One-Player Only · Review for One · Spring of Solitaire 2019 · Wargame Garrison

Review for One: Agricola, Master of Britain

Thank you for checking review #98 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Note: A review copy of the game was sent in exchange for an honest review.

An overview of Agricola, Master of Britain

Agricola, Master of Britain is a board game designed by Tom Russell that is published by Hollandspiele. The box states it plays 1 player in 90 minutes.

It is the year of Vespasian and Titus – the sixth such ordinary consulship that Titus shared with his Imperial father. The civil war of a decade ago is but a memory, and the Flavians have restored peace and order to all corners of the empire, save one. The people of Brittania remain fiercely resistant to the will of their Roman masters, and the emperor has charged YOU with the seemingly impossible task of bringing them to heel.

Agricola, Master of Britain is a solitaire game of governance and conquest. To master the delicate political situation, you will need the right blend of military force, administration, bribery, and diplomacy. Every action you take matters, changing how the native populace feels about you and your rule. But you’ll never know exactly who’s with you or against you, because the game tracks this “under the hood”, or, more precisely, “in the cup”.

Three chit-pull cups (Friendly, Unfriendly, and Hostile) represent the allegiances of the units contained within those cups. After each action you take, one or more of these units are blindly moved from one cup to another. You’ll have a general idea of “I’m really cheesing them off” or “I should have a lot of friendlies available for recruitment”, but until you pull a chit, you won’t know who your friends really are, or where the next rebellion will spring up. This isn’t totally random: certain tribes naturally skew more in one direction or the other, and taking actions to stabilize a region after it’s been pacified will diminish the chances of revolt there.

Building the right armies, and taking the right actions at the right time is key to your success. But the Flavians – and particularly the hated Domitian – expect greater and greater results with each campaign season. You’ll need to meet and exceed them if you want to duplicate Agricola’s achievement.

My Thoughts

 I’ve always wanted to be a wargamer, but I’ve struggled to find a wargame system that is engaging enough to merit more plays. Something about “just play both sides” doesn’t appeal to me in a way to motivate it to hit the table beyond a first play. That is why I was always hesitant to pick up Agricola, Master of Britain because my history with solitaire wargaming has been less than stellar so far. Well, safe to say this shattered every expectation, not only being an enjoyable experience with every play (even those ending in an early loss), but providing an interesting game to play. It is wargaming that doesn’t make me try and outplay myself, and I cannot express enough how great that feels.

 The cup system on this game feels really innovative, and is far more interesting than rolling a die and consulting a table. It allows you to understand how your actions, as the Roman forces, are impacting the population’s feelings toward the Roman rule. Almost everything you do is going to send those chits conveying down toward the Hostile cup, and most of the game will be spent with a fairly sizable grouping in the Unfriendly cup and with almost nothing going into the Friendly cup. Apart from the mechanical enjoyment of the system here, which I did enjoy greatly, this also does a good job of representing (abstractly) the impact that certain decisions might have had upon the local population.

 While I absolutely hated it during moments of the gameplay, the fact that you can’t choose to “just move” means you need to really plan out your course of actions in order to reach the areas of the map you are trying to reach. In some instances you’ll be able to interact with the tribes on the map and at least try for something meaningful as you move through the map. Other times you’ll get the desirable Peacekeeping movement, which has a rare effect of moving chits out of the Hostile cup and into the Unfriendly cup. And if you really fail to plan – well, your movement might be accomplished only by passing for the turn and forfeiting the rest of your actions on the round. At least you get 1VP per action skipped, right? #planbetter

 Let’s talk about losing conditions in a solitaire game for a moment. This game can – and sometimes will – end long before the typical endgame trigger occurs. For example, in this you have 8 rounds to play and every round has a minimum VP threshold to meet in order to not lose the game. You must also balance the loss of troops, meaning you cannot blindly commit to battles without considering your odds of victory, and the use of your treasury which, if undefended, could get raided and if that raid brings it to 0, you lose. All of these are excellent ways of providing tension to the player, as you have variable things to juggle and make sure to meet minimums on throughout the game. You can’t simply ignore parts of the game and limp along to win. I love it so much, because it adds pressure and tension and gives me objectives to shoot for every round.

 Points are difficult to obtain in this game as a whole. The fact that you need to go from getting 3VP in the first round to getting 20VP in the final round shows that there are ways, as you get an “engine” going, to obtain that VP in bigger chunks. Because that VP is a losing condition, you can’t just focus on slaughtering the biggest threat because that may not be the best choice. You also can’t just sweep through with your strongest army, as promoting your troops is a key path to gaining consistent VP each turn. I love trying to puzzle out how to get a few more VP, and it is especially good when you finally get enough VP surplus to take advantage of purchasing new Legion units. Which…

 Those Legionary units are HARD to obtain because you need to spend VP to buy them. And you need to spend that VP prior to checking if you win or lose for the round, meaning you can only spend a surplus of points. Not only do they cost VP, but you need to have a Legion on one of the three starting camp spaces – something not necessarily easy to do late in the game – and no one Legion can have triple the number of Legionary units of any other Legion. Did I mention that you need to spend Legionary units to form Garrisons, which are essential to gaining VP and increasing your Income because they allow you to build Settlements? Oh, and if a Legion is ever without a Legionary unit in there, you automatically lose – so you can’t just dump all of your best troops into one Legion at the end to sweep through the far north where the Tribes are more challenging. If it sounds like I’m gushing over the brilliant struggle here, you’d be right: I absolutely love this challenge.

 Every action has an opposite reaction – apart from the free actions that Agricola can trigger. If you do Peacekeeping, chits move from cup-to-cup and then you pull chits from the Hostile cup to add to the map. Battle? Same thing. Passing? Yep, same thing. Which means every thing you do will inevitably lead to something on the map changing (unless you get lucky, because there ARE ways to prevent the chits drawn from getting added to the map. Usually via Legion/Garrison/Settlement presence on that specific location), This ensures a dynamic landscape to play in, as well as it provides a degree of risk. You can’t bank on X remaining static unless you know there are none of that particular chit in the Hostile cup.

 Agricola feels like an important part of the game because he has a set of actions he can do, and his presence “boosts” the action you take. He isn’t tied to a specific Legion, which is nice, but you’ll want to be using his Legion more often than the others just because he makes everything you do more powerful. Because the game responds to every action you take, you’ll want every small advantage you can get.

 The game is still going to have a decent amount of luck. Sometimes it swings in your way. Sometimes it swings against you. That 1/8 chance of failure will happen. Sometimes it might happen several times in a row, completely obliterating you against all odds. Such is the way things go in war. If this would cause you to flip the table or walk away in frustration to never want to play the game again – this probably isn’t the game for you. Chit pulls are random, and sometimes those will completely go against your plans. Die rolls, being d8 help some but they can still cause those wild swings. Randomness happens. Consider yourself warned.

 So far the game takes longer than it should for me. A complete game of 8 turns runs close to 2 hours still, and part of that is because I need to reference the rulebook for the number of Tribal Reactions for each action. The back of the rulebook has a handy reference on the cup changes for the actions, but surprisingly leaves this aspect off the quick reference. Realizing this now after typing it out…I’m going to mark those on that back myself to see if that makes it faster. While I’ve always enjoyed the game and it never felt like it went too long, I’m still nowhere close to the marketed 60-90 minute time on there unless I lose early.

 If you are spoiled by the high production quality featured on Stonemaier Games products or the latest Kickstarter funding projects, then your expectations are going to be disappointed when you receive this game. Understandably so, as Hollandspiele is a small company run by a husband and wife and their focus is on making great games, not great components in games. There is a half sheet of chits, a rulebook, a d8, and two paper maps in the box. It isn’t going to scream production quality when you get the game (although if you can snag a rare mounted copy of the boards, that’d be a great steal for you!). However, as you’ll see here shortly…the quality of the gameplay MORE than compensates for the price of this one.

Final Thoughts

My biggest regret about Agricola, Master of Britain is that I didn’t pick it up sooner. I’ve wanted to. I have literally been on the Hollandspiele website with it in my cart, and decided to hold off. All because my relationship with wargames as a solo experience had never lived up to my hopes. But I shouldn’t have compared this to those other experiences, because this game was designed to be a solitaire experience. I don’t have to play both sides, trying to make optimal decisions on each side and being conflicted about which side to root for. The game’s system plays against me in a masterful way for a solitaire experience.

There is luck and randomness, as you would expect in any wargame, and it hasn’t really bothered me. Most of the time the odds level out over time, and rarely has a string of bad luck completely bombed the game for me. Better play will triumph over time. And that is exactly what I want out of a game like this. The cup system is brilliant and exciting, and the Tribal Reactions are enough to both keep me on my toes and to make me strongly consider certain actions, knowing how many cup changes and then reactions will happen as a result.

While the game runs longer than it should based on the printed playtime, it has never overstayed its welcome. The host of losing conditions, and the real possibility of losing in an early round, are both enjoyable qualities for the game. And an early loss only motivates me to reset and try again. The setup and teardown for this game are relatively quick and easy once you get things organized which will only help it hit the table more often.

There are so many excellent decisions to make throughout the game, and every action feels important. And every action has a reaction, making them even more vital. This was my first Hollandspiele title to hit my collection and my table, and I can say with absolute certainty that it will not be the last. It is worth every penny for this game, as the gameplay more than compensates for any perceived lack of production quality. This game is brilliant and satisfying and will be a game I delightfully return to time and again going forward. Charlemagne, Master of Europe will be hitting the table in the near future for a review, and I expect that to be at least as enjoyable as this one – only bigger and longer and likely more epic. With several more solitaire wargame titles already in the Hollandspiele catalog, and a host of interesting multiplayer games to choose from as well, I will definitely be expanding my collection of their titles going forward.

Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 3: Post-Debate through Election

Welcome to the second of a planned three-part series of posts on 1960: The Making of the President by GMT Games. I was provided a copy of this game in exchange for some strategy posts, and while it took some time to get the opportunities to try the game out, I am very glad I could experience this one. This game definitely encourages many playthroughs to become familiar with the entire deck of cards and how they can impact/influence the game. But I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are closer to my own skill level at the game: beginner. So rather than focusing on specific cards and maximizing their usefulness, I am going to cover some overall strategies that have proven helpful to me (or have been hard lessons learned) across the three phases of the game.

Part 1: The Early Turns

Part 2: The Debates

Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day

Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day

Now we come to what is, arguably, the most critical time in the game. Your early turns can see a lot of adaptability to the cards being drawn and just plunking down cubes wherever feels like it is a good place. The debates are the part of the game where you can either press to make a huge swing on the board or you can simply ignore them and accept the losses. But you can’t be so free and loose with the final rounds of the game if you want to have a chance to win. You get an extra card every round, although you still play only five of them, and every decision in these rounds will feel critical. These are the final attempts to shift the board into your favor going into Election Day, and the process of election itself which can have some pretty radical ramifications if things go your way.

Tactic#1 – Plan early for the cards you’re dedicating to the Election

In the first half of the game you are saving cards to use in the Debate phase and it needed to focus on candidate symbols, issue markers, and CP. The four cards you save here (two per round) have a very different focus: the state shown in the bottom corner. The cards you set aside will let you draw three cubes from the bag in the Election round to try and place them onto that shown state. So saving a card in a state you are already carrying, or one worth minimal points, might not be an effective use of those cards. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of pulling the cubes you need, so not playing a powerful event isn’t ideal, either.

My personal approach is to look and see if any of those states are controlled by my opponent with only 1 cube on that state. Then I look to see if any match a high-point state my opponent controls. Those are the ones I want to consider first for saving into the Election round. On the other hand, if there is a state I control that my opponent seems to be aiming for, I might keep that card for the election phase to either increase my cubes on there or to wrest it back from them.

Saving the right cards can be important, although not critical. If you really need to gain a particular state, it might be easier to spend the CP during these two turns and take it that way, especially with media support.

Tactic#2 – Media Support is so very important, yet so hard to come by

The power of Media Support going into the Election Day cannot be overstated. The original benefit, which allows you to bypass support checks if your opponent is carrying a state, is worthwhile enough to make spending CP on Media a good strategy. Yes, you have to pull cubes from the bag in order to gain that support, but that also makes it incredibly hard to lose the support to your opponent. Media Support also allows you to continue to flip the position of two adjacent issues on the Issue Track, a key component for gaining momentum and endorsements (more on that in Tactic#3). But even that isn’t the real reason to want to be doing well in Media Support…

In the early part of the Election round, you gain cubes into the bag equal to the Media Support cubes on the board. PLUS those cubes already out for Media Support. This helps to seed the bag with those cubes you want to pull, either when you are trying to win something or as a block when your opponent is pulling cubes. More cubes = better chance that the events during Election Day will go your way. It might be tough to get that Media Support out there. But if you are in a reasonably good position on the board, or if your CP would all be burned just moving or doing support checks, it might be better spent gaining that Media Support.

Tactic#3 – Endorsements can be a board-changing force.

Endorsements can be a funny thing: either they will be extremely ineffective and rendered useless, or they will be a critical piece of your strategy. The only way to gain Endorsements comes from having the 1st or 2nd place Issue at the end of each round. You draw a card, place an endorsement marker in the region shown (or remove one of your opponents’ markers from that area). It serves no purpose until Election day, and even then it only comes into play at the very end. If a state has no cubes on it AFTER the campaign cards are resolved and Election Day events are completed, then the person with Endorsements in that region claims that state’s votes.

This is a way that the Kennedy player, for example, can sweep up a lot of those states in the West that would otherwise default to Nixon.

If there are a good number of vacant states, or if you are playing cards that have a chance of emptying a state your opponent controls, then Endorsements can be really vital as part of your strategy. On the other hand, a board where most worthwhile states already have cubes on them, this might be something you can ignore completely.

The good thing about getting Endorsements in a certain region, though, is that it forces your opponent to react. Such as in the case of being Kennedy, and getting control of Endorsements in the West region. All those states that Nixon was ignoring, assuming they would fall to him, are now up for grabs. This may force them to play defense, moving and spending that critical CP to place cubes over there instead of doing something more devastating.

Tactic#4 – Know when to cut your losses and focus elsewhere

This is something that can be difficult to do. You’re wanting those points in a California or a New York. You feel like you’re behind and that could swing the game in your favor. But they are carrying the state (or, worse, they have their candidate there). You could spend CP after CP pulling cubes from a bag in a desperate attempt to wrest it from them.

Or you could focus elsewhere, and make actual progress that isn’t up to random chance.

The problem with high-scoring states is that they are tempting targets. The good thing is that your opponent likely has more than a few decent states that aren’t nearly as hard to crack. You are more likely to win those battles than getting stuck in a power struggle over a single spot on the board. Trying to get that 45-point state and failing is far worse than picking up 25-30 points in other states. Every point you take from them is really a 2-point swing for you. They can win the five biggest states on the board and still lose if you control enough area. Don’t forget that!

Tactic#5 – Look for events that let you place 5+ cubes throughout the board

One of my best plays in this game came in the final round, playing a card that essentially wiped my opponent out of the South and allowed me to pick them up. He had focused no time down there and had a ton of states with just 1-2 cubes. I was able to spend 7 cubes down there, no more than 2 per state. While he was off winning California from me, I took far more points in two actions (that card, and then an Election Event that took 2 additional states he controlled in the South and made their votes not count). It had been a very close contest until that point, and even though he had a bag seeded full of his cubes the rest of what followed didn’t matter. It caught him off guard and flipped the board in a very meaningful way.

Cards cap out at 4CP. Anything that lets you place 5 or more with a single action are almost always going to be worth playing for the event. This is the time of the game when you need to be dropping cubes like a madman, whether they go onto the map, into the Media Support, or onto the Issue Track. Anything else almost feels like a wasted action.

Tactic#6 – Shoot for 269, but don’t forget to have fun

This part of the game can become mathy. With the wrong players, this can really bog things down if a person looks at their hand and tries to add up the best sequence of cards to play in those final rounds. Be considerate of the person sitting across from you. Yes, this is a game and you’re likely trying to win. So are they, and only one of you will walk away victorious. Don’t suck the joy out of the experience by trying to math out every possible move here.

Instead, target something that you know will provide a strong swing if successful. It doesn’t have to be the “perfect move” to be the right move.

This isn’t a game where you’re simply trying to score more points than your opponent. Every point you score is also a point taken away from them. It is more of a tug-of-war struggle than it is a points race. This can open wounds that you wouldn’t expect as you sweep the board under your dominion.

The point of gaming is to win, but more importantly to have fun. Don’t sacrifice the fun, for either side, in the interest of trying to win. A close game is more likely to earn you a rematch than a one-sided beatdown, after all.


There you have it, the final piece of the strategy guide for 1960: The Making of the President. This is, overall, a really fun and challenging game. It is far more interesting than the theme might make it sound, and there is a lot of tension to be found from round to round. This is a game that rewards repeated plays, as getting to know the various cards in that deck will help you be able to plan better and know what events should get prioritized for play. I have a long, long way to go to reach that point where I feel like I’ve mastered the game enough to know those things. But these three articles should, hopefully, help you get started down the path of making subtle changes to improve your overall results in the game.

What are some other strategies you might pass along to a newer player of this game?

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at some strategies to employ for the game. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon:

Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 2: The Debates

Welcome to the first of a planned three-part series of posts on 1960: The Making of the President by GMT Games. I was provided a copy of this game in exchange for some strategy posts, and while it took some time to get the opportunities to try the game out, I am very glad I could experience this one. This game definitely encourages many playthroughs to become familiar with the entire deck of cards and how they can impact/influence the game. But I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are closer to my own skill level at the game: beginner. So rather than focusing on specific cards and maximizing their usefulness, I am going to cover some overall strategies that have proven helpful to me (or have been hard lessons learned) across the three phases of the game.

Part 1: The Early Turns

Part 2: The Debates

Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day


We come to what is likely to be the short center of this three-part series. On Monday I covered six strategies to guide you through the early turns of the game. On Friday I plan to cover strategy carrying you through the end of the game. But today I cover that awkward 6th turn: the Debates. This is arguably the shortest round of the game, and some might write it off as being unimportant. And yes, you can still win the game if you do poorly here. You could make a case for “throwing” the debates in order to keep your focus elsewhere. Yet 9 cubes can provide a good swing in key parts of the board and shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand.

Tactic#1 – Go into the game with a Debate strategy from Turn 1.

This can be a difficult thing to decide, as you have no knowledge of the hands of cards you will see in turns 2-5. Or what your opponent will keep. At best, you are likely to win 1-2 issues during the debate so keep that in mind. There are a few paths you can walk down:

1. Save two really good cards for two issues (4 cards total) to increase your odds of winning those issues. The final card you save can either be a card you don’t want your opponent to use the event on during regular rounds, or it could be a card of your opponent’s in that third issue category. Why? See Tactic #2 below!

2. Save two really cards for a single issue (2 cards total) and play to win the third issue in the debate for 4 cubes. This will let you “toss” up to three cards that would favor your opponent during those early rounds. Spotting them 5 cubes in the debate should be a reasonable compromise here, as some events can place 5-7 cubes from a single card. If everything plays out how you imagine, at least. Even giving them 7 cubes, winning the first issue in the debate only, could be a very worthwhile play.

3. Ignore the debate strategy completely. Every card you toss will help your opponent in some way. This is especially important if you are getting at least one overpowered event for them each turn and you simply don’t have the Momentum to preempt the event and/or they are never low on Momentum. This becomes the easy decision of avoiding the worst thing in your hand each turn, knowing that they will simply get 9 cubes to place in Turn 6. At least this way you can plan accordingly prior to the debate and try to set up the board so this won’t be as harmful in the end.

Tactic#2 – Try and trigger the first issue for your opponent

This sounds counter-intuitive, but there is a good reason to want them to win first: the first issue to resolve awards 2 cubes. If you want them to win one issue, you want it to be the one that scores first. Alternatively, if there is one issue you want to win then you want it to score last so you can net 4 cubes for the victory. This makes the playing of the cards really interesting, as it only requires the placement of a 2nd card on one side of an issue to trigger it.

What really becomes interesting is when both of you start by playing cards on the opponent’s side. Do they have a 2nd card of that same issue to trigger that issue you saved cards for? It can be a gamble to open by placing on the issue you want to win last. It can equally be a gamble to place completely on their side. Which is why…

Tactic#3 – Initiative matters sometimes.

There is an important benefit to having initiative in the debate: if two issues trigger on the same round, the person with initiative chooses the order that they resolve. There is a cube of difference between 1st and 2nd, or 2nd and 3rd. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is a game where a single cube can make all the difference. Having the ability to choose the order in which they resolve gives you the power to play more aggressively on their side to try and give them the early victories so you can get more cubes on your own issues.

Tactic#4 – Know where to use those cubes you earn

Repeat after me: No support checks = good. Like, really good. Over-powered good. Knowing how to use those cubes effectively is vital to coming out of this round feeling good about the rest of the game. 9 cubes can take a New York or California from being carried by your opponent and make it so you are carrying it instead. That is a huge swing in points. It can be spread across multiple states, allowing placement without spending CP to physically move into that region (Alaska and Hawaii are particularly obnoxious). With even 5 cubes, you can take a state from being carried to having one of yours on it. That is huge. No bag pulls to see if it works. It simply happens. If you are okay with whatever your opponent does here, great. Let them run away with the debates. If your opponent lets you dominate the debates, you can make them pay dearly here by wresting control from their #1 state. Or seeding the board at will. But you need to have an idea of how those are best spent: taking control of a carried state, bumping big states to being carried by you, or gaining control of states far from your candidate.

And there you have it, four simple tips to help with going into the debates. Some might write them off as unimportant, but they can have a big impact. Yes, it might be for a few cubes but those can have incredible power.

What is your preferred approach to the Debates in 1960?

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at some strategies to employ for the game. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon:

Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 1: The Early Turns

Welcome to the first of a planned three-part series of posts on 1960: The Making of the President by GMT Games. I was provided a copy of this game in exchange for some strategy posts, and while it took some time to get the opportunities to try the game out, I am very glad I could experience this one. This game definitely encourages many playthroughs to become familiar with the entire deck of cards and how they can impact/influence the game. But I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are closer to my own skill level at the game: beginner. So rather than focusing on specific cards and maximizing their usefulness, I am going to cover some overall strategies that have proven helpful to me (or have been hard lessons learned) across the three phases of the game.

Part 1: The Early Turns

Part 2: The Debates

Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day


Part 1: The Early Turns

Unless you are very familiar with the cards in the deck, those early turns can feel like you’re drowning in water. Six cards come your way, and at least half of them are likely to contain your opponent’s symbol on there. You need to play five of these (in most cases). The one you don’t play is likely going to be the one that benefits you the most. How do you handle this situation? Here are a few pointers on what to emphasize, the things to keep a close eye upon, and some overall tactics that have been successful in their implementation during the games I’ve played.

Tactic #1: Momentum Matters

One of the most important resources in this game comes in the form of those Momentum markers. You get some at the start of the game. Half of them get discarded when the round ends. You stand a chance of getting a few at the end of a round based on the Issues Track. What are they and why do they matter so much?

The Momentum markers are used for one of two purposes: to trigger the event of a card your opponent plays, or to prevent your opponent from triggering the event on a card you play. The first time you look at a hand of cards you will likely groan as you see the events that your opponent would love to trigger. There is a pretty good chance that they will trigger at least one of them during the round when you play cards. One of the keys to success would be to entice them to spend those markers early in a round on something that sounds great, but isn’t nearly as powerful as another card you’ll be playing later. But you don’t want to always have that best event be the very last card you play in a round – they might catch on and save a marker for that final card.

If your opponent is spending markers on triggering events, that means they aren’t spending them to prevent you from doing the same with their cards. Depending on who is producing more Momentum in a turn, this might not be a bad position to be in. The real key comes in knowing when to pay those markers to preempt the card you are playing. This can be a tough thing to do – it costs two markers, which means two cards you aren’t going to be able to trigger the event if your opponent plays them. A card which will swing the board in your opponent’s favor is something you don’t want to see played. Something which lets them gain Momentum, or trigger a permanent event, are also very worthwhile to preempt. This is a tactic that I am still working on trying to get right for timing. Knowing the deck, and what cards can really flip the playing field, will help you to better understand when preempting is important.

If you, as a Nixon player, can preempt Greater Houston Ministry Association, do so at all costs. That one card wrecked me several times when Kennedy played cards that couldn’t be triggered by Nixon because this was in play.

Tactic #2: Balance the gain of CP with the gain of Rest Cubes

It might seem like the best strategy is to play all those cards that give you the most moves during your turn; however, many of those high CP cards are balanced out with low rest (if any at all) when playing the card. But I must emphasize the importance that Rest plays in this game. I had a play of the game where, at the very end, almost every cube in the bag belonged to my opponent. It made it so everything went in his favor, which complexly flipped a few areas of the board and prevented me from securing more on my turn. Most of the game is spent with the bag draw playing a small impact (unless you are vying for Media Support or trying to take an area where your opponent is located or carrying). Yet the opportunities to dump in more cubes are rarer than you’d expect. Don’t sacrifice a great play for the sake of an inferior event that provides rest; however, when faced with a decision between two cards and you are torn on which to play, always go for the one with more rest. It will pay off by the end of the game.

Tactic #3 – Don’t ignore the power of the numbers.

I’m not talking about the obvious numbers here, such as New York and California, because their importance is immediately obvious. It can be easy to get caught in a power struggle over those high-valued states because it feels like you need those to win. In some games you may very well need to spend several cards trying to wrest New York from your opponent’s grip. But don’t underestimate how critical the rest of the states may be. Especially in the Midwest and the West. Some of those states feel unimportant, especially when dropping to 4 points for whoever wins the state. However, there is power in numbers and controlling a good majority of the map is oftentimes more impactful than focusing your effort heavily in 1-2 big states.

Tactic #4 – Think ahead to the debate phase, but don’t assume your highest card is the one to throw

My first debate round was a complete disaster on both sides. I tossed three cards in for a single issue. My opponent tossed four on the same issue, and his other one showed my symbol instead of his. He won the first issue, leaving me to sweep the rest by default. There was no excitement, no tension. Only frustration and the feeling of being too dumb to play the game.

There are three factors to consider in the card you are saving for the debate round:

  • Make sure the card has your candidate’s icon on there. If you keep a card that doesn’t have your icon, that means it has to be played on your opponent’s side of the issue which could potentially help them to win. Ideally, a card with both is what you want to save to allow for maximized flexibility. Triggering your weakest issue first by playing on their side can allow you to reap greater benefits when the later issues resolve.
  • Look closely at the issue icon shown on the card. It will have one of the three issue icons: Defense, Social, or Economic. Don’t be like me and save too many of the same issue. At most you will get to play two cards on a single issue, so anything over that is a wasted card! Plan on saving 2-2-1 as a spread so you can maximize your placement.
  • CP matters on these, as that is how you determine the winner. This will get covered more in the next post, but you don’t want to toss the lowest numbers over here. Depending on the card(s)/situation, you may not want to toss the highest, either. A nice moderation of 3CP cards is likely the best plan without any in-game context.

Tactic#5 – Don’t neglect the Issue track and, by extension, the Media Support

It can be so easy to focus on the cubes on the map and try to maximize your influence out there. A hand full of events and high CP cards can give you dreams of swinging states under your control or bolstering your cube count in a key state. But the Issue track is so critical that you should plan on dedicating at least one CP move toward the Issue track. But why is it so important?

Remember that discussion of Momentum toward the beginning of the article? Yep, this track is the #1 way to gain said Momentum as each of the three placements can reward the winner with a Momentum token. Sweep the issues and you can get three more at the end of the turn. Even winning one is important as it will keep your flow of markers going. Nothing is more favorable to your opponent than having no momentum, because it will allow them to freely play cards for CP without any care for the event text.

The other important thing would be Media Support. The player with more overall Media support gets to flip the placement of two adjacent issues on the track at the end of the round. This is key, as it allows you to boost your own standing while dropping your opponent. Winning that 1st place issue is so powerful in the long-run (see more on this in the 3rd installment when it goes up on the Post-Debate strategy).

Tactic#6 – Don’t forget about your candidate card!

The final piece of advice is a simple, yet forgettable one. You have a candidate card which is worth 5CP. That is higher than any card in the deck. But, even better, this “replaces” playing one of the cards in your hand. Got a really nasty event that you know your opponent will trigger when played? Use the candidate card instead so you can discard this one at the end of the round. There are few ways to flip it back over, so don’t be too hasty in using the candidate card…but don’t forget this is a very viable option when you need the CP or to avoid playing a specific card.


There you have it, six tips on playing the early rounds of 1960: The Making of the President. The game is one of being able to adapt to the hand you’re given, to make use of the events, and to balance that with spending enough CP to make a difference throughout the game.

Are there other strategies you’ve found useful in the early game? Are there questions you’d like answered regarding this part of the game? Leave a comment below and I’d be happy to discuss with you.


Hopefully you found this review to be a useful look at some strategies to employ for the game. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon.

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Wargame Garrison

Review for Two – 878: Vikings – Invasions of England

Thank you for checking review #45 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

An Overview of 878: Vikings – Invasions of England

878: Vikings – Invasions of England is a game designed by Beau Beckett, Dave Kimmel, & Jeph Stahl and was published by Academy Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 60-120 minute play time with a 2.56 weight rating on BGG.

The year is 878. For the past 75 years, Viking raiding parties from Norway and Denmark have been terrorizing the coasts of England with ‘hit and run’ attacks. The treasures and stories gained from these attacks have allowed the Norsemen to raise huge hosts of eager men seeking glory and riches. These armies now stand poised to thunder across England where they will settle and farm the fertile land they conquer. The divided English kingdoms are unprepared for this impending onslaught. The Vikings are coming!

In 878: Vikings – Invasions of England, players control the invading Vikings or the English nobles who are trying to withstand the invasion. Viking players either play as Norsemen Viking freeman or as the fearless Viking shock troops known as Berserkers. The English play as the Housecarl, the Kings’ household troops, or as the Thegns who were regional noble Leaders. The English players will also be able to call up the peasant levies, called the Fyrd, to defend their cities.

Players for each side strategize together in order to coordinate their strategies. Each side attempts to control Cities on the map to win. The English start the game controlling all of England but a Viking Leader will invade from the sea each Turn. The English players raise reinforcements from cities they control, while the Vikings must wait for a new invasion for reinforcements. The game ends when the Treaty of Wedmore is called and the side controlling the most cities wins the game.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The setup is the same regardless of player count due to 3-4 players simply divides the control of each side. In a standard game, each of the four player decks are comprised of cards numbered 01-12. Those are each shuffled and every faction draws three cards. If a faction draws no movement cards, they reveal that hand and shuffle into the deck, drawing three new cards. The Viking player separates their Leaders deck into A, B, and C and shuffles those, placing the B stack onto the C and the A card on top of that. Place a Viking Control token on each of the marked spaces along the bottom of the board and put the round track marker on Year 1.

The board populates with the Housecarl and Thegn units as shown on the board in the small circled spots. This will populate the board some, but leave plenty of territories throughout that are empty. No Berserker or Norsemen troops will begin on the map, as they have not begun to invade England yet. The Norsemen will always begin the game, with the other three turn cubes being placed in the black draw bag.

One the first Viking player’s turn every round, they will draw the top card of their Leader deck and that will (usually) bring a leader into play with reinforcements. This will also indicate the sea by which the leader must invade. A player must play at least one movement card from their hand, which will indicate the number of armies that can move and the number of spaces those armies may move. The armies chosen must contain at least one unit of the current faction’s turn. If an army encounters an enemy army during movement, it creates a battle. A leader army can use remaining movement after the battle, but an army without a leader ends its movement where the battle occurs.

Battle is simple. If the English players are defending, they draw a Fyrd card and bring that many Fyrd units into play in the shire where the battle occurs. The defending player then takes dice from each unit’s pool, up to the number of those units in the battle, and rolls them (Ex. an army with 2 Thegns, 1 Housecarl, and 3 Fyrd units would roll 2 Thegn dice, 1 Housecarl die, and 2 Fyrd dice). Hit results cause an enemy unit to be defeated (opponent’s choice, except if a Berserker is present and the Viking player is attacking. In the first round of battle, the first hit against the Viking player must be taken as a Berserker since they would rush into the thick of a battle). Command results allow those units to retreat to an adjacent shire, but only if there is a friendly army there. Flee results send those units to the Fled Units circle on the board. Players alternate rolling until one side remains in the shire. If the Viking player gains control of a shire containing a city, place a Viking Control token on the space. If the English regain control of a shire, the Viking Control token is removed and placed back on the track along the bottom of the board.


After movement, the player draws back up to 3 cards (revealing and shuffling/drawing if the hand contains no movement cards) and their turn ends. A cube is drawn from the bag at random and the shown color goes next. On each English player turn, reinforcements arrive on the map in some territories controlled by the English (shown in a small box printed on the map of that shire). Then any units in the Fled Units circle of that faction are retrieved and placed with any friendly army on the board.

The game ends in one of four ways:

The English win if, at the end of a round, the Vikings control no shires on the map.
The Vikings win if, at the end of a round, they control at least 14 city shires on the map.
The English win if both Treaty of Wedmore cards have been played on either side and the Vikings don’t control at least 7 city shires at the end of Round 5 or later.
The Vikings win if both Treaty of Wedmore cards have been played on either side and the Vikings control at least 7 city shires at the end of Round 5 or later.

My Thoughts

One side of the conflict begins with nothing on the map. There is 100% English dominance at the start of the game, although their forces are generally pretty thin to begin. This is important because the Viking side does need a chance to invade and maintain hold on at least a few shires early in the game, otherwise they’ll lose. I really enjoy that both sides are different in style: one favors the aggressor and the other favors a more defensive mindset. As a player who usually prefers the latter, this is a fun starting asymmetry.

There is a great feeling, as the Viking player, when you draw a new leader to start a round. Stacking all those troops onto that card makes you feel a little invincible. Of course, it never lasts. But for those first minutes the feeling is fantastic. “I will crush you English troops with my 20+ battle-hardened warriors!” quickly becomes “How can I take one more shire without leaving myself open for a counter-attack?”


Reinforcement phases provide some great relief for the English side, as well as tactical targets to keep in mind for the Viking player. Twice a round, the English forces replenish and they are spread throughout the map. Sometimes the Viking player might deem it worth going against a larger force to take over a spot generating more troops. Those are the battles that make this game even more exciting.

Speaking of making battles more exciting: the Fyrd. Yep, those pesky peasants and commoners can show up to make a difference when the English defend. But you never know how many. And boy, those yellow dice sure don’t seem to hit all that often. Many times the Fyrd end up simply absorbing hits, but that makes sense. They aren’t warriors, so they shouldn’t be dealing out death very often.

This game has theme in spades. A lot of care was placed in providing a historically-rich experience in the game. Each faction has different dice, and the result proportion is accurate. There are cards that reflect the unique factions. The Viking leaders. The Fyrd units. The rulebook. And then if you dive into the expansion box, there is way more theme throughout there. This is a historical wargame done right, in my opinion. And I love this era, so that is something I was genuinely concerned about.

Dual end triggers. I first fell in love with that concept in War of the Ring. While not quite as thematic-feeling in this one (yet still thematic, if you think about it), this game has two ways that each side can win the game. I don’t think we’ve played a game yet that has lasted all 7 rounds, which isn’t a knock on the game design. Often one of us is pressing to end the game, trying to capitalize on our current advantage. Only once has it been forcibly triggered, when my only movement card was a Treaty card as the Viking player. I had a lot of work to do, and fell far short of it in Round 5… which taught me that playing that first Treaty card to “bring the threat of ending early” can totally backfire.


The card decks are small, which helps them to be manageable. You only have three cards in hand, and at least one must always be a movement card. This method can be really restrictive: first off, if you only have one movement card you end up with only one option for movement on your turn. You still get some decision about how to optimize that movement among your armies, but it stinks when you have no choices. The other side is if you draw nothing but movement cards. That was the case for me, as the Vikings, through 90% of the last play we had. I was stuck with all these movement cards and wasn’t getting any events to help swing things in my favor. My wife, on the other hand, kept using cards that pressed an advantage and I simply didn’t have an answer for it. So while I like the small deck, small hand, and the ability to swap in advanced cards, there is definitely room for this to improve. A deck of movement and a deck of event cards, perhaps, and you draw 2 from each. Or 2 movement and 1 event. Something like that to give movement options while also ensuring you have event cards at your disposal all game.

In terms of Wargames, there is a limit on the tactics you can try with this game. It might begin to feel samey after a while because the same shires will recruit, the same Viking leaders will storm in and try to take a few shires along the way. It never feels grand or epic in scope, and you rarely feel clever about something you did unless you had the luck of drawing a useful card. This is something I fully expect to be impacted in a good way by the mini-expansions, but it is worth nothing that the base game itself might run its course over time. It will remain a fun game, but might lose some of the interesting factors. There isn’t much you can do to impact/influence combat, so you’re at the mercy of rolling better and using enough troops to make sure you roll you maximum number of dice.

The Berserker units are fantastic and a lot of fun. However, you simply don’t get enough of them out to be useful. You need to leave enough behind so that when your berserker faction is up, they can actually move. If you are the aggressor as the Viking player, you are guaranteed to lose a Berserker if the defender rolls a hit. And they usually do roll at least one, and since they get to swing first you might lose that extra die you need (because those Berserkers hit often!). They never retreat, so you won’t get reinforcements that way. I just always find myself with them spread too thin and have had more than one turn where the Berserker faction could do nothing because they were all wiped out after a back-to-back English conquest to retake Shires. And that is the biggest issue: no Berserker units = no movement = no conquest for 1/2 of the Viking turns that round.


Let’s talk about those minis. They look really cool. But they aren’t practical. They are so small that they become difficult to stand on the board. My wife doesn’t even bother standing the Fyrd units, just dumping them down for the battle. They are just going away at the end of that battle, anyway. If the minis were a little bigger, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. But for the size they are, the cubes would honestly have been a better option for gameplay. The minis give better photo opportunities and look cool and all. But man, they aren’t worth the hassle. I kinda wish I had paid the extra $5 (I think) to get the cubes so I could have that option. As a person who plays a ton of euro games, I don’t need the minis. And they just aren’t practical based on the size here.

Final Thoughts

This was the first, and perhaps will remain the last, game I ever Kickstarted. I enjoyed the process and was pleased with the results, both in delivery and in the game itself. I am yet to tear into the expansion content and start adding the mini modules into the game, but the game itself doesn’t need them to be a really good game. Those only serve to enhance the longevity of a game such as this one, allowing us to mix and match to play the unique setting we desire.

This is a really fun game, if a bit on the lighter side of things. My wife termed it to be War of the Rings Lite, and it does capture some of the aspects we enjoy about the battles in that game. There are a few cards that can be used to affect battles, making it so you don’t always know what to expect when initiating combat. Speaking of combat, I do like that each faction has custom dice, not just different in color but in the symbols and number of those symbols. Those berserkers never flee, the Fyrd rarely hit. Even those dice make thematic sense.

This game really captures the theme, even if some of the methods are a little abstracted. Yet you feel like invading forces of Vikings or the desperate mustering of the English trying to fight off those invaders. The win conditions on each side also make some sense, and I can’t wait to see how those expansions add in even more theme into the game.


This is the game I’ll grab when I have a War of the Ring itch but don’t have the time to play that game. It provides a fast and fun experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. This fits perfectly in the camp of being a game we can play during a weeknight after the little one is in bed, and be finished and have it put away with time to spare before bed.

If you are interested in the period of history, in picking up a wargame, or want something that is fun, fast, and asymmetric in style then this one is a great game. I’d argue that 2 players is the ideal count, allowing you to control both forces on your half of the conflict. This game system turned out to be a pleasant delight, and has me very interested in checking out some of the others like 1754 – Conquest: The French and Indian War (which I know she’ll like, because of the Indians). This is a game that will definitely be sticking around for the long haul in our collection and has finally given me the Viking experience I’ve been looking for in board games.

Hopefully you found this review to be a useful look at how the game plays for 2-players. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon.

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Wargame Garrison

Review for Two – Night of Man

Thank you for checking review #33 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Night of Man

Night of Man is a game designed by Mark H. Walker and is published by Flying Pig Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 60 minute play time.

Night of Man is a card-driven, tactical board game. Set in a post-alien-invasion-of-Earth universe, the squads, heroes, and tanks of Earth’s Militia battle against powerful aliens with enhanced power armor, hover tanks, Mechs, and spider-like robots.

In each turn gamers draw up to a four card hand and may play a card, sometimes more, in each impulse. The cards activate units to move, fire, assault, and use special powers, such as explosive rounds, telekinesis, and more. Special cards, such as critical hit or bullet storm, can also enhance a unit’s attacks.

Each turn continues until three end turn cards have been drawn. Players then choose one card from their hand to keep, the administrative markers are removed from the board, and a new hand is dealt to each player. The players use that new hand, or the card kept from the previous turn, to bid for initiative in the new turn.

Night of Man ships with numerous scenarios, as well as a point system that allows gamers to put together their own battles in no time flat.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

This one is a tricky one to describe the setup because each game will be different. There are a set of scenarios to play through, each one dictating the boards used, how they are laid out, the armies fielded by each side, and where they are placed (or enter the board when moved). They also dictate the number of rounds played, the objective for each side, point values for destroying units (if the scenario includes scoring), and how many “End Turn” cards need to be drawn before the round ends.

The one consistent is that the deck of cards will be shuffled and four will be dealt to each player. If an End Turn card is dealt, it is placed face-up and a new one is dealt. The players then each select one card to “bid” for initiative. The player whose card shows a higher value discards the card and goes first, taking their turn with three cards. The losing player keeps their card and will have four to use on their first turn.

On a turn, the player plays one card from their hand. Each card has two possible actions on there, and the player uses only one. Most actions are marked with a green icon, but there are red and yellow ones as well. Red are interrupts, so to speak, allowing you to play them on the other player’s turn. Yellow are able to boost your action, making it so you can play more than one card for the round. After the action on the card is resolved, the player may discard any number of additional cards and draw back up to four. If an End Turn card is drawn, it goes face-up in the pile and a new card is drawn to replace it.

The core concept is simple: move your units toward the enemy and then try to shoot them into oblivion. This is an underexaggeration, to be sure, but it gets the core premise across. Some scenarios involve trying to find an object or gain and maintain control of a certain area of the board. The interesting thing here is that when a unit moves or fires, it gets marked with a token indicating that action is done. Which prevents them from activating for anything else this round unless a card, such as Second Wind, is played to remove those tokens.

My Thoughts

The premise and the theme for this game is great. I love the idea that the aliens have come and subjected the Earth to their rule. One side is playing those alien overlords, while the other is playing the role of a resistance of humans. The aliens are, of course, well-armored and hard to kill. The theme was what drew me to this game in the first place, and it didn’t disappoint once I got the game.

The counters are large and chunky and easy to maneuver and manipulate. Which is a good thing, because you’ll be adding them, flipping them, and removing them often. I couldn’t even imagine the headache this could have caused if the counters were really small. They also are clearly distinguishable on the board via color coding, and the artwork of the units and characters is done well. The board itself is a little bland art-wise, but the counters make up for it.

I love multi-use cards so very much. These are great because they not only make you choose between two actions on the card, but they also track the round’s end and are used in combat rather than dice. This might make it sound like you’ll be flipping that deck quickly, and you certainly can, but especially in that first round the deck goes one or two cards per turn. You’ll see a lot of repeated actions throughout the deck, especially Move actions and Fire actions, but there are enough to shake things up.

Combat is simple and dice-free. My wife is one of those who absolutely hates games that use a ton of dice. Her biggest rage during a game happened a few years ago playing Doctor Who Risk, and it was at that point that I knew I couldn’t play a game where combat relied solely upon who rolls better. This is a card-driven system for battle, which not only keeps things simple but also helps to flip through that deck. The modifiers used for range, etc. are relatively easy to grasp and follow, although the first few plays saw me triple-checking I had things right. The vehicles add complexity to the system, but not so much that it can’t be played. You’ll just be likely to have to check the process a few additional times the first play or two incorporating them into the mix. Something you’ll hear me mention often in this review.

There is no getting around it: this game is fun. And that, in spite of anything else, is what you want to find in a board game. Those first two scenarios are introductory, at best, and should be viewed as such. They are the equivalent of the first ten levels you gain in an RPG – meant to get your feet wet before introducing more complexity. The third scenario doesn’t add new rules, but it does provide a few new units and an objective for one side to chase. I’m halfway through this campaign and really enjoying the progress so far. I’ve seen there are other campaign packs, including a solo one, and those are very likely to enter onto my wish list.

The boards are folded in two and, at least with my copy, tends to not lay flat on the table as a result. This is a preference thing only, and worth noting, but it doesn’t end up affecting the gameplay itself.

The rulebook is hit and miss. I thought, upon first read, that it covered things well. And what it contains, it does cover well. But there are omissions throughout, such as what happens if enough End Turn cards are dealt into the opening hands to end the round, or what triggers the powers shown on the units’ counters (It was my third play when I noticed the small “Power” word on some of the cards and was able to make the connection). Or what happens when a unit is on fire from the Infantry’s special power? I’ve seen threads galore mentioning the Handler and his Spiderbots, and with good reason. The other thing I would have liked to see were more visual demonstrations of what was being explained. Blocks of text are great, but a small image (and there are some in here) would help to emphasize that and provide a quick go-to as a refresher.

And so I am torn on the use of cards to trigger the end of a round. Part of me wants to love it and proclaim the brilliance of this concept. It isn’t often that the game gets to a point where both sides can’t do anything (although the alien side is more likely to hit that point first) apart from toss cards and hope to draw a Second Wind or trigger the round’s end. So long as one side is able to do things, the round will keep going (it can end if both players pass consecutively). The variable round length is great in concept: there should be uncertainty in war about how long a battle will take. But what about when you draw all of the End Turn cards at the very start of a round? And if this happens a few turns in a row? On the reverse side, what if they all keep populating at the very bottom of the deck? This game could either run short or really long in those scenarios. I’ve had more games where rounds end super-early than running really long, but the chance is there and some players really won’t like that variable length.

The player aids provided are fine, but there were things that I found myself having to look up time and again in the rule book. So they are things I wish there had been an aid for, so that the finding of this information could have been a little easier. I had to look up what the various numbers on the counters represented, and there are two times when this really happened: the first few plays to get down the leg units, and then just when you get those few parts down the vehicles are thrown into the mix and double the numbers you’re looking at on the unit counters. The same thing goes with the cards. For the most part, things are easy to get down early but once vehicles come into play, I found myself checking and rechecking what the numbers were and when they were used. Finally, there are powers and abilities indicated by small icons on units. These are great, but I had to look those up repeatedly and found myself forgetting what some of them did. None of these three things are game-breakers, and they are all covered well in the rulebook, but I’d prefer not to flip through the book every time I need to reference these things. At least on the counter layout and the card layout.

Final Verdict

This is a game I really want to love, and I know with more plays and more exposure I can come to love the game. Right now I simply enjoy the game. It is a nice system, although a little more complex than I initially expected. There are a lot of things to remember, and if you can’t recall which number on the token represents the ABF or the HF, etc. then you’ll be grabbing the rule book often for reference. And that part is why I’ve hesitated so long in teaching the game to my wife. It isn’t bad in the first three scenarios, where you have all leg units, but the vehicles add extra layers and a lot more numbers become relevant. Which also makes more card abilities matter. Which means I need to have a good grasp on those things if I want to teach her in a manner that she can find enjoyable. Having me stop things to reference the rulebook every five minutes wouldn’t exactly be an experience she’d find to be fun.

I do enjoy a scenario system, and so I am glad this has that available to play. But it does also include the important skirmish system. This gives it life beyond the scenario plays, allowing each player to build and field a custom army to battle it out.

I’m still very early into my wargaming career, and I probably secured a copy of this about 6-12 months too soon. It was quite a jump from the Swords & Shields system from Stamford Bridge to this one. However, anyone who has a fair amount of experience with wargames should fare well when playing this game. And this game has been worth the effort I’ve put into learning things and I have no doubt it will continue to be rewarding.

The biggest headache will come from the text-dense reference sheet, no quick reference for what is shown on each counter, and those occasional things that aren’t explained well in the rulebook. Those things can usually be inferred based on how a player chooses to interpret things, but there will be questions that you simply can’t find a clear answer to. Which is always frustrating for a gamer.

Overall I have enjoyed Night of Man, and this is a game that I plan to play more times, both solo to sharpen my understanding of the rules and system as well as with my wife. I’ll need to be solid in my command of the game and what everything means if I want her to enjoy the next plays where we add more complexity and depth to the game. But I am confident this will be one we’ll both enjoy because we like games with conflict and where you need to use tactical maneuvering to be victorious. If you are just exploring wargames, this might not be the right purchase (yet), but if you’ve got a good command of consulting tables and modifiers, this game is definitely worth checking out.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only · Wargame Garrison

Review for Two – Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age

Thank you for checking review #23 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A copy of this game was provided by Tiny Battle Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age

Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age is a game designed by Tom Russell and is published by Tiny Battle Publishing. The rule book states that it can play 2 players and has a 70 minute play time.

Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age is a low-complexity two-player wargame about the 25 September 1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge. Three weeks before his defeat at Hastings, King Harold Godwinson surprised his brother Tostig and King Harald Hardrada of Norway and won a decisive, if costly victory against the Vikings.

At the heart of the game is a simple turn structure in which players choose two phases to perform: Retreat, Shield Wall, Move, or Combat. Players can also perform two Move Phases in a single turn, two separate Combat phases, or a more powerful– if bloody– Pitched Combat. Combat resolution is quick and accurately represents the brutal, costly nature of linear warfare of the period.

As leadership of the Viking forces passes from one leader to another, the rules of the game are changed, imparting a sense of historical narrative while giving both players an equal chance of victory.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The game is a 2-player only so nothing changes. The great thing about this game is that there are two games included in this one ziplock bag. The first side is for the Stamford Bridge battle, having the Anglo-Saxons facing the Vikings. Both sides are attempting to be the first to eliminate 12 units from the other side, although there comes a point where the Viking losses will bring about a flurry of Viking attacks in a desperate attempt to either end the game or lose.

The other side is for A Hill Near Hastings, which pits the Anglo-Saxons against the Normans. This one is unique enough with including Cavalry and Archers for the Normans, who are split into three wings that activate and operate independently of the main force. Like the previous scenario, the goal is in trying to eliminate a certain number of troops from the other side.

The actions are simple in both games, with Attack, Move, Shield Wall, Retreat, and Double being the actions in Stamford Bridge while Hastings adds Charge and Fire for use with the horses and archers. Each counter has a letter to indicate its skill, and a symbol to indicate the class of the unit. These are cross-referenced on a single, simple chart with the roll of a single die to determine if the enemy is hit, if both sides take a hit, if one side must retreat a space, if a unit is eliminated, or if it is a miss. There are ways to maneuver troops or use commands to increase your odds of success. Anyone familiar with Wargames will have no issue maneuvering this, and even a new Wargamer will be able to navigate this after a few combats.

My Thoughts

Everything in this game has been streamlined to make it easy and accessible. Movement is simple because there are no varying terrain types to take into consideration. There are no leaders on the map, simplifying that process. Almost all of the units in the game are infantrymen. There are a handful of commands. There is only one chart to reference. The game feels like a Wargame, but it is not only playable by a beginner but also plays quickly enough to be almost a filler for more experienced Wargamers. The accessibility makes it a great game to introduce new gamers to this category of games. The short playtime and small number of counters makes it so that this is one that can be pulled out and played when you don’t have time for a longer game.

The counters are nice and thicker than expected. While small in size, I’ve never had any issue seeing the counters and being able to read what they say. They all punched out easily, have distinct colors/shades to make them easy to sort, and their letters dictating their power are all easy to spot while on the map. They are elegant and provide the information you need while retaining a clean appearance.

Hidden within this simple are some surprisingly important decision you can make during the setup of your counters. You’ll usually have a mix of counters from A-D, and you’ll need to decide whether to put your strongest guys up front (where they are likely to die earlier in the game) or near the back (which by the time they are into battle, you may have lost so many counters that defeat is nearly inevitable). How you group counters together makes a difference, as having the same letter counter attacking together gives far greater bonuses than having a B, a C, and a D counter all attacking at once. It isn’t deep in the decision-making, but after a few rounds you begin to see how some of those early decisions, and then how you maneuver those troops during movement, can really impact the way things play out.

I really appreciate the presence of only one chart to consult for battle. This helps the game to not only remain simple in the approach, but also keeps the combat moving forward at a quick pace. You roll one die, you check the one chart, and do what the end result says. There is something elegant in the simplicity of this system which prevents the game from overstaying its welcome on the table.

The rulebook itself is nice in the layout and presentation, but my favorite part would be the pages at the end covering the history behind the battles. This allows even the casual player to spend 15 minutes and walk away knowing a little bit about these important historical battles. A small list of selected readings would have been a welcome addition, to steer those who end up interested in these battles toward some quality books to read.

The map itself is not high in quality. It is slightly thicker than paper, and so I have concerns about its long-term durability. I understand the need for the map to be like this, making it both light and affordable, which is why it isn’t fully a negative. This is easily the most fragile thing that comes with the purchase of the game, yet it is arguably one of the more important components.

There is kind of the inclusion of leaders, but it is really abstracted. Basically they are the number of commands you get to issue, which in the Stamford Bridge battle is really interesting on the Viking side because those commands change in value as more units are lost. This represents the different leadership qualities of those Viking leaders, and it adds a little interesting variety in playing that side. The Hill Near Hastings is interesting for the Normans, as they can activate two of their three groupings and have limitations in that sense as well as the inclusion of archers and cavalry units. The Anglo-Saxons, unfortunately, are static in their command decisions which almost makes them the least interesting side to play in both battles. Leader chits would have certainly raised the rules and complexity a little, but it also would have opened some limitations and forced some extra tactical decisions in the game which could have helped this to have a longer life in the collection.

There is one action among the selection that ended up getting ignored: Shield Wall. The problem comes because there two things you’ll end up wanting to do each turn: move and attack. Move because the results of the previous battles almost always leave at least a few units unengaged in a combat. Battle because you need to kill units in order to win. If you could advance one space as part of a Shield Wall action and then attack, it’d be a combo I’d use often. As it stood, it really only entered play when standing on the hill, complementing the advantage of the higher ground for the Anglo-Saxons.

There is only one chart to consult, but I really found myself wishing there was a player’s aid for this game. Something small which contained the chart, and a brief overview of each command, would enhance the experience for two players. I understand the desire to trim costs, but this was one thing I really desired to have while playing the game. Even just having a second copy of the chart would have been enough.

There is a limit on how much replay this game will have. Sure, you get two different games in the folio, but neither of them really offers a lot of room to deploy tactics beyond the placement of your troops and when to use your Initiative token for the back-to-back turns. This game isn’t supposed to be one you play all the time, but some players may be content after playing each side on each map just once. It is unlikely to be the type of game that gets pulled out and replayed often because the rules and the number of counters and the size of the map are all so small and streamlined.

Final Verdict

I really, really enjoyed this game. While it is not likely to be a game that will get pulled out often due to its simplicity, that same simplicity is the very reason why I love this game. It is easy enough to bring in a new player while remaining interesting enough for a more experienced player. It lays the groundwork to become familiar with the Swords and Shields system, which is used in a few other folios by Tiny Battle Publishing and is used in an upgraded form in several games offered by Hollandspiele. That makes this an obvious entry point for purchase to anyone wanting to try out Wargames because this is a simple, inexpensive game that will allow you to branch out to nearly another half-dozen games that use a similar system.

This game doesn’t do anything spectacular or complex, yet it doesn’t need to. Its cost and the components for that cost are what will draw a person into the game. I found this to be a fantastic first step into the world of Wargames, and that it presented enough interesting decisions to make it enjoyable playing both solo and against an opponent. If you have ever had even a passing interest in playing a Wargame, I would definitely recommend this as a place to learn the basics and see if you want to take a deeper plunge into the broad spectrum of games in that category.

Ultimately, if I was a beginning Wargamer looking for an entry point, this is a game I would definitely purchase. If I was an experienced Wargamer looking to expand my collection of games that could bring new Wargamers into the hobby, I would definitely purchase this game. If I was a Wargamer interested in this period of history, I’d likely purchase this game. But experienced Wargamers looking for a game to play many times with other experienced Wargamers may want to look toward something a little more rich in variety and tactics.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.