05 December 2022
Several small steps for war
The first time you play this it’s likely one of you will be bad at it. It’s a natural misjudgement, the war theme often makes us assume there’ll be time to dig a trench, or plan a large offensive. In The March of Progress, there often isn’t time to do any of that at all. It’s a brutal game of snapping offences and retaliations where single bad choices are the moment where the war turns against you.
This micro-wargame creates battlefields out of three cards, two home cards and a contested territory which you and your opposing player will be fighting over. The game has each player take a bunch of cards into their hand, and play one of them each turn simultaneously. These cards will let you perform actions like moving troops, recruiting to your home country, and attacking where your soldiers already are. Because you’re revealing your cards at the same time, there’s an element of bluffing – will they attack this turn, or attempt to reinforce further? What about increasing your army strength to combat that for defensive purposes next turn, if there is one? Or just take the score you’ve already got hold of, and hope they don’t take it away from you? These are tough choices because the order of actions is set. If you try and score (taking points equal to the points in the locations you control with your armies) this is going to be the last thing that’ll happen in the turn, whereas the opponent may attack your armies or move their armies into a contested territory you currently control, making the points moot.
Get it right though, and you’ll feel great.
The small footprint of the game (a handful of meeples, dice and cubes with three or four cards) makes it feel like a short, snappy, back and forth of fencing. Its depth and meaningfulness of play is drawn out of the asymmetry of the various scenarios. Our favourite is World War II’s German Blitzkrieg rules, which encourages all out attack on the Axis side of the conflict. This opens up into part two of a scenario which sees the introduction of additional air power and VWeapons. There are rules for WWI, Napoleonic conflict and 18th Century warfare – all with their own historical twists that make them an engaging new battle to take on with your opponent.
The March of Progress is a funny game. It’s both a bit like an abstract game of chesslike strategy with variable (see personal favourite That Time You Killed Me for more of that) while also being a jolly wargame. It invites repeat plays, and for those who are interested in the history the differences of set-up and powers will offer plenty to chew on. A great way to have a little war or two of an evening.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? YES
A quick and brutal game that offers depths across its various scenarios. One for lovers of a quick duel and asymmetrical warfare all at once.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Blitzkrieg!…
While not as contained Paolo Mori’s classic The March of Progress makes up for it with amusing variety of scenarios.
Designer: Alan Paull
Publisher: Surprised Stare Games
Time: 30 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 3 Country cards
- 16 Action cards
- Initiative card
- Action sequence card
- 41 Scenario specific cards
- 12 White cubes
- 6 Black cubes
- 6 Army meeples
- 6 Six-sided dice
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