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Subject: Sliva's Rare " Krieg-Kit" of 1973: Thermopylae (Finally a Review!) rss

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Michael Ziegler
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This game was advertised in several wargaming magazines back in the 70s. To this day, no one has ever explained anything concerning it other than a brief description of the contents and overall historical situation.

After many years collecting dust on my shelf and a general "browning" of the gray envelope the "Krieg-Kit" came in, I decided to finally get to work mounting the pieces and playing the actual battle.

So, Nearly 40 years later, the first analysis of this RARE game is herein presented:

First there are a few things you should know. The rules are ambiguous concerning the Greeks. One is stacking. The rules state the Persians can stack two high, the Greeks are NOT mentioned in this same capacity.

Second, after all the pieces are accounted for with regard to placement on the order of appearance charts, you will still have a leftover (2)Greek 4-4 armies and a Spartan 8-5 with no explanation of where to place or use them for the game. These items being said, the following strategy is advised:

The Persian army needs to cross the Hellespont using 3 of their 12 alloted ships to act as "bridges". This will take a few turns to get into place. The Greek navy has only 6 ships and their basic use is for defensive purposes to prevent invasions of the area of Salamis, Athens, etc. once the Mariner Units arrive at the beach to board ship for the Persians on a later turn.

The Persian army WILL cross the Hellespont in good order. The weakness will become obvious later IF the Greek ships outmaneuver the remaining Persian sailing fleet (9) and attack the "bridge" serving ships. (The Persian army depends on these for supply lines back to Sardes.)

Acting under the rule presumption that Greek units cannot be stacked, the first Spartan contingent WILL make it to the pass at Thermopylae in time to prevent the barbarians from getting through PROVIDED that you maximize the march and go by direct overland route.

The strategy of the Persians should not be to confront the Spartans at Thermoplaye in detail, but rather they should expand the front as much as possible, stringing out Greek defenders and then hope to break their advantage since they can't cover everything at once. (Very similar to the idea of the old Avalon Hill "Stalingrad" concept of attacks on a wide front that the Russians can't hope to hold.)

The rules do not indicate any movement delay through rivers, but they do serve to double defensive units if the enemy must attack across them. In fact most of the standard rules of wargaming apply here regarding doubling in cities, zones of control, etc. So a veteran of wargaming will blaze through the rules quickly (only a few pages).

The CRT is a bit different from the standard chart as "withdraw 2" can come up often for either side, and a 1-1 is a form of suicide in this game as a 5 or 6 gets you killed and a 2 is an exchange, so Greeks should not conduct many attacks unless the odds are 4-1.

The Persians have plenty of troops to waste on lower odd attacks but remember, their goals are not to eliminate the Greek army, but invade and take key cities with victory being decided according to how many have fallen to Persia. If he only captures Athens or Corinthus, he LOSES. If both, it is a DRAW, A WIN requires the addition of SPARTA (Good luck!) and all must be accomplished by the end of 20 turns.

The Greeks win AUTOMATICALLY if they invade the Persian empire by land or sea and manage to take Sardes! (So you see some of the weaknesses)

As a Persian, it would be wise to guard the beaches near your own supply city of Sardis, so don't commit all your troops to the battle. Any attempt to expand the front by sea, especially a "Corinthus" invasion idea will require a die roll around the southern tip of Greece which can sink your ship will all aboard and then you will most likely face the Corinthian navy at the same point. (I recommend this as a defensive backup against surviving ships, they will have to attack you at the suicidal 1-1 if they survive the "pass round the horn".)

Later, as the Persian army is fully fighting on an expanded front, if the Greek navy is still afloat and capable, they can take a shot at nailing the bridges. It won't be easy but if you can take out a ship or two, the units on the Greek soil will become isolated and eliminated within two turns!

The Greeks will generally have enough troops to guard the beaches around Athens and Persia will be hard pressed to get the cities. Even Sparta is "distant" by army standards, and the limit of 20 turns will become pressing on the Persian player as the game progresses.

The famous "Immortals" of the Persian army have a 6-4 strength-movement. Trying to break the Spartans will most likely fail, but they will succeed against regular Greek troops with significant odds in their favor, so forget a repeat of "The 300 Spartans" here.

I would say that overall there is "balance". There is opportunity for both sides during the game both on offense and defense. Since this game have never been rated over the years and obviously not too many of our board game fraternity people out there still have a copy, I would say this is about the same value as an Avalon Hill Classic from the period. Not absolutely accurate but "playable", as most AH classics were in that era.

It is "of it's time", much like SPI games of the past. Of course, in order to appreciate these old items, you most likely will have a better respect for it if you were a hobbyist back then.

Outside of the two foibles that I mentioned, I can recommend this game and I regret I did not get to it sooner! Thank you Martin E. Sliva, wherever you are!
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Martin Sliva
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Thank You for the review. It has been many years since anyone has written about my game. Your analysis of the game is well done.
Martin Sliva
Creator of "Thermopylae"
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Kim Meints
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This has been a Holy Grail game for me for 41 yrs since I didn't get it back when published. I landed a copy Friday night off of ebay from Nobleknight Games with Buy it Now. I didn't even hesitate!
It's even Mint/Uncut so I already made color copies of the counters to preserve the orignal.

I'm glad Michael did a nice review as the only other mention of the game was in F&M #22(July/Aug 1980) in the lead article "Long Ago and Far Away" doing short reviews of ancient era wargames plus 7 yrs after the game came out and no address listed to ask if still available

Looking forward to now playing it after all these yearscool
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Kim Meints
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Well being the forever tinkerer with any game I expanded on Martin's design to add in a little more depth.

First off I play any game with paper maps with plexi-glass over the top.With this in mind I made copies of some map sections to create map tiles like multible copies of the island of Naxos plus a little of the surrounding sea(but not the name) and added them onto the map(placed,not glued) of the islands of Lesbos.Samos,Chios and the mainland Asia Ionian Greek cities of Phocaea & Halicarnassus plus added Argos to the Greek mainland(copies of a city plus surround area to have the names).

Next made 2 color copies of the counters to preserve the original.Next a B&W copy on red cardstock to add 6 red Marines(originally the Persian marines) to the 6 Greek ships(found it strange the Greeks didn't have theirs even thou Hoplites usually were that force).Then a B&W copy on Yellow cardstock of the Greek units to provide the Ionian Greeks in Persian service.Each island gets a G unit as does the 2 Greek Ionian cites plus Naxos has 2 ships and 2 Marines.

No fully written out rules yet but notes on things like when attacking a Ionian island a die is rolled to see if they revolt right away to the Greek cause.If not and their force is defeated they then 3 turns later get their G unit back but this time in red color. Naxos will add only 1 ship/marine.If Lesbos,Chios,Samos are all 3 revolted or captured they add 1 ship/marine.

Argos has a die roll to see if she stays neutral or the possibility that she joins the Greek cause and adds in a 2 G units

This way the Persians could see the Greeks if they have stalemated the Persians on the Greek mainland find the Greeks attacking and converting the Ionian Greeks to revolt and must divert or raise more units to take care of the new crisis.I haven't got a final number of the Persian P units to add in to deal with the revolting cities.

As the name says-a Krieg Kit so I'm adding in variants to spice it up

I also have generic white boxes so colored copied the Thermopylae Krieg Kit sticker from the front of the envelope and have that on the box top and made 3 copies of just the word Thermopylae which grace 3 of the 4 sides plus all of the counters in a game tray.
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