Quick Look: Trench Club
Designer: Philipp K. Berger
Publisher: PKB Games
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 2–4
Playing Time: 2–4 Hours
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
The War to end all wars, World War I (WWI). Fought by some of the best strategic minds of the
world. They had the most developed technologies at their disposal and coordinated their actions
with their allies. Now you have the opportunity of testing your strategic abilities.
Trench Club is a miniatures strategy game set in WWI between the four competing nations of
France and Great Britain against Germany and Austria-Hungary. If you are curious about the
name as I was, it is the name given to groups around the world who are involved in reenactment
and strategy war game clubs that focus on WWI. I approached the review as a strategy gamer. I
don’t claim to have the level of knowledge Trench Club members would have about the war. My
goal is to see if it is something I and my group would consider playing, and more importantly, if
we would play it again. The simple answer is—yes, once is not enough.
We found Trench Club to be easy and fast to learn. The mechanics worked well and the design
provided a faster play and easier tracking then a number of other strategy games we have.
We played a prototype. We would keep playing the prototype as is, and look forward to the
completed version so we can square off again.
Players choose sides and alternate around the table so sides do not take double turns. There are
12 random starting locations on the board and before you know where you are going to start you
divide your starting pieces into 3 forces, 1 for each of the 3 locations you will randomly be at.
The first person determines which force will be placed and reveals the location’s number. Place
your pieces starting on the number and then in an expanding circle around the point.
This continues around the board until all 12 locations have been revealed.
Now determine who starts combat. This restart of combat means whoever is placing their units
first can’t count on making the initial move, so you need to make sure you are dividing your
units the way you want them for both offense and defense.
There are 3 ways to win Trench Club: defeat all of the enemy units, take control of the required
number of bunkers, or by surrender. Since you are able to purchase and repair units, you need
money which is earned by controlling bunkers. That makes this part of the equation an important
factor in maintaining units in the fight.
The method of attack is done in a defined order of 4 phases. There is no going backwards to a
previous phase once a phase has been started. You have to plan ahead on how your turn will play
Phase 1: Move Troops
Troops have a defined movement that is altered by terrain. They are also limited in movement as
they pass enemy units. On your turn you move as many of your units as you want.
Phase 2: Naming Attacks
In this phase you declare which units are attacking and which ones your opponents are targeting.
A unit cannot change targets during the upcoming battles, even if the enemy unit they were
targeting has been eliminated from the game.
Phase 3: Battles
The battles take place one at a time. The attacker states which battle is being fought and both
sides determine how many d12 dice they roll and what constitutes a successful hit.
The number of dice that are rolled depends on the health of the unit. If no damage has been
sustained, the unit has 12 d12. Attackers can gain up to 3 additional dice for a strategic attack.
The success of the rolls is determined by the experience of the troops. As the game progresses,
troops gain experience for dealing damage and for eliminating an enemy unit. As the unit moves
from Rookie, to Veteran, to War Hero their ability to hit the enemy gets better.
The dice are rolled and the number of successful hits are tallied.
Each side compares the number of hits to their card to see how much damage the unit has taken.
Defenders have the opportunity of using the terrain to help them defend and take less damage.
Apply damage and experience to the troops involved in the combat.
Conduct the next combat until all combats have been completed.
Collect War Bonds for each fort you control. With the money you can repair damaged units and
purchase new units.
The next player now starts on Phase 1.
Theme and Mechanics
Strategy games and war games go together. Using WWI as the setting with the limitations of the
technology of the time provides a great combination. There are planes, but like the rest of the
units there is limited range. The stage is not the world, but the battlefield.
Trench Club doesn’t get into the levels of strategy required for trench warfare. The theme allows
for quicker play with a good feeling of the war of attrition.
Every unit can only withstand 5 damage and remain active. On the 6 th damage they are removed.
Replacing units is costly. We recognized that if a strategy of full out attack is used, it will
probably be a short game as you can’t replace the units faster than they are removed.
The use of experience provides incentive for where to direct attacks and can alter a battle plan.
Even in our first game we felt it moved well and kept our interest.
Artwork and Components
Even as a prototype, there is attention to detail. The detail in the final pieces we were able to
examine shows there is interest in the era of WWI and it is being brought to the table. The
mechanic elements added to the game pieces don’t detract, and add an easy method of
visualizing units in play.
Quick to learn strategy mechanics
Design allows for continuous game play
I enjoyed Trench Club. If we weren’t locked down during the pandemic while I had the
prototype, it would have been played more times. The design of the battle mechanics allows for
quick and continuous play—the partnership and the alternating turns—everyone enjoyed. We
also liked the visual mechanics of damage and experience because it eliminated the regular
questioning of our opponent about the unit involved.
We are looking forward to our next game of Trench Club.
Players Who Like
War themes, especially WWI
One-on-one and team play