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Posted on Jan 13, 2008 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Paths of Glory – Game Review.

By Brandon Neff

Overview

After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by Serbians, the powder keg of aggression was lit and Europe was engulfed in the Great War. The traditional notion of formation battle was replaced with trench warfare and the horrific casualties began to mount. By the end of the war, dynasties were shattered, nations were torn asunder and it could be argued that there was no winner in this global conflict which would eventually drag the world back into war a generation later. In Paths of Glory, players assume the role of the Central Powers and Allied forces as they engage one another across various fronts.

Components

The game includes a 22” x 34” map, 176 5/8” die cut counters, 140 ½” die cut counters, 110 strategy cards, 2 reference cards, rulebook and a pair of six-sided dice.

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The map is large and depicts Europe and the Near East. It is divided into spaces connected by lines. Any two spaces connected by lines are considered adjacent. The spaces also indicate terrain, presence of port or fort and to which side the territory belongs to at the start of the game. There are several charts and tracks used during the game as well as a terrain key. One excellent feature of the map is that the exceptions and special rules are printed directly on the map. The rules for Paths of Glory are simple and easy to describe, but are filled with a multitude of exceptions. It is incredibly advantageous to have the annotated map remind you of special situations.

The counters are divided into combat units and assorted markers. The units are corps and armies with the latter present on the larger 5/8” counter. The counters are double-sided representing steps. The counters have three key numbers printed on them: combat factor, loss factor and movement factor. The combat factor is a measure of the unit’s ability to inflict damage whereas the loss factor can be understood as the ability to withstand damage. Results on the fire tables must exceed the opposing unit’s loss factor in order to cause a step-loss.

The use of strategy cards is where the game really shines. Each player has a deck of 55 cards, divided into three groups: Mobilization, Limited War and Total War. Each side has the same distribution of cards within groups and groups are added to the draw pile as war commitment increases during the game. To begin, each player starts with the group of Mobilization cards and are dealt seven and the rest are placed in a draw pile. Every action is initiated through the use of a card and each card can be used in one of four ways: Operations, Strategic Redeployment, Replacements or Events. Operations consist of movement and combat, Strategic Redeployment is long-distance movement, Replacements are awarded at the end of the turn and Events create interesting situations during the game, often times resulting in a change in the War Commitment level.

The reference cards contain all the requisite tables and charts used during game play. There are some elements used during the game that are not present, notably special situations and exceptions, which might have been placed on the reference card.

Rules, Mechanics and Game Play

The game is played in turns and each turn is divided into the following phases: Mandated Offensive, Action, Attrition, Siege, War Status, Replacement, Draw.

During the Mandated Offensive turn, each player rolls a die to determine if a nation must attack this turn. If it does not, the player suffers a victory point penalty. The Mandated Offensive table is printed on the map and a marker is used to track which nations must attack.

The Action phase is where the majority of the game is decided. It is divided into 6 rounds, during which time each player may take an action, depending on how each strategy card is played. The Central Powers player always begins each round. Combat occurs between adjacent areas on the map and multiple adjacent forces may attack the enemy in one area. Combat strengths are determined along with other factors like flanking and trench combat and event cards may be played to swing the balance to your favor. Once all die-roll modifiers have been established, the attacking player rolls on the appropriate table, either Army or Corps, and obtains a result. This is the Loss Number, or the amount of Loss Factors inflicted on the enemy. Each step of a unit requires that the loss factor be met in order to reduce it and steps are reduced until the Loss Number is met. Each player must fulfill as much of the Loss Number as possible without exceeding it. The player which caused the greatest number of losses is declared the combat winner and is allowed to retain any combat event cards that were played. If the attacker is the combat winner and still has forces at full strength, the defender is forced to retreat!

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1 Comment

  1. Great game! It teachs you History by playing!

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