WHEN IT COMES TO THE HISTORY OF CARD DRIVEN GAMES (CDG), Ted Raicer’s Paths of Glory: The First World War, 1914-1918 (GMT Games, 1999+) is one of the grandfathers of the hobby. The game has gone thru many iterations, the most recent being the Deluxe Edition currently on sale. My copy is an original 1999 version. Although I know the game has been updated, my copy is good enough to get the experience. As another day of Coronapocalypse passes, so does another wargame land on my gaming table. So it came that Paths of Glory landed for play. There are surely folks out there that will claim the early versions of Paths of Glory are broken. After all, the game has undergone multiple revisions up to today. Although my copy is the first version it still delivers a very engaging game experience.
My original intention was to play with with RockyMountainNavy Jr. as he is working on a First World War segment in school. Unfortunately, I chose to put Paths of Glory on the table the same day his distance learning classes began. So he was busy and I ended up playing a modified solo game by myself. Playing a CDG solo is possible (there are variants available on BGG) but in the interest of time I played my usual “schizoid solo” where I switch between sides.
My plan was to play just the Introductory Scenario with RMN Jr but when I instead found myself and my arch-nemesis, Mr. Solo, on opposite sides of the table I extended the game to continue through the Limited War Scenario. I really wanted to keep going but decided to end the game at the transition to Total War. At this point the Central Powers almost had the Victory but was one VP shy at 16 which forced a Draw.
I really enjoyed the game and was reminded that a wargame does not always mean you need to fight. This is most apparent when the War Commitment Level is at Mobilization. The challenge in the first portion of the game is to balance a need to mobilize (build forces that can enter the war later) against an urge to strike quickly. In my game, the Central Powers struck quickly whereas I adopted a ‘hold and build” strategy for the Allies. Of course, the many Mandated Offenses interfered with both sides by either dictating an offense when it was not desired, or an offense on a front that was not ready for it. Such is the learning potential of the game; Paths of Glory is not a game recreating World War I, it is a game that shows what World War I could of been. The historical result is but one possibility.
I still hope to sit down with RMN Jr. and play the Introductory Scenario. I think it will give him a taste of the situation in August 1914 and give him more insight into what the leaders of the day faced. Paths of Glory is not a perfect model, but it is certainly good enough.