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Subject: Field Commander: Alexander the Great, A Detailed Review rss

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Chris Montgomery
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Field Commander: Alexander
Conquering the Known World in the Privacy of Your Own Home

Field Commander: Alexander (FC:Alexander) is the second installment of Dan Verssen Games's "Field Commander" series. The goal of the Field Commander game system is, as the rules state in the introduction, "to make the careers of some of history's great commanders accessible in an easy to learn, fast playing game format." The series has, so far, probably become the most popular solitaire game series of recent note, and if the quality of the product continues to improve, will probably remain so for a very long time.

Author's Note: The images used in this article are the original copyrights of their owners, in this case, BGG image posters. Please hand out thumbs for appropriate images and let them know you care! :-)

Overview

In FC:Alexander, the player takes on the role of Alexander the Great, having the ability to play four separate and distinct campaigns on four separate maps, or a grand campaign which links all of Alexander's campaigns into one large game. Game play is fast and furious, and players have multiple paths to victory--a player might go all out and try to conquer territory as quickly as possible (but risk losing Alexander in a pitched battle), or possibly progress more slowly, building cities and mercifully governing the conquered rather than razing their cities. Further, the options on spending various resources (such as gold and glory) can provide for interesting outcomes and, again, alternate ways to win.

If you're looking for a good, solid, solitaire wargame, this game is for you. If you've been thinking of picking up either FC:Rommel or FC:Alexander, get Alexander--the multitude of different options provides high replayability, and the AI changes from campaign to campaign.

Unlike FC:Rommel, I actually felt like Alexander when I played this game. You make all the decisions concerning your army, all the decisions concerning whether to raze or govern the provinces you conquer, and which units (in both sides of a battle) take casualties.

And just to be clear, I am not a swooning fan of DVG or the Field Commander series, by any means (not yet, at least). Interested readers can read my rather negative (and somewhat detailed) review of the first game in the series (Field Commander: Rommel), here. See Footnote 1.

The multitude of decisions, and multiple ways to play the game, make this game an over all 7.7 out of 10 in my ratings.

Opening the Box: Components



This game's components have made a huge leap forward compared to FC:Rommel.

The maps are set up for area movement, just like FC:Rommel. Where FC:Rommel provided three good quality paper maps, FC: Alexander has four excellent quality 11" x 17" mounted-board maps. Here is a final production map of the first campaign game, "Granicus", which charts the initial campaign by Alexander for control of the Macedonians and the first campaign against the Persians (click all images to view them larger):



I have some comments about mounted boards in general, in the Footnotes. [See Fn 2]. The maps do warp relatively easily; I left mine out and opened overnight while writing this review, and they would not fold up nicely. But, it is not a major concern. A couple days back in the box, and they should be fine.

The counters continue to be one of the best features of DVG's component list, being of good stock, and laminated with some sort of crisp matte finish that makes the counters more substantial and tough than your run-of-the-mill pressed-paper wargame counters. Though I doubt that you can see the textured quality of the counters, here is an image that showcases the excellent artwork and good choice of contrasting colors:



The counters are used for several purposes in the game, including units representation, gold accumulation, battle plans, advisors, glory, operations, prophecies, and a whole host of other purposes.

The rules booklet comes in at 15 pages from soup to nuts, and is the same quality as FC:Rommel--thick, glossy paper stock in full-color, with examples of play and very nice artwork. Here's the front cover:



Since the game's focus is on being "easy to learn" and "fast playing", there are no other significant components to the game other than a single six-sided die and a player log, which can be viewed at the DVG Website.

Victory Conditions

Each campaign, and there are four of them, only has a single win condition: capture all the "Pivotal Areas" on the game map, and have Alexander's Army on a specific province of the game map. Added to these conditions, however, is a victory point system so that players can gauge their military prowess between plays of the same campaign. The victory points also give solitaire players a benchmark against which to measure their gaming abilities against other solitaire players.

The first campaign is Granicus, and simulates Alexander's initial conquests: Macedonia, Northern Greece, and the area that Europeans today call the "Near East." At the time the campaign is set, this region marked the western-most boundaries of Persia. This campaign covers the first two years of Alexander's twelve-year period of conquest.

The second campaign is Issus, and covers Alexander's continued conquest east and south along the Mediterranean coastline, ending in the region of modern day Israel and Palestine. This campaign culminated in many more conquests and ends immediately before the siege of Tyre.

The third campaign is Tyre, and covers the very limited, but very, very significant siege and subjugation of the island port of Tyre. This campaign is very interesting, because it involves additional rules to help simulate the awesome task of sacking Tyre.

The fourth campaign is Gaugamela, and finalizes Alexander's last campaign to the far, far east, in which he conquered many provinces of the modern day Middle East, Far East, and India ("east" to the Euro-centric mind, anyway).

Finally, all these campaigns can be linked together into one long grand campaign. Unlike the victory conditions of the various campaigns (which you must still complete), there is a calculation and record-keeping round between each successive campaign in which Alexander brings his forces with him to the next campaign map, and is scored on Immortality Points. The goal, of course, of the grand campaign is to complete each campaign in succession without having Alexander die. But ultimately, the goal of the grand campaign is to accumulate as many Immortality Points as possible which gives players yet another benchmark against which to measure their games--encouraging replayability. Unlike just straight victory points, immortality points are earned through specific accumulation of things throughout each campaign, including VPs and Glory.

Game Mechanics Overview

The game mechanics, which are the bulk of the rules, are what I would term "light-medium." They are more complex than FC:Rommel, but perhaps that is only because FC:Alexander offers the player many more options (to my mind) than FC:Rommel did. Where, in FC:Rommel, you are essentially tasked with either attacking, or rebuilding to hold the line, FC:Alexander allows you to press the attack over and over again within the same turn, as long as you have the troops--or the money--to do it, or, conversely, to fight more slowly, 1 battle at a time, building cities as you go.

The Map and Set Up. Set up takes about ten minutes. Of course, the first couple times playing will take longer, and of course, this assumes the player is a true BGG wargame geek and organizes his counters "properly." And, of course, by "properly," I mean any method of organization that works for you.

The set up positions and starting locations of all units and other counters in each campaign are printed clearly, right on the map. First time gamers should be sure to reference the rules the first couple of times, since some units have different combat values.

Each region on the map has either a city marker, a battlesite marker, an oracle marker, or nothing. Sprinkled across these regions at the beginning of the campaign will be various armies from various nations, and most of the cities will have at least one Wall counter, which makes them much harder to destroy through battle. Oracle areas also have Prophecy markers in them. Remember these four types of regions, though, since they have a very important aspect on game play.

Finally, on some of the maps, you can note galleys between narrow straits--generally, these gallies will allow transportation between the two provinces that are separated by the strait.

The Game Turn. Now, I don't want to retype the rules. You can read those here:

DVG FC:Alexander Website

by clicking on the sidebar for rules--in PDF format. But I will try to provide a quick overview of them to try and relate the flavor of the game.

Preparation. Essentially, each game turn begins with a Preparation Phase where you advance the turn counter and "repair" wounded units that are already in play. At this point, you cannot build new units. The enemy units on the map then take their actions which is a simple chart printed right on the map. For instance, in the Granicus campaign, a die is rolled with modifiers for how far away Alexander is from each enemy city (called Strongholds in the game). Again, by way of example, in the Granicus campaign, the enemy will either build more walls, recruit more units, do nothing, or, there is a possibility that they will add Glory or Gold for Alexander to pick up if he successfully conquers that province.

Movement for Conquest. The next phase is Alexander's opportunity for movement. This is a very clever mechanic. Each time Alexander moves into a new province, he has to make a scouting roll on 1d6. If the roll is higher than the number of units in Alexander's army, his forces suffer hits equal to the difference between the units and the roll. If the roll is lower, Alexander has to pay gold to acquire supplies. If the roll is exactly dead on, the move is free. If he doesn't have the gold, he can't move. Similarly, if he doesn't have the units to take the requisite hits, he can't move. Alexander can always choose not to move and keep his gold (or units).

This is an elegant mechanic for a light-medium game, simulating the attrition many armies underwent as they marched. Rolling high simulates a barren province with an uncooperative population, while rolling low simulates a cooperative population that will sell you food, instead of burning it. Rolling exactly on simulates the rare occasion in which the population is so grateful, they give you the food. The only "improvement" I could think of is a modifier for each province, based on that region's historical level of friendship or hostility to Alexander. But that's neither here nor there. Perhaps in an expansion some day.

In any event, this mechanic is very clever, unique, and elegant, without cluttering up the gameplay.

If Alexander moves into an area containing a prophecy marker, the player must decide whether to accept the Prophecy or decline it. The Prophecies are basically additional in-game challenges that make Alexander's life more difficult. If he declines the prophecy, then nothing happens, but he cannot reap any of the prophetic benefits. If he accepts the Prophecy, then he must complete it in either 2 or 4 turns (depending on the Prophecy). Examples of tasks might be eliminating an advisor, capturing 2 or more pivotal areas, razing a pivotal area, etc. Completing the task allows you to increase Alexander's battle rating.

Battle and/or Intimidate. The Army of Alexander is a single counter that is placed in a starting location on each campaign map. The units making up Alexander's Army are placed off-board on a Player Log sheet. As the army changes in size and composition, the units off-map change, but it doesn't require any on-map adjustments, which is a very convenient way for the player to manage his army without having to have a large stack of counters moving around the map.

Once Alexander has moved into a new province, this is where the province types come in that I introduced earlier: Pivotal Areas are Strongholds (cities) and Battlesites. Non-Pivotal areas are Oracles and empty provinces. Strongholds must be conquered by either Intimidating the residents to capitulate, or by tearing down the walls and defeating the city by force. Battlesites must be conquered via a battle only. Oracles and areas with nothing in them are automatically conquered, unless enemy units are present, which case, they must be battled.

Alexander's goal is to conquer all the Pivotal Areas on the Map.

The military units in the game are "forces" and mean any military unit, including Walls, Siege Equipment, Infantry, Cavalry, and Leaders. Within each type of military unit, though, there are special rules. For instance, cavalry can only participate as attackers in the battle every other turn. The familiar superscripted additional attacks from FC:Rommel makes a redux appearance, and to good effect.

Battles are straightforward. Every unit has a speed value (similar to Hammer of the Scots), and the faster units fire first, and inflict hits first. Units of the same speed attack simultaneously. Units also have a battle number. The player rolls 1d6 for each force (or unit) in turn. If the resulting roll is lower than the battle number, a hit is scored and applied. Some units, like heavy cavalry, have the familiar superscript, which scores TWO HITS if your roll is lower than the battle number AND the superscripted number. This is a two-edged sword, of course--since the Macedonian cavalry generally has the same battle number and superscript number, you either hit with everything, or miss entirely. Other units, like phalanxes, allow you to keep rolling as long as you can hit, but each successive roll reduces the battle number by 1.

In addition, Alexander himself is also represented. He can attack enemy leaders, but once this is done, the enemy leader gets to apply any and all of his scored hits against Alexander alone. Alexander must do likewise. If Alexander is eliminated in this fashion, the game is over, and the player loses. If Alexander eliminates the enemy leader, however, all the enemy units (and the leader) are eliminated immediately.

Choosing to involve Alexander in 1-on-1 combat is a difficult decision. This is also where completing prophecies can be very, very, beneficial--each prophecy completed improves Alexander's battle rating. So, a very powerful Alexander can win battles almost single-handedly, at least in those cases where there is an enemy leader present. But beware. I lost many a campaign thinking my beefy Alex could knock out a leader with a battle rating of 2. Sometimes, the enemy gets lucky.

Battles may also involve three other things: battle plans, walls, and siege equipment. Battle plans are familiar and very similar to FC:Rommel. In FC:Alexander, though, the plans seem easier to obtain--the player is awarded 1 free battle plan for each point of Alexander's battle rating (yet another reason to complete those prophecies and bulk up Alexander's ratings!). They can also be purchased--costing one gold each. Walls may exist in stronghold/city provinces and each wall automatically reduces every unit's battle rating by two. The effect is cumulative. Thus, if Alexander attacks a stronghold province with two walls, every unit in Alexander's army will be at a -4 battle rating. Since 4 is the highest battle rating in the game, none of Alexander's units will be able to hit anything. This means Alexander will essentially HAVE to purchase siege equipment before attacking, or use the Intimidate option. If the province only has one wall, high-powered units like heavy cavalry or phalanxes may be enough. Siege equipment is purchased cheaply, but remember that since Alexander may only purchase units to the exclusion of a city or a temple, the player will be fore-going these items, and possibly passing up the higher-powered military units in order to purchase a unit that is weak in all aspects EXCEPT attacking walls. Seige equipment has a battle rating of 3 against walls and a battle rating of 1 for all other purposes.

After the battle is over, if Alexander wins (or successfully intimidates the population) he gains control of the area/province. In non-pivotal areas, nothing happens. In Pivotal Areas, he can either Raze the province, or Govern it. If he Razes it, he immediately collects a set amount of gold (and it is a lot of gold), but you only collect it once. If the player decides to Govern it, he receives about 1/2 as much gold, but he gets the Gold every turn. This can lead to interesting choices in play. Gold is needed to purchase food (when you roll low), buy new units, purchase battle plans, and a host of other things. But the player also needs VPs, which are earned by building cities and finishing the campaign early (as well as some other things, like optional rules).

By winning the battle, Alexander also earns Glory, which can later be used to purchase Advisors, Insights, or saved and spent on
helping future Intimidation rolls.

If Alexander loses the battle by retreating, there are negative retreat effects, including the possible elimination of the Macedonian army.

If Alexander is killed, game over. Start again.

Rinse, Repeat. Depending upon how the first round went, a player can do it all over again, starting with the scouting roll for movement all the way through combat and intimidation. A player may cycle through this section of the game turn as many times as he likes, as long as he wants, provided he can afford the movement in gold and take the troop losses--and provided that Alexander is still alive. If Alexander dies, as has been already discussed, game over, start again.

Resupply. During the resupply phase, the player collects gold (5 gold per pivotal area governed and as noted on the map key for other things) and spends the gold and any glory on purchasing necessary items based on his game strategy.

The stuff you can buy with gold includes only one of the following: 1 or more troops, OR 1 city, OR 1 temple. The troops are an obvious choice, and the cost is relative to their battlefield advantage. Cities provide 5 victory points each at the end of the game scenario and must be built in the province where Alexander is located. Only 1 city per province/area. Temples provide potential re-rolls in battle, which can be beneficial, but I find them generally to be not worth the effort. Advisors are very cool, and may be a good investment, since they alter the rules of the game. For instance, Antipater will allow a player to purchase 1 city, AND 1 temple, AND 1 or more units during each Resupply Phase.

Why I Like This Game So Much

My thoughts about why I enjoyed this game so immensely can be broken down into three primary reasons: (1) replayability, (2) complexity, and (3) storyline.

Replayability.FC:Alexander offers a multitude of replayable options. Not only does each campaign come with optional rules, the "basic" versions of each campaign can be played in a multitude of different ways.

Let me try to illustrate with some of my experiences with the game.

The first campaign is Granicus, which chronicles Alexander's initial battle in Cheronea for the heart and soul of Macedonia through his conquest of the Mediterranean coast of modern day Turkey. Alexander won this battle historically (and must also win it in this campaign as the first order of duty). After that, the goal is the same, as in all of the campaigns: take control of all the Pivotal Areas. Now, there are several options on how to conquer this campaign. A player might go all gung-ho, military conquest (which is fun, but difficult, since Alexander seems to die more often than not), moving as rapidly and recklessly as possible, mowing down Persians and risking his life. Or perhaps a player can go slowly, governing rather than razing, building gold, building an army, and taking his time. Or perhaps a player might attempt to bulk up Alexander by completing lots of prophecies to make him powerful BEFORE switching over to an aggressive military style. In my games, I tried Granicus in all these different modes in order to have a perspective on this review, and because Granicus can be played in about 30-45 minutes. Any strategy selected can work, but I generally found that the high-value VPs were earned by rapid, reckless military campaigns--Alexander will die often, but when you win, it's awesome fun.

The replayability based on different player choices is fine, but the game goes further. Players also have the option of changing the game fundamentally by playing with optional rules printed right on the map. These rules give much larger VP rewards, but make Alexander's job tougher and require different approaches. For instance, one of the optional rules in Granicus is that gold costs for scouting/movement are 2 gold per difference instead of 1. This makes movement more difficult and can make the Macedonians cash-strapped for units and gold the further Alexander progresses from Greece.

Finally, the game is replayable because of the random elements of the AI. Sometimes the AI seems to build lots of walls (in Granicus), sometimes lots of units. This alters a player's strategy and changes the game each time.

Complexity. This game is more complex than FC:Rommel--both in replayability, as I (hopefully) demonstrated above, but also in the options available to the player during any given game. I like the fact that FC:Alexander feels like a new game each time I play with many different options. FC:Rommel left me feeling somewhat like I only had two real choices: assault, or hold off and build up. FC:Alexander's added layers of choices, such as Insights (which I did not discuss in this review), Prophecies (and whether to accept them), Battles versus Intimidation--all of it makes for an engaging game with many tough decisions to make every game turn. Should Alexander push forward with a weakened army before the next turn comes and there is likely going to be another Wall in Lycia? It's up to you. Waiting might result in an insurmountable defense in which Alexander has to stall for a couple turns and purchase siege equipment and other forces before his attack, whereas, attacking now will expose Alexander to potential death and/or result in a crushing defeat, ending the campaign, but could result in victory and secure a higher number of VPs.

Story Line. What this game really comes down to, though, is the storyline. I feel like Alexander when I play this game. I feel like a story is being rewritten when I play, that the history texts are changing. I feel like the conquest's success or failure rests in my hands with thousands of Macedonians ready to die at my request. That's what makes this game awesome--a story unfolds about the life of Alexander as you play. Did Alexander "defeat the Persians at the battle of Lycia and sack the city" or did he "graciously accept Lycia's surrender without bloodshed"? The choice is, ultimately, the players. And that is very cool.

A Few Parting Shots

I would be remiss if I failed to point out some weaknesses, though they are, in my opinion, minimal.

The first problem is that if you are incredibly lucky, you can get some awkward results in the Granicus campaign (and maybe the others--I haven't played them enough yet). I had one game in the Granicus campaign where I got extremely lucky and beat the scenario by the end of Turn 2 (the 337 to 336 B.C. campaign turn). The problem was, of course, no Victory Point reward is listed on that turn. What's more, I had a Prophecy to complete, which was set at Turn 3, but I was penalized because I hadn't satisfied that prophecy's requirements by the time the campaign ended. The prophecy penalty is fair, I suppose, since I didn't have to take it, especially if I was trying to win in two turns. And, to be honest, I was pushing my forces hard, just to see if it was possible to complete the campaign in two turns. It is possible to win on Turn 2, but I killed off Alexander three times (meaning I lost the game three times) before I got the Turn 2 result. I think it is possible to win the Granicus campaign in 1 Turn, if a player was really, really, lucky.

Second, the rules do have some interesting ambiguities. For instance, the rules state in the "Enemy Operations" section that if you are required to draw an enemy force (an enemy counter, basically), and are are unable to do so, Alexander's armies suffer hits. That is all well and good, but there is also a Battle Plan that requires the player to "add a [random] force" of the same nationality. Now, the Battle Plan takes effect in the Battle Phase, NOT the Enemy Operations Phase. So, what happens if you are in a Battle and the enemy draws the "Add a Force" battleplan? There is no explanation of what to do in this instance if there are no forces to draw. Does Alexander take a hit per the Enemy Operations rules? Discard the Battle Plan as being unable to complete and proceed with the battle? Discard the Battle Plan and draw another one? The rules are silent as to the proper way to handle this, and it can leave an excited solitaire player in the lurch: you are tempted to take the most beneficial way out, but then wonder if you've just earned yourself a "crap win." There are other examples of similar rules problems, but none of them, in my opinion, were that big of a deal.

Third, the Insight counters and Advisor counters seem very novel, but I find that I rarely use them, since the campaigns are played so quickly, and glory is so hard to come by, it usually makes more sense to just save up the Glory for Intimidation rolls, or to bank them in the grand campaign, since there's only 1-3 cities on any one map. That is not to say that the Insight and Advisor features are not fun--they just haven't seemed that relevant to me in my campaigns, where you are trying to maximize your victory points at the end. In the grand campaign I could see the benefits, since advisors can make your job of conquest, much, much, easier, and they would stay with you throughout the campaign. So, garnering them early on is a huge benefit. But in the straight-forward campaigns, I found that I didn't use them that much. Then again, that could just be my playing style.

Fourth, some of the advisors seem infinitely more useful than others. For instance, Antipater allows you to build 1 city, 1 temple, AND 1 unit (really helpful to maximize VP quickly) every turn. Parmenion removes up to 3 enemy battle plans every battle. Both these are excellent advisors. On the flip-side, advisor Callisthenes gives you one extra Glory for winning battles (meh).

I will say that I am probably stretching these negative elements only because I feel I need to point out something. No game is perfect. In truth, none of the above criticisms substantially impact the play of the game.

Conclusion

In summary, FC:Alexander captures the flavor of Alexander's adult life as a conquerer. DVG has put together a nice title that captures the flavor and feel of an Alexander the Great title in a short, quick-playing solitaire game. The game mechanics tout some unique features, and while most of the mechanics are not necessarily innovative, they are fun and provide a player with a host of decisions to make. These decisions give the game a high replayability factor and a very unique and engaging experience.

If you're in the market for a solid solitaire wargame this game is highly recommended by this reviewer.

7.7 out of 10. Highly recommended.

Cheers. And Happy Gaming.

Chris Montgomery

Further Information

You can read the rules, look at final cover art, check out the player logs, and a host of other stuff at Dan Verssen Games's website, here. In fact, you can see detailed examples of game play, and a host of other cool stuff, if you are seriously thinking about buying this game.

Footnotes

This section includes some more information that I felt cluttered up the review, but was nonetheless worth throwing out there for you.

[Fn 1] Note in the comments section to of my FC: Rommel review thread that Dan Verssen posted a response to my negative comments with some very well articulated explanations. I always find such involvement from the designer to be a gracious and welcome activity, and is unfortunately something that happens far too little.

[Fn 2] As an aside, I would like to plug all gamers to purchase games with mounted boards--they add a level of sophistication and quality to boardgames, and if properly done, enhance almost all aspects of game play. Patronizing companies that produce this level of quality will encourage other companies to do the same. They are called boardgames, after all, not papergames.

Edit: Corrected a misunderstanding of the rules, where I thought Alexander was limited to purchasing only 1 unit during the resupply supply step. The rules clearly state "one or more."

Edit: Corrected a misunderstanding the mechanic of superscripted battle numbers.
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Salty Skwib
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Excellent review. My copy just came in the mail, but I haven't had the opportunity to set it up and play it yet. That undoubtedly will be happening soon.

Kudos to Dan Verssen for producing this solitaire wargame series. For those of us just taking baby steps into wargaming, a solitaire wargame that is light to medium is I think an excellent way to bring new wargamers into the fold, especially for those of us who may have been intimidated by the far more complex offerings. I for one will be purchasing future additions to this series.
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Joseph
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Thank for the review. I've played FC Rommel, and have a few questions that will help me decide if I'll buy FCA or not.

1. Did you encounter any situations that were not covered by the rules?

2. If the answer to 1. is "yes", then how quickly did they turn up in the game? (I.E. : First battle etc)

3. Pursuant to 1: How often did this happen? Several times, a few times?

I've played FCR several times. The rules were incomplete, and the holes started showing up in the first battle. Specifically, the interaction between the battles plans wasn't spelled out. It was a frustrating experience, and ultimately completely ahistorical. It took roughly 6-7 plays to win the first scenario.
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Ned Leffingwell
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Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?
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Chris Montgomery
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falloutfan wrote:
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Thank for the review. I've played FC Rommel, and have a few questions that will help me decide if I'll buy FCA or not.

1. Did you encounter any situations that were not covered by the rules?

2. If the answer to 1. is "yes", then how quickly did they turn up in the game? (I.E. : First battle etc)

3. Pursuant to 1: How often did this happen? Several times, a few times?

I've played FCR several times. The rules were incomplete, and the holes started showing up in the first battle. Specifically, the interaction between the battles plans wasn't spelled out. It was a frustrating experience, and ultimately completely ahistorical. It took roughly 6-7 plays to win the first scenario.


First off, I'd like to point out that the beauty of a solitaire game is that you can fudge it, as long as you are having fun. So, I guess I would begin by saying that the errors I found in the rules were minor.

Second, the game is a simple one, being light to light-medium. The problems I encountered (in my opinion) were very insignificant. See the section in my review titled "A Few Parting Shots." The only niggling problem I encountered was the issue of what to do if a battle plan calls for drawing a force and the enemy has no forces. Under a specific phase of the game, Alexander's army takes a hit for each force to be drawn. But it is not clear if the same thing is true for the battle phase. Again, I did not mind this--I just played it the way that was most advantageous to me: the battle plan was ineffective and discarded.

Third, the main difference between this game and FC:Rommel, to me, is that I really feel like a story is being told as I play. I feel like I am rewriting Alexander's history. I didn't get that experience, for whatever reason, with FC:Rommel. I felt FC:Rommel was rather arbitrary, with my decisions having little impact on the game. In Alexander, I feel like my decisions have a much bigger impact.

Finally, I think you will find that this game is easier to "win" compared to FC:Rommel. The enemy AI doesn't get bucketloads of troops as a way to balance the game. Instead, again, it's more about the story being told. I would go so far as to say that you have to be pretty reckless with Alexander, or very unlucky, in order to fail in the campaigns. But that's the cool thing about it, to me, since you aren't afraid to push the envelope (and fail). Plus, the time investment is minimal, so even when you lose, you haven't lost that much time. Just try again.

As I say in the review. I highly recommend this game if you fall into the class of people I mention. In my opinion, this game, unlike FC:Rommel, is FUN to play.

Hope this helps.

Cheers. And Happy Gaming.

Chris Montgomery
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Chris Montgomery
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nedpatrick wrote:
Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?


Do you mean an actual odor? Otherwise, I'm not sure what you meant. :-)

Chris
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Dan Verssen
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Chris,

Wowzer! Excellent review!

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed review. I think it really captures the intent and flavor of the game.

I have added a link to your review on the DVG review page.
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Joshua Gottesman
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nedpatrick wrote:
Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?


I noticed that in Down in Flames: Aces High and was on the watch for it with FC: A. I didn't notice it in my copy.
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Ned Leffingwell
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cmontgo2 wrote:
nedpatrick wrote:
Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?


Do you mean an actual odor? Otherwise, I'm not sure what you meant. :-)

Chris


Yeah, an actual smell. There is a thread about it for Rommel.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/305968

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nedpatrick wrote:
cmontgo2 wrote:
nedpatrick wrote:
Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?


Do you mean an actual odor? Otherwise, I'm not sure what you meant. :-)

Chris


Yeah, an actual smell. There is a thread about it for Rommel.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/305968



My copy had the smell.

Excellent review by the way.
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Mats Lintonsson
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Great review!
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nedpatrick wrote:
cmontgo2 wrote:
nedpatrick wrote:
Does this game have the "smell" that FC Rommel has?


Do you mean an actual odor? Otherwise, I'm not sure what you meant. :-)

Chris


Yeah, an actual smell. There is a thread about it for Rommel.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/305968



Nothing that I would consider important, no. It didn't have a smell that I know of. Of course, I am an ex-smoker, and have destroyed my sense of smell and taste. I thought the game smelled like a new game! :-)

Cheers.

Chris Montgomery
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Fred Hartig
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Hello!

In your review, you wrote "... but remember that since Alexander may only purchase 1 unit per turn (and only if you buy it and only if you fore-go purchasing a city or a temple)..."

I think, this is not correct.
The rules state that (without Antipater) you can only buy either 1 City OR 1 Temple OR 1 or more forces.
If you decide for option #3, you can buy 1 or MORE forces (limit is your Gold).

Fred
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Fred22 wrote:
Hello!

In your review, you wrote "... but remember that since Alexander may only purchase 1 unit per turn (and only if you buy it and only if you fore-go purchasing a city or a temple)..."

I think, this is not correct.
The rules state that (without Antipater) you can only buy either 1 City OR 1 Temple OR 1 or more forces.
If you decide for option #3, you can buy 1 or MORE forces (limit is your Gold).

Fred


You are correct, and I will edit to fix it. Someone else pointed this out to me on a previous thread. It's good to know that fellow BGGers are on top of their game, but it's a little like the scene in the movie Office Space with 5 people coming up to me to make sure I finished my TPS reports.

Thanks for the heads up, though. :-)

Chris Montgomery
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Mathew Schemenaur
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I would like to point out one more correction. The rules state:

"A Force must roll its Battle value or lower to inflict one Hit
on the enemy Forces. If the Force has a superscripted number,
and the roll is equal to or lower than its superscripted value,
the attack scores 2 Hits."

This indicates that there is only one battle role. Depending on the value of that one role 1 or 2 hits are scored.

This and the ability to buy more than one troop per turn should make the game much easier.

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Chris Montgomery
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mschemen wrote:
I would like to point out one more correction. The rules state:

"A Force must roll its Battle value or lower to inflict one Hit
on the enemy Forces. If the Force has a superscripted number,
and the roll is equal to or lower than its superscripted value,
the attack scores 2 Hits."

This indicates that there is only one battle role. Depending on the value of that one role 1 or 2 hits are scored.

This and the ability to buy more than one troop per turn should make the game much easier.



I will correct the article in respect to this.

I must also say that I didn't feel the game was particularly "hard", even with these incorrectly interpreted rules.

Also, a single roll for the battle number and the superscripted number does not necessarily makes the game easier. Most of the cavalry units (at least the Macedonian ones) have the same battle number and superscript number--thus, most cavalry units inflict either two hits, or no hits. After four rounds of combat (two cycles of cavalry), if you haven't hit on either roll, you'll probably be hurting pretty badly.

Thanks for pointing out the error!

Chris Montgomery
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George Frangia

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Thank you for a very informative review.

I am relatively new to the site and have been debating between purchasing this game or Command and Colors: Ancients (esp. expansion 1). Can you compare and contrast the two?
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gwfrangia wrote:
Thank you for a very informative review.

I am relatively new to the site and have been debating between purchasing this game or Command and Colors: Ancients (esp. expansion 1). Can you compare and contrast the two?


Unfortunately, I can't! I don't play C&C because my tastes for non-solitaire games runs more complex than C&C. I do know the essential game system for C&C, and I can tell you that that system is comparable in complexity to Field Commander: Alexander. C&C is a battle game; that is, each game simluates a battle. In Alexander, the game simulates a full military campaign. Battles are far more abstract.

So, I guess I would say that if you are looking for a quick playing solitaire operational-type game, get this one. If you want to continue to expand your C&C collection and continue to fight battlefield-level battles, get the C&C expansion.

Thanks for the kind words!

Chris Montgomery
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Quote:
Any strategy selected can work, but I generally found that the high-value VPs were earned by rapid, reckless military campaigns--Alexander will die often, but when you win, it's awesome fun.



HOOYAH!!

Great and entertaining review, Chris. Thank you!!

I happened on the game today at a local "Brick-n-Mortar" (Baltimore, MD) and picked it up without any prep work from BGG. I knew about Dan's games as I have played Hornet Leader many a time.

Once I arrived home with FC:AtG, I quickly checked BGG for any reviews on this game. Mother load was struck when I read your review!

Thanks again...I love your above quote! Wish we were closer...luv to get a wargame with ya as we think alike.

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Doug
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Thanks, That was really a well written review... everyone's taste is different but you tell the story of fun gaming sessions. My last solo game was B-17 -- which I didnt like but wowafter reading your review...I am changing tabs now and ordering a copy. Thanks for taking the time to share your insite.

Fleanbillywow
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Edward Wehrenberg
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Great review, thanks for posting it!
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Wonderful review! I agree entirely. One quick thing:

cmontgo2 wrote:

Resupply. During the resupply phase, the player collects gold (5 gold per city) and spends the gold and any glory on purchasing necessary items based on his game strategy.


Quote:
Cities provide 5 gold per turn and must be built in the province where Alexander is located.


Not exactly. Governed areas provide 5 gold a turn, not cities. Cities provide 5 VP at the end of the campaign.

Now just waiting for Napoleon...

 
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Chris Montgomery
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pusherman42 wrote:
One quick thing:

cmontgo2 wrote:

Resupply. During the resupply phase, the player collects gold (5 gold per city) and spends the gold and any glory on purchasing necessary items based on his game strategy.


Quote:
Cities provide 5 gold per turn and must be built in the province where Alexander is located. Not exactly. Governed areas provide 5 gold a turn, not cities. Cities provide 5 VP at the end of the campaign.


Thanks for catching this. Will change the review.

Quote:
Now just waiting for Napoleon...


Makes two of us.

Chris
 
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By the way, you will find both a 'file' and a link in the header info on the Commands and Colors page for playing that game with more than two people and a thread as folks discuss their different styles of SOLO play.

I would not have thought a system like CCA worked well solo but tried it to get comfy with the mechanics and was surprised how interesting that turned out. I now play it solo with pleasure.

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Andréas K
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Does anyone know how and where to buy this game in Sweden (preferably) or in Europe?
 
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