I don’t know if you have been reading my monthly update comment posts, but the last several had become a little pedestrian. Although, the August update did have 2 new game offerings I was interested in, including Plains Indian Wars designed by John Poniske and FAB #4: Crusader North Africa 1941 designed by Michael Gustavvson (look for our interview with Michael the week of October 2nd), those throughout the summer weren’t real barn burners…..until this month!
On Thursday last week, I started to feel it. I could feel through the airwaves that Gene and Rachel all the way out on the west coast, hunkered down in the warehouse in the small hamlet of Hanover, were up to something big. How big, I didn’t really know. But I could feel it. It was, of course, the third week in the month, and usually the GMT monthly update is out by that time. But as my knee started to bother me, as if it was going to rain, the thunderclouds figuratively opened up and dumped on us! After the rain had cleared, and I had a chance to read through the entire monthly update after work, I was wiped out. No less than four new P500 games were offered as well as a number of Combat Commander reprints that I have been trying to obtain over the past few years for a reasonable price. What a day!
In case you missed the email, here is a link to the September Monthly Update from GMT Games: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/September-21-GMT-Update–New-P500s-and-Reprints–Production–More-.html?soid=1103480314715&aid=ADAhDyfdqKw
So, now, on to the news from this month:
A Time for Trumpets: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944
I love monster wargames….they don’t really always love me but I love them. They are glorious, huge and domineering. Well, with the news this month that A Time for Trumpets designed by Bruno Sinigaglio was being added to the P500, another monster has been unleashed and I just have to have it. With no less than 5 maps (that’s right, I said 5!) and 12 sheets with over 1,600 counters, this game is big. And after reading Gene’s introduction to the game in the update, I couldn’t resist.
The Battle of the Bulge is one of four major battles from World War II that seem to have the most designs out there. Those battles include Normandy, the East Front, North Africa and the Bulge. And, I have played a few Bulge games and seem to always come away dissatisfied. Most recently, we played Winter Thunder designed by the incomparable Brian Train and really enjoyed the design, especially the chit pull system and the attack matrix that uses a double blind draw. Delicious design that really left us wanting more! But even with those great elements, the battle is a difficult one to make a playable game. As we all know, the Germans simply spend the first 5-6 rounds running over the poorly supplied defending Americans (and British) and then the reinforcements show up, their resolve stiffens, the weather clears giving more air support and DRMs for combat and they begin to win back some of the ground that they gave up.
After reading the summary on the GMT Games game page, I became excited about the game as I read about some things I found familiar from my others plays of Bulge games, but also saw some new ideas included. I am excited to see the colors used for the counters as with 1,600 counters and probably 30+ different HQs, this game is going to be colorful.
Here is an excerpt from the game page to give you an idea of the different concepts included in the design: HQ activation status (active or resting), fatigue and exhaustion, command and control, formation supply, supply by air, German fuel shortages, American supply dumps, ground conditions, atmospheric conditions, air strafing and interdiction, construction of defensive positions and bridges, demolition, sacrosanct formation boundaries, limited winter movement across rivers and streams, strategic movement, infiltration due to limited visibility, over-run of vulnerable units, German night combat advantage, Kampfgruppe Peiper Breakout, German Nebelwerfer Operations, German FA Operations, Allied FA Operations, Time on Target, terrain effects for ground combat, weapons effects on ground combat, exploitation after combat, etc.
I’m ready to learn some history and take my turn commanding forces at the Battle of the Bulge. This game has been added to my P500 list and was really an easy choice for me.
If you are interested, here is a link to the game page where you can order A Time for Trumpets for the special P500 price of $89.00 (regularly $149.00, but remember, there are 5 maps and 1,600 counters): https://www.gmtgames.com/p-658-a-time-for-trumpets-the-battle-of-the-bulge-december-1944.aspx
Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah
Finally, GMT is doing a game on “Stonewall in the Valley”. I recently re-watched The Civil War by Ken Burns and was most intrigued by the battles in the Shenandoah Valley during 1862 where Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson led outnumbered Confederate troops to major victories over the superior Union forces in a series of battles during the summer. Using maneuverability to gain the advantage, and by breaking my up the superior numbered forces of the Union, he fought and defeated army after army and prevented the Union from reinforcing the Army of the Potomac and driving on Richmond.
This entry in the Great Battles of the American Civil War, which is Volume VIII, Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah is designed by Greg Lauback and uses the game system created by Richard Berg. The game has six different battles included, 3 battles in the Shenandoah during 1862 and three during 1864 with names like Kernstown, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic and Cedar Creek. One thing that interests me about the design is that the rules compare the development of the cavalry, and the changes in infantry and artillery organization and tactics in 1862 and 1864. I love history and this game will better help me understand the Civil War.
This game is also a bit of a monster. Containing 1,600 counters, and four different maps, three of which are double sided, the replayability of this one is off the chain. I have a friend who loves the Civil War, and we have played The U.S. Civil War from GMT and I can’t wait to get him in on this one.
If you are interested, here is a link to the game page where you can order Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah for the special P500 price of $59.00: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-659-death-valley-battles-for-the-shenandoah.aspx
There were two other new P500 offerings this month, that I will keep my eye on, including Saint-Omer to Saint Crispin: Tactical Battles of the Hundred Years War and MBT: 4CMBG Expansion. I’m just not yet ready to pull the trigger on these!
Four Combat Commander Series Reprints
If you don’t know, I love Combat Commander and own both Europe and Mediterranean versions, along with Battle Pack #1 Paratroopers, and have played dozens of scenarios. So, imagine my glee as I see that GMT has a plan for a mass reprint of lots of titles (Combat Commander: Pacific is one that I am very interested in but don’t have on my P500) as they offered 4 reprint P500’s this month including the following:
I am really most interested in Combat Commander: Resistance!, as I have always wanted to be able to include partisan combat in my scenarios. These units are embroiled in a war within the war as their battleground is behind enemy lines in an attempt to resist the occupations of the Axis countries. I have seen lots of photos from World War II of the French Resistance and their Sten guns, which immediately bring to my mind images of freedom fighting.
The other Battle Packs are great too and I will have to carefully consider which of these goodies I want to add to my list. Choices, choices! Too many choices and not enough money in my wallet to make them.
Conclusion and Summary of my P500 Orders
As I always do, I will now wrap this post up with a summary of where my 26 P500 games stand as of September 22nd. I routinely check the status of each of my games and also will show the change in orders as compared to the last time I wrote them down on August 21st.
- 1989: Dawn of Freedom – 223 [+7 orders] – A slow month. I don’t know why. I have heard and read that it is amazing and with the popularity of CDGs, this is another quality offering! Also, there are not many affordable copies at all out there on the market. Please help me move this one along.
- Here I Stand: Wars of the Reformation 1517-1555 – 1,234 [+67 orders, made the cut!] I love anything about the Reformation! Holy War anyone? This game is ready to ship as of October 11-12th, after the Weekend at the Warehouse event. Can’t wait to play this one!
- The Hunters 3rd Printing – 708 [+23 orders, made the cut!] WWII submarine warfare with the vaunted U-Boats! No tentative shipping date assigned yet.
- Navajo Wars 2nd Printing – 390 [+15 orders] I love stories and games about Native Americans. When I was a kid I read dozens of history books on Native Americans. Read my interview with Joel Toppen about Navajo Wars and Comanchería. I am eagerly awaiting this game as I have simply fallen in love with Comanchería.
- The Last Hundred Yards – 578 [+2 orders, made the cut!] A WWII tactical game that exhibits the actions and reactions of real troops from initiative, to communication and other factors. Yes, please! Read my interview with designer Mike Denson that was posted in November! Assigned tentative shipping date of “Later in 2018”. Boo! I actually received a call from the designer last week and he has asked if we would play a few scenarios and give him our thoughts. I said yes and am excited for the opportunity!
- Hitler’s Reich – 787 [+42 orders, made the cut!] WWII Card Driven Game that plays in under 2 hours. Read my interview with designer Mark McLaughlin that was posted in December. Has been assigned a tentative shipping date of December 2017. Here also is a look at THE final cover (switched out the picture of a suspected Nazi war criminal with that of General Erwin Rommel). I think it looks great!:
- Bayonets & Tomahawks – 670 [+10 orders, made the cut!] – I love a good game about the French & Indian War. Read my interview with designer Marc Rodrigue about B&T! Assigned a tentative shipping date of 2nd quarter 2018.
- Holland ’44: Operation Market-Garden – 1,670 [+151 orders, made the cut!] – Airborne paratroopers over the fields of Holland. Plus, Mark Simonitch can surely design a great game – see The U.S. Civil War. Read my interview with designer Mark Simonitch about Holland ’44. This game is currently charging and set to start shipping at the end of August, but I have yet to get my copy. This will come off my list next month. Here is a look at its final cover:
- Imperial Struggle – 2,051 [+33 orders, made the cut on 1st day!] Assigned a tentative shipping date of later in 2018 so there must be some struggles ongoing with the design! I have reached out to designer Ananda Gupta for an interview but I need to follow up with him. Ananda?
- Ariovistus: A Falling Sky Expansion – 1,348 [+29 orders, made the cut!] – I love Falling Sky and when this one was offered, it didn’t take me long to order it! A 5th playable faction and some new upgraded components for the base game. My interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke was posted in October 2016. Tentative shipping date of 2nd quarter 2018. Still a ways off! They are looking for playtesters for the game and Volko Ruhnke posted the following message: We are looking for a few willing play testers who know Falling Sky and would like to try out Ariovistus. You would need to be willing to assemble a test kit to augment your Falling Sky set with added cards, forces pieces, markers, and charts. If interested, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! If interested, give him a shout!
- The Russian Campaign: Designer Signature Edition – 1,242 [+14 orders, made the cut!] – I now own an Eastern Front game (No Retreat! The Russian Front) but this one is THE quintessentially respected volume! It will be mine. Tentative shipping date of later in 2018 set at this point.
- Cataclysm A Second World War – 739 [+34 orders, made the cut!] – I am very interested in this sandbox style game of World War II that starts in 1933 and where anything can happen, including French tanks rolling into Berlin! Read my interview with Scott Muldoon and Bill Terdoslavich about Cataclysm! Tentative shipping date of 1st Quarter 2018 set at this point. On another interesting note, the game has gone in a slightly different direction as they have now designed not only the game covering Europe but also in the Pacific.
- Roads to Leningrad 2nd Printing – 148 [+2 orders] – This game is medium complexity and has high suitability for solitaire. Also, this is the 2nd edition and they are fixing some of the rules, updating the map and player aides (full color) and also there are 528 counters! I love counters and this game has 528. Read my interview with designer Vance von Borries. Game was saved from P500 purgatory earlier this year! Thanks for all who ordered.
- SpaceCorp: 2025-3000 AD – 1,256 [+56 orders, made the cut!] I love a good Sci-Fi themed game and this one looks great. I also really enjoy John Butterfield’s designs. Read my interview with John for some great insight into the game and the design process. Tentative shipping date of 2nd quarter 2018 assigned.
- Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs – 599 [+11 orders, made the cut!] Tank on tank combat in World War II for up to 8 players! Panzers, T34’s, what more could you want in a game? I have reached out to designer Mike Bertucelli and he is working on my interview. Tentative shipping date has been assigned as later in 2018.
- Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – 822 [+59 orders, made the cut!] A fantastic looking abstracted game of civilization building in the Mediterranean designed by Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge. This game is sure to be a winner! Read my interview with Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge. Assigned a tentative shipping date of 2nd quarter 2018.
- Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India 1917-1947 – 1,123 [+26 orders, after only 2 days…made the cut!] – I love the COIN Series of games and this one includes a Non-Violent faction, in a wargame. I have got to see this in action! Read our interview with designer Bruce Mansfield. No tentative shipping date assigned as of yet.
- France ’40 2nd Printing – 122 [+8 orders] – Reprint of a great looking game on the initial push of the Germans into France during World War II and it is designed by Mark Simonitch.
- Andean Abyss: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Columbia 2nd Printing – 472 [+16 orders] – I love the COIN Series and have finally added this one to my list as it nears the required 500 orders. I cannot wait to play the first game in the series to see how the system has evolved from the beginning. Assigned a tentative shipping date of 2nd quarter 2018 as part of the COINfest.
- A World at War 3rd Printing – 87 [+14 orders] – A monster wargame for sure but it is one that I have wanted in my collection for a while now. When it was offered in April as a reprint, I was sucked into its tractor beam and had no choice but to order it! Curiously assigned a tentative shipping date of 1st quarter 2018.
- Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition – 401 [+30 orders] – Ted Raicer’s fantastic Card Driven Game set in World War I, but this version will be deluxe, which means shiny and new. I had to add this classic to my list in April. When a game is on its 6th Printing, what does that say about it?
- Ardennes ’44 Reprint – 590 [+37 orders, made the cut!] – I added this game to my list in late May as I have always wanted a good game on the Battle of the Bulge and have heard that this one fits that bill. Mark Simonitch designs are always good and this one actually looks great! Assigned a tentative shipping date of later in 2018. But, now with A Time for Trumpets, should I still get both?
- Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-1861 – 636 [+61 orders, made the cut!] Here is my interview with Mark Herman. The game has been assigned a tentative shipping date of 1st quarter 2018.
- Plains Indian Wars – 186 [+142 orders] – A great game that looks at the inevitable wars between the expanding United States and the proud Native American tribes of the west. Read our interview on the game with John Poniske.
- A Time for Trumpets: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – 158
- Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah – 301
I ended up ordering 2 new games this month on the P500 bringing my total to 26 (was 26 last month and I replaced 2 games that I received from the list with two new games. That isnt a problem. right?!?)! One day I will whip this problem of mine, but not anytime soon. I still have my eye on several of the other recent new offerings (including Golden Gate Park and Red Storm) as well as others that have been on the list for a while (Absolute War! The Attack on Russia 1941-1944). Please consider helping me out by P500’ing one or all of these great games on my list! You will be helping me personally as I can get to play these great games sooner and you also will be helping out GMT Games, who has given us all such great joy with their creations!
One other comment. I want to again thank GMT Games for the way they promote content creators by sharing our stuff on their site as well as through their monthly email update. Below is a picture of a paragraph in the monthly update email highlighting our recent interview with John Poniske designer of Plains Indian Wars. From this post, as well as from other reviews of ours on their email update, we have received about 1,500 views since it dropped late Thursday afternoon. We expect to get a few thousand more views over the weekend from this shout out and we greatly appreciate it.
It is also really great to see our reviews highlighted along the side of the update under the game cover pictures. I counted them up and we have 19 of our reviews shown. That is so important to get our content out there and we appreciate it. GMT Games, we salute you!
Keep up the great work GMT and I look forward to the many new games we will all get to explore over the next year with you!
Thanks for your review of these games.
I have Mr. Sinigaglio’s 1981 Battle of the Bulge from Avalon Hill. My how gaming has changed! I’m sure you will enjoy Time for Trumpets even if it is a monster game.
Speaking of enjoying a game, indeed Combat Commander’s Resistance is worth the wait. Chad seamlessly blended the various flavors of partisans into the basic game structure. A great addition to that series.
Finally, perhaps you have seen GMT’s sneak peak at the game maps on their website for Valley of Death; they are truly awesome. Back in July, you interviewed graphic designer Nicolas Eskubi who commented that “a good map is the backbone of the game.” Truly, whoever designed the maps for Valley of Death constructed an excellent backbone. Too bad James Day didn’t use that designer for MBT; it might have become a series worth investing in.
I have AH/MMPs Stonewall in the Valley from 1995 and recall with some amazement the small size of the combat units swallowed up in the 3 map presentation of the entire Valley’s terrain. Another testament to Nicolas’ observation.