Dubno 1941 The Greatest Tank Battle of The Second World war by Aleksei Isaev translated by Kevin Bridge ...

Dubno 1941 The Greatest Tank Battle of The Second World War by Aleksei Isaev and translated by Kevin Bridge Dubno 1941 The Greatest Tank Battle of The Second World War by Aleksei Isaev and translated by Kevin Bridge

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



The Greatest Tank Battle of The Second World war

by




translated by Kevin Bridge






 Here we are again at Kursk in 1943: 'The Greatest Tank Battle'. Wait a minute, the name of the book is 'Dubno 1941, The Greatest Tank Battle of The Second World War'. Could we have been mistaken all along?

 Turns out, yes we were. In 1941, 800 tanks of the German Army Group South, and 3,000 tanks of the Soviet Red Army Kiev Special Military District collided into each other. The Germans were trying to get some running room to break out into southern Russia, while the Russians desperately tried to stop the German flood.

 The author and translator have done a fantastic job of bringing these little known battles to light. Many times the fighting in central Russia takes a front seat to the other two fronts in 1941. The Soviet forces were untried and faced German troops who had almost two years of war behind them.

 The Soviets forces were also hamstrung by two other factors. One, the paranoid psychopath Stalin had gutted the Red Army's officer corps in the purges of the preceding years. Two, the Red Army, which was actually technically ahead of the rest of the world in 1938 with their armored formations, had actually broken them up and changed direction after the Spanish Civil war. Due to the German armored victories in 1940, the Soviets were in the process of switching back to their pre-1938 ideas. So the Red Army was already fighting on its back foot and with one hand tied behind its back.

 The author's premise is that the Germans were able to deal fairly easily with the Soviet armor because the German armored (Panzer divisions) were combined arms units, and not just tank heavy units like the Soviets.

 The Germans had to deal with not only much larger numbers of men and machines. The newest Soviet tanks (T-34, KV-1) were technologically much more advanced than the German ones in armor and armament. The Germans were lucky that most of the Soviets' newest tanks had just been assigned to their units, so the crews were unfamiliar with them. This, along with the fact that all German tanks had radios and almost none of the Soviet tanks did, allowed the Germans to deal with the changing situations of battle. The Soviets, on the other hand, made battle plans before contact and then stuck with them come what may. A lot of people are not familiar with the adverse effects Stalin had on the first six months of the war. Stalin was just as foolish as Hitler with a rash of 'stand and die' orders early in the war. However, and a bit unbelievably, Stalin learned to trust his generals' judgment. We know how that worked on the German side.

 The author shows us that the southern part of the Soviet Army was the strongest and most able on June 22nd 1941. The author believes that the Soviet self sacrifice in these early battles enabled the Soviets to win the war. The author also makes a good argument that the frontier battles of 1941 were the swan song of the German infantry. He believes they were bled white, and that their capabilities just continued to grow worse as the war progressed. In the author's 'conclusion', he shows not only the Soviet mistakes, but also the German ones.

 The book also list some faults of the T-34 that I have not seen written up before. The T-34's clutch plates had a tendency to warp. Repairs on the main clutch plates rarely worked and the entire assembly needed to be replaced. The transmission itself was under undue stress having only three forward and one reverse gear. The German Panzer III had ten forward gears. The following is from a report of the commander of the 10th Tank division:

"A) The armor on the engine and on the tank body could be penetrated from a distance of 300-400m with a 37mm armor piercing shell. The vertical plates on the sides could be penetrated by a 20mm armor piercing shell. When cresting a ditch the tank digs in due to it being low set. Contact with the ground is insufficient owning to the relative smoothness of the tracks.
B) The driver's forward hatch caves in after a direct hit from a shell.
C) The tracks are weak and any shell would be able to break them."

 This book is filled with pictures from the battle, and also has a good number of maps to help the reader visualize the different actions. It is another superb Helion & Company volume to add to your collection.


Robert


Book:  Dubno 1941
Author: Aleksei Isaev
Translator: Kevin Bridge
Publisher: Helion & Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Ogre is a turn-based game of strategy which has been around in tabletop form for 40 years. It was first released in 1977 and has been update...

Ogre Ogre

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

Ogre is a turn-based game of strategy which has been around in tabletop form for 40 years. It was first released in 1977 and has been updated with numerous editions since then. I've only been a boardgame fan for a couple of years now, so I didn't know much about Ogre going in to this review. I did take the time to check out the various tabletop versions, so that I would have an understanding of where this game was coming from.  From what I've gathered, this is a very faithful rendition of the classic Ogre boardgame, which is great for fans. At the same time, Ogre suffers a bit from the double edged sword which is strict boardgame-to-PC adaptations. However, any game which remains popular over the span of four decades has certainly got something going for it, regardless of how you are playing it.

Ogre succeeds unequivocally in one aspect, which is the presentation of playing a boardgame in a digital medium. The visuals are simple and clean, while giving the distinct feeling that you are looking at a hex-map covered in models, all set up nicely on a table. The game runs buttery smooth, which isn't surprising given the level of detail, but does make the presentation all the better. You want to feel like you are looking over a boardgame table, and smooth camera movement is key to that. While the units only have limited animations, they are adequate for the job, accompanied by equally simple explosions and other effects. The sound effects were rather less impressive, with most being extremely repetitive. On the other hand, I found the music to be surprisingly good for this kind of game. It's not Command & Conquer, but there are some decent techno/rock type of tracks to give the game some ambiance while you play.



Ogre, according to the lore, depicts a futuristic world where humanity does battle with each other using tactical nukes as the standard weaponry. This is because armor has advanced so rapidly that nothing else can make a dent. Even the armored soldiers are closer to nuke launching tanks than infantry, Starship Troopers style (the book, not movie). Deciding that wasn't enough death and destruction, the humans of this world invented the Ogre, an armored machine bristling with enough weapons to destroy a city or three, and piloted by an AI. As you might guess, the story of the game involves that AI going all Skynet and attempting to wipe out humans for good.

While the game features a variety of armored units for the human forces, like light/heavy/super heavy tanks, long range artillery, fast GEV's, and infantry, the Ogres completely dominate the battlefield and shape the gameplay. An Ogre can only be disabled by knocking out their dozens of tracks and each individual weapon, rather than being destroyed outright. The Ogre comes in a series of models, from I to VI, with the relatively small Model I Ogres requiring a dozen units or so to defeat, and the big bad versions able to take on entire armies alone. This creates a stark strategic difference between the Ogre and everything else on the battlefield: most of the other units can only fire once per turn, but their sheer numbers give them flexibility of movement, while the Ogre is often alone, but able to engage many targets at once.


Combat follows a set series of phases, where the player gets a chance to move and attack, and then the other side goes. Maneuvering around the Ogres, such that your units can get close enough to attack, while maximizing their chances of surviving the opponent's turn, is at the center of the game's strategy. The game seems extremely simple at first glance, but there is much more subtlety to the tactics than may first appear. I actually had to research some common strategies just to get through the first mission, but once I had a better understanding of the mechanics, a mission which seemed impossible became far easier. That isn't to say that the game throws you in blindly. There is a solid tutorial to start things off, where you learn about moving and attacking and so on. However, after that the ten mission campaign drops you straight into the deep end of the pool. If you are like me, several attempts will be needed for each mission before a winning strategy emerges. In particular, I enjoyed stacking my forces with the quick GEV's, since they get to move again after firing. This lets them zip in, take a shot at an Ogre, then flee out of range of its wrath. 


The UI for handling all of this moving and attacking is mixed bag. On the one hand, it is perfectly functional and clear about what you are doing. Click to select a unit, click a highlighted space to move, click to select a target, select the units you are using for the attack, click "Fire" to attack, and so on. The problem is that you are very often moving around quite a few units, and each one requires this slightly too lengthy series of clicks to function each turn. The movement animations are also a touch too slow, and you can't do anything else while they play. This makes moving a stack of five tanks from one space to another a real chore. If you were playing the tabletop game, you could just pick up a whole pile of units and, assuming they are all the same type, move them to another space in the blink of an eye. In the PC game, this could take a good thirty or forty-five seconds of clicking. The developers have been steadily sending out patches to address feedback, and I hope they will add in some means of speeding up this area of the game. 

The combat, while for the most part compelling, had some stumbles for me as well. There is a lot of good strategy here. How you position your units, what priorities you set for targets, and the composition of your force all matter a great deal. More than once I lost a mission and felt frustrated, but then immediately jumped back in with the thought "Well, what if I did it this way instead?" From what I've learned on my own, and gleaned from reading online, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy here. The simple question of "How does one kill an Ogre?" has all sorts of answers. With that said, the boardgame origins of the combat mechanics don't always feel right in video game form. Rolling the dice always introduces luck into a game like this, and you will see a lot of dice rolled in Ogre. Part of the strategy is balancing the odds. Do you go all in on one sure-thing attack, or do you make several lesser attacks, with the chance of destroying multiple targets? One aspect of the combat which drove me crazy though, was taking out the treads on an Ogre. Unlike the weapons on an Ogre, the treads are targeted by each unit individually, with a rather low chance to hit, and there are a LOT of them to destroy. Sometimes this boils down to watching fifteen units pew-pew at a weaponless Ogre for multiple turns in a row, slowly grinding away the treads until you win or run out of time, with no skill involved whatsoever. I'm sure a long time fan of the game could jump in here and tell me that I'm approaching it incorrectly, and they might be right!


If you want to flip things around and take command of the Ogre yourself, that is certainly possible. Besides the campaign, the game features skirmish maps which include several different generic scenarios. Some are balanced, while others involve lopsided forces, like a human army and a small Ogre defending against an extra dangerous class V Ogre.  While the AI is decent enough, and will give you fits in the tricky campaign, there is of course the option of online play against a human opponent, the sort of match that Ogre was originally designed for. I didn't get to experience this myself while playing the game for review, but it seems to be functioning based on reports from other players.


It feels almost wrong to render any kind of verdict on a game that is been enjoyed by thousands of players longer than I have been alive, especially after only spending a week or so with it, but here we are. Ogre will most certainly please fans of the tabletop game. Everything is here, presented in a very clean and functional digital wrapping. There's online play for beating up your distant friends, and a couple of modes for solo play that will keep you busy for many hours. For players coming into it strictly as a PC game, it may feel constrained in some ways. The luck of the dice which can turn the best laid plan on its head, and the at times clunky UI could drag down your experience. Despite those criticisms, there is a very solid core of strategy gaming to be found here. New tactical layers reveal themselves as you get familiar with the mechanics, and usually reward your improved approach with much better results. I think any fan of turn-based strategy gaming will find something here to sink their teeth into.

Developer: Auroch Digital
Website: http://www.sjgames.com/ogre/products/ogrevideogame/


- Joe Beard





Twenty years ago I read the seminal work on Nazi Germany: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. I am glad I can now cr...

Rising Sun: The rise and fall of the Japanese Empire by John Toland Rising Sun: The rise and fall of the Japanese Empire by John Toland

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


Twenty years ago I read the seminal work on Nazi Germany: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. I am glad I can now cross Rising Sun by John Toland off of my book-bucket list. Rising Sun is every bit as authoritative and detailed as Shirer's work and I consider it the Pacific companion to Shirer's earlier work. In fact, I think that the lineage between the two books is quite clear and I am almost certain that John Toland was inspired by William Shirer's book.

The Pacific Theatre holds a particular fascination for me. Despite the number of books and documentaries I have read and viewed, I found Toland's book to be the most well-explained and detailed analysis of the pre-war period I have experienced to-date. I must admit to struggling with the sheer volume of names and political shenanigans but in all, I learnt more from this one book than I did from nearly all of the others I have read combined.


Iwo Jima: D-Day
To the typical European* audience, the Normandy Landings of June 1944 are rightly reserved for our greatest remembrance of bravery and sacrifice. The European D-Day claimed approximately 4,000 casualties. In contrast, the Pacific Theatre records 126 separate D-Days, none at the scale of Normandy, but all told causing American losses of over 50,000 troops. The sheer lunacy and bravery, in equal measure, shown by those amphibious troops beggars belief of the modern-day observer. I know I'm definitely not made of the same stuff.

In reading this book I feel I have attended The University of the Pacific Theatre, although I would probably graduate with a measly third or two-two at best. I feel wholly unqualified to review this Pulitzer-winning magnum-opus. The sheer quantity of information, especially Japanese names, left me stumped on a few occasions ("Who was he again?") but I got more comfortable with it and was fairly fluent in my Togo's and my Tojo's (very different people) by the 600th page, or 2/3rds of the way through this half-a-tree book.
Marines on Tarawa
I was continually amazed at the sheer volume of research that must have gone into this book. Incongruously, there were several jarring sentences regarding soldier's genitalia which, aside from feeling out of place (it happened on several occasions), made me wonder 'how on Earth did he find that out?'.

In most books about the Pacific Theatre, the behaviour of Japanese soldiers is often held up as barbaric and our Allied 'heroes' are paragons of virtue. As Winston Churchill himself wrote, 'History is written by the victors' and this book does an excellent job of not just recalling those well-known crimes, but explaining and humanising them without excusing them. It also counterbalances that with some appalling accounts of actions of US forces which are not often mentioned in accounts of the Pacific Theatre.


Bataan Death March
I found the book to be very well balanced, some may find it has gone too far and is more sympathetic to the Japanese forces than they deserve credit; it came as no surprise to find out that the Author has a Japanese wife. Still, for me, it was fair and it introduced the concept to me that the war in the Pacific Theatre was long precipitated by the colonisation and subjugation of South Asian and East Asian countries by Allied powers. It certainly did come across that the inexorable decline into war, opposed (mostly) on both sides, was almost inevitable. 

During the war, many Asian nations, sought self-rule and viewed Tojo (the Japanese Prime Minister) as a figurehead of Asian power and a model of how to fight against their 'masters'. There did appear to be several senior Japanese politicians and military men so averse to give Hirohito, the Emperor, any bad news that the war continued in vain. Toland makes it quite clear that the Emperor attempted many times to extricate his country from a War Japan knew it couldn't win even before it started.
Hirohito
The author covers everything about the war in the Pacific in great detail, from before the beginning (it wasn't Pearl Harbour...!) to the very definition of the bitter end and it was enlightening the entire way through. Rising Sun, first published in 1970 has several disturbing parallels today which we, as the western world, need to re-learn from our own history. The author made me question whether my own prejudices, as fair as I think they are, are justified.

Apologies for getting all philosophical, but this is a weighty book, dealing with a heavy subject, not just that of war but also of national and personal identity. It shows how simple mistakes and misunderstandings can cause events to wheel out of control very easily, given the right heady-brew of personalities... 

I can recommend this book it to everyone, unfortunately, it's only going to appeal to a very small niche of society, although it has probably found a much wider audience in American and Japanese markets - I'm glad I've been in that audience. 


広島平和記念碑 - Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Thanks to Pen & Sword Publishing for providing this review copy. It's available on their website for £19.99

*I'm including Great Britain and Northern Ireland in that statement still...

Holdfast Atlantic is one of two recent Kickstarter offerings from Worthington Games . They are both now available from your Friendly Local...

Holdfast: Atlantic Holdfast: Atlantic

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Holdfast Atlantic is one of two recent Kickstarter offerings from Worthington Games. They are both now available from your Friendly Local Gaming Store, Holdfast Atlantic has an RRP of $70 or £69.95 ...



Holdfast Atlantic is a fairly simple Block wargame that comes with just 8 pages of rules which includes several examples of play. I don't ever remember playing a wargame with so few rule pages. Even my very dusty and unloved version of Risk has 9 pages of rules. (Okay they're printed on a much smaller pamphlet than these are)

For the veteran gamers amongst us, HF Atlantic is a re-skin of a classic Avalon Hill title, War at Sea. Unfortunately, I can't compare the two as I have never played the older version. But what I can say about Holdfast Atlantic, is that it is an engaging and surprisingly strategic offering, considering the 20 minutes it's going to cost you to read and understand the majority of the rules.



Each turn follows the same sequence of steps, whereby first the Allies, then the Axis player, move their ships into regions adjacent or within 2 regions of the ship's port of origin. This mechanism allows the Axis player to calculate some of the risks prior to the battle which cleverly negates the effect of their dwindling resources through the game.

The game lasts for 8 turns, and the player with the most Victory Points, gained by controlling sea regions at the end of a turn, is the winner; ties to the Axis player. After I was comfortable with the rules I found each game with a new player lasting about 2 hours. If you're both familiar with the rules then just over an hour is a realistic time to complete a game. For a wargame that recreates the Battle of the Atlantic, that is no mean feat. 


September 1939 ...
Aside from the naval fleets available, the two sides have slightly different units available to them. The Allies have Convoys, which are another source of VPs, and they also get Task Force blocks, which can be used to replace other ship blocks and allow the Allies to create decoy blocks. The Axis player gets U-Boat blocks which can ignore all moment restrictions that surface units are subject to. 

Initially, this U-boat movement caused me a few concerns, but I realised that it is just an abstraction of the hidden/unknown threat of U-boats in the Atlantic, and it is not an attempt to simulate submarine movement. The Axis player gets to place all his units with full knowledge of where the Allies are. They are then free to target those areas where they think the more vulnerable units are. This is another clever, yet simple way, to recreate the risk that must have been present for any Allied naval commander facing the U-boat threat.
Different units and markers to play the game
The asymmetry between the players makes this game for me. I think I prefer to play the Allies because it feels like there is a little more jeopardy: if the Axis player doesn't win, then that's historically accurate; if the Allied player doesn't win then he's lost. I still enjoy playing the Axis side though, trying to manage your resources against the stronger Allied units is a fun challenge and this game still feels well balanced.

I enjoyed the fact that the designers had put in most of the major combatants into this game or at least the more well-known participants of the Battle of Atlantic. Although I should say that the Axis get the Graf Zeppelin which is used in the air combat rounds. I assume this is to provide a little balance against the stronger Allied forces although it is not historically accurate. As the Axis player, I wasn't complaining.
The only WWII German carrier. The Graf Zeppelin was never operational
If you're familiar with Block Wargames then the familiar tropes are all here: rotating blocks to indicate health, each side's blocks facing away from your opponent, simple rules etc. and it really works well in the naval sphere. I really appreciate the little design touches that make the game easy for new-comers to pick up, e.g. the attack strength of a unit, i.e. how many dice you roll in an attack, is shown in a square, dice-like symbol; also the to-hit number is in a circle, i.e. the same shape as the health pips.

The game comes with three optional rules, I would suggest you start playing with them all included. They are simple to implement and provide a much better strategic experience. Amongst other things, they allow you to try to reduce your opponents repair capacity so you could plan a crippling naval battle and also an air raid in the same turn to reduce their shipyard industry. 
Brave Bomber Command crippling German dockyards
However the best-laid plans are never assured in combat and like many wargames, you will be chucking buckets-o'-dice. A large engagement of 3 rounds of combat (submarine, air, naval, retreat) could see each side rolling 50 dice (not all at once, mind). If neither side retreats you'll be plunged into another round of naval combat, whereby you may have another 30 dice to roll each. I don't consider this a problem but if you are dice-shy then maybe it's not for you.

Any new player will be familiar with the turn structure after 4 turns or so, I would have appreciated an on-map sequence of play as an aide-memoir, there is enough real-estate on the map to even provide two, one orientated for each player as they sit facing each other.
Start of combat phase: game turn 5
This game is simple, I even played a few turns with my 8-year-old, he got hold of the combat and all the mechanisms immediately and asked to play it again, but he didn't want to finish the game after the third turn. The strategy aspects and historical interest in the topic was quite a bit beyond him. There is a good amount of strategy involved which should provide even a veteran wargamer just enough meat to sustain him in between his games of Europe Engulfed.

This game is perfect for me. I have used it and will to use it to introduce my more casual gamer friends into the simpler side of wargaming in the hope that we'll have another convert to our hex and counter religion and I can convince them to try some ASL...(that hasn't happened yet)

I should mention that the component quality is top notch, although a company that got this simple formula wrong would have to be trying pretty hard. Worthington Games has published a very good introductory wargame with high-quality components. The blocks and mounted map look and feel great. 

Come back soon for some Hold Fast Pacific action ...

Derby Worlds 2017 was held 7th and 8th October, just South of Leicester at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Grounds. Demo game for The Battle...

Derby Worlds 2017 Derby Worlds 2017

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Derby Worlds 2017 was held 7th and 8th October, just South of Leicester at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Grounds.
Demo game for The Battle of Cerignola
I had no idea what to expect having never attended a miniature wargaming convention. I was going along to play a game of Magic Realm with some fellow bgg-ers.
A very special Magic Realm
I was immediately struck by how well attended the show was and therefore how healthy the miniature wargaming hobby is in the UK. Personal experience also backs up my theory that it is a buoyant hobby in the UK as I can readily find a local weekly wargaming club, the same can't be said of local board game clubs.
The Battle of Jutland (on a massive table)
If I had to guess there were probably 2,000 people in attendance on Saturday and the show literature advertised over 70 different traders on the day. Just over half of the space was dedicated to traders and demo games, and the rest of the hall was handed over to the dozens of different tournaments on offer. At the busiest time, there could have been upwards of 40 different tournament games going on.
Towards the tournament side of the hall
Another view of Cerignola
All of the demo tables were gorgeous and lavish productions of what a wargaming table can look like. I expect the reality is probably a little different if you looked in the attics and sheds of most wargamers.
First World War African battle
My game of Magic Realm, aside from being played on a phenomenally beautiful set, was a fairly typical Magic Realm affair i.e. I died on day 3. I failed 2 hide rolls and moved into a clearing with 2 Flying Dragons, a Tremendous Flying Dragon and to top it off, an Octopus was summoned at the end of my turn. That fight was never going to end well for my Berserker. I ended the game with a grand score of -30, for the uninitiated a score of 0 or higher is considered a win.
My Berserker dying
All in all, I had a great time, and could definitely recommend it for any UK gamer and if like me, you're primarily a board gamer, it is a fantastic introduction to the vast array of different rule sets, eras, scales and modelling possibilities that are readily available in the miniature wargaming hobby. I will definitely be going back next year.

INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER & GAMES PRODUCER TRISTAN HALL   Our designer in creative mood ... or has he just spotted the tarantu...

INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER & GAMES PRODUCER TRISTAN HALL INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER & GAMES PRODUCER TRISTAN HALL

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

INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER & GAMES PRODUCER TRISTAN HALL 



Our designer in creative mood
... or has he just spotted the tarantula on the ceiling?

[A few months ago I was unfortunately away on holiday when Tristan Hall came to my local games store (Wargames, Southport) on its club night to demo his latest game design, Tears For Many Mothers.  More recently his own family commitments meant that the hoped for opportunity to meet and game with him at a local twice yearly gaming event went out the window.  So, thankfully there is at least the good "old" internet which gave me this opportunity at least to pose some of the questions that I'd hoped to ask face to face.]

The obvious and easy starter is - what was your path into the gaming world?

I always played board games as a kid, even when the rest of the family wasn't interested, I'd find ways to change the rules and play games solo if I had to.  But the first game that really blew my tiny mind was HeroQuest, which arrived one Christmas in my childhood.  The miniatures, furniture, dungeons, adventures and everything that game promised was everything I'd dreamed of at the time.  Of course, it's a little dated now.  I went on a hiatus from gaming in my teens and early twenties, but after I got married and settled down I rediscovered the hobby after finding the Arkham Horror board game in some murky corner of the internet a decade ago.  Since then I've collected hundreds of board and card games and never looked back -  a gamer for life!

Do you consider yourself more of a wargamer or more of a Eurogamer and why?

I love both, but I think that the most compelling thing for me in any game is the theme - that's what keeps me coming back.  Agricola is a beautifully designed game and I enjoy playing it, but if I have to choose between medieval farming and wiping the world clear of the freefolk with my armies of orcs, I'm generally going to lean towards the latter.  [I'll take that to be a nod towards being more of a wargamer!] That said, there is an elegance that deeply appeals to me and my favourite games tend to be those that merge elegant mechanics with a cool theme, like Eclipse and Archipelago.

Which games stand out for you on the way to deciding to design and produce your first game, Gloom of Kilforth?

I hold Vlaada Chvati [Through The Ages and Mage Knight - two of my all time favourite games] in high esteem and Richard Hamblen's Magic Realm breaks my brain just thinking about it and the ideas that these guys have developed into fully fledged beautiful games are an inspiration.  But generally I start with the theme and then try to imagine what mechanics best help deliver that narrative experience.

What were some of the other influences and reasons that led you to design and produce your first game, Gloom of Kilforth?

I wanted the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons, but didn't have the time or the inclination to pour through all the books, nor a regular group who would commit to an epic campaign.  So I tried to distil my favourite game elements and narrative vignettes from my favourite D&D campaigns and tunnel it down into one evening's play time.  At the time there was nothing else on the market that offered this because every fantasy adventure game was about killing monsters and stealing their treasure.  I wanted to experience the joy of exploration, meeting strange characters along the road and turning them into friends [or nemeses], going on cool quests, discovering ancient shrines and hidden temples, and then, yes, a little bit of monster-killin' an' treasure huntin' too.  To that end, I'm really satisfied with how Gloom of Kilforth turned out.





Tell us something of the trials and tribulations of being both a game's designer and its producer.



The buck stops with you, so you are responsible for every decision and not every single decision will please every single person, especially when you're supported by thousands of individual backers worldwide. [Gloom of Kilforth, like so many games today, was a Kickstarter project, as is its coming 2nd edition.] If someone else lets you down, it's also on you to take the lumps.  And crowdfunding is a very public platform so every decision you make is scrutinised for everyone to see, which can be hugely daunting.  But it's also hugely liberating and rewarding at the same time - whilst the backers have to trust you and what you're working to achieve, you're not beholden to the whims of external producers or publishing companies who have lots of other games to consume their attention alongside yours.  So you get to devote yourself entirely to your own creative projects and do everything you can to make them the best they can be for yourself and for the gaming community.  If you nurture your community so that they support you too, you develop this incredible symbiotic relationship where you can create beautiful things together. [If you've seen anything of the art work for Gloom of Kilforth, I think you will know what Tristan means and how top-notch it is in this field.*] 

Among your many decisions as the designer, why fantasy for your theme and why purely a card-based game?



I love card games, because you can put beautiful art [see above*] on the cards and build fantastic narratives through the images and through the gameplay... and while I love many different genres, fantasy has always been my favourite since I first saw Ralph Bakshi's Lord of The Rings [the first - animated - attempt to put Tolkien's epic on the movie screen in 1978] when I was a kid.  There followed a series of pivotal childhood moments - picking up the Fighting Fantasy book Island of The Lizard King from a charity shop because of the front cover, finding the D&D red box at a school sale and finally joining an RPG club at the local YMCA - that sealed the deal on my being a geek forever!

Is there a particular group of gamers or games club that have helped you with playtesting?


The gaming community on boardgamegeek has been immensely helpful over the years.  For example,  I tinkered with some scenarios for the D&D Adventure System games and built some adventures for the Lord of The Rings: The Card Game LCG that had tens of thousands of downloads and loads of positive feedback, which really helped me believe I could create something of my own from the ground up.  When I mentioned that that's what I was doing gamers from all over the world  started asking if they could play-test it and their feedback and support has helped shape Gloom of Kilforth into what it is today. [Yes, I think this benefit of comment from so many outside sources comes out clearly, as sometimes in-house products can suffer from the fact that a group of play-testers are so familiar with the product en route.]  The same thing happened with my current, second game, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers, which went down really well with the community and has started to pick up award nominations even before it has even been published.  Also, the Playtest UK guys at UK games Expo were very helpful too.

Personally, I discovered and was drawn to seek out Gloom of Kilforth after being hooked by the Kickstarter for your current design, Tears to Many Mothers.  Here you've turned directly to history and the almost legendary, but little gamed, Battle of Hastings.  What took you in this direction for your second design and why the title you chose for it?

Whilst a sequel to Gloom of Kilforth would have been the path of least resistance, I was determined to prove that I'm not a one-trick pony, so I wanted to make a completely different design and a 1-2 player head to head card game seemed like a great fit for an historical battle game.  The Battle of Hastings has always fascinated me- and no doubt thousands of other British school kids - since we were taught about it at school.  The events leading up to the battle were momentous and the outcome obviously had its impact on English history  for hundreds of years afterwards.  Both sides were so perfectly matched on the battlefield that it could have gone either way at any given moment.  The tragic story of King Harold, one of England's potentially most powerful kings, living out one of the shortest reigns and falling in brutal battle is utterly compelling too.  Capturing that narrative via the medium of a card game was too tempting an opportunity to resist. 

I also considered how cool it would be if, instead of memorising the statistics of a Pikachu or a Shivan Dragon when playing card games, what if they took away a little bit of history with them after playing too?  So, every single card represented in the game is based on a person, story or event from the time of the Battle of Hastings, even down to pulling character names from the Domesday Book.

And that very unusual title.  What's the story behind that?

Ah well, the title comes from a strange quotation I came across. In April of 1066 Hailey's comet was in its perihelion orbit and writers at the time said it was four times the size of Venus and shining with a light equal to a quarter of that of the Moon. Many thought it was an evil omen - including the aged monk, Eilmer, of Malmesbury Abbey, who wrote of the event:
   
"You've come, have you? - You've come, you source of tears to many mothers.  It is long since I saw you, but as I see you now you are much more terrible, for I see you brandishing the downfall of my country."

Which is where we get the title of the game.

In giving us some details of this game, other than the change from fantasy to history, what would you say are the major differences in your two designs?

They are very different - but, in a nutshell:  Gloom of Kilforth is an epic, sprawling, fantasy adventure game for 1-4 players with dice and hundreds of cards and tokens that can be played solo, competitively or cooperatively and takes about 50 minutes per player.  It delivers an immersive role-playing experience, whereas 1066, Tears to Many Mothers is a 1-2 player competitive card game that dynamically re-imagines the historical Battle of Hastings and can be played on your lunch break.

And, inevitably, my final question has to be what next when once we have 1066, Tears to Many Mothers in our hands?


  • Lifeform - alien terror in space with superstar designer Mark Chaplin
  • Sublime Dark - horror card game with campaign play
  • Touch of Death: A Fantasy Quest Game - the stand-alone expansion-sequel to Gloom of Kilforth
  • 1565, St. Elmo's Pay - the stand-alone expansion-sequel to 1066, TtMM

And the list goes on - we have such sights to show you...

Thanks, Tristan, for taking the time to answer all my questions in such depth and detail.  AWNT obviously wishes you continued success with all your projects and I hope that it won't be too long before I have the chance to meet up for some real ftf gaming.

To whet you're appetite further, I shall be reviewing Gloom of Kilforth in the coming weeks and showing you something of the superb art work mentioned here.
















Waterloo The Campaign of 1815 Volume 1 From Elba to Quatre Bras by John Hussey   First things first, the ...

Waterloo The Campaign of 1815 Volume 1 From Elba to Quatre Bras by John Hussey Waterloo The Campaign of 1815 Volume 1 From Elba to Quatre Bras by John Hussey

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



Volume 1 From Elba to Quatre Bras


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 First things first, the book's foreword is written by Hew Strachan who greatly praises the work. Next up is this praise, among others, from Andrew Roberts. "It will be decades before this book is superseded as the best account of those extraordinary events of 1815".

 Now that those two items have been gone over, I guess there isn't much left to say. After two heavyweights in the field declare for you it is pretty much a slam dunk. 

 With not even a flyweight's credentials, I will try to add my views on this excellent volume, and describe what the reader will see. 

 First off there are thirty-two very well done maps. Why books on military campaigns and battles don't have more or better maps like this one I do not know. There are also twelve tables. Some of the tables and maps are two pages large. This is a tome at 584 pages with a further 126 pages of notes and index. Just remember, this is only volume one of two. 

 The book starts out with how, according to the author, the Allies "lost the peace', and Napoleon safely ensconced on Elba. The author goes into every countries Machiavellian schemes, and their diplomats weaving their webs of deceit. Not forgotten is the master arachnid Metternich, and his attempt to turn back the clock to 1788.

 The book then goes into the plans of the Allied commanders to uproot Napoleon once and for all. Wellington's and Blucher's plans for the upcoming campaign are gone through minutely. The polyglot 'British' army and all of its disparate nationalities attempting to act as one is also gone into. Strangely, most of these commanders believed that Napoleon would stay on the defensive and await their disparate attacks. The author moves from geopolitical to battalion concerns and history effortlessly. 

 We are shown Napoleon's plan of attack into Belgium, and the reconstitution of the 'Grande Armee'. The battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras are gone into in minute detail. The book is interspersed with the actual dispatches and memoirs of the combatants. The author has used sources in four languages to tell this amazing story.

 There is not much else to add. If you are looking for a one volume history of Napoleon's escape from Elba to the twin battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny, this is it. I cannot wait for the release of Volume II, and the author's telling of the battles of Waterloo and Wavre.


Robert


Author: John Hussey
Publisher: Greenhill Books
Distributor: Casemate publishers

Field of Glory II by Slitherine Games and Byzantine Games   Hello again, Peabody and Sherman here, we will be going into th...

Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games

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

Field of Glory II


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Slitherine Games and Byzantine Games 


 Hello again, Peabody and Sherman here, we will be going into the wabac machine to help Lucius Tarquinius Superbus restore his crown, and to review Field of Glory II.

 To be upfront I am an ancient history freak, and would rather game and read about this period than any other.

 Just a caveat: these screens are based on the beta version of the game. Some last minute changes may take place.






 This game has been misnamed; it should not be Field of Glory II, but Field of Glory IV or V. The game is that much better than the original Field of Glory. I was not a fan at all of the older game, but I did only play it against the AI. The older game did have a large multiplayer base. The gaming system, which came from table top gaming, has a large following and has been used in gaming all the way to the Renaissance and beyond.

 The amount of ancient wargaming  in the game beggars belief. These are the campaigns:

 




 This is a list of the 'Epic' (historical) battles:





 The army list of the game for both editing and skirmishes is like the Energizer bunny it just keeps going. These are:

Ancient British 60 BC - 80 AD
Apulian 420-203 BC
Arab 312 BC - 476 AD
Armenian 331 BC - 252 AD
Armenian (Tigranes) 83-69 BC
Atropatene 320-145 BC
Atropatene 144 BC - 226 AD
Bithynian 297-74 BC
Bosporan 348-85 BC
Bosporan 84-11 BC
Bruttian or Lucanian 420-203 BC
Campanian 280-203 BC
Carthaginian 280-263 BC
Carthaginian 262-236 BC
Carthaginian 235-146BC
Carthaginian (Hannibal in Italy) 218-217 BC
Carthaginian (Hannibal in Italy) 216-203 BC
Carthaginian (Hannibal in Africa) 202 BC
Caucasian 320 BC - 476 AD
Dacian 50 BC - 106 AD
Galatian 280-63 BC
Galatian 63-25 BC
Gallic 300-101 BC
Gallic 100-50 BC
Germanic Foot Tribes 105 BC - 259 AD
Graeco-Bactrian 250-130 BC
Greek 280-228 BC
Greek 227-146 BC
Greek (Western) 280-49 BC
Iberian or Colchian 331 BC - 252 AD
Illyrian 350 BC - 25 AD
Indian 500 BC - 319 AD
Indo-Greek 175 BC - 10 AD
Indo-Parthian 60 BC - 130 AD
Indo-Skythian 95 BC - 50 AD
Italian Hill Tribes 490-275 BC
Jewish 167-64 BC
Jewish 64 BC - 6 AD
Kappadokian 260 BC - 17 AD
Kushan 130 BC - 476 AD
Libyan 220 BC - 70 AD
Ligurian 480-145 BC
Macedonian 320-261 BC
Macedonian 260-148 BC
Mountain Indian 492-170 BC
Nabataean 260 BC - 106 AD
Numidian or Moorish 220-56 BC
Numidian or Moorish 55 BC - 6 AD
Parthian 250 BC - 225 AD
Pergamene 262-191 BC
Pergamene 190-129 BC
Pontic 281-111 BC
Pontic 110-85 BC
Pontic 84-47 BC
Ptolemaic 320-167 BC
Ptolemaic 166-56 BC
Ptolemaic 55-30 BC
Pyrrhic 280-272 BC
Rhoxolani 350 BC - 24 AD
Roman 280-220 BC
Roman 219-200 BC
Roman 199-106 BC
Roman 105-25 BC
Saka 300 BC - 50 AD
Samnite 355-272 BC
Sarmatian 350 BC - 24 AD
Scots-Irish 50 BC - 476 AD
Seleucid 320-206 BC
Seleucid 205-167 BC
Seleucid 166-125 BC
Seleucid 124-63 BC
Skythian 300 BC - 50 AD
Slave Revolt 73-71 BC
Spanish 300-10 BC
Spanish (Sertorius) 80-70 BC
Syracusan 280-211 BC
Thracian 350 BC - 46 AD
Umbrian 490-260 BC


 There are a total of eighty-six types of historical units, and each type can have multiple variants. Battles can be as large as eighty units per side. However, the ability to play such large scenarios completely depends on your computer hardware.

 There are three tutorials:


 This is the multiplayer screen:


 This is the first screen when using the editor:



 The game is based upon the Pike and Shot and Sengoku Jidai game engine, which if you haven't picked them up, what are you waiting for? The core game has been updated constantly since release, and for Field of Glory II it has been even more enhanced. As mentioned, the original Field of Glory did have a large multiplayer fan base. The multiplayer for Field of Glory II is based upon the seamless multiplayer setup from Pike and Shot etc.

 The game plays like an ancient battle game. It is not a generic battle system where the Elephant unit is interchangeable with a tank unit. The game is immersive and you feel like you are leading an ancient army.

 Just like in the Sengoku Jidai add-on Gempei Kassen (The Gempei War), the developers have erred on the side of caution with their list of Epic (historical) battles (there being so few sources on the type of units let alone the numbers for the Gempei War battles that it comes with none). The developers have given us only twelve battles preset for play of each side (that does not include the battles in the campaigns). As we have seen, the army list is enough to let any imagination run wild. I am also positive that modders will be in full swing bringing us new historical battles; there are actually some in the works now.

 For those of us who have been waiting for a great ancient tactical game, the wait is over. For those of you still stuck in the mud of the Russian front, please explore a new horizon, and see how good this game really is.

 The following are screenshots of my feeble attempt to play the second tutorial. I eventually win in a messy and very unplanned way. The AI broke my right flank, but the battle had progressed so far on my left and in the center that it didn't help that much. I have actually been spending a lot of my playing time as Antiochus the Great at Magnesia versus the Romans.








 Per the tutorial's instructions, I have moved my lighter Italian infantry to my right and the broken hilly ground. My plan is to smash their right and center with my phalanxes and Elephants.








  My plan was working until my units were bunched up in the choke point between the hills.




 Having been playing the Magnesia scenario too much, I forgot that my heavy cavalry are not cataphracts. My right flank has crumbled.




  My one remaining Elephant unit and the phalanxes are the only things that pull my irons out of the fire.















  Two of the elephants have routed and have gone berserk. This was always the extremely fun part of ancient wargaming. One hex full of even your own berserk elephants can pretty much destroy your painstakingly created line.

 The following are three closeup screenshots of Antiochus The Great Army at Magnesia.









 The Matrix/Slitherine/Ageod lineup for the next few months is incredibly impressive. It looks a little like murderers row from 1927. You not only have Field of Glory II coming out on October 12th, but also these games coming up:

Operational Art of War IV - The name says it all.
Desert war - Who hasn't been clamoring for a desert war game?
Wars of Succession - Marlborough and Charles XII what more can you say?

 Everyone talks about the 'good old days' , but with the books and games (boardgames also) that are coming and have already been produced, this is the 'Age of The Grog'.


Robert