Last Wargame Watch feature of the year and 2019 has been a really great year for new wargames. I think that each month there were dozens of games to choose from and I calculated that I averaged nearly 14 games being highlighted each month. That was a fast and furious pace for the year and it doesn’t look like that will hold true for December but I still found 10 games to share with you.
In case you missed last month’s Wargame Watch here is a link to that post: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/11/01/wargame-watch-whats-new-upcoming-november-2019/
1. Red Storm: Baltic Approaches from GMT Games
We received our copy of Red Storm about 6 weeks ago and have yet to do anything with it other than unbox it and begin taking a look at the rules. The game is a look at the air war over Central Germany during a 1987 World War III scenario between NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact. The game looks really good, although it is not really for the faint of heart as there is some complexity to the rules (a 60 page rule book is never not complex in some form). We love air combat and have enjoyed many titles from the GMT Games Wing Leader Series and this one is simply more goodness in a different time frame. You are dealing with jets rather than propellers so there is speed! And missiles instead of machine guns so there is some pop! From the game page for the expansion, we read the following:
Red Storm: Baltic Approaches is the first expansion for GMT’s Red Storm game of operational level air combat between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Red Storm: Baltic Approaches adds the air forces of three new countries (Denmark, Sweden, and Poland) along with additional units for nations represented in Red Storm, including US Marine Corps aircraft. The game will also add naval units, anti-ship missiles, maritime weather, and rules covering other facets of air combat in the predominantly maritime domain of the western Baltic.
Scenarios featuring mission types from Red Storm (close air support, interdiction, air defense suppression, and deep strike) will be joined by new types focused on raids against enemy ships, amphibious operation support, airborne drops, and aerial mining. Solo scenarios, using the Bot system introduced in Red Storm, will also be included.
New scenarios, for both 2-players and solo, are included so you can take this game through its paces in case the 24 scenarios in the base game weren’t enough. Those new countries mean different types of aircraft with differing capabilities. Here is more info on the new hardware:
New aircraft types will include the F-4S Phantom, AV-8B Harrier II, F/A-18A Hornet, A-6E Intruder, EA-6B Prowler, Atlantic 2, P-3C Orion, F-35XD Draken, JA-37/AJ-37 Viggen, Tu-22M Backfire, Su-20 Fitter, Tu-95 Bear, IL-38 May, and more. Naval units range from cruisers and destroyers down through amphibious ships, missile patrol craft, and other types from the various countries whose navies would be engaged in the area.
If you are interested in Red Storm: Baltic Approaches you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $31.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-844-red-storm-baltic-approaches.aspx
2. Seas of Thunder from GMT Games
I once heard that proper grand strategy in wargames requires the inclusion of naval operations. While this game doesn’t have ground forces it does focus on the naval side of World War II and its many problems including too few ships to cover the whole of the vast Pacific to supply concerns. This game takes a look at the strategic picture of the naval conflict and offers over 1,200 combat ship counters to play around with. From the game page, we read the following:
Seas of Thunder not only allows players to re-create the Atlantic or Pacific theaters of the war but to see how challenging the entire picture was for their leaders. How do you protect a globe from German raiders? How desperate was it for Britain when France fell and they were left to fight Germany and Italy alone on the high seas? What is the right balance for the Soviet fleet split between for distinct fronts (Baltic, Black Sea, Arctic, and Pacific)? If the Mediterranean force weakens for the allies, where to they draw ships. from? Does Japan strike quickly or play for attrition when they arrive on the halfway point? Will America fight in two fronts, three, or four?
In Seas of Thunder, players will experience the tension of too much sea to cover with too few ships, the frustration of being caught unprepared, or the intensity of a vital stand contesting a high-value sea area. Victory is neither sudden nor guaranteed. In each battle, a flight of Catalinas, the lack of ASW, the improper distribution of air power, or even a missing minesweeper could be the difference between success or failure.
The game takes a very interesting look at scoring as the game is an area control game where each side scores differing victory points for control of areas.
At its heart, Seas of Thunder is a large area control game where the Allies score low numbers of points for control and the Axis score higher per area. Controlling 6 Areas for the Allies may not be as valuable as scoring 1 area for the Axis. The Axis player seeks to win key zones, and the Allied player must make them pay dearly for them.
Points are scored each turn for the following:
Variable points per Sea Zone controlled
Each Convoy of the opponent Sunk
Each Enemy Warship Sunk
Each Land-Based Air Unit not used (and thus allowed to participate in the ground war or strategic bombing)
The game is divided up into 7 smaller scenarios or campaigns that can be played ‘”as-is” or combined to fight a portion of the war all the way up to the entire campaign.
If you are interested in Seas of Thunder you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $45.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-845-seas-of-thunder.aspx
3. Rifles in the Peninsula from Tiny Battle Publishing
We really have enjoyed this series from Tiny Battle Publishing. Our first foray into the series was Rifles in the Ardennes and then Rifles in the Pacific. Now we see the series spreading out to other conflicts and taking us to the Napoleonic Wars.
From the game page, we read the following about the system and the basics of how it works:
The RIFLES System allows the recreation of small combat engagements (five to ten units per side), using an abstract map that represents the main features of the terrain like trees, buildings, hills. Placement of terrain features is guided but is never the same on each game, always creating new tactical challenges. The enemy strategy and the fog of war is recreated with the use of random Event Markers and “Activation Tables” that drive the enemy units toward their objective.
With the addition of Rifles in the Peninsula new rules are introduced to cover the very unique aspects of the Napoleonic Wars including mounted troops, formations, and the impact of the longer reload time of the weapons of the period (pistols, muskets, and rifles). The different attributes of the units (combat factors, quality, special traits) are included with the addition of differing unit types including grenadiers, voltigeurs, cuirassiers and dragoons. The major change to the game is in the Campaign game. From the game page, we read the following:
The Campaign game has been greatly redesigned and is now based on the timeline of the main campaigns of the period. The new Glory Track will represent the career of the Leader of your units, your avatar in the game, and your rank will have a direct influence on the game. Each year of the campaign includes four to six main “scenes”: a scene can trigger one Mission on the battlefield or a Campaign Event. Twelve different Missions are available, covering classical military duties like reconnaissance as well as iconic battle episodes like the capture of a gun. Campaign Events are resolved without the need to setup the battlefield and cover episodes like barrack inspections, field maneuvers and of course duels. As a bonus, an optional mini-game The Duel (inspired by the movie, The Duelists) has been included in the package: this mini-game allows players to re-create a saber duel with a more personal perspective, providing an additional level of immersion in the historical period.
If you are interested in Rifles in the Peninsula you can pre-order a copy for $32.00 from the Tiny Battle Publishing website at the following link: https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/rifles-in-the-peninsula
4. Great War Commander: British Expeditionary Force from Hexasim
I love Combat Commander and Hexasim has released a great series that uses the same system but takes the action to the trenches of World War I. This system now is being expanded with the inclusion of the British Expeditionary Force.
From the game page, we read the following:
Great War Commander: British Expeditionary Force is the sequel to Great War Commander. Great War Commander: BEF‘s main theme is the addition of a new faction: Great Britain and their Dominions.
This second game in the Great War Commander game series includes units, cards and scenarios depicting the fighting forces of this great nation.
Highlights found in Great War Commander: BEF include:
• Great Britain’s own 72-card Fate Deck and 9-cards Strategy Deck highlighting its historical strengths and weaknesses
• More than 200 counters depicting the British forces, weapons and tanks!
• 12 new stunning maps
• 16 new scenarios
• 1 campaign
• An updated Random Scenario Generator incorporating the new nationality and new battles. This Random Scenario Generator system provides an almost unending variety of map configurations, force structures and combat situations. Replayability for Great War Commander gets even better with this new addition to the family.
• New German weapons and of course….German tanks!
Great War Commander: British Expeditionary Force also includes an updated Rulebook (version 1.1) incorporating all known errata and clarifications.
If you are interested in Great War Commander: British Expeditionary Force you can pre-order a copy for $50.00 from the Hexasim website at the following link: https://www.hexasim.com/fr/2700-Great-War-Commander-British-Expeditionary-Force.html
5. Thunderbolt-Apache Leader, Fleet Commander: Nimitz and Tiger Leader from Dan Verssen Games Now on Kickstarter
I have enjoyed these games because they are good solo games that get you involved with a great narrative where you build your troops, leveling them as you progress through the campaigns, and even begin to feel connected to them. In this newest Kickstarter from DVG they are reprinting three of their games but also giving each a new expansion. Here are the details from the Kickstarter page:
* Thunderbolt-Apache Leader is a solitaire board game focusing on Close Air Support (CAS) from the 1990s onward. You get to select, arm, and pilot CAS aircraft like the A-10 Thunderbolt II, AH-64 Apaches, AH-1 Cobra, and more. The AI controls the enemy forces.
* Nap of the Earth is a double expansion pack with 80 cards and 32 counters, including new Pilots and Aircraft, Enemy Battalions, Special Conditions, Events, Campaigns and Situations.
* Fleet Commander: Nimitz is an epic level solitaire board game spanning all of WWII in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor through VJ Day.
* Yamamoto is an expansion featuring the “Yamamoto” AI cards, giving Japan an enhanced AI to give its forces a whole new level of decision-making, along with an upgraded movement chart, new rules, and mounted Pacific map.
* Tiger Leader is a solitaire WWII board game. You command the German forces in their battles throughout Europe, Russia, and North Africa.
* Blitzkrieg! is a double expansion pack with 96 cards and 14 counters, including new Commanders, Enemy Battalions, Special Conditions, Mission Events, Situations and Campaigns.
If you are interested in Thunderbolt-Apache Leader, Fleet Commander: Nimitz and Tiger Leader and their expansions, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danverssengames/thunderbolt-apache-leader-fleet-cmdr-nimitz-tiger-leader
As of December 2nd, the Kickstarter campaign is funded with 781 backers committing $75,417 of the $30,000 goal. The campaign will end as of December 6th at 3:00PM EST.
6. Napoleon’s Eagles: Storm in the East from Compass Games Now on Kickstarter
A game from Compass that takes us into the Time of Napoleon and is currently on Kickstarter is Napoleon’s Eagles: Storm in the East. The game is being billed as a “highly playable, action-packed card game set during the wars of 19th Century Europe”. There are two different battles featured in the design including Borodino, the famous confrontation before the very gates of Moscow featured in Tolstoy’s famous novel War and Peace and Leipzig, the great “Battle of Nations” which marked the beginning of the end of the French Empire.
From the game page we read the following:
The events of Autumn 1812 to Autumn 1813 marked a pivot point in the history of 19th Century Europe. Despite ominous setbacks in Spain, Napoleonic France before 1812 was at the height of its expansion. The continental system was holding, if imperfectly. Monarchs friendly to the Empire (several, members of Napoleon’s immediate family), ruled in every capital of the continent. Only Britain remained unbowed. By the end of 1813 the story had changed dramatically…
Two smaller battles are included (Shevardino and Lieberwolkwitz), as well as two campaign games that cover multiple days of battle: September 5th-7th, 1812 at Borodino and October 14th-18th, 1813 at Leipzig. The game includes rules for cavalry charges, artillery bombardment, army morale and army commanders. Emphasis is placed on the role of reserves and the judicial commitment of infantry and cavalry. Key terrain pieces are featured, such as the city of Leipzig and the famous Great Redoubt at Borodino.
There also is a very well done how to play video on the game page that you can take a look at to get an idea of the game play. Here is the video:
If you are interested in Napoleon’s Eagles: Storm in the East, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/compassgames/napoleons-eagles/description
As of December 2nd, the Kickstarter campaign is funded with 80 backers committing $5,251 of the $2,500 goal. The campaign will end as of December 14th at 10:43AM EST.
1. Victory in Hell: The First Battle of the Naktong River, August 5-19, 1950 from High Flying Dice Games
I have not played many games focused on the Korean War so when this one came across my radar I was very interested.
From the Board Game Geek game page we read the following:
South Korean forces withdrew to a small perimeter centered on the South Korean port of Pusan. By August the North Korean forces, although bloodied by repeated US airstrikes and weakened by stragglers from their swift advance, were massed for what many thought would be a final offensive to take the rest of South Korea. The main focus of the North Korean attack was along the Naktong River where a small bridge head had been secured earlier. Victory here could insure that there would be only one Korea, ruled by Communist leader Kim Il Sung. A UN victory could buy time and set the stage for a counter-offensive that might send the Communists back and free South Korea. Can you do as well or better?
These games from Paul Rohrbaugh use a standard deck of cards for activiations after removing all of the “face” (Jack, Queen and King) cards. The red cards (diamonds and hearts) are used by the Communist/NK player while the black cards (clubs and spades) are used by the US/ROK player. Each player also has a Joker card in their deck. Like the child’s game of “War” players draw a card from their decks and the player with the highest numbered card wins the activation and can perform three (odd numbered winning card) or two (if even) actions. Actions range from allowing an activated unit to a) move, b) attack, c) entrench, d) rally or calling in artillery strikes (air strikes as well for the US/ROK player). In the case of tie card draws the player that did not activate in the previous activation cycle wins. When the first Joker card is drawn a random event check is triggered. When the second Joker is drawn the turn immediately ends.
We were able to publish an interview with the designer Paul Rohrbaugh and you can check that out at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/12/02/interview-with-paul-rohrbaugh-designer-of-victory-in-hell-the-first-battle-of-the-naktong-river-august-5-19-1950-from-high-flying-dice-games/
If you are interested in Victory in Hell: The First Battle of the Naktong River, August 5-19, 1950 you can order a copy for $11.95 from the High Flying Dice Games website at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/vih.html
2. Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Colission, 1240-1242 from GMT Games
Controversy. This one has brought some with it but it is not about the subject, the design, game play, etc. The controversy is over the art used on the cover. My guess is that many just think it is not what they expected. I actually really like the cover and am glad that they didn’t just recycle some painting we have already seen. The game is the first volume in a series called the Levy & Campaign Series and will focus on battles from a variety of pre-industrial conflicts.
From the game page we read the following:
In Nevsky, two players take the roles of “Russians” and “Teutons”, respectively. The Russians represent the wealthy city-state of Novgorod and its allies. The Teutons comprise German and Danish landholders—including the Teutonic Order—expanding a Baltic dominion.
The sides every 40 days will levy various lords and vassals and their forces, transport, and capabilities, backed by higher political authorities—a papal legate for the Teutons and Novgorod’s city council (veche) for the Russians. Each lord is rated for fealty, lordship, service, and command and lays out his forces and assets on a mat. Wooden pieces represent units of knights, mounted sergeants, light and Asiatic cavalry, men-at-arms, and unarmored serfs and militia. Assets include counters for transport such as carts, boats, and sleds; provender to feed the army; and coin to pay for longer service or booty captured by ravaging or conquering enemy regions.
We were able to do an interview with the designer Volko Ruhnke and you can read that here: https://theplayersaid.com/2018/07/09/interview-with-volko-ruhnke-designer-of-nevsky-teutons-and-rus-in-collision-1240-1242-from-gmt-games/
We also did a video interview with the developer Wendell Albright while at Origins 2018:
If you are interested in Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision, 1240-1242 you can order a copy for $80.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-696-nevsky-teutons-and-rus-in-collision-1240-1242.aspx
3. Westphalia from Hollandspiele
We were first exposed to this one while attending WBC in July this year when we met up with Tom Russell and were able to get in a playtest of the game. Westphalia is an experience and requires 6 players as it is a game focused on negotiation, debt and war at the end of the Thirty Years and Eighty Years War. The game is definitely fun but is a bit of a different type of game that might not appeal to everyone.
From the game page, we read the following:
Westphalia concerns the diplomatic negotiations and military campaigns that brought an end to the Thirty Years War and Eighty Years War. The question isn’t a matter of who “wins” the war – that was decided a long time ago. Instead, each player seeks to arrive at a settlement that meets their own political, confessional, and economic goals. These goals are not mutually exclusive: if multiple players meet their victory conditions, they all win. The trick is, if all six players manage to meet their goals, then the game goes to a scoring round, and only one player wins.
The result is a mix of cooperation and competition between six asymmetric factions (Austria, Bavaria, Spain, France, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic). The game unfolds in alternating Diplomacy Phases, in which anything and everything is up for negotiation, and Military Phases, in which tense cat-and-mouse chases give players the leverage they need in talks.
We also were able to do an interview on our blog with Tom Russell so give this one a read to get a better idea on how the game plays: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/11/25/interview-with-tom-russell-designer-of-westphalia-from-hollandspiele/
If you are interested in Westphalia you can order a copy for $45.00 from the Hollandspiele website at the following link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/westphalia-1
4. Caribbean Storm: Honduras 2009 from White Dog Games
I really have enjoyed my plays of a few modern era conflicts focused on small unit actions with some counterinsurgency. Caribbean Storm looks to have these elements in a hypothetical conflict between Honduras and Venezuela. From the game page, we read the following:
Caribbean Storm: Honduras 2009 is a simulation of a hypothetical conflict based on the constitutional crisis in Honduras in 2009. The Honduran army has removed President Manuel Zelaya by coup d’état and Venezuela, with Cuban and Nicaraguan political and military support, has decided to restore him by force. Signs of an impending attack have alerted the Honduran military. A grand tactical game of modern-era conflict, Caribbean Storm is played by two players or it can be played solitaire.
There are also some other interesting aspects to the design including air and naval interdiction, helicopter transport, jungle units and aerial bombing.
If you are interested in Caribbean Storm: Honduras 2009 you can order a copy in a variety of formats (boxed, Folio, Print n PLay) from the White Dog Games website at the following link: http://www.whitedoggames.com/caribbean-storm
I hope that you have enjoyed these Wargame Watch features during 2019. We do them each month, and they take some time to put together, but I really enjoy doing them as it keeps me in the know on what is new and upcoming. Please let me know if I missed any games this month.