States of Siege is a great line of solo games that afford the player very tight choices and a palpable feeling of tension from the impending doom of the various enemy tracks advancing towards you, seemingly unendingly. Whilst looking on the Victory Point Games website I read that Hapsburg Eclipse (HA) was a sister game to Ottoman Sunset (OS). I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time but upon researching it, it turns out that HA not only employs almost exactly the same mechanics, with the same artwork, but covers the same period of history during WWI. The most enticing part of having a ‘sister game’ was the idea that the two games could be played together to form either one large solitaire game, or a coop game for two players. I sat down one Sunday afternoon to give it a spin solo combining the games, and here’s how things turned out:
Hapsburg Eclipse/Ottoman Sunset
The two games are joined at the hip by the Berlin-Baghdad Railway which sits in the corner of each of the maps. I understand the geographical need to locate this box in the way that they did, but if you want the maps to line up then it creates kind of an awkward play space.
Now, you can just line up the games next to each other, because we’re all big boys and girls, and use the boxes abstractly, but I would have liked a little more integration between the two boards to make the experience feel a bit more seamless. The rules for the combining of the two games really only take up two or three pages of the rule book at most, and thankfully there isn’t a huge amount more to be added. One of the best things about States of Siege is that the games are simple, fast, and most importantly fun.
Having played the games solo individually and now combined together I would say that overall I’m more inclined to play them separately. I say that because the reality of the situation is that you just play the two games at the same time. You use both decks of cards and all the counters from the same games individually. If the Berlin-Baghdad Railway is in effect you can give resources to the other map, but it’s costly. I don’t think I ever did that. In part, because the Railway took forever to open up, and then also because you’re better served spending your actions on the board that you got them from. The Action economy is just too precious to warrant sending them abroad.
One of the fun things that the combined game does do is accentuate that feeling of desperately trying to put out more fires than you have buckets of water for. Where one map might be clinging on for dear life, the other might well just be in complete disarray. With that being said, what I love about the States of Siege games is that they play quickly. I can set up and play in less than an hour, much less sometimes depending on how well the game goes. Playing the big combined games solo just felt like a lot more work than what it’s worth. I appreciate the effort and idea behind the rules tweaks, like the off map battles often are now affected by where the tracks on the opposing boards sit, but it can make the game too crushingly difficult.
I had fun playing them together, but in the future I think I’d just play one. Like I said, the games fill an excellent niche, and combining them takes them out of that niche for me. If I was going to play it as a two player coop I think I’d rather play Dawn of the Zeds that’s built specifically for that. Or failing that play a head to head game because opponents are hard enough to find for two player games as it is!
During the course of my game both Vienna and Constantinople fell on exactly the same turn which was pretty funny. The Italians, the easiest opponents to fight back came racing in. The Dice were unkind to me.
I feel like I’m coming off as a Debbie-Downer, but I would hate for you to mistake that for not liking these games because that is not true. I really enjoy these games separately, but combining them just didn’t give me the feeling that I wanted to from that experience. I would highly recommend picking up either or both of these games, but do it based on the merits of the games themselves, rather than the combination of the both of them. They both have strong legs to stand on and they’ll be a valuable addition to your collections.
Anyway, that’s my two cents on the doubled up solo game, thanks for reading and if you disagree or have any insight let me know below!