After getting the Successors 4th edition by Phalanx during the holiday season it took me some time to bring it to the table as my boardgames friends were still away on vacations. But once they were back, we started to organize – almost every week – live session to test the game. The initial attempt was planned for a two-player game so I and one of my wargaming buddies – Kuba – decided to vie for the control of the large, post-Alexander empire!
So let me now move to the historical background of the Successors, game mechanics and my initial session report. Enjoy!
When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, he left no clear heir to the immense empire he had conquered. It was not long after his death that the Macedonian generals began to war amongst themselves over who would be either regent or most legitimate defender of Alexander’s empire. By 305 BC, they had given up on that endeavor and began to carve out their own kingdoms.
Those were one of the most fascinating and interesting times in Ancient history, to great extent obscured by the conquests of Alexander the Great. The forces which clashed here were of the superb quality and enormous quantity, utilizing combined arms concepts of Macedonian armies. These were one of the most close and large engagements of antiquity and I dare to say that in scale overshadowing everything before Roman empire.
The Game, components & rules explanation
Successors 4th edition is a 2-5 player card-driven wargame based on those conflicts. Each player controls a faction of two or more generals and attempts to win the game either by achieving legitimacy with the Macedonian royalty or by conquering and maintaining control of the empire. Initially, Successors were first published in 1997 by Avalon Hill. Some years later a second edition rulebook was issued that gave more options for the Tyche cards. Then Successors III, built on the foundation of the Successors II rules set plus expansion cards, appeared in the Boardgamer. And today we have already the 4th version!
Let us be clear – the new, refreshed version of the game is simply beautiful. We got sturdy mounted map, we can use miniatures – which once painted, looks gorgeous. For the ones of you who prefer less fancy but easier to play chits – this option is also available. You can see more in above video.
The rulebook is very detailed and sometimes overwhelming, so the author suggest starting with the example of play. In below video I am presenting the base game mechanics as well as couple of turns in a typical 3 player game:
Of course the Fourth edition brings the updates to the game. It includes more generals, more scenarios, new Tyche cards, plenty of new components, and a changed map, with Libya and Cyrene being merged. All in all, a feast for eyes!
But let us see now how the game plays. Here couple of words about variable set-up in Successors. There are like 8 starting generals – the number updated in case of 3 or 5 players – which at the beginning of the game are shuffled and distributed to the players. They have of course the same starting forces, legitimacy and prestige. But you never know which two (in 4 and 5 player scenarios), three (in 3 player game) or four (in 1 on 1 game) you will get. That creates a great dynamic and replayability but you should be cautious (home rule!) not to allow one player to lead both Macedonia and Babylonia.
PS. You can click every picture below to open an enlarged version.
That was an interesting game and very exciting session, with both of us learning the rules in the process. It is a pity the initial set-up put us in such cohesive and condensated positions, West facing East. Still, we managed to get the best of it! All the cards were pretty new to us so discovering what is possible was a great experience. One thing we decided upon was that the game is worth checking with definitely more players – what we did a week later, but this is story for another article.
Let me now share my initial impressions of the game:
- It is very thematic game – I love the period of Successors and being able to replay those events is great fun
- We get a very scalable game with various set-ups: the full scenario can be played form 2 to 5 players. But there are also dedicated scenarios, with pre-defined army dispositions and conditions, also to be played from 2 to 5 players. All in all, there is many ways to play this title, depending how many colleagues you have for the session and which type of play do you prefer (longer or shorter)
- Great quality components – the game is very nicely produced, with miniatures, beautiful map, large cards and great Rulebook. It is a pleasure to play the fourth edition.
- Existence of optional rules – as always, such things spice-up the game. There are minor tweaks – like some variability in general’s characteristics or how Royal Army behaves; and there are larger ones, like additional generals or Heirs rules.
I am really happy I finally brought that game to the table. The story told by this position is fantastic, the new edition bringing a lot of additional concepts but retaining what was best in the previous editions. Two-player version is nice, but we really need to try it with 4-5 players when the true beauty of the multi-factions conflict will be visible.