I love doing this list each year and looking ahead to the upcoming games….that we might have on our tables in 2022. Remember, many of the games that we expect to release have various delays, such as printing, art final tweaks, COVID or design issues that always push them back. In fact, in looking at my list of games last year, 8 of the 18 games highlighted were delayed and still haven’t been released in 2022. One other problem is that there are always more games coming out than we can possibly cover and play but it is still fun to look ahead and play the “what if” game.
Each year since the inception of the blog in 2016 I have posted this list highlighting my most anticipated wargames for the upcoming year. The list has grown each year with the first entry consisting of only 7 games, then growing to 10, in 2019 ballooning to 12, remaining at 12 in 2020. This year however, I am going to focus on fewer games and try to keep this list manageable. In case you missed my post from last year, you can read that here: 12 Most Anticipated Wargames of 2021!
Salerno ’43 from GMT Games
We have played several of Mark Simonitch’s games and frankly when I see his name on a box I simply know it will be good. We loved Holland ’44 and Stalingrad ’42 and this new game uses the same ZOC Bond system that was made famous initially in Normandy ’44. In fact, Salerno ’43 uses the exact same map, unit, and time scales as Normandy ’44, providing an excellent way to compare these two invasions. Salerno ’43 also uses a modified Normandy ’44 game system but with a smaller size, the game will be easier to learn and play than its predecessor.
Salerno ‘43 is a regiment/brigade-level game on the Allied invasion of mainland Italy in September 1943. Two British and two American divisions land in the Bay of Salerno defended by the full strength 16th Panzer Division, which is soon reinforced by five other German mechanized divisions. For 8 days the survival of the beachhead is in doubt, and emergency measures are taken to reinforce the beachhead with the 82nd Airborne Division. With their counter-attack stopped and the British Eighth Army approaching from the south, the Germans withdraw their left flank to avoid being trapped. However, their right flank stubbornly holds back the British from pushing north to Naples.
The best and most interesting part about this one is that there are plans are to make this the first in a 3-part series that takes the U.S. 5th Army to Cassino and Rome. Here is a look at the linked maps from the game page:
We posted an interview with the designer Mark Simonitch on the blog in May 2021 and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2021/05/17/interview-with-mark-simonitch-designer-of-salerno-43-from-gmt-games/
If you are interested in Salerno ’43, you can pre-order a copy for $28.00 ($42.00 retail) on the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-868-salerno-43.aspx
As of the January 20, 2022 Update from GMT, this one is set to arrive at the warehouse from the printer in late January and most likely will be shipping in the February/March timeframe.
Plains Indian Wars from GMT Games
I have become familiar with the designer John Poniske and have really enjoyed several of his designs, most recently having played Bleeding Kansas from Decision Games. John is a very thoughtful designer who does his research and truly focuses on lesser known bits of history to help us all expand our minds. He has done several designs on the great Native American Nations and has now turned his focus to the conflict created with the expanding United States and settlers pushed in Native territory to carve out homesteads. I find this topic fascinating and have grown to love playing games on the American Indian Wars.
Plains Indian Wars takes a look at this clash of cultures and series of conflicts by breaking the conflict down into it most basic elements: A settler surge via long snaking wagon trains, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, east and west, and the cavalry sent to protect them all. At the same time, Plains Indian Wars seeks to offer the Native-American player the opportunity to unite earlier, hold their own and perhaps even prevent European-American success. THe game is designed to be played by 1-4 players, but is best played as a two-player game. Game play averages 60-90 minutes.
The board centers on the Great American Plains between the Mississippi River in the east and the Rockies in the west, the Canadian border to the north and Mexican border in the south. The Northern and Southern Enemies are each defending 5 purple regions, The NPT and SPT are defending 12 regions each. Separating the NPT and SPT is the planned route for the Transcontinental Railroad. US Completion (linking the two lines) ends the game and earns the US player a bonus. The Indian player earns a bonus if this is prevented.
The game is not quite card driven but does use cards to drive the action with each of the major factions holding a hand of three cards. The 60 cards included represent a selection of leaders and events connected with the Plains Wars. There are two types of cards: War Party/Engagement/Migration cards tell players how many cubes may be drawn from the reserve box and placed in respective home areas and how far the cubes may move. Text cards allow for special circumstances and may act as reaction or endurance cards. There is only one play immediately card reflecting George Armstrong Custer’s hubris – its play could be positive for the Cavalry player but more often than not ends in disaster.
We posted an interview with the designer John Poniske on the blog in September 2017 and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2017/09/05/interview-with-john-poniske-designer-of-plains-indian-wars-from-gmt-games/
We also did a video review of the game after playing a prototype and you can watch that video here:
Finally, we shot a How to Play video that you can watch here:
If you are interested in ordering a copy of Plains Indian Wars, you can follow this link to the game page on the GMT Games website where it is listed for the P500 price of $43.00 ($65.00 retail): https://www.gmtgames.com/p-654-plains-indian-wars.aspx
As of the January 20, 2022 Update from GMT, this one is set to arrive at the warehouse from the printer in late January and most likely will be shipping in the February/March timeframe.
Fall of Saigon: A Fire in the Lake Expansion from GMT Games
Fire in the Lake is my favorite COIN Series game by far. So, when this expansion was announced a few years ago, I was ecstatic to say the least. Now that it is nearing publication, and after having had the opportunity to play an early version with Mark Herman and Dan Pancaldi during WBC in July 2019, I am ever more excited about getting it to the table.
The game is set during the end of the Vietnam War during 1975 when the Provisional Revolutionary Government was ready to take over and the Americans were in the process of leaving their failed campaign over the past decade. After internal debate, the Communists had issued Resolution 21 and the internal war to unify the country would continue. The Paris Peace would serve as merely one more tool in the armed struggle. In Saigon, President Thieu had known from the beginning that the ceasefire was an empty promise, but he had to accept his US ally’s hollow accords with the North. Nonetheless, he now fielded one of the world’s best equipped armies, and the victories of 1972 proved to him that it could withstand even an all-out assault from the North. While President Nixon had pledged peace with honor, his determination to enforce South Vietnam’s independence had floundered amidst Watergate, the worst US presidential scandal in history.
The addition that is most exciting about the game is the inclusion of tank blocks that allow players to take new actions like Spearhead to change the focus of the battle from an insurgency to a flat out armor battles for final control of Saigon.
Here is a video summarizing our experience of playing the game with Mark Herman and Dan Pancaldi:
We also posted an interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/09/30/interview-with-volko-ruhnke-co-designer-of-fall-of-saigon-a-fire-in-the-lake-expansion-from-gmt-games/
Finally, if you are interested in Fall of Saigon: A Fire in the Lake Expansion, you can pre-order a copy from the P500 game page on the GMT Games website for $33.00 ($49.00 retail) at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-832-fall-of-saigon-a-fire-in-the-lake-expansion.aspx
As of the January 20, 2022 Update from GMT, this one is currently at the printer but doesn’t have a ship date assigned yet. With Chinese New Year coming, this may mean we can expect to see this one in early summer.
Lanzerath Ridge: Battle of the Bulge from Dan Verssen Games
David Thompson has done a fantastic job with his amazingly detailed and engaging solitaire games in the Valiant Defense Series from Dan Verssen Games. I have played all three entries in the series to date, including Pavlov’s House, Castle Itter and Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms and have really enjoyed them. Now comes the fourth volume in the series called Lanzerath Ridge: Battle of the Bulge, which is currently on Kickstarter as of January 25th. The game deals with a small engagement on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge where a US Intel & Reconnaissance (I&R) platoon (along with a forward observer team) hold out against 500+ German paratroopers who are the spearhead for a Panzer Division.
This time the series takes the art up a notch with the talents of Nils Johannson and the design adds a few new elements specific to the engagement at Lanzerath Ridge, including barbed wire fencing that bisected the field crossed by the German attackers which was a huge help for the American defenders, valor rating on counters and the addition of American Jeeps.
We posted an interview with the designer David Thompson on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2022/01/11/interview-with-david-thompson-designer-of-lanzerath-ridge-battle-of-the-bulge-from-dan-verssen-games-coming-to-kickstarter-january-25th/
If you are interested in Lanzareth Ridge: Battle of the Bulge you check out the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danverssengames/dvg-valiant-defense-lanzerath-ridge/
The Kickstarter is already funded and making progress on several of the stretch goals and the game is scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release after printing and shipping.
Undaunted: Stalingrad from Osprey Games
If you haven’t played any of the games in the Undaunted Series (either the original Normandy, North Africa or the new Reinforcements), then you are missing out on an excellent experience. Recently, news came out of Osprey Games that the duo of David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin would be releasing the next iteration in the series that takes the action to the East Front of World War II with the German attack on the City of Stalingrad.
I cannot to see some street to street and house to house fighting, as well as possible forays into the sewers in the ruins on Stalingrad. Osprey says that the campaign will have “branching narratives”, which to me might mean that depending on the outcome of a scenario you have played, win or lose will determine what scenario you can next tackle. This game is a standalone big box experience and is sure to add new elements to the system as each version before has done.
According to the designers, there will be new units, actions, and ways to interact with the environment. They further state that they have “created an integrated campaign, where the results of each scenario impact the rest of the campaign’s rich narrative and will set the stage for scenarios to come.” Let me just say awesome! I cannot wait.
The game is not yet being offered on pre-order but does mention the Fall of 2022. For more information, please check out the game page on the Osprey Games website at the following link: https://ospreypublishing.com/blog/cat/osprey-games/post/game_announcement_undaunted_stalingrad/?___store=osprey_usa
Coalitions from PHALANX
As you know, 2021 marked the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death on May 5, 1821. Last year, there have been quite a few new Napoleonic wargames that have released/gone to Kickstarter over including Napoleon 1815 from Shakos Games, Napoleon’s Imperium from Compass Games, Napoleon Returns 1815 from Worthington Publishing and Coalition! The Napoleonic Wars, 1805-1815 also from Compass Games. PHALANX also got into the act with a game of their own on the subject called Coalitions designed by Andrew Rourke that was funded on Kickstarter in June. The game looks really fascinating and is being touted as a game of diplomatic and military maneuvering in Napoleonic Europe for 1-6 players.
During the period 1792 to 1814 six different Coalitions were formed by various European powers, all of whom were against France. Each Coalition was different and their formations required a great deal of negotiation and diplomatic skill. The designer wanted this game to represent the difficulties of forming and maintaining a Coalition in the face of the ever increasing military power of France. France was also able, through different methods, to persuade faltering powers to their side. In the game Britain and France are always at war with each other and can never be in the same Coalition, thus they must persuade the other major powers to the benefits of being on their side. However, nations may choose to remain neutral or even embark on a war of expansion, without any alignment to Britain or France. Diplomacy is never easy!
Another key element of the design is political alignment and status. With each turn, any nation, other than France or Britain, have a chance to change their political status. They may join a British coalition to fight against France, or become a French ally in the French Coalition, they may choose to remain neutral and avoid conflict, or declare a war of expansion and fight everyone without aligning themselves to either Coalition. Britain and France always remain at war with each other in their respective Coalitions. Your political status dictates who you can attack and who you can ask for support, as you may never attack another nation you are in Coalition with and only members of the same Coalition can support one another.
Finally, the game looks beautiful and has a great looking map and some really nice miniatures. Overall, this game looks good, seems diplomacy heavy and also has some good old fashioned conflict.
We posted an interview with the designer Andrew Rourke on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2021/06/23/interview-with-andrew-rourke-designer-of-coalitions-from-phalanx-currently-on-kickstarter/
If you are interested in Coalitions, you can order a copy on Backer Kit at the following link with all types of different and sundry upgrades (metal coins, card holders and several small expansions): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/phalanxgames/337694489/?fbclid=IwAR0E9u8KwUy9un3Gm1FbVWvmRu9LBGw6miGJ0aOQLW08GhoRBe-x6IIdpjU&ref=cotnfv&token=6fe9c9c5
The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964-1998 from Compass Games
Some subjects are very sensitive, either because of the time horizon being within our socially collective memory or due to the fact that we were closely effected with loved ones lost of injured. A few subjects come to mind in our American history mainly that of Vietnam and the recent global War on Terror and in Afghanistan against the Taliban. Some games should never be made because of this fact. But, sometimes in an attempt to better understand the issues that drove the conflict and the reasons we might have already forgotten, a subject deserves to be brought to light. A few years ago, we hosted a 3-part series on an upcoming game called The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964-1998 which deals with the decades long struggle in Northern Ireland. Through that process I came to appreciate the designer Hugh O’Donnell’s take on this difficult conflict and really felt he was going about dealing with the nature of this bloody war as tactfully as possible as well as simultaneously providing some enlightenment and understanding about the issues.
Here are links to those three posts:
After those posts were received well, Hugh agreed to do a list of Event Card Spoilers to further shed light on the subject matter from all perspectives. Here are links to those posts: #34 Provisional IRA Formed, #63 Four Square Laundry/MRF, #24 RTÉ Television Centre Attack, #122 Brighton Hotel Bombing, #108 SAS – Peter Cleary, #103 General Election 1974 & #130 Labour Government: No Confidence, #20 People’s Democracy March: Burntollet, #108 Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, Triple Feature including #166 Shergar, #169 Don Tidey Kidnapping and #154 Ben Dunne Kidnapping, #31b Bernadette Devlin Elected, #114 Birmingham Pub Bombings, #2 The Hand of Friendship, #35 Prime Minister Terence O’Neill Resigns, #184 The Loughgall Ambush and #107R Enoch Powell’s Last Stand.
The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964-1998 is an historical simulation of the period of conflict that gripped Northern Ireland from the 1960’s until the late 1990’s. The Troubles is a 1- to 6-player board game depicting Paramilitary and Security Force conflict foregrounded by political affairs in Northern Ireland. Each player takes the role of a Faction seeking to guide Northern Irish affairs to a status of Peace: the British Forces (including the UDR), the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the RUC was the Government security force), the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Loyalist Paramilitaries (LOY), the Nationalist (NAT) politicians or the Unionist (UNI) politicians.
Using military, political, and economic actions and exploiting various events, players build and maneuver forces to influence or control the electorate, or otherwise achieve their Faction’s aims. A deck of cards regulates turn order, events, victory checks, and other processes. The rules can run non-player Factions, enabling solitaire, 2-player, or multi-player games.
We posted an interview with the designer Hugh O’Donnell on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2021/08/02/interview-with-hugh-odonnell-designer-of-the-troubles-shadow-war-in-northern-ireland-1964-1998-from-compass-games/
If you are interested in The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964-1998, you can pre-order a copy on the Compass Games website for $85.00 ($109.00 retail) at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/product/the-troubles-shadow-war-in-northern-ireland-pay-later/?sfw=pass1643222966
1565 Siege of Malta from Worthington Publishing
Solo games are huge right now, partly because of the pandemic and the inability for many to find players to play games with, but also because solitaire gaming is fun, can be done at your own pace and you don’t need to link up with others to game. With that in mind, Worthington Publishing has really been putting out some great looking solo games, especially last year with one Kickstarter that featured 3 games. That Kickstarter included 414 BC Siege of Syracuse – The Athenian army lays siege to the great city of Syracuse, 1565 Siege of Malta – The Turks versus the Knights of Malta in the last battle of the Crusades at the dawn of gunpowder and 1759 Siege of Quebec – The siege that won North America for the English.
The one that I was most taken with was 1565 Siege of Malta as we have become acquainted with Maurice Suckling from his games Freeman’s Farm 1777 and Chancellorsville 1863 from Worthington Publishing in 2019 and really enjoyed the mechanics of those games and how they all came together to create an interactive and interesting look at the Battle of Saratoga in the American Revolution and Chancellorsville from the American Civil War.
The Great Siege, as it’s also known, saw the tide of Ottoman Turk westward expansion break against the wall of Christian defense on the small but highly strategically significant archipelago of Malta in the Western Mediterranean. The Ottoman Turk invasion force was huge. The armada was almost three times the size of the vaunted Spanish Armada defeated by the English (and the weather) in 1588. It was supported by around 40,000 troops. Malta was defended by around 500 Knights of St. John and 5-6,000 other soldiers, including civilians. The Turks failed to capture all of the important fortresses. Had they captured all of them, the most likely outcome would have been sustained Turk expansion into Europe – into Sicily, Italy, Spain, perhaps France.
The design focuses on player choice and dynamism as major elements modelled in the play. For the attackers there are a range of options. There were three fortresses – St.Elmo, and then one on Birgu, and one on Senglea – all around Grand Harbour (that’s the spelling used on Malta), as well as the inland city of Mdina. All were appealing targets for different reasons. For the defenders it wasn’t just a static siege. Troops were constantly shuttled to fortresses under pressure – the advantage of internal lines of communication and the continued control of Grand Harbour for much of the siege. So this is a dynamic siege – as so many are when you look closer at them – with both sides having a variety of feasible strategies.
On top of that, it is important for players to understand the Turks were working against a timer. They had to wrap up the siege before the seasonal winds turned against them and trapped them on Malta – or survive the winter there without fresh supplies. Malta did not provide an invading army of the Turk force’s size with the resources it needed to sustain itself for long. This is something the Great Sieges System inherently makes extremely easy to model because it’s hard-baked into the system.
We posted an interview with the designer Maurice Suckling on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2021/04/29/interview-with-maurice-suckling-designer-of-1565-siege-of-malta-from-worthington-publishing-currently-on-kickstarter/
If you are interested in 1565 Siege of Malta, you can still order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/869475414?ref=4p0kto&token=ae1a813f
I know that the shipment of the 3 solitaire games mentioned above is currently working its way into the country and my guess is that this game will be shipping late 1st quarter.
Barbarians at the Gates, The Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire 337-476 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. I have really enjoyed games on the Roman Empire and this one simply looks fantastic.
Barbarians at the Gates, The Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire 337 – 476, is a card-driven game 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.
We posted an interview with the designer Kris van Beurden on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2020/03/30/interview-with-kris-van-beurden-designer-of-barbarians-at-the-gates-the-decline-and-fall-of-the-western-roman-empire-337-476-from-compass-games/
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 $69.00 from the Compass Games website at the following link: https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/barbarians-at-the-gates.html
The game is expected to release in mid-2022.
Votes for Women from Fort Circle Games
Votes for Women is a card-driven game covering the American women’s suffrage movement from 1848-1920, culminating in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. The game provides competitive, co-operative and solitaire play. Players can play cards for their events, discard cards to campaign in states, or discard cards to organize for suffrage.
The game plays out over six turns: two turns in 1848-1890, two turns in 1890-1919, and two turns in 1919-1920 (during the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment). The Support player must get 36 U.S. states (out of 48) to ratify the Amendment before the Opposition player (or the Oppo-bot in the solitaire game) gets 13 states to reject the Nineteenth Amendment. Two players may also play co-operatively against the Oppo-bot. I just really like the topic for this one and the game looks great.
We posted an interview with the designer Tory Brown on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2020/09/07/interview-with-tory-brown-designer-of-votes-for-women-from-fort-circle-games-currently-on-kickstarter/
If you are interested in Votes for Women you can still pre-order a copy for $50.00 from the Fort Circle Games Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fortcircle/votes-for-women-0
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading this list (I know I had a good time writing it!) and I hope that you have a good financing plan to purchase all the gaming goodness coming soon. Let me know what games you are looking forward to in 2022. With so many good games upcoming it is really hard to cover them all! A few others that I am keenly awaiting but didn’t highlight here are The Long Road from Flying Pig Games, A Most Fearful Sacrifice from Flying Pig Games, Enemy Action: Kharkov from Compass Games.