In An Army at Dawn, Rick Atkinson offers a comprehensive telling of the 1942 invasion of North Africa by American and Allied forces.  Th...

Book of the Week: An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson Book of the Week: An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson

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



In An Army at Dawn, Rick Atkinson offers a comprehensive telling of the 1942 invasion of North Africa by American and Allied forces.  The reader bears witness to every phase of what happened, from the very top decision makers, down through the ranks of officers, and finally to the tip of the spear. Even though you know the end of the story, Atkinson is able to put you in the moment, wondering, alongside the men in command, whether their forces will be able to get the job done.

The book covers a fascinating moment in the history of WW2: The before, during, and after of the first major clash between American and German ground forces. We all know history of what happened later on, the Allies rolled over Europe and into Germany, but what happened before all of that? This book covers a time when the American army was untested and hardly respected. Coming off of years spent with almost no military at all, they were now entering the single most violent and massive conflict in human history. It was little wonder that enemies and allies alike had doubts.

Atkinson has crafted my favorite kind of military history here. We see things from every perspective imaginable in the conflict. The stories of numerous individual soldiers are told in gripping detail, while their officers struggle with the burdens of command, and Eisenhower, overlooking it all, is forced to spend most of his time playing politics. At every level, Atkinson is both informative, and a good story teller.  Although the book mostly focuses on the American army, a decent number of pages are devoted to their allies and enemies, so you get a very complete picture of things. 

This book actually pushed me over the edge into buying the wonderful game Command Ops, as I finished reading it with a strong desire to capture the feeling of commanding a large ground force in battle, giving orders and then watching them filter down the chain of command.

An Army at Dawn is the first in a trilogy which goes on to cover the war in Italy and Western Europe in the same style. While I have not read the other two books yet, they are high on my list. If you are at all interested in the topic, this book will have you turning pages deep into the night.

- Joe Beard




The Seven Years War by Oliver Keppelmueller  Once again we find ourselves tru...

Seven Years War by Seven Years War by

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



by


Oliver Keppelmueller





 Once again we find ourselves trudging through the snowy landscape with Prussian grenadiers. Old Fritz is in front, in his old clothes, with a few days of meals spattered on them.

 This game is absolutely amazing in that is a one man labor of love. The fact that one person coded this whole game is almost unbelievable, and he should be given kudos just for this. The game tries to do one better on a 'Total War' game by being historically accurate. Most games this ambitious have a multitude of programmers working on them, whilst little old Keppelmueller toils on alone. Let us see if the game is a stupendous victory or a stunning defeat.

 Just like the aforementioned series, this is a strategic and a tactical game. I was going to say wargame, but it is much more than that. It has wargame elements for sure, but it also has country building. It is almost as if the 'Europa Universalis' series and a 'Total War' game had an offspring. The games is much more to the simulation side than just a game of the Seven Years war. 

 The game was released in late 2015and has been continually updated since then. There have also been two DLCs released for it: a 'Battle Pack' which we will look at momentarily, and 'The Pomeranian War'. The author had some help and the Pomeranian war was actually done by llja Varha. In reality, the Pomeranian War did not include much actual fighting. It was Sweden's attempt to win back some of its Baltic possessions on the cheap, while Frederick was fighting for Prussia's existence. The PW DLC adds the chance to play the campaign as Sweden and possibly try and win back your Baltic empire. The PW also adds the following:


- new playable nation: Sweden
- 5 new campaign scenarios for Sweden, where you may attempt to lead the nation from 1750 all the way through the war, or go for historical goals in the two major operations of the war. Or maybe even restore the empire of the era of great power, ”stormaktstiden”, lost in the Great Northern War...
- two new national policies: Naval invasion preparations and mercantilism
- new nation specific historic events and march music for Sweden
- revised and expanded roster of Swedish military units
- bonus scenario for the French, with historical strategic goal of invading Britain in 1759


 The following pics are form the start of the battle of Kolin from the Austrian side.


 The battles are in 2 or 3D. You can zoom in and out with the mouse scroll. The troops in 3D do not equal an AAA release, but again this was one man's game. The actual battlefields and especially the topography is very good. The AI in the battles is good as far as going after the victory points. The only failing I have seen is that the AI uses it's troops non-historically. More than a few times the AI has charged uphill with cavalry at my Austrians who are steady in line and fresh. It appears that the AI uses its infantry and cavalry interchangeably. Charging into the fray with whichever is at hand. With the battle pack DLC you also received the ability to create your own battles. This in itself gives a big boost to the game and it's replay ability. Hopefully some modders will use this feature to create more battles and maybe some from different wars. I may still get to play a computer game as DeSaxe. The battle pack gives you these historical battles:



 The victor in battle is not just decided by casualties inflicted or taken, but also relies on victory points on the map. You either have to keep control of or capture them. You can see that North America is not only represented in the choice of battles, but also plays a large part in the campaign games, especially if you are playing England or France.

 Just as in other games like this, I tend to play the historical battles, and they are a game in themselves. I am not really a big fan of sandbox wars or battles, to me it usually leads to too many non-historical things happening. Of course to the sandbox aficionado, this is meat and potatoes. So the game has parts that will suit you, whatever your appetite.

 The full campaign game is more like a thesis for a doctorate in economics. The campaign game is so intricate that the game really does need a tutorial that holds your hand while getting the hang of it. There is documentation, and YouTube has a bunch of videos on it, but the average gamer might be put off trying to learn how to use the different nation building functions. It is a bit of a shame, because Mr. K has put a lot of work into it, and it is well worth the extra time to learn the campaign game's ins and outs. For those of us who are not into nation building we can just hand this off to our AI ministers, and continue with our wars. The campaign games are different for each nation and are as follows:









 In the 1750 campaign you are free to try and use any political or military strategy you can dream up before war breaks out. Prussia's need for Silesia and Austria's burning desire to have it returned will cause war to break out at sometime. Then when you add in the colonial policies of England and France you will see the world sitting on a tinderbox in the 1750s.

 The game as a whole is a diamond in the rough. It is uncanny that it is the work of one man, but it still could use some polish on the UI, for example. Mr. Keppelmuller has been continually working on his opus for a while now. I see no reason not to purchase the game with its DLC and be awed by its continued development. Of course, he is working on a sequel of the War of the Austrian Succession (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).


Robert


Game: Seven Years War
Developer: Oliver Keppelmueller





Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section. ...

Sopwith Triplane build updated! Sopwith Triplane build updated!

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

Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section.

http://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/07/sandbaggers-wingnuts-build.html

CLICK TO ARTICLE

Expeditions Conquistador by Logic Artists  This game is the first in the 'Expedit...

Expedition Conquistador Review Expedition Conquistador Review

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





 This game is the first in the 'Expeditions' games series by Logic Artists. As I play the game, I can hear Procol Harum in my head. In some ways, I feel like I am with Percy Fawcett and looking for the lost city of 'Z', or with a Pizzarro brother in search of El Dorado. Hopefully I won't go as mad as Aguirre in the jungle.



 You start the game with what appears to be be a choice, between Hispaniola or Mexico. Unfortunately Mexico has to be unlocked. You then choose a random name for your character and whether you will be male or female.



 You are then given eight points to add to your characters points in six different categories.



 You can then choose your followers from the following categories: Doctors, Hunters, Scholars, Scouts, and Soldiers. You have thirty-one, and you pick ten out of them. 

 When you arrive in Hispaniola your goods and followers are confiscated by the governor.





 You have to win his favor and also win a mock battle to win back some of your goods and followers.




 Once you have battled and won his favor, it is off to the jungle to explore.




  The mock battle and your side trips around the first town are made much simpler by a very helpful and inclusive tutorial and tips.



  The real crux of the game is in your companions. You must, like Indiana Jones, 'choose wisely'. Your whole game adventure is pretty much a balancing act. Each of your companions has his class (Soldier, Doctor, etc), but he also has individual traits: Racist, Proud, Aggressive, etc. Your followers will not just follow you blindly as in other RPGs. You must judge every action of your own against how each of your followers will react to it. Do you rashly charge into battle or approach it warily?







  Even setting up camp is an involved process. You once again have to balance the different camp duties against your followers traits.




 When it comes to battle it is on a hex grid, which is good. I am not really a fan of 'Battle boards' setup like a chess board, but I am getting used to them. I started gaming with hexes, and will probably end my gaming days that way. 




 Battles are hard; as a matter of fact, the whole game is. I do want to stress this, and the point is this is not a bad thing, but is very good. This game is not a time waster or a simple rock, paper, scissors game. You need to understand that this game really shines when you put enough into it. Along with this is there is really no correct answers or play in any situation. Most of the time it is similar to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. How do you lose, but not too badly?





 The graphics are well done. They are not ones that will put a super computer to shame, but are perfectly suited to the different game areas. The music is even better than the graphics.

 Sometimes before battles you can set traps. These are especially useful with tougher enemies.




 After this, I have staggered back yet again to replenish my supplies and choose who I will heal and who, well you get the picture.



 As others have mentioned, the game is trying to simulate an incredibly harsh environment.  For every Pizarro or Cortes there were ten failed expeditions that ended in starvation, disease, and the cannibals pot. Expeditions Conquistador manages to simulate the age and environment to a 'T'. It will hopefully be the first in a long line of 'Expeditions' games. The preview of 'Expeditions Vikings' was done a bit ago on the blog, and it is looking to raise the bar from 'Expeditions Conquistador'. 


Robert


Game: Expeditions Conquistador
Developer: Logic Artists 

THE GREAT WAR published by Hexwar Hopefully you caught Jason's trailer for this com...

THE GREAT WAR THE GREAT WAR

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

THE GREAT WAR

published by Hexwar



Hopefully you caught Jason's trailer for this computer version of Richard Borg's Command & Colors The Great War, whose original board game I reviewed some months ago.  If you haven't  read that, I'd suggest a quick recap, as today I'm going to focus on how that translates to playing online. 

In the very simplest terms it is a direct translation from physical table top to computer screen.  Everything that you can do in the original you can do here.  When you first call up the game, it loads in seconds and there you are, as you can see above, with the exact same picture as the box art.  Should you not have the board game, the help button will bring up the rules booklet.  

Unfortunately, the print is so microscopic that you'll struggle to read it and, if you can manage to read it, you'll find that it is simply a condensed version of the board game's rule book, but with none of the many large colourful examples of play.   Though the rules are small print, there is a detailed and very clear set of large pictures of all the cards in the game.

What is missing is that there is absolutely nothing about the computer controls for playing the game online.  Admittedly, it is very easy to work out what you have to do, but a good knowledge of the C&C system certainly helps.

Click on Play followed by Start on the very first screen and a pop-up menu of Scenarios appears.  Select your Scenario, read the intro [purely informative], a further click of Play and you're good to go. 




The screen view is very clear and easy to scroll around, though you cannot obtain a complete view of the whole battlefield.  This is something I expect with most hex-based online war games, because their maps are often many hexes wide and deep, but with The Great War the dimensions are very limited.  So, I'd hoped for a more all-embracing view.



Apologies for the blurring, but here is a typical close up of a section of the battlefield.  Notice the appropriately cratered effect after several artillery barrages, the barbed wire and the Front line German trench.  The blue chevrons above the units signify basic infantry, while a clip of three bullets indicates a machine gun unit, as can be seen in the image below.






A neat feature is the orientation of the units.  So, the next picture shows a unit of British infantry that has advanced into the barbed wire, while next to them is a unit that has both taken casualties and just been forced to retreat.  This latter feature is purely cosmetic, as there is no modifier for orientation.  Still nice to see the distinction.






When it is your Turn to play, your hand of cards is displayed.  You can check each one before selecting and also review your Combat  cards as, where appropriate, one may be selected to be played in conjunction with your Command card.   This is one occasion where a brief run through of online instructions for play might have been useful.




Notice the slightly irregular line up, creating the effect of how you might arrange them when playing with the original physical components.   In close up below is one such card, identical in every way to the cards you would play with on the table. 


When you've selected the card you're going to play, the screen lights up those of your units that are valid for potential choice.  All you then have to do is click on each one that you want to activate and the hex that they are in will turn green.  I say "All that you have to do" but that is a little misleading.  It is at this point that the main flaw that I've come across in the game can crop up - selecting the unit.  Sometimes a single click may be enough, but sometimes I've had to click on a unit as many as ten times before the program agrees to select it. 

This doesn't just happen when you are selecting a unit for activation, it can happen for any and all of the occasions when you need to make a selection. Select a unit to move, select a hex for the unit to move to, select a unit to fire, select the hex to fire at - all these can bring up the attendant problem of repeated attempts being needed to be successful.  

I sincerely hope that this is a glitch that at some point a patch may be available to overcome, but it can be very wearing, because you do a vast amount of clicking in the course of a game!  On very rare occasions I have been totally unable to select a unit - when this has occurred, it seems to be a unit that is positioned on the edge of the board.

When a unit  is selected to move you will see all the hexes that it can move to and still fire coloured in white and those it can move to, but not then fire, coloured in green.  When you click on the destination hex, you'll see your little men run to it and, as with the board game, you move all your men first and then cycle through those who can still fire or engage in close combat. 

At this point, the game throws the requisite number of dice which tumble neatly across the board and many's the time you'll watch with trepidation as dice teeter backwards and forwards until settling onto one of their faces.  Will it be the necessary skull, if you are attacking in close combat or a more innocuous result?


When the dice have all come to rest, the results will be flashed on the bottom of your screen and if kills have been achieved a number of soldier figures will disappear from the targeted unit.


The use of Artillery is a particular visual favourite.  First, a very large targeting reticle appears above where the shells are going to fall and then gouts of earth appear and where appropriate the hex turns into that rich muddy brown with shell holes seen on earlier shots and, of course, if you have had a unit there soldiers disappear!

As in the original game, at the end of your turn, a new Command card will be revealed and added to your hand and then the next screen will present you with the choice of either two stars or an unknown Combat card.  For those who know the game, those stars are what fuel your ability to fire artillery and one or two other game functions.  Choose the Combat card and it will be turned from its generic side to reveal what you have drawn.

When the enemy A.I. takes its turn, you will see all the same things happening, except at an even quicker pace than you can manage. As always this is a strength of any computer version of a board game and with The Great War one of the other benefits is not having to set the board up and clear it away at the end of the game.

However, what has shown up for me after many repeated plays which hasn't happened with playing the board game is the similarity of each scenario and the repetitiveness of the experience.  I have no definitive explanation for this, other than that the effect of the simple variety of physical actions, [selecting a card to play, rolling dice, moving your plastic figures across a very attractive real board, holding the artillery template over the board, collecting tokens and, inevitably, the interaction with a ftf real human being] creates an experience greatly superior to doing little more than clicking on cards and clicking on units.

Nor does my preference for the physical board game result from  receiving the end of game screen message:


For me, The Great War fits an easy niche for when I want a swift, simple play of the board game and system that I really like, but have no ftf opponent.  But, if I want a thoroughly engaging computer experience of tactical warfare, then I would turn either to purely computer designs of WWII warfare or some of the excellent translations of WWII board games for the digital world.

However, notice that I've had to switch to WWII. So, it's worth adding that, for the moment, The Great War is the only game I have been able to find to provide a turn based tactical WWI experience of trench warfare online, the limited few other games that I have come across are all first person-shooters.












































Streets of Stalingrad 4th Edition News!       The 4th Edition website has gone live!  Thi...

Streets of Stalingrad 4th Edition Streets of Stalingrad 4th Edition

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

Streets of Stalingrad 4th Edition News!

 
 
 
The 4th Edition website has gone live!  This is the ultimate Stalingrad boardgame. A Kickstarter goes live in September.
 
Game will be reviewed when released on here!
 
This is one game you should start saving for now..you really don't want to miss out.
 
 
 
 
 


WARFIGHTER 2ND EDITION When Warfighter 2nd Edition , plus all the expansions and the Footl...

WARFIGHTER WARFIGHTER

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

WARFIGHTER

2ND EDITION




When Warfighter 2nd Edition, plus all the expansions and the Footlocker arrived in an awesome package, it was like Christmas, my birthday and several other celebrations all rolled into one.  But first a brief outline of the subject, which the game's subtitle -The Tactical Special Forces Card game - helps to spell out.  In essence, modern small unit operations, specifically in the Middle East and the South American jungle.  The main focus of my review will obviously be the core game, but with appropriate asides regarding the multiple expansions.

Warfighter may not have the word "Leader" in its title, but at a glance you might be forgiven for thinking that it is a close relation.  If you have followed my series of reviews from air to sea to air/land campaigns via Phantom Leader, U-Boat and Gato Leader and most recently Tiger Leader, you might even think that there's not much to learn or be said.

Stick with me and I hope you'll shortly agree that you would have been wrong to switch off your attention now.  I have no hesitation in saying that, if my accumulating collection of DVG games were to be threatened by the classic scenario of my house going up in flames and I could save only one, then Warfighter would be the one.  Once more its quality, quality, quality all the way.  But, for once, before looking at the nuts and bolts of the game, I'm going to plunge straight into a major aspect of game play and the level that you are going to be playing at.

Similar to games in the Leader series, Warfighter's key element is cards.  Hundreds of them and at the very heart of the game are the cards that make up your force and you can't get much more tactical than this. You have three types of unit: the individual Player Soldier, the non-player soldier and the squad soldier, in what I would describe as a descending hierarchy.  But each soldier card comes with an individual name - a starting point for my love of this game.

I liked the call-sign names used in Phantom Leader that took me back to watching Top Gun, then came the U-boats with their named historical commanders on the card, followed by the named Commander cards integral to Tiger Leader.  Each increased the level of engagement and identification with your units, but now we're at the level where each soldier card has the name of a serving soldier and picture that they have personally submitted for inclusion in the game.  I don't think that you can get a more immersive effect than that.

You really do care for each member of your team [especially as you've chosen them], but perhaps unfairly you do care just that little bit more as you ascend the hierarchy that I talked about.  Your Squad soldier really seems like the basic grunt, whose card has a simple hit table for when they fire and the number of actions that they can perform depending on how many wounds they've taken.  Next in line is the non-player soldier - this time the table on their card covers purely how many actions they can take, as they come with a fixed set of named weapons, equipment and skills printed on the card. 



A line up of the three types of soldier card.

But top of the tree is the Player soldier, who has a set allowance of two actions, but then everything else is what you have decided to purchase from your stock of Resource points.  Even more important - each Player soldier has a hand of Action cards [depending on their current staus; typically 5 or 6 cards, if suffering no wounds] and these cards really are the engine that drives the action.   Inevitably they grab your attention and they will be the ones you try to protect at all costs.



No shortage of gear for these guys.

The next feature is one that takes the world of Warfighter away from the Leader series.  There are no large campaign card sheets.  Instead, three sets of Mission and Objective cards: one for the Jungle and two for the Middle East, where one group of opponents are Insurgents and the other Military.  There is another hierarchy here too - how tough the going will be: the Jungle set is the easiest [a relative term], next are the Middle East Insurgents and finally the toughest nuts to crack are the Middle East Military.  Oh, and while we're talking about your opponents , better wise up and get down to learning the correct game parlance.  These are Hostiles!

So, choose your Mission card which lists the number of Resource points to spend, the number of turns in which to complete the Mission, an Objective number*, a Loadout number [bit more about these later] and finally any specific Mission text.  Then choose your Objective card.  Of course, if you wish, you can just draw each of these two cards randomly for maximum variety.

From here on, the sequence of play should be pretty familiar to any of you who know the Leader games and/or have read my other reviews.  Spend the Resource points to build your team of soldiers, buy their equipment and skills, draw the correct number of Action cards [that's new] and get your boots on the ground.

So, now's the right time to consider the game's playing board which is where you'll be placing your soldiers and a lot, but by no means all, of what you're going to be playing with.  That playing board has come in for a lot of criticism.  At first sight , it looked perfect.




Suitably dark and menacing, a seemingly very good size, clearly marked boxes for the Action deck and discards, a similar set of boxes for the Hostile card deck and discards, the Set Up sequence and Attack Sequence, an Attack Matrix, a turn track [called Mission Timer] and 10 numbered boxes, the first of which is labeled Mission and the Objective card goes in the numbered box that corresponds to the Objective number* [see above].  Unfortunately, it just isn't adequate for what has to be laid out in the game.

Consider first of all the neat, numbered Location boxes.  When you decide to play a Location card that you've drawn from the Action deck, it will be placed in the next Location box.  But as can be seen, most of those boxes are in the landscape orientation, so that the all-important information on the card is harder to read. 


The start of the problem.


Even worse you draw a number of Hostile cards that will occupy the Location card and these may be 5 or 6 cards.  Where do you put them?  After all, only one fits the Location space and then you couldn't read the Location card beneath it at all.  Nor can you stack them, as each Hostile card has a combat table on them and you will also need to place Suppressed or EKIA markers on them at some point.  Above the Location is too cramped and soon obscures other tables.



Even more of a problem -
laying out the Hostile cards


In quite a number of on-line posts about this, the gamer simply did away with the board and you'll certainly find useful files on BGG that have been created to print out Location mats to help.

Acknowledging the problem, DVG has produced a new board, which comes in the Warfighter: Locker expansion.  So, problem solved... ah, well, no [sigh].  It is an improvement.  I love the top-notch, even higher physical quality of this board and its even more striking appearance.




A partial solution

But, as you can see above, it is by no means a complete solution.  There is more room for laying out those Hostile cards.  In the photo, I drew 4 Hostiles that time.  In my very first attempt at this Mission, I drew 6 Hostiles.  Also, you'll now notice that to accommodate the Hostile cards, my discard piles have to be placed to the side of the board.  And finally, whichever board you have, there is no allocation of space on it for your all-important Soldier cards, their Skill cards and their Equipment cards.  To achieve that you'd have to have two boards and a price that frankly would be becoming stratospheric.

In total you have a LARGE footprint for this game.  I can see why some have simply jettisoned the board altogether.  That will certainly work, but not a decision I have been prepared to take.  What you see above is my preferred choice.  I would not want to give up the atmosphere and sumptuous feel, when I play the game using the redesigned board.   But it's going to cost you.  The Footlocker Case costs slightly more than the basic game itself.  So, you're looking at about £95 in total.  Add in all the other expansions and you're putting nearly another £115 on the bill, taking you to about the £210 mark.

Having aired the one question mark that hangs over the game - its playing board [called the Tactical Display Sheet ]- let's continue with the game play that takes place on it.  Your Soldiers in the form of small numbered chits assemble on the Mission card.  The Kickstarter included plastic soldiers [the weakest physical pieces in the whole product] to go with the chits.   I shall be buying and painitng some quality models to enhance further the all-enveloping feel of the game.

Their task will be to make their way, Location card by Location card, until they reach the Objective card, activate it and accomplish [or fail to accomplish] the Objective goals stipulated by the card.

To help them achieve that goal will be the weapons you've selected and paid the necessary Resource points for.  Below is a very small selection from the wide range at your service.



If you look closely at the lower right hand corner, you should be able to make out a small orange square where you place the designated amount of ammunition for the weapon.  This is a small, but telling detail, that adds to the atmosphere of the game.  Most weapons have a reload number which, if rolled, involves the topmost counter being flipped to its empty side and you'll then need to spend one of your precious actions to reload by removing that counter.

If you think a weapon is going to need more ammo than its basic allowance, then you need to buy extra before you start the Mission and you can also add refinements to these weapons from the Equipment cards that you can also buy.  These are easily distinguished by their blue colour, so that they can be paired up with the weapon they've been bought for.  Though, as you can see with the First Aid Kit below, some of the equipment is stand alone material that will be assigned to a particular Soldier card.



All this adds immensely to the game play and one of the reasons that you may find yourself being seduced into buying some, if not all, of the expansions.  Each Expansion has a particular focus, but brings with it additional cards in nearly all the basic categories.


Here is most of the whole magnificent array.  Lined up in front are the seven sets of expansion decks.  Hiding behind them is the Container from the Footlocker Expansion, with the Scenario Booklet and extra rule set on top and the deep counter tray on the right.  Most of the counters in the tray come from the basic game, whose box is in the top right of the picture, along with over two thirds of the extra counter sheet contained in the Footlocker.



Each Expansion also includes a set of the special bullet dice and there are four sets of them here on display.  These look the part, but like many other gamers I think they're more ornamental than practical.  They roll and roll and, when at last they stop rolling, it's often not easy to tell exactly which side they are lying on and the slightest nudge to your table will change the result. 



Finally, here's the Footlocker itself, from the outside, with its near 3D effect!






and peering into its capacious depths.


The whole ensemble is of the finest quality and incredibly solid.  Inside the box, there is a secondary compartment in three sections.  Each section has been designed so that the cards can be sleeved and still sit perfectly within the column.  The central column at the moment contains all the original cards from Warfighter 2nd Edition, plus the cards from four of the expansions.   There is just so much space and another feature of the container is the card dividers, made of solid plastic  Not only do they make sorting and locating all your different types of cards so easy, but again their finish, look and durability is exceptional.




The inner compartment is perfect for the Tactical Display Sheet, Rule book, Scenario book and counter tray to sit securely on top and still leave room for more ... if necessary!

The 2nd edition rule book couldn't be clearer and steps you through everything in a logical progression and even has a very broad topic outline index on the front cover, though it will not direct you to the many specific details in each section.  However, once I'd played a couple of Missions, I found that I rarely needed to look back at the rules. 

Combat which can be a tricky area in many games works very smoothly on a simple matrix of 1d6 and a variable number of d10s.  The single d6 is rolled against the target unit's cover value, while the d10/s are rolled against the soldier or his weapon's attack value.  If both the d10s and the d6 miss, then you've achieved absolutely zilch.  Roll at least one d10 hit, but the d6 fails then you achieve a Suppression.  Roll no d10 hits, but succeed with the d6 cover roll and you still get a Suppression.  Roll at least one d10 hit and succeed with the d6 cover roll and you achieve a KIA. This Attack Matrix is on the game board, but you'll never need to refer to it, it's so easy.

There is even a basic prepared scenario with Mission and Objective selected and a small team of soldiers with their equipment and skills too.   This is used to teach you the sequence of play once you have begun your Mission and includes at the end of it a few Optional rules and a very short description of how to create a Campaign.  The rule booklet, as always, ends with a thorough Sample Mission described from start to finish and I really like the fact that here they have chosen to follow through and use the above pre-planned scenario that has taught you the sequence of play. 

Though I find the whole pre-Mission launch part of buying your team and equipment and skills a great part of the whole game's appeal, it is sometimes very nice, especially when time's more restricted ,just to be able to sit down, choose a pre-planned Mission, quickly lay out out all you need and get into the Mission.

For this, the Scenario book is admirable with a great range, BUT that range is in large part achieved by drawing on materials and above all soldiers from the many expansions.  In some cases, it is possible to substitute equivalent men and equipment from the basic game, but there is no chart to help you do this. 

Indeed, even if you do have everything, the Scenario book does not indicate which expansions material has been drawn from.   As I have each category [soldiers, equipment, weapons, skills, etc] sorted in order starting with the basic core cards and then in numerical order of expansion, this is a fairly quick and easy process.   It does need good organisation and the willingness to put everything back in its correct slot at the end of a session - a task some might not relish!


As for game play, brilliant.  The tension is palpable as your soldiers move forward from Location to Location with the clock ticking against you.  Sometimes, your hand of Action cards for a soldier will contain no Location cards and so one of the precious allowance of two actions per turn will have to be spent on discarding some or all of your hand to draw more cards.  This can be an even more excruciating decision if your hand contains some powerful/helpful cards.  But it is rarely worth discarding only one or two of them in hope that you'll get lucky and immediately draw a Location card.

Each new Location placed demands its draw of Hostile cards; how tough will they be?  How many will you encounter?  Each Location and each Hostile card has a point value.  So you keep drawing Hostile cards until you reach the Location value.  Obviously a card of value 0 with be nowhere near as dangerous as one of value 5, but draw a lot of low value Hostiles and they can be more of a problem to deal with than a single powerful card.

Some are geared to immediately move forward into your soldiers' current Location and prevent them leaving it until they have been dealt with; others increase the cost of entering a Location; while yet others may represent up to five Hostiles to be eliminated.   

An excellent rule prevents the Hostiles all directing their attention on your key soldiers. At the beginning of the Mission, each soldier is allocated a number and usually about four chits for each numbered soldier is put into a draw bag or container. As each Hostile card is drawn, you draw a numbered chit from the container that becomes that Hostile card's target.  When it is the Hostile Phase of each turn, the Hostiles will open fire, if the target soldier is within range, and if not the Hostiles will move one Location towards their target. 

But before that can happen, each Location that contains at least one of your soldiers has a reinforcement value that might result in an additional Hostile card being added.  This is an object lesson in keeping your men together and not getting strung out across several Locations.

However, the most exciting part is mastering the sequence of actions of your soldiers and the interplay of the cards within your hand.  Who fires first?  Who enters the next Location first?  When to draw more cards?  Fire your carbine, throw a hand grenade, engage in hand to hand combat, reload now, bandage a wound - everything is there.  Even the basic game has a wide range of potential actions and each expansion adds more and more alternatives and possibilities.

However, it's not advisable just to let your Action deck keep expanding, otherwise the ratio between the Location cards and all the other Action cards becomes too great.  There are several ways that you can deal with this.   One solution is to keep all the Action cards together and simply deal out about 75 of them and then shuffle in about 15 Location cards.

Personally, I've chosen to keep the original basic deck separate and at the beginning of each Mission I randomly remove 10 cards from it and substitute a mix of 10 from the expansions.  In particular, I've kept the stealth expansion Action cards separate and only add those in when a Mission is particularly dependant on stealth.  Obviously, this is only a problem if you succumb to buying all or most of the expansions.  But be warned, it's hard not to resist the siren lure of just the next expansion and the next and well just one more! 

With the basic game, if you were changing from say playing a Jungle Mission to a Middle East Mission, you always had the fag of having to extract the Location cards appropriate to the previous Mission's geographical region and then adding in the new region's Location cards. 

The Footlocker contains one of the biggest helps to avoid this task by introducing a set of generic Location cards.  These can remain permanently in your Action deck and when you draw one, you simply randomly draw a Location card from the appropriate region's set of Location cards. 

As you can see I have tried to incorporate a wide perspective drawing on the essential Warfighter 2nd edition as a base point, but giving you some aspects influenced by the expansions.  Now I want to conclude with a few very specific observations. 

For me, Warfighter 2nd edition is an absolute must have in my collection and in anyone else's: must have for its tactical experience; must have for its quality, its atmosphere and its game play; must have for its wealth of superb cards; must have for its solitaire play; must have for the sheer enjoyment and excitement of playing this game.  I say this, despite the fact that you may ditch using the game board and I strongly wish that DVG would make the board that comes in the Footlocker the standard one to be sold in the basic game.  Also it's a great shame that some of the best additional features cannot easily be accessed by a simple additional purchase.

Of course, if you become truly hooked, now there is Warfighter: WWII waiting to steal away your time and feed your appetite for tactical solo wargaming.  Don't say you weren't warned!