Here's a first for AWNT, a Nintendo Switch game review! Aperion Cyberstorm is a twin stick "bullet hell" shooter in which ...

Aperion Cyberstorm Aperion Cyberstorm

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Here's a first for AWNT, a Nintendo Switch game review! Aperion Cyberstorm is a twin stick "bullet hell" shooter in which you fight off an endless stream of neon colored enemies with your equally endless stream of bullets. While the genre is an old one, Aperion attempts to mix up by giving the player lots of customization in terms of ships and attack patterns. You can also play with up to 4 other friends if you have the controllers handy.

Aperion Cyberstorm's campaign sends you through a long series of rooms in which you fight off a huge number of enemies before moving on to the next room and doing the same thing again. At the end of each "world" you fight a massive boss. There's some sort of story tying it all together, but it's difficult to follow and not all that interesting. What you're here for is blasting a bunch of aliens and spaceships, and that's exactly what you will get a heaping helping of. One of the game's best strengths is the wide variety of enemy mechanics you will have to deal with. You'll find yourself adapting constantly from room to room as new enemies types appear in different combinations. There are big tough enemies, super fast little ones, enemies that shield others from damage, and enemies that blow up and turn into more ships. You'll also have to deal with the occasional environmental hazard like slippery ice or burning lava.

As you fight enemies and explore the occasional nooks and crannies of the world, you'll gain experience, gems, and upgrades. At certain intervals you'll be able to customize your setup a bit. There are a bunch of different ships, each with slightly different stats and shooting patterns. You can also pick from among several power up abilities, like a super rapid fire cannon or wide shotgun blast. These power-ups recharge often enough that you can use them multiple times in each room, while also picking up random temporary boosts (like freezing or burning damage) that can be found floating around mid-combat.  Ultimately, I couldn't find that any one strategy was particularly effective compared to another, the customization is mostly up to your personal preference.

The gems that you collect from destroying enemies and exploring the world can be used to upgrade your special powers, letting you give a boost to any of the ones that you particularly like. These upgrades make the power-up last longer and recharge faster, something you will definitely need as the game progresses and you find yourself facing meaner and more numerous enemies.

Although the mechanics of the game clearly have a lot of work and love behind them, the art design and sound are a bit less impressive. I didn't really enjoy how the entire game seems to take place in a series of caves, with black being the predominate color on screen at all times. Despite everything in the game being some flavor of neon, it always feels way too dark for my taste. The sound effects, something you will hear non-stop in this sort of game, could have used some more work. Many of them feel one notch removed from the original Asteroid. The music, on the other hand, was enjoyable throughout the game.

While the game has solid mechanics and gameplay, none of it is particularly original or inspired. The game can also get a bit repetitive, as there are only a few rooms with an objective other than killing wave after wave of enemies. You've probably played something exactly like this before, and it's probably been done better and with more style. However, for the low price point you will get many hours of engaging gameplay.  Although the game is available on PC, I would strongly  recommend getting the Switch version if you can, it's a perfect game for chilling on the couch and blasting away at limitless enemies.

Aperion Cyberstorm is available on PC, Wii U, and the Switch.

Official Website

- Joe Beard

878 VIKINGS: THE EXPANSION from ACADEMY GAMES This comes hot on the heels of its parent game and those of you who Kickstarted the...


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This comes hot on the heels of its parent game and those of you who Kickstarted the package will already possess it as part of the deal.  In all, the expansion provides nine possible additions to the basic game that can be added, in any combination desired.
A preliminary glimpse of all nine

These nine are:
   [1] War for Land and Gods
   [2] Kingdoms
   [3] Kings
   [4] Runes and Prayer
   [5] Relics and Holy Sites
   [6] Legends
   [7] Epic Battle Events
   [8] Viking Ships
   [9] Legendary Leaders
In physical terms, you get a new set of dice, more cards and counters and the rule book to explain their use.  Just reading the rule book, you will pick up a whole slew of information both historical and legendary.  In itself I enjoyed this simple pleasure, along with gazing at the familiar quality of the components.

As a package I'd view it mainly as a box of miniature delights to be dipped into as fancy and mood takes you.  Most provide extra thematic colour, while two, I would suggest, make significant changes to the focus of the game.  Mentioning colour also draws me to some of the pure delight in the artwork such as the Rule book's cover.
and this small insert of  a Viking.

However, delving into my "chocolate box" of gaming delights, I'm going to start with the last of the nine, Legendary Leaders, as this adds a coda to a brief comment I made in my initial review of the core game.  This was the fact that a single female character, Lagertha, was mentioned in the pen portraits of Leaders and, as I expected, here she appears as a potential variant.  From the little that I've been able to glean about the historical figure  I'm not even sure I'd dignify her with the title leader and her role in the game perhaps reflects this.  She does not appear independently, but can be chosen to accompany the arrival of one of the other leaders.  She appears with a meagre three units of her own, but can have as many of the accompanying leader's troops transferred to her cards you wish.

In essence, it allows you a two-pronged attack, but with a pair of weaker armies.  For me, it's an interesting added possibility with possibly its most powerful use coming in an end run where snatching an extra city may turn the tide.

The older, somewhat grimmer figure of Ragnar Lodbrok can be chosen as your first Viking leader to replace the original Card A "Halfdan's Great Heathen Host".  Ragnar comes with an equally mighty force and an additional Battle benefit.  Choose him and your start to the game should get off to an even more forceful opening - that is, of course, if you are playing the Vikings!

Expansion 8: Viking Ships might be considered almost as an item that should have been in the game from the very beginning, as a Ship maker is placed to mark the Shire where the invading Army lands each turn and allows movement of Viking armies between such sites.  As with the majority of these expansion elements, there is an appropriate corollary that benefits the English player.  If any English forces can occupy such a site with no Vikings present, the ship is burnt and the Viking player has to remove two of his units to the Fled Space on the map.  So, the Viking gets more manoeuvrability from the ships, but then has to decide can units be spared to guard them!  Nice touch - like this one a lot!

From a choice that I would simply add permanently to my game to the one I find least appealing: Expansion 3: Kings.  Another touch of flavour and a very simple addition.  Four Event cards named after four historic regional Kings - one randomly dealt to each faction and held as a bonus Event card that can be played once during the whole game.  This obviously is very easy to implement. Yet though the rationale that some English kings helped/appeased the Vikings while others stoutly resisted is certainly true, that they are randomly distributed means that the Viking player may get the benefit of a King who opposed them, while the English player may get the benefit of an appeaser!  For historical reasons not my favoured choice of expansion, but here the four are for your viewing.
Like the previous one, most of the others add, to a greater or lesser degree, elements of uncertainty which may or may not be to your personal persuasion: a factor I discussed in reviewing the main game.  Expansion 5: Relics and Holy Sites is even more colourful with two tiles of each type being randomly drawn for a game.  As some of the English tiles can be used if captured by the Vikings while none of Viking ones can be used by the English, this choice inevitably favours the Viking player. 
All the new tiles

Expansion 6: Legends introduces cards with goals that either help the Vikings to remove control markers from the VP track or the English player to add them.  Once more this tends to strengthen Viking play, as each Viking Leader draws a card on his arrival, while the English player can hold only one at a time.  This can easily be levelled up by allowing the English player to keep more than one at a time, but it seemed strange that an already strong Viking hand is further improved by this feature.

Expansion 7: Epic Battle Events is a more even handed deck with many of them affecting Battle dice rolls on both sides. As the Viking battle dice tend to be more powerful than the English, this in fact results on average in a very marginal benefit to the English. 
However, from these new cards, only  three are added to the main Fyrd Deck and as three more are added only if the Fyrd deck is completely run through, the reality is that a relatively small number will apply to any given game. 

Linked to the previous expansion is Expansion 4: Runes and Prayer as this too affects Battle.  Again I think this choice may divide opinion. The additional ability to influence battles will undoubtedly appeal to some players, while others may prefer the existing elegance of the existing core dice and system.  I confess that I currently veer towards the latter view, but will explore further plays using the prayer and rune dice. 
Above are the Prayer & Rune Dice and below the cards you can place them on to activate different Battle effects.

My penultimate exploration will be Expansion 2: Kingdoms.  This will surely appeal to those who wanted a little more geopolitical history in the way that the ruling of the country was divided.   Considering the colour-coding of the map, I think it's fairly clear too that at least this part of the expansion was a planned introduction from the very beginning.  It is an easy and enjoyable choice for inclusion.

I have deliberately left the first Expansion until last, as for me it is the most substantial and significant.  War for Land and Gods introduces an alternative goal for victory.  The key difference is that 14 Church tiles are placed on the map and the Vikings win by destroying all 14 churches.
The Church Tiles
Viking Forts & Settlements
I am not convinced that the explanation that England is converted to paganism is in any way a valid historical one, nor one that the Vikings themselves ever contemplated.  Nevertheless, I find it brings an attractive physical addition, especially in its conjunction with Viking Fort and Settlement tiles.  But for me, its main appeal lies in the need for the Viking player to destroy all 14 churches to win, while they lose if they have not achieved this by the time the Treaty of Wedmore is activated.  This makes the Viking task much more difficult and introduces considerable time pressure and is a must for those who think that the Vikings have a strong edge in the victory stakes or wish to balance the chances of a less experienced player against a stronger one.

All in all, a fascinating "pick and mix" selection to choose from.  I wouldn't recommend swallowing the whole bag full at one go, but then I'm sure if you venture on this expansion the temptation to do so will overcome you at least once.  Happy indigestion!!

The Battle of the Metaurus by Turning Point Simulations      The year is 207 B.C. the place is along the banks of...

The Battle of the Metaurus 207 B.C. by Turning Point Simulations The Battle of the Metaurus 207 B.C. by Turning Point Simulations

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 The year is 207 B.C. the place is along the banks of the Metaurus River in northern Italy. Hannibal has run rampant through the Italian peninsula since 218 B.C. This battle was picked by Sir Edward Creasy as one to add to his famous book The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, has lost Spain to Scipio, soon to be Africanus, and is on his way to reinforce Hannibal and finish the war. The Romans have found out about Hasdrubal's whereabouts and have succeeded in hoodwinking Hannibal, and have slipped away to attack Hasdrubal's army. The Romans are led by Marcus Livius and Gaius Claudius Nero. Nero has marched almost the entire length of Italy post haste to be part of the battle. The Romans succeeded in destroying Hasdubal's army and ending Hannibal's chances for a victory.

 This is what you get with the game:

One 11” x 17” mounted game-map
200 die-cut mounted counters
8 page Rules Booklet

 The game comes in a standard folio series size ziplock bag. The game is part of TPS' "Twenty Decisive battles of the World' series of games based on Creasy's book with additional battles added. As stated, the map is mounted, which is a very nice touch that TPS includes in this series. For this price and size you almost always get a paper map with a game. The map is also well done with the rivers, streams, and heights well defined. It is a typical closed hex map. You have to supply a ten-sided die, or use the 0-9 chit counters supplied for both sides.

 The counters are of a gray background for the Carthaginians, and a red one for the Romans. The background doesn't drown out the counter illustrations, and the morale rating and movement allowance are very easy to see. The Carthaginians have one elephant counter, and that also comes with the prerequisite of the possibility of the elephants going berserk. The ancient battles that have elephants always have that extra fog of war: who are these behemoths going to trample, friend or enemy? The game rules also throw the Hasdrubal player a curve ball with his newly raised Celtic Gauls. The Gauls may or may not follow their orders, and to top it off they have low morale ratings.  In a change from most ancient games there are no missile troops to command. The sources only mention a few slingers on the Carthaginian side, and the hex size (200 yards) precludes it.

 Just as it was historically, the Carthaginians have less troops than the Romans. The Romans also have better troops with higher morale ratings. The Carthaginians do have a slightly better position to start in. 

 The rules can be looked at or downloaded here:

 The sequence of play is: 

1. Determine Initiative
2. Change Orders
3. Undertake Player Turn
4. End of Turn/Winner Determination 

Player turn sequence
1. Movement
2. Combat
3. Reform

 The initiative is decided by a roll of the die or pull of the chit. The higher number wins, and ties are redone until there is a winner. There is no stacking allowed at any time. Naturally status markers do not count toward stacking. There are six Roman legions and each can be issued commands separately. The Carthaginian player has four separate unit groups to give commands to. These four units are all infantry. The Carthaginian cavalry and elephants do not require you to issue them orders. 

 The orders you can give the legions or groups are:

Stand and defend
Move to attack
Attack -  this does not need an order chit

 As in most depictions of ancient battles this game has a facing rule. The facing can be disregarded during movement, but the counter has to face one of the vertices of the hex at the end of movement. It also does not cost movement points to change facing. Attacking an opponent's flank or rear gives the attacker a bonus on the combat results table. Terrain also gives the attacker either a bonus or a minus when deciding the die roll on the combat results table.

 The games victory conditions are straightforward. The Roman player has to eliminate nineteen Carthaginian units (Light Infantry and Elephants do not count) before he loses 12 of his own units. If the Carthaginian player can exit twenty units off the south edge of the map before the Roman player can eliminate nineteen of his units, the Carthaginian player wins.

 The only sort of odd rule for setup and play is that all of the numbered half-hexes on the map edges are fully playable. The game was designed by the venerable Richard H. Berg, so you can be sure the rules are intelligible, and all make perfect sense. 

 The small footprint and counter amount makes this a great game for people who need a small footprint, and cannot leave a game up except during play. The Carthaginian player is faced with very long odds to either win straight up or get twenty of his units off the south edge. I would suggest that the player with more experience play the Carthaginians. The optional rule about the chance of the Gauls under Hasdrubal having to pass a die roll check for movement or attack can also be ignored to give the Carthaginian player more of a chance. In my play-throughs, the Romans invariably win most of the time. The victory conditions have been modified to make it harder for the Romans to win, but still being able to win as the Carthaginians is not an easy task. The decision to go with greater hex size and remove missile combat makes this a quick playing ancients game. For any gamer interested in a fast playing low complexity wargame, here it is. I actually stole "fast playing and low complexity" from the rules book, but it is very apt. 


Gaius Marius by Marc Hyden     Gaius Marius, or as he is usually known as just Marius, is at first glance a stud...

Gaius Marius by Marc Hyden Gaius Marius by Marc Hyden

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 Gaius Marius, or as he is usually known as just Marius, is at first glance a study in opposites. He was a 'New Man' (Novus Homo), this meant he had no ancestors that Romans would know. He had only a very slim chance to rise in the 'Honors Race' (Cursus Honorum). He became Consul an unprecedented seven times.  He was also touted as the 'Savior of Rome'. As a general, he was one of the best of his age. As a politician, he was one of the worst. True, the Roman Republic was in a downward spiral, but Marius did more than his fair share to destroy the Republic. He was a demagogue who was friendly with, and was allied to, some of the worst Roman politicians of the time. Marius was obsessed with power and the glory that military success could bring him. He was prepared to, and did frequently, trod on any and every Roman law or long established precedents to get what he wanted. 

 The author shows Marius the man, warts and all. He has given us an excellent biography of Marius. This could not have been an easy task. Marius' life is as faceted as a diamond in the sunlight. He was also quite possibly the savior of Rome. Destroyer of the Roman Republic, no, but he showed the next generations where to plunge the knife. The author does contend that Marius' enemies wrote the history of the period, so that he may not have stooped so low as we have read before. It is also quite possible that Marius' legacy was saved by his execrable nephew. He may also have been just as bad as he has been painted. 

 Savior, murderer, and trampler of all laws, Marius' life certainly deserves this biography by Mr. Hyden.

 The book also paints Sulla, Marius' inveterate enemy, in a very bad light. We will agree to disagree on this point. The author brings forth not only the man Marius, but the age in which he lived. He also gives us a very good breakdown of Roman politics, and a civics course in ancient Rome.  

 The book cover shows an almost unbelievable, but historic, event in the life of Marius. Marius is to the right. He is around seventy years old, and unarmed. His assassin is overawed by Marius' voice and personality, and cannot commit the deed.  

 The book itself is 300 plus pages long. It is touted as being the first comprehensive biography of Marius in 150 years. I am looking forward to the author's next endeavor.


Author: Marc Hyden
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Your planet is under assault from ugly, violent invaders. Your innocent people have been killed by the score. Resistance to the host...

Attack of the Earthlings Attack of the Earthlings

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Your planet is under assault from ugly, violent invaders. Your innocent people have been killed by the score. Resistance to the hostile aliens is the only option. Will you lead your people to victory over the evil invaders, these...humans?  That's the premise of Attack of the Earthlings, a new tongue-in-cheek tactical combat game that puts the player in command of deadly alien creatures fighting the humans  who are trying to rob a planet of its resources.

The humans are members of Galactoil, your typical evil galactic space corporation, have landed a huge drill on the surface, which carries the entire corporation within it. Starting down in the lower levels, you will fight your way all the way to the top over the course of several scenarios. At the very top is the Board Room, where all those smug executives are just waiting to get eaten by vengeful aliens. Each level gives you different tasks to accomplish, and occasionally throws some surprises at you. Early on you just need to kill off all the humans, but in some you must complete goals like defending a set location against waves of ever stronger enemies, or rescuing another alien before turning on the humans together.

Carol is looking just a bit under the weather. But certainly is not host to an alien parasite...
The heart of your force is the matriarch, a powerful creature which can kill humans, eat them, and then use the resulting biomass to spawn underlings at a frightening rate. The basic units you spawn, called grunts, can be evolved into three specialized units using more biomass. There's a sneaky backstabbing form, a big bruiser with lots of health, and a frail ranged unit.  The matriarch is powerful in combat, but losing it will immediately end your mission, so you will mostly rely on units created mid-scenario. Between levels you can spend points to upgrade the units and make them far more powerful. Some of these upgrades give direct stat boosts, while others give the unit type an entirely new ability. The better you perform in each level (winning quickly, taking few losses, among other factors), the more points you will be able to invest. Levels can be replayed for a higher score if you do poorly the first time around.

Attack of the Earthlings uses a turn-based combat system that should be familiar to fans of XCOM and the like. You get a limited number of action points for each unit each turn and can use those points to move or use abilities.  Each of the previously mentioned classes has a role to play on the battlefield, and your strategies open up as units gain more abilities. Depending on the "terrain" and your personal style, you may lean on one type of unit more than another.  For example, there are vents scattered around the levels that let units quickly move behind enemies or traverse large distances, but only the smaller classes can fit into them. On the other hand, you may be facing enemy types that punish melee attackers, so you will need to switch your ranged unit and pick them off from afar. The additional abilities you gain are key to winning the tougher fights as the game goes on. You'll soon be able to lay traps, distract enemies, and even mind-control humans to act as scouts and saboteurs. 

An important aspect of the combat is how stealth plays an important role. Enemies all have vision cones that your units must avoid to stay unnoticed. If they spot one of your creatures, the humans can react immediately and alert other nearby humans. Once alerted, guards will move their vision cone much more erratically and seek out your units. Your best course of action is to get to the flanks or behind every enemy and take them out one by one. Many of your actions, like opening doors, killing humans, or spawning new grunts generates sound. The range of the sound is visualized, so you can see if an action will draw the attention of a human. You can use this to your advantage often times, if you get creative.

The game includes some wonderful dialogue by the human characters, hitting various alien movie tropes and general humor. Since this is humor involving people being murdered and eaten by monstrous aliens, it of a decidedly dark and over the top style. Just wait until you bump into the most unfortunate turret to ever exist. Its AI was programmed to love and protect humans, but no one loaded it with ammunition. Hilarious tragedy ensues. I seriously laughed out loud at this game more than a few times.

The game is filled with wonderfully dark humor.
For those looking for a solid tactical strategy game, something like XCOM but without the global strategic layer to worry about, Attack of the Earthlings is a perfect fit. The only negatives I could come up with are the handful of bugs I ran into and the lack of much replayability. The bugs I reported and got a quick response that they are being worked on. The lack of replayability might be a bigger negative for some. The campaign contains a set number of scenarios, and once you finish them, which will maybe take ten hours or less, there isn't much left to do. There isn't a random scenario generator or anything else other than chasing a higher score. What is there is great, but you will finish it in fairly short order.

Attack of the Earthlings is available on Steam for $25.

Official Website:

- Joe Beard

V-COMMANDOS: SECRET WEAPONS If you are unfamiliar with the core game, I'd suggest looking at my original review , before going...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


If you are unfamiliar with the core game, I'd suggest looking at my original review, before going any further.  Otherwise, read on.  Perhaps, because V-Commandos up to now has largely been available directly from Triton-Noir, the publishers, it has created limited impact on the gaming scene.  This is a great shame, as the quality of production is excellent and I really don't think there is another game out there quite like it.  However, I've just received the good news [which you can read here] that it will be imminently available in the UK both through retail outlets and as always directly online.
An initial glimpse inside the box!

If you know the core game or have read my previous review, you'll know that Stealth is the key word and a significant aspect of play.  Going in hard with all guns blazing with immediately draw down on you a rush of enemy reinforcements and all too likely failure of your mission. 

However, as an expansion, Secret Weapons provides a new set of Operations thematically linked that will bring you more than a fair share of high octane, explosive action this time.  This fact jumps out at you as soon as you look at the sections in the Rulebook on Additional Equipment and Special Units.  Panzerfausts, mortars and gas barrels do not make for a quiet time!

When you look at the Operations themselves and the buildings related to them the prospect of dramatic action gets even more certain.  An airfield and two U-boat bases, along with a V2 rocket site and attempting to guard a stolen V1 rocket until an RAF plane can land to recover it, while blowing up nearby V1 rocket launch ramps as a distraction will truly set alarm bells ringing.

The whole expansion follows exactly the same format as the original base game, which is essential for play.  Every facet of the game is added to, starting with three new Commando characters: the Butcher, the Intelligence Officer and the Mortar Gunner.  Once again each card that outlines their special abilities and weapons is double-sided with modified or different elements on each.  As before, you can judge which side's strengths suits a particular Mission and also adds to the variety of the action.  The Mortar Gunner is perhaps the most conventional of the trio and the Intel Officer [the rather femme fatale figure on the box and rule cover] the most original in her specialities.
Though a purely cosmetic detail, I like the touch of signalling the character's nationality by the national flag edging to each card.  So, we discover that the Intel Officer is of Polish nationality.

Along w
ith three new characters come three new weapons: two of them, the panzerfaust and the mortar, add a hefty bang to the action, but the third I like even more and that's the smoke grenades and their effect.  These add to the signature stealth element of this system as they cause large tiles [where you are always visible] to be treated as small tiles[where you usually are able to remain hidden]; a very simple way of creating the concealing effect of a smoke grenade, though logically one that ought to generate more enemy attention rather than less! 

The final new piece of equipment, gas barrels, is not technically a weapon, but once you blow one up it eliminates all units on a tile unless they are wearing gas masks.  This point brings us nicely to some of the new enemy units - nine regular German soldiers with gas masks.  How convenient!  These nine replace nine of the original regular soldiers in the core set.  Also added to the German forces are a number of paratroopers, the Fallschirmjagers.

Representing all these items on the playing area are plenty of new tokens, as well as plenty more additions to those already provided in the basic game.  In fact, two sheets worth.
In the countersheet above you can see this mix of the old and the new.  The latter are the circular counters for gas barrels [marked with skull and cross-bones], panzerfausts and gas grenades, as well as two Goliath-nests for the other special unit, the Goliath - a mini remote-controlled tank packed with explosives.  The addition to already familiar counters are the grey oblong open/closed door markers and truck markers that indicate enemy entrance positions, as well as a few +1/-1 Action Tokens.

Beside the counters, there are plenty more Event cards which continue to add more colour and unpredictability to the action too.
Equally impressive are 13 more double-sided tiles for indoor/ outdoor locations.  

The set of 13 new tiles on their outdoor side before being pressed out of the sprue.

There are 5 new Operations presented, as before, not by a scenario book, but by a set of highly atmospheric cards, with plenty of sensationally dramatic scenes on them, like this one.

Each Operation's information is supplied by a set of two cards: one card gives the name of the Operation, its date and a map of Europe to locate it geographically.   

On the other side is a diagram of the terrains involved in this Operation and how they link up.  For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it's important to remember that the word "terrain" is not used of the individual tiles, but to describe a location created from placing a number of tiles.  To illustrate what I mean take a look at the next picture, which is the reverse side of the map for Operation Chained Eagle.

Each of the four areas seen above are what the game calls a "terrain", which then has to be created from a choice of tiles.  So, the Hangar is assembled following the diagram on the appropriate card, which also gives you information on the actions that have to be taken to complete this element of the Operation.

The other card provides an overview of the Operation.
and its reverse side gives specific supplementary information for added components, actions or restrictions relating to each terrain. 
So, here we see that the Commandos at the Hangar get extra equipment, while the Fuel Depot is set up with two reinforcement entrances removed from the terrain and the Test Facility has the awesome information that certain tiles are removed turn by turn to represent the building being swept by fire and any units on those tiles, whether the enemy or your own Commandos, are eliminated!!

However, as you can imagine, creating even one of these terrains takes up several tiles and a fair amount of game space.  This is fine for small Operations with only one or two "terrains".  But in this expansion, even the three smallest Operations involve three terrain and the other two operations are of four and five terrains respectively.

This can be dealt with by setting up one terrain at a time, completing the action on it and then moving on to construct the next terrain and so on.  However, as all five Operations begin with two terrain side by side, but with no ability to move from one terrain to the other, you're far better setting up each of those terrains immediately and playing them in parallel.  For realism, this should be how the action is executed.

This last suggestion also leads me to a factor which may influence your decision to add it to your collection.  First, I judge that it is very much intended for cooperative play.  You really want to be running two teams of Commandos controlled by a minimum of one player for each team.  That's not to say that you can't take on even the largest Operation playing solo, but it will take a significant amount of time.  The second point really amplifies that last statement; even if you do game with two or more players, be prepared to expend several hours for these are substantial scenarios.

It seems to me that the only reason why you might decide not to take the plunge with this expansion is if you have no access at all to a group happy to play for several hours.  Even with my preference for solo play in this type of game, Secret Weapons certainly convinces me that for this game multi-player has its appeal too. 

Everything in the package deserves your full attention and appreciation of the quality and the immersive game play.   These are richly rewarding, narrative-producing Operations.  I can't wait to see what the next expansion, V-Commandos: The Resistance brings.

Once again thanks to Triton-Noir for kindly providing a review copy.

Combat Infantry by Columbia Games  Tactical games, much more than operational or strategic ones, have been left ...

Combat Infantry by Columbia Games Combat Infantry by Columbia Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


 Tactical games, much more than operational or strategic ones, have been left in a quandary. The problem is how to represent movement, fire, and elapsed time in a coherent and logical manner, without the rules approaching the size of 'War and Peace'. Some of the most heated discussions online and off are about tactical games, and how each game does or doesn't fulfill the above in the gamer's eye. 

 Combat Infantry portrays the Normandy landings, and the fighting in the Bocage right after them. It is strictly a U.S. infantry and their supports against the Germans. More add-ons are planned to include other armies and terrain. 

 Columbia Games states "The game delivers a high level of tactical realism, yet is very playable". If you were going to sum up this game in one sentence, I do not think you could do better.

 The rule book is only twelve pages long. The game is a block game and uses that format to simulate the 'fog of war'. One innovative rule is that once a tank moves or fires, its block is shown face up for both sides to see. The designer states that infantry could locate and distinguish between tanks by their engine sounds. Listening to the different cars around my neighborhood in the morning, I believe he is correct. 

 The game focuses heavily on the command part of small unit tactics. You have both PHQs (platoon headquarters), and CHQs (company headquarters) to order your units with. The command/leadership rules really require the player to maintain unit integrity. As in real life, mixing up units from different commands is not a successful tactic. The game does not use cards. In another innovative way, the game also has no combat results table. I know, heresy, simply heresy. As I said, the rules are not long and are well written. It will not take long at all to start playing.

 It was meant to be a two player game, but the solitaire gamer has not been forgotten. You can play it just playing both sides, and there is an optional rule for a chit pull system for the enemy activation.

 The game's two maps are 16.5" X 22", and they represent the beaches and some territory further in. They are hard cardboard maps. The scale of the hexes is 100 meters per hex. The blocks are standard and there are 66 for each side (green and black). There are also 22 yellow markers to show smoke etc. The only problem with the rules and maps are in relation to the Bocage hedgerows. The rules are written as if the hedgerows were actually represented on the hex sides, where they are actually portrayed in the hex itself. It is really not that big of a deal, and once you understand the gist of the rules it becomes a non-issue. The line of sight rules are also easy to understand. The game comes with all of the rules and markers needed for tactical gaming ie. counters for foxholes, mines and barbed wire etc. Their are also rules for airstrikes. The game rules can be downloaded here:

 Here is a link to the games FAQ:

 This is the sequence of play:

1.0 The active player on the first turn is specified by the scenario. In each successive turn it is determined by a high roll on one ten die.

1.1  The active player activates any one HQ per company. When commanding multiple companies, the player will have multiple HQ activations, each resolved one by one.

1.2  Units in command (or have passed a no-command roll) can do one of the following actions: Rally, Fire, Special Action, Move. HQ actions take place after all other commands.

1.3 Assaults, units that have moved into an enemy occupied hex now trigger up to three rounds of combat per assault. 

 After all activations are resolved, the enemy player now conducts his player turn. Player turns alternate until both players complete four player turns. This then ends one game turn.

 This is just a synopsis.

 Deciding victory in the game is standard and straight forward. In each scenario certain hexes are victory hexes, and each eliminated enemy unit adds to your score.

 The rule book contains a 'what's not in this game' section, with an explanation of why. Some of these are:

"Opportunity Fire:
Opportunity fire, always a difficult game routine, was not that common in reality. World War II infantry and vehicles simply did not move through open terrain without clinging to every tiny bit of cover available, nor without fire support to keep the enemy heads down. The standard 'fire and move' tactics, where one or two platoons gave fire support, allowing the third platoon to move, was specifically intended to eliminate enemy opportunity fire".

"Status Markers:
Status Markers should not be missed. Cluttering maps and units with markers such as 'used', suppressed', or 'final fire' is not necessary. Units are upright, face-up,  or face-down depending on their action"

 Units have their blocks revealed by tilting them face-up when firing. One hit is scored for each die roll that equals or is less than the firing unit's (modified) firepower. So there is no need to cross reference a table. The unit either hits or misses. If it is a hit, the target unit's strength has one step deducted, and the block is flipped to its appropriate side. 

 You can use a headquarters unit to rally any unit under it, as long as it is in command range. If the rally attempt succeeds, the unit gains one step back to its strength. The unit is then flipped down on its face, and can do nothing else that turn.

 So, the question becomes does the game system work, and the answer is a resounding yes. One thing to keep in mind is that movement points are expended crossing hexsides, and not entering the hex. There are some innovations and changes from the usual in tactical games. So gamers should approach the game with an open mind, and not automatically look askance at it. Columbia Games has succeeded in making a highly realistic, but fun and fast wargame to play. As mentioned, different armies and theaters are to be added, and I am looking forward to them.