2017 came to a rapid close and when I look back on the year, and the great games that we were able to play, I am amazed. In fact, I looked back at my 7 Most Anticipated Wargames of 2017 post and marvel at the solid games that were published. On that list appeared games such as Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-1962 at #6, Saipan The Bloody Rock at #5, Pericles: The Peleponnesian Wars 460-400 BC at #2 and Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain at #1. We were able to play all of those games and really enjoyed them and will be doing a Top 10 Wargames of 2017 post over the next month as we still have a few we would like to play.
We are again in the annual time of lists! After the New Year was celebrated, every board game blogger across the world was feverishly putting together their various Top 10 lists. I like lists. Don’t get me wrong! I love to see what other’s opinions are and then measure my own list against theirs to see how I stack up. Validation or sometimes something else! So, I have my first list of 2018. I would like to share with you my top 10 hotly anticipated wargames that are set to debut in 2018. Please keep in mind that these are wargames that I am interested in and anticipate and may not line up with your concept of what a wargame is, or more importantly, what your individual tastes are. I do appreciate feedback though so please make sure you share your most anticipated games in the comments below as I would love to see what you are into as it might give me some new games to keep an eye on.
10. America Falling: The Coming Civil War from One Small Step Games
An apocalyptic game about the end of America? I dare say that we have each had cause to think that things were coming to an end over the past few years. In comes America Falling: The Coming Civil War from One Small Step Games and designed by Ty Bomba. The game is a post apocalyptic vision of America that enables two players to simulate the entire first year of a hypothesized near-future civil war across all of the lower-48 states. One player will command the conservative “Red” forces while the other leads the liberal “Blue” forces. I was really drawn to this game because the theme it has is kind of a rare one within wargames and this design seems to really embrace a lot of the social issues that we as Americans are dealing with presently. I did an interview with the designer covering the design, which really gives a lot insight into what the game is about.
What is the basis for the oncoming civil war? According to the designer, an increasing unwillingness to compromise concerning the issues of class, race, ethnicity and religion that increasingly divide the populace, while an ever more wildly uneven distribution of wealth creates a socio-political top one percent whose lives no longer have any connection to the mass of the society they’re supposedly leading.
The design consists of a structured phasing of possible actions for each side, there are 13 different actions possible, with about 90 percent of each game turn being spent in the Alternating Actions Phase, during which players essentially take turns moving or fighting or recruiting one force at a time. Then there’s the Separatist Phase, in which die roll checks are made to determine if some new splinter group has seized control in one or another city. Finally, there’s the Administrative Phase, which is basically just used for housekeeping around the map, including checking point tabulations, retrieving airpower markers, etc.
I have really been taken by the theme on this one as the art used really gives a feeling of a future out of control. I also really like the various elements included in the game such as subversion of your enemy forces, Cyber Warfare as well as the use of Terror. Remember that the combatants in this game are all Americans and occasionally there can be a new revelation or something happen that will test allegiance to one side or the other or that will cause an even greater hatred to burn leading to less than savory actions. This game has thought about all of these type of situations and is really rather interesting looking.
This game is not yet being offered for pre-order but should be out by the end of the year.
9. Pavlov’s House: The Battle for Stalingrad from Dan Verssen Games
Offered on Kickstarter in October 2017, Pavlov’s House: The Battle for Stalingrad from Dan Verssen Games looks really good and really appears to have some nifty innovations included in the design. 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 a link to 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 the game, it was funded on Kickstarter and is supposed to be hitting the market sometime in January, but I am unsure if the game will be offered at retail. You may have to find a copy on eBay or the BGG Market. For a little more information on Pavlov’s House: The Battle for 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
8. Normandy The Beginning of the End from Draco Ideas
Normandy The Beginning of the End is a stand-alone game in the War Storm Series and recreates the events of the most famous battles of the D-Day invasion in June, 1944 on the American beaches at a tactical level. Players take command of either the Allied or Axis forces (or can play solitaire) in the tactical battles of each scenario.
Normandy The Beginning of the End utilizes the “Paths to Hell” standard rules, but also incorporates new and adapted rules and additions for this new front. The WSS promises many hours of fierce fighting between the infantry, tanks, artillery and aircraft belonging to the armies enveloped in this conflict.
Based on the principle of simultaneous execution, or simply “WE GO”, a hybrid system of turns and “real time” is used to drive the play. Players must activate unit officers to perform many actions (fire, assault, move, coordinate, etc). A turn ends when both players have completed all their activations. The scale is platoon level with units representing groups of between 30 and 40 soldiers, weapons units represent groups of 3-4 weapons and their accompanying crews (20-25 soldiers), and the AFvs-Transports representing groups of 3 to 5 vehicles and their corresponding crews. Scenarios are divided into turns representing about 12-15 minutes of action.
The game uses isomorphic mapboards, each of which are aligned to any edge of equal length on any other map board. This allows for an almost unlimited number of combinations to create any terrain situation, including player designed scenarios. Each map hex represents a distance of approximately 150 to 200 meters.
The game is coming to Kickstarter as of January 16, 2018. I have reached out to one of the designers Nicolás Eskubi to try and get an interview done on the game sometime before the Kickstarter launches so look for that.
7. Thunder in the East from Victory Point Games
I have been following this game for quite a while. In fact, we published an interview with the game designer Frank Chadwick in March 2017, which shares a lot of insight into how the game plays and the plans for the series into the future.
Rather than me talking about the game or sharing information from the publisher, this game is currently on Kickstarter and has about 14 days to go (as of January 10, 2018). Here is a link to the Kickstarter page where you watch videos and read to your hearts content: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/567823005/thunder-in-the-east/description
The game is a playable monster and looks very interesting. I especially love Victory Point Games counters and these particular counters look fantastic as always. Thunder in the East is the first volume in Frank’s new ETO (European Theater of Operations) series and there is more to come in the future. If you didn’t know, Frank is one of the more venerated designers and has been around for a long time in the field so his experience, coupled with his very interesting ways of addressing design challenges are sure to make this game into a fantastic play experience.
6. Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Southern Strategy from Hollandspiele
After having played and absolutely loved Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777, I was overjoyed to read late last year that Tom Russell was already working on the 2nd volume in this series called, you guessed it, Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Southern Strategy.
At this point, I don’t know a lot about the game but have read where it will introduce Partisan Boxes to the conflict that allows the American player to perform hit and run attacks on the mighty British Forces. The American player will also have access to a special counter that represents Francis Marion, the infamous Swamp Fox, who was known for his guerilla attacks in the Southern Colonies (specifically in South Carolina). To counter this though, the British player will have access to Loyalist forces that can combat the Partisan efforts in the swamps and rivers of North and South Carolina. This game simply will be a joy and would be higher on this list if I knew more about it.
In the meantime, you can check out our unboxing video for Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775-1777 to whet your appetite. I will also most definitely be reaching out to Tom to see if we can do an interview sometime soon!
5. Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917-1947 from GMT Games
I love COIN Games! And this new volume promises to deliver a new experience to the system. Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917–1947 is Volume IX in GMT’s acclaimed COIN Series and attempts to explore one of the world’s most prominent experiments with nonviolent resistance. Gandhi takes us to the subcontinent of India, the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, for a detailed look at the final decades of the British Raj. 1 to 4 players compete to determine the future of India.
Gandhi offers a fresh perspective on the history of insurgency with the addition of a new type of faction to the COIN Series, the Nonviolent (NV) faction, while retaining the multi-faction, asymmetrical, card-assisted system of earlier titles in the COIN Series. COIN veterans will be able to jump right in and I am really looking forward to this experience. I did an interview with game designer Bruce Mansfield where you can get a lot of insight into the various factions, their victory conditions and what is new and fresh about this game.
If you are interested in Gandhi, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $56 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-630-gandhi-the-decolonization-of-british-india-19171947.aspx
The game has “Made the Cut” and currently is still in playtesting. GMT has said that the game will be ready later in 2018, maybe around Christmas time! COIN for Christmas is always a good thing!
4. Cataclysm A Second World War from GMT Games
Where do I start with this one. I am really excited about Cataclysm A Second World War as it gives us players an opportunity to play out World War II in a totally new way, on the grand strategic level where absolutely anything can happen! No limits.
Military pieces have no factors or ratings. What? The capability of your forces increases as you shift the commitment of your economy from civilian to military production. Land, air, and naval forces all have their role in prosecuting war. There is no Combat Results Table. Huh? You are joking right?!? Instead, battles are resolved by opposed die rolls with a limited number of modifiers capturing the most important operational effects. The area map emphasizes political boundaries, drawing attention to strategically critical territory, encouraging players to think in broad terms of resource acquisition, control of border states, and the perception of power as the arms race plays out.
Another element that is really intriguing to me, and I am really having a hard time understanding, is that there is no Sequence of Play as we know it. Instead, Cataclysm relies upon a strategic chit pull system that randomizes the order of not only your actions, but also the appearance of newly built combat units. Can you imagine the chaos as well as uncertainty that this mechanic choice will create? Well, this game might just be the closest thing there is to actually trying to prosecute a massive world war across 7 continents.
The full game of Cataclysm covers the entire globe and runs from 1933 to 1950. The extensive playbook includes several additional scenarios allowing for a range of theatres and start points. Special rules account for Appeasement, the Chinese Civil War, Lend Lease, the Atomic Bomb, the Great Purge, Dreadnought Refits, etc. Great care has been taken to allow a different but plausible alternate history to unfold with every play. Intrigued? You should be and that is the reason that this game landed in this spot. I am very much looking forward to playing this one. We did an interview with the game’s designers William Terdoslavich and Scott Muldoon that will give you some really great insight into this one.
If you are interested in Cataclysm, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $55 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-519-cataclysm.aspx
Cataclysm is nearing the finish line as evidenced by that evocative cover that I showed you earlier. The game is currently on target to release in March 2018.
3. Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-1861 from GMT Games
I love Mark Herman games. I also love Card Driven Games. Hence, Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-1861 is on this list in the 3rd spot. Fort Sumter is a two-player Card Driven Game (CDG) portraying the 1860 secession crisis that led to the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War. Fort Sumter is a small footprint game (11×17” mounted map) that takes approximately 25-40 minutes to play. I like to refer to this game as a “lunch hour” game as it is perfect for that 45 minute lunch that most of us get.
The game pits a Unionist versus a Secessionist player. Each player uses the area control mechanic pioneered in Mark’s We The People design and immortalized in Twilight Struggle to place, move, and remove political capital. The location of political capital determines who controls each of the four crisis dimensions including Political, Secession, Public Opinion, and Armaments. After three rounds of play, the game culminates in a Final Crisis confrontation to determine the winner.
We also did an interview with Mark Herman on Fort Sumter that you can read and get some better insight into the mechanics.
If you are interested in Fort Sumter, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $29 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-648-fort-sumter-the-secession-crisis-1860-61.aspx
Fort Sumter is currently on target to release in March 2018.
1b. Montélimar: The Anvil of Fate from Compass Games
I am a chicken. I just couldn’t decide amongst these next two games which I was most anticipating so I took the easy way out and assigned them a 1a and 1b. Next up in the new Company Scale System (CSS) from Adam Starkweather comes Montélimar: The Anvil of Fate which takes a look at the Allied advance in Southern France in the Rhone Valley in August 1944.
Using the graphic design talents of Antonio Pinar Peña again, Compass Games appears to have another winner on their hands as we really enjoyed our experience with the CSS system in Saipan The Bloody Rock. The map absolutely is gorgeous and the counters are simple yet functional and the system really has a lot of great elements, including their use of support weapons and how they are moved around.
If you are interested in Montélimar: The Anvil of Fate, you can pre-order a copy for $109.00 from the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/montelimar-anvil-of-fate.html
Montélimar is set to release in March 2018. Yes, March is going to be a really hot month for new wargames in 2018!
1a. Imperial Struggle: The Global Rivalry Between England and France, 1697-1789 from GMT Games
The top spot in this list goes to another GMT Games design. You may have noticed that I have a clear GMT bias, as four of the top give games on this list are theirs. I am not hiding that fact! Because their games are just that good!
So, why did Imperial Struggle win the top spot? Well, because it is sure to be awesome! My favorite game of all time is Twilight Struggle. You might ask who cares and what does that have to do here? Well, I will tell you. TS is designed by the same duo that is undertaking the design of Imperial Struggle, namely Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews. I only share that as I am sure these two guys know what they are doing and since I liked their other effort, I am sure that this one will be just as awesome!
Imperial Struggle is a two-player game depicting the 18th century rivalry between France and Britain. It begins in 1697, as the two realms wait warily for the King of Spain to name an heir, and ends in 1789, when a new order brought down the Bastille. The game is not merely about war: both France and Britain must build the foundations of colonial wealth, deal with the other nations of Europe, and compete for glory across the span of human endeavor.
Imperial Struggle covers almost 100 years of history and four major wars. Yet it remains a quick-playing, low-complexity game. It aims to honor its spiritual ancestor, Twilight Struggle, by pushing further in the direction of simple rules and playable systems, while maintaining global scope and historical sweep in the scope of a single evening. In peace turns, players build their economic interests and alliances, and take advantage of historical events represented by Event cards. They must choose their investments wisely, but also with an eye to denying these opportunities to their opponent. In war turns, each theater can bring great rewards of conquest and prestige… but territorial gains can disappear at the treaty table. At the end of the century, will the British rule an empire on which the sun never sets? Or will France light the way for the world, as the superpower of the Sun King’s dreams or the republic of Lafayette’s?
I have been very intrigued by several aspects of the design including the fact that the game isn’t only about war but has a focus on the economic side of the two powers. There are two types of turns in Imperial Struggle: peace turns and war turns. During each peace turn, an array of Investment Tiles are laid out: each tile represents a diplomatic, military, or economic opportunity your government can exploit. Each tile shows the action points you’ll be able to spend when you choose it – but be careful – if there’s only one Diplomatic tile on view, it may be worth denying it to your opponent rather than taking an Economic or Military tile with a higher action point value. With Economic action points you’ll extend and develop your control over trade in essential commodities: furs, sugar, cotton, and spices; with Diplomatic ones, you’ll negotiate understandings with other European countries and native groups; and with Military points you’ll decide the extent of your military preparations for the inevitable wars to come and fortify your colonial holdings against unrest. With all three, you’ll have the chance to take the lead from your opponent in areas of competition like taxation, industry, and scholarship. And, like your historical counterparts, you’ll have to keep a close eye on the massive debt that can accumulate as a result of your ambitions.
Imperial Struggle is sure to be a vast and sweeping look at this titanic struggle of two heavy weights as they fight to secure their empires now and into the future. If you are interested in a pre-ordering a copy of the game, you can do so at the following link for the price of $39: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-599-imperial-struggle.aspx
Imperial Struggle does not yet have a specific release date set but is expected to be in late 2018.
I most likely could have added about a dozen other games to this list and am always disappointed when I have to limit it to a certain number. Other games that I am eagerly anticipating include Raiders of the Deep: U-Boats of the Great War, 1914-1918 from Compass Games, Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga from VentoNuovo Games, Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk from Flying Pig Games, Hitler’s Reich from GMT Games and The Last Hundred Yards from GMT Games to name a few.
I hope that you have enjoyed the experience of getting some insight into my tastes for wargames. I tend to really like experiences and Card Driven Games or games based heavily on player interaction usually top my list. Don’t get me wrong. A good old fashioned hex and counter wargame is great as well, and I have several of those I have my eye on.
If you agree or disagree, please share your thoughts with me as I love to hear from our readers.