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?
By Russ Lockwood
Designer: Eric R. Harvey and David March
Publisher: Decision Games at http://decisiongames.com/wpsite/
“Me Putin. Me want Poland. Nice shirts there. Not that I wear any. But what’s the West gonna do? Nyetski, comrade. Nyetski. Trust me. After I take Poland, I put up a statue of Chekov — the Star Trek hippee, not the writer, and everyone will sayink what a great guy I will be, especially the Poles. No, really. They love me over there. Russian media sez so.
Actually, iz not my fault. The West pays for Russian natural gas, which happens to go through Poland. But the Poles start frackingk and reduce market for Russian gas. I merely suggested the Poles join a nice little trade association run by Russian companies. Vhat’s not to like?
Poles say deal is not zo good. Next thingk I know, Poles say moose and squirrel shut down the big pump station for maintenance. Lots of maintenance. Now, gas backingk up. Rubles fallingk down. Big NATO plotski. No, really. Russian media sez so.
Vhat’s to do? Take Poland. It’s like they’re askingk me. They love me over there. No, really. Russian media sez so.”
Such is the background (well, sans stereotype) for the wargame Visegrad, which is in Modern War magazine issue 16. The map stretches from Moscow to roughly the Rhine and Alps at 35 miles per hex, with one week turns and brigade-size units.
By Paul Comben
Designer Richard Dengel
Publisher One Small Step
Be honest, how many strictly tactical level ACW games could you name…apart from this one, that is? Actually, I rather suspect readers could name close to all of them – which is another way of saying that there have never been all that many. I recall Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, to which I could probably add Baton Rouge, MacPherson’s Ridge, Gettysburg: The Wheatfield, and Battles and Leaders. There may be a few others, but we have never been exactly deluged with tactical recreations of Civil War mischief. And therefore, that a new company wants to devote some serious attention to this sort of subject matter, and that the intention is to feature some lesser known and smaller Civil War battles as well as key portions of the big fights, is something to offer a welcome to.
By Paul Comben
Let us imagine for a moment a book on the battle of Waterloo – a subject wherein, of course, we are somewhat spoilt for choice. This book, with a big portrait of the victor of Waterloo on the cover, is called something along the lines of “Wellington’s Campaign in Belgium” or maybe “Wellington and The Hundred Days”; but when you open this same book, and then scour its contents from page one to page four hundred, there is not a single mention of Wellington at all. His forces move; objectives are gained or lost; but neither actively nor passively is The Iron Duke ever referred to. Odd; in fact, rather disappointing; not quite what one would have expected.
And I begin this way just to stress one particular point – there is precious little Chester Nimitz in Fleet Commander Nimitz; he is there in the title, and his portrait adorns the box lid and rules cover, but he is not coursing through the contents. Yes, it is his theatre of command, and it is his forces and his enemy’s forces on the counter sheets, but the man himself, in character, style, the level of his command decision-making, his relationships with key subordinates and with the government at home, is more of less entirely absent – just like Wellington is in our book. I am not saying this to stick the knife into the game from the start, but simply to offer a statement about my perceptions and values in the area of game design. I have certainly voiced a plea for a more accented and colourful command presence in previous articles, and I find that FC Nimitz makes a lot of those points for me by being entirely bereft of the very things I would like to see.
By Russ Lockwood
Publisher Columbia Games
Julius Caesar by Columbia Games is a game that I always thought deserves more attention than it has received. It has an intriguing , puzzle like quality to it which takes several plays to really grasp the deep thought required to play well. With that in mind, TheBoardgamingLife presents Russ Lockwood’s Review and After Action Report of this overlooked gem .
This highly regarded series of solitaire titles began in 2008 with the publication of the original version of Field Commander Rommel. Field Commander Alexander was released the following year, and then Field Commander Napoleon in 2011. The most recent title, Fleet Commander Nimitz, was published at the end of 2014.
by Harvey Mossman
Approximately one year ago I umpired a game of Flight of the Eagle over the Internet. It was a very interesting experience, both for me as the umpire and for the players who had to deal with true fog of war and 19th-century limitations on communications. You can peruse my game review and a follow-up article which is a narrative of the campaign. But I will dedicate this article to the lessons learned being an umpire for Flight of the Eagle.
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.