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The March of Progress

Designed by Alan Paull and published by Surprised Stare, this two-player micro-game provides the tension, subterfuge and even strategic depth of a war game in barely half an hour, and within a table space smaller than the cover of most game boxes!

Art is by Klemens Franz and the scenarios in this war game take us all the way from the Thirty Years War through to World War II. Gameplay is action card driven, with the key decisions made simultaneously. Although the rules are generally simple and intuitive, players will quickly find that the obvious best move is easily countered, so in order to counter the counter-move they will need to do something else... This second-guessing and sometimes even bluffing makes every turn tense and engaging.

There are five scenarios that build on the default rules, bringing in asymmetry and incrementally introducing new concepts. Each of the scenarios gives players the opportunity to win by reaching a set number of victory points or by wiping out their opponent's armies, making it possible to play the long game or aim for a quick victory. Decisions are never easy: when to sacrifice points-earning power for army strength; when to be aggressive or defensive; when to expand or consolidate; when to 'rest' and pick up your action cards so that they may be used again. One false move can decide a game, so each one is potentially critical, though dramatic recoveries and victories from the jaws of defeat are all possible. Stalemates, so often the pitfall of war games, are brief where they occur at all. With the subtle differences between each scenario, there is great replayability in this little game that will reward evenly matched players who are able to play many games over time. It won't pack a big punch on its first play but as players learn each others' favoured strategies and constantly adapt their tactics game by game, they will no doubt derive great satisfaction each time they are able to outmanoeuvre their opponents and achieve a victory in The March of Progress.

(Review by Matt Young)

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