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Guelphs and Ghibellines» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Guelphs and Ghibellines - an indepth look at the game rss

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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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The Italians have done it again on their familiar subject - medieval Europe battles (the first one found in All is Lost Save Honour). Professional production is far more superior than those in the U.S. Preordered in Apr and arrived in Jun 09. Phew! The first Italian wargame I have!!

The game differentiate units with different missle firing capabilities (yes, the crossbowman is firing at a faster rate than the archer here!), shock combat, armour class, even heroes and knighthood (standard bearer) from the "Capitano" (the Army Leader).

The game takes the now popular activations based mechanics to simulate the time and movement in a day's time. Activating a Capitano is a basic activation and he can continue activate with a "Continuum", subject to enemy's "Interruptio". A Capitano is activated when a roll of 2 dices results in equal to or greater than the Capitano's current Command Capacity (given by the number on the Command Capacity marker). An interruption always reduces a Capitano's "Command Capacity" by 1 and Capitano on interruption receives only half the command order points currently available from the Capitano's capacity (So use this more carefully at critical time!) The only way to restore a Capitano's Command Capacity is to release a reserve or perform a "Recovery" order. A Capitano, however, can always be activated in any manner a maximum 2 times in a row.

At the core of the game is the "Capitano Activation Sequence". A Capitano's "Command Capacity" is the number of order points that a Capitano receives when he is activated. He uses these order points to move, fire and attack with his in-command units of his own battalion (only). An enemy unit would block the command range of a Capitano but an enemy's ZOC would not. The command range is calculated at the time when the command order is given and so a very active and brave Capitano can issue orders and then move and then issue orders again to other previously out of command range units. Besides, a command range is "extended" through a series of units of the same battalion! Take note of this when planning your attack with the units and keep the enemy out of your line command.

There are a total of 8 types of orders, all but the echoleon attack by cavalry (see below) cost 1 order point. Units out of command can still move, fire and withdraw but at a higher 2 order points cost. It is a very neat way to simulate the major effects of units being out of command and line battle tactics so pavelent at those days.

Missle firing suffers a -1 penalty upon face changing. The firing is resolved on a "Fire Table" by rolling 2 dices against the target's armour and firing range, adding the firing unit's cohesion rating (the rule says "Rating" only but I guess this is the only rating any unit has). A result exceeding (or equal to) the no. in the table causes a hit.

Some good cavalry rules on charging (a column shift to the attacker on the "Shock Combat Table"!), countercharging and echoleon attack depict the cavalry role at the time of medieval tactics. Any units attacking the cavalry should take a cohesion check for possible disruption (a single die roll greater than the cohesion rating). The target units of a cavalry charge would also take a cohesion check. Two cavalry units can swap with each other "magically" with the echoleon attack order. I have yet to figure out the advantage of this swap.

The second disruption on any target unit calls for a cohesion hit roll under any circumstances, i.e. taking a dieroll result difference to the unit's current cohesion rating as additional cohesion hits (a minimum 1 cohesion hit except for those incurred in a shock combat). A unit's current cohesion rating is indicated by a marker. A missle unit can make reaction fire at no cost to enemy movement into its two frontal hexes too (as always, only those missle units not yet fired before). This could be a very powerful defensive posture unless they are disrupted in the face of a cavalry charge.

Shock combats take place with the lead unit attacking. The appropriate columns on the Shock Combat Table are first determined after taking into a number of factors (poistion and numerical advantage, unit type comparison, cavalry charge, diruption units involved (both sides), armor class comparison, terrain etc. Then 2 dices are rolled with modifiers like cohesion hits differential, presence of the heroes or Capitano, enemy unattacked but adjacent to the attacking unit etc. Results are the number of cohesion hits taken.

Rules on face changing are very clear, mostly paying one movement point to change any number of vertex at a time and free for advance after combat (one vertex only though). Units cannot change facing in an enemy ZOC (exception: retreat and advance after combat), nor in another friendly unit hex while moving. Reaction face changing can be triggered one vertex while an enemy unit enters and stops in a unit's flank or rear. If Caesar at Alesia (a GBoH game) can have such a "face-changing" rules clarity, it would elevate the game to a classic level.

There are 3 scenarios in the game. The only comparable currently available in the market is Richard Berg's "Men of Iron". I am interested to compare the two more in future. Please post any comparison comments here if you have ones. I will also keep updating here what I thought about the game here.
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Mattwran
United States
LONGMEADOW
Massachusetts
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I've been interested in this and All is Lost Save Honour for their maps alone. Nice to hear that the game is good too. The mechanics sound very similar to the Great Battles of History (GBoH). Would you say that is a fair comparison?
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Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Yes Matt, it is fair to compare the system with Great Battles of History in terms of the general framework sequence of play. The activations, continuum and interruptions that can be taken by the leaders are almost the same. The rout level in GBoH is similar to the victory level in G&G. Once exceeded, the army in question could be generally out of the day. In GBoH, the weapon matrix matters, i.e. the types of unit who is attacking who can maximize the chance to inflict losses on the enemy. Same here in G&G where a much simpler "Unit Type Table" with 4 general types of units gives 16 different modifiers to the no. of columns shifts.

However, you can also see the differences other than that. For examples, there are limited no. of order points that can be assigned to units in the same battalia. The order points can be used to perform a variety of specific actions apart from the ordinary movement and combat, say withdrawal, recovery, reorganization, fire, charge and echoleon (swap of front and back units all of a sudden). So you feel things are in your hand and control more in an activation. GBoH, on the other hand, employs a more rigid sequence of play to perform a particular action in a specific phase.

The role of cavalry in this game is something you won't find in GBoH, as and rightly so, cavalry is more an important kind of troop type in the medieval than in the ancient time. You can see several charges and countercharges by the heavy or medium cavalry in a typical game of Guelphs and Ghibellines. So it is not unusual to see the units moving forward and backward several times in a row. In this regard, it seems that G&G got more actions than GBoH.

In my current game of Campaldino, Pazzo's mandated charge into Vieri's cavalry in the fisrt activation was repulsed and failed an attempt to continue after withdrawal. A valuable activation point was lost. Now, it is time Vieri to take revenge...I am so excited about the game's lot of actions as I can imagine.
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Mike Wall
United Kingdom
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A good review of a great game.

Just one important slip.

Quote:
A Capitano is activated when a roll of 2 dices results in equal to or greater than the Capitano's current Command Capacity

Continuum or Interruptio succeeds on a result equal to or less than the Capitano's Command Capacity

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Freddy Dekker
Netherlands
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Not wanting to rain on your parade, but crossbowmen firing at a faster rate than archers?
That can't be right.
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