Monday, 26 October 2015

Essen 2014 Update: mission accomplished

After failing to play all last year's acquisitions before the 2015 edition of Spiel, the opportunity presents itself a week after going to Essen. Coincidence? You decide!

Last Friday's meeting we had 9 people turn up so we decided to split in two groups, which allowed First to Fight to be set up. It proved a good game. 

We approached it at first like a cooperative game, but it soon became clear that although all players are officially all on the Polish side, fighting the Nazis, it's best not to let that interfere with winning the game. And that requires you to obstruct the other players as much as possible, although there is occasionnal room for cooperation.

The basic part of the game is that you need Soldiers to complete Missions to score victory points. Every player gets four mission cards at the start of the game, which will last you until halfway through the war. You get a new mission once you complete one, up to a total of seven. Each mission has a date when it will be resolved and if you have the required amount of soldiers in the right area at that time, you successfully complete the mission and gain the VP.

These soldiers are cards that enter the map, can move around the five main areas and can be trained to increase their effectiveness. They can also be wounded when a mission is resolved, and healed if you have Nurses. But quite a few get killed during the game, so don't get too invested personally in any of them.

The turn is resolves around a number of action cards that can be taken à la Puerto Rico: every player can use the action on the card but the player who chooses it gets an extra benefit. However, an action cannot be chosen again until a player decides to refresh them all.

Every turn, a card is drawn to determine Nazi activity, which allows them to increase their domination in one of the map areas. In that area it will be harder to complete the missions. At the same time the turn marker is advanced by a random number indicated on the card. All the missions which fall within the time span covered by the turn are then resolved. This unpredictability adds considerably to the insecurity of completing your missions.

There's added chrome and side mechanisms that make the game a bit more varied, but the basics work well. It does help to know what missions there are (so you can try to get others involved in the same area at the time). So looking forward to another outing!

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