Wargame Christmas Wishlist – 2017 Edition

Wargame Christmas Wishlist 2017

Christmas is the most magical time of year, celebrating with family and friends, eating an obscene amount of mince pies, carol singing, way too many glasses of mulled wine, awaiting that visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and of course, WARGAMES.

Really though, I remember that excitement I would get as a child, unable to sleep, eagerly awaiting to open up my gifts on Christmas morning, hoping that I was well behaved enough to get what I’d wished for. Being an adult, something that gives me that same kind of excitement are wargames. Yes, if you know me, or know my blog, or follow me on any sort of social media, you’ll know that over the past year, I have developed a huge love for wargames and the wargaming hobby and there are just so many I would love to see under my tree this year. 

So Santa if you’re reading this, because I know you secretly love wargames, here is my 2017 wargame wishlist. 


1. Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain – Designed by Marc Gouyon – Rety & Published by GMT Games


  • 1–4 players
  • 60 – 360 minute playing time
  • Area movement, Area control, Dice rolling

Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain is the latest game in the COIN Series and definitely at the top of my list. First of all,  I am massive fan of the COIN series anyway, so I’m always excited when a new COIN game is released, however there is just something about Pendragon that drew me in straight away and it’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot. The theme is something that interests me, I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m British or because it’s something I know quite a lot about but I would love to see how Marc Gouyon – Rety has translated this time in history into what looks like, the perfect boardgame.

Volume VIII in GMT’s COIN Series transports us into the 4th and 5th Centuries A.D. and to the embattled Isle of Britannia. Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain covers a century of history from the first large-scale raids of Irish, Pict, and Saxon raiders, to the establishment of successor kingdoms, both Celtic and Germanic. This sumptuous volume adapts the celebrated asymmetrical COIN engine to depict the political, military, religious, and economic struggles of Dark Ages Britain.

With factions including: The Dux which represent the original Roman Army in Britannia, The Civitates representing the Romanized aristocracy ruling the ancient Celtic tribes from lavish villas and prosperous Roman towns. You also have The Saxons that represent various Germanic groups including Angles, Jutes, Frisians, and Franks who harried, settled, and eventually took over swaths of Britain and last, but certainly not least, The Scotti, named for the marauding groups of Irish raiders, also represent those Celts native to the island of Britain who differed from the romanized Civitates by remaining true (or reverting back) to the old ways. Often, the boundary between the two groups was porous…

…this game is certainly one I wouldn’t be disappointed to find under the tree.

2. Bitskrieg – Designed by Scott Muldoon & Miles Muldoon & Published by Hollandspiele 


  • 1 – 2 players
  • 30 minutes playing time
  • Grid movement, Dice rolling

Bitskrieg makes the list for a few reasons, the first reason being that my nephew has recently taken an interest in boardgames and wargames. He sees what I’m playing and writing about and it excites him and I would love, love, love to share a bit of excitement with him. Bitskrieg also makes the list because Hollandspiele are a publisher that I have a lot of respect for. I’ve only played a few of their games but they are incredible and every single game on their website is one I could happily own and play. 

Bitskrieg was designed by Scott Muldoon, as he wanted a wargame he could play with his five-year-old son, Miles. He wanted to create a game that was simple and compelling enough that a child could play it, but also crunchy enough that a grown-up wouldn’t be bored of it and I love that.

It’s a tank battle game, where you and your opponent secretly and simultaneously pick five tanks from four different types, picking the ones you think will be best-suited to a unique map as well as what you think your opponent might be thinking. This game seems to be full of tricky tactical moves and subtle strategic decisions leaving even the most experienced wargamers satisfied and it why it definitely deserves a place in my collection.

3. Old School Tactical: Volume 1 Eastern front 1941/42 – Designed by Shayne Logan & Published by Flying Pig Games


  • 2 players
  • 60 minutes
  • Hex & Counter, Dice Rolling

Flying Pig Games have made some pretty great titles and this is one I have wanted for a while, after seeing The Player’s Aid blog talk about it on a recent gift guide, I knew it was the right decision to include it and I knew I definitely wanted it in my collection. 

Old School Tactical involves small unit engagements are fought on the Eastern Front during 1941-42. Players contest each scenario using counters representing the soldiers, guns and vehicles that fought these battles. The unique Impulse system varies the number of actions each side can take in a turn, creating intense firefights. Play moves back and forth between players and the dynamics of the battle can ‘turn on a dime’.

Old School Tactical feels like it would be a really great game to play with people that are maybe new to the hobby and that’s something I’m all about. I love introducing people to the amazing world of war-games and feel this is perfect for that!

4. Commands & Colors: Napoleonics designed by Richard Borg & Published by GMT Games


  • 2 players
  • 120 minute playing time
  • Hex and Counter, Dice rolling, Hand management

It’s probably no surprise to see Commands and Colors: Napoleonics on here, I have been playing a lot of Commands and Colors: Ancients and I am very fond of it, I love the hand management and strategy involved. I am a believer that you can never have enough Card Driven Games in your collection and you can definitely never have enough GMT Games in your collection so this one is definitely a winner.


5. Nemos War – Designed by Chris Taylor and Published by Victory Point Games


  • 1 – 4 players
  • 60 – 120 minute playing time
  • Area Control, Area movement, Solitaire gaming

Now, I don’t know if this is technically a wargame but I’m calling it one anyway. Nemo’s War has been on my radar for a long time. First of all, can we just talk about that artwork? Ian O’Toole is a genius and I am a massive fan of his artwork which is what initially attracted me to this game, well that paired with the interesting theme and solitaire compatibility. Set in year 1870, players set sail in this amazing electric-powered submarine, assuming the role and motive of Captain Nemo as you travel across the seas on missions of science, exploration, anti-imperialism, and war!

I don’t own anything like this in my boardgame collection at the moment, it’s different, eye catching and would make the perfect gift for anybody I think. I would be genuinely so happy if Santa left this in my stocking. 

6. Leuthen: Frederick’s Greatest Victory – Designed by Paul Dangel & Published by Clash of Arms Games


  • 1 -2 players
  • 360 minutes playing time
  • Hex and counter, Solitaire gaming

On to some serious Hex and Counter gaming, Leuthen: Frederick’s Greatest Victory is one of those games I feel like I might never get to the table but seriously need any way. It’s quite a heavy wargame, and a classic to some. 

On a frigid December 5th, in a season when armies usually sought the comfort of winter quarters, the opposing forces met on the snow covered fields surrounding the Silesian village of Leuthen. After deftly maneuvering around Prince Charles’ flank Frederick’s Prussians attacked with unprecedented fury collapsing the enemy line. However, despite this initial crushing blow the Austrians were able to reorganize their front and fight the Prussians to a standstill leaving the battle’s final outcome still in doubt. Only after a climactic cavalry charge did the Habsburg army finally break and retreat to Breslau. Two weeks later the city capitulated and the Austrians evacuated Silesia. Although the war would continue for another six years Frederick would never again attain the level of success he did at Leuthen, his greatest victory.

Leuthen presents both gamers with a colorful and meticulously detailed simulation with which to explore the actual events and possibilities of this definitive battle. Included is an historical commentary written especially for the game by the period’s leading authority, Prof. Christopher Duffy. This narrative contains many previously unpublished aspects of the battle and includes maps, diagrams, statistics and his analysis of the 1757 campaign in Silesia.


Some honourable mentions






So there you have it. A few, well quite a lot of games that I really want to find under my tree on Christmas morning.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a great Christmas and please let me know if you have played any of these and your opinions on the games in the comments section. 

Adobe Spark

The Battle of Kursk: Kickstarter from Flying Pig Games [Wargame Wednesday]

Flying Pig Games are responsible for some pretty cool games including ’65 Squad Level Combat (which I’ve got a review coming for very soon) as well as Night of Man which is a card-driven, tactical board game set in a post-alien-invasion-of-Earth universe, what’s not to love? 

Flying Pig games do a really good job of making wargames accessible and that’s something I’m definitely on board with so I wanted to give their new Kickstarter some love. I haven’t had the chance to play The Battle of Kursk but from what I do know, I’m  super excited about it and wanted to share it with you too.

Cover kursk 2-01 (1)

The Battle of Kursk is a fast-playing, easy-access, hex and counter game depicting combined arms combat in the Battle of Kursk.

I’ll be honest, the Battle of Kursk isn’t something I know a lot about but when I heard about this game being launched, I started doing a bit of research into it and I must say, I’m definitely excited. 

Designed by Mark H. Walker and David K. van Hoose, the game comes with two mounted maps, and nice thick 1” square counters. There are Tiger tanks, Panther tanks, Mk IV tanks, T-34/76 tanks, KV-1 tanks, SU-152 assault guns, infantry (rifle, guards, pioneers, submachine gun), mortar batteries, Stukas, IL-2, and more.  


Each turn is gamed through several phases. At the beginning of each turn, the players determine initiative with a unique dice-off system in which ties award the initiative to whomever lacked it the previous turn and applying the Commander’s Focus to the roll might tilt the odds in your favor.

Next, players will draw a number of Action Cards that may be used for anything from artillery,air strikes, rally assist and negating an opponent’s just-played card. It’s then  time to rally disrupted units with a simple 1d6 roll, against a nationality or scenario-designated morale. Action Cards, in addition to the special Aid counter, may be used to improve a unit’s chances of preparing for combat.

Then comes the Movement Phase. Unlike the preceding Fire Phase, one player moves ALL eligible units before the opposition gets to move. Certain units can move and fire or vice versa, unfired opposing units can opportunity fire on enemies moving within their line of sight. Additionally, good order units exert a zone of control on passing units if they can’t fire. As in many other facets of the game, the insightful play of Action Cards during the movement phase is critical, allowing additional movement or opportunity fire conducted by units that have already fired. 

Finally, you have the Aid and Focus Phase. Platoon Commander eschews the use of HQs that can be unrealistically targeted. Instead both players have Aid and Focus markers, representing where the commander intends to place emphasis or send additional assets (ammunition, weapons, etc) or first aid. The placement of these markers provides combat and morale bonuses to the units underneath them. Additionally, if the player chooses, the Focus marker can be used to influence the initiative roll. And that’s a turn of Platoon Commander.  

kursk.samples 02

There’s a few things I really like about this game already and it’s only just hit Kickstarter, I love the clutterless counters and the way the whole game looks. The Battle of Kursk uses colour to determine a weapon’s range which I really like, for example, an Armor Piercing factor printed on gold indicates that the weapon can fire normally at a target up to four hexes away and I feel like that makes the game easy on the eye and accessible.

I also love the way the cards are used in this game, even though I’m a massive fan of card driven games, it’s nice to see a game use cards in a different way and I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays. The Battle of Kursk is card assisted rather than a CDG so the action cards provide artillery, rally units, provide combat bonuses, and even unexpected Opportunity Fire shots. 

The Battle of Kursk seems like a game that everybody can enjoy, if you’ve been playing these kind of games forever or if you’re quite new to this world and that impresses me, I feel like this one is going to get a lot of play time. The components are gorgeous combined with eye catching art work, nice chunky counters and what seems to be, pretty seamless gameplay, this is high on my wish list and I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen with campaign.

Thanks for reading and if you’d like to check out the Kickstarter, you can do so here: The Battle of Kursk Kickstarter.

Adobe Spark

A Few First Impressions [Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater, 1775 – 1777]

Supply lines of the American Revolution, published by Hollandspiele, is a game of supply, logistics, and deceit, set during the first three years of the American Revolutionary War. A two player game sees the Patriot Player, controlling the forces and destiny of the rebellious Americans; the Crown Player, seeking to bring the rebels to their senses.


Logistics, yes, you heard me, a game about logistics. A very, very clever game about logistics.  How many times can I say logistics? Probably quite a lot.

This kind of game is very new to me. Of course, I’ve played quite a lot of wargames but this isn’t the type of wargame that I’m familiar with. This is something different, something innovative. Sure it’s about war but there’s no direct conflict and that’s something that definitely attracted me to this game in the first place. A new take on a subject that I’m pretty familiar with, theme shines through in abundance throughout the game and every decision during the game matters, a significant amount.  

On receiving Supply Lines, I couldn’t wait to get it open, I knew it wouldn’t hit the table immediately but I’ve had the rulebook in my hand whenever I’ve had a spare moment for the last couple of months. I don’t think it’s a very complex rulebook, of course that’s subjective but I love how conversational it is and how easy to understand it is. For a subject that definitely seemed overwhelming to me at first, this was comforting.

Then you have the components, something that isn’t usually a priority when it comes to boardgames for me, but having beautiful components obviously doesn’t hurt. Supply Lines has a graceful, beautifully designed paper map and those big thick counters, the kind that are very satisfying to hold in your hand, I like those.


Sequence of play

The game is played over a series of game turns, and each game turn consists of the following Phases.

Supply phase: Supplies are generated. Each player then has the opportunity to move their supplies.

Initiative Phase: Each player rolls a die. The highest roller will have the first impulse in the impulse phase.

Impulse Phase: Players alternate activating armies in a series of impulses, or passing. The impulse phase ends when both players pass consecutively, or when the pass marker has reached the last space on the track.

Turn End Phase: Some minor housekeeping steps are performed, including the mustering of Patriot Reinforcements. 

You’re trying to basically move around the map of the Northern Theater, combining area control, point to point movement and a little bit of dice rolling thrown in for good measure. There are two types of supplies in the game, yep those little wooden cubes. Food Supply is expended to move your units, and War Supply to fight.

The game ends immediately when one of the players meets one of their Victory Conditions: At the end of the twelfth game turn if no player has satisfied their Victory Conditions then both players lose. I really like this. It definitely makes the game feel tense throughout, don’t get me wrong, it’s a rather intense game anyway but it pushes the player to take some more risks with nothing to lose but absolutely everything to gain. 

That’s a very brief overview of how the game works, there’s more depth than that but I want to talk about how I actually found the game rather than rules for now.

I did find the actual rules pretty easy though, but the decisions I had to make throughout the game were not. Having to constantly think about my next move, constantly thinking about my supply line and making sure that my cities remained linked so that I could easily transport supply cubes back and forth.


Gameplay was challenging but I found it fascinating, I love a game that gets the brain working hard and this game definitely delivers on that front. It didn’t burn my brain to the point that I exploded but it definitely gave it a good try, a lot of thinking, a lot of planning and you guessed it, a lot strategy throughout the game, adding so much tension to the gaming experience and focusing on theme. Think building supply lines is easy? Think again. Making sure you have enough food supply to successfully move your units can be challenging, so keep an eye out for that and you better make sure you have enough War Supply to be able to fight, that can be hard but rewarding work.

I know I keep saying that this game was challenging but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to play it again or that it’s difficult in a bad way, it means that I had to really think about what I wanted to do, I had to plan moves in advance and work my hardest to make sure that I was going to be able to move around the map.  Playing a lot of Card Driven Games, I’m used to thinking on my feet a lot so this was new for me and I love it.

Supply Lines of the American Revolution was on my wish list for so long and it did not disappoint, a gorgeous game that definitely doesn’t let you off lightly, easy to learn but oozing with strategy and decisions to be made.


Hollandspiele are publishing  games that simply cannot be ignored and Supply Lines is no different. Logistics and combat combined make for such an interesting game, one that I make sure is going to hit the table a lot more. A Southern Theater companion game is already in the works, bringing me so much joy already and a must have for me. 

I’m excited to keep playing this game and hopefully learning to master it, I’m excited to see where this game will take me and I’m also eager to teach this one to friends, I know that this is a game that’s going to go down well with a lot of my gaming friends. 

Thank you for reading, let me know if you’ve been lucky enough to play and what you thought of it.










ROOT: a Game of Woodland Might and Right, a wonderful first impression

Let’s face it, there are a lot of great games being produced right now, by a lot of different designers and that’s a wonderful thing, but there aren’t many games that have got me as excited as I am about Root. A beautiful combination of elegant wargame style mechanics and an ingenious theme, Root has ticked all the boxes and then some. 


Designed by Cole Wehrle, somebody that I admire greatly, with a number of his games currently on my wish list and published by the imaginative Leder games, there was no surprise that Root was going to turn out so beautifully and my first impressions are nothing but postive for what’s to come. 

Taken from boardgame geek, we can see that Root is a game of adventure and war in which players battle for control of a vast wilderness. 

The nefarious Marquise de Cat has seized the great woodland, intent on harvesting its riches. Under her rule, the many creatures of the forest have been banded together. This Alliance will seek to strengthen its resources and subvert the rule of Cats. In this effort, the Alliance may enlist the help of the wandering Vagabonds who are able to move through the more dangerous woodland paths. Though some may sympathize with the Alliance’s hopes and dreams, these wanderers are old enough to remember the great birds of prey who once controlled the woods.

Meanwhile, at the edge of the region, the proud, squabbling Eyrie have found a new commander who they hope will lead their faction to resume their ancient birthright. The stage is set for a contest that will decide the fate of the great woodland. It is up to the players to decide which group will ultimately take root.

Now imagine that theme paired with the concept of the COIN series, that makes for some very clever game design. Of course ROOT isn’t a direct translation of the COIN series but it lends the idea of some of its seamless mechanics.

If you aren’t aware, the COIN series features Volko Ruhnke’s game system, a series designed very cleverly which means Counter-Insurgency and is specific to a type of warfare, the system includes a central “government” faction with 3 competing but different “rebellion” factions. The factions in Root definitely share some similarities to some of the COIN series. A series that can often seem overwhelming to most has been transformed into an enticing game filled with action and adventure. It’s easy to see which faction would take on which role. 

Cole describes his reasoning for these similarities and so much more in his carefully constructed designer diaries on Boardgamegeek, which can be found here: Designer Diary – Some helpful symmetry and provide thoughtful insight and explanation into the games design and the whys. 

Something that stuck out for me was the map, and behind that beautiful artwork, lays a cleverly designed wargame. Cole explains in these diaries that Root’s map is a pretty typical point-to-point wargame map. You have movement zones (called clearings) and paths that connect one clearing to another.

Early on I knew that the map should be claustrophobic-—a sort of anti-Twilight Imperium. I wanted the great forest of the game to be a dense, crowded space. To do that I needed a core movement system that would allow lots of different players to occupy the same clearing. At the same time, I didn’t want to woods to be overly porous. Players should be able to trap one another.

The map, combined with the different factions and single use cards, makes for a very interesting game. The game uses a single deck of mutli purpose cards, each player will use those cards in a very different way. This made for a very tense game, swapping cards, potentially knowing what card your opponent has, only wishing that it was yours. Being able to use those cards properly adds another layer of excitement to an already tense game. 


Then there are factions, the thing that initally drew me towards Root. There’s something so fascinating about taking a game concept that I’m fairly familiar with and turning it into something magical. 

The factions are so thoughtfully put together, down to the minor details, making for an immersive game. A game of clever cats, courageous hawks, the fierce woodland alliance and a vagabond that will do whatever it takes to get what he needs throughout the game. 


Root is so much more than just it’s wonderful and creative cute characters, Root is a tense and somewhat cut throat story unfolding before your eyes as you fall deeper and deeper into a game of conspiracy and war, but not as we know it. A game that I can see no fault with, a wargame clevery disgused even though I don’t think that many can shy away from or will want to. 

Although the game I played was a prototype and Root is still evolving, it’s definitely a solid game. Something I haven’t seen a lot of before and something I’m eager to play again and again. Such an accessible game, with all of the wargame qualities that I love but somehow offering so much more. Something new, something exciting and something that has given a whole new perspective to the way I percieve wargames. 

Root is currently on Kickstarter, off to a flying start and I definitely recommend you take a look at this one. Truly a game not to be missed.  You can find the kickstarter page here > Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right on Kickstarter

Thank you for reading my initial thoughts, I’ll be back with an update once I’ve had a few more plays but I needed to come on and tell you what I initially thought of the game. 

Thanks for reading,



A Few First Impressions [Iron Curtain: A Cold War Game]

I started off by saying something along the lines of “imagine if Twilight Struggle and 13 Minutes had baby” well yeah a kind of micro baby, imagine that and this is what you’d get.

Iron curtain is a quick paced, two player game with very simple mechanics but a lot of strategy involved and it definitely left an impression. I was pleasantly surprised at how much thought had been put into the game to make sure that, even though it is such a quick game and at 20 minutes, I mean it, you’re still using your brain and definitely having to think on your feet. The game definitely lends itself well to the theme, I’m pretty excited about it and I’m impressed with how tense the game actually was for how little time it took to play. 



Iron Curtain is an area control micro-game set during the Cold War, which is played over two rounds. This quick paced strategy game sees you playing four turns each round, trying to dominate regions, in the first round both players will get five strategy cards and in the second round you’ll get four. 

On your turn, you take one strategy card from you hand and play it, then it’s your opponent’s turn to do the same. You take turns playing cards until you have one left, this card is put aside face down for the ‘aftermath’ in the final scoring when the game ends. After each player has played all their available strategy cards, there is a final scoring phase.

The game ends immediately if a player reaches the final space of their influence track at any time; this includes during final scoring.


You will alternate playing one strategy card from your hand and following these three steps in order:

Place the strategy card face-up on the table and expand the active countries. You must place the card adjacent to a card of the same colour/region. If you can’t, you can place it adjacent to any card already on the table.
Check for Region Scoring: If the region card you just played is the last of that color/region, region scoring will take place. During region scoring, there are two ways to score.
Dominating Countries: For each card you dominate, having more influence cubes on a country than your opponent, you gain one ideology point. Basically each time you gain  an ideology point, move the yellow influence disc one step closer to your flag on the track.

You main reason you want to be playing strategy cards is to get your influence cubes onto the various countries on the table. There are three focal points on a strategy card: Alignment, command (influence) cube value and event text. If the strategy card you play is of your opponent’s alignment, e.g. you are playing as the U.S. and you play a card aligned with the U.S.S.R., then before you take your action, your opponent may choose to activate the event or not. However, if the card is aligned with you, e.g. you play a U.S. aligned card as the U.S. player, you can freely choose to activate the event or use the card for the command cubes.


COMMAND ACTIONUtilizing a strategy card for command cubes is the core action of the game. This is the only way for you to gain control of various countries and attempt to dominate regions.

It’s worth noting though, you can only place influence cubes on countries that already have your cubes on them or on cards that are adjacent to a country with your cubes on it. 
Also, only influence cubes that were on the board before your command action count. 

EVENT ACTIONEvents are stronger but somewhat restricted command actions or somehow break the base game rules. Each strategy card has a unique, asymmetric power. Infiltration is a rule breaking event that allows a player to place cubes on certain countries. It’s important to note that infiltration ignores adjacency rules and the rules of controlling a card.

CONTROLLING A CARDWhen you control a country, you deter your opponent from manoeuvring. If at any time you have 2 more influence cubes than your opponent on a card, you control that card. If your opponent wanted to place influence cubes on a card you control, they must spend two influence cubes to place one. The second cube is “wasted” and sent back to their supply. Once the control is broken, they may place influence as normal on the card.

HOW TO WINIf the influence disc has not reached either end of the ideology track, then the game goes into final scoring. Before scoring regions, you will reveal the two face-down “aftermath” cards from the first round. Count the number of U.S. and U.S.S.R. influence cubes from the Events on these cards. The side with the highest total scores ideology points equal to the difference in cubes.

After scoring aftermath, players will now score each region in this order: Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America, and Central America. All regions score, even though not all the region cards are on the table. Keep note, this means some regions will score more twice per game, while others will not.

If during final scoring, the influence disc has not reached the U.S. or U.S.S.R. side, the player with the most influence points wins. If there is a tie, the U.S. wins!



Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen are very clever, they have been able to emulate the tense, tug of war feeling of the Cold War in only 18 cards.

Even though the game is played over two rounds, it can end at any time if the yellow score marker hits the final flag of either player making the game pretty tense and cut-throat. 

Now, I’m not going to compare the game directly to Twilight Struggle but Iron Curtain does lend a few mechanics, including the hand management and damage limitation system that you’ll see in Twilight Struggle. It’s a streamlined version and there’s no ‘space race’ involved meaning you can’t dump any of your unwanted cards but they have done a great job of creating a game with a similar feel with a very limited hand of cards. 

I really enjoyed this quick fire game, if you know me you will know that Twilight Struggle is one of my favourite ever games and if you don’t know me, you do now so it’s nice to see a game with similar theme and mechanics being designed, especially in such a quick fire and streamlined way.

I personally like playing games that take three, four, five or even eight hours long but it’s great to have an option of something to play as a quick filler or at the end of an evening that still has enough strategy to keep me interested, at the same as being quite light weight mechanics wise. That’s something the designers of this game are really good at, another game of theirs that I really enjoy, 13 DAYS simulates aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis in again, a streamlined, quick paced, easy mechanics but a lot of strategy involved  kind of way.

I’ve played a lot over the last couple of weeks, with people that play heavy war games and people that don’t usually play games at all and it’s been a hit. Now my housemate even wants to try Twilight Struggle so that’s a massive bonus!

I will admit, I found the rule book a bit hard to follow, not the actual rules but just the flow of how it’s formatted but after a few plays, I feel like you can definitely get the hand of it!

Other than that, this game is a winner for me. Great theme, gorgeous artwork, nice and elegant gameplay that packs a lot of punch.

If you have been lucky enough to play Iron Curtain, let me know what you think of it in the comments and thanks a lot for reading.



[Solitaire Review] Churchill: Big Three Struggle For Peace

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt in a room together. What’s the worst that could happen?




Churchill: Big Three Struggle for Peace is a game of political conflict, cooperation and competition. The players in the game take on the roles of Churchill, Roosevelt, or Stalin as they maneuver against each other over the course of different Conferences that determine who will lead the Allied forces, where those forces will be deployed, and how the Axis will be defeated. The player whose forces collectively have greater control over the surrendered Axis powers will win the peace and the game.

From first glance at the board and how much stuff was in the box, I was pretty overwhelmed and imagined the game being a lot more complicated, but the idea of Churchill is really straight forward – three players each taking turns discussing different issues relating to World War 2 and how the war should be prosecuted, as well as planning for the post-war world. Sounds so complicated and of course the game is difficult to master but, actually being able pick up the rules and play the game was pretty simple. That’s coming from somebody that’s played a lot of GMT games, but also as somebody that has played a lot of a euro games. 



The game is divided into ten rounds, or conferences just like the real-life conferences and after playing the game for the first time, I started doing a bit of research into the conferences and if you’re like me and don’t know an awful lot about these kinds of things because you’re still learning and discovering then you’ll probably find it pretty interesting. Here’s a link to some of them! List of Allied World War II conferences

I’ve played the Training Scenario a couple of times, which is only three conferences but this enabled me to get a clear idea of how the game was going to play and how to use the bots effectively. The conferences included in the training scenario begin with Conference 8: Tolstoy and end with Conference 10: Terminal.

Design Note from Mark Herman that can be found in the rulebook: Across all of the conferences there were a number of global issues that spoke directly to the structure of the post-war world and were debated and discussed from the dark days of Axis expansion right up through the final Conference. Churchill’s ‘naughty document’ was an agreement between Churchill and Stalin to create de facto spheres to influence in Europe that infuriated the Americans and undermined the post-war peace.


Once all the actions have been implemented on the conference card (pictured below) each player then deals seven cards from either the US, UK or USSR staff cards depending which leader they choose. You’ll do this for all three if you’re using bots of course. Then the players choose a single card to try and ‘win the agenda.’ The highest scoring card wins and then chooses a single issue to place on the board. There are lots of different issues including A-bomb research, production allocations, Global issues and so on.


Once the single issue has been placed on the board, the other players then place two further issues each onto the board. There will always be 7 issues on the table. Playing clockwise, players use a card to advance an issue towards their side of the table, whilst the other two may ‘debate’ this to move that issue a little closer to their side of the table. Cards have a value of 1-7, with the leaders being the highest value and representing their stature. The higher the card used, which may be affected by special abilities, the further the issue moves. Nice and easy. Once everyone has exhausted their deck, the game moves into the post-conference where the winner of that meeting is decided which is basically decided based on the number of issues that they won. 

That’s the Conference Display in a kind of nutshell for you. 


Then the game moves on to the Military Display or the post-conference phase as some may call it, where leaders implement the issues that they now control. These actions impact three game functions: clandestine operations, political activity, and military offensives. Clandestine operations see players try to establish political networks in conquered countries and colonies. Using a very simple mechanic of placing a network or removing an opponent’s network, the historical ferment that occurred in Yugoslavia, France and across the world is simply simulated. A country or colony can only have one dominant side’s network at any given time, and during political activity players can emplace friendly governments in exile that can be subsequently undermined and replaced if the supporting networks are later neutralized by one of your allies.

After that, we all go home and have a nice cup of tea….

Not really.


Once this has all been done, the military portion of the game keeps the score. There’s a separate display that abstractly represents the major theaters of war, Western, Eastern, Mediterranean, Arctic (Murmansk convoys and Scandinavia), CBI, SW Pacific, Central Pacific, and Far East.

Each of these tracks has an Allied front and using a very simple combat mechanic, each front tries to advance with Axis reserves deploying to oppose the various fronts. Naval operations are simply handled by requiring a defined level of support to advance into an amphibious entry space such as France (D-Day). When a front enters Germany, Italy or Japan they surrender, shutting down military operations, although clandestine and political activity continues until the end of the game. In the background is the development of the A-bomb and Soviet efforts to steal its secrets. If the A-bomb is available Japan can be forced to surrender sans a direct invasion.

Solitaire play


Moving on to a little bit about solitaire play of the game and my experiences of it, first of all let me say that most of my experiences of this game have been playing with bots. I have played one, maybe two three player games but that’s it, and I’ve got to say I feel like the solitaire game has definitely given me an advantage when playing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have only played a few games solitaire so far but I feel like I have learned a lot about the game and strategy by playing it this way.

What have I learned? Well, I’ve been able to quickly delve deep into the minds of each leader, discovering their motives and personalities as they really do, struggle for peace, quickly and efficiently. There’s no time to hesitate, only time to dig in and try to really understand the motives of each leader and what they are trying to do throughout the game.

Of course, that human interaction and being able to play against OR with each other is great and really makes a game enjoyable but it is essential to have the mindset of the country and leader that you are playing, and I found that I got a grasp of each leader a lot more quickly playing all three at a time, than I would playing only one leader a game. 

Yes, you have the wonderful bots to help you along the way but like in any game, to play a good game and enjoy the experience, I have to fully immerse myself in the experience, and that can be challenging when you’re playing everybody around the table, and that is where the true complexity of the game comes in. Formulating a strategy for each leader can be tough but rewarding and this added tension to the game, as well as really making it feel like I was sat at that big round table discussing these actual issues, and making crucial decisions that could indeed affect the world. 

The bots themselves are very easy to follow and very straight forward, which is definitely a bonus when playing Churchill, it can sometimes feel like there is a lot going on when you’re playing solo because you’re moving around more pieces, dealing with more cards and making a lot more decisions, so being able to quickly reference a clear, concise flowchart is amazing and a massive bonus. 

This isn’t the whole flow chart but just an example to show you how straightforward it really is. I’ll be honest, before my first solo game, I hadn’t even looked at the flowchart before actually playing and still managed to get along with the game just fine. Although I do recommend doing so as it might just help things flow a little better right from the very start.


Churchill almost feels like a bidding game, bidding on issues and shaping the way the post-war world affairs will go. Again, very interesting when it’s all going on inside your own brain and a really nice use of this kind of mechanic.

I do really respect Mark Herman for what he’s done here, he’s managed to take a game idea that in my opinion could be seen as complex and turn it into a tense yet enjoyable and elegant game. I know elegant is a word used often in these types of games but it really is, the way the game flows perfectly, not too fast nor too slow, something about it just feels right, like a series of actions and tough decisions all rolled perfectly into one. 


Now as Herman states, this is not a wargame but it definitely has a wargame feel, I don’t know if it’s the counters or the cubes or the combat or the theme but something about it is war like which I enjoy because it feels familiar yet different at the same time and I love how abstract the game can be.

I can honestly say that I have not played a game like this before, Churchill almost feels like a group of games, or a series of mini games rolled into one. You’ve got the conferences, the politics, the combat and resources. So many decisions to make but they don’t seem overwhelming in the slightest. 

In reading some of the strategy articles, I am only just beginning to see the true potential that this game has and I’m really excited for more, from the potential deaths of Roosevelt and other key staff, Churchill’s looming heart attack, and Stalin’s ingrained paranoia, there is so much more to explore and I can’t wait for my next game.

Thank you for reading, I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve played the game and what you think of it.



A Few First Impressions [Labyrinth: The War On Terror, 2001 – ?]

I really don’t know where to start with this one. My love for GMT and the games they publish is ever-growing and it’s pretty obvious to see why. I’m an enormous fan of card driven games and after one play, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? seems to be no exception to the rule.  

I know wargaming isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t something I initially thought I would take a huge interest in but I really do enjoy the whole experience. Yes, you can say that about any kind of game however something about the whole combat aspect and becoming totally immersed in the theme has really drawn me in. 

I know that the subject matter is a bit of a sensitive subject for some people and I can completely understand why, if you feel like the theme may throw you off I suggest playing it before buying it if you can. The game was so much fun and so well put together that I could look past the theme and see the game for what it was – brilliant, clever, tense and very enjoyable. 


Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? is a 1 – 2 player game, taking players inside the Islamist jihad and the global war on terror. With broad scope, ease of play, and a never-ending variety of event combinations similar to  Twilight Struggle, Labyrinth portrays not only the US efforts to counter extremists’ use of terrorist tactics but the wider ideological struggle — guerrilla warfare, regime change, democratization, and much more.

This well designed game really surprised me, I had heard many good things and a few not so good things about the game and really wanted to try it out. I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be THIS good after only one play.

Volko did an incredible job of accurately capturing the real world struggle between the western world and extreme jihadism and even though the theme may be sensitive to some as mention earlier, it was definitely treated with caution and I thought it was integrated well within the game. It definitely has a more abstract feel with no real casualties resulting from the terrorists actions.

I found the game to be of medium complexity, that’s a pretty subjective opinion and differs for everybody but generally it was pretty straight forward. Even for my first play I was able to see a clear (ish) strategy and how I was going to play throughout the game.  I did however find the rulebook to be slightly confusing, I understood the rules but couldn’t always understand the why. I’m hoping with a couple more plays that this will become more apparent.



The course of the game is straightforward and simple. Players take turns playing cards, which they were given at the beginning of the game – always two per turn. When they run out of cards in their hand, the round ends. With round ending are some specific actions, such as reducing funding Jihad and U.S. prestige. The allied player may keep the last card for the next round, play it, or throw it away.

Each card can be played as an event or for operation points. But if you play the role of the United States and play a Jihadist card for points, the event still would happen and the other way around too. You can avoid only your own cards, which is needed for strategic reasons. Some events and their effects persist until end of turn, or even longer, which is easily marked with available tokens. Operation points can be accumulated to prepare a large attack and mark on reserve track.

I’m not going to go into rules as such as there are far better sources for that but here is a link to the rulebook on BGG – Rulebook

A lot of people compare the game to Twilight Struggle, and they are both similar in the way you play cards but I will leave it at that. All I will say, if you do enjoy TS then DEFINITELY give this game a go! 

Final thoughts

Component quality of the game is once again, absolutely stunning. You have heard me say this time and time again but GMT games really are always produced to the highest quality. 

A gorgeous mounted game board, high quality cards and components which definitely add to the whole playing experience.  There are a lot of cubes to be moving around the board though, so if that’s something you’re not really into that then be warned. 


Replay value is strong, even though I’ve only played Labyrinth once, I get the feeling it has a very high replay value. Similar to many CDGs, there are many options and the cards provide multiple uses meaning that the game will be different every time with various strategies and variations of the game. 


To finish off, Labyrinth: The War On Terror, 2001 – ? is a perfect school night game for me. It lasted roughly around the two-hour mark, maybe a little bit more which is the perfect ‘quick game after work’ timescale. Alright, not quick but you know what I mean. It’s a nice, meaty CDG with a bit of dice rolling involved that definitely influences the game slightly. The game is mainly strategy based with the odd bit of luck due to the dice rolling and luck of the draw but not so much that it will throw you off. 

I’m really looking forward to giving the solo game a try within the next couple of weeks and hoping for a similar gaming experience. 

Overall I was really impressed with Labyrinth and I’m excited to play again and introduce others to the game.

Thank you for reading.