Being Gamey with M-M

So, since it is all ancient history, and little seems to exist on the topic I wanted to share some thoughts and impressions off the bat about Marita Merkur.

Primarily I want to focus on the historical outcome versus gaming the game to have one side or the other win.

This idea only struck me due to the fact that I played the Greeks so poorly in first 4-5 turn attempt that it prompted me to wonder about the Victory Conditions for this specific title.

Here is how I understand that it all works. The Italian – Greek war lasts 16 turns (June II turn 1941). Each turn VP’s are accumulated. The Greeks receive pts for among other things hexes controlled in Albania(2VP per turn per hex) and finishing off entire Divisions of Italians.

The Italians receive points for Mountain hexes controlled (5 VP per turn per hex; oh and 2VP per non Mountain hex), Corfu and some limited points for killed units.

In order for the German element of the campaign to start and the Italo-Greek War end, the Allies must be beating the Italians by a 2:1 Margin on VP count in a given turn.

Moreover if you want to accelerate that, Jugosalvia needs its Coup to happen, which cannot happen until the Greeks obtain 30 VPs.

This sets up a minimum # of points the Italians must obtain for that 2:1 Rule to kick in ; namely 15VP. Ignoring losses the Italians can get to 15 VP by grabbing 1 mountain hex and Corfu for 3 turns.

The Greeks who when played correctly can secure 3-4 Albanian hexes in the first few turns and likely 5 by turn 3. For you guessed it 15 VP a turn. Therefore the Italo-Greek war can end sometime in January or later with a decent roll by the Germans and some DRM’s for the Jugo coup and British forces on the Greek mainland. Likely a few turns later as the plucky Italians will press the coastal roads pickup points there for non-mountain hexes.

BUT. What if that does not happen? What if the Greeks simply acquire enough Albanian territory to stay within a decent spread of the Italians, and deny the Italians further penetration into Greece?

We end up with a situation where the Game ends in 16 turns, the Greeks put a big push on in the last few turns to earn more VPs but not double the Italians and the Germans never intervene!

Holy aHistorical Happenings Batman!

Now it would be possible if the Greeks sat back to allow TOO many Italian VPs accumulate, and the Italians pull the ‘win’ out. So in order to obtain a roughly historical play thru, I need to beat the snot out of the Italians and Italians need to let it happen. Otherwise they get to a point with cumulative VPs’ where the Greeks can never be more than twice the Italian VP level.

This has soured the game a bit for me, as the Axis player I am ‘allowing’ the Greeks their win, and the Greeks are reluctantly winning. Indeed a strange place to be, while the Germans sit on the sidelines revving their panzers.

6 thoughts on “Being Gamey with M-M

  1. Keep in mind that Merita-Merkur is not the current version of this game. The game was republished in 1990 as Balkan Front with significant changes. Balkan Front has a second edition, published in 2000, that further refined the game. The OOB and rules are much better now. For example, in the latest version of Balkan Front, the Axis player may choose to have Germany intervene at the start of the first clear weather turn in weather zone D in 1941. No VP considerations are necessary.

    I think the original editions of Europa games shouldn’t be played with intention of critique. Case White is a very poor first take on The First to Fight. The same holds virtually all Europa games with later editions. Master Europa rules, written by Tom Johnson, take the latest editions and improve them even more.

    1. That is good to know. The 2nd edition of the Balkan Game is however much, much larger and unwieldy. I really did not see much else that was going to give some reasonable play time given the road ahead for my chronological play idea. I’m not fussed that it did not play evenly, just curious about the design choices etc. I thought Case White ran true to from, if a little too easy for the Germans. I’m going to keep playing it to see what happens etc. It was just funny as I sat there and really thought thru the options.

  2. Historically there were really several ‘sides’ so a two-valued win-loss is going to be hard to make sense. In an ideal world the Germans would be called in as fast as possible, but Benito had his own ideas.

    Greece – wants to remain free – not dominated by Italy/Germany OR England for that matter.
    Italy – wants to look tough and win w/o Germany
    Britain – wants no threat to E Med and Egypt
    Germany – a safe flank for Barbarossa, no drawn out war down there.

    So an Italian who gets whupped in Albania ‘loses’ no matter how good the Germans do. If the Italians have lost badly, the Germans might have felt the need to hold forces in the region long term and hurt the Russian Campaign. So an early intervention is bad for the overall plan. You could give the Greeks credit for every turn the Germans are on the map and credit for any land they hold after intervention per turn.

    So the optimum Axis plan is for the Italians to win OR a late intervention that clears the map. The Greeks/Allies win small if they stalemate the Italians w/o intervention or if they can hold off a German intervention until the end of the game. In this I guess the Axis can intervene when he wants, although a variable delay for planning and setup would make it interesting.

    1. yes I was just chatting about something similar. As it stands the Italians need to lose to get the help, the Greeks need to not win to avoid intervention, but win enuff. Hilarious.

      1. It reminds me of the old logic problem of the race where the winner’s car needs to finish last. The solution is for the drivers to swap cars.

        Maybe the solution here is for the Italians to swap sides with the Greeks and be opposite of the Germans! (not in military terms of course). The German/Greek would be trying to wipe the Italians out until intervention, then he takes the losing Italian and tries to wipe out his Greeks and the British!

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