Paths of Glory – Game Review.
The Attrition phase is where units that find themselves out of supply are eliminated. To be in supply, a unit must be able to trace a path through any number of friendly areas to a supply source. If a Corps is eliminated, it is placed in the replacement box on the map whereas Armies are removed from the game.
The Siege phase involves rolling a die to determine if besieged forts are destroyed or if they continue to resist. Forts are useful during the game, adding value to the combat factor of units in the same area as the fort that are under attack. They do not help those same units when on the offensive.
The War Status phase is where the administrative elements take place. Victory points are assessed to determine if an automatic victory has occurred or if an armistice has been declared. Victory points are awarded for certain tasks, like capturing areas and playing certain events. Each player then determines if the War Commitment Level has increased. As it increases, cards are added to the deck. The War Commitment Level is checked every turn except the first.
During the Draw phase, players draw cards to bring their hand to 7 cards. Before drawing, a player may discard any combat cards. The discards are reshuffled after dealing. Finally, the game turn marker is advanced and the new turn begins.
The rules are filled with exceptions to the above and this makes the first few games rather difficult. To this end, GMT has included an extended example of the game mechanics. GMT suggests that you set up your map and follow along with the example. I found this to be incredibly helpful. The example takes you through two complete turns and by the end, the core mechanics should be well understood.
The game can be played three ways: Introductory scenario, Limited War scenario and Campaign scenario. The Introductory takes you through 3 turns while the others are designed to last longer with different victory point requirements. For the review, I tackled the Introductory and Campaign scenarios. The Introductory scenario was a solo affair and the game is surprisingly well-suited to a solo effort, although a face-to-face game is much more rewarding. After going through the extended example, there was little reference to the rules, with the exception being the few exceptions that I had to look up. Even then, the game flowed at a reasonable rate. The Campaign scenario was spread over two nights and ended with the historical result. The total running time was around 10 hours, which may be off-setting for some players.
This is more than just a regular war game. The use of strategy cards elevates this above the norm and the limitations imposed by the cards makes every action segment important. The game can be won or lost depending on strategy and the players are frequently beset by tough choices. Combat is fast and you feel for the cardboard chits getting slaughtered on all fronts. Paths of Glory has won several awards, including Games Magazine’s Best Historical Simulation 2001, Gamers’ Choice Award Best Historical Simulation 2000 and two Charles S. Roberts Awards in 1999.This game should not be overlooked by war gamers or students of the era.[gallery:118]
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