If you're looking for a quiet game in the spirit of Christmas Peace and Goodwill, you won't find it here!GUERILLA was published by the (old) Avalon Hill Game Company in 1994, when guerilla warfare was among other things very prominently featured on evening TV news. Unfortunately board games rarely tackle contemporary political or social topics, so this alone makes the game something special. Only JUNTA and ANGOLA let players recreate a similar situation, namely the overthrowing of government by rebels in a developing country. This topic creates very interesting situations and decisions for the players, so I don't understand why only so few games about revolutions exist. Against Avalon Hill's usual habits GUERILLA does not simulate a particular civil war, although judging from the leaders' names, it can be concluded that the game is set in Latin America.
ComponentsFor a game from 1994 the artwork is excellent. The cards are hand drawn, but are very photo realistic. While the game is meant to be fun, the entertainment fortunately lies in the game system and not in goofy graphics.The box cover is very good, but also simplistic: It only displays the title and two warriors trailing through the jungle. I wish you good luck on trying to get this game with its cover played by a eurogame spoilt crowd . Maybe the drawing of the Presidential Palace would be more suitable with types like that. I presume the cover is just a safety measurement since these folks won't enjoy the game anyway.Apart from the cards you'll also have to use a few cardboard chits from time to time. These are of the usual (later) Avalon Hill fare. If you're on the hunt for the smallest play reference ever, you have just found it here.The rule book is standard for a game developed by Don Greenwood. Therefore you'll have to read it twice at minimum before being able to play it. At least referencing rules in mid-game is more convenient and every single detail is covered in the rules. After all I prefer this type of AH font size 6 rule books over FFG's “a rule here, a rule there, a rule in the example” manuals.Game playInstead of giving a summary of the rules I will roughly explain the game concepts and what they add to the game.At the beginning of the game each player is issued face down a loyalty chit indicating what side he is secretly fighting for; that's either the rebels or the government. With an odd number of players a mercenary is also added who is trying to (secretly also) keep balance between the other two factions, probably because if one side wins the war the mercenaries would lose their jobs.The game is played in turns. During your turn you may take two out the following actions, or also take the same action twice:WithdrawAttackDeployTradeDiscard/RepairDraw CardsThat's quite an innovative system and I think this was copied in at least five other eurogames since then. Well, the game is not about sophistically using these actions to build an efficiency engine, though. Instead it's about blowing up stuff and you're getting points for that. Every eliminated unit scores its value to the player who defeated it and at the same time also to the faction (Rebel or Government) whose units killed it. People who complain about the few battles in Twilight Imperium should love this.At the end of the game, when all cards have been drawn, the scores are totaled and the players who were loyal to the faction leading in score count their full points for victory. Players loyal to the losing faction may only count half their score for victory. A player should not openly fight for his faction, because late in the game a revolution will occur were faction counters may be exchanged, so a player who was avidly fighting for the rebels for example might get switched to government loyalty and lose the game. Still, one player has to write down scores for the whole game and that's not really a fun activity, unless you're used to Knizia games.Units are split cards and may be deployed belonging to either faction. Combat is relatively simple, there's an attacking and a defending group of up to three units plus a leader, whose respective values are totaled and added to a die roll. The difference is the value of units the loser of the fight has to eliminate.This wouldn't be an Avalon Hill game, however, if combat wouldn't come with a lot of extra rules for added chrome.Government forces (not players) may use air units to drop paratroops or they may stage an armor column which is very brutal when attacking, but rebels hiding in the jungle can simply run away from it when they hear the clanging noise from the tanks. The armor is also pretty vulnerable when defending. The rebels may use arms caches filled with old Soviet Russian weapons bought from “traveling salesmen”. To counter that government units may send out reconnaissance patrols to search for these nasty illegally imported weapons, allowing the patrolling player to search through an opponent's hand and destroy the weapons or use them for himself. Furthermore both sides may encircle their opponents and dry the enemy units out of ressources, which is especially worthwhile if the enemy is sitting in the Presidential Palace or any other complex (see below).A few action cards may be played at any time. Assassins may be played to kill off potent commanders leaving the now leaderless units in disorder. Assassins look very cool and are counteracted against only by the even cooler looking bodyguards. Before a combat units may try to ambush each other or the rebels may retreat at anytime by play of an informant. The points scored after the combat may be reduced by committing atrocities or increased by propagandizing a spectacular victory.The battles are not only fought out in the jungle, they also particularly ensue around complexes. These buildings or other installments grant its possessor very powerful special abilities and are also worth some points at the end of the game. The downside is that they may only be garrisoned by one unit, so ownership changes a lot. What's worse complexes may also be rendered useless by rocket firing rebels (see arms cache above) or by air strikes from the airfield – another complex. When rebels capture a complex they may destroy it to gain immediate points, an option which shall not be used rarely.Other fun stuff in the game include the UN intervention, which once atrocities have been committed may be brought into play to block off a player from attacking (and being attacked) until the UN unit is defeated (by either player). The most important card in the game, the aforementioned revolution, is sorted into the lower half of the deck and will thereby occur at the late half of the game changing the flow of the game quite a bit. Other events circumventing the revolution may get leaders killed or force them and all their units to change sides. Of course weak-minded leaders will prefer the latter option.ConclusionThis is a card game with a system unlike anything you played before. However, the entertainment it generates is the same you had playing RISK as a kid, maybe just on a higher more intellectual level.However, the game is chaotic, violent fun. Players may fight for any side and against any player. Apart from that players may reinforce an opponent with units, which is extremely helpful if the receiving guy meant to stage weak units as cannon fodder for easy points earned by the other faction. Every single action in the game requires die rolls with two ten-sided dice, which means that given extreme luck a single lousy weak unit may defeat a 19 points stronger group. (Unit values range from 1 to 7.) Any player may play reaction cards to any combat or event. If a player only has got bad cards he may always trade with the other players and of course cards may be traded for empty promises. All this leads to a game which not only neatly simulates its topic matter, but is also an AT classic.Two negative things cut a dash though. The rule book makes learning the game hard, but that's a sour apple you have to bite once and be done with it. Otherwise the score keeping is also a nuisance, but this is just a part of the game which can't be avoided. Maybe using poker chips instead is more convenient.The game is also out of print, but not to hard to find on the second hand market.