You wouldn’t think that in only 30 days, there’d be much new in the form of games. But you’d be wrong. We are in the golden age of wargames. No doubt in my mind. There are just so many great offerings coming out each month to be anything else.
Tho month I am able to share 10 games with you, including one Kickstarter. Of these 10 games, 4 are from the same publisher and I could have focused on at least one more from them but I wanted to spread it around a bit.
If you missed September’s Wargame Watch you can check that our here at this link.
1. African Purgatory: The Battle for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo from Big Cat Games Currently on Kickstarter
*Update – this Kickstarter campaign was terminated inexplicably.
This wargame on the ongoing confrontation in the African Congo presents the players with the challenge of controlling multiple factions including the UN forces, (MONUSCO), the Force Intervention Brigade, the FARDC, the FARDC Republican Guard, the Virunga Park Rangers, the specially trained Mine Police, the Congolese National Police, the M23, the FDLR, the FRPI, the ADF, the M23, the SPLA-IO, and the MaiMai. Attack and transport helicopters, drones, armor units, and artillery all have a role in deciding the battle.
Reflecting the complexity of the war, this is not just a simulation of military options. Because of the nature of the conflict, the players must contend with many factors including budgeting for operations, the recruitment of new forces, carefully balancing the development of infrastructure, and events they have no control over. A failure to strike a balance on any of these, could spell disaster later in the game. Do the Congolese and UN players forgo internal development and concentrate on a military objective to wipe out the armed groups in a series of crushing blows? Or do they concentrate their efforts on making political, economic, and security improvements to keep the armed groups from recruiting more members? Congolese and UN players must learn how to conduct military operations with civilians ever present on the battlefield. An accidental attack on civilians could mean the offending forces are taken off the battlefield and the armed groups using the tragedy to recruit more fighters. Do the armed groups strike out at the Congolese and UN forces to drive them from the battlefield, or do they capture the mines and poaching sites, using the wealth to build up their forces? Do the various armed groups decide the Congolese and UN forces are too strong and decide to bypass them and attack each other for control of the natural resources?
Originally developed as a training tool for the US Government, the United Nations, and Non-Governmental Organizations, this simulation was designed to allow strategists the ability to map out different tactics and strategies in the conflict. There are not enough Congolese and UN forces to control every objective on the map nor fight every single armed group formation. This presents a crucial problem: Does the Congolese government and UN forces concentrate their forces where they can mutually support each other and hold ground and give up trying to control the outer bands of the region? Or do they actively pursue the armed groups wherever they may be to wear them down? Do the armed groups strike for the gold, diamond, and other mining sites or do they go after the cities? Should they conduct poaching or capture mineral resources? Do they conduct hit and run attacks, or attempt to hold ground?
I really am drawn to games that deal with topics that are not often gamed and this has that allure for me. The game is a block wargame and has all the elements of secrecy in hidden units and fog of war and seems to be very thematic in its mechanics.
If you are interested in African Purgatory: The Battle for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, you can back the campaign at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/290004584/african-purgatory-the-battle-for-the-eastern-dr-co?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=African%20purgatory
The campaign has 24 days remaining and has already reached its funding goal of $1,000 with total pledges of $2,128 from 35 backers.
2. WWII Commander: Volume One Battle of the Bulge from Compass Games
John Butterfield is one of my favorite designers and this game is in my wheelhouse. I have played a lot of this game on iPad and have enjoyed it quite a bit. WWII Commander: Volume One: Battle of the Bulge is the first in a series of fast-playing area-based games on key campaigns of the Second World War. Battle of the Bulge is a two-player game that looks at the German offensive against the Western Allies in December 1944, based on Butterfield’s original boardgame design that was later released in digital format by Shenandoah Studios, an imprint of Slitherine UL Ltd.
The game features premium components throughout; from the mounted game board and oversized units, to the activation cubes and wooden control discs, sure to appeal to war gamers and euro gamers alike. The rules are simple, game play is fast and furious and can be completed in a single sitting, and victory may be achieved by either side at different stages of the game.
The overall game system is easy to learn and makes a great introduction to war games, but mastering its tactics and strategy is a true challenge as the players take turns deciding which units to activate on either attack or defense. As the German player, you must make big gains and be as aggressive as possible while you hold the numerical advantage without over-committing your units, over-extending supply lines or falling prone to fuel shortages. As the Allied player, you must first withstand the initial German surprise attack and coordinate effective holding actions while defending key geographic objectives as you muster your arriving forces for counterattacks.
The whole game’s look and feel really seems to hearken back to the video game and I really like the look of the counters as they literally look like the iconic video game did.
If you are interested in WWII Commander: Volume One: Battle of the Bulge, you can pre-order a copy for $54.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/wwii-commander-battle-of-the-bulge.html
3. Modern War: Volume One: The Fulda Gap: The Battle for the Center from Compass Games
It seems that Modern Warfare and anything having to do with World War III is hot right now. So it’s not really a surprise that Compass Games has jumped into the fray with another Company Scale System (CSS) from Adam Starkweather.
Stopping the possibility of a Soviet advance against NATO required some of the highest skilled troops to defend far forward in West Germany to prevent the vital industry and population from falling into Soviet hands. This was the task of the 11th Cavalry Regiment – the famed Black Horse Regiment – in the area well known as the Fulda Gap. The Fulda Gap was a break in the defensively favorable terrain that channelled advance directly towards the main American bases in West Germany. It was vital that this be held as long as possible.
This is the first game in the Central Front series of games. It will feature nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, helicopter support, air support, electronic warfare, and many other aspects of modern warfare. Future games in the series will include the Hof Gap defense, the German Northern Plains defense and the last stand at Berlin.
There are 8 scenarios included in the game.
If you are interested in Modern War: Volume One: The Fulda Gap: The Battle for the Center, you can pre-order a copy for $109.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/fulda-gap-a-css-game.html
4. Nemesis: Volume One: The Little Land: The Battle of Novorossiysk from Compass Games
The Little Land: The Battle of Novorossiysk is the first game in the Nemesis series covering company level battles on the Eastern Front. With added special rules to cover the unique type of warfare on the Eastern Front, players will battle over the fate of the Kuban with tanks, amphibious invasions, paratroopers, naval ships and artillery.
We all have a fascination with the Eastern Front of World War II and have played lots of games on the subject. This one is a Company Scale System game and promises new mechanics to cover the style of fighting on the Eastern Front, which was bloody and very brutal. From the game description, we get a quick look into the history behind this specific part of the conflict:
Stalin had been unhappy with the progress of North Caucasus Front on Krasnodor and impatient to see more success, he ordered General Ivan Petrov, commander of the Black Sea Group of Forces, to break the stalemate by a surprise invasion from the Black Sea. This would unhinge the German defense and quicken the offensive.
Almost immediately, things went wrong – with a bombardment from the Black Sea Fleet that merely alerted the defense – and the invasion itself was running far behind schedule. So began the battle of Novorossiysk.
If you are interested in Nemesis: Volume One: The Little Land: The Battle of Novorossiysk, you can pre-order a copy for $89.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/css-the-little-land-the-battle-for-novorossiysk.html
5. Combat! Man to Man Combat in WWII from Compass Games
I am not necessarily a “dyed in the wool” true blue solitaire player but do find comfort in the genre’s arms from time to time when I can’t find someone else to game with. But a well designed solo game on a topic I have interest in is always a welcome sight.
Combat! is a solitaire game on man to man combat in the 20th century. The player will control friendly forces and attempt to complete a scenario against enemy forces that are controlled by the game system.
At the start of each turn the player will play 1 card from their hand to the Initiative track. This card will determine the initiative values for each of the player’s friendly teams and may have other effects depending on the card. After this the player will assign orders to each character on his side. This will determine the actions that the character can take this turn. Once the friendly characters have orders assigned to them, the player will draw an Enemy AI Card for each Alerted Enemy Character. These cards will determine the Initiative value for each Enemy Team and the Order that they will receive. The Order determines the actions that an Enemy Character will take that turn.
I really enjoy games that try to mimic the confusion inherent in combat and the need to think quickly and react to what is happening. This pre-programming of your units moves is sure to create a fun and tension filled experience.
The game turn is then played through in 4 Impulses. From the lowest initiative value to the highest, each Character (Friendly and Enemy) will perform the action specified on their Order counter. All Characters will act on Impulse 1 before moving to Impulse 2, then Impulse 3 and finally Impulse 4. At the end of the turn all Orders are removed and the played cards returned to the respective decks.
Each soldier (friendly and enemy) is represented by a 1” counter with 5/8” informational markers showing morale, wounds, orders etc. With individual names (for friendly and enemy characters) each game tells a varied and memorable story.
With multiple scenarios ranging from attacks on Farmhouses, to defending a hill, to destroying enemy artillery pieces, to rescuing members of the resistance, to desperate last stands as the enemy close in for the kill, Combat! provides a wide variety of battle situations for you to experience. Add in the fact that there are random events, variable enemy forces and many scenario options and you have a game that can be played for years to come.
I am very interested in this one and will be pre-ordering. I love good narrative driven solo tactical games and this one fits the bill.
If you are interested in Combat! Man to Man Combat in WWII, you can pre-order a copy for $99.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/combat.html
1. 1916 Verdun: Campaign of Attrition from Conflict Simulations LLC
Conflict Simulations LLC is a brand new small wargame publisher out of New York City printing 2140 Series Games: focused, small footprint simulations playable in around 2 hours with 140 counters. The lead designer is Ray Weiss who has recently done several games that we have done interviews on like Rostov ’41 from MMP and Imperial Bayonets: Liberty for Lombardy.
The first game of the series, 1916 Verdun: Campaign of Attrition, focuses on the 10-month campaign at Verdun during World War I with an operational scale of 12.5-mile hexes, multi-phased monthlong turns, and division/smaller size units.
2. Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga from VentoNuevo Games
Fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2017, Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga from VentoNuevo Games began shipping this month. We did an interview with the designer Emanuel Santandrea last year and you can get a real good feel for the game by reading it.
Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga recreates one of the most epic battles of World War 2 with a game mechanism that makes this work in four different game modes, including a true solitaire (versus AI) version.
The well-known campaign became a clash of wills between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, involving hundreds of thousands of troops in a death struggle which eventually led to the German defeat in the entire war.
Inferno’s map is generated from highly detailed air recon photographs and depicts both the city and outskirts in extreme detail, as it was in August 23, 1942, when the battle began. The map scope includes the main city and the its suburbs from Lateschanka to Kuspornoe, along 30 km of the volga river, and extends to the west as far as Gumrak Airfield, Orlovka, and Alexandrovka. Map scale is 1:33000, with hexes that represent 1,1 kilometer along each side.
The game has one campaign, covering August 23rd to November 20th and taking from 1 to 2 hours to play. There are several shorter scenarios, such as the September attack to the southern part of the city and the October attack to the industrial sector.
The unit wooden blocks provide fog-of-war and easy recording of strength, while a card-driven system allows for key historical events and dramatic surprises in battle.
If you are interested in Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga, you can order a copy for $104.50 from the VentoNuevo Games website at the following link: https://ventonuovo.ventonuovo.net/epages/15417.mobile/en_US/?ObjectPath=/Shops/15417/Categories/%22STALINGRAD%3A+Inferno+on+the+Volga%22
3. Maori Wars: The New Zealand Land Wars, 1845-1873 from Legion Wargames
Another interesting looking game from the prolific John Poniske that focuses on a topic that I know nothing about. Maori Wars: The New Zealand Land Wars, 1845-1873 is a simulation of the principal uprisings that took place between 1845 and 1872 due to British colonial incursions into native Maori lands on the North Island of New Zealand. Conflict involved the destruction of numerous villages, pas (strongly fortified villages that featured intricate trench-works) and colonial settlements. The war introduced the British to a wily well-armed enemy whose defense works and strategy of ambush surprised and stymied them. As scenarios progress so does the extent of the conflict. More British regulars, native born Australian troops and New Zealand militia enter and are allied with increasingly more tribes who tend to change sides at the most inopportune times (those supporting the British came to be known as Queenites).
We did an interview with John last month that gives a lot of insight into the design.
If you are interested in Maori Wars: The New Zealand Land Wars, 1845-1873, you can order a copy for the CPO price of $46.00 from the Legion Wargames website at the following link: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_MWS.html
4. Ariovistus: A Falling Sky Expansion from GMT Games
Ariovistusis an expansion to 2016’s Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesarands and a new playable . A copy of Falling Sky is necessary to play.
We did an interview with the co-designer Volko Ruhnke which gives some great insight into the design and the history.
If you are interested in Ariovistus: A Falling Sky Expansion, you can order a copy for $38.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-603-ariovistus-a-falling-sky-expansion.aspx
5. NATO Air Commander: Solitaire Strategic Air Command in World War III from Hollandspiele
A game that Hollandspiele has been working on for a long time is finally ready to go but I’m not quite sure when it will be ready to ship. NATO Air Commander: Solitaire Strategic Air Command in World War III falls into that category of popular modern warfare games that I spoke of earlier. The game is set in the 1980’s and is very 80s-tastic (a word made up by Tom Russell that is awaiting trademarking!).
I don’t know a lot about the game and it’s mechanics but here is a look at an unboxing video shared by Hollandspiele:
It was also very impressive during the video how they had arranged for some really fantastic flyovers by fighter jets during the filming of the video. You got watch out for Hollandspiele. They can do anything!
Here is a look at the proposed map by Ania Ziolkowska:
What a month! 10 new games and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. I regret that I was unable to share three additional games from Compass Games with you (Fortress Europa Designer Signature Edition, Schutztruppe, Heia Safari, 1914-1918 and Decision at Kasserine: Rommel’s Last Chance Designer Signature Edition) but they were added late in the month and I had already completed this post. I will try to share those next month, but I am sure those will not be the only games from Compass Games. I am really excited about many new games and will have to figure out a long term finance plan to be able to afford them all.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s slate and if you think of any new games I have missed please share them in the comments so I can take a look.