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Subject: A Deeply Involved CDG rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Kutuzov is the third game to use Mark McLaughlin's CDG (Card Driven Game) system pioneered in The Napoleonic Wars. It covers Napoleon's fateful Russian Campaign.

Gameplay (23 out of 28): The game is for 2-4 players. One side plays France and her allies, divided into a northern and southern team. The same is true for the Russians. Over the course of four turns each side plays various cards drawn from both a common deck and a special home deck, which ensures that each side has intrinsic strengths. Cards are used for a myriad of purposes, but the main use is to move armies in order to fight battles, start sieges, or establish control over territories. Battle is fairly simplistic, with each side counting units, commander ratings, and other factors and then rolling a bunch of dice with the object of rolling a six. This is not my favorite part of the game, but it works well enough.

The Magnificent Cards:


Kutuzov includes several charts that are vital to the progress of the campaign and represent the realities of the hard campaigning that typified 1812. One chart is for morale. Both sides must pay attention to this one because as morale drops advantages in battle start to fade, while for the French it restricts the movement of their less than enthusiastic Prussian and Austrian allies. The French must also follow the all-important attrition table. Attrition is accumulated through battlefield losses and the play of certain cards. As the attrition grows worse, more and more French armies can become victims of desertion, a situation which grows worse as the campaign drags out. The French can offset attrition through some cards, but mostly through use of resources, which are very important in Kutuzov. Resources are gained both at the end of a turn and through results from battle and sieges. They are used to build entrenchments, gain more cards, improve morale, and of course offset attrition among other things.

I fully admit that I'm not going into fabulous detail here, and there are some nuances that I am not covering, but in the end pure gameplay in Kutuzov is like most CDGs and the combat system is simple enough. However, the various tables make this a game of resource management as well, so Kutuzov feels like a wargame with a simple euro attached. It works well enough, and while play will never be fast, you can be sure that given the system neither side will be sitting back and taking it easy.

Operational (5 out of 5): Few CDGs can truly be called operational, but Kutuzov is clearly part of this rare breed. In fact I'd say it is the only purely operational CDG (if you can think of another let me know), with the cards adding mostly a simple way of accounting for political and diplomatic events among other things. The tables force a greater dynamic within the game and make it about more than just moving your hordes and looking for victory. Objectives must be taken and the situation of each army must be considered. If anything Kutuzov shows that CDGs can move into the realm of deep operational play and succeed.

The 1812 Campaign Begins:


Accessibility (3 out of 5): If you are a wargamer acquainted with CDGs then this won't be too difficult. The base CDG mechanics are easy enough grasp. What is difficult at first are the charts, but particularly the victory conditions that change as the war drags on. What makes this not too difficult is that any one aspect of the game is easy to understand, and the rules while not perfect, are good enough. Trouble is all of these tables and rules take some time to absorb into a coherent system.

Components (5 out of 5): The entire look of the game tells me that this was a true labor of love. The cards are superb looking and the cartoonish commander portraits are a real treat. The visual aspect did a lot to get me into the setting of Kutuzov.

Command Cards Feature Cartoonish Portraits:


Originality (2 out of 2): Has the CDG format been brought into the purely operational wargame setting? I don't think so, and while Wilderness War and Wellington have an operational aspect, their scope is inherently strategic. Regardless, I'd give Kutuzov high marks for introducing the morale and attrition tables, both of which are new to Mark McLaughlin's system.

Historical Quality (4 out of 5): Of all the Napoleonic campaigns I know this one best and the ways in which morale and supplies effected each side is well done. I felt myself dealing with the same problems that faced Napoleon. Considering the complexity of the subject, that is no mean feat. Some of the commander ratings trouble me (and the absence of other commanders and the presence of others) as well as the battle system. The cards add the flavor and incorporate random events and resource management, but what really impressed me was the home-deck. This is a feature in all of the Mark Mclaughlin CDGs on Napoleon, but here the cards seemed very well thought out and gave each side some unique strengths. I think even my favorite CDGs, like Twilight Struggle and Wilderness War, could use a home deck. In the end, while many CDGs sacrifice history for gameplay, which is fine with me to a point, you'll find that Kutuzov does the opposite.

Overall (42 out of 50): Kutuzov is a deep CDG best suited to either fans of the system or fans of the period; other gamers and even many wargamers will be turned away. Regardless, it is a treat for once the game is learned it isn't too difficult to play and is always a challenge for both sides.
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Randall Monk
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I played it once face to face and thought it really gave the right vibe of the vast Russian waste in the Napoleonic era. Thumbs up from me.
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Andy Van Zandt
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i always think "collectible dice game" when i see "CDG".
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Hi,

Thanks for the review - I had intended to write one but haven't got around to it yet.

On a personal note I am very impressed with Wellington and consider it a much better game than The Napoleonic Wars. Even though the games are very similar I find the balance and tension to be better in Wellington.

I would be interested to know of specific ways in which Kutusov is different to its predecessors and your overall impression of the game compared to the others in the series.

David


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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
On a personal note I am very impressed with Wellington and consider it a much better game than The Napoleonic Wars. Even though the games are very similar I find the balance and tension to be better in Wellington.

I would be interested to know of specific ways in which Kutusov is different to its predecessors and your overall impression of the game compared to the others in the series.


Wellington is a fine game, but I felt my one session wasn't strong enough to compare the two beyond the fact that Kutuzov is even more detailed and involved, and the card events impressed me more in Kutuzov.

Thanks for enjoying the review. I hope to see yours soon.
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Randall Monk
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Wellington and Kutuzov are similar. Kutuzov adds mechanisms for attrition and morale that are pretty easy to keep track of and work well (in my opinion). Roles are nicely reversed: in Wellington the allies have to be aggressive to win and the French have to survive, while in Kutuzov the French have to be aggressive and the Russians have to survive. I've played Wellington several times and Kutuzov just once, but I find them both excellent games. If forced to pick, I'd take Kutuzov - I like the epic invasion feel a bit more.
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Dave Rubin
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I am sooo ready for the Cyberboard gamebox to come out.
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howl hollow howl
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Geographically and thematically, Wellington is better suited for 4-player, 2-on-2 play, whereas Kutuzov is better as a 2-player game.

I like the setting for Kutuzov better, but feel the extra rules and subsystems get in the way of what I really want from this system, which is a quick-playing, rules-light, wacky combat multi-player experience. This just reinforces the conclusions of my first paragraph.
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Excellent review!

This encouraged me to write a review of this games fabulous Operational Friction system, which adds much needed depth to the operational aspects of warfare.

BTW, their is another CDG operational level game out there - Clash of Monarchs. It just happens to cover an entire series of wars, all of which were fine historical examples of the Operational Art of War.

This system is evolving nicely, and in the right direction.


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Tony Barrett
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If you have played "live" what the playtime? Thanks
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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If you have played "live" what the playtime? Thanks


It can be as short as three hours, but a full of all 4 turns borders on 6-8.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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BTW, their is another CDG operational level game out there - Clash of Monarchs. It just happens to cover an entire series of wars, all of which were fine historical examples of the Operational Art of War.


I'll soon be diving into this monster...I hope I make it out alive!
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Andrew Migliore
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Thanks for the review! I have been eyeing this game and your review has tipped the balance. cheers
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John Smales
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This Johnny Come Lately has just arrived on the Russian boarder--reading the rules and contemplating a solitaire run through followed by a two-player game some time in the future. I'm interested in the subject and this game seems worthwhile in terms of the time required to get into it. I felt the same way about EOTS on my first reading of the rules--this review has intrigued me--thank you!
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