Glenn D
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Background...there'll be no turn-by-turn gameplay or mechanics explanations here...enough of that in other reviews already

About 5-6 weeks ago, I posted a thread trying to find a good 1-2 player war game, as the only "real" war-themed game I had ever played (discounting Risk, lol) was Squad Leader and the Crescendo of Doom expansion way back in the late '80's. My only requirements were "no WW1/no Vietnam-themes" (just not as interested in those particular wars).

The first post I received was a reference to Labyrinth, along with some pics. There were a couple of detractors, stating that card-driven war games were clunky, did not play well, etc. After pouring over reviews from users, I decided to "give it a go".

I picked up the game during my busiest week of the month at the office. We were in the middle of month-end financial close...I arrived home after a 14-hour day, and started plodding through the rules.

The following night (after another 12-13 hour day) I set everything up, walked through the tutorial while moving components on the board, and felt much better about the rules. So naturally, I delved immediately into the single-player game, and hit a brick wall almost immediately. I did not grasp the flowchart very well, did not understand some of the core rules well enough, and the entire evening fell flat for me. I posted a few help threads on the "rules" forum, and pretty much stopped playing...just before bed, I think I read 75% of the entire "rules" forum for this game, and began watching a multi-episode video solo walk-through on Youtube. I was so exhausted, I fell asleep in the middle of the very first episode.

Now, most of the above troubles/issues were directly related to my exhaustion level. At the time, I was cursing the GMT manual, as it was so different than any other manual I've ever read (however, now that I am indoctrinated, I LOVE it, especially for ease of reference).

The next day I left work a bit early, picked up dinner on the way home, and committed myself to learning the game. I watched about an hour's worth of solo play video tutorials, and honestly felt "ready".

I set up the game again, and finally worked my way through the game, having to refer to the rules on about every 5th-6th card, and a couple of additional web references. I didn't play the cadres right in my first game, disrupted and removed sleeper Jihadists without turning them "active" (lol) and do not think I implemented the travel rule correctly either. In any case, I squeaked out a win by literally converting Syria to "good ally" on the 3rd card from the end of the deck. The game took me around 3 hours. I later figured out I had missed a couple of the rules, but you know what?

I had a ton of fun in any case.

I decided that my first victory, although fun, really should not count. So the next evening I set up the game again (first scenario), and got my butt handed to me on a plate. I think 70% of the game, my hand consisted of 65% Jihadists cards, 20% unassociated, and the rest U.S. Around halfway through the game, I knew it was a lost cause.




Not to be outdone, I decided to IMMEDIATELY set-up and give it another go.

On my 2nd play-through of the night, I won rather handily, as my rolls and the cards really went my way.



Anyway, I've played about 4 games since then, and I think I've won 3 and lost 1. I think for my next game, I am going to jack up the difficulty a bit, or maybe try another scenario.

Review (You know I like it, I bought the freakin' microbadge!

When I went to pick up the game, I pulled it from the shelf and instantly grinned...it was HEAVY for a smaller box (I LOVE components...I bought Ghost Stories the same day, it's in a box twice the size, and weighs 1/2 as much, LOL). Upon opening up the game, there was much "chit goodness" to draw out a "chiclet-esque" grin...and the board? The PERFECT size...and I love its' sturdiness.

The components and artwork are great. The Jihadist pieces are really cool with their reflective "active" side. I also really like the thickness of the cards and the quality coating that are on them. The images on each card along with the flavor text has caused me to Google several terms to understand the context of each. The only slight negative is that I had to peel the cards apart upon opening them...it was almost as if they were put in a stack moist, and dried to each other.

I have to say that the inclusion of the "Playbook" was simply genius and an invaluable resource for learning the initial gameplay. As well, the player aids are very well written.

Learning the flowchart for the single-player game was a tedious undertaking at first, but by the 3rd game or so, for many events, I merely glance at the flowchart...after a while, you know that a playable U.S. event drawn by the Jihadists causes a "Plot" attempt....etc.

I have to say that I really enjoy the solo variant included with the game. My wife and kids game (2 teen daughters), but the game mainly draws questions about how I am doing in my solo game...they really are not going to play this...they are more interested in Pandemic, Ghost Stories, Arkham Horror, etc. That being said, I wish there was a U.S. flowchart, so that I could play as the Jihadists (hint-hint whistle) As well, I would love to see some sort of add-on with a booklet of scenarios.

Each game has played out significantly different, which is a huge plus and lends itself to replayability.

The game's complexity is just right for my re-entry into the war game arena. Not as complicated as SL, but I didn't expect it to be (and didn't want it to be). I have had so much fun with Labyrinth, that I am putting out a request to anyone reading this to inform me of any other GMT card-driven war game that has a single-player component...as I would probably buy it today. As well, I think I will probably start looking at the GMT catalog as a whole...because I am so impressed with Labyrinth.

Now, my rating. Well, after about 5-6 single-player games, and a partial 2-player game with my wife, this game gets my first "10" rating of any board game I own. That is big to me. Why?

I recently returned to board games, after a 20-year hiatus (quit when I started college). Since jumping back in, I have mainly bought from the BGG "top 100" based on user-reviews, etc. I probably have about 25 games...most of which are very highly rated (Dominion Big Box edition, Pandemic, Ghost Stories, Agricola, Arkham Horror, Cosmic Encounter, Catan, etc.).

The other day, we broke out Pandemic, and although I was having fun, that damn green/black/grey box was mocking me from the shelf...all I could think about was breaking it out as soon as the family game of Pandemic was finished. That's why it gets my first "10". Because when I'm not playing it, I'm thinking about playing it, or reviewing it, or reading the forums about it...etc...etc...etc.

So...that's the story so far.

How soon can I get my hands on a copy of Andean Abyss??? Is it out yet??




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Randall Monk
United States
Leesburg
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Thanks for the comments and review. I agree this is a really compelling game and a lot of fun.
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Olav Riediger
Germany
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Great review! I enjoyed reading. Thanks for writing that down! Olav
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Henry Rodriguez
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Check out c3i issue 25 for a new solitaire flow chart that you might enjoy.
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Mark Wignall
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Beaverton
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Also, you might want to check out the custom dice that

Pete Hooper
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periodically orders en masse for interested parties. I purchased both the Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth ones, and couldn't be more happy with them.

Cheers.
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Glenn D
United States
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callidusx3 wrote:
Check out c3i issue 25 for a new solitaire flow chart that you might enjoy.


C3I...not sure what you speak of...do tell.
 
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Glenn D
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Dimzer wrote:
Also, you might want to check out the custom dice that

Pete Hooper
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periodically orders en masse for interested parties. I purchased both the Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth ones, and couldn't be more happy with them.

Cheers.


I will have to check that out...thanks!
 
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Henry Rodriguez
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BirdfluNuggetz wrote:
callidusx3 wrote:
Check out c3i issue 25 for a new solitaire flow chart that you might enjoy.


C3I...not sure what you speak of...do tell.


GMT's house magazine is called c3i. The last issue has a focus on Labyrinth. Because it is a house magazine, most of it's articles deal with GMT games (the one's that don't are about wargaming in general). Each issue comes with a mix of errata counters, new scenarios and/or a full game. I highly recommend getting #25 for it's Labyrinth content and Battle for Moscow game alone.
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mateo jurasic
United States
Florida
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you can play labyrinth online btw... go to wargameroom.com
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Moe45673
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Months later, but I was the one who recommended this game to you. I still haven't played it but.....

I bought D-Day Dice recently and enjoyed it. It's light, does it's own bookkeeping, but has great components and just enough fiddlyness to feel satisfying but not annoying. I also love the theme.

I've been looking at the Leader series and it looks great.... except that you need to write stuff down. A lot of the times when I want to solo game, I am unable to write things down. This throws me off.

I bought Dawn of the Zeds a while ago. It's subpar components and hard to shuffle cards (I'm a terrible shuffler as it is) made the game too fiddly for me. A lot of solo games need to tell a story (I think solo gamers are able to bring out their inner child a bit more with imagination) and while this game definitely did that, it's components took away from the, um, "cinematic" feel. It was just rereleased in a version 2 and I was very close to pulling the trigger (again) with its great new components plus new variants and rules rewritten, etc etc.

But, I like the theme of this game more. It sounds fiddly but at least you don't have to write stuff down. And it's the same price as Dawn of the Zeds, not to mention DotZ is fiendishly difficult and a lot of the time unwinnable. I may end up getting both, who knows, but right now the availability in stores and the theme (and the fact I haven't played it) makes it on my list as a love-to-have.
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Glenn D
United States
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Moe45673 wrote:
Months later, but I was the one who recommended this game to you. I still haven't played it but.....

I bought D-Day Dice recently and enjoyed it. It's light, does it's own bookkeeping, but has great components and just enough fiddlyness to feel satisfying but not annoying. I also love the theme.

I've been looking at the Leader series and it looks great.... except that you need to write stuff down. A lot of the times when I want to solo game, I am unable to write things down. This throws me off.

I bought Dawn of the Zeds a while ago. It's subpar components and hard to shuffle cards (I'm a terrible shuffler as it is) made the game too fiddly for me. A lot of solo games need to tell a story (I think solo gamers are able to bring out their inner child a bit more with imagination) and while this game definitely did that, it's components took away from the, um, "cinematic" feel. It was just rereleased in a version 2 and I was very close to pulling the trigger (again) with its great new components plus new variants and rules rewritten, etc etc.

But, I like the theme of this game more. It sounds fiddly but at least you don't have to write stuff down. And it's the same price as Dawn of the Zeds, not to mention DotZ is fiendishly difficult and a lot of the time unwinnable. I may end up getting both, who knows, but right now the availability in stores and the theme (and the fact I haven't played it) makes it on my list as a love-to-have.


I will have to look into D-Day Dice. Sounds interesting.

Cannot believe you haven't broken this one out yet, though! Plan it for a rainy Saturday, when you can just throw it on the table and take your time. Let me know once you give it a go!

By the way, just bought Thunderbolt Apache Leader and it is an absolute solitaire gem. Just uploaded some quick thoughts about the game. One of the best solos I've ever played (not that my library of soloed games is immense...but others agree )
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pete truss
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If you can find a partner then twilight struggle is a must buy
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