Last we played A Distant Plain by GMT Games. What a game it was! I do not feel versed enough in the game or the series for that matter to give you a full on review, but I would like to give you some of my initial thoughts and future plans.
We wrangled up four players to try this game. I was the Government forces of Afghanistan, Roslyn was the Warlord Factions of Afghanistan, Boyd was the coalition forces and Jonathan took the Taliban forces. We chose to play the shortest of the scenarios, 2009-2013 and used the standard setup option for that scenario and chose the “No Reveal” option (see the rules).
The rules which were easy enough to digest when I had read them through did not translate to simplicity during the game. It wasn’t that the rules themselves are hard, but more like the decisions that you, as a player, are forced to make. That alone is the genius of this game and system. There are lots of the things going on during what one could call a turn (the resolution of an event card) that a player must pay attention to what others are doing or be left in the dust. We spent some time flipping back and forth in the rule book trying to digest all the different operation and special actions each player was able to choose from and how they translated from the rule book to game play. I personally found it frustrating to read the Quick Reference Card and then only to read the appropriate section of the rules to find the reference card was not an all inclusive resource. Though I will admit that as the game progressed my frustration level lowered.
The was setup to play through four propaganda cards. Think of propaganda cards as “scoring cards” like in other games (ie Alhambra). We played until the third card was revealed and decided to call it quits. We had been at the table for 5+ hours, but I have to admit that much beer was drunk and much socializing was done. In the end, the Warlord Faction was closest to its winning conditions then the other three factions.
Did I like the game? Hell yeah! Although there was so much going on, the game mechanics and theme were blended so well together that I want to play again! Next up for us will be Cuba Libre. Touted to be a slightly easier game to play and understand. So we are going to give that one a go next to see if we can get a better grasp of the COIN system and then it will be back to A Distant Plain. All-in-all, a fun time was had by all players! Hell, Boyd even passing on the first event of the game stated a few minutes later “Shit I like this game and I haven’t even done anything yet!”
On that note, I recommend you try this game or one of the other games in the COIN series. Tell me your thoughts of the game(s) and the system.