Illusions of Glory: Developing GMT’s Latest WW1 Card-Driven Game

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As with other games, playtesting has led to some re-design for Illusions of Glory: The Great War on the Eastern Front.  Notwithstanding the months dedicated to research and development of IoG, this GMT P-500 game continues to be a “labor of love” for me.

The rules, strategy cards, unit counters, and map have been revised to make this WW1 Eastern Front game a better simulation—more realistic and challenging.  Short scenarios have been prepared as an introduction to the game and to accommodate players lacking time to play the entire four-year campaign.

This article will highlight the latest changes inspired by playtesting, and hopefully draw your attention to other IoG material that GMT has put on its website.  That material provides context for this particular article, and will hopefully convince you to place a P-500 order for the game.

Unit Counter Revisions

German (“GE”) infantry units are the only ones with a Movement Factor of 4; GE cavalry units are the only ones with a Movement Factor of 6.  This represents the superior mobility of such units, due to their organizational structure, logistics, and rail support.

GE regular infantry corps have an Attack Factor of 4 and a Loss Factor of 3.  This represents their superior leadership and combined arms capability when compared to other armies.

Russian (“RU”), Austro-Hungarian (“AH”), and Italian (“IT”) infantry corps all have an Attack Factor of 3, a Loss Factor of 2, and a Movement Factor of 3.  They are inferior to GE combined arms, leadership, and mobility.

The inferior ability of RU and IT units to absorb Combat losses compels the Allied Powers (“AP”) Player to use reinforcement cards, in order to rotate damaged RU and IT infantry corps out of the front lines and avoid their outright destruction.  This amounts to a balancing act—deciding whether to bring on new units or use Replacement Points (“RPs”) to repair damaged units on the map.

The Central Powers (“CP”) Player has no such choice with his AH units, because of their severely limited reinforcements.  The CP Player has to hang on (and let the AH units take their lumps) until the GE 9th Army and Sud Army arrive stiffen up the CP front line in Galicia.


Strategy Card Revisions

There are more “yellow” cards that can be used both for the Event and for OPS Points.  This is intended to accelerate the game’s tempo.  There are more Combat Cards to represent battlefield conditions, and make Combat decisions more exciting

OPS Points on several AP and CP strategy cards have been changed to remove “no-brainer” card plays.  Card decision-making will be more of a challenge.

More strategy cards can be used to diminish an enemy’s National Will and trigger an uprising, or, revolution in Russia’s case.  More cards can be played for Victory Points, which can help bring about an automatic victory or prevent an opponent’s automatic victory.  When combined with casualty effects on National Will, not even the most proficient bean-counters playing IoG can be confident about the reliability of the RU, AH, IT and GE armies—which is exactly what the actual combatants experienced.

For the AP Player, cards in his “Mobilization” deck give Russia a choice to start its 1914 offensive in East Prussia or in Galicia.  For the CP Player, cards in his “Mobilization” deck give Germany and Austria-Hungary a choice between an offensive or defensive strategy.

Rule Revisions

TrenchesIn a departure from IoG’s predecessors, Paths of Glory (PoG) and Pursuit of Glory (PuG), trench building is no longer subject to luck (i.e., die rolling).  A trench may be built in any Clear or Mountain Space occupied by a Large Combat Unit (“LCU”)—either a corps or an army—by spending 1 OPS Point.   A player can build only one trench per Action Round, and trenches cannot be built during the Summer 1914 Turn.  Since the Eastern Front did not feature the vast trench networks of the Western Front, a Level 1 Trench is the only kind that can be built.

Sea Invasions:  There is no longer a one-turn delay to executing a Mediterranean invasion.  The AP Player launches a sea invasion during the same Action Round he plays a Sea Invasion Card by: (1) placing a Landing Marker on the Sea Invasion Space (at no OPS cost), (2) activating a stack of AP units on Lemnos for Movement, and (3) moving those units to the Landing Marker at a cost of 1 Movement Point (“MP”).

National Will:   In this rule unique to IoG (when compared to PoG and PuG), National Will is represented by the movement of RU, GE, and AH National Will Markers on the General Records Track.   RU, GE, and AH National Will Markers move -1 on the General Records Track for: (1) each VP Space in that Nation that becomes enemy-controlled, (2) each LCU of that Nation which is permanently eliminated (going into the Eliminated Units Box), or (3) every three LCUs of that Nation that are destroyed (going into the Replaceable Units Box).  If downward movement of RU, GE, or AH National Will Markers causes any of them to reach “National Demoralization”, then Rebellion may break out in that Nation.  Italy and Turkey are not included because too little of their territory is represented in IoG.

Uprising Units:  In IoG, Rebellion is a product of a Nation’s demoralization and military degradation.  It is represented by placing an Uprising Unit in the Demoralized Nation during the Rebellion/Revolution Phase of that Turn.  Uprising Units are not cohesive combat units, but depict anti-government agitation and violence.  Uprisings are represented as SCUs to serve as targets for suppression, but suppression attacks must use the Light Fire Table because Uprisings are dispersed.

German and Austro-Hungarian Collapse:  This rule was added because other Nations in IoG can also collapse.  In any War Status Phase, if all VP Spaces in Germany or in Austria-Hungary are occupied by AP units and Uprising Units, that Nation’s government collapses and it is out of the war.  Its combat units are removed from the game to represent demobilization, but its Uprising Units remain.  AP units can move into any unoccupied spaces in the Collapsed Nation, can attack any CP units and Uprising Units occupying spaces in the Collapsed Nation, and can enter any unoccupied CP-controlled spaces in the Collapsed Nation as a result of Advance After Combat or the end of a Retreat.  (Of course, the CP player can resign upon seeing “the writing on the wall”.)

Troop Quality:  This is another rule unique to IoG.  As RU, IT, GE, and AH casualties mount, the drain on their national manpower reserves and officer corps is reflected in the reduction of their Troop Quality.  The RU, IT, GE, or AH Troop Quality Marker moves -1 on the General Records Track each time that: (1) reinforcements for that Nation are brought onto the map, (2) RPs are spent to repair Combat Units of that Nation (either on the map or in the Replaceable Units Box), (3) an LCU of that Nation is permanently eliminated, or (4) three LCUs of that Nation are destroyed and sent to the Replaceable Units Box.  The RU, IT, GE, or AH Troop Quality Marker moves +1 on the General Records Track each time that a full-strength LCU of that Nation is assembled on the map.  If downward movement of the RU, IT, GE, or AH Troop Quality Marker reaches “Poor Quality”, then: (1) that Nation’s infantry reinforcements are placed on the map with a step reduction (this is noted on the reinforcement card), and (2) rebuilt Regular or Reserve Infantry LCUs belonging that Nation (taken from the Replaceable Units Box) are placed on the map with a step reduction.  (This means only one step of an LCU in the Replaceable Units Box can be rebuilt before it enters the map; the LCU can receive additional RPs after entering the map.)

Map Revisions

Mixed-Gauge Railroads:  Russia built its railroads in a different gauge than its western neighbors to frustrate invaders.  Accordingly, an attack using mixed-gauge railroads receives a Die Roll Modifier (“DRM”) of -1.  This can be fixed by using the “railroad troops” card given each player.

Alpine Trails:  These are a feature of the Italian Front Inset Map.  They represent paths for conducting steep mountain assaults.  Combat using alpine trails uses the Light Fire Table, and the attacker receives a -1 DRM unless a mountain unit is included in the attack.

Shorter Game Scenarios

1914 Invasion of Serbia:  This scenario’s intent is to teach IoG’s basic game mechanics. It is a two-turn scenario pitting Austria-Hungary against Serbia in the Summer and Fall of 1914.

From Mobilization to Limited War:  This is a four-turn scenario covering the strategies of WWI’s Eastern Front combatants from Summer 1914 to Summer 1915.

The Brusilov Offensive and Beyond:  This scenario starts with the Spring 1916 Turn, and the game is played until there is an Automatic Victory or Armistice in the Fall 1918 Turn.  (I considered another scenario, beginning after the Brusilov Offensive failed, but rejected it because it was not much fun for the AP Player.)


I hope that these provide additional insight into Illusions of Glory: The Great War on the Eastern Front.  You can use “InsideGMT” to ask a question or request additional information.  It will be my pleasure to respond.

I will also attend the World Boardgaming Championships this July, where I can provide a demonstration or explanation of the game.  Should you and a friend want to play IoG, that may also be arranged—and your feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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