Paths of Glory: The First World War
List Price: $60.00
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(Worth 4,800 Funagain Points!)
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They called it the Great War. In over four years of titanic struggle the ancient Europe of Kings and Emperors tore itself to pieces, giving birth to our own violent modern age. The bloody battles fought in the trenches of the Western Front, the icy plains of Poland, the mountains of the Balkans, and the deserts of Arabia, shaped the world we know today. We are all orphans of the Great War.
Paths of Glory: The First World War, designed by six-time Charles S. Roberts award-winner Ted Raicer, allows players to step into the shoes of the monarchs and marshals who triumphed and bungled from 1914 to 1918. As the Central Powers you must use the advantage of interior lines and the fighting skill of the Imperial German Army to win your rightful "place in the sun." As the Entente Powers (Allies) you must bring your greater numbers to bear to put an end to German militarism and ensure this is the "war to end all wars." Both players will find their generalship and strategic abilities put to the test as Paths of Glory's innovative game systems let you recreate all the dramatic events of World War I.
Paths of Glory is GMT's entry in the WWI tide that's currently flooding wargaming. Paths of Glory uses a card-driven strategic mechanic (introduced in AH's We the People game) that regulates mobilization, operations, replacement/supply and certain historic events. The map covers the Channel to Smolensk; Petrograd to Greece, plus a separate insert for the Middle East Theatre. 316 counters represent the armies and corps of 19 nations: Allies, Central Powers, and Neutrals. As a bonus, the random element of the action cards enhances the experience of solo play.
I've played many, many games over the last 15+ years of wargaming. I don't have a favorite game, but PoG is one of the best. Its strongpoints are:
The very mention of World War One doesn't exactly evoke images of exciting gaming potential--endless trench lines, artillery scarred landscapes, and piles of dead bodies resulting from yet another fateful infantry charge going 'over the top'. Well, by releasing PATHS OF GLORY (POG), GMT games and Designer Ted Raicer have provided the hobby with an incredibly fun and compelling product. Why, you ask?
First, the graphic appeal of this product is substantial. The stunning point-to-point (no hexes) map and colorful unit counters, along with the beautifully laid out box art, immediately draw you in. And the cards...two different 55 count decks bearing period photographs on thick stock...are top of the line.
Second, the illustrated rules themselves are easily readable, though considerable attention will be required to grasp the nuances contained therein. Designer and historical notes are included, along with a helpful glossary.
Third, actual gameplay is smooth and relatively fast. Like so many of the Euro/German games that lots of us have grown to love, POG constantly challenges you with a plethora of decision making opportunities. Each card has four possible uses (e.g, play an event, call up replacements, move troops, etc.), and how to best allocate them is where much of the gaming tension comes in. The actualy play of this game will not overwhelm you as units are scaled to armies and corps, so counter density is fairly low.
Fourth, GMT has shown excellent attention to detail here. From different sized counters, to a helpful play aid sheet, to separate chits to remind you of when certain cards were played, they seem to have thought of everything (Developer Andy Lewis has proven himself once again). And if something was missed, it's of no real concern since daily on-line support is readily available.
Fifth, the historical feel of this game is superb. As the Central Powers, you'll find the strong Germans (and their Austria-Hungary partners) stretched thin on multiple fronts. Playing the Allies, you'll sweat out the Western Front while simultaneously trying to keep the Russians from collapsing. Even the Near East, with the Turkish forces and scattered Allied troops, is represented as a full Front (not some sideshow). Like for the real participants, strategy options are varied and abundant. I've played POG 3 times already, and feel that I've only scratched the surface of the strategic depth that it has to offer.
There are a few minor quibbles (almost not worth mentioning) like some map errors/typos, and not enough space control markers included in the mix. What you do need to be aware of is that POG can be a long game--up to 10 hours for the campaign struggle, though 2 shorter scenarios are included. But when playing this game, and getting so much enjoyment out of it, the time will just breeze by.
Sorry for making this review longer than I intended, but I just can't stop raving about this title. I just wish that I could rate it higher than 5 Stars!
Who would have thought WW1 could be so much fun...
It's always a bit hard to write early impressions of more involved wargames; there is so much there and so many options and strategies that it's hard to 'know' the game without playing it a lot.
That having been said, Paths of Glory appears to be a great game. The rules are modest and fairly intuitive, and the game is more complex than Avalon Hill's Hannibal but still pretty easy to play. The card system is adapted from Hannibal, but given a serious (and very successful) overhaul, including two seperate decks, one for each player.
Bottom line for me is that the game play keeps moving, and - unlikely for a WWI game, you might think - is exciting. Both sides feel like they are in perpetual danger of losing, especially early on, and the play of each card is a difficult decision.
I like this game a lot, and it's the best new wargame I've played in quite some time. I've already played quite a bit and I am enthusaistic about playing more. There is a lot to this one.
As a World War One game give this one five stars; overall as a consim, four stars.
The claims below about the system ahistorically 'favoring' the attacker are ludicrous. The game doesn't favor the attacker, not even close.
Like all card-driven games there are a few strange situations that can arise, but if you know the rules and play competently they generally don't even happen.
One of the most fun wargames I've played, well worth trying. Tense, relatively fast playing, and skill demanding.
But for those interested in history, look elsewhere. The individual cards list historical events, and the map and pieces represent WW1. But the way the game plays is unrealistic.
I could list a dozen problems, but I'll just list a few.
If you are more interested in games than history you will LOVE this game.
The game has some screwy game mechanics. Where else can you fin a WW1 game where the ATTACKER is favored! The attacker can withhold reduced armies, and corps to keep his losses down, but not the defender, so the defender takes extra losses. If an attack fails and a gap is left, the enemy can infiltrate and eliminate several armies by lack of supply. The cards have historical events on them, but can instead be played in a way that has nothing to do with history. (i.e. enter Italy or conduct many attacks/movements in Russia!).
Paths of Glory is both an accurate strategic representation of World War I and the most exciting game of its kind to appear in the last decade. Get ready to command one of the great multinational alliances that fought from the grim trenches of Europe to the frozen Russian wasteland in a conflict that dramatically changed the face of Europe. The winning side is determined by the Victory Point level when the game ends; the levels vary for each of several scenarios. Each side has a separate deck of 55 cards, which have multiple uses to challenge and hone your decision-making and resource-allocation abilities. Each card displays action points (to activate or maneuver units on the world map), replacement points, and either a political/strategic event or a combat modifier. The enormous planning difficulties multiply as alliances form, mobilize and join the war effort. When will the U.S. enter the arena? Will the tsar capitulate? Mind your back! I cannot imagine a more tense, nail-biting experience playing a wargame.