What're you looking at!
We acquired this game around the same time that I was reading James Jones' The Thin Red Line (a great WW II novel if you haven't read it) with all of its various offensives against a variety of numbered hills in the Guadalcanal campaign. While the Battle of Hill 218 in no recreation of a campaign, in a simplified form it certainly does give one the sense of the logistics and tactics of a battle for an objective.
The Battle for Hill 218 is a card game consisting of 53 cards good quality cards. All the information you need to know about how the card functions is on the top of the card, along with a great black and white photo representing the unit.Each player has an identical deck of 26 cards, bordered in either blue or green; the 53rd card represents the hill itself.
Set up is extremely simple. The "hill" card is set between the players and each person shuffles their deck, draws five cards, and places two on the bottom of their deck.
The object of the game is to capture your enemy's base, which is the space directly behind the hill card. You take turns drawing and placing your cards on an imaginary grid around the hill in such a way as to maintain a supply line, attack, and support attacks. If neither of you is able to capture the base, then whoever has the most units still on the grid after your decks have run out is the winner.
There are seven different units in the game and each one has different placement requirements (supply), attack abilities, and support capabilities. Most units have to be able to trace a line of supply to your home base (which must be occupied) through existing cards. All units only attack when they are deployed. Some units' attacks are immediate and destroy the targeted enemy; others require support. That is, some units require a second unit to be in position in relation to the target in order for them to destroy an enemy unit.
Air Strike: (2 cards) Air Strikes are not placed on the imaginary grid. Instead, you flip them over to indicate they have been used to destroy any card of the enemy's.
Paratroopers: (3 cards) Paratroopers are placed on the grid, but do not have to trace a supply line back to your base. Hence they may be placed anywhere adjacent to a unit, making them a very versatile unit for both attack and support. They attack and provide support orthogonally, but require support to destroy an enemy unit.
Infantry: (7 cards) Infantry trace a line of supply, attack and support orthogonally.
Special Forces: (3 cards) Special forces attack and support orthogonally, but are supplied diagonally, allowing you to move them forward more quickly than other units.
Heavy Weapons: (5 cards) Heavy Weapons are a very powerful unit because they can attack diagonally and provide support both orthogonally and diagonally; thus, they work well in combination with other units. They are supplied orthogonally and require support for an attack.
Tanks: (3 cards) Tanks are supplied, attack and support orthogonally, but do not require support for an attack. They are the next best thing to an air strike for quickly getting rid of threatening enemy units.
Artillery: (3 cards) Artillery are the only long range unit in the game, as they can attack units two or three spaces away. The are supplied and provide support orthogonally, but do not require support for an attack.
Players continue drawing two cards and playing two cards (with the exception of the first turn) until either a base is captured or all cards have been played.
My wife and I have played this game about 20 times and enjoy it a lot. I tried it against the AI a few times and got my butt kicked, so my hints are those of a beginner.
Much as in chess, gaining initiative on your opponent is critical. Every time you destroy your enemy's base, for example, he will have to use one of his two cards to replace the base, if he wants to play something other than paratroopers or air strikes. Artillery and air strikes are extremely useful for this purpose when you have not built up enough of a supply line to reach your enemy's base.
The space immediately adjacent to the hill is a critical space to occupy, and, therefore, to keep your enemy out of. You can supply units from this space so that they are adjacent to your enemy's base, or in the case of special forces with its diagonal supply line, you can drop them into your enemy's base has been emptied with an air strike or an artillery hit.
Heavy weapons' diagonal attack and omni-directional support make it very powerful. It can be placed to support any attack against the space adjacent to the hill, if it is placed two spaces from your base, or on the base itself. Along with special forces, they are a very useful card to hang on to for the right moment (when you can take out two of your enemy's units with two cards), as are tanks. Saving up these more powerful cards is easier if you can use your most plentiful card--infantry--instead of continually using your more powerful cards.
As in any battle, having lots of support behind your front lines is very important. While this is not a defensive game, having a few units behind your base--artillery are good for this--ensures that they will likely survive the battle and may win you the game if your base is not taken and the game is decided by the number of units remaining. Outflanking your opponet also gives support to units which can then get close to the enemy's base, or at least force the enemy to expend resources to deal with them. Paratroopes are especially good for support on your flanks. You can drop them behind enemy lines too, but sometimes your oppponent's units used to eliminate them end up being what wins him the game because they are out of harm's way.
This is a fast and furious game, in which offence is king. The necessity of support for most attacks, and the maintainence of supply lines, however, make this game challenging and interesting to play, and prevent it from being simply all-out offence.
This game is a very good filler, and can be taken anywhere. After 20 plays we feel like we have a lot more to learn, as what were effective tactics in our first plays no longer are very effective. This game will definitely be travelling with us, and will get many more plays.
I give this game a 7.
I must think over my position and how I may improve it.
Chris mentions playing the AI. You can try the game free (and with permission) here: http://www.honte.org/Hill_218/Hill.html
This is a little gem of a game. It may replace Hive since it's just so much faster to play--doesn't bog down with decisions like a game of chess can. And you're right, there's a definite and curved evolution of understanding.
The first 20-30 plays will have you learn some of the basic "maneuvers," like heavy weapons on the outside of no man's land or defending against air strike-special forces-game. But then things change as you come to understand you can really probe the enemies' lines--that you can bluff and entrap your opponent--that there is a time to seize the initiative.
Very interesting, and certainly more tied to the theme than I expected.
Thanks for the review!
Good review, thanks!
You may be early on the learning curve, but your advice is pretty much spot-on. If you want to pick up some tips, check out my session reports of beating up on the AI. I go through my reasoning on how to play the game, and with well over 500 plays at this point I think I'm finally seeing the end of the learning curve.
The only (very small) edit I'd make to the review itself is that Paratroopers DO need support if they are going into the enemy base. The game would be pretty awful if they didn't, but some people make the mistake of thinking they can't go to the enemy base at all. Basically they can always be played as Infantry but can also be deployed without supply to somewhere other than the enemy base.
tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
I am amazed how strategic this game really it, I play it a whole lot and am still learning things and changing my style - right now it is all attack I tell you, I was playing defensively for a while and that is just no fun compared to all out attack
ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
This is a great two player card driven war game that has seen a lot of play on my table. The idea of supply line and reinforced attack was a bit difficult to grasp by some..but there is a lot of room for reactive strategy...staying on the offense is definitely key. Also -- stuffing a few powerful diagonal reinforcing/attacking cards and things that go BOOM (if you get them) on the first draw on the bottom of your deck could win you the game.
at $10..it packs a lot of replay value..and its fun!