Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Escape From Colditz Deluxe Edition 75th Anniversary from Osprey Games unboxing and review

First released in 1973, and featuring a "controversial Swastika on the box, which was replaced in later printings by an eagle, Escape from Colditz was one of those games that worked its way into the nations psyche, and a huge amount of homes had a copy back in the day.  We certainly did, and i have fond memories of playing it as youngling with my grandparents.  Im not sure i ever  fully understood what i needed to do, but i loved history watched old war films so i was in on the theme, plus i got to roll dice (my grandad always helped me as my Nan was always the German prison guards).

When a game has been around that long, and fondly looked back on , it certainly has nostalgia appeal, and honestly was quite ahead of its time for mechanics in board games, in an era where monopoly was king by provided a cooperative experience as prisoners against the guards, and far more options and mechanics than typically found in a boardgame of the time.

Osprey Games are now bringing it back to life with a Deluxe addition, less of a remake more a loving tribute, with new rules, that keep the spirit of the original, but are tweaked and cleaner, and it also includes the original ruleset, so its almost 2 games for one!

Colditz Castle - World War II.
An impregnable fortress. An inescapable prison. Until now.
Designed by Major Pat Reid, one of only a handful of prisoners-of-war to escape Colditz Castle, and screenwriter Brian Degas, Escape From Colditz is the iconic game of careful planning and nerves of steel.

Become Allied escape officers - assemble your equipment, plot your escape routes, and coordinate your efforts to avoid the guards. Become the German security officer - maintain control through guile, ruthlessness, and careful observation despite limited numbers.

This deluxe edition of the classic game for 2 to 6 players includes both original and updated rules, new hand-painted artwork, an oversized board, 56 wooden playing pieces, 100 fully illustrated cards, a 32-page history book, and unique replicas of artifacts from the prison.
Seventy-five years ago, Major Reid braved barbed wire, searchlights, and armed guards to Escape from Colditz. Now it's your turn to do the same.

Devised by Major Reid, and Brian Degas. The Artwork is by the fantastic Peter Dennis, who i am sure you will be familiar with from the beautiful Osprey books, and Bolt Action.

Major Pat Reid, OBE, was a British Army officer and prisoner of war during World War II. Held in the infamous Colditz Castle, a Nazi prison designated for troublesome enemy combatants, he is one of the few prisoners who managed to escape. He is also the author of two books about his experience in Colditz, The Colditz Story and Latter Days at Colditz, which form the basis for the prison's lasting appeal in popular culture.Brian Degas is a script writer and producer, best known for his work on Barbarella, Danger: Diabolik, and the BBC's iconic Colditz series. A close friend of Pat Reid, they worked closely together to create recreate the tension and daring of Major Reid's escape, making Escape from Colditz a household name.Peter Dennis was born in 1950. Inspired by contemporary magazines such as Look and Learn he studied illustration at Liverpool Art College. Peter has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects, including many Osprey titles. A keen wargamer and modelmaker, he is based in Nottinghamshire, UK. 

The Box is stunning, with great Art on it, though different to the original `73 edition, it certainly captures the same spirit with the menacing Colditz Castle in the background.  The box itself is really high quality, the card feels strong and smooth, its certainly a well made item and with care will last in your collection as its nice and thick unlike the very thin original 70s version.
On the back you get some nice images of the contents and the normal explanation of the game.  It says 2-6 players which is accurate and ages 14 plus, which in this case i do agree with, as its more complex then i recall it being (though i had a load of help with it)  Play time as 9-=150 minutes, again pretty much bang for that, its not a quick game, its certainly one you need a whole evening or afternoon to get full enjoyment out of.

So lets pop this open... and take a look at what we get........




The first thing that greets us in this lovely gold printing on the bottom of the board, and its a big board..........
As you can see! this is a table filler, but is faithful in design to the original, with the layout of the prison and the hexs for movement.

You get two books, one rule book with the updated and original rules in it, and one a pure history book.
The inside of the box has more history and i love the way the internal boxes are made to look like period pieces, with the dice and meeple containter a replica red cross box.
In a really nice little feature, if you lift out the gaame insert box, which hardly anyone would do, under it you find a copy of the hand drawn map of the castle.  A lovely hidden touch....
You also get some rather nice replicas of period pieces, posters displayed in the prison, and mail home.
All the pawns are wood (I believe) and some nice dice all come stored in a box, nice and easy for getting out and putting away, and keeping with the look of the original game.

Some more replica pieces are hidden in the card boxes.
Some examples of the some of the cards in the opportunity deck.  These can be played to give you an advantage, or collected to form your escape kit you need to help you get out and win.
The Security deck provids the guards with actions they can use to help stop the prisoners escaping.  all the cards of both decks are excellent
The Histroy book is full of more great artwork from Peter Dennis,and photographs, and gives an informative and entertaining (certainly for me) background on the subject, and since its coming from Osprey who are masters of history books, you know it will be good.  This is not a must read if you just want to play the game, and is not actually needed to play it, but it really adds to the overall product, and its worth reading it to get an idea of what the real guys had to do, and why you would be collecting some things for your escape kit.

When you look at the components in the rulebook you get a whole load of goodies for the game, and the new rules, and original rules too.  Its clearly laid out, and easy to follow, and certainly a much easier format to read and digest then the original 70s version
The introduction here is well worth reading, it really shows the care and love that Osprey put into this project, saying its a remastering not a remake, like your favourite DVD just tweaked for Blu ray almost.  The Rules books is rule colour, its truly lovely, and on and nice quality non glossy paper with some really helpful guides in it.

The game also includes the original rules....

From two to six players may take part in the game, one of which must always be the Germans; the others choose to be one of five nationalities (Allies) represented by different coloured playing pieces:
German guards:
  • Black
Prisoners:
  • Red: British
  • Blue: American
  • Brown: French
  • Orange: Dutch
  • Green: Polish
The number of playing pieces used for German Guards and Prisoners varies according to the number of players participating in the game:
  • 2 players: 8 prisoners plus 6 guards
  • 3 players: 7 prisoners for each allied nationality plus 12 guards
  • 4 players: 6 prisoners for each allied nationality plus 14 guards
  • 5 players: 5 prisoners for each allied nationality plus 15 guards
  • 6 players: 4 prisoners for each allied nationality plus 16 guards
Historically, during the war, the guards were always outnumbered by the prisoners, and there were no American POWs until very late in the war. The order of movement begins with the player to the German player's left and proceeds clockwise about the table. The Germans always move last in the sequence. Once one round is over, play repeats at the German player's left and continues until the game is over.

The playing pieces are moved by the score on the throw of two dice. Doubles allow the player to an additional throw. No player is required to use any or all moves and the movement allowance can be split between two or more of his pieces. They cannot be saved for later turns or transferred to other players.

In order to escape, each prisoner must first obtain an "escape kit", composed of food, disguise, compass and forged papers by visiting various rooms in the castle or by using 'Opportunity Cards'. Once collected, this kit is not lost or expended.

Other equipment or materials must also be obtained in order for a player to make a successful escape attempt: wire cutters; lengths of rope; forged passes; and keys. These are gained, like the escape kit, by visiting rooms or using Opportunity Cards. Unlike the escape kit, these cards can be confiscated at certain times by the German player and once used are expended and placed back in the pile.
Opportunity cards (taken from a shuffled pile) are gained on a roll of 3, 7 or 11 (not counting rerolls due to double throws). These present the player with additional opportunities for escape. Some cards allow 'free' equipment to be gained (without visiting the rooms required). Additional cards allow players to use one of the three tunnels shown on the map, hide escape equipment to avoid confiscation, steal the Staff Car, move to safe hideaways, escape solitary or avoid being shot during an escape attempt. Players may keep their opportunity cards secret or secretly show each other their hands in order to assist each other's escapes.

On the German player's turn, a 3, 7, or 11 results in that player taking a 'Security Card' rather than an Opportunity Card. These allow the German player to undertake counter-escape actions, such as 'Shoot to Kill', 'Detect Tunnel', call an 'Appell' (a counting parade forcing all pieces back to starting positions), or perform searches.

Once used, Security and Opportunity Cards are discarded.
Playing pieces caught while escaping, in possession or equipment or found in unauthorized parts or the castle can be put in solitary (a series of rooms on the board) for a few turns to temporarily reduce the number of pieces available to the player. Pieces shot while attempting to escape are removed permanently.

The game is given a time limit or a target of escaped prisoners (usually the first to two) with the objective of the player operating the guards being to limit or stop the escape attempts.
A final option (used normally as the time limit comes to an end) is to perform a 'Do or Die'. A special card is taken which details how many die rolls are used (from three to seven 2-dice throws). These throws are made and summed (doubles again allow rerolls, no opportunity cards are taken) and if the result is enough to reach an escape target in a single bound (no escape equipment needed), then the escape is successful. If not, the entire team is removed from play.

I don't want to spoil the new rules, but believe me when i say its easy to follow, and tighter in feel.

With the choice to revel in classic nostalgia and play the classic rules you can do... though do not forget games of Escape from Colditz are not short play games, so make sure you set aside the time.  I highly recommend the new rules though, it updates the game to the modern age and provides a very challenging multiplayer game that will have you adapting and trying to trick the guards.

Its beautifully presented, and deserves a place on your shelf for the fact that its such a loving tribute alone! of course the fact it contains an excellently reworked game is a bonus, it will provide you hours of entertainment, both in playing, and just looking at and enjoying the high quality components of the game.  Well done Osprey!


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RRP of £49.99 you really need to add this classic to your shelves so head on over to your Local Game Store and escape with one yourself, though you may have to pay for it first!