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Hai Lu Kong Zhan Qi
A Chinese game whose title means "Chinese Sea-Land-Air Battle Chess". Different versions are produced both in the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. Its inventor and lineage are unknown, but clearly Chess, Xiang Qi, Animal Chess and Stratego are all somehow genetic with it. Each of the two players controls forces vaguely derived from World War II. They are in a hierarchy so that a higher priority piece always defeats a lower. Some pieces, mostly obviously aircraft, have special abilities. Players take turns moving a single piece and attempt to make captures, the eventual winner being the one to capture the opponent's headquarters. [rules]
Halali
Multiplayer game for up to five by Jean du PoŽl and Historien Spielegalerie resembles the Monty Python sketch "The Hunting Club". Eighteen hunters venture out, their owners unknown, but controlled by dice and unfortunately ambiguous rules, to hunt a rabbit which they will never hit. In fact they are so bad that one accident after another is inevitable. This cute idea is a bit too straightforward and tactical, yet unfortunately tricky to explain. As a result, it can probably only work well with the right kind of enthusiastic crowd and a few beers.
Halali! (Tally Ho!, De Beer is Los)
Two-player board game from the Kosmos series set in a forest pits humans hunters and lumberjacks against bears and foxes. Lumberjacks chop down trees and hunters shoot animals while foxes eat small animals and bears eat humans. All pieces begin hidden on a grid an on each turn the player either reveals or moves a piece. Pieces move like rooks, but hunters are limited to firing in only one fixed direction. Once space opens up, somewhat resembles rooks in Chess attemping to achieve checkmate. Nicely-presented and pleasant activity akin to solving a series of small puzzles, but often dominated by luck. Originally published as Jag und Schlag (Hunt and Strike). Differences in that version include the opportunity for trees to move in the same way as birds, and by either player. This version of the game only ended when one player no longer had any tiles on the board. There was in addition one more duck so that all squares begin the game occupied. The two sides were divided into two equally-large groups in different colors, allowing the game to be played by four as well. May be originally inspired by the ancient north German game Tafl, also played on a square grid with pieces moving like rooks. The same title minus the exclamation point has also been used for two unrelated games, one by Manfred Schüling/Perner Produktions/1994 and also by Jean du PoŽl/Historien Spielegalerie (see above). [analysis] [Frequently Played]
Strategy: Low; Theme: High; Tactics: High; Evaluation: Medium; Personal Rating: 8
Rudi Hoffman; Spear-1973/Kosmos-2000; 2
Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage
Wargame for two is fairly light compared to a traditional wargame. It uses the system begun with We, the People including point-to-point movement and plenty of event cards. In addition it has battle cards used to resolve combat. Probably the most successful game in the series. Because of the luck of the draw issues, it may not always be very good history, but it does work well as a game of maneuver and counter-maneuver. People are already beginning to develop standard openings, strategies and tactics which is much akin to the playing of Chess. And they're using Chess clocks as well. [errata] [summary] [expansion leaders chart] [background]
Hannibal: The Second Punic War
Uncomplicated wargame for two using the A House Divided system for movement and unit promotion. Not bad, but sometimes feels too abstracted. There are rules problems as well. Play this one with some of the web-suggested fixes or try the game above.
Helden in der Unterwelt
boxcover
"Heroes in the Underworld", the third entry in the Return of the Heroes series is once again both an expansion kit and a standalone affair. This time heroes can visit the underworld (via the Kerberos board). But don't think dungeon crawl. Rather, it's the Greek underworld of Orpheus, Persephone, Hades and the like, presented here as not necessarily a bad place. But it is a place under threat by the an evil force known as the Damned One (for multiple reasons, Dark One might have worked better). While the systems are much the same, the fascinating new wrinkle is the dichotomy of evil. This comes into effect when players lose to a particular type of enemy. By doing so they still receive experience, but now in the form of a black cube, meaning that the player has partaken in Evil. This has the consequence that any further experience the player gains in this trait must also be evil, even should it be honestly achieved. In addition, every time this happens, and at other times, the Damned One also gains power. If this goes over a particular threshhold, he is deemed unbeatable and the character who has become the most evil. Otherwise, a character who defeats him via pure means, generally quite challenging, wins. Cleverly, when players fight the above monsters, they may choose to use any of their traits, including ones where they are likely to fail, thus giving the choice to turn to evil. Which way to turn is a difficult dilemma throughout play as the power of the Damned One waxes and wanes depending on player activities. Characters who are pure may need to join the corrupt while on the other hand, characters who have partaken of evil may need to reform. It is even for the first time possible for a character to encounter another and attack him or her with the purpose of beating the evil out of him. What a great concept! "This is gonna hurt me a whole lot more than it does you," you might say as you do it. In this one the boards are much smaller than in the other versions, perhaps a quarter of the size or less, which is a good thing if all the expansions are to be in play at once. Each board is turned up from a deck and constitutes just a single space so it's much more a game of exploration than of slow progress across the board. New characters all come in both male and female versions and include the Bard (can sing past certain types of monsters), Gnome (combines two skills together), Shaman (gets +1 against certain opponents and in certain places), Centaur (is very fast and can carry an extra item) and Gladiator/Amazon (can repeat a lost combat). A lot of the Greek gods are also present as personalities or quests including not just the expected Hades and Persephone, but also Hermes, Chronos, a Gorgon, Hecate, Minos, Orion, Theseus, a Titan and many more. Playing time when standalone can be considerably faster than either of the previous entries. This leaves the only real downside, that apparently there will be no English edition. This is not so bad, actually, as there is very little text on the components. Players can download a translated rules book which covers everything. This could even be a good thing as over time it can probably get better and better and cover some of the inevitable ambiguities. But these are mere details. In the grand scheme this is wonderfully imagined and makes for a good deal of fun. [summary] [Frequently Played]
Strategy: Medium; Theme: High; Tactics: High; Evaluation: Medium; Personal Rating: 9
Lutz Stepponat; 2005; Pegasus; 1-4
Herr der Ringe, Der - Die Entscheidung (Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation)
Two-player game by Reiner Knizia confirms the notion that the early 21st century will someday be known as his English Period. Since moving to England and playtesting there, he seems to depart more and more from the traditional silken bonds of German gaming conventions. Besides his work with the American wargame publisher GMT, he went quite a ways toward a railroad game with Stephensons Rocket and this year also invented Clash of the Gladiators a game of battle in a Roman arena. In this one, he once again mines the world of Professor Tolkien, exploring a battle theme just as the most battle-oriented part of the Tolkien novel, The Two Towers, is about to hit the screens. While one side plays the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring, the other gets to play the roles of nine "bad guys", not just the Nine Riders, but some of them, plus the Balrog, Shelob, Saruman and others. The plastic, stand-up pieces keep their identities secret so this is Stratego crystallized to a smaller, more perfect form. But to keep things from getting too boring, each character not only has a numerical rating, but is also supplemented by simultaneously-revealed cards. (If Knizia ever wants to redo Talisman, this could be a good replacement for its combat dice.) The cardsets differ and some are not numeric, but special effects that break the usual rules. A particularly genius idea here is that while most spaces have a stacking limit of four, or more commonly, two, the line of mountains in the middle is limited to one piece at a time, forcing pieces to risk advancing alone. It seems that someone had doubts about play balance since instructions specify that it be played twice, allowing players a try at each side. This works out well, however, because each side's tasks are rather different. While Sauron must get three pieces to the opponent's base or successfully search and destroy Frodo, the Fellowship must get Frodo alive into Mordor. So the attention to theme is passable with all of the powers making sense for their characters and the map making some sense in an abstract sort of way. The artwork thankfully comprises original illustrations rather than movie stills, but is somewhat hampered by being trapped where it cannot be easily seen. Partly as a result of that, the overall sense of playing a game tends to overwhelm any feeling of participating in a story. Players who find their fun in devising and trying strategies will not be disappointed, however. How should the pieces be deployed? Should you try to attack up the middle or around the perimeter? Since you can never move backwards, how fast should you attack? Can you guess where the other side's vital pieces are? How can you arrange to have a stronger remaining deck than the opposition and then best exploit it? And when that gets tired, additional variant cards such as Shadowfax, Palantir and Gandalf the White give new wrinkles. Those who liked Hera and Zeus will very likely enjoy this one – there is probably less chaos here. In the two-player realm, it is probably not as complex as Babel, nor as long, but it does seem to last exactly the right length of time. The Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition version from Fantasy Flight comes in a much larger box with a larger board. Now the pieces stand oblong and so are more easily viewed and read. Most interesting is that the characters can slide out of their holders and be flipped to reveal alternate versions. This even brings into play some new characters such as the Watcher in the Water (great to drop in the big center space on the good guys' side) and Master Elrond. Also available are more battle cards. Space-squeezed collectors will probably regret the extra shelf space requirement, but on the other hand it makes a nicer gift if one is looking to impress. Gameplay itself, nicely combining theme, deduction, bluff and analysis, remains remarkable thoughtful and challenging despite the relatively simple rules. It's my theory that every designer should create a logical deduction game at least once and if Reiner Knizia wants to count this one as his, I think that's perfectly fine. Now if I could only get over the title (the German meaning is more like "the decision").
Strategy: Medium; Theme: High; Tactics: Medium; Evaluation: Low; Personal Rating: 7
High Seas
Wargame about raiding and trading on the Caribbean Sea for up to four players. Some nice concepts don't entirely gel. [more] [summary] [chart] [errata] [Traveling Merchant Games] [Pirate Games]
Hispania
Wargame in the Britannia system, this time set in the Spanish Peninsula from the Carthaginians to the Christian Reconquista. One of the better outings for this system. More thorough and also longer than Britannia. [summary] [errata] [variant] [barbaric VP chart]
History of the Roman Empire
With all of the popularity and success of History of the World, it's surprising that no one else has tried another game on the same system. That is, until now. Instead of finding a different world, however, this one zooms in on the Roman world of Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Of course this topic is already covered in the original game. How to do something different and yet still successful? The interesting solution is to take advantage of the prevalence of civil wars within the Roman empire. Each player takes on the role both of a barbarian and also of a Roman leader (either a late Republic leader like Crassus or, more frequently, an emperor). And with a cynicism that is not inappropriate, a Roman leader need not in any way try to defeat barbarians, but may attack anyone he likes. Similarly, barbarians need not attack the empire but are free to attack other barbarians if they prefer. Much is familiar from the original game, particularly the combat system, the method of drafting sides (here chits and a special board replace the cards), event cards, forts, fortresses, monument equivalents (cities) and the scoring system. The new system implies some important differences as well. On the barbarian side, over the seven epochs some groups are re-used so that the Celts may appear in the first epoch and again a few epochs later. The point is that the faction may already have board holdings (which can nevertheless be picked up if the player wishes). On the Roman side of course the idea of continuous faction is not indicated by the history so instead the player simply gets a new commander (who may or may not have some special abilities, according to history) and can spend victory points to add more units to his army. As a result of these systems, players no longer have chits labeled for each epoch (there are no plastic pieces), but instead use a limited countermix of personal pieces for Romans and faction-specific pieces for barbarians, which are marked by an ownership marker placed somewhere in the center of their holdings. This makes economic sense, but is certainly a presentation problem as it's difficult to discern what the board state is, who holds what, who would score the most at the moment, etc. This is not the only presentation problem. Some of the barbarian counters printed in colors that make them 99% unreadable. These issues are significant because they contribute to downtime and overall length. These issues are further exacerbated by the fact that when there are, say, four players, there are eight sides having a go every game turn, plus the extra factions introduced by event cards. This is a large number of context switches which are always a large time sink. The combat system retains the "re-roll on ties" rule also which adds even more time. A total time of five to six hours happens easily. Other areas of ambiguity are the scoring track which is far too small for the size of scores which can be achieved. Anytime a scoring track can be wrapped around more than once and each player needs to track two separate totals, a new system is needed. Absent this, Poker chips are probably the best bet. Similarly the instructions are not the best with several ambiguities to work out only with the help of online errata plus Q&A. Another downside is that if the amount of time to complete doesn't deter, this is really best and intended for exactly four players, further reducing its chances of it gracing the game table. Some pluses are that there are no islands on which players can hide forever and ever scoring points as in the original. On the other hand, the Babylon area doesn't seem to get hit as often as it should. Perhaps there should have been a better balance of western and eastern barbarians. Why aren't there Parthians every turn? Surely they were a permanent thorn in the Roman side. There is also no dramatically more valuable region or overwhelmingly powerful nation equivalent to Rome or Britain as exist in the original. On the other hand, this balancing mechanism prevents some historical performances such as that of the Vandals who have no chance of crossing the map to Hispania and then coming all the way back across North Africa to Carthage, which they actually did. But perhaps the single most important thing that was needed has been done: each turn's faction choosing order is lowest victory points to highest. Overall it's difficult to reach a verdict. On the one hand there is an attractive amount of history amid simple rules, but on the other so many logistical difficulties. There is the usual fragility in these types of games as, particularly among the Romans, there can be petty diplomacy issues. There is probably less overall strategy than the original as well – most decisions are opportunistic and tactical. On the other hand, play appears to be fairly balanced. Probably no one who has never played the original should attempt this. But those who are fans and take some extra steps like collecting errata, chips and extra time to carefully set everything up, this can be made into a satisfying, if long, experience.
Strategy: Low; Theme: High; Tactics: High; Evaluation: High; Personal Rating: 6
Marco Broglia; Udo Grebe Gamedesign; 2008; 2-4
History of the World
Most of the largest empires in the Seven Ages of Man sweep across the earth to score points. Although it has its unrealities and omissions, who can ignore such a grand sweep of all our yesterdays? Later Hasbro edition adds plastic pieces to the excitement of many which is fine, but if one has a good imagination and understanding of history, do they really do anything but detract? Rules modifications in that edition include awarding new empires in strict reverse VP order, probably having the overall effect of leveling playing skill differences and lessening long-term strategy. A time-saving rule making both sides lose in case of ties gives an advantage to the active player. Introduced to counter this are other new rules such as increased dice for the defender when using forts and over seas and straits. Curiously forests and mountains are not correspondingly strengthened ó players of the original game should adjust accordingly. The attempt to balance the event cards by classifying them as greater or lesser fails miserably as it has not been correctly realized that no card works in isolation, but always change in value depending on the context of the major empires and board situation with which they are used. [Ragnar Brothers] Another website has created an interesting-looking variant which includes more nations. [Millennial scenario] [background] [playback]
Hobbit (Die Abenteuer der Kleinen Hobbits)
Board game based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien has nice graphics, components and atmosphere, but unfortunately not much play value as it is mostly a matter of luck in drawing cards. Curiously, the players are not trying to accomplish the same goal as in the book, but to destroy the dragon of Carn Dûm.
Holy Roman Empire
Fascinatingly frustrating depiction of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) by Mark D. MacLaughlin, inventor of Viceroys. The game is for six which is rare in itself, the players being Spain, Austria, Sweden, France, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate. Included are many new ideas including auctioning allies, a nuanced economic and troop recruitment systems as well as a land movement and interception system. In a game with this many players, diplomacy and negotiation play a large role as you might expect. However, all was pretty much betrayed by a too-small and much errored map, artistically appealing though it may be, and many problems with the countermix and instructions, which didn't even provide a table of contents. This could be a great candidate for re-publication – as it never really had a fair chance. In game terms, it seems that Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate may not have much of a chance either. Actually, some of the history is not quite right, placing too great an emphasis on gaining electors whereas reading the history reveals that the electors were more the confirmation of power than the actual power itself and these electors were usually amenable to bribes. But this "project" was truly a noble attempt. A group at talk.consimworld.com has attempted to play this one by e-mail in the past. [setup chart] [cards sorted by name] [cards sorted by religion] [list of areas] [table of units] [bibliography]
Holy War
Science fiction wargame (microgame) for two with a three-dimensional movement system similar to that of Godsfire, not surprisingly, also by Lynn Willis. Ostensible theme is that a solar system is the inside part of a creature. Some of the inhabitants of the system are defending it, but others trying to destroy it. More interestingly, space ships come in an amazing fourteen different varieties, each with different capabilities and special effects. Moreover, each combat is conducted in one of three forms (units are each rated for all three): energy, launched or psychic weapons. Space ship combat is resolved via a differential table while boarding is via odds table. All of this comes at some price as the combination of many unit types and weird board can render play rather confusing. Having really only one scenario means that replay value is not very large.
Honor of the Samurai (Ehre der Samurai)
Card game reminiscent of Groo, in which players attempt to build up their position with cards in front of them in an attempt to become Shogun. Nicely illustrated. There are at least two good strategies, one to try to grab the prize right away and hope to survive or, usually more profitably, to bide one's time and creep up on it bit by bit. This game can last longer than one wants at times. [Take That! Card Games]
Hot Spot
Science fiction wargame (microgame) for two with forces fighting for a vital energy source on an unstable planet. The unique feature here is that the islands beneath one's forces are very actively floating around the map – unfortunately this feature does not seem to be exploited very well, nor does it seem to matter much for the outcome. Seems unbalanced in favor of the attacking Technocrats player.
House Divided, A (Norden & Süden)
Seminal two player strategic-level wargame on the American Civil War with title drawn from Lincoln's famous line: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The point-to-point movement system and unit promotion ideas here were later used in many games and what is called the We, the People system certainly owes something to this game as well. It remains a good game in its own right as well, if a bit abstracted. Second edition was an improvement in terms of play balance. Third edition published in German in 2001 as Norden & Süden.
Hundred Years War
Two-player magazine wargame on an almost ungameable topic, a war which stopped and started for over a century. Actually, some historians now tend to look at this conflict as two or more separate wars (Edward's War, Henry's War, etc.), but this game tries to cover the entire thing, and as one might expect, not always successfully as much detail is absent. The game which remains is quite a wrestling match in the sense that what one is doing is not always very clear. Rather, one simply roughly grapples with the opponent and makes sure to be present so that when some disastrous event occurs like a bad dice roll, it's possible to take proper advantage. It's quite a curious way to play a game, although it can easily become tedious. One feels however that a full-fledged effort with all the color and flavor it deserves could do more justice to this period of history.
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