Mark came over on Saturday, and we played through most of the Galicia scenario in Clash of Giants II. Mark and Jason have played the game (both scenarios) a few times, but this was my first time with it.

Mark felt the Russians had an overall advantage in the scenario, and gave them to me. Which left me to set up first, and try to figure out what I was doing. Not too hard, other than wondering what to do with the masses of cavalry that have limited utility, and with both sides setting up far behind the borders, there was time to sort things out.

Quite a bit of time from my perspective, as it happened. An interesting feature of the game is that it uses a chit draw to activate each army (four on each side for this one), and then roll to see how active it is (how far units can move, and in the early game, if they can attack at all). I never rolled over a 2 during the first two turns (with 6 being best), and so crawled towards the border. The Austrian SE flank also performed poorly, and the lines didn’t even come in contact until about turn 3.

Meanwhile, Mark hit first, and hard in the NW near Kielce on the 4th Army front. Both sides get a pair of offensive chits that improve the odds one column for all combats in a single phase. The Austrians get theirs early, and Mark used the first one  on turn 2 and what was left of the 4th Army was sent reeling back. By the time the second offensive was done on turn 4, there were very few units left in the 4th Army at all, and the line eventually was anchored on Radom. Mark managed to surround it around turn 5 and attacked. In a miracle, both of my units rolled ‘1’s to survive, and the majority of Mark’s units flipped. I managed to re-establish supply the next turn, and held out until turn 8, where Mark turned the flank and was cutting off the position again and approaching Ivangorod.

On the other end of the line, things were different. The initial offensives hurt the center, but not as much, and Mark wasn’t able to do anything about the 8th Army. Around the time the game shifts to the better movement tables, my die luck got better, but I still had problems, rolling four ‘1’s for movement on turn 5, and the first Russian activation of turn 6. Then I rolled three ‘6’s for the rest of the turn. Thankfully, the attack restrictions go away after the first few turns, and despite some very slow movement, there often wasn’t far to go (though it hurt the reinforcements) and I could still attack.

After a short shoving match, I started seriously hurting the east flank, and entered Austrian territory for the first time. The ‘bend’ near Tarnopol took a lot of damage during my first offensive chit, and I pushed him back to Stanislav over the next couple turns. Fighting through all the rivers in that area was difficult, but he couldn’t keep a defense together. Meanwhile, I had some early success on the extreme flank, but got slowed down by losses, and regretted sending as many reinforcements as I did to the other flank (where he probably couldn’t make things any worse than they were).

The Austrians start gaining VPs for places held on turn 4, and got 6 VPs then. He got another 4 to hit his max of 9 VPs on the next turn. I was already pushing him out of his victory locations by then, but it was too little, too late to avoid him hitting his ceiling. The Russians only get VPs for what they hold at the end of the game, and since we couldn’t quite finish, it’s hard to say just what the final score would have been. However, my two offensives never actually broke the line, even after doing a lot of damage to the Austrians. So I don’t think I was going to get a chance to get to the further Russian VPs of taking the passes across the Carpathians, and probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance to try to take Premsyl, so I’m guessing I would have only managed 5 VPs.

Despite some recurring bad luck with the movement dice, I certainly enjoyed the game. It’s a very clever system that takes most of the familiar ground of hex-and-counter systems, and then adds a few twists to get the right feel. Combat is a matter of checking unit quality to see if the involved units lose a step. Higher odds mostly just improve the chances, but the checks are still made. This makes combat become a contest of attrition, with even solid victories resulting in flipped units. However, there’s still a fairly solid feel of maneuver, and the combination of maneuver and attrition is not one often seen.