You know the general idea of this series: You’re a new or intermediate player of a strategy game and look for some easy-to-digest tips that will see your fortunes improve without you having to read tomes of strategy literature. That’s what we’re doing today for playing Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame) – well, almost. Wir sind das Volk! is not a game to accept easy answers to complicated questions. There’s a reason I called it the most nuanced Cold War game out there. This nuance does not only allow the game to tell a compelling story of the two Germanies, but also makes it a bit tougher to give generalizable tips. So, I’ll give you two basic tips – which actions to prioritize and what the most important track is– and one that requires a bit more in-game thinking: Regularly assess the victory and defeat conditions and act accordingly.Continue reading
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!
It’s no secret that I like Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka/Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games). It’s the non-campaign coop game I have played most often – no mean feat considering that a game easily lasts a few hours. With that kind of time commitment – and given that the fate of the world is at stake when the Ancient One takes over – you want to give yourself the best chances for success. Here’s how you get the job done, give yourself the time for it, and make the most of the means at your disposal.Continue reading
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!Continue reading
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. So far, I’ve covered Twilight Struggle, Prussia in Friedrich, and the Hapsburgs in Here I Stand. Today, it’s Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games) again – with three basic tips for the Papacy, a notoriously tough power to play (and win). I think that the Papacy is lots of fun, though, and here’s how to play the early game, how to win debates, and what do in diplomacy to succeed!Continue reading
I often teach games to my fellow players. A lot of those games are somewhat complex (and often take several hours), so I don’t only explain how the rules work, but also give a bit of direction on the strategy – nothing worse than an evening spent feeling lost in the options or getting steamrolled because you didn’t know what was important! Of course, if the rules are already quite a lot to take in, you don’t want to be further overwhelmed by a lengthy speech on strategy. One method to keep which I’ve found keeps it short and sweet is giving the new player three basic tips. That’s something everyone can keep in mind!
So, without further ado, here are my Three Basic Tips for winning as the Hapsburgs in Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games): Which victory condition should you pursue, and how will you achieve it? How does your diplomacy prepare you for military success? And which rhythm will get you to European domination instead of a second-place finish?
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.
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:
- The Berlin Crisis (1959)
- The Ecology Movement (1979)
- The Kosovo War (1999)
- The Division of Germany (1949)
- The Naval Arms Race (1909)
Today, we go back to September 1, 1939 and the German attack on Poland – the beginning of World War II. The game that accompanies us is Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games). Now the events of World War II from the first shots to the final surrender of the Axis powers are well known (and covered by myriads of books, articles, and, yes, board games). Therefore, I’ll skip the narration of who conquered what when and instead focus on three crucial perspectives on the war and the board game: How was this war different from other great power wars before? How does the game balance between freedom of action of the players and recreating a historical outcome? And why does Unconditional Surrender capture an essential aspect of the war?
Finally, this post will also serve as the starting point of a new project: I’ll do a detailed Unconditional Surrender after action report. Follow my Twitter account for live updates (and vote on strategic decisions) and check out the larger narrative on the blog! Continue reading
All my experiences this year, be they new-to-me games, historical fiction, non-historical games, historical non-fiction, or historical games have influenced my writing here. So, not without pride, I present to you what I think were my best blog posts this year. As my creations are dear to my heart, I go beyond the usual top three format and give you six entries.
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.
On this day 75 years ago, Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s Minister for Propaganda, gave his most famous speech. In the midst of World War II, he was speaking to a select crowd of supporters. At the climax of the speech, Goebbels asked, “Do you want total war?” The question – and the crowd’s frenetic response in the affirmative – were broadcast many times and remain infamous until this day.
But what is a total war? This article will look at the characteristics of a total war, the use of the term from the 18th to the 20th century, and Goebbels’ speech about it. Finally, there will be a brief section about board and video games that make use of the term.