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Wings Over Flanders Fields  Between Heaven & Hell II  by OBD Software  The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from ...

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software

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




Wings Over Flanders Fields

 Between Heaven & Hell II 

by

OBD Software






 The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from most World War II 400mph aircraft as it was from World War I planes. Yet, compared to planes in 1916 it was a marvel of engineering. What possessed those intrepid flyers to get up in those far from magnificent flying machines? Showing my age on that one. Parachutes that had been invented before the war, and worked just fine, were not allowed in plane cockpits for fear that the pilot would jump out to save his life and thereby lose the machine. So, many pilots kept revolvers handy to shoot themselves if their planes caught on fire. The ever present chance of shooting your own propeller off, or having a wing just decide to no longer be attached to the rest of the plane, was always in their minds. The soldiers in the trenches looked at the pilots as pampered pets who knew nothing of the 'real' war. However, if you look at the faces of the pilots that lasted in combat you will see a marked change. Their faces become lined and take on what looks like the pallor of death. In their eyes you can almost see them say to you "yes, I will be dead soon", almost in a glad sort of way. I believe it was Eddie Rickenbacker who, when taken up in his first flight, was asked if he saw any 'Huns'. He answered "no". The pilot answered their were more than a few in the sky with them. "Beware the Hun in the Sun", became a poster's cry. In reality the pilots had to beware everything, even their own mounts. To become an Ace was truly an act of intense bravery and tremendous luck. The Aces' names during and right after the war were more famous than most sport stars. This is the time and place  that OBD Software has chosen to take us: in the skies of France during the First World war. 




 I am the absolutely last person who should be writing this review. I bought into the original Over Flanders Field right at the start, and I have purchased every add-on or upgrade ever published. If you are a WWI airplane junkie you should already have this game, nothing else needs to be said. Of course, I must respect the usual forms of writing a review, so let us see what the game actually comes with, and why if you have not upgraded to Between Heaven & Hell II, you should immediately. This is a small synopsis of the game as it now stands on their website:


"OBD is proud to bring you our unashamedly single-player WW1 flight simulator : WOFF BH&H II.  What many are now saying is the most immersive flight simulator available for World War One, be absorbed into the WW1 Air War more than ever before.  Superb features.  The videos may look great but there are 100s of fantastic unseen features or improvements over our previous generations of WOFF.   From the visuals in the cockpit to AI, the superb Campaign engine, some of the best looking scenery and more you will discover yourself:  All whilst keeping performance at a similar level or better than previous versions.   Please see the “NEW Features” button just below to read more. Each one of over 80 FLYABLE aircraft now has cockpit vibrations, including vibration affected instrument needles and more, animated pilots intelligently look around for immersive flights and much more. WOFF BH&H II now includes a fresh Albatros D.II model, much improved 3 x S.E.5 series and 3 x Albatros D.III series aircraft, quality improvements to many others including all aircraft from the B.E.2c series, B.E.12 series and the R.E.8 and many more. (HD= home defence) Also includes over 35 main menu music tracks - favourites from previous WOFF’s plus 3 brand new stunning music tracks especially created by the musician Matt Milne for WOFF BH&H II. Immerse yourself in one of over 500 historically accurate fighter and bomber squadrons,  located in the historically correct location with the correct aircraft (over 80 flyable) of the time, anywhere along the Western front during WW1, or defend England from Gotha and Zeppelin raids! Spanning the period from 1915 through to the Armistice in November 1918 with front-lines that move as they did, there is no other combat flight simulator that can bring you the accuracy and feel of being a WW1 pilot, with all of the dangers associated with it!  Staying alive is your number one priority, and that of the AI pilots too."




 So, a few things stick out. First, it is single player only (Shock, gasp, wheeze, and catch your breath). Second, the word immersion. If you can find another simulation that gives you the immersion this does I will eat my flying scarf and goggles. Third, the absence of the name 'Snoopy'. This is a high fidelity simulation. You, however, will not need to start your engines and prime your plane for a half hour before you even take off (although those sims do scratch an itch at times). Even still, this is a simulation. A flightstick and rudders are essential. The goggles and the scarf I wear when playing it are optional. No Mikey, you cannot play the game with a mouse. 




 This is the very long list of the planes that are in Between Heaven & Hell II:

German Aircraft:


Albatros D.I                                 

Albatros D.II

Albatros D.III (early)

Albatros D.III OAW

Albatros D.III

Albatros D.V

Albatros D.V (Later)

Albatros D.Va

Albatros D.Va 200 PS

Aviatik BI

Aviatik BII

Aviatik C.I

Aviatik C.I trainer (x2)

D.F.W. C.V

Fokker D.II

Fokker D.III

Fokker DR.I

Fokker D.VI

Fokker D.VII OAW

Fokker D.VII

Fokker D.VIIF

Fokker E.I

Fokker E.II

Fokker E.III

Fokker E.IV  (Twin gun)

Fokker E.V  (mono-wing)

Gotha G.IV bomber

Halberstadt D.II

Halberstadt D.III (Argus Engine)

Hannover CL.III

Pfalz A.I  2 seater

Pfalz E.III

Pfalz D.IIIa

Roland C.II

Rumpler C.IV

Zeppelin R Type (AI only)

Zeppelin P Type (AI only)




Allied Aircraft:


Breguet 14 A.2

Bristol Scout type D

Bristol Fighter F.2b

Caudron G.4

D.H.2

D.H.2 Early

D.H.4

D.H.5

F.E.2.b

Morane "Parasol" Type L 2 Seater 

Nieuport 10

Nieuport 12

Nieuport 11

Nieuport 16

Nieuport 17 Lewis gun 

Nieuport 17 Vickers gun 

Nieuport 17 Bis  (2 guns)  

Nieuport 23 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 23 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis  

Nieuport 24 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 27 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 27 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 28  

R.A.F. B.E.12     

R.A.F. B.E.12 HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c Early     

R.A.F. B.E.2c     

R.A.F. B.E.2c HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c trainer (x2) 

R.A.F. R.E.8     

R.A.F. S.E.5  (Early,150HP)

R.A.F. S.E.5a    

R.A.F. S.E.5a Viper    

Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel - Bentley 

Sopwith Pup 

Sopwith Snipe 

Sopwith Strutter B1 

Sopwith Strutter A2 

Sopwith Tripe 

Sopwith Tripe (RNAS twin vickers)

Spad VII 

Spad XIII


 I would like to post the updates to the game that BH&H II gives you, but I do not have enough room on the page. You will just have to read it for yourself on the link below.


 You can in the game play both Quick Scenarios and Quick Combat, but the heart of the game has always been playing a Campaign. In the Campaign you will see just how hard it was to survive to fight again in the skies over France.




 The simulation is a tinkerer's dream. You have so many decisions you can make in the different Workshops screens.




 So, you have Single Player, and with that comes no need to have an internet connection, or to fly with a group of twelve-year old kids.  Immersion, Immersion, and even more Immersion (okay I stole it from Danton). You have the ability to adjust settings to get the simulation to play just the way you want it to on your older or super new fangled computer. Then you have 'The Planes, The Planes' (once again stolen). One thing that WOFF does not have is experimental or planes that had just come off the drawing board. These birds were all used, and some of them for most of the war. My favorite year to play is 1915. This really taxes your skill to get kills. You have wing-warping instead of actual control surfaces. For the newbie, I would suggest playing in 1918. The planes are effectively how you would fly in WWII, but still rudimentary. Of course, the later years have that many more chances to run into enemies also. If I was to give any advice to a newbie, I would say pick up a book on the WWI Airwar, and commit to memory what the different pilots said. You have no radios, so continually search the skies. Also before you get into a furball learn your plane's idiosyncrasies. Meaning, find out what maneuvers you can and cannot pull off before the wings rip off. If you dive into this game straight from a WWII sim hell bent for leather, all you will end up as is a smoking hole in the ground. 




 The simulation is a labor of love for the OBD Software crew. It is their attempt to give the computer pilot the closest thing they can to being a pilot in the Great War. You can actually see the ground war taking place and the lines move throughout the conflict. The planes are an absolute joy to just fly and take in the sights. I am still in awe with what the OBD Software crew have been able to do, starting with an over twenty-year old program to start working with. Visually the simulation is stunning, incredibly even more so than it was.


Robert

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II:

Features of the game, along with BH&H II updates:



  High Flying Dice Games From the Horse's Mouth A look at what comes with Bloody Hell  I was given a few games from High Flying Dice Gam...

High Flying Dice Games High Flying Dice Games

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






 High Flying Dice Games


From the Horse's Mouth





A look at what comes with Bloody Hell


 I was given a few games from High Flying Dice Games to review. Due to work, life, and a lot of 2020 leftovers, I have only been able to review one so far: Bloody Hell -  Operations Goodwood and Spring 1944. This simulation is about these two operations by the British to take control of Caen. I have always been fascinated by Operation Goodwood, so it was a no-brainer. The games was a great one (the review link will be below). So, I wanted to know more about High Flying Dice Games, and asked the owner, and designer of a lot of their games, Paul Rohrbaugh to please write me up something about them. Without further ado here it is:


 "I first started in with board wargames when my parents gave me copies of Afrika Korps and Bismarck for Christmas in 1968. I had been involved with miniatures before that, but with those gifts I was hooked and switched over to board games and have not gone back. I was "tinkering" and designing games from the start. My first efforts were making versions of several of Napoleonic era battles using the Avalon Hill rules and CRT from Afrika Korps and other "classic" games from the time, and home made counters. Although very crude, they were fun to make and got me started on the design path. In high school a bunch of us got involved with play testing a game called "WWII Europe/Africa" that as I look back on it was very likely a first round draft of what would become the Europa series. Everything came on mimeographic sheets of 8.5 by 11 paper and required a LOT of "do it yourself" effort. I was France in those playtest sessions, and I recall everyone liked my counters, and I ended up doing nearly all of them over a couple of month's time. We had a lot of fun with that, and it inspired us to create a game on Antietam using some of the rules from the play test game. We had our photo taken with the Antietam game and a story about our wargame group was published in the Austintown Leader newspaper.


I used games extensively throughout my teaching career, with some students staying after school to play test. Some of my first games that were eventually published got started this way. Among them are Trampling Out the Vintage: The Atlanta Campaign, September's Eagles: The Thompson Trophy Air Races and Blood and Steel: The Battles of Kursk (Prokorohvka, Rzhavets Bridgehead, Oboyan Hills, Ponryi, currently available from L2 Publishers who sells through Noble Knight Games).

I was first published in 1999 by the Microgame Design Group with Trampling Out the Vintage. They did a few others, and I also got to develop several other designer's games through MDG. I will always be indebted and grateful to Kerry Anderson for giving me my first breaks in wargame design, development and publication. Shortly after Against the Odds magazine started I submitted my game on the 1790-1795 War in Ohio, A Dark and Bloody Ground, which they accepted. Soon after I was asked to finish up the development work on John Prados Fortress Berlin, as well as fix some issues that were overlooked with the just then released Go Tell the Spartans, that I was able to correct in just a couple of days. This got me the job of being the first developer for Against the Odds that I enjoyed very much. However, increasing issues with my regular job led to some very stressful and repeated job changes that made it necessary for me to give up the development position at ATO. Fortunately I had met and made friends with, Lembit Tohver, who was my main "Ace" play tester and when I informed Steve that I had to stop being the regular developer I heartily recommended Lembit for the job. His first game was Pocket at Falaise and he's done wonderful work throughout. I still do occasional development work for ATO, and have submitted many games in a variety of eras and sizes to them over the years for publication. I also owe a LOT to Steve and all of the others on the ATO/LSG/TPS crews for their help, assistance and support. I would not be anywhere without them.

I started High Flying Dice Games in 2010. When the economy tanked in 2006-2008 things got very stressful for many publishing companies (some did not survive). Craig Grando, who had been doing the graphics for ATO left suddenly in 2008 which, combined with the economic woes and collapse of much of the board gaming market, nearly did in ATO as well. Fortunately, Steve is a genius when it comes to financial matters and assessing the market, and he is very cool under pressure. Steve used some of the smaller games I had submitted for use in the interview process with graphic artists that had applied to replace Craig. Bruce Yearian was one of them but he did not get the job. He then contacted me directly via phone and he asked if I would be interested in working together in a new company that would produce high quality but low-price games. It was out of that phone conversation that High Flying Dice Games was born.  One of our main missions is to use High Flying Dice Games as a vehicle by which new designers, artists and play testers can be introduced to the wargaming community. We also prefer to do games on topics that have seen little-to-no treatment in game form and also have innovative, creative design and artwork whenever possible.  We have enjoyed growth in sales and customers every year since we started, so we must be doing somethings right. I am very proud that we started High Flying Dice Games in the wake of an economic depression, and we have been going strong since. We started out by selling 2 games a day the first year and are now up to 10 games a day. We have released at l new game a month since we started, and also have enough new product in the pipeline to keep up this pace for another 3+ years even if I or others stop designing today (which is not likely).

We still have challenges. Due to the ongoing pandemic and last year's sabotage of the US Postal System (that has still not been fully rectified where I live), I am currently shipping only to addresses in the USA and Canada. Nothing of what I shipped to Europe, Asian or Australia from April through August of 2020 ever arrived and I had to issue nearly $1,000.00 in refunds by the end of the year to very unhappy customers. Fortunately, our full line of games is carried by Noble Knight Games, and an increasingly number of our titles are also being carried by Agorajeux in France. These vendors have alternative and more reliable means of getting the games and card sets to customers than what I can utilize. I am really looking forward to better days and when I can get our works out to any and all who want them. Another challenge is keeping our prices as low as possible. Our markup is only 25-30% so I don't have any "wiggle room" for significant discounts and promotions. As a result, I cannot offer wholesalers the deep discounts they typically get from other publishers as our pricing and marketing approach is based upon direct sales to customers as much as possible. This is another reason I very much look forward to when things can get back to normal.

I have always viewed board games as wonderful educational tools. Although I'm retired from librarianship and classroom teaching, I am still very much teaching with our games. Life is too short to be bored, and I'm doing my best to stay entertained and learning, as well as encouraging others to do the same. Let the dice fly high!"

--Paul


Flying Gee Bees and Howard Hughes as a Pilot!

  Their game catalog goes from Kadesh to current history.







  Please take a look at their massive and inexpensive catalog of wargames. 

High Flying Dice Games:

Bloody Hell:

My review of Bloody Hell:

September Eagles:
























  From The Realm of a Dying Sun  V olume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 By Douglas E. Nash Sr.    This t...

From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr. From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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




 From The Realm of a Dying Sun

 Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945


By


Douglas E. Nash Sr.




  This third volume shows the Panzerkorps at the very end of its life.  The book shows us the final battles it fought. They then tried desperately to surrender to the Americans, and avoid Soviet retribution. It also shows, like the other volumes, the deep distrust the 6th Army commander (Hermann Balck) had of the SS troops in general, but the SS Panzer Division Wiking in particular. The IV SS-Panzerkorps was part of the 6th Army. Balck's bad blood with Wiking had come from the actions during the Korsun Pocket in 1944. 


 The IV SS-Panzerkorps was faced with shortages of every kind, and yet there was no end to the Soviet forces attacking them. They fought on, even though even the most ardent Nazis must have known the end was near. It shows what kind of soldiers they were, because the NATO forces delved deeply into how they were able to, time and again, hold off the Russian hordes. 


 The author has written a seminal triad of books on the IV SS-Panzerkorps. Unless one is looking to read a quick overview of its history, these are the books that you want to read. 


 When a good book comes to the end, it is at times like losing a friend. This goes for both fiction and non-fiction books, at least for me. The trilogy of From The Realm of a Dying Sun was much more than a sum of its three parts. The books went from the orders to create the IV SS-Panzerkorps to its inception and finally its life and death. The author showed everything that went into the planning and training of the two Panzer Divisions that were the backbone of the Panzerkorps, the SS-Panzer Wiking Division, and the SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf. With these three volumes military history does not get much better. Mr. Nash showed us not only the Panzerkorps' military effectiveness, but never once shied away from the absolute horrifying acts that the troops were engaged in off the battlefield. The Eastern Front was a no holds barred affair from beginning to end. Both sides took the fighting to the death, and sometimes far beyond. How the IV Panzerkorps was able to take Luftwaffe personnel, and average conscripts (Most of the SS reinforcements for the last few war years were conscripted), and gave them a black and deadly esprit de corps is no longer a mystery due to the author. The three book series is a tour de force, nothing more and nothing less.

Robert

Book: From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945

Author: Douglas E. Nash Sr.

Publisher: Casemate Publishers





Verdun 1916   Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations  As Sherman said, "War is hell". Soldiers from ancient times until now ha...

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations

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





Verdun 1916 

Steel Inferno

by

Fellowship of Simulations





 As Sherman said, "War is hell". Soldiers from ancient times until now have been brought into bloody conflict. However, the intention was always to defeat the enemy and capture and kill or wound the enemy army. The charnel houses of Cannae, Antietam, Borodino, and Sadowa have all shown us the horrors of war. The advent of World War I brought the horrific toll to a crescendo. Then a general came up with a different plan. General Erich Georg von Falkenhayn, Chief of the Oberste Heeresleitung (German General Staff) from September 1914 until August 1916, came up with an idea that was new, and absolutely diabolical in its inception. He wanted to just kill and maim. His idea was to bleed France dry of her manhood. He thought that by attacking the French at Verdun the French Army would be forced to defend it to the last man. His original plan was not really to take Verdun or the forts around it. He just wanted to turn the area into an abattoir for the French soldiers. Luckily for the French the lower echelon German generals did not really understand Falkenhayn's plan. They attempted to take the forts and Verdun itself. In doing so, they they created a huge butcher's bill for the German as well as the French soldiers. The battle went on for almost the entire year of 1916. This is the battle that Fellowship of Simulations has decided to try and recreate.


A small piece of the Douaumont Ossuary at Verdun


 This is what comes with the game:

Two Decks of Playing Cards (one, French/blue, one German/dark green) 100 Cards in Total

One Mounted Map Showing the Battle Zone as well as Different Game Tracks  

120 Rectangular Wooden Blocks (60 German in Black, 60 French in Blue)

40 Wooden Trench Pawns (20 German in Black, 20 French in Blue)

One Rulebook

One Playbook

Two Player Aids

Game Markers (Control, Supply, Objectives, US Entry, Turn)

10 Six-Sided die

 Playing Time 1-4 Hours

3 Scenarios

Game Design: Walter Vejdovsky

Illustrations: Jacques Tardi




 Even just looking at the box, I am reminded of an old commercial where Ricardo Montalban would say "Marvelous, simply marvelous". I had never heard of Jacques Tardi before, I am ashamed to admit. Now that I have I cannot seem to look at enough of his creations. The Map is 38 1/2" x 19 1/4". Strange to say, it is the plainest of the artworks in the box. However, that does not mean it is not a very beautiful piece. It just means that the rest of the artwork is so over the top, sorry for the pun. The Map is an area one, not hex. The box artwork is so well done you almost do not want to take the plastic off it. There are two sets of cards, one German, and one French. These are each a small artwork by themselves. The depictions are so wonderfully done you may have a hard time remembering that they sometimes show a large amount of death and destruction. Your units in the game are not counters, but different sized small wooden blocks. The Rulebook is thirty-six pages long. It is in full vibrant color, with some of the cards shown along with some illustrations just for the game. The last pages of the Rulebook have a complete inventory of both sides Cards. The Playbook is twenty-four pages long, and has the rules and the setups for each of the three scenarios. There is also a full replay for the month of April 1916 that is seven pages long. Then there are Players' Notes, and then three pages of Designer Notes. Both the Rulebook and the Playbook are some of the nicest work I have ever seen in a game. Now, we come to the Cards. These have some of the best artwork I have ever seen in Cards used for a game. This is not a knock on game Cards that use historical pictures. However, these game Cards, along with the rest of the artwork, really draw the gamer in. The whole of the design is to immerse the player in the game. At that, it works tremendously well. The components are more than up to snuff. 



Illustration from the back of the Rulebook


 The Cards have a numerous plus and minus actions for each Player. let us take a look at the German Deck:

There are twenty-three Barrage Cards, that have a numeric value of one-six.

Some of the other cards are:

Air Support

Rumanian Offensive

Offensive in Russia

Jutland

Propaganda

Trenches

Chaos in the Rear

Submarine Warfare, and Total Submarine warfare

Reinforcements to and from the Russian Front

Flamethrowers

Kaiser's Visit, and Kaiser's Order

Offensive stockpile

No Event (Chatting lice in the cubby holes, trying to bury the dead)

The Red Baron

Bad weather

 As you can see, the game comes with a lot of chrome. It is not an especially hard game, but it was definitely designed to make the player feel he is commanding in WWI.



French and German Barrage Cards


 You can play these three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Operation Gericht The German Assault on Verdun (February-April 1916)

Scenario 2: The French Counter-Offensive (September-December 1916)

Scenario 3: The Full Campaign Game: Verdun 1916, Steel Inferno

There are three Optional Cards that can be used in the game:

Unknown Heroes: Discard to have each Defending Unit inflict three Hits in this Assault.

The Red Baron: The French Player discards one Air Superiority Cards, if any.

Bad Weather: In the next two Infantry Assaults, all attacking Units take one additional Hit.

 The Battle of Verdun is an excellent game to try and simulate, in my opinion, and I am surprised at the few number of games about it. Unlike some other battles, where counter-attacking and other gambits are brought to the table by the players. This game comes equipped historically with them. The actual battle was split up into the Germans attacking first, and then the French counterattacking later in the year. So right off the bat, the game will force both players into attacker and defender shoes. So, if you have a player who is much better on defense than offense it takes them out of their comfort zone. 





 The game is very easy to learn, especially for a grognard. It does not have a rulebook that can be measured on a scale or has enough addendum to make a few compulsory read throughs necessary. Where the game shines is in presentation and actual play. I really have to compliment Fellowship of Simulations on the depth of immersion that they have brought to the game. Being an old hex and counter player I sometime have a tough time getting my mindset in the time frame of a block game. I had no problem at all on that score with Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno. The games I played were all very close and most came right to the wire. This of course will vary depending on the aptitude of your opponents. I also had no problem playing it solitaire. Then again, I think that with a little work every game can be played that way.




 The Sequence of Play is:

Start of Turn Phase: Deck Construction

First Month Phase: Draw Card From Your Hand

 Month Resolution : Each Month Has Seven Rounds

Second Month Phase: Same as The First

End of Turn Phase: Cleanup Etc.




 Thank you Fellowship of Simulations for letting me review this great game. The game play and immersion is some of the best I have ever had the good luck to be able to delve into. 

Robert

Fellowship of Simulations:

FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS – FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS (fsimgames.com)

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno:

VERDUN – FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS (fsimgames.com)

Hallertau brings us Uwe Rosenberg’s 36th iteration of managing crops and your animeeples (who knows if that’s right - but it’s a lot). How...

Hallertau by Uwe Rosenberg Hallertau by Uwe Rosenberg

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



Hallertau brings us Uwe Rosenberg’s 36th iteration of managing crops and your animeeples (who knows if that’s right - but it’s a lot). However, I’ve only played half a dozen or so of his designs but this one is as good as they come, assuming you like minimal player interaction and lots of mechanisms that integrate seamlessly with each other.

During the game of 6 rounds, you’ll develop your farm and manage your crops (and sheep) to build your typical ‘Uwe-Engine’ and a smorgasbord of points to claim victory. If you don’t have enough friends to invite over (even if that’s allowed now) and ultimately ignore whilst you crunch through the actions and work out your optimum moves, the game features a solo mode that plays exactly like the friend-version.

Gameplay




Each of the 6 rounds has 10 phases … there are a standard few phases of round prep, and necessary round-tear down-phases at the beginning and end of a round. These are all nearly dealt with simultaneously by all players, so don’t let 10 phases put you off. What separates my experience of this and other games of this ilk is that the worker placement phase (i.e. the Actions in Hallertau) is far from the only phase in which your Analysis Paralysis can be freely exercised.

That extra AP-inducing phase is Progress in which you’ll be clearing the ground (by picking rocks) and improving buildings surrounding your farm/community centre. This will ultimately give you more workers with which to use next round.



Your workers/blue cubes will be interacting with 13 different resources, 4 different types of cards and five buildings all in an effort to get (more workers, because that’s always a good thing) and get the most victory points.

Ten phases, 13 resources, so far so Uwe… but it really is far simpler than it would appear at first glance. The mechanisms are obviously the result of a seasoned and expert designer to the point where even in your first game the rules will quickly disappear and you’ll properly be playing the game instead of the rule book. I’ve got some games where I’m still constantly referring to the rules (here’s looking at your Fields of Fire).



The only real interaction you’ll have with other players is by denying action spaces to your opponents or more accurately making action spaces more expensive for them. This game is the epitome of multiplayer solitaire, and I consider that a good thing. So much of your brain is engaged optimising your choices that any extra randomness would be unwelcome i.e. having your opponents actively trying to subvert your plans would serve to lessen the experience.

There is a little bit of randomness (driven by 4 decks of cards) and quite a bit of setup variability due to having 8 decks of the cards from which you only need to draw 2. That amount of entropy is just about perfect for this ‘Expert’-level game. Just leaving you reacting to the game state and not the other players (for the most part). You only really have two decisions: whether the cost per action is worth it and how best to optimise your building improvements cost. Despite the cornucopia of resources you need to factor into those two decisions, you’re left with what I think is quite a simple game and why you can quickly ditch the rule book.



During the Actions phase in turn order players will place their supply or workers onto the board and immediately resolve the effect. This continues until every player has exhausted their worker pool or passed. The Action board has 20 spaces and they can be chosen at most 3 times each. If one worker has already been placed on the action space, you’ll need to send two workers to take that action again. (Can you guess how many workers will need to activate the space a 3rd time?) The downtime between your turns is no more than a couple of minutes and the game moves along at a fair clip. For such a thinky, four-player game that is an achievement.

Each round the top row of workers will be removed which creates a mini-supply and demand economy for action spaces. The most popular spaces (i.e. Land Sale/Town Hall) will rarely have fewer than 2 workers on and should be taken (IMHO) at every possible opportunity. They are the only space which grants you Jewels, which are often necessary to save your bacon towards the end of the game.





Another brilliant mechanism that keeps you involved even when it’s not your turn is the ability to play a card from your hand at any time. Most cards will either require you to spend resources or just have a number of resources in order to use them. After a game or two, you’ll start to appreciate how important the cards are...if you want to do well you’ll need to optimise your card play. The most important cards are the bonus cards which give you a welcome boost during the income phase. The earlier you can play them, the more decisive their impact. Towards the end of the game, your focus will likely shift to the Point cards but these are often such a high cost to play (they give large numbers of victory points) that in order to use them you’ll have had to have a strategy throughout the game.

Many cards will also allow you to draw another card when you play them, and having the ability to play cards at any time can lead to playing a 2 or 3 card combo even when it’s not your turn from cards that you’ve just picked up - beautiful. Fulfilling the requirements to play cards is the primary tactical game here. You’ll be choosing action spaces based on the cards in your hand and not necessarily what gives you the most resources.

The other primary tactical consideration is how to most effectively improve your Community Center. This is done in the other AP-inducing phase Progress. During the Progress phase, you’ll slide your community centre as far right as your five community buildings allow. You slide those right by paying their improvement costs - which are each different and are increasingly expensive. By the end of the game, you’ll be paying effectively 6 times what you paid in the first round.

As you improve your community buildings and slide your community centre to the right you’ll unlock more workers (your thriving community can support more workers), allowing you to do more actions. You start the game with 6 workers and this can increase by one per community centre shift up to a maximum of twelve. But the primary purpose of moving your community centre is to get those sweet victory points, the vast majority of which will come from improving your buildings i.e. shifting your buildings right.


There are many other mechanisms that I won’t elaborate on here, suffice to say that Uwe’s expert hand is very visible throughout the game and the different interactions and combos that can be done is rewarding.

Components


The best component is arguably the player aid and the design of the game itself. With the player aid, which is relatively small any player should be able to walk through the entire round with no recourse to the rulebook. This is only achievable because the game, despite the amount of stuff (and phases) you’re dealing with is fundamentally simple … I’m prepared to defend that position too, despite it being contrary to most other reviews I’ve seen.



As ever with a pure Euro we’ve got fantastic wooden bits. I love me some wooden bits and these don’t disappoint. The workers are abstracted to a nice chunky cube and the resources are different shapes and colours and they’re certainly satisfying to move up and down your resource track. They are quite thin, but if they were any thicker then the box would be even deeper than it currently is.

The rules are excellent and should you need them, provide a comprehensive card index (and summary explanation) of every card in the game, of which there are well over 300! The rules also provide a detailed overview of the game which is often lacking in other ‘Expert’ games and I found it helpful to understand the core game before reading the rules properly. I would like to see more rules written like this.

Criticisms


As can be applied to many ‘Euros’ the theme never really grabbed me. I never felt like I was farming hops in Southwest Germany. The names of the resources, Rye, Barley, Flax, Hops were quickly reduced to, ‘the blue one’ or the ‘green one’ for example.



The game is also a bit of a table hog, each player area has got 6 boards in it! However, with so much going on, it’s not really a criticism, more of a ‘be prepared'. I would also like to have bigger cards as they’re the small Euro size but I shudder to think of the required tablespace if they were any larger.

I 3d-printed an organiser for this game which nicely fills up all of the space in the box, (there is still a massive amount of unused space) however even with baggies I found the box to be unnecessarily deep. Unless there’s a plan for lots of expansion content and I don’t really think this needs or could have any, I would love to have a smaller box.



Conclusion


This game has got Uwe stamped all over it. If you like Agricola, Ora et Labora, Fields of Arle et al I am sure that this will be right up your street. I like the seemingly endless amount of resources and different rules at first glance which fundamentally boil down to some simple interactions and easy to grasp rules.

I love the fact that the solo mode is almost identical to the main game. As much as I appreciate a solo mode to many games, I’m not so keen if I have to learn a whole new game (running the AI) in order to play solo. Obviously, we’ve all been a bit constrained with our playing partners but my game groups are back up and running and I can’t wait to play with a few more players. I know this will be a hit.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designers: Uwe Rosenberg
Bgg page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/300322/hallertau
Playtime: 50 - 140 mins
Players: 1 - 4




Florenza X Anniversary edition is a reprint of a game I knew nothing about. I love games with unique themes and this one is the first game ...

Florenza X Anniversary Edition by Stefano Groppi Florenza X Anniversary Edition by Stefano Groppi

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


Florenza X Anniversary edition is a reprint of a game I knew nothing about. I love games with unique themes and this one is the first game I’ve played about Italian renaissance art. What’s slightly ironic in a game that worships at the feet of the most iconic names in art is that its own artwork is a little on the bland and beige side. But you shouldn’t let this minor gripe put you off, there is a good game in here with a ridiculously tight economy.

Gameplay


The game pits you, as a patron of the arts in Florence commissioning paintings, sculptures and architecture. Prestige Points are earned for supporting and funding artworks and they ultimately decide who wins the game, most Prestige Points wins. All of that sounds, quite simple but I had a bear of a time trying to learn the game, I think partly due to the fact the rules never explicitly state that the squares across the boards are the artworks. It’s bloomin’ obvious now I’ve played it a handful of times, but I found the initial learning curve pretty steep and opaque. Not least because everything is written in quite arcane Italian - more on that later.



This is a competitive worker placement game for 1 to 5 players. Every piece of art (its name at least) and character card are part of true history and that is fantastic. I feel slightly cleverer...each time I finish a game of this. There are a bunch of different mechanisms and abilities that change each round that you’ll constantly be taxed trying to work out how to afford Bernino to sculpt the Cupola of the Duomo…(confused? Shame on you for not having any archaic Italian language skills...)

The unique selling point of this ‘medieval euro worker placement’ (do we not have enough of those yet?) is that you place your workers out to action spaces, sometimes to collect resources and sometimes to spend them but you don’t actually resolve the action spaces until a later phase Trying to keep a handle on the cost of what you’re planning on building, in an even later phase, and placing your workers in order to meet those requirements, in an earlier phase, sounds simple when written down but is actually a memory game like no other.



Your best-laid plans can quickly and purposefully be derailed by other players as well. If I plan on building a particular piece of art I should make damn certain that I’ll have the necessary resources to build it otherwise I’ll lose prestige points. However, if you place your workers out to get the resources first another player could usurp you on that artwork and you’re left either with an inferior piece or not being able to build at all. There are some deliciously brutal moves you can inflict on your opponents and I love that in any game.

In order to build a piece of art, you’ll have to hire an artist and give them the necessary resources to complete it. There are 5 main resources in this game Marble, Wood, Cloth, Stone, Gold and ‘the green one’. It supposedly Spice but I can’t figure out what that was used for in renaissance art and it looks more like a paint pot to me. There are 7 rounds in which you’ll be building workshops (to get your ‘engine’ going, collecting resources from income or workshops you’ve built (which ultimately let you either build more workshops and complete pieces of art), hiring artists (which provide bonus Prestige), paying alms to the church, working with merchants of Florence (called Captains of Fortune), becoming a captain of the people or a Bishop yourself or even a Cardinal or simply trading at the market or running your business. ‘Phew’...



As you can see there’s a lot going on. For a newcomer to the game (i.e. me), the amount of archaic Italian on the board and cards was a bit of a stumbling block to understanding and learning the game. I’ve got no idea what a ‘Rione’ is or what a Boscaludolo does, and you’ll not find any English guides to help you. What I didn’t realise until my second game is that the text really doesn’t matter, initially it was a stumbling block but by my third play I was appreciating the Italian flare and I’m glad that the designer purposefully retained the language throughout the game to ‘enhance the atmosphere and immersiveness of the playing experience’.

There are 8 phases each round and the player order is variable based on who was farthest on the Prestige Points track. However, this is definitely not a case of a runaway leader as each time you become the first player (i.e. take the Captain of the People card) you’ll reset your Prestige marker back to 0 and collect that many Prestige points as tokens instead. This was a clever mechanism to move the first player marker around the table not just randomly but also based on skill. It is certainly possible to manufacture a couple of game turns where you stay as 1st player.



The second player is determined by the Church Influence track - which works very similarly to Prestige and awards the leading player with becoming a bishop for the next round. If you’re ever elected Bishop twice in a row you’ll become a cardinal and although the rule book says that that has lots of bonus points I’ve never seen that happen. The third, fourth and fifth player orders is based solely on their position on the Prestige track. I like variable player orders and this feels a bit more tactical (i.e. I prefer it) to the typical action space that takes the first player marker - here it’s all based on your accumulated Prestige / Influence.

The ordering of the phases in the round, at first glance, seemed a little disjointed to me. It took a few games to really sink in and I was constantly looking in the rule book and flicking back and forth to find the correct interpretation. Unfortunately, the rulebook wasn’t as comprehensive as I would have liked. For example, the income phase is clearly marked on the game components with a purple colour. Nowhere in the rulebook (that I could) find is that explained. I spent the first 30 minutes of my learning game, wondering what the bizarre colouring on the workshops was. But I did feel a bit cleverer...when I worked it out.



Once the round order clicked, I appreciated the ordering of it, and the ordering is actually what makes this game so brain-burnery…(real word). Your workers are placed in Phase 4 and there can only ever be one worker per space. This is sequentially in player order. In Phase 5 you’ll resolve the actions in a specified order and/or trade in the market. Bearing in mind that you’ll have commissioned artists with their own inherent costs and art with their own resource requirements in Phase 4 and it isn’t until Phase 6 where you’ll actually complete that art...If you’re anything like me trying to mentally keep track of what my workers were going to do and how I was planning on funding that artwork should stave off, or induce a good level of dementia. I found it surprisingly difficult (in a good way) to plan and execute the plan without any mistakes.

Not being able to complete an artwork you’ve commissioned can lead to significant penalties. There are three main areas that you can build in, the Cathedral on the mainboard (or Duomo). Failing to build an artwork there will cost you 3 prestige points. The town of Florenza shows five other buildings on the mainboard. Miscalculations here will cost you 2 Prestige Points. Or you could build on your own player board where the penalty is only 1 Prestige Point for failing to build.



‘But surely that won’t happen', I hear you cry; it does and it will to you too. The economy is so tight that it is often the lack of just one resource ‘spice’ (!?) that prevents you from completing an artwork. You can’t just turn around and build one you can afford as your worker has to have chosen that artwork two phases earlier in order to build it. That, in essence, is the game of Florenza - a hybrid memory game with worker placement and a bit of tearing your remaining hair out because your opponents have just knee-capped you. And I loved it.

I certainly haven’t explored every nuance of this game and I’m not particularly good at it. For example, if you complete the four pieces in your own ‘Chiesa’ (anyone?) or the four in your ‘Palazzo’ (anyone?) you’ll get some bonus Prestige points each turn. However, by just completing one big artwork on the mainboard you can claim smaller but more easily achieved bonus points. I’ve never finished my board in 5 games. I like the fact that there are always some difficult decisions to be made, which are made harder by your opponents thinking exactly like you and nicking the spot you were eyeing up. This is particularly prevalent in the end game where many spots (i.e. art) on the mainboard have already been built, and you’re competing with lots more resources for far fewer spaces. Exactly how I like it.

Components


The components are all made from nice thick cardboard stock or wood and are all perfectly functional and easy to use. I particularly liked the likenesses of the artists and buildings on the cards and mainboard. I even recognised some of them…



There are also dedicated areas on the mainboard and your personal board to store resources which is quite a nice touch and necessary as this game will certainly eat up a lot of table space.

Criticisms


This game is crying out for a more comprehensive player aid. They include a workshop costs/benefit chart which I didn’t find overly helpful. But I did have to refer to the round order or a few common areas in the rulebook more times than I care to remember (and still do). My rule book is certainly looking a bit tired. A better player aid showing the round order and card powers would be far more useful, arguably it will probably take up a whole sheet of A4. For example, nowhere on the board does it mention the penalty cost for not completing a piece of art.



The biggest criticism I have is the set-up and pack-up time. It’s quite fiddly to do so and I’ve not been able to do it in under 15 minutes. You have to set out all of the available workshops (44 of them in approximately 20 stacks) and then draw 9 different artists from a deck matching the randomly drawn tiles; as well as all the other resources and cards to lay out. Thankfully the cards are all uniquely numbered and easy to identify, assuming you’ve packed the 40 cards away in numerical order.

I’ve played this solo and with three players and I don’t think I’d want to try a five-player game. Towards the end or even the middle of the game, you’ll have 8 kinsmen which will need careful consideration to place and resolve. This was an okay length of time in a 3 player teaching game but I wouldn’t want to teach this at any higher player count. I would only endorse this at 5 players if everyone had played before otherwise, it’s at risk of outstaying its welcome.



Conclusion


I had zero expectations or knowledge of this and it’s turned into a bit of a sleeper hit for me. It’s got a fairly unique theme and looks quite distinctive and not many people have heard of it, I find myself drawn to it more and more. I feel it certainly deserves more attention and is easily the equal of some of the most revered games in the hobby. I would recommend this to any seasoned gamer as a competitive and rewarding experience.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designers: Steffano Groppi
Bgg page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/311464/florenza-x-anniversary-edition
Playtime: 90 - 180 mins
Players: 1-5

  Bloody Hell Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944 Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944 by High Flying Dice Games     Depending upon what book...

Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games

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





 Bloody Hell


Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944

Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944


by


High Flying Dice Games





 

  Depending upon what book you read, and if it was written by an Englishman or not, the battle to take Caen is represented very differently. Field Marshal Montgomery always stated that his part of Operation Overlord (D-Day) went exactly to his plan. He states that it was the plan all along to draw the SS and other strong German units against his troops and that he would be the anvil and the Americans the hammer. Some books follow this lead. However, most state that Caen was to be taken the first day or shortly thereafter. That Monty's 'slows' stuck the Allies in Normandy for almost two months of desperate fighting. Regardless of the plan, Monty's English and Commonwealth Army was forced to try again and again to crack the tough nut of Caen. High Flying Dice Games gives us a chance to fight two of these battles on our tables. I have always been fascinated by Operation Goodwood, so hopefully this is an extra treat for me. Bloody Hell is one game in HFG's Professional Editions line of games. 


 These are the Designer Notes for the Operation Goodwood Scenario:

"Operation Goodwood

At first we seemed to advance quite rapidly, then suddenly, my tank ground to a halt as did all the others I could see...other tanks I could see were all stationary and several were beginning to brew. There were no targets. Nothing intelligible was coming over the radio. I watched through the periscope, fascinated as though it was a film I was seeing.

--Corporal Ronald Cox of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, July 18th.

This game on Operation Goodwood grew out of the interest and enjoyment I had in developing the companion game about Operation Spring, the Canadian offensive on Verrieres Ridge on July 25th, 1944. Montgomery’s massive onslaught against what was thought to be a severely beaten and depleted enemy was meant to be an unstoppable, irresistible offensive that would finally break the Allies out of the Normandy beachhead. That it instead ran into an un-moveable defense, planned earlier by Field Marshal Rommel, made for a ruinous fight that seriously damaged subsequent British offensives in the war. Nearly 2/3rds of the British tanks committed were destroyed in the two-day fight.

The Germans also suffered heavy losses in keeping control of their defensive positions. While many of Montgomery’s supporters pointed out that Goodwood seriously eroded the Germans’ capabilities to resist the Americans’ Operation Cobra offensive a week later, the cost to Great Britain was severe. That the Allied soldiers came close to winning a dramatic victory ahead of the Americans is a testament to the ferocity and courage both sides brought to this battlefield.

Allied Player

You have a massive armored host, but will have to move quickly and aggressively to win this battle. How you fight your infantry, air and few artillery assets will be crucial, as the tanks, despite their numbers, may not have the capability to punch through on their own. Be careful of how many reinforcements you call upon, as the cost in VP to bring them in early may create a deficit you can’t undo. Make the most of the opportunities you get and you may just end up on the road to Paris.

German Player

At the start of the game you may very well understand how Colonel Luck felt. However, time is on your side, and you have a range of weapons with which to fight, if your opponent, and the fates, grants you the time to bring them to the front. You will have many tough calls, and may not have the luxury of redeploying units once engaged if the dreaded jabos (fighter bombers) show up repeatedly. As Colonel Luck pointed out to the commander of the flak batteries defending Bourguebus, by the end of day you may be dead or a hero. Your actions will, for the most part, determine which applies."




 When the designer has done so well, and succinctly written up about the history and each player's role in the game it makes no sense for me to try and outdo it.


Let us see what comes with the game:

Game Design: Paul Rohrbaugh

Graphics Design: Bruce Yearian


Two,  17" x 22" maps

280 die cut, double sided unit counters and markers

One, Player Aid Card: Terrain Chart & Combat Results Table

Random Events Chart

Designer Notes & Bibliography

One Page of Addenda

Game Record Track 

8 page rule book




 We will look at the components now. The maps are your typical wargame maps with not too much flair about them. The terrain is easily distinguishable, and the hex numbers are easy to read. I guess maps are very much in the eye of the beholder, but I have no issue with them. The counters are normal size at 1/2". This makes them somewhat hard to read for those of us of advanced years. However, you always have to keep in mind the map footprint when talking about larger counters. Even if you are playing the two map campaign the game's footprint is small. This really helps with grognards who only have a limited amount of space. So, the counters are no smaller than many others that we play with. The tank and and jagdpanzer units have a silhouette of each kind on their counters. There are also counters for minefields, entrenchments, and smoke. As stated, the Rulebook has only eight pages of rules, followed by four pages of setup information. The Rulebook is in black and white, and does not come with any examples of play. These should really not be needed for a grognard, and this is not really a game that I would use to introduce a newbie to the hobby. The Player's Aid and all of the charts are pretty much self-explanatory. These are all in black and white, except for the terrain chart (naturally). The game components all pass muster. This is not a game where you will look at it and go Ooh and Ah, but it is all completely serviceable.


 This is the Sequence of Play:

Weather and Random Event Determination Phase

Air Phase - Allied Only

Initiative Determination Phase - Starts on Game Turn Two

Operations Phase - Chit Pull of Formations Activation Marker

End Phase




 The game is really not your typical folio game. It comes with two different operations that you can play (Goodwood, Spring), and it also has a campaign game of playing through both operations. There are not too many games at all on this level about Operation Goodwood, and none that I know of about Operation Spring. The life and death struggle for Caen, by the British and Commonwealth soldiers on one side and the Germans on the other, has had many excellent books and articles written about it. With this game it is much easier to understand the history of the battles, and why things happened the way they did. I find the game to be very enjoyable, and spot on as far as following history. Playing as the British you are going to find exactly how large of a can opener you are going to need to pry the Germans out of their defenses. As the German player, you will realize exactly what it was like to try and stem the tide with always diminishing resources.


Close up of some German Units

 

 As mentioned, the game has a small footprint, which is great when you do not want to play a monster, or do not have the room. The game comes with lots of chrome also. These are the Random Events:


Wittman Strikes - If the 1/101st Panzer is in play, you can get a second die roll

Allied Snafu - Remove one Allied Formation Activation Marker, and -1 to the Allied Initiative Die Roll

German Snafu - Same for Germans

Auftragstaktik - One German Formations Undisrupted Units can Activate for a Second Time

Oh Canada! or, For King and Counter - Same as Auftragstaktik for the Allied Player


 On the Addenda sheet there is also a variant that you can try out. According to the designer it is a bit  of a "what if" in his mind. The Allied player, to simulate more planning and cohesion on the Allied side, is allowed to activate the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade with either the 2nd or 3rd Canadian infantry Divisions. This would be instead of activating on its own.


Allied Units


  I am very impressed with my first High Flying Dice Games. Thank you very much High Flying Dice Games for letting me review this. I am also going to be reviewing two more of their games, which look very interesting. These are the two:


A Test of Mettle - Three Battles From the Allied Campaign in the Lorraine: Tough Hombres - Battle of Mairy, Revanche! - Battle of Dompaire, Patton's Finest  - Battle of Arracourt.


September's Eagles - The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929-1939

Name me another game where you can fly as Howard Hughes, or fly Gee Bee Racers!


You can also get boxed editions of all of their games.


Robert 

High Flying Dice Games:

High Flying Dice Games, LLC: From the Filing Cabinet to the Game Table (hfdgames.com)

Bloody Hell:

Bloody Hell Information (hfdgames.com)