Quick Block Wargame…Overlooked by Many!!!
Today I wanted to tackle one of the many games released at the Essen games convention – In my opinion the Polish, Czech, Korean and Japanese board games were the biggest Essen 2014 surprise for me. With much smaller budgets than the big publishers, they managed to produce games of a very good level of both quality and imagination. In fact, for many people they really made up for a lack of innovation at Essen this year.
Bomba Games is a Polish Gaming Company who have published two games this year, Black and White and Amber Route. I didn’t get a chance to play Amber Route, but playing Black and White was one of my highlights at Essen 2014.
The Fog of War is lifted…Cavalry Charge, Artillery Fire!!!
Black and White is a two-player block war game that takes place on a hexagonal gridded board. The board is then populated by terrain tiles, prescribed by the scenario cards.
Before the game, each player gets an equal number of army points to spend. They then build their army by using available troops and also assigning a leader. Each side of the conflict has nine different units from which to choose. The trick, as always, with this type of game, is to balance the units you need to make a robust army – you have to choose between the various types of infantry, cavalry and artillery.
A screen is placed in the middle of the board, whilst both players arrange their battle formations. The screen is lifted. like the fog of war, and – Cavalry charge, Artillery fire and Infantry march!
As with any type of block wargame, from Stratego to Hammer of the Scots and Wizard Kings, your opponents forces are hidden. In Black and White you do get to see what type of unit you are engaging, be it infantry, cavalry or artillery. The unit type and strength remains hidden and for an introduction into this type of game, I think it is the best approach. Taking away the initial delay of combat as players try to discover the placement of army units.
Iconography…Those Beautiful Army Unit Cards!!
Black and White has unique army unit cards! They’re quite large, with beautiful artwork and a set of icons relevant to your troops. There are also player reference cards that inform you of the general troop movements and range.
Combat is a simple two dice affair -any combination of 7 is a critical hit – and any double is a critical failure. The difference between the dice is your combat value and that is compared against the opponent defensive value, to see if you have scored a hit. There are modifiers for terrain and troop types, such as heavy infantry against cavalry.
Certain troops have unique features, such as the blind warrior priests who can charge up to three hexes and engage an enemy troop, or the light artillery unit that travels through water. Each of these units adds an air of fantasy, without adding any complexity to the game. Each unit has a victory point value and when it’s defeated, your opponent gains that many victory points. The target number of victory points is dictated by the players, so a 10 victory point goal will mean the game lasts about fifteen to twenty minutes. This flexibility lets you to dictate how long you want the game to last, a twenty minute skirmish or an hour long bloodbath.
One of the Best Games at Essen!!…And Why??
In going to Essen I found myself at the crux of a board-gaming dilemma – I’d just played Doomtown Reloaded, Heroes of Normandie and Shadowrun Crossfire. I really enjoy each of them, but they need a large investment of time to get the most out of them. I went to Essen looking for something with the a splash of fun-factor and I can safely say that Black and White is fun! It’s very simple and once you get your head round the icons it’s not confusing at all.
The artwork on the cards is spellbinding, but mostly, It scratches an itch for me! I rarely play Wizard-Kings or Hammer of the Scots anymore, because they’re three to four hour gaming sessions. Black and White is great gateway game for those interested in playing a block type wargame and one I will bring back to the table, time and time again!
The following two tabs change content below.
Paul Matthews is a Sales Manager for Gamesquest Ltd, as well as a part-time Board game Demonstrator and Blogger. After several years playing Yu-gi-oh at Tournament level, his latest passion is all things board gaming. Besides playing board games, Paul is a part time author and enjoys reading and archery. Paul has a Degree in Humanities Psychology/Counselling and several Life-skill Degrees in Parenting, Horse Management and Ecommerce.