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Subject: Sorrel? What the Hell is a Sorrel? rss

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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Wohrom was designed by Marco Donadoni and published in 1981 by International Team. It is a two player game and plays to completion in around three hours or so.

What You Get

I always loved the cover of this game. Ever since I first got it as a kid I was enthralled by the great lizard and the knight in full plate. The box is thin but heavy. Inside is a jigsaw cut five piece map, and it is very large as well. You get a pair of combat results tables, very colorful but not well annotated and hard to understand. Along the bottom is a very unhelpful turn chart. There is a set of 8 cards depicting 4 different weapons, and hexagonal shaped cardboard counters with a glossy plastic protective layer. The illustrations are pretty nice on the chits, but they do not immediately indicate what creature is represented. Is that a hermit or a witch? Which is the goblin and which the elf? You also get a pretty nice plastic tray with separate covers to store the chits, a pad of record sheets, a rulebook and accompanying book of diagrams. For its day, the production was pretty lavish, what with all the color, and the two-sided chits. The map markings can be faint, and my map is even incompletely marked. Overall, it does look good, if not a little gaudy with those bright red creature counters.

What You Do

The rules, in four languages, are a horrible mess, with lots of bad English translations, and you are really left scratching your head at some points. You have to be prepared to ‘wing it’ at several junctures, as well as to grabbing an Italian dictionary to determine what was translated as ‘sorrel’ is actually a ‘sauri’, or a lizard. Sorrel? And I have no idea what the difference in the game is between a ‘spirit’ and a ‘ghost’. You get a little nervous when the original text goes on for ¾ of a column, and the translation runs about a quarter page….

But let’s blunder onwards and check out the game as best we can. The goal is to use your eight knights to find ancient King Wohrom’s scepter and crown, have one of them find a princess to fall in love with him, and then make your way to Wohrom’s tomb and be crowned King before 30 turns elapse: in this case, winner is decided by points.

The game is played in alternating turns, the first player each turn decided by a die throw. Each turn has eight phases. The first involves a double die throw, the first number indicating which of six entry roads knights arrive, and the second how many of your knights. Each knight has a unique set of ‘skill’ numbers, including combat value, number of wounds they can withstand, their diplomacy rating, and how handsome they are. Once entry location and who will be entering is established, you can check to see if any of your other knights captured by denizens or your opponent can escape with a dice roll.

Third, you move about the map. Units all have movement rates and there are terrain costs to be considered, although they are not always clear. What is an embankment on the map? If you go up a hill on a road, do you pay extra +1 movement point? Town are particularly nasty: you first need a minimum diplomacy to enter, then you roll a d6 with a chance they will be ‘ghost towns’, which essentially means your knight or retinue dies. Ouch.

After movement is done, you can try and capture knights out alone (why would you ever travel alone?) Then, anywhere units are adjacent or in the same space, there are fights. there are several different modes of fighting: army on army using a standard strength ratio and combat results table (CRT), knight against critter, which uses a ‘he go I go’ mechanism of a die roll on a table with about six modifiers which can result in wounds, capture of the knight, death of the critter or perhaps their subjugation. Finally, there is ‘knight on knight’. This is really weird. You get four cards with different weapons. Then, you compare several traits like combat skill, number of magic items carried, loving princesses, wounds, to get an ‘advantage score’ for one knight. Say this number is 2 for knight A. Then each knight simultaneously reveals one of the four weapon cards. In a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ mechanism, you find halberd beats shield, sword beats battle axe, and so on. Play all four cards out, counting the number of wins. Say B wins 3 and A wins 1. Add the difference factor: hey, we have a tie! Let’s do it again!

Now, anywhere you are in a town you can recruit peasants. You get up to two a turn, but they are damn slow and bad fighters. If you happen to have a subjugated werewolf and are in a forest, you can get some wolves to join you. Cool.

In phase 7, you can attempt to ally with various beings you find hidden on the map. These might be giants (…’build a little birdhouse in your soul…’), elves, unicorns, sprites or other fantasy staples. This requires the roll of a d6 plus modifiers for diplomacy skill and possessing the required relics. If you fail? You are captured with a vanishingly small chance of escaping the damned creatures. And you generally fail unless you roll a 6 or better on a d6. As I said, damn hard. I lost a lot of guys this way, and nothing is more fun than making escape rolls every turn. In this phase, you also get to mark off a heart for those knights lucky enough to have rescued a lady friend from one of the four black knights littering the kingdom by defeating them at rock-paper-scissors. Once a lady falls for you, that’s it: she’s yours for life, or until you get rock-paper-scissored to death, in which case she’ll swoon over the other dude.
Finally, we reach the end phase: knights in the same area can trade stuff, and wounds may be healed.

This all goes on up to thirty turns while we wait for someone to assemble the crown and scepter and reach the tomb with their lady to claim victory.

What I Think

This is one of the first serious board games I ever got. My dad came back from the US when I was living in Europe with a copy of Fellowship of the Ring, so that was number one, and Status Pro Baseball. After getting heavy into D&D, my folks then bought me Wohrom and Rally from International Team as game #3 and 4. We pored over the rules and did your best to play the thing, but it just never seemed to work. First, the rules are truly awful and with a ton of holes: we found this to be the case of Rally as well. Maybe we can leave peasants to guard a bridge you say? Nice idea? But do the rules allow it? Beats the Hell out of me. I see the stacking limit is three armies and two knights. What if my knight wants to recruit a peasant and then move away- can I do that? (Flip flip) Uh, doesn’t say. Which of these combat charts is for the monster, and which for the knight? Uh, I think the one on the right is for the knight.

The first few turns whip right along: you are moving and exploring, battling creatures to get their magical hoards, challenging black knights and winning ladies. But then the map starts to empty out. After some wandering around someone makes a dash and kills a dragon to get the scepter. Huzzah! Uh-oh, cries his opponent, I’d better get the crown! Huzzah! Problem is, we have a big, big map, and now two super-fighters wandering about practically immune to the other ‘regular’ knights, but each are loathe to engage the other. So, the ‘dance of dullness’ sets in where the most excitement to be had is trying to roll a 3 or 11 to free oneself from those contemptible kobolds. This makes it last much, much longer than it needs to.

Recruiting allies is too difficult, and the knight duels are pretty silly once the opponent has gained a couple advantages. We rarely get enough of an army together to do much since it so hard to engage trying to move around the slow-as-molasses peasants, and the Trolls are too hard to persuade to join.

I’ve been looking for the game for over a decade, to replace some of my long-lost youth. People have always been asking silly money for the thing. Finally, I wrote a guy here on BGG who had a copy he said he had never played, and I wanted to know if he’d trade. And what did he do? He gave it to me. Just like that. He even didn’t let me pay for shipping. There are still awesome people in this world. I just want to let him know how much I appreciate his remarkably generous gesture, and that I had a great time revisiting this long-lost game from my past. I would never part with it now, and perhaps someday my son will look at the cool dragon on the cover and ask to give it a try. Before that, however, I think it is safe to say I don’t intend on burdening my buddies with this any time soon (sorry you took the fall, James!)
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The Honorable Mayor McCheese
United States
Windermere
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A reddish-brown horse, or an herb.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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It was meant more in the context of the game: there are no reddish brown horses, nor any herbs. It was, rather, a really bad translation of something like a hermit.
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The Honorable Mayor McCheese
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That's what I gathered. My last name is Sorrell so I figured I just had to chime in
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chris schott
United States
saint louis
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What the Hell is a Sorrelbo?
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Jeff Wiles
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Macon
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spacerx wrote:
What the Hell is a Sorrelbo?


It's about 6'2" with short dark hair and enjoys train and train-like games. It is known to consume gooey butter cake.
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Harold Tessmann III
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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spacerx wrote:
What the Hell is a Sorrelbo?

If you think you know what a Sorrelbo is, write your answer down on a postcard, throw it away, and forget about it. You'll be glad you did!
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The Honorable Mayor McCheese
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jeffwiles wrote:
spacerx wrote:
What the Hell is a Sorrelbo?


It's about 6'2" with short dark hair and enjoys train and train-like games. It is known to consume gooey butter cake.
I have heard rumors of them growing up to 6'4"!
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Stefano Adriani
Italy
Calolziocorte (LC) - Ispra (VA)
Lombardia
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IT games
Hi Michael,

I'm an IT fan and collector, it's very funny the way you found Wohrom after many years... because I think it's the most probable way to get those games.

In my life I collected 10 games from IT, and I bought only 5... the other 5 have been given to me by persons simply because they never played them!

You are right, there are still nice persons on this world!
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