Filip W.
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I'd love to love 2 de Mayo, I really do. I can see that it's a great game - the box equals the best Fantasy Flight can offer, the artwork is quetly suggestive, the map whispers of past times and secret conspiracies, the rules shine with their clarity and the cards tell of desperate struggles and heroic stands; 2 de Mayo drips with theme like a fine New York steak drips with delicious sauce. And yet, like and itch I can't quite scratch, I find that 2 de Mayo leaves me with the feeling that there's something missing.

First a bit of background: in 1808 the Spanish allowed Napoleon's French armies to pass through their territory in order to fight the Portuguese. There was a slight hitch, however: Napoleon had no intention of ever leaving Spain and the passing forces quickly and with out opposition turned to occupiers. In Madrid French marshal Joachim Murat had some 30 000 veteran troops at his disposal (compared to the entire population of Madrid which was 160 000 at the time) when he on the second of May 1808 attempted to remove the last of the Spanish Royal family from the city. This was the spark that lit the powder keg as a local locksmith, José Blas Molina y Soriano, witnessing the event, shouted out: "Treason! They're taking away the son of the king! Treason!"

If you like that paragraph, don't bother searching the Wikipedia. It's abbreviated from the historical introduction in the rule book. Add to that a somber gray background, images of the chief participants and a feeling of impeding conflict and you get a slight incline of how full of theme 2 de Mayo is. If there is one thing one can possibly complain about regarding the games production value it's the cubes used as troops in the first edition: they're average. But, having gotten the game autographed at Essen I was presented with a set of beautifully enameled metal markers so that doesn't factor in for me.

2 de Mayo is a short, asymmetric wargame. On one hand you've got the heroic Spaniards (Yay, Huzzah!): vastly outnumbered they rise in support of their beloved king (Huzzah!), filling the streets of Madrid in ever growing numbers. They are mobile, knowing their town and as they fearlessly converge (Huzzah!) to throw themselves against the disciplined lines of their French oppressors (boo, hiss), to wash as a tidal wave into the shining spikes of French bayonets (hiss, hiss) and the thunderous roar of French muskets (hiss, err, let's continue from behind this wall, shall we?).

Yeah, I know the Spanish don't say "Huzzah" but this is the Hollywood edition of the review.

The divergence that playing the two factions entails is amazing. The Spanish are mobile, darting through alleys to confront and slay isolated pockets of French troops. At the same time they're frightened, once two mobs gather into one it can't break up presenting an ever growing target to the overwhelming French strength. The French, on the other hand, move in slow, stately, ordered procession, sweeping groups of fleeing Spaniards before them, crushing them where they can. Their downside is that they never retreat, no matter how outnumbered. It really makes a difference in strategy and tactics which side you chose to play.

Add to this the action cards, the roll and flow of the battle, the ever more desperate positions of the Spanish (the can never beat the French, but if a single Spanish unit survives the game's ten turns it's a historic win for the Spanish and enough to write the French embassy about), the short playing time (20 minutes is about right), the secret movement and orders and you get a game that should, by rights, start and end every gaming night.

It doesn't.

In fact, since I got it over a year ago I have pulled it out numerous times but rarely if ever with the same players twice.

My Eurogaming friends can see the Euro underneath but can't get at it. It's like the perfect present encased in 200 layers of gilded gift wrap.
My wargaming friends comment on how cute it is, then ask for a real game to play. For them it's like a starter dish at a fancy restaurant: looks great, tastes great but leaves them hungry.
My non-gaming friends are intrigued but can't quite grasp it. Like an abstract Picasso at a big gallery they can see that someone likes it very much but they can't understand why.

Thus I'm left with a game that I'd like to pull out more (I still occasionally do get the 'Mayo itch) but I don't have the stomach for it. In fact, having played it a dozen or more times I feel that it is an entertaining game but it's not for me, either. I love the components, the feeling, the emotional umpf it has but give then choice of playing 2 de Mayo and something of similar playing time, like Race for the Galaxy or Lost Cities, I find myself choosing the later.

I'm not going to get rid of 2 de Mayo. I can see that it's a perfect game - I just don't have the faintest clue for whom.
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Tony Chen
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I can tell you for whom, and it's quite simple really: people who like short, stripped down cat and mouse games.

People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.

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Touko Tahkokallio
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It is cute and I love the simple cat and mouse -part of the game. The biggest problem for me, however, are the action cards. I know they are very thematic and so on, but they just don't work for me. Players should know other player's action cards in order to play the game properly, which feels dull. Also, some of them seem to be totally useless where as some of them are really powerful (I know this was intentional, but still I don't like that). In addition, while the core is simple, there are lot of details and subtleties to remember in the game. While this is theme-wise nice, somehow I find them disturbing my game play.

Anyway, it is a nice and intriguing game, but it doesn't find too much table time here either.
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Filip W.
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.


I'll have to try some of them and see how they compare with 2 de Mayo. Actually I've been thinking of getting Mr. Jack but I've got no idea whom to play it with...
 
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Justus Pendleton
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You can play Mr Jack online first to see if you like it.
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Hey, I've created a video channel! Hover over my avatar to get more info! :) - Josh -
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hoostus wrote:
You can play Mr Jack online first to see if you like it.


http://mrjack.hurricangames.com/


By the way, this was a very entertaining read - thanks for taking the time to write it!
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Neil
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This is what a review should be like. Excellent work!
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Brian McCormick
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Unlike any other game I can think of, 2 de Mayo forces you to think whether or not you're even going to draw a card. In the rules, you can prevent an opponent from drawing a card if they have 3 or more cards than you.

As the French, you often will not want to draw cards, since some French cards assist the Spanish.

To me, this adds a lot of strategy and anticipation.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
I can tell you for whom, and it's quite simple really: people who like short, stripped down cat and mouse games.

People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.



I haven't played the last two in decades, but I love Mr. Jack, LotR Confrontation and Scotland Yard, so it sounds like you're right because I do think 2 de Mayo is a great game. That isn't to say I don't like longer, meatier games also. I think a solid wargame for the main course and a quick 2 de Mayo to wind down would be a prescription for a perfect game night.
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Hey, I've created a video channel! Hover over my avatar to get more info! :) - Josh -
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Sphere wrote:
drunkenKOALA wrote:
I can tell you for whom, and it's quite simple really: people who like short, stripped down cat and mouse games.

People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.



I haven't played the last two in decades, but I love Mr. Jack, LotR Confrontation and Scotland Yard, so it sounds like you're right because I do think 2 de Mayo is a great game. That isn't to say I don't like longer, meatier games also. I think a solid wargame for the main course and a quick 2 de Mayo to wind down would be a prescription for a perfect game night.


This comment also made me sit up and take notice, since I absolutely love Mr. Jack and enjoy both Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation and Scotland Yard.


(And as a book lover who has War of the Ring Collector's Edition on order, who greatly admires Medecins Sans Frontiers, and who is very much opposed to racism, I appreciate the MicroBadges you are currently displaying! thumbsup thumbsup )
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Dave Laing
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2 de Mayo has been on and off my wishlist since I first heard about it.

I really enjoy Mr Jack and really love LOTR: Confrontation - the comments in here have finally pushed me to order 2 de Mayo. Thanks to drunkenKOALA and Sphere for helping make up my mind.
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Jeff Mays
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Aurendrosl wrote:
As the French, you often will not want to draw cards, since some French cards assist the Spanish.


I used to think this as well, but the more I have played as the French, the less I find that this may be the case. While it's true that you have those couple cards that can help the Spanish, the amount of damage the other cards can do to the Spanish often seem to outweigh them by quite a lot.

I have actually been wondering if it might be more advantageous for the Spanish to not draw in an attempt to stop the French from drawing cards, but haven't tried that out yet. That's one of the things I like best about this game is that as soon as it seems like I've figured out a solid strategy, something else comes into play that makes me consider the exact opposite.
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Logistics Pete
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
I can tell you for whom, and it's quite simple really: people who like short, stripped down cat and mouse games.

People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.



Yes, yes, yes, yes . . . and 2 de Mayo = YES.

There is just something exquisitely fun about writing those orders down and the dramatic buildup to the simultaneous flip!

And it is pencil only for me. If I am done my orders first it’s usually erase and scribble again, then no, wait - go with your gut instinct & back to what I originally wrote then, maybe . . . hmm … well if I move there . . . ugh! Just gut wrenching FUN.

If there is anything to criticize about the game about I think it would be balance. I’d found that the French have a harder time winning.
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
People who like Scotland Yard, Mr. Jack, Lord of the Rings Confrontation, Clue the Museum Caper, Conspiracy, etc.


Garibaldi: The Escape ought to be on that list. It is a clear lineal descendant of Scotland Yard, and has a solid historical basis like 2 de Mayo.
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Ethan Tan
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filwi wrote:
but give then choice of playing 2 de Mayo and something of similar playing time, like Race for the Galaxy or Lost Cities, I find myself choosing the later.


You mean you can play those games in 15-20mins?
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Robert
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boing123 wrote:
You mean you can play those games in 15-20mins?

Two player Race for the Galaxy is like 10-15min. Lost Cities gets pretty quick too, but I don't know what's normal for it (I generally avoid it).
 
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Volker Hirscher
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While I love Mr Jack, I have quite the same feelings about 2 de Mayo as the OP... a pity, but true.
 
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