Saint Maur des Fosses
This review just considers the Strategic Game (Second Boer War):
A) ANALYSIS (game play, strategy)
- The strategic game is quite playable, with some interesting twists. Both players (the Boer and the British) can expect rapid changes of fortune. However, playability may be affected by the quality of the rules-writing (see below).
B) BACKGROUND (narrative, storyline)
- Although the authors provide plenty of specific details about the tactical game (battle of Magersfontein) and individual generals (to be found in all sorts of odd places, especially round the box), they do not provide much information about the political situation at the time of the Second Boer War, or even a brief synopsis of the war. Having said this, during play, the Events mechanism (see below) helps the players to come to grips with some of the historical issues involved.
C) CHROME (details, simulation)
- The game is fairly abstract, but does recreate some of the key strategic choices that emerged during the war. This is largely achieved by the Events counters and the Victory conditions. For example, as well as the usual target areas to conquer, the Boers can also win early if they can complete three sieges. Similarly, the British can win early in the game by conquering the main political centres of the Boer republics, or later on in the game if their concentration camps outnumber Boer commando reinforcements, etc.
D) DESIGN (mechanics, system)
The game has three clever mechanics:
- Each round, the Boer and the British have to choose between playing an Action (the list for Boers is not the same as that for the British), taking a Reinforcement or Reorganization (once per round) or an Event (once per round). This element of game structure is intuitive and makes for some tricky and entertaining decision-making.
- The Event chits are not selected at random, but instead represent choices that each player can make based on various conditions. Most events are interconnected (dependent on the play of a previous event) and specific to each protagonist (Boer or British).
- The Combat mechanism is novel and fun. Each player chooses three or six unit cards (depending on whether this is a Skirmish or Battle). Except for one row of defenders, each card is then tested for Morale to see whether a unit's Strength will count. Separate rules apply to the British and the Boers regarding single-use cards and the ability to shuffle used cards back into the reinforcement pile. This makes a welcome change from combat result tables etc., but experienced Grognards may tire of this system after a while.
E) EDITING (components, material, substance)
- The rules are very poorly written (verb-less sentences, problems with articles, spelling of basic game terms such as Strength, etc.). I encountered problems in virtually every other sentence.
- Rather comically, despite the multiple errors in the Strategic game rules, the publishers have included an erratum and a new counter for the Tactical game, but this concerns just one error (the misspelling of "Balloon"). I understand that the author and publishers are not native speakers of English, but a professionally-produced game like this should never go to the printers before proper copy-editing and proof-reading.
- The rules are sometimes clear, but more often than not incoherent. For example, on pages 2-3 the author gives some background information on each of the battle cards. Under "Trains" we read:
"Trains... This card must be used in battle and has to be played as one of first 6 cards at any part of battlefield, if British leader cannot draw a supply line though British garrisons to the nearest British area, that isn't in revolt".
Not only is this badly written (placement of conditional clauses, confusing punctuation, etc.), but it is bad form to mix rules with design notes in this way. (In any future rules, this restriction should be included in the Combat section).
To give another even more annoying example, the rules and the game components make it clear that there is a difference between each Leader's Ability and Charisma scores, but this is only partially mentioned at different points in the rules. Short of looking for an explanation on BGG or writing to the author, players will find this confusing.
- The Second Boer War enjoys a big colourful map, and solid cardboard counters. However, some double-sided counters are shared by the Strategic game and the Tactical game (Battle of Magersfontein). Not a major issue, but the types of counters involved are not predictable, and some players (i.e. me) will find this immensely annoying.
F) FINAL WORDS
Nice idea, shame about the execution. As mentioned by another commentator, the authors should have employed an editor with proficient English. Because of this I am not inclined to give the game a higher rating than 6.
- Last edited Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:47 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:24 pm