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Great Battles of History I: Alexander, Deluxe Edition

With eager anticipation I purchased this game when my almost local store had a 20% off everything sale. It is my first endeavor into the GBoH series, but far from my first wargame.

The Rulebook thumbsdown thumbsup

The Bad – The rulebook is very weighty, which it needs to be for this sort of game. But the order it is presented in doesn’t always feel rational. I prefer Squad Leader type of rulebook with sequential rules for ease of learning. Often, in my first couple games I spent a lot of time trying to find the rule which pertained to the specific situation. Generally they are pretty clear but there are rare exceptions of ambiguity.

The Good – Additional design notes, player notes, etc are a joy to read. There is also a fair bit of humor thrown in. Section 9 deals with specific exceptions for specific unit types is also a good reference, although at times this isn’t complete and I end up scouring through the rest of the rulebook

The Bits thumbsdown thumbsup

The units contain a wealth of information, but are clearly presented and colorful.
The maps are colorful, but my contention is that they are paper and the crease is very annoying.

The Player Aids thumbsup

Two very useful pieces of that thick glossy paper. There are a lot of charts, etc. (including a wonderful summary of when to perform Troop Quality Checks.) The player aid also fixes some of the rare ambiguities in the rulebook. One really dumb thing is that they put a turn track on the player aid which is useless. You see, the player aid is DOUBLE SIDED, so in order to use the turn track you need a glass table to read the under side. I would have rather seen the turn track space used for something useful.

The Play thumbsup

Play moves smoothly and the action is quite quick when not looking up rules. There can be at times, a fair bit of counter clutter, but usually not more than 4-5 counters in a hex. (usually there are two counters per hex, the unit, with its cohesion hits beneath it). The game uses a d10, which for some of the rolls, may introduce a bit too much randomness for some tastes, but it does keep things exciting when Alexander fails and initiative/trump roll!

The Scenarios thumbsup

The Scenarios are varied in objectives, difficulty, unit mix, size, and expected time. Generally there is a good mix of scenarios, which follow Alexander’s whole campaign. They are historically presented with some variants for some less historical battles. They are presented chronologically. I would have preferred them to be presented in a complexity order, as it is quite difficult to determine which scenario to play next (after the suggested introductory one). This could have also been relieved with a short chart at the beginning of the scenario book which could have rated all the scenarios in chronological order, complexity order, and expected time order. As a newer player, the scenarios are taking much longer than the expected time frame, but I expect this to cut down a bit with further plays. I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to dig deep into some of the bigger/longer scenarios.

Expect the first plays to take up to 2-3 times longer than written until you get familiar with the system. Also, (historically accurately) many of the scenarios are unbalanced, which could have been corrected with alternative victory conditions. There is a point bid system enabled for competitive (or tournament) play.

Overall thumbsup thumbsup

In one word: Brilliantousnessosity. The game totally captures The Feel thumbsup thumbsup of ancient warfare. You can hear the leaders shouting, the troops quivering as the heavy cavalry advances on them. The clash of spears, the rout, and the panic are all vividly laid out. Gameplay is fun and exciting, and the action starts quickly and never ceases. An excellent wargame. Lack of hidden placement etc also makes it quite suitable for solitaire play. Highly Recommended, but for wargamers only, Ameritrash and Eurogamers need not apply.

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Ben Smith
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Quote:
The maps are colorful, but my contention is that they are paper and the crease is very annoying.


Invest in a sheet of perspex, you'll wonder how you survived without it!
 
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Ahhh... yes! We used to play on perspex 15 years ago at my university's wargaming club. I forgot about that little (but highly useful) trick! Been playing too many Euros recently I guess...
 
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Dave King
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You might want to take a closer look. There seem to be some huge gaffes in the overall game system. Consider the Momentum Movement rules. Basically, Alexander will get this almost any time the player wants and he can trump any Persian commander, which results in such absurdities as Macedonian heavy infantry moving as much as 15 hexes while Persian light infantry only moves 5 hexes. Legs are legs regardless of command superiority. Applying the same rule, Macedonian heavy cavalry could move 24 hexes while the Persian equivalent could move only 8. Horses are horses regardless of command superiority. Looking at the Terrain Effects Chart, it's very strange indeed that marching across a major river can be done as effortlessly as marching across clear terrain, yet marching across a minor river costs +1 movement point. Attacking out of a river incurs no combat penalty although defending in one does. No wonder Alexander beats the Persians so easily--his units march three times as fast (even though they carry heavier armament) and defending Persians get no benefit from natural obstructions and barriers. Sure Alexander was perceived as something of a god, but in what world does this in any way reflect reality? They've had four editions to work this stuff out and still these rules need a major overhaul. Basically, I really like the game, but I had to rework a good many rules and the TEC to make it a more reasonable simulation.
 
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Mike Duffy
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Hmmmmmmm...
I think you missed part of the point here. Yes, Alex (and any other really good commander CAN march 1 unit up to 3 times in a turn, but this would cause at least 2 cohesion hits, plus terrain hits and/or combat results. A few turns like that would wreck any unit. Alex's great superiority is that he can, for example, move a line of units, recover cohesion hits the next activation, and then activate another line on the third activation. Your average Joe Mediocritus only gets one activation, which drastically reduces his ability to get stuff done.


dking232 wrote:
You might want to take a closer look. There seem to be some huge gaffes in the overall game system. Consider the Momentum Movement rules. Basically, Alexander will get this almost any time the player wants and he can trump any Persian commander, which results in such absurdities as Macedonian heavy infantry moving as much as 15 hexes while Persian light infantry only moves 5 hexes. Legs are legs regardless of command superiority. Applying the same rule, Macedonian heavy cavalry could move 24 hexes while the Persian equivalent could move only 8. Horses are horses regardless of command superiority.


Another misreading the rules, I'm afraid.
arrrh
Crossing a minor river HEXSIDE costs +1 MP and a cohesion hit. Crossing a major river HEX costs 1 MP + 1 Cohesion hit for the river hex, but as the river hex is always level 1, you pay MPs and cohesion hits to go up and down - up to 3 MPs and 4 cohesion hits for Issus level 3 river crossings, for example. OUCH!!! Good thing you have good leaders to rally them or this would really SUCK.
dking232 wrote:

Looking at the Terrain Effects Chart, it's very strange indeed that marching across a major river can be done as effortlessly as marching across clear terrain, yet marching across a minor river costs +1 movement point. Attacking out of a river incurs no combat penalty although defending in one does. No wonder Alexander beats the Persians so easily--his units march three times as fast (even though they carry heavier armament) and defending Persians get no benefit from natural obstructions and barriers. Sure Alexander was perceived as something of a god, but in what world does this in any way reflect reality? They've had four editions to work this stuff out and still these rules need a major overhaul. Basically, I really like the game, but I had to rework a good many rules and the TEC to make it a more reasonable simulation.


Alex may or may not have been a god, but it would take a pretty great guy to do what he did. I've lost plenty of times playing the Macedonians, even with the mighty Alex in charge.
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Mick Weitz
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Nice work Mike. I've meant to point out those errors for some time.

Good Gaming~! Mick
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