Review – Engage from Table Tactics

Review – Engage from Table Tactics

Designed by Russ Price

Art by Joe Daniels

Let’s say you were fond of Chess or Go and not terribly fond of traditional war games with maps and realism. Added to that, you may find Euro games which burn your brain a nice challenge. What if you were looking  play a war themed game that was a bit chess-like and a bit Euro-game like. Yeah a hybrid of sorts. Well Engage from Table Tactics may be just the ticket.

Engage is a game for 2 players age 13+ (expandable to 4) where opposing forces  from World War 2 are fighting to capture and hold bunkers. The game comes in a large box and comes with a large playing board 35″x 21″ and includes 96 detailed British & Italian military units (64 infantry units and 32 armor units). Engage has 4 expansion modules to expand your play options. American units, German units, Japanese units & Russian units for a total of 192 additions pieces. The models are pretty nice. You do have to be careful to use snips to cut them from their plastic frame.

The board itself has no terrain other than a line of bunkers dividing it as well as a grid for movement. It  looks somewhat chessboard-like. The main area is for movement and there are charts for  the main aspects of the rules.

Gameplay

The object of the game is to capture bunkers. NO, THERE ARE NO DICE. This game is pretty much down to how you manage your choices and resources.

After choosing which force you will play (there is a set starting force if you are new to the game or you can choose to purchase forces) the forces are set up behind a screen so neither player will know how the other is setting up their forces.

The main mechanics revolve around the use of a small handful of Action cubes for movement and combat or to recover “Skill points” which the players bid to increase the odds of achieving their Action objectives. The problem for the players is that their are only a few cubes to use so you have to really think about how you use your actions. Then there is a limited amount of Skill Points that you can bid to win the Actions. If you run out of these, it becomes much harder to do anything. You will have to think through when and how you will apply your actions and hope to outsmart your opponent in terms of skill point bids. You will find yourself at times choosing not to bid skill points and taking it on the chin to preserve them for a more opportune action. So, limited amount of actions and limited resources. Quite the dilemma.

The rules are a challenge in not being clear in terms of getting to the simplicity and meat of the game and if a simple narrative version could be produced that would be a good thing. A how-to-play video would be good too. Engage is simpler than it appears in the current rules and this needs to be addressed.

My take on Engage is that it feels more chess-like than a war game per se and therefore leans toward an abstract. I completely agree with “the Chief” from the Dice Tower in that it is a game of “King of the Hill” and is all about taking and holding the objective with limited resources which you need to use smartly.

Did it work for me?

As a light occasional diversion from my usual war gaming interests, Engage is interesting and fun. I don’t like Chess so its easy to say that I prefer it. The rules as they are, are too cryptic and written like a technical manual. You can download help sheets from the website with useful diagrams. A narrative format would have been better for me though. I would say that the main audience will be those who like abstracts like chess and Go, lighter War Games and/or lighter Euros. Luck is minimal and you are left to out thinking your opponent.

I credit the designer and guys at Table Tactics with trying to create something different from the typical war game and If you are looking for something different, Engage is certainly worth a look.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6.5 out of 10

 

Family friendly?

This isn’t meant to be a family game per se could be.

For more information go to –

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