Design: Neal Schlaffer
Development: Don Greenwood
Cover & Card Art: Steve Langmead
Review by Howard Ship (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dec 8, 1994
Guerilla is an entertaining game of civil war in an unnamed latin american country. The game is playable by three to six players, and lasts about half an hour per player.
Like Nuclear War and Plague & Pestilence, Guerilla is card based and boardless. Its complexity is a bit above the average beer & pretzels game, and unlike its distant cousin Junta, humor is muted at best.
The ultimate goal of the game is to have the most victory points when the draw pile is exhausted.. Points are scored by successfully attacking and destroying enemy groups and units, and by taking control of complexes. The brilliant addition to the game is the concept of factions. Each player secretly belongs to either the Government or Rebel faction. Each successful attack scores points for the player, and for the faction. At the end of the game, players keep their victory points only if their faction also wins; otherwise, they keep only half.
Adding to the confusion is the Revolution card, which allows one player to swap the secret loyalty of two other players. Further, in a three or five player game, one player will be a Mercenary, trying to get the factions to score within 24 points of each other.
So, the same attack which may earn a player short term points may eventually cost that player the game, if it helps the opposing faction. In other words, players are encouraged to keep the scoring even until the Revolution card is played, then push their faction to victory.
Helping obscure everyone's true loyalty are rules that virtually require players to field forces for both the Government and the Rebels. Towards the end of the game much calculation and second-guessing take place, as each player attempts to earn winning victory points without letting the wrong faction get the overall win.
There are a wide variety of cards in the game. The most basic card is the individual unit. This card can be deployed with two orientations: with one side up, it represents a Government trooper. Oriented the other way, the card becomes a Rebel guerilla. The strengths of the units are often different, depending on orientation. The haunted look in the eyes of these units, Rebel and Government alike, is the highlight of the game's artwork.
Unit Card (118K)
Two or three units can be combined under a leader card, which then acts largely as a single unit. Leaders vary in terms of units controlled (2 or 3) and a strength modifier.
Leader Card (119K)
Combat is resolved by calculating the strengths of the two opposing groups, adding a d10 die roll to each side, and figuring the difference. The losing player must discard units of strength at least equal the damage (sometimes a higher valued card must be discarded). The value of the dead cards is added to the total of both the victorious player and the victorious faction.
Half a dozen special cards allow aspects of the game to be changed. The Atrocities/Press card can halve or double the points earned in a battle, the Air Assault card can allow a group to deploy and attack in the same turn or the Arms Cache card can temporarily double the strength of a single unit. In general, the Government forces are a little stronger, and the Rebel units have special abilities and advantages.
Assassin Card (114K)
Each player's turn is divided into five stages (withdrawal, attack, deploy, trade, discard/repair and draw) clearly labeled A through F. Players are only allowed two actions per turn. All cards clearly indicate the phase and activity cost (0 or 1) of any special actions, so timing disputes are virtually non-existent. The allowed two activities never seem sufficient, which greatly enhances the tension of the game.
Finally, there are the complexes. Possession of a complex gives the owning player special abilities. For instance, the Banco de Nationale allows the owning player an extra action per turn, the Palace exempts the owner from the Revolution card, and the Port allows the player to hold an extra card in hand. Complexes must be defended by their owner: other players will want to destroy or even take control of them.
Air Field Card (112K)
In addition to the 128 cards and pair of d10 dice, there are a variety of full color chits included with the game. These include chits identifying player's secret factions, markers that show complexes controlled by Rebels, and others for additional simple bookkeeping. Pen and paper are only needed for tracking victory points.
The eight page manual is merely adequate. Like many Avalon Hill games, the manual is very dry, empty of humor and seems to have been written backwards (or perhaps inside out). After very careful study, all aspects of the game are covered, but a questions and answers section is sorely missed.
Still, the game has an interesting premise, above average (if unimaginative) artwork, a good mechanism and a reasonable price (around $25 - $30 retail). Most importantly, it works quite well as a three player game, which may be reason alone to pick up a copy.
The Game Cabinet - email@example.com - Ken Tidwell