Gary brought along his copy of Richard Borg's 'The Great War' this evening, the latest installment in the Command and Colours series. It's a beautifully packaged game, with the usual hex-grid, terrain tiles and cards, as well as some lovely 15mm hard plastic figures, representing British and German soldiers on the Western Front in WW1.
He and Caesar set up the first hostorical scenario, based on a British attack during the Battle of Loos in 1915. The game has scenarios covering Loos, the Somme and Vimy Ridge - three or four for each battle.
It uses the standard Command and Colours mechanisms of card play, unit activation and board sectors, but has some additions. There are now two types of cards; the normal cards and extra tactics cards which add bonus actions or events to your turn but which cost HQ tokens to play. HQ tokens are a new addition, being a limited, but renewable resource that can be spent to play certain cards or perform actions such as order artillery barrages.
Here's the British ready to go over the top. In the starter game all on-table units are infantry; future expansions will cover tanks, cavalry and aircraft. Units are basic infantry, machine-guns, mortars and bombers (which are a token added to a normal infantry unit to enhance its close combat ability).
Some of the German defenders - a machine-gun.
The British get victory medals for having units in the German trench-lines at the start of their own turn. However the Germans can 'buy' victory medals when they play a Recon card, so the British are on a time-limit to stop the Germans winning through British inactivity.
The British attack exploited holes in the wire made by the initial artillery barrage (a neat and simple mechanism in its own right).
Germans line the trenches. I forget who won this first game. Gary got his British into the first trench-line, but the Germans managed a vigorous counter-attack.
Meanwhile Ralph and Bryan played Flames of War, with a scenario involving a German attack on a British beach-head.
Ralph's tanks. Not burning.
Dave and Geoff gave Phil Barker's 'Horse, Foot and Guns' a try.
Their armies were an odd mix of available colonial figures, so a British army with Arab allies fought Zulus with Boer allies.
Apparently HFG gave a fairly entertaining game, with no real difficulty in the rules. Sounds like it might be making a return appearance.
Then it was time for my go at The Great War. We did the same scenario, with Caesar playing the British and me the defending Germans.
Caesar managed an effective initial barrage to create a few useful openings. He then got a great run of cards in his opening moves and managed to push rapidly, and in great force, into the first German trench-line. I pretty much sat and watched him do it.
Once in he ousted the troops I had there. The game was seriously looking like a whitewash, with the Germans set to impersonate an Australian cricket team.
I rallied, consolidated and threw every useful card I could at the British. Caesar held the first line in strength, but couldn't manage an organised assault on the second line. Time ticked on, and I started to pick up victory medals - one of them purely because time was ticking on.
In the end Caesar managed to get troops into my second line on the flanks, leaving me trying to oust him with every resource at my disposal. At one stage I came within a couple of shots of picking up the last medal I needed to win (albeit that I needed some lucky rolls), but a coordinated machine-gun barrage in the centre inflicted enough casualties on the Germans to give him a narrow victory, 6 medals to 5.
The Great War is an interesting game, with some excellent ideas and mechanisms in it. The cards are quirky, and good combinations of the normal cards and tactics cards can be deadly. However deadly is what you need, as the defensive terrain - mostly trenches, obviously - is tough to take on. It's less abstract than the games I own (Memoir '44 and Battle Cry), but retains their elegance and simplicity. One we shall have to play again.