My favourite boardgame of last year was the superlative ‘Andean Abyss’, when I found out that the series was being expanded I was happy, when an Afghan game was announced I was very happy.
For the uninitiated ‘A Distant Plain’ is a high level game of the Afghanistan Counter- insurgency war post 2002. So think after the special forces toppled the taliban and after Operation Anaconda.
What makes the game interesting to be is that it uses ‘Euro’ game mechanics (area movement not hexes, abstract unit representation, political factors, random events governed by cards) to model a conflict that most people game on the table top of with chit and hex games (talking of Operation Anaconda there is a rather nice little game of the published by the Strategy and Tactics magazine which I’ve got).
The game is produced to the high standard that I have come to expect from GMT Games with quality components and extensive supporting literature.
Brian and I set the game up- as seen above- and worked through the tutorial to see what had changed from ‘Andean Abyss’. As far as we can tell the basic mechanics are the same, something that will allows us to get playing quicker; the differences lie in the subtle relationships between the four playable factions – Afghan Government, Coalition, Taliban and non- aligned Warlords (with less than four players there are sufficient rules mechanisms for those factions to be run effectively as NPCs). The beauty of the systems allows for the possibility of more than one side claiming a victory at once (although probably not the Taliban and Government) this makes for dealing, double-dealing and bribes to feature- making great fun for the gamers.
Volko Ruhnke, the main designer of the series, was responsible for the modern classic of Labyrinth which cover the Global War on Terror as a whole- a game that Brian and I have played repeatedly. Hopefully playing this smaller slice of the GWOT won’t cover too much of the same ground, in the same way- either way I’m looking forward to playing it (with a new blog post too naturally)