A new year always sees lots of new opportunities. 2019 was a good year for new and interesting wargames and we have enjoyed the bevy of new designers (David Thompson) as well as new publishers (Canvas Temple Publishing and Conflict Simulations Limited) that have entered the fray. But, we are already looking forward to 2020 and all the gaming goodness that is sure to come. This month I was able to find 11 games to share with you. Among those 11 were 2 Kickstarters (that haven’t yet shared links to the Kickstarter pages).
If you missed the December Wargame Watch you can read that here: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/12/03/wargame-watch-whats-new-upcoming-december-2019/
1. Granada: Last Stand of the Moors, 1482-1492 from Compass Games
I know that you shouldn’t judge a book or a game solely on the cover! But dang it, this cover caught me immediately and transported me to Iberia/Spain to fight it out among knights of different allegiances. Plus this game takes it’s inspiration from a game that I loved playing in Sekigahara from GMT Games.
From the game page we read the following:
Granada: The Last Stand of the Moors, 1482-1492 is a game for two players in which they will decide the outcome of this decisive historical episode in less than 4 hours.
Units are represented by blocks depicting their strength but also their origin: Castilians, Aragoneses, Leoneses and mercenaries for the Catholic player, and different clans like Banu Sarray, Zegríes, Banu Bannigas and proper Nasrids for the Muslim player.
The map is point-to-point, covering the ancient Nasrid Kingdom in southeast Iberia (present-day Spain). Granada, the capital, is the jewel of the realm: the game ends if it falls into the Catholic player’s hands.
Each season, players receive a predetermined number of cards which they can use to move their armies and fleets or rally new units. When a battle occurs, each regiment is summoned by the play of one card of its nationality, so as Tamerlan said: ”It is better to be present with 100 soldiers than absent with 1.000.” In other words, be sure you have the right cards to send your troops into battle.
As an almost Renaissance war, different weapons will also be present. Cavalry charges and crossbows will be extremely dangerous if well combined, whereas artillery will have a significant value when maintaining or defending sieges. Your fleets will fight for sea control, enabling the transport of North African reinforcements, Catholic naval movements or blocking sieged ports.
Balanced and historically accurate, the game is easy to learn but difficult to master. The Catholic player will have to decide which invasion route to choose and whether he will create a massive army, leaving the Muslim player time to reinforce his strongholds, or go for a quick campaign where losses will be difficult to replace. The Nasrid player, on the other hand, will enjoy a central position but he will need to be cautious about the internal problems that can arise— the Boabdil revolt is almost an inevitable danger to face and crush.
As the Catholic player, will you gain fame and glory accomplishing the Reconquista and enlarging your kingdoms in one unified powerful state? And as the Muslim player, will you resist and save Granada or will you become the last King of the Nasrid dynasty?
If you are interested in Granada: Last Stand of the Moors, 1482-1492 you can pre-order a copy for $64.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/granada-last-stand-of-the-moors-1482-1492.html
2.from Compass Games
We have enjoyed seeing Kris van Beurden develop as he has entered the design realm with his first effort Europe in Turmoil. He now takes his talents to the Roman Empire and it’s time of troubles.
From the game page, we read the following:
Barbarians at the Gates, The Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire 337 – 476, is a card-driven game by game designer, Kris van Beurden (whose credits include Europe in Turmoil) for two players set during the final century of the Western Roman Empire. The Roman player commands the Roman legions loyal to the failing central authority and those Germanic peoples who have settled peacefully inside the Roman Empire, while the Barbarian player leads Usurper Emperors, and controls the migrations of the savage Germanic peoples, who are the Barbarians at the Gates.
The game is played on a point-to-point map of the Western Roman Empire, divided into 11 diocese (administrative districts) such as Gallia Belgica, Caledonia or Italia Suburbicaria, each composed of spaces such as Roma, Massilia or Nova Carthago. These spaces are connected to each other through the network of Roman roads, rougher connections (mostly in uncivilized territory) or river connections (mostly the Donau and the Rhine).
The game is a card driven design as players use those cards to take various actions.
Players take turns playing cards in order to activate Generals (Loyalist Roman generals such as Aetius, Usurper-Emperors like Magnentius and Barbarian leaders such as Atilla or Alaric) for movement and/or sieges, bring new Barbarian invasions into play, recruit new Legions, lead barbarian bands raid across the border into the Roman interior, settle formerly hostile tribes on Roman soil, or even successfully usurp the Imperial Throne from its previous occupant! As leaders move, they will encounter enemy armies and battle, earning eternal glory or an unrecognized grave. Barbarian tribes will probe the fortified border for weaknesses, while the outnumbered Legions have to use interior lines (and the excellent Roman road network) to face each threat to the unfortified Italian, Iberian and Gallic diocese.
If you are interested in Barbarians at the Gates, The Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire 337-476 you can pre-order a copy for $52.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/barbarians-at-the-gates.html
3. Congress of Vienna from GMT Games
I love the concept of negotiation in wargames and working to build your strategy for the ongoing conflict while also keeping one eye on the post war world. I really enjoyed this concept in the framework of Churchill by Mark Herman. Still one of my favorite games that I will never say no to playing. I also enjoy seeing how your actions in the political or negotiation stage play out on the board itself as you are fighting a war. It appears that this 3rd entry into the Great Statesmen Series is following in those same footsteps.
From the game page we read the following description of the game:
Congress of Vienna is a diplomatic Strategy CDG for one to four players. It is based on Churchill, the superb, award-winning Mark Herman design, and was well received during GMT’s Spring 2019 Weekend at the Warehouse and June’s CSW Expo in Tempe, Arizona. It is the third game after Churchill and Pericles in GMT’s “Great Statesmen” series.
CoV creates an enthralling gaming arena. It allows players to become the main characters of the dramatic, titanic struggle between the struggling Napoleonic Empire and the coalition of Russia, Austria, and Great Britain (with their Prussian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish allies).
The game starts after Napoleon’s disastrous 1812 retreat from Moscow, covering the decisive years of 1813 and 1814. The abstract game map involves a strategic theatre portraying Europe from the Iberian Peninsula to the boundaries of Poland and Prussia. It also includes the secondary front of Italy, an area for depicting maritime warfare and the British/American War of 1812. This game by designer Frank Esparrago and developer Dick Sauer (with much appreciated input from Mark Herman) has been created to be played as both a diplomatic and strategic military conflict without losing the taste of the Napoleonic era’s great battles.
The other element that I thought was really smart from Churchill was the use of historical figures, staff and aides to carry out the actions at the table through the play of cards. From the game page we get this further insight into this mechanic:
A CoV game turn is divided into three different Phases: Diplomacy, Government, and War; each divided into segments that facilitate interaction between players. In the Diplomacy Phase, the leaders of each Major Power and associated minor countries use their best statesmen to interact on the European diplomatic board to improve their economic and military resources and to prioritize efforts in different military fronts. During the Government Phase, the issues gained during Diplomacy are implemented. These take into account the limitations of each Major Power in terms of manpower, economic resources, political impact, and the military situation on the map. In the War Phase, in addition to recruiting new forces and moving them to campaigning armies, military operations are undertaken which on many occasions lead to huge and dramatic battles. CoV‘s system of Victory Points (VP) reward military, diplomatic, political, and economic achievements, so situationally balancing these factors usually prevails over giving sole attention to the game’s military aspects.
If you are interested in Congress of Vienna you can pre-order a copy for $55.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-850-congress-of-vienna.aspx
4. Red Flag Over Paris: 1871, The Rise and Fall of the Paris Commune from GMT Games
Next up in the Lunchtime Series of games is from a new designer and also carries the them of political wrangling over control of areas. This game is being touted as the spiritual successor to Mark Herman’s Fort Sumter, which I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with my wife numerous times (play count now exceeds 30 times) and pits two players against each other with one controlling the Communards and the other the Government in Versailles.
From the game page we read the following:
Red Flag Over Paris, the spiritual successor to Mark Herman’s Fort Sumter, is a short, yet challenging, two-player card-driven game depicting the two months of intense confrontation between the Communards and the government in Versailles during the 1871 Paris Commune. You will play as one of these factions and fight for control over Paris. But, you will also need to win the hearts and minds of the French population, as the board is divided into two areas–military and political–themselves divided into several dimensions (Political Institutions, Public Opinion, Paris neighborhoods, and the forts on the outskirts of the city). The game forces players to make tough decisions like when to focus on political influence or military dominance and how to optimize limited resources.
Into this fray is thrown a third element that players must manage that I have actually seen in a few recent games (Freeman’s Farm 1777 uses Momentum as a type of currency to be used to purchase powerful Tactics Cards) called Momentum. From the game page we read the following:
On top of controlling the military and political spaces and fulfilling your objectives to score Victory Points, you will have to manage your momentum. Versailles needs to collaborate with the Prussian invader to build up an army that will restore order in the Capital. On the other hand, the Commune needs to build a robust revolutionary momentum to ensure that the population stays mobilized after months of siege and food shortages.
Each card represents either a critical personality or a significant event of the Paris commune. You may use a card for its event, for its operational value (which allows you to place or remove influence cubes in any given area), to buy an event discarded by your opponent, or build your momentum. After up to three rounds, Red Flag Over Paris culminates in a Final Crisis where each player will have to play all the cards they left aside earlier in the game as the last opportunity to place influence before determining the winner.
If you are interested in Red Flag Over Paris you can pre-order a copy for $28.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-849-red-flag-over-paris.aspx
5. Atlantic Wolves from Canvas Temple Publishing Coming to Kickstarter Soon
Over the past few years, as I have expanded my game playing, I have really become interested in a well designed and fun to play solitaire game. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I consider myself a solo gamer, as I much prefer the struggle of wits between 2-players, but I have really grown to appreciate the art of a good solo game. As a new publishers CTP has brought some very interesting looking games market (although I have yet to play one) and they now have a solo offering that focuses on the German U-Boats in World War II in the North Atlantic. They are planning to run a Kickstarter campaign starting sometime in January but no details have been announced as of yet. Here is the only piece of information that I can find from company owner Jon Compton : “I am aiming to have Atlantic Wolves launched on Kickstarter immediately following the New Year. At this time we are just finishing up some of the counter graphics, and designer Gary Graber is making a few minor tweaks to the game. I hope to have a preview ready on Kickstarter shortly after Christmas.”
From the monthly newsletter from CTP we have the following description of the game:
Atlantic Wolves is a solitaire game based on this important World War II naval campaign. It covers the decisive part of the campaign, August 1942 to May 1943. The player, assuming the role of Admiral Karl Doenitz, controls the German Kriegsmarine and tries to achieve success against the Allies, played by the game system.
Atlantic Wolves will come with an 22″ × 17″ inch map, a sheet of counters (one inch square), a deck of Event cards, a Tally sheet, a charts and tables sheet, and rules. The size and quality of these components will depend, as per our usual method, on the result of the Kickstarter.
If you are interested in Atlantic Wolves you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ctp/atlantic-wolves
6. La Résistance from Flying Pig Games Coming to Kickstarter Soon
If you like fast playing historically themed games, then La Résistance is definitely up your alley.
From the Flying Pig Games website is the following information on the game which should launch on Kickstarter soonish:
Designed by Mark H. Walker, La Résistance is a simple, yet engaging, dice and card game set during the German occupation of France in World War II. During the occupation, brave French men and women fought against the Nazi conquerors, disrupting their communications, destroying supply warehouses, and ambushing German patrols. La Résistance gives players a chance to lead a band of resistance fighters, working to keep their men and women alive as they also strive to become the most famous resistance leader.
On each turn, a player will roll six dice, placing the dice on mission cards common to all players, he or she attempts to defeat the mission card by matching dice on the card, spending recruits, and using their resistance leader’s special abilities. To win, a player must amass 12 Glory Points or break–by stealing or otherwise removing all rival resistance group members—the other resistance bands. La Résistance mixes elements of popular dice games, such as Yahtzee and King of Tokyo, with “take that” card mechanics and player interaction, giving the game a familiar feel.
The game is historically themed, and a great way to introduce gamers to strategy games. Three to five people may play, so La Résistance is great for game nights and family get-togethers. Coming to Kickstarter this December, and shipping worldwide in April, La Résistance is a great strategy game for wargamers and casual strategy gamers alike.
We actually played this one at Origins 2019 with Mark Holt Walker and Hermann Luttmann and had a blast. Here is a link to our video interview covering the game:
I will update this entry with a link to the Kickstarter page once more information is released.
7. Judges – Revolt of the Righteous from The ADMW Game Company
Looking for a unique game on a subject that I am sure has never been gamed? Look no further than this game based on the Book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.
From the game page we read the following:
In Judges – Revolt of the Righteous will Othneil, Ehud, Barak, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Jephthah, and / or Samson deliver Israel from the hands of their oppresors? Will these Judges help turn the hearts of the Hebrew people back to the God of Abrahm, Isaaic, and Jacob? Will they unite Israel sufficiently to restore her independence, peace, and prosperity?
As the Moabites, Midianites, Edomites, and Philistines will you be able to keep Israel divided and leaderless? Will you support Abimelech in his Civil War? Will you dilute the worship of the One True God with your Pagan idols? Will every Hebrew do what is right in his own eyes? Will you throw fear into the hearts of the Hebrews, so they do not consider rebelling against you?
Judges – Revolt of the Righteous is a card driven quasi war game with a map of ancient Israel that plays in about 2-3 hours. The Judges have to lead their people out of idolatry and into Freedom, while the Pagans have to stop them. Prepare for war!
If you are interested in Judges – Revolt of the Righteous, you can pre-order a copy for $40.00 from The ADMW Game Company website at the following link: https://www.admwgames.com/index.php/product/judges-revolt-of-the-righteous/
1. The Hunted: Twilight of the U-Boats, 1943-45 from ConsimPress/GMT Games
The final volume in The Hunters Series is The Hunted which sees the vaunted German U-Boats become hunted by the Allies nearing the end of World War II. This one is for your solitaire Aficionados out there but the game is actually very simple to learn and play but offers a good experience.
From the game page we read the following:
The Hunted is a solitaire tactical level game placing you in command of a German U-Boat during WWII. This is the long-anticipated sequel to the award-winning, multiple-print edition release The Hunters, and picks up the action where The Hunters left off. You command one of many U-Boat models available starting in 1943 and look to successfully complete U-Boat operations until the end of the war. Not only is this a standalone game, but fans of The Hunters will enjoy having the capability to easily combine both games to span all of WWII and experience the career of a U-Boat commander from 1939 until 1945.
While your mission is to destroy as much Allied shipping and as many Capital ships as possible, players will find it extremely challenging to “go the distance” and survive the entire war. The second half of the war has not been sugar coated; the brutal aspects facing U-boat commanders in the final phases of the war make surviving your attack difficult at best. True to history, your challenge is to accomplish what only a few could achieve — to make it to the conclusion, as happened historically.
We were able to publish a written interview with the designer Gregory M. Smith on our blog in early 2019: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/03/25/interview-with-gregory-m-smith-designer-of-the-hunted-twilight-of-the-u-boats-1943-1945-from-consim-press-and-gmt-games/
If you are interested in The Hunted: Twilight of the U-Boats, 1943-45 you can order a copy from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-590-the-hunted-twilight-of-the-u-boats-1943-45.aspx
2. Once We Moved Like the Wind The Apache Wars, 1861-1886 from Compass Games
I personally have a great affinity for games dealing with the United States and the “interactions” with the various Native American Tribes and Nations as we moved westward in pursuit of Manifest Destiny. When I saw this game announced last year, I immediately added it to my list of anticipated wargames and have followed it over the past year. Recently, Compass Games had decided to go the Kickstarter route with the game and it was successfully funded.
From the game page, we read the following summary of the game:
Once We Moved Like the Wind covers the central conflicts of the American South West. The game is played as a series of turns, each of which follows a sequence of play that begins with determining how bad a provocation results in conflict for the turn. The provocation level determines the forces each player will have for the turn and their general placement on the map. Next the Apache player moves the Apache forces and then the Army Player moves the US and Mexican forces. Combat may then occur between opposing player forces that share a location. After any combat is resolved, victory points are counted up and the player with the most for the turn earns one increase in victory level on the Victory Track. Play then repeats for the next turn to the end of the game when the player with the higher level on the Victory track is the winner.
Central to the game is that the playing pieces are all wooden blocks with the information about each particular piece only on one side and hence hidden during play from the opposing player until action occurs which must reveal particular blocks. And not all of these blocks are actually opposing forces. For the Apache player in particular, many playing pieces each turn will represent rumors of Apache actions and forces which the Army player must chase down to determine if they are real or false. Similarly, for the Apache player, not knowing which Army pieces represent which forces means not knowing if an opposing group is small enough to attack and win, or is in reality a force big enough to hand out a devastating defeat.
We enjoy block wargames and also love hidden units and hidden strengths. Makes you think twice, or maybe even three times, before you attack. This is not a combat factor counting looking for that final 2 strength points for 4-1 odds kind of game. You will have to take chances with your attacks and will just have to go with your gut. I like that and am really looking forward to this experience.
Once We Moved Like the Wind is played on a 22” x 22” mounted game board (see picture above) with a scale of about 14 kilometers per centimeter or 22 miles per inch. The terrain represented is divided by a number of features. If you look closely at the map, you can see that the play area is divided into 4 larger Territories: the Arizona Territory & the New Mexico Territory in the US and the Sonora Territory & the Chihuahua Territory in Mexico. Dividing up all of the Territories, and often crossing their borders, are the Areas that units can move into and make contact.
If you are interested in Once We Moved Like the Wind, you can order a copy for $54.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/once-we-moved-like-the-wind-the-apache-wars-1861-1886.html
3. Custer’s Last Stand – The Battles of Rosebud Creek and Little Big Horn from Worthington Publishing
I covered this one in our January 2019 Wargame Watch and really thought the game looked interesting at that point. Since it has recently been fulfilled off of a successful Kickstarter I have seen pictures on Facebook and it looks stunning. In fact, many have stated that this is their favorite game on the Battle of Little Big Horn.
From the game page we read the following:
This is an old school hex and counter war game that includes 2 full complete games in one box. Both game maps are hard mounted, front and back on one large game board. Both are playable in under two hours. Both are for 2 players but are solitaire friendly. Both are complete games unto themselves yet use the same basic rule system. Everyone knows about the Little Big Horn battle. The battle of Rosebud Creek was its prelude, just as big, and may have prevented troopers from reaching Custer.
Major General George Armstrong Custer. 23 year old General, bold Cavalry Commander and Hero of the Civil War. Wild, Unpredictable, Ambitious. Fast forward 11 years: Suspended, Reduced in rank, returning to command the 7th Cavalry in one more battle, potential presidential candidate. Looking for a fight and a return to glory.
Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gaul and the Sioux nation will give him his fight, and in some ways his glory……..
Now at Little Big Horn you are in Command of the 7th Cavalry or the Sioux warriors, led by Custer and Sitting Bull.
Or at the Battle of Rosebud Creek you are General Crook or Crazy Horse.
In leading the cavalry can you be as bold as Custer yet avoid the mistakes that doomed his command? Or as the Sioux can you repeat the success they had or maybe do better by finishing off Crook at the Rosebud and Custer at the Little Big Horn?
I love the simple look of these counters that just seem to pop out from the board. You will notice that there are counters for dismounted cavalry as the game accounts for this. When cavalry or warriors dismount, it reduces that unit’s movement rate, while it’s firepower increases and a dismounted counter is placed on its top to show this change.
Optional Rules for the play of both games allows gamers to bring Crook’s command to the Little Big Horn, if he wins at Rosebud Creek.
If you are interested in Custer’s Last Stand: The Battles of Rosebud Creek and Little Big Horn, you can order a copy for $60.00 from the Worthington Publishing website at the following link: https://www.worthingtonpublishing.com/collection/custers-last-stand-the-battles-of-rosebud-creek-and-little-big-horn
4. Cold Confusion: The Soviet Raid on Iceland, 1985 from High Flying Dice Games
It seems that Cold War Gone Hot is a big topic of interest lately and this one follows that suit. The game is an entry in HFDG’s Land of Confusion Series and differs somewhat from the other games in this series with smaller unit scale and no weapons of mass destruction.
From the game page, we read the following:
An attack on NATO’s air and naval installations near Reykjavik, Iceland was assumed should war between the alliance and the Soviet Union break out. The airfield at Keflavik played a crucial role in Operation Reforger which would rush vital resupplies and reinforcements from the US and Canada to Western Europe. The naval installation near there monitored the underwater SOSUS line that monitored Soviet submarines in the North Sea and North Atlantic. However, most US and other NATO military leaders assumed a Soviet attack would be in the form of air attacks by long range bombers with cruise missiles and conventional bombs. However, an airborne and amphibious assault could not be ruled out. This designer has made some assumptions in crafting this game:
- The Soviet High Command mobilized a reinforced regimental-sized (331st Regiment of the 106th Desant Division as well as Spetnatz commandoes) airborne and amphibious assault that would be launched at the very outbreak of the war.
- The Soviet assault seek to inflict as much damage as possible on the NATO military installations in and around Reykjavik and Keflavik, as well as gathering any intelligence materials discovered during the raid.
- Evacuation and even the survival of the raiders would be secondary to the successful elimination of the NATO installations.
The game lasts up to 12 turns. Each turn represents six hours of time. A hex is about 6 kilometers across. Combat units are companies.
If you are interested in Cold Confusion: The Soviet Raid on Iceland, 1985, you can order a copy for $14.95 from the High Flying Dice Games website at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/iceland.html
Thanks for reading the Wargame Watch. Please let me know if I missed any games that you are aware of. I can’t cover them all but do like to at least know about them.