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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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INTRODUCTION

Troy, designed and illustrated by Donald A. Dupont, was surely a labor of love. The extraordinary care with which he brought his game to life is evident to anyone fortunate enough to own a copy. It was published by Chaosium in 1977, and sadly seems to be all but forgotten today. Many lesser games from that era have reviews and articles here in plenty, but as I post this review, only two threads exist in the Troy folders; one a query about the number of counters, and the other a text version of the errata sheet, taken from an image which I had uploaded a number of years ago. Neither has a single reply.

Speaking of that errata sheet, its size may seem puzzling. How can the errata sheet for a 48 page rule book have only 3 entries? There are two reasons. First, the rules aren't nearly that long; they comprise less than half the booklet. Mr. Dupont wanted to tell the story of Troy, to educate as well as to entertain, and he provided a great deal of extra material to that end. Second, he paid extraordinary attention to detail. I never met the man, but the way he deals with every aspect, writing historical background, illustrating, designing and developing, makes me think of Bowen Simmons. Troy is nothing like Napoleon's Triumph, but I find in it the same evidence of a designer utterly committed to bringing his vision of a historical subject to life.

COMPONENTS

The rulebook is small, measuring 9" by 6". It has a heavy cardstock cover, with a glossy finish that has held up well over the 30+ years I have owned it. Front and back covers:



The counters are 1/2 inch die cut cardboard, loved by wargamers but not so much by others:


(image by argant1800)

Full body icons represent infantry, cavalry and chariot formations, with three numbers representing Combat, Movement and Stacking factors. The head-only silhouettes represent individual heroes, who have Movement ratings like the formations, and a Personal Combat value useable against one another, but not against the larger formations. Look closely, and you'll see how subtle variations in helmets and facial hair differentiate the individual heroes. There are numerous other special objects and markers as well.

The cards come on a light cardstock sheet, and must by cut out by the user:


(image by argant1800)

The map is unmounted. It is glossy and seems to be some sort of thin plastic rather than paper. Mine has finally, after 30+ years, developed some small splits at fold corners, but nothing noticeable when laid flat under Plexiglass. It has player aids on one end, including a Terrain Effects Chart, a Chronograph for turns, a Mt. Ida box for deity cards, and a Troy box for units stacked within the city of Troy (which is a single hex on the map):



The title page and list of illustrations give an idea of how much time Mr. Dupont must have spent on the artwork alone:



An examination of the table of contents shows what I mean when I say that Mr. Dupont wanted to educate as well as entertain. The lengthy historical introduction is extremely well done, giving an historical overview of the subject matter. I've provided a sample page from that section, as well as his bibliography detailing his sources:



GODS AND HEROES

Any game on Troy will have mythological underpinnings as well as historical ones, because the story as we know it from the epic works of Homer inextricably binds the actions of men and gods. Mr. Dupont handles this beautifully, devoting 9 full pages to thumbnail descriptions of the key figures, both mundane and divine. Two sample pages:



He also included additional maps, including a double page rendering of the Eastern Mediterranean, and a map of the Troad. Needless to say, he drew them himself, and did so beautifully. OK, enough about the extras, and on to the main subject.

THE GAME

Halfway through the rulebook, we come to the game itself. First the basic elements are presented in some core rules detailing the pieces, the values on them quantifying movement, combat and stacking values, and the map symbols. That established, we are presented with 5 scenarios, in a programmed instruction format. Each succeeding scenario increases in complexity and depth, as new elements are added. The scenarios follow a chronological sequence, and each has further historical notes about the era portrayed.

Scenario A
Troy I Introductory Scenario

This represents an early conflagration in which Troy fell, circa 2600 B.C.

New Units: Light infantry.
New Rules: The core rules for movement, zones of control stacking and combat, and exceptions to those rules for units within the city of Troy itself.

Scenario B
Troy II Rich in Gold

After Troy was rebuilt, it was sacked again circa 2300 B.C.

New Units: Medium infantry, ships.
New Rules: The rules for the new unit types, voluntary retreats before combat, victory points, supplies and booty.

Scenario C
Troy III - V

This represents the arrival of the Minyans, c. 1900 B.C., and the period following.

New Units: Chariots, cavalry and heroes (only 1 hero, Ilos, appears in this scenario).
New Rules: None beyond those for the new units.

Scenario D
Troy VI Laomedon's Troy; The Raid of Herakles

Troy's walls were toppled c. 1350 - 1300 B.C. and the rebuilt city is associated in myth with Laomedon, son of Ilos, the founder, and father of Podarces, later known as Priam. There is a legend that Herakles led an expedition against Troy in retaliation against an injustice by Laomedon. Historically, there was probably a raid for booty.

New Units: Heavy infantry.
New Rules: Rules for the heavy infantry, plus personal combat rules for opposing heroes.

Scenario E
Troy VIIa Homer's Troy; The Trojan War

The final scenario deals with the legendary siege of Troy with which we are all familiar. It is played in three campaigns, with reinforcements and new deployments for each.

New Units: Rams, walls, 10 special counters (the Acheans get The Armor of Achilles, the Horses of Peleus, the Bow of Herakles, the Scepter of Pelops and the Wooden Horse, and the Trojans get the Bow of Apollo, the Armor of Memnon, the Horses of Rhesos, the Palladion, and Helen and the Treasure.). A deck of cards is also added, representing interventions by the Gods.
New Rules: Supplies and campaigns, plus rules for all of the units and cards listed above.

HOW IT PLAYS

The first scenario is extremely simple: 6 light infantry defending the early city against 10 light infantry invaders. This would serve well as a first introduction to wargaming, especially for someone with an interest in ancient history or mythology. I hope to use it in that capacity, should any of my grandchildren express an interest. I would say it fits at about the same level as Strike Force One (the SPI freebie, I haven't seen the re-release by Victory Point Games). As the person gains experience, tackling the scenarios in sequence will add depth, complexity and playing time, but in small and manageable increments.

An experienced wargamer should probably learn the system with Scenario D for their first game. It runs 16 turns (4 days of 4 turns each) and has 15-20 units and several heroes on each side. It teaches the system well, and provides a very interesting contest that plays in a couple of hours or less.

In the end, every enthusiast will want to experience the full game as presented in Scenario E. This is played in three campaigns of 4 days each, so 48 turns altogether. It can be played in a long evening, but probably not by people who don't have prior experience. You should play Scenario D at least a couple of times first, so you've internalized the core system, and only then tackle Scenario E.

When you do so, you'll find yourself immersed in the Trojan War that you've read about and seen on film. The gods will intervene, the heroes will challenge, fight and kill one another, the armies will clash and clash again. It can even come down to a draw at the end, and be resolved by the Trojan Horse optional rule!

This is Troy, a labor of love, courtesy of Donald A. Dupont. At least now it has one tribute on BGG.
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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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This was the first 'wargame' I purchased that I actually played. ('Napoleon at Bay' was probably a bit ambitious aged 12). Happy memories of lying on the carpet trying to work out how to play it with counters hanging off my school jumper. A great review for a great game and it's nice to know I'm not its only fan.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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When I click on this page and see the representative image, I tend to focus on the glare from the ziplocks more than anything else. That probably was the best image available when it was selected, but I think we could do better now.

At the risk of sounding self-serving, I think my image of the front rulebook cover would serve better. Does anyone else agree? And is it considered poor taste to nominate one's own image as the representative image for a game?
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Robert Ridgeway
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Sphere wrote:
Troy, designed and illustrated by Donald A. Dupont, was surely a labor of love. The extraordinary care with which he brought his game to life is evident to anyone fortunate enough to own a copy. It was published by Chaosium in 1977, and sadly seems to be all but forgotten today. Many lesser games from that era have reviews and articles here in plenty, but as I post this review, only two threads exist in the Troy folders; one a query about the number of counters, and the other a text version of the errata sheet, taken from an image which I had uploaded a number of years ago. Neither has a single reply.


My case may be representative of why Dupont's "Troy" has received almost no attention: I've never seen it - period. I did have the luck to pick up Dupont's equally exquisite work, "Raiders & Traders", where he recommends using "Troy" for those who wish to resolve individual battles in detail = the first time I'd heard of "Troy" - and years after its publication.

What I did try was Metagaming's "Trojan War", which played well below our expectations, making me wary of any other game on the subject. Interestingly, it too has a rules book astoundingly rich in background detail, with a wide-ranging bibliography: I've since kept it as a reference rather than a game.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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AnalogGamer wrote:
My case may be representative of why Dupont's "Troy" has received almost no attention: I've never seen it - period. I did have the luck to pick up Dupont's equally exquisite work, "Raiders & Traders", where he recommends using "Troy" for those who wish to resolve individual battles in detail = the first time I'd heard of "Troy" - and years after its publication.

I have Raiders & Traders as well, and agree that it's outstanding. Once again in Mr. Dupont's favor, he used consistent artwork and built on what he had done with Troy, but took the game in an entirely different direction to suit the subject.

AnalogGamer wrote:
What I did try was Metagaming's "Trojan War", which played well below our expectations, making me wary of any other game on the subject. Interestingly, it too has a rules book astoundingly rich in background detail, with a wide-ranging bibliography: I've since kept it as a reference rather than a game.

It was weird how Troy games suddenly came out of the woodwork in those days. I had never seen one previously, then Troy was released almost simultaneously with Iliad. I never saw the latter, but its reviews were far less favorable. Right on their heels came Iliad: The Siege of Troy from Game Designers Workshop, which was quite good. I don't remember the one you mention, but it looks like it came not too long after the others. Must have been something in the water.
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I see that somebody acted on my suggestion that the cover of the rulebook would serve well as a representative image, and submitted a request. Whoever it was, I thank you, and the GeekMods who approved the change as well!
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Tim McCoy
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Raiders and Traders is on the Excalibre Pledge Program at the DG website. I have requested Troy as well so bombard Decision Games with requests for this one.
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Wulf Corbett
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What happened to my post... shake

Oh, well, I'll try again... I bought this game second hand, noting that the components had not been checked. As it happens, there's only one single counter missing... Helen.

So, they go through all that, siege, combat, conquest... and still don't find her! wow
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
So, they go through all that, siege, combat, conquest... and still don't find her! wow

And if you are Odysseus, you're just getting started!

Wulf Corbett wrote:
Also, if I remember correctly (I have quite a few games on the Trojan War), this is a siege of Troy with no Trojan Horse! Or, as an option, I think, the 'horse' is really an early siege engine. The original Illiad did not mention the horse! That was added in a later embellishment...

The game does provide 3 rams that look similar to the horse, but it has the Trojan Horse as well (it's the last counter before the two blanks at the lower right of the counter sheet image above). The rule for use of the horse is optional, comes into effect only if the players have fought to a draw, and works very much like you would expect from the legends:

1) The horse may be taken into the city (roll of 2-6)
2) If taken in, the heroes within may be discovered and killed (roll of 1)
3) If the horse is taken in and the heroes weren't discovered, you proceed to a hero combat between the Greek heroes in the horse and the Trojan heroes in the city.
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Wulf Corbett
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Thanks, Sphere. As You'll notice, I edited out my comment about the horse, as I couldn't remember if this was the right game, and I can't find my copy!
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Yeah, spotted that after I posted, Wulf. I'll leave my description of the Trojan Horse rules up anyhow, in case others are interested in how that works.
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Jon Snow
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arrrh I want to say many thanks for your great review, which encouraged me to get the TROY components out of my very last old plastic Strategy &Tactics box, which was cracked and crumbling, and rescue them while still complete--in a modern Plano box! I bought TROY when it originally came but rarely played it (same with Raiders and Traders, which is still in its plastic baggie)! Not I'll revive TROY on the table again. The care which designer Dupont took with them far outshines the simple old style components!

Good games never die! Recently, a pal and I had an "Old Boardgames Day" with Titan (Avalon Hill)and Buck Rogers (TSR; using its 2.03 version by the original designer). TROY is now lined up for this rather reverential treatment, as we'll go even farther back in hobby time!
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Nick West
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Great review - and being a big fan of Raiders & Traders (oh, that beautiful map) I would love to find somebody who has a copy and who wants to give this one a try (or indeed both!).
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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NOT AT ALL POOR TASTE. I HAVE HAD TO DO THE SAME WITH SOME PC SIMULATIONS!
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