My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
War in the Falkland Islands!
Where There is Discord (WTID) is a solitaire multilayered game covering the Falkland Islands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982. The game depicts the approach by the British Task Force to reclaim the Falkland Islands, the Argentinian response by way of sea and air forces, and the landings where British troops battle the Argentinians. The game covers several layers of warfare: strategic (political events, world and domestic opinion), operational (when to move the task force, when to begin the landings at San Carlos) as well as tactical (deployment of ships in the fleet, CAPS, which ships to fire and when during an attack). In the end, the player must decide how quickly to move the task force into position and when to launch the invasion of the islands. Victory is determined by the number of zones controlled at the end of the game, although the game can end earlier if British public opinion reaches zero.
Playing Time: This is not a short game. The game can take 3-4 hours to complete, especially the first couple of plays. Once you get the sequence of play down pat and get comfortable with the rules, the game can move at a quicker pace since some parts of the sequence of play may not happen. For example, if the opposing sides do not detect each other there is not combat or if the Argentinian air force fails its scramble roll, then there are no air strikes that turn. That being said, if you have a lot of the previous mentioned items, then play will be slowed down considerably, but nothing that is over the top for a seasoned wargamer.
Map: The map depicts the coastal area of Argentina near the Falkland Islands. The map also has numerous display boxes and tracks. There are tracks for the game turn as well as one for the scramble modifier that is applied each turn. The display boxes show the various naval patrol areas (coastal, search, and exclusion) as well as one for combat between opposing forces that have found each other. The map is thus a more abstracted one than the normal wargamer may be used to: there are no hexes, point to point or area spaces in the traditional sense, although there are the area boxes and spaces for the Air Force of Argentina. The map itself is beautifully done and is well organized. One does not feel crowded on the map and the informational parts of the map are well delineated. The only “clutter” issue can come if one gets a lot of event cards that can be placed on the board for future turns.
Counters: The counters are nice, large, and sturdy! The counters are roughly 1 inch in length and you can easily fit the 5/8 size wargame counter easily inside the WTID counters. They are nicely done with excellent pictorial art work depicting the ships, subs, and planes of both sides. The informational counters are easy to read for the most part, although some of the silhouettes on the informational counters are a little hard to make out at first. The only drawback is in information. The counters do have information on them like detection numbers and what type of dice to use, but these are on the back whereas most wargamers expect to find that type of information on the front. While not a big deal, unless you remember several key pages in the rule book, you will find yourself flipping them quite often. That being said, the counters do work well with the game system once you learn the steps that go with each phase of the sequence of play.
Rules: The rules for WTID are quite eclectic in nature. The rules allow the player to view the war from all levels from the strategic to the tactical. They also combine a number of different elements. For example, the combat sequence for ships firing at an attacking air strike are quite detailed with radar lock rolls being needed to acquire and fire at the target. The actual combat itself is done with the roll of a die or of dice with the player needing various “to hit” numbers to destroy the enemy. So the game is not a simple system like War at Sea and yet it is not a highly complex system like Carthage: The Ancient World Volume II. It is, in effect, a combination of mechanics that are applied to simulate the various aspects of modern warfare. At first glance this may seem choppy (and on the first play it will seem that way) and yet, this combination makes the system work quite smoothly.
The game play puts the player right into the thick of all the decision making that goes into modern warfare. Each turn, the player will have to react to the some random event as determined by the draw of a card. The event can impact several areas: military impact, international opinion and/or domestic opinion. The cards are well thought out and no matter what combination of cards “pops up” you will find yourself with difficult decisions to make. The play then proceeds to the operational level as you decide how to deploy your task force ships (or redeploy as the game wears on), where to put your subs, and then you do various die/dice rolls to determine what the Argentinian navy will do. The dice in the game are quite varied with 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 sided dice used for various functions. The forces that are deployed by you the player end up either in the task force display area or in one of three boxes (coastal, search, exclusion) depicting the area around the Falkland Islands Once the Argentinian navy makes its moves, both sides vessels go looking for each other and combat commences. To do combat, one must first locate the enemy force by detection and then roll a die to determine whether the enemy has been hit. If they have not, then there are tables/rules to determine what happens with an unsuccessful attack. The turn then moves onto to possible air attacks by the Air Force of Argentina with a very detailed (but not cumbersome) sequence of play where you can (possibly) scramble planes to intercept and then have your ships fire off missiles to defend themselves. If the enemy planes get through, they have a chance to hammer your ships. All of this combat is mainly resolved with a simple die roll, although the targeting sequence for ships locking in on aircraft is a bit more involved. That combat over, the turn then has its inevitable “clean phase” before moving onto the next turn. The rules also cover ground combat once the British begin their landings and here again the battles are resolved using a simple procedure of high die roll causes a hit on the enemy. It should be noted that certain parts of the sequence will not be used until the British launch their invasion and other parts of the sequence will not longer be used once the invasion has begun.
Some important things to note about the rules for the well versed wargamer: no CRT, no movement points, no movement system in the sense of most wargames (like hexes, point to point, etc...).
Finally, the rule book itself is well organized and outlined. When the rule book says at the beginning that you can start playing right away without reading all the rules and read over new rules as you need them is indeed true. However, after my own experience, I would recommend reading rules sections 2-4 and sections 14, 16-18 and 20 before starting at all. These sections give you the basic framework from which you will incorporate all the other rules as you play.
Things I like about the game:
Well organized rules with timely examples. Makes it easy to get right into the game and battle for those lonely little islands
The naval-air combat sequence. I really like how the targeting and execution of attacks is portrayed. Good depiction of modern naval warfare without being cumbersome!
The event cards. These were really well designed and thought out. I cannot tell you how many times already I have agonized over what to do! :
The intelligence booklet. This is very nicely done and outlines clearly the events in all their complexity.
The various levels of warfare. I cannot think of too many games where you get to make strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. Very
The variety of dice used in the game. I am a dice man so the more the merrier! Except for those little sided buggers. They always give me fits!
Things that can be annoying:
Flipping the counters. Until you get the detection and “to hit” rolls down pat in your memory you will find yourself doing this quite a bit. Or looking at pictures on the reference cards. I think names would’ve sufficed, but that is just my personal preference.
Some of the small exceptions to the rules (for example the number of Etendard planes that can take part in an attack or the San Carlos rule about sending all off board TF to the ready for war box. Perhaps this could’ve been organized onto a reference card for convenient?
The land combat. It seems, a times, to be a bit tedious. The first time you end up rolling 6 dice in a row, you’ll know what I mean. As much as I love the naval rules, I think the ground combat could’ve used a CRT.
Over all evaluation: = I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month! = wargamer heaven!
Map= The map is fantastic! Beautifully done with the information organized to be at your fingertips. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Counters= . The art work is again awesome, but I would’ve like to have the info on the front.
Rules= At first the rule book looks a little daunting, but that is deceiving. The rules are well laid out, well organized, and have example right where you need them. The intelligence briefing book is a treat in its own right! The reference cards are very nice, but perhaps another set to avoid constant flipping may have been in order.
Playing Time= You will need a space to keep this set up as playing all in one sitting is tough. That being said, the playing time is nothing out of the ordinary for the average wargamer and will fluctuate depending on events/combats.
Deployment of Forces= Really quite easy for the most part. The only thing that takes any time is the separating of British ships.
Overall= This game is an excellent addition to any wargamers collection for a variety of reasons. First, the game is easy to learn and experience wargamers will be duking it out in no time. Second, the naval combat rules are very and makes the game very enjoyable. Third, the decision making is tough. Between deciding how quick to move the TF, how to deploy my forces, and how to handle events I can say that I have felt fully engaged on every turn and none of my four games has played the same way. In other words, replayability here is VERY high! Fourth, I like the fact that you must make decisions at various levels. Unlike say Carrier, where you mainly make operational decisions, WTID takes you to all three levels of the wargaming universe.
Bottom line: this game is engaging, fun, and challenging. You will find a lot to like here, especially of you like solitaire wargames. I would put WTID in that elite category of solitaire games where I place RAF and Carrier. The only blemish I see, IMO, is the ground combat which, to me, just does not seem right. Maybe it is because most games I’ve played have the one roll and done CRT approach. I cannot say for sure, but I always feel a bit of a let down when I have to do the land battles once the invasion has begun which is in stark contrast to the naval/air combat which I absolutely love. And even with the little twinge I feel over the land combat, I am already seriously beginning to contemplate which game I’m going to take out of my current Top Ten and replace with WTID. WTID is a solid, strong, sturdy game that I believe will stand the test of time. In the end, WTID is a real treat to play and I look forward to playing it for years to come.
Great review Tim. Hopefully I can get a copy of this on it's next print run.
First of all, thanks for your superb review. Nice, thorough, well structurated, deep and long, just like I like my wargames
Having said this, and just to point a different view in certain things I have to disagree on a pair of issues.
Well organized rules with timely examples. Makes it easy to get right into the game and battle for those lonely little islands
Sorry to disagree here, but the wargamer in me kept saying all the time "couldn't they just follow the sequence of play?" The rulebook drived me mad at times.
It is not a bad rulebook but I don't like how is structurated (you learn about San Carlos landings -last part of the game-, before you learn about the air combat) Also, it can get over repetitive. For me
The map is fantastic! Beautifully done with the information organized to be at your fingertips. It doesn’t get any better than this!
The map is beatiful. Yes. Mark Mahaffey has done (As always) a great job artistically, but...
The map is massive with a lot of lost spaces.
There is no specific space for SitRep cards, discarded events, permanent events, "off board" naval units, the San Carlos display is small...
What I mean is that, although the map is nice I would have loved it if it was either a) smaller or b) being so massive it contained spaces for everything.
Overall If I had not received at the same time D-Day at Omaha Beach maybe this game would have gone higher but the truth is that it does not stand up to comparison (IMMO). Component wise is impressive.
Great review and I love the game as well. I would like to say that I don't find the land combat tedious - I actually wish that there was more to the ground combat portion and that perhaps some of the map could have been used to show progression from the landing zones all the way to Port Stanley itself! Rolling the dice for each land combat never felt like too much dice rolling to me and could be very very tense at times. On more than one occasion one of my landed units only won out just barely on the last die roll when it and the Argie force had only one step left. That is more tense to me than rolling a single die roll and then consulting a CRT.
The method of using advantages (dug in, naval bombardment, elite status, etc) as basically extra steps in combat I had doubts about at first but I think it works well.
Overall, I feel that the landings are very climatic and is where it all comes together - if I've done a good enough job during the turns previous to the landings, then I'll have more Harriers available for CAP and more warships available to cover the landings and my task force. The turns previous to the landings are just the buildup...
Anyway, great review!
- Last edited Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:11 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:10 am
Oh! I forgot about land combat.
I loved it! Actually it was the only combat that "felt" like combat (the air and naval phases are more like seeing a story develop, do the planes scramble? Where are they going? Do they pass the defenses? do they bomb?), it was fun.
And I lost 5 steps worth (a 4-stepper + something) of an 8d combat unit only managing 1 hit to a 6d combat unit (it was a 1 stepper but had two or three things helping it)...with a CRT I would have won, but with this... it was exciting!