As you know, we had this great idea that during the month of August, which is the first month of The Great War, where we would play 5 or 6 games on the subject and then shoot a summary video of our thoughts after the fact. You have probably already seen our first post in this series which covered the first three games played including At Villers Cottérêts: Mons 1914 from Conflict Simulations Limited, The Lamps are Going Out 2nd Edition from Compass Games and Paths of Glory: The First World War, 1914-1918 Deluxe Edition from GMT Games. In case you missed it, here is that post. Our 2nd post in the series focused on the next three games we played including Decisive Victory 1918: Volume One – Soissons from Legion Wargames, An Attrition of Souls from Compass Games and At All Costs! The Great War in the East from Hollandspiele. You can read that post here. The 3rd post in this series moved further into the war nearing the end as we played the last two games we had planned to including Red Poppies Campaign: Volume 3 Assault Artillery! from Compass Games and Europe in Turmoil from Compass Games. I hate to say it but I am glad we are finished with the event this year. While the games were all interesting and mostly good, it just started feeling like I was eating the same sandwich for lunch each day and I need some more variety in my gaming life.
The Final Two Games – Armistice Day
We have come to the end of our journey, which was filled with some great gaming moments and very good designs. We didn’t get to play all of the games that we wanted to, but there is always next year!
Red Poppies Campaign: Volume 3 Assault Artillery! from Compass Games
Of all the games on our list that I wanted to play, near the top was the famous Red Poppies Campaign and the third entry in the series titled Assault Artillery!, which recounts the Battle of La Malmaison, 23-27 October 1917, in which the French employed their Artillerie Spéciale (tank force) and creeping barrage to capture Pinon, Vaudesson, and the coveted Chemin des Dames ridge. The French victory confirmed their recovery from the mutinies spawned by the disastrous Nivelle Offensive fought over some of the same ground six months earlier.
This game truly lived up to its name as at the start of the campaign the rolling bombardment basically softens up the German front lines and continues on as it happens each round for the first 3 rounds. This was an interesting aspect of the design and made me wonder why the war hadn’t come to an end by that point as the devastation from this barrage was simply bloody! Several holes in the line were opened and then the powerful French tanks just rolled through.
This game was very engaging and the mechanics really handled well the style of fighting in the late war using block houses and fortifications to protect and tanks and flamethrowers to destroy. We both liked this one a great deal and really want to visit the other previous two volumes in the series.
Here is a link to our video review of the game:
Europe in Turmoil: Prelude to the Great War from Compass Games
For our final game, we took a step back from the hex and counter games that had dominated our event and dove into a Card Driven Game on the buildup to the Great War that is very interesting. Europe in Turmoil: Prelude to the Great War is a Twilight Struggle clone with some really unique added mechanics and elements that differentiated the two games. Europe in Turmoil is about Europe during the decade (or two, the exact start time and duration of turns was purposefully unspecified) before the opening shots of The Great War were fired. Its main theme is that of crisis, with the designer’s point being that war was not predetermined to begin in August 1914 but that it could have occurred earlier or not at all. That the Alliance system that was built as an insurance against war only ensured that when war came, it swiftly became World-encompassing.
The spaces on the map are not just geographical spaces but some are ideological, educational or production centered and they have symbols that players need to understand to be able to use their abilities when presented. The design also adds Stability Cards which are a separate set of ten cards per player, and each player begins the game with all ten cards “available” (as opposed to Strategy cards which are drawn from a randomized deck). Each scoring, players select one Stability card and then play it in turn to get a final opportunity to affect the Scoring Region before scoring is performed. The cards available to both players are open knowledge at all times. Most Stability cards have prerequisites (often control over spaces with certain socio-economic icons in the region) and usually only affect a limited amount of spaces in the region. This creates some fun last minute changes and guarantees only that you cannot guarantee anything. A really solid design that kept my interest but that which will benefit from lots of plays to get the strategies down.
Here is a link to our video review of the game:
We had a great time with this Guns of August event and look forward to more theme/period focused gaming sessions where we delve into topical games and review them all in a final video. We have since done a French & Indian War series and are now looking at a Cold War series as well.
Here is a look at our overall discussion video on our Guns of August Event: