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If you're curious about  WarPlan the new strategic level WW2 game from Kraken Studios and Matrix Games, look no further than the v...

WarPlan - First Look at Beta (Video) WarPlan - First Look at Beta (Video)

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



If you're curious about WarPlan the new strategic level WW2 game from Kraken Studios and Matrix Games, look no further than the video below. I give the game a quick spin, going through the various menus and invading a bit of Poland. 

Please note that the game is still in beta!







- Joe Beard

Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition by  GMT Games   Paths of Glory started out as a book by Humphrey Cobb. It was then ...

Paths of Glory deluxe Edition by GMT Games Paths of Glory deluxe Edition by GMT Games

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

Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition

by

 GMT Games








  Paths of Glory started out as a book by Humphrey Cobb. It was then turned into a movie, by none other than Stanley Kubrick. Both in their own right are hailed as one of the best anti-war pieces in their own milieu. Here is a quote from the book: "the paths of glory lead but to the grave". World War I saw the advent of killing in Western Europe on an unprecedented scale. Machine guns, terror bombings, the chemical warfare, to name just a few, come during the years 1914-1918. So it would seem a little incongruent for one of the best games on World War I to use the same name. I must digress for a moment about wargamers and our hobby. We seem to be painted with a brush that condemns us as warmongering geeks. The actual reality is as far from that as possible. In our reading and playing, we get to glimpse the worst and best side of man. We emulate battles as a mental game, much as Chess was in its infancy. I will now return the soapbox to its proper place. The First World War led directly to the Second and helped transform our world into what it is today.


 The games name notwithstanding, it has been one of the most popular WWI games since its release in 1999. This review is of the deluxe edition released by GMT Games in 2018. Here is list of what comes with this edition:


  • One 22" x 34" double-sided mounted mapboard (Classic Simonitch Map and the new Historical Scenario map by Terry Leeds.)
  • 316 full-color die cut counters including the optional counters first released in the POG Player’s Guide in 2002.
  • Updated 2017 Edition Rule Book incorporating prior rulings and errata.
  • 110 Core Strategy Cards & 20 Optional Cards from the POG Player’s Guide.
  • Updated Two Player Aid Cards
  • Two six-sided dice 


This pic includes the old map


 The game uses point-to-point mechanics for movement. Each game turn represents three months. As was listed, this edition comes with a two-sided mounted map. There is a new map for this edition by Terry Leads, and the reverse has the classic map by Mark Simonitch. The new map represents players' inputs through the different editions. The Rule Book is thirty-nine pages long. It is in color and has an adequate amount of illustrations of game play. This being the sixth edition of the game, the rule book has red diamond markings on new rules or significant changes. There are four scenarios that are available to the player. The Introductory Scenario ends after three turns. The next is the Limited War scenario that ends at turn 10, or the end of the 1916 summer turn. The Campaign Game ends at the end of 1919. Of course, there are many ways of winning an automatic victory in all of those. The Historical Scenario is described as "Refined over hundreds of playings, the historical scenario is a finely balanced match suitable for competitive and organized matches. The new 'Deluxe' map uses the historical scenario conditions and these rules are aligned with the historical scenario used in tournaments." The player is free to try the Schlieffen Plan (the plan and its authorship is now in debate by historians), or turn Germany's attention to Russia. 


 
New Map

 The game is played through the Strategy Cards the players receive. To quote the rule book "In Paths of Glory, the Strategy Cards are the heart of the game. The players initiate all actions, including movement and combat, through the play of Strategy Cards." The cards are all based on actual events, or strategies etc. that occurred in WWI. This is the sequence of play:

A. Mandated Offensive Phase
B. Action Phase
C. Attrition Phase
D. Siege Phase
E. War Status Phase
  E.1. Check the Victory Point Table
  E.2. Determine if Automatic Victory has occurred.
  E.3. Determine if Armistice has been declared.
  E.4. Check War Commitment Levels (not on Turn 1).
F. Replacement Phase
  F.1. Allied Powers Segment
  F.2. Central Powers Segment
G. Draw Strategy Card Phase
H. End of Turns





 The counters used in the the game are either Corps or Armies. Corps units are 1/2" sized, while Army units are 5/8" sized. As in most games the front of the counter represents full strength while it's obverse is reduced strength. 






 War Status is one of the innovative concepts that is in the game. The three different War Statuses are Mobilization, Limited War, Total War. This mechanic shows how the different nations moved from what they thought was going to happen in the war to the reality they were presented with. All of Europe headed down the rabbit hole and didn't look back. The War Status mechanic gives the player more strategies to use, but it is a double-edged sword. The higher the War Status the more cards, etc. your opponent can use to block your moves and make his own path to winning. The players are also able to add optional cards to the game. These cards are numbers 56-65. Some of these are:

The Sixtus Affair
Paris Taxis
Prince Max
Stavka Timidity



 From when it burst on the scene in 1999 and won a Charles S. Roberts award, this game has only gone from strength to strength. Many people consider it their favorite Wargame and now I know why. Its pull is not just on gamers who like WWI, gamers who are just looking for one of the best wargames are pulled into its orbit. It is certainly not the flashiest of wargames, but it works visually very well. As far as gameplay, you would be hard pressed to find a better designed game. This is why it is so popular in tournament play. GMT also has the 'Paths of Glory Player's Guide' for sale. This is a treasure trove of information acquired by players after many games. It also has new scenario setups for each year designed by Ted Racier, the game's designer. I will list some links for the reader below. Thank you GMT Games for letting me review this classic/new game.

The Vikings have landed on the shores of Field of Glory II from Byzantine Games and Slitherine. In this fifth DLC add-on for the tactica...

Field of Glory II - Wolves at the Gate DLC Field of Glory II - Wolves at the Gate DLC

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



The Vikings have landed on the shores of Field of Glory II from Byzantine Games and Slitherine. In this fifth DLC add-on for the tactical turn based ancient warfare sandbox, the timeline is extended much further into the future, all the way up to 1040 AD. The base game "only" covers 280 BC to 20 BC, for reference. You can read our original review here. Since it's release, other DLC have covered the highs and lows of the Roman Empire (both East and West), with other packs focusing on the earlier powers of the Mediterranean and Middle East like the Greeks and Persians. This pack moves us firmly into the so-called "Dark Ages" of history, when the lack of a civilizing influence from Rome led to barbarians and heathens running wild across Europe. As any history buff knows, this concept is rather passé these days, but it still makes for a pretty good theme for a wargame. 




If you're reading this, you probably have a pretty good idea of what Field of Glory II is like, so I'll get to exactly what's on the tin of this latest DLC. Wolves at the Gate expands FoG II by adding:


  • 19 new factions
  • 55 new units
  • 76 new army lists
  • 6 new Epic Battles
  • 74 new Quick Battles
  • Expanded Custom Battles module.
  • Expanded Sandbox Campaign module.
  • 6 new historically-based campaigns.
  • New Allies feature added in accompanying game update.



You can get the full list of factions and armies from the product page, but I'll list off a few that might get your attention. The Vikings are most definitely here, and I played a few battles with them. Huscarls and Berserkers give them quite an offensive punch, though their other infantry are a bit rubbish. Also, don't expect too much cavalry support. Some of the battles I played in this era were purely melee infantry affairs, with not an archer or mounted warrior in sight. This was quite different from the last DLC I played, Age of Belisarius, which featured the exact opposite, with mounted archers dominating the battlefield. There are many other armies representing northern Europe on hand as well. The Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Scots, Irish, British, Visigoths and more have all come to play. There is also plenty of new content here for the east, with the Byzantine and Arab rosters being filled out with multiple armies. Going even further east, some Indian factions are represented and featured in a full campaign. Here's the full list of new campaigns so you can see some of the major historical figures who fit into this era:


  • Arab Conquest
  • Basil II (Byzantine Resurgence)
  • Charlemagne
  • Mahmud of Ghazni
  • Wolves from the Sea 1(Viking Age from Viking point of view)
  • Wolves from the Sea 2(Viking Age from enemy point of view)


  • I tried a sampling of the campaigns and found them all to offer some different flavors of combat. If you have played any of the previous campaigns in Field of Glory II, these work the same way. You go from battle to battle with some small choices in between that change the scenarios a bit. There is also, as always, a sandbox campaign mode that plays similarly but lets you take your nation of choice and go up against a variety of historical enemies in randomly generated battles.


    One new feature that was patched into the game alongside this DLC is the "Allies" feature. This lets you mix in units of historical allies with a given army roster in custom battles. This means even more variety as you can spice up your favorite faction or army with some new units. If you like ancients warfare games, this is really a one stop shop. I can only assume, based on Field of Glory I, that there is plenty more DLC coming that will add more and more factions to the game. Just about any match-up you can imagine is either in the game already or will be before long. 

    I thought I'd end the review with a little recap of how the Battle of Clontarf went for me. This is one of the epic battles included, and one that I had never heard of before. The battle featured a mix of Vikings and Irishmen fighting for control of the Emerald Isle. It was an infantry only battle, which was actually tactically interesting, as my standard strategies involving archers and cavalry were not options at all.



    The battle lines are drawn up. A roughly equal number of infantry on each side are facing off across mostly flat ground. I'll need to look for any advantage that could give me some leverage.



    I'm commanding the forces of Brian Boru, the man credited with breaking the hold of the Vikings over Ireland by decisively winning this battle. Hopefully I can match up to my historical counter-part!



    The fighting begins, but both sides have a large reserve of infantry not yet committed to the line. I try to position my men to take advantage of a couple of dips in the terrain. Units fighting uphill will always have a harder time of it. 



    Now the fighting is raging in earnest, units begin to waver and break all down the line. On my left flank I see an opportunity. A morale check cascade causes multiple enemy units to waver, and I have several strong infantry units on the far edge of the line. If I can hit the enemy just a couple more times they should go from bending to breaking.



    Success! The enemy's right flank flees the field and my strongest units are positioned to roll up the line. Although my center and right flank wavers off-camera, my forces manage to hold. Catching the entire enemy line in the flank as I'm about to do above is essentially game over. With no strong enemy reserve on hand to blunt my advance, my forces hack their way down the line, routing the enemy units one after another. The Vikings are driven from Ireland!

    Field of Glory II continues to entertain me even after a couple of years of playing off and on. I really wanted to enjoy the fist game in the series, but could never quite get into it. The sequel however gets me hooked every time I fire it up. I always want to take just one more turn, and see if this time I can finally crack the enemy line, or find out whether my flank can hold long enough for my overall strategy to come together. Wolves at the Gate doesn't fundamentally change anything about the game, but it does offer a new series of campaigns and scenarios to play around with. This game really is a massive sandbox, and more toys always makes the sandbox more fun!

    The DLC can be purchased directly from Slitherine/Matrix. It's also available on Steam and GoG.com. 

    - Joe Beard

    THUNDER IN THE EAST from VICTORY POINT GAMES When I reviewed Nemo's War , I didn't think that Victory Point Games could su...

    THUNDER IN THE EAST THUNDER IN THE EAST

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

    THUNDER IN THE EAST
    from
    VICTORY POINT GAMES
    When I reviewed Nemo's War, I didn't think that Victory Point Games could surpass the level of quality shown in that game.  In some respects I was right. It's hard to imagine that the quality of artwork, the thickness of counters, the superb mounted game board and the glossy rule book could be improved on.  BUT, Thunder in The East [TitE] has certainly moved the goalposts in other areas of VPG's output.  

    This may be no surprise, considering that the game's designer is the legendary Frank Chadwick co-founder of GDW [Games Designers Workshop] back in the 70s when my boardwargaming days began.  Famed for an amazing diversity of games, perhaps two stand out: Traveller the iconic role-playing sci-fi and the Europa series covering WWII. 

    There can be no doubt that Thunder in The East is a proud descendant of that series.  This first instalment in Frank Chadwick's intended magnum opus series titled European Theater of Operations [ETO] is massive, just as its designer's ambitious intentions are massive.  There have been some quibbles on the various forums over whether it is a "monster" game or merely a "mini-monster" - let's just settle for it's BIG, BIG, BIG!  To be precise 124 cm x 95cm or, as the back of the box surprisingly tells us in these metric days, 49 inches x 41 inches!

    This superb map gives room to play out the whole of the WWII on the Russian Front from 1941-1944.  So, perhaps by the standards of 1973 when it took two massive games [Drang Nach Osten and subsequently Unentschieden] made up of 9 maps in total to cover the same geographic area and timescale, TitE is a not as physically daunting, but it still means that my camera couldn't do full justice to the map!

    Let me say that I love the assembled maps, for the manageable size [I haven't had to have my arms forcibly extended], clarity of detail, colour blends and perfect alignment. There has been, in my opinion, undue criticism of the fact that the smaller south eastern map's colour match is slightly lighter.  I've found it neither any hindrance to play nor to the overall aesthetics of the game.

    Unfortunately some copies have had misaligned counter printing which in our age of immediate reaction tends to produce intemperate online postings.  A simple request to VPG is the solution, not an online outburst.  From a range of companies over the years I've experienced everything from missing counters,maps and a rulebook as well as misaligned counters [in that last case, over 50% of the reverse of all my counters in the original Streets of Stalingrad].  It's rare that a polite request for replacements doesn't do the trick, even back in the days when an airmail had to wing its way to the USA, wait for a similar reply and then await shipping!  

    My own copy, as with all the gamers I know who've bought a copy has been perfect and once more they are substantial with pre-rounded edges and great to look at.

    Considering the number - 12 full sheets [plus a very small 13th sheet!] and the number that are combat units, I'm very grateful for the simple, large figures and even more so for the decision to have three sizes of counter.  More about those later.

    However, it has to be said that this is not a game that can be managed without considerable devotion of space and time to the undertaking.  Even with my special boards covering 64 inches by 42 inches, I can accommodate only the maps, the two Faction Displays and the Air Display.  This leaves three further display sheets to be laid out, never mind the six further Player Aids [3 per player] that don't have to be spread out with markers on them, but contain a serious amount of double-sided information essential to play!


    Just one double-sided play aid


    Three display mats for markers
    So, TitE is for those lucky enough to have a room or "significant" space where the game can be left undisturbed for a period of time or, like myself, willing to wait for the convention weekends or longer when this type of game frequently makes its appearance, often with two players per side.  I should point out that this sort of time scale [from one to several days] is needed just to play one of the six scenarios!  Should you be inclined to attempt the whole war on the Eastern Front, then book your holidays or be prepared and able to leave the game set up permanently to be returned to for weekly sessions. 

    Having looked at the WHEN and WHERE of playing this game, we inevitably, we come to HOW.  In other words, the rule book and BOOK is what it is.  I have held and learned longer rulebooks, but rarely one of this quality.  In fact, it reminds me of many of my Osprey military books, except that the page size is much larger!  




    It is high gloss with many examples and illustrations.  White space is used to great benefit, but much of the text is in a print size that my optician's form classes as the smallest readable!


    Though this may cause some problems for aging eye-sight, a number of factors have been introduced to attempt to make this a workable document.  First is the simple and familiar decision to divide the rules into three sections: Standard [60 pages], Optional 13 pages and Campaign 15 pages.  In addition, a small number of both Optional and Campaign rules, colour-coded with yellow and orange backgrounds, are incorporated in the Standard Rules.  This is a great idea and is carefully explained.  



    I just wish that, having established these essential colour codings,  the rules format hadn't then gone on to use a series of other coloured backgrounds purely to highlight features - e.g. overcast weather rules are printed against a grey background and mud rules against a brown background.  Another slight puzzle: why ZOCs and the Sequence of Play get labelled Big Ideas Part I may make some sense, but do Capturing Objectives and Weather Effects deserve to be considered as Big Ideas Part II?

    There is a vast amount of information to be absorbed - another reason why playing in teams has its advantages.  Two heads or rather four are definitely better than one when it comes to remembering all the minutiae of detail.  Nevertheless, at the heart of the game, two basic ideas go a long way to grounding the weight of rules in a very manageable starting point.


    Just over half the counters in TitE
    This is where the concept of having three distinctive sizes of unit counter comes in.  This combines with an excellent stacking rule that allows a maximum of three units in a hex, with one of each type in total or any equivalent combination.  So, your choice is simple from the following:

    1 large/1 medium/1 small 
    2 medium/1 small 
    1 medium/2small 
    1 large/2 small 
    3 small.

    First of all this keeps the board very clean and clear despite a large number of counters.  No tottering stacks here, thank you, and counters are easy to distinguish, organise and physically pick up and move on the map.  The inclusion of large circular markers for HQs looks stunning and is another great help to game play.  Smaller conventional square HQ markers are provided for those who prefer them, but I like the ability to see at glance exactly where my HQs are! 

    The second basic idea to help ease play is the limit on how many units can attack through each hex side.  Again ultra-easy - 

    one Large + one Small 
    or one Medium + one Small 
    or two Small

    In the past, I've watched players coping [or not coping] with high stacks and sorting through endlessly to find just what they need and consequently have been discouraged from participating in many another monster game.  TitE does not have that effect on me.  

    Nevertheless, there are many rules to absorb and I'm not sure that having to declare all Combats first [including placing helpful little odds ratio markers], before executing any of them is one of my favourites.  I was also surprised to find that Air Combat needs seven pages of rules, while Ground Combat takes only four pages!  Certainly happy that the Ground Combat rules are so compact.  So, why make the air rules so lengthy and detailed?  Thankfully, the Naval rules come in the Optional section.


    In fact, the rules in total are for me a mixture of pluses and minuses in their scale and scope.  All are well explained and thorough. Movement and Combat, the heart of the game, are succinct and excellent.  If only other areas could have been dealt with in the same way.  More than anything it is the thirteen pages of Logistics that seem disproportionately long.  Covered are such aspects as Supply, Repair & Recovery, Unit Substitution, Purchase with Repair Points, Building and Improving Pieces.  Familiar aspects from many games I've played and each does its job well, but there's a lot to step through.  At times I feel that the trees are slightly obscuring the forest.

    However, the Reference Book is an excellent help in keeping me sane, while I negotiate the paths of the rule book.

    Many games have an alphabetic glossary, but usually it is at most two or three pages long incorporated into the rule book. TitE's is 12 pages long in its own separate booklet and as wonderfully glossy as all the written material in this game.  Besides, nearly every single term has a small colour picture to illustrate it.  It's a great asset, as is the next item, the Scenario book.

    This is a further substantial 40 pages leading through the six scenarios from Operation Barbarossa to Operation Bagration. In turn, each one details scenario length and starting weather, special rules and victory conditions and then starting set-up and is rounded off with additional deployment information for when using Optional rules or playing the Campaign game and finally ends with a detailed picture of the Economic Mat [again only used when playing the campaign game].


    To turn to a practical note, over and above the depth of rules, are the dice in the game, ranging from normal D6s, special support dice related to Ground Combat and a set of yellow dice used as a very helpful visual aid on the map that assists in the identifying and executing of Supply.
    Normal D6s and Special Combat Support Dice
    Special Dice to aid Supply Logistics
    The final element in the game play is a substantial deck of Event cards that I like, both for the additional historical details and potential uncertainties they always bring, but even more so for how they are used.  This is no simple sequence of turn a card over and apply its effects.  Both players have a hand of cards which they can use to play in the appropriate Phases of the game.  Just as I welcomed the three sizes of unit counter, I'm equally impressed by the idea of having three sizes of Event: Large, Medium and Small and how to combine them.
     You can imagine how this will be used!

    Again great quality, with the bonus that I received the tuck-boxes to store the various cards in -  a very kind extra from VPG who, as always, I have to thank for their providing a review copy.

    So, my final thoughts are that Thunder In The East is definitely a manageable monster; the six Scenarios step you through each stage of the Great Patriotic War with map and counters that are just beautiful to look at; excellent core rules for movement and combat and stacking concepts that all make for ease of play, while logistics and the air rules are perhaps over detailed.   

    And not to forget that this is just the first step in the ETO series  - next up, though still in its playtesting stage, will be Vol II: The Middle Sea, where those Optional naval rules will become even more significant!



    Diesel Brothers: Truck Building Simulator By: Code Horizon & Playway  Diesel Brothers is a hit American series about a group ...

    Diesel Brothers: Truck Bulding Simulator Diesel Brothers: Truck Bulding Simulator

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

    Diesel Brothers: Truck Building Simulator
    By: Code Horizon & Playway 







    Diesel Brothers is a hit American series about a group of truckers who fix up vehicles and do stunts. The American series has aired over 5 seasons since premiering in 2016 to audiences. However, today we won't be focusing on the TV show. Diesel Brothers: Truck Building Simulator has recently been released and is a game to show the fans what it's like to fix up trucks or to see what it's like to be a part of the Diesel Brothers crew. This game is essentially the show, as the title says but as a simulator game. Simulator games have become quite popular in the last couple of years. With titles like Goat Simulator, House Flipper, and Farm Simulator still being popular to this day. However, I haven't heard of a TV show doing its own simulator game so that's definitely quite surprising. 



    Character Menu
    This simulator has a whole range of things you can do. From choosing a rundown truck, changing the tires on it, replacing all of the parts, spraying the truck and so much more. You can also buy and sell your trucks at auction which is how you make a big chunk of your money in this game. It all seems quite tactical, you need to think about what truck will bring you the most profit once you refurbish it, once you've figured out which are the best trucks to buy, the money should just keep coming in.

    There are lots of handy video tutorials for everything in the game, whether it's just selecting a character or for the more technical things like changing parts in your truck, they've got you covered if you get confused. Without the tutorials, the game is quite confusing. I found myself watching quite a few of them as I didn't understand how things worked. So that's one thing I'd recommend if you're planning on playing the game, watch the tutorials.

    A negative about these tutorials (even though they're useful) is that you have to go back to the computer in your garage to watch them. It would be a lot easier if they were just in the normal menu where you could access them at any point when you needed to.


    Repairing The Truck

    One of the most satisfying things in this game is when you get to paint your truck.  Each part can be a different colour and it's so much fun spraying each one. It is quite time consuming but completely worth it, to see what your truck turns out like in the end.


    Getting Rid Of Rust On The Truck Hood
    As I said before, you make money by repairing and upgrading trucks. You can do this through free play mode, which is my personal favourite because there are no rules and you are free to customize in whatever way you'd like to. Or, you can do it through quests. Quests are essentially like missions/commissions and this is how you get more money and fans. The more quests you do, the harder they quests get. They start off very simple, as this is the sort of game you really need to take your time with to understand each little section. They ask you at first, to just spray the trucks, then as you go on they get more complex, with some quests asking you to replace and upgrade basically the entire truck. There's a real sense of fulfillment when you finish a truck. Knowing that you made something that looked old and horrible into something modern and new again, It feels like a great accomplishment, and I love it when games make me feel like that.



    Spraying Truck Hood


    Completed Truck
    Diesel Brothers Truck Building Simulator is a very impressive and well-thought-out game. Putting the player in the shoes of one of the Diesel Brothers. If you're a fan of the show, or just love simulator titles, this is definitely the game for you. 


    Here is a quick summary of all the features in the game that I enjoyed:


    • Wide range of trucks to choose from, so gameplay never gets boring.
    • Lots of customization options for trucks. 
    • Many different areas to explore.
    • Realistic sounds when you're spraying a truck or removing one of the bolts. 
    • Feels like you're in a Diesel Brothers episode (Great for fans of the show).
    • You don't have to be a fan of the show to play the game.

    Diesel Brothers Truck Simulator is available to buy now on Steam



    Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games      This is another game where I am entering uncharted t...

    Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games

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

    Victory: World War II Second Edition

    by

    Columbia Games



      




     This is another game where I am entering uncharted territory. I was a dedicated hex and counter gamer for many years. Within the last two years I have been shown the errors of my ways as far as block and area wargames. Now Columbia Games has sent me a huge bundle of the game and add-ons for their game Victory. Victory is not a historical wargame. I know I shuddered too when I realized it. Victory allows you to fight a sandbox World War II, and what a sandbox! Especially with the add on maps, you can create pretty much any type of map configuration you want. I haven't seen anything with this randomness except in computer games. Of course, I have to add that until this game I held my nose up over non-historical wargames. Guess what, once more I have had to adjust my thinking about wargames. Let us see what comes with the base game:

    4 Geomorphic Maps
    100 Wooden Blocks
    Logistic markers
    Game Rules
    4 Dice

    Add-ons I was sent:

    Victory Blockset Orange
    Victory Blockset WW2 German (Black)
    Victory Blockset WW2 USA (Green)
    Victory Blockset WW2 Soviet (Red)
    Victory Dirty Dozen 12 Map Bundle (3-4, 7-16)

    There are too many other add-ons to list that can be purchased to enhance the game. Here is the webpage:





     Like the rest of Columbia Games, it is a deceptively easy game to begin playing. The rules are only nine pages long, and that includes a page of Advanced Rules. Let us look at the sequence of play:


    [1] INITIATIVE: Each player rolls 2d6. Highest total becomes Player Turn 1 for this Game Turn. Roll again to break ties for highest roll. 
     [2] MOVE PHASE: All players move, starting with Player-1, then clockwise in sequence.In turn, a player may move any/all unpinned units, but must make Strategic Moves (5.9) first. Hex control changes immediately
     [3] COMBAT PHASE: Each battle where Player-1 is the Attacker is fought to a conclusion in any sequence chosen by Player-1. Then resolve all battles where Player-2 is the Attacker, and so on. Reveal blocks only when a battle is fought. Aircraft involved in a battle, land after their battle ends.
     [4] SUPPLY & VICTORY CHECK: (Simultaneous)Check Supply of your units (See 7.0). Unsupplied Ground/Air Units immediately lose 1 step. Naval units ignore supply.• Determine if the game has been won by any player. Otherwise go to step [5].
    [5] PRODUCTION PHASE (Simultaneous)Build with available PPs in supplied cities. 




    Add on German, Soviet, and USA Stickers


     The game is one where both sides have exactly the same units and unit values (except for some of the historical units). I haven't played a game like this since Tactics II in the 1960s. I will tell you this, I had completely forgotten how tense and fun Tactics II really was. I always looked back at it as a quaint way to get into real wargaming. How wrong I was. The fact that you do not have a panzer unit with a strength of twenty-four or have to worry about your opponent having one puts an entirely new spin on wargaming. Oh sure, you could try to put all your tanks together, but that leaves the other player the chance to attack at numerous other points and possibly cut off your tanks. It is like a boxing match where both of the boxers have the same punch and strengths. So you are forced to play as well as you possibly can. I have included a link for the games FB page. There you can find user made scenarios, and some of them are historical in nature. As usual with a Columbia Block Game, the blocks have their different strength steps printed out on the block. This way you just turn the piece instead of looking for another counter. You can also handicap each player if needed by starting some of their units at a lower or higher strength.The built in fog of war that block games have is present as usual, although I have had no problem playing any of their games solo so far. 


     These are some of the unit markers used in the Advanced Rules:

    Factories
    Storms
    Destruction Markers for destroyed bridges and canals
    Airfields
    Mulberries




    Logistic markers


     This is the second edition of Victory: World War II. The 'elite' units, which have been tweaked and modified, are now included with the main game. I am a bit confused as to why there are not more reviews of this game, and not much postings or talk about the game either. It doesn't have many votes, but is very highly rated on BGG. As I mentioned, I had forgotten how much fun a sandbox game can actually be. Thank you, Columbia Games, for letting me review Victory, and for reminding me of my wargaming roots.



    One of the Add On Maps You Can Buy

     This is a neat idea to take your Victory battles to a lower level:



    Have an climatic battle taking place in Victory? Use Combat Infantry, Columbia Games’ tactical World War 2 wargame to play that battle out at squad level!




     
     This is the link for Columbia Games:

    http://columbiagames.com/

     This is the link for the game:

    http://columbiagames.com/victory/ 

    This is a link to the Victory FB page where you can find user created scenarios:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/346333536011986/


     

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… the thriving Empire of Lazax dominated the universe from their capital on Mecatol Rex, the ce...

    Twilight Imperium 4th Edition Twilight Imperium 4th Edition

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


    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… the thriving Empire of Lazax dominated the universe from their capital on Mecatol Rex, the centre of the galaxy. A great number of different races were part of their Empire, where trades and technology developments were flourishing under the peaceful rule of the Lazax.  As time passed, greed and apathy grew in the heart of the people which thrust the entire galaxy into a state of war.  The once mighty Lazax Empire was no more and the Lazax Emperor and his people were wiped out thrusting the entire galaxy into a war of succession, the Dark Years. The conflict raged and caused many civilisations to collapse and dwindle into a shadow of their former selves. Years later, as hope and pride started to return, the surviving races began to again aspire to the throne of Mecatol Rex and impose their rule upon the entire galaxy.

    You are the leader of one of these races and you're competing to elevate your power and influence upon the entire galaxy and to occupy Mecatol Rex as Emperor once more.

    You can watch my poor attempt at an unboxing video below:


    Gameplay

    The main objective of the game is to be the first player to 10 victory points.  'Just 10 !', I hear you say...well that paltry amount will still take the best part of 10+ glorious hours. These VPs come by fulfiling a variety of objective cards as the game progresses.  At the beginning of the game, public objectives are randomly selected and just two are revealed for the first round.  Each game will have five Stage I objectives (worth 1 VP) and five Stage II objectives (2 VP each). One more objective is revealed at the end of each round.
    Ready to go...this game is a table-hog.
    Each round has four phases, the Strategy phase, the Action phase, the Status phase, and in this case, the best has very much been saved till last, the Agenda phase.

    There are eight different strategy cards in the game which are available every round to the players.  During the Strategy phase, players choose their strategy card and receive its benefits for the remainder of the round.  Each strategy card has an initiative number, and a unique primary and secondary ability. The initiative number of the card determines the turn order for the round and like many other games cards that weren't chosen has a bonus, in this case, a trade good placed on it for the next round.  I really like this mechanism as at some point those low initiative strategy cards are too tempting to turn down.  Adding a bonus onto unplayed cards also reminds me of one of my favourite gateway games that I introduce new players to 'modern' Euros - Puerto Rico.
    All the strategy (cards) ...
    There are many different types of objectives in this game and the gameplay between experienced players reflects which objective cards have been revealed.  I did find that during the first few rounds of my first game, I completely ignored the public objectives to my detriment.  When the revealed objectives require technology boosts or aren't combative, then you may wrongly surmise that most players will remain peaceful during the turn and try to improve their tech or other aspects of their civilisation to meet those objectives. However, players are also given one secret objective at the start of the game which score VPs in exactly the same manner as public objectives.  

    The two main reasons I no longer play Puerto Rico with experienced players, is first I normally lose, but second, you can largely work out what your opponents will do by the board state, Puerto Rico is too prescriptive. The same definitely cannot be said here, there is no way, for me at least, to work out or even in some instances, understand what my opponents were doing.
    The Winnu claim Mecatol Rex
    During the Action phase, players take turns to do either a tactical, strategic or component action. A tactical action player activates a system (hex shaped tile) and moves their units into it. If there are enemy forces, a battle will ensue. If the battle is won by the invading force then their ground forces will start a ground battle on the planets which is a particularly bloody affair, ending only when one side is eliminated. 

    A space dock in the system will allow you to produce units there.  When a system is activated by a player, they must place their command token on that system.  This prevents you from activating the same system later in the round. This mechanism is also found in Star Wars Rebellion and provide a measure of inter-turn strategy that must be considered when moving your forces around the galaxy. You can generally only move a unit only once in the round. 

    Command tokens are used to do pretty much everything in this game and like all FFG games, this one comes with the standard plethora of tokens, only much more so!   However, these are a limited supply and you'll soon be crying out for more command tokens - using the secondary ability on other players strategy cards, that will be one command token please; want to increase the fleet size in a system, one command token.  You get the idea, give me more command tokens!
    Space Lions player board.
    During the Strategic action, the player plays their strategy card and uses its primary ability. Alongside the initiative numbers, the main purpose of choosing a particular strategy card is to get its primary ability.  For example, Strategy Card 2 (Diplomacy) prevents other players from attacking one of your systems and lets you re-use those planet’s resources again in the same round. After you’ve used the primary ability of your strategy card then all other players are given a choice if they want to use its secondary ability.  They must spend one command token and can revive two planes which they have previously spent on its resources. 

    The Learn-to-Play book has a very handy chart in the back for new players to match up the best strategy card with their immediate tactics. Want to research more technology? choose Card 7.  Do you occupy Mecatol Rex? Card 8 should definitely be your choice. Every time I picked a strategy card my mind was doing gymnastics trying to work out the convoluted permutations of the secondary abilities for each other player. i.e. trying to minimise their bonuses effect to my empire.  I love the hard decision space this game gives you which is quite unlike any other I have tried.  Although I wouldn't recommend playing this with AP-prone players, for obvious reasons.
    Rules, Learn to Play and the Lore Compendium. 
    A Component Action is an action in which you can play an action permitted by the components (cards) in front of you. This may also be a race-specific ability.  This is a kind of an optional action and can be used to (smash your opponents) delay using your pass (ending your entire round) manipulating the player order and having the advantage of moving last in the round.  I really like games that allow you to manipulate the turn order to either move early and strike first, or react to your opponents moves. Whenever I manage to pull off such a move in any game; TI4, Empire of the Sun or any of the COIN games spring to mind, I get a huge sense of accomplishment. Although it is usually shortlived because I forgot to anticipate my opponents' next move.

    After all players have passed in the Action Phase, players score up to one public and one secret objective, if possible in the Status phase.  One public objective is newly revealed, and players draw some action cards, collect and redistribute their command tokens on the command sheet etc. etc. Basically, you're getting the game board in a fit state for the next round. However, if someone occupies Mecatol Rec, then the Agenda Phase follows.
    The battle for Mecatol Rex rages on.
    If you've played Diplomacy you'll almost know what to expect in the Agenda Phase, blackmailing,  bribing, lying just like politics today...  The Galactic Council sits in session, chaired by the current speaker and each race is represented to discuss important issues in the galaxy. If you've seen Star Wars I, it's that, but much more interesting... An Agenda Card is drawn, and players vote Yay or Nay using their influences generated by their planets. There are many different agendas in the game, some seemingly irrelevant and some utterly devastating, easily changing the game.  Which is why the debate over and around the table can get so animated, especially when one player is struggling to get their 10th VP. The Ministry of Peace agenda, for example, allows a player to cancel their opponent’s aggression in their system one time.   Even if you are playing a weak race (not all races are created equal), or your planets are not very rich, you could still win the game by manipulating the vote in the Agenda phase. 

    Combat is a surprisingly simple affair, you roll one 10-sided die for each ship in the space combat and if you roll greater than the ships combat value (shown on the faction sheet) it's a hit. Each hit kills an enemy ship which is chosen by the other player.  The big ships, dreadnoughts, flagships, and war-suns have the ability to sustain damage meaning they'll take two hits. However, you've got to destroy all of the fighters and frigates defending them before you get a chance to actually hit/destroy the big ships. It is very important to have many cheap fighters as fodder to protect big ships - again, this was not appreciated by yours truly in the first few rounds of the first game.  There are some nuances to this combat, for example, if the enemy has a lot of destroyers, your fighters may be wiped out in an anti-fighter barrage before the combat round begins, leaving your dreadnaught defenceless and an easy target. 
    Everybody wants some.
    In order to occupy planets, you'll need to bring ground forces with your vulnerable carriers. They are not powerful units (combat value: 9) but can be the most important in your fleet. If you win the space combat, you can land ground forces on the planet.  If the enemy has a planetary defence system (PDS) then they get shoot your troops before they land.  However, if you're Dreadnaught or War Sun have survived the space combat they can bombard the enemies ground troops beforehand.  These variable abilities require you to strategise over every move/destroyed unit and it provides a lot of fun, and also added intrigue in the Agenda Phase.  'You want to deal and you attacked me last turn! That's going to cost you, buddy!'.  Great fun.


    Components

    This game is a monster. Its box is rather bulky and contains tons of miniatures, cards, system tiles, various tokens and so on but the box is well designed and deserves the space it takes up.  The organiser is well thought out and functional, which is rarely a thing I say about FFG games. However, I really feel that this game is a beloved property of  Christian Petersen (FFG CEO) and it really shows in the fourth edition. A lot of care and attention has been paid to every single component. If you want to see an excellent making-of documentary check out Shut Up and Sit Down's Space Lions documentary.  If each player knows what they're doing setup can be completed inside 20 minutes, although you could argue that building the galaxy is an integral part of the game and not really setup.
    It is done...
    Each race has a Faction Sheet showing each unit’s parameters, race-specific abilities, and history of the race on the back. In the box, there is a lore guide which can be treated as a piece of Science Fiction in its own right.  This history was very well written and I enjoyed reading through it all.  The detail that has gone into the history shows the amazingly high level of production in this game. FFG normally have stellar production values and they've even surpassed those in this game.

    You can (or you should) role-play during the game after reading the history and unique capacities of your chosen race. The seventeen races in the game are all unique and have strength and weaknesses.  For example, the space fish...are physically weak but very intellectual. They suffer -1 drm in combat, but develop technologies rapidly. Then there are the Hacan (space lions) who are purely motivated by trade. and gain trade goods (which is a kind of currency) easily, giving them the ability to build large fleets from the early stage of the game.  Trade goods are power.
    The big box is full.
    Each kind of shop has a distinctive miniature and the sculpts are excellent. There are fighters, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, dreadnoughts, a flagship, and war-suns. Their combat abilities are all listed on your Faction Sheet. Researching technology can improve units which permits you to place a tech card onto your faction sheet. This is a really effective way to see at-a-glance how powerful (or not) your fleet is.

    Apart from unit upgrades, there are 4 categories of technology in the game, Biotic, Warfare, Propulsion, and Cybernetic. There are 4 levels of technology in each and you must research them in order.  One game takes on average 6 to 7 rounds and you will not be able to fully explore the tech tree in one game.  Planning my upgrades and deploying my fleets according is a great game which I enjoyed immensely, but so often ruined by my opponents. Developing Propulsion first and then upgrading your carrier so that it can move 2 hexes is a nice ability to move your troops out into the galaxy, or you may want to concentrate on Warfare techs and try to build a War-Sun early in the game with the ability to literally annihilate an opposing fleet.



    Criticisms

    The only criticism I can think of this game is that it takes a very long time to play.  It is difficult to find 3 or more opponents who don’t mind committing 6 or 7 hours in one go, but this game has such a reputation in the hobby that almost all gamers want to try it, at least once. But let me reassure you that those hours pass very quickly it is so much fun to play this game.  Afterwards, you will be exhausted but you will have created an amazing experience with your friends I guarantee will have built a stronger bond for sharing this experience.  Look for opponents, and go for it!


    Conclusion

    If I had to describe this game, I would say that it is seductive yet elusive. I want to play it more, I love the game, I want to try every single race, and experiment with every technology, but it's very difficult for me to get it to the table. I have a young family and losing 10 hours on a weekend so that I can move plastic and carboard counters across my kitchen table is not a position I can defend often. However, given the opportunity, the time and the right opponents, this game is always welcome at my table.  It tells a grand, epic story of battling races and powerful armies clashing across the stars. The mechanics are simple enough to grasp relatively quickly but the layers of strategy are very difficult to master. After 2.5 games (which represents over 24 hours of play time...) I feel that I understand the game well enough to be able to strategise but not effectively. There are so many racial combinations and variances from game to game that I'm relegated to a reactionary play style. 

    This game won't be for everyone, but if you like wargames of any kind (if you're reading this blog then I can surmise you do) then you owe it to yourself to play one of the very few seminal games in this hobby. Track down a friend who owns it or plan a game at a convention, weekend gaming retreat (we all do that right?) You won't be disappointed.

    Many game-stores will have a copy of this game in and you can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to find your nearest in the UK or support them using their online web stores if you can't make it in person.

    I'd like to thank Asmodee for sending this game and permitting me to review it; if only I could play it some more.  I would also like to thank my war-gaming partner of many years for helping me write this review.

    Publisher: FFG
    Website: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/twilight-imperium-4th-ed
    Players: 3 - 6
    Designers: Dane Beltrami, Corey Konieczka & Christian T. Petersen
    Playing time:  Ha ha ha