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?
Author: Harvey Mossman
Designer: Mark Simonitch
Publisher: GMT games
The American Civil War remains one of the most climactic events in American history and still scars the national psyche. Whereas many other conflicts involving the United States wax and wane in interest, it is safe to say that publishing a game on this topic is usually a “sure bet” with the war gaming public.
As such, The Civil War by Victory Games, at least to my mind, was the epitome of strategic Civil War games and was a derivative of an older Strategy & Tactics magazine game called The American Civil War (also an excellent game but limited by the magazine format) so it was with baited breath that I anticipated the release of GMT’s the US Civil War. I was not disappointed!
by Russ Lockwood
Designer: Craig Besinque
Publisher: GMT Games
Leader of the UK House of Commons Neville Chamberlain strode over and kicked Prime Minster Stanley Baldwin right in the Bewdleys. As the PM bent over with a scream, Chamberlain picked up the gavel and smashed it across the back of Baldwin’s head. The PM collapsed as the head of the gavel bounced across the floor.
Neville tossed aside the handle. Grabbing Baldwin by the scruff of the neck, the muscular Chamberlain hauled the disgraced PM out into the hallway and kicked him down the stairs.
“Thank you for your service,” Chamberlain growled. “I’ll show you how to take on that scruffy little corporal and bobble-headed Commie!”
If the above reads more like bad fantasy from D&D than from Triumph and Tragedy (T&T, from GMT), that’s because T&T offers Neville a chance to right some wrongs in 1930s Europe. Consider T&T a cross between the old AH Origins of World War II and Axis and Allies — only cleverer by far.
By Russ Lockwood and Dan Burkley
Designers: Tony Curtis and Mark Simonitch
Publisher GMT Games
I last played this GMT game covering the battle of the Bulge with Dan back in 2013, at least according to the date stamp on my photo files. It’s been too long to this terrific game. You can probably blame Bitter Woods on that — bigger counters for squinty eyes and bigger hexes for fatter fingers…
Mind you, this is not a simple game. At its base, it is just move and then a combat CRT based on odds, but with chrome.
Nevertheless, we took to the gaming table after lunch and settled in for an enjoyable game of Ardennes ‘44. Each hex is 1.6 miles and units are battalions and regiments for the most part. Each day consists of a morning, afternoon, and night turns.
By Russ Lockwood
Designer: John Welch
Publisher: Victory Point Games
Oliver Cromwell, who boasted a head rounder than Charlie Brown, delivered the best line at Parliamentary Comedy Club: “The act of regicide was a cruel necessity.” Hence the title for a solitaire board game of the English Civil War pitting you, as a split Puritan personality called Parliament, against a host of Royalists in support of papists Chuckie and Chuckie the Sequel.