Mike and I were making our way through his game collection, playing all the stuff he hadn’t been able to play. From sailing ships to late 50’s conflicts, we finished them up with Ici c’est la France! and Washington’s War.
Ici c’est la France!
After the fantastic Dien Bien Phu game we played, we were really looking forward to a shot at another Kim Kanger design. Mike had picked up Ici c’est la France, a game about the Algerian war for independence from 1954 to 1962. Mr. Kanger followed a few of the French units in his games. Some of the units which were pivotal in the battle for Dien Bien Phu were also to fight for France in Algeria.
The map was divided into Wilayas and regions inside the Wilayas. Then in each region were cities and towns. The French units represent the actual units in action such as 2RCA (mechanized) and 1REI (foreign legion). The FLN (National Liberation Front) units are Faileks or about 600 fighters. The principle units are Moussebilines and Moudjahidines.
There is a LOT going on in this game. So much so that we felt like the charts and tracks dominated the game. The French side (me) seemed to be fairly straight forward but the FLN side took some serious management. Mousse had to be traded for the more powerful Moudj. Regions changed hands a lot, and popular support, troop density, operation points, Pied Noir (European) mood, government crisis and French public all had tracks to keep up. Event chits changed the markers on the tracks and then there was this:
A marker for each region, with 4 possibilities on each marker, and movement up and down each Wilaya track.
The game was big, cumbersome, and a lot of ‘book’ keeping. Mike finally threw in the towel when my French became overwhelmingly powerful. The FLN player really needs to know what he’s doing or (in our playing) things snowball and the French get really strong.
Mike says he thinks there’s a good game in there, but we’ve got other stuff to do and we really didn’t enjoy the game much.
This is a popular game. A tidied up version of a former game. Neither of us had played this and I had not played either version before. Unlike Ici c’est la France with it’s large amount of counters, this one has few. In fact as we played, I was somewhat surprised by the lack of actual pieces.
I got the British side and was playing by the seat of my pants, not really knowing what I was doing, but it is an easy game to learn and I started to get the hang of it. The British are powerful, but have a finite number of troops that come into the game. We are playing for popular support in each colony. The game is card driven, with the cards allowing you to move, attack and gain certain advantages when played.
Mike was picking his spots to attack as the Americans are not as strong, and playing for the support of the population better than I was. I was pretty strong in the northeast and when I could bring the Americans to battle, was doing rather well. But if the game ended without me having more support than Mike, I would lose.
Fortunately for me, I had just that day read the last two pages of the rules that I had not gotten to, detailing just how I was going to succeed. Mike had only General Washington on the board with a couple of infantry units and a 1 factor unit in the south. Washington had some success and had made it to the Massachusetts coast. He brought on General Greene and 2 combat factors of infantry as reinforcements. In my turn I brought on my reinforcements, 8 combat factors, the most I would receive at one time and distributed them between my Generals. I played a card which removed the 1 factor unit in the south, then beat General Greene, eliminating those units. Leaving only General Washington. I surrounded him, attacked him with General Howe and a superior force, eliminating the infantry and with no where to retreat to, captured Washington. If we finish the turn with no American units anywhere on the board, the British win a decisive victory!
You should all be speaking with an British accent now, I have won the American experiment for the King.
It was a fun game and played quickly and I was fortunate that I won at that point. Unknown to me, Mike had drawn the card that would have ended the game in his next turn with him in control of the most colonies.
We have decided to go back to ASL for a while. Festung Budapest was collecting dust on Mike’s shelf and he was itching to give it a go, so to Budapest we go. First a scenario, then one of the campaigns. More on that later.
Thanks for reading.