We made it through 2020! We should all be glad for that fact and look forward to 2021 with a positive outlook. One of the reasons that I know that 2021 will be good is that there are assuredly going to be new games coming out and this month’s Wargame Watch confirms that fact with 8 games highlighted including 2 that are currently on Kickstarter. This number is not as high as what we have been able to find over the past few months but is pretty standard as I look back at our January Wargame Watch posts over the past couple of years (January 2020 – 11 games, January 2019 – 10 games, January 2018 – 7 games)
If you missed the December Wargame Watch, you can read that here at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2020/12/02/wargame-watch-whats-new-upcoming-december-2020/
1. Assault – Red Horizon 41 from Assault! Games Currently on Kickstarter
About a month ago, I came across a new designer named Wolfgang Klein and his upcoming Kickstarter for a tactical level wargame focused on Operation Barbarossa during World War II from June through December 1941. The game looks to be interesting and deals with this conflict in a new and exciting way. Assault – Red Horizon 41 is the first volume in a planned series of tactical level wargames in which players lead historical units into battle during Operation Barbarossa (June through October 1941). The German Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army fighting one another in a life and death struggle with infantry, artillery and armored units. What is not to like about that? The game can be played as a single scenario or with a unique campaign system.
I posted an interview with the designer a few weeks ago and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2020/12/22/interview-with-wolfgang-klein-designer-of-assault-red-horizon-41-from-assault-games-currently-on-kickstarter/
If you are interested in Assault – Red Horizon 41, you can back a copy on on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rh41/assault-red-horizon-41/?ref=kicktraq
As of January 6th, the project is funded and has raised $14,262 toward the $12,394 goal from 122 backers. The campaign will end on Sunday, January 10th at 6:00pm EST.
2. No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War from Compass Games Currently on Kickstarter
We played this game about 3 years ago when it was just a prototype as it was going to Kickstarter. The campaign was terminated early and was eventually picked up by Compass Games. I’m very happy for the designer Dan Bullock as this game is very good and covers a topic that not many designers are willing to tackle.
Here is a link to our preview video for that campaign (keep in mind that was a prototype and I’m sure the design has changed):
From the game page we read the following:
No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War is a card-driven strategy game for two players. The game depicts the struggles of the Kim Regime against the West from 1953 to present day North Korea. In the aftermath of the Korean Armistice Agreement, the Korean peninsula divided in two. While its signature marked a cessation of armed conflict, the war was not over. In over six decades since the armistice was signed, three generations of the Kim regime resisted Chinese and Soviet control, endured famine, floods, isolation, and economic sanctions while defiantly pursuing nuclear weapons.
One player will be the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), seeking a nuclear deterrent to invasion, improving living standards to prevent uprising, and purging elites to prevent a coup.
The other player will be the West, maximizing pressure on the regime by obstructing the missile program to secure the region, implementing sanctions to impede the North Korean economy, aiding defectors, and further isolating the DPRK from the global community.
If you are interested in No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War you can back a copy on the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/compassgames/no-motherland-without-0?ref=csw
As of January 6th, the project is funded and has raised $5,731 toward the $2,500 goal from 101 backers. The campaign will end on Saturday, January 9th at 9:24pm EST.
3. COIN Series Volume IV: Fire in the Lake: Insurgency in Vietnam 3rd Printing from GMT Games
In the December Monthly Update from GMT Games, they announced that there would a 3rd Printing for Fire in the Lake. Fire in the Lake is a treatment of the Vietnam War and deals with not only the combat aspect but the political struggles between the US, ARVN, the VC and the NVA. The COIN Series is based on a command and special activity system where each faction has a set of abilities to wage war their own unique way. The game is Card Assisted (as compared to Card-Driven) with the cards setting the turn order each turn and offering each of the two sides a special event that aids them or hurts their enemies. I personally think that this is the best of all of the COIN Series of games and I recommend you get a copy. Also, when a game is on its 3rd Printing, you know that there is something there.
If you are interested in a copy of Fire in the Lake: Insurgency in Vietnam 3rd Printing, you can pre-order a copy for $59.00 on the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-903-fire-in-the-lake-3rd-printing.aspx
1. C3i Magazine Nr. 34 from RBM Studio including Battle for Kursk: The Tigers are Burning 1943 and Firebase Vietnam
If you didn’t know, C3i Magazine is one of the premier wargame magazines on the market and the consistently have not only high quality content form great designers in the form of interviews, strategy articles and design diaries, but also always include at least one fully playable wargame in the magazine with counters and a map. The most recent issue Nr. 34 includes two games and also has over 100 pages of high quality content.
From the page on the C3i website we read the following:
C3i Nr 34 features Kursk: The Tigers are Burning, 1943 the first installment in the C3i Combined Arms Series, designed by Trevor Bender and it includes a large 22×34″ map and 114 counters as well as Firebase Vietnam which is a solitaire game.
Also articles on board games Fields of Fire, SPQR, OCS, Undaunted: Normandy, France 1944 and more!
The magazine also includes several inserts for The Hunters, Empire of the Sun, C3i Nr 33’s Battle of Issy, For the People, Stalingrad ’42, Imperial Struggle and others!
If you are interested in C3i Nr. 34 you can order a copy for $36.00 from the C3i website at the following link: https://www.c3iopscenter.com/pages/wargame-room-store/#!/C3i-Magazine-Nr-34/p/266463296/category=0
2. Watch on the Rhine: The Siegfried Line Campaign, 1944-45 from Canvas Temple Publishing
We have interviewed designer Ty Bomba about a dozen times and he makes games at a very workmanlike clip. When I saw this game announced on Kickstarter last year, I was immediately interested and reached out to Ty for more information. Watch on the Rhine: The Siegfried Line Campaign, 1944-45 is a two-player (solitaire adaptable) historical simulation of the final operations of World War II in northwest Europe.
From the game page, we read the following:
The maps illustrate the militarily significant terrain found in and around this border area of western Germany in 1944-45 when portrayed at this scale. The national boundaries shown are the final internationally ones from just before the war began in 1939. A hexagonal (hex) grid is printed over the map to regulate the placement and movement of units across it, much like the squares in Chess and Checkers. A unit is considered to be in only one hex at any one time. Every hex on the map has a unique four-digit identification number printed within it. They’re provided to help find exact locations more quickly and to allow for the recording of unit positions if a game has to be taken down before it can be completed. Most of the unit-counters represent combat formations; others are provided as informational markers and memory aids. Units organizational sizes, from larger to smaller, are shown using standard notation.
I also found info that stated that there are several scenarios:
The Siegfried Line Campaign, 1944-45; This is the main campaign presented in the game.
Counteroffensive Short Scenario: provides the historical dispositions of both sides as they were historically on 16 December 1944 at the start of the Battle of Bulge. But only the German units the Allied high command had identified on their situation maps would be shown in their set-up hexes. All the others – all the units brought in by Hitler specifically for the counteroffensive – would be available for free set up anywhere behind the German front line. That means the German player can launch his counteroffensive against the Americans in the center, as was done historically. Alternatively, he can try for a victory in the south by recapturing Strasbourg and thereby effectively knocking France out of the war for a year or so via the political chaos that would’ve generated. Or he can drive strait into the British Army, hoping to cause enough unit losses within that replacement-strapped force to wreck its further offensive capabilities.
Operation Cobra:: Cobra can be played as a separate game, covering the events in northern France from late July through the end of August, and it could also be added to the WotR parent game. That would turn WotR from a “mini-monster” into a true three-map full-on “monster game,” taking its geographic coverage all the way west to the base of the Normandy peninsula at Avranches. The goal in the game – whether playing it alone or as a prequel add-on to WotR, would be to make the campaign as free-form as possible within strategic historic constraints. That is, for example, the German player wouldn’t be required to send Seventh and Fifth Panzer Armies to certain destruction at Mortain before being allowed to retreat east. However, the earlier he withdraws those forces eastward, the more difficult his victory conditions would become. The orders of battle for Cobra would essentially be the same ones as in WotR, but the German divisions that were historically mangled breaking out of the Falaise pocket, and then later rebuilt, would have stronger versions included here. When playing the extended campaign game, replacement rules would be included to handle any necessary switching from one to the other as they come out of the dead pile.
The 1936 Rhineland Crisis: models the war that would’ve erupted had the French moved to overturn Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936. The assumption here is Germany doesn’t erupt into civil war when the French attack; rather the populace and military of the Reich rallies to support Hitler and fights to defeat the hated invaders. The Belgian Army will also be on the map as active French allies. The French Air Force will be attempting to bomb the Ruhr, which will force the German player to have to split his scant Luftwaffe resources between ground support, his own terror bombing campaign against Paris, and strategic air defense.
We also published an interview with the designer that gives some good insight into the design and the history of the campaign as well.
If you are interested in Watch on the Rhine: The Siegfried Line Campaign, 1944-45 you can order a copy for $89.95 from the Canvas Temple Publishing website at the following link: https://canvastemple.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=40
3. Atlantic Wolves from Canvas Temple Publishing
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 to 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.
From the game page we read the following:
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. The game is a deluxe re-implementation of Gary Graber’s classic game Battle of the Atlantic, now out of print.
The map is a representation of the general locations where the Battle of the Atlantic was fought. There are seven named Areas on the board (e.g. Eastern Seaboard, Newfoundland, North Atlantic, Mid- Atlantic, Iceland, Bay of Biscay, and African Coast).
Counters in the game represent German U-Boats, “Milch Cow” (Milk Cow) submarine tankers, ACE, Condor bombers, Surface Raiders, and Admirals Doenitz and Raeder. Also represented are Allied Escorts, Air Patrols, Convoys, and various markers. Each U-Boat counter (in the rules, simply termed “U-Boat”) represents 4–6 operational U-Boats.
Victory is won by the German player sinking Allied ships and avoiding the establishment of a secure “lifeline” to Britain. The more tonnage sunk, the better for the Germans.
The German wins the game by fulfilling three requirements:
Preserving the fleet. If, during any turn, one-half or more of the U-Boat counters that started the turn are sunk, Kriegsmarine morale is broken, the game ends, and the Allies win. Example: During the first turn, if three or more U-Boats are sunk the Allies win.
Preventing a “lifeline” to Britain from being established. If there are four Convoy markers on the board at the end of any turn, a permanent lifeline to Britain has been established, Kriegsmarine morale is broken, the game ends, and the Allies win.
Sinking Allied ships. The German must sink 600,000 tons for three consecutive turns AND average: 400,000+ tons for the entire game if there are no Convoy markers on the board at the end of the game; OR 450,000+ tons if there is one Convoy marker on the board at the end of the game; OR 500,000+ tons if there are two or more Convoy markers on the board at the end of the game.
If you are interested in Atlantic Wolves you can order a copy for $69.95 from the Canvas Temple Publishing website at the following link: https://canvastemple.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=60
4. Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons from Compass Games
A few months ago I did a review of a small format game from High Flying Dice Games that focused on PT Boats called Profile in Courage: PT-109 – The Campaign of PT-109 in 1943. The game was very interesting and was the first game that I knew of that was solely focused on PT Boats. Lo and behold then along came another title about PT Boats called Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons and I just think this one will be amazing.
From the game page we read the following:
Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons is a solitaire, tactical-level wargame. You, as commander, will lead a squadron of four US Navy PT boats on nightly missions against Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands during the summer months of 1943.
Sleek, fast, and heavily-armed, US Navy PT boats were soon given the nickname ‘Devil Boats’ by Imperial Japanese forces for their ability to suddenly show up out of nowhere, inflict heavy damage, and then quickly disappear again under the cover of night. From General Douglas McArthur’s evacuation from the Philippines in 1942, throughout numerous bloody South Pacific island naval battles, and finally upon the eventual return of US forces to the Philippines in 1945, US Navy PT boats played a small but important role in the South Pacific Campaign during World War II.
The game focuses on the months from July to September 1943 which was the most active months during the campaign against Japanese forces in the New Georgia Islands area as US forces advanced northward. The player will act as a PT Boat commander and will lead up to four PT boats on nightly patrols from your PT base on Rendova Island. The primary goal of the nightly missions will be to sink as many IJN barges as possible in an attempt to prevent them from transporting troops and supplies to the surrounding islands. This will be no easy task though as the IJN barges were heavily armored and very tough, requiring hundreds or even thousands of PT gun shell hits to sink.
The game doesn’t just focus on combat and sinking barges though as you may occasionally be assigned a special mission, such as picking up a downed Allied airman, dropping off supplies to a coastwatcher, or even shelling an enemy supply dump. You will also have to handle other hazards such as bad weather with heavy seas, reef collisions, and multitude of random events.
I love these solitaire games that focus on the crew and give players the opportunities to improve the men under their command as they progress through a campaign. The game offers the following for crew advancement:
Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons models 12 individual PT boat crewmen that may be injured, killed, or even come down with Malaria. But if they do survive long enough, their skills will improve. The game also models individual PT boat equipment and components, such as radio, radar, engines, guns, bilge pumps, etc. These components may be damaged or destroyed, perhaps forcing your PT squadron to break off the patrol early, or maybe even disabling one of your boats. Also modeled is PT squadron management, allowing you to conduct PT boat assignments and repairs.
As PT squadron commander, your ultimate goal is to survive the 3 months and destroy as many IJN enemy forces as possible without suffering too many squadron losses yourself. But be careful- play recklessly and lose too many PT boats and you may find yourself relieved of command and sent back to the States, or even court-martialed! But do well and you will earn well-deserved medals, and maybe even change the eventual outcome of the war for the better.
If you are interested in Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons you can order a copy for $49.00 (for a limited time and then $69.00) from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/devil-boats-pt-boats-in-the-solomons.html
5. A Cold and Resolute Fight: The Battle of Narvik, April-June, 1940 from High Flying Dice Games
I try to make sure and highlight all types of games on this list. Big publishers, small boutique publishers, small format games, big monsters, as well as games that look interesting to me. High Flying Dice Games always provides something that looks interesting each month and this month they offered A Cold and Resolute Fight: The Battle for Narvik, April-June, 1940.
From the game page we read the following:
The German invasion of Demark and Norway, Operation Weserűbung, was a bold gamble by the invaders. The greatest risk for the Germans was at the northern most all weather port of Narvik. Here the Germans landed troops that quickly overwhelmed the local Norwegian garrison but left them entirely dependent upon supplies and reinforcements that would arrive by ship or air transport. The Allies recognized the German’s vulnerability and sent the Royal Navy into the Narvik fjord where their warships quickly sank all of the German vessels. With winter weather persisting, air transport would never be able to provide sufficient levels of men and material to sustain the now trapped German invaders. The Allies sent a mixed nationality force of British, French and Poles to support the Norwegian defense forces that were laying siege to the Germans. What resulted was an epic contest that threatened to unravel the Nazi blitzkrieg. Perhaps you can do as well or better?
If you are interested in A Cold and Resolute Fight: The Battle for Narvik, April-June, 1940 you can order a copy for $17.95 from the High Flying Dice Games website at the following link: http://www.hfdgames.com/narvik.html
Once again, I know that the list this month was shorter than normal but I had trouble finding anything else to add. Please let me know if you know of any games out there that I missed. Thanks for reading.
Also, I wish each of you a Happy New Year and hope that 2021 is better for you, me and the entire human family. And you know what. I have faith that it will be better! It has to be, right?