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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.

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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.

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 by Paul Comben

There is an issue with naval board wargames that really does not apply to many other areas of the hobby. You can have some big beast of a Gettysburg game, or of Waterloo, or of Borodino; you can advance through the steppes of 1941 Russia with dozens of divisions; return to Cannae or Gaugamela with arms stretching to reach the extremities of your paper battlefield, but you might still have less administrative hassle, drag on gameplay, and threat of that precious weekend coming to a close far too quickly, than if you embark on grey seas to fight battles with the floating custodians of great matter and moment.

 By Paul Comben

Grand Campaign BoxAs I contemplated writing this article on Dave Schroeder’s massive divisional level treatment of the Great War, several contrasting images came to mind.

The first was of me, sitting in a railway carriage in the spring of 1998, reading the designer’s notes for The Schlieffen Plan and being utterly dismissive of the statement that this was but the first part of a series which would eventually cover the entirety of the First World War. I simply could not see it happening – I had just bought this game as a curiosity more than anything else, and prided myself on having far too much experience of how the hobby had been over years to take grandiose claims of massive things to come at face value.

The second image, or rather, set of images, were those photographs posted from games clubs where the series I was so certain was going to fizzle out after one or two titles, has been lovingly set up in all its stunning immensity by teams of keen players.