Maquis is a single player worker placement game from Side Room Games. It is set in World War II during the Nazi occupation of France and you play as a member of the resistance. You are part of a small band of freederm fighters working to take down the oppressive yoke of the Nazi regime. The Milice, a military force, have been tasked with policing the streets and fighting the resistance. Howevever, the harder the resistance fight back the stronger with Milice become with soldiers being drafted in to take action.
As a member of the resistance you have 15 days to comeplete two missions before your are discovered. If the missins are completed the resistance win. If the town’s morale drops too low, you run out of time or all members of the resistance are arrested the Nazis have crushed the resistance fighters and you lose.
A single player only worker placement game, there are not many of them about. True, there are many multiplayer worker placement games with solo modes, but Maquis has been designed as a single player only game and herein lies the beauty of the game. The solo mode doesnt feel tacked on like in other worker placement games. The whole game has been developed as a single player only game and it shows.
Maquis is a fantastic game and (in my experience) a hard game to beat. Two missions are randomly selected at the start of the game, which adds replay-ability to each play. The missions are varied and interesting. The rules are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. The Milice partol placement works well with players randomly drawing a card from a deck to determine the location of the Milice and the way this works and progresses to arresting resistance members is elegant in its simplicity.
The game feels like a very hard puzzle. The worker placement is critical to the success/failure of the game. Which is a good thing considering this is a single player worker placement game. You have to use your workers to “block” spaces the Milice could go to ensure you have an escape route for your other workers. But this limits the number of actions you can do per round. In a game where the rounds is the game timer, this makes for some tough choices. It also increase the risk of your resistance members getting arrested.
I am big fan of worker placement, it probably makes up the biggest genre in my collection. Maquis is a brilliant and unique design. The one thing that frustrates me in worker placement games that have a solo mode is that the rules for the multiply game can be vastly different for the solo game to the point of them almost being two different games to learn. Maquis, obviously, does not suffer from this being a single player experience. It doesn’t have a convoluted rule set or automated bots. The rounds are quick and streamlined and the game doesn’t take a long time to play. It is great fun, difficult and a very enjoyable game. If you like worker placement games I suggest you check this out on Kickstarter whilst you can.
Set up is simple enough with two missions being randomly selected, the board laid out and tokens assembled in a supply. You start off with three workers and two more can be hired throughout the game.
The gameplay is also fairly simple to grasp. On your turn you place a worker, then draw a card from the patrol deck to determine the Milice placement. This is repeated until all workers and all Milice (determined by the moral track) are placed.
Then the player can active each worker in turn to gather the appropriate supplies/resources. Each worker must be able to trace a route back to their safe house. If they can’t, due to being blocked by Milice, they are arrested and removed from the game.
The locations allow players to gather resources or trade resources for other resources/benefits. Players can also build additional locations and there are six to chose from. The mission might dictate which locations you need to build as some of the items (like explosives) can only be gained from these additional locations. This adds an additional time burden to the game as you will need several turns to gather the appropriate resources to be able to build a new location before it can be utilised.
Players can also, if they choose, shoot a Milice by discarding a weapon token. This might be needed to clear a safe escape route to a blocked safe house. However, whenever a Milice is killed future Milice placement turns will result in Soldiers being deployed, which can’t be killed making the game that bit harder.
The upkeep phase is straight forward with all the Milice/Soldiers being removed from the board and the day track being increased by one.
Play continues this way until you have completed both your missions at which point you win the game.
If you run out of time, then the Milice discover your plans and the resistance is crushed and you lose. If all your resistance members are arrested you lose the game. If the morale of the town decreases too far, you lose the game.