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Designed by José Manuel Neva and published by NAC Wargames and MasQueOca Editions, Tacmento is a seemingly simple but surprisingly challenging 18-card microgame that's playable either as a two-player head-to-head combat game or as a series of remarkably tough solitaire puzzlers.

The 18 cards in Tacmento represent Spanish troop types from the late 15th and early 16th Century. There are five Pikemen, five Arquebusiers, three Caballeria, three Artillery, one Captain and one Drum & Fife card. For the two-player game, the cards are all shuffled and divided into two 9-card hands that players use for drafting: selecting a card, placing it face-down as part of their three-column, two-row formation, and passing the remainder to the other player. You'll each place out six cards in this manner and be left with three cards in hand as your Reserve. You flip the cards face up so that they together form a 3 x 4 grid. Assuming the players are at opposite sides of the table, each players' cards will be facing towards them.

Players take turns manoeuvring the troops. As a Squadron Manoeuvre, you can take any one of your cards from your formation and place it at the end of its row or column, pushing all the other cards until the gap is filled. In this way, you'll be repositioning your own and your opponent's troops. Note tho' that troops can only push in the direction indicated on their card: some allow movement in all four orthogonal directions but most can push only in one or two specific directions... Alternatively, as a Flanking Manoeuvre, you can play any of the Reserve cards in your hand to push a row or column in the direction indicated on the card. For a Flanking Manoeuvre there is no gap to fill, so pushing the row or column will expel a card from the formation. If it's one of your own cards, that goes to your Reserve but if it's one of your opponent's cards, you take it as a prisoner. Your objective is to capture three prisoners. When a player succeeds in this, the other player has just two turns to similarly achieve three captures. At the end of the round, players score 1 point for any captured Pikemen or Arquebusiers, 2 points for any captured Caballeria or Artillery, and 3 points for a captured Captain or Drum & Fife. After two rounds, you also score points for the troops you have managed to infiltrate into your opponent's 3 x 2 formation.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the rules, Tacmento is a Chess-like brain-burning puzzle optimisation game from start to finish. You'll be planning your tactics from those very first card drafting picks and grid placements. And there's subtlety too in optimising your Squadron and Flanking Manoeuvres and how you respond to your opponent's actions. You need to weigh up too the fact that your prisoners from round 1 will become your Reserve for round 2...

Tacmento is a clever but quick-to-play two-player game but it shines even more as a solitaire puzzler. Tho' the game is played with just 18 cards, it comes with a thicker deck of objective cards. For the basic solo mode, you lay out 12 cards in a 3 x 4 grid and you need to complete objectives within 12 turns. Meeting a single objective may be quite easy but then you're challenged to complete two and then three objectives all within the same 12 turns. You can then move on to the move advanced challenge of meeting objectives while being subjected to restrictions that prevent certain cards from being used. Finally, you can progress to playing Tacmento solo in Campaign Mode, where you'll be working through a succession of seven challenges, notionally representing battles in Spanish history from Cerinola (1503) through to Empel (1585) and even the much later Battle of Rocroi (1643).

There's an attempt at humour in the rulebook that didn't seem to us to work but maybe it was funnier in the original Spanish. Nevertheless, the rulebook for Tacmento is commendably clear, including some helpfully illustrated examples. Tho' it is an abstraction of the warfare of the period, Tacmento will appeal to war gamers looking for a filler-length game and/or solitaire challenge but anyone who enjoys solving puzzles will get a kick out of this game.

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