Saturday, 13 December 2008

300 the boardgame

Han was back in KL in mid November, and on 19 Nov he came and we played 300, a boardgame based on a movie of the same name, which was in turn based on a comic (well, they probably call it a graphic novel, which to me is just a fancier name) of the same name, by Frank Miller. I quite like Frank Miller and own some of his comics, including 300. I thought the comic was not bad, but I never watched the movie.

300 is about 300 Spartans standing up against the mighty Persian army. The Spartans picked a good battlefield, a narrow valley, where the numbers of the Persian army did not lend any advantage to them. The Spartans did very well, but unfortunately they were betrayed by a fellow Spartan, a deformed man who was not accepted into the Spartan army and held a grudge. The traitor led the Persians through a secret path to attack the Spartans from behind. All 300 Spartans were eventually killed, but they went down in glory, and inspired the Greek cities to stand up against the mighty Persian empire. Well that's what I remember about the story, and I may be wrong. I need to go re-read the comic.

300 the boardgame is a simple wargame about that same battle. The traitor in the story becomes a timer in the game. The Spartans have 6 turns to put up a good fight before they are being betrayed, and they need to achieve 100 glory points in order to win the game. The Persians win by preventing this from happening. The Spartans have a limited number of soldiers and characters. When they die, they die. The Persians can recycle their dead soldiers, to simulate that they do have an incredibly large army compared to the 300 Spartans.

There are a few ways for the Spartans to gain glory points, and also a few ways to lose them. The main ways of gaining points are killing Persians, and gaining ground. The Spartans can also lose points if the Persians manage to advance into the valley. There are special power cards that the players can draw every turn. They give special abilities at different junctions. These are one-time-use cards, so you need to decide what is the most effective time to use them. Some of them are tied to individual characters in the game and has some dependency on the positioning on the board, so you'd want to create the best situation possible to use your cards.

Fighting and movement are quite simple. Check your attacker strength total against a table, and roll dice. Units can get injured once by being flipped over, and if they take another injury they die. Interestingly injured Spartans fight even better, which I think is a nice touch. There is not much space for manouvering on the board, so movement is mostly about moving units forward to the frontline. Some sideway movement is allowed.

The board. Quite simple and straight-forward. It's functional.

Some of the Spartan characters. The "stars" are all already on or near the frontline.

The most powerful Persian units are all at the back initially. Most scary, of course, are the elephants.

So for the Spartans (I played them), the goal is to hit 100 glory points before the game ends. It's about going all out, and agressive play. Do not fear death. It's all about the glory. I think for the Persians the mentality will be more about damage control. How to minimize the glory point gains of the Spartans, and how to reverse the gains. So the game is quite asymmetrical.

In our game, I pretty much just went all out (which I am guessing is how the Spartans should play). The game seemed pretty "normal", as in I felt this was how the story should progress. The Spartans killed many Persians, but the Persians kept advancing. I managed to gain ground once, but later had to fall back because I couldn't get enough people to the front. A better Spartan player probably would have gained more ground, and thus also scored more points. The glory points advanced slowly towards 100, but there were some setbacks. One of my characters, who'd cause me to lose 10 points if he died, died. Ouch. Han got Emperor Xerxes (worth 20 points if killed) to the front line. I think he had some nice cards up his sleeve, which needed Xerxes' presence. Things worked up to a climatic battle. It was do or die. I still had Leonidas, the leader of the Spartan army, who is also the most powerful Spartan unit. Unfortunately for me, I was just short of killing Xerxes. Xerxes survived, and time was up for the Spartans. My score was 94 points. Killing Xerxes would have won me the game.

This was the final climatic battle. Leonidas and the two Spartan units were already injured.

It was nice to watch the game build up to this climax. Perhaps Han should not have risked Xerxes. We played quickly, so probably we both made some suboptimal moves here and there. But I think this is the most fun way to play this game - fast and furious. 300 is a simple and thematic wargame that can be played quickly. It might feel a little scripted, since it is trying to recreate a very specific battle.


Duncan said...

hey, hiew, love the blog. just wanted to let you know about this new pictionary man game (

don't know if it's really your deal, but thought you might be interested in it anyways. maybe do a review of it if you ever get a chance

okay, see ya later!

Order Bendaroos said...

Hiew! Love your blog and all the games you tell me about (where do you find all of them?!). Thanks. I haven't seen 300 yet (I know, shame on me), but this game looks pretty cool. Thanks for the heads up.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Glad you enjoyed reading my blog. Hope you'll find some games that interest you.