If you are looking for a dynamic war-themed 2 player game, Clash of the Ardennes might be just for you! Clash of the Ardennes is designed by Elwin Klappe and currently on Kickstarter. Game designer Elwin Klappe kindly borrowed us a demo version of the game.
In Clash of the Ardennes, you take command of a group of American or German units. Your aim is to conquer streets on your opponent’s side of the table as indicated on your secret objective card. First one to reach his/her secret objective wins the game.
Each player starts the game with infantry, tanks, anti-tank mines and some special units. You have 4 actions points per turn and placing a unit on the board costs 1 action point. Players will place these units in line in one of the 7 different streets. Units cover a different length, mines cover 1 space, infantry 2 spaces, tanks 3 different spaces. So, tank can move faster (cover more ground) then mines. That makes sense!
At some points units will clash in the middle where victory is determined by a simple rock-paper-scissors mechanism. Mines beat Tank, Tank beats infantry, infantry beats anti-tank mine. A victorious unit will beat all the units of that kind in the same row. For example, if your opponent has 3 mines in a row, they will all be removed when they meet your infantry. So, you must make sure you have a variety of units in your lines to avoid a quick collapse.
This creates an interesting mechanism where timing is critical. You must evaluate the construction of your opponent lines and make sure you can play the right units to beat his/her defence. As you can place 4 pieces on the board per turn, you can swiftly advance if you can place the right fitting pieces.
A good fit is important in this game. For example, if the leading unit of you opponent is Infantry and there is only one place between them and you leading unit, you are stuck. The only unit that fits is a mine, but that would immediately be defeated. The good news, for 2 action points, you can also pull your leading unit from the board. For 1 action point you can then bring in another unit, for example a tank. At this point, Clash of the Ardennes turns into an interesting puzzle where you can think many turns ahead.
The box says the game takes about 1 h, but most games end quite a bit quicker. The game does not have a fixed number of round and playing time can vary widely. Defeated units are moved back to your supply and can easily be brough back in the game. So, in theory the game could last for an eternity.
Depending on the objectives and play style the game can feel a bit unbalanced with a strong first player advantages. If your objective is to conquer 2 streets, and you are the starting player, you can place a tank and an infantry in those two streets. Your opponent is forced to respond. If (s)he does not build defence in those lines, you can already reach the other side (take that street) in your next turn on one of those lines using your special “General” card.
Nonetheless, we had a good time playing Clash of the Ardennes. The combat reminded us a bit of Stratego. The game is dynamic with lines moving back and forth quickly. The game looks great and is made of laser-cut wooden pieces. Also, the artwork looks amazing. So, if you are looking for a dynamic war-themed 2 player game with, Clash of the Ardennes might be just for you!