A review copy of Maquis were provided by Side Room Games. We would like to thank Side Room Games for supporting our blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.
Dear reader, you and I have been through much together. We have battled orcs, been attacked by vicious sea monsters, been to space and back, and countless other adventures. I feel that these perilous journeys have forged a trust between us that cannot be broken. This is why I know I can trust you with this next bit of information. I have recently become the member of a secret band of freedom fighters. We are fighting to free our mother country from the clutches of the Nazi’s. I implore you to read further and to, possibly, join me in this crusade. Dear reader, this may be the last you hear from me, but know, that if it is, that I have done it all for my love of France!
Are you still reading? Good. Then I can tell you more. The time is World War II. The Nazi’s have occupied France and a small Resistance has formed to stamp out the occupiers. The freedom fighters have two missions to accomplish, time is short, and danger is around ever corner. The Maquis are waiting.
Maquis is a solitaire worker placement strategy game, designed by Jake Staines and soon-to-be-published by Side Room Games, the Kickstarter ends on May 5, 2019. Maquis began as a print and play game, earning a 2013 Golden Geek Best Print & Play nomination. The game has a very small footprint, is recommended for ages 12 and up, and plays in about 20 minutes. In Maquis you are the mastermind, placing workers throughout the city, gathering food, intelligence, supplies, and money, in an effort to complete two vital missions. The completion of these missions are the difference between a win for the Resistance or complete annihilation. Let’s take a deeper look into exactly what all this entails.
Set up is quick and effortless, setting up the pieces takes minimal time. The game includes a compact board with various locations of the city gathered around it. Each location is attached to one or more other location by pathways. Most locations allow the player to collect a resource, a visit to the doctor will garner medical supplies, the grocer will provide much needed food, a trip to the radio towers will allow the player to call for an air drop, gaining food, money or weapons. Spare rooms scattered around town will allow the player to pay to upgrade them to other, much needed, spaces, such as a chemist who can make bombs, or an informant that will offer intelligence.
The object of the game, as I mentioned, is to complete both missions. Missions are randomly selected from a mission deck, the prototype I received had 10 missions to chose from, making each game different. The morale of the town also plays a large part of the game, adding more Milice as morale goes down. Morale goes down on certain days as depicted on the day tracker. Morale can also be raised or lowered by certain actions around the town. Trade much needed supplies on the Black Market and morale will drop. Donate supplies to the Poor District and morale will go up. Aside from affecting the morale the day track can also spell doom for the Resistance. If your objectives have not been reached by the 15th day your efforts have been discovered and your uprising has been squashed. You have also failed if all your workers have been if the morale have reached the “fail” space.
Play starts with three workers meeting in the safe house. More workers can be recruited from a nearby cafe, but more workers ultimately means more Milice, and more danger. Each day you will place your workers, one at a time, at different locations, setting your plans in motions. After each worker is placed a card is drawn from a Patrol Deck and a matching Milice is placed on the location shown on the card. If that location is occupied they move to a second location, if that is also occupied they move to a third. If that is also occupied they return to the first and attempt to make an arrest. Should one of your workers have the misfortune of being on one of those spaces they are taken into custody, and never heard from again. After all workers and Milice have been placed the workers must then make the perilous journey back to the safe house. The worker must have a clear route back, without running into a Milice. If such a pathway is not available they are arrested and removed from the game, permanently. Hey, these are Nazi’s we’re talking about, what did you expect? You do have the option of shooting a Milice, and thereby getting away. If you have a weapon you may trade it in to take out the Milice. This action will lower the morale of the town as the Nazi’s now call in a solider to replace the fallen Milice. Soldiers cannot be shot and permanently replace the removed Milice.
The copy of Maquis that I was provided was a prototype, even so was pretty well done. The board, as I mentioned was compact, yet very well laid out and well done. The colors and art was perfect for the theme. The different tokens were easy to distinguish and use. The components were well thought out, from the color of the meeples to the iconography. This was a good prototype, I cannot wait to see what the finished product looks like.
Maquis is a very tense game. I cannot bring to mind another game that has had me biting my nails quite as much as this one has. This particular period of history was fraught with tension and uncertainty, and Maquis does an impressive job of duplicating that feeling. Maquis is a very difficult game to win, and that’s okay. The Patrol Deck contains 10 cards, and should the player feel, they could easily be memorized, stacking this deck in the favor of the player. With each play I felt like I was getting better, as I placed my workers more efficiently, thinking ahead, and making accommodations. In this game, however, most well laid plans go exactly where the old adage suggests. Many of my games have ended with a well thought out plan that was blown to pieces by taking too big of a risk, or not enough. A poorly timed Patrol card can mean the end of the game quickly. Maquis forces the player to find the right, delicate balance of risk and safe. This balance is not often found, but when it is, it is most satisfying.
Maquis is, as of this posting, on Kickstarter, and is a game that I highly recommend. If you are looking for a solo game that has lots of replayabilty, this game is for you. If you are looking for a game that plays as a tense puzzle, this game is for you. If you are looking for a game that packs a lot of game into a short time, this game is for you. If you are looking for a fun, thinky, thematic experience, this game is for you. Maquis deserves a place on my shelf, and I think it might on yours too!