Reviewed by Chris Kovac
QUARTERMASTER GENERAL: VICTORY OR DEATH: THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR (Plastic Soldier Company/Griggling Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 90-120 minutes; $59.99)
Quartermaster General: Victory or Death is a four player card partnership gamers game of area control with a theme of the wars of Ancient Greece designed by Ian Brody and produced by Giggling Games. This is the latest in the Quartermaster General series of games, best played with four people (though it can be played with two or three).
Each player chooses one of the four powers in the game: Athens or the Delian League (Demos Team), Sparta or Corinth (Oligarchs Team). Each power has a unique combination of cards (some powers have more cards than others), figures (Cities, Bribes, Hoplites and Triremes) and a player aid showing the distribution of cards and the steps in the play order. Each power plays differently from each other; some powers are stronger naval powers while some are stronger land powers. This is part of what makes the game interesting. Now each player, according to their powers, begins with a home city and some of their units (varying depending upon which faction being played) in their home territory. Then you shuffle your deck, deal yourself ten cards, choose seven and discard the other three cards face up to form your discard pile. You are now ready to start the game.
Every turn, the player order is Corinth, Delian League, Sparta then finally Athens. During a turn, the players follows the following five steps:
- Strategy Setup
In this step you remove any of your bribe markers from the board or activate face down “prepare” cards which you placed in previous rounds.
- Play Step
In this step you must play a card from your hand (if you do not have a card you wish to play or no cards, your side must lose one victory point). Cards are played face up unless it is a “prepare” card. The card types are:
Hoplite or Trireme Muster Card – Place land/sea units on the board in an area next to one of your pieces on the board
Hoplite or Trireme attack Cards – Attack and eliminate an adjacent enemy figure or city
Prepare Cards – Cards which you place face down to use in later turns (usually used to enhance your attacks or played in defense as a response to attacks by the opposing team)
Event Cards – “Historical” events which help your side or hurt your opponents
Status Cards – Cards which give your side additional scoring during scoring rounds or possibly certain tactical advantages
If you are unsatisfied with your cards in hand, at this point you can discard two to choose a specific muster, attack or prepare card from your draw deck
- Planning Step
In this step you may play an additional prepare card face down if you discard another card from your hand
- Supply Step
You check to make sure all your units can trace supply to your faction’s home city (for newly placed units or to your power’s cities or bribe markers for your units already on the board). Any unsupplied units are removed from the board.
- Draw your hand up to seven cards from your draw deck
In any step except drawing cards, you can discard a card to place a bribe marker in the bribery bowl space on the board. These bribes can be placed on the board at any time (including during other players’ turns) and more than one bribe token from different players can occupy the same space. Bribe markers primarily allow you to keep units in supply during the supply phase when you cannot trace supply to cities. They also allow you to meet the requirements of certain cards for things like extra victory points.
After all players have had a turn, the turn marker advances. Every third turn is a scoring round with players getting victory points for every key location in which they have a city (marked on the board) they control plus one point for every on of their cities on the board plus any points from face up cards. You also score one point every time you eliminate an opponent’s city. The game ends when either players have played fifteen rounds where the side with most points wins or if one team has ten or more points at the end of a scoring round.
Overall I found this game to be a more refined and much more easy to play version of the original Quartermaster game (featured in the Summer 2015 issue of Gamers Alliance Report). In order to win at this game, one has to use the strengths of each faction and good card management to outwit your opposing team and maximize your team’s victory points. The initial card discards can often make the difference between winning and losing the game. Every card played or discarded is a tough strategic choice and you always have to make sure you do not draw down your deck too fast or you may run out of cards before the game ends with negative consequences to your side.
The game is well produced with a well written rule book and good production values in terms of figures and card/board. I found the game easy to learn but, as they say, “hard to master” with lots or replayability. The only real fault in the game is that it is really designed to be played with four in order to enjoy the game to its fullest and this game might be a bit complex for casual or family gamers . I give this game an 8.5 out of ten. – – – – Chris Kovac
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