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

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

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

Wise Bayonets

17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia


Acies Edizioni

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

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

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

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

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

"The bullet is foolish, the bayonet wise."

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

"Fire opens the gates of victory."

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

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

 The game uses these charts and tables:

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

The game scale is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Austro-Russian Counters

French Counters

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

1st Turn Setup, North and South are switched

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

game in play shot

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

The photos are from Adriano Visconti; many thanks.

Acies Edizioni:

Wise Bayonets:

My review of their game 'Durchbruch':


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

Isle of Cats Isle of Cats

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

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

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

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


Four player setup

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

Beautiful bits and bobs

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

Board and card examples

There are five different types of cards:

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

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

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

A treasure, anytime and lesson cards

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

The rules (and a strange story)

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

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

No insert - but ultra thick cardboard

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volume II: Battles & Tactics


Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

- Joe Beard

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A typical Event that gives the Patriots some VPs 

and increases the Tension Index

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

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

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

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

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

As always many thanks to AvalonDigital for providing a review copy

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

Naval Battles Simulator, in development by  Anarchy'97 , has recently appeared on Steam Early Access. Although it's not going to be ...

Early Access: Naval Battles Simulator Early Access: Naval Battles Simulator

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

Naval Battles Simulator, in development by Anarchy'97, has recently appeared on Steam Early Access. Although it's not going to be a game for everyone, NBS is an ambitious project from a small team that I wanted to give you a look at. So what Naval Battles is the game simulating exactly? That would be the battles between the Axis and Allies in WW2. The game features scenarios depicting notable battles, and a campaign mode, which is the meat of the game. As the Allies, you'll need to protect shipping as it moves from the US to the UK and other locales. If you choose to play as the Axis, you'll be trying to intercept those same convoys.  

Although I have only dabbled in the campaign mode, I've seen that it has a lot to dig into for any wargamer interested in the setting. As the Allied player, you'll be setting up convoys, escorts, and patrols to keep supplies flowing for the war effort. Just as in the real war, the key step towards destroying the Axis raiders is finding them in the first place. How you go about this is a big part of the strategy. Do you dedicate ships to directly escorting convoys, spread them out to cover more ground, or try to pen in the Axis at their ports? Likewise, as the Axis you'll need to dodge enemy patrols and hunt down those convoys. You only have so many ships available, and the oceans are vast. To aid you in this effort, you will receive some intelligence from various sources that will give you an incomplete, but useful, picture of what sorts of enemy task forces are out there, and where they were last seen.

If you don't want to handle the big picture, you can leave it up to the AI and only engage in the tactical battles. The reverse is also possible, directing the strategic efforts and leaving the battles to the computer. If you do choose to control the battles directly, the game switches to a zoomed in tactical view. While the visuals are pretty simplistic, they do convey what is going on well enough. Various icons on a blue field show the location and direction of the ships, with shells flying and back and forth once combat begins. If you want, you can get pretty nitty-gritty here, selecting targets for individual turrets on each ship and manually ordering them to fire. Most likely you'll want to keep it simple, but it's nice that the option is there. NBS models many details relevant to naval warfare at this time. A display shows the flooding status of different compartments in the ship, pumps can be manually directed to correct listing of the ship or save critical systems. If the magazine takes a direct hit, the ship might be gone in an instant. Every major part of the ship you would expect to command has a screen that can be opened or closed. Once you play around with things a bit, it becomes easy enough to direct your ships, and then you can enjoy watching the rain of shells flying back and forth.

However, controlling the ships is where you might run into some frustration, as the UI still leaves something to be desired. Having a half dozen small windows cluttering the screen isn't the most efficient system, but it is customizable at least. One thing that really got me (unless I'm completely missing something) is that I couldn't simply click on the icon of a ship to select it, I had to the use the "next ship" button/hotkey to cycle through them all until I got the one I wanted. Additionally, there's not much documentation for what is a fairly complex game. There are only a couple of short written tutorials going over the absolute basics. This sort of thing can always be fixed with time of course.

I plan to keep an eye on this game as it continues development and will do a more in depth review when it reaches an official release in the future. At only $15, it certainly won't cost you much to give it a try yourself.

Naval Battles Simulator is available now on Steam.

- Joe Beard


Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios  Image Studios Heart of Leviathan is a game many o...

Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios

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

Heart of Leviathan

Wave 2 Expansion


Image Studios

 Image Studios Heart of Leviathan is a game many of us have been awaiting for a long time. The age of the Dreadnought, and especially the naval war during WWI, catches many people's imagination. The original game was and is excellent with a miniature look, and a rule set that does not take the combined forces of a CPA and an attorney to play it. Heart of Leviathan hits the sweet spot right between playable and fun, and a true simulation where every shell fired has to be counted and examined through two or three data charts to see if it hit, if it penetrated, and what was the damage if it passed the first two checks. Image Studios has not stopped with just the original game with two Dreadnoughts per side. They added the Wave 1 Expansion and allowed you to complete the Iron Duke and Konig classes of English and German Dreadnoughts respectfully. So, after the Wave 1Expansion you would be able to have four battleships apiece fighting each other, unless you just wanted to buy more and have a slightly non-historical giant free-for-all.

 The Vail family and their co-conspiritors have not stopped there. They have now completely changed the game with the Wave 2 Expansion. This gives the players two German and English Light Cruisers apiece. Big deal, you might be saying to yourself. What can Light Cruisers do against a Battle line of Behemoths? Turns out they can do a lot more than you would think. The Light Cruisers now bring not just one, but two of the most dangerous weapons to face Dreadnoughts. One is the torpedo, and the second are mines. Both of these weapons gave the respective Admirals the fits during the war. Jellicoe was especially afraid of getting lured into a mass of torpedoes heading his Battle Fleet's way, so much so that one of the reasons the German High Seas Fleet had escaped at Jutland was because of one such German tactic during the battle. The entire British battle line was forced into a 180 turn to escape the deadly fish. Do not discount the power of laying mines for your enemy's fleet to sail over either. Many capitol ships were lost in WWI to mines. 

 So, the Wave 2 Expansion adds a ton to the game as you can see from the above. The separate ship miniatures come in their own beautiful little cases, just like their big brothers. If possible, the cruiser miniatures look even better than the larger ships. The rules for the new weapons take up only three small pages in one of the three booklets that come in the case with each ship (The Light Cruiser named ship Log Book, Secondary Weapons Operations, Cruiser Operations). Each ship package comes with:

The three mentioned booklets.
Plastic model of the ship.
Bag of small metal parts to enhance the model.
Two laser etched thick cardboard sheets of the Ship Base, Seven Mines, Fourteen Torpedoes, Six Smoke Clouds, etc.
Four Ship Captain Cards.
Eight Refit/Upgrade Cards.
One Ship Command Placard, made of thick cardboard.

The four cruisers you get are:



 I do not know how, but Image Studios has managed to top their game and first expansion. Thank you very much for letting me review this excellent upgrade to an already excellent game. You will find below their website and the two other reviews I did of the game and the first expansion.

Image Studios:

Heart of Leviathan review:

Heart of Leviathan Wave I Expansion:


Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven t...

Unlock: Epic Adventures Unlock: Epic Adventures

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

Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven tests and Mission #07, each one harder than the next. If you’re familiar with the Unlock games, then nothing more needs to be said (apart from Mission #07 is my favourite of the lot). If you’re not then read on. No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review...


Each adventure is contained in a deck of 60 cards and a companion app which is necessary to play the game. Each of the 60 cards has a number (or other identifiers) on its back which are pivotal to how the game works. The top card in the deck contains the introduction on one side and the initial location on the reverse. There is almost no setup time (just place the deck of cards on the table and start the app) and the rules can be explained in about 5 minutes. If you’re playing for the first time, each box also contains an additional tutorial deck of 10 cards which can teach the rules by playing through a mini-mission before starting one of the adventures.

Easy to follow rules

Once you’ve read the starting card and flipped it, you’ll usually see some obvious numbers and/or letters in grey circles. This is the primary mechanism of the game and it tells you to find the corresponding cards in the deck and put them face-up on the table. Sometimes there will be hidden numbers on the cards, which also permit you to take the corresponding card, don’t forget to inspect every card if you get stuck.

The story is told in the text and images on each card and the designers of all the Unlock games have done a great job in telling very different (and interesting) stories across each adventure. There are also object cards, whose numbers should be combined, the sum of which will indicate another card in the deck that you’ll be allowed to take. For example card 14 (a magnifying glass) can be combined with card 65 (a marble statue) to take card 79 (14 + 65) that reveals a new clue hidden on the plinth of the statue (this is not a spoiler as I just made it up).

A 'machine' card being used in the app

There are also machine cards which will require the app. I’ve not played all the Unlock boxes but I am always surprised at just how much variation you can get out of one deck of cards. It is certainly true that the designers are not limited to ‘you’re stuck in a room and you have to get out in 60 minutes’. This variety ultimately comes from how you interact with the machines (using the app).

The app will also provide hints if you get stuck. Which I recommend using fast and often if you’re unsure what to do next. Instead of taking hints you could guess at what cards join together but doing this or many other guesses (by adding cards together or guessing on a machine) will often result in a penalty card, these take 1 min of your overall time from the countdown timer in the app.

These games try to recreate the experience that you’d have if did a real escape room, there is a timer counting down and you do feel the pressure of completing within the time.

77 minutes to solve the Dragons Seven Tests

I found that sometimes the cards or even the solutions were quite obscure and even after being told the solution or stumbling upon the answer, we weren’t quite sure how we got to that stage or even how the answer works. This was a bit disappointing as you’re robbed of the ‘ah-hah, I’m such an idiot!’ moments that make deduction games shine. After you complete an adventure you’re given a rating out of 5 stars, (disclaimer - I’ve not got more than 3 stars). But the best thing about these games, as opposed to the Exit: The Game series, is that nothing is destroyed and you can freely give it to some friends to try or trade it away.

I see this screen a lot, taking a hint

There is a good mix of puzzles and different ways to use the app and cards in this box. I am continually amazed at the imagination of the designers of these games. There is one section in the Dragons’ seven tests where you’re instructed to work in two teams (hence its a 2-6 player range not the usual 1-6). Having said that, the solutions do start to feel a bit repetitive, after-all there’s only so much you can do with a single deck of cards. However, Mission #07 did stretch what was possible and has easily been my favourite Unlock mission so far.

When the cards are face down you can only see the next number in the stack. Seeing any number can be gamed a little bit and if the object combinations add up to a number seen in the stack then you could guess… Initially I was annoyed that the stack of cards was not in numerical order. So I spent the first 5 minutes arranging, however I quickly learnt that you're not supposed to do this. The OCD in me struggles not to reorder them, but doing so will give you an uncalled-for advantage and cause other issues. A benefit of not sorting them is that the new location cards visible objects often appear just on top of of the deck.

Cards which are answers to the puzzles will never be on top of the deck. You and your team will have to search the deck for the card number you think is the solution. The rules suggest splitting the searching between the players, which keeps everyone involved (not just the alpha who just has to handle the cards). Splitting the card search amongst the team gives more eyes the opportunity to see the backs of all the cards. Which will probably help to solve later riddles.

A lot of empty space

The only criticism I have of the components is the size of the box. There are three decks of cards and a few bits of paper. And a lot a wasted space taken up by the plastic insert. I wish publishers wouldn’t feel the need to make boxes that belie the size of the components.


I will always sit and play an Unlock game and will enjoy it but due to the constraints of a single deck of cards to contain the entire game, I think they are limited in what they can achieve. I would recommend any of the unlock games but I would suggest, and prefer, Kosmos' Exit: The Game series instead. You can get two of those for the price of one unlock. Which I think is a good trade. If you can get an unlock in a trade or play a friends copy then they’re definitely worth your time, if not your money.

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending this review copy. Many local game stores will have Unlock games if not this one, although they may not be open currently. You can use this link to find and use their online store during this difficult time.

Designer: Cyril Demaegd
Bgg page:
Play time: 60 minutes.
Players: 1 – 6 players

Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games  From Germany we have Lothar and Manfred von Richthofen, Immelmann, Boelck...

Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games

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

Age of Dogfights: WWI


Forsage Games

 From Germany we have Lothar and Manfred von Richthofen, Immelmann, Boelcke (whose 'Dicta' is still used in air warfare today), and Werner Voss (possibly the greatest of them all). From France we have Rene Fonck (the Allied Ace of Aces), Georges Guynemer (French children were taught, just flew up until he reached heaven), and Charles Nungesser. From England and the Empire we have William Bishop (the top Empire Ace), Edward Mannock, and the young Albert Ball. The skies of World War I were an incredibly dangerous place. Many pilots' lives were spent in a few weeks at most. Those that survived their ordeal were strapped into their planes again and again to fight until the war ended or their luck ran out. A good number of pilots kept a pistol on board to save them from a fiery death. Parachutes were well known in WWI, but they were never handed out to pilots, at least for most of the war. So Forsage Games has asked me to take a look at their Kickstarter game Age of Dogfights: WWI. Let us kick the tires and take her for a spin.

 This review is more of an unboxing and quick run through the rules etc. than I am used to doing. So the first thing you notice when holding the box is the heft of it. Once you open it, you find out that Forsage Games has handed you pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in the box. It is one of those boxes where you are not sure after looking at the contents if you are going to be able to close it up again properly. Let us look at what they put in there:

Board (3 bi-fold segments) total size 70 x 63 cm.
4 Board Extensions
54 Plastic Aircraft Pieces
100 Plastic Altitude Stands (5 Heights x 20)
18 Plane Control Panels
60 Red and Green Counters for use on the Plane Control panels
24 Photo markers
30 Bomb markers
30 Plastic Damage Markers
24 Plastic Ace/Rookie markers
3 Plastic Tilt Compensators
6 Plastic Task Zone Markers
3 Initial Position Markers
Sun and Wind Indicators
10 Plastic Cloud Markers
5 d6 Dice
Shooting Chart

 No wonder I didn't think I could get it all back in the box! Oddly enough, there is not a small bottle of castor oil included in the box. The manufacture of the pieces is really well done, you could even say excellent and not lie. The Map pieces are made of what seems like laminate on top of cardboard. They are not as thick as usual mounted maps, but they seem very sturdy. The game is played in eagle eye fashion so you are looking down on the aircraft. The map does not really show any details like houses or anything, but resembles what a pilot would see from a great height. Most of the pieces being plastic and not cardboard means that they will be here for a good long time. The plane pictures on the pieces are a bit small, but you can easily tell the difference between the planes. The Control Panels are also well done. They are easy to read, and some gamers will be familiar with them from other aerial games. The plastic Altitude Stands are also sturdy and I think they are a great innovation. The Plane Pieces have a slot built into their bottom to slide onto the clear plastic part of the Altitude Stands. All of the game components have the look and feel of parts that will last, and were well thought out in the designing process. The Rulebook is thirteen pages long, with two extra pages including a summary and a look at the expansion for the game. More on that later. 

 These are the planes that come with the standard game:

Albatross D.V
Aviatik DFW C.V
Fokker E.IV
Fokker Dr.I
Fokker D.VII

Hanriot HD.3
Letord Let.5
Morane Saulnier AI
Nieuport 24
Salmson 2

Airco DH.2
Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8
Bristol F.2 Fighter
Handley Page O/400
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
Sopwith Camel

 A far as the rules, it is one of those simple yet hard to master games. One of Forsage Games' blurbs says you will be playing in five minutes. If you are used to aerial warfare games that seems about right. The use of stands for the different heights of the planes has been used before in other games. In this game, at least to me, the use of them just seems easier. One interesting point the rules look at is the 'Gyroscopic Effect'. This is the effect where rotary engine planes could turn to the right much easier than turning left. This is due to the nature of the rotary engine and its spinning. I am a nut about World war I planes and aerial warfare, but I have not played many board games on the subject until recently. It is really only the last year that I have started playing aerial warfare board games; before that I was just a PC simulation player and voracious reader. I have made up a lot of lost time in the past year though. I have to say that Age of Dogfights is now my favorite World War I aerial warfare game. The game is extremely easy to set up and start playing. It is not as deep as other games, but it makes up for it in sheer ease of play and fun. 

 As was mentioned, Forsage Games had already designed an expansion that you can buy with the game itself on the Kickstarter campaign. This includes six planes each from Austria-Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Bulgaria, and the USA. Tell me how many games let you fight above Serbia and Bulgaria in the First World War? With this add on and hopefully many others to follow, we may see a very large stable of WWI aircraft to play in the game. The game itself is $48 on Kickstarter, and the game and the expansion are $76. The game has hit nine out of ten of its stretch goals. It only needs about $3000 more pledges to hit all ten of them. Forsage games has already run more than four successful Kickstarter campaigns.  If you are looking for a simple, but deep game on WWI air warfare look no further. For those of us who are into the aesthetics of games this is also for you. 

 Forsage Games has also generously sent me 'Tank Chess' and its add-on 'Fun-Set' to review. look for them in my upcoming reviews. Thank you very much Forsage games in allowing me to review your products. Now, please get to work on a ton more expansion planes.

 Sorry, I forgot to add a few things. I was sent the 'trial version' of the game, so some things will change. Here they are:

The game will actually come with 6 altitude levels.
The Cardboard Counters will be wooden blocks.

Forsage Games:

Age of Dogfights: WWI on KS:

Tank Chess: