Play order, for Rounds. UNITA/FAPLA/FNLA/MPLA
Oh and as the game progresses more rounds are added and additional cards for certain factions become available. Note also that At Start uncontrolled cities are randomly generated via chit draw too.
FAPLA and MPLA make gains on the ground capturing Malanje and Cambatela, whilst UNITA attack and capture Sa da Bandeira, pushing weak MPLA forces out. FNLA consolidate forces in Zaire and prepare to assault Cabinda.
The FAPLA attack Cambata forcing out FNLA rebels. MPLA forces eliminate the UNITA in Silva Porto
VPS equal at turn end. Once again I go for higher Secret aid, knowing that this will be the last time we can afford to lose VPS, the others all choose smaller. But without special weapons the fights for them harder and the choice to take more later will be more of a risk as it could bump your opponent to a win.
Turn 3 Order FAPLA, FNLA, MPLA, UNITA.
Lots of action this turn as players start to get in the groove. Malanje falls to FAPLA forces so does Porto Ambiom and a savage fight for control of Carmona ensues between FNLA forces and FAPLA, with an outgunned FAPLA force being eliminated.
On a roll the FNLA prepare to siege Cabinda, but do little damage to a heavily reinforced MPLA army. MPLA and FNLA fight it out near the FLEC Base in the north.
MPLA air force shoots down the poorly trained UNITA pilots in the battle for Benguela. Not to be outdone the UNITA reinforcements now stream thru the Sa da Bandeira escarpment gateway. taking Serpa Pinto. MPLA and FAPLA forces fall back into the hills and cities of Nova Laboa capturing that town in the process.
Novo Redondo falls to the MPLA as well. The entire coast is now secure. Luanda being particularly important as the gateway for all reinforcements for FAPLA.
MPLA Alliance closes the VP gap to level at 16 each.
Player Order UNITA,FAPLA,FNLA,MPLA
Returning from lunch the play accelerates, everyone now is more comfortable with the various mechanics. UNITA brings ever more South African supporting forces in, new weapons and streams heavily thru the Sa da Bandeira gateway, they attack Nova Lisboa in force, but are repulsed. The FNLA in a massive fight with huge forces from 3rd party countries, including tanks and several Brigades pound the linch pin : Luanda from Caxito. The FPLA have driven the length of the North West coast and captured towns and villages along the way.
10 factors under that D column unit.
Joint MPLA and FAPLA forces knew the seriousness of the attack and were determined to not let the city fall. 3 Brigades had dug in along with two heavy tank units and air support and arty. FNLA foreign support, and anti tank weapons were deadly in the urban fighting. All of the FAPLA vehicles were destroyed, but the city held. Novo Rendodo sees some action in the jungles East of town by the MPLA.
UNITA is attacked via a spoiling attacking by FAPLA south of Nova Lisboa, to little effect. The FAPLA fatefully move to take Cambatela exposing the Interior. Malanje is now only lightly protected. With no luck in combat in Luanda the FNLA turn their attention to Cabina. 2 successive rounds of combat are repulsed however and 2 huge forces bloody themselves.
Player Order FAPLA/FNLA/MPLA/UNITA
In a complex series of moves, the FNLA attack again down the coast at Luanda and again are repulsed. They drive a small force past FAPLA and secure Malanje in a small battle. In the South several attacks occur. UNITA attacks Benguela and is forced to retreat, losing heavily. FAPLA attacks Sa da Bandeira and kicks the UNITA player out, only to be forced out themselves in a savage counter attack the next round. MPLA forces double down and push the UNITA forces back towards Mocamedes. Several units of MPLA are tied up holding a Brigade in teh Jungle from UNITA and FNLA.
VPs are weighted toward MPLA alliance 12v8. The VP clock however does not get low enough for a win. Now UNITA goes for 5 secret support points+ their reinforcements! This pushes the VP dangerously close to a MPLA Alliance victory. Every one else takes just single secret support weapons. It is time to fight with what you have!
FNLA re secure Maquel del Zombo, via attack from Zaire Proper. FAPLA fail to recapture Mulanje.
The MPLA move forces to consolidate. UNITA brings yet more forces in from the South. Free form FAPLA interference the FNLA sweep East. capturing 3 towns and killing the holding forces in Teixeira de Sousa.
Desperate to pick up VPs, the MPLA player attacks Gabela using a huge airstrike as support (at this point I think MPLA thought UNITA was done for the turn).
Bengeula sees action now in the last card play of turn 6. UNITA attacks in force and in a stunning attack (3 sixes) wipes out the MPLA force! 5 v15 VPs. Auto Victory.
The MPLA alliance is stunned. After a cautious turn they see sure victory turn into defeat, due to bold play by the UNITA alliance. Defeat is bitter. But we less than graciously admit defeat. The Communist block MPLA, FAPLA hilariously fall into finger pointing, whilst the smug Capitalist run amok killing small women and children in an orgy of victory celebrations.
Best Multi player purpose designed wargame ever?
Not since the days of one of the first card based wargames that I ever played; Kingmaker have I had such fun in a multi player wargame involving cards. A totally engaging experience.
Superb game, without a doubt the best game I have played that is not a card driven wargame and still feels a real multi player game. This game brings a lot of things to the table that I believe are key to good period games. A sense of history that is not schlocky, or out of whack on the time continuum (nothing like receiving a random Dufus the Bold dies 20 years before his time), the game play is war game first cards to assist second.
This is not a CDG, this is a Card Assisted Game (CAG). Furthermore the Political elements are handled very well via tying VPs to level of support. If you do too well you get less support, if you do poorly you get more support.
Then you have secret support from the CIA etc, where additional forces are brought to bear at a VP cost.
Finally the geography matters as it mattered in the historic situation. Key towns….are key.
Oh and a bonus the narrative is strong, as battles rage across the Savannah and in dense jungle and big cities, you can “feel” the differences. the art work is wonderful, it evokes from the outset an African theme from the palate without detracting in a Zulu tribal way.
Counter art is really good as well, unit types are clearly distinguishable down to unique aircraft for the period.
What is wrong with the game?
Rules. the rules are somewhat sloppily written, especially compared to say the rules wording of OCS or other major MMP titles, poorly formatted with omissions on the player aid cards. i.e. mines are not correctly represented in the play aid, but a small clause presents itself deep in the mines section, that affects combat. Common sense drove us to look for a solution as surely mines would affect ground AND tanks, not just tanks!?
Little stuff like that made the first 2-3 turns take twice as long. Similarly there is a lot of page flipping, cross referencing and working out which of the reinforcements come on where, can be used where and how etc. Which for me soured the experience a little as we were all eager to go. However once you get over the hump and make some notes (in fact I think Cisco is going to re do a player aide card), play moves smoothly.
In fact the last 3 turns took half the time of the first 3 with more than double the combat taking place, and more rounds per turn to boot!
To be sure that it is indeed that good we are playing again shortly. That in itself says a lot for our group that rarely plays the same game again that quickly.