Another month has come and gone. But, it appears that the onslaught of new, high quality wargames has not diminished. I am simply amazed at the market right now. It used to be that you would see only a few wargames a month, with almost never being offered on Kickstarter, and frankly some of those weren’t really that great. But now, it seems that every time I turn around there is another fantastic looking game being marketed. I am not complaining. Far from it. But I will say that my budget has a limit and it is getting harder and harder to commit to buying a few games a month.
In this month’s edition of Wargame Watch, we will take a look at several new wargames, with two of those being offered on Kickstarter. I have really been intrigued lately by some of our hobby’s smaller publishers and I really am enjoying what they are doing. If you missed last month’s Wargame Watch, you can check it out here.
With that being said, here is a look at recently(ish) announced pre-order games as well as those that have recently been released. The order is not important in the post as this is not a ranking. These are just games that I am interested in and want to point out to you.
1. Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization and Unrest in Lower Canada, 1834-1837 from Compass Games
I love Card Driven Games. I love them because they are different, they incorporate really cool historical flavor into the gameplay, and I also really feel like I have a chance to change history. Compass Games has another offering on Kickstarter that uses the CDG format to tell the story of unrest in lower Canada in the province of Quebec in the 1830s as yet another colonial power was challenged by peace and freedom loving Patriotes. This game is NOT a wargame, as the battles that did occur were pretty one sided in the favor of the British crown, but struggle still exists in the form of the political wrangling and maneuvering needed to sway each area to your cause.
As the Patriote player, you must galvanize your constituents across the wide-open rural counties of Lower Canada, attempting to unify them to your cause, county by county, outwitting your opponent through clever political maneuvering and wrangling. But you must never neglect the urban centers of Montreal and Quebec, for without these essential population centers your cause will be lost. You must also worry about holding troublemakers at bay as they seek to foment the people and call them to a hopeless uprising against the British army. Do your best to guide this colony into the future – peacefully or painfully.
As the Loyal player, representing a loose coalition benefiting from the system in place under the British Crown, you have a solid foothold in the two cities and it is from this base that you will launch your political campaign. The Patriotes will dominate the far-flung rural areas for a time, but you must use your financial edge and the threat of army retaliation to stymie self-rule and freedom. Let the seeds of violence slowly take root as you steer people towards the status quo and quench their thirst for a fairer political system.
So how does this struggle play out? As you can see from the picture below showing the map board, each area has a track that shows either Patriote support or Loyal support. These tracks are influenced by the play of Event cards that will either increase or lower support in specific areas or in specific ways and will also score victory points. At the beginning of each turn, players are dealt a number of cards that they must manage in order to move themselves closer to their goals. These cards provide Activity Points or APs that can be used to fuel certain special actions or players can take the events on the cards to gain advantage. In the end, various custom dice will be rolled to see what tracks will score, which is a really innovative way of handling this part of the design.
To get a little better feel for the game and how it works, the designer Marco Poutré has posted a series of videos and here is the first one giving a brief overview: https://youtu.be/94E1vFlK07M
There are other videos that cover different aspects of the game that I would recommend you watch. If you are interested in backing Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization and Unrest in Lower Canada, 1834-1837, you can check it out on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1740564825/prelude-to-rebellion-mobilization-and-unrest-in-lo?ref=consimworld You can get a copy of the game on Kickstarter for $75.00 and it appears that it will be delivered in April 2018.
2. Pavlov’s House: The Battle of Stalingrad from Dan Verssen Games
Another Kickstarter offering that looks really good is Pavlov’s House The Battle of Stalingrad from Dan Verssen Games. This game is based on a historical struggle during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II over a fortified apartment building that was defended by the Red Army for 60 days from the Wehrmacht invaders. The siege lasted from 27 September to 25 November 1942 and eventually the Soviet forces managed to relieve it from the siege. It gained its popular name from Sergeant Yakov Pavlov, who commanded the platoon that seized the building and defended it during the long battle.
The game board seen below depicts three different views of the Stalingrad battleground. On the left side of the board is a view inside of Pavlov’s House. This portion of the board is used for tactical-level movement of the Soviet counters. In the middle of the board is a view of the area immediately surrounding Pavlov’s House (primarily 9 January Square). This portion of the board is used for tracking Wehrmacht counters as well as the deployment of sappers in the defense of Pavlov’s House. On the right side of the board is a depiction of the Volga River and operational-level elements of the Soviet 62nd Army, which were critical in the defense of Pavlov’s House. The colored square areas on the Pavlov’s House section of the board are combat positions used by the Soviet counters. The colored circle areas on the 9 January Square section of the board are where Wehrmacht counters are placed and advance towards Pavlov’s House.
The game is divided into three parts each turn. The first phase is the Soviet Card Phase, where the Soviet player can play cards that represent operational level elements of the battle on the far right side of the map, including the movement of supplies across the Volga River, the redeploying of antiaircraft assets and readying artillery, all which were key to the successful defense of the building. The second phase is the German Card Phase, which allows the German player to play their cards taking tactical actions on the center of the map to advance on the building with Rifleman and Panzers supported by artillery fire and Stuka dive bombers. The third and final phase is the Soviet Counter Phase where the defenders of the building work together to fight off the advance of the Germans using antitank, rifleman, snipers, forward observers and machine gunners, all represented by beautiful looking counters.
For a little closer look at the game, the designer David Thompson has put together a few videos to showcase the game and teach the rules so here is the first overview video: https://youtu.be/c-JsC8ctqeU
Here also is a link to the rulebook: http://www.digitalcapricorn.com/Pavlov/Downloads/Rules.pdf
If you are interested in backing Pavlov’s House: The Battle of Stalingrad, you can check it out on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11606594/pavlovs-house-the-battle-for-stalingrad?ref=consimworld You can get a copy of the game for only $40 on Kickstarter and it is expected to release in January 2018.
3. FAB #4: Crusader North Africa 1941 from GMT Games
I have yet to play a FAB (Fast Action Battle) game but have had my eye on The Bulge: FAB #1 as well as Sicily: FAB #2 as I really enjoy block wargames as they give such an interesting perspective on combat and fog of war. Crusader North Africa 1941 designed by Michael Gustavsson and from GMT Games deals with North Africa and the famous siege of Tobruk. As the Allied player, you control the XXX and XIII corps, Tobruk Garrison and the Strategic Reserve force of the 8th Army. As the Axis player, you control the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps), the Italian XXI corps and the Corpo d’ Armata di Manovra (CAM) of the Panzergruppe Afrika commanded by the famous Erwin Rommel. This game promises to give a great fast playing experience of desert tank warfare during World War II. I am on the fence about ordering this one as I have yet to play a FAB game but it does look interesting. Maybe it will grow on me. I have reached out to the designer and here is a link to our interview.
If your are interested in preordering the game, here is a link to the P500 game page on GMT Games site where you can order a copy for just $45.00: http://www.gmtgames.com/p-655-crusader-fab-4.aspx
4. Longstreet Attacks: The Second Day at Gettysburg from Revolution Games
Longstreet Attacks: The Second Day at Gettysburg is a game simulating the fighting on July 2nd, 1863 during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg and focuses on the southern portion of the battlefield. These engagements involved General Longstreet’s attack against Sickles’ positions, with troops from Hood’s and McLaws’ Divisions, assisted as well by Anderson’s Division of A.P. Hill’s Corps.
The game is specifically designed to be a playable regimental-scale game that players can complete in a long evening. It allows the players the immersive experience of tactical combat without the heavy rules overhead normally found in such games, while also delivering a comprehensive experience of limited intelligence and unexpected events. The game features the Blind Swords chit-pull system which emphasizes the three “FOW’s” of military conflict: fog-of-war, friction-of-war and fortunes-of-war. With each chit pull, players will be challenged to make tough decisions based on their assessment of the situation at that moment. Unlike traditional chit-pull systems, the Blind Swords system ensures that no combat units can be counted on, or conversely, counted out. This yields an environment of tense action and constant surprises – an environment that will challenge each player.
One thing I like about this design is that they focus on the unreliability of troops under fire with the FOW’s. One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Civil War was how well the South fought as compared to the Union. This game looks like it will take into account a lot of those elements. I also really enjoy chit pull systems as you can never quite plan properly as you don’t know what formations you will be activating at any given time.
If you are interested in Longstreet Attacks: The Second Day at Gettysburg you can preorder a copy for $45.00 at the following link: http://www.revolutiongames.us/ It appears that the game is planned to ship during the first quarter of 2018.
1. Operation Icarus from Tiny Battle Publishing
I have really come to enjoy What If? scenarios of battles either conceived but never fought or that simply never happened. They have a very important place in our hobby as they allow us to look at what could have happened versus what did happen. Operation Icarus from Tiny Battle Publishing is such a game.
On May 9, 1940, Great Britain issued a message to the leadership of Iceland, offering military defense of the island kingdom in exchange for permission for British troops to establish a base there, expelling existing German diplomats and forces, and preventing a German invasion of Britain from the north.
The Icelandic government declined, stating its neutrality. The following day, the British invaded without resistance at Reykjavik, and the rest is history. But what if German invasion forces had beaten the British to Iceland? Or had landed simultaneously or shortly after?
The Germans named their unrealized plan to invade Iceland “Unternehmen Ikarus”, Operation Icarus. Tiny Battle Publishing’s thrilling game of the same name revives this tenuous turning point in World War II, where British troops stood between Germany and the rest of the world, on 40,000 square miles of icy rock in the North Atlantic.
Operation Icarus is a brigade-level tactical wargame featuring land, sea, and air units navigating Iceland, the ocean and sea surrounding it, as well as the skies above. The game comes with three different scenarios and is a compact game with 88 counters and 44 markers. This game looks really good and I already have a copy on its way and look forward to playing this very much.
If you are interested in a copy of Operation Icarus from Tiny Battle Publishing, you can order a copy for $24.00 at the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/operation-icarus
2. Triumph of the Will: Nazi Germany vs. Imperial Japan, 1948 from Compass Games
Triumph of the Will: Nazi Germany vs. Imperial Japan, 1948 pits two players against each to game the entirety of alternative history’s worst nightmare: a triumphant Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, having won World War II and conquered the planet in 1945, square off against each other – for total domination – three years later. The game’s two area-movement mapsheets join along the equator to show the whole world, including the Arctic and Antarctic.
I am interested in this game because I have come to enjoy alternative history designs but also because the designer Ty Bombe has created a neat mix of several game mechanics in order to simulate and recreate the difficulties involved in such a grand-strategic effort aimed at controlling the whole globe. The keynote is a system in which making moves switches rapidly back and forth between the players one “action” at a time. There are no long waits for your opponent to finish his move so the game plays fast and furious and both players are kept fully involved at all times.
The game also looks at the advent of nuclear weapons and provides those at your disposal to use tactically and judiciously. Of course, if too many mushroom clouds appear, there’s an increasing chance “nuclear winter” will engulf the Earth, in which case both players lose. Similarly, clandestine guerrilla forces of the underground “United Nations” resistance organization are constantly lurking, ready to fill any power vacuum left behind your front and raise their sky-blue flag of rebellion. I did an interview with Ty covering this design earlier this year and you can read that interview here.
If you are interested in ordering a copy of Triumph of the Will: Nazi Germany vs. Imperial Japan, 1948 from Compass Games you can follow this link to order one for $57.00: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/triumph-of-the-will.html
3. A Dark and Bloody Battleground: The Battle for Kekionga, 1790 from High Flying Dice Games
I have mentioned this before but I really am drawn to colonial wargames, including those fought during the Revolutionary War, but also those fought pre-Revolution during the French and Indian War or after, such as Blood on the Ohio from designer John Poniske. The next two games on this list feature battles fought after the conclusion of the American Revolution as the country began to expand west into the Old Northwest Territory and come into contact with hostile Indian tribes who were attempting to defend their land as well as their way of life and culture.
The struggle for the Old Northwest Territory (what would become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) was terribly violent. Massacres and atrocities seemed to follow one upon the other and in 1790 the new US Government authorized its first war against the Native Americans for control of the region. A force of US regulars and militia from Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania gathered at Cincinnati and drove on the Miami’s main settlement of Kekionga. The resulting fight was a horrendous defeat of the US force, and ushered in a new and more violent phase of this struggle.
One other thing that I really like about this game (as well as the companion game below) is the art. HFDG has really outdone themselves this time using Nils Johannson to do these beautiful counters and map.
If you are interested in ordering a copy of A Dark and Bloody Battleground: The Battle for Kekionga, 1790 from High Flying Dice Games you can follow this link to order one for $11.95: http://www.hfdgames.com/dabb.html If you want mounted counters, you will have to add $5.00 but that is still a really good deal for the art alone.
4. St. Clair’s Folly: The Battle of the Wabash River, 1791 from High Flying Dice Games
Determined to wrest control of the Northwest Territory from the Native American nations and tribes inhabiting the area, and concerned by the British Government’s lack of withdrawal of troops and fortifications in the northern and eastern sections of the territory (particularly in present-day Michigan and Indiana), the US Government authorized military takeover of the region. In 1790, a small force of militia and US Regulars under General Harmer were soundly defeated by the Miami at the Maumee River near their main settlement of Kekionga. Alarmed, the US Congress and President Washington authorized the mobilization of an even larger force, this time to be led by the Territory’s first Governor and General of the Army, Arthur St. Clair. This would be the first full scale conflict waged by the new nation, and President Washington was very much concerned about the risks such an undertaking involved.
If you are interested in ordering a copy of St. Clair’s Folly: The Battle of the Wabash River, 1791 from High Flying Dice Games you can follow this link to order one for $11.95: http://www.hfdgames.com/scf.html If you want mounted counters, you will have to add $5.00.
I will be reaching out to Paul Rohrbaugh with High Flying Dice Games to see if he would be interested in doing an interview with me for these two last games (St. Clair’s Folly and A Dark and Bloody Battleground) as I really can’t find much on how they play. I will let you know how that goes.
There are so many games out there right now that look really good. Too many really. The games that I highlighted this month are ones that appear to be worthy of some of my money and time and several of them are very affordable. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and gained some insight into the type of games that I enjoy playing and am anticipating. If you can think of a game that is worthy of being added to this watch, please leave it in the comments. Until November, get out there and play some great games!