Monday, April 21, 2008

Man hoovers

After a brief hiatus due to family, work, and general life intervening, Eric and I got back together again, and my choice was the recent GMT game Manoeuvre (BGG). I'd played this a bit with other gaming buddies, but this was Eric's first play.

We started off with Eric's Brits vs. my French. I had a good hand with unit cards for my 3 strongest units, plus a good leader, and advanced strongly on my left flank. However, Eric didn't oblige by giving me a way to gang up on his units. Eventually I started whittling him down, without losing any of my own units, and eventually managed to end the game by scoring a 5th casualty. Right at the very end I had 4 cards for 2nd Legere and a Forced March, so ran up and issued the coup de grace.

We turned around, this time Eric chose the Americans, and I the Spanish. The board came out with lots of terrain in the middle, hills and forests, and we spent the first part of the game cautiously advancing until we faced off in two parallel lines. Eric started pushing my weakest unit back on my right flank, chasing it all the way to the very edge of the board, but was never able to get the card in hand to kill it off. In the mean time I'd been slowly grinding down the middle, building a 4-1 lead in casualties. This time, however, the end of the day arrived before I could score the 5th casualty, winning about 14-4 in territory.

I'd give more details of the games, but, like our recent playing of C&C:A, the details have gone from my head already. Maybe it's just that I'm an old git, but these games just don't have any staying power in my memory. That's not to say that they're bad games, or that they weren't enjoyable (neither is true, not even close). However, given that they're both short, light, almost filler, games, perhaps it's not surprising that I don't remember too much about them.

Anyway, after several playings how is Manoeuvre working for me? It's a fun little game, with just the right combination of simplicity, playability, choices, luck. I'm really enjoying it. Well, I didn't enjoy the last game with Eric quite as much, as what started out as a tight little game devolved into a one-sided affair as it was Eric's turn to roll crappy dice, suffer from our card distributions, and have 2 of his 4 leader cards come out in the bottom 3 cards of the deck. Up until that point though, there was a fair amount of manoeuvre going on, as we probed for weaknesses, looking to create situations favorable to our hands.

A few things are clear, though. Using multiple unit cards in a single battle can be lethal. I used that tactic a lot, building up to a mega-attack, looking for that 4-1 killer blow. This is especially true if you also have a leader card and can bring in supporting units. Maintaining a line to prevent your opponent using Leader cards is also vital, as things can go sideways rapidly if you get flanked.

Counter-attacks can also be painful. So make sure that you really want to advance into that flanked position before you play that unit card to attack, as advance after combat is mandatory, unless the unit card states otherwise (rare). I also found the Forced March cards useful to bring pressure to bear in an unexpected location, especially if you also have unit cards for the same unit that you move, advancing quickly and making a strong attack.

Once things start going wrong it can spiral down pretty quickly. Once you have a unit disrupted, you then have to choose between using the unit's cards to attack or rally, so once forced onto the back foot it can be hard to recover. You use your cards to recover instead of attacking, and your opponent causes more damage. This is what I felt happened to Eric, as I managed to get my fist in first in both games.

Yep, a very decent little game. Fast to set up, simple to play, and with lots of variety/replayability. It doesn't come much better than that.

1 comment:

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