Saturday, 8 August 2015

A quick review: Clash of Giants II, Ted Racier, GMT

I've played 3 games of this recently, two of the Galicia campaign game and one of the 1st Ypres (reverse side of map sheet) and thought I'd give a quick review.

WW1 is generally an less gamed conflict, and in my view rightly so to some extent. A lot of war games that I play feel like they have been crowbarred into being a competitive or interesting game where the historical situation was rather straight forward, attritional or one sided. However WW1 can work in 1914 or 1918, and hence most non strategic games on the topic focus on these two time periods.

Clash of Giants is a lot lot simpler and easier playing than the previous reviewed Somme 1918. Its a simple hex and counter that uses a chit pull activation system to create command and control chaos and simple but effective supply and combat systems that are evocative of the period.

The command and control system divides the map into areas with each area activated when its chit is drawn. Coupled with this you roll a die and consult a table to see how far units can move in that activation. This generates a lot of chaos, that while historical does not bode well for much strategic thinking. Rather, you might have overall strategic aims, defend this river, take these hexes, but on a turn by turn basis its a game of maximising combats and taking ground piecemeal. This is Ok, but doesn't really get my mind working out operational plans, which is what I like to do.

Galicia Scenario turn 2 (i think).

Combat is also a nice touch. Each player rolls to see how many casualties they suffer after consulting the odds ratio. It is a narrative of lives sacrificed which feels very appropriate. Victory is determined by controlling key hexes, there is a little bit of scenario chrome, trace supply, and some units whose strengths are determined by die roll. 

My copy is however now up on ebay despite only 3 plays after recently trading it in. Its not a bad game, but its chaotic and not that short. 1st Ypres took my opponent and I a full 5 hours to play, Galacia, the better of the two scenarios, took 3 and a half hours each play. It's a cleverly designed game and it is easy to play but it is difficult to think more than a turn ahead. For me the best wargames ask me to think like an operational planner and have a plan for 3-4 turns out even if it has to be adapted. I can do chaotic tactical games, but I prefer them shorter, Napoleonic 20 comes to mind.