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Subject: Guerilla Review rss

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Chris Hawkins
United States
Charlotte
North Carolina
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This review of Guerilla is based on a single play. I have heard that the game gets better with repeated and regular play, as people get to know the cards. However, that rarely happens in the game groups I attend, even with well-liked games. Any game is implicitly competing with at least a dozen alternatives in order to hit the table on any given night. When a game is given a chance, it has to stand or fall on what we see over one play.

Guerilla was pulled out later in the night. We still had two hours before the restaurant closed, and the guy who brought it said that it would play in one hour. Even with another 30 minutes for teaching new players (in this case, three of the four of us), we thought that we would be well within our time limit. Nevertheless, we did not finish before closing, and the size of the remaining deck suggested it would have taken another 20 minutes or so (i.e., almost 2.5 hours after opening the box).

The heart of Guerilla is a series of battles between rebel and government forces, represented by cards. Outcomes are determined by adding card modifiers to a d10 roll for each side and then comparing the two totals. A leader card allows additional soldier cards to be stacked with it into a single group; otherwise, each unit must attack or defend on its own. Each player's turn consists of two actions, chosen from options that include deploying cards from one's hand, attacking hostile units of another player, and drawing new cards.

Although BGG classifies Guerilla as a wargame, it does not have a map, area control, terrain, formations, etc. Wargamers who like to set up miniatures to simulate historical battles will not be able to scratch that itch with this game.

The way that Guerilla implements secret roles will feel strange to veterans of other secret role games like Bang! or The Resistance. The player's role is secret, but the units' loyalties are not. No one is afraid to attack from the very first turn for fear of hurting an ally. The penalty for being on the losing side is steep (50% of victory points), so the pattern of attacks soon makes it obvious who is on which side. But it hardly seems to matter. As a rebel player, I wanted to use my rebel units to attack government units, no matter who held them. Killing the other rebel player's government forces gave me points and gave the rebel side points.

In most card games, hand management is a crucial component. In Guerilla, drawing cards counts as one of the two allotted actions per turn, so players are motivated to keep draws to a minimum. Also, the Stop cards can interrupt drawing. As a result, remedying a bad hand is much less likely. The luck of the draw (as well as dice rolling) can stand in for the many factors that real-life generals either can't foresee or can't control, but too much luck makes a longer game hard to justify.

I liked the general idea of using a leader to stack unit cards. However, adding up everyone's stacks of numbers before deciding to attack was tedious and slowed the game down a lot. I suppose it's a form of analysis paralysis (AP), but it's of a very low level that is boring, not a horns-of-a-dilemma kind of AP. I sometimes play a game and think that its busywork would be better suited to a computer game (which would do the tedious calculations for you), and that applies here.

Summary: Guerilla relies more than I would like on luck, requires repeated adding of columns of numbers, fails to make the secret roles matter, and takes too long for a luck-based game.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Yep. Obvious you played it once.
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Martin Gallo
United States
O'Fallon
Missouri
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mi_de wrote:
Yep. Obvious you played it once.
It really is a good game that deserves more than one play.
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