Game Title : Sideshow
Publisher : Strategy and Tactics #135
Game Designer : Richard Berg
Game Theme : World War 1 in Eastern Africa between Germans and English
1 game map, 1 counter sheet, rulebook, charts and tables.
You also need dice and an opaque cup.
This is almost forgotten front of WW1.
Yes, German has its colony in Eastern Africa, now called Tanzania. English army mainly composed of Indians attacked the German colony. But, qualified German Army never given up until the end of war.
The best part of the game is artwork, especially beautiful map which has Kilimanjaro on it and beautiful front picture of the magazine which shows the moment of river crossing in front of enemy resistance.
Though the game was not fully supported in end-time of 3W-edition of S&T, the topic is really interesting and game can work to show the nature of this almost forgotten front.
This game uses the same engine as “Druid” by West-end games. Each player has his own action points and conduct movement and attack using these points.
And if he uses up his points, he can roll to get more Aps three times per turn (based on errata by the designer). But, this trial is strongly dependent to the overall commander. German has great commander Paul von Lettow. On the other hand, English has no such leader and changed the leader quite often during the whole war. So, German has big advantage on Aps.
Even with poorer command, English has real big army comparing isolated small German army. But, it can work slowly due to its limited APs. In this game, the force must move first to adjacent hex to the enemy, then conduct combat as a different action. Due to heavy combat modifier of German talented front-line leaders, one attack is not enough to eliminate the German stack usually. So, English must make wave-attacks several times to get an important town. Also, English army must check commitment before he actually attack. This is done by each unit to check its commitment rating. Usually they range from 3 to 6. 6 is acceptable, because it can attack on 1-5. But, 3 is a real weak point, it can attack only on 1 or 2 on 1 die. Unfortunately, more than one third of English army has a rating of 3. I think this is because they are composed of colonial army such as Indians and Africans.
Okay, this is a reality of the English war during its high-tide. Yes, she has many colonies, but her army is usually composed of low-moral colonial force especially in colonies.
Though he has more qualified army in this theatre, German player had a hard-time during the whole conflict. The main problem is a limited human resources. He is isolated from home country for 4 years. So, the force he has at start is the almost all force for his entire campaign (49 turns). So, he can win most of battles at first. But, once he loses few strength points, they are gone forever. This is a real problem for the entire campaign.
The victory condition is mainly programmed by English player.
He chooses 3 victory points resources each year and scores VPs based on this program. On the other hand, he can reinforce his army by paying VPs. So, this game is a grand design for solely English player. But, due to his problems especially on commitment, it is difficult to analyze the whole campaign especially at the start. But, of course you must buy the reinforcement earlier if you really need them, because you can use them longer to get VPs.
The problem of victory condition is that it is not perfectly clear to distinguish the same victory conditions which cannot be selected once it is established. I think this could be improved.
But, even with this problem, the game is really interesting and you can see the nature of English war in colonies.