When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places.
Today’s game is Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games). With its 56-page rulebook and a playtime of 50-100 hours for a full campaign, the game can look a little daunting. Worry not! It’s a surprisingly beginner-friendly system – in fact, it was the first classic hex-and-counter game I ever played, and I turned out just fine. (My mother had me tested!) Follow the recommended learning path of playing the four tutorial scenarios (along with the rules reading each requires), and you’ll be all set up.
While this article is about improving your chances to win, remember that winning is not everything – particularly not in a game that can take this long. In my current two-player game (online via boardgamearena.com), a combination of suboptimal play and bad luck on my part made it clear early on that I was unlikely to win the game. Nonetheless, it’s been a fun experience, and I always look forward to the weekly meeting with my opponent. Remember what the designer himself states as the objective of the game: “Have fun playing” (rule 1.1.1).
When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places. That goes for cooperative as well as competitive games, and so today you’ll find the first ever Three Basic Tips for a co-op game!
Earlier this year, I’ve written two strategy posts for Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games) – one on the Hapsburgs, one on the Papacy. You liked them and seemed to be craving more, and as ever, I was most anxious to oblige my esteemed readers. However, I haven’t won with all Here I Stand factions yet, and you’d rightfully demand that someone who tells you how to do things has done them themselves already. This is where Naty comes in. Normally, she writes about literature over at her blog natysbookshelf.wordpress.com (check it out, it’s amazing), but she’s also an accomplished Here I Stand player who’s run roughshod over everyone else at the table in her last game when she played England. Over to you, Naty!
Two years ago, I wrote a little post called Three Basic Tips for Twilight Struggle. I hope it helped a few new or intermediate players of Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) to improve their strategy. Intricate strategy advice can be overwhelming for a beginner, but everyone can remember and apply three tips! As the post was quite well-received, I’ll make an (irregular) series out of it – „Three Basic Tips“.
I have borrowed the idea from someone else: My friend F. and I did not only play board games, but also pick-up soccer. In one game we were up against a much better team and had conceded ten goals in the first half already. F. rallied us during half-time saying, „Guys, it’s just three simple things“ – and when we stuck to the three things he then told us, our performance improved markedly (conceding only two more goals).
Today, the game which I will try to help you win is Friedrich (Richard Sivél, Histogame). This euro-wargame hybrid set in the Seven Years‘ War is one of my overall most-played games, and I especially like it for its seamless blend of strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. Therefore, the three tips will refer to your strategic posture, its operational implementation, and the tactical restraint needed to prevail. As Friedrich is a strongly asymmetric game, this post will only deal with one of the four roles – that of Friedrich’s Prussia. For new players that might be the biggest challenge to face off against three opponents at once, but it’s also the most fun and rewarding to pull it off successfully. Continue reading →
I’m doing a series on German history in the 20th century on my blog this year. In intervals of 10 years, I pick a crucial event and explore it – with the help of precisely one board game. You can find the previous posts here:
Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) is a game of tricky hand management. Its chief innovation in the field of card-driven games (CDGs) is that both players draw from a joint deck, and if you play a card with an opponent event, you get to use the operation points (ops) from this card, but the event is triggered nonetheless. You’ll try to solve the puzzle of how to play your cards best every turn, maximizing your gains and minimizing the obstacles from opponent events in your hand. Newcomers to Twilight Struggle often think that a hand full of opponent events is a bad hand. However, if you draw all the Soviet events as the US, chances are that the Soviet hand is full of American events, so it evens out. And you’d rather defuse many of the opponent events on your own terms than allow the other player to unleash them on you.
In addition to that, quite a few events offer a benefit even to the nominally disadvantaged power. As they also get the ops when playing the opponent event, this allows for some kind of ops/event double move – all the fun, none of the regret! These events typically fall in the categories of discarding or manipulating DEFCON. There is one event that just allows you to possibly flip a battleground to your side. Let’s dive right into the cards.