Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Ren Multamäki

Dragon Dawn Production

No. of Players:
2 or 4



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Verdun - one of the darkest chapters in Franco-German history. One of the bloodiest and most senseless battles of the First World War. And now a game about it? A card game? Can you do that?

My first reaction to the prototype I got in my hand was scepticism. But I've known Ren Multamäki, the author and publisher of the game, for quite a while now. And I also know that he is a history enthusiast and often turns history into an experience in his games. An experience that leads to thoughts, research and reflection. Tolerance is one such example, in which the historical illustrations on the cards alone encourage players to learn more about the history. Soberly and impartially.

I also know that Ren likes to play with the trick mechanism, using it to manipulate results or even move pieces on a board. Sometimes this results in quite complex, challenging games (Tolerance), sometimes in simpler, easy-to-learn trick-taking games (White Hat, Justice), but always with that certain something special.


And now Verdun. Here, too, we find many original illustrations on the cards, original advertising posters from the two opposing camps and newspaper cuttings from the Daily Express. That alone is enough to inspire you to do some research after playing.

The game itself is about attacking each other's enemy camps, which are secured by fortifications of varying strength. To do this, you first form two camps: either you play with two players, with one player taking on the French and the other the Germans, or you play in pairs, with the two players taking the same faction sitting opposite each other at the table.

The playing cards are then shuffled and dealt. The cards represent troops of different strengths from both factions. This means that all players receive cards of both German and French units. One after the other, each player is the starting player and chooses an opposing camp to attack. The player then begins the turn with a card of their choice. In turn order, each other player plays a card in this trick and then it is scored.


The most important rule: every card from both your own faction and the opposing faction can be played at any time, so there are no playing colours or trump cards as you are normally used to in trick-taking games. You are also not forced to play your own faction, indeed you cannot play it all the time, as you also have cards from the other nation in your hand.

At the end of a trick, the sums of the two factions are determined from the cards played. If, for example, cards worth 4, 5 and 7 were played in favour of France next to a German card worth 10, then the result is that France has the upper hand with 16:10. However, this does not mean that the attacked German camp has been stormed, as the fortification value of the camp is added to the German result. And if this value was a 7...

Storming the camp is therefore an objective, but by no means always the most important one: both parties lose soldiers after a battle, the winning faction in the form of the lowest card, the losing faction the highest card played. These cards then count negative points at the end of the game, as many as there are skulls drawn on the cards.


And so the aim of the tricks is also to put as many of these skulls on your opponent as possible. Sounds simple? But it's not! There are a few special cards, such as the General, which can be played as a value 1 or a value 14. Or the Spy, which copies the rank of the last card played.

In addition, the player who has played the highest card after discarding the losses wins a tactic card, which can be used to influence the result of the tricks. Artillery, for example, is particularly common here, as it adds all the cards played to the casualty pile. Woe betide you if there are only cards from one faction in the trick...

At the end of the game, the final score is calculated: victory points gained by storming the camps minus the loss points from the skulls on the casualties. And in many cases, this results in total in minus points on both sides.

Losers on both sides, just like in the historical event. You can see that here, too, the author has thought about how the game can inspire reflection. Verdun is by no means heroic, on the contrary: the sober, clever game mechanics paired with the original graphics make it easy to empathise with the hopelessness on both sides of the enemy trenches.


I understand if players hesitate to play a game with such a theme because they would rather play a fun, entertaining game with a cheerful them. Personally, however, I really enjoyed the game. It is easy to play, still you must play tactical to win. And it got me thinking and researching.

For anyone interested, the Kickstarter campaign starts in July 2024. It can be found at: Kickstarter Campaign

The prototype I played was already very sophisticated, but I think some minor changes are still being made to the rules.

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