Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's a bit chilly

This week is shaping up nicely on the gaming front. Monday saw Quarriors getting played along with A Few Acres of Snow, tonight should see more games being unboxed and hopefully Quarriors will get another outing.

I enjoy playing wargames, but as much as I enjoy playing combat Commander I usually prefer to play something that plays a bit quicker. Memoir 44 usually wins here, probably because its quick to play and with the overlord bits can take more than 2 players. If a wargame is on the cards its usually been booked up in advance, playing a 3 hour Twilight Struggle doesn't usually just happen.

This is where A Few Acres fits in nicely, its a 2 play war game that uses cards to perform actions. It should only take about an hour to play and it has enough depth and strategy to keep it going for a while. It's not going to replace Twilight Struggle as my favorite 2 player war game but I can definitely see it being played more often.

The game follows the war over modern day Canada, with players taking the roles of either the British or the French. They both start with a number of settlements and to win the game have to either take the opponents capital or use up there settlements. Scoring then happens and the one with the most points wins the game.
Each settlement is represented by a card, as you settle you add more cards to your deck. In addition you can buy other cards to help with your money, military and settlement actions. These cards have symbols on allowing you to use them to perform actions. For example, if you wanted to settle a location you would have to play a card that connected to that location. Then another card showing the correct travel symbol. Finally a third card with a settlers symbol on it. Cards played are then put on the discard pile and you draw back to 5. This is only one possible action of many available to the players. The first time I played I was slightly overwhelmed with the options available to me. Settle, raid, siege, fortify, generate income, put cards in reserve .... getting the right combination of cards to perform the actions is a different matter.
There is an element of deck building going on, as your deck increases with cards from new settlements and other cards you purchase, but only drawing back to 5 at the end of your turn can really hinder you.

Our first game was a bit of a learning one, I won but we realized that the game should have ended a fw turns earlier. We also realized that we were too busy trying to expand and siege each other to think about how we would score in the end. That said it was a really good game, we were left discussing it for a while afterwards. Thinking about what we had done right and wrong and how we always seemed to be limited in what we could do. There were times I was desperate to expand but just couldn't get the right cards in hand. Realizing now that I should have been using the reserve action a bit more often. But then I would have needed more money.......argh!

So, A Few Acres is a very good 2 player wargame. But I think labeling it as a wargame could put people off, is Twilight Struggle a wargame? Both games are set around a time of conflict but there are no combat tables and piles of dice being rolled.

I really think Martin Wallace has come up with a great game here and its one of my favorite games of the year so far.