Leaders - a combined game is one of the kind of strategy board games for adults that arouse curiosity long before the player is about to take his first play. This is due on the one hand to the innovative game system, in which the advantages of a classic board game are combined with the convenience of a tablet or smartphone app, and on the other hand to the fact that Leaders has made the political power struggles of modern times their own in order to make them their own Craft military strategic board game. How well the hybrid game mechanics work, whether the board game part is convincing and what added value the app support really offers you can find out in the following test report on Leaders - a combined games by rudy Games.

The profound introduction: world politics in the hands of players

We first became aware of Leaders at the SPIEL'2014 in Essen in 14 and won the innovative title as part of a Article highlighted as a trade fair highlight. All the better that we could finally play Leaders ourselves.   

In the board game Leaders - a combined game the players slip into the roles of the most powerful men in the world or into the nations they embody. Among them popular presidents like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle or the controversial founder of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong. The ease with which even much-discussed political figures are processed in this board game is initially surprising. After all, the current global political situation has made us sensitive to arguable rulers. Draws from the realistic topic Leaders much of its appeal, especially for military strategists, since managing troop movements is an integral part of this boardgame. At the same time, the political construction kit is extremely instructive, as it provides the player with historical connections between famous statesmen and their governed nations - history lessons in a very "light" way.

The basic idea is already convincing: In the course of the game, players answer their own questions about how the history of the United States would have gone if JFK had not been killed in the 1963 attack in Dallas, or the speed with which the People's Republic of China plays a role in global politics today would have if Mao Zedong had made less dictatorial decisions. The terrifyingly realistic scenario stimulates and encourages in further games of the board game Leaders - a combined games to slip into the roles of the other available rulers. In any case, long-term motivation is ensured. And now the detailed review can begin.

Game preparation

First of all, the for Leaders - a combined game Download and install the elementary Leaders app. The app is of course free and can be obtained from the official website of the board game. Then you have to play a free combined games account be registered and then it's already: Put on your helmets and get into the tanks - march, march! The game preparations are done quickly. After opening the packaging for the first time, you follow the usual steps: take the soldiers out of the bags, unfold the large game board, distribute headquarters boards to the players, have cards ready and don't forget to start the Leaders app. First of all, the app would like to know from you how many other players are taking part in the game. You give the answer by pressing the corresponding number on the screen of the tablet. The highlight: the application takes over the distribution of resources such as unit costs or research bonuses. Pure luxury when you consider how much time this step costs in comparable strategy games. It is immediately noticeable that the game authors gave thought to the integration of the app.

The app is part of the board game. Copyright Rudy Games

The app is part of the board game. Copyright Rudy Games

After determining the number of players, you choose one of the available game scenarios together. Although the basic rules always remain the same, there are small differences between the individual scenarios. In the scenario description of the Leaders app, it is immediately apparent which restrictions may be involved. Not all nations are always freely selectable, but there is sometimes a division into power blocs (communist, neutral, capitalist) or the nations are determined from the outset. The same applies to the choice of starting areas. On the other hand, it gets exciting when determining the victory conditions, because players can not only win through a military superiority, but in other scenarios also through the height of the research level or by completing missions. Great, because that provides a lot of variety and leads to an extremely high replay value. Once the scenario has been selected, the players fill in the player information one after the other in the app, choose a figure color and, if necessary, a nation. And here, too, long-term motivation reveals itself again, since every nation has a special skill. By changing the nation played, you can always ensure new entertainment values.

The application shows you which starting areas (within the framework of the scenario) you must or can occupy. The player cards symbolize your base camp, in which the military units are located at the beginning. In terms of numbers, there are 30 infantry units as well as 10 tanks and fighter planes each. At the same time, the player card helps you to keep track of research, badges or the assignment of combat dice. Your nation card with the special ability explained is in the middle of your headquarters.

The game material

The game material convinced us at first glance. What rudy Games is doing here is simply great for such a young publisher. The quality of the material can not only easily compete with the popular board games from well-known publishers, it even surpasses many of its competitors. The game board is made of thick cardboard and makes a long-lasting impression. This also applies to the six player boards and the tokens. The military units are conspicuously colored and make a handsome impression, even if of course they do not come close to the figure quality and attention to detail of table-top units. But that doesn't have to be the case, after all, we're playing a modern version of Risk and not the next Warhammer. It's nice that rudy Games also used models to differentiate between the units. The small planes and especially the mini tanks look terrific on the game board.

A small weakness can only be seen in the rifles of the soldiers and the cannon barrels of the tanks, because these are made of quite soft plastic. As a result, they do not break as quickly, but bend if they are touched heavily. However, if you handle the figures carefully, you don't have to worry about damage. In addition, rudy Games' customer service seems to be so good that replacement deliveries can be requested without any problems.

The course of the game

If you systematically follow the good brief instructions, you will have quick access to Leaders - a combined game to get. The explanations of the rules are comprehensible and the app does the rest to clarify the basic rules to the group of players. At the beginning of a game round, the players publicly enter the sum of the production points of their military areas in the Leaders app. It is best to have a single player take on this task, otherwise the tablet would have to be passed around. So-called global events can occur before the first action is started. These find their equivalent in a kind of event card that must be followed by every player. Then the players in turn begin their individual moves. Each turn consists of five phases: withdrawing units, carrying out national events, ordering units, combat phase, administration of the headquarters.

Various leaders, i.e. political personalities, are available to choose from. Copyright: Rudy Games

Various leaders, i.e. political personalities, are available to choose from. Copyright: Rudy Games

In the first phase, excess military units are brought back from the game board to the base camp. Then the national events trigger, which for example consist of the provision of troop supplies or the evaluation of research results. Now the real highlight of Leaders - a combined game: These first two phases are public and understandable for every opponent.

With the initiation of the third phase, however, the secrecy begins. In the secret phase, only the active player sees what is happening in terms of research, diplomacy or even espionage. This creates an enormous amount of tension. Phase 4 is then generally visible again. The headquarters are managed in secret. Opponents do not know about every step, so that you can clock properly in the hidden phases. Sensational and, above all, extremely exciting. This shows what the app can do with regard to the fun of the game. The app always has an overview of the actions and provides information on the order of play.

The battles are typically fought using battle dice. This is reminiscent of traditional strategy board games and forms the perfect balance to the Leaders app. At all times, you have the feeling of playing a board game and not a purely digital application. We would like to express our thanks to the game designers for this conceptual trick. Two different dice colors represent the unit types. The white die represents the combat strength of the infantry, while the black die represents the motorized units. The effect of the hit can be read off the dice in three stages. There are misses, hits and impact hits (double hits). As a player, you do not lose any, one or two units in the affected combat area. The fighting continues until the troops on one side are wiped out or the player blows to retreat, which can save half of the combat troops from death.

When a player has completed his fifth action phase, it is the next player's turn. This continues until a player has achieved the victory condition specified at the beginning. Until then, around two exciting hours of play will pass, in which it never gets boring. The secret actions in particular cause unforeseen events and sometimes make strategic planning unpredictable. In any case, we are looking forward to more games of Leaders - a combined game. And for more titles from rudy Games, if the young publisher can maintain this level of quality.


Number of players: 2 to 6 players
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 120 to 180 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: Rudy Games
Author: Reinhard Kern, Gertrude Kurzmann, Manfred Lamplmair
Year of publication: 2015 
Language: German
Cost: 60 Euro


Looking at the hybrid game system, it may come as a surprise that the strength of Leaders - a combined game is primarily the board game part. The basic principle is reminiscent of the timeless strategy classic risk, but expands its game plot to include a convincing political part, which gains depth in particular through the interaction of the board players. The app fulfills several tasks at the same time at Leaders: It provides a lot of background knowledge and draws the players even deeper into the game. Thanks go to the app in a special way: the more willing the players to think about role play, the more intense the feeling of the game. A big advantage over classic strategy board games like some risk.

Conservative board gamer who has scolded titles with app support so far has military board games like Leaders or XCOM - The Boardgame just not tried it yet. Thinking outside the box is extremely worthwhile and will mean you will have countless hours of fun in the future.

Make the easy entry and the shallow learning curve Leaders - a combined game also an ideal title for strategy beginners. My recommendation: Leaders be sure to try it out to convince yourself of the quality of this great strategy board game for adults. After our test rounds so far, the tendency towards quality games is clear, not because of the complexity, but the ease of use for beginners. Leaders - a combined game is one of those titles that are ideally suited to attracting new board players to the hobby – or to motivate connoisseurs to play one or two rounds of “Risk deluxe”.

Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API