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A Time for Trumpets   The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 by GMT Games  'Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein' (Operation Watch on the Rhin...

A Time for Trumpets: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 by GMT Games A Time for Trumpets: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 by GMT Games

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

A Time for Trumpets

 The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944


GMT Games

 'Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein' (Operation Watch on the Rhine), or the 'Ardennenoffensive' (Ardennes offensive) it is called in German. The Ardennes Counteroffensive is the official Allied military name. Please do not call it the 'Rundstedt Offensive'. He had nothing whatsoever to do with the planning. In fact, his answer when he was asked about the plan after the war was, "If Old Moltke had thought that I had planned that offensive, he would have turned over in his grave." Neither Rundstedt or Model, fanatical Nazi that he was, believed the plan had any merit. Josef 'Sepp' Dietrich (who commanded the 6th Panzer Army during the battle) said of the plan "All I had to do was the cross the river (Meuse), capture Brussels, and then go on to take the port of Antwerp. The snow was waist-deep and there wasn't room to deploy four tanks abreast, let alone six armored divisions. It didn't get light until eight and was dark again at four, and my tanks can't fight at night, and all this at Christmas time!" As a side note, Rundstedt said Dietrich was "decent, but stupid". So why is this battle so much in demand many to so many wargamers? It seems that you could find five to ten different company's versions in each wargamers hoard. Well, this was the largest battle that Americans had ever been in (the English were involved also, but not too deeply). The Allies were completely taken off guard by this attack in an area that was considered 'safe' because of the terrain. The German plan was pretty much thought of in Hitler's mind even as the Allies were dashing across France, and it looked like the war would be over by Christmas. The Allied offensive was hamstrung by the lack of supplies, and came to a halt at the German border. The Germans used their phone lines instead of radio chatter etc. So, the Allies did not have their usual Ultra intercepts or much else to judge German intentions. The offensive took the Allies very much by surprise. The German Army was considered a spent force. The schwerpunkt was supposed to be with the 6th Panzer Army at the top of the Bulge. In actuality the U.S. troops, some of them green, mostly fought the SS to a standstill. The greatest penetration into the Bulge was done by the 5th Panzer Army. I will list out the number of troops and AFV's etc. that have to be modeled in the game. These numbers are from the start of the German attack:

Troops - 229,000
Tanks  - 486
Tank Destroyers & Assault Guns - 499
Other AFV's  - 1,921
Anti-Tank Guns & Artillery - 971
6 Infantry Divisions
2 Armored Divisions
Casualties at the end of the battle - 90,000

Troops - 406,000
Tanks - 557
Tank Destroyers & Assault Guns - 667
Other AFV's - 1,261
Anti-Tank Guns & Artillery - 4.224
13 Infantry Divisions
7 Armored Divisions
Casualties at the end of the battle - 98,000

So, GMT has brought this battle once more to the wargamers' table. Let us see what we get. This is what comes in the weighty box:

5 full size game maps (65"x48" total playing area)
12 counter sheets (2304 playing pieces)
1 Rules Book
1 Scenario Book
1 Play Aid Manual
Four 11"x17" player aid cards
Five 8.5"x11" player aid cards
2 dice

 This is GMT Games information on the game from the Rules Book:

"A Time for Trumpets (or ATfT) is a one to five player game depicting Germany’s last offensive in 1944 known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” The Campaign Game includes the period from 16 to 26 December when the Germans had to achieve decisive results.
Game Scale
Each game-turn represents approximately 6 hours of real time.
Each map hex represents a distance of 1 mile across and an area of
about one square mile. The units consist primarily of battalions and
companies plus a minimal number of other sized units.
The Map
The map shows the Ardennes including portions of Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France where the Battle of the Bulge was fought. The map illustrates the most prominent terrain features of this region. A grid of numbered hexagons (hexes) has been superimposed on the map as a means of regulating the movement and positioning of the playing pieces. Also located on the map is a Game Turn Record Track, Off-Board Movement Areas, German Bridge Holding Boxes and depictions of the Terrain Features."

 The map scale is at one mile per hex. The 65"x48" size makes it a monster, but a monster that has a lot of scenarios that only use one, two, or three of the five maps. The maps are not rehashed ones and have been completely reworked and checked and rechecked against wartime topographical maps. The colors are nicely done, and it is easy to see what terrain is in each hex. The twelve counter sheets (my thoughts are with the grognards that are compelled to clip counters) are very well done and use the typical green for U.S. troops, Grey for the German Army, and Black for the Waffen SS etc.
The counters are larger than you would think for such a big game, and are easily identified. As with any 'monster' game there will be a large amount of counters on the map. The Rules Book is as large as one would expect with such a game. It is sixty-four pages long, including the index. It is in full color and looks like other GMT Games Rules Books. At the end of it are some examples of play. The Scenario Book is sixty pages long. Pages thirty-three to forty-nine have on one side the German and Allied setups for the different parts of the map. Unless I am miscounting there are 13 scenarios in total (they will be below). Each scenario seems to build on the other as far as sticking your toe into this deep pond. The Play-Aid Book is forty-eight pages long. It is filled with full color Reinforcement Charts, Area of Operations, and setups for the End Game Scenarios. The three books are made up of paper pages with no lamination. I assume the cost would have been prohibitive. There are a total of nine Play-Aid cards. These are made of thin cardboard and do have some lamination on them. One has the Allied and German chains of command. Four of them are one-sided and have the German Artillery Park information for each corps. If you want to see a grognard's eyes light up just open up the box in front of him.

These are the scenarios, with maps:

7th Army Scenarios - 3 - 2 maps
6th Panzer Army Scenarios - 2 - 1 map
5th Panzer Army Scenarios - 2 - 3 maps
Campaign Game 
End Game Scenarios:
3 - 1 map
1 - 2 maps
1 - 3 maps

 So, the main point I want to get across is that this game type is as hard to find as a rare gemstone. It is a playable monster game. There are Advanced and Optional rules that bring more chrome or make it easier on the player. Let us look at the game's RuleBook:

"There are three types of rules: Basic, Advanced and Optional. If a
rule is not identified as Advanced, then the rule is Basic. The Advanced rules impart significant, historical facets to the game; they
are intended to loosely drive the progress of the game by interjecting
intelligence as it was known in 1944. By mutual consent, players
should add advanced rules as they become familiar with the basic
system. During the extensive playtesting of the game, the advanced
rules were usually used. Optional rules are provided simply to facilitate ease of play—they are found in rule sections as applicable."

 The game's pedigree goes right back to the earlier days of wargaming. The designer Bruno Sinigaglio was involved with three of the greatest wargaming titles: Battle of the Bulge, Siege of Jerusalem, and Bitter Woods. A Time for Trumpets is an opus that he has been designing for more than forty years. The only thing you can really say derogatory about the game is its sheer size. To set up the maps alone you need a space roughly 6'x4'. When you add in the extra space needed for the Player-Aids etc. it is a sizable area. The beauty of the system and the scenarios is that there are enough scenarios that only use one, two, and three maps. Players will be able to learn and play with any setup they have now in their house. Then if you wanted to, you could join in at a group play at a convention etc. if you wanted to (whenever they happen again).  

 One of the biggest pieces of the game rules is command and control. The Area of Operations rules for the allies ensures that they cannot just willy-nilly advance across the map, and overwhelm the Germans. All of the different Areas of Operations makes it so if an Allied force moves into another Area of Operation it is immediately out of command. The Germans are similarly stopped from bunching together in a large mass. The Allies were incredibly worried about Liege. This city was the linchpin of the Allies' long tenuous supply line. In the Campaign game if the Germans occupy any of the six Liege hexes they win a Substantial Victory. In most of the other scenarios the Germans must occupy different key points on the map. If at any time a German Tactical Victory in the Campaign game happens, a German AFV enters a hex across the Meuse River from Givet to Liege City. If this happens the Scenario Book remarks "The German player should heed Field Marshall Models's words and "get down on his hands and knees and thank God." You can see by that that the German player has to have all the die rolls and luck on his side. The Allied Victory Conditions are to stop the German from getting to any of his Victory Points. This game has everything in it that you want in a game. Some examples are:

Bridge and Combat engineers
Anti-Tank and Heavy Tank Units
Motorized Infantry
Tactical Aircraft
Strategic bombing
Improved positions
Bridge Demolition (The Allies best friend)
Artillery of all kind

I am very grateful to GMT Games for allowing me to review this game. I was tentative at first because of its depth and size. However, the design of the scenarios makes it very easy for a grognard to play out bits of it before trying to swallow the whole game at once. The other point I made, but need to stress, is that this is a playable monster. This is not a game that will sit on your shelf and you will look longingly at it for years before it gets bequeathed to an unsuspecting child or spouse. The game is fine to play solitaire also (very few games are not) for one of us mostly lone gamers. The price for some maybe a sticking point. However, we are now used to paying 2/3 of the cost for A Time for Trumpets for games that do not give you anywhere near the actual components, let alone game play. I was very ambivalent in the past about Battle of the Bulge games. I am not anymore.


Thank you to Marty Sample and Tom Stearns from BGG, for the use of their pictures.

GMT Games:

A Time for Trumpets:

 Napoleon Returns 1815 by Worthington Publishing  The Waterloo Campaign, Gettysburg, and the Bulge are the trifecta of wargaming. If we grog...

Napoleon Returns 1815 by Worthington Publishing Napoleon Returns 1815 by Worthington Publishing

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

 Napoleon Returns 1815


Worthington Publishing

 The Waterloo Campaign, Gettysburg, and the Bulge are the trifecta of wargaming. If we grognards only had games on these three campaigns/battles, we would have enough to fill our shelves and play for a very long time. Of the three campaigns, in my mind Waterloo is the one that is the most of a toss-up. There are so many 'what-ifs' to the campaign. Napoleon who always, up to then, was conscious of time ( Napoleon's quote "I may lose a battle but I will never lose a minute), was an incredibly large part of making war successfully. He seemed to completely forget it in the Waterloo Campaign. He and his army were definitely affected by the 'slows' during the campaign. You can ascribe this to ill health, or any number of other things. At Ligny, the French had a chance to crush Blucher. After Ligny, the next day the French Army sauntered after the Prussian Army instead of herding it like cattle. The rainstorm the night before Waterloo, and Grouchy not 'marching to the guns' are more examples of 'what-ifs'. Enough of the history. Let's see what Worthington Publishing has put in the box:

Mounted Map 

18 French, British, and Prussian Corps Cubes

25 Small Yellow Wooden Markers

1 Six-Sided Die

2 Full Color Player Aid Sheets

2 Full Color RuleBooks

68 Battle Cards

5 French Objective Cards

 The map is meant to look like an old parchment map. It succeeds at this very well. It is a mounted map, and looks and feels to be able to live through as many games as you want to play on it. Movement on it is from point-to-point. Infantry Corps normally move one point, and Cavalry normally move two. The Corps wooden cubes that I received were uniform in size, except for the French Cavalry block, which was slightly larger. Friendly gamers playing the game would have no problem with this. If you are playing with someone who uses this to deduce where that block is, get yourself another gaming partner. They would also mark their cards. The Player Aid sheets are of strong stock, and slightly laminated. One side shows the setup for the pieces on the map. The other side gives the Sequence of Play etc. The back of the Combat Cards show a weary dejected Napoleon who is obviously suffering from piles. The front of the cards show a small painting from the different parts of the campaign. The Rulebook is eight pages long. It is made of paper with a bit of lamination on it, like a well done magazine. It is in full color and has examples of play included. All in all, the components are first rate.  

  The game is based on each corps' Cohesion Points. These can be deducted for Combat Losses, Extra Movement by Infantry (Forced March), and Retreat. So Cohesion in this game represents morale, combat losses, and fatigue of each of the Corps. Combat in the game is totally reliant on the Combat Cards. Each corps is worth 'X' amount of combat cards. Here is what it says in the Rulebook about Army Commanders and Corps:

"Below the army commander is a list of the corps in the

army. Each corps is listed by the corps name and its

leader name. Shown for each corps is the number of

combat cards that corps adds to combat if present, which

may be reduced based on its current cohesion point

number. Each corps has a tactical rating that determines

its ability to reinforce combat at an adjacent location and

its ability to counterattack during combat if no army

commander is present and if its Tactical Rating is used."

"Each corps has a set amount of cohesion points showing

how many cohesion reductions that corps can take in

movement, combat, and retreat before it is eliminated

from game play. Track cohesion by placing one of the

yellow cubes at the highest cohesion level for that corps

to begin the game. When a corps takes cohesion point

reductions, move the yellow cube the appropriate

number of spaces down the corps cohesion point track.

If a corps reaches cohesion point below 1, it is eliminated

and remove the corps unit from the game board. Shown

at the approximate halfway point on the cohesion track

for each corps is a mark that shows when the corps

reaches this level, any combat that it participates in, will

draw that reduced number of combat cards."

 Is the game a detailed simulation of Napoleonic warfare? Of course not. It is a game, very delightful and easy to play, but hard to master game. Does it give the player tons of choices on an operational level? You bet. You can play a few full games of it on gaming night. The components are simple, yet well done. The game mechanics can be described the same way. Thank you, Worthington Publishing for allowing me to review this game. My normal hex and counter obsession would have never let me really look at the game. 


Worthington Publishing:

Worthington (

Napoleon Returns 1815:

Napoleon Returns 1815 — Worthington (

NWS Wargaming Store A Wargamer's Best Friend  Naval Warfare Simulations is rightly known for its excellent line up of computer naval war...

NWS Wargaming Store NWS Wargaming Store

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

NWS Wargaming Store

A Wargamer's Best Friend

 Naval Warfare Simulations is rightly known for its excellent line up of computer naval warfare sims. Among them:

Steam and Iron: The Great War at Sea

Steam and Iron: The Russo-Japanese War

Rule The Waves

Rule The Waves II

Warship Combat Navies at War

 What a lot of people do not know is that they also publish their own board wargames and miniature rules on:

 It is my assumption that consumers do not realize that they run a wargaming store, and it is one of the best on the internet. Their prices are great, especially for slightly older games (although they are also good for new releases). They do not sell used board wargames, like some sites, but they sell minty fresh new in the shrink wrap games that a lot of people are paying way too much for on the 'used' market. 

 Their customer service is second to none. I have read almost no accounts of there being a problem buying from them. The two I believe I did read were taken care of right away, and actually had to do with the game's publisher, and not NWS. I have been dealing with them for years, and actually did some reviews of their computer naval wargames (I will post links below). On their contact page they have links for email, FB, and their help desk. 

 So, before you click buy on any used wargame make sure you check out the prices, and service, on NWS Wargaming Store. They have around 1500 items in their store now. They also cater to the miniature wargamer. 


NWS Wargaming Store:

NWS Wargaming Store

Naval Warfare Simulations:

SHOP | NWS Wargaming Store

Rule The Waves review:

Rule The Waves by Naval Wafare Simulations Review - A Wargamers Needful Things

Steam & Iron The Russo-Japanese War review:

Steam And Iron the Russo-Japanese War - A Wargamers Needful Things

  Aden by Tiny Battle Publishing   Tiny Battle Publishing promotes itself as 'Tiny Package, Big Fun'. We are privileged to see some ...

Aden by Tiny Battle Publishing Aden by Tiny Battle Publishing

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



Tiny Battle Publishing

  Tiny Battle Publishing promotes itself as 'Tiny Package, Big Fun'. We are privileged to see some truth in advertising. I have reviewed several of their games, and that is exactly what you get. These are not simple beer & pretzel games either. They are well thought out and a joy for both the advanced wargamer or a newer one. This is the blurb from Tiny Battle about the game:

"The civil war in Yemen has been going on since 2015; fought between the government, a rebellious faction, and their respective allies. Each group claims to be the legitimate government of Yemen. The fighting uses everything from World War 2 leftovers to modern ballistic missiles, with Saudi Arabian troops and US drone strikes helping the government and Iranian arms aiding the rebels.

Aden is a 2-player (but very solitaire friendly) hypothetical campaign for control of this southern Yemen port city, a combined company- and platoon-level game where each battle takes place over the course of one or more days. Difficult terrain splits the east and west of the city, combatants often retreat to avoid taking losses before surging back, and making the most of your scattered leadership is the key to resupplying your people and sustaining an offensive. Units activate with a unique dice system, and combat is centered on an add-or-subtract dice method reminiscent of Greg's Armageddon War. 

The game remembers that Aden is a functioning city, with key points that will be strategic objectives in scenarios or have special combat effects. Destroy an enemy in sight of the international hotel where the media are staying? Extra victory points. Enemy is holed up near a major mosque? You cannot call artillery on them."

 This is what comes in the small package:

An 11 x 17 inch map of the city.

Seventy LARGE 1 inch counters for the government, rebels, allies and status markers, 

A 32-page rulebook with a six scenario campaign for control of the city, each player playing both sides to see who does it best.

 When Tiny Battle says large, they mean it. This game will become a hit at the grognard's retirement home for sure. The counters are naturally easy to read, even without my glasses. The map is colorful, but not garish. It also has equally large hexes on it. Terrain and line of sight is simple to see and work out. The rulebook is thirty pages long. It is mostly in black and white, with some color pictures of units and examples of play added. The Turn Sequence is:

1. Recovery Roll

2. Activate Units

3. Firing

4. Movement

5. Gone to Ground

 I really like the 'Gone to Ground' rule. it is very helpful for the weaker units. Here is what the rulebook has to say about it:

"A unit that has 'Gone to Ground' is basically hiding. It loses this status if attacked in Close Combat or if it does anything on its activation other than stay put. It cannot Opportunity Fire, but it also cannot be seen or attacked by enemy Units (including Artillery). This is a way for an outgunned force to avoid getting shot at but still control a hex. You have got to go in and dig them out the hard way. Going to ground is useful for the player who is on the defensive, or a player on the offense who is trying to retain control of an Objective hex that they have taken from the enemy." 

 The designer, Greg Porter, also designed 'Armageddon War: Platoon Level Combat in the End War. So you know that this game has a heavyweight pedigree. Armageddon War was also reviewed by me and I will put a link to the review below. 

 Aden as a game is small, but that does not mean it is simple. The Rulebook comes with six scenarios, but you can make your own easily enough. Command and control is a big part of the game. An Activation of up to four Units is possible if you have a Command Unit in the four. So, each side typically makes the enemy's Command Units high profile targets. 

 This is a game where you have some Units that are using high grade military vehicles, but not by highly trained army Units. The Rulebook states that the Saudi forces lost more Abrams than the entire amount lost by the USA in both Iraq Wars. Aden is a good small unit size game, with also a small game footprint. Setting up and putting away the game takes no time at all. The scenarios are easily played through. There is no need to have the map set up and taking up space somewhere. Thank you Tiny Battle Publishing for allowing me to review this little gem. 


Tiny Battle Publishing:

Tiny Battle Publishing


Aden | Tiny Battle Publishing

Flying Pigs Games 'Armageddon War' Review:

Armageddon War by Flying Pig Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

 Korsun Pocket 2 by Pacific Rim Publishing   This is the Designer Notes for Korsun Pocket 2 that is on pre-order from Pacific Rim Publishing...

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing

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

 Korsun Pocket 2


Pacific Rim Publishing

  This is the Designer Notes for Korsun Pocket 2 that is on pre-order from Pacific Rim Publishing. The original Korsun Pocket is considered a milestone in wargaming history, and is worth hen's teeth now. Thank you Jack Radey, and Pacific Rim Publishing for allowing me to post this.

"Designer’s Notes 

Korsun Pocket, Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr, was my first effort as a game designer.  I fell in love with Jim Dunnigan’s and Joe Balkoski’s “Wacht am Rhein” back in the latter part of the 1970s.  Immediately, I was thinking, “Gosh, that would be interesting on the other end of the war…”  As I ruminated on the thing, the Korsun Shevchenkovsky Operation came to mind.  I began to dig into it, and found it was just about the right size battle, and a very interesting situation.  Whereas the Battle of the Bulge was pretty much a straight penetration and exploitation, Korsun Shevchenkovsky was an encirclement.  Both sides would be attacking and defending.  Great.

So I began digging, and found immediately that it is easier to research a game where at least one side wrote up their reports in English.  But I taught myself some German, learned the Cyrillic alphabet and began to learn a little Russian.  And I was aided by David Serber, who went to the archives in Washington and returned with a lot of German microfilmed records, and Leslie D’Angelo, who translated a chunk of Grylev’s “Dnepr, Karpaty, Krym” from Russian for me.  Colonel John Sloan provided me Rotmistrov’s account of the battle, I translated part of Degrelle’s disgusting little book “Le Front D’Est” from French, and found the marvelous map collection at UC Berkeley.  The game was proclaimed a masterpiece of research, and its researcher and designer a master of all things Great Patriotic Warish.   Well…

Marx once described a fellow philosopher as “standing out like a high peak, due to the flatness of the surrounding terrain.”  Wargame companies who were intent on staying in business did not devote a year to research for a game, no matter how big.  The reputation I got has carried me far, but looking back, I do blush from time to time.  But the world has changed… The Soviets, who documented EVERYthing, and valued their WWII experience as their national treasure, from which they drew their military doctrine, kept their data very close, and even Soviet historians had difficulty accessing it.  So there were a lot of aspects of the battle that remained blurs to me.  I had the basis for some guesswork, but some of it was based on SPI’s writings, and much of that was either grossly in error or was misunderstood by me.

But since those days, first perestroika and glasnost caused the archives to open for a while, before the sad passing of the USSR set in motion events that led to their reclosing.  But the archives are all on war-time acid-based paper, and someone in the Russian staff realized that in twenty years or so they would be sitting on the world’s largest pile of dust.  So they have begun scanning it and dumping it onto the internet… by the trainload.  So when I asked my friend Charles Sharp to look into my guess that 4th Guards Army had attacked for three days and gotten nowhere at the beginning of the offensive, within 24 hours I had a rough summary of the Combat Journal of this army for the relevant days in my inbox, recounting precisely where the problems had been.  Color me gob smacked.  And then Helion Press brought out “Stalin’s Favorites – 2nd Guards Tank Army” (they were 2nd Tank Army at Korsun before they became a Guards army), with more detail on the strengths, losses, and activities of this army than I could have hoped to see in my wildest dreams.  I have not completely re-researched the battle, this would require either exploiting the friendship I have with people who could do the massive amounts of translation that it would require, but I have gained a much more detailed understanding of the events of January and February, 1944.  Consequently while you will recognize the basics of the game, there have been some changes, both based on better knowledge of the battle, and on some small knowledge of game design I have gained.

What’s the same?  The basic Dunnigan/Balkoski combat and movement systems.  My changes in the approach to Zones of Control, visibility, weather, etc.  The broad outlines of the battle.  The scenario structure.  Much as one longs for a scenario for just the pocket, the notion of using all four maps just to play a small scenario seems silly.  The map is pretty much the same, with a few additions.  The rules about tanks are the same, but require some explanation.  Why does a battalion of Panthers, say, with a tank strength of 4, break up into companies but still each has the same tank strength of 4?  Shouldn’t it be less per company? After all, it’s less tanks…  My thoughts, strongly supported by some friends who served in the armed forces, are that the difference between NO tanks, and a FEW tanks, is infinitely larger than difference between a FEW tanks and A BUNCH MORE tanks.  The actual tank strength numbers, unlike the attack and defense strengths, are based on the effectiveness of the tanks weapons and armor.  A tank with a bigger gun and heavier armor is inherently scarier and more destructive than more numerous tanks which have great difficulty damaging it.  Tank size figures in to this too.

What’s different?  Well, when I designed Korsun Pocket originally, I thought, “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.”  And an encirclement battle was going to require a more detailed treatment of logistics issues.  So I did some research and constructed a whole elaborate system for keeping track of supplies, and artillery ammunition (which makes up the bulk of supply tonnage).  As game systems go, it worked, and pretty much produced the results I was seeking, namely that both sides were plagued by supply problems throughout the battle, as well as the supply challenge that a large encircled force produces.  But looking back I fear that the operative words were “worked” and “plagued.”  After the game came out, I figured out a truth of design.  Time is the enemy of wargame design.  Time is a constant, you only have so much of it to spend gaming, so much time you can get a team together, so much time that table will be useable.  If there are a LOT of playing pieces in the game, it will take a lot of time to move them.  A game with only a few pieces in play can have complex detailed rules.  A game with a lot of pieces in it is already pushing the time envelope.  Adding more work for the players… something will have to give.

So I set out to create a new and cleaner supply system.  But being me, I dug into the research and found four credible sources who gave daily tonnage requirements for a full strength infantry or rifle division in combat.  And got numbers that said 300+, 200, 100, and 20 tons a day, respectively.  The 100-200 range seemed the most common number.  True, none of these units was anywhere near full TO&E, but the fact is a badly worn infantry division will retain most of its artillery, even as its line infantry is worn to a nub.  And artillery ammunition accounts for over 80% of the supply tonnage required.  Worse, the 20 tons per day, derived from the deliveries by air to the pocket, are very well documented.  I was pulling my beard out trying to come up with a compromise, so that a supply point would actually mean something in tonnage terms.  And then…

I stepped back, squinted so I could not make out the details, only the broad outline of the problem.  And it came to me.  Doh.  The bottom line truth is that while both sides experienced all kinds of problems getting supplies from railhead to fighting units, they succeeded in doing so sufficiently well to fight the battle.  Only the pocket forces faced destruction when their supplies were cut off, first by land and finally by air.  No complex systems, book keeping, supply points, or other fancy footwork required. 

Similarly the air rules took a haircut.  Bottom line, again, fighters were unable to prevent enemy air from having an effect on the battle, so why include them?

One other change evident is the counter mix.  KP 1 had some holes that I filled with fudge.  Some of the fudge has since failed to live up to the tasting.  So: no more Ferdinands (it turns out the Soviets used the term “Ferdinand” to describe any assault gun), JS-2s, or T-34-85s.  There weren’t any in the battle, they came out of my ignorance.  No more killer cavalry units, they have been tamed a bit.  No more tanks organic to panzer grenadier battalions, nor are the tanks that were part of 5th Mechanized Corps mushed into the motorized rifle battalions.  This is a far better OB for both sides, I believe I have it all. 

There is a matter that the players will have to ponder.  In the order of appearance, there are a number of situations where units are required to exit the map, some of whom return, some do not.  These units were usually withdrawn due to requirements for them somewhere outside of the scope of the game.  Since players have no control of these events, this seems more than reasonable.  The oddest may be the peregrinations of most of 5th Mech Corps, who immediately after the drive to Zvenigorodka, are forced to withdraw to the west, to reinforce a portion of the off-map front threatened by a German counterattack.  After a difficult march, they were turned around and marched back onto the map area in the game, as by this time the Germans had ended their attacks and were shifting their panzers east, towards the Korsun Shevchenkovsky area.

But another matter entirely were the various inter-formation transfers that are called for in the order of appearance.  While the Germans, sorely lacking in reserves, were known to pull a couple battalions from one division, attach an artillery battalion and maybe a company of antitank and another of engineers to a neighboring division in need of beefing up, the Soviets did a lot less of this.  The exception would be their tank brigades, which would sometimes be detached from their parent tank corps and attached temporarily to another corps, or to a rifle corps or army when there was not an immediate need for a tank concentration.  Then there is also the question of major reorganizations that happened historically.  Towards the latter part of the battle, 27th Army of 1st Ukrainian Front was transferred to 2nd Ukrainian Front, in order to put the forces around the pocket under a single headquarters.

All of these decisions were historically made within the scope of the player’s discretion and in response to the developments in the battle.  If the Soviets never formed pocket, would the inter-front transfer of 27th Army have happened?  Would corps have transferred between armies had things gone differently?  With this in mind, the players may choose to ignore all the transfers between on-map formations, or leave them up to the decision of the players – you could transfer 27th Army to 2nd Ukrainian Front, but you may decide not to.  However, all withdrawals from the map are still mandatory."

Pacific Rim Publishing:

Pacific Rim Publishing (

Korsun Pocket 2:

Korsun Pocket 2 | Pacific Rim Publishing (

  Waterloo Napoleon's Last Battle by Companion WarGames   Here we go down the rabbit hole again. There seems to be three battles that ev...

Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Battle by Companion WarGames Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Battle by Companion WarGames

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


Napoleon's Last Battle


Companion WarGames

  Here we go down the rabbit hole again. There seems to be three battles that every designer wants a crack at: The Bulge, Gettysburg, and Waterloo. I think wargame designers are born with a strange gene that others don't have. It eats at them to design a game based on the above three battles. Of those three battles, I have to say to my mind Waterloo is the most interesting. Gettysburg should historically be won or lost on the first day. The Bulge is pretty much a losing situation for the Germans, unless the designer skews the victory points etc. Waterloo is a totally different animal. Napoleon could very well have won the battle. There are so many 'ifs' involved in it. If Grouchy had actually stopped the Prussians. If Napoleon had attacked with the Guard at 6:30pm. If the ground had not been too soft for cannon fire in the morning. So, we all know that the battle was  "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life" (Duke of Wellington). If he thought it was a close battle, who are we to argue with him. This is designer Mark Scarbrough's attempt at the the big one. let us see what Companion WarGames has put in the box:

Mounted Map 22"x34"

Hard 11"x17" French and English Setup sheets

Hard 11"x17" Prussian Reinforcement Schedule sheet

2 Hard One-Sided Player Aid Cards

1 1/2 Unit Counter Sheets, Large 3/4" Counters

1 Counter Sheet Of Control Markers

I Rulebook

4 Die (2 Red, 2, Blue)

 The Mounted Map is normal size for most games. A mounted map causes some gamers to applaud compared to a paper one. I like either kind. You can always use a piece of plexiglass over a paper one. I will admit that mounted maps do hold up better and you will not see the creases in them that you get with an older game you have played a lot. The map itself is divided up into areas. There are no hexes on this map. The way the areas meet each other is meant to show how the battlefield topology was historically. So some movement is not allowed between some of the areas. The map might look a little busy to some because of the color scheme and the areas. I did not have a problem with it. The counters are very large and therefore very easy to read. They are done in bright colors. I like the combination with the map, but again, some may find objection. The only control markers are for the French side. If a marker is not in an area, it is considered to be in Allied control. The counters represent the English, French, and Prussian units. One player plays the French side, and the other plays the Allies (English, Prussian). The Player's Aid Sheets are easy to read and allow you to have a lot of information at your fingertips. The rulebook is thirty-four pages long. The rules themselves take up twenty-six and a half pages. From page twenty-seven there are optional rules that go to page twenty-nine. Pages thirty to thirty-four have examples of play. The Rulebook is in full color, and the print is large. The Rulebook is of paper, so you will get dog ears etc. if you are not careful. The whole presentation of the counters and map to me was excellent. Everything is nice and big, and easy to read and understand. For a first game this is a great effort by Companion WarGames.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

• Commander Phase

 • Rally Phase

 • Grand Battery Phase

 • Action Impulse Phase

 • End Phase

Countersheet 1

 The game has some interesting concepts, besides the area movement. This rule is meant to show the possibility of Napoleon's lethargy during the battle:


Beginning on turn 2, the French player makes DR

during the Commander Phase to determine whether

Napoleon is active or inactive (fresh or spent) for that


6.2.1 Napoleon Activation. The French player

makes a DR. If it is equal to or greater than

Napoleon’s activation number on the fresh side

of the counter, Napoleon is active for the turn

and begins on his fresh side. If it is less than his

activation number, Napoleon starts the turn on his

spent side. 

Countersheet 3

 As any game in the 19th century, the rules are heavily dependent on the leaders on both sides. if your leaders are inept, or the subject of frequent bad die rolls good luck to you. Leader Activation works like this: You must roll 2 D6, and you must roll a number equal or higher than the Leader's Activation Rating. Commanders are Activated the same way. Once you have your leader activated you can do these actions:


Volley Fire


Cavalry Charge

General advance

 Commander/Leaders also have Special Actions they can carry out. These are:

Double Move (Commander)

Intervention (Commander)

Die Re-Roll (Leader)

Battle Participation (Leader)

 The game has rules for:

Grand Batteries

Skirmishers (A lot of games overlook these)

There are also Optional Rules included, these deal with:

Village Areas

Cavalry Exhaustion (Another overlooked item in games)

Expanded Rally

 As I mentioned before with the components, this is an excellent first game from a new company. The game has the feel of Napoleonics about it. It does not give you a feeling that this system would work for any era, like some games do. The leader/commander rules are well thought out and make the player have several contingency plans all at the same time, just in case you do not pass that all important die roll for activation. I want to thank Companion WarGames for allowing me to review this great game. They have four more games in the pipeline:

Seven Days to the Rhine - Cold War goes hot in 1979

Deus Volt - Crusades

Tour of Duty - A Year in Vietnam With the 1st Infantry

Voelkerwanderung - Barbarian Migrations and the Fall of Rome


Companion WarGames:

Companion Wargames

Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Battle:

CWG Games — Companion Wargames

  Junkers Ju52/3m by Cobi  The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. J...

Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi

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

 Junkers Ju52/3m



 The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. Junkers soon realized that it was too underpowered with only one, and added two more engines. The Junkers designers used their J 1 aircraft (the first all metal aircraft) as its starting point. It was originally conceived as an airliner, but was turned into a bomber for a short time by the new Luftwaffe. It found its niche in life as a transport plane. As a transport plane before and during World War II, it was used constantly from 1936-1945. The German airmen and paratroopers called it 'Tante Ju' (Aunt Ju), or 'Iron Annie'. Very surprisingly the aircraft was also built by some other countries after the war. Some JU 52s were operational as late as the 1980s. It was also used as the personal aircraft of two countries' leaders during World War II. Both Hitler and Chiang Kai-shek had JU 52 personal airplanes. The plane type that Cobi has brought us was used as both a paratrooper and transport plane.

 The kit comes with 548 pieces. I was anxious to build this model for two reasons: One, I have always had a soft spot for the plane, Two, I had already built Cobi's Douglas C-47 (which is an excellent build and model), and I wanted to compare the builds and the finished product. 

  The building of the kit was as straight forward as usual with a Cobi kit. I believe I made one mistake, and just like during my other builds, it was my fault. Sometimes I get into a groove building these kits and I do not take the time I should to really inspect the instructions. However, a small flat edged screwdriver and some cursing always seems to do the trick. 

 The building of this kit was very enjoyable, as they all are. There is no glue stuck everywhere (especially on your fingers), and any mistake you make is easily righted. The Ju 52 took shape very early. The build starts with the wings so you know right away what the build is. Cobi tank kits mostly start out as a rectangle of blocks, and the tank does not show its excellent features until late in the process. With both of these plane builds I was able to see from the beginning how well the plane would look in the end. 

 As you can see, the kit in its finished form is a sight to behold. One thing, if you do not have much space to show off your kits, the bombers and transport planes are LARGE. The Douglas C-47 has a wingspan of 21" plus. The wingspan of the Junkers JU 52/3m is over 23". These are both big kits when finished.

 Once more, Cobi has given me a very enjoyable afternoon, and then followed it up with an excellent looking plane to add to my collection. Cobi kits are also great ways to start the young ones on the road to appreciating historical vehicles and the history behind them. I never really check how long a kit takes to finish. The building is so much fun and relaxing that the time just rolls by. I have never tried to speed build any of the kits. To me, that takes half the fun out the kit itself.

 The kit comes with two figures. A Luftwaffe pilot, and a Fallschirmj√§ger (Paratrooper). Just as with their kits, Cobi takes painstaking efforts to make sure they look as realistic as possible. So, once again I am in debt to Cobi for sending me this great looking Junkers Ju 52/3m kit. It is a magnificent build for anyone to display on their shelf. You can also buy the Junkers Ju 52/3m as a civilian version in white and blue, with Red Cross markings. The next Cobi kit I build will be a Sherman M4A3 (Easy Eight).



Blocks and toys for kids from Cobi - internet shop

Junkers Ju 52/3m:

Junkers Ju52/3m - WW2 Historical Collection - for kids 9 | Cobi Toys

  If you hear a rumor that long time wargame developer Battlefront is making a modern Combat Mission module about the place where you live, ...

Combat Mission: Black Sea Combat Mission: Black Sea

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


If you hear a rumor that long time wargame developer Battlefront is making a modern Combat Mission module about the place where you live, you might want to look into taking an extended vacation. I say that because both of their titles set in our time were developed based on smoldering conflicts that soon after turned into serious real life wars. First in Syria with Shock Force, and then in Ukraine with Black Sea. The key difference in each game of course being the intervention of conventional NATO forces, which in both cases was at least within the realm of possibility. If you wanted to see just what a NATO intervention in Ukraine might have looked like, then you are in luck, because Combat Mission: Black Sea is here to provide that experience.

Although originally released back in 2014, Black Sea is now joining Shock Force 2 on Steam and the Matrix Store, as Battlefront continues their venture with Slitherine of bringing the Combat Mission series to the largest games platform around. I wrote my take on Shock Force 2 and to some extent the Combat Mission (CM) series as a whole in an article a few months back. Today I'll try to focus on what sets Black Sea apart and why you might want to add it to your collection. 

As mentioned, Black Sea depicts the most modern conflict of any game in the Combat Mission series, a war in Ukraine involving a full on United States military intervention. That means peer-on-peer conflict with the best Russia has to offer, as well as scenarios involving the slightly less well equipped Ukrainian forces. This is a far cry from the mostly asymmetric scenarios in Shock Force, where the highly trained and well equipped US and NATO troops faced a challenge only because they were asked to accomplish difficult objectives while taking minimal casualties. The enemy forces in that game usually varied in quality from militia rabbles to poorly motivated regular Syrian army units. One can also make a comparison to the WW2 settings of the other CM games. There, the forces are evenly matched in terms of quality most of the time, as they are here. However, as deadly as a WW2 battlefield could be, infantry firefights mostly involved bolt action rifles slinging only a moderate amount of lead around, and tanks could often shrug off a hit or three. Not so in Black Sea. 

In Black Sea, everything on the battlefield is a glass cannon. Every unit is deadly when positioned correctly, and dead when not. Modern optics and thermal sites and other gizmos make any move in the open a potential death sentence. In this kind of highly lethal environment, information becomes king. If you can see the enemy first, you can eliminate him without risking your own units. Unmanned drones are present in many missions, providing you with intel about whatever part of the battlefield you task them to observe. If you can get eyes on, say, an enemy APC holding an intersection, you can then drop a burst of precision artillery rounds directly on it and open a gap in the opposing defense. The same can happen to your units just as easily.

In a way, playing a battle in Black Sea can feel like something of a game of chess. This isn't a WW2 situation where you hurl an entire infantry company or two into a slugfest over a village, then roll in some tanks to provide extra firepower, and maybe throw in an artillery strike over a general area. This is a game where you carefully position each asset you have to maximize its potential, and hope it isn't blown up in an instant by some unseen foe.

The assets you have in Black Sea include many of the same units we saw in Shock Force, but with new bells and whistles to reflect a conflict a decade further into the future. For the United States, we have Abrams tanks, Bradley's, and Stryker's of all models. The Russians have T-72's and T-90's and of course a smorgasbord of BMP's, BTR's, and so on. The differences between these vehicles in Black Sea vs Shock Force reflect the nitty gritty details that make Combat Mission games shine. Depending on the exact model in question, many of these vehicles have better optics than they had in Shock Force. Some also have Active Protection Systems which can destroy incoming anti-tank rockets, giving these vehicles a fighting chance on the modern battlefield. Being aware of whether your vehicles are equipped with one of these systems or not is essential to forming a successful plan. Another easily overlooked difference from Shock Force is how the playing field has been leveled during night combat. In Shock Force, the Western forces ruled the night with their night vision equipped vehicles and infantry. Now everybody has some kind of night vision capabilities, although quality still varies. 

For better and ill, Black Sea is also still a very similar game to Shock Force and the other CM titles. The interface is exactly the same, which may be frustrating for some, but cozy enough for those already acclimated to it. Quick Battles against the AI are even more underwhelming here than in the WW2 titles, as the generic moves the AI makes in this mode tend to get their units wiped out. Performance with the engine continues to be a mixed bag. While it remains impressive that Battlefront can model a 1:1 battlefield with such exacting detail and at a realistic scope, the engine is just barely up to the task. The framerate can wildly swing as you move the camera around in medium to large scenarios, no matter how powerful your PC might be. Continued updates to the engine have improved things over the years and also made the game look nicer, but at this point I think we would all love to see a jump to something completely new. Hopefully the partnership with Matrix and additional funds from Steam sales will get them there.

The base game comes with 21 stand alone scenarios as well as a campaign for each faction, plus a training campaign. This will keep you busy for a quite a while, as most scenarios are difficult regardless of which side you play, and the campaigns even more so as you must keep your units alive to fight in battle after battle. If you want even more Black Sea, there is also the Battle Pack which adds a new campaign for the Russians and US Forces, along with 6 more stand alone scenarios. For only $10 it's a good amount of content that will keep you busy for hours. There are also a couple dozen user made scenarios and at least one campaign available over at The Scenario Depot that you can freely download.

If you are already a huge fan of Combat Mission, then Black Sea is an easy recommendation. The shift to a very modern battlefield really does make the game feel fresh as you must adjust your tactics to the high-tech, high-lethality reality of a conventional war between two major powers. If you've been putting off the purchase because you didn't like Battlefront's DRM policies of the past and messing with manual patches, well, there's no excuse now. With the game now on Steam, you are only one click away from having the most up to date version of the game on any computer, any time you want it. If you are new to the series and unsure about which game to purchase, remember that Battlefront is great about providing demos for every game. The demo for Black Sea includes a training scenario and two full scenarios from the game, more than enough to see what you are getting into.

Combat Mission: Black Sea is available on Steam, the Matrix Store, and directly from Battlefront.

- Joe Beard