GDW, ALMA (1978)

ALMA was designed by Frank Chadwick as an addition to GDW’s Series 120 Game Collection. The game was published by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) in 1978.


ALMA is a grand tactical simulation of the first battle of the Crimean War. The game is 10 turns long, and each game turn represents 30 minutes of real time. The combat units are batteries (artillery), battalions, regiments, and brigades. Historically, this battle was the first and only time that the forces of the major powers (England, France, and Russia) actually faced each other in a set-piece battle. The unlikely anti-Russian coalition of Britain, France, Turkey, and Sardinia had chosen the Crimean port of Evpatoria for a landing. After several days spent organizing and arguing on a plan of action, the main Allied force of British, French, and Turkish troops began the march towards the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. On September 20, 1854 they met the Russian Army of General Prince Menshikov drawn up for battle on the south bank of the Alma River. The Russians, although outnumbered, were in strong prepared defenses; the Allied force, although numerically superior, was disorganized and poorly led. This is the tactical situation the two players find themselves in at the beginning of ALMA. Interestingly, a Russian victory at the Alma River would probably have ended the Crimean War before it had properly begun.


ALMA, despite its size, is not a simple game. Although the Series 120 games were designed to use no more than 120 counters, and to be played to conclusion in 120 minutes or less, this title is surprisingly textured and challenging. The game system blends fire and shock combat with the effects of morale to produce a very interesting simulation. The game’s counters are attractive and clearly-printed, but the game map is surprisingly primitive, even for GDW in 1978. Still, for those players looking for a small, tactically detailed, and challenging title that deals with a critical battle during the Crimean War, ALMA is probably a good choice. For those looking for a simple, easy-to-learn little “introductory game,” this, I can assure you, isn’t it.

Game Components:

  • One 17’’ x 22” hexagonal grid Map Sheet

  • 120 ½” cardboard Counters

  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet

  • One 5½” x 8½” Errata Sheet

  • One 9¼” x 12” Zip-Lock plastic Bag


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