So 1066, Tears to Many Mothers, from designer Tristan Hall, was a game that definitely caught my eye.
The game name comes from a quote apparently, at least as referenced in the rulebook, which I must say I found interesting in and of itself.
“You’ve come, have you? …You’ve come, you source of tears to many mothers, you evil. I hate you! It is long since I saw you; but as I see you now you are much more terrible, for I see you brandishing the downfall of my country. I hate you!” – Eilmer of Malmesbury on Halley’s Comet, De Gestis Regum Anglorum.
So as you have likely already garnered this is a game recreating one of the more storied battles in history.
1066, Tears to Many Mothers retells the story of Duke William, King Harold, and the infamous Battle of Hastings.
The winner will be the first player to:
*Destroy two Wedges of enemy troops at the Battle of Hastings, or
*Destroy their opponent’s Leader, or
*Have their opponent run out of cards in their card deck.
So starting with the positive, the art here is excellent. You get a good feel for the period, the key figures and the ‘grunt’ troop types, all well rendered on the cards.
The gameplay is a tad tedious early on in this card game.
“Each player has their own Objective deck, which is placed in the same set order each game. The players race to defeat each of the Objectives in their deck, in alphabetical order, to reach their final Objective card – the Battle of Hastings. Once that’s revealed, they can begin dealing damage to wedges of enemy troops (represented by Wedge cards) to try and win the game,” explains the rules.
That you repeat the same process each game in what is essentially a troop build-up phase detracts from the game. As a variant, they say you can shuffle the objective deck but there is not enough that a shuffle will change things a great deal.
While going through the objectives has a troop build-up purpose and reflects some history, it by far the weakest aspect of gameplay. That said if you aren’t matching your opponent step-for-step in achieving objectives in the two-player game you can be disastrously behind as you get to the meat of the game.
Once you do progress into head-to-head play trying to capture ‘wedges’ the game picks up a smidge, but sadly not as much as hoped.
You draw only two cards a turn, and to play a card you must use resources, which are generated in one of two ways, using a card with a specific feature already in play, or by discarding cards in your hand. Since some cards cost fie resources to play, and you draw only two each turn, there is a snail’s pace here. I will grant that probably mimics war with foot soldiers but it fails to excite here.
The mechanic also means a player edging ahead early stays ahead most times since resources to mount a comeback are in short supply. Again that may be historically accurate, but not fun.
As a tool to learn about the battle, to get a feel for the era, 1066 is a winner.
It is far less so as a game, at least for this reviewer.
Check it out at hallornothingproductions.co.uk
Thanks to fellow gamer Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.