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Review: March on the Drina

Updated: May 30, 2023

The beginning of the 20th century brought tensions in the Europe. The major European powers were spreading their spheres of influence. The shadow of Europe was felt in every corner of the globe, but it was at home in Europe where things were getting heated. The newly formed Germany (1871) and Italy (1861) formed an alliance with Austro-Hungry their neighbor to the east in 1882. In 1907 the Prussian's old adversary France formed an alliance with England and Russia. June 29th 1914 put fire to the fuse of Europe when Gavrilo Princep (Young Bosnia) pulled the trigger that assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Austro-Hungry declared war on Serbia August 6, 1914. The Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Montenegro joined the German, Italian, and Russian alliance. Then as Germany invaded the neutral Belgium, England declares war on Germany and Russia mobilized its forces then Germany declared war on them. Now we have set the stage for March on the Drina designed by Vukašin Nišavić, Janko Nišavić.

March on the Drina takes place in Serbia and its surrounding countries. Players can choose between Austro-Hungry, Germany, Serbia and Bulgaria to play as. Most of the board is a map of Serbia and the win condition is for either side is to hold all of the cities in Serbia for one turn. Serbia has but one ally (Montenegro) in this match up and they have no forces or money to offer, more of a cheerleader on the sideline.

March on the Drina is an approachable war game. Its more complex than risk but its also not a very complicated game. There units in a space are of one kind with chips to represent the strength and there are no complex special case rules that will get you bogged down in the rule book looking for answers and hiring a rules lawyer. Each side has access to 4 kinds of units infantry, cavalry, artillery and generals. The generals are important to the game as they will allow reinforcements and they all have special abilities to help their side. The war is divided up into 14 rounds and the rounds and conditions for each round are tracked on the desktop calendar that comes with March on the Drina.

March on the Drina has a very simple turn structure. The first thing that happens is the calendar is moved to the next page and the effects are applied. Then each player takes their turn starting with Austro-Hungray then Germany, Serbia, and Bulgaria. When its a players turn they will choose what units to move then move them up to their movement value. Then they will work through each unit that is involved in an battle and resolve each one at a time.

...there are no complex special case rules that will get you bogged down in the rulebook looking for answers and hiring a rules lawyer.

All the units in the game have only a few stats move, attack, range, defense, and price. This is very much in line with a lot of other war games and keeps March on the Drina streamlined and easy to play. When players attack a unit the math is easy, players add the number of tokens on the space, the unit type's defense value, any ongoing effects from the calendar and then finally each player can play a luck card (+0 through +3). For example a unit of Infantry that has 3 tokens will give a player 5 offensive value 3 for the tokens and 2 for the attack value. Then if there are any calendar effects and luck cards are added in for a total. The defensive unit adds up the same way except uses the defense value. The loser loses a token and then retreats one space.

I liked this system and how quickly you could move through the board resolving conflict.

One thing to mention is that the Serbian units can retreat through Albania. The units are then placed in the northern Greece hexes, These units are now super charged. They will have 1 more move than other units and they will be able to press an attack. If the Serbian units that have the Albanian order succeed in an attack they may the unit one more time. This is the only special rule in the game and I think it adds a lot of flavor and can inject more variety in the strategy of the game.

The last part of the game is reinforcing troops. When the calendar says its time to reinforce troops players may then buy more units and stack the tokens up to strength 3 (2 tokens and a standee). In order for a unit to be reinforced they must be in the area of command of the general. I liked the conflict system and how quickly you could move through the board resolving conflict. I thought there was going to be a lot more to this game when it showed up but I was pleasantly surprised that this simple system was in the box.

March on the Drina is a great introductory war game, I enjoyed the focus on a part of the world I am not so familiar with and especially love how quick it was to learn this game. If you are looking to step into war games or want to play one in an evening this is a great option. We had a lot of fun with this one and we will see this hitting the table more often. Check out March on the Drina by Princeps games and distributed bu Giga Mech Games.

Players: 2-5

Year Published: 2019

Recommended Ages: 14+

Time to Play: 120-180

March on the Drina was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games by Giga Mech Games for review purposes.



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