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.
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
Publisher: Columbia Games
Designers: Craig Besinque, Tom Dalgliesh
A couple of weeks ago at Phil’s, we were chatting about Columbia’s block games, comparing those we enjoyed and those, well, not. Phil mentioned he had bought a copy of East Front, Columbia’s WWII block game of Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union, put all the stickers on the blocks, but had not played it. I also mentioned that it had sounded good, but I had not tried it either. At the moment, time was a bit too short to start learning a new game, but I borrowed it to at least read the rules.
The rules sounded promising, with a couple of interesting concepts, notably the interaction of HQs, command radius, and air power.
Well, here we are with the stock-in-trade of the hobby – whatever else has been designed, and wherever else it took us, you cannot think of the hobby without the Eastern Front in World War Two. From small unit actions, where the brutal simplicity of combat, mano-a-mano, is conveyed in rules that can break your foot if you drop them, to grand operational and strategic designs that come with everything save a yellow briefcase, the hobby has done it every which way for decades.
By Paul Comben
Let me begin by telling you about this extension kit I came up with many years ago. I was just a lad, but a lad with ambitions to turn my copy of Stalingrad into something that time-wise, went beyond spring 1943, and territory-wise, extended all the way to Berlin and Vienna. To achieve this, I drew a map on a bit of card, putting in the cities, the rivers, and the mountains – and because I had no way of drawing a hex grid, I did squares (of sorts); and when I had finished, after some time of trying to put everything where it was meant to go, it looked absolutely horrible… I mean, hideous to the point of travesty. But I was thirteen, and I did not care; I wanted my Berlin map, I wanted the drama of experiencing the death throes of the Third Reich; and just because all I had was a bit of card that was only slightly better marked out than a Viking’s idea of what Australia looked like, I saw no reason to deny myself the pleasure.