The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Quartermaster General

I have no idea who thought a six player card-based WWII that plays in 60 minutes would be a good idea, but it is. Apart from the slightly persnickety naval supply rule, QG is simplicity itself.

  • Play a card, resolve it
  • You check supply
  • You score 2 VP per supply center you control

20 rounds and done, with two sudden death conditions.

Most turns resolve in seconds. Each player has 7-11 units, one unit per space max (allies can coexist). Most cards just build a unit or fight, but there are also economic warfare (discard some opponents cards), one shot events, status cards (modifiers that apply for the rest of the game) and response cards (face down events that you can play when the conditions are met).

Strategy in the game is based on supply and tempo. Playing a great status card (that may, for example, let you attack then build) grants you 2 tempo a turn, but taking that one turn to play it (and do nothing else) may mean surrendering the initiative. You only have a limited number of cards, and a limited number of each card, in a deck. So if you’ve discarded all your build army cards, that’s it.

Each countries deck feels amazingly different. Russia can build, and build, and build, and defend. As Russia in one game I was eliminated off the board on turn 4 (due to playing a status on turn one instead of building an army), and played Status, Status, Response and then the “Russian Winter” event. And I’m back in it. Getting beat up and recovering is Russia’s thing.

The US is about Economic warfare. Germany’s blitzkrieg can roll across the board. Japan’s response lets it effectively “bank” turns and unleash hell at one point.

And then there’s the opening — you draw ten cards and discard three. Pretty much every event, status and response is unique, but you dare not discard too many build/fight cards. You can’t necessarily determine a strategy based on your opening hand, but you can cut several off by discarding. You never reshuffle your deck, so cards you discard are gone. It’s agonizing. And the play, for all it’s simplicity, surprised me each game.

Our first game seemed like a foregone conclusion … the Axis rolled too many VPs for too long, but Russia had a status that let them attack twice (with a card, of course). Italy had been bombed out of the game (no cards left, still scoring points but had to pass) and Russia attacked Rome and Berlin, then the US played a mass transport to invade as the final play of the game … and occupying two enemy capitals is a victory condition. Allied Victory.

There may be balance issues, there’s definitely a lot of variability. One official variant (that we didn’t know about) lets each player discard four cards to grab one. Painful, but that does mean you can always get a critical card. In our sessions, the variability hid balance issues. In one game the UK did nothing and the Axis ran away with VP (but lost) and the next game the UK played a card to build in India, then Australia, and racked up VP and the allies ran away with the score (and won). One game Japan ended fully expanded, other games Tokyo fell with several turns remaining.

I suspect that how Italy & UK (the “Minor” part of each alliance) plays will really swing the game. They have many more options than the main players). I also think that the economic warfare system, while it works, is somewhat boring. But on the whole, missing your last turn isn’t bad when the last turn takes 3 minutes total.

QG also plays with 2-5, but why? This is a team game, being able to see two decks of cards would slow things down and give you too much information. As a six player game, Quartermaster general delights. Fast play, six radically different positions, teamworks without one player being able to bulldoze his allies. Lovely.

Rating — Suggest

And as much as I love QG, I suspect there’s an even better game where you just Draw X, Play Y, discard the rest, repeat using the same basic system.



Written by taogaming

April 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Reviews

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3 Responses

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  1. The biggest testimony to Quartermaster General’s quality is that it got me to play a wargame…and enjoy it! Shall we play again next year?


    April 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm

  2. Ordered! …along with the pending expansion.

    Benjamin Kindt

    April 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm

  3. […] already reviewed the two best games of the Gathering (Baseball Highlights 2045 and Quartermaster General), but I did play other new games, and they are worth a few […]

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