Review – Days of Honor: Operation Most (Wildhorn) III from Phalanx Games Polska
Design – Michal Ozon
Artist: Jacek Laskowski • Studio conTEXT
I’ve had the opportunity to play a number of games from the thriving Polish game industry and particularly from Polish designers who are interested in creating games based on Polish military history. It’s been really interesting to learn new stories from Polish history during World War Two and here is another.
From the publisher –
German occupied Poland, 1944. Beyond the reach of Allied intelligence and bomber commands, the Germans establish a secret facility, where a terrifying weapon is being tested. V-2, Hitler’s Wunderwaffe, a ballistic missile able to wipe London from the map and win the war, bringing Britain to her knees. But the deepest secrets of German war technology are revealed by the UK’s staunchest allies – the Poles…
Czas Honoru: Operacja Most III – a.k.a. Days of Honor: Operation Wildhorn III – is a fast-paced, tactical card wargame for two players. The first player takes the role of the Polish commander. His goal is to collect fragments from rockets test-fired from the German missile base. The second player takes the role of the German commander and is trying to protect the secrets of the rocket testing area.
I’d never heard of this episode which sounded really interesting and daring but how to turn it into a game? Let’s see what Michal Ozon has created.
• 15 black cubes (fragments)
• 55 cards: 5 Rocket cards, 3 Zone cards, 23 Polish cards, 23 German cards, and 1 Player Aid
• 2 dice: 1 black (German) and 1 red (Polish)
The cards are of a good quality with nicely done art which features period photos. The layout of the images and icons works very well and makes things very easy for you to play. I found the cards really interesting just to look at and they are very good at giving you a feel for the events.
Description of card types
There are two major card types in Days of Honor:
• Unit cards – (Soldiers/Partisans – green; Recon – yellow; Unseen and Silent/SS – red)
• Support cards – these represent various supplies and command support.
• Action cards – cards with special and unique abilities, played as an action.
• Immediate cards – cards played for an immediate effect (not played as an action).
The game lay out is as pictured below with the German forces on one side, the Polish on the other and the middle ground where all the action takes place.
Players choose their sides. The Polish player takes the Polish deck, and the German player takes the German deck.
The 3 Zone cards are placed (vertically oriented) in the middle of the table – they will mark the 3 Zones of play:
• The Forest card (Polish Home Zone) is closer to the Polish player.
• The Periphery card (Neutral Zone) is between the Home Zones.
• The Rocket Base card (German Home Zone) is closer to the German player.
The game lasts four turns so its fast playing up to about 30 minutes.
1. Draw 5 cards.
2. V-2 ﬁred! Place fragments. Each turn begins with a missile test, which scatters new fragments of the rocket in the peripheral area surrounding the testing ground.
3. Player actions.
The active player performs one of the following actions or else passes:
a) Place a card into their Home Zone.
The player plays one fresh (vertically oriented) Unit or Support card into their Home Zone. During a later action it may be activated.
b) Activate one of their cards on the table.
The player selects one of their Unit or Support cards to perform its ability marked with a triangle symbol.
c) Play an Action card.
The player plays an Action card to perform the card’s indicated action.
Players use scouts to collect missile fragments, but they need to be protected by soldiers and partisans because enemy contact can lead to combat. These actions are supported by elite units: Polish Unseen and Silent commandos and German SS Stormtroopers, who are able to penetrate enemy lines. In addition, players build a network of command and support units, which allows them to effectively carry out their actions.
Immediate Cards and Immediate Abilities
In addition to doing actions, players may play Immediate cards directly from their hands and may use the Immediate abilities of their cards on the table.
Players also affect the course of the game during their opponent’s moves, playing cards for immediate effects. And each side has a set of unique events, e.g., Germans can use their logistical advantages while Poles can hide, and even evacuate rocket fragments to England! To determine combat and exploration results, players each use a six-sided die, but they have many opportunities to modify the results, so a good plan should work even with bad luck.
There are a number of card abilities including:
Attack, Search, Command, Volunteers, Sturmwind/Spy, Movement, Assistance, Escort, Good and Bad Luck, Ambush, Witnesses, Nurses, Motorcycle movement and there are special Events as well.
4. End of turn.
At the end of the game, the player with more rocket parts wins. This means the player successfully stole (Polish) or concealed (German) the secrets of the V-2 weapon.
Although there are a number of different types of cards and icons, I found that it was easy enough to refer to the rules and not long before I knew what the cards meant with less need to refer.
This game process works very well and smoothly, without getting bogged down in what is actually a lot of historical detail. Michal Oraz has managed to distill the events and history into a very playable system which feels quite elegant in what its trying to portray.
Did I enjoy Days of Honor: Operation Most (Wildhorn) III?
I really enjoy this game. It is very interesting from the start and is a race to pick up and deliver the rocket fragments whilst fighting off the enemy troops. Both sides have the same goal in effect and cannot just rely on picking up the fragments. Combat is a necessity so there is a balance of choosing when to fight, and when to grab fragments if you are lucky enough to get a good amount.
In four pressure packed turns, you don’t have much time to mess about and have to go for it or you won’t stand a chance of winning. Your cards give you a number of options so you will have to make effective use of the cards you have chosen. As in war, the random card draw means things may be well placed for you or you may have to work with less resources for example. As its a short game, there won’t be deep, long turn planning. You are on a tactical situation and need to make the best of what is available to you in actions and resources.
I found the experience of playing Days of Honor: Operation Most (Wildhorn) III to be very interesting and a load of fun. I really enjoyed trying to figure out how best to get my troops into the field and give them the support they needed. I enjoyed the history lesson as well and the advenure of heroic Polish troops striving to achieve such an important mission. Its a challenge for both sides and well balanced. There are good options and challenges for both players.
This game has a very specific war gamer audience or at least, those interested in the historical events. I would say that its not necessarily for gamers who don’t have an interest in the theme although I would encourage them to give it a try.
What I find really impressive is the amount of historical detail that has been been distilled into a few pages of rules and yet provide you with the story and key elements that impacted events.
Days of Honor: Operation Most (Wildhorn) III is a really well done game that is fun and very interesting.
For more information go to – http://www.phalanxgames.pl/