Sorry this post is late. I have been really busy lately and just haven’t had time to devote to the blog.
Another month in the books and we have another fantastic monthly update email from GMT Games. I almost feel that GMT is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (and no I don’t like the taste of cardboard!). Let me explain. They are this little shop that is located out in the rural part of California in a very unassuming looking old fruit warehouse…yet they just seem to always have something marvelously fantastic brewing in the background. It’s almost magical. Like everlasting gobstoppers!
And to carry this crazy analogy a step further, Gene is like Willy Wonka and always knows exactly what to say and how to handle things. It’s not as easy as he makes it look. I can assure you of that. But he somehow does it! Maybe he has an army of oompaloompas in the back there (or a Tony Curtis and Rodger MacGowan) but they just get rid of the bad eggs, clean that ceiling that gets bumped once in a while when we imbibe in the fuzzy lifting drinks and loves to rev up the ‘Hsaw Aknow’ (Wonka Wash spelled backward) to take us back in time a bit like this month (more on this later!). Month after month, they not only finalize great games and ship them, but seem to add new offerings to the P500!
So was the case this month with two new P500 offerings including Commands and Colors: Samurai Battles and Storm Above the Reich (more goodness from the beloved Jerry White!).
In case you missed the Monthly Update email, here is a link: https://mailchi.mp/f73e3b2a34a5/august-21-update-from-gmt-new-p500s-production-news-and-more
Before I get to the meat of the update and the new games, I wanted to thank Gene for sharing my pain from earlier this month when I tweeted out the following:
For those that know, my wife Paisley and I have now played Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 22 times! We typically do not game together but she agreed to give it a go in June and we have never looked back. We really have a great time with this one and I would urge all of you wargamers to crack this one out with your significant others. It is easy to learn and plays in under 20 minutes with not much fuss! The best part is that the game play is strategic and very engaging…even after 22 plays. So if you haven’t yet, get this game. You will thank me later. I promise!
Onto the news!
Commands and Colors: Samurai Battles
I have never really played much C&C and don’t frankly feel that drawn to the system. But with this games release, I might be as I definitely have a soft spot for anything Japanese. For example, we loved Sekigahara. In the August Monthly Update email from GMT Games came an announcement that this game would be added to the P500. The Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles game rules allow players to portray important engagements of Japanese history. The battles, included in the scenario booklet, focus on the historical deployment of forces and important terrain features in scale with the game system. The scale of the game is flexible and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire clan of soldiers, while in other scenarios a unit may represent just a few brave warriors.
The Command cards drive movement and creates a “fog of war” and presents players with many interesting challenges and opportunities, while the battle dice resolve combat quickly and efficiently. The Honor & Fortune game mechanic will task players to maintain a balance between these two important game elements. The Dragon Cards add an element of suspense and surprise that can bend the rules and instantly change the course of a battle. The battlefield tactics you will need to execute to gain victory, however, conform remarkably well to the strengths and limitations of the various Japanese unit types, their weapons, battle terrain, and written history.
Remember I mentioned the Wonka Wash earlier? Where here it is in action bringing back a past title to give it the GMT treatment and make it a success. So what makes GMT’s Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles game great? In a word, More! GMT’s C&C: Samurai Battles game has more scenarios, more units to deploy, additional types of Japanese units, a jammed-packed battlefield with more units and more terrain. And there are still more expansion materials already waiting in the wings.
First – there are more units and more unit types in the game. Yep, it will take some time to apply stickers to all the blocks, but doing so is a breeze, when compared to the time it took to assemble figures. When done, blocks are very durable and easy to store.
Second – the battlefield comes on a one-piece mounted map board. Not really any larger in that it still stands at 11 hexes deep by 12 hexes wide, but there are plenty of terrain tiles including new types of terrain, fences, ramparts, castle walls and more.
Third – more scenarios, which no doubt will be the most important feature for anyone who owns and enjoys the previous version of Samurai Battles from Zvezda. If all goes as planned, the game will have around 40 scenarios.
If you are interested in Commands and Colors: Samurai Battles, you can pre-order a copy for the P500 price of $55.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-724-commands-colors-samurai-battles.aspx
Storm Above the Reich
We love the airwar here at The Players’ Aid. Particularly World War II airwar. We also are partial to the incomparable Jerry White and his many fantastic games including Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambusters Raid and Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid.
But with his most recent game Skies Above the Reich, we really found something special. With that success, the next volume is on its way pretty fast. Storm Above the Reich is a solitaire game depicting a Luftwaffe squadron of Fw190s struggling to deter and destroy the relentless daylight raids over Germany during World War II. The player’s individual aircraft, each represented by a stickered block, must confront the mighty “combat box” formation of the United States Army Air Force, a deadly terrain of B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. Like its counterpart, Skies Above the Reich, the game is a broad strokes depiction that presents the arc of the desperate air war. Stretching from late 1942 to early 1945, Storm Above the Reich follows that trajectory in a series of missions strung together to make a campaign. Each mission will take a half hour or more to play, while a campaign can last anywhere between 6 to 60 missions.
This game is not an expansion but a stand alone product so you will not need Skies Above the Reich to play.
If you haven’t played Skies Above the Reich, the game is really fairly simple. You will select pilots and “attachments,” such as gun pods, rockets, or added armor. You may also augment your attack with auxiliary aircraft such as Me110s, Bf109s, or later in the war, jet propelled Me163s, an erratic but powerful weapon. Time in a mission is limited, so you must do your best to wreck the bomber formation as quickly as possible, while bringing home as many pilots as you can in order to muster a force for the next mission.
The mission is played on a formation map that depicts as many as twenty-one B-24 bombers in a tight array. The game comes with two double-sided map boards (four maps in all) that as a set chronicle the development and increasing lethality of the bomber formation. Each map is a bigger and more lethal terrain than its predecessor.
If you are interested in Storm Above the Reich, you can pre-order a copy for the P500 price of $65.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-725-storm-above-the-reich.aspx
New P500 Reprint Additions
In addition to the new games, GMT decided to add five new P500 Reprints to the list, as they have several key games that have sold out recently, and need to make room for the reprints of C&C games back on the list. The reprints are as follows with links:
C&C Ancients Expansion #2/3
C&C Napoleonics: Austrian Expansion, 2nd Printing
C&C Napoleonics: Spanish Expansion, 3rd Printing
Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambusters Raid, 2nd Printing
The US Civil War, 2nd Printing
New P500s on the Horizon
This feature has become one of my favorite parts now about the updates. Each month, Gene teases us with cryptic reference to upcoming P500 games. Most of the time, these references are vague enough that you will have to be an expert ton cryptography to decipher them. But, I give it a go each month and have had a few correct at times. Here are the “hints” from this month’s edition with my best guesses:
• A follow-on game to one of our all time top ten best-sellers – I have guessed in the past that this is an expansion to Dominant Species but I don’t know. Could it be an expansion to Battle Line?
• A fantasy-themed strategy game – I don’t have any intel on this one but I am here to tell you that I will love this. We recently played Wizard Kings from Columbia Games, which is a fantasy themed block style wargame, and it was a blast!
• A new pirate-themed game – Ooh…I had heard a rumor that GMT was being courted by Disney. Maybe this will be Pirates of the Caribbean. Who doesn’t love pirates!
• A new operational-level wargame set in Vietnam – Book it. Silver Bayonet expansion on Operation Attleboro.
• An expansion for a game that’s not yet released (that’s how much we like it!) – I don’t understand this concept. Is Gene a time traveler?
• A fast-playing multi-pack wargame series: theme pre-1900 warfare – I’m thinking something along the lines of Napoleonic war or more titles similar to At Any Cost. But, I don’t have a specific guess.
Commands & Colors Ancients from HexWar Available Soon!
This month there was also an update on the digital copies of Commands & Colors Ancients that are being developed by HexWar:
HexWar have informed us that C&C Ancients will be launching soon for Steam (PC and Mac), iOS, and Android. Here are links for the trailer (check it out!) and the Steam Page.
We’ll send you an email heads-up when the game goes live on Steam, iOS, and Android.
My interest in C&C is definitely piqued this month with Samurai Battles being added and then this look at the digital product.
In case you missed it, last week we posted a guest post from Tom Knight on C&C Ancients Epic that you might find interesting.
Conclusion and Summary of My P500 Orders
As I always tend to end these posts, I will post a summary of where my 31 P500 games stand as of August 30th. I routinely check the status of each of my games and also will show the change in orders as compared to the last time I wrote them down on July 23rd.
- 1989: Dawn of Freedom 2nd Printing – 316 [+11 orders] – Over half way there. At this pace, the game might be reprinted in 2089! I have heard and read that this game is amazing, and with the popularity of CDGs, this is another quality offering! I have enjoyed the InsideGMT blog posts from Clio’s Board Games on this one. Really making me want the game more. Please help me move this one along.
- The Hunters 3rd Printing – 976 [+32 orders, made the cut!] WWII submarine warfare with the vaunted U-Boats! The tentative shipping date was bumped to Early 2019. Ugh! I have also had my eye on the follow-up to this game The Hunted but have yet to pull the trigger on that one.
- Navajo Wars 2nd Printing – 494 [+29 orders] I love stories and games about Native Americans. When I was a kid I read dozens of history books on Native Americans. Read my interview with Joel Toppen about Navajo Wars and Comanchería. I am eagerly awaiting this game as I have simply fallen in love with Comanchería. Only 6 more orders till it makes the cut! Assigned a shipping date of Mid 2019.
- The Last Hundred Yards – 628 [+14 orders, made the cut!] A WWII tactical game that exhibits the actions and reactions of real troops from initiative, to communication and other factors. Yes, please! Read my interview with designer Mike Denson that was posted in November 2016! Assigned tentative shipping date of Early 2019 (with a note that it could possibly be late 2018). Here is a look at a near final play aid:
- Bayonets & Tomahawks – 763 [+17 orders, made the cut!] – I love a good game about the French & Indian War. Read my interview with designer Marc Rodrigue about B&T! Assigned a tentative shipping date of Early 2019. They have said that the art will be from John Buxton and I recommend you go check out his stuff as it is simply fantastic! Here is a look at the latest version of the map:
- Imperial Struggle – 2,726 [+105 orders, made the cut on 1st day!] Assigned a tentative shipping date of Mid 2019 as they are still working on playtesting, but remember, a fine wine takes time! I have reached out to designer Ananda Gupta for an interview and we just haven’t been able to get connected. Soon I am sure!
- Ariovistus: A Falling Sky Expansion – 1,653 [+36 orders, made the cut!] – I love Falling Sky and when this one was offered, it didn’t take me long to order it! A 5th playable faction and some new upgraded components for the base game. My interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke was posted in October 2016. Tentative shipping date of Early-Mid September 2018 as a part of the COINFest. Not far off now though!
- Roads to Leningrad 2nd Printing – 166 [+0 orders] – This game is medium complexity and has high suitability for solitaire. Also, this is the 2nd edition and they are fixing some of the rules, updating the map and player aides (full color) and also there are 528 counters! I love counters and this game has 528. Read my interview with designer Vance von Borries. Game was saved from P500 purgatory last year! Thanks for all who ordered. No progress this month. It will get there eventually. Vance’s games are amazing and we have really enjoyed our plays of Demyansk Shield from Legion Wargames.
- SpaceCorp: 2025-3000 AD – 1,877 [+54 orders, made the cut!] I love a good Sci-Fi themed game and this one looks great. I also really enjoy John Butterfield’s designs. Read my interview with John for some great insight into the game and the design process. Tentative shipping date of October 2018 assigned. Here is a look at one of the solo cards:
- Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs – 766 [+14 orders, made the cut!] Tank on tank combat in World War II for up to 8 players! Panzers, T34’s, what more could you want in a game? Posted an interview with the designer Mike Bertucelli and his developer Jason Carr on July 30th if you are interested in learning more. Tentative shipping date has been assigned as Early 2019 (artwork has been started).
- Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – 1,253 [+27 orders, made the cut!] A fantastic looking abstracted game of civilization building in the Mediterranean designed by Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge. This game is sure to be a winner! Read my interview with Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge. Assigned a tentative shipping date of Early 2019. Mark has been doing a series of articles on InsideGMT about the cards used in the game and they are really interesting reads.
- Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India 1917-1947 – 1,375 [+20 orders, after only 2 days…made the cut!] – I love the COIN Series of games and this one includes a Non-Violent faction, in a wargame. I have got to see this in action! Read our interview with designer Bruce Mansfield. Tentative shipping date of Mid 2019 assigned. I have reached out to Bruce to see if he would be interested in spoiling some of the cards for the game in a series of Event Card spoiler posts on our blog but to date no progress. We have been doing this with All Bridges Burning and People Power and look forward to bringing this inside look to the blog in the near future for Gandhi.
- Andean Abyss: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Columbia 2nd Printing – 649 [+21 orders, made the cut!] – I love the COIN Series and have finally added this one to my list as it neared the required 500 orders. I cannot wait to play the first game in the series to see how the system has evolved from the beginning. Assigned a tentative shipping date of Late September 2018 as part of the COINFest.
- Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition – 764 [+36 orders, made the cut!] – Ted Raicer’s fantastic Card Driven Game set in World War I, but this version will be deluxe, which means shiny and new. I had to add this classic to my list in April 2017. When a game is on its 6th Printing, what does that say about it? The game made the cut in January so that is good news! Set a tentative shipping date of November-December 2018. I really want to experience this classic game!
- Ardennes ’44 Reprint – 876 [+23 orders, made the cut!] – I added this game to my list in late May 2017 as I have always wanted a good game on the Battle of the Bulge and have heard that this one fits that bill. Mark Simonitch designs are always good and this one actually looks great! Assigned a tentative shipping date of Early 2019.
- Plains Indian Wars – 318 [+14 orders] – A great game that looks at the inevitable wars between the expanding United States and the proud Native American tribes of the west. Read our interview on the game with John Poniske. Please give this one a look as I can definitely say that John knows his stuff and is a very thoughtful designer, taking great care to design a playable game that teaches us something. As you may have read, we posted a few videos on this one to help push it on up toward the P500 goal. Review video and How to Play video.
- A Time for Trumpets: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – 773 [+21 orders, made the cut!] – A monster wargame covering the Battle of the Bulge (5 maps and 1,600 counters). This design seems to take many familiar elements from other designs and adds some new shiny things to spice it up. I’m really interested to see the different colors used for the various formation/HQs as this one purports to include the entire rainbow. Congrats to Bruno on making the cut so quickly. Here is our interview with Bruno for your reading pleasure. Assigned a tentative shipping date of Early 2019.
- Death Valley: Battles for the Shenandoah – 834 [+21 orders, made the cut!] – I love the gallantry and the tactics used by Stonewall Jackson during the American Civil War and in this game you get to re-enact all of his major victories in the Shenandoah Valley of 1862 and while he died at Chancellorsville in 1863, the game covers Confederate victories in 1864 as well. I posted an interview with the game developer William Byrne in February. Assigned a tentative shipping date of Mid 2019.
- All Bridges Burning: Red Revolt and White Guard in Finland, 1917-1918 – 938 [+11 orders, made the cut! in the first month] – Here is a link to an InsideGMT article that posted recently describing the game: https://t.co/TPCssBT76U I also posted an interview with designer VPJ Arponen earlier this year. Really excited about this 3-player COIN Series game. We have also been working with Vez on a series of posts where we are spoiler several Event Cards from the game along with Vez’s comments on the history behind the card, what they do, how they are best used by the factions and other neat elements. Here are our posts to date for the cards: #3 November Revolution in Russia, #8 General Strike, #9 Declaration of Finnish Independence, #27 The Reds Launch a Major Offensive, #43 Rough Justice, #45 Finland’s Fate Hangs in Balance, #24 Red Revolt! and #25 Disarming Russian Garrisons,#11 Weapons from Russia? and #30 Meetings in the Catacomb. Assigned a shipping date of Mid 2019.
- Flashpoint: South China Sea – 402 [+33 orders] – Another new entry in the “Lunch Hour” game series that was announced last year and for which the first entry is Fort Sumter. The South China Sea is a source of great concern for the West and this game looks at the struggle between China and the rest of the world over influence and control in this contested quadrant of the world. We were lucky enough to meet up with the designer Harold Buchanan at Gen Con and got to play the game and shoot a video interview on the game.
- People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1983-1986 – 620 [+6 orders, made the cut!] – Volume XI in the COIN Series, this game is another introductory level game set in the Marcos years in the Philippines. New additions, such as key personality cards and an Election Cycle, are sure to make this game a unique addition to the series. Here is our interview with designer Kenneth Tee. We also posted the first few cards in our series of Event Card spoilers for the game including #51 Aquino Dead, #31 The First Lady and #12 Another Beirut to give you some more historical and game play background into the design. More to come in the near future but this one looks great to get into the system with.
- Beneath the Med: Italian Submarines at War, 1940-1943 – 535 [+32 orders, made the cut!] – A follow on to the The Hunters Series, this game takes you into the Mediterranean Sea during World War II to battle beneath the waves as the Italians. Designer Gregory M. Smith knows solo sub games and this one looks fantastic. Here is our interview with Gregory and it is a really good looking game.
- The Age of Iron and Rust: A Time of Crisis Expansion – 919 [+65 orders, made the cut!] – Not surprised at all that this game made the cut so quickly as Time of Crisis is simply a fantastic game that hits the spot with both wargamers and Eurogamers. New added cards, new Emperor rules and a solitaire version makes this game a must add to your collection. We posted an interview with both designers Wray Ferrell and Brad Johnson last month. assigned a shipping date of November-December 2018.
- Atlantic Chase – 752 [+51 orders, made the cut!] – simulates the naval campaigns fought in the North Atlantic between the surface fleets of the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine between 1939 and 1942. It utilizes a system of trajectories to model the fog of war that bedeviled the commands during this period. This leads to my affectionate nickname for the game “Ticket to Ride: North Atlantic” as you will see lines of ships on the map much like the lines of trains in that game. Alexander posted an interview with Jerry White a few weeks ago that you should read. Great looking game!
- The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC – 951 [+74 orders, made the cut!] – an enhanced version of Mark Herman’s solo game published by Victory Games covering the Peloponnesian War. Get your Greek on for sure. This game simply looks awesome!
- Versailles 1919 – 727 [+68 orders, made the cut!] – This game is designed as a more accessible and easy to learn version than Churchill but still will generate significant interest from wargamers who have enjoyed Mark’s other creations in this area. Also, the game will have a solitaire system included. I have reached out to Mark and Geoff for an interview that they are currently working on. We attended WBC in July and were able to play a full game of Versailles 1919 with Mark Herman and did the following video interview with him. Great game by the way!
- Stalingrad ’42 – 914 [+109 orders, made the cut!] – Not surprising that this game made the cut so quickly. 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 will be reaching out to Mark for an interview soon.
- Expansion or Extinction: A Triumph & Tragedy Series Game – 285 [+123 orders] – If you liked Triumph & Tragedy, you will like this game…only it is in space! We were fortunate enough to play a game at WBC with the designer Stuart Pierce and also shot this video interview with him.
- Men of Iron Tri-Pack – 397 [+151 orders] – This Men of Iron Series is a look at battles in medieval times involving men-at-arms, knights, longbowman, etc. The Tri-Pack includes the first three games in the Men of Iron Series: Men of Iron, Infidel, and Blood & Roses, with the Battle of Agincourt thrown in for good measure from C3i Magazine #22. This system is very interesting and we are definitely intrigued as our play of The Battle of Wakefield was very interesting.
- Commands and Colors: Samurai Battles – 395 orders
- Storm Above the Reich – 233 orders
Another great Monthly Update email from Gene at GMT Games. There’s a reason I think they are the gold standard and it has to do with the people there (thanks for your recent message Gene! Meant a lot.).
Over the past few months, we at The Players’ Aid have received a lot of great games, including Cataclysm, Hitler’s Reich, Skies Above the Reich, Gallipoli 1915, Fort Sumter and No Retreat 3, all that we are in the process of playing, doing quick video reviews and more in-depth written reviews. You have seen a lot of content from us recently and there is a lot more content coming over the next month. Thanks for all the support that our readers give us. We truly appreciate it!