Review – Franco-Pussian War 40 from Victory Point Games

Review – Franco-Pussian War 40 from Victory Point Games
Designer – Joseph Miranda
Art – Alan Emrich and Bryan Armor
Victory Point Games has provided a copy of this game for review purposes
Ok, I am biased towards Victory Point Games as they connect with my old school war gamer but also provide a platform for some fresh ideas. One area of military history that I am certainly not informed about is the Franco-Prussian War. It just has never appealed to my curiosity to be honest. Having said that, a Joseph Miranda design is always worth a look so I thought I would have a go at the first in his new von Clausewitz Series of games, Franco-Prussian War 40. From the rules – “The von Clausewitz Series is a system for recreating the military campaigns during the age of modern military technology from the mid-19th century to World War 1″. Again, my knowledge and interest pretty much has a gap after the American Civil War so I knew that I wouldn’t connect with this game from an interest in the period. Instead, I decided that the best way for me to look at it was to see if it got my interest enough to want to learn more.
The components are typical Victory Point Games fare, with cardstock map, player aid, smallish cards, and die-cut cardboard counters. The whole thing comes in a ziplock bag. The artwork continues to improve overall and this is an attractive package. The constraints of VPG’s production model mean the counters are small the information on the counters and cards is effectively laid out, although a bit squeezed on the limited space. Not a problem really.
The artwork is very nice and the functionality of the art makes playing that little bit easier. Now VPG is starting to change to a higher quality standard in its production and this is very exciting news for them to raise their competitive position and for us as we reap the benefits of their games and have a higher standard of visuals and tactile appeal for the components.
You win an immediate, game-ending Decisive Victory, if at any time, the enemy’s morale is reduced to zero or less as long as your morale is one or more. If that doesn’t happen, the winner is determined by victory points earned for the control of enemy cities. So this is not so much a game of just destroying units but relies on geographic advantage as well.Ultimately, the heart of the game is the friction point system which applies to the cost of certain actions. Let’s call friction wear and tear on your forces but its actually more than that as your opponent can then spend your friction against you. Essentially, as you build up friction points, you become more vulnerable. If you are too cautious, you can do less and won’t achieve your objectives so an interesting balance between caution and risk comes into your thought process.

The engine of the game is the Operations cards which give you operational options and costs for such things as Mobilization, Combat, Siege, Reaction, Movement as well as Event cards which have an immediate application which may need to take place.

The turn sequence is as follows:

First Player Operations Phase: The first player decides if they will take a Rest and Reorganization Turn which allows you to get into a better state to continue the fight. If not, you get to draw a free card. Additional cards will cost Friction or Morale points.You will find it very useful to take R&R Turns as your forces take damage and need to recover.

First Player Mobilization Phase: Reinforcements arrive and cards played to take replacements to rebuild your forces.
First Player movement Phase: Move your forces to get the best advantage and set up attacks
First Player Combat Phase: Combat takes place
First Player Administration Phase:
A) You have choices between a free card, removing half your friction points, or passing
B) Morale is adjusted based on captured hexes
C) Cards are discarded to maximum hand size
The 2nd player repeats these
For the most part, it takes a little while to get used to the process but it works pretty well. There is a lot of information on the cards and icons are understandably used to denote Friction, Morale and Replacement points. Its probably just me, but I struggled with the icons and had to keep referring to the rules to remember what they were. A small issue really.
There aren’t a lot of units in this game and I found this a challenge to engage with as there is a limited scope for a lot of movement and you have a limited area in which to engage in combat. I wonder if the scale is right. I assume it is and those who know the history will know better than me whether the scale is appropriate. That aside, it works mechanically. The friction points and impact on morale are cleverly done and I assume reflect the period.
Optional Political rules add more flavor and have an impact based upon which government is in place.
Did it work for me?
Interesting one this. As a game in and of itself, Franco-Pussian War 40 is well designed mechanically but I did feel that it was too much of a mathematical exercise due to the friction points and constant changing of morale. So although it works, it feels a bit ponderous as a system although I do like the idea of using your opponent’s friction points against him. That is a nice feature.
You do have to use your cards wisely and be prepared to balance risk and reward and I do think that is pretty cool. Overall, its a pretty good game but it just doesn’t excite me. I prefer to concentrate on the ebb and flow of warfare, not necessarily the mechanics behind it and too much of my time was thinking about, effectively, numbers although I can appreciate what Joseph Miranda is trying to show in terms of the warfare of the period.
So, recommended if you are interested in the period but not a game I would come back to much at all simply as it doesn’t suit my taste or interest.
 Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10
Family friendly?
No its not a family game
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