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.
By Paul Comben
Publisher: VentoNuovo Games
Well, I have not got any lamps I can let go out, but I might just start a few alarm bells ringing – 1914 Germany at War, covering the opening months of conflict on the Western Front, uses much the same system as was seen in Vento Nuovo’s previous game, Waterloo 200.
Are there any bells ringing? Perhaps a few. Those of us whose first experience of the hobby was via the Avalon Hill “classics” will probably recall with an odd mixture of warm nostalgia and mildly cold shuddering the diverse titles which fell into that classification – diverse titles, but essentially the same game, blithely oblivious to period, technology, tactics, and just about anything else historians and gamers tend to think are rather important to getting things right.
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.
By Russ Lockwood
Designer: Jon Compton, Lembit Tohver
Publisher: Turning Point Simulations
Talk about miracles. It’s a miracle any wargame company makes a mounted map ala the old Avalon Hill games of yesteryear. Yet, that’s exactly what’s in Turning Point Simulations’ Marne 1914 game — a mounted game map. Granted, it’s only half a map measuring 11 inches by 17 inches, but mounted it is and a nice change of pace from paper maps.
Mapboard, setup and player aid cards. BEF (red counters) in the center, with French VIth Army to let (west) and Vth Army to right (east). Apologies in advance for blurriness and glare.
By Paul Comben
Publisher Vento Nuovo Games
Designer Emanuele Santandrea
(Some images courtesy of BoardgameGeek.com)
Inevitably, some games on some subjects have us searching around our catalogue of game play experience looking for the most apposite terms of reference. However, from time to time you get a game that really does not put us in mind of anything else. My recent review of W1815 for The Boardgaming Life highlighted such a game; and now, I come to a second Waterloo game which is unique and entirely of itself.
Superficially, this Vento Nuovo title might prompt considerations of similarity with several Columbia designs – especially their Borodino – but beyond a certain resemblance in physical format, Waterloo 200 has very little in common with Columbia’s work. What we have here is an entry-level block game, which, surprise surprise, emphasizes fog of war, but adds to that impulse movement on an area based map, as well as the wearing friction of command, maneuver and combat, the various crises pertaining to battlefield commitment, and all this alongside a dice-less combat system, which, at least initially, will leave many a player scratching their head and wondering what to do. My advice to such players: leave your personal Waterloo baggage elsewhere and give this game time to work its charms on you, because this is really rather special.
by Russ Lockwood
Designer: Chris Perello
Publisher Decision Games
Being on a WWI kick the last few years, I’ve been picking up various wargames and they seem to be of two kinds — monster games like 1914: Offensive a outrance, its ‘Serbia Must Die’ brother, and Balance of Powers, and small games like Decision Games’ ‘folio’ series such as Masuria 1915 and Tannenberg 1914 as well as the Marne 1914 game from Turning Point Simulations. I had previously bought DG’s Meuse-Argonne 1918 folio game and enjoyed it, so I picked up Masuria and Tannenberg. I also picked up the monster games, too, but they’ll take more space and time in the future.
Knowing little about Masuria, which covers the 1915 Masurian Lakes battle, Dennis and I cracked that open first. It’s a far different game than Meuse-Argonne 1918.
By Paul Comben
Designer Hannu Uusitalo
I cannot help but think that this game should be creating a bit more buzz than it actually is. There are certainly some enthusiastic posts on BGG, to go along with a few photos, but given the quality and innovation of the design, and that the favourable comments include one lengthy offering from Professor Philip Sabin (whose work, of course, involves both the design and study of conflict simulations), I think it time the hobby really sat up and took a look at what is going on here.
W1815 is by a Finnish company making its introduction via one of the cleverest, most interestingly different, and utterly engaging works I have set my eyes on in a very long time. Covering the well-trodden ground of Waterloo, you can learn this game in minutes, set it up in seconds, play it in a few more minutes…and then really want to set it up and play it all again. A dream of a game for conventions, for clubs, for holiday outings, for anywhere, I will say here and now that this is a game well worth seeking out and playing to your heart’s content – and yes, it is entirely and enjoyably accessible to solitaire play.
So what makes it so different?