AVALON HILL, £19.95
DESIGNED BY NEAL SCHLAFFER
REVIEWED BY MIKE CLIFFORD
It is hard to believe that there can be ANY doubt about Avalon Hill's viability within the boardgame domain given their recent track record. I know there have been a couple of gliches, but in a period of little more than a year, the company has released History of the World, We The People, Breakout Normandy and now Guerilla.
Guerilla is yet another addition to the card-generated game systems which might soon dominate the market. In order to eliminate a major pre-amble, the game is Up Front, but without the feel of a hardcore wargame (which it isn't). The contents --- card set, markers, two d10 and rules folder float around in one of the ubiquitous bookcase boxes, which is major overkill. That apart, there are absolutely no complaints. Recommended for between 3 and 6 players, I suspect the latter might be a little top heavy, whilst it worked perfectly with three. In fact playing with three or five introduces a unique element described later. Participants control BOTH Rebel and Government forces in an unnamed South American country, forming armed groups which earn points for an overall victory for one faction or the other.
Loyalty (which might change) is initiated by a chit draw. With three or five players, a mercenary marker is also included, and it is up to that contestant to ensure a close finish. Cards are then dealt to form a hand comprising units, commanders and complexes. These are then deployed into groups (you are encouraged to field forces for both sides, thereby disguising your loyalty). During each turn, a player performs two actions from a list containing Withdrawal, Attack, Deploy, Trade (which never figured in our games), Discard/Repair and Draw. The limited number of permitted choices is particularly frustrating as you try to gain a numerical advantage, or protect a valuable complex.
The soldier cards are split, showing a rebel unit or leader on one half, and a goverment unit or leader opposite. Whilst in your hand, these troops are interchangeable. Their values vary, so a card might show a rebel unit (with floppy hat) value 6, and a government unit (with regulation issue hard hat) value 5. Forces are added to play when formed into groups for one side or the other. A group can consist of one leader and up to three units, one complex (plus a unit and/or leader if required) or units on their own. These groups can then engage in combat, which is resolved by adding their total value (including the commander's modifier) to a roll of one d10 and comparing it to their adversary's adjusted value plus die roll. The losing player eliminates a unit whose worth is equal to or greater than the difference. This speedy resolution process keeps the game moving at a frenetic pace.
Complex cards (Airfield, TV Station, etc) have unique attack facilities, but any garrison assigned must break away before threatening the opposition. In this case, the specific complex is more vulnerable to assault. There are other cards which handle a variety of typical warfare situations, including assassins and ambush, and also the INVIDIOUS Revolution card, which can be used to exchange loyalty markers and thus throw your master plan down the tubes. Although there are a wide variety of cards, explanations abound, both on the cards themselves and within the rule set, and all questions posed were satisfactorily answered.
The game is won by totalling points earned by each faction after combat and adding them to both the individual player and bloc total. After each round (when the pack expires) those loyal to the winning side keep all their points, whilst those aligned to the losing element keep half. The player with the mercenary marker retains his or her points if the winning margin was less than 25. There is minimal bookkeeping and you will soon grasp the objectives.
I have no negative thoughts whatsoever about Guerilla. The artwork is striking, the rules thorough and Don Greenwood was at the development helm which ensures a degree of quality. One thing is certain: there will be no need for The General to publish a set of "optional rules" to make this game work.
On to the review of 5 Alive or back to the review of Plague & Pestilence.
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