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Confrontation» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Eam's Review #45, from when the game was new rss

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Eamon Bloomfield
Germany
23569 Lübeck
Schleswig Holstein
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Every year you hope to discover a little gem to add to your collection and here is the 1974 gem. You could describe it as a wargame but this is very strategic and quite unlike any other game you have ever played.

When you first open the box, you will see no board. The board is made up of 4 separate continents, each of six large hexagons. You shuffle these hexagons and place them face down. Each player chooses a colour. Each continent is added to when a player draws a tile, by laying the drawn tile next to another one of that colour already played (unless it is the first one of course). After all 24 hexagons have been laid, you will have 4 separate continents, made up of six connected countries. The hexes have two important identifying text. First, each country begins with a different letter and each hexagon has for a different value. All four countries will have the same number spread - 3, 4, 5, 5 Spot, 6 and 7. You might not know the rules well enough in your first game but after that game, you will make better decisions regarding the layout of the tiles, and I will come to that later.

At the start each player is allocated two countries. The object is to get control of eight countries. The pieces are plastic and are in four different colours. Two pieces are attack missiles and two are defence missiles.

Each country's number is the value of each missile residing there. So, if you have two attack missiles on the number 7 tile, then they are worth 7 each. Defence missiles are exactly the same but have a defensive value each related to the number on the tile that they occupy. A country without missiles at all can be 'conquered', you just have to beat its printed value as that is its basic defence. Watch out for an easy mistake. There are 2 countries in each continent with a printed value of 5, but one is just 5 and the other is 5 spot. Try not to send your missiles to the wrong 5 hexagon!

A round consists of three written instructions, completed secretly by each player and these instructions must be labelled 1, 2, 3. When everyone is ready, the first player places his Order 1 face down, and the other players do the same in order, but place their instructions on top of the first player's order. 2nd and 3rd orders are treated the same. At the end of this procedure you will have a pile of 12 instructions (in a 4 player game) and then these are read out in order from the first to the last. As orders are read out, the corresponding action is taken. However it will soon become obvious that some orders can't be followed. For instance, if you sent two attack missiles (worth 5 each) to C6 but someone has attacked you earlier in the round and destroyed your capability, then you will have no missiles to send. This can create problems especially if you write a more complex order such as "B3 (six) plus A4 (eight) to B5", which has two defensive missiles (so has a defence value of 10). You are sending four missiles worth a total of 14, enough to beat that defensive total. However, B3 had been captured off you in an earlier order in the same round. So now you still have to complete your order, which is to send the surviving A4 missiles. But 8 does not beat 10 so you have wasted your precious missiles. It is acceptable to pass in an instruction, just write pass on any given order and add that to the stack of instructions due to be read out. Sometimes saving your missiles is a good long term strategy.

At the end of each round, players can add missiles to their countries, but this must never exceed the ratio of 2 to 1. In other words it is a rule that stops you building all-out attack missiles or defence missiles. This ratio may force you to build a certain type of missile because countries might exceed this rule after the attacks are read out. For instance, it will be quite common to fire your attack missiles leaving 4 defence missiles unused because you weren't attacked in that country. Now, in the build phase you will have to build 2 attack missiles, to restore the 2 to 1 ratio.

Judging how many missiles to send can be a fine art. To attack a single country, you know you just have to beat its defensive value, But if a player has adjacent countries he can ask his other countries to help in the defence. Now it is tricky to know how many attack missiles to send. You might even have to be a little more strategic. With your first attack, you might rely on your opponent to call in help from his adjacent countries. Then, in your 2nd or 3rd order you might attack one of those adjacent lands, knowing that they might well be defenceless at this point. And there is another problem with attacking countries with a large total. If you beat a country's defence by 10 or more, the country is destroyed and taken out of the game, so no-one will claim that country any more in their attempt to win 8 countries. A rule allows for this as countries might get destroyed on a fairly regular basis, so instead of 8 countries, the winning total is 50% of the countries that are left.

This is just a great game but it might suffer from low sales as 'written order' games are not popular and the lack of a proper board is very unusual.
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Derek H
South Africa
Johannesburg
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loopoocat wrote:
This is just a great game but it might suffer from low sales as 'written order' games are not popular and the lack of a proper board is very unusual.

The lack of a board is hardly unusual these days -in that respect the game was ahead of its time; but I agree that writing orders is not a popular design mechanic.
 
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