The Battle of the Odon by Georges Bernage  This book is a mesh of a straight forward history book and a photo boo...

The Battle of The Odon by Georges Bernage The Battle of The Odon by Georges Bernage

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



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 This book is a mesh of a straight forward history book and a photo book on Operation Epsom in 1944 outside of Caen. Usually books with this many pictures and maps etc. are a bit thin on the written history; not so with Battle of The Odon. Almost every page is covered with World War II pictures of people, places, and armaments. It is also filled with many pictures of the same from nowadays. The author has added tons of maps to enable the reader to follow along with no trouble. There are also many first hand accounts of the fighting to captivate the reader, but the author does not lose sight of the big picture. 

 The roughly 280 pages of the book follow the British and German forces from June 25th, 1944 to June 30th, 1944. It is pretty amazing that the author has found this much info and pictures dealing with just five days of the Battle for Normandy. The book follows the desperate defense of the Odon valley by the German SS troops. To quote the author "The resources committed by Montgomery were extensive, especially considering the enemy only numbered a few hundred infantrymen, who were supported by a hundred or so Panzers".

 From Tiger Tanks to Bren carriers, all of the armaments are shown. This is also one of the few books that I have read on battles or campaigns that show the amount of civilian casualties and their plight. There are pictures of the poor civilians trying to escape the fighting, carrying everything they can of their possessions. It really brings the human part of the battle to the forefront. 

 The author is painstaking in his efforts to tell the complete story of this battle. He also does not have an axe to grind, nor does he take any sides. This is history as it was meant to be, purely retelling an important part of our history without embellishment or any skew. The written history is done well enough for any history buff who normally eschews picture books. On the other hand, the amount of pictures and data is almost the same as a coffee table book. For those of you who actually remember any of the French you took, the author's books are available in English and French on the Casemate Publishers' site.

Robert

Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Königsberg by Revolution Games  Normally, I try to stay away from games that one side cannot win outright. So, ...

Königsberg by Revolution Games Königsberg by Revolution Games

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

Königsberg

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Revolution Games








 Normally, I try to stay away from games that one side cannot win outright. So, gaming the end game of World War II in Europe, especially 1945, is usually something that does not end up on my table. With these types of games, you have to do better than your historical counterparts did. Most of the time it is just holding a hex or hexes up until the end of the last turn, while inflicting more casualties on your enemy than was historically accurate. On the Soviet or Allied side you are trying to finish the war earlier than it did historically, or in this case taking Königsberg earlier and inflicting more damage on the Germans. You should not, as the Germans, in any game based somewhat on reality, be able to defeat the Russians in 1944-1945. You can only prolong the inevitable. However, I have even played games about trials so I will keep an open mind as I am playing.





 We will start with the facts, and "just the facts Ma'am". The game comes in a Ziploc bag and contains:

22'x34' Map
280 Counters
Twelve Page Rule Book
Color Player's Aid Card

 You could play the game as a three player one, with a player taking one of the 2nd or 3rd Belorussian fronts. The Russian player who has taken the most victory hexes would be the winner. That is, of course, if it ends in a Russian victory.

 For those of you so inclined, there is also a Vassal module available.





 The game takes place in East Prussia and northern Poland from January 13th to February 1st, 1945. The number of turns in the game is ten. The playing time is estimated at four to ten hours. The scale of the game is five miles/eight kilometers per hex. The units will go from brigade to corps size. The solitaire suitability is listed as high. You will need to supply a six-sided die along with a chit pull container.





 The map is very well done, and is of high quality. The terrain and defenses etc. are clearly marked. Everything from the CRT to the turn record track is on the map. So it should be easy for almost all gamers to have a place to set it up. The game length, especially during the learning phase, will probably mean you will have to leave it set up for at least a day or two, depending upon your free time for gaming.The counters are 1/2", and are easily readable and compare to the best counters I have seen in a Ziploc or wargaming magazine. Depicted are Soviet Guards units, Volkstrum units, along with air units which are mostly for the Soviets, and the Admiral Hipper even shows up on the German side.






 The rule book is in black and white, and it shows no examples of game play. On the other hand, the game rules are of a pretty standard fare for hex wargames, so unless you are a complete tyro you really don't need too much hand holding. The German player controls all his units, but the Soviet player is split between the 2nd and 3rd Belorussian fronts. So the German player gets X activations each turn while the Soviet player gets activations for both fronts. During the chit pull, you will pull a Command Chit for whatever Headquarter unit, and then the sub-units of that force can move and attack etc. The game also comes with independent units on both sides. These can be activated by any active Headquarter unit in range, meaning that independent units can be activated more than once per turn. German HQ units can activate three independent units, while Soviet HQs can only activate two independent units. A HQ unit has their command radius listed on their counter. The way I read the rules is that you do not count the hex the HQ is in when tracing command. There are a few optional rules, ie. using the rebuilding 20th Panzer division, or two other small German forces. 







 Within the last two years I have had to adjust my thinking about block wargames and a few other things. Once again, I have been shown the errors of my ways. Playing a wargame that you can 'win' only by the victory conditions is actually entertaining and still teaches you a good amount of history. Playing as the Germans, you will have to keep your wits about you, and accurately judge when to cut and run. Do you try to save those surrounded Panzers, or do you just make a defensive line farther back? The Konigsberg area in East Prussia is where many of the German Junker (noble) families come from or at least are close to. The German officers were probably trying to save every inch from the Russians. Playing that way as the German player will have you beaten in no time. Playing as the Russians, you play pretty much historically. You can not even worry about casualties, and just keep storming ahead trying to overwhelm your opponent. I would think a nice touch to the rules would be the following: If the Russian player does not gain X amount of victory hexes in X amount of turns, that player gets a knock on the door from the NKVD and it is a German victory, just to give the Russian player that much more incentive.






 This is a good medium sized game, and relatively easy to play,  about a much overlooked historical period. Anyone who wants to be in the German or Russian shoes in 1945 should give this a try. Equally, anyone who thought like I did about gaming lost causes should rethink this and other gaming possibilities.

Robert

The Anatomy of Glory Napoleon and His Guard by Henry Lachouque and Anne S. K. Brown   To many eyes, this book might ...

The Anatomy of Glory: Napoleon and His Guard by Henry Lachouques and Anne S. K. Brown The Anatomy of Glory: Napoleon and His Guard by Henry Lachouques and Anne S. K. Brown

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



by

Henry Lachouque and Anne S. K. Brown 






 To many eyes, this book might seem strange. The reason being is that the Battle of Waterloo is almost a footnote in it. As a matter of fact, it only takes up ten pages of the book's 570+. Many of us have heard over and over about the Imperial Guard's last battle and what happened (or didn't). We seem to forget that the Guard came from Napoleon's original consular Guard long before he crowned himself Emperor. So this book fills a large void in most peoples' shelves about the entire history of the Imperial Guard's existence. This book shows the history of the Imperial Guard from its inception, and continues through the different campaigns it fought in. From the heat of Spain to the snows of Russia, the Imperial Guard was the rock that most, if not all, of the rest of the Imperial Armies relied upon. 

 The book itself is filled with tons of black and white, and a few colored pictures to show the Imperial Guard and all of the Generals etc. that come up in its glorious history. It is also filled with anecdotes and quotes that you will find nowhere else. Napoleon speaking to a grenadier on guard duty before Austerlitz said "Those chaps across the way think they have nothing to do but gobble us up'" The grenadier replied "we'll serve 'em the meal the other way round". Battle stories like these are aplenty, but the book also shows what the Guard did in peace time. 

 The history of the Imperial Guard is really the history of the actual men of the Guard. One, Lieutenant Markiewicz  of the Polish Light-Horse lived in three centuries. Born in 1794, he fought in the Russian campaign, was decorated in 1813, and was still alive in 1902. Napoleon III based his tainted Imperial splendor on his famous uncle, and he based his Army on a new Imperial Guard that was only a shadow of the first one. These men ate and slept near Napoleon. The earned the title 'Grognard' (grumbler) from being outspoken in his presence. Many he knew by name and remembered where they had fought together. For more than a decade, the bearskin hats of the Imperial Guard struck fear in its enemies. Only two days before Waterloo, the Imperial Guard was used in its role as a finisher of battles by smashing through the Prussians at Ligny. This was unfortunately to be its last victory.

 This book was actually first published in 1961. Thank you Frontline-Books for bringing this classic back into print. It is a work that is monumental in scope. It is a must have for anyone interested in the Napoleonic era to have on their shelf.


Robert

Publisher: Frontline-Books
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Midway by Turning Point Simulations   Midway was a battle that should not have been lost by the Japanese. They had...

Midway by Turning Point Simulations Midway by Turning Point Simulations

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


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 Midway was a battle that should not have been lost by the Japanese. They had an overwhelming amount of ships and planes. Unfortunately for them, they were also suffering from what has been called 'victory disease'. Admiral Yamamoto's plan was to crush the remnants of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and sink our carriers, which were untouched by Pearl Harbor. The Japanese had just suffered a black eye from the Doolittle Raid. In actuality, the raid did only pin pricks of physical damage. The damage to the Japanese ego was much greater. The Midway invasion was planned to force the U.S. Navy into a showdown to protect Midway island. In fact, it turned into a debacle for them because the Americans had broken their naval codes. So the U.S. Navy knew exactly what forces and roughly when they would be near Midway. Even then, if not for an errant search plane on the Japanese side, things could have turned out differently.







 So what do you actually get with this Turning Point Simulations  game? First, you actually get two games. One is the on the well known battle I have been droning on about. The other is about the planned, but aborted, Japanese invasion of Midway Island. The game comes with a twelve page rule book. There are rules for laying smoke, submarines, Japanese seaplane bases, and many others. This is not just a beer and pretzels game. The rules continue with ones about CAP (combat air patrol) AA fire, and it even has a rule about what 'wave' each carrier airplane unit is in. This would represent when each unit showed up, if it did at all, and attacked. 



Counters



  The map is hard bound. It has two separate sections. The first is a hex grid of the ocean around Midway Island. The second is a battle board used for surface actions when two task forces are occupying the same hex. There is also a stiff paper map on which to play out the invasion of Midway Island. The counters are large and easy to read. American carrier fighters and torpedo bombers only have a movement allowance of two hexes. Almost all of the Japanese carrier planes have a movement allowance of three hexes. This simulates the historically longer range of the Japanese planes. Just as in the carrier war, you have to find your enemy to strike them. For each enemy task force you roll a die to see if they have been spotted or not. A submarine or CV (carrier) in close proximity increases your chances of spotting. The battle board is used when you have a task force in the same hex as the enemy. After four of his fleet carriers went up in smoke, Yamamoto was desperately trying to engage the U.S. Naval forces in a surface action. The U.S. task forces have to stick and move like a boxer, and avoid any of the enemies Sumo charges. As the U.S., you are David fighting Goliath. The battle was decided historically in about five minutes' time. Anything could and did happen during this early part of the war. Some of the U.S. carriers were equipped with radar, but it was still in its infancy. 



U.S. Deployment sheet

Japanese Deployment sheet




 I an very impressed with this game. There is so much stashed away in here compared to others in the same price range. Most, if not all, of the routines of carrier air battles are here. The only two parts of the battle really missing are the sending out of search planes one at a time, and the weather in each hex, although the die rolls for spotting each turn do make up for the vagaries of these two points. This is my third Turning Point Simulations game, and to me it was the best so far of the three. I was not really a big fan of board games on carrier operations. Until this game, I felt that a computer rendition of carrier operations was the way to go. 


Midway Island invasion map

Robert

YAAH! Magazine Issue #9 With The Wargame: Donetsk The Battle For The Airport by Flying Pig Games  Many different comp...

YAAH! Magazine Issue #9 by Flying Pig Games YAAH! Magazine Issue #9 by Flying Pig Games

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



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 Many different companies have issued their own wargaming magazine down through the years. Some, like 'The General' from Avalon Hill, were just extra scenarios and write ups about their own company games. Other wargaming magazines were about the hobby as a whole. Many of these magazines came with a game. I am not sure why, but a lot of the times it has seemed that gamers looked down upon magazine wargames. It has never made sense to me. A lot of the magazine wargames were designed by the same people who gave us boxed games. I went out of my way to buy a bunch of the magazine wargames I no longer had when I got back into board wargaming about fifteen years ago. One thing that the wargames from magazines had over boxed games is that it seemed like the publishers would go out of their safety zone with these games. Meaning that we would see a lot more battles, and especially obscure ones, than we could get from boxed wargames. This was more prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s than now. With the advent of Kickstarter and only publishing games that make the cut now, we have been seeing more obscure wars and battles in the boxed game selection. 


Map



  The magazine itself is eighty pages long, and it is in color. The pages do not feel like a normal magazine page. They feel more substantial, like a page from an oversized book. The first article is on Flying Pig Games newest game, 'Armageddon War'. One of the things about its rules is that there is no CRT. It comes with custom dice instead. The articles continue with 'Comancheria' from GMT Games, followed by 'Finnish Civil War' from Compass games. In total there are seven separate articles about different games from different publishers. Next up, we have add on scenarios for several different games. There are three scenarios for Flying Pig Games '65', and one for 'Night of Man'. The section ends with six scenarios for 'Command And Colors Ancients', and these are the battles of Arthur. Yes, that Arthur.



Back of counters



  The last part of the magazine is dedicated to this issue's game 'Donetsk'. It is about the different battles for the Donetsk airport. This would be between the Ukraine and separatist forces with the separatists having Russian help. The background history takes up five pages. The actual game rules are another ten pages. This is followed by more than a page of 'game notes'. The game comes with four different scenarios for you to play. The back page of the magazine is a full sized player aid card for the game. 



Front of counters



  The game comes with eighty-eight unit and action etc. counters. The counters are not like Flying Pig Games usual ones. These are thin even by magazine game standards. They are however, fully functional and easy to read and distinguish between. The map is 11x17, and has hexes (without full hex lines) that are marked from rows A to X. The map is well done and if not a work of art a lot better than some I have seen. Some of the counters are squad size (8-15 men) while heavy weapons and leaders represent three to five men. AFVs and trucks etc. are represented singly. The hexes have a scale of 150 meters per hex.
 





  The game's turns are broken into two phases. The first is the activation phase, and this includes:

 Remove all Smoke Markers
 Remove all Pin Markers
 Resolve pending Fire Support from the previous turn; Ukranian          player first and the results applied simultaneously.
 Plot and check current Fire Support; same as above
 Determine the Initiative Player for the Action Phase

 The Action Phase consists of:

 Initiative Player activates units
 Non-Initiative Player activates units
 Players continue alternating unit activations until no units on both      sides are left to activate. Players cannot pass to save activations,      they must activate at least one unit even if the unit performs no        actions.

 The fire support each side will have will be listed in each of the four scenarios. There are rules on 'wrecks' and also on the setup of heavy weapons. There are even some buildings that are multi-level and rules to deal with that. The game was designed to try and replicate modern warfare, so that it takes into account that today's killing distance is much greater than in earlier battles. A player's initiative is gradually eroded by unit loss. So going in guns blazing might win you one of the airport buildings, but then cripple you for the rest of the scenario. Victory conditions for most of the scenarios rest only on capture of some or all of a building's hexes. 

 



 In all, it is a pretty good little game. Those of us who are used to thinking in sweeping terms, and suffering a lot of casualties will have to readjust their thinking before starting this game. The game gives a good representation of today's massive firepower; in fact, even a small amount of casualties are often seen as excessive in the 21st century (as they should be).

 I was impressed by the articles and the fact that the additional scenarios didn't just belong to games made by Flying Pig Games. The game was one that has a somewhat limited replay value, but for someone who is interested in the conflict or has not played a game with new weaponry it is well worth the cost. The other issues have contained these games:

Beast At The Gates - U.S. Civil War
Lion Of Malaya  -  World War II
Steamroller - Tannenberg 1914

Robert  

I take a very first look at the new 4x strategy game from Proxy Studios and Slitherine, Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War. This...

Warhammer 40k - Gladius First Impressions Warhammer 40k - Gladius First Impressions

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






I take a very first look at the new 4x strategy game from Proxy Studios and Slitherine, Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War. This one takes 40k to a new genre, the 4x. Take a look!







Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance (BSGD:TBA...still a mouthful, let's just go with BA) is the freshly released expa...

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance

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



Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: The Broken Alliance (BSGD:TBA...still a mouthful, let's just go with BA) is the freshly released expansion to last year's surprisingly excellent we-go space fleet strategy game from Black Lab Games. I never got a chance to play the base game before a few weeks ago, so this review will cover both the full game and the new DLC. 

For players already familiar with Deadlock, I'll cover The Broken Alliance in detail first, then go back and give a overview of the base game for newbies. BA integrates smoothly into the existing dynamic campaign structure, enhancing it rather than being a separate experience. The campaign exists as a series of eight special missions that you can attempt to complete in the midst of the existing war against the Cylons. The first mission marker will appear as soon as you finish the initial tutorials, giving you the option to add one of the brand new ship types to your fleet right away. You can of course ignore it for awhile if the Cylons are focusing your attention elsewhere. As the name of the DLC implies, these missions center around the tenuous alliance of the human worlds in the face of the Cylon onslaught. Much like in the BSG TV series, the aims of the front line military commanders and the ambitions of various politicians don't mesh, leading to plenty of drama and tension. There are several new characters with strong personalities who are part of a neat story line that will keep you hooked. These events all take place within the overall war that you are already fighting, and add more decision points to a campaign that already had a good amount of replayability.


Along the course of the campaign, you will get to try out some new toys and face new enemy ships. Each side of the Human vs Cylon war gets a new offensive capital ship, a new support ship, and a new fighter type. These give you some fresh options for building your fleet in the campaign, and add a little extra spice to the multiplayer gameplay. For example, the first mission of the BA campaign gives you access to the Celestra class resupply ship, which can augment armor on a specific section of a friendly ship, and also send extra missiles or torpedoes over to restock your offensive ships. The Celestra has no means of attack at all, but opens up new tactical options. You can use the armor buff to help a ship take the brunt of the enemy attack, constantly moving the extra layer of defense around to offer the most protection.  The ability to restock missiles makes another early game ship type, the Ranger missile frigate, able to continue firing long after its munitions racks would normally have run empty. Although a resupply ship may not seem that sexy at first glance, it really does give you a new dimension to consider in your battle plans.


The Broken Alliance expansion released alongside a substantial patch which adds many improvements to the game even if you don't pick up the DLC. The Endurance Update adds one key new feature, persistent damage, which effects both the tactical and strategic layer for the better. Previously, ships would return to full health after each battle, regardless of whether they took a beating in the last fight. This meant that there was no reason not to rush in headlong as long as you knew you could kill the enemy before they knocked out one of your guys. Now it's in your best interest to fight each battle with the future in mind, minimizing damage whenever possible. This damage is shown visually as it happens, which makes the battles feel much more like the show, as ships limp away from a tough fight covered in bruises.

Overall, The Broken Alliance is easily worth the cost of admission and, along with the Endurance Update, enriches an experience that was already rather solid. This is the best kind of DLC, one that seamlessly integrates into the original game and makes what was already there better. Between the new content and persistent damage, veteran players have more than enough reason to spin up their FTL drives and hop back in for another round against the toasters.


What if you're fresh to the BSG Deadlock scene and want to hear a bit more about that dynamic campaign and those cool looking tactical battles? I've got you covered!

BSG Deadlock is a game about the first Cylon War, which happened many years before the events of the rebooted TV series. The Galactica is not some ancient warship ready to be turned into a museum, but instead it is one of the premier flagships of the Colonial Fleet. Unfortunately, the Galactica has gone missing, and following a strong blow from a surprise Cylon assault, the Colonial Fleet is in rebuilding mode. This is where you start the campaign, right in the middle of a war that has been going on for some time with no end in sight, hence "Deadlock." There's no running and hiding from the Cylons here, this is a game all about big ships slugging it out in head-to-head confrontations. 

The gameplay is broken up into two distinct halves. The tactical battles, and the strategic layer. Each heavily influences the other, and you will need success in both to carry humanity to victory.


On the strategic level, the game features a dynamic campaign where you maneuver your fleet, and later, multiple fleets, around the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, fighting off the Cylons where they appear, and also taking on special scenarios that move the story forward. The twelve human worlds provide you with resources each turn, but they can drop out of the alliance if you don't defend them, much like nations in XCOM. However, here you can bring them back into the fold over time. As part of the strategic layer you are able to build ships, research new designs, assign and promote officers, and set priorities for the war as you see fit. 

There's some interesting decision making to be had in terms of how you use the resources available to you. New ships can be built fairly cheaply over the course of a few turns, or pumped out immediately for an exorbitant price. Likewise, officers can be promoted (allowing you to level up their abilities) for free as they gain experience, or you can use valuable resource points to push them faster. The technology tree isn't vast, but does require you to decide priorities based on how you want to fight your battles. If you want to jump straight to a Battlestar tier of ship, you'll have to forgo many of the cheaper upgrades and designs that could make your starting fleet more potent.  There's something to be considered here every turn, since even moving your ships rapidly across the map can put a strain on your resources. Letting them idle for a few turns is much more fuel efficient, but of course means that the Cylons are raiding unchecked somewhere.


I enjoyed the strategic part of the game because it gives you the freedom to conduct the war how you want, while still pushing you forwards constantly. Your operations are centered around a mobile shipyard that tags along with one of your fleets. It gives your starting fleet a bit of help in battles with its two fighter squadrons and some turrets. However, soon you must build additional fleets and send them out alone to keep the enemy in check across the twelve colonies. Doing so will give you benefits, since worlds support you more when you have a military presence there, and having more fleets spread around makes it much easier to drive off the Cylons wherever they appear.


The other half of the game is the tactical battles. This is the meat of the game, where you face the enemy head on and do your best to defeat them while taking minimal casualties. The interface for commanding your ships is easy to use, but there is a ton of depth to explore. The action is broken up into we-go turns where orders are given by both sides, then the action plays out briefly before giving you another chance to issue orders. 

Ships have separate armor on all four sides plus the top and bottom. Once the armor in one section gets chewed up, the ship starts taking damage to its "health" points. Ships have specific sections like engineering and fire control which can be damaged and must be repaired to restore functionality. Each ship also has specific arcs of fire depending on where the turrets are. One of your starting ship classes can only fire forwards and backwards, while the other can only fire broadsides. Later models have more arcs, including some that are on the top or bottom. All of this means that you absolutely must use the concept of three dimensional space to your advantage. I tried a lot of tactics like stacking ships vertically and doing a space rendition of crossing the T. One must also consider that missiles or torpedoes fired by your ships will crash into any friendly ships in the line of fire, so you need to consider that when coming up with a formation.  There are some other small tweaks you can make every turn, like using a slider to add more power to either defense or attack (at the cost of speed) or boosting all power to the engines to cover some ground...er space. As your ships take damage, you can direct repair crews to whichever section of the ship you think needs to be repaired first. 

Besides your large ships, you will also be fielding plenty of Viper and Raptor squadrons. The Vipers are your fighter jets, going out to attack enemy fighters and harass larger ships. They are great for projecting some power rapidly across the battlefield where needed. They can also play defense, and try to intercept incoming missiles. The Raptors are your utility players, equipped for electronic warfare, defense against Cylon hacking, boarding operations, and a small rack of missiles just for fun. Probably my only big complaint with the game is that you never seem to get those close in third-person shots of the Vipers that were so common in the show.



The tactical battles initially seem like they could get repetitive or easy since you see a lot of the same ship types over and over, but that isn't the case. Each time you go out the enemy is in a different configuration, and the battles are so dynamic in how they flow from moment to moment that they never become repetitive. I had a constant drive to experiment with different strategies to see what would produce the best results. Again, I have to mention how the 3-D aspect of space combat really does come into play here, unlike in many space combat games where it doesn't really matter that much. As you add more ships to the mix, the tactical possibilities open up even more and as different enemy ships appear your tactics must adjust to the new threats they pose. All of this taken together makes for a lot of variety as the campaign progresses from small-medium skirmishes to late game heavy-weight bouts.

Even when a battle mostly goes your way, this is a war between powerful opponents, and you will lose ships. It's heartbreaking to see a ship you've had from early on get caught in a kill zone because you maneuvered them too aggressively, or when a Cylon frigate manages to get off one last salvo of torpedoes which hits the one weakened section of armor on one of your ships, destroying it just as the battle ends. Losing ships and building new ones is part of the game, and really makes it feel like you are in a fierce battle for survival.


The graphics and sound do a great job of depicting space battles in the style of the BSG reboot. Missile trails, cannon fire, flak bursts, it's all there and puts you right into the show. Zoom in on a ship and you can even see its name painted on the side. As ships take damage they will shows the scars of battle on their hull, with fire leaking out here and there. The sound effects perfectly match the action, with the dull boom of cannons followed by the deep cracking of a capital ship breaking up. One cool feature of the game is that you can watch a complete replay of each battle once it is over, with cinematic camera shots showing off all of the action. This turns a long series of brief turns into an uninterrupted movie that can be very enjoyable to watch when a battle goes your way. I have to praise the music in particular. It is not the exact same music from the show (as far as I can tell), but it captures the same style perfectly. If you want a game that puts you right into the action of a Battlestar Galactica battle, this is it. 

It goes without saying that I give this game a strong recommendation. If you are a fan of the show, you must play it. If you are a fan of turn-based tactics, XCOM style strategy-tactical mixes, or space combat, you should definitely be interested. The combat is great, the dynamic campaign provides a rich context for why you are fighting, and the game perfectly captures the atmosphere of the BSG universe. I didn't even mention the great voice work that goes into the story scenarios and briefings, where you get all the political intrigue and infighting that is common to the setting. With the addition of The Broken Alliance expansion, a good game is made even better. The game is half-off for the next week, so it's a great time to join the fray. 

So say we all!

BSG Deadlock and its expansions are available directly from Matrix Games. 
Deadlock Base Game
The Broken Alliance DLC

The game is also available on Steam, PS4, and XBOX ONE.


- Joe Beard

Stalin's Triumph Nations At War by Lock 'N Load Publishing  Stalin's triumph is a platoon level game, a...

Stalin's Triumph A Nations At War game from Lock 'N Load Publishing Stalin's Triumph A Nations At War game from Lock 'N Load Publishing

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



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 Stalin's triumph is a platoon level game, and it is part of Lock 'N Load Publishing's 'Nations At War' series. Stalin's Triumph is about the battle of Kursk on the Eastern Front in July 1943. For those familiar with the battle, the names Ponryi and Prokhorovka are well known. The game has scenarios from both sides of the Kursk cauldron dealing with the attacks of the German Army Group South and Army Group Center. This is good because some games center on the part of the battle that took place in the south and give only lip service to the  violent clash in the north. It also gives the player a chance to use Ferdinand tank destroyers (these were named after Dr. Porsche). Besides those you get a plethora of armored vehicles to command. Tigers, Panthers, and Panzer IVs are here along with T-34s, Churchills, and the SU-152 (the beast slayer). The German player can also use FlammPanzer (flamethrower tanks) and Goliath remote controlled demolition vehicles. Air support, which played such a crucial role, is also in the mix. The game includes 'Fate Points' and battlefield chaos to represent the 'friction' of the battlefield.




 The game comes with:

Stalin's triumph: Module And Scenarios Booklet
Nations At War: Second Edition Core Rules 
Five Counter Sheets
Six 11" X 17" Geomorphic Maps
Fifteen Scenarios
Three Scenario Campaign On The German Division Das Reich
Two Six Sided Die
A German And Soviet Unit Point Cost Sheet: to design your own       scenarios
Terrain Effects Chart
Rule Summary Sheet
Chaos Table Sheet
Player Aid Sheet
Online you can also find these aids:                                                   
  A Free Vassal Module
  Stalin's Triumph: Clarifications And Corrections Volume 2.2
  Nations At War: Clarifications And Corrections Volume 2.2
  Nations At War: Compendium Volume 1
  (I will have some links at the bottom of the review)





 The counters are your typical Lock 'N Load ones, meaning that they are well done and pop from the sprues with minimal effort and cleaning up. They might be a little on the 'busy' side with all of the information included on them. The coloring of the German counters is a bit foreboding and adds a nice touch. The maps are functional with easy to distinguish terrain. They can be mixed and matched to make plenty of different terrain sets which can only add to the life of the game. The scale of the game is roughly 150 meters to each hex. The Platoons are approximately 40-60 men, 3-5 tanks, and 3-5 gun teams. Each turn is meant to be anywhere from 5-15 minutes of real time.






  This is the turn sequence:

Operations phase: Players alternate pulling a marker from an opaque container. These can be Formation, Administration, Chaos, or End Turn markers.
Formation Impulse; If a Formation is activated this is the sequence:
 1. Unit Formation Marker removal
 2. Check Command Status
 3. Perform Rallies
 4. Perform Fire Missions: Mortar/Artillery
 5. Perform Operations: Movement, Assault, etc.





 The game includes the following actions that the player can do:
   Mine Removal/Placement
   Assault
   Opportunity Fire
   Ranged fire
   Fire Smoke
   Battlefield Chaos Rules
   Fate points: These are used to be able to reroll die throws or raise    or lower die throws etc.

These are additional rules:
   Anti-Aircraft units
   Close Air Support
   Support Weapon Placement
   Leaders




 One interesting rule addition is the ability of your forces to use 'overwatch'. This is something that is missing in a lot of games, especially as it was and still is a common practice in war. 




  So it comes down to why buy into Lock 'N Load's 'Nations At War' games? One reason is that they are actually listening to players and are constantly updating and revising the rule system (not just on these but all of their games). The physical quality of their components are some of the best on the market. It would have been nice to have mounted maps, but that would have added a large sum to the actual cost and also to the shipping. A mounted map is a nice touch, but what I usually do with games without them is to put a sheet of plexiglass on top to stop any movement. It also acts as the map's protector. Many of us learned this trick when we were Padawans. The rules come in at thirty-five pages, but the printing is extra large and is in color. So it is easy to read and understand with old Grog eyes. I know we are not getting old, just aging like fine whiskey. The standard set of rules also makes it so you can pretty much hop from one game in the series to the next without the time consuming learning or teaching. As others have mentioned, the 'chit pull' system for operations is a great way to keep the fog of war going and to help make these games very solitaire friendly. In this day and age a way to play solitaire is almost a mandate in any game. 'On your game table' longevity is enhanced by the fact that the game has rules for anyone to create their own scenarios.
 



 The game series has more of a randomness to its 'chit pull' than a lot of other games. In this series it is possible for a turn to end before you can pull a chit to activate some or one of your units. Most games vary the time when you can activate all of your forces on one side, but you can usually activate all of them during a turn. Not so in this game. You may really need that tank platoon to attack that bridge, but instead it just sits there for a turn. It may seem maddening in a game, but just read almost any book about any battles and you will see the same thing in history. You can, if you have the 'Fate Points' to spend, use two of them to be able to put the marker that you just drew back into the cup and choose again.

 I like the game and look forward to playing others in the series. Tactical games are an odd lot. Players either buy into the designer's choices to try and represent space and especially time. I think the game mechanics in this game work and work well. Apparently in the first counters that were made, there was an error on the SS Tiger counters. This was fixed very quickly and the copy of the game I have all is good.




Robert

A Naval History Of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis   I love books, but once in awhile you will come ...

A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War by Marc G. Desantis

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



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 I love books, but once in awhile you will come across a book like this that is very memorable. The Peloponnesian War was one of the seminal conflicts in the history of the Western World. It is hard for us to imagine, but Athens was able to bloody the nose of the Persian Empire. This is after the events of the last Persian invasion of Greece. In the process, she gained numerous allies in her fight against the Persians. Athens had a chance to lead, and did for a bit, a crusade against the Great Kings. Unfortunately in her hubris Athens started to look at her allies as conquered people belonging to an Athenian Empire. Without this, Sparta would never have been able to fight a war to 'free the Greeks' from Athenian despotism. In a nutshell, this is the cause of the war. There were many other smaller reasons that also made the Peloponnesian War seem inevitable. It might also have been possible that if the Greeks had not fought each other to exhaustion, that Macedon would still have remained a backwater. 

 This book is filled with everything a history lover would like to know about the era. From its in depth delving into the monetary cost and upkeep of the navies, to the actual tactics used by both sides during the war, it is all here. The actual history of the trireme is shown to the reader. The author also goes into the day to day maintenance of the ships; from why too dry ships were slower, to the Teredo Navalis (shipworm), it is in the book. How many talents Athens had on hand at the beginning of the war is shown. Then it is broken down to show how long this surplus would last under wartime conditions. On hand cash, is shown to be as important in warfare then as it is now. The reader will see how the massive funds, although dribbled out to Sparta, of the Persian Empire helped to tip the scales against Athens. 

 This war has had many books written about it. In actuality Thucydides, an Athenian general, wrote the first history of the war. The book we are looking at is one of the best on the subject, but also one of the best books about any war. As the author points out, Greece's coastline is actually longer than Italy's. So almost all of the fighting took place fifty miles or less near the Aegean or Ionian Seas. This was a well written and fascinating book on ancient warfare. From the physical problems that the rowers themselves endured (read for yourself), to how the Corinthians strengthened their bows, it is in this book. I am looking forward to reading more from the author.


Robert

Book: A Naval History of The Peloponnesian War
Author: Marc G. Desantis
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Check Your 6! from The Lordz Game Studio brings the air combat board game of the same name to the digital world. Although the board gam...

Check Your 6! Check Your 6!

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




Check Your 6! from The Lordz Game Studio brings the air combat board game of the same name to the digital world. Although the board game includes many expansions covering various theaters and eras, this initial release for PC focuses on the classic Battle of Britain clashes between the RAF and Luftwaffe. Check Your 6! uses a we-go turn-based system where each side plans out the orders for all of their aircraft and then hit go to see what happens. However, it's quite a bit more complicated than just that, as we will see. 

When planning your movement for a turn, there are multiple factors to consider: where your aircraft is now, where you want it to be on the next turn, or three turns from now, and of course where the enemy aircraft are. Movement includes steering left and right, altitude adjustments, fancy maneuvers, and the ever critical speed. Climbing will slow you down, and diving will similarly speed you up. Going faster isn't always the best option, and so one must think ahead when setting a course. Sharp turns can also slow an aircraft to a dangerous point, forcing you to be judicious with such maneuvers. Mastering movement is a critical part of every engagement; unless you get your aircraft into the proper position, you will have no chance of taking a good shot and doing some damage.


When attacking an enemy, several variables are thrown together to give you a percentage chance of success. The angle and speed of the aircraft involved play a role, as well as the distance between them. It's quite difficult in this game to get anything resembling a sure hit unless you are able to maneuver perfectly into position behind an enemy. Often you will be forced by circumstances to take lower percentage shots and hope for the best. Assuming an aircraft is hit, there are all sorts of things that can happen next. Simple hull damage, engine damage, crew casualties, a fire starting, or no damage at all. These variable results can make for some moments worthy of cheer, as well as frustration when things don't go your way. 

The 18 scenarios available can be played from each side, and all of the ones I played were at least partially based on some sort of real life sortie. You reward for winning a scenario is a nice text blurb describing the real historical result of the action. Otherwise the scenarios are not linked in any way, and you can play them in any order. On the plus side, these scenarios feature much more than simple fighter vs fighter combat. Often one side must defend some kind of objective on the map like a bridge on the ground or bombers in the air. Variable placement of units for each side means that a given scenario could play out somewhat differently from one attempt to the next. 


There are numerous different aircraft available for each side, and each one has it's own strengths and weaknesses. I know we all want to command a full squadron of Spitfires at every opportunity, but sometimes they just aren't available and you have to make due with what's on hand. Adding a little variability among similar units is how each pilot has their own experience rating. Better pilots essentially "move" last, and so get a chance to adjust their initial orders after seeing if an enemy zigged or zagged.

Check Your 6! takes a few hours to really give you a good feeling for the flow of air combat. There is a tutorial which explains the controls well enough, but doesn't give you enough time to really understand how to conduct a dogfight. Thus, I found the game frustrating at first, but then grew to enjoy it a bit more as I gained some experience. You must be able to foresee how running your fighter at full throttle means it will overshoot that bomber it was trying to get behind, or how sharply climbing to meet the foe will leave your guys with no speed remaining to make a sharp turn. I certainly learned these lessons via the school of hard knocks.

The flow of the combat can be bogged down a lot when you are tweaking movement and facing, and considering the future positions of a dozen different aircraft, but I imagine there are more than a few players out there looking for the exactly that level of control.



The game won't dazzle anyone with it's graphics, animation, or sound, but for a board game to digital conversion it looks okay for something that will probably be ported to iPads and the like before long. One thing I found odd were the blurry ground textures, especially in missions where you are attacking ground targets.


Overall, I can't really give a broad recommendation for the game, though fans of the board game should be pleased and if you are really interested in turn-based combat and WW2 aviation, you'll probably enjoy it. That isn't to say that Check Your Six! is a bad game by any means, it simply suffers the common fate of many physical-to-PC conversions, in that games which feel dynamic and immersive on a table can feel a bit clunky and slow on the PC. 


Check Your 6! Can be purchased directly from Matrix Games or on Steam.



- Joe Beard