Mr. Krassner leaves a lot of room for interpretation in his game designs, and Jungle Skirmish works either on a chess board or a hex map. If I can get a game going here on the forum, I plan to make a nice hex map with a river, a road, and mountains. But the first ever game of Jungle Skirmish was played on a chess board, on which the dark spaces represented jungle and the light spaces were fields. Squad movements and action are aided by a unique card set and a six-sided die.
My wife Tara doesn't care for chess, but she likes a lot of games. I was hoping I could get her to like this one, and I think I succeeded. She decided the setting would be East Cambodia, an area of interest in her college studies. The game is set up as government troops vs rebel troops, and since she was a government major and I'm the rebellious type, choosing sides was easy.
In this game a counter represents ten men, and you can choose the type of soldiers to send into battle. You can use greener troops, which allows for more squads but fewer cards to draw each turn, or you can choose highly trained troops, which gives you the opposite. We decided to keep things even this first time and both chose regular troops, allowing four squads and four cards drawn per turn.
We could've used checkers as markers, but since squads lose men when they're attacked, I realized chess pieces would make things a lot easier to keep track of. Tara's very organized, and she actually drew her entire squad on the paper tablecloth in front of her so she could cross them out as they died. A little morbid, but that's ok.
The rules specify that movements must be orthogonal (horizontal or vertical), but they don't say whether attacks can be diagonal. Tara helped me figure out that on a chess board, the best way to determine fire range is by counting orthogonally in two dimensions and then allowing fire in any direction. In other words, if a unit is one space from me diagonally, it's a range of two because you have to count one space up and one space across. That was a big help and turned out to be a good rule. Of course this won't be an issue on a hex map.
The quarters represent the three objectives that both sides want to take and control. Tara and I employed different strategies to achieve the objectives. I bunched my squads together to gain control of the closer objective to my right, intending to sweep to the left and crush her flank. She spread her squads out along her back line.
A coin flip determined that I went first. Each turn is divided into five phases:
- An "orders" phase, in which cards are drawn
- A movement phase, in which each unit gets a free move one space and further moves are allowed by any movement cards in your hand, unless your opponent has a card that negates your move
- A defensive fire phase--your opponent always gets an opportunity to attack you once first using an attack card in her hand, unless you can negate the attack
- An offensive fire phase, in which each of your units can attack your opponent as attack cards are available (if you only have one attack card, only one unit can attack, etc.)
- A "logistics" phase, in which you must whittle your hand down to your favorite three cards
Tara achieved the objective to my left in three turns, and then the firefight began. She took the first casualties when I called in an artillery strike on her Rook Squad. I took out half the squad with that one card. Then we both moved up to the center line and each achieved an objective. The strategy phase of the game was over at this point, much as in a real battle--now it was a race to kill or be killed, all based on luck-of-the-draw and luck-of-the-dice. Tara asked, "Is the only way to get a squad off an objective to kill 'em all?" Gotta love her.
Tara managed to whittle my King Squad down to three men, so I retreated them from the front line so they could use long-range attacks. Those three guys turned out to be very useful, and I managed to knock her Bishop Squad off the center objective. But only seconds later she knocked my Rook Squad off the right objective.
Tara kept getting bad hands with no attack cards, but she kept at it and eventually knocked my Bishop Squad off the center objective.