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Blitzkrieg From The Ground Up by Niklas Zetterling  Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) From The Ground Up, is an interesti...

Blitzkrieg From The Ground Up by Niklas Zetterling Blitzkrieg From The Ground Up by Niklas Zetterling

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

May 2017

Blitzkrieg From The Ground Up by Niklas Zetterling



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 Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) From The Ground Up, is an interesting book. Usually an author would pick either the big picture or the smaller one for his work. "Blitzkrieg' not only shows you the big picture, economically, strategically, but also takes you right into the Panzers. This book looks at the nuts and bolts of the German army during the blitzkrieg years. It gives you a background on the theory of blitzkrieg war-making as well. The timeline of the book is operations from 1939 until the end of 1941. These are the years of the stunning German victories. Almost the entire continent of Europe was prostrate or allied to the Germans by June of 1941. How did this happen in such a short time? Mr. Zetterling's attempt to show us the how and why succeeds admirably.

 He takes us from the attack on Poland to the assault on Norway. This is a bit strange for books dealing with the blitzkrieg years. Usually in these books the Norway campaign is treated as just a footnote. The author shows how this invasion fits in with the German theories and their usage in this war. The humbling of France is gone into. Although it was a quick campaign, the fighting was hard and deadly even after the Allies' success at Dunkirk. Although out-generaled and maneuvered by the Germans, the French did not go down easy. Next, we go to Russia and that fateful day of June 22nd 1941. Between that day and December 7th 1941 the Germans' fate was sealed. 

 The campaign of Barbarossa is shown to us from the top echelons down to the driver in a tank. The Germans must have thought they were dealing with the zombie apocalypse. No matter how many Soviets they captured or killed, ten more took their place. The author shows that after the German defeat in the winter of 1941, the war changed into one of attrition. The war in Europe had turned into a 'materials' war that Germany could never win.

 As usual, this Casemate Publishers book is a well written and  absorbing read. For those of us who are interested in the tactics and strategy of the early war years, it is a book you won't want to miss.


Robert


Book: Blitzkrieg from The Ground Up
Author: Niklas Zetterling
Publisher: Casemate Publishers

 

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Field Commander Napoleon is a solitaire board game which puts you in the driver's seat on many of Napoleon's greatest campaigns....

Field Commander Napoleon - Vassal Module Review Field Commander Napoleon - Vassal Module Review

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

May 2017

Field Commander Napoleon - Vassal Module Review



Field Commander Napoleon is a solitaire board game which puts you in the driver's seat on many of Napoleon's greatest campaigns. It is part of the Field Commander series from Dan Verssen Games, which includes other titles covering the likes of Alexander the Great and Erwin Rommel. Faced with some of the same challenges as the Little Corporal himself, will you be able to emerge victorious?

My review here focuses specifically on the Vassal module for the game. Since this game has been out for many years, and there are a thousand reviews for it online, I will focus this article on the Vassal element itself, and summarize my opinion of the game at the end.

If you are not familiar with VASSAL, it is a free and open source engine for running digital versions of hundreds of board and wargames. These "modules" vary from completely free, but in many cases limited versions of games, on up to paid for versions that include everything you would find in the actual box. FC Napoleon falls into the more premium category, with a price of $30. However, you are getting essentially the equivalent of owning a physical copy, with all the pieces and boards crisply displayed on your PC screen. I should note up front to make it clear, this is not a "PC game" so much as it is a simulation of playing the board game. While the game neatly organizes all the pieces for you at the start of a campaign, it is up to the player to then move the pieces around the board correctly, and follow the rules.




I'm lucky enough to have a copy of the physical version of the game, which is absolutely gorgeous and worth its rather hefty price tag. Since I've played the game before, I only needed a brief review of the rules to get started. This, however, is where I ran into a snag with the Vassal version, it doesn't seem to include the game manual. Perhaps I am completely missing it, but I searched through every menu and button in the module and could not find it. There are handy buttons to open up the various player aides in separate windows, and a useful guide for veteran players getting comfortable with some nuances of playing in Vassal, but the actual rules for the game are nowhere to be found. I'll happily edit this section if anyone can point out its location to me. I was able to quickly Google up a a PDF of the manual and get rolling, so it isn't an insurmountable hurdle.

While playing in Vassal certainly won't be for everyone, it does offer a bevy of advantages over the physical realm of board gaming. First and foremost, game setup takes all of half a second. Just pick the campaign of your choice, there are eleven to choose from, and away you go. This is especially nice for FC Napoleon, the physical version of which includes triple digit quantities of unit counters, many specific to each campaign, which must be sorted out and placed meticulously according to each scenario's opening game state. What might take twenty minutes with the physical version takes only a split-second in Vassal. Just as nice is the ability to save your game and close the program any time you please. No need to leave things set up on the dining room table for a week, open to devastating attack by cats and small children.





Navigating the game through Vassal takes some getting used to. Perhaps more so for me than other players, since I had not used Vassal before. Right-click menus and other shortcuts allow you to perform the various actions of the game, such as flipping and rotating counters, creating/separating stacks of counters, and increasing/decreasing the value of certain spaces like supplies. One very nice feature is that units can be moved from the operational map to the battle map using a short-cut, which will also prepare everything you need for the battle (such as laying out the Battle Plan counters you will need, then stacking them up when the battle is done). However, using this feature is a bit precarious, as the module guide indicates, because the game isn't quite smart enough to realize if you've done something horribly wrong while moving counters around. The player will still need to pay attention to the details.  Another automated function in the Vassal module is that reinforcements will move onto the campaign board as soon as you meet the appropriate conditions, which is nice and leaves you with one less thing to remember. 

I found that playing in Vassal required a serious mental adjustment on my part. This is neither a truly interactive computer game, nor is it as intuitive as playing the game directly with your hands. Vassal veterans may have an easier time making the adjustment, but for me it took a few hours of tinkering around before I really felt comfortable playing in this environment, despite having experience with the game itself. However, once I found my feet on this new gaming battlefield, I could appreciate why it is so popular with many wargamers. The obvious advantages of instant set up and saved games makes it so much easier to play a game like this on a whim, compared to the sizable time commitment involved in breaking out the physical version. That said, at the fairly steep price of $30, you will have to know that you'll like this before taking the plunge. I can't help but think that anyone who can afford to spend that much on a Vassal module, could probably afford to go ahead and get a physical copy.  Regardless of price, my verdict on the Vassal edition of FC Napoleon is that it fully translates the board game experience onto the PC, while adding several quality of life improvements. I did not run into any bugs or other problems while using this version of the game. 



As for Field Commander Napoleon itself as a game, I can confidently say that it is one of the better solitaire gaming systems I have played. The mix of operational force movement and the more tactical battlefield phases of the game gives you a lot to think about. The enemy AI is simple, but effective enough in that it will keep you on your toes and force you to react to the situations that develop in each campaign. At many points in the game you will be faced with the decision of playing conservatively or aggressively, with the greater rewards carrying greater risks. Just like Napoleon, you will more often than not need to be bold in your actions, and trust to your superior forces and leadership to see you through against the odds. With almost a dozen scenarios to play, the game has plenty of variability and it will take quite a while to win them all. 

In short, this a well done Vassal module of a very good game. Whether it is worth the purchase price is up to you, but you can make that decision knowing that you will get a quality product.

- Joe Beard

Available at Dan Verssen Games






1 comments :

Death Was Their Co-Pilot by  Michael Dörflinger   Death Was Their Co-Pilot ; what an apt title. You could also add th...

Death Was Their Co-Pilot by Michael Dörflinger Death Was Their Co-Pilot by Michael Dörflinger

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

May 2017

Death Was Their Co-Pilot by Michael Dörflinger



by




 Death Was Their Co-Pilot; what an apt title. You could also add that death was their constant companion. Of the fifteen original German Fokker monoplane pilots in 1915, none lived to see 1917. This book is filled with facts as sobering as that one. It also tells you about Gustav Leffers, who was a 'Blue Max' ( Pour Le' Merite) recipient, and he actually flew in a captured Nieuport 16.

 The book starts with the story of Roland Garros. Then it goes into the life of the first air ace Celestin Pegoud. The next ace's life it goes into is British ace Lanoe Hawker. We change gears, and go into the exploits of the first Fokker monoplane (eindecker) aces, Immelmann, Boelcke, and the rest. The 'Dicta Boelcke', Boelcke's commandments for aerial combat are still taught today.

 Naturally the book goes into the controversy of the number of 'kills' for each pilot. The German method seems to have been the 'best' as far as being able to actually account for all of their pilots' claims. However, the book uses some examples, specifically with Herman Goering, that sometimes the Allied and German records do not match up. This is especially true when it comes to pilots who claimed numerous kills on solo flights into enemy territory. Of the four nations: Britain, France, Germany, and the U.S. and their highest ranking pilots, only Germany's Richtofen did not survive the war. Richtofen's younger brother Lothar, was able to amass forty victories in only seventy-seven operational days. A lot of the pilots carried pistols for suicide in case they were shot down in flames. In World War I the powers that be decided that the airplane, and not the pilot, was important so no pilots were given parachutes in the beginning years of the war. During 'Bloody April' of 1917 the life span of a British pilot was on average three weeks. It seems that if luck or innate skill was with you in the beginning of your career, you were then offered up a large diet of fledglings.

 The book is filled with so many stories of heroism and patriotism, it is hard to pick the best examples. So many on each side returned to the fray in physical and mental conditions that should have kept them in a hospital bed, and not a cockpit.

 The other fronts besides the Western are touched on, as is the evolution of both armaments and the actual planes themselves. If you are looking for a book that shows the facts and figures, but also goes deep beyond them, then this book is for you.


Robert


Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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B-17 Leader by DanVerssen Games    One should not judge a book by its cover, or so we have been told. Equally, one shoul...

B-17 Leader by Dan Verssen Games B-17 Leader by Dan Verssen Games

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

May 2017

B-17 Leader by Dan Verssen Games



 




 One should not judge a book by its cover, or so we have been told. Equally, one should not judge a book or boardgame by its heft. However, I am still pretty much a slave to heft. If I receive a book or boardgame that needs two hands to hold it, I am instantly enthralled. 

 B-17 is one of these games. Holding it in your hands for the first time, you would believe that you have gotten your hands on something special. Once you open the box you would find out that your hunch was correct. The game manual and the parts are gorgeous. For those of us getting older, the larger sized type and counters etc. are especially welcome. The next part of the review will be an unboxing and give you a look at all of the game's finery.



Components: 336 Cards
5 Counter Sheets
1 Commander Counter Sheet
1 Huge 33" x 17" Mounted Display Board
1 Player Aid Sheet
1 Mini Campaign Sheet
1 Single Bomber Sheet
11 Campaign Sheets
1 DIF Crossover Sheet
1 Player Log Sheet
Rulebook



The campaigns included in B-17 Leader include:
• The Air War Begins (Aug 1942 – Dec 1942)
• Operation Pointblank (June 1943 – May 1944)
• Combined Bomber Operations (June 1943 – Sept 1943)
• Allied Invasion (June 1944 – May 1945)
• Oil Campaign (Aug 1944 – Nov 1944)
• Operation Argument – Big Week (Feb 20 – 25 1944)
• Operation Crossbow (Mar 1943 – May 1943)
• Transportation (Apr 1944 – Aug 1944)
• Strategic Targets (Jun 1943 - Aug 1943)
• U-Boat Focus (Aug 1942)
• Aircraft Industry Focus (Aug 1943)





US counters

German counters

More excellent counters



Manual


Sequence of play sheet


Player aid sheets


Leader Commander Counters


Some of the campaigns


                                                        Cards




          Display Board


 The Display Board is so substantial it could be used for self defense.

                                               Memphis Belle card



  
The game is a solitaire game about the U.S. bombing campaign against Germany in World War II. You are the deputy director of operations for the Eighth Air Force based in England. The German Luftwaffe (planes and flak) are the enemy that you have to out think and outlast. Your mission is simple: to crush Germany from the air. You have to destroy each target that you choose without suffering crippling losses to your bomber force. As it was in reality, the most lucrative targets are the heaviest defended and the furthest away. When first looking at the game, you might have a 'what have I gotten myself into here' moment. The rule book and the sheer amount of what is in the box may give you pause. The truth is if this isn't your first wargame it really isn't that daunting. The sequence of play is rather longer than just moving a counter and attacking, then checking a CRT. The reason for this is due to a few factors. One is for the game system to give you a viable solitaire gaming experience. Two, so that the game has enough variables to keep it from getting stale. Three, to give you somewhat of a simulation experience of actually running the bombing campaign. I have stayed away from solitaire wargames for a good many years, the reason being is that the few I tried in the '70s and early '80s were just missing something. I always found a two player game to be a better solitary experience. Maybe it was that the masochist in me came out when I was able to exploit a dumb move I had made while playing the other side. Those days are gone and I believe that solitary wargames have matured enough to give you excellent gaming options now.


                                                      Official geek pin





 The game itself is much like its predecessor 'Phantom leader'. You are not only in charge of damaging the enemy, you also have to be a pilot/crew manager. A few mistakes on your part and your crews will be useless to you in your aerial attack. The game is very taut in this way. Do you go for broke on this one mission, or play it safe to husband your crews for the next few? I am glad that the game is based upon the U.S. daylight bombing campaign. A campaign about destroying cities would still give me pause. I know that everyone did it. For some reason to me it just seems 'not cricket'.

 There is a player's log that you have to manually keep track of your fighter/bomber groups. A log is a little more time consuming than moving a chit on a printed display, but I have used them many times in the past for games, and it is really not an onus. 


Me setting up to play the U-Boat campaign again

 So the breakdown is this. Do you have the slightest bit of interest in the bombing campaign, or do you just like to own great wargames for their own sake? If either of these are you, I can definitely endorse B-17 Leader for you.

 The geek pin was a nice touch, but I am sure if you ask our partners we really don't need to be labelled.


Robert


Designer: Dean Brown

1 comments :

Images Of War: Allied Tanks Of The Second World War  by Michael Green   Light, medium, and heavy tanks, ...

Images Of War Allied Tanks Of The Second World War by Michael green Images Of War Allied Tanks Of The Second World War by Michael green

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

May 2017

Images Of War Allied Tanks Of The Second World War by Michael green



 by











  Light, medium, and heavy tanks, and everything in between. The book is setup this way:

Light Tanks
Early-War Medium Tanks
Late-war Medium Tanks
Heavy Tanks

 The chapters start up with a write up on the different Allied nations tanks of that class. The rest of each chapter is full of pictures of almost every make and model allied tank. A lot of the pictures were taken of surviving examples of these tanks at museums. The bad thing is that at least two of these museums have closed down. There are also plenty of actual wartime photographs.

 The photos show the progression of science and technology from the prewar to the late-war tanks. Included are pictures of some of the armament of the tanks along with ammunition. There are a few photos of the inside crew positions of the tanks.

 The T-34 and Sherman and their variant photos and write-ups take up a lot of the book. Being the most produced tanks of World war II, this stands to reason.

 Once again this is a great book for tank modelers. It is also a good 'starter book' for someone who doesn't know much about the Allied armor in World war II, but wants to learn.


Robert


Author: Michael Green
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Distributor: Casemate publishers


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Here's a video I did of me playing a round of the new arena survival mode in Space Wolf! It was part of a large update that recentl...

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf Survival Mode Video Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf Survival Mode Video

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

May 2017

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf Survival Mode Video



Here's a video I did of me playing a round of the new arena survival mode in Space Wolf! It was part of a large update that recently came out. Click here for my written preview that details how the game mechanics work.

Also, if you already have the game, you can use the promo code SURVIVALPC on the collection screen in game to get five boosters.



Official Site: http://www.spacewolfgame.com/
Developer: HeroCraft


- Joe Beard

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LEVIATHAN WAKES BY JAMES S.A.COREY This is the first in a sequence of six novels.  You may already have caught sight of i...

LEVIATHAN WAKES LEVIATHAN WAKES

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

May 2017

LEVIATHAN WAKES


LEVIATHAN WAKES

BY

JAMES S.A.COREY




This is the first in a sequence of six novels.  You may already have caught sight of it in the form of the opening season on Netflix of the series, The Expanse.  The little I've seen, and it is little - a single episode - looked good.  This novel and the next two in the series  that I've read so far [Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate] are way more than good.  They are some of the best what's called hard S.F. I've read for years.  But before expressing opinions, a little about the plot and narrative.

Set in a galaxy not so far away - in fact our own solar system.   Mankind has colonised Mars, the moon and the Asteroid Belt.  So, we have a familiar set up - three groups. the Earthers, the Martians and the Belters, needing each other, but in an uneasy alliance and relationship.  Lots of pride and contempt and suspicion and potential animosity all mixed together and firing off between these three nations.  All human in origin, but physiologically diverging, particularly the Belters who are long and tall and thin through  the lighter gravity of their existence. 

Sounds like it could be a commentary on world relationships now, but I'm glad to say that this is no socio-philosophising, thinly disguised allegory of our times.  Or if it is, it is also a full-on action packed space saga.  Nor is it just slam bang action with no thought.  The plot focuses in turn on a number of important characters [usually about six in each novel] a chapter at a time, switching backwards and forwards often with cliff-hanging moments at the end of a chapter.  It may be a tried and trusted formula, but it works and works brilliantly.

This is partly because the writers [no that's not a typo] know how to create characters that engage and intrigue the reader.  You want to know what happens next not just for the plot's sake, but for the sake of these people that we've started to get to know and see progressing and developing.  This success too may be related to the fact that we've got two writers here, that James S.A. Corey is the pseudonym for fantasy writer Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  The latter, significantly I believe, is assistant to  George R.R. Martin!  And there are definite elements that make me think of Game of Thrones all the way and not in any cheap imitation manner, but simply having all the best qualities that I associate with that mammoth series of books.

I say "best" deliberately because this is for me much more tightly plotted and far less sprawling than GOT can be at times.  Anyway, back to the story.  Though there are many characters, the one who becomes most important is Jim Holden and the crew initially of a beat-up ice-mining space vessel. [Can't help thinking of Joss Wheedon's Firefly here!]  To say much more is a problem without ruining some early suspense in your reading.

Safe to say, into this comes one HUGE Hitchcockian MacGuffin [though perhaps, reverse MacGuffin might be more accurate, as it is mightily important to the plot] - the protomolecule and some very nasty things start to happen.  On the way to finding out some of the twists and turns of this plot, you'll meet a variety of the good and the bad with personal and political motives, skulduggery and in-fighting, reversals of fortune and more.

I wholeheartedly recommend this first book and the whole series to you.   It's one of those that you must keep reading, but don't want it to end.  What better can I say?







































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RUNEWARS MINIATURES GAME Runewars Miniatures Game is the inevitable and most recent manifestation of the world of Terrinoth.  Ov...

RUNEWARS MINIATURES GAME RUNEWARS MINIATURES GAME

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

May 2017

RUNEWARS MINIATURES GAME

RUNEWARS

MINIATURES GAME



Runewars Miniatures Game is the inevitable and most recent manifestation of the world of Terrinoth.  Over roughly the last 13 years, various aspects of this fantasy realm have been explored through a series of distinct games.  Runebound in 2004 was the first to take us to this world with a relatively conventional map board divided in to hexes to game on with cards and tokens and it retained these basic features through three editions.  Next came Runewars, which moved play to a map generated by the players made up of large hexagonal tiles, while the focus on individual characters questing through the land transformed into warring races.  So far, so competitive.  More recently, Descent: Journeys In The Dark and then Descent: Journeys In The Dark 2nd edition [see my earlier review for my thoughts on the latter] took us in a new direction to the largely cooperative world of [mainly]dungeon quests played out on various sized tiles with plastic heroes and monsters, cards and tokens. 

I have to say that my own journey has been a steady progress upwards.  Runebound did not satisfy my interest in fantasy gaming and as result I have to admit that I did not venture into Runewars at all.  However, Descent: Journeys In The Dark 2nd edition was a very different and positive experience.

So, where are we now?  That should be pretty self-explanatory from the legend on the box:  A Miniatures Game of Epic BattlesThis is fairly conventional tabletop figure gaming where the focus is on the figures and the fighting.  No board, because, as is the norm with this genre of game, your table top literally is the board.  Again typical of such starter packages for professionally marketed battle systems, there are a few [in this case four] items of cardboard terrain provided.  These are perfectly satisfactory, but again conventional. The key factors for any such product is the quality of the figures and the rules.


The four cardstock pieces of terrain

As I usually do, when there's some solid hardware like figures to be evaluated, that's where I'm going to start - and these for me more than pass the test.  They are good solid plastic, well-sculpted with minimal assembly.  To give some potential comparison, though I love the game and figures in Deadzone 2nd edition, they were a nightmare to assemble, with multiple pieces for most of the figures, glue necessary for all the figures and no assembly diagrams in the normal retail box itself [they had to be sought for online and were essential to avoid making mistakes with many of the figures].  The task took me hours and hours and hours, though worth it in the end, and that was before even thinking about painting them.

Here, the job is really easy.  Many of the figures come in just three pieces - head, torso and legs.  In many cases you can simply snap them together and you have a very solid figure.  [Personally, I still prefer a spot of glue on all my models for added security.]  What's more the Learn To Play manual contains clear diagrams for assembly and even a couple of pages on painting the figures and creating terrain.

In all, this core package gives you the beginnings of two opposing armies, featuring two standard types of unit and two individual characters for each race. 

The Daqans are essentially the humans, with 16 spearmen and four cavalry and their two individual characters are a Rune Golem and a Wraithstalker.  Opposing them are the Waiqar Undead in the form of 16 Reanimate infantry and 8 Reanimate archers, plus for their individuals, a Carrion Lancer and an Ardus Ix'Erebus.



Daqan spearmen in fairly compact formation.


Daqan Rune Golem

[Here are just the first two pictures to wet your appetite.  I'll seed more photos through the review.  The terrain I've placed them on is part of my substantial collection of Kallistra hex tiles] 
In terms of numbers of figures, this is a reasonable quantity for the average price of the game [£80-£85], but in game play terms it gives you only two units and two individuals on each side.  The limitations of this will be discussed later when I consider game play in more depth. 

The models themselves I do like, especially the Undead archers, both for the detail on them and the four poses.  This variety of poses which is a feature of all the groups of figures is a definite plus and adds considerably to the effect on the tabletop.



Not the clearest shot, but I think the dynamic quality of the poses is still effectively seen here, as is displayed by the Daqan cavalry below.


A unit of Daqan cavalry

You can see with all the models that they come with base trays for ease of manoeuvre about the battlefield and also to help in constructing the various formations that they can adopt as each holding tray is designed to connect easily with another in all four directions.

Along with each unit and character figure comes the other essential piece of hardware - what they've chosen to call the Command Tool.  Those familiar with X-Wing, as I am, will have no trouble in recognising the mechanism for giving each of your forces its orders.  It's a development moving from a single dial to pre-plan a unit's move to a double dial that combines the effect of the essential move dial with the second dial's modifiers.  All is done by symbols, many, though not all, being fairly self-explanatory.  Among the changes that I like is the fact that the choice of move has an accompanying number that determines play order rather than the fixed initiative rating in X-Wing.



Here is the Command Tool for the Daqan Spearmen unit with its pair of dials, one  for issuing its order on the left and the dial on the right adds modifiers.   Each order is set by the dials and then placed near to its corresponding unit. 

If you feel that this disrupts the aesthetics of the battlefield, then it's very easy to set them at the rear of your playing area, as the picture of your unit on the Command Tool makes each easily identifiable.  
Should you be fielding more than one unit of the same type, a simple corresponding numbered marker is used to identify each one.  However, for that, you're going to have to invest in the additional packs of figures, stands and Command Tools that should soon be available.



Above, in its entirety, is what you get to fight with in the core set - attractive, but very limited.  My immediate reaction was barely enough for a Skirmish game and certainly not a battle.  That reaction was spot on, as I later read in the Rules Reference booklet [one of three booklets in this core set], where you are introduced to what is described as "a faster, smaller alternative to a full battle."  This is - a Skirmish.  This limitation is the major uncertainty that I have with the package.  Once inside the package, it is made perfectly clear that to play a "standard" game expansions sets will be necessary.

The creators obviously envisage that you may be playing with a friend who also owns a copy and so, between you, there will be enough for a standard game.  Their intention too is that this first purchase will be part of an army building process where individual players will tend to focus on one race and enjoy expanding their range of units and characters to support that race.  So, be advised of these limitations of play, if you are thinking of venturing in to the world of Terrinoth.  You will initially be able to play only a small skirmish game.

In all honesty, this is highly typical of all figure-based games that I know and so perhaps the key question is whether this new entry into the field of fantasy army figures offers at least as good an experience as what is already out there and perhaps better.

Before giving my personal judgement, let's look at the rest of the contents, some minor, some major.  As always there are tokens - in this case a fairly modest number, but certainly adequate for the number of units in the game.



The majority of these are the Boon & Bane tokens [i.e. good & bad bonuses] and the Bane tokens greatly outweigh the Boon ones.  Perhaps there is nothing particularly original in their effects, but what I like one hundred percent is that when your unit has acquired one or more of these adverse-effect tokens, it is up to your opponent when to call them into effect.   As an example, one type of Bane token [Stun] cancels the modifier dial's  effect.  So, your opponent may decide that the current modifier isn't significant enough to be worth cancelling and wait, hopefully, to cancel a more damaging modifier in a later turn.

There are the inevitable wound tokens [the purple tokens with red crosses in the picture above] and another item that I warm to are the five Energy tokens that represent magic in this game [bottom left of the above picture].  These are double-sided and randomly thrown at the end of each Turn, to form a pool ready for use in the next turn.  The symbols on them match with ones in some of the rules or on some of the cards and components in the game.  Each identical symbol in the pool increases the effect of the symbol that you are using.  So, if you were using a card with a symbol that caused damage and there were 3 matching Energy symbols in the pool, then you would cause 3 damage.

Equally to be expected are the dice used in combat.



Differing numbers of dice and colours are thrown depending on the type of unit attacking.  The symbols are easily learned as there are only five - Hits [the starbursts],  Morale [the coiled circles], Surges [lightning bolts], Mortal Strike [left hand symbol on lower white die] and Accuracy [visible on top white die - on same face as Hit symbol].  Nearly all are self-explanatory and the Surge symbol, which has become fairly familiar from games like X-Wing, allows a unit or character's special ability to be activated, as noted on the card associated with the piece.

Equally familiar from X-Wing are the different measuring sticks for movement, such as those below. 




Attractively produced, the addition of the small protrusion at the top and bottom also make them easier to use than many such measuring sticks.



Before looking at the three game booklets, it's worth returning to the Command Tool as this may be a deciding factor for some buyers.  The simpler, single-dial iteration of this design in X-Wing [and the somewhat similar manifestation - though only really a data device not a method of giving orders simultaneously -  in the multiplicity of Heroclix designs] was a huge success and introduced an attractive compact game piece that added greatly to the swift, smooth issuing of secret orders.  The new Command Tool does all that the earlier design did and more.  I genuinely think that this development of the double dial does take us a further step down the road of streamlining game play. 

First of all, the double dial caters for the much wider range of movement actions that land-based figure gaming demands with none of the ambiguity that so many rules systems seem to stumble into.  Secondly, one of the reasons that there are relatively few tokens in this game is that the second dial fulfils the task that multiple tokens often did duty for.  What's even better is that to be able to employ a particular modifier on the second dial, it must match the colour of the order given on the first dial.  No more having to remember a wide range of exceptions/limitations to what this type of unit can or cannot do [a drawback, not just in the figure gaming world, but with many, many sets of board wargame rules].  Instead, if the colours match, then they can be combined.



Finally, it's the turn of the three booklets:  titled Learn To Play, Rules Reference and Lore Guide.  The first two are fairly self-evident.  The Learn To Play booklet takes you through all the basic elements of playing the game and including how to assemble your figures and a very brief section on painting and terrain.  Like all three booklets, it is lavishly illustrated with plenty of very good examples of play and one enticing shot of all the figures based and painted on a tabletop, well supplied with terrain, that will have you positively itching to get painting and started in play.  The rules themselves are clear and well explained and of moderate complexity, made even easier for the reasons I've mentioned in the paragraph above.  With them under your belt, you're good to go with your first Skirmish.



The second booklet , Rules Reference, takes you a step further introducing you to the concept of Army Building in order to have a full Battle game as opposed to the small Skirmish already learnt.  In essence, the latter is a 100 pts game while the former is up to double that at 200 pts - though you can obviously field even larger armies if you want to.  The basic play area for a Skirmish is 3' x 3' and for a Battle 3' x 6' - once again players are free to modify according to their needs and wishes. 

High on my list of likes in this booklet is the ability to customise different sized formations for your various types of figure.  The more stands in your formation obviously the more costly in points to spend [e.g. the smallest formation of Spearmen costs 18 pts, while the largest costs 59 pts].  Nothing out of the ordinary, you might say, but the important corollary is that the size of formation also increases the number of types of possible Upgrades that you can purchase for the formation.  Neat idea.



The Waiqar Carrion Crawler individual character

I sincerely hope too that it will be possible to buy additional Command Tools, so that you can field different sized formations of the same type of unit in your Army.  What I find disappointing is that, continuing to use the Spearmen as an example, even with two core sets of the game you don't have enough figures and stands to field the largest formation.  In fact, if you have only the core set, you would have to buy three expansion packs in order to have the largest possible Spearmen formation in your Army.

After this introduction to Army building, the rest of the booklet is essentially an excellent alphabetical glossary.  Each entry significantly expands in detail on concepts/rules introduced in the Lets Play booklet and in a few cases introduces new ones.  For  gamers familiar with figure systems, you'll probably not need to refer much to these entries, but for those less familiar they really do spell everything out and for those "argumentative" gamers out there, it should stop a few squabbles before they start!!



The last booklet is The Lore Guide [featuring a picture on the front of a character looking remarkably like Leoric of The Book from the game Descent: Journeys In The Dark 2nd edition.]   This is a 32 page immersion in the world of Terrinoth.  It blends elements of a fictional story with imagined extracts from letters, chronicles, transcripts of an oral recital and more.  Personally, this sort of inclusion does not add greatly to my experience of a game.  But both as a completist and as a reviewer I read steadily through everything and, as expected, the text covers all the familiar tropes of fantasy fiction.  It is beautifully presented and extensively illustrated and represents a significant investment of effort on the design team's part.



Waiqar Infantry


So, to my concluding thoughts.  The more I've delved and explored this product, the more I've warmed to it.  The single downside is the cost to field a full army is fairly high.  So, getting a friend who wants to explore this game too would be a handy asset.  Quality throughout is great and I've highlighted what I think is special, as I've gone along.  To emphasise : very good figures and those I've seen painted-up look superb.  [Oh, no, when am I going to find time to start mine?]  As always that's a hefty task, but identical to any figure painting jobs.  The dials for command work very, very well and greatly simplify game play and the rules are clear and execution smooth.  If you are looking for a fantasy figures system, I think that this is well worth your attention.  If you already have a system of choice -BEWARE.  Sample this one and you may just find yourself starting a whole new collection!




















































































































































































































































































































































































  




































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