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.
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.
I must admit to being a bit of a “Blockhead” when it comes to wargaming because blocks eloquently address issues of fog of war and step reduction in one simple design element. Blocks in the West, VentoNuovo Games’ Western companion to their Blocks in the East, borrows much from games that have come before it, such as Columbia games Eastfront and Westfront, yet offers a distinctly different tack while providing a more intricate and nuanced simulation of the Western and Mediterranean theater during World War II.
By Harvey Mossman
Republishing older designs has become very popular lately. I suppose it is nice to have these older games back in circulation especially for newer gamers who missed the golden era of gaming in the 1970s and 80s. However when an older game is republished, I do expect the designer to make improvements to the game including consolidating rules errata, refining the game system and updating the graphics. Paul Koenig’s Fortress Europe has done this and more. The first edition, called Fortress Europa, was designed by John Edwards and published in Australia by Jedko games in 1978. Avalon Hill reworked the rules and published the more well-known version in 1980 followed by a 2nd edition rules set. In PKG’s edition, we have a worthy successor to this classic.