Here we go !
This game is like a bear hug, a crushing prospect when first feeling is that of being -“what did I got myself into this time!!!
The rule book relies heavily on the wargamer literacy and intelligence. It comes in two flavours, french and english, so take your pick and even cross read where needed IF you happen to read both languages ( I do ) and gain some clarifications where the English translation is not perfect.
I must say there’s no instance where the rules cannot be understood except there are not illustrations and it is laid out in a format that I consider the most adequate and runs through the entire sequence and sub systems without jumping all around the possibilities and exceptions.
Where needed the author introduces snippets of information about the rules, be it a historical interpretation or a specific condition that confers exception to the rule.
Les Guerres du Roi Soleil is a strategic planning wargame designed by Philippe Hardy and published by Vae Victis.
Other designs by the same author include my own favourite Wars of Religion series – By Shot, Shock and Faith, and Fate of Reiters.
With so many concepts it is imperative that some time is spent just setting up the scenarios and resetting until all the interface elements are familiar. Philippe, as with the Wars of Religion series, populates the rules with proper historical justification for design choices.
One of the aspects that struck me most is the usage of Resources to conduct actions and having to plan the Strategies throughout the campaign season. This requires proper commitment to a course of action and bad planning has severe costs as supplies are not infinite and those same pooled Resources have to be available for all types of actions and not only Military but also on the Diplomacy side, Initiative, and several other aspects concerning the conduction of the conflicts.
How the resources are used will determine the end of a sequence, which is a string of the Strategies applied by both sides, France and the Alliance. There’s no stone carved fixed phases where both players always guaranteed to act.
I am usually not attracted to strategic/operational level wargames, usually being more akin to the ground level and the troops faces.
This one caught me with the focus on what matters – to actually plan the campaigns and the diplomatic and economic fallout – and being developed through, rather than being a glorified “Risk”.
This is a game that costs a quarter that of the “best” games.
Is truly a lesson on – less is definitely way more – and while it doesn’t have a box and lid, nor mounted map, every single counter has individual art. ( except for generic generals, artillery and fortresses, and region control markers ).
So far I’ve been able to sit through setting up the introductory scenario – covers only two years, 1667 and 1668 – placing all the elements, understanding the synergy between the usage of resources in the field, the diplomatic station, movement of armies, different costs of actions and so much more.
I then played a phase and reset. Setup all again, each time becoming more familiar. Then do another phase. Rinse and repeat.
It is not a fast food game. Is an investment in the time period and lets the players into the halls of the Sun King and the military campaigns and diplomatic knife fights, as one.
Les Guerres du Roi Soleil is available directly from Vae Victis and on most continental Europe wargames stores. Unless the situation has changed, GMT Games distributes Vae Victis in continental North America.