Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Abstract Games Just In...

For years now, I have had this unhealthy fixation with filling my house with out of production board games. However, since starting this blog I seem to have inadvertently gone up a gear. I am now visiting charity shops much more frequently, and picking up games at a much faster rate. This is probably ironic, as the aim of this blog was to categorise, review, and bring some kind of order to the chaos that my hobby generates.

So, considering how my sickness has developed, it comes as little surprise to discover that I was in the charity shops yesterday, picking over the latest arrivals in the board game sections. I have only just found out that my local Oxfam hides the board games just behind the door, and it looks like I may be the only person who knows this, as I was able to pick up two very nice abstract games for a total of £7 (actually, £6.48, but I let them keep the change - I'm saving the world, you know).

The first game I found was Waddington's Campaign, an interesting game from 1971 that abstracts the Napoleonic war.

Waddington's Campaign board game

A quick glance at the box might lead you to believe this is a traditional war game, perhaps using cardboard chits on a hex-based map; but what you actually get is something far more unusual. The board is an incredibly abstracted map of Europe (with all the countries being exactly the same size), and the playing pieces are cute little plastic guys that move in fixed directions in a way similar to certain pieces in Chess.

Waddington's Campaign board detail

Waddington's Campaign player pieces

Combat is entirely deterministic. You need to gang up on opponents 2-1 (or 3-1 if the opponent is a General) to make the kill. The only time you roll dice is when determining how many movement points you have to move your troops each turn.

Seizing certain enemy towns will prevent opponents from bringing in reinforcements, and killing a General can result in a win. It looks pretty cool, and is probably as thematic as an abstract game can get.

The copy I picked up was in gorgeous condition. The box was pristine, with no dishing or scuffs. The game looks unplayed, and is 100% complete.

My second acquisition of the day was another abstract: Conquest, published by Denys Fisher (and known as Duell in some other countries).


This is a brain-burner in which two "armies" of chunky, oversized dice move around a grid by "tumbling" from space to space. The number of spaces a dice can move is determined by its uppermost face at the start of the move, and the aim is to land on enemy dice (particularly the special "king" dice). Often, after moving, a dice will be showing a different number on its uppermost face, so a dice that moved only two spaces this turn might be able to move six spaces on a subsequent turn. It's a challenging prospect, and trying to plan ahead involves using a series of confusing diagrams published in the rule book. This is one where analysis paralysis can easily set in and grind proceedings to a halt.

The copy I picked up was 100% complete, but well used.

Conquest - inside the box

Another successful day for me. Both of these games will be crammed into The Vault, and I will look at doing proper reviews once I have got them to the table.

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