Napoleon at Dresden: The Battles of August 1813 by George Nafziger   The 1813 campaign in Germany is probabl...

Napoleon at Dresden: The Battles of August 1813 by George Nafziger Napoleon at Dresden: The Battles of August 1813 by George Nafziger

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



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 The 1813 campaign in Germany is probably my favorite campaign to read about or wargame. I am also a big fan of the author George Nafziger. This is the second of a three volume series by him about the 1813 campaign. The first book is 'Lutzen and Bautzen: Napoleon's Spring Campaign of 1813'. You can see my review of the first book here:

 The book goes through four major battles of Dennewitz, Gross-Beeren, Dresden, and the Battle of the Katzbach. The smaller, but incredibly important Battle of Kulm is also described. Dr. Nafziger shows us how the Allies completely changed their strategy after the armistice that divided the two parts of the campaign. The Allies decided to swallow their pride and retreat if Napoleon himself was in command of the French troops in front of them. The Allies would then attack the other French Armies under one of Napoleon's Marshals. They neglected to follow this strategy at Dresden, and came close to losing the war along with that battle. 

 The author has added a large amount of paintings, portraits, and a plethora of maps. There are nineteen colored maps alone. There are two appendices, and the Order of Battle breakdown is a full sixty-six pages! The book itself is 258 pages long. The information inside is invaluable for a student of the campaign.

 The 1813 Campaign in Germany is full of missed chances on both sides, but especially on the French side. Dr. Nafziger fills his books with facts, figures, and deep insights into the moment of history he is describing. If you are looking for a book that is filled with personal accounts of the campaign, then look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a sweeping view of the campaign from strategic to tactical, this is your book. Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for letting me review this excellent book.

Robert

Publisher: Helion&Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Campaign of Nations by   Hollandspiele    It is the second half of the year 1813. Napoleon had won two battles ...

Campaign of Nations by Hollandspiele Campaign of Nations by Hollandspiele

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


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  It is the second half of the year 1813. Napoleon had won two battles earlier in the year, Lutzen and Bautzen. Both were empty victories for the French, having almost no cavalry. What cavalry they did have was mounted on any nag the French could find. The Allied had a large amount cavalry and they were well trained and mounted. Napoleon had agreed to armistice after Bautzen was fought. During that time the Prussians and Russians, with English money, had brought Austria and Sweden into the war. The Allies had also come up with a new plan: to run away like Monty Python from a battle with Napoleon, but to always keep moving forward in other areas and attack his Marshals. That is enough of the history. What about the game?



Counters

Rule Book



  I must admit up front that I am a fanatic about the 1813 campaign. Napoleon in Italy or Austerlitz, ho hum, but give me Lutzen, Bautzen, or Dresden and I am in wargaming heaven. So this game had better be good.


Cards

 Hollandspiele as a company has a policy of minimalism with its games. Not for lack of resources, it just seems to be their modus operandi. Designer John Theissen fits right into this way of thinking. I have played and reviewed his 'More Aggressive Attitudes', and it is a study in minimalism. To be a good wargame, you do not need to have a monster map and a thousand counters. What you need is a good background in the history of the campaign/battle and a rule book that reads well and makes sense. 


Victory Point Cards



 The game comes with:

  • 22" x 17" map
  • 88 counters
  • 27 Event Cards
  • 8-page rulebook
  • 1 six-sided die

 This is the sequence of play is:

1. Movement
2. Combat
3. Disruption Recovery
4. VP Check
 The French player always goes first.

 The Combat Phases are these:

1. Retreat Before Combat
2. Concentrate Forces
3. Reveal Combat Units
4. Coordination Check
5. Combat Odds Ratio
6. Combat Results Table Die Roll
7. Casualty Table Die Roll
8. Defensive Works Table Die Roll
9. Apply Results


Charts

CRT Etc.

 The Event Cards add some great flavor and turning points in the game. These events include:

Safe March 
Turns of Rest
Austrian Reorganization

 The game is won by winning battles, and by taking victory cities/hexes.

 The minimalism of Hollandspiele is noticeable in the map also. It is highly functional and easy to read, but is simple. The counters follow in the same vein. They are easy to read with NATO symbols, so the player has no trouble distinguishing them from one another.


Main Part Of The Map

 If the game is missing anything, it would be the first part of the 1813 campaign. The slightly different rules from the earlier game are to simulate Napoleonic Warfare. I believe that they work very well.  Playing as the French, you have to try and catch one of the enemy armies and destroy it and then the others. Playing as the Allies, stick and move until you can bring the French bear to tree. I have reviewed several Hollandspiele games, and to be truthful it is hard for me to pick a favorite. Going only by the content I think it might be this game, although Horse and Musket also grabs me because of the content. Thank you Hollandspiele for the chance to review another great game.

 This is the link to the Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era review: 
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2018/07/horse-and-musket-dawn-of-era-by.html

 This is a link to the 'More Aggressive Attitudes' review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2018/04/more-aggressive-attitudes-by.html

 These are both excellent games. More Aggressive Attitudes is about the campaign of Second Bull Run. Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era is a compilation of European battles from roughly 1690-1720. All of the favorites are here: Poltava (BOO), Narva (YAY), Malplaquet, Blenheim, and many others. Hollandspiele is a small company whose games are very good and they are also priced well. So, do yourself a favor and look them up. Their catalog is growing all the time.

Robert




The First Day on the Eastern Front: Germany Invades the Soviet Union June 22,19 41  by Craig W. H. Luther   J...

The First Day on the Eastern Front: Germany Invades the Soviet Union June 22,1941 by Craig W. H. Luther The First Day on the Eastern Front: Germany Invades the Soviet Union June 22,1941 by Craig W. H. Luther

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




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 June 22nd 1941; Hitler said of this day "the world will hold it's breath". This book is entirely about one day during World War II. This was probably the most decisive day of the war. Hitler's decision to attack the Soviet Union sealed his and the 1000 year Reich's fate, although at times during Barbarossa it seemed like the Germans were close to victory.

 The book starts with Hitler making his decision to attack the Soviet Union. It continues with the planning behind Barbarossa. The author shows that there was a fundamental difference in the thinking of Hitler and his General Staff. The General Staff's plan was always based on taking Moscow and then finishing the other operations. Hitler, however, had no interest in taking Moscow. He wanted to take Leningrad and the resources of Southern Russia. His thinking was to link up with Finland, but mostly he needed the oil and ores of Southern Russia.

 The author has filled the book with everything he could: facts, figures, and maps galore. From the build up of the German Army on the Russian (right under the Soviets' noses) frontier to the unleashing of Barbarossa, the book brings you all of the background and information you would want. It also has a good number of photos showing the action, troops, and military hardware during that fateful first day.

 The story of all three German Army Groups are shown (North, Center, and South). It also shows the day from the Soviet side as well. From the outside, it seemed that the Germans had the day all their way. However, there were signs that showed how brutal and difficult this invasion was going to be for the Germans.

 The book covers all of the ground from the highest strategy of the attack to the tactics used by the combatants. The book is interspersed with first person accounts of the fighting as well. The book is separated into the planning, and then has chapters on the actual fighting taking place within all three German Army Groups' territory. It then goes into the Air War. The next chapter goes into the different thoughts and actions taken by both High Commands after the first day. The author shows, through their letters etc., that the simple German soldiers already knew on this first day that their war was now different. The savagery and brutality of the Eastern front was apparent to all even during the first twenty-four hours.

 The book comes with numerous appendices and copious notes. It shows the war in the air, and on the ground. I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the military history of the Eastern Front. Thank you Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group for the chance to review this excellent and well written book.

Robert

Publisher: Stackpole Books

Battle of Korsun by Yobowargames  Let us set the scene. It is 1944, and there is a German group of troops in an expose...

Battle for Korsun by Yobowargames Battle for Korsun by Yobowargames

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

Battle of Korsun

by

Yobowargames





 Let us set the scene. It is 1944, and there is a German group of troops in an exposed position in Russia. The Russians are smelling blood, and intend to cut off a large group of Germans. The 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts were tasked with cutting off an exposed group of German soldiers that were part of Army Group South. The whole debacle was engineered by Hitler's refusal to ever voluntarily give up a yard of ground in Russia, even if it meant whole armies would be sent to Siberia. By 1944, the Russians couldn't have had a better ally than him. Your job as the German player is to get out of Dodge. As the Russian player you are tasked with bagging the entire German force.

 So, let us now look at the game. First, it is a turn-based strategy game with each turn equal to one day. The version I played was on a PC on Steam, however, you can also play it on a MAC, IOS or Android. You can play only as the German player if you want to play against an AI. You can also play by email or hotseat. Now, back to the AI. It plays brutally with a capital 'B'. The Russian AI gets the first move against your forces in the western part of the map. When I say move, it is a euphemism for the destruction and devouring of your units. The AI also will go for the jugular and try for as deep a penetration as they can with their armor units. Your first look at the map after the Russian turn as the Germans will probably tempt you to end the game and shut down the computer. Just like Ronco, just wait there's more. After you try and move your forces away from the Russian tide, you will notice that you cannot move any of your units on the Eastern side of the map (unless you read the rules). So you have to endure a second bloodletting, usually as bad as the first. So, after two Russian moves your tattered forces are left to try and defend themselves and keep a line of supply open to the Southern part of the map. I have never juggled chainsaws, but I have seen it done and the task given you is almost as hard. Lance Craner is the person behind the game and he should either be congratulated or put away in a locked room. His sadistic tendencies toward we helpless gamers should not be overlooked by other game companies or the authorities. 


First Bloodletting


 The game is simple. There are no air units, and no supply to worry about, other than the German side keeping an open one to the South. The only real addition to the game is the effect of weather on movement, and it is just as deadly as the combat. Unless you want to play the Germans as salmon swimming upstream in molasses, KEEP YOUR UNITS NEAR ROADS. I also suggest that you keep whatever fetish you have around the house close at hand, be it a rabbit's foot or whatever.

 I have to apologize to Yobowargames. I did not like this game at first. No, I will rephrase this, I loathed it. I actually thought to myself after losing the second time, that I would rather go to the dentist than play this again. At least he has good meds, even if they do wear off. So, I did not play the game again for a long time. I was actually going to pay them for the review copy and be done with it. I finally forced myself to fire it up again. Did I enjoy playing as the Germans? No I still don't enjoy it because I am not a masochist. However, I can now appreciate the work and give kudos to how historically real this game is. In reality, some German units did make it out, but pretty much with only the clothes on their backs. The game truly represents the terrible position that the Germans were forced into.

 The game also has some other things up its sleeve. It is so simple that it is a great way to introduce newbs into the hobby. The game itself goes for $15 US on Steam, so it is also easy on the wallet. While you are there check out Yobowargames first game 'Kursk - Battle at Prochorovka'. They also have a tactical World War II game that is going to go into early access soon: 'Valor & Victory'.

Robert

Reynard  By Hyper Fox Studios There's one thing I love about indie games, they delve into the world of old school graphics and a...

Reynard Reynard

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

Reynard By Hyper Fox Studios



There's one thing I love about indie games, they delve into the world of old school graphics and aren't defined by the stunningly realistic mainstream games that we are all used to in this modern age. Reynard will give you a nostalgic trip back to the past with it's 32-bit game style and Legend of Zelda feel, this RPG/Dungeon Crawler isn't one to miss out on. 

You play as a little fox and when you first start the game you're greeted by his friend Hammlet who helps you through the tutorial (he's is a pig if you haven't already noticed the pun in the name) and he helps you find the ropes with his sarcastic but lovable dialogue. After you complete the tutorial at the start, Hammlet's wife Prascilla is kidnapped and all he seemingly wants you to do is go and save her, as every time you talk to him this is all he mentions. 




This game is filled with little secrets from the developers of the game. A lot of RPGs do this quite subtly by using a 4th wall break, however the developers and all of the team at Hyper Fox Studios decided to do it in a simple way. They placed a book inside your characters house, that is filled with the developers names, kind of like the credits at the end of the game, but this is a charming way to do it and it's great for RPG fans who love to roam around finding easter eggs or finding hidden secrets that have nothing to do with the story. 

The dungeon crawler aspect of this indie title is pretty much the same as most games with a similar sort of story and mechanics. However using the keyboard to move and shoot enemies with your arrows can be quite tricky if you haven't got the timing right, as they tend to come at you quite fast and it's easy to die in the dungeon if you're not paying attention.
There's plenty of things for you to destroy in the dungeon besides enemies, you can destroy pots (this reminded me of The Legend of Zelda a lot) which then reveal health items or other items you might find useful on your travels.





The music in this game is almost hypnotic, it's quite relaxing which is ironic considering it's all about searching dungeons, however it still fits in with the game completely. It can get a little tedious at times when it's played on a loop but it's a great soundtrack for the game nevertheless.

You really have to learn some tactics in the dungeons because sometimes when you go into the next room it can be filled with monsters and other times there's none at all (from the dungeons i've encountered in the game, it's filled with giant rats who just want to kill you). I find it funny the main character is a fox, because it's this cute little animal going off to save other animals/creatures. However, he's so distinctive in his role and you don't see very many 32 bit style dungeon crawlers with the main character being a fox, it just feels right. 

If you're someone who loves collecting, searching continuously, or is just a fan of RPGs then this is the game for you. Reynard is available to buy now on Steam.








Mage Knight needs no introduction as it has topped many 'best of' lists since its release in 2011. It has consistently been vo...

Mage Knight Ultimate Edition Mage Knight Ultimate Edition

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


Mage Knight needs no introduction as it has topped many 'best of' lists since its release in 2011. It has consistently been voted the best solo game of all time and it is a game that was on my grail list of games to learn and play. This is Mage Knight Ultimate Edition which includes all of the expansions and additionally 5 extra cards on top of what has already been released.

You can view my unboxing video of this monster-sized box below: 



If you're not familiar, players take on the role of a titular 'Mage Knight' as they explore a fantasy realm, fighting monsters, looting artefacts, pillaging monasteries and besieging cities. The 'realm' is an unknown quantity before you start exploring and your knight will encounter a plethora of fantasy tropes during their quest. There are a total of 18 different scenarios in the Ultimate Edition, 11 from the base game and the remainder from the expansions. The goal of each game is to achieve the scenario specific objectives before time runs out. 'Time' is tracked by a day/night cycle of no more than 3 rounds which initially feels very restrictive. Each scenario can be played competitively, cooperatively or solo, some would argue it's best at one player (I think I'm in that camp too).  Your character will level up, gain abilities as they defeat monsters and interact with villagers and mages throughout the land which hopefully has prepared you enough to take on a city.
Arythea starting her journey

Gameplay

Once you're familiar with the rules, the game can be reduced to a brain-burning exploration puzzle with generous helpings of high-fantasy. It has a reputation for being a very heavy and complex game but I think this is unfair. I read the majority of the 'Learn to Play' booklet and then watched Ricky Royals excellent playthrough videos which completely prepared me to tackle the introductory scenario, First Reconnaissance. The core system of the game is not hard to learn, the complexity comes from a lot of specific rules for each type of monster, site, or terrain tiles, which will also change from day to night.  However these specific rules breath thematic life into this optimisation puzzle of a game.
Rules(s) books
Each day or night round will start by rolling a pool of mana dice and drawing an initiative card to determine which player goes first. There will probably be some bonus as well described on the card to make the choice of initiative card a little harder instead of 'I want to go first I'll pick number 1', number 6 (the highest initiative card has the greatest bonus. The role of mana dice locks those dice to one of 6 different colours of mana, which can be used once per turn by any knight to power their Deed Cards. After a mana dice is used like this it gets re-rolled back into the pool. Despite the rolls being random, the mana dice really requires a level of skill to use optimally, the best play will nearly always involve at least one mana dice, but finding the best use of mana can be tricky.

The game, or your knight's actions throughout the land, is primarily driven by the Deed Cards that you play. Each card has two effects and when played, affords your knight a certain number of points in either move, influence or combat attributes. These points are then available for your character to spend by performing the associated movement and/or action once per turn. All cards can be imbued with mana which allows for the more powerful effect of the card to be played. Any cards played are discarded at the end of your turn and you will draw up a new hand so that you can start planning your next go whilst your opponent is taking their turn.  I can understand why people say this game is the best solo; with multiple players, there is often a lot of downtime, or conversely too much pressure to move when you're searching (often in vain) for better actions.
The first City is revealed
As you generate points from the cards you can explore new terrain tiles. Each hexagonal-shaped tile has a variety of terrain types on it from countryside to mountain and forests to deserts, both of which have different movement costs during the day and night time. It's little tweaks like this, littered throughout the game, that makes this game notoriously complex. However, I didn't find one 'tweak' that didn't logically fit or feel thematically correct. For example, moving through a forest is much harder at night and moving through a desert during the night is much easier. I don't have personal experience of the latter but I've read enough books to have been told that many times.

As you reveal a new tile you will place tokens corresponding to any icons in terrains spaces. At the end of your move, you may be able to interact with whatever token is in the terrain space you've stopped at. Again each site has their own specific rules however you'll primarily be attempting to generate enough influence points to hire some units to aid you in your quest. Of course, there are many other options available to you which all depend on what type of token you've stopped at. You can plunder, attack, recruit, buy spells, train etc. etc. The list is fairly comprehensive and because of the number of different options you have, not just in token interaction, but route choices, ability options when you level up and combat actions, the optimal path can be hard to find.
Random components
Often, the tokens you place onto the board will be monsters, or interacting at sites will cause monsters to spawn. The base game has a large array of different monsters from several different monster types. the most common are the orcs on green tokens. However, The three included expansions add an almost bewildering amount of stuff for the new player. If you are a new player coming into the game with this version as your starting point, for the sake of your own sanity, please only play with the base game for your first foray or two. Tokens can cause multiple enemies to spawn or a conjurer who will summon even more monsters to attack in their stead. It's never a nice feeling to face three enemy spawns when you were hoping for an artefact from a dungeon. 
Ultimate Edition cards
The combat system of this game is ingenious. It took me several games to get my head around it, especially as with your first game or two you're not going to see the more advanced enemies with a variety of combat-effecting attributes. Each time your turn ends on a space with a monster you will fight. If you don't defeat them straight away, i.e after one round of combat, you will take wounds into your hand and withdraw. It is a rather binary affair, you've got one chance to generate enough block and attack points to defeat them else you lose the combat. The points are generated in exactly the same way as movement or influence points are, but it is the careful use of mana tokens, crystals and mana dice (yes there are three sources of mana to juggle) which will allow you to be successful. Each fight will start with a Ranged Attack in which you will get a chance to attack the enemy. These attack points aren't that common on your starting cards and without additional units to play this is not likely to succeed. Next, the enemy attacks the knight, which can be blocked using generated block points. If the enemies' attack is not blocked your knight will take wound cards depending on the strength of the attack and their armour. After you've blocked the enemies attack, it is finally your chance to kill the enemy. If you can generate enough attack points to defeat their armour, congratulate yourself. You've just gained some fame and maybe some influence with the local population.

Wolfhawk versus a Minotaur
There are, of course, a multitude of different attributes that can affect the simplistic combat described above but generally they all work on the concept of doubling or halving the required attack or block points. The rules call this 'efficiency' if your block is efficient against the type of enemy attack, e.g. a cold block is efficient against a fire attack, (makes sense right?) your block points are applied fully. If your block is inefficient you will need to generate double the number of block points to have the same effect. Again there are a lot of different combat attributes that use a similar mechanism, e.g. swift attacks need twice the amount of block to be defended against, which to my mind is efficiency re-skinned. If you can get your head around efficiency any combat will be a doddle, to resolve if not to be successful!

As you defeat enemies and level up, more powerful abilities and spells will be available to you. If you're really good/lucky you'll maybe get a powerful artefact. However, during the course of any one game, you'll only see a small, if not tiny, selection of all the possible cards that you could have. There is a tremendous amount of replayability. It is this replayability that reminded me of Magic Realm, in scope if not depth, however, this is still dwarfed by that much older game.  No other game (that I've played) comes as close to the breadth and depth of Magic Realm as does this. Any game that evokes Magic Realm in any aspect is doing alright in my book.


A very special version of Magic Realm
The rules necessarily allow players to take back their moves up until something had been newly discovered. What this means is that your turns will be littered with indecision and doubt as you stumble to make the right choice and you'll redo and redo a turn to find a route that works. If you like min/maxing, or suffer from Analysis Paralysis then this could just be the best cathartic game to gorge on your idecision; however please do it solo. The time between turns can stretch out to be loooong affairs when playing with just one other person, let alone one that enjoys AP. The box states 1-4 players, however, my patience is exhausted at 3 players and I've not even tried it at 4. *shudder* 

Components

Let me get this off my chest, the box is massive, it's far too big and I'm almost considering ditching it. It takes up an inordinate amount of space on your shelves and there is no reason for it to be so big. there is a good 3 cm empty space at the top of the box.
Let's crush it
The insert is perfect if all you want to do is transport the game to a buyer undamaged; for anything else i.e. playing the game, it is terrible. It falls far short of being useful and I have already ditched it in favour of plastic bags and elastic bands.  Wizkids have attempted to provide afunctional insert, there are card slots for individual decks and spaces for the dice etc. but the tokens are all in the same slots which is less than helpful considering the setup time of this game. A third-party insert is almost a must although none are on the market as of Jan 2019 - I am attempting to design my own.
Bottom layer revealed
There is a dizzying amount of content when you throw the base game and all expansions in together. We are spoilt with games offering 50+ scenarios in the box (Gloomhaven et al) and I think the vast majority of scenarios go unplayed in those games; at least by me and my game groups. Mage Knight (the base game) has 11 scenarios but the re-playability is off the scale. The terrain will be different the encountered monsters will be different, as will be the spells, abilities and artifcats that you collect. I would rather have replayablility with a wide variety of content than lots of different scenarios using the same content.
Knights and Citys
The miniatures come painted, and as someone who enjoys painting minis to quite a good standard, the quality is terrible. However, as someone with limited time to paint minis I am very grateful that they come pre-painted at-all and they're certainly good enough to get the job done, i.e. look good on the table. A factory paint-job will never match the quality or time that a hobbyist can put into their own miniatures so they get a thumbs-up from me.
The one standout area of the games' artwork and design is in the cards. Each card has unique artwork that is evocative of the card's effect and beautifully drawn to a similar quality of a Collectible Card Game. The rest of the tokens and terrain are fairly generic but it gets the job done and, more importantly, clearly conveys all necessary information (once you're familiar with all of the icons).

Criticisms

Huge unnecessary box.
Insert doesn't help a long game set up and is actively keeping me from playing more.
Long time between turns when playing multiplayer.

Conclusions

This game wont be for everyone, but I couldn't do anything but recommend it to every gamer I know. It presents players with so many different and difficult decisions every single turn and the pressure to advance is constant; the first turn is as important as the last. It never feels unbalanced and I always have a niggling doubt that I could have played a hand better. There is no right way to play, but there certainly is a variety of good ways to play. I wonder if the best plays will still be elusive after 20 plays. I still dread going up against a city or even delving into a dungeon. But the challenge is always rewarding and this is one game where I come away thinking about the next time or things I could have done better.
Ignore the ruins, the red City beckons, Fire Dragon needs dealing with first...great game.
I prefer this game solo, or at most with 2 experienced players (I now include myself in that bracket...), playing cooperatively. I tried it with three and I've tried it competitively and it was not as much fun for me. I lost heavily when I was playing competitively but I'd like to think that doesn't sway my opinion (much), I just found the down time untenable and the disappointment of being outwitted by another player quite unpleasant. Which is strange, beacuse normally I don't care whether I win or lose a game I just like to play. 

I enjoy playing and regularly losing at chess, but that doesn't bother me at all. Chess is an abstract that doesn't tell me a story like Mage Knight does. I am invested with the story in Mage Knight. I want my knight to succeed and defeat all the things. A game that conveys a story without presenting you with a written narrative is doing something right in my book. Mage Knight has that quality in spades, the mechanics tell a story, a good story story at that, and that is what is going to keep me coming back to Mage Knight as often as I can; just as soon as I can make a different insert.

38cm Sturmtiger   by   Cobi       This is the historical background to Cobi's magnificent Sturmtiger model. During t...

38cm Sturmtiger by Cobi 38cm Sturmtiger by Cobi

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

38cm Sturmtiger

 

by

 

Cobi

  

  This is the historical background to Cobi's magnificent Sturmtiger model. During the battle of Stalingrad the German Army realized they needed a large caliber weapon in a panzer body. This was for the destruction of bunkers and houses, etc. They first came up with the Sturmpanzer. This was called the 'Stupa' by the Germans and Brummbar (grouch or sorehead) by the Allies. It was a 150mm gun on the rebuilt body of a Panzer III.

 

 


 The Stupa worked relatively well in its role. The Germans, thinking the way they did in World War II, thought that bigger is better. So someone came up with the idea of making a Tiger tank with an absolutely large rocket weapon. The weapon was adapted from a 380mm (15") depth-charge launcher used by the Kriegemarine. There were only eighteen of these made. Most were just lost to the Allies during the retreat of the Germans at the end of the war. There is one uncorroborated story of a Sturmtiger destroying a few Sherman tanks and their crews with one shot in the battle for the Remagen bridge.




 For some reason, I have always been incredibly intrigued by these vehicles. For that reason I have been dying to build this kit from Cobi. I was incredibly lucky to have Cobi send me three kits for review. Then they sent me a stupendous kit: the Panzer VII 'Maus'. All of the kits were very well done and I greatly enjoyed building them. However, the Maus was absolutely outstanding. I like it much better than the plastic model I built of the Maus.

 This is the link to the first review of Cobi kits I did:

This is the link to my review of the Maus:

 As I have mentioned before, building these kits actually make me feel better than building a plastic model. I do like building plastic models, but they are sometimes maddening depending on the kit or the company making it. I also am totally useless at painting the completed models. I have tried and tried, but always make a total mess of it. So with Cobi kits I know that they will always fit together, and the bricks are colored so I have no anxiety about building them and can just enjoy it.




 This kit is exactly what I was hoping it would be. It is an excellent model of a Sturmtiger. It even comes with a rocket for the weapon and the crane that was needed to load the weapon.




 The build took about four hours split between two different days. I took it slow and enjoyed every minute of the build. Just as a helpful hint, keep a Jeweler's flat screwdriver around just in case you mess up like I do. The Cobi blocks lock together so tightly that it is difficult to get them apart. The other kits that   I have built had no problem at all staying together.




 Cobi has taken it's kits from tanks, planes, and guns to now include even battleships. They now have kits of the Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Warspite. I also have seen that they will be releasing these three: the Iowa, Musashi, and Yamato. Each day it seems that Cobi is releasing something new.

 





  I can absolutely recommend this Sturmtiger kit to anyone who is interested in this weapon or has an interest in World War II vehicles. I had a blast building the kit and now it has a place of pride in my collection. The Cobi kits just seem to get better and better. One can only hope that they will be releasing a 'Dora' or maybe even the mighty 'Gustav'.


Robert

Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games   Columbia Games touts itself as 'the home of block wargami...

Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games

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



by







 
Columbia Games touts itself as 'the home of block wargaming'. With the amount of games and how long they have been producing them, who am I to argue? I have reviewed two of their games so far: 'Julius Caesar' and 'Combat Infantry'. Julius Caesar is a good game, and it has a large following. However, I think Combat Infantry is a great game and a blast to play. So, they were kind enough to send me the second edition of 'Pacific Victory'. I never played the first edition, so I cannot compare the two. I will look online and see other people's comparison and see if there are any good or bad things that there are a consensus about.

 So first let us look at what comes with the game:
  • Large 9 panel mapboard
  • 2 sets Rules v2.5, in color with improved balance and victory conditions
  • 8 6-sided dice
  • 132 wood blocks plus some replacements in four (4) colors:
    • orange: IJN, 66 blocks;
    • blue: US, 39;
    • brown: British, Indian, ANZAC, 17;
    • yellow: China, 10.
  • Block artwork is new.

 The game also comes with two rule books, which is an excellent idea. Now two gamers can read their own copy, so you do not have to waste your time copying the rule book. More games should do this.


Back Of The Box

 There is a campaign game and these are the additional scenarios:

1941: Rising Sun - 4 hour playing time
1942: High Noon - 3 hour playing time
1943: Setting Sun - 2 hour playing time

 The victory conditions are:
Pacific Victory is played until one
player gains a Decisive Victory, or until
completion of the Jun/45 Turn. At this
time, the Japanese player totals Victory
Points (VPs) and consults the table below:
JVPs Victory Level TPs
25+ Japanese Decisive 3
16–24 Japanese Victory ('45) 2
13-15 Stalemate ('45) 1/1
6-12 Allied Victory ('45) 2
0-5 Allied Decisive 3
Victory Points are equal to supplied
Production Points.
Tourney Points (TPs) can be used to
compare game results. 


Map


 The game also comes with nine different optional rules. Some of these are:

Banzai: 
 Japanese individual Infantry or Marine units can declare a Banzai attack. This increases the unit's firepower for one fire against a target unit. But the unit is eliminated unless it eliminates the target unit.
Fanatic Defense:
  Japanese Infantry or Marines have D2  defending any minor base, but cannot retreat.
ASW:
 Submarines become their own target
group. They can be attacked only by
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) combat.
Allied naval units (except CV) have ASW
firepower of N2 and the Japanese have
N1. The firepower of Air units, Carriers,
and Submarines are unchanged.

 The game also covers the entire Pacific War. The game does come with rules so that the Chinese part of the war is removed. This makes for a quicker game.

Stickers

 The map is large, and is relatively simple looking. However, this approach works well for the game. It is easy to read and figure out the different terrain. The large amount of blocks to sticker might be a problem for some people. I lucked out and lassoed my daughter into helping me. The stickers are very good looking. They  are also simple without any great embellishment. The blocks are the standard size, so they are easy to read and see at a glance what units you have where.



Map Closeup

 Each unit is marked with an  A,B,CD, or E. These represent where during a combat round a unit attacks. A goes first etc. If both sides have the same letter in the combat round, the defender attacks first. Battles can be fought for a maximum of three combat rounds. During a combat round a unit can either fire/attack or retreat. The blocks, as usual, are marked with dots on each side to show their strength at that moment. The number of dots also represents the number of die that the unit can roll during firing. In the lower right hand of the stickers is a list of numbers, for example  1-2-3. This corresponds to the die roll an enemy would have to roll for a hit. The numbers 1-2-3 would equal the die roll for attack by an Air, Naval, or Ground unit, A/N/G in the rule book.



Back Of The Rule Book

 I have played some monster games on the Pacific War. I have also played some much smaller and simpler ones that played very quickly. I would place this game in the middle of these two types of games. This game is able to be played in one gaming session, but it is also deep enough to keep players coming back for more. I am not a fan of light 'beer and pretzels' games. So be assured this is not one of them. The only real disagreement I would have with the designer (Tom Dalgliesh) is the choice of units and unit strengths. The battles are quickly played out in the game. So, you might even be able to get two games in on gaming night. This is a good game in that while it doesn't try to be a simulation of the Pacific War is still a good fun game for players. 



Counters Closeup

 As far as it being the Second Edition (with 2.5 version rules), people seem to only have good things to say about it compared to the first version. It has larger map, more leaders, and overall the rules have been tweaked to be even better.Thanks again to Columbia Games for letting me review this game. Now, get to work on the Eastern Front for Combat Infantry.

Robert

Among the multitude of Warhammer 40k games that have swarmed across gamers’ PC’s the last couple of years, only a few really stood...

Gladius - Relics of War: Tyranids DLC Gladius - Relics of War: Tyranids DLC

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



Among the multitude of Warhammer 40k games that have swarmed across gamers’ PC’s the last couple of years, only a few really stood out as interesting uses of the license. One of my favorites from last year was Gladius: Relics of War. This 40k take on the 4x genre was a streamlined and fast paced rendition of the classic 4X formula. Diplomacy was completely tossed out the window in favor of a massive roster of units, each with their own distinct tactical uses. If you aren’t familiar with the game at all, check out my review here for all the details. Now we have the first new faction DLC for the game, bringing an alien horde perfectly suited to the battlefields of Gladius: the Tyranids. While the DLC doesn’t change the overall structure of the game much, the Tyranids come with their own set of unique mechanics that are a masterclass in matching theme and gameplay.

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably familiar with the Tyranids already. These are the Zerg of the 40k world. Giant, nightmarish swarms of monsters that resemble a varied assortment of giant space bug dinosaur things. They’re all teeth and claws, plasma launchers and acid blood, controlled by a mind hive consciousness and numbering in the trillions. They feel no fear, no remorse, and only desire one thing: to consume all biological life everywhere they go. Sounds like some great new neighbors, right?




While the Tyranids have a number of fearsome and deadly units in their arsenal, they actually begin the game quite weak. The lower tier Tyranid units are cheap and many are fast, but they can’t venture too far by themselves. Remember that part about being controlled by a hive mind? Not all of the Tyranid units have a direct “synaptic link” to the hive. Every turn spent out of direct contact with the hive causes these units to lose health and they can even become feral if detached too long, causing the player to lose control of them. This means that you must keep a more powerful unit around that can act as a relay for the hive mind. I really liked how this forced you to make some tough tactical considerations. Use your big bads to spearhead an offensive, and you risk their destruction. Losing your link to the hive could cause an offensive push to completely disintegrate. Playing as the Tyranids involves a lot of expansion and contraction of your forces. Send some fast scouts out for reconnaissance, quickly pull them back to a synaptic linked unit, then concentrate your forces and move towards whatever goal you have in mind (i.e. consuming everything in your path). This makes playing the Tyranids tactically distinct from other factions. Each group of weaker units needs a synaptic unit as the core of their group, and they must all move together to be fully effective. Compare this with the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) who’s lowliest unit of guardsmen can at least be stationed alone in some remote corner of the map to watch over a flank. For the Tyranids, a grouping of units is almost always necessary for any task. The Tyranids do not hold ground very well, they must always be on the move in one direction or the other.



On the strategic level, the Tyranids have some distinct differences as well. Resources have been distilled down to just two things, biomass and influence. Biomass is the organic matter that the Tyranids melt down and turn into all of their fearsome creatures and buildings. You get this by stripping the land bare and building up certain base structures. Unsurprisingly, you always need more, more, more. You can also reclaim some biomass by bringing units back to base to be tossed back into the bubbling goo. While this sounds like a minor gimmick, it’s actually entirely necessary for smoothly switching gears between one tier of units and the next when you are running tight on resources. A situation I found myself in several times.

The other resource important for Tyranid strategy is influence. This is used to power many buildings and some key special abilities. You can burn through a lot of influence in a hurry by scooping up extra biomass anywhere on the map with the Malanthrope unit, or to keep units under control longer when they are away from the hive mind. Having just the two key resources for all of your production and abilities may sound simple, but it actually creates an interesting economic situation where you are constantly balancing one with the other, while trying not to simultaneously run out of both.

A great touch to the game is how the Tyranids actually change the appearance of the map around them as the game progresses. The expansion of your hives and the special ability of the Malanthropes literally strips the planet to the bedrock, removing all vegetation and any trace of life one hex at a time. Gladius isn't all that pretty to begin with, and the Tyranids do their best to make it look even worse.




Like the other factions, the Tyranids have a tech tree mostly focused on unlocking new units and then bigger and badder upgrades for them. You can choose to spread research around to give yourself a lot of options, or focus on upgrading one particular line of units quickly. I really liked the variety of units offered for the Tyranids. You of course have hulking monstrosities that you can load up with tons of weapons, but there are also incredibly fast units for hit-and-run tactics, a stealth unit, and a hero that can allow you to move units around underground. All of these options, with the general mix of units between cannon fodder infantry and the big stuff that could startle a Space Marine, give the Tyranids a great roster to choose your army from.

While the Tyranids may sound like an unstoppable faction ready to swarm over everyone else on Gladius, they are actually rated “Hard” (along with the Imperial Guard faction) and this was no lie. My first run at the game on normal difficulty ended with my being overwhelmed by two enemy factions and some neutral units at the same time. This was mostly my fault for trying to spread out too far, too fast. On my second run I took the difficulty down a notch to Easy. Around turn 200 I’m still alive, but it’s been a struggle most of the way. The enemy AI pulls no punches and the world itself is hostile to your presence.

Look at all that lovely biomass, ready to be consumed.


Lastly, I wanted to touch on the updates to Gladius overall since launch in July last year. A long series of small updates and tweaks has really polished what was already a solid experience. The most impressive is the enemy AI, which for me presented a serious challenge. In a big name 4X series which uses the same sort of hex-based combat and rhymes with Bivilaration, it has long been a common sight to see an AI make bone-headed moves with their units and waste them on futile attacks while marching right past much easier targets. Not so in Gladius. Here the enemy forces will swarm out of the fog of war if you venture near their territory, only to immediately pull back if you are able to heavily outnumber them. Enemy units routinely scout the edges of your territory, snapping up undefended strategic resource locations and prodding deeper where they can. The enemy will give battle when they have a large enough force, and then reinforce or retreat as the fight goes one way or the other. It was rare to get an easy kill on an enemy unit without extending your own forces into the no-man’s-land.


The Imperial Guard won't go down as easily as you might imagine.

As you can tell from my review, I really like the Tyranids expansion for Gladius. While the game has a had a couple small DLC since launch, this is the first addition of an entire faction and it has set the bar very high. The matching of theme and gameplay mechanics is top-notch and makes the Tyranids a fresh experience even for veterans of the game. I imagine we are guaranteed to see more factions added over time, and I hope they are all done this well.

-Joe Beard

Gladius: Tyranids is available directly from Slitherine and on Steam/GoG
Developer: Proxy Studios
Publisher: Slitherine