Tim Parker
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Marching with King Alexander!

BTW, the title of my review comes from a legend about a creature called the Nereid who confronts Greek sailors with the title question and the title answer is the only one that will satisfy the creature (quoted from the Holt book listed at the end of this review)

Take a journey back in time, and campaign with the Great King! thumbsup

Field Commander: Alexander is a solitaire game consisting of 4 operational campaigns (Granicus, Issus, Tyre, and Gaugamela) that can be combined to create a grand strategy game that tests your skills and abilities to bring Alexander the immortality through which he will be remembered throughout the ages. Each turn, the player will move/activate the enemy forces through the use of force and operation mechanisms and then move the Macedonian Army across the depicted campaign are in an effort to capture key areas, either places where significant battles took place or powerful cities that the opponents used to govern their empire. At the end of each turn, the player must decide what to do in terms of building up his military strength or undertaking projects that will increase his stature and his glory for the ages to come. But be warned! Campaigning costs money, so you must plan shrewdly when spending those hard earned talents! In the end, victory is assessed by how quickly you conclude a campaign and immortality is determined by victory points, political skill, and how much glory you have covered Alexander with for the given campaign. Victory can then be assessed either on an individual campaign basis or in terms of the four campaigns put together. The real questions becomes: can you make the memory of Alexander the Great live as long or longer than the Great King himself? Or will you fail pitifully and cause Alexander to be remembered for only a short time?

Playing Time: This will vary depending on the scenarios. In my experience of 15 plays (with at least 3 plays of each scenario) I find that the Granicus and Tyre play quite fast, about 30-35 minutes roughly, while Issus takes a bit longer (1hr roughly) and Gaugamela takes the longest given the massive armies Alexander must face (roughly 1hr to 90 minutes). All these times can be reduced by the skillful play of the skills that Alexander can acquire in a given campaign or accumulate over time if you are linking the four games together. There is no doubt in my mind that one can hammer out Granicus or Tyre for a nice, quick evening of play.

Map: The game comes with four very beautiful mounted map boards (a discreet pause for the inevitable cheers of the mounted map board crowd) Each map is divided into regions, thus making the game one of area movement. The maps have a nice background design to them and the pivotal areas that the player needs to conquer are clear and easy to read. The maps also have various charts on them, including the turn track, operations areas for the enemy, the set up for each campaign, and variants that one can try to rack up more VP! The maps are fairly small and fold easily. There are well done and do the job without being busy and retain just the right amount of aesthetic value.

Counters: The counters in the game are all the nice, juicy 5/8 size thumbsup thumbsup and depict both the major armies (Macedonian, Persian, Indian) with each one depicting the unit and a single digit combat value, as well as the various sundry items that go with this historical time period such as prophecy, insight, advisors, and gold to name a few. There are also battle plan counters for the armies to utilize. The counters are very colorful and easy to read, especially the various armies. It is easy to tell from a distance which army is which and, IMO, that is always the trait of a good wargame!

Rules: The rules are designed to make the player feel his campaigning right with Alexander or, for those extremely ambitious, makes the player feel like he is Alexander himself! wow cool Each turn, the player follows a sequence of play that has the games system dictate what the enemy will do with the forces on the board as well as allow the enemy to build up forces for deployment. Some campaigns have only one area where these build up forces can arrive once they hit the launch stage while others have various strongholds that can be reinforced by these new arrivals. Once the player completes the enemy moves, it is now time to grasp the reins of Bucephalus and lead the Macedonians into glory! cool Each turn, the player can move the forces of Alexander a number of areas which is limited only by his ability to pay (in gold) or in forces (by taking hits). Thus, the Macedonians can march all over the board or be limited by the vicissitudes of fate and/or poor planning. As the Macedonians enter areas where the enemy is present, he can engages the forces there either in battle (and must do so for a battle area) or through intimidation using a variety of assets both personal and military in nature. If battle is joined, then both Alexander and the enemy receive battle plans to both maximize their attack (like flanking plans), keep forces in the battle (like charge plans), or help him absorb some of those vicious blows (like rally). The battle procedure is a little different than other wargames as the speed of the units is taken into account and the player applies the hit(s) of the current attacking group before he moves onto the next speed group in decending order. The player determines how to land the hit(s) on both the enemy forces as well as his own. The game also depicts the nature of cavalry in its battle procedure by having cavalry units attack every other turn, reflecting charges and time needed to reorganize the cavalry after one of those rumbling charges. Along with all this, the player can decide whether Alexander will take on the opposing leader or dish out punishment on the enemy army. Do not kid yourself: you CAN get Alexander killed in this game if you make poor decisions (trust me, I have done so twice in my 15 plays. Oh the shame! cry yuk gulp The military units in the game cover the whole range of ancient warfare forces from cavalry to archers to siege engines to walls to the vaunted Macedonian phalanx which has its own special battle rules. Players of Field Commander: Rommel will also find the superscript combat rule here allowing a unit to land two hits with one mighty assault. Once combat ends, Alexander must choose to govern or raze and can then continue on if he is capable. Once this part of the turn is complete, Alexander collects his income and can then build things, like forces, cities, and temples as well as use the glory he accumulated from this and other turns to gain insights which can help with future operations and battles or gain the assistance of key advisors and use their abilities to augment his own.
One of the key parts of rules deals with the prophecies. Each campaign set up details how many of these are to be placed on the map. Alexander can then either accept or reject them. If he accepts, he then must fulfill that prophecy to gain glory, but if he fails, there can be dire consequences including losing the campaign! And Alexander will need this glorification not only to help you reach the highest level possible to guarantee that Alexander will be remembered long after he has died, but also to strengthen Alexander so he can survive the rigors of the campaign and the punishment of battle. Unlike other wargames, getting Alexander immortality is the key to victory so you can kill dozens of the enemy, but if you do not fulfill prophecies and watch your political status and prestige, you can win the battle and lose the war (so to speak )
In other words, Alexander really operates at two levels, the military where you use strategy to win battles and capture key points, the political/PR level where you try to gain immortality so your name will echo across the ages to come! cool

Things I like about the game:

● The layered decision making. You really have to think about a variety of elements, both political and military in order to do well.
● The 5/8 counters and area movement. In a game like this, they both work very well! thumbsup
● The feel. You really feel like Alexander as you march through these campaigns, conquering everything in sight, making key decisions, and holding your army altogether at once.
● The clear and concise rules. In 15 plays, I have only had a few questions regarding the rules. Most issues can be cleared up with common sense or a careful reading of the rules. Whoever proofread the rules did excellent work, IMO.
● The challenge. Can you make Alexander’s memory last as long as he himself did?
● Flexibility. Each campaign game is a game in itself so you either just whip out Tyre and see how quick you can lay that city low or string them altogether to test your strategic ability. The other nice thing is that, with the log and specific campaign set up, you can easily play one scenario, record a few key facts on the log, put the game away and set up the next campaign the next night no sweat!
● The prophecy mechanism. This lends an air of mystery to each game thus increasing replay value.
● The combat sequence. This does a nice job of depicting ancient warfare with its speed and hits elements. So you can decide to use the Companion Cavalry to hit the enemy infantry after the enemy cavalry just blew it! To me, this simulates the various ways one can deploy their army, and allows the player to increase the difficulty if he likes by having his hits strike the weakest enemy forces first or allows him to hammer the enemy strength if he likes as well. This is again an element that allows for increased replay value.

Things that can be annoying: angry

● The enemy armies never move. While I do understand the logistics of moving massive forces in the ancient world, the enemy did move against Alexander from time to time. The Issus Campaign is a good example where Darius came down behind Alexander on his supply lines. Perhaps a one area move when Alexander comes adjacent could have been used? Or maybe a rule that kept the enemy army off the board until Alexander entered the space, giving some degree of uncertainty? It just doesn’t feel right to have the enemy just stand there, IMO.
● The rules with the walls. While the majority of the rules are well done, the walls are a little murky. They are forces, but cannot attack so Alexander could kill the enemy units in the same space with the walls and then ignore the walls so they don’t really force you to build siege engines unless there get to be more than one of them.
● The Tyre Campaign seems a little too easy to me. Of the four, it is the one I have had to make the least decisions and had the least trouble winning. Perhaps there could have been two repair walls result????

Overall Evaluation: d10-9 =wargamer heaven! d10-1 =I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month! yuk

Map= d10-9 Simply put, the maps are brilliant and works of art, and yes, mounted! Which means little to me, but I know some of you out there just salivate like Pavlov’s Dog at the thought! devil

Counters= d10-8 Very colorful, easy to tell armies apart.
Rules= d10-9 Despite the slight issue with the walls, the rules remain concise, conceptually sound for ancient warfare, IMO, and easy to understand. A careful read of the rule(s) in question can clear up most questions with no need to resort to other resources.

Playing Time: d10-9 (Granicus, Tyre)
d10-8 (Issus, Gaugamela). Compared to most wargames the playing time is very short, but I like to give as precise guesstimates as possible since I know many gamers are pressed for time.

Deployment of Forces= d10-8 Takes only a matter of minutes to do this. 5 max, IMO. Order of Battle is easy to read and counter clarity does the rest.

Overall= d10-9 In the final analysis, this game is a blast! thumbsup First, you get to feel just like Alexander and many, many a gamer has dreamed of doing just that and this game will satisfy that urge. Second, the clear and logical rules make it a joy to play. Third, the multiple layers make replay value very high. So many decisions to make and the clock is constantly ticking! And each decision can have grave consequences if one is not careful, especially those prophecy ones. Fourth, the game can be simple (play one campaign) or elaborate (link them). There is a big difference, IMO, in the ability to link the scenarios in this game as opposed to Field Commander: Rommel. Alexander just seems to fit snugly, while Rommel has always felt a little forced to me. Finally, the quality of the components is superb! Bottom line: this is a game that will reward both the gamer interested in Alexander and the die hard Alexander enthusiasts like me (truth be told: Alexander the Great has been one of my heroes since I read a book about him at roughly the age of 8). The thrill of following Alexander on campaign and the challenging decisions to made in a variety of areas makes this game a winner and keeper!

BTW, for those interested in Alexander, here are some titles from my personal library that one may want to check out!

The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian
Plutarch’s Lives
Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. by Peter Green
Alexander the Great by Lane Fox
Alexander the Great by Paul Cartledge
Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions by Frank Holt
The Generalship of Alexander the Great by J.F.C. Fuller


I highly recommend the Fuller book. Very detailed with lots of meaty analysis. Excellent read! thumbsup
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THE REVENGE OF THE GOLDFISH
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Very nice review
greetings from Pella(home of GREAT GREEK/MACEDONIAN LEADER)
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Dan Verssen
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Thank you Tim!

Great review. I like the details you supply.

One question, what tactic are you using to get through the Tyre walls so quickly?
 
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Dan Verssen
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Kosmas,

Hello!

It's neat to hear from someone from Pella!
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Dan Poole
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Quote:
● The rules with the walls. While the majority of the rules are well done, the walls are a little murky. They are forces, but cannot attack so Alexander could kill the enemy units in the same space with the walls and then ignore the walls so they don’t really force you to build siege engines unless there get to be more than one of them.



I don't see how you can ignore even a single Wall; They incur a -2 modifier on all your forces Battle Values until they are flipped and/or destroyed. I suppose if there was just one measley little archer behind the wall then you could ignore the wall. I have only played the first campaign, though by the time I get to the strongholds, there are plenty of guys waiting for me behind those walls.

I always bring at least 1 siege engine to the fight if there is a wall. With 2 walls, I bring all 3 siege engines. Anyways, thats a great review of a really fun game
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Josh "Der Spieler" Spillers
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A great review for a great game!

voynix wrote:
I have only played the first campaign, though by the time I get to the strongholds, there are plenty of guys waiting for me behind those walls.

Same here, and I got massacred in Halicarnassus in my first campaign.

catosulla wrote:
The enemy armies never move. While I do understand the logistics of moving massive forces in the ancient world, the enemy did move against Alexander from time to time. The Issus Campaign is a good example where Darius came down behind Alexander on his supply lines. Perhaps a one area move when Alexander comes adjacent could have been used? Or maybe a rule that kept the enemy army off the board until Alexander entered the space, giving some degree of uncertainty? It just doesn’t feel right to have the enemy just stand there, IMO.

The scout roll has a bit of this effect on your forces, though I always rolled lower than my forces in Granicus and had to forage instead of "fight." To a lesser extent, the raid battle plans and the -5 gold op affect your resources as if the enemy had attacked your supply lines. I see what you mean, though.
 
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Tim Parker
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Dan,
Thanks for the kudos!
I usually build all 3 siege ships right off the bat. Then, it is pretty easy to get a breach and get in. I have been assuming, once in, that you do not use the wall -2 modifier because, well, you're in the city Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seemed logical to me. So I guess you could say I just spend my initial gold to buy those ships and reduce as many Persian warships as I can with the gold left over. Since the mole has the only spending restriction, I figure to use the momentum of Alexander and the siege ships and since there is a 50% chance of getting a hit with each roll, it just seems to be the right approach.
V/R,
Tim
 
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Dan Poole
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That's what I do, I buy the siege engines and hopefully destroy the walls first turn. If not, the turns are pretty painful with those negative wall modifiers
 
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Tim Parker
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Dan,
But see, that is why I mentioned the issue with the rules for the wall. Once I breach the wall, why would the modifier still apply? It doesn't make sense to me logically, b/c once you're in, you're in unless thrown back out.
V/R,
Tim
 
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THE REVENGE OF THE GOLDFISH
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DanVerssen wrote:
Kosmas,

Hello!

It's neat to hear from someone from Pella!


Actually from Thessaloniki about 60km from Pellablush
As you can see many people from my guild had preorder your game!!!!
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Nikos Kalfin
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Yeah ! Half of the box is filled with greek names!
And my thoughts about the game is quite nice indeed. It took some time to have it but it is finally in our hands!

I am after the last one (Gaugamela)

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Dan Poole
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Quote:
Dan,
But see, that is why I mentioned the issue with the rules for the wall. Once I breach the wall, why would the modifier still apply? It doesn't make sense to me logically, b/c once you're in, you're in unless thrown back out.
V/R,
Tim


If I read you correctly (forgive me if I don't), the Wall modifier(s) are present until the wall chits are physically destroyed. [or did I miss your point?]
 
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Josh "Der Spieler" Spillers
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catosulla wrote:
Dan,
But see, that is why I mentioned the issue with the rules for the wall. Once I breach the wall, why would the modifier still apply? It doesn't make sense to me logically, b/c once you're in, you're in unless thrown back out.
V/R,
Tim

Logical? Definitely. But, as far as game mechanics are concerned, I think all walls in Tyre still act as "wall forces" in battle for as long as they're standing. When we hear from DV, I'll be sure to make a thread in the rules forum about this so it will be easy for others to find (unless someone beats me to it).
 
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Tim Parker
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Dan,
No, I meant the opposite. Once the wall is breached, in goes Alexander and it's on! If you use the modifiers until ALL the walls of Tyre are destroyed, I would think it would make it too difficult and you'd never get in. I can understand using the wall modifier in the land areas b/c units could come into the battle or pull back to the city while the fight goes on, but Tyre would seem to me, with the breach rule about Alexander being able to move in when a wall is destroyed, to be the exception. Otherwise you start with -12 modifier for the Tyrians. Again, I could be wrong and, like Josh said, we'll just have to wait for DV to give us the official word. Either way, at least the issue will be cleared up for those future Alexandrians
V/R,
Tim
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Dan Verssen
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If a Wall on Tyre is destroyed, you can do battle. The other Walls do not count against you.
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Josh "Der Spieler" Spillers
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Ya, the battle inside of Tyre, I meant; all wall forces still count there. But the wall forces don't affect the Siege Engine Ship Track roll.


Edit: Oop! There's your answer above! thumbsup
Thanks, DV!
 
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Colin Houghton
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Tim

Is it better than Field Commander Rommel?

Anyone else got both?

ta

Col
 
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Tim Parker
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Colin,
I do like it better than Field Commander: Rommel for two reasons. First, the content (I have been, and always will be, and Alexander the Great man) second, Alexander does not have the one thing that, to me, is the biggest drawback to Rommel: the seemingly endless ability of the enemy to recycle forces. In Rommel, it just seems that there should be some limit to how many times an allied unit can reappear or perhaps a negative DRM or something. I already have 16 plays of Alexander and I've owned it less than a month and 19 total for Rommel which I've owned for a year so I guess that speaks for itself
V/R,
Tim
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