This past month I have spent a lot of time putting together lists. My Christmas shopping list for my family and friends, my annual 10 Wargames to Buy Your Wargamer for Christmas list post and now the December edition of Wargame Watch. Funny thing is I’m not tired of doing it. There are so many great games coming out and our hobby is alive and well and I am grateful for that.
If you missed November ‘s Wargame Watch you can check that out here at this link.
1. In the Trenches – World War One Tactical Combat: Battle Pack V Devil Dogs 2 – Faith & Sacrifice from Tiny Battle Publishing
With the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I in 2018, we have seen a lot of good games this year on the subject. So this trend continues with another offering from Tiny Battle Publishing, In the Trenches World War One Tactical Combat: Battle Pack V Devil Dogs 2 – Faith & Sacrifice. In this module for the In the Trenches Series, players can experience some of the major battles fought by the Marines after the famous Battle of Belleau Wood. This expansion covers four additional engagements, each with two “What if” alternatives, in the long and storied history of the United States Marine Corps and the sacrifices they made. The Marines were involved in retaking towns, breaking heavy German defenses and holding the line at a farm that stopped the German advance on Paris.
The In the Trenches (ITT) System makes its return and expands on the battles of the US Marines with four hard fought scenarios drawn from Devil Dog history, and designed by Jim Snyder (World at War: Blood and Bridges, Flashpoint: Red Storm). The In the Trenches series enables players to game historically accurate simulations of tactical operations from the Great War. ITT challenges players to move and fight with company-level formations made of separate platoon-sized units during five minute, impulse-based turns. The historically accurate maps are scaled to 100 yards per hex. This approach recreates WWI command and control problems and inspires historically accurate play without forcing decisions.
NOTE: This is an expansion to the original In the Trenches Devil Dogs game. You will need that for game rules and some counters in order to play these new scenarios and alternates.
As you may know, we really like tactical combat games here at TPA and this one looks really great. I have not played the first ITT Devil Dogs game but definitely may be looking at add both of these to my collection for Christmas.
If you are interested in a copy of In the Trenches – World War One Tactical Combat: Battle Pack V Devil Dogs 2 – Faith & Sacrifice, you can pre-order a copy for $25.00 from the Tiny Battle Publishing website at the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/in-the-trenches-devil-dogs-2
2. Antietam 1862 from Worthington Publishing on Kickstarter
I have not really played that many American Civil War games in my wargaming career. Is there is a reason for this? Not really, just haven’t seemed to have the opportunity to play many. Last year, I did play a Kickstarter ACW game from Command Post Games called Pub Battles: Antietam (Sharpsburg) that I really enjoyed. Antietam 1862 is Volume I in Worthington Publishing’s new Civil War Brigade Battle Series, which is designed as a series where you can fight a battle in a single evening. Antietam 1862 allows gamers to refight the pivotal battle in Maryland that was the bloodiest day in American history. More than 22,000 were killed, wounded, or missing. Outnumbered at over 2 to 1, can you hang on as the Confederates and put another defeat on Lincolns doorstep? As the Union can you capture and bag the Confederate army and end the war in 1862? The decisions are yours…
The game is I-Go-U-Go at brigade level with each strength point representing 100 men. Map scale is 250 yards per hex. An 8 page rule book will have you playing within an hour as many concepts will be familiar to wargamers. Ranged artillery fire, morale, melee, cavalry charges, and more will have you battling until the last turn to see if you can achieve victory. Step loss counters in 1 point increments.
This game is similar in rules to High Tide at Gettysburg and Chickamauga River of Death, but the designer has made it his own by simplifying and speeding up play with innovative changes.
If you are interested in Antietam 1862, you can secure a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/antietam-1862
As of December 3rd, the game is fully funded with 233 backers giving $20,085 of their $5,500 goal with 11 days still remaining in the campaign.
3. Castle Itter: The Strangest Battle of WWII from Dan Verssen Games on Kickstarter
In Castle Itter: The Strangest Battle of WWII, players will take on the role of a makeshift force that is defending a medieval castle nestled in the Austrian countryside from a Waffen-SS assault. The force consists of an American tank crew and infantrymen, Wehrmacht infantrymen, a former SS officer, French prisoners, and an Austrian resistance fighter. There is a reason this game has the subtitle The Strangest Battle of WWII.
The game is played as the defender has five actions each round and must move his units in the form of counters around the board to take actions to attack advancing German Waffen-SS counters as they progress up various colored assault tracks. If the enemy breaches the walls of the castle and enter the grounds you lose; simple as that.
I recorded a two part playthrough video to give you an idea how the mechanics work.
We also did an interview with designer David Thompson that you can read on our written blog at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2018/11/05/interview-with-david-thompson-designer-of-castle-itter-the-strangest-battle-of-world-war-ii-from-dan-verssen-games-coming-soon-to-kickstarter/
If you are interested in Castle Itter, you can check out the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11606594/470124123?ref=ei8axk&token=bf85ac93
As of December 3rd, the game is fully funded with 476 backers giving $34,226 of their $20,000 goal with 17 days still remaining in the campaign.
4. The Conquistadors: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas 1518-1548 from Compass Games
I love unique games on unique subjects. I typically am drawn to them but for some reason I missed the announcement of a very unique looking wargame on an interesting subject that I have only gamed one other time, and that game only barely introduced the Conquistadors into its game play as it was focused on the development of early American Indians (Mound Builders from Victory Point Games). So this month I’m including this neat looking game The Conquistadors: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas 1518-1548.
In the half-century after Columbus, small bands of daring Spanish adventurers conquered Central and South America, destroying the huge armies of long-established native empires in the process. Some won great fortunes in gold, while many others only died an early death. These men were the Conquistadors. In this partly card-driven, partly procedural game —a brand-new design from Jon Southard — one to five players each control a group of Conquistadors, trying to discover and loot the civilizations of the Americas and end up with the most gold and power.
A game of The Conquistadors begins with the outline of Central and South America as known in 1520. Your first task will be to seek out and discover the great Indian cities and empires — which may appear in their historical locations, or in quite different places. Once you discover where the cities and empires are, it is time to gather gold. You might battle and plunder the Indians, or your best plan may be to attempt diplomacy and enlist them as allies — especially if you have an Indian interpreter in your expedition. Like Francisco Pizarro, you might try a Sudden Shock Attack to capture a native king and extort a fat ransom. Always you must be sure to keep the Governor happy, or he may issue a warrant for your arrest. Beware of native uprisings, painted warriors, and poisoned darts around the next corner, and watch out for defection in your own ranks. If you fall behind in the race for gold, you might try to descend the Amazon or discover the Fountain of Youth. And when you are really in a tight place, perhaps you can appeal to Mano de Dios (the Hand of God) to bail you out.
The Conquistadors is playable by from 1 to 5 players, with an introductory Basic Game, a more involved Standard Game, and some optional rules. While the normal game system requires 2 or more players, solitaire play is enabled by a special solitaire module.
If you are interested in The Conquistadors, you can pre-order a copy for $64.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/the-conquistadors-the-spanish-conquest-of-the-americas-1518-1548.html
5. Once We Moved Like the Wind, The Apache Wars, 1861-1886 from Compass Games
I am a regular watcher of the weekly Compass Games live Facebook feeds but recently haven’t paid as much attention because I’m busy. As usual though, they are hard at it and have announced a whole new slate of games with one that I am very interested in that covers the Apache Wars from 1861 through 1886. This period will include names from history such as Cochise, Chato and of course Geronimo.
Once We Moved Like the Wind, The Apache Wars, 1861-1886 covers these central conflicts of the American South West. The game is played as a series of turns, each of which follows a sequence of play that begins with determining how bad a provocation results in conflict for the turn. The provocation level determines the forces each player will have for the turn and their general placement on the map. Next the Apache player moves the Apache forces and then the Army Player moves the US and Mexican forces. Combat may then occur between opposing player forces that share a location. After any combat is resolved, victory points are counted up and the player with the most for the turn earns one increase in victory level on the Victory Track. Play then repeats for the next turn to the end of the game when the player with the higher level on the Victory track is the winner.
Central to the game is that the playing pieces are all wooden blocks with the information about each particular piece only on one side and hence hidden during play from the opposing player until action occurs which must reveal particular blocks. And not all of these blocks are actually opposing forces. For the Apache player in particular, many playing pieces each turn will represent rumors of Apache actions and forces which the Army player must chase down to determine if they are real or false. Similarly, for the Apache player, not knowing which Army pieces represent which forces means not knowing if an opposing group is small enough to attack and win, or is in reality a force big enough to hand out a devastating defeat.
Once We Moved Like the Wind is played on a 22”x 22” mounted game board with a scale of about 14 kilometers per centimeter or 22 miles per inch. The terrain represented is divided by a number of features. Overall the area is divided into 4 large Territories: the Arizona Territory & the New Mexico Territory in the US and the Sonora Territory & the Chihuahua Territory in Mexico. Dividing up all of the Territories, and often crossing their borders, are the Areas. These represent sections of land of differing types between which the players move their forces.
If you are interested in Once We Moved Like the Wind,you can pre-order a copy for the price of $54.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/once-we-moved-like-the-wind-the-apache-wars-1861-1886.html
1. One Helluva Fight: The Battle of Medjez-el-Bab, December 6-10, 1942 from High Flying Dice Games
One Helluva Fight is a low to moderate complexity wargame on the Battle of Medjez-el-Bab, fought in northern Tunisia. The Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria ushered in the collapse of the Vichy government in France, and a dramatic strategic shift in the war in North Africa. The first major engagement fought by the Anglo-American forces of the war occurred near the crucial crossroads town of Medjez-el-Bab. A British and American battle group, named Blade Force and composed of units from the US 1st Armored and British 78th Infantry divisions as well as some former Vichy French units, initially took the town and then drove on to Tebourba to come within striking distance of Tunis (forward observers could actually see the minarets of the distant port).
The Germans, however, cobbled together a battle group of their own, centered on the newly arrived 5th Fallschirmjager Regiment (a unit initially detailed to attack Malta) and 10th Panzer Division. Supported by Luftwaffe and Italian Bersaglieri units, a no-holds-barred tank and infantry fight was fought in which the Allies were thrown back.
If you are interested in One Helluva Fight you can order a copy for $20.95 from the High Flying Dice Games website at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/helluva.html
2. The War for the Union – Designer’s Edition from Compass Games
The War for the Union, Designer’s Edition is a strategic level simulation of the American Civil War. It is the long awaited 2nd edition of the game originally published in 1992. Players command the Union and Confederate forces that fought from 1861 to 1865. The map runs from southeastern Texas to the Atlantic and from Harrisburg, PA to southern Florida. The new map is 34” x 44” to accommodate larger counters. Atlanta and Pensacola are now in the Western Theater. Terrain types include forests, rough, swamps, bayou, mountain hexsides, river hexsides (tidal, navigable, and minor), lakes, bluffs, and major and minor cities.
Ground units include infantry and cavalry strength points. Quality varies from Militia (worst) to Volunteers to Veterans (best). There are about 5,000 men per strength point. There are corps and army leaders and a few division leaders. Leaders have a Command Rating which indicates how many strength points (SPs) they can command, a Battle Rating (combat DRM), and a Movement Factor which also affects their force march DRM. Union militia recruits now have 3 MPs but a very poor force march DRM. There are seagoing and riverine naval units, including ironclads. There are also river transports which are very valuable to the Union player in developing campaigns along rivers. Since the Confederates cannot use sea movement, the Union sea movement capability is somewhat abstracted.
The quality of the armies, particularly the Union, improves as the war progresses. The Confederate player starts out with a small qualitative advantage but the Union catches up by the spring of 1863. The Confederates also have better leaders early in the war but the Union gets more and better leaders as the war progresses. Army counters, such as the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, are central to the play of the game. Armies enable more efficient use of strength points, leaders, and supply.
The Sequence of Play has a Reinforcement Phase during which both players bring on reinforcements. Then there is a Supply Phase. Units that are out of supply, in swamps or bayou, or at Fatigue Level 3 or 4, roll attrition. During the Movement Phase ground units and leaders move, including force marching, and strength points can entrench. Infantry and Militia Cavalry must be under the command of a leader to move. Naval units also move and can attack batteries or other naval units. Then there is a Combat Phase where leaders and ground units attack enemy units.
Combat uses an attrition CRT with Light, Medium, and Heavy losses along with retreats. There are strength multipliers and DRMs. Higher quality troops and better leaders are very helpful in combat. One leader initiates an attack; other leaders add their SPs in at a reduced effectiveness. A 10 sided die puts a little bit more emphasis on the odds and a little less on the DRMs. An Army HQ allows the army commander to initiate the attack and all of his subordinates (typically 2 to 4) to add their SPs at full value. In addition to losses, units can pick up Fatigue during combat on an M, H, or retreat result. The more fatigue a unit accumulates, the less capability it has. An L* result also results in a Fatigue Point during Poor weather or a second attack by an aggressive leader.
There are two short, introductory scenarios (Bull Run 1861 and Missouri 1861). The Second Edition adds two 7 turn scenarios in just the Western Theater (Tennessee 1862 and Tennessee 1863). There are three 1 year scenarios using both theaters (1862, 1863, and 1864). And then there is the 1861-1865 Campaign Game. Either player can win by achieving the Sudden Death Victory Conditions at the end of 1862, 1863, or 1864 if they are doing exceptionally well. The 1864 Presidential Election occurs at the beginning of the November 1864 turn; the outcome can be influenced by the onboard situation. Players can also select from a menu of 15 optional rules including using a deck of Event cards.
If you are interested in The War for the Union, you can order a copy for $68.00 from the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/the-war-for-the-union-designer-s-edition.html
3. This Guilty Land: The Politics of Slavery in America from Hollandspiele
I have been eagerly anticipating this game since I first saw its cover a few months ago and followed a discussion on Twitter between an inquisitive fellow and the designer Tom Russell about the appropriateness of a game on such a sensitive topic. This Guilty Land is about the political struggle over slavery in the decades leading up to the American Civil War. Its central premise is that the war was the only way to achieve abolition: the slave states never would have willingly given up the practice, nor would it have worked itself out at some point down the road. This is a story of how the systems that democracies use to solve problems – debate and legislation – utterly failed in the face of an undeniable moral evil, of how that evil was defended by those systems, and of how calls for compromise only strengthened it and delayed the reckoning that had to come.
In this game, each player acts on behalf of an abstract idea – Justice and Oppression – with one player working for abolition and the other working against it. It seeks to treat the subject matter with sensitivity and respect. There is no piece that represents a human being – no action that replicates the horrors and the lived experience of slavery. Instead, this is about the framework that allowed that evil to exist, and the moral cowardice that enabled it to continue to exist.
This is a card-driven game, but not in the sense that the term is typically employed. There is no hidden information, and there is no “ops”/”events” dichotomy. Instead, cards are dealt into a face-up display, and each card’s uses are determined by a generic card type. Many of these cards can also be tucked away into a “Reserve” – a semi-permanent ancillary hand of cards that each player builds over the course of the game. You will always know what your opponent can accomplish, and the actions you take on your turn dictate the amount of political capitol they will have available on theirs. Because of this, the game is uniquely well suited for solitaire play in the “play both sides” style.
If you are interested in This Guilty Land, you can order a copy for $50.00 (normally $55.00 but on sale through December 15th) from the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/this-guilty-land
Because of the sensitivity of the game’s subject matter, it is only available for purchase directly from Hollandspiele – it will not be made available to those few retailers that carry their games, nor will it be featured at conventions.
4. Mini WWII from Formosa Force Games
Mini WWII is a strategic wargame for 2-4 players and playable in 90 minutes. Players command the military forces of Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, and Soviet Russia during the Second World War with both the United States and China able to come into the war later in the game as they are drawn in through lend lease actions or in response to aggression from the Axis powers.
Through smart play of your Strategy Cards, you will help your team earn Victory Points (VPs) and deny them from your opponents by controlling territories, conducting diplomacy, and researching technologies. In the end, the team with the most VPs wins the game.
We played this game a few weeks ago for the first time and it was a fantastic experience. We love CDGs and this one seamlessly integrates card play with Operation Points and events to make a very interesting ballet between the two players as they will have to make tough decisions about investing in technology, denying their opponents certain powerful cards by doing so, or playing the game of diplomacy or outright naked aggression. A very easy to pick up, fast playing and interesting game that can be enjoyed by new gamers as well as hardened grognards.
If you are interested in Mini WWII, you can order a copy for $54.95 from the following link: https://www.nobleknight.com/P/2147738402/MiniWWII
5. 1950 The Forgotten War from Conflict Simulations LLC
1950 The Forgotten War is the second game of Conflict Simulation LLC’s 2140 series, and the first of their Procedural Combat Series of games, historically accurate, sophisticated, playable within 2 hours and no more than 140 counters.
1950 recreates the Titanic and volatile struggle for the Korean peninsula in the first major land conflict of the post-WW2 world. Over 100 Random variations of combat chits provide a unique experience with each play-through and cut down dramatically on analysis paralysis. Rules are included for multiple interventions, air-power, and UN supply.
Activations go back and forth with a fixed initiative, creating a unique go-like simulation that recreates the ebbs and flows of the front without railroading players into a foregone conclusion.
Players each action phase can choose to move, strategic move, conduct a meeting engagement, amphibious invasions, or prepared attacks. The main scenario covers the mobile part of the war and with the combat chits, no 2 games can be alike.
Players can spend VPs during combat to absorb losses as well as supplies, or deciding to give up ground or rout.
Players win by driving the VP threshold further towards their side by the end of the game or win automatically by reaching their maximums. Win conditions are based on cities, Pusan Perimeter, and performing historic actions like reaching the Yalu river for the UN or Pusan Perimeter for the Communists.
No two games of 1950 will ever be alike and plays just as well solo as it does with an opponent.
If you are interested in 1950, you can order a copy for $39.99 from the Conflict Simulations LLC website at the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/1950
6. Lock ‘n Load Tactical: We Stand Alone – Battles of Easy Company from Lock ‘n Load Publishing
I love any game focused on the Airborne. There is just something really cool historically about playing a wargame focused on those elite troops. We Stand Alone – Battles of Easy Company is an expansion module for Lock ‘n Load Tactical: Heroes of Normandy. Formed in 1942, and after almost two years of rigorous training, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, dropped into Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. By the end of the war, Easy Company was known as one of the best small units in the European Theater of Operations. The men of Easy Company have been immortalized in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers; now their story is played out in the dynamic medium of the Lock ‘n Load Tactical system.
The We Stand Alone expansion module contains 15 scenarios, covering battles from the daring assaults on Brecourt Manor and Carentan, in Normandy, to the desperate defense of Hell’s Highway and The Island, during Operation Market Garden, to the frigid foxholes of Bastogne and Noville, during The Battle of the Bulge. The scenarios can be played individually or in three five-scenario campaigns. Thirteen of the 15 scenarios are new designs, with two revised scenarios, plus a Brecourt Manor variant. Three new Maps, including winterized and revised Maps, bring the dramatic landscape of these battles to life: Entrenched German artillery positions in Normandy, an elevated dike and a watchful windmill in Holland, and chilly cratered forests of the Ardennes provide the setting; it’s up to you to provide the leadership, heroics, and actions needed to win victory for the brave American paras or the obstinate Germans they faced.
If you are interested in We Stand Alone, you can order a copy for $29.99 from the Lock ‘n Load Publishing website at the following link: https://store.lnlpublishing.com/We-Stand-Alone
Requirements: To play We Stand Alone – Battles of Easy Company you must own Lock ‘n Load Tactical: Heroes of Normandy and Heroes of Normandy X-Maps or 4K X-Maps.
That’s it, another month in the books! We covered a total of 11 games that look really good…and just in time for Christmas as well! In fact, Hollandspiele has a sale currently ongoing through December 15th and I am going to get This Guilty Land as well as Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Southern Strategy for myself for under the tree.
I hope you all have a great end to 2018 and look forward to a new year in 2019.