The past 6 weeks have been turbulent for us at The Players’ Aid. I (Grant) started a new job after the first of the year and is in the process of selling his current home and buying a new home closer to his new job. Do you know how stressful it is to have to keep your house spotless every single day in case you have a showing with 6 people living in it? The good news is that I’m moving closer to Alexander and will only have a 20 minute drive to his place which will allow us to play more games.

We also had the holidays and spent lots of time with family. I’m glad to say though that we are returning to some semblance of normalcy and are ready to get back to putting up regular content again on the blog. With that being said, here is the January Wargame Watch feature for you to enjoy, albeit a few weeks late. There are a lot of great looking games upcoming and this month I found four Kickstarters that look really interesting. Enjoy!

Pre-Orders

1. Huzzah! 2: Dark Woods, Dreadful Fields from One Small Step Games Now on Kickstarter

The first of four Kickstarters we are highlighting this month is a game design by Richard Dengel, Huzzah! 2 Dark Woods Dreadful Fields simulates American Civil War combat at the tactical level. The second volume in the Huzzah series concentrates entirely upon the Wilderness Campaign.

Combat units include Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery. Each Infantry and  Cavalry unit represents about 1 or 2 battalions of a given regiment. Each Artillery unit represents about a single battalion of guns. Leader units represent individual commanders. Each hex equals about 165 yards.

The game will come complete with 8 different scenarios:

May 5th Scenarios

1. Opening Guns North. Warren’s Fifth Corps temporarily punctures Ewell’s center, only to be hurled back by a vicious Confederate counter-attack led by the inestimable John Gordon.

2. Sixth Corps Joins the Fray. An extension of scenario 1, as reinforcements from Sedgewick’s Corps descends upon Ewell’s left flank. Hay’s Louisiana Tigers help stem the blue flood.

3. Hill to the Attack! Two divisions of A.P. Hill’s 3rd Corps rattles up the Orange Plank Road and attempts to cut Grant in half by capturing  the Brock Road intersection. A single division, commanded by VIth Corps’ George Getty, stands in his way. Hancock’s II corps arrives just in time  to save the day. Or will he?

May 6th Scenarios

1. Lee to the Rear! Early in the morning of may 6th Hancock strikes Heth’s and Wilcox’s divisions of Hill’s 3rd Corps. Both divisions have been strung-out and exhausted from the previous days fighting. They expected Longstreet’s early arrival, and so neglect to fortify their line. Hancock initially drives them “most handsomely,” and nearly captures Lee’s HQ at the Widow Tapp farm. The engagement witnesses one of the most dramatic moments of the war, when the Marble Man himself  proposes to lead the Texas Brigade of Longstreet corps in a counter-charge.

2. Like a Wet Blanket. Now fully arrived, Longstreet strikes the over-extended flank of Hancock’s corps. In a swift and dramatic reversal it’s now the Yankee’s turn to run. Will Longstreet capture the ever  important Brock Road intersection?

3. Gordon’s Assault. John B. Gordon, ever the thorn in Grant’s side,  jumps the VI corps and nearly shatters the Yankee’s right. Only the  coming of darkness brings his assault to an end.

The Campaign Games

These games implement Custom command rules simulating the problems of controlling armies over vast broken terrain. Lee struggles to coordinate  his widely separated wings, while Grant whittles away the day, goading  reluctant subordinates to action.

1. The May 5th Mini-Campaign game. Combines scenarios 1, 2, and 3, and provides additional units and player options.

2. The full Campaign Game. Play the entire 2 day battle. The  ever-frustrating Burnside provisions both the Yankee crux and the Rebel hope. Will you dare achieve better than the historical stalemate?

If you are interested in Huzzah! 2 Dark Woods, Dreadful Fields, you can secure a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1488075951/huzzah-2-dark-woods-dreadful-fields

As of January 18th, the game is nearly 78% funded with 63 backers giving $4,651 of their $6,000 goal with 22 days still remaining in the campaign.

2. Custer’s Last Stand: The Little Bighorn Campaign from Worthington Games Now on Kickstarter

This is an old school hex and counter war game that includes 2 full complete games in one box. Both game maps are hard mounted, front and back on one large game board. Both are playable in under two hours. Both are for 2 players but are solitaire friendly. Both are complete games unto themselves yet use the same basic rule system. Everyone knows about the Little Big Horn battle. The battle of Rosebud Creek was its prelude, just as big, and may have prevented troopers from reaching Custer.

Major General George Armstrong Custer. 23 year old General, bold Cavalry Commander and Hero of the Civil War. Wild, Unpredictable, Ambitious. Fast forward 11 years: Suspended, Reduced in rank, returning to command the 7th Cavalry in one more battle, potential presidential candidate. Looking for a fight and a return to glory.

Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gaul and the Sioux nation will give him his fight, and in some ways his glory……..

Now at Little Big Horn you are in Command of the 7th Cavalry or the Sioux warriors, led by Custer and Sitting Bull.

Or at the Battle of Rosebud Creek you are General Crook or Crazy Horse.

In leading the cavalry can you be as bold as Custer yet avoid the mistakes that doomed his command? Or as the Sioux can you repeat the success they had or maybe do better by finishing off Crook at the Rosebud and Custer at the Little Big Horn?

When cavalry or warriors dismount, it reduces that unit’s movement rate, while it’s firepower increases and a dismounted counter is placed on its top to show this change.

Optional Rules for the play of both games allows gamers to bring Crook’s command to the Little Big Horn, if he wins at Rosebud Creek.

If you are interested in Custer’s Last Stand; The Little Bighorn Campaign, you can secure a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1040417273/custers-last-stand-the-little-big-horn-campaign/description

As of January 18th, the game is fully funded with 199 backers giving $13,935 of their $4,500 goal with 7 days still remaining in the campaign.

3. World War II: Struggle for Europe 1939-1945 from Worthington Publishing Now on Kickstarter

World War II: Struggle for Europe 1939-1945 is a card driven, card destruction game played out on a large game board. Modifying concepts from games such as Lincoln, Twilight Struggle and others, wargamers will be able to play World War II in the European Theater in under 2 hours.

The Axis powers begin the war with decisions to be made, strike east or strike west. The cards show the Axis strength early in the war. Things can change quickly. Your decisions can determine that.

As the Allies, do you stiffen your defense as was done historically, or consider a strike into Germany. With skillful play you may find allies as the war progresses. The Russians can enter early, or later, based on your and the Axis card play. Same for the Americans.

Each card leads to important decisions, U-Boat Attacks, The Blitz, Partisan Attacks, Convoys, The Great Commanders, Destroyer Escorts, Hitler’s Interference, and more. The decisions are yours to make in the Struggle for Europe.

Each side has three card decks. The starting deck is placed face down and is the draw deck for that player. The other two decks will enter the game later. For the Allied player the Russians enter play with the second deck, and the Americans with the third deck.

Players are dealt cards, the number which can vary during the game.  During their turns players can play two actions, most of which require the play or destruction of a card. The choices are:

  • Build an army / Influence USA / Build Invasion Points
  • Move an army
  • Battle in a contested location
  • Discard cards
  • Play an event
  • Pass

After completing their two actions, players draw cards from the draw deck to their current hand size. Their opponent now completes two actions, and so on.

If you are interested in World War II: Struggle for Europe 1939-1945, you can secure a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/the-struggle-for-europe-1939-1945

As of January 18th, the game is fully funded with 191 backers giving $15,842 of their $7,500 goal with 21 days still remaining in the campaign.

4. Invasions from Wisdom Owl Now on Kickstarter

The final of 4 Kickstarters we take a look at this month, Invasions is not your prototypical hex and counter wargame but is a design that looks really interesting and frankly fun to play. Invasions simulates 300 years of European history, from the late days of the Roman Empire to the start of the Muslim expansion. During this period, known as the Dark Ages, many people invaded the continent, each hoping to colonize it or conquer a realm there, replacing other people established before them. But the new conquerors would never maintain their new powers for long, as they were also invaded by other invaders.

The game ends by the time those great migrations ended. In this epic game, each player controls many different peoples. Each of them is a realm at the best possible location, in view of historical objectives assigned by the rules. Some will prevail and found strong kingdoms and prosperous empires while others will vanish in the void of history.

Invasions marks the return to board game design of Philippe Thibaut, the creator of the critically acclaimed Europa Universalis, that he also adapted the game for PC. Also he has created The Great War ’14 -’18. Philippe is also the creator and designer of American Civil War games, Pax Romana, Rise of Prussia and Birth of America.

If you are interested in Invasions, you can secure a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1934805976/invasions/description

As of January 18th, the game is fully funded with 689 backers giving $53,745 of their $5,691 goal with 15 days still remaining in the campaign.

5. Gettysburg from Multi-Man Publishing

Gettysburg puts you in the saddle as one of the two army commanders at this momentous battle of the American Civil War:

• As General George Meade of the Union Army of the Potomac, you fight a cagey delaying action as your corps arrive on the battlefield, then look for opportunities to turn the tables on the invading southerners. Will you stem the tide and break the attacking waves with your stout defense?

• As General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, you direct your arriving troops to unbalance the Yankee positions, then push them to the brink by pressing every advantage. Will you turn the Union flank and rout them from the field, or will the sun set over the broken bodies of your valiant soldiers?

Gettysburg covers the full three days of the battle, with each game turn equivalent to 2½ hours of daylight or one night. The map spans the historic battlefield and surrounding terrain, divided into 800-meter hexes. Counters represent the military units that fought in the battle, divisions for the Confederates and corps for the Union. Special markers represent leaders and artillery concentration. Event cards bring to life the notable moments of the battle, upsetting the perfect plans of the player and giving the game exceptional replay value.

At the heart of the game system are fatigue and army morale. Units cannot sustain combat continually and will wear out if pressed too hard. Maintaining a reserve of troops to plug gaps in the line is critical. As units rout and break, or if their line of communications is cut, the morale of their army plummets. If you can drive the opposing army’s morale to zero, they quit the field and you win a “sudden death” victory.

A match takes no more than 90 minutes, making the game suitable for beginners and old hands alike. The simple mechanics will have you playing within minutes of opening the box. Relive history over your lunch hour with MMP’s Gettysburg!

If you are interested in Gettysburg, you can pre-order a copy from the Multi-Man Publishing website for $24.00 at the following link: http://www.multimanpublishing.com/tabid/59/ProductID/364/Default.aspx

6. Imperial Bayonets: For Liberty & Lombardy: 1859 from Conflict Simulations LLC

Imperial Bayonets is a new planned series of Grand Tactical wargames covering the 18th-19th centuries. The series rules use a hack of the tried and true NLB mechanics in order to simulate what as, at the time, the largest campaign since Leipzig. 1859 occupies an interesting place in military history, post Crimean war, tactics had barely improved much beyond their Napoleonic forefathers. Cavalry had been rendered nearly useless in terms of shock, and artillery began to dominate the battlefield even more so than it already did.

1859 also is notable as it features one of the last successful campaigns of Napoleon III and the French Second Empire. The French martial philosophy of Le Systeme D’ (loosely translated to ‘Muddling Through’) which doomed them to failure in 1870 against Prussia, propelled them to victory against a much lesser opponent in Austria. Fresh off their victory in the Crimea, France and Piedmont were considered two of the finest armies in the world.

For Liberty & Lombardy includes 4 stand-alone games on the major battles of the campaign.

If you are interested in Imperial Bayonets: For Liberty & Lombardy, you can pre-order a copy from the Conflict Simulations LLC website for $99.99 at the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/imperial-bayonets-solferino-1859-for-liberty-amp-lombardy-pre-order

For more information on the game you can read our interview with designer Ray Weiss and developer Matt Ward.

7. Tango Down from Tiny Battle Publishing

Tango Down is a tense game of modern house clearing operations, with scenarios taken from both the headlines and the movies. Hostage rescue, daring escapes, desperate last stands, ticking time bombs and more! Each player controls one or more fire teams, with each member having a counter and specific stats, augmented by Action cards that cover the fog of war, special tactics and event timing. Leaders, marksmen, fanatics, barricades, assault shields, breaching charges and more.

Tango Down includes full color rules, seventy double-sided 1” counters, two 11 x 17 maps and 18 Action cards. In addition to the ten included scenarios, units have a point system so you can choose your own forces, and the map system allows you to adapt virtually any architectural drawing into a Tango Down battleground.

If you are interested in Tango Down, you can pre-order a copy from the Tiny Battle Publishing website for $25.00 from the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/tango-down

New Release

1. 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 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

We were fortunate enough to play the game at the World Board Gaming Championships last July and here is a link to our YouTube interview with designer Greg Smith.

2. The Dark Sands: War in North Africa, 1940-1942 from GMT Games

The Dark Sands takes the game system from Ted S. Raicer’s sold-out and critically acclaimed The Dark Valley: The East Front Campaign to the legendary battles of North Africa in WWII.  From the most successful British armored operation of the war, Operation Compass, to the climactic battle two years later at El Alamein, The Dark Sands breaks new ground in portraying the campaigns of the British 8th Army and Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

The Dark Sands comes with two large-hex maps, which are subdivided into three map sections: West (El Aghelia to Derna), Center (Tmimi to Sidi Barrani) and East (Matruh to Alamein). The West and East maps are scaled at 9 miles to the hex (which is pretty standard for games on this subject) but the Center Map is scaled at 4.5 miles to the hex . This allows the area where most of the campaigning took place to be treated in much greater detail: the Gazala line, only 4 or 5 hexes in most games, is twice that in The Dark Sands. But the different maps and scales are handled simply, through different terrain costs and limits on units in combat, without the need for complicated rules. The time scale is one to two months per turn. The campaign game is 17 turns long, but there are four short scenarios (Compass, Rommel Arrives, Crusader, and Gazala)  that can also be used as starting points for a shorter campaign.

The 264 5/8” counters portray the Axis and British Empire forces from battalions to divisions (most British units are brigades). Movement allowances range from 4 to 10, but all units can use Extended Movement. This allows unlimited movement along roads and trails provided you do not move adjacent to an enemy unit. But the risk of breakdown and attrition means it must be used sparingly, while allowing for the historical retreats and pursuits that moved halfway across the map in a couple of weeks.

The random Action Chit system from The Dark Valley allows for fog of war without hidden units or simultaneous movement. Chits activate either one’s entire force or portions thereof, for movement, combat, and sometimes both together. But unlike The Dark Valley, there are limits on the number of chits one side may play in a row as the smaller armies and more limited battlefields of North Africa meant the armies were better able to quickly react to one another’s actions. But as with The Dark Valley, chit draws will shape rather than decide the course of the game, and the player who can best adapt to uncertainty will come out on top.

Unlike most games on this subject, The Dark Sands concentrates on the operational/tactical aspects of the game, putting you in the shoes of the Desert Fox and his opponents, rather than that of their logistical staffs. There are no supply counters or supply points to bother with, no network of depots to keep track of. Instead supply is simply traced a set distance to a road or trail and then back to a supply source. But the lack of logistical fiddling does not mean The Dark Sands ignores realistic limits on a player’s actions. Instead, the ebb and flow of supplies (largely out of the hands of Rommel and the 8th Army commanders) is dealt with through the Action Chit system (which includes TWO Logistic Chits where supplies are checked for both sides each turn) and a very few special rules. These limit Axis capabilities on the East Map, British capabilities on the West Map, and make Tobruk a key target of both sides. (There is also a rule for the effects of the large stocks of supplies captured each time Tobruk changed hands.)

Reinforcements arrive on a historical schedule, modified by the fact that each sides reinforcements are placed on the map when their Reinforcement Action Chit is picked. So you know that division you need will arrive next turn, but you don’t know WHEN during that turn. The British also have to deal with units being withdrawn to other fronts. Replacements are handled by another set of chits, which varies the number of replacement points available to rebuild your forces. But only the British may save replacements, and the British also upgrade their tank forces during the war.

Headquarters (mostly corps) units provide arrival locations for reinforcements/replacements, and are needed to activate units on the draw of certain chits. In addition the use of artillery support markers (which add combat strength on attack and defense) is tied to the headquarters. Air support, British naval guns, and German anti-tank guns (including the famed 88s) are also represented by markers, with various limits on their use. Other rules cover fortified boxes, the fortifications of Tobruk and Bardia, the Axis construction of the Tobruk bypass road, and British construction of the rail line from Egypt into Libya.

If you are interested in The Dark Sands, you can order a copy from the GMT Games website for $55.00 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-509-the-dark-sands.aspx

3. An Undeniable Victory: Operation Fath-ol-Mobin, March 23-29, 1982 from High Flying Dice Games

An Undeniable Victory: Operation Fath-ol-Mobin, March 23-39, 1982 is a simulation of Iran’s first large-scale offensive in its war against Iraq. The previous year Iraqi forces had captured large swaths of Iranian territory. With the front line dangerously close to Khorramshahr, the Mullahs in Tehran ordered the Iranian military to launch an offensive at the earliest opportunity to eliminate the threat to this vital Iranian city and production center.

An earlier, smaller Iranian offensive, Operation Hoveyzeh, was easily repulsed by the Iraqis in January. As evidence grew of another Iranian attack, the Iraqis entrenched and awaited their enemy’s actions. Any further offensives by the Iraqis were out of the question until the severe losses in men and material from the previous year could be replaced.

The Iranian offensive in March would be supported by three divisions of the newly created Pasdaran, or revolutionary guards. Composed of youthful recruits, many of them not even out of high school, the Pasdaran was created by the mullahs as a “revolutionary counterweight” to the Iranian military, which the religious leaders suspected of harboring many who were still loyal to the ousted Shah. Much would be at stake at this battle, both at the front and behind the lines.

An Undeniable Victory is a two player game intended to be an easy-to-learn game suitable for new gamers, as well as a challenging and fun contest for veteran grognards. The game can also be easily played solitaire, however.

If you are interested in An Undeniable Victory, you can order a copy from the High Flying Dice Games website for $45.00 at the the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/undeniable.html

To get more information on the game, read our interview with designer Paul Rohrbaugh.

It feels really good to be back in the saddle writing for the blog again. I am truly sorry for lack of content since Christmas. I feel that we have let you guys down but I won’t dwell on the negative. 2019 is going to be a great year for us wargamers! Let’s enjoy the journey together. If I missed some good games you know about, please let me know in the comments and I will check them out.

-Grant