New games as far as the eye can see and Kickstarters galore as well. This month’s Wargame Watch features 3 Kickstarter projects that start in March and GMT Games released two new P500 games and have a new expansion mailing this month. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be a banner year and will have more new games than the previous years.

In case you missed last month’s edition of Wargame Watch, you can check that out here at this link.

Pre-Order

1. Clash of Sovereigns: The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-48 from GMT Games

We absolutely love Card Driven Wargames. We love the aspect of trying to use your cards efficiently and also trying to minimize damage from having to play your opponents’ events. So any new CDG is almost always of interest to us. And to boot we love learning the history of periods or wars that we aren’t necessarily familiar with. This month in the GMT Games Monthly Update email, they have added a new CDG to their P500 called Clash of Sovereigns: The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-48. I don’t know anything about this time period, other than the little bit I know about the Prussians from my reading on the American Revolution that happened nearly 30 years later and a whole ocean away.

From the entry on the GMT Games game page we read this about the game:

Clash of Sovereigns (COS), GMT’s 2-4 player card-driven game of the War of the Austrian Succession, has been 9 years in the making. It is a free-wheeling, faster-playing, stream-lined “nephew” of the widely-regarded Clash of Monarchs (COM). 

The game has a longer playing campaign game that takes about 12 hours to play but also has a few smaller scenarios that cover 2-3 years in a few hours.

The combatants involved, including the French, Prussians/Spanish (“Pr/Span”), Austrians, and British/ Piedmontese (“Br/Pied”), each have their own separate card decks divided into Early, Middle, and Late war periods. These national differences are further differentiated by distinctive national tactics and troop quality factors which are captured by Army Battle Ratings (which evolve over time) and event and Battle Tactics cards.

I also love when games have mini-games built in to abstract major events that effect the war. Such is the case with a naval sub-game that simulates naval operations in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, including the annual Bourbon Treasure Fleet’s risky voyage home.

Another aspect that I always try to look at in games is replayability and this one appears to be enough of a sandbox to have a lot of different outcomes and possibilities. The game description highlights this fact with the following:

The replay value for COS is high because the multiplicity of belligerents and theaters of operation ensure that the game will never play the same way twice. Vienna may fall to the Prussians or French; Paris and Naples may see Austrian white uniforms in their streets; and London may be beset by Bonnie Prince Charlie – or invading French troops. Will the French get Bavarian Charles VII onto the throne of the Holy Roman Empire? Will Marshal Traun and Austrian Croats take it back? Will Louis XV and George II clash in Flanders? And will anyone be able to stop De Saxe? — Find out!

If you are interested in Clash of Sovereigns: The War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-48, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $45.00 from the GMT Games’ website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-745-clash-of-sovereigns-the-war-of-the-austrian-succession-1740-48.aspx

2. Rebel Fury: Five Battles from the Campaigns of Chancellorsville and Chickamauga from GMT Games

The second game added to the P500 in late February was another really interesting looking, fast playing American Civil War game designed by one of the best ever called Rebel Fury: Five Battles from the Campaigns of Chancellorsville and Chickamauga. Last year, Mark Herman Designer a simple to grasp fast playing ACW game called Gettysburg that appeared in C3i Magazine #32. That game’s rules and state were used as a basis for this new game which is Volume 1 in a new series called the Civil War Heritage Series.

The battles featured are Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg (solitaire). Several of the battles are linkable, covering the entire Chickamauga-Chattanooga campaigns.

Units are portrayed at the Infantry/Cavalry division level. The Civil War Heritage Series game system features a new Zone of Influence/Zone of Control mechanic that controls unit formation (March/Battle) based on their proximity to your opponent. As your units close with the enemy, your forces naturally break into battle formation, where they then maneuver the last distance to engage. Unlike most hex and counter wargames, this system allows you total freedom to move units in any order multiple times, unleashing the full range of historical tactics in a simple and clean format.

Combat features a differential combat system with few but significant factors that capture the key features of Civil War division level combat. Units are rated for quality, artillery support, supporting units, and terrain. The game features artillery duels with the occasional Exploding Caisson result. The Civil War Heritage Series combat system accurately depicts the ability of units to launch multiple waves of attacks on the same position, capturing the back-and-forth nature of many famous combat duels.

This game is being marketed as an easy system to jump into with lots of interesting special units and situations that is fast playing and competitive. In my mind, saying a Civil War game is competitive means the sides will be somewhat evenly matched and will make for an anybody can win situation…but we shall see. And at least one of the scenarios (Fredericksburg) is designed as a solo scenario.

If you are interested in Rebel Fury: Five Battles from the Campaigns of Chancellorsville and Chickamauga, you can pre-order a copy for the price of $37.00 from the GMT Games’ website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-747-rebel-fury-five-battles-from-the-campaigns-of-chancellorsville-and-chickamauga.aspx

3. Kiev ’41: The Southern Struggle from VentoNuovo Games Coming To Kickstarter March 11th

VentoNuovo Games has really done some interesting titles over the past couple of years. They also like block wargames, and frankly so do I, so I have followed several of their campaigns. Now they released an announcement that the final game in their ’41 series focused on Operation Barbarossa in WWII is going to Kickstarter on March 11th called Kiev ’41: The Southern Struggle.

This Front was one of the most difficult in Hitler’s invasion of Russia and covers a period of 6 months from the end of June to December 1941. From the game entry on Board Game Geek, we read the following:

Kiev ’41 is a war game covering the offensive of Army Group South to capture the Ukraine, the Donbass, the Crimea and the Caucasus. Even if, of the three Army Groups, von Runsdedt’s was the one charged with accomplishing the most ambitious goals, it was the one that came closest to achieving its objectives. Although using historical Orders of Battle and challenges, players can make their own choices to change history!

Kiev ’41 uses headquarters units and an impulse system to smoothly introduce both Command and Control within the limitations that the armies of the day had on just how much moving and fighting they could do. While the German player is the primary attacker, the Soviet player is always able to look for a chance of a good counterattack and can actually win the game early. Variable setup and reinforcements means no two games are alike.

They also seem to do a really good job with the maps for their games and put a ton of research into verifying geography and landmarks of the time so the maps are as true to history as possible. The map is touted as being an accurate depiction of the area of operations which includes from the Rumanian border in the west to the Don steppes in the East.

The basis for the system used in the ’41 series uses the same engine as its predecessors, and of course the fog of war inherent in all block wargames for masking enemy units. The wooden blocks elegantly represent the way the units’ effectiveness is reduced in combat, and rebuilt with production points. These games become an exercise in managing your armies because without fit units you won’t be able to mount effective strikes and will find that you lose your footing on the battlefield.

If you are interested in Kiev ’41, you can check out this entry from the VentoNuovo website at the following link: http://www.ventonuovo.net/games/kiev-41

Once they have started the Kickstarter campaign on March 11th, I will update that link to get you right to the campaign page.

4. War Along the Great Lakes: Volume 3 in the War of 1812 Deluxe Games from Worthington Games Now on Kickstarter

Worthington Games always chooses really interesting topics for their games. so is the trend followed in their newest Kickstarter campaign called War Along the Great Lakes: Volume 3 in the War of 1812 Deluxe Games. From the campaign page, here is the explanation on the basis of the game:

It is the summer of 1814 and two years of War Along the Great Lakes have produced a stalemate. Facing each other across the Niagara River, the Americans and British are locked in for one more grand campaign. The river connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and control of this strategic land bridge will determine the fate of Upper Canada. Chippawa, Lundy’s Lane, Fort Erie and other battles will fill the summer along the river and between the lakes. The historical result was these were the most intense battles of the war that ended in a draw. Now you are in command………

War Along the Great Lakes is volume 3, and the final volume, in the War of 1812 Series. War Along the Chesapeake is Volume 1 and War Along the Gulf Coast is Volume 2. I guess I must have missed the other three because this is the first that I’ve heard of the series. The game uses action points to move units and fight and supposedly the game focuses on on the morale of your troops. From the page we read the following:

War Along the Great Lakes allows gamers to refight the British defense of Upper Canada against the American invaders during the summer of 1814. The British have fewer troops than the Americans and a long line to defend.  But the quality of their British regulars and Canadian militia is excellent.  The Americans have stripped the Chesapeake and Champlain theaters to place its best and largest army on the Niagara, hoping to occupy Upper Canada before the war ends.

The game uses the proven Blue & Gray combat system where morale is as important as the number of soldiers. You are limited in how many units you may move based on the number of action points you receive, plus a random number of action points based on your commander. This means no two games will play alike. Movement is location to location. When the two armies end a move in the same location a battle occurs and the action moves to the battle board.

As you might imagine, a wargame based on the War of 1812 is focused on naval operations of both sides. Each side has ships as well as a naval base and each turn players can take one of four actions including: Transport troops, Supply troops, Support troops, or Intercept the opposing navy.  

I think that this game looks cool and typically I like games on less gamed subjects. It uses blocks to represent the units and the map is huge albeit a little bit plain and uninspiring. My guess is it will be changed before printing but who knows.

If you are interested, you can check out the War on the Great Lakes Kickstarter page at the following link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/war-along-the-great-lakes/description

As of March 1st with only 3 days remaining in the campaign, the project is funded with 181 backers committing $22,153 of the $5,000 goal.

New Release

1. The Age of Iron & Rust: A Time of Crisis Expansion from GMT Games

In 2017, I played a new and fresh game that uses deck building to prosecute war in the Twilight of the Roman Empire. This game was a revelation and I really enjoyed how simple yet interactive it was. The game was Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD. That game was a great success because it made wargames a bit more accessible to non-wargamers by using familiar mechanics and colorful components. In my review of the game which you can read here, I talked about the fruits of wargame hybridization.

With the success of the game, the designers put together an expansion that looks like it adds new strategies to the game without introducing a lot of new mechanics.

The Age of Iron and Rust provides new choices for players to build their influence, exert their Imperial power, and even play alone!

  • New Influence Cards — Deckbuilding is a key aspect of Time of Crisis, and the means by which players grow their influence among the Senate, the Legions, and the People of Rome throughout the game.  While the base game provides an array of cards for players to choose from, The Age of Iron and Rust DOUBLES the number of choices with a full new set of cards that are available for purchase alongside the existing cards. Explore new strategies and card combinations to seek new ways of building your dynasty’s Legacy.

  • New Emperor Rules – During the Third Century, Emperors didn’t only sit on the throne in Rome – they ruled from the provinces and commanded armies in the field, where they were at risk of being killed in battle or assassinated.  These optional rules place Emperors directly on the board in place of a Governor or General token.  Bold use of your Emperor will grant you bonuses, but if the Emperor token should be removed from the board, your reign is at an end.

  • AI Players – New optional rules for non-player factions driven by easy-to-use “artificial intelligence” instructions will allow 2 or 3 players and even solo players to enjoy a full 4-faction game.  Three different AI Player profiles can fill your empty seats to provide a mix of challenges working against the human players’ Imperial aspirations.

For more information, read our interview with game designers Wray Ferrell and Brad Johnson.

If you are interested in The Age of Iron and Rust: A Time of Crisis Expansion you can order a copy for $25.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-698-the-age-of-iron-and-rust-a-time-of-crisis-expansion.aspx

You must own a copy of Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD to play The Age of Iron and Rust.

2. Vietnam: Rumor of War from Compass Games

Vietnam is one of most interesting gaming experiences for me. I think I like it so much because it’s not simply about the fighting, but about the politics, both Vietnamese and at home, and about so many other elements. Each time a Vietnam focused game comes out I’m immediately interested. Even the title of this one is a bit awkward and evokes questions about what is war and whether or not Vietnam actually fits that definition.

From the battlefield to the home front, the United States faced one of the greatest challenges in its history. Using the Operational Scale System as seen in Korea: Fire and Ice, OSS: Vietnam will show the conflict in a playable yet historical manner.

Using at its heart, a blending of two older games, Road to the Rhine and A Victory Denied, players have the ability to move all their units once.  However, they may choose to move those units in any of several impulses, if they can afford the supply cost to do so.  The opposing player will have to maintain adequate reserves to counter this variable impulse movement.

The game uses a system called the Operational Scale System and makes large theater games with complex operations very playable. It doesn’t necessarily make the games play faster but but you can now play a game like this in a weekend, not hundreds of hours. I don’t have time for that but I do like the grand scale of the games in the series.

Players will activate HQs, fight off insurgents, bomb and disrupt the infrastructure of their opponents with the unique means available to each side. Whether by bombing raids or insurgents, how your side maintains the ability to wage war will be the key to victory.  All the while, players must watch how their actions influence events far from the battlefield.

If you are interested in Vietnam: Rumor of War, you can order a copy from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/vietnam-rumor-of-war.html

3. Stalin’s World War III from Compass Games

I love a good what if style wargame. To see whether a different outcome was even possible is something that really interests me. Such is the case in Stalin’s World War III from Compass Games where we get to answer the question did the Soviets have the power and personnel at the conclusion of World war II to attempt their plan to attack their Western Allies and establish the Sickle and Hammer across the globe?

According to the designer Ty Bomba, the answer to that question is dubious:

Historical hindsight allows us to see that the Soviets of the late 1940s and early 1950s weren’t as strong as Stalin wanted to believe they were. At the same time, though, the US, and the democratic West generally, had demobilized – behind the presumably invincible shield provided them by the atomic bomb – to a ridiculous extent. So the two sides are stretched to their respective operational limits right from the start of the war. That overarch puts in place a lot of tense decision-making and prioritizing for both players.

With that being said, the game still attempts to take us on a journey of discovery as two players will battle it out for control of major resources in an attempt to bludgeon the other to death. Stalin’s World War III is a two game package: Volume 1 – Operation Pincher & The Soviet Offensive in Europe; Volume 2 – Operation Sandown & The Soviet Offensive in the Mid-East. This is an alternative history monster-size wargame intended to investigate the strategic parameters that would’ve been in place during the first 10 weeks of operations had that dictator lived long enough to put in motion one of his many plans to start a global conflict in 1953.

There are rules for atomic bombs, but their use by the Communists is constrained by their still limited availability historically at that time, as well as by their lack of a fully dependable means to deliver them. On the US/UN/NATO side, the limitation is political. That is, the early 1950s marked the arrival of the anti-imperialist (a.k.a. “third world” or “nonaligned”) movement on the global media stage. So if the Americans try to win by using enough bombs to blow to bits Stalin’s horde, they do so much damage to the environmental and socio-political ecologies as to undo their victory in the strategic sense.

Volume 1’s twin-maps (34×33”) cover Europe from the East German-Polish border south to Belgrade and Sarajevo and west through Rome to France’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. Each hexagon represents 20 miles (32.4 km). Volume 2’s twin-maps (34×44”) cover the Mid-East from Ankara in the northwest to Tehran in the northeast, and south from there to Kuwait City and Suez. Again, each hexagon represents 20 miles (32.4 km).

Communist units of maneuver are Soviet divisions along with East European satellite and Mid-East nations’ corps and armies. On the US/UN/ATO side there are mostly divisions and a few corps, along with reinforcing US “regimental combat teams” and British “brigade groups.” Air power is abstracted, with counters and rules showing the effects of one side or the other gaining temporary air superiority. Each full turn represents one week of ‘real time’ from late July to the start of October.

Each well-played match usually has three stages. In the first, the Red Army juggernaut drives deep into the relatively small US/UN/NATO ground forces. Only the massive use of a-bombs by the US can stem the tide.

As Soviet losses mount and US prestige sinks, the middle stage begins. It’s characterized by both sides maneuvering their units, seeking to hold or take contestable key areas. Soviet airborne guards divisions are likely to make their appearance. A-bombs are still going off, but their targeting is more selective and there are fewer such attacks. During this period a well planned Soviet campaign will achieve its victory objectives – the question is: can they hold onto them?
The end game sees an all-out UN counteroffensive. That player throws in everything he’s got to push back the Red Army from enough victory hexes to overturn what will otherwise be their end-of-play win on points.

For more information on the design, you can read our interview with Ty Bomba.

If you are interested in Stalin’s World War III, you can order a copy for the price of $70.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/stalin-s-world-war-iii.html

4. Table Battles Expansion No. 3: Gettysburg from img_4303Hollandspiele

Another Gettysburg game? Do we really need another? Well, my answer would be yes but that’s just me. To boot, the Table Battles system from Hollandspiele is a really intriguing looking one that has caught my interest, even though I have yet to play.

This third expansion to the popular Table Battles series focuses its attention on a single day: 2 July 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Famous engagements from throughout the attack each get their own scenario, while a final scenario zooms out for a “big picture” view of the whole thing.

These battles were hard-fought, stubborn, and bloody affairs, often without any decisive result, ending only when both sides were too exhausted to fight any further. That’s reflected here, and so it’s significantly harder to get a decisive result, and you’re more likely to see epic slugfests in which you win only because the other side collapsed an eye-blink sooner.

The expansion comes with 6 different scenarios including Little Roundtop, The Wheatfield, The Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill and The Second Day.

Table Battles expansion

If you are interested in Table Battles Expansion #3: Gettysburg, you can order a copy from the Hollandspiele website for $20.00 at the following link:  https://hollandspiele.com/products/table-battles-expansion-no-3-gettysburg

Thanks for reading along this month. I hope that you found the games I chose to highlight of interest. If you know of another new pre-order or new release that is just that good please let me know about it so I can check it out.

-Grant