Quartermaster General, Board game, 2014

Quartermaster General

When I first saw Quartermaster General played, I was underwhelmed.   It seemed mean that the Italians got beaten up so badly, I couldn’t quite see why anyone would want to play as them. The next time I saw it played, I was shocked when the plucky Italians stomped into the Ukraine and then later saved Germany’s ass. “Huh?” I thought, “they’re supposed to be Europe’s whipping boys”. The third game was even stranger, with Russia lunching an early push through Asia to capture China and give the Japanese a serious headache all game.

Quartermaster General is a simple game in which each player takes one action per turn. The beauty of the game is in the variety of cards and how they define the different warring factions and in how the players interact to create unusual and unexpected game states. In the Russian example, Britain had a torrid time trying to take and hold the Normandy beaches against the combined power of Germany and Italy, while Russia’s absence from the European theatre was noticeable.

So while the game may not look like much, I would urge you to give it a play or three and see how differently it can all turn out.

Just to give you a flavour, here are a few short bits I wrote about the game through the year:

Summer Stabcon 2015

It’s beginning to get late now and we are all starting to flag, but still time for one more game. Quartermaster General is the game my friends were playing when I first arrived, it’s new and I haven’t played it, so I am keen to have a go.

Set in WWII, each player controls an Allied or Axis country and they work together to try and defeat the enemy. Each turn, players take it in turns to play a card and score their victory points; this makes the game quick and simple to play from a mechanical perspective. What makes the games interesting is how the cards and player actions interact.

When we played I was Germany; me and my Axis buddies gained an early lead and expanded fast. But as the war ground on, America and Russia really started putting on the pressure; in the end Italy collapsed and Germany and Japan were in tatters. The Allies won, but only by a few points, and as the Axis players we could argue that the game had ended in a negotiated peace rather than total defeat, although that was only our pride talking – as far the game was concerned we had lost.

A good game: I struggled with only doing being able to do one action per turn, (all my lovely plans kept failing because of the actions of others), but that is an integral part of the design and speeds things along nicely.

Autumn gaming in Manchester 2015

After Eldritch, we all fancied something a bit quicker and shorter, so we plumped for Quartermaster General. I have yet to see this delightful game play out the same way twice; while it has simple rules and only allows each player one action per turn, the combination of players’ intentions and cards always seems to produce very different results.

This time, Britain and America piled into Japan early on and left me, as Russia, to try hold out in Europe. I made little headway in terms of taking territory, but I did hold the Axis off. We had been winning all game and had nearly reached the points margin necessary to win the game early, when Germany captured Britain. This made the end of the game much tenser purely because Britain had been earning us most of the points.

Still, in the end Germany was unable to claw things back and I am pleased to say the Allies won the day, but only through the sacrifice of many millions of brave Russian comrades.

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