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The Momentous Issue of War

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The Momentous Issue of War is a 8x8 grid-based tabletop game loosely based on the American Civil War, and that takes about an hour to play. The game is easy to learn and has a great amount of tactical depth, high-stakes decisions and dramatic narrative beats for players to enjoy. 

Visually inspired by the traditional Kriegsspiel games, players use blocks to represent units with individual abilities, each conferring varying tactical elements to the gameplay.  Different types of terrain encourage a strategic approach and the game includes varied elements, from brutal action to meticulous planning phases. 

A unique activation system called the Tide of Battle enables players to feel the ebbs and flows of battle. 

As players lose units they roll fewer and fewer activation dice making it harder for them to retain control over the battlefield.

The game was created by Wicked Wargames, the business created in April 2021 by a duo of two friends. Here's our website!

Wicked Wargames

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We decided to go with an 8x8 grid for the board and for all gameplay measurements to be orthogonal (in straight lines). This means that evaluating distances for movements and for ranges of fire is much easier, making the game quicker to learn and snappier to play.

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The suggested tutorial set-up from the book.

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An orthogonal firing example from the book.

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The two armies you may field.

Units in the game are based on the type of unit one might find on an American Civil War battlefield: infantry, cavalry and artillery, and lastly the commander and his retinue. Each unit has different strengths and weaknesses. 

Armies can be picked in secret and revealed to the other player simultaneously, creating an extremely fun way of starting a battle. 

Blue (Union) and grey (Rebel) units are provided in the book and players can stick them onto any kind of block they wish. For playtesting we used simple wooden blocks we bought at the craft shop.

Building an army is inexpensive and players will field ten units per game. So this game is very portable and quick to get going. 

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Recommended deployment for a starter game.

  •  INFANTRY: Troops on foot fighting with rifles. High health points but slow moving and great firing at close range. 

  •  CAVALRY: Fast moving and have almost as much firepower as infantry but are more vulnerable with less health. Can disengage from close combat without a penalty.

  •  ARTILLERY: Artillery units have low health but are deadly when given a good shot. They have excellent range and benefit from abilities such as being able to fire over obstructions from height, and their cannon balls sometimes bounce dangerously. 

  •  COMMANDERS: Have the same strengths and vulnerabilities as cavalry units, but also confer special abilities to other units, such as bolstering the front line and supporting units that retreat.

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We include rules for a varied mix of terrain types which one might have found on the battlefields of the American Civil War. 

The terrain effects in the game are chiefly: providing cover, obstructing line of sight and rough ground which obstructs movement.

By mixing these effects differently for the terrain types, the game provides surprisingly deep tactical opportunities on the battlefield, and ensures players can satisfy desires for both strategic gameplay elements and a pleasing aesthetic.

We include: forests, fields, hills, fences or walls, buildings, roads, rivers and bridges.

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One of our favourite pages: everything on one page, easy to understand and pretty!

Maps are created with terrain placement using the traditional "I place a piece, you place a piece" method or by using our fantastic map generator.

The map generator has been meticulously created to provide a mix of terrain types with a semi-random placement, and avoids players being biased toward making their part of the map more favourable. Detailed and structured with steps, it's been an favourite part of the game to our playtesters. It appears that people just love the play element of building a map and watching the battlefield evolve and come to life.

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The amount of text might seem daunting, but it takes you step by step, a lot of it is example text, and it's the most revised part of the book.

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The game is a "I go, you go" system. At the start of each turn, players roll for the Tide of Battle, determining simultaneously how many units they may use that turn and which player goes first. One player then uses their whole army followed by the other player doing the same.

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The Tide of Battle is one of the dramatic highlights of every turn. (And it's just fun to shout "The tiiiiide of battllleee!".

To conduct the Tide of Battle both players roll a die for each unit they have left on the board, count their activated dice, and the player who scores the highest amount of activations goes first this turn. 

Next, units are activated , which is a dramatic experience of choosing the units you think might be best used in this turn; with limited choices, every activation becomes a nail-biting affair as you bet on the outcome of the coming turn.

As the game wears on and units are lost, activations are fewer and tensions rise. Finally, if both players draw, you reroll, which adds to the tension and drama of this game phase. 

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Players roll the Tide of Battle and tensions build!

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Each turn is broken into three simple phases:

  • The Tide of Battle

  • Player One activations

  • Player Two activations

In a player's turn their units may either move, charge or disengage, followed by either firing or close combat. If you can break the enemy's sprit in combat and force them to flee you might get the opportunity to pursue them across the battlefield. 

Broken units will gradually flee toward your own board edge unless you rally them. However, doing so means using less of your ready units, so you'll have to make decisions between advancing your men offensively or keeping them together defensively, both tactics are viable options and usually players fall into one style of play very quickly. 

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Movement is simple: each unit has a few ways to move, and the distance moved determines what kind of attacks it may conduct.

In the movement phase units can: 

  • Move a number of squares depending on their unit type. 

  • Walk into combat.

  • Charge into combat.

  • Disengage from combat.

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Combat is brutal and effective and every single combat in the game has the potential to break the enemy. No unit is safe in this game, not even in turn one! 

In the combat phase units can: 

  • Conduct close combat. 

  • Fire their guns. 

  • Potentially break the enemy. 

  • Pursue a broken enemy across the battlefield. 

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In the final stage of a player's turn they can conduct rallies (bring their units back into play), followed by broken units continuing to retreat toward your board edge.

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Commanders boost the moral of nearby troops, allowing for attack rolls to be rerolled, and make rallying fleeing troops easier.

However, just as the commander bolsters nearby troops, so to does his death affect them. Lose your commander, and every nearby unit will have to roll to stand their ground or flee!

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The game ends after ten turns, plenty of time for a brutal clash of armies.

At the end, victory points are tallied as follows:

  • 5 points for every enemy unit you've destroyed.

  • 3 points for every enemy unit currently routed.

  • 1 point for every point of damage caused to a surviving enemy unit.

Don't be deceived by the appearance of victory! Your army with no casualties is no good to you if the majority of it flees the battlefield in face of a stalwart enemy!

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As a company, our chief game design goals are realism, ease and fun. Games ought to be about having fun, and we aim to maximise the fun elements by making our games easy to play. 

When it comes to realism we do our best to sprinkle historical nods and interesting ideas in all of our games.

Some of our other favourite company maxims (Written on our office walls):

  •  Ease versus agency: This is about balancing two key feelings we want to give someone who plays our games. For example, it means giving a player the freedom to use all the coolest attacks and manoeuvres, while facilitating that with easy game mechanics. We can't always do both, but it means that every game design choice is tested based on these feelings with the aim of maximising a players fun.

  •  Depth ≠ Complication: We believe at Wicked Wargames that a game can have depth without being complicated. Depth is about providing a player with options and making those options meaningful. If it involves keeping a score,  having to remember something or it can't be explained in two short paragraphs, it usually doesn't survive the cut. Complicated isn't fun.

  •  Simplify and reduce: We want to provide a rulebook that says exactly what it needs to and no more. It means simplifying every paragraph so every player can understand it,  and then cutting every redundant word.

 


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Reviews (0)
Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Arthur H July 24, 2022 11:26 am UTC
I backed the Kickstarter and am very pleased with the MIOW rules and book. How I wish there had been something like this when I started wargaming with boxes of Airfix 20mm plastics, instead of the lengthy, often poorly drafted rules that led to slow moving, tedious games that rarely reached a conclusion.
I have written a review for Miniature Wargames magazine and have used the contact form on your website to request permission to use images of the cover and one page to illustrate it, but have not yet received a reply. Please get in touch asap.
Customer avatar
June 30, 2022 7:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for listening to the feedback and uploading a no background PDF, not half as pretty but saves my ink.

Got this to the table earlier in the week and although simple it does present a few tactical choices, so worth a try. especially as something to entice newcomers and youngsters into the hobby
Customer avatar
Ruggero M June 29, 2022 12:33 pm UTC
I was one of the kickstarter enthusiasts and still I am: the game is fairly simple, but fine. Indeed, as people already said, it has not the "ACW" feel, as ii feels really quite generic, but is nice and can be thus adapted to a lot of various scenarios, including some with 6mm minis instead of cardboard on tiles. Just a side note: 3d terrain is cool, but won't work on a grid because unit tiles won't be nice over them. I'll work something around that. :)
Customer avatar
June 25, 2022 7:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have just downloaed the pdf and read through it and what you get for your money is a straightforward grid based wargame that perhaps owes a lot to te work of Bob Cordery ( Portable Wargames). The rules are relatively simple , easy to pick up and as the blurb says you can be playing in less than a hour.

Ths appears to be straight from Kickstarter and although nice, the aged paper etc could put some people off when it comes to print and play. I can handle that but if they went this route why not better artwork for the units/block labels and maybe some 2d terrain instead of the couple of blank pages? I can see why they went with a 8x8 grid - break out the chess board but it struck me this would be an ideal game for a variant on the Perry bros "Travelbattle boards" which are 10x10. My only other caveat is I cannot see the ACW theme shining through as it is a bit generic

All said and done this is a nice solid game that needs little in the way of crafting and is an ideal introduction...See more
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Customer avatar
Arthur H June 28, 2022 1:07 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hey we appreciate your feedback and a print friendly version is a great idea. We actually have no idea who Bob Cordery is (though we presume it's a compliment!) We'll sort a print version asap (today likely).

As per the units, we actually paid for the most expensive ones we could afford, the blocks are simple but they serve the purpose perfectly. Regarding the ACW theme, we did purposely keep it basic, we want the game, as you say, to appeal to new gamers and be quick and easy to learn and play. We may add advanced rules in the future but because we put a years work into it (unpaid up until the ks) we simply ran out time, money and energy to add more detail. We did the utmost best we could and we really do appreciate the feedback. As a final note, as per blank pages and not providing terrain, we did consider it but we ran out of money for extra assets, what you get here is the utmost polished version we could afford and we are so glad that what is there appeals, even if what isn't there might seem...See more
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Customer avatar
Arthur H June 28, 2022 6:40 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I just looked up the portable wargame, and yes - It's miraculously like it! What a cool thing. I do enjoy that. We spent a year oblivious of this. That's apretty magical thing. As though the ideas of Bob proliferated through the gamersphere and found it's way to us. Thank you for pointing it out, we shall likely purchase and enjoy a copy!
Customer avatar
Ian W June 25, 2022 9:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
I can't review it yet, but as there's nothing else here while it's on offer, some quick comments.

It would be good to have a 'print' version - this is one of those 'let's make it as expensive to print as possible' production jobs, with 'oh look, aged paper effect' everywhere pushing up your ink / toner use.

Some of the rules are clear and unambiguous.. and then immediately contradicted by the example. E.g. "A unit starting a turn on a road may move one additional square, but [if it does so, it can't attack that turn]". That's clear: you just need to start on a road to get the optional extra movement.

No, says, the example, the piece could move a square because it started "on a road and finished its movement on the same road". That also doesn't say that all the movement has to be on the same road - it would apply to road-field-field-road - but the picture has all the movement on the road. So that's probably the rule. Probably.

It's very much...See more
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Customer avatar
Arthur H June 28, 2022 1:11 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hey, as mentioned above, we will sort a print version today. I am sorry to hear that you think we made it as expensive as possible to spite you! We certainly did not, in fact every choice made is to make the print version of the book as beautiful as possible. As mentioned above it hadn't occurred to us to make a print friendly version so we are very grateful for your feedback and shall sort it.
Very good point about the roads rule! As a team of only two lot's of stuff can get through the cracks and we will add this to an FAQ page that we shall create today. You are correct that a movement on a road must begin and end on a road to get the extra movement and we are so glad that the example image clears that up. Sincerest apologies for the confusion and thank you for the feedback!

Diagonals do not exist! You're very correct. That's a conscious choice. Glad that it is clear! Phew!

As per 8X8 we clearly encourage home brewing and the book very much is a starter or "core"...See more
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This title was added to our catalog on June 07, 2022.