cards which a player can be given. If a player earns a resource (a rope, say) and there are no more rope cards left, do they still get a rope?

A: The rules don’t comment on this, but the most common interpretation is that once the cards run out, there are no more of that resource available.

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Steve Duff
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Nicely done.
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Well done!

Colditz is one of the first "real" games that I played in my life. And probably the one that dragged me into boardgames all together.

If my memory does not fool me, I think you had to be present in all 4 rooms of the "civilian escape kit" before you got the card? (Or in just two if you had the special chance card which counted for two of the necessary objects_. That might explain why there are no compass cards, or civilian clothers? You don't collected those as you did with the escape gear (cutters, rope, pass, ...)

In our games a German was only allowed to arrest a prisonner in the castle if he had a chance card with that room on it. I assume our leader of the time (we played this when being in the local scouts group)
made some house-rules.

Mind you, the version we played was the Dutch version. In our version there were Belgian prisonners included as well. Probably due to marketing...

The older groups were so thrilled by this game that during the day they build a real tunnel on the premises. Complete with electricity and wooden support "bridges". I doubt that this would still be allowed today... Parents would sue the leaders.

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Graham Dean
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Placing four pieces in four separate rooms at the same time to get the escape kit is certainly allowed, and is the way I always prefer to do it, but we've always played it that the other ways are possible to. It all depends on whether the four separate components of the escape kit count as escape equipment. We always said they were, but we could be wrong. It's another good example of how the rules aren't that well explained.

They let you build tunnels!?! We must have been soft as butter compared to you when we were kids!
 
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Very nice review and glad that you found some of my images useful for it. I have the same version as you, but I also have a later version of the rules and an updated set of the cards (I think they are from the Gibsons version), some of the points you raise are settled by these rules and cards.

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

My intention is to incorporate the questions and opinions of any comments to this review into this section, in an effort to provide a useful Q&A resource for players of the game. In most instances the adjudications are merely the application of common sense and not controversial at all, but situations can arise which are less easy to resolve. Players should always bear in mind that the final arbiter in any game is the German player.

Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made, or provide alternative interpretations, or add additional questions.

d10-1 Can the Allied players block the German ‘teleport’ spots?

Q; There is nothing in the rules to prevent the Allied players from positioning their pieces over an unoccupied German ‘teleport’ spot, thus preventing the German player from deploying around the castle.

A; To me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. The ruling might be that Allied players are not allowed on to the deployment spots, or that they can pass over them but not end a turn there.


The rules specifically state that the POWs can stop on the black teleport spaces. While this may stop the Germans from using them, it also seems unthematic for there to be teleport spaces in the first place so this does not worry me.

Quote:
d10-2 Can the doorways be blocked?

Q; One tactic I have seen the German player use is to position a piece in doorways, thus blocking access to the areas where equipment can be gathered.

A; Again, to me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. I have read that the rules forbid blocking access, although I haven’t found that myself.


The rules do forbid the blocking of doorways by POWs[/q]

Quote:
d10-3 Can the Allies be arrested while in rooms within the castle?

Q: The Germans are allowed to arrest Allied pieces in the castle once the player has acquired items of escape equipment. Does this mean only the inner courtyard (excluding the rooms), or are the rooms included in the inner courtyard?

A: Thematically it would make sense for the Allies to be at risk of arrest anywhere, especially the rooms inside the castle. However I have suffered from this, where I have found myself in a situation where all my pieces were in the cells when the game reached the escape phase, and I completely missed out on the exciting end stage.


The germans may not enter a room without the appropriate search card or if the appel card is played, so POWs can't normally be arrested there. POWs are immune from arrest in the White Appel area.

Quote:
d10-4 Can the Germans follow down a rope?

Q: If an Allied piece has just moved down a rope, playing a rope card to do so, can a German piece give chase down the same rope?

A: This is a tricky one, as while it would certainly be possible for a German sentry to climb down a rope to give chase, it would be far more realistic for the German sentry to give the alarm to his compatriots on the ground. This has never happened during any game I was playing, but I would probably come down on the side of the German’s being able to give chase provided it was done in the next turn.


Germans are allowed to follow POWs over the wall or through wire, providing that they follow exactly the same route.

Quote:
d10-5 When an Allied player has to get back to the Appel zone to take equipment, how is this movement handled?

Q: When an Allied player has sent two pieces into different locations to get the same piece of equipment, they are required to move both pieces back to the white Appel zone before actually getting the piece of equipment. Is this done by roll and move, or is it done in the same way as when an Appel card is played by the Germans, by picking the pieces up and placing them in the white area?




A: The rules state that ‘both POWs must move directly to the roll call area’. This implies the pieces are picked up and placed in the white Appel area, but could also be interpreted as meaning the pieces must head directly back there via the roll and move method without visiting other locations. My own preference is for the pieces being picked up and moved, rather than roll and move.


The rules state to go directly to the appel area, which I take to mean that you don't roll and move.Edit: the rules also define directly as meaning that you don't count dice throws.

Quote:
d10-6 Can a tunnel be shared between nations?

Q: A tunnel has to have two pieces in it at all times, or the tunnel is lost. Can the pieces be of different nationalities? A follow-up question would be, once a player has played a tunnel card and moved his/her pieces into it, can another Allied player move their pieces into the same tunnel while it is active?

A: The rules state ‘Escape Officers may combine members of their respective teams if they wish and may employ false trails, distractions and double bluffs to confuse and outwit the German Security Forces’. While this is not specifically about tunnels, my own feeling is that this is at the discretion of the Allied player who played the tunnel card, but I also feel that making the tunnels a special case and not allowing sharing of a tunnel would also be an acceptable interpretation.


The rules state that different nationalities may share a tunnel.

Quote:
d10-7 How many pieces can travel down a rope?

Q: If a player plays a rope card, how many pieces can move down the rope? It is not as though the rope is used up by people moving down it.

A: In our games we decided that the Allied player could move any number of pieces down a rope as long as it was in the same turn that the card was played. On subsequent turns we treated it that the rope would have been hidden away again or discovered, since you could not leave escape equipment lying around obviously.


The rules state that an equipment card can be used by any number of POWs on the turn that it is played.

Quote:
d10-8 How many nationalities can travel down the same rope?

Q: Similar to the sharing of tunnels question, if a rope card has been played, can another Allied player move down the rope.

A: The rules do allow the Allied players to combine forces, but in spite of this my answer to this would be no. This is because the move down the rope could only be done after the rope card had been played and before the German’s next turn, and this would not give an equal distribution of opportunity to all the Allied players.


As the equipment can only be used on the turn it is played, other nationalities can not use the same equipment.

Quote:
d10-9 How long does a rope stay in place?

Q: If a player plays a rope card, how many pieces can be moved down the rope, and over what duration? Can a player move only one piece down per rope card; as many as they like in the turn the rope card was played; or does the German player have to move a piece to that location to remove the rope?

A: My preferred interpretation is that the rope lasts for the whole turn of that Allied player, and so s/he may move as many pieces down the rope as the dice roll allows on the turn the card is played. At the end of that player's turn the ability to use the rope is lost. This means that if a player wants to move 3 or more pieces down a rope they may need to wait for a high roll of the dice, which simulates waiting for the right opportunity.


See previous answers.

Quote:
d10-1d10-0 How many can pass through a gap in the fence?

Q: If a player plays a wirecutters card, how many pieces can move through the gap, and over how many turns?

A: This is similar to other questions regarding the rope. However in this case my own feeling is that a cut in the fence is less visible than a rope hanging out of a window. Also if a player has several pieces making an escape, and makes a low roll, the possibility of the gap magically resealing itself, leaving a stranded Allied piece in mid escape wandering around the outer courtyard would be farcical. The interpretation we use is that the gap stays in existence for ‘that escape’ (which is a poorly defined term but has never caused us a problem), but that after this the German’s are held to have fixed the hole.


Wirecutters are equipment so the same would apply as to rope, ie all usage by POWs must be on the same turn (seems crazy I know), the rules for Germans are different of course.

Quote:
d10-1d10-1 Can the Germans follow through a cut wire fence?

Q: Once an Allied piece has made it through the wire fence and is heading for the Allied symbol, can the German player pass through the wire fence to give chase?

A: The answer has to be yes, otherwise the escape becomes an unexciting farce. We allow any number of German pieces to give chase through the same space that the Allied piece escaped through for the duration of the escape attempt. Once the escape has been resolved the German piece come back inside the fence and the gap is assumed to be closed.


As previously stated Germans may follow the exact same route to follow POWs

Quote:
d10-1d10-2 If a German player has passed through the fence to give chase, can the piece be left on the other side after the escape has been resolved to block off that route?

Q: If the German player gives chase and moves a piece through the wire fence, once that particular escape is resolved can the German player leave the playing piece where it is, or must the piece be brought back through the fence?

A: My own interpretation is no, as this would completely block off an escape route to a single escaping piece, which would be unthematic. There would be nothing to prevent the German player advancing a piece and resting it on the Allied escape spot.


Rules state guards return directly to barracks after making an arrest or when POW reaches target.

Quote:
d10-1d10-3 If the Germans can pass through the wire fence to give chase, can they pass through the fence at other times?

Q: If the Germans are allowed to pass through the fence to give chase to an escaping Allied piece, are they allowed through the wire fence at other times? The area outside the fences represents occupied territory, so the presence of German pieces would be consistent with the theme.

A: The most common interpretation is that the German’s are not allowed through the wire fences. The German pieces have to obey the usual laws of movement, and so can’t pass through walls or jump over 30 foot walls – nor can they pass through fences. I would only allow one exception to this (see below),


I see nothing to suggest that guards can go outside the walls/fences except when chasing POWs

Quote:
d10-1d10-4 Can the Germans pass through a wire fence which has not been cut to give chase to Allied pieces escaping through the Chapel tunnel?



Q: The Chapel tunnel is unique in that the exit is on the other side of the fence, and so an escape via this route does not require the use of wire cutters. Can the German’s give chase if this escape rout is used, or are they blocked by the fence.

A: I have seen both interpretations used and recommended. My own feeling is that while it is unthematic to allow the German pieces to walk through a wire fence (see below), it is also unthematic to allow escaping Allied pieces to walk through Germany and German occupied territory without fear of recapture. I therefore allow German pieces to pass through the wire fence and give chase in this circumstance.


Guards must follow the exact same route, so no.

Quote:
d10-1d10-5 How many can use a pass or key?

Q: If a player plays a pass or key card, how many pieces may move through the controlled space?

A: My own feeling, consistent with the use of wire cutters and rope, is that any number of pieces can pass through but only in a single turn.


Pass and Key are equipment so as many as can pass on the same turn.

Quote:
d10-1d10-6 When can players trade cards?

Q: The rules allow the trading and exchange of cards at any time. Can this ability be used to avoid confiscation of equipment by the Germans?

A: No. This is the only restriction I place on the ability to exchange cards.


I would have said the equipmet would have needed to have been exchanged previously

Quote:
d10-1d10-7 Can the Germans arrest an escaping piece who has a pass before, during or after they
pass a controlled space?


Q: Once an Allied piece has played a pass card and moved onto or through a pass space, can the German player still arrest that piece? Surely the card means that the German Security staff have been satisfied by the documents and their suspicions are not aroused?

A: Yes, the Germans can arrest the Allied piece in this circumstance. The pass card allows a piece through a controlled spot, but does not provide immunity from arrest. Several attempted escapes were foiled by the guards calling back someone who had previously been cleared.


Once the POW has moved outside the grey area he is subject to arrest anyway, even if he no longer has any equipment.

Quote:
d10-1d10-8 Can the German’s re-arrest a piece straight out of solitary?

Q: Can the German player leave a piece outside the cells, and simply re-arrest a piece when it is released?

A: This happened to me once, and I hated it. There is certainly nothing in the rules to prevent this, so I was unable to successfully argue the German player out of this decision, but it felt ridiculous to me for the Germans to be constantly releasing and re-arresting a piece. My own feeling is that this behaviour is ‘not in the spirit of the game’, which is a difficult concept to put into unambiguous rules. My own ruling would be that once released from the cells and Allied piece should be allowed to move into the inner courtyard or other rooms before being re-arrested.

It is important to note that if a piece is released from the cells placed externally to the inner courtyard, this piece should be allowed to head back towards the inner courtyard without being arrested, as long as the piece is moving, and all moves are consistent with entering the castle. Such a piece should not be required to use a key or pass to enter the castle, although, again, this is not covered in the rules.


It is permitted, but bear in mind that guards must go straight back to barracks after an arrest so the german might not wish to end up with his guards out of position due to this. "Spirit of the game" is something for the individual group to decide. The rules do not specify that pass and key spaces are one direction only, so I don't see the problem with allowing this, the POW is wasting equipment if he uses his equipment to get into the castle.

Quote:
d10-1d10-9 When collecting equipment for the kit, what happens if you get part of it – no tokens to
show what each player has got?


Q: When an Allied player gets a piece of escape equipment (rope, wire cutters, key or pass), s/he gets a card to show this. However there are no cards for the individual pieces of the Civilian Escape Kit (compass, disguise, food and documents) there are no cards provided to indicate possession. In other words, how does an Allied player show ownership of part of a Civilian Escape Kit?

A: We keep track using pencil and paper, which seems a bit awkward but we couldn’t come up with anything better.


An escape kit is not equipment, you only need to get one for the entire game. You must occupy all necessary spaces simultaneously to gain it, but it is not subject to confiscation by the germans.

Quote:
d10-2d10-0 How big a drop can each rope card handle?

Q: Ropes are used to move down a drop, but there are both 30 foot drops and 60 foot drops marked on the board. Does a rope card indicate the ability to complete one drop regardless of height, or does in represent the possession of 30 foot of rope, meaning that two rope cards need to be played for the 60 foot drops?

A: The rules don’t comment on this, but the most common interpretation is that each rope cards represents 30 foot of rope, meaning two cards are required for the larger drops.


My cards are specific that each rope card is 30 feet.

Quote:
d10-2d10-1 If escape equipment cards run out, can players still get that piece of equipment?

Q: Players acquire escape equipment (rope, wire cutters, key and pass) by moving around the castle and from opportunity cards, and as such there is no upper limit on the number of these resources which could in theory be obtained. However, there are a limited number of cards which a player can be given. If a player earns a resource (a rope, say) and there are no more rope cards left, do they still get a rope?

A: The rules don’t comment on this, but the most common interpretation is that once the cards run out, there are no more of that resource available.


I can't find it just now, but I believe that is the correct answer.

[/q]
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Uncle G wrote:

Civilian Escape Kit

The goal in the initial phase of the game is to gather together the equipment needed for a successful escape. The precise equipment will vary depending on the sort of escape being planned, but no escape may be attempted unless the player has first collected a Civilian Escape Kit.

This kit consists of food, a disguise, compass and papers. This represents what would be required to evade recapture once a POW has escaped from the confines of the castle itself, and is travelling through Germany and the occupied territories to a safe or neutral area.



These items can be acquired in a number of ways. Players may trade with each other, so that if one player can easily get two compasses, they can exchange one with another player for another item of equipment.

Otherwise, a player must position two of their pieces into a space which has the relevant symbol in it. For example, a disguise may be obtained by positioning two pieces at the same time into the Laundry or the together into the Theatre (both rooms show the disguise symbol of a hat).

Another alternative is for a player to place one piece into each of the two relevant rooms at the same time. The pieces must then be moved back to the white hexagonal zone in the middle of the inner courtyard, at which point the item of equipment is awarded (unlike when both pieces are in the same room together).

There are no cards to indicate when individual items of kit have been earned, but once a player has all four items they receive a Civilian Escape Kit card.

The final method is to move four pieces into four different locations around the board, each of which has one of the four different symbols. If this is done at the same time, that player receives the Civilian Escape Kit card.

It is important to note that until a player has a piece of escape equipment, the German Officer may not arrest them and place them in Solitary Confinement.


I think you have this wrong, it is not possible to trade for pieces of the escape kit. The only ways are to occupy 4 relevant symbols simultaneously or to have the escape kit parts cards, or a combination, 2 parts from occupying 2 relevant rooms plus a card for the other 2 parts.

As the escape kit is not equipment you don't move POWs back to the appel area, after gaining it.
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Excellent review and discussion of this much loved but now little played game. I grew up with this game and enjoy each time it gets some table time. I always play the Jerries as I founed it quite engaging and challenging trying to stop as many escapes as I possibly could. Yes this meant that I rarely did very well via a win but, I could and did have a damn fine time trying my best to limit the damage. The use of the 'Shoot to Kill' card was always an ace in the hole if you could get it with this game, especially if the escapers went out via the Chapel Tunnel... it often meant I could at least get one of the escapees on the way through as long as I had a relatively conveniently placed guard available to shoot!

Thanks for the great review and read...it makes me want to break the game out again and get in another play!
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Graham Dean
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This is a game I never had as a child, but found it in a charity shop for £1.50 when I had no-one to play it with. It's coming into it's own now that my nephews are old enough - they love the war theme and it does get requests and sees table time with us these days.

I haven't had time yet to properly look through DaveD's excellent response - thanks for doing this, it really encourages me to get a reply from someone who clearly cares about the game - but I will as soon as I get the chance.
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Bob Wilson
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Let's not forget it's "sister" game, Skedaddle!.

There's an emphasis on a glider escape in this one... (a true story I guess).


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Graham Dean
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LordBobbio wrote:
Let's not forget it's "sister" game, Skedaddle!.

There's an emphasis on a glider escape in this one... (a true story I guess).



I've never heard of this before - it looks interesting.

The glider reference is based on a true event - an escape attempt which nearly happened.

The POWs at Colditz discovered an unused attic and created a false wall, concealing a space behind it. In this space they built a glider from materials purloined from around the castle, but the castle was liberated before it ever flew. The glider was discovered (I believe) by the American forces which came to the castle, and some photos were taken.

The glider was shortly afterwards disassembled, which seems a shame. However a replica was built based on the original plans and I believe was successfully flown.
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Uncle G wrote:
The glider was shortly afterwards disassembled, which seems a shame. However a replica was built based on the original plans and I believe was successfully flown.

I have seen the reproduction flown on TV. The pilot, I believe, decided not to make a second flight... gulp

Airfix also made a scale model in expanded polystyrene, covered in paper glued over the entire surface. It flew pretty damn well catapulted by an elastic band...
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DaveD wrote:
Uncle G wrote:

Civilian Escape Kit

The goal in the initial phase of the game is to gather together the equipment needed for a successful escape. The precise equipment will vary depending on the sort of escape being planned, but no escape may be attempted unless the player has first collected a Civilian Escape Kit.

This kit consists of food, a disguise, compass and papers. This represents what would be required to evade recapture once a POW has escaped from the confines of the castle itself, and is travelling through Germany and the occupied territories to a safe or neutral area.



These items can be acquired in a number of ways. Players may trade with each other, so that if one player can easily get two compasses, they can exchange one with another player for another item of equipment.

Otherwise, a player must position two of their pieces into a space which has the relevant symbol in it. For example, a disguise may be obtained by positioning two pieces at the same time into the Laundry or the together into the Theatre (both rooms show the disguise symbol of a hat).

Another alternative is for a player to place one piece into each of the two relevant rooms at the same time. The pieces must then be moved back to the white hexagonal zone in the middle of the inner courtyard, at which point the item of equipment is awarded (unlike when both pieces are in the same room together).

There are no cards to indicate when individual items of kit have been earned, but once a player has all four items they receive a Civilian Escape Kit card.

The final method is to move four pieces into four different locations around the board, each of which has one of the four different symbols. If this is done at the same time, that player receives the Civilian Escape Kit card.

It is important to note that until a player has a piece of escape equipment, the German Officer may not arrest them and place them in Solitary Confinement.


I think you have this wrong, it is not possible to trade for pieces of the escape kit. The only ways are to occupy 4 relevant symbols simultaneously or to have the escape kit parts cards, or a combination, 2 parts from occupying 2 relevant rooms plus a card for the other 2 parts.

As the escape kit is not equipment you don't move POWs back to the appel area, after gaining it.

I think you have an absolutely acceptable interpretation, but I don't think it is the only one. In fact, the idea that you could claim the full escape kit by playing one opportunity card and positioning two pieces in the relevant rooms never occurred to us.

Your point about not being able to trade for the separate components of the escape kit is an interesting one. I can remember being very confused about whether the different parts of the Escape Kit were Escape Equipment or not, and in the end we decided that they were, and that therefore the same methods of acquisition would apply. I don't think this point was ever explictly covered in the rules.

If the Escape Kit does not count as Escape Equipment, does this mean that the POWs are not liable to arrest when in position of the full Civilian Escape Kit but no escape equipment? This was another factor in my deciding that they did count as Escape Equipment - if a POW were to be discovered with documents and a disguise they would still be liable to arrest.

I should make clear that I'm not saying your interpretation is wrong - just that more than one is possible.
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Uncle G wrote:
Escape from Colditz

Postcript

A modern Spanish language version came out in 2006, published by Devir Games. Does anyone know why there was a Spanish reissue and not an English one? Is there a particular interest in Spain in the theme? It seems a little odd since Spain were (theoretically at least) neutral during WWII. Can anyone help? Are the Spanish really interested in Colditz Castle?



In Spain, Escape from Colditz was the first thematic game ever published, and it was published by a very popular company in the eighties, NAC (Nike & Cooper Española, S.A.), who disappeared later. The NAC games are very hard to find now in Spain and at very high prices.

Escape from Colditz was the only one who could be reissued, because the author rights were easy to find.

So I think in Spain this game has a great nostalgic component, and that's the reason of the reissue.
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Graham Dean
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I'm going to try to break this down into chunks. Thank you for such a comprehensive response. It's really encouraging when people take an interest.

DaveD wrote:
Very nice review and glad that you found some of my images useful for it. I have the same version as you, but I also have a later version of the rules and an updated set of the cards (I think they are from the Gibsons version), some of the points you raise are settled by these rules and cards.

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

My intention is to incorporate the questions and opinions of any comments to this review into this section, in an effort to provide a useful Q&A resource for players of the game. In most instances the adjudications are merely the application of common sense and not controversial at all, but situations can arise which are less easy to resolve. Players should always bear in mind that the final arbiter in any game is the German player.

Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made, or provide alternative interpretations, or add additional questions.

d10-1 Can the Allied players block the German ‘teleport’ spots?

Q; There is nothing in the rules to prevent the Allied players from positioning their pieces over an unoccupied German ‘teleport’ spot, thus preventing the German player from deploying around the castle.

A; To me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. The ruling might be that Allied players are not allowed on to the deployment spots, or that they can pass over them but not end a turn there.


The rules specifically state that the POWs can stop on the black teleport spaces. While this may stop the Germans from using them, it also seems unthematic for there to be teleport spaces in the first place so this does not worry me.

Whereabouts in the rules does it say this? We might have different versions of the rulebook, but I had a look and couldn't find it in mine.

Perhaps 'teleport spot' is a bad phrase, and another word ('deployment spot'?) should be used instead. I think it's just an abstracted representation of the Germans' ability to deploy around the castle and at will, and I don't think the Allies should be able to prevent this. Of course, once the Allied players have gained equipment cards, then this strategy would make it easy for the German's to arrest Allied pieces, so it would only be a factor in the early phases.
 
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DaveD wrote:


Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

Quote:
d10-2 Can the doorways be blocked?

Q; One tactic I have seen the German player use is to position a piece in doorways, thus blocking access to the areas where equipment can be gathered.

A; Again, to me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. I have read that the rules forbid blocking access, although I haven’t found that myself.


The rules do forbid the blocking of doorways by POWs

Is this the rules from the Parker or Gibson editions? Or both? I only have the Parker Brothers version, and couldn't find it. Anyway, we agree on this one, so it must be right!
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Graham Dean
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termini wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
Escape from Colditz

Postcript

A modern Spanish language version came out in 2006, published by Devir Games. Does anyone know why there was a Spanish reissue and not an English one? Is there a particular interest in Spain in the theme? It seems a little odd since Spain were (theoretically at least) neutral during WWII. Can anyone help? Are the Spanish really interested in Colditz Castle?



In Spain, Escape from Colditz was the first thematic game ever published, and it was published by a very popular company in the eighties, NAC (Nike & Cooper Española, S.A.), who disappeared later. The NAC games are very hard to find now in Spain and at very high prices.

Escape from Colditz was the only one who could be reissued, because the author rights were easy to find.

So I think in Spain this game has a great nostalgic component, and that's the reason of the reissue.

Thank you for responding on this. Perhaps there should be a geeklist of NAC games (maybe there already is?).
 
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Graham Dean
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DaveD wrote:

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

d10-3 Can the Allies be arrested while in rooms within the castle?

Q: The Germans are allowed to arrest Allied pieces in the castle once the player has acquired items of escape equipment. Does this mean only the inner courtyard (excluding the rooms), or are the rooms included in the inner courtyard?

A: Thematically it would make sense for the Allies to be at risk of arrest anywhere, especially the rooms inside the castle. However I have suffered from this, where I have found myself in a situation where all my pieces were in the cells when the game reached the escape phase, and I completely missed out on the exciting end stage.


The germans may not enter a room without the appropriate search card or if the appel card is played, so POWs can't normally be arrested there. POWs are immune from arrest in the White Appel area.

I am completely convinced on this point. Most of the German security cards are room searches, so it makes much more sense than the way we had been playing it. Thanks for putting me straight.
 
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Graham Dean
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DaveD wrote:

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

d10-1d10-2 If a German player has passed through the fence to give chase, can the piece be left on the other side after the escape has been resolved to block off that route?

Q: If the German player gives chase and moves a piece through the wire fence, once that particular escape is resolved can the German player leave the playing piece where it is, or must the piece be brought back through the fence?

A: My own interpretation is no, as this would completely block off an escape route to a single escaping piece, which would be unthematic. There would be nothing to prevent the German player advancing a piece and resting it on the Allied escape spot.


Rules state guards return directly to barracks after making an arrest or when POW reaches target.

I agree with this, but what about if the Allied player makes a successful escape, and the pursuing german piece is left on the other side of the fence? In a game where 2 or more escapes are required for victory, what would happen to the German piece? It could be:

a)left where it is, blocking that path for future escapes;
b)brought back to barracks as though using a 'teleport/deployment' spot.
c)brought back through use of dice, with the German piece allowed to pass through the fence to get back in play.

How would you interpret this? The rules don't cover this (in my version at least) but I'm probably going to go with a) and c).
 
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Uncle G wrote:
termini wrote:
Uncle G wrote:
Escape from Colditz

Postcript

A modern Spanish language version came out in 2006, published by Devir Games. Does anyone know why there was a Spanish reissue and not an English one? Is there a particular interest in Spain in the theme? It seems a little odd since Spain were (theoretically at least) neutral during WWII. Can anyone help? Are the Spanish really interested in Colditz Castle?



In Spain, Escape from Colditz was the first thematic game ever published, and it was published by a very popular company in the eighties, NAC (Nike & Cooper Española, S.A.), who disappeared later. The NAC games are very hard to find now in Spain and at very high prices.

Escape from Colditz was the only one who could be reissued, because the author rights were easy to find.

So I think in Spain this game has a great nostalgic component, and that's the reason of the reissue.

Thank you for responding on this. Perhaps there should be a geeklist of NAC games (maybe there already is?).


I'm not sure if there is a geeklist of NAC games but you can find almost all of them here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/1682
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Hi Graham, all my answers to your points were based on the Gibsons Rules. As I said I have the Parker edition like yours, but I was later given a set of the cards and rules from the newer dedition, I can't remember the exact details, but I do remember I got them off a very Friendly little gameshop we used to have in Birmingham in the late 70s/eraly 80s before they were taken over Games Workshop

To deal with your points individually

Uncle G wrote:
DaveD wrote:
Uncle G wrote:

Civilian Escape Kit

The goal in the initial phase of the game is to gather together the equipment needed for a successful escape. The precise equipment will vary depending on the sort of escape being planned, but no escape may be attempted unless the player has first collected a Civilian Escape Kit.

This kit consists of food, a disguise, compass and papers. This represents what would be required to evade recapture once a POW has escaped from the confines of the castle itself, and is travelling through Germany and the occupied territories to a safe or neutral area.



These items can be acquired in a number of ways. Players may trade with each other, so that if one player can easily get two compasses, they can exchange one with another player for another item of equipment.

Otherwise, a player must position two of their pieces into a space which has the relevant symbol in it. For example, a disguise may be obtained by positioning two pieces at the same time into the Laundry or the together into the Theatre (both rooms show the disguise symbol of a hat).

Another alternative is for a player to place one piece into each of the two relevant rooms at the same time. The pieces must then be moved back to the white hexagonal zone in the middle of the inner courtyard, at which point the item of equipment is awarded (unlike when both pieces are in the same room together).

There are no cards to indicate when individual items of kit have been earned, but once a player has all four items they receive a Civilian Escape Kit card.

The final method is to move four pieces into four different locations around the board, each of which has one of the four different symbols. If this is done at the same time, that player receives the Civilian Escape Kit card.

It is important to note that until a player has a piece of escape equipment, the German Officer may not arrest them and place them in Solitary Confinement.


I think you have this wrong, it is not possible to trade for pieces of the escape kit. The only ways are to occupy 4 relevant symbols simultaneously or to have the escape kit parts cards, or a combination, 2 parts from occupying 2 relevant rooms plus a card for the other 2 parts.

As the escape kit is not equipment you don't move POWs back to the appel area, after gaining it.

I think you have an absolutely acceptable interpretation, but I don't think it is the only one. In fact, the idea that you could claim the full escape kit by playing one opportunity card and positioning two pieces in the relevant rooms never occurred to us.

Your point about not being able to trade for the separate components of the escape kit is an interesting one. I can remember being very confused about whether the different parts of the Escape Kit were Escape Equipment or not, and in the end we decided that they were, and that therefore the same methods of acquisition would apply. I don't think this point was ever explictly covered in the rules.

If the Escape Kit does not count as Escape Equipment, does this mean that the POWs are not liable to arrest when in position of the full Civilian Escape Kit but no escape equipment? This was another factor in my deciding that they did count as Escape Equipment - if a POW were to be discovered with documents and a disguise they would still be liable to arrest.

I should make clear that I'm not saying your interpretation is wrong - just that more than one is possible.


The 3 methods of gaining the escape kit are those that are specically listed in the Gibsons rules. They are essentially the same as Parkers, but the 3rd option has been added, presumably to clarify that a combination of the other 2 methods was acceptable.

Neither set specifically states that the Escape Kit is not equipment, but I infer this from the fact both sets of rules always refer to the 2 separately. In particular I notice that point 2 under "To play the game" in the Parker rules states "Escape Equipment Cards are obtained in a similar way to the Escape Kit,..." which suggests to me that although the method of getting them is similar, they are not the same thing.

 
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Uncle G wrote:
I'm going to try to break this down into chunks. Thank you for such a comprehensive response. It's really encouraging when people take an interest.

DaveD wrote:
Very nice review and glad that you found some of my images useful for it. I have the same version as you, but I also have a later version of the rules and an updated set of the cards (I think they are from the Gibsons version), some of the points you raise are settled by these rules and cards.

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

My intention is to incorporate the questions and opinions of any comments to this review into this section, in an effort to provide a useful Q&A resource for players of the game. In most instances the adjudications are merely the application of common sense and not controversial at all, but situations can arise which are less easy to resolve. Players should always bear in mind that the final arbiter in any game is the German player.

Please feel free to correct any mistakes I have made, or provide alternative interpretations, or add additional questions.

d10-1 Can the Allied players block the German ‘teleport’ spots?

Q; There is nothing in the rules to prevent the Allied players from positioning their pieces over an unoccupied German ‘teleport’ spot, thus preventing the German player from deploying around the castle.

A; To me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. The ruling might be that Allied players are not allowed on to the deployment spots, or that they can pass over them but not end a turn there.


The rules specifically state that the POWs can stop on the black teleport spaces. While this may stop the Germans from using them, it also seems unthematic for there to be teleport spaces in the first place so this does not worry me.

Whereabouts in the rules does it say this? We might have different versions of the rulebook, but I had a look and couldn't find it in mine.

Perhaps 'teleport spot' is a bad phrase, and another word ('deployment spot'?) should be used instead. I think it's just an abstracted representation of the Germans' ability to deploy around the castle and at will, and I don't think the Allies should be able to prevent this. Of course, once the Allied players have gained equipment cards, then this strategy would make it easy for the German's to arrest Allied pieces, so it would only be a factor in the early phases.


This is point 36 of the Gibsons Rules "POW's can stop on black circles and may be arrested on them, subject to the arrest rules"
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Uncle G wrote:
DaveD wrote:


Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

Quote:
d10-2 Can the doorways be blocked?

Q; One tactic I have seen the German player use is to position a piece in doorways, thus blocking access to the areas where equipment can be gathered.

A; Again, to me this is unthematic and should not be allowed. I have read that the rules forbid blocking access, although I haven’t found that myself.


The rules do forbid the blocking of doorways by POWs

Is this the rules from the Parker or Gibson editions? Or both? I only have the Parker Brothers version, and couldn't find it. Anyway, we agree on this one, so it must be right!


This is point 45 of the Gibsons Rules "Guards cannot block entrances to rooms and must not impede the movement of POW's inside the grey prison courtyard area by remaining in doorways or passages between turns."
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Uncle G wrote:
DaveD wrote:

Uncle G wrote:


Rule Ambiguities

d10-1d10-2 If a German player has passed through the fence to give chase, can the piece be left on the other side after the escape has been resolved to block off that route?

Q: If the German player gives chase and moves a piece through the wire fence, once that particular escape is resolved can the German player leave the playing piece where it is, or must the piece be brought back through the fence?

A: My own interpretation is no, as this would completely block off an escape route to a single escaping piece, which would be unthematic. There would be nothing to prevent the German player advancing a piece and resting it on the Allied escape spot.




Rules state guards return directly to barracks after making an arrest or when POW reaches target.

I agree with this, but what about if the Allied player makes a successful escape, and the pursuing german piece is left on the other side of the fence? In a game where 2 or more escapes are required for victory, what would happen to the German piece? It could be:

a)left where it is, blocking that path for future escapes;
b)brought back to barracks as though using a 'teleport/deployment' spot.
c)brought back through use of dice, with the German piece allowed to pass through the fence to get back in play.

How would you interpret this? The rules don't cover this (in my version at least) but I'm probably going to go with a) and c).


Point 46 of the Gibsons rules states "When giving chase over walls or through wire a guard must use the same route as the escaping POW. He must return directly to barracks either when the POW reaches his target or when he makes an arrest or shoots to kill"

Point 23 defines directly as meaning, in all cases, without counting dice throws.

On that basis I believe the correct one of your 3 options is b.
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How many cardS?
Is it possible to get a component count on the cards etc to check for how complete second hand copies are? How many security, oppertunity etc cards there are and so forth?
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Steve Duff
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/1379 has the contents listed.
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