Successors: The Battles for Alexander's Empire
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Our game group plays this as often or more often than Settlers, Tigris, Civilization, Age of Renaissance, etc..
Although some strategies repeat, the ability to execute these startegies changes every game with starting combination of generals (in 3 player game) and the luck of the tyche cards.
You definitely require the revised rules (errata) from webgrognard though to avoid gaps in the original rules.
Very good game but you must be broad minded and ready to read a rule book (a book indeed) that has a lot of information. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Complex and confusing! Need time to rest fter reading. But it is a good game and has much potential. PLease get it if you have a lot of time on your hands, otherwise don't waste your money or time.
This game takes first prize for a beautiful mapboard and high quality game components. The play is fairly interesting and I highly recommend using at least 4 players. Basically, players move small numbers of military forces commanded by one of Alexander's succeeding generals around the map conquering provinces and attempting to gain control of Alexander's body for burial. If you're a gamer that like to maneuver moderate or large amounts of military units, this game is not for you. Starting units are very few and reinforcements are hard to come by. It is very easy to be eliminated early via only one or two unsuccessful battles. The only other downside to the game is the rules. You must go to web-grognards and download the updated rules errata as the original rules are filled with holes. Even so, the rules take some study--as with many Avalon Hill games. Overall good game, not one of the best, but great if you like this time in history.
Successors is Richard Berg by way of Mark Herman, because the design is multi-player We The People. I am a little bemused as to the lack of credit for Successors' antecedent, but then again Led Zeppelin steadfastly failed to acknowledge my ground-breaking efforts as bass player with Jet Sparticus and the Sparticans. (I once broke a string, and, to this day, still do not know which one).
Simply stated (and this is the only simple bit), Successors analyses the fight to supplant the late, legendary Alexander The Great. Players assume the roles of Macedonian Generals, and by stealth and/or aggression attempt to wrest control of Alexander's mighty empire.
Firstly, let me acknowledge the quite superb effort Avalon Hill have made in the development of Successors. I know we take these production standards for granted, but we shouldn't. I know, also, that we pay for it, but trust me when I tell you that this is gaming's equivalent of a Fry's Chocolate Cream. The sumptuous components comprise mounted mapboard, playing pieces (the opulent Generals are retained in stands), markers, rule book, player aids (but why only one of each type?) and Quick-start rules. This, however, is no "get to it game", and requires careful analyses of each turn component. Okay, now you can get to it.
The mapboard, resplendent with all the necessary game tables, is dominated by provinces, each containing a points value pertinent to the victory conditions. Movement is via the indicated pathways which include major and minor cities, independent strongholds and transit points. To win, you must accumulate victory points by controlling provinces. Automatic victory (at any point after the second round) is assured by either 23 VPs or 18 Legitimacy Points (earned by a variety of pre-determined tasks).
If you have played either We The People or the follow-up Hannibal (by Mark Simonitch, Successor's "developer"), the card-generated action will be appear logical and familiar. Newcomers should work slowly through the sequence of play, learning the rules as they go. The multitude of nuances will be grasped (by most) as play progresses. Non-wargamers might take fright at the perceived complexity, but Successors is played in areas, like Euphrat & Tigris and El Grande, and NOT the ubiquitous hexes. The implication is that all are about territorial gain, and the clarity of the supposed "simpler" German games should not preclude a conscious effort to "break" these supposed multifarious predecessors.
The heart of Successors beats via the Tyche (pronounced Tike) card deck. Here lies the available tactical acumen, each card providing options as beguiling as can be. Typically, these cards allow placement of Garrison Markers (which show control) or use of the stated event (add troops to armies, place additional Garrisons, extra movement, etc.) Bonus cards allow both placement and listed event, whilst the Surprise cards can be played at any time. Each player is dealt five at the start of a round, which concludes when all cards have been played.
Movement is from space to space, the allowance established by rolling a die and comparing the result to your General's initiative rating. Any combat units attached to the General move with him, and may also be "dropped off" or collected. Geographical hindrances apply.
In my admittedly limited experience of Successors, rapid movement (or at least the use of MPs, which also allow removal of enemy Garrisons, Siege attempts and the relentless Subjugation) is crucial. Evenly matched factions tend to counteract each other, and the fleet-footed can quickly dominate areas.
There is little novel in the combat resolution, but it works and is reasonably straightforward to assess. Battle values are calculated by totaling the combined combat strength of the units involved. These are then cross-referenced in the time-honoured manner, and a "battle score" determined. The attached General's battle rating (say '4') raises the value of each die roll to a minimum 4. Obviously, the higher the better. Severe losses will, naturally, put players on the back foot, and often, in the early stages of the game, into a position where recovery would be difficult. So, initially, build (armies) 'em big and build 'em high (Elephants, if you can).
What else? Where to start?
Reinforcements. Two Mercenary CUs are added per turn, plus reinforcements from the dispersed box (units lost in combat).
Naval movement and combat. Armies may move across seas, but risk combat from fleets. Domination of the seas (largest fleet) also provides victory points.
Siege. These cost MPs, and must be conducted with armies of not less than three CUs. Siege results are resolved by rolling against the Siege Table. Subjugation (against independent control markers) is settled in the same manner.
The beautifully detailed combat unit markers are dominated, naturally enough, by Macedonian troops, including the elite Silver Shields. Unusually, there is but a single rating (combat strength) on each counter.
Generals (you start with two, but three others are available from the Tyche deck) are named, and have values for initiative, battle, rank and prestige, the latter playing a part in the Legitimacy ranking.
Even if you have assimilated only every other line (or less) of this treatise, then you will crack Successors. It isn't daunting in the grand manner of, say, GMT's [page scan/se=0880/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Great Battles collection, but neither will you breeze through in a matter of an hour or so. As with any game of this sort, study will pay dividends. Unfortunately, by the time you've finished studying it, another one comes along.