Author: Dirk Henn

Publisher: Queen Games 2002

Awards: none



G@mebox author Marco Klasmeyer writes about the game:


Wallenstein is settled in one of the most important periods of European history, the Thirty Years' War ("Dreißigjähriger Krieg") 1618 - 1648. The German princedoms are split into catholic and protestantic parties, each involved in religious and political conflicts. Foreign powers are more and more intervening. Regardless which side each participant prefers, everyone is trying to take its own oportunities and advantages.



The game contains a map of Germany/Europe in the past with its major princedoms "Brandenburg", "Sachsen", "Kurpfalz", "Bayern" und "Östereich". Three to five players can take the roles of Gustav Adolf King of Sweden, Albrecht von Wallenstein and other famous leaders in that age. Each player has his princedoms under control in which he can place buildings, harvest corn, collect gold and arrange troops. The game lasts for two years of four seasons each; spring, summer and autumn are normal turns and in winter is the harvest, supply and evaluation phase. Each normal turn consists of planning activities, determination of playing order and the action phase:

  • Placing action cards: There are only the same 10 activity cards for all players available and the order of actions is randomly each turn. The action cards are placed in a sequence, 5 face up and 5 face down, so that only half of the actions and their order are known to all players. Possible actions are:
    • Place buildings in cities (1 x Palace, 1 x Church, 1 x Merchants' Hall)
    • Collect gold (1x) or harvest corn (1x) in one land.
    • Place new armies in one land (3x)
    • Move troops and/or fight against other player (2x)
  • Planning actions: Each player has a character sheet with all 10 possible actions printed on. He can place land cards, which he controls this turn, face down on the appropriate action card symbol, in order to determine in which princedom this action should take place. He has also blank cards at his disposal, if he does not want the dedicated action to be executed this turn (most actions cost gold).
  • Playing order of turn: All character cards are placed in a random row in order to determine the playing order of each turn.
  • Seasons' Event: For each season an event card is drawn. The event has positive or negative effect on some areas or special actions, i.e. good / bad harvest, weak / strong reinforcement of troops, and so on.
  • Playing action: Finally all actions are performed in the sequence of the placed 10 action cards and in the order of the players.

As stated before, the winter is a special turn, in which all have to supply their people with corn (of previous harvests). Famine lets people revolt and a player might loose part of his estates. At the end of each year all players are evaluated by the number of countries and buildings they possess. There are additional victory points for the majority of buildings of the same kind in one princedom (i.e. for the most palaces in "Kurpfalz" (3 P) or the most churches in "Bayern" (2 P)). So buildings become only important for the scoring during winter turn.

When a player's action is corn or gold collection, the people of that district become angry and possibly can initiate a revolt. So if the taxes or supplies are collected, a unrest marker comes on that country. The more unrest markers are in a land the likelier a revolt will occur.

In order to extend the borders of his princedom and increase his influence in Germany (and to win the game...) players can fight each other or against "vacant" countries. This leads us to the clue of the game: The Battle Tower. It consists of twisted slots and obstacles inside and all involved armies of the two combating opponents are thrown into the "dungeonous" tower. Those armies that fall out of the tower determine the result of the fight, but part of the initial load might stay inside the tower and influence the result of the following battles. There are peasant armies in Germany which either aid the defender or stay neutral. In case of a revolt peasants are even the attackers. The influence of the peasant armies in battles between two players is hardly predictable. It can also happen that a player receives more armies from the tower than he has put in for this fight, this depends on the number of armies he put into the tower in previous fights. If peasant armies are on the defender's side, they can be considered for damage first before one's own troops. The Battle Tower is a funny element and brings much more tension than rolling dices or counting armies and adding a bonus.


Wallenstein lines up in the gallery of Queen Games' strategic and tactical boardgames. In the past these games sometimes lack of atmosphere despite their historical or whatever background. But Wallenstein is different, it is not just moving wooden tokens over a map and playing tactical cards. Wallenstein combines several elements, military actions, the question of supply and maintenance and finally the possibility to establish dominances (palaces, churchs, ...). One always has to consider all three things and find each turn a balance of interests. One cannot fight other leaders and conquer their countries without solving the question of supply and maintenance of the little empire. Additionally there will be no reliable dominance of palaces, churches or merchant halls, if the boundaries of the territory are open to enemies, who are leering at the easy to take buildings. I especially enjoy the planning and activity phase, when you have to build up your strategy and consider the possible movements and actions of your opponents, but more than once the order of the face down action cards unveil a surprise. Also the battle tower is a nice substitution for rolling dices or playing combat cards. Queen Games has already published a similar game with a battle tower "Im Zeichen des Kreuzes"in 2001. But in that edition the effect of the tower differs slightly and in my opinion in Wallenstein the battle result is better balanced and more tailored to the game: Depending on the unrest state of the country involved, peasant armies falling out of the tower may count for the defender or not.

Now let's come to speak about design issues. The troops are little coloured wooden block tokens, practical but not very nice. This also applies to the map and the cards, the design is simple, effective, but you will not get a vision of delight when opening the box.

The rule booklet is kept quite brief, but while reading you get confused due to frequent cross references. Somehow awkwardly is that the start setting is explained in the middle and on the last page. This means you will read how to play without knowing where and how you start and what your base material is. This is a real disadvantage when you try to explain the game to your friends in the order of the booklet, you cannot demonstrate some moves or explain standard constellations. Quite bothering is that the given start up setting for 3 players is erroneous: one section states that a subset of countries is not considered for 3 players, although some of those appear in the start setting of armies.

Nevertheless for me it means lots of fun trying to prevail my fellow opponents with some tactical tricks, if you share this preference you will find in Wallenstein a valuable game.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany