Another month in the books. I will have to say in March, I didn’t get to play many wargames, which is not a good thing! But, even though I didn’t game much, I still had my eye out for any new and interesting looking games that are hitting the streets. In this month’s Wargame Watch, there are a lot of great looking games that are now available. 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. Stalin’s World War III: A Sweeping Two Front War in 1953 from Compass Games
Stalin’s World War III is a two game package: Volume 1 – Operation Pincher & The Soviet Offensive in Europe; Volume 2 – Operation Sandown & The Soviet Offensive in the Mid-East. This is an alternative history monster-size wargame, designed by Ty Bomba, intended to investigate the strategic parameters that would’ve been in place during the first 10 weeks of operations had that dictator lived long enough to put in motion one of his many plans to start a global conflict in 1953. As you may know, Ty Bomba churns out games at a high rate and many of them are monster wargames that deal with the Soviets. I asked him in our interview covering this game, why he is focused on the Soviets? His answer was:
“The many aborted scenarios for World War III that lie within the overall historical framework of the Cold War era are, if not infinite, certainly huge, with many of them still relatively unexplored via wargames. I’m particularly drawn to the early part of that period – let’s say 1945 through about 1956 – because those years represent the last time mass armies, such as those that fought in the two historic World Wars, could’ve engaged against each other without being immediately annihilated by one or another kind of weapon of mass destruction.”
I really like his designs and feel that he covers a lot of elements other than combat in them, including the need for the Soviets to maintain prestige in the eyes of the world. This game is huge and has 4 maps and 4 counter sheets and covers two different theaters, one focused on Operation Pincher in Europe and the other on Operation Sandown in the Middle East.
If you are interested in Stalin’s World War III, you can pre-order a copy at the following link for the price of $65.00: https://www.compassgames.com/stalin-s-world-war-iii.html
The game doesn’t have a solid timeline at this point but is expected out sometime in mid-2018.
2.Warfighter WWII – Wave 2 Pacific from Dan Verssen Games on Kickstarter
Warfighter is a card game for 1 to 6 players. You play cooperatively with your friends against the system to complete World War II squad-level combat missions. The first expansion was very successful and focused on Europe. Wave 2 is currently up on Kickstarter and focuses on the Pacific Theater of World War II while also providing expansion elements to the European Theater. I have never played Warfighter but it is a game that I definitely have an interest in.
At the start of each mission, you each select one or more Player Soldiers, equip them with skills, weapons, and combat gear within the mission’s Resource limit. You then fight your way through hostile territory and engage enemy soldiers, as you attempt to reach and complete your mission objective. Every mission is a stand-alone game. You build your Soldiers, select your Gear, and then run your mission. Within 30 to 60 minutes you will have succeeded or failed.
Warfighter uses a new combat system that takes into account the fire mode you select for your weapon, range to the target, running out of ammo, suppression fire, and cover – all in the same dice roll! This system supposedly creates an incredibly deep narrative with every attack. As you eliminate soldiers, you gain experience to Upgun your Action cards, play Support cards, and activate special Skills.
If you are interested in a copy of Warfighter WWII – Wave 2 Pacific, you can back the Kickstarter at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11606594/warfighter-wwii-wave-2-pacific
The Kickstarter campaign has been very successful to date with $119,000+ pledged from 617 backers (as of March 26th) and the campaign concludes on Wednesday, April 4th so there is still time to pledge.
3. Blitzkrieg in the West: The Campaign for Western Europe 1940 from Temple Canvas Publishing on Kickstarter
Blitzkrieg in the West is a simulation of the German campaign in Western Europe, 1940. The Wehrmacht stunned the world by defeating the Allied armies in a few short weeks. Yet prior to the start of the campaign, no one expected such a victory.
Blitzkrieg in the West puts the players in the same position as the commanders in the original campaign, giving each side unique advantages. One player controls the Germans and the other the Allies (France, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands). Each player has a pre-selected set of options representing the underlying doctrines and tactics that can decisively change the course of the campaign.
Players select options prior to start of play, developing game strategies and exploiting unique forces such as armor and airborne. For example, the Allies can trade the Maginot Line for more mechanized ground units, while the Germans can bring in Strategic Luftwaffe. These options also introduce leaders such as Rommel and DeGaulle, as well as fog of war elements as players do not know the other side’s capabilities until they play out in the course of a campaign. I like the approach the game is taking and they are adding in many of the elements we are familiar with including fighting around the Dunkirk evacuations as well as the vaunted Maginot Line. In fact, there is an option for the Allies to “trade-in” the fortifications, for additional armor to attempt to stop the German assault. Should be interesting.
The game map spans western Europe from the Rhineland to the Bay of Biscay. Each map hex is 20 kilometers across and each turn represents one week of operations. Turns consist of impulses, allowing forces with mechanized doctrines to make multiple move-fight actions. Mechanized units are division level, while infantry are mostly corps. There are also some non-divisional airborne, assault gun and special forces units.
If you are interested in a copy of Blitzkrieg in the West: The Campaign for Western Europe 1940, you can back a copy on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/563992304/blitzkrieg-in-the-west-the-campaign-for-western-eu
They have already reached their modest funding goal of $4,000 with $7,655 in pledges from 111 backers (as of March 26th) and there are still 20 days left to consider. They are taking a novel approach to the campaign, offering the game as a folio package with one of the first few funding goals being a box. I like that approach. The game is expected to be ready for shipping by November 2018.
4. Beneath the Med from GMT Games
Beneath the Med is a solitaire tactical-level game placing you in command of an Italian submarine during WWII that was just recently offered on the P500 pre-order system from GMT Games. This is the fourth game in the The Hunters series, and covers one of the largest fleets of submarines in the world at the time. You command one of many submarine models available starting in 1940, and look to successfully complete patrols until the armistice in September 1943. Not only is this a standalone game, but fans of The Hunters will enjoy having the capability to complete Italian careers in one of the many interesting classes of Italian submarine. While your mission is to destroy as much Allied shipping and as many Capital ships as possible over your career, players will find it extremely challenging to survive until the Armistice.
Beneath the Med is purposely designed to deliver a brisk yet intensive gaming experience that forces many decisions upon you as you take command of the major Italian submarine classes. All the major classes are accounted for, with every level of detail, including period of service, armaments, crew make-up, damage capacity, and more. Fans of The Hunters will enjoy the same nail-biting game system, but will be challenged by the thick Allied air cover and the problematic fire control systems of the Italian boats.
I recently have really grown to enjoy solitaire wargames and this one is definitely one that I am very interested in. In fact, recently I did an interview with Gregory M. Smith on a solo airwar game called Nighfighter Ace from Compass Games that looks simply amazing. Greg knows his history, knows how to design a good solitaire wargame and is definitely churning them out right now.
If you are interested in a copy of Beneath the Med, you can pre-order one from the following link for the price of $36.00: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-697-beneath-the-med.aspx
1. Battle Hymn Volume One – Gettysburg and Pea Ridge from Compass Games
Battle Hymn Volume One – Gettysburg and Pea Ridge is a new brigade-level system based upon the latest research into Civil War combat. Designed by Charles S. Roberts Award-winning designer Eric Lee Smith, Battle Hymn actually contains two games: Gettysburg: The Tide Turns and Pea Ridge: The Struggle for Missouri.
Battle Hymn is a new brigade-level game system that simulates the chaos of the American Civil War using a simple activation system combined with a detailed combat system. The system’s designer originated the “chit-pull” activation system in his game Panzer Command and later used it in Across Five Aprils,Battle Hymn’s forerunner, both published by Victory Games. Units are organized by command, usually divisions, and activate for movement when the command’s activation marker is picked from the cup. The system uses traditional mechanics for movement, with units differentiated by type, but adds a level of detail to combat that feels almost miniatures like. In fact, the system is designed for easy conversion to miniatures. When one side has the initiative they decide when their combat phase occurs, without it, you don’t know when it will happen.
Units have strength point steps, which are either “formed” or demoralized, and losses are taken point by point. Based upon the latest research into Civil War combat and tactics, units suffer attrition in both losses and demoralizations until they finally shatter and are removed from the map. I really like this approach as we all know that sometimes troops become combat ineffective not only due to wounds suffered. I really want to see how this works in the design. There are two combat phases, each of which consists of two rounds of combat. Engagements are fluid, with retreats and advances setting up unexpected confrontations during the second round of combat. The game is designed to be fast playing, with most scenarios playing in around an hour, with a full campaign taking up to 8 hours.
Gettysburg: The Tide Turns is a subject we are all familiar with, but the treatment in this design is different as it attempts to use new information based on the maps produced by the US Government after the war. There are six scenarios in the game, some of which have alternatives for additional variety.
Pea Ridge: The Struggle for Missouri simulates the decisive battle of Pea Ridge, which determined that Missouri would stay in the Union. This is a classic meeting engagement with the Confederates on the offensive and outnumbering the Union for once.
If you are interested in a copy of Battle Hymn Volume One – Gettysburg and Pea Ridge, you can order one for the very affordable price of $57.00 from the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/battle-hymn-vol-1-gettysburg-and-pea-ridge.html
2. Chile ’73 from Tiny Battle Publishing
I love Brian Train designs (Have I said that before?!?) and each new release from him becomes a vision quest for me. In his newest game Chile ’73, (the year of my birth BTW) 2-4 players plot secretly to carry out their own plans for a coup against President Salvador Allende to gain or maintain rule of Chile, plotting and scrambling to position their forces to best advantage. This plotting involves attempting to take control or gain the allegiance of various groups involved in the area. Players do this by choosing chits from a Control Pool, which gives them a chance to assume secret control of a unit (Civilian, Paramilitary or Military), or deliberately choose from a selection of Action Chits which allow them to investigate, infiltrate, neutralize or block what other players are trying to do. The whole process looks to be very interesting and interactive and is sure to be loads of fun as you try your hardest to do what you must, all while at the same time trying to foil your opponents. The Coup phase begins once any one player declares a coup d’etat. Each turn represents one to several hours, as gameplay changes from secret plotting to open, active warfare. Players choose sides and maneuver and fight for control of vital points on an area-movement map of Santiago, the capital of a Chile in chaos. To me, the most interesting part is that the true winner of the game is not obvious until the very end, when players reveal their hidden agendas and score according to the plans they had all along.
The production of this game also looks to be really good and the counters are also amazing looking and huge. A really interesting looking game, on a subject that I don’t know much about, that I just have to add to my Brian Train collection. Alexander and I have even talked about playing this one with our wives so this could become the bloodiest coup in the history of counter insurgency! The game plays in about 45-90 minutes, probably most likely determined by the negotiation and back and forth banter between players, and is advertised as medium to low complexity.
If you are interested in a copy of Chile ’73, you can order one for the very affordable price of $20.00 from the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/chile-73
3. Picket Duty: Kamikaze Attacks Against U.S. Destroyers – Okinawa, 1945, 2nd Edition from Legion Wargames
I am quickly becoming somewhat of a solo gamer. I am not totally sold on it yet, as I prefer having an opponent that can talk back to me, but it is definitely something I have done a lot more of over the past year. So, with the 2nd Edition of Picket Duty coming out from Legion Wargames, I have a serious desire to play this game.
By the time of the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, the U.S. Navy devised a plan to help ward off the expected kamikaze attacks during the battle for the island. In order to provide an early warning system for impending kamikaze attacks, the U.S. Navy established 16 radar picket stations around the island. In Picket Duty, which is a solitaire game where you as the captain of a Fletcher Class destroyer fend off kamikaze attacks while performing picket duty off Okinawa. The game covers the time period from late March 1945 to late June 1945. Your goal is simple – survive.
The game comes with a basic game, advanced game, six historical scenarios, two hypothetical scenarios, a mini-campaign and a full campaign. Optional rules are also included. Each game turn is divided into three phases, each depicting an eight hour period. Key crew members are depicted with certain functions, as well damage control teams. 27 types of Japanese planes are represented. Some planes have special attack capabilities.
As you can see, this game is a 2nd Edition and you might be wondering what is different. I found this comment from the designer Steven Dixon describing some of the differences:
“David Bieksza and I spent nearly a year correcting many ambiguities in the rules, as well as making corrections. Also, corrections have been made to the map and Tables.
One major difference includes the increase in deck fires. Planes, if they hit the ship, automatically start a deck fire on top of any damage determined by the tables. Also, Japanese attack tables have been changed to increase the chance of hits. Another change, when it comes to secondary compartment repairs, there is now a negative effect if no repairs are attempted.
I have also created a gunnery damage sheet so players can track damage to guns. That is now available as a download here: http://www.stevenkdixon.com/gundamage_rev.pdf
You can also check out this excellent play through video from one of my favorites Stuka Joe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtQjUbX9HA&sns=em
If you are interested in a copy of Picket Duty, you can order one for the very affordable price of $50.00 from the following link: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_picket_duty_TGP.html
4. Hood’s Last Gamble: The 1864 Franklin-Nashville Campaign from Hollandspiele
My wife lived in Franklin, Tennessee for about 4 years in the mid 1980’s and I have visited that small town on trips in the past. It is located just 20 miles south of Nashville and would have been a very inviting goal for Confederate Generals in the late Civil War. Once I saw this game, I immediately had an interest in it, because of the subject matter, as well as the connection. Hollandspiele has done several Civil War games, including one we highlighted in a previous Wargame Watch More Aggressive Attitudes, and Seven Pines; or, Fair Oaks that we were lucky enough to score an interview for with designer Tom Russell. They make great Civil War games.
Hood’s Last Gamble is an operational-level game for two players exploring the 1864 Franklin-Nashville Campaign. It shares some similarities with the designer’s earlier games More Aggressive Attitudes and Objective Shreveport!, but has its own identity and flavor. This one has a larger map with many tricky terrain challenges and more Special Event Cards around which to build your strategy. It utilizes a streamlined approach to the tracking of unit Strength Points that reduces counter clutter and allows for more elegant hidden movement opportunities. Supply counters are crucial to getting the most out of your units, and with winter just around the corner, the Confederate Player must act quickly and decisively in order to change history.
As always with Hollandspiele, the game components are top notch and very well done with a hint of period flavor in the map that assists with immersing you in the experience. These counters don’t need clipping at all, just look at them! Beautiful and simple.
If you are interested in a copy of Hood’s Last Gamble, you can order one for the very affordable price of $45.00 from the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/hoods-last-gamble
A busy month for sure for new or newly released games. I can never fit all of the great games upcoming in this post but there are several others that I will keep my eye on, including Death in the Trenches from Compass Games and Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collission, 1240-1242 from GMT Games. Have a great month of gaming and we look forward to the upcoming May 2018 Wargame Watch!