Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Video Game Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: The Third World War fanMicrobadge: Victory Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fan
Introduction

Hello you all, hope you are all enjoying my reviews on Solo games from a player that mostly only play solitaire games. I have said it before and I will say it again, playing by myself is no by choice, there simply is not that many people interested in Hong Kong (sorry to those reading that are Hong Kongers, I don't mean you!) The scene here is mostly Euro games, but there are some wargame clubs, but unfortunately for me, I a veterinarian and work most weekends and most functions are naturally on weekends. So here I am, talking Solitaire! As with all my reviews, I am going to be as objective as possible, but its still only one man's opinion so always read things (especially online!) with a grain of salt! Today I am going to talk about a game from victory point games called Israeli Independence.

Comments

I have said that I don't like rehashing rules in reviews since there are many good reviews of most games that have rules/phases/events as such spelled out, kudos to those reviewers! Because it means I don't have to! As you may already know, The game Israeli Independence is the about well... the Israeli Independence... The rules took 3 minutes to read, no kidding! Reading the first few paragraph, I knew I was going to have to brace myself... its said something like: "the battles are abstract versions of events"... and they weren't kidding. and there is essentially only one thing you do.... Draw Event Cards... Resolve Card... If you survive to the end of the deck of the card you win. Hmmmm....

At this stage I knew the contents of these almighty event cards had better be awe inspiring or I was in for a very quick and boring time. Unfortunately for the game, these event cards really didn't do much. It tells you to move the pieces of the 5 Arab nations one step closer to a central point (West Jerusalem), and if one of them manages the 4 steps to reach this point you lose and how the Israeli counters this offensive... you are given an opportunity or two to roll a die to see if your offensive worked. Then you take another card and so on and so on.

There are no real options available, sure you get to choose which country you go on the offensive with, but its pretty much a no brainer. You just attack the unit closest to West Jerusalem or if you are Dustin Hoffman in that movie, you can try to remember the cards and guess which cards (and hence what offensives are remaining) are left and make slightly more informed choices.

Compared to my last reviewed game Disaster on Everest by the same publisher, this game is Snakes & Ladders in disguise. I played two games of it with the so call advance rules and would probably never play it again... unless I saw a great 7 day war documentary on TV and was really hyped up! (I suspect I would still be disappointed though...)

The only salvageable part of the game was the theme which is of course very interesting, there is some flavor text on the cards that would inspire someone to look up the events that occur in those faithful years and playing the cards in chronological order and you may even learn something. Probably a good (but still play once or twice) game for children to inspire learning... The adults amongst you can probably skip this game and just look up wiki.

As for production values, its acceptable and everything is serviceable. And since I won't be playing much, its going to remain mint for a long time!

There is an expansion for this game and I do have that as well. But I will review that some other time and tack the review on the end of this one. So stay tune there.... The anticipation.... Will the expansion salvage the game?

Summary

Not worth it, even though its one of the cheaper games from victory games, I would probably buy it again only if it was the cost of a postcard and printed on one, but at US$14.95 I can't recommend it to anyone. Some of their others games they make are great, just not this one. This game is just too simple to be enjoyed solitaire and made worst by the fact that there is no meaningful choices to be made and no replayability. I would almost suggest to victory point games to stop printing and selling this game as its probably doing the company some serious injustice and giving them a undeserved bad rep, or on the other hand, challenge themselves and remake the game from the ground up and make it better. (For those that don't know, and to be fair, I think this game was one of their very early efforts as a company, most of the newer stuff is much better and much more evolved! Look out for more reviews of their games from me... I have all their solitaires)

I will rate this game 3 out of 10 and a can't recommend to buy.

+3 for a good theme, nice flavor text and a possible learning aid. (Anything less than a 3 from me has to be a very broken game that is unplayable!)

-7 for a lack of game, no replayability whatsoever, will only be remotely fun for the first game, after which its just a dice fest and not much of a dice fest at that (for those Yahtzee lovers out there.) If there is a game that needed more chrome, its this one!

A geeklist of my other Solitaire Reviews
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I hope you'll try later games in the series that introduce more options. For example the recent Ottoman Sunset or Soviet Dawn. While the strategy is relatively 'lite' compared to a conventional wargame they tell interesting stories and provide a good deal of 'tension' seeing if you can survive.
If you want a challenge Ottoman Sunset is the most challenging so far IMHO.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher
Belgium
De Panne
Bachten de Kupe
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Went the day well?Microbadge: Nemo's War fanMicrobadge: Fields of Fire fanMicrobadge: D-Day at Omaha Beach fanMicrobadge: Phantom Fury fan
Thanks for this review from a negative point of view. There should be more of this kind of reviews, where the flaws or negative points of a game are highlighted.





On a more positive note: know that Israeli Independence has a merit of its own: it's the first game of the great "States-of-Siege" series, which has spawned some very good games lately. I am a great fan of these games, and to some-one who wants to start their first steps in the "State-of-Siege" series, I would recommend Zulus on the Ramparts!, rather than Israeli Independent. Zulus has a lot more decision making and includes hand management into the SoS rule core. Events are triggered not by the cards, but by a chit pulled out of a cup.


5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher
Belgium
De Panne
Bachten de Kupe
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Went the day well?Microbadge: Nemo's War fanMicrobadge: Fields of Fire fanMicrobadge: D-Day at Omaha Beach fanMicrobadge: Phantom Fury fan
lhughes41 wrote:
I hope you'll try later games in the series that introduce more options. For example the recent Ottoman Sunset or Soviet Dawn. While the strategy is relatively 'lite' compared to a conventional wargame they tell interesting stories and provide a good deal of 'tension' seeing if you can survive.
If you want a challenge Ottoman Sunset is the most challenging so far IMHO.
what Luke says!

I haven't played Ottoman Sunset yet (but plan to try it soon!). I had the chance to be a play tester for the upcoming We Must Tell the Emperor: The Great Pacific War, 1941 to 1945, and I can strongly recommend this game: it has meat on the bones and creates a good lot of tension!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Carey
United States
West Coast
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Microbadge: Sierra Madre Games fanMicrobadge: Hollandspiele fanMicrobadge: Wargamer - WW2: Pacific TheaterMicrobadge: Rodger B. MacGowan fanMicrobadge: Chad Jensen fan

To echo others' comments, yes II is very light but it also is an introductory game that launched an entire series. The other titles in States of Siege have evolved the system and should be much more to your liking; they are some of my favorite solitaire games of all time.

My teenage son (who is a hardcore video gamer) played II with me several times - it is the only boardgame that he has ever played with me, so I am grateful for that.

[Disclaimer] I am the designer of the upcoming mentioned We Must Tell the Emperor solitaire/States of Siege game, so Eric I hope that you are interested enough to review it once released (11/26/10) - I have indeed been enjoying your reviews.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"Microbadge: Panzer Grenadier fan - Member of PG-HQMicrobadge: Baltimore Orioles fanMicrobadge: Kiva - Team BoardGameGeek memberMicrobadge: 18xx fan
I'll take issue with a couple of things here. First, you say "no replayability whatsoever", which might come as a surprise to those who have played this game hundreds of times (I myself have only played it dozens of times). You apparently played the game twice, and perhaps you got a similar card draw in both games, and even so, to me that's hardly a valid sample size.

As for "no real options available", again it seems like only playing the game twice might be a culprit here. Yes, the obvious move is to go after the army closest to West Jerusalem, and what happens when you have a +1 against Jordan even if its not closest? That army is tough to dislodge, do you take a shot at it just because your odds are better? Do you ignore the Lebanese because they are so easy to push back? What if there is an opportunity to knock an Arab army out of the war?

While II is certainly the States of Siege with the least depth, not surprising as it was the first of the line, most players have had an experience with it very different than your own.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Video Game Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: The Third World War fanMicrobadge: Victory Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fan
Thanks guys for the great advice, but you are preaching to the choir! I own ALL the Victory Point Solitairable games, including all those already mentioned and you will find many favorable reports amongst them, don't you worry about that! I am actually an avid supporter, but nothing short of a frank report/review would be fair to them and my intended audience!

To those that disagree my review or any that I write... all I can say is each to their own! To agree to disagree! That what makes this forum great! I love reading the many differing opinion, trying to filter out the crud from the gems.

But to respond to Joshua's remarks, in fact I have played the game more than 2 times, I played with the expansion 12 more times in fact (that review is coming soon). No its not 100 plays but to be absolutely honest, it didn't take me more then 3-4 games to work this game out, like what the others said, its a "introductory game" in the state of siege series and I did mentioned in my summary that it was one of their earlier efforts,

But I stand firm about what I said about lack of choice, I know that the Jordanians are tougher because of their stronger army and the presence of the two circles in their path also add to their unpredictability. But this adds very little in terms of choice and gameplay (IMHO). But it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. Its a review and not a strategy article, I didn't want to outline every little option available. I just wanted to get the basic idea across. I would never make a remark without enough experience, if I do, I will always qualify it with a comment. Its the scientist in me... I take these reviews very seriously, as I know people (like myself) will often put down hard earn cash base on such reviews, God only knows that I certainly have. I do not want to be let down by any reviews and I certainly don't want to let anyone else down either. If you follow my reviews I hope to direct any potential solo gamer to where I think their money is best spent (In my opinion of course only!)

I also read somewhere that some guy played 100 games, that is simply amazing really. Must have really like the theme/flavor and I imagine that there is a lot to like (maybe "interested" would be a better word) about this part of history that affects the world to this very day!!

Steve Carey: Wow that is cool! That is what I like about this boardgame community, you often get replies from the game designers! I have made comments on Firaxis/2K Game forums, but Sid Meier's never reply! (even though I am his loyal fan, since Civ 1 & pirates on the Commodore 64!) I will be certain to buy it and review it Steve! Like I have mentioned, I really like many of the SoS games, in particular Zulu on the Ramparts & Ottoman's Sunset. I also rather liked the Captain Nemo game (but I don't think that was a SoS game). Its interesting to see this SoS system evolve from Israeli independence, I think the added chrome in the others of the lineup really stack up the options and make for a great solitaire. Keep up the good work and thanks for the encouragement.

7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"Microbadge: Panzer Grenadier fan - Member of PG-HQMicrobadge: Baltimore Orioles fanMicrobadge: Kiva - Team BoardGameGeek memberMicrobadge: 18xx fan
Eric,

Yeah, I remember the first time I got a response from a designer. I had my "Oh, that's so cool!" response. Its nice that there is a tight community here.

100 is on the low side. I believe Gene Billingsley, one of the head honchos at GMT has played a couple of hundred games. I recall him saying something to the effect of "well, there's no depth to this" and yet it kept drawing him back in. For me, I come back to it because its tough to win. If it was easy, it would bore me fast. I win maybe 1 out of 5 games, and since that usually only takes about 1/2 an hour, playing 5 games is easy.

I just gave this game to 2 of my nephews who were getting Bar Mitzvah'ed. I figured its a nice Jewish tie-in, and it might introduce them to the world of wargames. Hopefully they play it a bunch of times, get bored and want more!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Video Game Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: The Third World War fanMicrobadge: Victory Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fan
Well, maybe I got sort of lucky in my games... I had a few good rolls I admit but I won my first 4 games, lost my 5th and 6th then went on to win the next 2 games, then won my 9th & 10th.

Its a short game, so I can believe that someone actually played 100+ games!

Thats another use for this game I never thought of... as "crack" for the young and innocent! If it works for the drug cartels it should work for boardgames huh!! ha ha! laugh

When I wrote this article (especially if you compare it to my others), I thought to myself... should I tell it like how I felt or should I be diplomatic... well I went with the former... its what I look for in good reviews thats for certain.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"Microbadge: Panzer Grenadier fan - Member of PG-HQMicrobadge: Baltimore Orioles fanMicrobadge: Kiva - Team BoardGameGeek memberMicrobadge: 18xx fan
I definitely like that you went for your perception of the game. Not every game is going to appeal to every reviewer. And if people have similar views to yours, I wouldn't want them to regret spending money on a game that might sour them on the company. I don't think your review is "wrong", its just your perception. I see it differently, and I'd guess there are games I dislike that you think are great. There's plenty of titles for everyone.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Carey
United States
West Coast
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Microbadge: Sierra Madre Games fanMicrobadge: Hollandspiele fanMicrobadge: Wargamer - WW2: Pacific TheaterMicrobadge: Rodger B. MacGowan fanMicrobadge: Chad Jensen fan
Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
I believe Gene Billingsley, one of the head honchos at GMT has played a couple of hundred games.
That would be Andy Lewis, Josh.
2 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"Microbadge: Panzer Grenadier fan - Member of PG-HQMicrobadge: Baltimore Orioles fanMicrobadge: Kiva - Team BoardGameGeek memberMicrobadge: 18xx fan
Steve Carey wrote:
Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
I believe Gene Billingsley, one of the head honchos at GMT has played a couple of hundred games.
That would be Andy Lewis, Josh.
At least I didn't guess Rodger.

Thanks for the clarification.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Welch
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
Microbadge: Victory Point Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fanMicrobadge: Kraftwerk fanMicrobadge: Cruel Necessity fanMicrobadge: Golden Image Uploader
Eric - I'm looking forward to your reviews of all the games in the Victory Point Games States of Siege Series. As a designer and developer, I'm happy to read reviews and to respond to gamer's questions. I can't speak for anyone else but I haunt the boards waiting for a chance to chat about games and game design.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Video Game Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: The Third World War fanMicrobadge: Victory Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fan
I was going to review Ambush! next, but for you John, I will instead do Ottoman Sunset next to do a fair comparison and show how the new and improved SoS really is! Give me a day or two, need to play another few games to remind myself of it, before I get to writing.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Kennedy
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Microbadge: The Lost Cause fanMicrobadge: Soviet Dawn fanMicrobadge: We Must Tell the Emperor fanMicrobadge: Victory Point Games States of Siege series fan
Your central complaints seem to be the level of abstraction and the apparent lack of choices. My question to you is if the game were highly detailed, say at a company level, with appropriate rules for supply and politics, and the Jordanian Army were at the gates of Jerusalem and your defeat was imminent, how would that make a difference to your decision process? Seems like another no-brainer to me.

"Hmm, should I counter-attack and drive back the Jordanians or risk losing the game next turn. Hmm, decisions, decisions."

I think the level of abstration or copious detail is irrelevant to the decision process.

The point is how to prevent the Jordanians from getting into such a game-winning position, which is what the whole "Jordanian Question" is all about. It is all about priorities and trade-off's because there are never enough action points to do everything you want or need to do. That is how the game generates tension. If you're not interested in answering this question, that's your perogative.

Given you are winning, by your own admission, 80% of your games, obviously, you are one incredibly lucky player. Clearly, under such circumstances, there is zero tension and the game is a laborious exercise. I can assure you there is no way the game would have been released if your experience were typical. No way. My hunch is you are not playing correctly.

Whether the event card game mechanic or level of abstration appeals or engages you, is another matter. But, to dismiss the game as only suitable for children is uncharitable. Good heavens, the game has five pieces! It is not your typical game with hundreds of counters. To use an analogy, where a typical game is like a novel, Israeli Independence is more akin to a haiku poem. They are very different literary animals. Some caution and care in comparing them is in order.

Lastly, I did take some umbrage at your subsequent characterization of your critics as 'emotional' and your opinions as 'scientific' as a bit, hmm, dismissive. Well, the punk in me has a retort to that, which I will allow disciminating readers to imagine.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
HitchKennedy wrote:
My hunch is you are not playing correctly.
Forgive HitchKennedy, his admirable love for this game leads him to believe that anyone who doesn't like it must not understand its nuances.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: GameChat League - Amoeba Division: "Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!"Microbadge: Panzer Grenadier fan - Member of PG-HQMicrobadge: Baltimore Orioles fanMicrobadge: Kiva - Team BoardGameGeek memberMicrobadge: 18xx fan
Dieroll Honker wrote:
HitchKennedy wrote:
My hunch is you are not playing correctly.
Forgive HitchKennedy, his admirable love for this game leads him to believe that anyone who doesn't like it must not understand its nuances.
I don't know, 8 or 9 wins in 10 games seems very wrong to me. Unless he is using a weighted die, that seems almost impossible.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Video Game Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: Geek of the WeekMicrobadge: The Third World War fanMicrobadge: Victory Games fanMicrobadge: GMT fan
I would almost take offense to be accused of not understanding this game's rules (fields of fire & magic realm I stand guilty of!), if not for the absurdity of the statement. That really isn't a fair statement, given the simplicity of the rules.

If you really think that the increased difficulty of pushing back the Jordanian front (which I agree does emulate historical events) in this game leads to a deep strategy that keeps you on the edge of the seat then fine! I am truly happy for you. It just didn't do anything for me.

If I want some state of siege fun, I'll much rather a game of Ottoman Sunset or Soviet Dawn and leave you to Israeli Independence. But that's just me & my recommendation.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garfink wrote:
I would almost take offense to be accused of not understanding this game's rules (fields of fire & magic realm I stand guilty of!), if not for the absurdity of the statement.
Almost? I commend your restraint.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Stevens
United States
Nebraska
flag msg tools
I protect the sheep in our society from the wolves.
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with blue!Microbadge: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game fanMicrobadge: Parent of Three GirlsMicrobadge: Roller Coaster fanMicrobadge: Dallas Cowboys fan
Eric, thanks for a honest opinion in your review of II. I do not own, nor have I played nay of the VP games yet but I have done alot of reading on BGG about them. I am planning on ordering one of their games and after reading your review it will not be II. I am considering Zulus on the Ramparts.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Groggy Groggy
msg tools
Microbadge: Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea fan
I just played this again last night, I agree that it is fairly simplistic but somehow keep coming back to it when I can't fall asleep at night on occasion. Also played it on airplanes, coffee shops and hotels when I've had a free moment and no time for anything more elaborate. Might be at the aforementioned 100 plays at this point, but probably not quite. Last night was a loss, but I'm probably about 70/30 overall, last night the green cards came up first and my roles for the extra Israeli offensives did not go well when the reds started coming one after another late in the game. So the tension works well even after multiple replays, and I'll gladly grab this when I want a quick unplugged game experience.

But it really isn't all that exciting, all the same, there just isn't that much happening. Really enjoy Empires in America, but that one takes sometime and definitely more thought, which isn't what I'm looking for when I break out II.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Caleb
United States
Seminole
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Gryphon Games Bookshelf series fanMicrobadge: Geek RegularMicrobadge: Copper ReviewerMicrobadge: Copper Session ReporterMicrobadge: Leo Colovini fan
This is not a game. By definition, because there are literally no meaningful choices. It can be classified as a solitaire exercise, and if you like solitaire exercises, I suppose it passes the time as well as any, but it is not a game.

I paid $4 for this and feel like I was ripped off.

I assume other games by this publisher are better but it's unlikely I'll ever bother to find out.

yuk
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls