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

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  • 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 

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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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.  

Gameplay

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.  

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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 [Commands & Colors – Ancients]

I got the chance to play a few games of Commands and Colours: Ancients over the past couple of weeks and thought I’d share a few of my first impressions with you.

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What a surprise, another GMT game is added onto the ‘must play again’ list. I seriously can’t control myself when it comes to GMT and their games. I’m developing a slight obsession and I can’t help it.

Anyway, moving on. 

Firstly, If you aren’t aware of Commands & Colours, it depicts warfare from the Dawn of Military History (3000 BC) to the opening of the Middle Ages (400 AD), by design Commands & Colors has a unique historical game system which allows players to effectively portray stylized battles from this time in history. 

It’s one of the few hex and counter games I have played so far, I am also intrigued to try Commands & Colors: Napoleonics as I am looking for something more complex and Commands & Colors: Medieval when it comes out. I am looking forward to trying out more hex and counter games, my P500 is full of them. That however is another blog post all together.

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As somebody that has played a lot of eurogames and a lot of Card Driven Games and wargames, this was an easy game to pick up rules wise, I found the core mechanics to be simple but effective and it didn’t take me long at all to pick up the rules of the game. 

Playing the game is based around a deck of cards and resolving battles by rolling special dice, you have a hand of between four to six cards depending on the side you play and the scenario you are playing, the number of cards you have in your reflects the history of the battle and the skills of the leader involved. 

First, you choose an order card from your hand, this dictates what type of units and the amount of units that can be active on the turn, then you can issue any move commands, and subsequently the units may battle using the special dice I mentioned earlier. That’s pretty much it, without going into too much detail around the rules. It felt like a nice introductory wargame and one that I could happily keep playing for a long time to come, with the combination of dice rolling, hand management and different scenarios, I can see there being a lot of different games to come out of that one box.  

The cards and your hand can be pretty restricted and definitely set the game apart for me, some cards only activate units of a certain type or in a certain section such as: left, right or centre, some cards are used to move a specific leader meaning that sometimes, you may have a hand of cards that are useless to you. This mechanic is something I quite like when playing a game, having to really think on your feet and strategize as you go and I found this, in the second game that I played as the game went on, I just didn’t have the cards in my hand to be able to move my units in the way I wanted to and spent a lot of the game playing catch up. Being able to play a good hand of cards will definitely work in your favour in this game.

Commands and Colors is simple in design, elegant and really well put together. I was initially unsure if I would like it or not but it turns out that in a frustrating kind of way, I do. 

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For me, the frustration came from the dice rolling aspect of the game. I don’t know if it’s because I have tiny hands or just really bad luck but the dice rolling in this game did not work in my favour. Yes, I know a lot of games involve dice rolling during battle but it can be frustrating and it defintely was for me. Did it put me off the game though? No, because I like a game that offers a challenge, I like a game the combines strategy and luck and I also like working hard to be able to come back from a not-so-good turn. 

Battle is simple though. The dice have different colours and symbols on them: light units are Green, medium units are Blue and heavy units are Red, a generic face with the swords symbol, a leader face with the helmet symbol and a flag. Each unit attacks with a given number of dice, and scores a hit for every target unit colour, every sword if the unit uses them, and every helmet if supported by a leader, plus a retreat for every flag. I like how simple battle is, no calculations, no checking tables, just roll your dice and hope for the best. 

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As mentioned earlier, I’ve only played C&C a couple of times so I still have a lot to discover but I really enjoyed it, battle can be tense and in both games I played it was quite close for a while before one of us shot in front claiming victory. I’m excited to play more games and see if a strategy will develop or if I will always be frustrated at my rubbish dice rolling skills. Commands and Colors is fun, clever and I can already see why it is such a classic.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve played any of the C&C series and what you thought of it? Comments always welcome!

Thanks for reading,

Katie. 

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A Few First Impressions [Time of Crisis from GMT Games]

I have genuinely never played a GMT game that I didn’t like, now I’m not saying that it won’t happen but I’ve been pretty lucky so far and Time of Crisis did not let me down.

Time of Crisis is a game published by GMT games, designed by Wray Ferrell and Brad Johnson and set during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Roman Empire nearly collapsed in the face of calamitous internal and external strife, including continuous civil war and barbarian invasions from all directions. Beginning with the assassination of Emperor Alexander Severus, a period of 50 years saw nearly as many different men seize imperial power over all or part of the Empire, until the reforms of Diocletian in 284 AD ushered in an era of peace.

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In Time of Crisis, 2-4 players take the reins of Roman dynasties, gathering influence among the senate, military, and people of Rome to ensure that their legacies are remembered by history instead of being lost to the mists of time. Starting from control of one province and a few low-value cards, players are challenged to establish their base of power during this fragile period of Roman history. Players must build armies, take control of valuable provinces, develop support, and defend themselves against barbarian incursions, inopportune events, and the machinations of their political opponents.

Before forming an opinion, I’ll let you know that I’ve played this game twice, both as a two player game so my point of view is limited to that but I still had a very enjoyable yet different experience both times playing.

The first game I played felt like a walk in the park. I drew a few decent hands of cards at the beginning, I seemed to be managing my hand effectively throughout, I gained control of a lot of provinces early on and became emperor early in the game without too much struggle. This helped me have an early advantage in the game and enabled me to control my position with ease giving me more time to spend on building up armies, fighting off barbarians and so on. 

The second game I played could not have been any more different. A few unfortunate hands early on and few dice rolls that were even more unfortunate made for a game of playing catch up. Each turn felt like I was using my whole hand of cards just to keep my head above water, to fight off those pesky mobs or try to maintain control in the very few provinces I had managed to acquire. 

Both completely different games but I did still enjoy the game when I wasn’t doing so well. I am very interested to play this game at four to see if it evens it out a bit, I can imagine battles feeling more intense and a bit more cut throat and incorporating more player interaction.

Time of Crisis beautifully combines dice rolling, deck building and hand management with a light war-game feel. 

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Both games that I played were around 2 hours and I found the rules really simple to pick up. As somebody that plays eurogames and war-games, there are so many familiar elements to this game like the deck building and dice rolling that enabled me to learn the game very quickly and focus on enjoying the experience and developing a strategy.

I’m the kind of person that has to read the rules myself to be able to play a game and understand it, no matter how complex the game may be, you could be the best teacher in the world and I would still have a problem picking up the rules until I had read them or actually played a few turns and found my feet within the game, however I did not have this problem at all with ToC. The mechanics are so familiar yet the game felt unlike anything I’ve played before which is a compliment. 

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I often say that I don’t care much for the theme of a game and it’s all about gameplay but I think that may be changing. The more experience I gain playing war-games, historical games and so on, the more clearly I can see the importance of theme and the huge role it plays. I’ll be honest, I’ve played a lot of eurogames with amazing mechanics that could almost just have a theme stuck onto it and it wouldn’t matter but the more my tastes start to change and develop, the more I can recognize this.  

Don’t get me wrong, I still love eurogames and this game definitely has a slight euro feel but I get something very different out of playing wargames and historical games now. 

Time of Crisis definitely interested me when I started to do a bit of research on the game and the history behind the theme. 

Throughout the game, you can feel the desperation as different opportunities to claim the title of Emperor arise. The Crisis years were of course a challenging, difficult period and this comes across tenfold throughout the game, fighting off foreign tribes, managing your political, civil and army cards and maintaining control of provinces. 

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As mentioned earlier, Time of Crisis is pretty easy to learn, the gameplay itself is pretty simple and I feel like cards are one of the main mechanisms throughout the game. Let me talk about the deck building element of the game first as it caught me out a few times during the game.

Unlike other deck building games, you are able to select which cards will play a part in your hand that turn which is extremely different to any deck building game I have played. You do still need to work through your entire deck before playing cards again so keeping up with what is in your deck, hand management and filtering out cards that are less likely to help you throughout the game is necessary early on. 

The cards will help you out immensely throughout the game, they all hold so much significance which can be a blessing or a curse when it comes to buying more cards or choosing which to cards to discard if you find it necessary to do so. 

 

The different type of cards in the game.

Military cards: Placing a castra. Flanking manouvre – allowing you a reroll and the Pretorian Guard – with the necessary military points and a little luck, you can assassinate the emperor and take his place.

Civil cards: Placing a quaestor. Placing a mob in a province controlled by another player. The Pretender – under certain conditions, allows a player to create his own empire.

Political cards: tribute – The barbarian tribes of a province become inactive. Recruitment of a barbarian unit in their own army. Damnatio memoriae – at the price of some riots that will run in the provinces controlled by the player who plays this event, the previous emperor will lose legacy points.

My advice would be to pay very close attention to the cards that you are buying, not only for the value of the cards but the actions on the cards too. There were a couple of times in my first game that I wasn’t paying attention to the actual cards in my hand and I messed up a couple of turns. 

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Overall, my final thoughts on Time of Crisis are simple. A really fun, lightweight game that is perfect for introducing somebody to the world of wargaming or if you’re looking for something a little bit different. As mentioned earlier, I love the deck building element to the game and the theme really does shine through. Time of Crisis has that eurogame feel which I’m hoping will appeal to people that may not usually play this type of game, there’s always something to be thinking about and lots of different ways to gain points which is something I enjoy. 

The 2 player game was fun and I did really enjoy it but I imagine a 3 or 4 player game will add a bit more excitement and tension to the game, I’m sure that time will tell.

If you have played the game, I would love to hear your thoughts on it and thank you for reading – Katie. 

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