Game Review: Act of Aggression


Game Review: Act of Aggression

PLAYERS: 2 – 6

CATEGORY: Strategy, Territorial Control

Act of Aggression is Patented and Copyright to Aaron Ball. Any use of these ideas or this system is to be obtained from him in all cases.

Tonight I give you the first ever look at a new game that has just been published for general perusal (as part of the patenting process), called Act of Aggression. We have been play testing Act of Aggression for several years now so I an extremely excited to be bringing you this review.

Act of Aggression (AoA) (or simply FOff as it is more affectionately known, as will be made known later), is a multiplayer board game for 2 – 6 players. A strategy game, it concerns itself with territorial control, often gained by instigating combat with your enemies (and every now and then diplomacy with your ‘friends’).

Players roll off to decide who starts. Player 1 is the winner of the roll off. Play proceeds clockwise from player 1. Each game lasts a set number of turns (we have found 20 turns to be a good size gamed for 4 or 5 people) with the turn counter advancing one each time it comes around to Player 1’s turn again.

Each turn players can use the cities, airfields and ports they build or occupy to generate income. This income is then used to recruit or replenish their armies, air forces and navies. This in turn allows their countries to expand and feeds the fuels of war.

In a novel idea, the game board is one of an ever changing layout. The board itself consists of hex tiles. The center hex is randomly drawn and placed. Players then take turns placing 1 tile, starting from player 1. Tiles must fit into the map built so far, with rules guiding how map tiles should be placed.

An example of early game Act of Aggression. Players have begun to spread out taking what land lies close to their starting cities.
Board set up is clearly shown. The center hex is placed first and then hexes are placed adjacent to the center hex (in a legal position) creating a unique board for every game.

Unit types are Troops, Artillery, Boats (built in Port tiles) and Planes (built on Airfield tiles). These are purchased by spending money. Money is generated by City, Port and Airfield tiles.

A set of unit tokens for the Blue Team in Act of Aggression.
Plane, Artillery and Boat tokens can be seen along with the solid blue, stacked Troop tokens. Behind them, the tan coloured tokens are money.

There is a set number of units per player. There is also a set number of City, Port and Airfield tiles, placed into a central pool for all players to use. Money also has a fixed limit, available in a central pool, placing an important limit to being able to stockpile.

Each Unit type has a set amount of Movement (how many tiles it can move a turn), and a set Range (how far it can shoot). The basic Troop has a Move of 1 and a Range of 0, forcing Troops into their opponents squares to initiate combat. The mighty Artillery also has a move of 1 but a Range of 2 tiles, excellent for long range mass destruction. Each piece can also only take 1 point of damage before it is destroyed.

The Red Player starting area.
Expansion has already taken place as the Red Player already has 2 Cities and an Airfield tucked behind some mountain and Forest tiles (for protection).
An encounter with Blue is likely to take place in the near future.

Each players turn consists basically of the following steps:

1. MOVING

Each unit can move up to its movement value. Movement is from the current tile to an adjacent tile. Units can not move into Mountain or Forrest tiles unless a road is built into those tiles first.

This is a very tactical step as it helps set up battles, long range shots and the required territory control needed for winning the game.

2. BATTLES

Any tile that contains Units from 2 or more opposing factions initiates a Battle. There is a combat resolution sequence with the winner removing all the losers pieces but also losing 1/2 of their own units in the process of the battle – such is the price of war.

3. SHOOTING

This is the phase of the Big Guns! Any non troop piece which is able to shoot now shoots up to a maximum of its range, potentially inflicting many units worth of casualties.

4. PURCHASE

This is the  phase where Units, Roads or Territory Pieces (City, Port, Airfield) are bought. Each one contributes to the conquest effort in different ways (Ports allow boats, Airfields allow planes etc). Each controlled Piece also contributes a number of points towards ultimate victory

5. INCOME

Each City, Port or Airfield tile that is populated by the current player generates income, ready to use in the next player turn. Towards the end of the game, canny players can assert great influence over the remaining cash reserves of the game.

Play proceeds in this fashion, from player to player until the end of final game turn is reached. At that stage each hex of land and each controlled Territory piece contributes victory points to its owner. The person with the most points is the winner.

The Blue Player could be making what is to be considered an Act of Aggression towards the Red Player.
Blue forces are in place to initiate battles with the Red Player troops and bombard at long range in the Shooting Phase with their Artillery and Boats.
Reserves are being brought into the city to help defend it.

OPINIONS / SUMMARY

An easy rule set with some elegant rules, this makes for an excellent beer and pizza game. Be warned however, there is a lot more depth to the rules than first appears. There is a need to plan ahead for your victory and not everyone will remain your friend for the length of the game.

The game lends itself very well to plotting, scheming and backstabbing. As land control is the name of the game you need to forge your alliances well, and break them at the most opportune moment. This lends itself even better to causing your allies enemies unprepared  Acts of Aggression, leading to many a shout of ‘FUCK OFF!!’, where from abbreviating said yells, lies the source of the affectionate naming of the game ‘FOff!!’

Of note, while there are often many battles to be had, resulting in lots of casualties. The game is designed so that complete player elimination is extremely hard (but possible)

Overall, easy, fun with some brain straining last turns as the race is on to grab the remaining land on the board and bribes fly aplenty to keep alliances from breaking.

Blue Player spreads their force across the straights.
Green player lies in wait.

An example of late game Act of Aggression.
Red Forces have won victories over the Blue Player but not enough to capture their city, with Artillery poised to punish Black Player if they push to far South.
Black Player has made a large land grab in the closing turns, sitting in a good position for close of game.
Blue player has taken punishment from Red and Green player, on both sides of the straight, only just holding on.
Green Player has worked on infrastructure in an attempt to reach normally inaccessible territories.

As the battles heat up and land becomes scarce, the cries of “Fuck OFF!!” become louder and more frequent.

Late game Green Player, battered by Black Player forces.

A game of Act of Aggression in action.

Black Player forces during late game.
Black Player eventually went on to win the game.

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