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Subject: A review without the Expansion rss

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I first saw FG:S1943 based on a search for card games. I like card games, though I steer clear of CCGs for the most part now. (Despite?) Having grown up around the military, I've never really gotten into military-themed anything, whether clothes or games of any kind. But after reading a bit about FG, I put it on the wishlist.

Then the Map Expansion appeared on KS. Now, I LOVE maps, and suddenly this game turned the cards into units to be moved around the board. Personally, I loved the idea, and looked more into the game.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover why Byron looks so familiar, it's because he's a fantastic asset to BGG thanks to any of several posts in the self-publishing forums--at least, that's where I first found him. I found out about his desire to publish games in the US, and got to know him a bit more.

So I pledged to KS, and was further pleased to have my father immortalized in the Map Expansion as a sergeant. Dad would have loved that. But here is my review of JUST the base game, because I really wanted to see how it played. And let me just say: Battle field chaos gets ironed out by tanks!



Of all the contents, I love the box. It's the perfect size, really. Too many card games give you a HUGE box or one of those tiny things. This one is an honest-to-goodness box. Sleeve the cards and the cards are a bit snug, so it could have been a hair bigger (and still fit in the small Priority Mail box). The dice did roll around in there and dinged up my cards a bit. No big deal though.

I was shocked that the rules are just a single double-sided sheet. They answered most questions. One that was missing, though: If the target that all your units is aimed at is destroyed, can you reassign the units to a new target? We said, no, but a little FAQ finding may be in order (Nope, haven't looked yet. We rather liked our decision). Otherwise, the rules are very clear.

One thing that we felt was missing over all, however, was damage counters. The damage system is nifty, but damage counters would go a long way to clarifying things. We used gems (Red for 10 points, white for 5, and blue for 1).



It bears noting that the color of the dice IS different, but VERY similar. Not a big deal as you can just roll any dice, really, but we couldn't help but think that the germans could have been a light gray with black numbers, or something.



We loved the cards. They're sturdy and the info is clear.

The one exception is the life and half-life values (the red and green crosses). We felt that the numbers might have benefited from a white outline because the dark numbers against the dark colored crosses just blends on the table. Not a big deal, but we've got to lean in there to squint at those numbers where the rest of the game info is otherwise VERY clear.

The fact that we can see if the unit can/cannot attack other units is right on the card is SO COOL.

It should be noted that when building your deck you should DEFINITELY play to the strengths of your side. The Germans have their tanks and the US has their planes. Deviating from that can lead to some tense moments, but we generally find that if you're playing against an opponent playing their "high units" that you'll get monkey-stomped into the ground in the end. This is just something we've noted after a half dozen games or so, though, but we're excited to KEEP TRYING! There are rules that support infantry blitzes, but the fact that you CHOOSE your starting cards makes justifying expermientation tough.

Having to match bigger units to pilots and such helps to slow down a tank blitz, but, again, the fact that you can start the game with crewed tanks does kind of make the first rounds very painful. But the games do play quickly.



We rather liked the fact that you often have the chance to go in and pick the units you need. That said, these opportunities come from the Command Cards, and that thing is really a mixed bag. CHAOS. It's good because it keeps the games fresh (and the ability to chuck cards to get +1 to rolls is nice), but when the chips are down we found that we HAD TO draw units, and so we wondered if the card drawing might have been better modified some how... We may have to houserule this one based on how the battle is going (Maybe you get draws equal to the number of unit cards your opponent has captured?).

Just nitpicking, but we felt that the unit symbols on the Command Cards might have been cooler being placed in the same spot (top left corner) as the Unit cards, and having the card title either to the right of the symbols or below them. Just one of those things!



Combat is tense. Dice rolling always is. Incredibly, the numbers on the cards seem to support maximum tension because we rolled badly at surprising times. CHAOS! Basically, use the right tool (unit) to attack the right kind of unit and all will go well, er, better. One thing, units on the table are ALWAYS a good thing, and the bigger it is, the better.

One rule that we absolutely loved was the fact that friendly fire rules not only don't count to give your opponent any points (you've already given them a numerical unit advantage), but it's possible for units to return to play later as they CAN go to the bottom of your draw pile. Elegant, indeed.

Remember the red cross on the unit cards? (check it out, above) Well, if the cumulative damage for the round equals or exceeds that number then you draw one of these red damage cards. They add a TON to the flavor of combat, and are definitely worth working for--and for me are more fun that even an outright kill (and you CAN get those with the dice).

SUMMARY:

All-in-all, we really enjoy Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943. It plays quickly, brutally, and with all kinds of chaotic drama. We walk away from every game with OH MAN! moments tied into dice rolls and card draws and card plays.

We're interested in seeing the game expanded into a multi-player experience, and think that might be an opportunity to work on the top-decking in the late game.

If you haven't picked up the game, I certainly hope you will. Love cards? Love dice? Love a little deck construction (NOT to be confused with that "deck building" stuff that's so big now)? Then pick up a copy. I can't at all imagine anyone that wouldn't enjoy this!

We'll be playing this I'm sure, long after we've begun playing the Map Expansion! DEFINITELY looking forward to the next card-only expansion.
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Byron Collins
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Thanks for your review and glad you're enjoying the basic game. It'll be interesting to read your thoughts on how the expansion changes/evolves things. Thanks again for supporting the expansion on Kickstarter as well- It was fun to have Mark Walker work your dad's name into the fiction for "What now, Sarge?"
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awakeneddragon wrote:
All-in-all, we really enjoy Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943. It plays quickly, brutally, and with all kinds of chaotic drama. We walk away from every game with OH MAN! moments tied into dice rolls and card draws and card plays.


A very good and to the point review. SP43 has been one of my favorite little pleasures in wargaming the last few years; it's relatively intuitive, the combat is brutal and bloody without being arbitrary, and the game is fast-paced enough that you can play a ton of drops on a Friday night.

The use of front and rear lines--and line-specific units--gives it a very Up Front feel, and adds a dimension you definitely have to plan about.

And yes, the ability to build your side on point values allows for a lot of experimentation, but makes you think about combined arms approaches: yeah, buying that Tiger makes you feel boss--but when it's dead, where are you at then?

Toughest part of the game? Sleeving the cards, but it's not Byron's fault he made them look so damned pretty.

A fun, fun game.
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