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Subject: Grimstuffed 2: I Can't Spell It rss

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David Grim
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Manoover fills a niche that I haven't seen filled by any other wargame. You could say it's an ultra-light wargame, or a wargame filler, but then you'd be be treating such a satisfying experience disingenuously.

I've had this game for two years now, sitting on shelves, packed up in boxes, shuffled around with other, less deserving games, but only in the last few weeks have I finally turned my attention to it.

I was a moron for waiting so long. So I'm going to tell you why you need to buy this game.

It's easy to learn.
Want to get into wargames, but intimidated by the ones you hear take weeks to learn? And then, once "learned," you can only play on the computer with other wargame nerds? Have no fear. Manoover is very easy to learn. The rulebook is in the wrong format, granted. It should have been written like a non-wargame rulebook, with fewer blocks of text and without the paragraph-sub-paragraph ordering. But it's still only 20 quarter pages, which is like 5 full pages. And even then, it's simple as can be. Just download RangerBob's handy cheatsheet (here: http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/32519/rangerrobs-manoeuvre...). That's the only thing you'll need once you've given the rulebook a once-through. (I don't know how rulebooks manage to do it given their purpose, but they're always the most complicated way to learn a game.)

Here's how to play, basically:

You start with a deck of little cards and eight different units (counters). Your army is represented by those eight units, and your deck is what you can do with them. At the start of the game, you lay out 4 square board pieces, and line up your guys in the first two rows on your side. Then you begin. Here's the basic play sequence:

1. Discard and draw up to 5 cards from your deck.
2. Move one unit. One square if it's on foot, up to two squares if it's on horseback.
3. Declare one combat, if you want to. You do this by playing a card from your hand that matches the unit that's within combat range of your target.
3a. There are 4 kinds of combat, although mostly it's Assault. For assault: play your combat card. The opponent then has a chance to play his matching combat cards that serve as defense. Then you have a chance to play some more cards, either more of the same types, or a leader card that enables other units within range to join in on the smack-down. This all serves to give you more die rolls, which add to your attack total.
3b. Compare attack and defense totals. Depending on the magnitude of your victory, the opponent may have to retreat, take damage, or be killed outright.
4. At the end of your turn, you have a chance to restore one of your damaged units. Most of the time it's simply a matter of playing a matching unit card from your hand and then flipping your guy over to his undamaged side.
5. That's it. No, really. Ninety percent of the time, your turn will be something like that. (Of course, this says nothing about the inner turmoil you'll be going through on a lot of those turns.)

Like many euro-games, there are little cards or mechanics here and there which allow you to break rules. As far as winning goes, if you kill five of the other players' guys, you win, but not if you spent five guys to do it. If neither of you kills five guys, it's the person who has the most "uncontested" territory on the other player's half of the area. This will probably be one of the hardest things to grasp in the game, which is a testament to how easy this game is to learn, because an "uncontested" space is a square "with your unit in or only your units adjacent" to it. If the other player has a unit adjacent to that square, it's "contested." Pretty simple.

So why am I taking up your valuable time explaining the rules? Because I want to impress on you how easy it is to learn. But most importantly, it's not just about it being easy to pick up and play--it's about a satisfying experience. Manoover is a satisfying experience because many of the primary elements that make a larger wargame so gloriously cerebral are abstracted--or let me say, judiciously abbreviated--without losing their power to involve you entirely in what's going on. And the way in which you can move your units--block, pin, or lure others off into fruitless forays, burst through the line, rally after a bloody battle, flank a strong unit--all of that is the core of the experience, and you yourself are lured into the simplicity and, yes, e-l-e-g-a-n-c-e of the design.

And one of the biggest reasons it's so fun is how fast it plays--or can be played, if you let yourself. In my experience, it only takes a little over an hour, although with more plays I think I could crank most of a game out in 30-45 minutes. I think it's best the faster you play. It's a light game, after all. You're not playing Case Blue, here. Just slap those cards down and do it.

While you're playing, remember that Manoover is about manoovering, not raging into combat, with horses charging and guns blazing. You can only move sideways, forward, and backward, and that keeps this game in a certain Chess-like realm, where the various iterations and possibilities can be mapped out in your head. However, any Chess-like similarities end there. We have dice, and we have cards drawn from a deck, which present a lot of ways for you to be creative if you can embrace the possibility that even the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. I'd say Manoover is a lot like Chess, if Chess was interesting and fun. (The Chess-gods are probably rubbing their hands together as we speak, getting ready to inflict an irritable bowel flare-up or something.)

Okay, enough with the pretense. You need to buy this game, or at least put it on your short list. Not the list with Roads & Boats on it, but the one you'll actually order.

I believe every serious gamer, and most non-serious gamers, should have a copy of Manoover sitting on their shelf and being played regularly. Hell, you get eight different armies in the box! You only need two to play. And it'll take you at least three or four plays to get the hang of one army, leaving nine others with which to explore their nuances. Did I mention that each army's deck is unique in combination of cards and has cards no other army has? Did I mention that you only need four little boards to play on, two army decks, and a little packet of dice and counters? Everything you need to play could fit on one of those little dinner side plates you serve bread on. Your playing area only needs to be about one foot square. Talk about portability.

So what are you waiting for? You have no more excuses. Buy Manoover. And this recommendation isn't even from someone who made the game; I'm just another schmuck who can't spell the damn thing.
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Gregory Amstutz
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Re: I Can't Spell It
Well said, David. Manoeuvre is a simple, yet elegant game, very well-designed, and easy to learn/play. To me, it's only flaw is that it is designed for only 2-player, which makes it hard to bring out on group game nights, but still it should be on every full-time or wanna-be Grognard's game shelf.
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Re: I Can't Spell It
dogzard wrote:
Well said, David. Manoeuvre is a simple, yet elegant game, very well-designed, and easy to learn/play. To me, it's only flaw is that it is designed for only 2-player, which makes it hard to bring out on group game nights, but still it should be on every full-time or wanna-be Grognard's game shelf.
There are enough map board that you could have 8 people playing it - I'm hoping to have a multi-player session some time soon with multiple games going at once and then everyone moves one to the right or something.
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Re: I Can't Spell It
leroy43 wrote:
dogzard wrote:
Well said, David. Manoeuvre is a simple, yet elegant game, very well-designed, and easy to learn/play. To me, it's only flaw is that it is designed for only 2-player, which makes it hard to bring out on group game nights, but still it should be on every full-time or wanna-be Grognard's game shelf.
There are enough map board that you could have 8 people playing it - I'm hoping to have a multi-player session some time soon with multiple games going at once and then everyone moves one to the right or something.
I've been thinking the same thing. Games are quick and easy to play making Manoeuvre ideal for a one-day tournament.
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Gregory Amstutz
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Re: I Can't Spell It
leroy43 wrote:
dogzard wrote:
Well said, David. Manoeuvre is a simple, yet elegant game, very well-designed, and easy to learn/play. To me, it's only flaw is that it is designed for only 2-player, which makes it hard to bring out on group game nights, but still it should be on every full-time or wanna-be Grognard's game shelf.
There are enough map board that you could have 8 people playing it - I'm hoping to have a multi-player session some time soon with multiple games going at once and then everyone moves one to the right or something.
I never thought of it like that. An excellent suggestion!!!
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Re: I Can't Spell It

The first time we played Manoeuvre it was a six players with three simultaneous games. Additionally no one was expected to play the same nation twice. It was great fun and no one complained about lack if choices in boards of nations.
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David Grim
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Re: I Can't Spell It
So I'm interested in hearing how long it takes you guys to play the game...?
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Re: I Can't Spell It
An hour the first time. A little less after that. We played four games each in one evening.

My only concern with this game is card storage. I wish I had a box that would fit the cards.
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David Grim
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Re: I Can't Spell It
Blorbo wrote:
An hour the first time. A little less after that. We played four games each in one evening.

My only concern with this game is card storage. I wish I had a box that would fit the cards.
I just use the little baggies provided by GMT. I put the cards in, and the counters in on top of the cards near the zip-lock. Pretty easy.
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Re: I Can't Spell It
Excellent review! This really is one of the best games in my collection...period. There is so much value in the box as well.
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Re: I Can't Spell It
Great review. Entertaining AND informative! I really appreciate the reviewing of the rules. I bought the game based on the positive feedback here on the Geek, but my first run through the rules had me somewhat confused.

So I gave you a dollar's worth of Geek Gold for this:

(I don't know how rulebooks manage to do it given their purpose, but they're always the most complicated way to learn a game.)

Thanks for that!

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Re: I Can't Spell It
Excellent review (I can't spell it either). :-)
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Re: I Can't Spell It
raolsson wrote:
Excellent review (I can't spell it either). :-)
+1

I used to refer to it as the Man Game since whenever I searched for it on BGG I only typed in "Man"

Also, my wife won't play it...
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David Grim
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Re: I Can't Spell It
Wister wrote:
Great review. Entertaining AND informative! I really appreciate the reviewing of the rules. I bought the game based on the positive feedback here on the Geek, but my first run through the rules had me somewhat confused.

So I gave you a dollar's worth of Geek Gold for this:

(I don't know how rulebooks manage to do it given their purpose, but they're always the most complicated way to learn a game.)

Thanks for that!

No, thank you! Since you've already read through the rules, I would just print out RangerBob's player aid and go from there, playing the British and French for your first game.
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Re: I Can't Spell It
leroy43 wrote:
There are enough map boards that you could have 8 people playing it - I'm hoping to have a multi-player session some time soon with multiple games going at once and then everyone moves one to the right or something.
The only thing the box doesn't include for multiple, simultaneous games, is enough dice. So, if you have gobs of dice laying around, you're set! And if you don't, it would be worth buying some just for that purpose.

Blorbo wrote:
My only concern with this game is card storage. I wish I had a box that would fit the cards.
I had the same problem until I printed these tuck boxes - they work great!
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