Q&A Time! What’s New & Tactics For PHALANX Games’ Successors

May 19, 2020 by brennon

Successors is a game set after the death of Alexander The Great as those around him seek power and to claim the remnants of his shattered empire. In trying to learn more about the game and its development, we talked with Alan Richbourg who helped develop this new version of Successors plus Adrian Turzański and Jaro Andruszkiewicz from PHALANX Games.

Q&A Time! What's New & Tactics For PHALANX Games' Successors

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Follow along to see what we learned about the game and maybe you'll be inspired to go and give it a look yourself!

Ben: First off, could you tell us a bit more about PHALANX Games and who you are?

Adrian: PHALANX is, to begin with, a team of enthusiasts who decided to translate their love of games (and history) into a way of life, that's how the publishing house was born, whose credo remains an undying passion. We just love board games. Especially wargames. Our interests don't end there. Over the years, we have specialized in the release of wargames ("Hannibal & Hamilcar", "1944: Race to the Rhine"), geopolitical ("Europe Divided") and strongly engaging products ("Rocketmen", "Nanty Narking"). In addition, we managed - like many companies in the industry - to consolidate our position on Kickstarter, where we run campaigns for the games we are developing.

B: Successors had a great time on Kickstarter but for those who aren't familiar with the game, could you tell us a bit more about it?

Alan: Successors is one of the most popular multi-player wargames ever released. It was created by renowned designers Mark Simonitch ("Hannibal & Hamilcar") and the late Richard Berg ("SPQR").

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The game tells about the Wars of the Diadochi, a time after Alexander the Great's death when his empire was torn apart by fratricidal conflicts between Alexander’s Marshals. In the game, we play the role of a faction of Generals who want to rule the Macedonian Empire, but our old friends in the other factions also have such ambitions and stand in our way.

B: How does a standard turn of Successors play out and what kind of actions can each player do during a turn?

Alan: A lot of different things can happen in a turn of Successors, as players strive to take the lead in Victory Points, Legitimacy, or both. Players expand their territory, build up and manoeuvre their armies, besiege enemy cities, fight decisive battles, and carry out a wide variety of political and historical events using their hand of Tyche cards.

B: This is a new edition of a popular game. What have you tweaked/changed since the previous editions when bringing this new version to the tabletop?

Alan: There is a long list of improvements in this deluxe edition of Successors! Some of the highlights include the introduction of dramatic miniatures for Major Generals and Royal Family Members, many new Major Generals, special abilities for Major Generals, stunning artwork, support for five players, completely re-written and clarified rules, new Faction cards and Province cards, new optional Tyche cards, new scenarios, over twenty new optional rules, and a pair of custom dice for war elephants. We are even including a Pronunciation Guide for the Greek names.

B: What are some of your favourite strategies for winning games of Successors which you could share with us?

Alan: Our favourite way to win is by transporting Alexander’s famously extravagant Funeral Cart from Babylon on the long journey to the capital city of Makedonia. Getting the Funeral Cart back to the traditional burial place of Alexander’s family is very difficult to accomplish since the Funeral Cart is often stolen on the way, as happened in history.

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The most common way to win is by declaring a Regency Victory with the young Alexandros, Alexander’s son. Besides controlling Alexandros, a Regency Victory requires having the most Legitimacy and Victory Points. Another way to win is by having the most Victory Points at the end of the game. We’ve found that gaining control of the Major Islands and Fleets is a good way to achieve that kind of victory.

B: As Successors is inspired by Ancient History, what details from the actual events did you take into account when building upon the game. How true could it be to what happened back then?

Alan: Successors is thoroughly infused with historical details. Every Tyche card is based on one or more historical events. For example, Kleopatra Offers Marriage refers to Alexander’s sister’s attempts to marry Leonnatos, Perdikkas, or Ptolemaios and thus hold the Macedonian Empire together. The card The Helepolis recreates the giant siege tower built by Demetrios for his famous, yet unsuccessful, siege of Rhodes.

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Like any game, Successors will take a different path than history as each session unfolds, but the overall historical flavour and quality of immersion remains accurate throughout each game. We have improved several aspects of the game to better model the historical events, such as placing more emphasis on Eumenes and Alexander’s son, Alexandros. Many of the new Tyche cards and optional rules add historical details to the game.

B: Have you had any cool and interesting moments during games of Successors that have stood out to you? Perhaps a moment where someone got stabbing in the back!

Alan: The battles are so dramatic, and the Surprise cards can be so powerful, that something like that happens in every game. The potential for instant Victory adds a lot of tension - you must watch out for another player seizing victory at all times! Almost any “perfect plan” can be foiled by a surprising card play, good dice roll, or a clever move by your opponents.

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One time Mike brought the Funeral Cart all the way from Babylon across Asia Minor to the borders of Makedonia. Jon and Gene were allied and had tried to stop Mike, but Mike had outmanoeuvred them so far. It looked like Mike would win, by burying Alexander in Pella, the capital of Makedonia. But he had to get through Jon’s smaller army first. Then Jon played Gift of Oratory, which meant half of Mike’s army could not join the battle!

Jon won the fight and so took possession of the Funeral Cart and was about to move to Pella and win the game. But before he could move, his erstwhile ally, Gene, played Treachery and took the Funeral Cart from Jon, and Gene himself quickly buried Alexander in Pella. There’s a lot of potential for backstabbing with the Treachery card.

B: Could you tell us a little bit about what you updated beyond the rules for Successors as part of the Kickstarter? I believe there are new miniature game pieces and such included?

Alan: Everything is updated. There are many miniatures (and coloured rings to show which player they belong to), including miniatures for Alexander’s Funeral Cart and Tomb. Incredible artwork. Custom Elephant dice. More Major Generals. Larger markers. New style and larger Tyche cards and General cards. New and improved map layout, including more accurate place names, effective use of colours, and separate tracks for Legitimacy and Victory Points.

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New Province cards and Faction cards. New First Player and Usurper tokens. Larger pieces. Cavalry counters. Pieces for a 5th player. Optional Tyche cards. Detailed Player Aids and a new Example of Play. New scenarios. A big box with a stunning cover illustration. And the game now comes with a Turn Marker. This is a deluxe edition of Successors.

B: As someone who loves their board game artwork, I couldn't help but get won over by what you've updated for the game. Specifically on that point, could you tell us a bit more about the art and bringing that to life for the game?

Jaro: As you may know, in the earlier editions of the game the cards were not illustrated. Instead, they were flavoured with quotations from Greek writers, philosophers and ancient Greek proverbs. We kept the quotes (and enriched them) but we also thought that those cards need to be illustrated. And they are now! Stunningly! We have also made sure that the font size allows easy reading of the card text, you know, we’re getting older and it’s so much easier to understand now why the text has to be larger and easier to read.

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Every card illustration went through a process of storyboarding. We first had Grzegorz Bakera, who is very well versed in Ancient history, to draw the storyboard, which was then approved for creating the illustration. Then the talented Łukasz Strupiechowski took over and created those stunning, full of light illustrations.

To make the game even more outstanding, we have created separate illustrations for various military formations, where earlier editions only used generic pictures. All in all, the game presents the period of Antiquity in its full flavour and beauty.

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In order to pay tribute to the choices made in previous editions, we’ve kept the Major Generals poses as designed by Kurt Miller. One can see a direct link to the amazing legacy of this game.

When it comes to the game board, we wanted to keep the spirit of the outstanding design of Mark Simonitch but also wanted to address a few game-related issues - now the provinces are colour coded (both the surface and the spaces inside) and each region provinces are coded in hues of one dominant colour - green for Europe, gold for Asia and red for Africa. There is a plethora of game-related information keyed into those maps - for example, since each fleet has now a distinctive ship silhouette, those were also placed on the map, for easier reference.

I think that Successors will be the best-produced game of Phalanx, something I would not believe knowing how high we raised the bar with Hannibal.

B: For someone who missed out on Kickstarter, how can they get a hold of it through the pre-order system?

Adrian: All they need is to go to the presale page, where they will be able to buy copies of the game at a promotional price; they will also be able to buy accessories and special limited additions that were added as KS exclusives during the campaign (this is the last chance to get them).

Make sure to let us know if Successors is a game that has been on your radar and if you pledged to pick up this new edition of the game.

Drop your thoughts below...

"The potential for instant Victory adds a lot of tension - you must watch out for another player seizing victory at all times!"

"I think that Successors will be the best-produced game of Phalanx..."

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