Kevin Marshall(Dr Mage)United States
This past weekend I learned, played and lost Histogame's 2004 release, "Friedrich". The game can be played with three or four players and the estimated playing time is 3 1/2 hours. We played with three and the game took us close to to five hours. Our next play will certainly go much faster, as this was the first play for all of us.
The setting is Europe 1756. Fredrick the Great of Prussia has just invaded Saxony and the the leaders of Europe are uniting against him. The seven years war has just begun and Prussia must hold out against Russia, Austria, France, Sweeden, and the Imperial Army (Holy Roman Empire).
One player plays Prussia and wins if the other factions fail to meet their objective by the time that the games ends (triggered by card draw). This was my role. The Prussian player (Fredrick) also controls Hanover. Another player plays Russia, and also has Sweeden at his disposal. Both Russia and Sweeden have separate objectives. Another player controls Austria and the Imperial Army. Again these both have separate obectives. France is controlled by either a fourth player or by Russia's controller in a three-player game.
The game utilizes several decks of cards consisting of 2-13 of each of the four suits. Battles are resolved by players comparing the numbers of armies involved on either side and then alternating playing cards from your hands. The value of the card adds to the total. Location is important because a player can only play cards of a suit that matches the suit corresponding to his general's location on the map.
The game was a lot of fun and posed a lot of intriguing dilemnas. Faced with playing Prussia was at first a bit overwhelming, as everyone is against you. Prussia has a nice card advantage early on, drawing more cards than the other players each turn. So while faced with fighting multiple fronts, I found that Fredrick could defeat his enemies fairly easily early on. Later on the mutltiple fronts wear him down and losses begin to occur.
Once you reach turn six, a card is drawn at the end of each turn. These have some amusing flavor/fluff and sometimes have game effects. The effects can vary from causing one particular general to move slower that turn to having a country drop out of the game. Russia dropped out on turn nine in our game. This doesn't eliminate the player, however as he will still have Sweeden (which actually recieves eased vistory conditions as a result of this).
On turn ten or eleven France managed to capture all their objectives and win. The game components were nice. The board was gorgeous with really exceptional artwork. The only problem was that for some reason they chose blue for Prussia, making it look like a body of water. I enjoyed this game a lot and would certainly play again. I'm also curious about their follow-up game "Maria".