We are now entering convention season and I always feel like publishers have games that are intended to be releasing to coincide with this busy time. Such appears to be the case for June at least as there are just a plethora of games that are either heading to Kickstarter (I found 2 this month and probably even missed some) or are just now hitting the streets. Overall, we are covering 12 games (actually 15 as one entry deals with 4 new mini games from Decision Games) this month and I am sure that there were at least 10 more that I could have added if I wanted to bore you to death and make this list take upwards of three days to read. I am really excited for these games and particularly for the first entry as Tiny Battle Publishing is releasing their first boxed game. I love boxed games and I am so glad to see this. Don’t get me wrong. Polybag games are great games but they just don’t look as good on the shelf.
I also am really stoked about the new Labyrinth expansion called The Forever War, 2015-? from GMT Games as Alexander and I would take Labyrinth on a desert island for sure. Have fund with the list and let me know of any games that I missed.
If you missed last month’s Wargame Watch, here is a link: May 2019 Wargame Watch
1. The Devil’s to Pay!: The First Day at Gettysburg from Tiny Battle Publishing
We have enjoyed playing Tiny Battle Publishing’s games for years but always saw them as a step down from other wargames. It surely wasn’t due to the conflicts modeled or the gameplay but mainly because of the format. It just seemed that it wasn’t finished. Now that has changed as they have announced the release of their first boxed game. The Devil’s to Pay!: First Day at Gettysburg is designed by Hermann Luttmann and uses his Blind Swords system which is a chit pull system originally designed fir Duel of Eagles. The system emphasizes the three “FOW’s” of conflict: fog-of-war, friction-of-war and fortunes-of-war. The system mixes events with activation chits and does not guarantee that each unit on the board will be able to act.
From the game page we read the following about this historical setting for the game:
On the morning of July 1, 1863 a column of Rebel soldiers from Brig. Gen. James Archer’s brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia headed down the Chambersburg Pike from Cashtown, PA towards the town of Gettysburg in search of provisions. Since JEB Stuart’s cavalry was nowhere to be found, the Confederate column was actually being led by the cannons of Pegram’s Artillery Brigade in a rare 19th century deployment of “recon by fire”. Archer’s Division commander, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, was not worried however – he had it on firm authority that only militia was in the area and that “they would run as soon as we appeared”. Upon their approach up to Herr’s Ridge to the west of Gettysburg, the dismounted Union cavalry pickets of Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division began harassing the approaching butternut columns. As they were driven off and the Rebs crested the ridge, they were confronted with a far larger cavalry force than they had anticipated and they were now hotly engaged in an unexpected encounter. Archer’s men, along with the quick-marching soldiers of Brig. Gen. Robert Davis’ brigade, began a coordinated advance on Buford’s horse soldiers. The blue-clad troopers were hard pressed but their carbines allowed them to fire rapidly and from cover. Relief finally appeared at about 9:30 am when Maj. Gen. John Reynolds of Ist Corps rode up to Buford at the Lutheran Seminary. He then famously asked Buford, “What’s the matter, John?” Buford’s reply was “The Devil’s to pay!” And from such inauspicious beginnings started one of the greatest battles of history. This first day was to set the tone of the entire three-day Battle of Gettysburg …. a first day in which ultimate victory or defeat for either side could be traced to the decisions, maneuverings and fighting performances of each army’s soldiers and leaders during these initial critical hours.
I have a growing interest in gaming the American Civil War and find this game to be very intriguing. As I mentioned above, the Blind Swords System is really solid and creates an environment of confusion and frustration due to the chit pull but also do the very interesting events that are pulled from the chit draw cup. From the game page, we read further:
The Devil’s to Pay! is a game depicting not only the events of that first day at Gettysburg, but also what could have happened on that fateful day. Two players will each command either the Confederate forces of Lt. Gen A.P. Hill and Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell or the Union forces of Reynolds and Maj. Gen. Oliver Howard. The game is played on a gorgeous map of the battle area designed and drawn by Rick Barber, with each hex equaling 250 yards. Units are multi-counter brigades, with each Strength Point representing about 100 men, and these brigades are organized in groups of regiments as they were deployed at the battle. The system is a new version of the Blind Swords System, with this implementation emphasizing ease-of-play and accessibility while maintaining the popular spirit of “historical chaos” represented by the other games in the Blind Swords family. This system utilizes a unique chit-pull mechanic that will keep players on their toes and engaged throughout the entire game.
If you are interested in The Devil’s to Pay! you can pre-order a copy for $39.00 from the Tiny Battle Publishing website at the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/the-devils-to-pay-the-first-day-at-gettysburg
The game is set to ship on June 6th.
2. Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition from Worthington Publishing on Kickstarter Now
This particular Kickstarter only has hours remaining as of this post being published. The campaign will end on Tuesday, June 4th at 6:30pm. I’m interested in this one because of the historic scenarios covered being that of the British Zulu conflicts. This game was Worthington’s first effort 15 years ago and they are celebrating it’s anniversary with a deluxe edition. From the Kickstarter page we read the following:
In Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition you get to lead either the British, or Zulu army in the game for the desparate struggle for the small mission outpost at Rorke’s Drift. The battle where 150 British soldiers held off 4,000 Zulu warriors, immortalized in the famous movie, ZULU. Also included is the battle that destroyed a British army, Isandlwana. Where 1,500 British and Native soldiers were wiped out by a Zulu army in one of the British army’s greatest defeats. Both battles occurred the same day.
This 15th Anniversary Deluxe edition includes all deluxe components including a large double sided hard mounted game board, one side having the Isandlwana, with the other side having Rorke’s Drift. Deluxe large 1″ counters with rounded corners for the British units, and 2″ long Zulu counters with rounded corners. The game also includes 2 copies of the rule book, dice, 2 copies of the player aid, as well as a special solitaire bot aid for manuevering the Zulu.
Each battle is playable by 2 players but they have added in the option for solitaire versions of each game. The Players will control the British with a bot engine for the Zulu player. Each battle is playable in under 2 hours. I really think it’d be fun to play this game while watching Zulu in the background. Really an immersive looking gaming experience.
If you are interested in Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition you can order a copy from the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/victoria-cross-ii-deluxe-edition
As of Monday, June 3rd the game is funded with 298 backers giving $26,054 of the $1,500 goal.
3. From Salerno to Rome WW2: The Italian Campaign, 1943-1944 from Dissimula Edizioni
Last year we did an interview with a new designer doing his first Kickstarter named Sergio Schiavi. That game called Radetsky’s March funded and really showed off his talents. Now he has taken on the task of designing a World War II game focused on the Italian peninsula.
From the Kickstarter page we read the following:
From Salerno to Rome allows you to simulate the first ten months of the military campaign in Italy during World War II, from the landing in Salerno (September ’43) to the liberation of Rome (June ’44). The game starts with the American 5th army that has just landed in Salerno and the British 8th army advancing in Apulia, while the Axis powers gather their forces to hit with a powerful counter-offensive one of the two allied armies…
The game enables you to fight the battles that took place in Italy from September ’43 to May ’44: Battles like Salerno, Cassino, Anzio, Ortona.
The game uses a point activation system and each activation can be used to move units and attack of take other actions such as reinforce, call in air support, etc.
From the Kickstarter page we read the following:
The game lasts 10 turns, each representing one month. Each turn is divided in a varying number of impulses, during which both players always have the opportunity to react to their opponent’s moves, alternating within an extremely flexible game structure.
When a turn starts, each player gets a certain amount of activation points he can use to put under command his forces during impulses. These formations, single divisions or whole army corps, once activated, can move and fight, move strategically in a different sector, can be put in reserve and so on.
Activation points can also be used for other operations: air cover, landings, strengthening defensive lines, recon, ULTRA, etc.
I really like games that use this type of activation point system because it lends itself to create a little tension and uncertainty during the game. Players that are prone to careful planning and creation of a strategy that they stick to will be aided in their decisions.
If you are interested in From Salerno to Rome you can order a copy from the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1162877589/from-salerno-to-rome
As of Monday, June 3rd the game is funded with 204 backers giving $14,975 of the $9,178 goal. The campaign will end on Tuesday, June 18th at 6:00am.
4. Labyrinth: The Forever War, 2015-? from GMT Games
Labyrinth was our 2nd ever played game from GMT Games (Twilight Struggle was the 1st) and it set us on an interesting journey through title after title over the past 6 years or so. The game holds a special place in our mind as one of the most fascinating and well done simulations of current events in the world as it has now added a few expansions to deal with new developments in the war against terror, including the first expansion Labyrinth: The Awakening, 2010-? which added 120 new event cards and some interesting new mechanics and spaces and now this new offering which brings more recent events to the game (can you say Twitter President?). From the game page we read the following about the expansion:
Labyrinth: The Forever War, 2015 – ? is a 1-2 player card-driven boardgame simulating at the strategic level the ongoing bid by Islamist extremists to impose their brand of religious rule on the Muslim world. It continues where Labyrinth: The Awakening, 2010 – ? left off and adds new event cards and rules to cover the last five years of history. Since publication of Labyrinth and its first expansion, fans of the game have expressed a desire to update it based on more recent events, and a variety of event card ideas and variants have been freely shared online. This second expansion to the Labyrinth game series fulfills that continuing interest by providing up-to-date event cards and allows the game to continue to serve as an effective strategic level model of the ongoing struggles in the Muslim world.
This expansion uses the exact same rules, victory conditions, map, components, and charts as the original game and expansion and as such you’ll have to own both Labyrinth and Labyrinth: The Awakening, 2010 – ? to play. From the game page we get the following additional insight into the events covered:
Much has happened in the Muslim World since the end of the Labyrinth: Awakening event deck (roughly 2015), with a number of sub-themes across the globe that give rise to a new narrative that has been playing out over the last five years; these include:
Growth and then Collapse of the physical Islamic State Caliphate
Increased Iranian/Saudi Arabian Rivalry and Proxy War
Government Repression of Expression (Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
Increased Women’s Rights Activism across the region
Increased Russian and other International involvement in the Middle East
Incredible violence outside the Middle East from ISIL and others across Europe, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and elsewhere
Impact of President Donald Trump and his personality on US Foreign Policy
Continued activity of African Jihadists
Plight of International Refugees
Emerging Main-Power Rivalry between the US, Russia, China, EU and the UK
US ceding some degree of autonomy in portions of the globe in exchange for greater regional security
The expansion comes with four scenarios, two of which can be linked to the previous games to allow up to 360 event card combinations for near endless variety and discussion. I am very interested in trying out “Epic” Labyrinth and I look forward to seeing how this works. The solitaire system has been upgraded and will allow play for both sides and will include updates to the Bots for all three games in the series. This one is an auto P500 for me, especially since the price is so very affordable. I actually don’t see how they are making money on this one but that is not our problem, we simply will get more of one of the best games of all time at a rock bottom price. I am also really not surprised that the game made the cut in the first 24 hours and now has over 600 orders.
If you are interested in Labyrinth: The Forever War, 2015-?, you can pre-order a copy from the GMT Games website for $19.00 from the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-769-labyrinth-the-forever-war-2015.aspx
We have reached out to the designer Trevor Bender and he is willing to do an interview with us. I am currently working on the questions for him and want to provide you with an opportunity to ask anything that you are interested in knowing so let me know.
5. The Doomsday Project: Episode One, The Battle for Germany from Compass Games
Another Cold War game. A look at 1985. it seems there have been lots of these games come out in the last year or so. The Doomsday Project is a subseries of the Operational Scale System featuring wars that never happened. There will be games on the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, the far north, the Far East, the strategic naval war, and of course, a game of total nuclear war. All the games will feature rules that allow you to play some, part or all of the great war that never happened. The first game in the series will feature the fight that could have happened in Germany. Chemical weapons, tactical nuclear attacks and politics will be present – as well as all the forces that were stationed in the region in 1985.
This is the third game in the “OSS” system. This series is made to be highly playable and to be completed in far shorter a time than is common for this size game. Low counter density and a concentration on conceptual complexity is the focus of this series. While still mechanically simple, The Doomsday Project will also have all the necessary rules to cover this theater and period. It will be more complex than Korea: Fire and Ice but simpler than Vietnam: Rumor of War.
If you are interested in The Doomsday Project, Episode One, The Battle for Germany, you can pre-order a copy from the Compass Games website for $79.00 from the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/the-doomsday-project-episode-one-the-battle-for-germany.html
6. The World Undone: 1914 – East Prussia from Conflict Simulations LLC
Since Coming onto the wargame scene last year, CSL owned by Raymond Weiss has been churning out games like its his business. And to boot these games are good and playable simulations. We really liked 1950 and look forward to getting some of his other titles to the table. From the description on the game page we read the following:
The World Undone is a new operational, division level WW1 system inspired by the brilliant late John Young’s The Marne. What results is an extremely simple, nuanced, and quick playing, immersive simulation of the first big German victories of WW1. Play is broken down into a simple Move-Combat-Move-Combat phase for each side, with units participating in the first combat phase unable to move or fight during the second. The game covers August 13 to September 13th covering both the battles of Tannenberg and the Mansurian Lakes. Separate CRTs are used for German and Russian forces to reflect differences in quality and doctrine. This is an extremely low complexity game that I hope will be able to draw new players into wargaming, and remind old players why they started gaming in the first place. The World Undone will be a 3 part series covering East Prussia, Galicia and the Western Front (maybe Serbia/Austria too).
Victory is determined through a simple Clausewitz-inspired Victory Point ratio system determined by control of towns, important objectives, and casualties. Scenarios cover Tannenberg, Mansurian Lakes, and a ‘Campaign’ game covering both operations. Variants allow for additional replacements to change the balance of things. The Russian player can win automatically by taking Konigsberg, while the German player can win automatically by eliminating a percentage of Russian SP. Players can combine the Galicia and East Prussia games, though the Western Front is at a slightly larger scale to tame stacking.
If you are interested in The World Undone: 1914 – East Prussia you can pre-order a copy from the CSL website for $39.99 from the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/the-world-undone-1914-east-prussia
1. Less Than 60 Miles C3 Module 1 The Fulda Gap from Thin Red Line Games
Another Cold War game on the list this month. I told you there are a lot of them. Taking its roots from SPI’s Central Front and NATO: Division Commander, Less Than 60 Miles is the first of an operational simulation series focused on Command, Control and Communication. From the game page we read the following:
All the elements of modern mechanized warfare are covered: Chemical and Nuclear Weapons, Attack Helicopters, Engineers, Electronic Warfare, Counter-battery Fire, Ribbon Bridges, Army Doctrines, Reconnaissance units, Close Air Support coordination and more.
Several typical wargame mechanics have been reinterpreted, and both sides will fight three equally dangerous foes: the enemy, their own plan and time. Even a simple action can quickly turn into a disaster when facing an opponent using more efficiently the real key to victory: the OODA Loop theorized by John Boyd in the early ‘80s and used today as the basis for several military doctrines.
Moreover, this is (hopefully) the first module of the C3Series, covering the whole NATO – Warsaw Pact conflict in Central Europe. Yes, the idea is to have the whole Central Front playable in a gigantic, unmanageable, mind-blowing campaign.
Here is a really cool picture of all the modules’ maps planned in the series and how they fit together.
If you are interested in Less Than 60 Miles you can order a copy from the Thin Red Line Games website for 84 euros or approximately $93.82 from the following link: https://trlgames.com/c3-less-than-60-miles/
2. Crossing the Line: Aachen 1944 from Furor Teutonicus Games
I saw this game on social media last month and got a copy and have been very impressed with the contents, especially as the first game for a new wargame company. From the game page we read the following:
Crossing the Line – Aachen 1944 is an operational level simulation of the Battle for Aachen, which took place from September 12th to October 21st, 1944. The game is intended for two players but is also suitable for solitaire and team play. The game is played in a semi-interactive way, as only one Division of the active player is activated to conduct actions at the same time and the inactive player sometimes can have one of his Divisions react to specific threats and interrupt the enemy’s actions.
I really like wargames that don’t just take the safe route of using the traditional I-Go-U-Go mechanic for activations. I think that this one will be very fluid and simulate the conditions of the battle very well. We also read the following from the game page:
While Operation Market Garden was in the final stage of preparation, Lieutenant general Hodges led the leading elements of the First Army towards the Westwall fortified line south of Aachen. If successful, he might have the opportunity to drive through the fortified line, crossing the Roer River and perhaps reaching the Rhine River.
If you are interested in Crossing the Line you can order a copy for 55 Euros or $61.44 from the Furor Teutonicus Games website at the following link: https://www.furor-teutonicus.com/produkt/crossing-the-line-aachen-1944/
3. Commands & Colors: Medieval from GMT Games
We have been playing a lot of Commands & Colors recently including C&C: Napoleonics and Red Alert from PSC Games. Now we received a copy of Medieval and were very excited to see what it had to offer. One thing I want to say about the game before we continue. This game covers the early years of the Middle Ages and focuses on the Byzantines versus the Persians. We had an image of heavily armored English and French Knights or even the Crusades period so we were surprised to learn the real focus. From the game page we read the following:
The medieval battles showcased in the scenario book focus on the historical confrontations between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persians (530 to 627 AD) with a slight detour to battle the Moors and their rebel allies (645 – 648 AD). The Byzantine Empire during this period of medieval history was one of constant transition and reorganization. Its army tended to mirror its eastern adversaries by deploying an increasing number of armored cavalry formations (Cataphracts) and more missile troops. Yet, it was how the Byzantines adapted their battlefield tactics in relation to the enemy it faced that is perhaps the chief reason for the longevity of their Empire.
Each new addition to the C&C family brings new tactics and rules to simulate the period covered. So is the case in Medieval.
The Medieval game introduces many new game concepts to the Commands & Colors system, which add historical depth and flavor. Some of the new concepts are:
If you are interested in C&C: Medieval you can order a copy for $75.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-604-commands-colors-medieval.aspx
4. The Last Hundred Yards from GMT Games
We love tactical wargames and are always on the lookout for the “next best thing”. Well I think we might have found it.
The Last Hundred Yards is unlike any tactical wargame published to date. It introduces innovative systems intended to model Small Unit Behavior in Combat during WW2. It is fun, fast-paced, and provides a very good simulation of what it was like to command combat units at the platoon or company level. The game is purposely designed to deliver a brisk yet intensive gaming experience that forces many decisions upon you as you take command of an infantry company in Western Europe after the D-Day landings.
Sounds really good right? There is more!
Here is a quote from Dean Essig on his experience with the game:
Mike Denson’s system for handling initiative and reaction shed new light on how units behave in a tactical setting. Fire systems are straightforward and make sense—even indirect fires work cleanly and fast. Infantry fights are shown in a way that warmed the heart of a crusty infantryman like myself. I recommend a look for any player with a solid interest in this level of combat.
If you are interested in The Last Hundred Yards you can order a copy for $59.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-592-the-last-hundred-yards.aspx
We posted an interview with the designer on the blog in 2016 that will shed a lot of light on the game.
5. YAAH! Magazine Issue #12 MacArthur’s Defeat The Battle of Luzon from Flying Pig Games
These wargame magazines are fantastic as they look at lots of different things and usually contain a full wargame as well. YAAH! Is one of the better ones as they look at other wargames and not just those published by Flying Pig Games or Tiny Battle Publishing.
The full wargame included in issue #12 takes a look at the fall of the Philippines in 1941. From the page we read the following:
This issue’s complete game is Macarthur’s Defeat, designer Arrigo Velicogna’s take on the 1941 Japanese invasion of the island of Luzon. It features a full sheet of 176 counters and a 22 x 17 game map that includes an inset area map of the Bataan peninsula.
Article readers need not fear, however, because the rest of the magazine is devoted to happy, shiny cardboard carnage. Game designer Greg Porter offers his insights on Flying Pig Games’ semi-new Armageddon War. John Burtt delivers a couple of in-depth reviews: A look at both Stalingrad: Verdun on the Volga from Last Stand Games and the new edition of The Battle of Rosebud Creek from Legion Games.
If you are interested in YAAH! Magazine Issue #12 you can order a copy for $37.00 from the Flying Pig Games website at the following link: https://flyingpiggames.com/products/yaah-magazine-issue-12
6. 2019 Mini Games from Decision Games; Campaigns of Montrose, Heroes of Telemark, Lawrence of Arabia and Khartoum
Four new Mini Games are now available from Decision Games. These little games are a rare combination of being good and playable, although I have had problems in the past with rules clarity in several of the volumes I have played, and affordable. They include Campaigns of Montrose, Heroes of Telemark, Lawrence of Arabia and Khartoum.
Heroes of Telemark: Commando Raids in Norway, 1942-43. The Third Reich was racing to develop an atomic bomb, the critical heavy water being provided by the Norwegian county of Telemark. Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) waged a long campaign of sabotage to delay the German program as long as possible.
Lawrence of Arabia: The Arab Revolt 1917-18. Arabia had simmered for centuries under the heavy hand of Ottoman occupation. With the Turks distracted by World War I, the Arabs erupted in revolt. The British sent encouragement, weapons, and liaison officers. One of these was T. E. Lawrence.
Khartoum: Sudan, 1883 to 1885. The Mahdist rebellion swept over the Sudan in 1883, destroying an Egyptian army under the command of the British General Hicks and endangering Khartoum on the Nile. The British government dispatched General Charles “Chinese” Gordon to hold the city.
Campaigns of Montrose: A Year of Living Dangerously, 1644-1645. This is a two-player game. It depicts James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose, and his legendary string of victories over the Scottish Covenanter government during the First English Civil War (1642-1646), that would later go down in a crushing defeat. The Royalist player must recruit a Highland army and either replicate Montrose’s victories or march into England. The Covenanter player must overcome factional infighting to defeat Montrose. Both sides must manage the tendency of conscripted units to disband after every defeat or victory.
If you are interested in any of these Mini Games, you can order copies from the Decision Games website for $14.95 each from the following link: https://shop.decisiongames.com/
Thanks for reading the Wargame Watch feature for June. I will tell you that there are a few games I didn’t cover due to uncertainty of the starts date of a Kickstarter or because I covered it last month and it was bumped. But keep in mind that Old School Tactical Volume III The Pacific War is coming to Kickstarter sometime in June as is Watch on the Rhine from Canvas Temple Publishing and Europe Divided was delayed until June 10th.