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Experience the thrill of fencing -- board game style!
In this two-player game, tactics, skill, and a little bit of luck will determine the best fencer. Teach yourselves the concepts with the basic game, test yourselves with the standard game, and challenge yourselves with the advanced game. Cards fly back and forth as the fencers attack, and parry.
Who will be bold enough to attack first? Is it possible to win with that initial attack or has your opponent beguiled you into an attack while waiting to mount a parry-riposte?
En Garde is a very dynamic game -- strategically rich, yet easy to learn and play. Three levels of rules are included in the game.
En Garde has been around since 1993, and is one of Knizia's better card game fillers. The basic design of this game also lies at the core of David Sirlin's 2011 game, Flash Duel (Second Edition), which has enjoyed considerable independent success over the last year. En Garde as originally conceived by Knizia, is a game about the sport of fencing, and in 2009 it appeared in this great new edition from Gryphon Games that helps give it even more sparkle than the original edition from almost 20 years ago.
The impressive game-play is unlike any other two-player game I've played, in the tug-of-war style battle it offers. Players each place their swordsman - represented by a lovely metal miniature - on the mounted gameboard. Players draw cards from a common deck of cards which contains cards numbered 1 through 5, and play a single card to move their swordsman forwards or backwards. Moving forward the exact distance between you and your opponent is considered an attack which your opponent must parry, otherwise he takes a hit. Players will move back and forth, jostling for position in an attempt to strike the winning blow - an activity which only takes a few minutes.
I don't often see myself praising a Knizia game for theme, but I'm doing it here. Additionally, En Garde is easy to learn, quick to play, and fun. Really, Knizia got almost everything perfect! With the great components of the Gryphon Games edition, I'm very pleased to have this in my collection. If you're looking for a light and clever game with a novel theme and strong bluffing element, you won't be disappointed.
I look for games with really original ideas, but usually just find a familiar plot with a change of illustrations. This game is great because it is totally unlike anything I've seen before. It's one of very few games that made me say, 'Wow, that's clever.' Don't be put off by the fact that play is rather short. Think of it as an aperitif rather than a main dish.
Short games deserve their own special place in a gamer's closet. After all, we don't always have time for a 90 minute Elfenland, or even a 45 minute Carcassonne. So games that play in 20 minutes or less are a special breed: very light, uncomplicated games with not too much brainwork. And sadly, they are rarely well themed, which takes away from replayability. The double whammy is that Reiner Knizia's numbered card games tend to be dry like the riverbeds of Baja California, and so imagine my surprise upon playing this gem of a game.
Production of this simple little game is nearly off the charts. Heavy fencing figures ('meeple' humanoid silouettes, who, strangely enough, both look suspiciously like Count Dracula), a nicely illustrated deck of cards, a beautifully illustrated board depicting a fencing field surrounded by trees, shade, foliage and the like. (Mind you, this game is very pricey for such a light 2-player game, so I suppose you get what you pay for.)
Gameplay is simple enough, play a card, advance you figure. Das' it. If you can add numbers between 1 and 5 together, you can play this game (that means you, Joe Steadman. =) The beauty of the game is its simplicity and remarkable capture of the fencing aesthetic.
The deck of cards is numbered 1-5 with 5 of each card. Players have a hand of 5 cards to choose there action from. When a player plays a card, he advances (or retreats) that many spaces on the fencing ground. Players rush towards each other trying to push the other fencer back. Once a player is within striking distance (5 spaces or less) the player has an additional option: make a strike at the other player. At this point he may play more than one card. For example, if he is 3 spaces from his opponent, he may play any number of '3' cards to attack. Then the attacked player has an opportunity to parry by playing the same number of '3' cards. At this point, the parrying player may also counter attack. The key here is that since there are only five of each number, having three of a number guarantees a hit from that range (sicne your opponent couldn not parry it). But the kicker is that since you hold so many cards of that number, a smart opponent will make sure never to be that many spaces away from you. But as the draw deck evaporates, the players must takes risks, for if no hit is made when the draw deck runs out, then whomever was pushed back the furthest loses. This creates a remarkable tension and bluff as players move inside each others range trying to feel out what cards a player may have.
And when you tire of that way to play, the game includes extra cards that add some spice by introducing one rule change to a match, changing the tactics needed to win!
Amazingly light, and uncharacteristicly thematic, Duell is an excellent 2-player game. I almost feel bad only awarding 4 stars, but the high price point, and the repetitive nature of gameplay mean this game will be great filler for 2-player game nights, but probably not a game to be played every day. But if I am wrong, I'll come back and up the rating, because this game is close to excellence. Elegant, appealing, Duell is a game most people will want to pick up, and by far the best game in the Ravensburger 2-player series.