18 April 2019
If this is goodbye, it's the perfect way to say it
Where The Grizzled packed the entirety of the First World War into a tense and punishing half-hour card game, this deluxe and expanded version threads an even stronger sense of the camaraderie and suffering of those who served on the frontline through an impressive new campaign that allows it to examine each beat of the conflict more intimately.
The co-op gameplay is relatively untouched from the original game and its only expansion At Your Orders!, but has been remixed here into a series of chapters that progressively roll out new mechanics inspired by the major events of the war. The Grizzled was never the most complicated game to understand to begin with, so the benefit is all tone: the relief of the Christmas truce and the terror of the arrival of gas are that much more pronounced when they arrive at their rough historical markers accompanied by affecting licks of narrative.
Even more meaningful are the helping hand cards that create ongoing relationships between players’ soldiers that persist throughout the campaign, or can be used once at the cost of your overall score to buy a reprieve from the shells for a moment. The other big gameplay addition sees inexperienced recruits join the fray that the veterans must train up, but also reveal their cards to the group, allowing some chance to plan ahead and work closer as a team – unlike the deliberately limited strategy of the individual players. These minor touches provide interesting gameplay shifts to consider and bring the heartfelt tale of the friends at the centre of the conflict to the fore; you get the impression that this was the memorable experience The Grizzled was destined to become.
The fully painted miniatures in the bigger box are as gorgeous as the cards’ artwork yet arguably unnecessary, but they hammer home this premium-priced collection as being a tribute: both to the centenary of the 1918 armistice and illustrator Tignous, whose death in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting and the subsequent exhaustion of existing artwork has led the game’s designers to suggest Armistice Edition will be the final Grizzled game. If that’s the case, it’s a remarkable way to say goodbye.
PLAY IT? – PROBABLY
Designer: Fabien Riffaud, Juan Rodriguez
Time: 45 minutes
This review originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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