No pasaran! the review

No pasaran! the review

No pasaran! , published in Italy by Studio Supernova , is a solitaire card game, for games lasting about 30 minutes , which will transport us to the Spain of the Franco dictatorship. At the head of a small handful of maquis (the Spanish partisans) we will have to face dangerous missions, unexpected events and adversaries in an attempt to inflict the hardest possible blows on the regime. All by taking advantage of an easy-to-learn game system which nonetheless forces us to carefully weigh our choices.

The materials

As usual, before going into the details of No pasaran! let's take a quick look at the components that make up the product. The box is small in size and quite light in weight, which, if desired, will allow us to take the game with us easily. Opening the container we will first find the regulation booklet: 16 pages in all, it explains the game system in a clear and effective way. In fact, a single reading will be enough to clearly understand how to play (taking into account the fact that, for every need, there is a card that summarizes the flow of the game).

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Going further we will find the playing cards: in this regard we point out that, although of good quality, when mixing them they tend to scratch slightly. Our advice is to use protective sleeves so as to prevent any signs from making them recognizable: if this has little effect on the scenarios, it could instead provide some information regarding the Enemy, Marquis or Civil cards.

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Starting a game of No pasaran! it's a quick and easy process. In practice, the longest part will be to divide the mission cards by Era (which will be greatly simplified if we take care not to mix them between games) and create the homonymous deck with them. For the rest, just prepare the battlefield (choosing 4 Mission cards, placing the number of Enemy cards indicated alongside each one) and the two Maquis decks (respectively called Hidden and Recruits, both of 12 cards). Preparation is concluded by placing the Civilian deck and the remaining Mission and enemy cards on the table. In all, a few minutes of "work".

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We point out that the setup includes an expert version where we will build our Maquis deck with a paired draft system: after drawing two cards, one will go into the Hidden deck and the other not into the Recruit deck. It goes without saying that by applying this system the time required for preparation will lengthen significantly (but without ever becoming excessive).

No pasaran!, the game

Before going to see the system of game that moves No pasaran! a little analysis of the different types of cards is needed. As for those that will make up our hand, the Maquis , the first thing that catches the eye is the division into two parts: Hidden and Revealed . We immediately anticipate that it will be the basis of the entire game mechanism. How it works is obvious: every time we play one of our fighters we can decide whether to use one or the other half of the card. In doing so we will have to take into account the fact that each half will be associated with different attack values, abilities and/or an activation moment . Generally, but not always, the Revealed version is more performing than the Hidden one in one or more respects.

The other big difference lies in the fact that if a Maquis is played as Hidden we will be able in the future to use them again, if instead he will be played as Revealed he will be discarded for the rest of the game (this simulates the fact that his identity is now known to the Franco regime, forcing our fighter to flee). Quite intuitively, the game situation (and our evaluations) will determine which of the two versions will be more useful. Let's take an example using Soledad.

In the Hidden version it provides an Attack power of 1 and an ability that activates in the Attack phase that empowers all other Revealed Maquis; in its Revealed variant the attack power remains unchanged but its ability changes: here it allows you to discard all the Counter-guerrilla enemy cards of the mission. So let's move on to the Enemy cards. No Pasaran! includes a total of 32 divided into eight different types (engineer, spymaster, radio operator, guard, recruit, jailer, soldier and counter).

Each type is characterized by a specific skill and a specific phase activation ; within the same group, the various cards will be distinguished by different resistance values.

With another quick example, let's look at the Soldier card. This is equipped with an ability that is activated in the Survival phase of the turn and which forces us to remove a Maquis used in hidden mode from the game; the different Soldier cards have resistance values ​​ranging from one to four.

We therefore have the Mission cards: 20 in all, in addition to the already seen Resistance value and a special ability that is activated at a given moment of the turn (almost always the Defense) also have a value in Victory Points and a Garrison value, i.e. the Enemy cards that will hinder our attempt to bring home the result. The mission "Retreat to the caves", for example, informs that it has a value of four victory points and that it will be necessary to have 4 Enemy cards to “protect” it.

Lastly we find the Civil and Spies cards. The former report a variable number from 0 to 3, and come into play only as a result of the ability of some Enemy or Mission cards; in fact they serve to trigger a defeat condition: if, during the game, we accumulate civilians for a total equal to or greater than 5, the game will end. Spy cards, on the other hand, are cards with no effect: they only serve to weaken our hand of cards and could lead to our defeat. Initially present in three copies, they can be added to our deck due to the effect of Enemy cards or if we fail some Missions. Having made this small digression let's see how a game of No Pasaran takes place!

As anticipated, each game round is divided into four phases. In the first, Planning, we will be able to choose whether (and which) of our Marquis to play, choosing whether to do it in Revealed or Hidden mode, and we will choose which mission to face. Any Plan abilities will activate in this phase.

In the following phase, Attack , all the Defense effects of the Enemy cards and the chosen Mission will first activate. We will then have to play all the Marquis left in hand (performing any Attack action if desired). The Maquis played in this phase and in the previous one will create an attack force given by the sum of their homonymous values. This will be used to pass the Mission or to defeat the Enemy cards present. To do this, simply subtract the Defense value of the single targets from our Attack reserve.

At the end of these operations, we will go and see if among the enemy cards of the mission faced, there are some with Defeat or Survival effects (which , respectively, will be activated if at the end of the Mission the card in question should have been beaten or should still be present on the playing field). The problem, and the beauty, is that we will almost always be called to choose which targets to direct our forces to, given that, more often than not, these will not be sufficient to defeat all the opponents.

It follows that we will have to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of our choices and their consequences. And speaking of Consequences, this is also the name of the third phase of the game round. Here we will have to do essentially three things: the first is to evaluate any losses among civilians (remembering that accumulating five or more is equivalent to an immediate defeat). The second is to see if we have failed two missions: also in this case the game will end. The third will instead be a decision external to the game, to be taken according to the contingent situation: carry on with the resistance to improve our score (however risking losing and frustrating all our efforts) or stop. If we decide for the second option we will add up the value of the victory points of the missions passed and, based on the result, a practical table will provide us with an evaluation of our performance.

The last phase of the game, the Recovery , is essentially made up of a series of procedures aimed at reconstituting our hand of cards. However, it is not a risk-free moment of the game: if the cards drawn were all Spies, we will have lost.


As mentioned above, within the game we will find a mini- volume that collects eight separate scenarios and a historical mini-campaign in 3 acts. All of them introduce some small, and not particularly onerous, changes to the game setup: mainly it will be a matter of choosing certain missions or building their deck according to a specific sequence. What differentiates these two game modes from the basic system are mainly the victory conditions. If in the base game we will be able to go on to the bitter end, with the sole objective of accumulating points, in the eight single missions we will instead have to achieve a certain objective. The thing is similar in the campaign, but to add further difficulty will contribute the fact that we will be able to access the second and third mission only if we have successfully completed the previous one. Only by successfully completing the last scenario will we obtain a complete victory.

No pasaran!, considerations

There are several elements to take into consideration when talking about No pasaran! . The first, given the random aspect of many parts, is the impact of randomness on the flow of the game. And, in all honesty, we're happy to say that this is very limited: while it is true that some events are influenced (or even determined) by chance to decide the course of the game will almost entirely be our decisions and their effect.

Let's move on to the duration of the matches: here too we believe that No pasaran! keeps what it promises: the duration is limited overall, perfect for those who want a little break or to play several times. And if we really want something a little longer, there is always the mini-campaign. Indeed, to say it all, the latter is perhaps the only Achilles heel of the game: personally I would have preferred the campaign to be a little more substantial (on the five acts), but it is a completely personal consideration.

Even in terms of replayability No pasaran! is promoted without reservations : although at first sight one may have the impression of a game that risks being a bit repetitive, in fact by trying it it will be discovered that it is not. The possible combinations of Marquis, Missions and Opponents make it possible to create a game that always manages to be interesting and stimulating.

Suitable for

If we were to limit ourselves to the mechanics of basis, we could recommend this game to just about anyone. In reality No pasaran! manages to always be challenging and engaging, forcing the player to carefully evaluate the choices to make, making it clear right away that we will determine the progress of the game. It follows that the game is suitable for those who like to reflect on how to move and what the consequences of such steps could be. Lastly, but it is implicit in the very nature of the game, this product is expressly indicated for those who like to face a solitary challenge since there is no multiplayer mode.

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