First Impressions: Sans Allies

Hello faithful readers! Welcome to another review! This weeks game is a solitaire game from Past Go Games, called Sans Allies. I was sent a preview copy to play and give an opinion on, so let’s see what I think shall we.

How It’s Played

This is a solitaire game that sees you drawing your army from a production deck, and using said army to combat against the enemy in their territories in front of you. The territories of the enemy are set up into a pyramid, with the enemy capital at the peak of the pyramid. Your goal is to battle your way through the enemy land, and take down its capital before they complete their ultimate weapon via technology upgrades. The aspects of the game include your technology upgrades, enemy technology upgrades, freeing POW from prison camps, as well as changing of the seasons. You have five types of troops – Personnel, Vehicles, Aircrafts, Ships, and Commanders(Which are played as wild cards)- which you can upgrade once, and will use to overtake territories. An average turn in the game is fairly simple as well. You will draw cards that build up your army, and put them in their reserve columns. These columns are where you organize how many of each troop type you have. From there, you can use the reserves you have to invade territories if you have sufficient troops to do so. If/when you successfully invade, you will roll two dice to find the effects of the invasion. Were you able to get out without losing your units? Are you being forced to retreat? Are you forced to retreat and lose out on more invasions for that turn? If you are successful, you have the option to invade another territory. You can do this as many times as you’d like, until you run out of troops, or are forced to retreat. When you are done, you will check to see if the enemy has upgraded their technology level. The technology level goes up if you don’t out roll the level that the technology is at. Following a research level check for the enemy, you will advance to the next season, giving you an advantage or disadvantage in your invasions (tough to march through snow, easier to march on dry ground in summer). There are also some territories that will have prison camps, and if you complete an invasion on those territories, you will earn an upgrade to a type of troop. You win once you gain control of the capital, and you lose if the enemy completes its research to creating the ultimate weapon.

Pretty Little Bow

This is going to be a fairly short section for Sans Allies. I was sent an unfinished copy of the game, so I have no real quality to give an opinion on. What I can tell you about it though, is that the art will be completed by Justin Lancaster of Studio1126. You can find some examples of his artwork here. Having a look through this, I expect the art in Sans Allies to be beautiful.

What’s Not to Love? 

I had a couple fairly small issues with the game. One of which I believe was just me, but I will mention it anyway, just in case. While I was learning the rules, I found myself somehow skipping over things. I don’t know if I do this a lot, but it was quite noticeable for me in this set of rules. I had to go over the rules at least twice, and was lucky I could clarify with the designer, but something just wouldn’t click in my mind on this one for some reason. Certainly no fault of Past Go Games or Geoffrey Greer (the designer), however, be aware the rules can be daunting. Or maybe it was just me on this one. I’ve never had such an issue with rules as I had with these, so it very well could have been me. The only game play issue I came across was the lack of a reward for clearing an entire row in the enemy territory. It felt to me like a small accomplishment that should be rewarded, however, it isn’t. Keeping in mind I’m not a game designer, I think something along the lines of an extra card drawn, or a token that allows you to add or subtract 1 from a roll would be a wonderful “prize” for clearing a row. I think it will offset the quick end game enemy technology advances, as when the game gets near the end, you’ll get more rows cleared quicker. I’m aware that this is not how the game has been designed, but I’ve got to find something to fill up this section right?

What’d You Think?

This is a game that caught me by surprise. When I agreed to the review, it didn’t register to me that Sans Allies meant “Without Allies” in French. So when I looked at the rules for the first time, I was surprised that it was a solitaire game. It hadn’t even registered to me. Which made me nervous, as until now, i haven’t reviewed a solitaire game. I was pleasantly surprised in playing, and after a few plays, I was anxious to play again. Even I’ve been more or less left for dead in most games, however, I’ve won the game, and it feels amazing. I have held a hard position of not being a backer on Kickstarter, as I don’t want to feel committed to backing all of the Kickstarter games I review. Yes, I am that type of person who wants to do that. However, my wallet, and significant other would kill me in my sleep. So to avoid playing favourites, I’ve held this position. This game however, is one that I will consider changing my opinion for. It has kept me occupied while I’m lacking in other players since I’ve received it. Keep in mind, I am playing with paper cards. That’s how much I want to play this game. The issues I’ve had are things that I think are very small, and you can really feel during game play how thought out the game is. This is a very well put together and thought out game, and suggest everyone take time to at least try it out. Have a great week everyone and remember I love you all!!

 

EDIT: Since writing this, a slight rule change has been implemented to try out. So the version that I have reviewed, may be slightly different than the final version. The rule change makes saving characters slightly more common, but the game play doesn’t change.

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