Maria, Abe & Otto

Lately, we have been playing a couple of board games. The first one was Maria, a newish strategy game dealing with the War of the Austrian Succession.

maria.cover.big

One of the cool things about this is that it can be played with three players, so Virago, Sigur and me had a session one evening. Virago played the Austrians, me the French and Sigur the Prussians as well as the Pragmatic Army, which is Austria’s ally – an interesting schizophrenic position. For a change, I did really well. I played very aggressively, won almost all the battles and in the end was marching towards Vienna. The game itself is very elegant. Strategic movement is done on a nice map, battles are fought using a clever card mechanic and there is also a political phase were you can get certain advantages by investing cards. A highly recommended game!

My interest in the American Civil War made me think about trying out a strategic game covering the topic. On cue, Virago produced A House Divided.

AHouseDivided

The game seems to have been published in several editions; we played an older one, so I can’t say how the new one plays. We had two games. During the first, Virago fulfilled the Confederacy’s wet dream and captured Washington within the first months of the war. Changing sides, I led the Confederates into a lengthy fight where I slowly but continuously lost ground. Virago concentrated mainly on the Western theatre and advanced along the Mississippi. I managed to conduct some successful raids deep into Northern territory, which annoyed Virago but couldn’t stop him in the long run. We didn’t finish the game, as it was getting late, but it looked very much like this was going to be a Union victory in the end.

In certain ways, the game is similar to Maria, with the manoeuvring on the large map and the necessity to have your troops supplied. Battles are less elegant and there is no politics (however, it seems that the new edition does cover political events). The game felt quite historical in its course and I might try it again some time.

Although the last game I’ll mention is called Bismarck, it has nothing to do with the German chancellor and all with the battleship.

Bismarck

This is an old game; it’s from 1962 and I got it second hand. My interest was roused by promising a naval game with a double-blind system for searching the enemy as well as simple rules for conducting ship-to-ship combat. As you know, I’m really interesting in naval wargaming, but I’m also put off by the ponderousness of most rules – naval wargames seem to become bedazzled by the technicalities of this kind of warfare instead of concentrating on a few essential command decisions. I haven’t played Bismarck yet, but the rules sound simple and fun, so I’m looking forward to having a game.

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