Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Alexander the Great» Forums » Reviews

Subject: User Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Michael Von Ahnen
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The review is of the Avalon Hill game Alexander. I will preface this review with the disclaimer that I am not an expert of ancients games. Given that, I feel Alexander is an excellent game.

The context of the game is a battle of Gaugamela between the Macadonians and the Persians. The units include infantry, phalanxes, cavalry, chariots, elephants, and archers. There are also baggage transport units, which are basically non-combatants, targets for your opponents. There are also leader units, which are used to help the units they are stacked with to attack and defend.

The map is a basically just a featureless plain with rough terrain around the edges. In terms of the game, the only interaction with the terrain happens if you decide to anchor your line at the edge of the rough terrain. Other than that, it really plays no roll in the play of the game. There are some defenseable corners, but if you are down to that, you have lost anyway.

The game starts with the Macadonians and the Persians facing off arrayed in two lines apposing each other. The Persians have more units while the Macadonians have stronger units. I have always used the "historic" setup, which is probably gives a slight advantage to the Macadonians, since the Persian intial set up is such a mess. Given that the outcomes of the numerous games I have played have come out very even, I infer from this that it is probably best to use this set up to maintain play balance.

The game is a basic hex and counter game, without the concept of zone of control, which means you need to maintain a continuous line to prevent breakthroughs. There is also ranged artillary (archers) which is handled by adding the attack factors to other attacks or as attacks by themselves. The mechanism is pretty clean for the movement and combat, with a couple of complications around the cavalry units. The cavalry gets to move one additional hex and doubles in combat with the "charge" attack. A couple of things to remember, but it is not a brain drain and once you play a turn or two, you get into the groove on them. There are also some rules that have to do with berserk elephants, but frankly this does not come into effect very often.

Morale is the key aspect of the game. As you kill enemy units and suffer losses, your morale gets effected. You loose more by suffering losses than you get from killing enemy units, so the effect is to slowly grind the morale of both sides down. As your morale drops, you are less effective attacking and defending, so once you fall behind in morale, it is very hard to recover. At a certain level of morale, your mercenaries desert. When you get to zero morale, you loose. The Persians have more mercenaries, so this is more important to them. But the Macadonians have fewer units, so combat losses effect them more directly. If the Macadonians loose some of their key units, they loose their ability to attack effectively and to maintain a consistent front. So the Persians tend to loose when their morale drops to zero and the Macedonians tend to loose when they loose too many units. It is an interesting irony that you tend to play "not to loose" but to "not loose", you have to attack.

The leaders roll in the game is to be at your most important battles, giving you the ability to re-roll the result and also to give the units a higher morale. Frankly I have not seen them really play that big of a roll in the game, but it could be that neither I nor my opponent used them in the most effective manner. You have to be careful with your leaders, the morale loss can swing the game, so my conservative use of them in combat does have a rational. The nice part of the leaders is that the rules are pretty simple, so even if they don't substantially affect the game, they don't bog it down either.

The advanced rules are worth the additional work, because the facing makes movement and combat more interesting. The game works with and without them, so if you like that additional complexity, play with them and if you don't, then don't. It adds to the enjoyment of the game, but the game is not broken without them.

The only knock I would give on the game is the bookkeeping on the morale. And this is not a huge knock, because the morale function makes the game, and I don't know how to do it differently. But on every attack resolution you are doing something like this: Attacker gains 1 point morale, defender looses 1 1/2 points of morale. It probably would save a lot of book keeping just to multiply everything by 2 just so that you don't have to handle the 1/2 points, but it is not like this kills the game, and I doubt there will be a revision any time soon.

The games I have played have always follow this flow. At the start, both sides are manuveuring to get their infantry and phalaxes to the center and their cavalry to the wings of their formation and then both sides close on each other. When one side or the other makes contact and attacks, the eventual end is in sight, I have never seen a game where there has been a disengagement, one side or the other looses before breaking away. I have seen Persian formations broken into pieces and torn apart piecemeal and I have seen the Macadonians squeezed into an ever shrinking circle ( a la "100 Spartans" ) until the Persians finally turn the flank and destroy the Macadonians. It all comes down to a move or two, that one badly placed unit or key attack.

This game is down right fun. It only takes an hour or two, with a bit of time for set up (it gets kind of hard to read the unit names, especially for the Persians). This is my second most played game, just because it is very exciting and is a pretty quick play. It is one of those games that can be exciting without being bogged down in rules.

11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kim Meints
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes Alax is a great game.I wished AH had expanded the game to includ all of the other battles that Guidon had made when they first published it(Alexanders Other Battles) but at least The General did do 1 of those battles plus the Kadesh variant.

I always play with the Free Set up so I can try out different formations or at least do so with the Mac's and leave the Persian's with the historical deployment.

The game had the look and feel of a ancient battle.I have used extra sets and colored copied onto other color cardstock the countersheet to make up other battles in around that time period.I ignore the names and just go for the unit types. I have maybe a dozen other battles made.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Flavio Ezio
Italy
Milano
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kim,
May you upload your scenarios in the files section ?
I'm interested
Thank you in advance.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kim Meints
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Never got them into more than just notes for each battle and who I wanted in there
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.