A simple 2-player boardgame, Impregnable Fortress has the players control the Commonwealth and the Japanese as they wage war during the Battle of Singapore that took place in January 1942, with the end goal of capturing the enemy HQ.
The game is set up on a Hex-grid map of Singapore and part of Southern Johor. The Japanese player must set up their units in any red hex while the Commonwealth player sets up their unit within the blue hex. They then take alternate turns moving 1 of their pieces across the board, attacking enemy pieces by moving into their space and then both players comparing the numbers to see who emerges victorious (A higher number beats a lower one except a 1 beats a 9). The combination of units and their placement gives each player many different strategies, keeping the game fresh for new and experienced players.
In games involving the advanced rules, certain pieces gain abilities, players can customize their armies and ability cards are introduced to expand the strategic options for players. The ability cards are based on real events/people and scanning the QR codes on their backs will take players to a reference page with more details on that particular incident/character.
LCG members Bryan (B), Dex (D) and Larhvin (L) sat down with the game’s creator Junyan Wan at Gamersaurus Rex to play a few games. After playing at least 1 Basic and 1 Advanced Game, here are their thoughts:
1) What were your thoughts on the setting of the game?
B: Very identifiable for Singaporeans who have had family members live through this dark period as well as those of us who have went through National Service. Coming on the 75th Anniversary of this time, the game is a timely reminder.
D: The game setting for me was surprisingly educational, since I am not a Singaporean and have not read on Singapore’s war history. Regardless of what nationality you are this game will remain fun and exciting due to its several game elements. I can say it is not exclusive to players within Singapore, it’s for everyone to enjoy.
L: The game itself was designed around the actual events of World War 2 when the Japanese invaded Singapore through Malaysia and the game plays out that scenario quite acurately.
2) How complex is the game?
B: The Basic game is extremely easy to pick up, especially if players use the tutorial setup in the rulebook. This allows players to play and pick up the rules without having to worry too much about setting up their side without any knowledge. The rulebook also contains 2 other modes that slowly ease players into the more advanced aspects of the game but overall, nothing too complicated to remember.
D: The game has different levels of difficulty – it has basic and advanced rules. Basic rules were very easy to learn and you will be able to start playing immediately. Advanced rules are designed for competitive type of players. It gives the game a whole new perspective, from a fun and easy type of game to a “game time tournament level” type of game.
L: The game was very easy to pick up and adding the advanced rules did not complicate the game but it made it more challenging. Think of it like chess but all your pieces have their specific rules and abilities to help you strategize and win.
3) Is there replayability for this game?
B: Card and unit abilities, a sideboard where you can replace pieces and the random placement adds lots of replayability to this game. After 2 games, there were still new strategies I wanted to try.
D: Yes, definitely I will play it again. Because playing advance rules, I would like to learn more on how to strategically position my units which can form a synergy that will be advantageous to me. Plus drawing the right card that will help me win the game, because even though you plan carefully every move, once your opponent draws the right card, that can change the situation from losing to winning. Therefore I can say there’s no guaranteed way of winning the game, when luck also comes into play because of the different cards that you can randomly pick during the game. So yes, I would say there is replayability for this game.
L: This game has very high replayability once you have gone through the basic game and start using the advanced rules. How you set-up your forces, the strategy you are gonna use can all be changed every single game. And most importantly, your opponent may also have various strategies as well.
4) How did you find the components of the game?
B: The pieces have very clear printing on them so it’s easy to immediately know what you have at a glance. The cards are neatly done so it doesn’t look very cramped even if there is quite a bit of information on it.
D: Components are fairly done. It is designed where war is created by your own imagination, which gives the feeling of a person that is reading a war novel and the player itself is the author. It should not be compared to boardgames that has miniature figure component because it will not be in line with the gameplay.
L: The components were all very simple and nice. The pieces first were just numbers and had an image printed om the background and it’s role name below for easy reference. The board is very accurate to the actual maps and the cards have an interesting QR code that tells you about the inspiration about the card as well as how you can use it.
5) How accessible is the game?
B: Might be a bit easier for guys to get into because most of them have gone through National Service and the military terms used are quite familiar. But not having any prior knowledge of this or the events that took place would not be a barrier for people.
D: Basic game design is a number game – it doesn’t require a person to have knowledge about how a military unit would function. Advanced rule game is different – a person with knowledge on military unit and its functions makes it advantageous for him/her because of the synergy that can be done during the game.
L: It might get a little getting used to for people who aren’t sure about the army lingo but that can be picked up rather easily as you play continuously in the game. Even I mixed up the roles once or twice so it’s perfectly normal.
6) What about the pacing of the game?
B: The games start off fast as you have some sort of strategy you want to try. But as you start taking losses, you tend to take a bit more time between moves. But overall, it never seemed dull or slow.
D: It depends actually, because there is the element of “bluff and poker face” but I can still say game pacing is fast enough and not dragging
L: Ha ha ha, maybe it’s slow when you start but when you and your partner know how to play the game, it can get real fast and intense really quick. Of course you can also trash talk your way to throw your opponent of his game.
7) What kind of audience would you recommend this to?
B: History teachers would surely love a game like this. The QR codes on the cards that expand on that card’s title would surely be a big draw as a more interesting way to teach students about the period. People who like games with lore would also enjoy it for the same reason. Other than that, anyone looking for a simple but fun game.
D: First of all, young students because of its educational element which is an accurate data on war history . Any board game fanatics who are looking for a different approach in wargaming. A common individual who are looking for a quick and easy to learn type of game.
L: I think this is a game for everyone but people I would recommend to are History teachers and students. They would definitely love this as it can help teachers educate students while they are having fun. I think Wives and Girlfriends of Army personnel would also like this game and they can always rub in their partners face when they do win.
8) Any additional comments/final verdict?
B: Simple rules but has a surprising amount of depth in Advanced games. My only tiny nitpick is that the box art might need to be a bit more attractive but it shouldn’t stop anyone from picking up the game.
D: I think it is very safe to say that game should be included on the shelves of every boardgame collector or even in home or office, if you want to have a break and quick game with friends.
L: think this is one of those games that make very good party gifts for like Christmas Exchanges or birthdays. This could also be easily be pulled out and palyed as a guest entertainer for casual events as well. I think this is a game that would easily find itself being played over and over again once you get the mechanics of it.
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