The Falklands is a conflict that is woefully under gamed. That isn’t to sound like I’m trivializing what is still a very recent conflict that affected a lot families on the sides of both belligerents. I just think that the conflict is one that had some unique military situations and some fierce fighting that would make for more great games, and could shed light on a conflict that, whilst geographically minor, had some significant impacts in UK politics at the time.
Where There Is Discord
Where There Is Discord is probably the most well known game on the Falklands (is it the only one?) but it’s also solitaire only, out of print, and extremely hard to get a hold of. I was lucky enough to get hold of it through a trade and was excited to get it to the table. The board is massive, but you won’t need too much space outside of it as the board does have plenty of dead space to use to keep counters and other bits and the bag o’ dice you get in the game.
I didn’t shoot an unboxing of the game, because the reality is sadly that if there’s a sealed copy of this anywhere then it’ll be so unbelievably priced that it’s not even worth it. Seriously, this game is around $200 used. Now, that being said, it’s massive like I said. The components outside of the huge map boards are also really high quality. The counters are mostly 1 inch counters that are very thick and well made. The cards are over-sized and have great historical pictures of the events that they describe.
So, Where There is Discord. What kind of a game is it? It’s a solitaire only game in which you command the Royal Navy Task Force that was dispatched to take back The Falkland Islands. The Task Force starts with ~15 ships, of which 2 are air craft carriers, and you’ll spend a majority of the time organizing the Task Force formation to best protect the important Carriers and troop/support ships. The Task Force Display consists of a number of spaces surrounding the central zone, each of those zones is more or less likely to be targeted by Argentine Sorties coming from the West.
The first week or so of game play, very little will be happening in that regards, you won’t be altering the set up very much as there will be very few sorties and your ships can be optimally placed which is fairly obvious based on each ship’s firepower. During this early time you’ll primarily be concentrating on trying to remedy the events that are thrown at you as well as heading off the Argentine Naval assets.
Argentine subs will attempt to infiltrate past your own subs, and then target your surface vessels. Sometimes Argentine surface vessels will do the same. I really enjoyed this aspect of the game, because you can either load up all of your subs into one of the three sea zone boxes or spread them out thinly like not enough jam spread over too much bread. Most of the game decisions are based on die rolls. Where this game shines is the variety of polyhedral dice used in order to simulate different odds based decisions. For each Argentine sub to leave the safety of port you have to roll 3d4. On a 1, they go to the first sea zone. If you roll two 1’s they go to the second sea zone, etc. If you roll no 1’s then they don’t even leave port. Compare this to the Argentine carrier fleet (a far more valuable asset to the Argentines). They only leave port under the same conditions however instead of d4’s they roll d8’s. So they’re significantly less likely to be deployed, as the Argentine’s couldn’t afford to lose them frivolously.
Following on from that: It’s less likely the subs make it to the third sea zone, but if they do it’s then much easier for them to detect your task force as they’re pushing further out to sea away from the coast. There’s a lot of dice included in the game because you’ll be rolling in this way for many different things. The various weapons systems on your own surface vessels have different dice based on their effectiveness. And as a further level of detail, those dice will change, to increasingly fewer sides (and therefore great odds to hit) as enemy fighter bombers scream into closer distances.
I cannot speak to how much I enjoyed that level of detail. It would have been so easy to wash the game with d6’s which many games do. You can tell the designer really put thought and research into dice resolution and it works. The game gives you more tension when certain enemies come at you, or close into range and get their own improved attack dice.
Trying to defend your fleet against enemy sorties is by far one of the most exciting parts of the game, and also extremely stressful, because if they evade your defenses the situation can get very sticky as your ships are entirely vulnerable. There’s nothing more tense in this game than rolling those dice for enemy air and Exocet attacks against defenseless ships. I applaud a game that makes rolling a dice feel meaningful rather than random. A 1:8 chance that your precious support vessels might be sunk isn’t something to balk at. I know I lost a few ships to event cards but had one sunk by Argentine Air units, which didn’t feel good.
Should I get this game?
A complex question. I had a great time playing this game. The surface to air attacks from your vessels against enemy air assets is one of my favourite in a solitaire game. You can feel the jets screaming in low against the water with weapons armed. As you try to get a radar lock your odds to hit increase as the jets get closer. Effectively it’s a count down mechanic, you get three tries to get a radar lock, but you only get one chance to fire your missiles. So you might get a lock at 30 miles out, but that means you roll a d10 and need a 1 to score a hit. You then weigh up letting the enemy get closer, trying to get a radar lock a second time, but having a d8 to attack with. You might even go again, to try and get that d6 to attack with, the best possible odds with that missile defense system. But what happens if you goof on the final radar lock and can’t even use your missiles now?! So much great stuff going on.
But is it worth ~$200 second hand? Seriously, it’s tough. If I’d had to pay cash for that I’d lay off, because I just don’t have that kind of expendable income. I was however able to trade for it, some excellent games that weren’t seeing playing time. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this game and I personally really enjoy it. I thought the actual landings were a little odd, just because they were somewhat abstracted and I’m now really looking for a tactical/strategic game of the land invasion. But overall, I’d say this game is really interesting and fun to play, especially the mid-late game. It’s the only Falklands game that I know of that has merit and as such will stay in my collection forever.
That being said, I think this game had a great designer, but needed a great developer as well. The rule book is a hot mess. The board is massive, but for almost no reason. The board with Argentina is literally a holding board for fighters, it doesn’t need to be as big and unwieldy as it is. The umpteen counters in the game could have been significantly streamlined. Having a distance track for enemy fighters closing on the Task Force for example, instead of a stack of counters with decreasing numbers that are hard to keep track of. There should be a weather track/chart on the board that you mark instead of 11 different counters that also affect 3 other counters in different boxes. But really a lot of that is nit-picking.
The game stands on it’s own really well, but I’d be fully on board if anyone was able to acquire the rights and do a second edition because sadly this game will be out of reach for a lot of gamers due to the after market pricing. If you get the chance, give this one a go.