I simply love doing these Wargame Watch posts! Yes they take some time to search the internet looking for new and interesting looking games. Yes it is sometimes hard to give much information on the games because they are so new and publishers haven’t yet put a lot of time and effort into their pages. Yes it puts pressure on me to come up with some good games but also a few hidden gems to share with you. But the effort, time and difficulty is all worth it just to bring something of interest to our readers. I know that after I am finished working on these posts that I always am blown away by the new and upcoming games and begin trying to figure out how to buy the ones that I am sure that I just cant live without.
In this month’s edition, there are some awesome pre-order games from the big publishers like Compass Games and GMT Games. There also are two new Kickstarters on the list. The rest of the games highlighted this month are also awesome and are sure to bring you gamers plenty of hours of fun.
If you missed last month’s Wargame Watch, you can find it at this link.
1. Stalingrad ’42 from GMT Games
After playing The U.S. Civil War a few years ago, and most recently Holland ’44, I was hooked on any game designed by Mark Simonitch. He simply has a real talent for making these huge operational level games that don’t feel overly complex. He also uses some really interesting mechanics, such as the ZOC Bond and Infiltration, really well that make for some very interesting decision points and create an experience for players that I have not necessarily seen in other designs.
I know that The Battle of Stalingrad is one of the most gamed subjects in wargaming, alongside The Battle of the Bulge, but I am sure that “the Simonitch Way” will blaze a new path through the conflict that will more deeply enlighten players as to the challenges and strategic difficulties of the attempt at taking the City of Stalingrad. I for one cannot wait and already added this one to my P500 list.
Stalingrad ’42 is a division-level game on the Axis 1942 summer offensive towards Stalingrad and the Caucasus. Historically, this epic struggle lasted for 6 months and saw the Axis armies reach the Volga and the Caucasus Mountains. But Soviet resistance stiffened and final victory eluded the German army at Stalingrad and in the Caucasus. The ensuing November Soviet offensive trapped the Wehrmacht’s largest army (the 6th) at Stalingrad and marked the beginning of the end for Axis fortunes in WW2.
Stalingrad ’42 uses the same scale and nearly all the rules of Ukraine ’43. Many modifications have been made to improve the system and to show crucial features of the campaign. New rules include leaders, elite panzer divisions, planned operations, hidden Soviet buildup, and Army/Front offensive support.
With three maps and low unit density, the game delivers a grand view of the campaign, where decisions about movement and direction of attack have lasting effects that propel or curtail your future strategic plans. The effect is like watching a story unfold and noticing a growing emotional involvement with your forces and plans. In the end, whether in victory or defeat, players of Stalingrad ’42 will enjoy an epic gaming experience.
My guess is that if you enjoy Ukraine ’43 (I have not played it but hear good things about it all the time) you will enjoy Stalingrad ’42. The map is absolutely gorgeous (the map is actually made up of 3 separate maps but below is shown as one map) and the counters are really nice looking and easy to read.
If you are interested in Stalingrad ’42, you can pre-order a copy for the P500 price of $52.00 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-715-stalingrad-42.aspx
2. Brotherhood & Unity: War in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995 from Compass Games
Brotherhood & Unity: War in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995 is a 2-3 player card driven wargame which depicts the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992-1995 (“Bosnian War”). The game shows all of the major events: from the siege of Sarajevo (shown in a separate, detailed map), to the ferocious battles for the Posavina corridor, and desperate defence of the Bosniak enclaves. Main features are: Point-To-Point movement system, play driven by Strategy Cards, quick combat resolution (no CRT), streamlined rules and fast gameplay. Interaction between warring sides (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats) creates an intensive and exciting gameplay experience.
The map looks really interesting as well and is very well done. I have yet to see any examples of the cards used in the game, but I really enjoy CDGs and have played many in my gaming experience. Each player gets a deck of Strategy Cards, simulating a variety of historical events. The player starts an action round by playing a Strategy Card from his hand. A card can be played as an event (Combat Card, Offensive, Interrupt, Foreign Units and Other) or as one of the game actions (Movement, Attack, Strategic Redeployment, Diplomatic Action or Reinforcement). The events and card values have been carefully created to mimic the historical events and choices. Since each game uses only a part of the available card deck, players can’t be certain which cards will be drawn during the game. That creates a “card fog-of-war” and makes the game more replayable.Player’s military strength fluctuates based on historical facts, with Serbs starting superior in all aspects, and Bosniaks struggling to organize an effective fighting formation. Military units represent Brigades – standard military formations of the time, ranging from 1,500-2,000 soldiers. They have different combat and movement values (based on historical data), which forces players to use different tactics for different opponents. Majority of these units are non-motorized infantry formations (moving only several spaces per round), but with the use of special offensive cards players can increase their mobility and surprise the opponents.
The game comes with one 22″ x 34″ mounted map, 260 9/16″ counters, 96 strategy cards (in 3 decks: Serbian, Croatian and Bosniak), 3 player aid cards, 1 Rulebook and a ten-sided die.
If you are interested in Brotherhood & Unity:War in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995, you can pre-order a copy for $52.00 on the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/brotherhood-unity.html
3.WW2 Deluxe: European Theater from Canvas Temple Publishing on Kickstarter
WW2 Deluxe: European Theater is a grand-strategic game utilizing armies or army groups, air forces, and fleets. The game covers the entire conflict in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. There are two players or sides in the game. The Axis controls Germany, Italy, and all friendly minor countries. The Allied player controls France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States when it enters the conflict.
The guys at Canvas Temple Publishing are promoting this game as one for the more veteran of wargamers. They opine that they have been playing wargames for nearly 4 decades and that the youngest among them has been playing over 35 years. Like many old-school wargamers, their eyesight has declined, fingers have become fumbly, and their time has become scarce. Heck, I’m only 45 and I feel like this every single day!
So they decided to make the perfect wargame for old timers. A grand strategic game that is big in scope (and in lettering!) that can be played in an evening. Utilizing 3/4″ counters, a full-sized map with giant hexes, and a tried and tested game system that approaches its subject with enough abstraction to keep the game tight, but just enough detail to do justice to history and create an array of complex decisions.
WW2 Deluxe is a new and improved instantiation of 2WW, originally published by 3W and designed by Bill Banks. The most recent edition of the game, the 3rd, was designed by Jon Compton and was quite well received critically. This new fourth edition takes it to the next level, with vast improvements in play ergonomics, and a tightening down of the rules and system.
The counters are also very nice, and true to their word, easy to read with big lettering and numbers. I also really like the colors used as well. Nice!
If you are interested in a copy of WW2 Deluxe: European Theater, there are still 13 days left on the Kickstarter campaign. You can back the project at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/563992304/ww2-deluxe
The game is expected to ship in December 2018 and has already hit its funding goal of $6,000 with 204 backers investing a total of $14,737 (as of June 29th).
4. Pacific Tide: The United States Versus Japan, 1941-1945 from Compass Games
Pacific Tide: The United States versus Japan, 1941-45 is a compact, strategic-level game covering the struggle between the United States (including some Commonwealth forces) and Japan in World War II fro, game designer Gregory M. Smith. This game utilizes a unique and fast-paced, card-driven combat/build system revolving around carrier operations which will provide players with a multitude of decisions.
The card-based combat/build system is a different take on the “normal” event/operations points driven systems. Separate card decks are provided for the U.S. and Japanese player. Each year, the players receive that year’s cards for free…but must use build points to repurchase older cards. This will cause the player a few agonizing moments, as he typically cannot afford to re-buy every card he needs (or thinks he needs). Players must also decide which aspect of cards to use – many have multiple but exclusive uses (such as, “Do A or do B”) and these uses sometimes give very different results based on operational or strategic needs at the time. To help ensure a tense and dynamic game, the system forces players to make many choices and decisions throughout play.
As a bonus for solo players, Pacific Tide features a solitaire “bot” which gives guidance to the player for either side during solitaire play. The bot acts differently based on the “personality” it’s been given…aggressive, defensive, or balanced. All game cards have a rating which the bots will prioritize differently for play. While extremely competitive as a two-player game, Pacific Tide can be enjoyed again and again in solitaire play format with its unique, “personality” driven bot system.
If you are interested in Pacific Tide: The United States versus Japan, 1941-45, you can pre-order a copy for $42.00 on the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/pacific-tide-the-united-states-versus-japan-1941-45.html
The game is expected to ship in September 2018.
5. D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game from Little Bighorn Games Coming Soon to Kickstarter
Last month, I came across some really interesting looking card art for a game that is planning a Kickstarter campaign in July. The game is called D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game designed by Thomas Lee and published by Little Bighorn Games. The game is a “pocket battle card game” because it is portable and has simple enough mechanics and rules that it can be played anywhere and at anytime. The game is being advertised as a filler wargame to play before or after your bigger game has finished up. The designer Thomas Lee granted me an interview on the game (which will publish on our blog soon). This is not his first go at a Kickstarter campaign as he has had two successfully funded games previously including Western Front WWI Battle Card Game and Eastern Front World War II Battle Card Game (recently funded and in the process of fulfillment).
D-Day is very simple. You are either the Allies or Germans and are fighting for the 5 beaches on D-Day. Each beach has 7 battles and whoever wins the most battles wins the beach, and whoever wins the most beaches wins the game. The battles are fought with really well designed simple cards with great art.
Each player can use one battle card, and in addition if they want to, one equipment card per battle. They also have access to contact cards, as well as taking into consideration event cards, which are drawn for each beach. The mechanic for the game is simply highest score wins. Players lay their battle and equipment cards down, then take into account any modifiers from the event cards that were drawn for that beach, and then calculate their individual scores with the highest score being the winner of that battle. A lot of the game play is trying to work out and anticipate what sequence your opponent will use their cards, taking into account what they played for the last battle. There is an element of luck to the game but also memory and quick thinking.
The game is coming to Kickstarter soon and here is a look at the draft page so you can get a better idea for what the game is: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1616093073/1515134835?ref=aq7nb7&token=6485f146
1. Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 from GMT Games
Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 from GMT Games is a fast playing Card Driven Game that takes a look at the political wrangling that led up to the secession from the Union of the State of South Carolina on December 20, 1860 and then the start of hostilities on April 12-13, 1861 as the Confederates began shelling the Union held Fort Sumter.
The game uses cards that place Influence Tokens in various spaces on the map that represent various dimensions that affected the crisis, such Public Opinion, Armaments, Secession and Political. These areas are fought over and will score players victory points if they hold all three spaces of each Crisis Dimension at the end of the turn. The players will also have a hidden objective that is tied to a certain space, and if they control that space at the end of the round, they will have access to a certain action, such as moving around Influence Tokens or removing those of your opponent and will also score VPs. The game plays over 4 turns, with 3 turns being a fight over the Crisis Dimension spaces with the final turn being a showdown called the Final Crisis where players can win control of spaces and score victory points for controlling the Fort Sumter space.
The game plays in about 20 minutes and is really fun and challenging. We played twice the other night in about 40 minutes with each of us taking home one victory.
We did an interview with the designer Mark Herman last year and it is a great window into how the game plays and the different strategies that players will need to utilize.
Also last week, we posted a few Action Points showing how the game plays. Action Point 1 takes a look at the map spaces and card play and Action Point 2 looks at the Crisis Track and how you need to manage it.
If you are interested in Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 from GMT Games, you can order a copy for $42.00 from GMT website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-648-fort-sumter-the-secession-crisis-1860-61.aspx
2. Table Battles Expansion No. 2: Age of Alexander from Hollandspiele
Table Battles: The Age of Alexander recreates that famous Macedonian’s major battles, as well as two battles of the Diadochi. In almost all of these battles, the Macedonian Player has no room for error – the routing of a single Formation is often enough to lose the game. The opposing side has more leeway and more sticks, but generally comes up short in the quality department. Careful, nuanced play from both sides is required to stay competitive and to win the day. Most of these are larger engagements, with lots of cards and reactions for each side.
The seven battles in this set are: Chaeronea (2 August 338BCE), Granicus (May 334BCE), Issus (5 November 333BCE), Gaugamela (1 October 331BCE), The Hydaspes (May 326BCE)
Gabiene (316BCE) and Ipsus (301BCE).
If you know nothing about Table Battles, it is a light battle game that recreates battles throughout human history with an emphasis on playability. Players roll and allocate dice to Unit cards, with each card accepting specific die results or dice combinations. On a later turn, those dice are removed to activate the Unit and attack an enemy formation, removing wooden pieces assigned to the formation in question. But the enemy may be able to screen the attack (cancelling it), counterattacking (inflicting extra losses on the attacker), or absorb it via a strategic reserve. The game is designed to be fast playing yet offer strategic choices and decisions. As you can see from the picture above, the system is very simple and somewhat abstracted as it is not played on a traditional board.
If you are interested in Table Battles Expansion #2: Age of Alexander you can order a copy for $20.00 on the Hollandspiele website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/table-battles-expansion-2-age-of-alexander
You must own Table Battles to play this game as it is an expansion.
3. Armageddon War: Platoon Level Combat in the End War from Flying Pig Games
Armageddon War: Platoon Level Combat in the End War is fresh off Kickstarter fulfillment and we were able to get it to our gaming table quickly and played two of the scenarios. One of the scenarios was a unique shoot and scoot scenario where one player is trying to evacuate an ISIS official from a rebel force that is setting up an ambush and the other was the Russian army, complete with massive Armata tanks, putting down a rebellion. The game is a tactical hex and counter game where players will control various factions in a near future all out war situation in the Middle East. All the major countries are involved, including the United States, Russia, Israel, Jordan as well as many other smaller groups hell bent on each others destruction. The design uses a continuous activation system with chit draw that feels like one constant battle with no breaks.
The production is of the highest quality with beautiful and colorful 1″ counters, large mounted map boards and custom dice to help move the action along. The very interesting part of the design is the use of trapezoidal administrative counters that are placed under units to show their current status but don’t cover up important information such as their attack factors, range or movement rate. Overall, a really good design that was a blast to play. We can’t wait to get it back to the table soon!
If you are interested in Armageddon War: Platoon Level Combat in the End War, you can order a copy of the game from the Flying Pig Games website at the following link: https://flyingpiggames.com/t/armageddon-war
4. D-Day at Iwo Jima from Decision Games
I own a copy of D-Day at Tarawa and did a review on it after purchasing it at Origins 2016. I like the system used in the game and it is generally the one used in all four of the current volumes (D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Tarawa, D-Day at Peleliu and now D-Day at Iwo Jima.) D-Day at Iwo Jima is a solitaire game simulating the amphibious invasion of the island of Iwo Jima. The five-week battle was some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific. In one of the costliest intelligence failures of the war, the planners had completely misjudged the situation that would face the Marines. The beaches had been described as excellent and the advance inland was expected to be easy. Instead, the Marines were faced with 15-foot-high slopes of soft black volcanic ash that brought the normally rapidly moving Marines down to a slow plod. In addition, the lack of a vigorous response led the Marines to believe that the bombardment had completely suppressed the defenses. However, Gen. Kuribayashi was far from beaten. Understanding that his forces were insufficient to defeat the massive American invasion force, he had decided to defend the island in-depth.
In D-Day at Iwo Jima, designer Joe Youst builds on John Butterfield’s award winning solitaire game system. The player controls three US Marine divisions against a determined Japanese defense. The no-dice combat system highlights the unknown enemy deployments and coordination of the right weapon systems and tactics.
Players familiar with the previous three games in the system will be able to quickly set up and play this latest version. New features include a random fortification generation system that simulates the ability of the Japanese forces to “re-fortify” supposedly weakened positions and an updated infiltration system that encourages the player to maintain a continuous line.
The maps on first look can be chaotic but once you understand the rules and how the Japanese defenders fire is based on card draws, it becomes easy to decipher and is really a masterfully worked system.
The game comes with 528 die-cut counters, one 34″ x 22″ mounted map (previous versions of the game only had paper maps but this one is heavy and thick!), one 11″ x 17″ setup map, several player aid cards, a full color rule book, a campaign analysis book and 55 event cards.
Here is a link to my unboxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bypyl4YabZE
If you are interested in D-Day at Iwo Jima, you can order a copy from the Decision Games website for $90.00 at the following link: https://shop.decisiongames.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=1032
5. Crossing Fate: The Battle of Issus, November 333 BC from High Flying Dice Games
I don’t know a lot about this particular game but the theme and battle caught my eye so I thought that I would include it. I have also done several interviews with the designer Paul Rohrbaugh, and played and reviewed several of High Flying Dice Games’ offerings, including Kekionga! A Dark and Bloody Battleground, 1790 and Depths of Courage Volume 8 The Attack on Algeciras Harbor, July-December 1942 and he is a very good and thoughtful designer.
Crossing Fate: The Battle of Issus, November 333 BC is an introductory level wargame covering the Battle of Issus that was fought by the forces of Darius the Great, King of Persia and Alexander the Great of Macedon along with his Greek Allies. To insure the security of the Macedonian Hegemony, and to wrest control of the Persian Empire’s territories bordering on the Aegean and Mediterranean, Alexander launched an invasion of Anatolia.
The first major battle was fought against the Persian satraps of Anatolia at the Granicus river. Alexander’s forces garnered a decisive victory, and in response Darius traveled west to personally organize his troops for a showdown with the Macedonian interloper. The two sides met along the Pinarus river that flows into the Gulf of Issus. The fates of two empires were about to collide.
The game includes one 11″ x 17″ card map, 57 single-sided units and markers, one player aid and a 9 page rule book.
If you are interested in Crossing Fate: The Battle of Issus, November 333 BC, you can order a copy from the High Flying Dice Games website for $11.95 at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/issus.html
For the cost of $6.00 more, you can order mounted counters and for $8.00 more you can order the customized cards.
6. Nemesis Burma 1944 from Legion Wargames
Nemesis Burma 1944 from Legion Wargames is a fantastic looking design that deals with the clandestine guerilla operations of personalities such as General Stillwell, General Slim, Wingate and Merrill as they fought for control of the backwater of Burma during 1944 against the Japanese. This game features Kim Kanger’s “Open Game Turn” system. The Game Turn consists of only four phases: Assault (where a unit may move and “overrun”); Attack; Supply Check; and Reinforcement. The phases are drawn as chits, so you will not know in what order they will appear, with the exception of the first chit in a Game Turn which is chosen from the first three drawn chits in the previous Game Turn. Both players have a set of four Phase Chits each and they take turns drawing them. The game mechanics are easy to master. The game play may not.
The quality of the unit is the most important feature. Basically it affects four aspects: Not only will a high quality give an edge in combat, it also decides what kind of ZoC the unit is able to exert. The quality will decide how long a unit can be out of supply before attrition strikes, and how capable the unit is to make an operational move (a “double move”). Since ZoC is non-existent except when preventing enemy units conducting operational moves, it is very important which units you position and where you do so. Especially so, if you are uncertain of which phases there remain to be played.
The game also features an “Active Combat” system. A combat result will have step losses and probably a retreat result. Step losses are straightforward. The retreat result though has to be enforced by the attacker. That is usually not a problem if it is done by a high quality unit. A unit with lesser quality may have to pay with step losses in order to do so. The defender then decides to retreat or resist. If it stays, then it takes step losses, depending on its quality. Before any attack, the Japanese player has the option to get a DRM in its favor (in attack or defense). But it comes with a price.
Finally, there will be a two layer Victory Point system. There is a Satisfaction point track for each player. Some points can be actively acquired by you but are given once, usually those that will please your local commander. Some points can be actively acquired by the opponent and will be deducted every Game Turn from your track as long as the enemy controls them, usually those that displease your superiors. Then again, it is the same thing for your opponent. Those that you have received once are also the ones that are deducted each Game Turn from your opponent’s track etc. In the end, as the commander, you will have to prioritize, depending on the current situation.
Nemesis has a high replay value and if you love tense games when in action as well as games that allow you to ponder on possible “perfect opening moves”, then this is the game for you.
If you are interested in Nemesis Burma 1944, you can order a copy from the Legion Wargames website for $48.00 at the following link: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_NEM.html
That was the most number of games that we have highlighted in our Wargame Watch feature; a total of 11 games, including 5 pre-orders and 6 recent releases. I feel like I could have added a few more but these are enough to keep you entertained for now. Thanks for reading and let me know if there are any great looking games that you would have added to this list that we overlooked.