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Won by the Sword

Artikel 20 VON 20
GMT Games
GMT Games

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The war raged across Germany from 1618 to 1630 with the Habsburg, Holy Roman Emperor retaining the upperhand. Then the tide of war changed when King Gustav Adolf of Sweden, the "Lion of the North," revitalized the cause of the Protestant princes of Germany. Bankrolled by France, the Swedes pushed their advantage towards the Emperor's most valuable ally, Maximilian of Bavaria. Though Catholic, France sought to keep the power of the Habsburgs in check by financially supporting the Swedish King.

From 1632 to 1648, Bavaria and the surrounding area became a crucial battlefront to knocking Bavaria out of the war. The Swedes enjoyed success until fate removed their King and their over-extended forces could not hold onto their gains. After the Swedes suffered a sharp defeat at Nördlingen in 1634, France was forced to play a more active role or lose all she had paid for. A series of seesaw campaigns ensued as the French Armée d'Allemagne secured crossings of the Rhine and pushed the war back into the heart of Bavaria. The area became the proving ground of the greatest generals of the age - Turenne, Condé, Mercy, de Werth. Neither side possessed a clear superiority of forces so it was a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, march, counter-march, siege, and surprise attacks. After several years, a combined French-Swedish campaign finally broke the back of the Bavarians in 1646 and Maximilian made a separate peace. It did not last long; after a year he reluctantly rejoined the Imperial cause. Repeating the winning combination of 1646, the French-Swedish army ended Maximilian's enterprise at Zusmarshausen in 1648.

The Game:

Won by the Sword is the first game in Ben Hull's Great Campaigns of the Thirty Years War series. It is a two-player game of operational warfare in the 17th Century. Armies maneuver on a point to point map of Southern Germany based on the road network available at the time. Each game is centered around a major battle or full campaign season. A Turn is a month divided into a variable number of impulses. Each army has a hand of Campaign Cards that control the amount of activity it may perform, the supplies it must expend, and a special action. Each impulse features one card play per army. Forces are concealed off map so players are faced with limited knowledge of the enemy. The major activities are maneuver, foraging, besieging fortifications, and an occasional battle. Won by the Sword is a low-complexity game with emphasis on the players maneuvering their forces, but many decisions await. The low rules complexity allows each player, rather than being encumbered with rules, to focus on choices regarding how to manage his campaign.


  • 1 Turn = 4-6 Impulses (5-7 Days of Activity each) for a Month
  • A game is based on the months surrounding a major battle or a full campaign season if the players want a longer game. A battle game is 3 or 4 turns and can be played in about 3 hours. A full campaign season is 7-9 turns and takes 5-6 hours to play.
  • Map Scale is approximately 1:480,000 or 1"=12km
  • Infantry Regiments are 800-1000 men
  • Cavalry Regiments are 400-500 men
  • Artillery Units are 8-10 Guns
  • Detachments are 2-3 Companies of 200-300 men
  • Baggage Points represent Food, Munitions (mostly Gunpowder) and Money as well as necessary wagons, people, horses and camp followers


  • 1 34x22 Map (Strasburg to Passau West to East, Würzburg to Munich North to South)
  • 752 two-sided counters
  • 1 Deck of 55 Cards, 48 Cards are the Campaign Deck, 1 Initiative Card, 2x3 Quick Reference Cards
  • 1 8.5x11 Battle Board
  • 2 8.5x11 Player Force Cards
  • 2 Player Aid Cards 11x17 folded to give 4 8.5x11 Panels
  • 1 10 Sided Die
  • 1 Rules Booklet
  • 1 Campaign Booklet

    Battle Games:
  • Nördlingen 1634
  • Tuttlingen 1643
  • Freiburg 1644
  • Mergentheim 1645
  • Alerheim 1645

    Full Campaigns:

  • 1632 - The Lion of the North Goes South - Gustav Adolf's Campaign against Bavaria
  • 1634 - Swedes are pushed out of the South
  • 1638 - Weimar's Triumph - Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar leads his German corps in French service to turn the tide of the war in the South
  • 1644 - French battle to secure the Breisgau and Baden, Bavarians defend masterfully
  • 1645 - Struggle for Württemburg - French and Bavrians fight a seesaw battle for control of Württemburg and Nördlingen area
  • 1646 - Turenne's Triumph - French and Swedes launch a joint campaign to bring Bavaria to her knees
  • 1648 - The Bitter End - Zusmarshausen, again a combined French - Swedish force strikes into the heart of a resurgent Bavaria

    Game Design: Ben Hull

Hersteller GMT Games

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