World War 1, the Great War, is often overlooked in the gaming world. There are less than 30 games on Steam with the ‘World War 1’ tag, often produced by small indie studios (with the notable exception of the recent Battlefield 1). For the most part, it seems to occupy a niche of its own within strategy games. The trench warfare typically associate with the conflict does lend itself well to the strategy setting.
And strategy is what The Great War does well. An almost exact replica of the board game of the same name, The Great War utilises traditional board game mechanics such as alternate activations, card plays and dice throws.
Each turn, a strategy card is drawn. These cards form a hand with which you choose to make give instructions to your troops. This is where a bit of strategic thinking come in. The field of battle is split into three sections, left flank, centre, and right flank. Your command cards will (usually) focus on one of these sections, and gives a specific number of units that can be activated. You’ll almost never be able to activate all your units across the field. Only by planning your moves over several turns can you hope to win.
Adding further depth to the strategy are ‘combat cards’ and HQ points. Combat cards allow special plays that can disrupt the enemy’s orders, bring in artillery attacks, or give your units an edge in combat. These cards cost HQ points to play, which are either earned through dice rolls or can be chosen at the end of a turn instead of a combat card. It’s a balancing act, where the right card at the right time can neutralise an enemy turn, but only if you have the HQ points to back it up.
The Great War does away with the traditional campaign advancement, and instead features a list of scenarios based on snapshots of the iconic battles of World War 1, such as the Somme. There is a total of 16 different scenarios available, each playable as both Axis and Allies, giving plenty of playability
Like most strategy board games, and in this case the adaptation, The Great War does come with a decent amount of rules. Though the Intro missions do give a brief overview, it’s well worth having a read through the online rulebook. There are a lot of rules affecting terrain, trenches and movement, and it’s worth knowing them. The lack of a detailed tutorial does mean a bit of going back and fore to check the rules, as events will happen without you being sure why. This does slow down the pace somewhat.
Similar to its board game counterpart, The Great War is not a fast paced game. Typically, I found one scenario could take about an hour. The emphasis here is on careful planning and the long game. The units you have are all you have to work with, there’s no base building and reinforcements here. It could benefit from being faster. At times, the scenarios did feel like they were dragging, where nothing much was happening.
If you’re a fan of the slow-paced, deep thought style of strategy, this game is definitely worth picking up. If you’re a fan of fast paced, quick thinking strategy games, you will not enjoy this. The Great War is a slow-paced game, with a lot of strategic depth.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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