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Board Games 3182
More BUDDA-BUDDA, BAM! & BLANG! than Milsim
Gets me in a way that Battle Cry could not, as I lack the American Civil War gene. The game engine is excellent—a beer-n-pretzels wargame for those of us who are not hardcore wargamers. Yeah, it's just playin' with plastic army men. But sometimes that's all you need.

After 40 plays: I suppose I must bump this to 4.5 stars; my interest is only accelerating and as a game system there is just so much to love here. And while it might seem like a "heavily-themed abstract" the sheer number of units, options, and scenarios makes every game unique.

Almost every scenario is wildly imbalanced (a nod to history), making any single play unsatisfying for someone; but when you consider a single match to be two games with the victor having the highest total medal count after playing both the favorite and the underdog, well, then the experience is very satisfying indeed. As the favorite you want to run that steamroller to victory as quickly as possible and minimize the underdog's score; as the underdog you want to simply last as long as possible and rack up as many medals as you can before you're snuffed. On the odd occasion when the underdog actually wins? Then it's time to dance around the table and flick infantry units at the loser.

Hand management, probability, and the sequencing of attacks are all neat puzzles that keep each turn interesting, even when you're the one getting pounded. And the whole time the setup just looks gorgeous.

There are more scenarios than I can probably get through in a lifetime... though I'll give it my best shot!

After 86 plays: It's 5 stars, earned the hard way—through ever-increasing game-pleasure. The best scenarios from the expansions are engaging puzzles that not only bear repeat play, but unfold before you into larger and larger possibility spaces the more experience you get with them. Some feel as if you could play them endlessly without ever becoming bored*—the static setup is a puzzle that requires a dynamic solution, depending wholly on the interaction between how the cards come out, hedging dice probabilities, and your creativity in manipulating it all. Grinding the same scenario over and over is less about finding the optimal path (and solving it for all time) than it is about finding the way through the unique iteration right in front of you, right now.

Cards, dice, plastic army men, a historical veneer and functionally infinite replayability—this is very nearly the perfect game.

*Yes, I know this isn't true—but the subjective sensation of infinite fun propels me onward. Besides, should I be so lucky as to actually "wear one out" there are only a couple hundred more to dig into...
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