I seized the opportunity to offer up Quartermaster General, the crazy game of World War II in 90 minutes. It's a team game, with three players playing the allies - UK, US and Soviets - and three the axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. Although it can be played with fewer players taking on multiple roles, it plays best - and quickest - with a full six.
Last week, Andrew was last to arrive, and found himself being dealt in to a game of Pairs, much to his consternation. This week he was last again, and we upped the ante somewhat by dealing him in as the Germans in WWII. This may have coloured his appreciation of the game to follow.
Play is extremely simple, with each power having a small number of tanks and ships that gradually spread out from their home territory. Each turn, you play a single card, check all your units are in supply, score points for your side and discard/draw cards. The snag is that once your draw deck is depleted you get no more cards, so it's important not to rush through it. Added to that, some of the powers have fewer cards to start with.
|Europe after turn 1 - (not our game!) from BGG user Noah Sheola|
The game lasts 20 rounds, but either side can win instantly if they control two enemy home spaces, or score 400 points. As we began, the axis took an early but delicate lead thanks to Germany's occupation of Western Europe, scoring four points per turn to most other players two. Ian, as Italy, played some useful status cards which bolstered the axis scores each turn. Uk and Russia got stuck in in Europe, with the UK also creating supply bases in India and Australia. The US hung back, for want of build army cards, and surveyed the growing number of Sam's Japanese ships in the Pacific.
However, we realised that most of the Japanese navy were out of supply, and had to be dismantled, which allowed me, as the US, to steam in and 'occupy' the Western United States. An unorthodox approach, perhaps, but the midwest is crawling with rattlesnakes and bears - much better to travel by sea.
By the middle of the game, Germany were squished in Europe, not getting anywhere - the Allies had the upper hand, with UK scoring 8 points a turn; Japan was playing many mysterious face down response cards but cursing the lack of build army cards, and Italy was valiantly keeping the Axis end up.
We got to I think round 14, and Sam's Japan was about ready to pounce (I think), but the Allies managed to clear out Italy and Germany, and I played a card that let me redeploy all my armies, so we occupied both for the instant win.
I really enjoyed it, but it was perhaps a touch anodyne - there wasn't a huge amount of tension or intrigue. I do think that once you get to know the decks that would change, as you know what your opponents are capable of and can try to outwit each other. Sam said he'd be prepared to play again but would rather not play as the Japanese. Andrew hated it - something about cards and war not mixing - he'll have to explain.
I'd love to play again - it's always nice to have viable 6 player options, even if, as a team game, they mess with the leaderboard.
At the risk of damning it with faint praise, it certainly played fast. We were done and dusted by 9.20, and Katy had arrived, so we split into a three and a four, and Sam, Katy, Ian and Andrew played Pompeii, whilst Adam, Andrew and I played Through the Desert.
It may have been Adam's first game, but he got the measure of it pretty quickly, not side-tracked by the pretty pastel camels. I made poor choices with my caravan leaders, and found a couple fairly shut out form the start. It was a quick game, and a two-horse race by the end, with Andy just pipping Adam to the win. I lagged behind in third.
|I do love me some pastel camels (not our game, but at least the pic is by me)|
Pompeii finished at exactly the same moment, and Sam called it a night - the remaining six of us tried out my print-and-play copy of Spyfall. It's a simple game of trying to root out the spy amongst you - all players have a card showing a single location, except the spy, who doesn't know where you all are. Players ask each other questions, trying to ascertain who knows the location, with giving it away. Because as soon as the spy has worked out what the location is they win. Unless they can be unmasked first.
Dead simple, and very clever - I think we played three rounds; a good way to end the evening, but again non-leaderboard, I suppose.
A great evening, good to play a few different games too - a team war(ish) game, some regular Euro-fare and a deduction/party game too. Thanks all for coming, let's play again soon.
BTW there's an interesting post on BGG regarding playing the Japanese in QG. It seems there's a fairly key rule we may not have explored which allows for some more creative play - you're allowed to battle an empty space. So if you have a response or status card that is triggered by battling in China, you can do so even of there's no one there to trigger your cards. A bit gamey perhaps, but pretty useful.