Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth C. Sampson  Murder and mayhem in the waning years of the Roman Republic; what ...

Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth Sampson Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth Sampson

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 Murder and mayhem in the waning years of the Roman Republic; what more could you ask for in a book? This is a tour de force of the public and private machinations of the different characters in this time period of the Roman Republic. Not only that, but the book also goes back in time to show the violence that had erupted at different times all through the Republic's life. The cast of characters is out of a Hollywood epic. Sulla, Marius, The Gracchi, Pompey, Crassus, and all of the other players are here. 

 The book starts off with a background into the history of the Republic, specifically its political history. You will learn how the Tribunes and Consuls (among other elected officials) were supposed to, and actually did, interact in their different capacities. The author shows that violence and mob rule did not start with Tiberius Gracchus. It was simmering right below the surface of the Republic for many years.

 The book comes with eight pages of black and white photos of the principal players and the historic backdrops. The book ends with three appendices. The first, titled "The Butchers Bill: Murdered Roman Politicians 133-70 B.C.", gives us a list of the men and also the reason for their murder. The second, "Who Were The Tribunes", gives the reader a list of all of the known Tribunes for the dates listed. The third appendix gives us a list of the sources used by the author in writing this book. The book also comes with four maps of the Republic in different years in which it takes place.

 I will admit to being extremely biased toward this time in history. I have read almost every book on the time period. I find this book to be not only an enjoyable read, but also indispensable as a handy reference of the time period that it shows. I can easily recommend Dr. Sampson's book to anyone who has an interest in not only the workings of the Roman Republic, but also the time period. I have read other books by the author, and have enjoyed them also. Now, if we can get a military biography of Pompeius Magnus from the author it would be spectacular.


Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele  Our review today is about this little known gem by Hollandspiele. Thi...

More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele

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


 Our review today is about this little known gem by Hollandspiele. This game is about the 1862 campaign in northern Virginia that climaxed with the Second Battle of Bull Run. It starred John Pope, and a little known general Robert E. Lee. Contrary to his usual stoic behavior, Lee seemed to have a large dislike or even hatred toward this one opponent. Pope had put in place some draconian measures to be used against the southern population and sympathizers. This would be the first step of the total war that the Civil War became. Pope was made famous by his quote that his "headquarters would be in the saddle", which led to the bon mot that his headquarters were where his hindquarters should be. The quote was well intended, but not too thought out.

 The game map is supposed to be 11" X 17"(my ruler say it is closer to 13"X19"), and there are only 88 counters to worry about. You play the commanding general of either side. One nice touch, and a fly in the soup, is that that the officers below you might or might not follow your orders. So every game that you play even if you use exactly the same strategy will never play out the same. As the Confederate general, you will have to dispose of Pope and his soldiers before too many of "Little Mac's" Federal soldiers from the Peninsula campaign can intervene. As the Federals you can either try to trap and annihilate Jackson before more Confederates show up, or back pedal and fight Lee's Army defensively. The length of the campaign is from August 9th to September 2nd. The game is played in daily turns.

 The map was produced to look like it is on old paper. There are not many points of interest on it besides some towns, cities, and rivers. However, if you look closely you will see a ton of details and place names. It is just a paper map, so do not do what I did and get too aggressive trying to straighten it out. Mine now has a crumpled portion right at the junction of the folds in the middle of the map. 

 As mentioned, the game comes with 88 counters. These are not elaborately designed, but are fully functional. They are thick counters, and to take them off the sprue is not a hassle at all. The amount of actual troop counters on the map, even when all the forces are present, is minuscule. The counters are of the step variety, meaning that if you lose troops, the counter is flipped or exchanged for another counter. As you can see there are very few units on the board on turn one. To add to the Federals' problems is that Jackson's Confederates must be attacked by Bank's troops on the first turn. Many might see heresy on the Jackson counter. He is given a '2' for attack and a '3' for defense, whilst Longstreet is a '3'. I am not a big fan of 'Tom Fool', and would certainly not have liked him as a teacher. So I really think his counter could have had a variable number with a die roll, just as Pope's is. You have a one in six chance with the some of the Union units that even your good commanders will not attack when ordered, unless they are stacked with Pope. The drawback to that is that the Pope counter is a '1' on a die roll of 1-3, and a '2' with a die roll of 4-6. This puts him at a great disadvantage against Lee (who is a '3'), as it should be. These represent negative shifts on the CRT when pitted against one another.

 The rules are only five pages long, with designer notes on the sixth. The seventh page is for the CRT, Casualty Table, and the Terrain Effects Chart.

 The victory conditions are easy to remember. The Federal player only gains points by winning battles and causing casualties. The Confederate player can also do the above, with added victory points for destroying federal depots, and occupying several hexes. Both sides can put into play 'special events chits'. There are also several other rules that add to the game. Infantry units can try to retreat before battle, cavalry and leaders can do so automatically. Jackson does get one rule in his favor: his units can recover from disruption on a die roll of 1-4. All other units have to make a 1-3 roll. Forced march, night march, and other special event chits add to the flavor and immersion.

Turn one

   Unlike many games that try to bolster or skew a campaign to make it more gamey, MAA gives the Federal player a rough hand of cards to play. The designer has added some rules/innovations that to me truly help represent 19th century battles. It costs an extra movement point to stack with friendly units. Attack coordination is also not a gimme, you have to roll to see if two or more stacks can add their numbers to the original stack numbers. So a three stack to one attack could quickly become just three separate one to one stack attacks. The nuances in the rules etc. leave the player always thinking, and mulling over the different options he has. In my play- throughs I wouldn't say that the Confederates are a juggernaut fast approaching Pope and his saddle, but some good play as the Federal player is required. You cannot afford to just auto play even one turn.

 I like the game and can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the campaign. It is not a campaign that has too many games that represent just this small part of the Eastern campaign in 1862. So for that thanks Hollandspiele.  

 These are two optional rules posted by the designer, John Theissen, to help with the use of Pope as the Federal player:

" What to do with a lowly rated leader in wargames? A leader with a poor rating might be historically accurate, but then a game player might not want to use him. For this game, here are two optional rules that give incentives to use the leader Pope more and get him into the action.

A. To reflect Union command and control problems in the absence of the overall commander, Pope, the following rule is used:

If two or more US units (both of McDowell's units in the same hex are considered to be one unit for all purposes in this rule) are stacked in a hex and attempt to attack, they must roll for Attack Coordination. If a 1 or 2 is rolled, at least one US must attack, Union player's choice. After that, the Union player may continue to attack with one unit at a time or cancel any further attacks, at the US player's choice. If a 6 is rolled, the rightward CRT shift is ignored and not used.

If the leader Pope is stacked in a hex the above is negated. The units stacked with Pope may automatically attack with one combat strength.

B. To moderate Pope's leader rating, use the following:

Roll for Pope's Leadership rating as in the rules when required. Modify the results of a roll of 2-6 so that the indicated rating is used, but instead of the rating negating all others in the hex, that rating is averaged with all other ratings in the hex. Count Pope as one unit for the calculation. Example- Pope is stacked with Union Corps Reno and Sigel, and they participate in a combat. Roll for Pope's leadership. A 3 is rolled. Pope's rating is 1. Now calculate average leadership. 1+3+2 (Pope + Reno + Sigel) = 6 . Divide by 3 (three units) = average leader rating for this battle is 2.
If a 1 is rolled for Pope Leadership Rating, his overconfidence and unwillingness to accept intelligence reports give a result as the original rule. That is, the rating for the stack is 1."


Tally Ho by Minden Games   Tally Ho by Gary Graber of Minden Games is another study in minimalism  by  Minden Gam...

Tally Ho by Minden Games Tally Ho by Minden Games

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


 Tally Ho by Gary Graber of Minden Games is another study in minimalism  by  Minden Games. It is either a solo or two player game of air battles in WW II during the early years of 1939-1942. Tally Ho is actually a compilation of four other earlier games by Minden. The game comes with 119 different planes, fighters, bombers, and also transport aircraft. Tally Ho gives you the following:

Flying Tigers - Far East
Faith, Hope, and Charity - Malta and North Africa
Battle over the Pacific - Pacific
Battle over Britain  - Blitz and into 1942
+ more added planes

 You can buy just the game rule book, which contains all of the items needed for play, and then print them off. Your other choice is to buy the 'dogfight display' and combat results table along with the plane counters from Minden. You will have to supply a regular deck of cards, and a six-sided die. Did I mention minimalism? The game rules take up just sixteen pages, and this includes scenario information for the various campaigns you can fight through. Just like the other Minden games I have played, there are advanced and optional rules to make the game closer to a simulation. There are also rules for playing a campaign. This is like many other game campaigns where the player or players play X amount of scenarios and add up the points from each scenario to determine the winner.

Dogfight Display

 At heart, the game is meant to to be a quick playing game with relatively simple rules for the players' quick foray into air combat. The advanced and optional rules enhance the game for a bit more  immersion. This is my third Minden game that I have played, and just as with the other two, I am impressed. Not only for what gaming you get for such a small price, but just the games themselves. Of course it is not a detailed simulation, and it was not meant to be. However, the game mechanics seem to represent the differences between aircraft quite well. In this fast paced world of ours the inclusion of solo rules is a great free add on.


 The following will be a play through of a scenario that occurred many times over Malta. It will feature an Italian MC (Macchi) 200 against a Hurricane. I will be using the normal rules, and playing solo against the Hurricane. I am a sucker for Italian planes.

 On the first card draw no one has the advantage.

 On the second card draw the Hurricane does, but fire is not allowed from the Spades to the Diamonds hex row. If the  Hurricane were in the Hearts or Clubs hexes he could try for a hit.

  On the next draw the Hurricane has pulled off a three and the MC200 a jack of Clubs. To check to if you can open a fire, an ace   is equal to1 and and all numbered cards up to and including 10 are their stated number. A Jack, Queen, or King are all 0. So long as one number minus the other is more than 0 the plane with the advantage can open fire. The Hurricane rolls on the 3 column of the CRT, and rolls a 1 for no hit.

 The MC200 now has the advantage, but cannot fire because the difference of the cards is -1. 

 The Hurricane now has the advantage, and can open fire because the difference of the cards is a +5. The Hurricane drew a 10 of Hearts, and the MC200 drew a 5 of Clubs. Rolling a 5 on the CRT the Hurricane gets 5 hits on the MC200, but also gets to roll on the critical hit table. The Hurricane rolls a 5 again for engine damage. 

 This reduces the hand/speed of the MC200 by 1. We could continue, but just as in real life over Malta the MC200 really stands no chance. It is destroyed two rounds later. The game is quick, fun, and easy to learn. As mentioned, you can add the optional and advanced rules to put more of a kick into the game. 


Aces of The Luftwaffe The Jagdflieger In The Second World War  by Peter Jacobs  Adolf Galland, Werner Molders, ...

Aces of The Luftwaffe by Peter Jacobs Aces of The Luftwaffe by Peter Jacobs

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


 Adolf Galland, Werner Molders, Erich Hartmann, Gordon Gollob, and possibly the best of them, Hans Joachim Marseille, are all here. All of the above, and nine more fighter pilots, were awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (Brillanten). Many other pilots are in the book also. Gunther Rall was the greatest deflection shooter in the Luftwaffe (deflection shooting is shooting where the enemy will be, instead of from straight behind etc). This book shows the titanic struggle in the air over the East front. It also shows the almost suicidal courage of the Luftwaffe pilots when they flew against the massive bomber streams in the west.

 The book is 200 pages long, and it has twenty-four pages of black and white photos of the pilots and war. Some of these are posed propaganda pictures, but most are candid shots from the pilots' lives.

 The author does not get involved with the argument of the German fighter pilots' claims of 'kills'. He states his case in the introduction and then leaves the matter to the reader. If we take one fighter pilot and compare his 'kills' to his sorties, I believe it will clear up the issue. Erich 'bubi' Hartmann is credited with 352 'kills'. The number of sorties that he flew was 1,404. He was in air combat over 800 times. There were many instances where he notched up more than one 'kill' on a sortie. So roughly he is credited with one kill for every four sorties. The East front was an environment full of Soviet airplanes of all types. Also, as the writer points out, German fighter pilots flew until they were killed, wounded too much to fly, or the war ended. If the Allied pilots were given the same number of sorties and a rich target environment I believe they too would have tallied up impressive scores.

 Mr. Jacobs was in the Royal Air Force for over thirty years. So if anyone is qualified to write this book, it is him. He manages to tell the story of the war, and weave in the different pilots' lives and actions into it. It is true they fought for a horrible cause, but many of the people we history lovers read about would be listed in that way also. I congratulate Mr. Jacobs for this excellent volume on the German Jagdflieger. It is a great book for the novice and the expert alike on German WW II fighter pilots. The book not only describes the day fighters, but also the Reich's night fighters.As the author points out, many of these men were in their very early twenties when the war took place. At the same time that many people are just finding their way in the world, these men were in a life and death struggle with other young men and women (at least on the Soviet side). The appendices list the top scorers and their medals. 


Book: Aces of The Luftwaffe
Author: Peter Jacobs
Publisher: Frontline Books
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


1500 THE NEW WO RLD DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So...


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


DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So, 1500 The New World is a major departure for them: a light-weight Euro-game with multi-player focus!  The title immediately pinpoints the theme - the competitive exploration and exploitation of the Americas.  Christopher Columbus and all that jazz!

A simple, but attractive board presents a deliberately crude depiction of the Americas and the Caribbean.  For game play purposes these lands have been divided into five Regions labelled North America, Central America, Caribbean, Amazon and Cape Horn.  You'll need to look quite carefully at these areas as the colours that distinguish them are very muted and very similar and the dividing lines between the three regions that constitute the western coast of South America easily disappear into the representation of mountain terrain.  Also printed on the map are icons for five different types of goods, each of which appears in three different areas.

All necessary tracks are on the map board as is a thorough outline of the Turn sequence, End of game resolution and Scoring for each turn.  There are only six turns, game play is very simple and easy and, even with the maximum of 6 players, each game turn passes very quickly.  This is a game at the ultra-light, intro-level end of the gaming spectrum.

If you've struggled, as I did many, many years ago with the complexities of the early S&T magazine game Conquistadores [my solo initiation into board wargames], this is a stroll in the park.  The contents can be swiftly enumerated: an attractive board, two sheets of solid but very plain, basic and functional counters, 112 very pleasing cards and the easiest of brief rule books. 
Serviceable, but very plain counters
Ten pages of rules are so lavishly set out in large font and background illustrations that the fact that they aren't numbered is no problem at all.  In the bygone era of cramped rules, minimal examples and no pictures, I suspect that this would have fit easily into two sides of an average rule book.

In addition there are two pages illustrating a turn of play and four pages reprinting the 22 different types of card with even an example of how to play 8 of them.  With the excellent summary of a Player Turn printed on the game board and 10 minutes explanation, you should be up and running in lightning fast time.

Basic game play can be summed up as, by the play of cards from your hand, placing colonies on their Successful side [i.e. face-up], flipping other players' colonies to the side marked "Struggling" and scoring a point for each one and eliminating colonies that are already on their Struggling side.  Each player then scores points at the end of their turn for each of their face-up colonies.  There is also a bonus for having a Regional Monopoly [i.e. having a successful colony in each of  the three areas that make up one Region] and a bonus for an Export Monopoly [i.e. having a Successful colony in each of the three areas showing the same goods icon].  Add in a limited number of Reaction cards which you can interrupt another player's card play with and that really is it in a nut shell!

A few of the very attractive cards

So, fast, easy, simple to grasp, with fairly limited strategy.  1500 The New World makes a good intro game or light family game.  For more experienced gamers it may serve as a prelude to a more intense, prolonged gaming session or a wind-down after such a session.  It's a fascinating departure for DVG and will, I hope, be a successful new avenue.

Clearly DVG have spent time preparing this product as five companion expansions have been released simultaneously with the core game.  Each Expansion allows you to play as one of the five key nations in that early colonial drive: England, France, Spain,  Portugal and the Netherlands.  
Each Expansion gives you a customised nation deck and an A.I. deck.  Though each nation's deck does have small individualities they primarily contain identical cards to those in the core deck.  A brief rules sheet explains that each person playing as a Nation uses use their own individual deck while others use the core deck.  This in itself may lead to an imbalance, since the core deck is not reduced in any way.  The A.I. deck is played as an extra player following its own set of rules after all human players have had their turn.
England: A.I. Deck on left, English Player Deck on right

I quite like what the A.I. decks bring to the game, but feel that that the National player cards purely make a minor augmentation to game play without any significant changes.  If you kickstarted the whole package then you'll probably feel satisfied, but I wouldn't recommend investing in the significant extra cost of buying all five expansions.  Nor do I think that the ability to play totally solo with a set of several A.I decks is worth the cost.  Play is so straightforward that a solo session immediately made me wish for a much more complex game!

So, with that final thought in my head, it's off to open up DVG's long awaited Sherman Leader for just that more complex and satisfying solo experience.  No surprise that you'll be hearing more about that at a future date on this site!

But before then, it will be off to Rome for some whipping and ramming!  Yes, it's chariot racing Ben Hur style in ancient Rome's Circus Maximus.

 As always, many thanks to DVG for the review copies.  

Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono  Lucullus usually brings to mind a plethora of epicurean delights. With this biograp...

Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono

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



Lee Fratantuono

 Lucullus usually brings to mind a plethora of epicurean delights. With this biography of Lucullus, Dr. Fratantuono brings the subject's whole life into focus, not just the end of it. Lucullus' story starts at the age of sixteen. His father had been sent to Sicily as a Propraetor, this was during the Second servile War (slave war). When he returned Lucullus' father was charged with extortion of the Sicilians and convicted, then condemned to exile. So Lucullus was entering manhood just as this scandal broke upon his family. Lucullus and his brother were commended for their 'pietas', for trying to prosecute the man who had convicted their father. 

 Lucullus was attached to the army of Lucius Cornelius Sulla right before Sulla turned on Rome to drive out the Marians. When Sulla turned his army against Rome, only a sole Quaestor marched with him. The Quaestor is not named, but Dr. Fratantuono and many others believe that this man was Lucullus. 

 Lucullus then goes with Sulla to fight Mithridates of Pontus. Mithridates was trying to keep his conquests in Asia Minor, and had even invaded Greece. Once Sulla had forced Mithridates to the peace table, Lucullus was left in Asia Minor to keep an eye on him and to clean up some other matters. As usual with Mithridates, the minute he believed Rome's back was turned he started to reconquer Asia Minor for himself. He did not count on Lucullus and his military abilities. Lucullus then chased Mithridates out of Asia Minor and into Armenia. Lucullus was the first Roman to bring Roman arms so far into the Near East. Unfortunately for Lucullus, this Third Mithridatic War also ended in a stalemate. Lucullus' Roman Army became mutinous over the length of time that had transpired in this campaign, along with the mileage that they had been forced to march chasing after Mithridates. Lucullus was replaced as governor, and he pretty much retired from Roman political life. His epicurean delights and life after his military fame have unfortunately caught most people's eye. Cicero himself felt that Lucullus and his achievements were exemplary, and even described Lucullus as the 'highest man'.

 This book is only 145 pages long, but it is followed by an extensive 'endnotes' section. The book has eight pages of colored pictures from places mentioned in the text. Dr. Fratantuono does an excellent job of bringing this man Lucullus back out of the shadows and into the light. 

Book: Lucullus
Author: Lee Fratantuono
Publisher: Pen&Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games  If you haven't been completely oblivious late...

Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games

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


 If you haven't been completely oblivious lately, you will know that Slitherine Games has released the best PC game of ancient warfare to date, Field of Glory II. This was followed by its first DLC, Immortal Fire. FOG II has been updated on a regular basis to add even more features and to enhance this already great game. FOG I had a ton of DLCs released, from ancient to medieval warfare. 

 I will list here the new things that come with Legions Triumphant:

  • 10 new factions: Alans, Anglo-Saxons, Caledonians, Goths, Hephthalites, Huns, Palmyrans, Picts, Romano-British and Sassanid Persians.

  • 17 new units: Early Imperial Legionaries, Early Imperial Auxiliaries, Auxiliary Archers, Veteran auxiliary cavalry, Roman Lancers, Late Roman Lancers, Legio Palatina, Legio Comitatensis, Auxilia Palatina, Limitanei, Armoured Horse Archers, Expert Armoured Horse Archers, Fierce Nomad Horse Archers (Huns), Fierce Nomad Light Horse Archers (Huns), Irregular Foot (trousered), Pictish Spearmen and Jewish Zealots. Also the following that were available in the base game, but not used: Roman auxiliary cavalry, Sassanid levy spearmen.

  • 22 new army lists (which together with 2 in the free patch, expands the total number of army lists to 132).

o   Alan 25-476 AD

o   Anglo-Saxon 449-476 AD

o   Armenian 253-476 AD

o   Bosporan 11-375 AD

o   Caledonian 50-225 AD

o   Germanic/Gothic Foot Tribes 260-476 AD (Franks, Alamanni, Visigoths, early Vandals etc.)

o   Germanic/Gothic Horse Tribes 260-476 AD (Ostrogoths, Gepids, later Vandals etc.)

o   Hephthalite 350-476 AD

o   Hunnic 250-375 AD

o   Hunnic 376-476 AD

o   Indian 320-476 AD

o   Jewish Revolt 66-135 AD

o   Palmyran 258-273 AD

o   Pictish 210-476 AD

o   Roman 24 BC – 196 AD

o   Roman 197-284 AD

o   Roman 285-378 AD

o   Roman 379-424 AD

o   Roman 425-476 AD

o   Romano-British 407-476 AD

o   Sarmatian 25-375 AD

o   Sassanid Persian 224-476 AD

  • 10 new Epic Battles: Watling Street 61 AD, Adamclisi 102 AD, Hormozdgan 224 AD, Emesa 272 AD, Argentoratum 357 AD, Maranga 363 AD, Adrianople 378 AD, Frigidus 394 AD, Chalons 451 AD, Nedao 454 AD (each playable from either side).

  • 36 new Quick Battles (each playable from either side).

  • With Legions Triumphant (together with the base game and Immortal Fire) the Custom Battles and the Sandbox Campaigns modules now include 132 army lists.

  • 4 new historically-based campaigns:

o   Third Century Crisis

o   King of Kings (Sassanid Persia)

o   Stilicho

o   Empire of the Huns
The free patch accompanying the release of Legions Triumphant includes major improvements to the campaign system.

  • Ability to fight on after a lost battle.
  • Ability to name your campaign units.
  • Maximum number of battles in sandbox campaigns increased, with more decision points and new possible decisions and events.
  • Additional enemies in sandbox campaigns. You will need to fend off attacks by other enemies as well as advancing the campaign against your primary opponent.
  • Units not only increase in quality following victories, but will upgrade to higher quality unit types when they reach the required quality. (e.g. Raw Pikemen > Pikemen > Veteran Pikemen).
  • Anachronistic what if campaigns – by turning off the date and geographical filters you can set up sandbox campaigns between any two nations covered by the game from 550 BC to 476 AD. Additional enemies in the campaign will fit the date of the main enemy – so that it will be as if your army had been transported in time to a new era.
Other major changes in the free patch:

o   Improved AI.

o   Evaders may suffer casualties even if they escape their pursuers.

o   Chargers will now follow normal pursuit rules if their opponents break on contact. i.e. Infantry (apart from warbands and raw troops) will not pursue.

 As I mentioned, one of the best things about this game is the fact that it is continually being upgraded, and you do not even have to buy DLCs to get the enhancements to the core game. 

 I do not like one thing about the new DLC, and that is the choice of the 'Epic Battles' that come with it. I am not a sandbox type player that likes to pit X against Y army in different circumstances. I like to play historical battles. I can deal with plausible 'what if' situations, but that is about it. The choice of battles to include is highly subjective so it is possible that many other gamers will like the included choices. The modding and scenario creating community for FOG II is amazing and very large. So I have no doubt that the battles that I want to re-fight will be along shortly.

 Speaking of the modding community, there are now mods for all of the following wars/eras to play:

The American Revolution

The Age of Reason

Napoleonic Wars

 This is just a taste of the modding done for the game. These mods push the envelope for the game. There are also tons of mods of redone Epic Battles and completely new ones during ancient times. There are also many full campaigns that have been uploaded for ancient times.

 This is an AAR of my replay of the battle of Chalons that comes with the Legions triumphant DLC. The Roman general Aetius has collected what is left of the Western Roman Empire's Army. Added to this are Franks, Alans, and Visigoths to turn back a Hun invasion of Gaul by Attila. Historically the battle was a loss for the Huns, but the winning Allies did not try to destroy the Huns and their allies. So Attila lived to fight another day until dying of a nose bleed, of all things. I am playing the Huns and trying to change history. The Huns also have allies in this battle, among them the Ostrogoths, and Gepids. The Hunnish cavalry is the typical horse archer from the steppes of Eurasia, and fought in the same way the older Scythians did, and the Mongols in another 700 years. they will ride close and blot out the sun with arrows until you break formation and try to come to grips with them. Historically they were placed in the center of the Hunnish Army at Chalons. I wonder if a better placement would have been to put them on a flank of the Roman/Allied Army instead.

 The first two turns are more a a meet and greet between the enemies. I believe I am going to hold back my right from the Roman Army and try to crush their allies in the center and their right. On turn three my Hunnish cavalry has already disrupted some of the Alan units in the center. Unfortunately, my Gepid lancers on my right flank are not nearly a match to the Roman horse there. On my left flank, my Ostrogoths and the enemy's Visigoths seem to be equally matched.  On turn four my Hunnish archers are still taking a large toll of the Alans. Turn five is much the same, although I do have my archers on both flanks trying to envelop the enemy. I know that one enemy cavalry charge can disperse my archers to the winds, so I will not really rely on them too much. By turn six, it looks like I am fighting three separate battles. The Huns are decimating the Alans in the center, while the Romans are smashing up my Gepids on my right. The fight on my left could go either way. I have chased off some Visigoths, but my Ostrogoths are taking a beating in the center of the conflict. So it is turn eight, and my Hunnish archers have blown a hole through the middle of the Roman/Allied line. I have lost a lot of troops, but my Huns will now be able to sweep either right or left to destroy either the Romans themselves or the Visigoths. Fighting the battle from Roman side, it will be tough to come up with a strategy to keep the Huns at bay.

 This is an excellent game by Slitherine, and will only get better. This DLC Legions Triumphant is another great add on to the base game. I just wish they had asked me which Epic Battles to include; just kidding. 


Heroes of North Africa by   Lock 'N Load Publishing  This is the largest game in the Lock 'N Load tact...

Heroes of North Africa by Lock 'N Load Publishing Heroes of North Africa by Lock 'N Load Publishing

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 This is the largest game in the Lock 'N Load tactical series yet. It is about the desert war from 1940-1943: North Africa WW II Rommel, Cruewell, Montgomery, O'Connor, Graziana, and Gariboldi plus lots and lots of sand. For your gaming pleasure LNL has brought you the forces of Italy, Germany, Britain, France, and the US. Let us go through a checklist of what comes with the game.

 Large box -  check, seems like the holidays
Counters large and easy to read -  check
Large easy to read colorful manuals - check, LNL standard fare
Mounted maps - Nope, none here; these are paper maps, but there
   is a ton of them and they are well made

 The game comes with the following manuals and player's aids:

LNL Tactical World War II Era 1930-1959 Core Rules Manual 
  Version 4.1
Heroes of North Africa: Module Rules and Scenarios
Heroes of North Africa: Rules Reference Card
Heroes of North Africa: Player-Aid Card
Heroes of North Africa: Skill Reference Card
Heroes of North Africa :Sequence of Play, and on the other side  
  Weapons, Ammo, and Targets
The Turn Record Track also has some information on it.

  Most of the scenarios are ones in which the English are fighting the Italians. The game comes with twenty scenarios, but your imagination and history can come up with many more. There are three I saw that had Germans and Italians fighting as allies. There are even a few with US troops fighting Vichy French troops. Most of the scenarios only use one map piece, but there are a few that use two. There is only one scenario where three map pieces are used. There are actually six 8.25 X 12.75 single sided maps, and six double sided 8.25 X 12.75 maps. The hex size is fifty meters across. This is tactical warfare up close and personal. There is not much room, if any, to maneuver, and sweeping encirclements are not happening. 

 There are six sheets of 700 plus counters. The counters come in three sizes. The largest is for vehicles, including tanks, and the next size down is for artillery pieces. The troops and markers are the smallest and most numerous of the counters. Unfortunately, the counters are a mixed bag as far as getting them off the sprues. On two of the counter sheets, the counters popped out like they had been buttered. One of the sheets was tough to get them out without damage, and then they had cardboard flanges stuck to their middles. The other sheets were average as far as undoing the counters. 

 This is a link to the turn sequence aid:

  This is a link to the World War II Core Rules:

 The rules are what you would expect from a detailed tactical simulation. It even has rules to simulate the Italians' lack of supply and sometimes indifferent training. This is not a knock against the Italian armed forces in WW II. It was unfortunately the truth for them. Some of their forces were elite troops that you will have your hands full with, and all fought to the best of their ability. No matter how under-gunned and under-armored the Italian tanks were, they continually were in the thick of the North African fighting. The Italian army was very well equipped to fight a war in 1936. However, by 1940 and later most of their equipment was outdated. The amount of scenarios will show how much fighting the Italian Army was involved with.


 This is my first foray into the LNL 'Heroes' series of tactical games. It seems like LNL is trying to supplant a game which shall not be mentioned as our 'go to' tactical wargame (don't you hate buzz words?). As mentioned, these core rules are for tactical gaming for the years 1930-1959. LNL has a plethora of games issued and forthcoming in this series. 

 The Italians are brittle, as they should be. The British are stolid, and the US troops are green. The German troops and equipment are better than most, at least in the early years, unless an armadillo of a British Matilda crawls slowly into view. With the core rules and separate modules rules, on the outset it looks like a player would be overwhelmed. With the player's aids and the turn sequence clearly delineated it helps to ease the player's learning curve. I have to thank LNL for printing everything  in large easy to read type. The play examples are well thought out and also help you learn the ropes. The line of sight rules are a bit lengthy and are probably the hardest part of the game rules to get right. The game does not have many votes, but its 8.44 rating on BGG I think is spot on. With the small area of play the battlefield Carnage adds up fast. Very few games now give you this much gaming in one box: Panzer IIIs and IVs, Crusaders, Valentines, and early Shermans along with French Renault 35s and of course a lot of the Italian tanks to name just a few of the pieces. The map pieces along with all of the counters for bunkers etc. give the player the ability to play out any scenario, historical or not. 

 Below is a setup for the scenario 'Mon Cheri I'. Italian armor is trying to break through dug in Free French forces.

 This is a link to a print and play mod that adds units and more to Heroes of North Africa: