Wargame Watch is a new segment where I would like to give you a heads-up on some of the newish wargames out there that look interesting to me. I have over 150 different games in my collection, with a good portion of those being wargames, but nevertheless, I am still always on the lookout for the next fix….if you know what I mean! Here is a look at recently announced(ish) pre-order games as well as those that have recently been released. The order is not important as this is not a ranking due to the fact that I have yet to play any of these games.
Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-1962 from GMT Games
Colonial Twilight, designed by the beautiful mind of Brian Train, Volume VII in the famed COIN Series designed, has been in development for the past few years and is the series first foray into a true 2-player only game. This asymmetric card assisted game focuses on the French-Algerian War fought from 1954 to 1962 and sees the players controlling one of two factions, the insurgent Front de Liberation Nationale (FNL) desperately attempting to gain their freedom from the Government, consisting of the colonial authorities and France’s military leadership, who are obviously trying to hold onto Algeria for a little bit longer. The really neat part of the design is the reworking of the Initiative Track to work with only 2-players. Such a great innovation that is sure to be replicated in future COIN Series games. I did a series of interviews with the designer in mid-2016 covering the game and you can read those here: Part I, Part II and Part III. The game is nearing completion and is currently set for distribution the last week of June. You can still get in on the P500 pre-order price of $52.00 (normally $75.00) over the next month. If you are interested, follow this link to order: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-548-colonial-twilight-the-french-algerian-war-1954-62.aspx
Guam: Return to Glory The Marianas Campaign: Volume 2 from Compass Games
Guam: Return to Glory is a follow-up effort to this year’s best operational level wargame (IMHO) Saipan The Bloody Rock The Marianas Campaign: Volume 1 designed by Ross Mortell and using the brilliant new Company Scale System (CSS) from Adam Starkweather (yes the same Adam Starkweather of MMP fame!). Guam covers the American campaign in July 1944 to seize back the island that was taken away by the Japanese in December 1941. The really interesting thing about the historical campaign is that the only beaches suitable for an invasion were located on the south-western side of the island. The Japanese knew this as well and had prepared accordingly, which would make this beach assault very deadly. Another thing unique to the planning was that the 2 landing beaches chosen would be 7 miles apart. It was unprecedented for two landing forces to land with such a wide separation and would cause logistical problems that would plague the effort. This game is massive and comes with 4 maps, 6 counters sheets and 7 player aids. You will definitely get your money’s worth for this one. The game is still on pre-order and is set to tentatively release in September 2017. If you are interested in ordering, you can still get in on the pre-order price of $99.00 (normally $129.00) by following this link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/guam-return-to-glory.html
Operation Unthinkable: Churchill’s World War III from Hollandspiele Games
I love “What If” style or alternate history wargames, mainly due to their unscripted sand box style of play that allows you play out history any way you so choose, and this one comes from a very productive and inventive designer in Ty Bomba, who currently has about a half dozen games in the works. Operation Unthinkable is based on the real plans drawn up by the British chiefs of staff at the request of Churchill to plan for the invasion of the USSR at the conclusion of World War II in 1945. The game pits the Western Allies, including Free German (plans were made to arm nearly 100,000 German POWs to fight in the war), Polish, British and American troops against the mighty USSR and their stoic leader Joseph Stalin. The Allies must plan their attacks to hit the Russian horde hard but do enjoy air superiority, at least after the 1st round, and possess the A-Bomb to throw around. The game is sure to be a slug fest and will definitely scratch that itch to play out this “What If” scenario. The game is being published by Hollandspiele, whose games are very interesting, both in their chosen subjects as well as their components, as Tom & Mary Russell do a great job of designing the counters and graphics, and putting them in a nice looking package. The game is planned for release this summer but I do not know when or the price. If you are interested, you can stay up to date on its progress by visiting their website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/
Italia 1917-1918: A Farewell to Arms from Nuts! Publishing
I recently have gained a greater interest in wargames dealing with The Great War, thanks in most part to Fields of Despair: France 1914-1918 from GMT Games, as well as a recent interview I conducted with Tim Taylor covering another upcoming game called At All Costs! The Great War in the East. Italia is an operational level game that focuses on the fighting between the troops of the Entente, including Italy, France, England and the US, against the mighty forces of the Central Powers, including Austria-Hungary and Germany. The game covers the time period between the Battle of Caporetto (October 1917) and the Villa Giusti Armistice (November 1918). The counters look really good (there are 700!) and the game is the sequel to 2 previous titles on World War I, including Somme 1918 – Bloody Spring and Marne 1918 – Freidensturm. The “global” map covers the terrain between the Adige River and Trieste, to allow the players to simulate the whole campaign from Caporetto onwards. The “zoom” map, with enlarged hexes, covers the terrain from Adige to the Adriatic sea in order to concentrate on the main combat zone after the Italian retreat: the Piave River, the Monte Grappa Massif, the Asiago Plateau and the Trento area & for the second one the zone of the Austro-German offensive on the Isonzo passed to posterity under the name of battle of Caporetto. Advanced rules allow the players to simulate the whole campaign as they introduce the reconstruction of destroyed units, the management of strategic reserves and the use of random events cards (50 for each side) with various effects with titles such as “Rommel”, “Hemingway” or “I ragazzi del 99” (“The boys of 99”), for example. If you are interested in the game, you can pre-order it for the price of 47.00€ (or $53.00) by following the link: http://www.nutspublishing.com/Italia-1918
Rise of Totalitarianism from Calvinus Games
I love CDGs and am always on the lookout for great ones to try. Rise of Totalitarianism is an interactive simulation that relies on 90 game cards to answer the tough questions of pre-World War II Europe, including what is the future economic system that will best deal with the rising pressures of the day including hyper inflation, the Great Depression in the United States, the rise of fascist ideologies and leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini? Enabling you to explore all such questions through a card-driven strategy game, it reproduces the ideological conflicts and political struggles that led to the establishment of totalitarian dictatorships in Europe throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The game covers the period 1919-1933 and is designed for three players. Each takes the role of one of the three Ideologies – Social-Democracy, Fascism and Communism – that struggled for power during the timeline of the game.
Players will attempt to exploit historical events and political actions to achieve political supremacy and must face the major crises that upset the European countries of the era. Game cards provide political points that are used by players to plan secret actions on the map by using action chits. Action chits are revealed simultaneously and players can then perform their reactions and activities (propaganda, conflicts, laws and reforms) to influence society, public opinion, political orientation, the economy and the stability of governments. I really like the idea of taking the role of one of these demagogues to see what the outcome will be. Once again, a “What If” game that really takes a look at a period of history that I have always been very interested in. It also compares itself to the following great games and says it is a mix of Twilight Struggle, Churchill and Game of Thrones, so how can you go wrong? If you are interested in the game, it was released in early May and you can follow the link to order a copy from Game Crafters, LLC for the price of $75.99.: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/rise-of-totalitarianism
Fortunate Sons: The Anonymous Battle, March 26, 1970 from High Flying Dice Games
I love a good game covering the Vietnam War. In fact, my favorite wargame is without a doubt, Fire in the Lake: Insurgency in Vietnam from GMT Games (with Silver Bayonet a close runner-up!). So, I am always up for an interesting looking game covering this tumultuous time in American history. Fortunate Sons: The Anonymous Battle, March 26, 1970 covers the battle fought between the 11th Armored Cavalry and 1st Air Cavalry Division against the 9th NVA Infantry Division in Tay Ninh Province, not far from the Cambodian border. Designed by Paul Rohrbaugh (The Battle of Midway 1942 AD from Turning Point Simulations) this game uses uniquely designed cards that determine who wins the initiative for that round and how many activations they can take based on whether their drawn card is odd or even. There are random events as well that keep things interesting and the counters are also nice looking and functional. Fortunate Sons is the companion “sister” game to Bad Moon Rising: The Battle for Firebase Illingworth also published by High Flying Dice Games. If you are interested, the game is available for the very reasonable price of $24.95 at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/fs.html
Bloody Dawns: The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 from High Flying Dice Games
Bloody Dawns: The Iran-Iraq War is a two-player grand strategic level card driven wargame depicting the struggle between Iraq and Iran from September 1980 to August 1988. This terrible confrontation between Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini drastically changed the geopolitical balance of power in the Gulf and was the last Total War of the 20th Century. Its events still shape and influence those of today. Each turn represents four months of real time and is divided into two phases; one for the player who has the initiative and one for the other player. The cards constitute the driving mechanism of the game, allowing for the movement of units, offensives or replacements, generating specific events, and influencing combat resolution. Did I mention that I really enjoy Card Driven Games?!? I love them and this one is an interesting take on a conflict that I don’t know much about so I am definitely interested. If you want to know more about the game or to purchase a copy, you know the drill: http://www.consimworld.com/?wpd_redirect=1&pid=7244
Baptism by Fire: The Battle for Kasserine from Multi-Man Publishing
Baptism By Fire is the second game in the Battalion Combat Series (BCS) from Multi-Man Publishing, which took the wargaming world by storm with its block buster initial release Last Blitzkrieg in 2016. The game is designed as a more accessible entry to the system for those who want something smaller and faster than the earlier monster game. Here the wide open desert, limited number of Formations, and short scenario length provide players with a rapid and fun introduction to the series, the chance to develop their play skills to become a more effective BCS player overall, and to take a good look at this poorly understood battle. Baptism by Fire chronicles the first real ground operations by the US Army in the European Theater of Operations during WWII and was definitely a test of their mettle as leaders made errors in learning how to attack and defeat the vaunted Germans. This one just came out in April and has been on my list ever since. I will get it soon but if you are interested, you can either find a copy on the GeekMarket on BGG or follow the link to the MMP page where you can get a copy for $76.00: http://www.multimanpublishing.com/Products/tabid/58/ProductID/340/Default.aspx
There you have our first edition of Wargame Watch where we looked at some really good games. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and gained some insight into the type of games that I enjoy playing. If you can think of a game that is worthy of being added to this watch, please leave it in the comments. Until July, get out there and find some great games!