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Subject: Not the Epic I hoped for rss

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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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The Trojan War was designed by one of my favorites, Glen Rahman, and published in 1981 by Metagaming as part of their Metahistory Series. It is playable by 1-2 players in a few hours, depending on scenario.

What You Get

The game comes in a smaller box with an evocative illustration done in an older style of two warriors facing off, Aias having pierced the shield of Hektor who looks to be ready to skewer the poos Aias. Inside is a 16 page rulebook, but only about 7 of those are rules: much of the rest describes the eleven scenarios and one campaign game. You get some thin, one-sided chits in several different colors depicting Greek heroes, villains, and informational markers, and a map which “…portrays the site of Troy, as described by Homer.” Homer must have been a damned boring person when it came to description: the map is on thick paper with a cream background and brown hexes depicted with a single wall stretching across one side (the Greek sea wall) and a wall encompassing a fraction of the other end of the board, two hexes deep listed as Troy. Easily one of the most dull maps in my collection. Overall, the great number of named counters is nice, as many of the characters listed in Homer’s epic are here. But the counters are a bit hard to read from a distance, especially with the status markers littering things up. The map requires a plastic sheet overlay. The box does not close easily once opened. Overall, a somewhat disappointing package.

What You Do


The game is a simple slugfest. Choose a scenario, set up the required units, move them towards each other and roll a lot of dice. Sequence of play is first player rallies stunned or panicked units, then moves, fights, and then collects replacements, followed by the second player doing the same.

Units exert zone of control if not wounded. There are chariots for fast movement. Combat involves subtracting the defending value from the attacking value, and using the differential cross-indexed to a die roll to get a result, including stuns, panics, wounding, and kills. Attacked units can immediately counterattack, some one combat round involves both players rolling the die. Damage is cumulative, so two stuns equals a panic, panic and stun equals a wound, and so on, each with specific effect on their ability to move, fight, and so on. All damage to characters is tracked by placing brown chits with the named afflictions on them on the counter in question. And, yes, the board gets cluttered very quickly.

Rally involves rolling a die for each unit under duress to find if the effect (stun or panic) can be removed. Other rules involve chariots, multiple attacks on single targets, scaling the walls of Troy, and the like.

This being ancient Greece, it is possible to have the Gods intervene in the conflict. This is handled through a chit-pull mechanism. At the start of a scenario, players are instructed to randomly draw a number of chits which can be used during the battle at will to represent the Gods getting involved with the mortals and near-mortals. Some effects: the God can enter the body of a warrior and fight with him, inspire them, panic an enemy, reduce a damaging blow, cancel an attack, raise a mist, rescue a non-killed hero (or in some cases, a dead one) from the map, or allow healing of wounds.

The game is played until the scenario time limit is reached, and then the battle is scored. Killing and wounding heroes gains points, as does capturing the dead body of an enemy. Acting the chicken (hiding with too many troops behind your walls) earns you negative points- get out there and fight, soldier!

What I Think

I am still looking for the best game on this topic. A game about Greek heroes squaring off and trying to kill each other outside the gates of Troy should be exciting. Of course, the war took a long time, and that’s hard to portray in a game and keep it thrilling. Thus, maybe some type of ‘climactic battle’ scenario is best called for. But this game did not deliver that to me. Sure, there is action, quite a lot of it. But stacking all those brown counters everywhere and rolling continually for recovery did not give me the thrill I was looking for. I am a huge fan of Rahman’s other games, like Divine Right and Knights of Camelot, and you can see his influence in the God’s Intervention, but it is not enough flavor to keep the game interesting. The big nasty heroes are not tough enough, the map is dull. On the plus side, there are eleven(!) scenarios to play with a brief synopsis of each, so there is quite a bit of variety in the initial setups. The campaign games strings them all together, but I cannot imagine slogging through such an undertaking.

I spent a long time looking for The Trojan War and was excited when it arrived. Because of this, and because of the author I will be keeping my copy. But it is not really fun to play, and so I will instead pull out other games and instead just have a look over the historical notes from time-to-time, and maybe have another go sometime, but I don’t feel and pressing need to do so. I guess I make it sound a bit dire, but its not a bad game or anything, just not very exciting.
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Phil Lewis
United States
Evans
Georgia
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“Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him.” Perelandra, C.S. Lewis
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"He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” Perelandra, C.S. Lewis
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Great review, Michael. I've read the rules but never played my copy of Trojan War. Despite the lackluster experience, I'd like to get this one played sooner than later.

-phil
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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Horace Parlan - Happy Frame of Mind
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mi_de wrote:
I am still looking for the best game on this topic.

Troy gets my vote. If you're curious as to why, see here.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Sphere wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am still looking for the best game on this topic.

Troy gets my vote. If you're curious as to why, see here.


Thanks! I have been looking for Troy (on my want in trade list'. I will remain patient and eventually will find a copy.
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roger cox
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I agree on your assessment of Mr. Rahman. He also designed Divine Right, which has always been a favorite of mine, even with the flaws of a 70's era game (downtime at a glacial pace, some confusion with certain rules). But for the period you are writing of, my opinion is you can't beat GDW's Iliad. The mechanics were way ahead of their time--I've still never seen some of them in another game. The only problem was a page was left out of the rules final draft--had to do with combat, so it was pretty critical. I guess most players in 1978 just made up a house rule and forged ahead, but being in the camp with the rules lawyers, I located one of the two men who designed it, and he kindly sent the original rules they sent to GDW, in particular the combat rules that were omitted.
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