We are now getting back in the groove of posting on the blog more regularly now after our break but have found that the wargaming world isn’t waiting around on us. It appears to be business as usual and this month, I found 11 games that seemed really interesting to me. Of those 11 games, 3 are being offered up on Kickstarter. I really had fun this month searching the internet and gathering intel from publisher’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please let me know what we missed!
In case you missed last month’s post, here is a link: January Wargame Watch
1. Admiral’s War: World War II at Sea from Canvas Temple Publishing on Kickstarter Now
I truly love games that focus on air-naval combat, especially when there are Aircraft Carriers involved. Admirals’ War: World War II at Sea is a board game recreation of the strategic naval situation in WWII, from the early months of the Atlantic war to the decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea in late 1944. Although all the major combat ships in the Axis and Allied navies are portrayed in the game, and although the board shows all the battle areas from the Barents Sea to Samoa, AW is only a basic simulation of the war on a strategic level, with most of the tactical details represented by simple game mechanics. The resulting game is fast-paced and fun to play, but it is not as realistic as many other simulations.
Much of AW is derived from mechanics used in Avalon Hill’s classic game Victory in The Pacific (VITP) (a game that I was able to purchase at GenCon last year but have yet to play) applying a modified version of that system to the sea wars in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, essentially combining that title with its older brother War at Sea (WAS), which was published in turn by Jedko Games and Avalon Hill.
Players familiar with these older titles will immediately notice that the map-board representing the Pacific has some similarities to its predecessor, whereas the map for the Atlantic theater has greatly changed. This was done to more seamlessly combine the mechanics of the two games, and to better reflect the nature of the Atlantic naval fighting.
If you are interested in Admiral’s War: World War II at Sea, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/563992304/admirals-war-world-war-ii-at-sea
2. Hill of Doves: The First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881 from Legion Wargames
In case you didn’t know, I don’t consider myself a true solitaire wargamer. I enjoy interaction too much. But I do love a good playing well designed solo game, especially on an interesting subject and with interesting mechanics, such as the use of three boards (see my posts on our blog regarding Pavlov’s House). Hill of Doves: The First Anglo-Boer War 1880-1881 is a solitaire boardgame in which the player controls an Imperial British Army at war with a programmed non-player Transvaal Republican Army in 1881. The British army’s aim is to win the war by controlling the area known as Laing’s Nek which lies on the border between Natal and the Transvaal. The British army has up to twelve weeks to achieve this, failing which, the Boers will win the war.
Hill of Doves is played at a strategic, operational and tactical level simultaneously. There are three phases to the game which are detailed on the Sequence of Play Cards. The Operational Phase is the heart of the game and represents a seven-day cycle, with a Strategic Phase being referred to at the end of each Operational Phase to resolve situations occurring during the week just passed and a Tactical Phase representing a variable number of hours being referred to each time the British carry out an assault.
Hill of Doves is played using a programmed system whereby the player follows the instructions on the Sequence of Play cards aided by the step marker and the Set-up Card. If any battles are to be fought the player will be referred to the Tactical Deck or the Ambush Deck to resolve the battle and then the player will be prompted to return to the Operational Deck to continue the war.
Hill of Doves is played on three boards simultaneously. These are the Strategic Board, Operational Board and Tactical Board. Game information is recorded on these boards and British strategic, operational and tactical columns are maneuvered on the maps located on these boards.
If you are interested in Hill of Doves, you can pre-order a copy from the Legion Wargames website for $52.00 from the following link: https://www.legionwargames.com/legion_HDV.html
3. 1968: Tet from Conflict Simulations LLC
Late in 2018, Alexander and I were able to play 1950: The Forgotten War from Conflict Simulations LLC and we really enjoyed the system which uses a draw of variable combat strength chits that throw in a lot of uncertainty to the outcome of combat. This system was called the Procedural Combat Series (PCS) and is used again the 1968: Tet and allows players to recreate the infamous Vietnamese Tet Offensive across Vietnam. PCS is uniquely suited to simulate the conflict given the variable combat strength system being an elegant way of representing asymmetric and conventional warfare on a number of levels.
1968: Tet is arguably the first game in the series to give a player a significant chance of winning through an Automatic Victory. The Vietnamese player is incentivized to string a series of rope-a-dope attacks together forcing the American player to constantly react or recover instead of operating offensively. The American player, while having advanced weaponry, fantastic air power and well trained units, lack strategic objectivity making it more difficult to turn success into political consequence/VP. Random events can play a key role in switching and changing the pacing of the game; like ending a turn prematurely, allowing several spent units to refresh or even exchange combat chits. The Vietnamese player receives material support through the USSR and nuances regarding supply/logistics allow the Vietnamese player a level of strategic and operational flexibility unavailable to the American units, at the exchange of raw power.
If you are interested in 1968: Tet, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $29.99 from the Conflict Simulations LLC website at the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/1968-tet-pre-order
4. Storming the Gap: World at War 85 from Lock n’ Load Publishing on Kickstarter Soon
Storming the Gap is the first volume in the World At War 85 Series of games of fast and furious platoon-level combat. Set in 1985, in an alternate history of World War III, when the Warsaw Pact armies storm across the border of East Germany in a powerful attempt to seize West Germany and the whole of Free Europe.
The World At War 85 system features a unique combat system that involves die rolls by both attacking units and defending units, which keeps both players engaged throughout the game. Die rolls are compared and hits are applied quickly, as all the information you need to fight your units is on the counters. No combat results table is necessary. The initiative, formation activation, random turn length, close air support and air cover are all integrated smoothly.
Here is a preview video from The Gimpy Gamer from action at the World Board Gaming Championships last summer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UKweINGs3wg&t=34s
If you are interested in Storming the Gap: World at War 85, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lnlp/storming-the-gap-world-at-war-85
5. Combat Infantry: East Front 1942-43 from Columbia Games Now on Kickstarter
A surprise hit with us from 2017 was Combat Infantry: West Front 1944-45. What can I say? A tactical WWII block wargame. That is a sweet, sweet combination. So, when I saw that this follow up was planned fir this year, I was very excited to say the least.
When the first game was kickstarted, there was the promise that they would release future expansions including the East Front, North Africa and possible even the Pacific Theater.
I feel bad including this one in this post, as nothing has yet been revealed, but I can assure you that this system is really good. Here are links to some of our posts and videos on Combat Infantry that you can watch and read to get a feel for the game and system.
Video review from Alexander
Video interview with designer Tom Dalgliesh
Best 3 Games with…Tactical Combat! from Grant
If you are interested in Combat Infantry: Eastfront 1942-43, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/columbiagames/combat-infantry-eastfront
6. Battle Line, Medieval Edition from GMT Games
This month in the Monthly Update email from GMT Games, there was one new P500 offered and it is a great looking edition of one of their best selling games of all time.
This version of Battle Line is a two-player strategy card game built around the theme of Medieval warfare. This re-themed version of Battle Line features 60 beautiful new cards by illustrator Roland MacDonald, as well as 10 full-color tactics “wildcards” that give players extra flexibility and choices and help make each new battle wildly different from the last.
Battle Line takes about 30 minutes to play. To win, you must create powerful formations along your side of the line of battle that are superior to those of your enemy. Victory goes to the player who wins 5 of the 9 battle flags (an envelopment) or three adjacent flags (a breakthrough). Based on Reiner Knizia’s original design published in Germany as Shotten-Totten, Battle Line enhances and expands that game system to give players even more tactical options and gut-wrenching decisions.
Battle Line places you in command of your army’s strategies. How will you muster your formations? Will you use your powerful KingsGuard to vanquish your enemy, or perhaps send the King of England or France to the front to win a critical flag? Or perhaps you”ll rely on your spies to determine the enemy”s strengths and weaknesses before committing your best forces. You’ll always have plenty of choices. With every card play, you’ll determine the strength and direction of your attack while plotting to fend off your enemy’s advances.
In Battle Line, you and your opponent lead the combined arms of the greatest units of the era. Will you, like the great Kings of yore, reign supreme? Play Battle Line, and find out.
The game will include terrain cards as well which should add some depth of strategy to the game and add to replayability. For me, this one is an auto P500 as I love fast playing card games that I might be able to enjoy with my wife!
If you are interested in Battle Line, Medieval Edition, you can pre-order a copy for $16.00 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-741-battle-line-medieval-themed-edition.aspx
1. Brave Little Belgium from Hollandspiele
In the wake of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a complex web of interlocking treaties led to powers both great and small taking sides in the Great War. Belgium, however, declared its neutrality. German war plans against France called for an invasion through Belgium, and they demanded free passage. When the Belgians refused, the Germans invaded…
Brave Little Belgium recreates this dramatic early campaign of the First World War in a lightning-quick introductory wargame with plenty of challenges for both sides. As the German Player, you must smash through the enemy’s defenses as quickly as possible, relentlessly advancing. But push your men too hard, and they might commit atrocities that will rally world opinion against you. As the Entente Player, you must stage a desperate defense against overwhelming odds. When and where to fall back, and where to take a stand, are decisions of vital importance.
Combat is fast and streamlined, while a clever take on chit-pull activations creates moments of tension and uncertainty. The result is an engaging wargame for new recruits and grognards alike from first-time designers and longtime friends Ryan Heilman and Dave Shaw.
We were lucky enough to get to take a look at the game while at WBC and shot the following interview video with the designers Dave Shaw and Ryan Heilman. Here is a link to the video.
We also did a written interview with the designers on the blog.
If you are interested in a copy of Brave Little Belgium, you can order one for $35.00 from the Hollandspiele website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/brave-little-belgium
2. 1987: On to Kaliningrad! from Conflict Simulations LLC
1987: On To Kaliningrad! is a hypothetical game on WW3 based on the original objectives of the 1914 invasion of East Prussia, on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union. The order of battle for both sides is drawn from records from the 80s and the tactical situation is nuanced given the absence of major NATO ground forces such as the US, France, England etc. 1987 uses the same rules as 1950 with several changes in both scale and mechanics to reflect the tactical situation.
1987 includes rules for tactical nuclear strikes, refugees, political objectives, air mobile units and more. Admittedly, there is little historical basis for this tactical situation given Kaliningrad came under Soviet control after WW2 and the major players in NATO were ready at a moments notice to cooperate as they were during the Balkan wars of the 90s. This situation is only possible if we assume that the major member nations of NATO have isolated themselves and are reluctant to commit.
If you are interested in a copy of 1987: On To Kaliningrad!, you can order one for $34.99 from the Conflict Simulations LLC website at the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/1987
3. Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk from Flying Pig Games
Many historians believe it was the turning point of World War II. Kursk. Witness to the largest tank battle of the entire war. Kursk. The end of the myth of German invincibility. Kursk. Just one hell of a lot of fun to game with 1” square cardboard counters representing platoons of infantry and tanks and batteries of anti-tank guns, mortars, and stuff. And that is what you get with Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk.
Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk (PCD:K) is a big box, mounted map, large counter, visually appealing game. Each game includes two mounted 22” x 17” geomorphic maps, and four sheets of thick (as in 2mm thick, wow these counters are so easy to pick up, thick, why haven’t wargames been like this forever, thick), 1” square counters. There are Tiger tanks, Panther tanks, Mk IV tanks, T-34/76 tanks, KV-1 tanks, SU-152 assault guns, infantry (rifle, guards, pioneers, submachinegun), mortar batteries, Stukas, IL-2, and more.
In Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk each turn is gamed through several phases. At the beginning of the turn, the players determine initiative with a unique dice-off system in which ties award the initiative to whomever lacked it the previous turn and applying the Commander’s Focus to the roll might tilt the odds in your favor. Next, players will draw a scenario-designated number (usually just one) of Action Cards that may be used for anything from artillery strikes, through rally assists, to negating the opponent’s just-played card. Then it is time to rally disrupted units with a simple 1d10 (yes, the game uses 1D10) roll against a nationality or scenario-designated morale. Action Cards, in addition to the special Aid chit, may be used to improve a unit’s chances of preparing for combat.
If you are interested in a copy of PCD: Kursk, you can order one for $85.00 from the Flying Pig Games website at the following link: https://flyingpiggames.com/products/platoon-commander-deluxe-kursk
4. The Heights of Alma from Hollandspiele
Tom Russell’s first published game was Blood in the Alma. That humble little magazine insert game, published in 2012, introduced concepts that over time gave birth to Hollandspiele’s Blood in the Fog and, eventually, the Shot & Shell Battle Series. So it is perhaps fitting that seven years and nearly forty published designs later, Tom Russell would turn his attention back to the topic that started it all, redesigned from the ground-up through the lens of the Shot & Shell system. The result is The Heights of Alma.
The heights overlooking the Alma River provided a natural defensive advantage for the Russians, who proceeded to utterly squander it with slapdash entrenchments and a left flank that was completely exposed. It didn’t help that the commander of that left wing was several sheets to the wind. At least he was on the field; on the opposing side, British commander Lord Raglan snuck behind enemy lines for a better view of the battle without telling his subordinates, leaving his army without any orders. Frontal charges against the Russian heavy guns were as costly as they were pointless. Eventually, a group of men disobeyed orders, choosing to stand and fire instead – discovering, to their delight, that their new Minié rifles outranged the enemy artillery! They would have known that from the beginning if anyone had bothered to listen to their French allies – the only side to acquit themselves competently.
The historical scenario recreates this glorious mess of a battle. Three additional scenarios explore increasing levels of coordination and competence on either side. This game has more special rules than the previous Shot & Shell title (Seven Pines; or, Fair Oaks), resulting in a more complex and nuanced experience, but not so many rules that it bogs the thing down – a given scenario will still be resolved within a couple of hours.
If you are interested in a copy of The Heights of Alma you can order one for $50.00 from the Hollandspiele website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/the-heights-of-alma
So there you have it. More games to consume your hard earned dollar! But, what is money good for, other than paying rent, putting life sustaining food on the table and keeping us warm on these subzero polar vortex days, if not to purchase games that bring us so much joy! Let me know what games I missed and should consider taking a look at. Until next month, get some joy!