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The Hunters German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games   Amazingly, the German  U-Boat service during World...

The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games

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

The Hunters

German U-Boats at War, 1939-43


GMT Games

 Amazingly, the German  U-Boat service during World War II suffered 75% casualties. 75%, let that sink in for a bit. The odds of playing Russian Roulette on the dock without bothering to go to sea are much better. One of the most decorated and prolific U-Boat commanders (Wolfgang Lüth) actually survived the war a whole seven days , and was shot by a German sentry on 5/14/1945.The other amazing thing about the North Atlantic Campaign was what were the Allies thinking! They had barely escaped World War I by using the Convoy System. So, in 1939 you would assume that the Convoy System would immediately be implemented once more. To one's astonishment, it was not. The worst time for Allied losses were just after the US entered the war. The U-Boat sailors called the first six months after Germany declared war on the US as the '2nd happy time'. One other item that is not well known about the undersea war was that the early German torpedoes were just as prone as the US ones regarding how many were duds. In the early part of the war the U-Boat's deck gun was more important than its torpedoes, not for self-defense, but to attack lone ships that they found. This being the third iteration of the game, let us find out what comes in the box:

Rules booklet w/ Designer notes
One full-color,2-sided countersheet
Four Player Aid Cards, 2-sided
U-Boat Combat Mat
Four U-Boat Display Mats, 2-sided
U-Boat Patrol Log Sheet
Three 6-sided, two 10-sided, one 20-sided dice

 This is the write up by GMT Games about the Game:

8 German U-Boat types represented
9 Patrol Assignments
350+ named shipping targets
Special Missions for Abwehr Agent Delivery and Minelaying
 Combat encounters with individual ships, ships with escort,   convoys, and aircraft
Daytime and Night Engagement including wolfpack patrols
U-Boat Damage includes flooding, hull, torpedo doors, periscope, 
 fuel tanks, crew injury (by crew type), engines, hydrophones, flak   gun(s), deck gun, batteries, radio
Crew Advancement, Commander Promotion including special   decoration up to The Knight's CrossMulti-player and Tournament Rule options (including Wolfpack Tournament)
Evasive Maneuvers, Patrol Abort, Variable Escort Quality, Resupply at Sea, Gibraltar Passage, Reassignment to Newer U-   Boat, Torpedo Duds, Random "Historical" Events, and much,   much more!

 The Hunters is a solitaire game of captaining a U-Boat in the years 1939-1943. Your goal is to complete missions and rack up Allied ship and tonnage loss. This is almost a role playing game about a U-Boat commander. As, or if, you complete missions you can be promoted in rank, and also win medals for your accomplishments. These are the U-Boats you can command in the game, and where you can patrol:

Type VII A
Type VII B
Type VII C
Type VII D
Type VII FlaK
Type IX A
Type IX B
Type IX C

Patrol Assignments include:
British Isles
Spanish Coast
West African Coast
North America

 So next, let us look at the game's physical components. This game does not come with a map that will cover up two dining room tables. It also does not come with enough counters to equate one for one for an infantry battalion either. This game is all about information, and it makes sure that the player has a ton, and it is at his fingertips. The Rulebook is in color and is twenty-eight pages in length. This includes a historical briefing about the ten actual U-Boat commanders you can play as. In a nice touch that some games have, you also get a two page spread of the front and backs of all the counters. This is a great help with any mishaps that might occur. The print is smaller than I would like in a rulebook, however it is not GMT Games' fault that I am getting older. Another good design choice I am seeing more of, is that the Rulesbook has an Index on the back cover. The rules are much easier than would seem by their length. Once you have a game or two under your belt the game speeds along like clockwork. There are two 8-1/2"x11" maps. One is a copy of the official German Navy map with the coordinates shown just the way it was used in WWII. This map shows all of the areas of the North Atlantic and its environs that you can cruise in. The other map is the same size, but this continues down to Africa and South America. There are four double-sided pages/mats for each of the type of U-Boat you can command. Next, there are five Player's Aid pages for the Random Events, Encounter Chart, and Target rosters etc. These are all 8-1/2"x11" sized like the maps. The print on these is larger than the Rulebook, and they are also color coded for their use. The counters are 1/2" in size. These are nicely done and easy to read even with some of them having almost painting quality backgrounds. The game does come with a Patrol Log Sheet for the player to fill out. I know, boo hiss! These are my least favorite components in any game I come across. I have more than a few games where you have to keep track of your manpower for each division or whatever on a log. Definitely not my cup of tea as far as games go. I find them tedious and a real joy killer. I know, how much more is it of an onus to write down or mark a page than move a counter on a scale. For some reason it just irks me. However in this game it does not effect me at all. Because the game is more of a role-playing one, and you are listing your achievements, I do not have a problem with this log sheet. So, the components are up to GMT Games pretty high bar. Let us see what else we have.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

 A. Consult U-Boat Patrol Assignment Table
 (7.0) [P1]
 B. Enter patrol assignment on Log Sheet (on
 row corresponding to patrol start date)
 C. Place U-Boat Marker on Display Mat
 beside first Travel Box of assigned patrol
 A. Check for encounters for Travel Box
 occupied by consulting Encounter Chart
 (8.0) [E1]. If no encounter occurs, repeat
 this step for next Travel Box entered. If
 encounter is rolled, follow steps below:
 a. Determine Random Event (if
 rolled, 12.0), or resolve Air or
 Ship Encounter (8.0). Engaging
 enemy ships in combat is always
 voluntary (8.1.4).
 b. You may perform additional
 rounds of combat as necessary
 against unescorted ships (9.4.3) or
 attempt to “Follow” escorted ships
 or Convoys (9.7) until the encounter is completed, reloading   torpedoes between instances.
 c. Additional rounds of combat may
 also occur should your U-Boat
 be detected and undergo repeated
 depth charge attacks. This cycle
 repeats automatically until your
 U-Boat escapes Escort Detection.
 d. Attempt to Repair any Damaged
 U-Boat systems once all combat rounds are completed (10.7).
 Note: Following is still allowed
 once you escape detection.
 B. Proceed to next Travel Box and repeat
 until U-Boat enters and resolves any
 possible encounter for final Travel Box
 (7.5). Upon completion, place U-Boat
 marker in the In Port (Refit) Box.
 A. Assess U-Boat damage and duration
 required (10.10) to complete all repairs
 (record Refit duration on Log Sheet to
 determine when next patrol will begin).
 Note: if the next patrol start date is after
 Jun-43, the game ends.
 B. Check for Crew Recovery and possible
 replacement (10.11).
 C. Check for Crew Advancement (11.1).
 D. Check for Kommandant Promotion and/
 or Knight’s Cross Award (11.2 and 11.3).
 E. Check for possible U-Boat Reassignment
 F. Replenish and set Torpedo Loads (4.5)
 and replenish Ammo markers (4.6) in
 anticipation of next patrol. All damage
 and crew injury markers should be
 removed from the U-Boat Display Mat
 in anticipation of next patrol assignment.

  Because of the loss rate of U-Boats and sailors, the game keeps track of everything that might go wrong on a mission. A Submarine is a very complex machine of war, and could suffer myriads of problems even before you make contact with the enemy. These are some of the random events that you roll a dice for, once every patrol:

Man Overboard
Gyro Compass Fails
Torpedo Breaks Loose
"Hals und Beinbruch" - Literal meaning 'neck and leg break' slang for 'good luck'.

 This is another situation where a game has been good enough to get me reading a lot more about the North Atlantic War. I knew the basics and a smattering of things, but certainly not the amount that I should have known about it. You have to understand that this is from someone who watched the director's cut of 'Das Boot' without a bathroom break! The game itself transcends wargames and really is more of a role playing game for the player. Like all the great games that go down to this level you, the player, become enmeshed with your cardboard warrior. As the years go by in your U-Boat you are forced to decide to go for the glory or just weather the storm and be content to survive until 1943. This is my first foray into the cardboard U-Boat world, but hopefully not my last. However, another game will have to be pretty good to want to make me consign this game to the shelf. Thank you GMT Games for another enriching and great gaming experience. I will be reviewing 'The Hunted' next from GMT Games. That follows the U-Boats from 1943-1945. You can continue with your U-Boat commander from this game or create anew.

GMT Games The Hunters:

Rulesbook, Errata, etc.:

GMT Games:


Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War came out almost exactly two years ago and brought the grimdark world of WH40k into the 4X realm for t...

WH40k: Gladius - T'au Faction and Assault Pack DLC WH40k: Gladius - T'au Faction and Assault Pack DLC

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

Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War came out almost exactly two years ago and brought the grimdark world of WH40k into the 4X realm for the first time. Being the grimdark world of 40k, most of the focus was on just one of those X's - eXterminate. This made for a game that was not nearly as deep as the likes of Civilization, but excelled in its chosen area of focus: tactical combat. You can read my full review of the game here.

Today I'm here to discuss two recent DLC additions to the game. The T'au faction, and the Assault Pack. Gladius is a game that benefits greatly from new factions being added to the mix, since it started with just four, and could run into replayability issues as each play of the game is fairly similar. To counter the relatively simple gameplay mechanics, each faction is designed to be distinct in how it plays and to lean heavily into the lore of the universe. The new T'au faction brings its unique blend of high-tech mechanized units and Greater Good ideology to the fray. The T'au only want us all to live in harmony within their empire, so get on board! (Or else.) They at least give you the option. In a universe where almost everyone else is genocidal by default, that makes them the "good guys" to some extent.

Reflecting this ideology, the T'au get several powers that help them to influence other entities in the game, rather than simply doing damage. Some of the local wildlife can be converted to your cause, boosting your forces early on before your Fire Warriors unlock some of their many special abilities. Other abilities allow you to weaken the resolve of the enemy, by lowering morale of units and the loyalty of cities. You can also recruit people into your cities by spreading the good news of the Greater Good. 

As always with Gladius, the core of the game is the tactical combat and the huge variety of units you can build to take part in that combat. Not to mention all the cool upgrades your forces will accumulate as you work your way up the tech tree. The T'au are a faction focused on ranged combat, having almost no units capable of surviving sustained melee battles. This leaves your early units very vulnerable to enemy factions like the Orks and Space Marines, who are tough to kill with light weapons, and love to get into melee. As you work your way through the tech tree, the T'au unlock numerous ways to mitigate their disadvantages and keep their foes at range. Every unit can summon a variety of drones that act as temporary units that can either fight or offer some kind of special ability. They also make great buffers between your units and the enemy. T'au infantry gain the ability to throw a variety of grenades, and vehicles eventually gain extra missiles. 

As one might guess from the faction theme of working for the Greater Good, the units have a lot of ways of supporting each other, making them more effective when, for example, one unit marks a target for the others, or a hero arrives who can boost the firepower of every unit on the line. 

Eventually, you'll be able to field the really fun stuff: the variety of T'au powered armor suits that scale from armored infantry to giant battle mechs. I found that the Crisis Battlesuits became the bread and butter of my forces. Tough enough to take a couple of hits, with the firepower to bring down even Space Marines. They are relatively slow, but a couple of Devilfish transports can taxi your army around the battlefield rapidly. Mix in some lighter and heavier units and the T'au can go toe to toe with any of the other factions. I finished my campaign as the T'au very much satisfied with the experience. I look forward to trying it again on a harder difficulty.

The other DLC that was recently released is the Assault Pack. This is a smaller offering that adds one new unit to each faction. This is a good buy if you really enjoy Gladius and want even more toys to play with. As the name suggests, this pack is all about offensive units, as opposed to last year's Fortification Pack which added powerful defensive options. There's some nice variety on offer here, with some factions receiving heavy transports (that boast plenty of firepower of their own), the Orks getting fast Warbikes, and the Tyranids a Scythed Hierodule, a monster even larger than the options they had before. At just $5, there is little harm in picking this one up if you like the game, especially if you already have all the factions on offer.

I can only imagine that there are several more factions in the pipeline for Gladius, and I look forward to trying them out! This is a game that only gets better as more options are added in. We still don't have any Eldar, and I would hazard a guess that they must be the next to arrive. 

The new expansions are available directly from Slitherine or on Steam and GoG.

- Joe Beard

Wise Bayonets 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia by Acies Edizioni   Alexander Suvorov (the last...

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

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

Wise Bayonets

17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia


Acies Edizioni

  Alexander Suvorov (the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire) is supposed to have fought sixty-three main engagements and won them all. Some military historians wish that he and Napoleon had been matched against each other during Wars of Revolutionary France. Some of the maxims that are attributed to him sound almost like they came from Napoleon's mouth:

"A strong pursuit, give no time for the enemy to think, take advantage of victory, uproot him, cut off his escape route."

"When the enemy is driven back, we have failed, and when he is cut off, encircled and dispersed, we have succeeded."

"One minute decides the outcome of a battle, one hour the success of a campaign, one day the fate of empires."

 In one way his views differed entirely from Napoleon's. Suvorov is often quoted as saying:

"The bullet is foolish, the bayonet wise."

 However, another saying attributed to him is more in sync with Napoleon's view of firepower:

"Fire opens the gates of victory."

 In 1799, while Napoleon had his hands full in Egypt, Suvorov was given the onus of reconquering Italy from France. In this he was matched against the French Generals Moreau and Macdonald. Moreau's part in this campaign is slight. Macdonald, on the other hand, was to feel the full fury of Suvorov and his Russians and Allies at the two day Battle of the Trebbia. Macdonald also had a storied career and was made a Marshal Of France. However, he was not in the same class of generals as Suvorov. So, this is the backdrop to Acies Edizioni's game about this battle. This is what comes with the game:

One Game Map 84x60cm.
216 5/8" counters and 140 1/2" counters
Four Player Aid Cards
One Rules and Scenarios Manual
Two six sided die

 The game uses these charts and tables:

Terrain Effects Chart
Combat Table
Initiative Track
Casualty Table & Losses Box (on the map)
Turn Record Track (on the map)

The game scale is:

1 turn: 1 hour (2 hours turns 1 and 12).
1 hex: 300 m (about 328 yards).
1 strength point: 2-300 men for infantry, 150-200 men for cavalry, and 2-3 guns.

 The rulebook is in full color and in large print. It is thirty-five pages long. The English translation of the Italian rules is very well done and there is no discernable Yoda speech. The designer, Enrico Acerbi, has included an excellent eight page historical commentary on the campaign and battle of the Trebbia at the end of the rulebook. The rulebook does not include samples of play. The map is well done, and shows the mostly open terrain dominated by the Tidone creek and Trebbia river. There are some higher elevations at the lower edge of the map, but the terrain is mostly clear, except for the marsh hexes next to both the river and creek. The fords and wooden bridges over both river and creek are the salient points to be aware of. The unit counters are 1/2" in size, and are very colorful, but easy to read. The general counters are 5/8", and come with well done small portraits of them. The marker counters (square, charge, etc.) are also well done. It comes with four separate paper like Player's Aids. Three are double-sided and one is single-sided. They are Initiative Track and Losses, Combat Tables and Terrain effect Chart, and the French and Russian setup pages. While not being of hard stock, they are printed in large type and are easy to read. The game itself comes with four scenarios, these are:

Scenario 1: The Battle of Tidone Creek - June 17th, 1799
Scenario 2: The Second Day - June 18th, 1799
Scenario 3: The Last Attack - June 19th, 1799
Scenario 4: The Campaign Game - June 17th-19th,1799

 The victory conditions for all of the scenarios is a combination of controlling hexes and inflicting Strength Point losses on your enemy.

 The game has a few nuances that you normally do not find in most tactical games. One of these is the ability of some artillery units to fire cannister. The weather plays no part in the game; during the battle it was hot and sunny. The games I have played have been touch and go affairs just like the actual battle. This is the Sequence of Play during the Command Phase:

"A. Command Phase
This phase is divided into four segments:
1. Command Segment
Units which are within the radius of their commanding officers are considered to be in command. The units beyond this radius are out-of-command (Place an Out of Command "OOC" marker on top of the out of command units).
2. Orders Segment
The Players check their Chains of Command. In this segment, it is possible to change old orders for new ones (5.3). The player may also declare "independent" brigade (s) in command (5.4).
Out of command officers maintain the order they had in the proceeding game turn, but they can try to change it in their activation (5.5)
3. Initiative Segment
The players roll a die to decide who goes first (7.0), and organize their formations on the Initiative Track (7.1).
4. Reorganization Segment
Players can try to reorganize their Disordered or Routed units if the type of order they received allows for it (19.0)."

Austro-Russian Counters

French Counters

 The game continues with an Action Phase in which Bombardment, Combat, Movement, and Attacking all take place. It might seem a little deep, but it is no harder to play than any other Tactical Napoleonic game, and a lot easier than some I own. The rules work on a tactical scale, and seem to allow, or force the player to use their units in a historical manner. The game does not feel like you are moving generic anytime units across the map. In some games you can substitute Heavy Cavalry for tanks and the action plays out like a WWII game. This is not one of those games. It plays out as a Napoleonic warfare game. As mentioned, it is not as deep as some tactical Napoleonic games, but it has enough bells and whistles to make a grognard happy, and not make a newbie run from the table screaming. 

1st Turn Setup, North and South are switched

 As far as the actual gameplay, this is a battle that should not have been fought. Macdonald was outmatched in wits and soldiers. He believed that help would come from Moreau that never appeared. In truth, Macdonald's force could very well have been wiped out or mauled much more severely than it was. The French can credit their soldiers' tenacity in saving their army. Playing as the French on the first day scenario or the campaign scenario, your first order should be to march quickly and grab all of the passages across the Tidone. Then you have to hold onto them no matter what. The French have more troops than the Allies early in the day. However, the tide changes with each passing turn. Playing as the Allies you can either try to hang onto at least one of the fords or the bridge over the Tidone, or wait until more of your force arrives during the day. For the second day and the campaign scenario, at least the French have the Trebbia River line to fall back on.

game in play shot

 Thank you Acies Edizioni for allowing me to review another of your fine games. My next review from them will take us to the Battle of Austerlitz for their game 'Moravian Sun'. These two games, and a third earlier one 'Massena at Loano', are based on the Vive la France: Empire rules system. The system is of medium complexity and is solitaire friendly.

The photos are from Adriano Visconti; many thanks.

Acies Edizioni:

Wise Bayonets:

My review of their game 'Durchbruch':


Isle of Cats is a successful Kickstarter from last year and one I’ve wanted to play since I first saw the Kickstarter version.  In the last ...

Isle of Cats Isle of Cats

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

Isle of Cats is a successful Kickstarter from last year and one I’ve wanted to play since I first saw the Kickstarter version.  In the last small gaming con I went to (pre-Covid) it was the one game that was being consistently played by nearly all the attendees...except me.  It has been on my wish-list ever since.

Isle of Cats is polyomino tile laying game, with a bit of card drafting thrown in.  During the game each player has to rescue as many cats from the Island as they can before Vesh Darkhand, the game’s baddy arrives to destroy the island… more on that later.

There are three game-play variants in the box which is a nice touch.  The family variant removes the card drafting amongst other things and is a simplified version of the game. There is also a solo variant, which introduces your malevolent Sister by way of two decks of cards which allow ‘her’ to remove cats, often the ones you want, from the selection.  The normal game-play is what I will focus this review on as I haven’t played the solo version and I’m trying to give a full overview..


Four player setup

The game sets up in about 5-10 minutes which depends on whether all players are familiar with the rules.  Each player is given a ship player-board on which they have to place as many cats from the doomed Island as possible.  You will also collect treasures and Oshax cats - a rare breed of cat, both of which will help to increase your score.

Beautiful bits and bobs

Each game is played over a series of 5 days which all start from drawing tiles from the discovery bag.  These tiles will either be treasure, or cats which should be placed in  two ‘fields’ around the island. You will entice these cats into your baskets with your fish which also act as a currency in the game.  Each day all players collect 20 fish from the supply which is added to any leftover fish from the last round.  Armed with your fish you will then draft 7 cards each.  Each card you keep after the draft will cost you fish. Keeping all 7 cards may reduce your ability to entice any cats into baskets so think ahead.

Board and card examples

There are five different types of cards:

Public Lessons and Private Lessons arguably have the biggest impact on the game.  They provide overall objectives that players will score lots of points for completing at the end of the game. The private ones are obviously private (duh!), and they allow each game, or at least your tactics each game to feel very different. 

After the solo rules in the manual there’s a page describing which lessons should be used at any one time.  Every game should use the core lessons and three modules of 8 lesson cards.  The retail version only comes with three modules (not a problem) but the the Kickstarter edition and the expansions add to the available modules and I’ve heard and even seen games where all the cards in the box have been used.  Good luck shuffling that stack, the retail version alone comes with 150 cards.

Anytime Cards allow an immediate bonus to be taken and can be played at any point during a day, they don’t even have to be during one your turns.

A treasure, anytime and lesson cards

Treasure Cards allow you to take a rare treasure or several common treasures from the supply.  These will provide end-game scoring and may additional fulfil Lesson objectives effectively scoring twice (if you’ve got the right cards played).

Rescue Cards are how you take cats from the fields i.e. the whole point of the game.  They each have a speed and an icon of a basket or half a basket.  The total speed (shown by the number of boots on the card)each player has in their hand dictates the play order until the next round.  You may think a valid tactic would be to buy lots of fast cards and choose the best cats, but there are so many private lessons that your opponents don’t want the cat you think they do…
Baskets and boots on the Rescue Cards

It is best just to play to your own board and private and public lessons.  There are too many hidden cards and available cats each round to try to deny cats from others.  There are a few exceptions, the Oshax are always welcome and you should try to get those before your opponents.

As well as paying fish to keep cards, you’ll also need to pay fish to entice cats into your baskets.  You can only ever have 1 cat in 1 complete basket, two half baskets make a complete basket in this case. So you need to be quite careful in making sure you keep enough fish after the card draft to be able to entice the cats into your basket and onto your boat.
After the first day

Your boat is made up of 7 rooms, 19 rats and 5 treasure maps.  Each cat will be placed onto your boat, eventually filling rooms, covering rats and treasure maps.  The cat tiles themselves are a variety of different shapes and filling your boat, or even a room, often takes some mental gymnastics in trying to visualise how a tile (they are all reversible) can fit onto your boat and at the same time attempting to fulfil the public and private lessons.  

You will receive negative points at the end of the game for each visible rat and unfilled room left on your boat.  The cats are all coloured and when they’re being placed on the boat you’ll get more points for keeping more of the same coloured cats together, e.g. red cats with the red cat family.  The Oshax rare breed acts as a wild card and allows you to score an extra cat on an adjacent family of cats.
The end of the game


As with many successful Kickstarter projects the first thing I noticed is how well produced all the components are.  The player board cards and box are thicker than standard and the wooden cat meeples are a nice touch.  All the tile components feel very robust and would stand up to many, many repeated plays being jumbled about in the discovery bag.
The Island
The art is lovely throughout the game and there are lots of interesting flourishes throughout the tiles and player boards.


My main criticism, and it will probably be one of the major draws for others is one of theme.  The concept of the baddy ‘Vesh’ is interspersed throughout the rule book with Story boxes. However, I found it completely un-engaging (not a cat person - sorry!) and the theme and the mechanics didn’t really make any sense to me. 

The rules (and a strange story)

There are quite a lot of different mechanisms going on with what in reality is a simple tile laying game.  Traditionally tile-laying games are quite simplistic and their mechanic and theme similarly so (think Kingdomino - dominoes with variable player order or Patchwork - quintessential tile laying), Isle of Cats takes that simplicity and adds complexity.  I love heavier games but the theme, the primary mechanism and the complexity of the game didn’t match up for me. 

For example the cats in the left field cost 3 fish, the cats in the right field cost 5.  Obviously, the impetus will be to by the cheaper cats but there is no correlation between cost and how useful the cats are.  Why are lessons, called lessons and not objectives? Why do we all get 20 fish at the start of the round regardless of how well or poorly we’re doing. Why is Vesh intent on destroying the world, and how does saving these cats help? I could go on.

No insert - but ultra thick cardboard

The discovery cards provide some variation between games but due to the sheer number of them, many with similar effects, I am not clear if they provide any constraint to players.  Limiting players options or forcing tactical agility is where more complex games shine.  Aside from a simple cost, and a few negative scoring cards, these cards just provide benefit after benefit. 


I like the amount of planning ahead that is required to do well in this game. Equally I dislike the fact that my masterful (/s) plans can be unknowingly thwarted by the other players. 

 Maybe I’m just a sour-puss from missing out of the repeated plays at the last gaming convention I attended but I do think this game has suffered from being on the Kickstarter Hype Train. There’s a great game in this box but I think it’s the simpler family game.  The card daft, and byzantine scoring calculations required by the public and private lessons add needless complexity to an otherwise great game. I can understand the desire to have a more complex tile-laying game but I think Isle of Cats has missed the mark.  But they have hit the bullseye for a multi-player family friendly tile-laying game.

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending this review copy. This is still in stock in many stores and it may be just the right antidote to support your FLGS when they open up on the 4th July.  You can use this link to find your FLGS or use their online store. .

Designer: Frank West
Play time: 90 minutes.
Players: 1 – 4 players (6 with expansions)

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C.  Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts ...

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts

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

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. 

Volume II: Battles & Tactics


Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts

 Alexander's last words were recorded in several different versions. One of them was that he wished he could see his 'funeral games'; another version says he left his empire "to the strongest". If he did actually say either, it was pretty astute of him. The 'funeral games' and the fight for primacy took up the next four decades. The wars after Alexander's death occupied the Hellenistic World until the end of the Hellenistic Age. The main antagonist of these wars was Antigonus Monophthalmus (the one-eyed). According to Plutarch he was the "oldest and greatest" of the Diadochi (Successors). The wars and battles continued for so many years because a few of the Diadochi were trying to be the last one standing, and conquering the entire kingdom that Alexander had held at his death.

  This book is Volume II in the series. The first volume dealt with Wars of the Diadochi. This volume deals with their battles and the tactics used in them. The greatest battle of the age and one of the largest battles in Ancient History is described here. That would be the Battle of Ipsus. It was fought in 301 B.C. On one side you had Antigonus, Demetrius, and Pyrrhus. The other side was populated by troops from all of the other Diadochi. Seleuces was there along with his 400 elephants! Lysimachus was also present on the field. Ipsus ended the Antigonid dream of reuniting the empire. Antigonus was killed and Demetrius was forced to flee. 

 Just as in Volume I, the information in this book is priceless for both the history lover and wargamer. To see how exactly the great generals of the time used their elephants, phalanxes, and cavalry in battle is eye opening, and sometimes different then what we think their use was. Many of us also believe that when an ancient battle was being lost there was not much a general at the time could do about it. The fact that Antigonus twice pulled his irons from the fire and came up with victories puts paid on that score. 

 Thank you Casemate Publishers, for letting me review this great second volume. No one with an interest of the military history of the period should be without the set.


Book: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. : Volume II Battles & Tactics
Authors: Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

It's exactly what it says on the tin, here's a video of me running through the demo for Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift . If you s...

Let's Play Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift Demo Let's Play Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift Demo

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

It's exactly what it says on the tin, here's a video of me running through the demo for Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift. If you scurry over to Steam right away you can grab the demo yourself (it goes away June 22nd), but if you missed it or just want to kick back and watch a video, here are the four missions featured in the demo.

- Joe Beard

LIBERTAD O MUERTE from AVALON-DIGITAL When I first received this beta version of what was originally entitled Libertadores from Ava...


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

When I first received this beta version of what was originally entitled Libertadores from Avalon-Digital and has finally be named Libertad o Muerte, it didn't even have a rule book available online. However, from my experience with their digital game Battles for Spain, I was able to start to explore the game as most of the mechanics are identical.  Obviously, we're in a different time and a different part of the world altogether with a very different feel to it.

My knowledge prior to this game was purely the name Simon Bolivar whose nickname, El Libertador, lent itself to the game's initially projected title and whose surname is the title of the first Scenario.

The historical background is the Wars of Independence in the Spanish colonies of South America from 1810-1825.  The two players represent the conflicting factions: the Patriots against the Royalists.

Once more, we are in the digital manifestation of the sort of tabletop board wargame that stacks out my game shelves. It's an IGO-UGO system with the Patriot player going first and the Royalist Player second.  You can play either side against the computer A.I., but there's also the option to use playbymail to take on another human opponent.

A familiar framework of Phases takes you the through the rules and as with Battles In Spain, there is now a full 52 page online rule book that you can access.  
The Phases speak for themselves.:
Draw Cards
Naval Movement
Naval Combat
Land Movement
Land Combat
Place Purchased Units
As with so many digital games, the actions are often far swifter to execute than manipulating physical counters and negotiating a paper rulebook.  
Draw Cards and Reinforcement Phases
As with all good card assisted games, this is the opportunity to pick up some of the essential history belonging to this campaign.  Any Event cards will be outlined in purple and have to be played immediately.   I'd also strongly advise reading the inroduction to each Scenario carefully, where you'll find information crucial to winning the game, particularly key regions to eithe hold or capture.

A typical Event that gives the Patriots some VPs 

and increases the Tension Index

Some cards will provide reinforcements that will appear in a later Phase.  These tend to a Leader and some accompanying units and the potential areas that they can be placed in will be highlighted by those areas turning green.  Along with the familiar three arms, you may at times receive ships and privateers.  I always like games that do more than jus provide basic fodder, but create the ambience of the period through touches of chrome like this.
Income and Maintenance
These are the type of Phases which I hate when they appear in a board wargame: the totting up of how much money you're bringing in and how much maintaining your troops cost.  In a computer game, I'm happy because the computer does it for me.  The only input you may need to have is if you don't have enough to pay all your troops and then you will be presented with a list to click on those you choose to retain and pay for.
Purchase [every other turn]
Having had the hard work done for you, you are now free to buy units with any military resources or use some for replacement points.  Once again where you can place what you buy will be shown by the areas being lit up.  This is a very useful help, as some types of units can only be placed in certain types of terrain.  No making accidental mistakes. A final good point is that a black silhouette of the type of unit is left in the area.  The unit will be placed there in a later Phase*.  

Primarily we're in the era of infantry, cavalry and artillery with combat and movement strengths as well as morale.  Replacing the steps that you would have in a physical copy, each counter shows its steps by a number of green dots -  a nice point is that some units that arrive as reinforcements aren't always at full strength! 
A simple process of clicking on a stack and dragging it to its destination takes care of movement.  An aspect I like is that not only does the program, as you'd expect, not let you exceed movement allowances, it also provides a written message if there are other reasons why the move cannot be made.  Wish I could be programmed to avoid those mistakes when I'm playing with physical components!
This is one area that I want to control for myself, but in this game you can't.  For once, the computer taking control for me is not a good idea.  It does make battles fast, but I like games where I can choose how I line up my units, see the dice rolls and know why I've hit or missed.  In games where you've masses of counters that can become a chore, but this is not that type of game. By and large these are fairly low unit encounters.  I have several computer games that employ an almost identical mechanism and visual display for battles as Libertadores does, but give you that degree of control where I think it matters. 
These are fairly rare and occur when you have units in an area and the only enemy, often just a garrison, are in a city.  They are handled by a simple die roll system.
*Place Purchased Units
As it says, this is when you actually get those units you bought earlier.  
Similarly this is when you can use the replacement points you purchased earlier.

All in all this is a very satisfying system with an interface that is largely intuitive and a clear rule book to clarify any uncertainties you might have about carrying out any functions.  At 52 pages it seems like you've got a fairly deep game on your hands, but text size and plentiful illustrations in fact make this a rule book I'd be very happy to have if this was a conventional board wargame sitting on my dining room table.  After a session or two, I doubt that you'll have any need to refer to it, especially if you take the time to go through the Learning Tutorials.   

Turns go by quickly and smoothly with the ability to set your A.I. opponent at three levels of difficulty: Basic, Voluntary and Expert.  The centre one is the default setting with the choice to make it easier or more difficult.   The Scenarios are diverse and range from ones that cover a small portion of the map to much vaster campaigns.  For this, navigation around the map couldn't be easier with the mouse wheel making zooming in and out at your fingertips, as seen below.  One minor draw back is that when the A.I. is playing the map zooms out.  You can manage to manually reframe this, but as it moves from Phase to Phase it automatically zooms out again.  I believe that small irritant is something the company are hoping to improve.

The Big Picture
A Closer Look
I've greatly enjoyed this game and would particularly recommend it to those, like me, who enjoy what is essentially a traditional board wargame in digital format with many of the advantages of the latter form.  In fact, I hope that the rumours I've heard of its intended production as a traditional board wargame come to fruition.  It's certainly one I'd like to have in front of me handling the excellent cards, moving the pieces physically and conducting the battles myself - I'd even put up with having to work out my own income, payment and resources!

As always many thanks to AvalonDigital for providing a review copy

The game can be purchased direct from AvalonDigital for 19.99 euros.