Le Vol de L’Aigle – A Board Gaming Life After Action Report


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By Harvey Mossman


Last year, our wargaming group in Long Island decided to play Le Vol de l’Aigle via email with myself as umpire.  It was an extremely fascinating experience.  We chose the 1806 Prussian campaign that culminated in the famous dual battles of Jena- Auerstadt because the armies were fairly evenly matched in numbers and opposing forces were not so distant from each other that enemy contact would be unduly delayed.

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How War Works: A BoardgamingLife Review of Playford Games’ Moral Conflict Series

by Paul Comben

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In the increasingly fractious relationship between Adolf Hitler and his senior commanders, it was the Fuhrer’s repeated complaint that his generals knew nothing about the economic aspects of warfare. They retorted, often just between themselves until the war was safely over, that the Austrian corporal knew nothing about proper operational planning. In March 1945, Hitler launched an offensive to secure the Hungarian oilfields with forces Guderian was clamouring to have on the Oder front.  Alongside the Fuhrer’s refusal to countenance giving up a yard of ground to free up forces, his clinging on to “fortresses” which existed in name only, and his obsession with waving his “mission” in the face of inexorable realities, this offensive by the 6th SS Panzer Army is often presented as yet another of Hitler’s meanderings into the realms of grotesque fantasy. Continue reading

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Breaking the Chains – A Boardgaming Life Review

By Harvey Mossman

Publisher Compass Games Designer: John Gorkowski

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The next military conflict will likely involve naval and air assets of the United States as it continues to play its role as protector of freedom of the seas yet, there is a dearth of recently designed modern Air/Naval combat games. Breaking the Chains by Compass Games tries to fill this gap as it examines contemporary events in the South China Sea as China asserts, what it believes is its destiny, to be a rising empire in the Pacific. It is not a complex game and, where it can, strives for simplicity in an otherwise complex conflict environment. Continue reading

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Sauron – A BoardgamingLife Review and Essay

By Mitch Freedman

Simulations Publications, Inc. 1977
Designer – Rob Mosca

Long before the modern Hobbit craze, long before Peter Jackson, there were some books written by J.R.R. Tolkien, books in which he created his own mythology, dealt with universal problems of good and evil, and looked into the private motives and public actions of the powerful and the meek, the wise and the foolish.

Those actions and motives were really aspects of every human being, of course, and Tolkien did his work so well that the story of the Hobbit grew and grew beloved. His exercise in putting the essence of humanity down on paper – this was long before the films - required him to add dwarfs and elves and even orcs, brightening and polishing the parts of being human which needed a special mirror to see clearly.

For those who were never English majors, think of Spock or Data on Star Trek. Not human, certainly, but more human than most of the rest of the crew.

At least, that’s how I see it.

So, what does this all have to do with war gaming?  Let’s take a look at Sauron and ask some questions. I won’t give you the answer to the final question – is Sauron really a war game – because you should have the fun of figuring it out yourself or, at least, fighting over the answer.

For those who don’t know the game of Sauron – and I suspect that is a lot of people – it travels the same path that more recent War of the Rings games follow, with a full complement of Elves and Dwarfs fighting off Goblins and Orcs and trying to defeat powerful foes outside the gates of Mordor. There are no plastic figures, and no cards to turn over, just some cardboard counters and some dice and a simple map to create the most important battle in the history of Middle Earth.

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Ghost Panzer – Democratizing the Squad Level Game Experience: A Boardgaming Life Review

By Paul Comben

Just imagine for a moment that you want to experience some naval campaigns/battles in game format, but that the only material out there is Fear God and Dreadnought and Flattop. Or you want to re-fight the Napoleonic Wars, and have a straight choice between Empires in Arms…and nothing else. Fortunately, throughout the history of the hobby, games on particular subjects have come in all shapes and sizes – count those Battle of the Bulge games, or treatments of the battle for Normandy. Gettysburg has also been done more times than I care to count – games to fit on one small table, and games that require tables for the tables as well as the multiples of maps. And with all such subjects, you have not had to burn your brain with feats of comprehension if massive rulebooks and immense game play times are simply not your thing – alternatives are nearly always to hand. But until relatively recently, World War 2 squad combat, from Dunkirk to Iwo Jima, meant owning and learning some of the most involved and complicated systems in the hobby; and dear me, you had better learn them, as there was nothing much else out there for a long, long while.
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Blocks in the West- A Boardgaming Life Review by Harvey Mossman

Game Box

I must admit to being a bit of a “Blockhead” when it comes to wargaming because blocks eloquently address issues of fog of war and step reduction in one simple design element.  Blocks in the West, VentoNuovo Games’ Western companion to their Blocks in the East, borrows much from games that have come before it, such as Columbia games Eastfront and Westfront, yet offers a distinctly different tack while providing a more intricate and nuanced simulation of the Western and Mediterranean theater during World War II.

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A Spoiled Victory, A Boardgaming Life Review

by Mitch Freedman

Game Design: Paul Fish and Hermann Luttmann

Publisher: White Dog Games  http://www.whitedoggames.com/#!dunkirk/c1qjs

Cover 2Here’s what you need to know before anything else. Games are what they are, and this is a solitaire game.  You aren’t going to outwit an opponent, you aren’t going to cheat anyone but yourself. And your battle is not against a rigidly advancing foe who follows strict rules, but against the luck of the cards.

You also aren’t playing on a hex grid map, but marching up toward the coast on 10 tracks, following a string of boxes the same size as your unit markers. They move up the track in just one direction until you hit the coast, and even after you sail away you aren’t really safe from German attacks until you get to England.  You can’t even throw new reinforcements into a key area and overwhelm the Germans. The best you can do is put your stronger units in good defensive terrain, flood some low lying boxes to slow the enemy advance, and – once a game – use some special markers to let the RAF rule the skies for a turn.

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The Process of Elimination : Defining the Der Weltkrieg Series – A Boardgaming Life Review

 By Paul Comben

Grand Campaign BoxAs I contemplated writing this article on Dave Schroeder’s massive divisional level treatment of the Great War, several contrasting images came to mind.

The first was of me, sitting in a railway carriage in the spring of 1998, reading the designer’s notes for The Schlieffen Plan and being utterly dismissive of the statement that this was but the first part of a series which would eventually cover the entirety of the First World War. I simply could not see it happening – I had just bought this game as a curiosity more than anything else, and prided myself on having far too much experience of how the hobby had been over years to take grandiose claims of massive things to come at face value.

The second image, or rather, set of images, were those photographs posted from games clubs where the series I was so certain was going to fizzle out after one or two titles, has been lovingly set up in all its stunning immensity by teams of keen players.

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Raid on Iran: Mission Briefing

Strategy, Success and Failure in ‘Raid on Iran’

by Mark D. & Tony Stroppa

Raid on Iran Board Game Replay Title Graphic


RAID ON IRAN, published by Steve Jackson Games back in 1980, has become one of my favorites over the last 30+ years. I don’t consider it a brilliant design or a showpiece of conflict simulation, but I do find it enjoyable, challenging and possessed of a depth that allows for virtually unlimited replay without getting stale. And that’s good enough for me.
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Paul Koenig’s Fortress Europe: A Boardgaming Life Review

By Harvey Mossman

Fortress Europe BoxRepublishing older designs has become very popular lately.  I suppose it is nice to have these older games back in circulation especially for newer gamers who missed the golden era of gaming in the 1970s and 80s.  However when an older game is republished, I do expect the designer to make improvements to the game including consolidating rules errata, refining the game system and updating the graphics.  Paul Koenig’s Fortress Europe has done this and more.  The first edition, called Fortress Europa, was designed by John Edwards and published in Australia by Jedko games in 1978.  Avalon Hill reworked the rules and published the more well-known version in 1980 followed by a 2nd edition rules set.  In PKG’s edition, we have a worthy successor to this classic.

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