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A Most Dangerous Time: Japan in Chaos, 1570-1584» Forums » Reviews

Subject: AMDT: Chaos is an understatement! rss

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Matt Irsik
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I've had good luck with my last several MMP purchases, most notably Warriors of God, Shifting Sands, Monty's Gamble, and Storm Over Stalingrad. Being a miniatures gamer as well with a large Samurai army A Most Dangerous Time looked to be right up my alley.

Overview
AMDT is an area movement game simulating the campaigns of Oda Nobunaga from 1570-1584 to unite Japan. Units, called Soldiers in the game, represent the forces of the various clans along with their Samurai leaders. Although there are cards in the game, it is NOT a card driven game. The game uses chit activation with a short game that lasts 10 turns and the full campaign which can go well past 30 turns.

Components
Good and bad. First, the map is beautiful and laid out well, with trails and roads leading to waypoints or forts/temples. There are boxes for destroyed units for each clan and no real problems in regards to the map. The counters are also well done, with artwork for the daimyos and a wide array of colors for each clan. The confusing part for first time players will be what the bloodstains are for, why are some counters marked anti-Oda on the back, the control markers have various clan factions on them in no discerning pattern, etc. Most of these get answered during the first play or by re-reading a few rules sections, but basically you can mark things different ways by using the various counters.

The cards are well done and I liked the artwork and layout. However, and here is a big complaint I had with the components, is that the set up cards are worthless and the 8 card set each player gets that summarize movement, combat, etc., are very hard to read. Why not include a player's reference card as in most games with all of this information on it?

The rules are another issue and needed to be streamlined. ADMT is basically a simple game and once you get rolling you can get through a lot of turns pretty quickly. However, reading the rulebook makes you think you've stumbled onto the OCS version of the Samurai era! The Ikko-Ikki regroup section is a great example of how not to write rules. It could have been explained much more easily than it was and you need to read through it a few times to get what should be fairly easy to do each turn. Finally, there were some errors in figuring out combat(modifiers) which makes me wonder how some people were able to play the game when it first came out and how the game was rated so highly so early. So the game is set up, everything looks beautiful, so how does it play?

Game Play
Basically, the game play is your reward for slugging it out through the rule book! Each turn a number of chits are drawn until the End of Turn chit is pulled. When a chit is drawn, that clan conducts negotiations(trying to get enemy units to betray), rolls for movement(it costs movement points to move stacks and conduct combat), then follows with field and siege combat. During combat you can negotiate again and try to get more enemy units to switch sides. When the End of Turn chit is drawn both sides can regroup forces(bring destroyed units back) and the faction that holds Kyo gets a card. I said earlier that it is not a card driven game, but cards are given to the player that holds Kyo, or when the anti-Oda player captures spaces.

Combat is interesting and can be a game changer. Both sides roll for initiative and depending upon the roll both sides may fire at each or only one side will fire. This means that a large force can be decimated without firing a shot! This style of combat and the pulling of the End of Turn chit early in the turn(or at the first of the turn!)are the two main reasons that some gamers do not like this game. Sieges are bloody, but necessary and occur all over the board.

Now add to this the fact that more clans get added to the anti-Oda faction throughout the game, samurai can be exiled(so they won't betray you at the worst possible time), units are betraying both sides, combat is uncertain at best, movement is variable, and you never know when the turn is going to end. This is a recipe for chaos on a grand scale and that's what you get. If you're trying to get back at someone who beats you every time at Paths of Glory because they've memorized every card and know the odds of it being played each turn, then making them play this game would be sweet revenge! Nothing will go according to plan, your army swells and then is savaged, no line of communications is safe, and basically you're trying to survive the chaos.

Summary
I like this game and I don't mind the chaos. If you can get past the rulebook(it's not terrible, just not written well) then this is an unusual gaming experience that has good replay value because of the chit pull mechanism and the cards. If you're used to a set piece kind of game where you know basically what will happen each turn then stay away from this. I've played the short game once(not bad, but goes maybe too fast) and the full game twice and have had fun all three times. The game is very balanced and both sides have a good shot at winning. Plus, even if you are losing badly a few things here and there can get you right back into the game. If they re-release this I hope they add a full size reference card!
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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Thanks for the review. I have this (preordered it) but haven't had a chance to play yet. This reminds me that I want to!
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Jay Sheely
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I thought it was a 'standard' chit-pull type game with the pulls representing initiative and other certain unknowables? Anyways, a great write up of what is certainly a good looking game.
 
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Akiva
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Thanks for the review. I've been eyeing this game for a long time both because it looks attractive and I like the time period but with ASL, WiF, and Fields of Fire eating up all of my gaming time, I'm reluctant to buy a new game that might never get punched.
 
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Matt Irsik
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It is a standard chit pull type game, but the End of Turn chit is what is interesting. It's not unconceivable that one side could get Five chits pulled in three turns and the other side doesn't even get one! In most chit pull games(i.e., A Victory Denied, GBACW series, etc.) you know that your chits are coming, it's just a question of when. Not here, where the End of Turn can occur even before a chit is pulled for either side. It makes even short range planning very tough, so you need to be constantly reacting to the chit pull.
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We almost got this onto the table last Sunday. But we ended up with Combat Commander, which was also a blast.

But your review piqued my interest. I should get it onto the table.
 
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Konstantin Lubsky
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I like chaos in games, when you have the feeling that the game is playing you and not the other way round.

This is why I love "Combat Commander". What would you say, is AMDT "Combat Commander" on the strategic level?
 
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Matt Irsik
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Sorry for the late reply as I haven't been back to this thread for awhile! AMDT is chaos at it's finest and in some ways it does compare to Combat Commander, which I also play. AMDT also has high replay value, but probably a little steeper learning curve than CC. However, once you get the hang of a few turns it goes fast and you never know what to expect from turn to turn.
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