A while ago I picked up a heavily discounted copy of GMT Games' Pendragon which is a game I've been interested in for some time. It's one of GMT's COIN games where each faction has very different mechanics and victory conditions and is set at the end of the Roman period in Britain. It's a period I've always found really interesting and I'd been keen to give this a go.
The game is really nicely produced with a lovely board and lots (...and I mean lots!!) of wooden blocks and counters. There are 4 factions...the Dux (the remnants of the Roman cavalry, so effectively Arthur), the Civitates (Romanised Britons) and the raiding parties of the Saxons and Scotti. Each side has a different range of actions that they can complete each turn and the 2 British factions can cooperate until the split from Rome is complete but effectively the Britons are concentrating on building up resources and towns while the raiders want to steal their gold and ultimately settle on the mainland.
On first inspection the rules looked pretty daunting with a 44 page rulebook and a 72 page Playbook to explain how the rules work in practice...to be fair the Playbook also includes a lot of design notes, history, explanations of the events that drive the game and even a pronunciation guide! As an example of the complexity here is a flowchart for the solo version of the game...
My son and I tried a play-through at the weekend when he was home for a few days. Set up took ages...there is a box for just about everything on the board but we had to read both books carefully to make sure we had everything in the right place. It does look very nice once it's all out though...
In the 1st turn my son's Scotti raiders attacked the Western coast attempting to loot and pillage. My Civitates militia sensibly retreated into their forts where some survived although I did lose one fort completley. In one region the Dux cavalry were present and I tried fighting the raiders in the open...combat is pretty brutal if you are a raider and you can expect heavy losses but even so my precious cavalry were wiped out and their fort overrun. Combat follows a lengthy process which is outlined on another prompt sheet although by the end of the turn we'd sped up a bit in working through this
|The Scotti (green) attack the Dux cavalry (red). The Civitates are in blue|
This was one of a 3 GMT board games I picked up cheaply recently, the others being Blackbeard (Pirates obvously) and Iron and Oak (ACW Ironclads) and I'm hoping they'll be a bit more lightweight!