Battles of The Black Cavalry
Hill 262 – Chambois: August 1944

Author: Paul Comben

Designer: Adam Niechwiej

Publisher: Strategemata

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Some readers may recall an article I wrote for this site around fifteen months ago featuring another game by the same company, Festung Breslau.  That design covered the 1945 siege of the German city, in which Polish forces under Red Army command played a far from insignificant role.  My review was very largely positive, given the character of a relatively simple system in relation to the nature of a bitter street fight that lasted throughout the last months of the war in Europe.
pic4530019Now, the same designer, Adam Niechwiej, has approached a very different subject, one that presents Polish forces fighting alongside the Western Allies in the struggle to close the Falaise Pocket.  This is, arguably, one of the most controversial episodes from the 1944 campaign – many believe that no German forces should never have been allowed to leach out the pocket and thus live to fight another day.  Blame is often assigned to various figures and formations for a lack of verve – but one thing that we can be certain of is that the Poles themselves did all they possibly could.

Tactical games, of which this is very much one, often invite the presumption that they are going to be long on rules and time-consuming on procedures.  However, before I actually received this game I quietly suspected that this might not be the case here, given that Festung Breslau had got an awful lot done with a very modest set of rules.  If anything, the rules to Black Cavalry, which are of a series type covering more than one design (two others presently, one of which covers Polish campaign events of 1939), are even shorter.  The system itself can take just a little getting used to, given some of its idiosyncrasies and a few passages where the English is not absolutely ideal, but for all that, someone who has this system grasped could teach it to another experienced wargamer in a handful of minutes.

 

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by Paul Comben

Designer: Ray Weiss

Publisher: Conflict Simulations LLC

Some readers of this article may recall that I spent time last summer playing the old Conflict Games design, Verdun: Dagger at The Heart of France. I posted my turn reports on the Vintage Wargames page over on Facebook. This was a design I had first played shortly after its publication in 1978, and forty years on, I had to report that my feelings about the game had not really changed much. It was certainly interesting, and after its own fashion it was probably fairly faithful to its theme. Its main fault, at least in my opinion, was that it was all a bit too literal – there was lots of artillery at the battle, so the game gave you lots of artillery units, and by the time they had all been squeezed onto the playing surface, those same units came to resemble cars parked around Wembley Stadium on FA Cup Final day. Everything became a vast repetitive exercise in counting up factors, and it was hard to distinguish a design philosophy moving the game forward. In short, it just was what it was.