Another month has come and gone. The weather is beginning to warm up, and so are the games that are coming out or being offered for pre-order. This month there are a lot of solid big games being offered from some of the better publishers such as GMT Games and Compass Games. There are also some really great looking smaller games that I definitely want to give a try. If you missed last month’s Wargame Watch, you can check that out to see some other really great games that you can still get a hold of.
1. Forgotten Legions, Designer Signature Edition from Compass Games
Forgotten Legions, Designer Signature Edition features two wargame classics from a very good designer in Vance von Borries; Drive on Damascus and Bloody Keren. The games have been re-mastered and updated into all-new, super-sized editions that do the games justice by providing upgraded and improved components. These were well regarded by many as balanced and thoughtful games. They cover fascinating, almost forgotten conflicts that would guide the course of WW II in the Mediterranean Theater.
Drive on Damascus, originally published in 1981, recreates the one major campaign between the Allies and Vichy France during WWII. It is an operational game recreating on the battalion level the Allied invasion of Syria and Lebanon in June 1941, while Bloody Keren, originally published in 1983, recreates the January through April 1941 campaign in Italian Eritrea that historically saw a climax at the mountain pass at Keren. Here too, good game play is at a premium as strategically you allocate your forces to various mountain passes. Both sides can attack and counter-attack while guerilla forces attempt to close off reinforcements coming from the south.
The best part of these Designer Signature Editions is that they “super size” the maps. The map has been enlarged to 2 maps and uses 5/8″ counters so you won’t have to squint or use magnifying glasses when you play.
If you are interested in Forgotten Legions, Designer Signature Edition, you can pre-order a copy at the following link for the very reasonable price of $59.00: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/forgotten-legions-designer-signature-edition.html
The game is expected to release in June 2018.
2. The Late Unpleasantness from Compass Games
I have really grown to appreciate American Civil War games recently and Compass has done some very good ones over the past year or so. The Late Unpleasantness covers the two major attempts to capture the Confederate Capital City or Richmond. Gates of Richmond covers the Seven Days Battles with Robert E, Lee facing down George McClellan. If It Takes All Summer is Ulysses S. Grant’s overland campaign of 1864, which added the names of Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse and Cold Harbor to Civil War history.
Each game stands alone, but share the majority of the same rules. Simple enough to learn and play in an evening, but enough twists and turns to make you want to replay. The maps use a point to point movement system, rather than hexes to simulate the campaigning over the road networks and river crossings, rather than mass movements cross country. Combat is integrated into the movement, making coordination of large bodies of troops difficult.
The Gates of Richmond map covers the area from Richmond in the west to the White House on the Pamunkey, and from Mechanicsville south to Harrison’s Landing. Key features such as Malvern Hill, Beaver Dam Creek, and the bridges over White Oak swamp and the Chickahominy are highlighted.
If It Takes All Summer covers most of Central Virginia, from Brandy Station and Culpeper to the Cold Harbor north east of Richmond. The Wilderness features prominently in the campaign with a special table to create some of the confusion as a result of fighting in this tangle.
The basic units are divisions (a bit larger than usual for Civil War, but right in this case). Each unit is listed for strength and overall leadership/morale quality. Stacks are hidden for limited intelligence. Corps and Army leaders are available to modify the die roll in an attack as well as to help coordinate attacks from more than a single stack.
If you are interested in The Late Unpleasantness, you can pre-order a copy at the following link for the very reasonable price of $67.00: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/the-late-unpleasantness.html
3. People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1983- 1987 from GMT Games
I highlighted this game in my February Monthly GMT Games Update last week, but because I am so excited about this one, I thought I would add it here as well. I really love the COIN Series and I love the modern COIN game settings. I own every volume with the exception of I (Andean Abyss) and II (Cuba Libre), which both will be rectified with their upcoming reprints as a part of the COINFest this summer. But a new volume in the series is still big news to me and I get excited each time.
People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1983-1986 is volume XI of the highly-praised and popular COIN Series originally designed by Volko Ruhnke. This is one of only two games in the series that feature three separate factions (All Bridges Burning is the other), instead of the customary four.
This game in the series is being touted as a great introductory game due to the fact that it has a short play time and a smaller map. I still feel that it will have all of the nuances and game play that we have come to love in the series with tension and disagreement among the three factions.
There are some new additions to the game which are really interesting looking. The main new addition is a Key Personality mini-hand procedure that represents the effectiveness of various generals and power brokers adding a new dimension to player actions and decisions.
Other changes or additions to the series include the following:
- Any Operation can be performed with any Special Activity; there are no restrictions. This is a change that I am a little concerned with as some of the greatest strategic parts of the initiative track are playing to limit your opponents from fully utilizing their turns by playing keep away. I hope that this doesn’t change that too much.
- Propaganda Turns have been replaced by a two-turn Election cycle. I am very interested in how this works and have appreciated the tweaks made by each volume to the Coup/Propaganda/Winter Quarters phase.
- The Personality Cards are representations of political, military and cultural figures; the “Newsmakers” of their time. They are inserted in the game by giving each faction a mini-hand of sorts which have a dual purpose of either enhancing a players turn such as adding more resources during the game or at the very end of the game by either augmenting certain victory conditions or even minimizing the enemies’ own.
- The game includes a bonus scenario that starts with the aftermath of 1981 and the first Presidential election since the lifting of Martial Law. This not only adds another Election cycle, but also an opportunity to ask “what if,” as 1983 might have ended with Aquino’s arrest or remaining in exile instead of his assassination.
Should be a blast and I am going to try to reach out to Kenneth Tee soon to get his thoughts on the game design.
If you are interested in People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1983-1986, you can secure a copy for the reasonable P500 price of $45.00 at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-689-people-power-insurgency-in-the-philippines-1983-1986.aspx
4. Flashpoint: South China Sea from GMT Games
The South China Sea is one of the more hotly contested areas of the Pacific Ocean and I have read where it is regarded as “Asia’s most potentially dangerous point of conflict.” Everyone tries to lay claim to the area, including China and Taiwan. This argument will involve the United States as well, as they jockey for position in bolstering their allies in the region, and of course, if it ever escalates to the point of open conflict. The design of Flashpoint: South China Sea is a card driven game that uses a deck that captures developments ripped from today’s headlines, bolstered by cards with a context-setting reading of recent history, and a set of speculative cards capturing a diverse range of potential future events.
From the game page we read:
The Chinese player works to influence other countries in the region, establish territorial claims and regional hegemony, and improve its world standing. The U.S. player works to maintain influence with allied countries in the region, secure freedom of navigation, and keep China in check. Success for both players hinges on the support and allegiance of non-player countries in the region. The game stops short of dealing with a potential full-scale military conflict. Rather, it requires the nuanced exercise of political, economic, and military resources, in a form of prima facie diplomacy – on the waters, in the air, and ultimately in the minds of the people – to achieve victory.
This sounds a lot like Twilight Struggle to me, or better yet, one of the several smaller Twilight Struggleesque games from Ultra Pro like 13 Days or Iron Curtain where players struggle with each other to place influence in certain countries. Hand management is always one of my favorite parts of CDGs as you have to play your cards right to avoid damage but also trying to make your strategy work as well. Harold Buchanan has reached out to us about doing an interview and he also invited us to possibly do some playtesting. I am excited to give it a try! I have reached out to designer Harold Buchanan for an interview on the design so look for that over the next few months.
If you are interested in Flashpoint: South China Sea, you can secure a copy for the reasonable P500 price of $32.00 at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-688-flashpoint-south-china-sea.aspx
5. Vietnam: Rumor of War from Compass Games
This game literally released about a week ago and almost missed this Wargame Watch. A new Operational Scale System (OSS) release following in the footsteps of the recent Korea: Fire & Ice, Vietnam: Rumor of War will show the conflict in a playable yet historic manner. Using at its heart, a blending of two older games, Road to the Rhine and A Victory Denied, players have the ability to move all their units once. However, they may choose to move those units in any of several impulses, if they can afford the supply cost to do so. The opposing player will have to maintain adequate reserves to counter this variable impulse movement. I love this type of strategic uncertainty in a wargame. Typically, we see lots of I-Go-U-Go designs that leave out this critical ability to immediately respond to and even counter the actions of your opponent. This design element alone should make this a very interesting and true to history game as you will not be able to necessarily predict your opponents moves, but can definitely attempt to move to intercept and change those plans. The game doesn’t have a great deal of the political side in the design but players must understand how their actions will influence the forces that are funding the war. The game is designed by Adam Starkweather and the graphic design is by Ilya Kudriashov.
If you are interested in pre-ordering a copy of Vietnam: Rumor of War you can do so at the following link for the price of $64.00: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/vietnam-rumor-of-war.html
1. YAAH! Magazine Issue #11 – Strike for Berlin from Flying Pig Games
I have never featured a wargame magazine in this feature, but in this case, I made an exception. Because Yaah! Magazine is a high quality publication but mainly because I really like Brian Train designs and the pack-in game included with the magazine is Strike for Berlin which takes a look at the hypothetical 1920 Red Army attacking Germany. In fact, this game can be linked up with the 2017 release from Tiny Battle Publishing called Red Horde 1920 also designed by Brian Train to create a longer joined campaign of aggression by the Soviets against the Germans.
In addition to the game, this issue is full of great gaming reviews. Brad Smith shares his take on GMT Games’ second edition of Fields of Fire, while Norm Lunde takes a look at South China Sea from Compass Games. Newcomer Zachary Homrighaus takes a deep dive into The 7th Continent, and another new writer, Joshua Buergel, heads into the dungeon with a look at Gloomhaven. The solitaire game Hindenburg’s Hour gets a review from Eddie Carlson, Roger Leroux tunes into the convention scene in Canada – and then Roger and Eddie tag-team Columbia’s new Combat Infantry with a review and an AAR. Nick O’Neill paws through all of the bits and pieces in Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn, and Keith Beason rounds out the reviews with his in-depth look at the 25th Anniversary Edition of Silver Bayonet.
Yaah! Magazine Issue #11 will ship in April.
If you are interested in Yaah! Magazine Issue #11, you can order a copy at the following link for the price of $35.00: https://flyingpiggames.com/products/yaah-magazine-issue-11
2. Boom & Zoom from Hollandspiele
First off, I am generally not a fan of abstracted wargames, or any type of abstracted games for that matter. But, I have played a few over the years that are very interesting (one that I have really enjoyed is Tsuro) and give you that strategic challenge of trying to best your opponent. When I saw Boom & Zoom from Hollandspiele, I was initially not interested. But, after I realized the game was designed by Ty Bomba and after I saw a few pictures, my mind was changed and now I am intrigued.
The rules are simple: each player has four towers, three pieces high, that can “boom” (fire) or “zoom” (move) a number of spaces equal to the tower’s height. But with those deceptively simple ingredients, veteran designer Ty Bomba has created his masterpiece, the game that he himself acknowledges as his own best design. The trick is that the game ends when only one player’s pieces remain on the board, and the player who managed to exit the most pieces off of the opponent’s side of the map wins. Because of this, players can’t concentrate on just blocking/attacking or just advancing, but must strike a difficult and subtle balance between the two.
If you are interested in a copy of Boom & Zoom, you can order one at the following link for the price of $30.00: https://hollandspiele.com/products/boom-zoom
3. At Any Cost: Metz 1870 from GMT Games
Another game that I haven’t really paid much attention too until recently is At Any Cost: Metz 1870 from GMT Games. At Any Cost is a game simulating the situation west of the Metz fortress during those few days of August 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. The game is designed to be a playable, two-player brigade-scale game that allows players to experience the unique tactical warfare matchups that characterized fighting during the this time.
This era, though generally overlooked in the gaming industry, is a fascinating study in Napoleonic tactics (and uniforms) slamming head-on into modern killing technology. The Prussian military juggernaut is armed with the new steel Krupp breach-loading artillery pieces that far outclassed the French guns. Prussian doctrine, adapted to the lessons learned during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, allowed junior officers to exercise initiative and aggressiveness. The French army, meanwhile, was armed with the modern and deadly Chassepot rifle, a firearm so advanced that many argue its deployment alone should have won the war for the French. In addition, the French army was now equipped with their ultimate secret weapon – the Mitrailleuse, which was the first machinegun used en masse. Moreover, the game system makes clear that the French soldier, despite misconceptions to the contrary, fought valiantly during these battles. By all rights, they could have – and should have – won many of these engagements. But leadership, morale and tenacity won the day for the Prussians.
From one of my recent favorite designers Hermann Luttman, this game simply looks awesome. I have unboxed my copy and am currently in the process of counter clipping in preparation for a battle with Alexander. I don’t know a lot about this game but am excited about it nonetheless. What a great opportunity to play a great game and learn at the same time!
If you are interested in a copy of At Any Cost: Metz 1870, you can order a copy from the following link for the price of $35.00, but hurry as the price is sure to increase to $50.00 soon: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-493-at-any-cost-metz-1870.aspx
4. White Turns Red: The Battle of Orel, 1919 from High Flying Dice Games
White Turns Red depicts the high water mark and key battle at Orel, some 200 miles from Moscow. It was here that the White Army made its attempt to breakthrough to Lenin’s Moscow. To be sure, when the Whites seized the city from the weak 13th Army using aircraft and tanks, Lenin and Tolstoy were in panic mode. So much so, they began massive defensive work programs building barriers on Moscow approaches. The White Army seemed unstoppable with its elite, well trained and armed Volunteer Army. All resources were diverted and sent to the Orel area. First, the Reds had to halt the advance and then counterattack, otherwise, Moscow could be reached. The main forces of the Red Fourteenth and Thirteenth armies continued their retreat toward the north and northwest under attacks from the White forces. Kornilov’s division defeated the right-flank units of the Thirteenth Army and captured Orel on October 13. The retreat of the Red 7th and 9th Rifle divisions exposed the flanks of the main attack force, and its communications with the Thirteenth Army were disrupted. From the 13th to 19th, The Whites held the city but their flanks were being broken. The Reds took it on the 20th.
I have reached out to the designer Perry Moore for an interview that I hope to be posting soon. This game has a lot of very interesting elements to the design, including various types of tanks with varied firing rules, differing tank doctrines affecting their use for each side and armored trains. Really interesting looking game that is very affordable. If you are interested in a copy of White Turns Red, you can visit the High Flying Dice Games webpage.
I hope that you enjoyed this month’s edition of Wargame Watch. I love to do the research and find new games that are being offered. Sometimes it is easier than other months but this time I learned a lot about games that I didn’t necessarily have on my radar. Let me know what games you are anticipating and I can look to add them to the list next month.