One of the things that I enjoy about print and play is that you get to see some very experimental designs. I don’t know if Charles versus Peter is actually that experimental. However, since I really don’t play war games, playing it counted as an experiment for me.
The game is about Charles XII of Sweden’s invasion of Russia in 1708. So, the first thing I learned is that Sweden invaded Russia in 1708! The game was part of the 2020 9-Card Contest so the whole game is conducted with nine cards and a bunch of dice.
Oh and it’s a solitaire. You take on the role of Charles while the random number generator gods take the part of Peter.
One of the nine cards is used tracking the status of seven different things. Your supplies, the state of your artillery, the state of your cavalry, the state of your infantry, Peter’s military might, how many key cities Peter holds and what season it is. The other eight cards have maps on one side and tactics and events on the other.
I’ve tried to summarize the rules a few times but every time, I keep doing a bad job. I’ll try to just give an elevator pitch.
There’s two ways to win. You either need to reduce Peter’s military with absolute crushing victories or take over enough key cities. And pick a path to victory and stick to it. There’s not enough wiggle room to try for both. You roll dice pools to wear down a map card’s defense.
When you build the map, you reshuffle the cards you leave behind so you never run out. It’s like building a train track by ripping up the tracks behind you. You have a hand of cards in the tactic side. Events pop up when you move, as you’d expect.
There’s a lot going on in nine cards. Terrain, events, weather, etc. I still haven’t done a good job describing the game but I’ve only taken two paragraphs instead of seven.
I will say it feels like it’s easy to end up in a death spiral. Once you start falling behind, things get worse fast. Which is apparently historically accurate. As I understand, Peter wore Charles down and disrupted his supply chain.
Charles vs Peter isn’t my new favorite game but it was an interesting and educational experience. I can’t judge how good a war game it is but I feel like I learned a little something about war games.
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