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Posted on Jul 31, 2006 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Friedrich – Boardgame Review

By Chris A. Cornaghie

Movement and Combat

The key part of the game is the tactical cards, received at the beginning of each nation’s turn. Prussia receives 7 cards a turn, Austria 5, Russia 4, France 4, (but must discard 1), Hanover 2 and Sweden and the Imperial Army 1 each. The cards vary from 2-13 and reserve cards may be 1-10 of any suit at the owner’s choice.

After cards are received each nation completes a turn in order of movement and then combat. Each general may move three spaces on minor roads or four spaces if the entire move is on a major road. Supply trains move two spaces on minor roads and three if entirely on a major road. Generals and supply trains may not move through each other, although generals may stack up to three in one space, but stacking ends each general’s move, so if you move one general into another’s space, both are finished with movement. While the map does not show mountains or rivers, the road net conforms to the terrain, in effect forming lines of advance. Supply is handled effectively and simply; Generals in their home countries are in supply, but this means that Prussian generals must be in Prussia, Austrian generals in Austria etc. The map is clearly marked as to home country boundaries. France and Russia do not have home territories on the board, so they and all generals not in a home country are in supply if within six spaces of a supply train of that nation. Supply trains are always in supply but are vulnerable to being removed by any enemy general entering their space. Any general out of supply at the end of their turn is turned face down, if out of supply again the next turn; is then eliminated.

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During movement at any time, generals may be returned to play on any of a nation’s depot cities. Generals return for free, but must be given at least one army each of which cost a value of six in tactical cards. A nation may also replace armies with any general on the board no matter where located at a cost of six TC for each army, but the nation may never exceed its starting total of armies. Also no change is given, so if the player must spend a total value of 20 for three armies, he does not get a 2 card as change. Supply trains also cost six TC each and remember that they, nor generals, may move on the turn of placement.

Victory is awarded to only one player, each nation except Prussia, has a number of victory objectives and wins the game the instant the last of these is controlled. Prussia wins by simply surviving. A general can control an objective by passing over or starting a turn on it. However an objective cannot be conquered if within 3 spaces of a defending general no matter intervening enemy generals. A defending general can therefore protect a wide area, as all objectives within 3 spaces are guarded.

There are no zones of control and combat is mandatory, any general which ends the turn adjacent to the enemy must attack each. Combat begins with the moving player declaring the number of armies with his generals, and comparing the number of defending armies. The general with the smaller number lose the difference in armies and retreat that number of spaces, but only after the tactical cards have been played. Further Tactical cards can only be played if the general is in the suit of that sector, in effect; you must follow suit; remember the board is also divided into large rectangles of a particular suit. The general with the lesser total of armies may continue to play TC until they reach a positive number, at which point the opponent may now play a card(s) until his count is positive and so forth until one player declines to play or cannot play any appropriate cards. At that point the side with the lower count loses that number of armies and retreats the same in spaces.

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An example of movement and combat-the French player has finished his turn
becoming too rash in his pursuit of the Hanoverians. Seydlitz has moved
during the Prussian turn to interpose between the French Generals and
must attack both but may choose the order. As Seydlitz is in the Spades sector,
he will play spades, as will the French generals Soubise and
Richeleau. As no Prussian supply train is
near, Seydlitz, not in Prussia, is out of supply even though in Hanover.

Seydlitz chooses to attack Soubise first, Seydlitz has 3 armies,
Soubise 4; Seydlitz is – 1, and could lose 1 army and retreat one space.
But Seydlitz plays the 11 of spades, now the count is French – 10; the
French must play card(s) until the count is positive or they choose to lose
the battle. If Seydlitz wins, he must then attack Richeleau again playing
spades, and so must the French as both are in the spades sector.

The Cards of Fate

At the end of each turn beginning with the sixth turn, a card of fate is drawn from the deck of 18. Some cards note supply or combat changes for some nations or generals, but several cards are major events, such as Czarina Elizabeth dies and Russia quits the war, or Prussia is reduced to only 5 tactical cards a turn. After all fate cards are exhausted, if no other nation has achieved their victory conditions, then Prussia has won. These events and their timing are what make the game unique on each outing. Players are never out of the game; if say France quits the conflict, the French player takes over the Imperial Army from the Austrians. Very neat!

Opinion: Whist and Risk

“Whist” is the eighteen century card game which was popular in parlors and men-of-war, and Friedrich evokes the same mood, the play follows to the left; Prussia, Russia, Austria and France; each player receives tactical cards and moves, battles are fought by playing cards which must follow the suite of the sector in which the general is located and as in all card games, bluffing is very possible. Like Risk, the forces are armies and numbers matter, but not completely. The game plays effortlessly; vast thought is given to your strategy, not the rules needed to implement it. On each occasion I played, after victory was declared, there was much talk as to alternative strategies, plans and possibilities by all sides. The game, however, is not a recreation of each historical campaign and in fact certain historical occurrences cannot be duplicated in game terms, but the feel of the overall Seven Years War is just right, and it is an exciting situation requiring skillful and sharp play. Mr. Sivel noted that the overall design required twice as long as the original Seven Years War; the game certainly reflects the effort in its adroit and quick system. The designer has purposefully not given traits to national forces or even generals, Friedrich moves and fights no better than any other general; the player must be Friedrich and this is indeed a challenge, as it was at the time. When the Prussian player is struggling with a host of invaders, our favorite phrase is to whisper to him; “Be Friedrich.”

Armchair General Score- 95%

36/40 – Gameplay
15/15 – Components
19/20 – Rules/Documentation
15/15 – Replay Value
10/10 – Reviewer’s Tilt

Friedrich by Histogame can be viewed here.

Author’s Information

Chris A. Cornaghie is a practicing attorney in Memphis, Tennessee. His introduction to wargaming began with U-Boat by Avalon Hill in 1960, which he still plays from time to time. He has played all the classic AH, SPI, GDW, Battleline, Yaquinto GMT, Columbia and many other wargame titles. Luckily he found a hardcore group of wargamers in college who have continued to meet through graduation, law school, marriages, birth of children and divorces (not necessarily due to gaming). Throughout it all the one constant has not been baseball, but wargaming. The group has playtested for many game companies over the years (and still does) and he has co-authored articles for the AH General and Fire and Movement. A history major, he is always interested in any game on ancient or Roman periods.

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