April showers bring May flowers…err….but what does the May Edition of the Wargame Watch bring?!? More busted wallets I’d say. I really hate to do this to you guys each month but it’s just hard not to share all the good games out there.
This month there are simply some amazing Kickstarter campaigns (5 that I found) for some really interesting looking games and of course we have some really great looking new releases featured that you can order and have on your gaming table within a week. Also, I might be taking the plunge into the quagmire that is ASL! We shall see…..
If you missed last month’s list, here is a link: April 2019 Wargame Watch
1. For What Remains: Skirmish Tactics Apocalypse from Dan Verssen Games on Kickstarter Now
If you are looking for a fast playing, rules light skirmish style wargame with some great tactical decisions, a nifty chit pull unit activation mechanic and a fantastic setting, look no further than For What Remains: Skirmish Tactics Apocalypse from Dan Verssen Games and designed by the designer who brought us Pavlov’s House David Thompson.
From the Board Game Geek game page we read the following about the design:
is a skirmish-level wargame set in a post-apocalyptic near future. The game is designed for both 2 player competitive play or solitaire play and also features a campaign that allows for character advancement.
The game is a scenario driven game and each scenario typically has multiple objectives, and combat between factions is important but isn’t always the primary goal. Players can either win skirmishes by gaining victory points through accomplishing these objectives or by destroying the units of your enemies.
The really interesting part about the design is that the game board is built from modular tiles which are themed to represent different environments. Players will take turns blindly drawing random tiles, which are double sided, and then can build the game board for that specific scenario to advantage the faction they are playing or to hamper the efforts of the enemy. This adds a very interesting planning effort to the game and will reward players that think things through to try and understand their advantages and disadvantages. I will say that this could lead to some simple analysis paralysis but shouldn’t be a major problem.
Each character in For What Remains is represented by a counter and has a corresponding character card and tokens. During campaign play, characters improve their attributes and develop new abilities as they progress from Recruit to Veteran and then Elite level. This is a very rewarding part of the game as you can actually see your abilities improve which leads to better results on the battlefield. A chit pull system is used for unit activation, and a step-loss system is used for tracking injuries during skirmishes.
The game has a lot of replayability with a possible six different asymmetric factions as well as the potential for a different map each game. The game is is on Kickstarter as of Tuesday, April 30th and our preview video is a part of the campaign. We also recently published an interview with the designer that will give you great insight into the design.
If you are interested in For What Remains, you can order a copy on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11606594/1494035113?ref=809255&token=03eaaf22
2. Space Infantry Resurgence from Lock ‘n Load Publishing on Kickstarter Now
Frankly this one had me at space as I simply love a good Sci-Fi themed game. Space Infantry Resurgence is somewhat of a remake of an older game that features a unique solitaire game, and has been further expanded to provide both co-op and two-player modes of play. In Space Infantry Resurgence you command a squad of Space Infantry soldiers taking on the task of fighting against unknown alien foes, through challenging environments, using only the weapons and tools that the characters are carrying with them.
From the Kickstarter page, we read the following about the game:
Space Infantry Resurgence will immerse you as never before. There is all new art and components, and it includes every scenario and campaign previously released for the first edition, along with new game modes and an enhanced manual all in one package. The game also features two brand new story-driven campaigns where you, the commander, make all of the strategic mission decisions. Patrol the depths of an enemy stronghold in randomly generated Hive Missions, featuring a modular environment that evolves as you explore it. Pit yourself against your friends in head-to-head mode as they control the sinister alien intelligence and fight your squad through a persistent campaign, or work together in our new cooperative mode. Space Infantry Resurgence also brings you two new variants to play through in either co-op or solitaire mode; The Last Outpost and The Horde.
One thing that I like quite a bit about this game is that it’s not all about combat. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of combat, but there is something more that players must also consider as foes are not the only challenges they will encounter. Not all units have combat specific purposes but serve in various support functions, vital to your squad’s success. Some units have specialized skills like Computer, Security, or even Demolitions instead of combat.
Fir this reason, you will have to build a varied team with lots of different skills but because of the many different challenges you might face you won’t always have the right skill for the job at the time. You will have to improvise, overcome, and adapt in order to survive and defeat the challenges faced.
The original game used multipurpose counters on a plain chart to track enemy units. In this new edition, all of that has been upgraded to be more efficient and thematic. With a quick glance, you can now see the full disposition of enemy forces you are facing; their capabilities and numbers along with what each of them looks like, fully immersing you into the game play experience.
If you are interested in Space Infantry Resurgence, you can obtain a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lnlp/space-infantry-resurgence/description
As of April 30th, the game is funded with 428 backers giving $33,005 of the $18,000 goal. The campaign still has 21 days left as of May 1st.
3. Europe Divided from Phalanx Coming to Kickstarter May 27th
Another design from David Thompson, but this time teamed with Chris Marling, and published by Phalanx that I am really looking forward to is Europe Divided, which is a really interesting looking take on a second Cold War as players will struggle for control of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Caucasus.
Europe Divided is a game of an expansionist Europe, a resurgent Russia, and a new Cold War. In the game, you control of one of the two powers: Europe (controlling both NATO and the European Union) or Russia. You manage conflicts of political and military influence, vying for control over Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Caucasus. Europe is powerful and rich, but bureaucratic and slow to react. Russia lacks Europe’s resources, but can respond rapidly.
Europe Divided takes place over two periods: 1992-2008 (European Expansion) and 2008-2019 (Russian Resurgence). Players score victory points by having dominant influence in contested countries in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus. They can also score victory points by bringing key historical events to fruition. The player with the most victory points at the end of the two periods wins.
Europe Divided is rich with history and includes today’s potential flashpoints, but it features a quick-playing card-driven core mechanism. Players use cards associated with countries they control to establish political and military influence, gain money, and build and deploy their military presence. An elegant deck-manipulation mechanism weakens players’ decks as they increase their influence, creating a tension point between seeking to expand and overreaching. Players also compete over key political events throughout the game. Will the Velvet Revolution result in the split of the Czech Republic and Slovakia? How will the Bosnian War end? The players will decide the fate of history throughout this period of Europe Divided.
Sounds like a modern Twilight Struggle so count me in! The problem with this one is that the Kickstarter is not scheduled to begin until May 27th. I will be reaching out to do an interview with David soon and we are getting a prototype copy of the game to play before the campaign starts and will be doing a preview video. Here is a link to a preview page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/phalanxgames/1326338383?ref=796240&token=d1da70d8
4. Napoleon Returns 1815 from Worthington Publishing Now on Kickstarter
Recently, Alexander and I have been playing quite a bit of Commands and Colors: Napoleonics and we have gained a new interest in the period as it simply offers fantastic tactical puzzles with Cavalry, Artillery and lots of command and control issues. So I just couldn’t resist adding this Kickstarter to the list this month, even though upon the publishing of the list, the campaign will only have about 8 hours remaining.
Napoleon Returns 1815 is a strategic level campaign game on Waterloo. With fewer than 25 pieces on the board strategic movement creates tension and campaign choices for both players. A limited number of movement points adds to the tough decisions for players. Once battle commences a unique twist on a classic battle card system comes into play. Cavalry, Artillery and Infantry mix within a corps can open up more options. The game is playable by 2 to 3 players with a playing time of about 90 minutes. Several games can be played in an evening. Fast playing, tough decisions, card driven. All sounds really interesting to me.
From the Kickstarter campaign page we read the following:
For those of you that remember the Avalon Hill Classics Napoleon and We the People, you will easily pick up some of the blended concepts and a nod to those classics. The setting is a strategic map of the Waterloo campaign. The combat system uses cards based on corps strength and leader abilities. Throw in gorgeous Napoleonic corps game pieces similar to Napoleon at Marengo that maneuver on a military style map and the setting is complete. Now add lots of new concepts centered on corps level deployment, movement and battle fatigue to the mix to provide a fresh Napoleonic gaming experience.
If you are interested in Napoleon Returns 1815 from Worthington Publishing, you had better hurry and get a copy as the campaign literally ends May 1st at 8:00 PM EDT. You can get a copy at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/napoleon-returns-1815/rewards
As of April 30th, the game is funded with 211 backers giving $16,798 of the modest $5,000 goal. As mentioned above, the campaign will end May 1st at 8:00 PM EDT.
5. Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit #4 Pacific Theater of Operations from Multi-Man Publishing
The rabbit hole that is Advanced Squad Leader. I must be honest, haven’t ever really gotten into the madness because it is simply so big. I have seen pictures from collections that literally have an entire shelf dedicated to all of the modules, expansions and big boxes. Not something I have every really been drawn toward….until now! When I saw the image for the Pacific Starter Kit about a month or so ago, it caught me. Also, when I saw a tweet from their account that the game was in the warehouse, I actually got excited a bit. I have finally decided that I HAVE to have this. I will be ordering my first ASL Starter Kit soon. My life will be coming to an end I think and I want to let you all know that things might change for me…in a bad way!
ASL Starter Kit Module #4 PTO brings ASLSK to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO), and adds the Japanese and the United States Marine Corps to the ASLSK lineup. ASLSK#4 is a self-contained ASL module that gives players the opportunity to start playing Advanced Squad Leader almost immediately.
ASLSK#4 expands on the themes of previous Starter Kits by providing new counters and updated rules featuring a new concept to Starter Kit – PTO. At the heart of this module are the rules for using the Japanese Imperial forces who fought amongst the jungle and island atolls of the Pacific in terrain completely different from the European Theater of Operations and with tactics different than their European counterparts. In addition to the step-reducing Japanese infantry and new rules for familiar looking terrain, simplified rules for Banzai, concealment, and hand-to-hand close combat are introduced. Neither components nor experience with earlier Starter Kits is necessary to play.
I know that this Kit will be more advanced than say Kit #1 but I don’t care. I love the PTO and really want this one. The eight scenarios and three mapboards cover actions between the U.S. forces (Marines and Army) that opposed the Imperial Japanese Army on the islands of the Pacific and in the exotic China-Burma-India Theater. From Guadalcanal to Myitkiyina to the big island of Luzon in the Philippines, these forces fought to the death from 1942 to 1945.
If you are interested in ASLSK#4, you can still pre-order a copy from the Multi-Man Publishing website for $45.00 at the following link: http://www.multimanpublishing.com/tabid/59/ProductID/368/Default.aspx
6. The Barracks Emperors from GMT Games
From the dual designer team of Brad Johnson and Wray Ferrell who brought us Time of Crisis and its expansion The Age of Iron and Rust comes a fast-playing strategy card game that looks pretty interesting. The game takes place in the same historical time period as Time of Crisis, which is Rome’s Imperial Crisis of the 3rd Century A.D. This game appears to have a target audience as a family or couples card game that seems pretty simple yet interesting enough to give a fair amount of replayability.
The Barracks Emperors is a strategy card game set against the backdrop of the Roman Crisis of the Third Century, during which at least 45 different men made a claim to the throne of the Roman Empire. In this game, 1-4 players represent prominent political factions attempting to gain control over the men who would be Emperors of Rome. Players deploy the influence available to them (represented by the cards in their hands) to claim imperial reigns (represented by the historical Emperor cards arrayed on the board.) But they must be very careful, because politics is a complex game, and sometimes attempting to exert your influence necessitates aiding someone else in their own plots. Play your cards cleverly to captureEmperors and score the most points to win.
The game is designed as a trick-taking game with a bit of a twist. And Brad and Wray have definitely done well with card games. From the game page we get the following clarification on how it’s different:
All 13 tricks are available for play simultaneously, in an interlocking grid that forces you to balance the value of every card you play against the value that same card may have for another player on a different trick. Plus, every card grants you an additional special ability that you might be able to use to spring a surprise on your unwitting opponents.
The game has the following features:
Historical emperors, co-emperors, pretenders, and even Gallic Emperors who broke away from Rome during the Crisis of the Third Century are all represented as individual cards in the game, each with interesting facts about the rise and demise of the man depicted.
For fans of Time of Crisis and The Age of Iron and Rust, you will find some of the concepts and flavor from that deck-building wargame, adapted in this all new standalone game. You don’t need Time of Crisis to play The Barracks Emperors, but you’ll recognize Influence Cards such as Praetorian Guard, Foederati, and Pretender, now used in an entirely new way.
An innovative card drafting mechanic adds an extra layer of strategy to how you play your cards while also mitigating the luck that would come with being dealt a full hand of cards at the start of each round.
This game is designed for 4 players, but also includes options for 2 or 3 players, plus an easy-to-play solitaire adaptation for the solo player.
I don’t know that this is a game that Alexander and I will get into but I’m keeping an open mind as I like card games, especially those I can play with my wife, and I enjoy the history of the Roman Empire.
If you are interested in The Barracks Emperors, you can pre-order a copy from the GMT Games website for $34.00 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-757-the-barracks-emperors.aspx
7. Austerlitz 1805 from Trafalgar Editions Now on Kickstarter
Remember I said we have really been into Napoleonics lately, well I found another great looking game on Austerlitz that I wanted to share from a small publisher that really has some great looking games in their catalog.
Austerlitz 1805 is a wargame where the French Army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte confronts the Third Coalition Armies: the Russian army under Czar Alexander I and the Austrian army under Emperor Francis I.
Austerlitz 1805 is an easy to learn and visually stunning game, accompanied by a map devoid of any kind of zones or hex-grid. You will move your units as you would in a miniatures game, by means of measurement markers.
The game is a simulation of Napoleon’s greatest victory. Using the game system first seen in Waterloo: The Last Battle of Napoleon, Austerlitz 1805 provides a larger battlefield with more opportunity for maneuver, fog rules for the morning (hidden movement and fog of war) and contending armies with their unique strengths and weaknesses.
The forces in each army are represented by tokens of different sizes. Here you will find infantry in all its key Napoleonic formations, as well as cavalry in line and column formations and limbered and unlimbered artillery. Combining a sophisticated modern design with the look of the traditional Kriegspiel, this is Napoleon’s greatest victory rendered the way the Emperor himself would appreciate.
If you are interested in Austerlitz 1805 you can pre-order a copy at the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1615432558/austerlitz-1805?ref=5rb5hd
As of May 1st, the game is about 1/3 funded with 43 backers giving $3,378 of their $10,658 goal. The campaign will end May 16th at 3:00 PM EDT.
1. The Dark Valley: The East Front Campaign, 1941-45 Deluxe Edition from GMT Games
Are there too many East Front wargames? Is that even a legitimate question? I love the Deluxified treatment that GMT gives some of their more classic games. I own Deluxe copies of Ted Raicer’s Paths of Glory as well as Carl Paradis’ No Retreat The Russian Front and both of those games are absolutely beautiful creations. I expect nothing less from this treatment and in fact we have a copy and it is a MONSTER, a beautiful MONSTER, but a monster none the less. There are about a 1,000 counters (well actually I’m not sure on the actual count but there are 3 1/2 counter sheets.
From the description on the game page we read the following:
The Dark Valley covers the entire East Front campaign in World War II, on a 34” by 44” standard hex map stretching from Leningrad in the north to the Caucasus Mountains in the south,. Three and a half 1/2” counter-sheets represent every major unit that appeared during the course of the conflict. Initially most Soviet infantry are divisions, but as the game progresses these are replaced by armies and corps, so that players are not overwhelmed by the increasing Soviet Order of Battle. German mechanized units are divisions, while their infantry is a mix of division and corps.
Although the game is a semi-monster, and covers the entirety of the conflict from the launch of Barbarossa to the end of the war, the game system emphasizes playability rather than rules overhead, allowing the players to concentrate on strategy choices rather than rules minutiae.
The core of the game system is a “chit-pull” activation system. Each turn a variety of action chits are drawn, in a random order, from the Action Chit Pool, and it is this that determines the exact flow of operations on that turn. This chit-pull system imposes constant uncertainty upon the player and introduces considerable tension into the game. It also allows the game to model the evolution of the Soviets and the devolution of the Germans over the course of the campaign.
I love designs that focus on the real history of the conflicts and this one does that in spades with their focus on the troops over the course of the war. I also really love Chit Pull systems as they truly keep you on your toes and add in confusion and bit of the unknown to each turn as you simply don’t know when you will get to activate certain units.
If you are interested in a copy of The Dark Valley you can order one for $79.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-651-the-dark-valley-deluxe-edition.aspx
2. Antony and Cleopatra The Final War of the Roman Republic from Hollandspiele
Great cover on this one…as has been very standard with all of Hollandspiele’s offerings! It simply draws me in and creates interest in the subject and what might lie under the lid of that box. John Theissen has done several recent American Civil War games that are very interesting and I expect that this one also will be extremely good as well. I don’t have a lot of information on the mechanics of the game but from the game page we read the following:
Each player must raise troops and build ships, using these military forces to enact their will and conduct campaigns against the enemy. Along the way, they will face the challenges inherent in ancient warfare: the difficulty of keeping troops supplied, perilous storms at sea, the spreading of plagues, and the opportunistic assaults of Rome’s external enemies. As the war wears on, both sides will attempt to chip away at the other’s prestige and standing. If your prestige falls low enough, your troops and provinces might defect, tipping the balance. And should it fall to zero, you lose this high stakes battle. The winner shall rule over an empire. The loser? Well, as Octavian said before Cleopatra’s son was strangled, two Caesars are one too many.
The spoils of victory and the consequences of defeat might not be quite as serious as all that when the troops are made of cardboard, but Antony and Cleopatra allows you to refight this epic contest for ultimate power in the relative safety of your home or gaming club.
Though somewhat more granular and detailed than Mr. Theissen’s other games for Hollandspiele, this remains a quick, compelling, and accessible exploration of this fascinating subject.
I love the look of this game and the mechanics look interesting as well. It is a hex and counter wargame that adds in cards so I think that it will be right up our alley.
If you are interested in a copy of Antony and Cleopatra you can order one for $50.00 from the Hollandspiele website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/antony-and-cleopatra
3. Hearts and Minds Vietnam 1965-1975 (3rd Edition) from Compass Games
I own the 2nd Edition of this game from Worthington Publishing and Alexander and I both have enjoyed playing it. In fact, you can see my summary of the game in a post from last year here. My copy was a second hand copy and they frankly butchered the counters so don’t judge me too harshly as I tried to rescue them to no avail. 😦
This new 3rd Edition from Compass Games really ratchets up the production factor of the game with a larger map, better looking counters and cards and better players aids. I have seen pictures of this one on several gamers tables and it looks much better than the version I own.
From the game page we read the following about the game:
Hearts and Minds, Third Edition is an uncomplicated approach to a very complicated conflict. Eight scenarios introduce players to U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia including a scenario after the US withdrew from Vietnam, a full campaign scenario as well as high solitaire capability. Players appreciate the ability to start in any year of the war they wish and fight to the end of any other year of the war. The game provides a comprehensive historical approach using mechanics that include guerrilla warfare, faction differentiation, political turmoil, and veteran advantages. This design has already been used as a successful teaching tool.
This is a card-driven, area-based design with low counter density and a much simplified combat system. Each scenario represents a year and players have the flexibility of starting in any year of the war and ending in any later year of the war. Players choose either the Allies (US, ARVN, Cambodian and Laotian) or Communist (NVA, VC, Cambodian and Laotian) Players engage in guerrilla warfare – VC units remain hidden until engaged. VC units may be simple units or reinforced units or simply false information. When determined to be false information, players roll on the Bush Events Table which involve events from discovering Chinese troops to the arrival of USO shows featuring John Wayne and Bob Hope.
This edition involves the use of three card decks, A red deck (communist), a blue deck (Allied) and a black deck (interchangeable). Prior to every game, half of the black deck is shuffled into each of the red and blue decks ensuring a different game every time. Cards indicate the amount of RPs (Resource Points) that may be spent or banked, a historic situation, and its game effects. Certain cards are year specific. Within each Red and Blue Deck are a number of Campaign cards that may be chosen by each player allowing increased abilities but only in a predetermined area.
The game does not ignore political ramifications. Card events cover mass protests in the U.S. and more significantly the instability of the South Vietnamese government. The Allied player controls more firepower but must walk a tightrope between U.S. and ARVN (South Vietnamese) casualties. Too many U.S. casualties leads to a rapid rise in Communist morale. Too many ARVN casualties will result in a coup which has major strategic advantages for the Communist Player. While in Cambodia and Laos, the destruction of all government forces means the fall of those governments. Throughout the game both sides jockey for the “Hearts and Minds” in each province. Political Control determines the availability and expansion of VC influence.
Hearts and Minds, Third Edition offers players an easier to follow rulebook with simpler victory conditions. Also included: tested solitaire rules and a separate solitaire player aide; a premium mounted map that includes all of the charts necessary to play the game; full-sized poker quality card deck; standard playing dice and a new artistic approach to factional units.
If you are interested in a copy of Hearts and Minds you can order one for $59.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/hearts-and-minds-1965-to-1975.html
Thanks for sticking with me this month as I took us through the lineup of games. 10 games from 9 different publishers including 5 Kickstarters. And lots of good gaming to be had. Please let me know your thoughts on this month’s list and let me know games that I might have missed or publishers that I should be keeping my eye out for.