Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came ou...

Command: Desert Storm Command: Desert Storm

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


Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came out back in 2013.(How the time flies!). Like other such mission packs for CMANO, Desert Storm can either be purchased as an addition to your CMANO library, or can stand on its own if you have not yet purchased the core game. I'll go ahead and say right now, this is not the best way to dip your toe in the CMANO waters if you have not yet tried the system. Desert Storm is going to appeal far more to the seasoned player by offering an interesting set of 15 large scenarios. If you aren't familiar at all with CMANO, you might want to start with my review of Shifting Sands, one of the previous DLC mission packs, where I wrote about the core game quite a bit. Or just hop on over to YouTube and find some gameplay videos. You'll quickly see the kind of gameplay you're getting here.


What makes the Persian Gulf War interesting enough to justify an entire DLC pack? The original CMANO release even includes a pretty substantial Gulf War scenario, why add on a whole pack of them? I wasn't so sure myself until read through the scenario mission briefings, which provide some great insight into all the different aspects of the campaign. While we can all look back and remember the end of the story, how Western air power absolutely crushed the Iraqi military, at the time no one was quite so sure how it would turn out. The United States had not conducted a military operation anywhere near this scale since Vietnam. The Iraqi's had Soviet aircraft and tanks that were aging but still dangerous, and an army full of veterans from the Iran-Iraq War. Would all the advanced technology of the United States prove itself useful or a waste of money? Well, we know the answer to that. The Gulf War brought conventional warfare into a new age. One in which control of the skies meant complete control of the battlefield. Laser guided bombs dropped from stealth bombers and fighter jets could easily knock out one Iraqi tank after another. Bunker busting bombs could crack open hardened aircraft hangers thought to be impregnable. Iraq's vast network of SAM sites and aircraft radars could be picked apart by highly coordinated coalition aircraft. The entire paradigm of conventional warfare has been changed ever since. Command: Desert Storm gives you a chance to take on the role of mission planner and recreate (well, try your best anyway) the massive success that was achieved.


There are 14 Gulf War scenarios here, most historical, with a few hypotheticals thrown in. There is also a hypothetical 2019 Israel vs Iran scenario thrown in there to offer buyers a little of something different to round out the package. Players may be disappointed to learn that there is not a monster scenario of the entire conflict, nor is this a dynamic campaign or a chronological series of scenarios telling a narrative. These scenarios instead offer a smaller chunks of the conflict, highlighting one interesting aspect of the war in each case. There is a mission for hunting down the SCUD launchers, another for targeting the suspected chemical weapons. There is a mission recreating the "Highway of Death" stage of the battle in which you have control over at least 200 aircraft, I couldn't even count them all. While most of the missions are almost exclusively air campaigns (with a carrier group or two around as a base of operations), there is one mission where you are maneuvering some naval assets around the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting just how strategic that bit of geography can be for all involved and another that features the naval battle of Bubiyan. There's are no ground battles, as you might have hoped from the theater depicted. A few divisions make an appearance, but if you're doing your job right they'll never get a chance to shoot anything.



I found the very first scenario especially interesting in its choice of topic. That is the initial shifting of assets from other places to the Gulf. You might be thinking, how hard could it be to move some units around? Well, it ends up being quite the logistical dance when you are trying to rapidly move dozens of aircraft from all over the globe, even from the US itself, to the Middle East, while the situation on the ground continues to develop. Tankers need to be stationed along the routes, and vulnerable aircraft still need escorts since you don't know when hostilities might break out. The whole time while playing I was imagining how this played out in real life. 

I was also a fan of how some of the hypothetical scenarios can bring Iran into the war. You don't know exactly when or if they will strike, and due to the geography of the gulf you can't avoid getting uncomfortably close to their shores. There are also civilian and Soviet units out there, so you can't just lash out at every sensor contact. It makes for some tense moments, as this uncertainty creates a fog of war even in the age of long range radar. 

Taken all together, the scenarios available here give you a picture of each stage of the war roughly in sequence. The rapid logistical buildup, the first night of bombings, the scramble to take out SCUD launchers and chemical weapons, and the large scale air campaigns which decisively won the war for the coalition. The hypothetical scenarios let you take a stab at many of the what-ifs and offer a greater challenge than the strictly historical pieces.

The Marines are on the way, but will there be anything for them to fight when they get there?

There's not much more to say that wouldn't involve simply describing each of the scenarios. This is a DLC pack that gives you exactly what it says on the box. 15 new scenarios, of high quality, with a mix of hypothetical and historical events.  If you are looking to take a deep dive into the Persian Gulf War, this is the pack for you. $20 will get you many hours of gameplay, as all of the missions are on the bigger, more complex end of the spectrum, some especially so. As I mentioned before, newbies are probably better off grabbing the Northern Inferno pack if they are looking for a taste of what CMANO can offer. For veteran CMANO players just itching for some new scenarios to test their skills on, this is an easy recommendation.

- Joe Beard

Command: Desert Storm is available either directly from Matrix Games/Slitherine or on Steam.






Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games     Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ev...

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games

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


by





 

  Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ever thought; who knew? We hex and counter guys thought we had the wargame world to ourselves for many years. Block wargames are generally not considered to be that 'deep'. What I mean by that is that usually the rules are not that long and the map and extras are usually not that expansive. The block wargames have a very good history of being 'players games': easy to get into and relatively short and very good for game night. We normally associate hex and counter with monster or mini monster games, ones that will take a lot of space and the players pore over them, much like Napoleon and Berthier did over maps. So now we have this game from VentoNuovo Games that is at least a mini monster. So, let us see what we get when we actually open the box:

• N° 1 87x62cm Mapboard (double laminated)
• N° 1 A4 Strategic Map
• N° 1 A4 Tripolitania Extension Map
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN AFRIKA Rules Manual
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN EUROPE Rule Manual *
• N° 1 24 pages THE BLOCKS TRILOGY Scenario Booklet
• N° 2 Play Aid
• N° 8 Order of Battle
• N° 15 wooden light blue blocks (France)
• N° 29 wooden black blocks (Germany)
• N° 22 wooden light green blocks (Italy)
• N° 1 wooden tan block (Turn Tracker)
• N° 1 wooden dark green block (US)
• N° 22 wooden blue blocks (UK)
• N° 3 wooden orange blocks (Axis Forts)
• N° 66 wooden brown blocks (Minors)
• N° 23 wooden gray blocks (Axis Navy)
• N° 46 wooden white blocks (Western Allies Navy)
• N° 8 wooden pink blocks (Soviet Navy)
• N° 240 PVC stickers (laminated, 2x for the Turn Tracker)
• N° 35 wooden yellow cubes (General Production Points)
• N° 25 wooden white cubes (Navy Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden red cubes (Armor Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden blue cubes (Air Production Points)
• N° 10 plastic black cylinders (Oil Production Points)
• N° 5 plastic white cylinders ("Out-of-Supply" Markers)
• N° 10 white plastic Shipyards *
• N° 5 yellow-black-dotted dice






 This is the list of the actual counters and record keeping pieces:

• 3 Axis Forts: Orange (not used in BIA Scenarios – details in BIE)
• 15 French Units: light blue
• 29 German Units: black
• 22 Italian Units: light green
• 23 Axis Navy Units: grey
• 46 Western Allies Navy Units: white
• 8 Soviet Navy Units: pink
• 1 American unit: dark green
• 22 British units: blue
• 66 Minor Powers Units: brown
• 2 Turn recorders: tan
• 2 Replacement stickers for BITW American units




 What we actually have here in our hot little hands is an incredibly thorough almost simulation of the Second World War in the Mediterranean and adjoining areas in Asia. It comes with a Basic set of rules (still very deep), and then an Advanced set of rules followed by some optional rules. What I especially like is that the naval war has not just been tacked onto the game as an afterthought. It receives the scrutiny and importance that it deserves. After all, the area of the map is mostly sea. There are actually some naval only scenarios.
These are the scenarios that come with the game:


1940 Operation Compass, November 1940 - March 1941

1941 Operation Exporter, June - July 1941
1941 Middle East Uprising, May - September 1941

1941 The Desert Fox, March - July 1941

1942 Axis Hype, June - December 1942

1942 El Alamein, October 1942 - February 1943


These scenarios are primarily NAVAL!

Punta Stilo, 9 July 1940

Capo Teulada, 27 November 1940

Capo Matapan, 28 – 29 March 1941

Harpoon, 21 June 1942

 This is the Basic game sequence of play:

The game is played in turns, each representing the lapse of one
month. Each turn is divided into phases and steps that must be
performed in a precise order.
After the weather is checked, the Axis player completes his
phases first as described in the sequence below. Next, the Allied
player completes his phases.
When both players have finished their phases, victory conditions
are checked. The turn is now over and a new one may begin.
A. Weather Determination Phase
The Weather is always considered good when playing BIA.
B. Axis Phases
1. Strategic Warfare Phase (See Scenario Special Rules)
2. Supply Phase
3. Production Phase
4. Strategic Rail Movement Phase
5. Movement Phase
6. Defender Reaction Phase
7. Combat Phase
8. Blitz Phase
9. Final Supply Status Phase
10. Armor Exploitation Phase
C. Allies Phases
As for Axis Phases 1-10
D. Victory Phase





 I may not be the best person to do a review of VentoNuovo Games. I have to admit that I am an unabashed fanboy. All of the games I have reviewed so far from them have been, I dare say, great. The rules are well written and the components are first rate. This game is not any different. The components are very well done. The map is colorful, but if there was anything to bash the game is that the map is a bit too busy. There is, however, a very good reason for this. The map hexes represent 43 miles (70km) across. So that is a lot of territory and information to fit into some hexes. The map itself is 87cm x 64cm large. There is one questionable design decision with the map. There is an extra piece of the map that comes with the game. It is slightly larger than a copier sheet and represents the area around Tripoli. The only issue is that it also has needed game information on the other side. I realize in this day and age most people could just copy the back, but it still seems a weird decision. This game is part of a trilogy from VentoNuovo Games that includes this game and 'Blocks in the West' and 'Blocks in the East'. Some of the components that are included are only used if playing all three together. I will have a review of 'Blocks in the West' coming up. I will also have links to the different games and rules etc. at the end of the review. You can also separately purchase a pack of twelve special event cards.





 So how does it play? The scenarios are all very short as far as turn length. There are only 1-5 turns in each of the scenarios. The naval scenarios go from 1-3 turns.There are also listed in the rulebook the difficulty levels of each scenario. These go from 1-6 on a 1-10 scale. The rulebook is only 28 pages and that includes four pages on the scenarios. So even with the Advanced Rules it is a comprehensive, but still playable game of the Mediterranean theater during 1940-1943. The gameplay is nowhere near as fast and furious as other VentoNuovo Games. It really cannot be. There are just too many things to think about, especially once you add  the Advanced rules to the mix. This is a mulling over and thinking block game. That is not to say the other games did not have depth, just not to the extent that this game has. There was more to learn in this rulebook than the others, but it is written in an easy to learn manner. It is a great game and a huge undertaking when you combine even two of the fronts together. It is a game you can truly get lost in. The campaign game when all three games are together is a staggering 79 turns. Thank you VentoNuovo for the chance to review this game.

This is a link to Blocks in the West:

http://www.ventonuovo.net/games/blocks-in-the-west

A Link to Blocks in the East:


http://www.ventonuovo.net/games/blocks-in-the-east

A Link to the rules for Blocks in Afrika

http://www.ventonuovo.net/download-afrika


Robert



X-WING  2nd EDITION Well the Force is strongly with us once more and looking at the box and even inside the box, you could be forg...

X-WING 2nd EDITION X-WING 2nd EDITION

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

X-WING 

2nd EDITION


Well the Force is strongly with us once more and looking at the box and even inside the box, you could be forgiven for thinking that very little has changed.  Looking closely, I didn't find much to make me depart from that initial impression. 




The packaging, storage of the ships, and all the markers, range ruler and movement templates, dice etc are totally the same.  So what are the differences and how significant are they?  Well, the rule book is eight pages shorter!!  Wasn't expecting that.  The T-65 X-wing model has pivoting S-foils.  A neat touch to physically show the switch to the attack position, but a cosmetic nicety at bottom.


Some of the contents
The Manoeuvre Dials are slightly less impressive, but are far more functional.  Unlike the original where you could only see the movement chosen and could only check the range of a particular craft's manoeuvres by dialling through them, the face of the new dials displays all the move types and you rotate the back disc to point down at your choice of manoeuvre.  That is a really helpful change.




Here you can see the revamped, easy to read manoeuvre dials plus the ship tokens to fit in the bases, followed by the normal, three basic ships: one X-wing and two Tie-fighters.

The organisation of the rule book follows generally the sequence as before.  A page of Fundamental Concepts is slipped in between Components and Set Up, which now has a much smaller diagram and, in the main, all illustrations tend to be smaller.  The key one omitted, which surprises me, is the very useful Ship Card Anatomy.

Instead, you get a thorough example of how to use the new Position Marker.  a very good addition to the card board components that helps you mark the position of a ship that is obstructing the path of another ship's manoeuvre, but not something that needs a careful set of eight little pictures to show you how to use it. 
Spot the new Position Markers
{just above the Manoeuvre templates on the righthand side}

It seems especially unnecessary when the original important Example of an Attack is paired down from 2 full pages to 3/4 of a page.  My impression is that the small number of new elements has perhaps drawn the focus from basic points.  Of these other new features, often linked to new markers, is the addition of Force Charges - that's definitely a concept that deserves to have been introduced.  
As before lots of lovely markers, 
with several new ones making an appearance.

There are several other tweaks added through new tokens, though I found the list of concepts about gaining and spending tokens seemed almost too obvious to be necessary.  By contrast, the introduction of  new Actions, such as Cloak, Jam and Reinforce are very welcome.
Lots of cards
Lots more
And still some more!
Finally, among the changes is one to Squad Building, which features in both sets of rules and is only applicable in moving to games involving more than the three ships in the core box.  This has been developed by providing Quick Build cards that provide predetermined choices.  I like this for ease of play especially for those coming new to the game.  However, they would seem to have taken the place of the three Missions provided in the original base game.

The next step I really didn't like.  When you want to move on to the full player control of the traditional points building system, you have to download the Squad Builder ap.  A small advantage of this is that the ap. prevents you from accidently [or, heaven forbid, deliberately] building an illegal squad.  I know that there won't be many who don't have the necessary smart phone/tablet/etc., but I'm not in favour of it being wholly out of the realms of a paper print-out.

In conclusion, the new edition is every bit as good as the old one and overall the addition of new Actions and their related tokens is to be welcomed.  For the person new to X-wing, all's fine.  For those, like myself, with 2 copies of the original edition plus a variety of other ships, including a Millenium Falcon, I have more than enough to indulge any Star Wars' inclination I have and won't feel the need to follw the new star.  My concern is for the dedicated or even marginal Tournament player.  Will they be facing a whole new outlay to take part, with once again Wave on Wave of ships or a whole series of conversion kits?

As always thanks to Asmodee for providing not only the review copy, but three bonus ships.

RRP £24.62  X-wing 2nd edition


BATTLETECH from CATALYST GAME LABS This review will cover two closely linked BattleTech packages:  the Beginner Box and wha...

BATTLETECH BATTLETECH

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

BATTLETECH

from

CATALYST GAME LABS



This review will cover two closely linked BattleTech packages:  the Beginner Box and what should be regarded as the core game which bears the subtitle "A game of Armored Combat".



At this point I think it's important to state that in examining these two games I am teetering on the very edge of my comfort zone.  As previous reviews will have made clear, I am not adverse to games involving miniatures, nor complex games with a significant depth of rules, though the days when I happily played and reviewed World In Flames for the pre-internet magazine world are a past country.

However, light skirmish games like Deadzone 2  are my preferred choice when I stray away from my more comfortable realm of counters and hexes or blocks and area movement.  Even when BattleTech first appeared in the 1980s, a game that focused on a few mighty machines, albeit with a human controller inside, and photocopiable diagrams of outer carapaces and inner constructions that needed locations to be crossed off/coloured in to show growing damage was not a likely choice for me.

However, that personal caveat doesn't stop me appreciating the many qualities of this game and, as these two packages are hopefully the jumping off point for a whole new generation of gamers, this review is intended to help them decide whether BattleTech may be a universe they might want to launch themselves into. 

The quality that jumps straight out at you immediately is the physical production.  The bold colours of the art work adorn the type of deep, well-constructed box that we associate with the top end of game company production from the likes of GMT and DVG.  This is a far cry from the sort of flimsy container of the 80s that the original game was housed in.

But what I think stands out most of all when you open the box is the high quality of the miniatures.  This was a feature criticised by many in earlier editions.  Virtually all are a standard 2 " tall on hexagonal bases that perfectly fit the map hexes that they will stand on.  The poses are dynamic and have a heft and bulk that adds to their appearance.


Having been the painter of many Warhammer miniatures in the early days of my son's 40K journey, I really like these figures that have large plains and deep grooves that allow swifter painting of large areas of colour enhanced by dark washes and easy highlighting.  These figures really do make you want to get them out on the battlefield.


Here are all eight housed in their individually moulded tray


The Beginner's Game comes with just two figures [and eight cardboard standees] and a single double-sided paper map, while the core game boasts the eight figures seen above [plus nine extra standees] and two double-sided maps.  I was also very fortunate to be sent, along with these two review copies, the expansion map pack set of six additional maps.  All are 18" x 22" and look brilliant.  They are a visual delight.  Especially the way height of terrain is conveyed gives an almost 3D effect [as can be seen below] and both games contain a small selection of additional thick cardboard terrain overlays.  




If only the maps themselves had been of the sort of cardstock familiar from Columbia Games' maps. Indeed, the one downside is that the new production uses extremely thin paper and I do mean extremely!  After folding one map up twice, it's already showing wear on the folds.  Using my normal practice of storing maps permanently flat means I shouldn't have undue problems, but most gamers I know are unlikely to follow suit.


Another feature whose value I still remain unsure about is the decision that hexes that provide Light or Heavy cover actually have the words printed in the hex and any hex Level above 0 is also printed on the map. The importance of Levels may justify this, but as the base of each model exactly covers the hex, when you need that info you have to lift up the model to confirm it.

As expected, in the core game, there are full size record sheets that contain all the many essential statistics for each type of mech along with the all-important diagram on which you check off damage to the target area that has been hit.

These are absolutely essential and though not a fan of this type of record-keeping there clearly is no other way to handle the level of detail that has always been a main feature of BattleTech.  The way in which damage to the outer armour, once it has been totally destroyed in a given location, can be transferred to the inner structure is a key element of the minutiae of the tactical attack system.


In order to create a much faster and stripped-down version for the Beginner Box, this is one aspect that has been modified, as only the external armour takes damage.  As a result the A4 size record sheets in black and white have become much smaller cards with a central picture of the mech in colour.  




As the game is very heavy on detail and depth this is understandable, but the satisfaction of shooting away part of the outer carapace to reveal the more vulnerable inner workings with the resulting chance of a critical hit is a hugely enjoyable part of the tension and tactics of the game.

For those of you familiar with the game, looking at the card above, you can also see that the concept of Heat has also been removed from the Beginner's rules.  For those of you coming new to BattleTech, Heat is a very important aspect to be dealt with.  Virtually all actions generated Heat, that had its own track for recording it.  Mechs inevitably reached a point when they needed to disperse Heat or risk the dire consequences.  Equally damage to a Mech might result in that Heat dispersing equipment being damaged.

Having touched on just how much there is to learn, it's no surprise that the core game has a substantial rule book.  In this new edition, it comes to a meaty 56 pages: broken down into 44 pages of rules, 4 pages for the scenarios and 8 pages explaining how to construct/design your own mechs.
Substantial as this may sound, it still pales against the length of some of the manuals I've heard referred to in videos teaching the main rules [e.g. "… on page 104.."].

A consequence of this depth is that, if you are going to invest beyond the Beginner's Box, then you can expect to be totting up as standard practice modifier after modifier for every single weapon you fire, on every single mech, on every single attack, on every single turn.  

Some of these will become almost second nature to you, but far more will involve you checking on the mech's stats sheets and on one or more of the many tables contained in the rule book and reproduced on the two identical Player Aid cards. Then you will be doing the same for any physical attacks your mechs subsequently make.  

Even calculating line of sight, never the simplest of tasks in any game, has its extra difficulties, as mechs themselves stand two levels high.  Besides that additional factor, the fact that some of your weapons are attached to arms and some to legs means that having established a LOS doesn't necessarily mean every gun can then physically fire at its target.

That Combat alone takes up 17 pages of rules emphasises two things: the level of detail in this game and the very strong focus on battle.  Manoeuvre plays its part, but combat with a multiplicity of weapons and directly too with mighty kicks and punches is at the heart of this game.  Not to mention the ability of your mechs to jump high and come crashing down on your opponent's mechs with all the weight of their tonnage!!! 


Just explaining Damage takes up a further seven pages, ending in the very useful flow-chart viewed below.


So, how well does the substantial rule book fair in conveying and making clear all this information?  Starting from the simple cosmetic level, it really looks the works with a very good weight of glossy paper, a very helpful index at the beginning and very clear, colour illustrations.






Each section [e.g. Movement, Combat, Damage] is highlighted at the top of each page in white, while side-headings are in prominent bold black capitals.  But far more important than its appearance is the reality that the rule book does a very, very good job of guiding you step by step through the complexities and the wealth of detail to be taken in.  Familiarity and practice will ease the task, but so much information will always need you to refresh your memory and check some things at times.  Thankfully the rule book is very navigable on those occasions.



The beginner's rule book is identical in quality and layout, but the rules themselves occupy a mere 8 pages out of 12.  You can imagine that there has been a great deal more paired away than the two important areas I've mentioned earlier.

This leads me to the conclusion that the Beginner's Box is exactly what it says.  Not only would I see it as designed for those wanting to dip a toe very lightly in to the BattleTech game and its universe, but for the beginner to this type of miniatures/board game hybrid and possibly to the gaming world in general.  To tempt you further, the box also includes a sample of MechWarrior cards that introduce the pilots of these mighty machines, a booklet containing a short story, The Golden Rule, set in the BattleTech universe and a quick Guide to the Inner Sphere [i.e. the universe of BattleTech and its conflicting Houses] . 

If the contents aren't enough to tempt you, then the exceptionally low price of $19.99 should.  I can think of few "starter sets" priced so reasonably and of such good value.  Helpful though I found it in easing me into learning the system, for most gamers it will only serve as an incentive to buy the core box.  This too, on top of all the key components I've discussed, sports its own different short story booklet that develops the story in The Golden Rule, more MechWarrior cards, two identical Player Aids containing the many tables interspersed throughout the rule book for easy reference and also some Alpha Strike cards.  The latter relate to a separate faster playing form of BattleTech, which will undoubtedly be another temptation to buy and expand. The core box too at $59.99 seems equally good value in all respects.  



This is already a well documented, immersive world that has been supported and extended repeatedly with many expansions, story books, CCGs...  The rapidity with which both these new packages have flown off the shelves indicate that there's a great enthusiasm both among new gamers and BattleTech's many existing devotees.  I can see these stomping on for many years to come.

Thanks as always to Catalyst Games Lab for providing the review copies. 

Below are t
hree excellent tutorial videos on game play.

Link 1



The Peninsular War Expansion for Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games   Napoleon was sitting on top ...

The Peninsular War - Expansion for Napoleon and his Marshals The Peninsular War - Expansion for Napoleon and his Marshals

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

The Peninsular War

Expansion for Napoleon and his Marshals

by

Two Generals Games






  Napoleon was sitting on top of the world in 1808. He had just compelled Russia to become an ally, and join the Continental System. This was a confederation of European states that Napoleon set up to stop all trade with England. Then hubris raised its ugly head. Napoleon coerced Spain to allow a French army through its territory to invade Portugal. The invasion went pretty much like clockwork. Then Napoleon got the bright idea to actually invade and conquer Spain. Napoleon made similar statements about invading Spain as Hitler did before invading Russia. Spain would turn into the 'Spanish Ulcer' that would suck in men and material at an alarming rate. Thanks to English intervention and the Duke of Wellington, Spain became an abattoir for the Frenchmen posted there. It was a brutal nasty guerrilla war that saw horrific war crimes committed by both sides. No matter how many times the French defeated the Spanish forces, they arose again from the dead within days to weeks. It was a Napoleonic version of whack-a-mole. The war in Spain became a blueprint for guerrilla warfare still used to this day.

 With that introduction there should be no doubt where our review is taking us. This is an add-on for the excellent Two Generals game, 'Napoleon and his Marshals'. With this addition to the game you get the chance to fight just the war in Spain, or to add the map to the base game and fight larger scenarios. However, you do need the base game to play this expansion. Two Generals describes the game as "a dice-less game of skill. No luck is involved". I have to agree with their description.

 This is what comes with the game:
One map of the Iberian Peninsula
Two counter sheets

 The components are as top notch as the base game. The map is printed on plastic coated reinforced 'banner' paper. The size of the map is 20.75" x 16". It includes Spain, Portugal and some of southern France. The hex scale is 38 miles per hex.The counters are also reinforced and are slightly larger than normal at 0.6" square.







 While it may not seem like it, many wargamers are very interested in what others consider a sideshow to the main Napoleonic campaigns. The campaigning in Spain was entirely different to what the French troops were used to. This add-on plays much like the actual campaign. As someone said, "In Spain a large army starves while a small army is swallowed up". Wellington and the French fought a seesaw war much like the Campaign for North Africa in WWII. So the Spanish campaigns in this game have a very historical feel just like the main game.

 Two Generals are looking for a person to make a Vassal version of the game Napoleon and his Marshals. Anyone who is capable and interested, please get in touch with them on their website.

 These are the links to the main game and my review of it along with the games other expansions:

https://www.twogeneralsgames.com/index.php/our-games/79-napoleon-and-his-marshals

https://www.twogeneralsgames.com/index.php/our-games/98-unconquered-lands-expansion-for-napoleon-and-his-marshals

https://www.twogeneralsgames.com/index.php/our-games/100-the-ottoman-empire-expansion-for-napoleon-and-his-marshals

Link to the updated rules and scenarios:

https://www.twogeneralsgames.com/index.php/news/109-update-napoleon-rules-and-scenarios

 My review:

https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2018/07/napoleon-and-his-marshals-by-two.html

Robert

Antipater's Dynasty Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D Grainger    Antipater...

Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D. Grainger Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors by John D. Grainger

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



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  Antipater, Parmenion, and Antigonos belonged to an earlier generation than Alexander. All three were contemporaries of Alexander's father Phillip II. Antipater was to be in charge of Macedon while Phillip II invaded the Persian Empire. Parmenion was actually in now a days Turkey acting as the first invasion force and intelligence gathering mission. Antipater lived longer than Alexander, and was one of the few Successors that remained true to Alexander's heirs. It has been thought by some historians that Alexander was planning on killing Antipater had he lived. The other story told is that Antipater had Alexander killed by poison brought to Babylon by his son Kassander.

 So, this is the story of both Antipater and his children and grandchildren, etc. The author, John D. Grainger, is one of my favorites. In this book, along with his others, he is able to take events from more than 2000 years ago and make sense of them. The first part of the book deals with Antipater and his up and down in his relationship with Alexander. As Alexander aged, his thirst for blood increased exponentially. For Antipater to have even lived to see Alexander's death was quite an accomplishment.

 Strange as it seems, Antipater did not make his son Kassander his heir. He appointed Polyperchon to that role. Unfortunately this meant much misery for Greece. His daughters' marriages only helped to break apart the Macedonian Empire into the separate Hellenistic Kingdoms. Kassander's supposedly obsessive hatred of Alexander is also gone into by the author (the well known head-banging incident), although he doesn't take it as gospel. Kassander's sons' greed and inability to co-rule made certain of the family's fall from being rulers of Macedon. Antipater, through his daughter Phila's descendants (who was the mother of Antigonus Gonatus), ruled Macedon until the Roman conquest (Antigonids).

A great book by a great author on one of the most important of the Diadochi.

Robert

Book: Antipater's Dynasty: Alexander the Great's Regent and his Successors
Author: John D. Grainger
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Star Wars Legion is a two-player battle between the Imperial forces and forces comprising the Rebel Alliance (what else?).  I've pla...

Star Wars Legion Star Wars Legion

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


Star Wars Legion is a two-player battle between the Imperial forces and forces comprising the Rebel Alliance (what else?).  I've played enough of the current catalogue of the seemingly never-ending release of Star Wars to be able to say I think this is my favourite at the tactical level (with a few caveats). 

Before I tell you why I think this is my favourite tactical Star Wars game, I've got to set some expectations. The Star Wars Legion box is a starter set for the rest of the system, it is far from the full SW:L experience.  This is a tabletop wargame with elements borrowed from board games that optimise gameplay; it isn't a board game.  To explain further, I would consider Imperial Assault to be a miniatures boardgame; SW:L is a miniatures wargame.

You can watch my unboxing video of the core set below:

Gameplay

A game, or battle, lasts for six turns in which all of your and your opponents will activate alternately with each other.  A full turn of the game comprises three different phases, (I told you it was like a board game), the Command Phase, the Action Phase and the End Phase.
Starter Battle setup
During the Command Phase, players choose one from a hand of 7 command cards to 'order' a number of their in-command units.  However, these command cards also determine the initiative for that turn. If you've chosen a command card with a high number of activations you've probably ceded the initiative to your opponent.  Because there are so few command cards in use, you can know what cards your opponent still holds in their hand and choosing a command card turns into a fun mini-game within a game.

Your commander will be able to order a small number of units directly by placing an order token next to that unit (assuming they're within order range). Units that don't receive an order token will have their order tokens shuffled and placed in a face-down stack. During the activation phase, you can elect to move a unit that has an order token next to it or pull from the randomised stack and activate whichever unit is drawn. 
Protecting the transmission dish
In the most basic terms, each activated unit can move and fire.  As you're moving after your opponent (except for the first activation of the turn) you should be able to react immediately to any manoeuvre.  However, if you've placed an order token next to units that are far from the action, you'll be reduced to hoping that you pull the right order token from the stack to react or cause your opponent the same dilemma. This may sound quite random but you can control it in a variety of ways and it actually plays out like another fun mini-game within a game. 

Your units are not just limited to just moving and attacking. In the learning battle, players can also, aim and dodge, but the full rules, allow for a plethora of abilities to be used. The abilities when used allow you to have more control over the timing or your units' activation, their movement or their abilities in combat.  These powers are mostly tracked through the use of intuitive tokens next to the unit which neatly avoids the ubiquitous lookup tables in many other wargames.  These abilities not only are evocative of the lore of Star Wars but make the tactical decision space far greater.


Father and Son dukin' it out

The movement system is nice and simple. You are given three movement rulers which hinge in the middle and you measure the unit's leader-figures movement. Every other figure in the unit is just placed somewhere within XXX of that figure. There is no need for unit trays or endless measuring of distance. I thought this sped up the gameplay compared to many miniature wargames I've tried and it lets you get on with the real battle.

When in combat your units roll a number of dice depending on how many figures there are in the unit.  The unit cards indicate the number of red, black or white dice a single figure rolls in attack or defence. The strengths of each dice colour are different and I was continually pleased with how thematic the units abilities and dice mechanics worked to fit into Star Wars canon. Once again this was quite a simple mechanic but when the full rules are used, your units may have more than one weapon type and can fire on multiple enemies. Although the gameplay is very accessible there are plenty of good tactical decisions to be made.  I particularly like the surge mechanic which is present in quite a few FFG games.
Stormtroopers rolling too well, they defended every single hit!
The starter battle is very easy to jump into even if you're both complete newcomers to the game or have never played a miniatures wargame.  And you know what? I thought it was a blast.  I've continued to play the advanced rules and built up to nearly a full army of Imperial and Rebels.  A full army is 800pts and when building your army lists visiting table top admiral is a must.  I've even put my 3d printer to good use producing terrain for the game.

I just wish there were more players of the game near me. I've only found one game store out of about 7 or 8 I've visited recently (I travel quite a bit for work) who is stocking SW:L product. Which is a shame because I think this game is a great example of what a tabletop wargame should be and it's set in the Star Wars universe. Win-win from me. Its largest rival in this space is probably Games Workshop's 40k behemoth, and for me, there is no question which is more fun. (hint: it's not the spacemarines)
500pt Battle to control the comms array

Components

The game comes with a plethora of different tokens and figures to get going with the base game. It's almost expected that I would say that these components are up there with the best in the business as is the rest of FFG's output. However, I can criticise the miniatures, specifically the limited glueing surface (e.g. two boots) to their bases. I thought I was a fairly competent modeller and used the right type of glue but I've still had a few miniatures come unstuck.  Why can't all minis come on slotted bases?


Ubiquitous Learn to Play and self-printed Reference

Criticisms

The rest of the production of this game is top-quality, as ever from FFG, but there is lots to criticise here.  I think the delivery of the product to gamers has been poorly handled. 

The core game doesn't provide enough dice to roll just one hand of dice. Scooping up the misses and rolling again, or remembering the previous roll to add to the next is not what I want to be doing. My first 'expansion' that I bought was an extra set of dice.  Adding an extra 9 dice couldn't have been that cost prohibitive, could it?
Can you spot the Rebel sharpshooters?
The rules reference is not provided in the box. The Learn to Play book is there and it's excellent, but to progress onto the next stage you'll need to download and print out or use a screen to read the rules reference.  I know this is intended to be a living document so any print out will show its age, but wargamers have been adding errata corrections to manuals for as long as Star Wars has been around. You can't even buy the rules reference as a standalone product. However, they have used lots of links in the pdf and it's very easy to navigate. You just need to have a large tablet or laptop at the game table.

The scale of the miniatures does not match that of Imperial Assault, they are larger and, however, much better quality, but I think this aspect alone massively damaged Legion's launch. Imagine if all the Imperial Assault players woke up to find a new game, playable with their existing miniatures with just a purchase of some dice and card decks. I guarantee that the uptake of this would have been through the roof. The potential for future expansions would also have been massive as IA players realise that this game is a much better skirmish game than IA. This miniature scale decision could be viewed as quite cynical corporate greed and I think it may have stabbed FFG in the foot a little.

If you do eventually buy the expansions, and I heartily recommend SW:Legion with them, then be prepared for the amount of air you're buying.  The expansion box sizes far outstrip the amount of content you get. I'm getting a bit fed up with publishers making their boxes with no consideration to the amount of stuff that box will hold. It's not bad in the Core Box, mine is stuffed and it comes with an almost workable insert, but the expansions are ridiculous. What is more egregious is that I'm sure 90% of players will be ditching these expansion boxes straight away.

Looking at the prices for this in the one store, I found actively stocking it (luckily it's local) is the price model.  FFG know what they're doing with this IP and the level of players they can expect to invest and support the game, but the prices for the expansions feels fairly wallet gouging if you're not a regular miniatures gamer accustomed to skipping meals to pay for the next unit...



via GIPHY

However, with all that said, these criticisms do nothing to detract from the gameplay. 

Conclusion

So I love the gameplay. There are some really great 'ah-hah' moments when you realise how to use your units abilities and how it fits thematically and I've only really scratched the surface; there's lots of game here to get your teeth into.  But there is lots to criticise as well. Thankfully very few of my criticisms are levelled at the gameplay, more at how FFG have handled the production and launch of this game.
Comms power generator captured by a severely weakened stormtrooper unit
Star Wars: Legion shares top-gong, with Star Wars Rebellion, for best game in the Star Wars universe, in my opinions, and is the most fun I've had playing a tabletop wargame.  Other games I've experienced which I'm basing this comparison on are: Lion Rampant, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40k, and Bolt Action.

Legion plays quickly and you have a plethora of tactical decision every single turn of when to activate and how to minimise the damage an unwanted activation could do whilst attempting to destroy your opponent's forces. 


That's a lot of stuff in the base box
Some people have described this as an incomplete board game, and that is unfair. It is firmly a miniatures wargame with a little bit of a board game in there, e.g. the use of tokens and command cards.  You're paying for the rules and some starter units which aren't provided by many wargame rulesets.


If Star Wars is your thing and you're either a tabletop gamer wondering what all the fuss is about with board games, or you're a board gamer, curious what the other side of your local game shop is all about, then I can recommend Star Wars Legion, it has a foot in both camps.


Now would be a great time to get into Legion as the support from FFG continues to grow and the Clone Wars core box sets are soon to be released alongside the multitude of expansions that will eventually come with the new factions. At the moment only B-1 Battle Droids and Clone Troopers have been announced but you get General Grievous and Obi-Wan Kenobi (of Mcgregor vintage) in the core box alongside two base units and a vehicle unit for each side.

This is a little hard to find in local brick and mortar stores but still widely available online and actively supported by FFG, I get the impression that it is much more popular across the pond than in the UK.  You can 
find your nearest FLGS at http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/

Publisher: FFG

Website: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/star-wars-legion
Players: 2
Designer: Alex Davy
Playing time: 1-2 hours