Friedrich is a 3-4 player asymmetric war game based on the seven year war.
In Friedrich, players play as 1 or more countries. These countries (with the exception of Prussia) win by controlling certain key territories. The key territories that are needed for victory are mostly controlled by Prussia at the beginning of the game, so the game effectively becomes Prussia Vs. everyone else. There is a game clock is represented by a deck of cards that is drawn from at the end of each round. These cards can affect the game significantly- to the point of taking out an entire country out of the game (when this happens, players can still control their minor power to attempt victory). Prussia wins once the game clock deck is empty.
Players take turns maneuvering their armies and supply chains. Once every player has moved, the round ends and players are given a number of new cards based on which country they control. These cards are pretty much identical to the cards in a standard 52 card deck, and are used in battle engagements. The suits in this deck correspond to sectors on the map (the map is partitioned by a grid), and the sector that your army is in determines what suit you can play in the case of a battle. In a battle engagement, players first determine the base strength of their army (this is initially secret, and this strength can vary significantly). Then, players take turns adding strength to their army by playing cards from their hand until their strength is greater than the opponent’s. If a player cannot place enough cards to beat their opponent (or does not want to), their army loses units/base strength equal to the difference in strength. Additionally, the army must retreat to a destination chosen by the victor.
None of us had played Friedrich before with the exception of Isaac. Given the difficulty in playing Prussia, we decided to have Isaac play as Prussia for the first few rounds until I felt confident enough to take over. What struck me was how important it was to perform tactical retreats. Even though retreating cost valuable units, it also meant delaying the opponent for a turn. Most importantly, it allowed you to save cards in your hand for later. My inexperience immediately showed once I took over for Isaac and got into a massive war against Russia- depleting all of my spades. This left my armies in spade sectors extremely vulnerable, and had the distribution of cards been slightly different, it could have been disastrous. What I should have done was lose a few units to take a tactical retreat. As it turned out, the very next turn, Russia was eliminated through the game clock, and so I had wasted all those resources for nothing. I really enjoyed Friedrich overall, and found it to be highly strategic despite being very easy to learn.
Have you ever played Friedrich? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!