I have fond memories of playing a friend’s copy of Escape from Colditz as a child and bought a copy from eBay a few years ago as part of my “What can I buy that I never had in my childhood but would like now?” campaign – although I wasn't really sure if the game was any good or not.
I first played it a couple of years ago when we had some non-gaming friends round for a boardgames day over Christmas. Would you believe that my wife was so put off by the prospect of the game that she actually hid it and I had to endure the torture that is Trivial Pursuit (not that I have a copy I hasten to add)? However around midnight most people had gone home and my wife finally confessed and we brought the game out. That was back in the day before I realised I was a BGG and I am afraid I cannot remember the game well enough to write a report. However I do remember that we all enjoyed it and vowed to play again.
Well that chance came last night when myself and my two friends who had enjoyed it so much before had a game.
No one was really that keen to play the German Guards and so we rolled for it. Alan lost and graciously took up his role. The board, pieces and cards were set up and off we went. We opted for a limit of two hours in which the Allies had to free two POWs or the Guards would win.
To begin with there wasn’t a great deal for the Guards to do as myself and Monique went about collecting the parts of the Escape Kits. Until the Allies are carrying some Equipment then the Guards have no powers to arrest them within the Courtyard. So Monique and I had an Escape Kit wrapped up fairly quickly. Then we had to work out which way we wanted to escape and start collecting the necessary Equipment. A timely Appel card from Alan sent us scurrying back to the centre of the Courtyard just as we were about to claim our first pieces of Equipment, but we were soon back on track with a piece of Rope each.
Now the chase was really on, if the Guards caught us outside any of the safe areas we could be imprisoned and our Equipment confiscated. Monique had a couple of unlucky incidents as she tried to make her way across the Courtyard and ended up with two POWs in the Cells and no Equipment. Meanwhile I played the slow but safe game and managed to build up a collection of Rope and some Wire-cutters.
After collecting a bit more Equipment we suddenly we realised we had less than half an hour of play to go in which to escape. At this point Alan suggested that given we had had some down-time due to intermittent rule reading he would concede a win if either of the Allies managed to lead a single POW to safety. And so the pressure mounted as we desperately tried to finish our collection of Equipment we needed for our chosen route. I slipped up and ended up with a man in the cells but avoided loosing any equipment due to my Hideaway card. One of Monique’s POWs was hanging around suspiciously near the Theatre tunnel entrance and this caused Alan to reposition some of his guards on the outer perimeter. This was my chance. I played my Release From Solitary card and popped out of the Cells and moved down towards the safe area by the Guard House. Next a very lucky dice roll gave me move allowance of 26! I jumped out the window (30ft of rope needed), dashed past the searchlights, scaled over another wall (another 30ft of rope) and into the lower level. A massive 60ft of rope got me over the outer wall and sprinting across the green, green grass to victory - just as the timer went off!
Next we agreed to give Monique one more round of play in order to make an escape attempt before we wrapped up play. And escape she did. Out through the window of the Officers Quarters, just making it to the Staff Car in order to play the Staff Car card and rolling well enough on the dice (only just) to make it out the main gate and over the bridge to safety.
Strictly speaking Alan had won as no one got the originally agreed 2 POWs free. I won by the revised conditions agreed part way through the game and while Monique officially lost she had the satisfaction of springing one of her men in the final extended minutes of play.
All in all everyone had a great game. Things started a bit slow and formulaic but soon the possession of Equipment kept everyone on their toes. As time began to run out things got pretty tense and the pressure really began to mount. In addition despite initially being a little reluctant Alan also had really enjoyed playing as the Guards.
We have all agreed not to leave it another two years before we play again.