By Michael Stultz
Designer: Bowens Simmons
Publisher: Mercury Games
Confederate forces invaded the United States of America in the summer of 1863 during the waning days of June. Just two months prior at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee’s army had defeated the Army of the Potomac, one of several defeats inflicted on the Union. Lee reasoned that now was the time for a bold strike that might win the war for the South, or at least, procure necessary victuals and potentially gain the recognition and support of one or both of France and England. The Confederate rank and file were confident and self-assured as they struck north in the waning days of June 1863. It was the high-tide for General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. The aim was simple: requisition supplies and disrupt Union invasion plans. Lee’s army desperately needed this in the face of an increasingly critical scarcity of food and basic material; and strategically, taking the war onto Northern soil would put the Confederates on the offensive outside their own territory. So, march they did. In the first three days of July, a momentous battle was fought where no one had planned to engage, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In those three days, two armies and two nations collided in violent combat. And in those three days, one nation died, another triumphed.
That’s the history. And if you want to replay history using scripted movements and positions, playing across a hexagonal grid, you will not likely enjoy Guns of Gettysburg, designed by Bowen Simmons and published by Mercury Games. But if you are looking for a unique design that takes you into the action of those three days, this is a candidate well deserving of your time.
A Review of Trafalgar Editions’ Game of Nelson’s Epic Battle
by Paul Comben, Designer:Crisanto Lorente Gonzalez, Publisher: Trafalgar Editions
Part One: Components and the Basic Game
There is always a certain challenge facing designers looking to create games relating to the things men make to fight in – be it ships, be it tanks, be it aircraft, the challenge remains the same: just how much detail should be included?
by Russ Lockwood, Designer: Dirk Vergauwen, Publisher: MDVC Games
This Dutch wargame on the 1944 Arnhem campaign has a big 20×55-inch board, plastic troops, and a couple interesting mechanics. Four of us gathered to play this game: me (British/Polish airborne near Arnhem), Marc (British 30 Corp), Dan (US 82nd and 101st Airborne and supporting ground troops behind 30 Corp), and Rory (Germans).
Paul Comben takes a look at the inaugural design of a new company, Trafalgars Editions. and their simulation of the Battle of Waterloo which combines elements of miniatures with traditional historical board war game mechanics.
by Paul Comben
Designer: Jose Antonio Luengo
Publisher: Trafalgar Editions
By Paul Comben
Designer: Emanuele Santandrea
Publisher: VentoNuovo Games
There are a number of ways to describe the nature of the German Blitzkrieg, but for the purposes of this introduction to Vento Nuovo’s latest release, it is probably best described as the military equivalent of a flat-track bully. German Blitzkrieg was fast – but, by that very fact, as well as the rushed reconstruction of the German armed forces operating in the early war period, it certainly did not like having to go too far, or last for too long. Put it in a longer struggle, or take it away from its ideal ground, and the bully would begin to weaken. Take it entirely beyond its comfort zone, and it was likely to die on its feet.
By Russ Lockwood
Designer: Dave LeLacheur
Publisher: Compass Games
To create a global WWII wargame like Blitz! A World in Conflict (Compass Games, $84, released November 2015) means you have to think big — really big. That requires some compromises in terms of physical components and mechanics.
Space proved one concern. If you want to battle across the world on a 3-foot by 2-foot map, you’re not going to model every scrap of terrain or every unit that took part. Risk has a variety of global versions, although not a WWII version that I’m aware of. The most popular WWII wargame of a global type, Axis and Allies, simplified all units into one-hit wonders (OK, battleships are two-hit wonders). Forget the nuances we came to expect from reading about WWII — the game was materialschlact and luck at its finest. It took a long afternoon to play. The successor A&A versions, where you butt the Europe version up against the Pacific version, added a little more nuance, but not much. It also took 12 to 14 hours to fight the entire war.
LESSONS ON OPERATIONAL PLANNING IN A 1950’S SIEGE
By Stuart McAninch
Designer: Kim Kanger
Publisher: Legion Wargames
On first examination of the map and rules for Kim Kanger’s game, I was struck with how difficult the task of the Viet Minh player is. While he has a potent force, he must bludgeon his way through one French strongpoint after another. And he must do this on a tight time schedule with limited replacements and artillery ammunition and little hope of reinforcements. A look at French counters indicates strong infantry and artillery. At this point, I concluded that this is my kind of game. The game system forces the Viet Minh player in particular to engage in exceedingly thorough operational planning. What follows is an analysis of the game system and what that analysis suggests regarding a Viet Minh operational plan and tactics for the siege.
By Paul Comben
In the last weeks of 1812 Napoleon had witnessed the wholesale destruction of the army he had led to the gates of Moscow. Too long a stay in that abandoned and razed city; too readily beguiled and deceived by the illusion that the Tsar might yet come to terms; too much indecision; too little supply; an abundance of Cossack raiders and the winter’s relentless cold, all had played their part in reducing La Grande Armée to nothing but the last straggling fragments of total ruin. Not too long after the desperate crossing of the Berezina, the emperor informed his marshals that he was leaving the army and hastening on to Paris. Murat was left in overall command, and whilst he falteringly went about the discharge of a duty far removed from all his customary notions of martial splendour, Napoleon raced across Europe in a small and anonymous group of vehicles, and was in the French capital a little under three weeks later.
by Harvey Mossman
Publisher: Columbia Games
Designer: Tom Dalgliesh
I must admit that I was not the original reviewer for this game and it came back to me when that person could not meet his deadline. Now, I am a hard-core historical, hex and counter gamer so The Last Spike was not exactly something I was longing to review. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Columbia Games’ eurogame treatment of land speculation during the great era of railroad building across America.
In the game, players compete to accumulate money from land speculation out West where railroads are due to be built. This differs very much from the railroad building genre popular in eurogame circles where building the rail line is paramount and moving commodities is profitable. In this game your goal is to buy the land where the railroad track would be laid and profit when the track is actually completed between 2 cities. There is no product to move and no cargoes to be managed.
by Russ Lockwood
Designer: Florent Coupeau
Publisher: Vae Victus
We had been wanting to play this French import wargame, Orages a L’Est, for a while, so we finally cracked it open, popped out the counters (well, used a knife to cut out the counters), and set up the Turda 1944 game. Orages a L’Est actually has two games set in 1944, Turda, featuring a joint German-Hungarian counterattack against the Soviets and the Romanians near that town in Transylvania, and Tali-Ihantala in Finland. I picked Turda because it had a flat, featureless map, and, how many times can you say 1944 joint German-Hungarian counterattack?