Wednesday, September 04, 2013


The next random game from my collection that I am writing about is Manoeuvre.  This game, published by GMT in 2008, is an "abstract" game of maneuver and combat in the Napoleonic era.  The game takes place on an 8 x 8 grid of squares, created by combining four of the 24 4 x 4 square tiles that come with the game.  Each tile will have a variety of terrain on it.  The fact that each battles only uses four of 24 tiles, and they can be rotated as desired while setting up the map, means that you will likely never see exactly the same terrain twice.  There is also good variety in the armies, as the game comes with eight different armies (French, British, Prussian, Turkish, Spanish, Austrian, Russian, and American), only two of which get used in each game.  Each army has eight units that are unique to them (using historical unit names), and a custom deck of 60 cards, which is also unique to the army.

Play proceeds in turns, with most events being dictated by play of the cards.  Each turn a player can discard whatever cards they want from their hand, then draw up to 5.  They then HAVE to move a unit.  Even if you don't want to move a unit, you have to, which admittedly strikes me as a bit odd, but I guess the name of the game is "manoeuvre" for a reason.  You can then attack if you want to and you have the right card(s) in your hand, and lastly you can try to restore any damaged units and establish defensive redoubts if you have an appropriate card.  That is the game.  You move units, attack with units, and try to control the battlefield.  There are two ways to win.  First, if you eliminate five of your opponent's eight units, you automatically win.  If that doesn't happen, at the end of the turn after the second player as gone through their deck, the game automatically ends and victory is determined by who controls more squares on their opponent's half of the board.  There are tie breakers listed in case squares controlled results in a tie (I've seen it happen), so you should be able to establish an ultimate winner.

Overall the game isn't bad.  It has some nice chrome to it, and I like the variety in the game and the fact that it plays fairly quickly and isn't very complicated, but still has some good strategic depth.  However, it just doesn't "grab" me.  I think it is probably just too abstract for me.  While historical armies and unit names are used, none of the games mimic historic battles, and in fact you can have ahistoric games, such as Spain fighting against Turkey or Austria fighting the United States of America.  So, this one is very much a "game," and not a "historical simulation."  And that, in the end, keeps me from coming back to this title.  This game will likely get traded away for something else at the first opportunity.

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