second chance games

Search This Website of delight   Every once in awhile, wargaming gets a breath of fresh air. Burden Of Command is the newest game ...

Burden of Command by Green Tree games Burden of Command by Green Tree games

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

June 2017

Burden of Command by Green Tree games

 Every once in awhile, wargaming gets a breath of fresh air. Burden Of Command is the newest game to give us a great big gulp. It is a leadership RPG that is based on historical World War II incidents. 

 In the game you take control of a unit and you are a Captain. I'll use their own synopsis of the game here:

 "You are put into the shoes of a Captain of a company of the fabled 'Cottonbalers', leading your men on and off the battlefield from morocco to Hitler's Eagle's nest. You must build respect, trust and battlefield experience to bring your brothers safely home."

 "We were guided by Professor John C. McManus and his book 'American Courage, American Courage Of The Cottonbalers: the only regiment to fight in all American Wars"

 The BOC team has stressed that reliving history will be a number one priority. They are striving to put you into command of a company as realistically as possible. 

 They should also get credit for picking the regiment that Matt Dillon (James Arness) served in.
 The mechanics of the games are as follows:

Psychology Focused-Morale, Stress, Experience, Trust, and Respect
Units gain Experience Across battles
Turn based
Single Player
Dynamic Events Cause Chaos
Limited Command Points Mean Every Decision Counts

 The inspiration for the game came from:

Band Of Brothers
Banner Saga
Crusader kings II

 As the developers ask, "Would you lose a mission to save their lives?". That seems like it deserves a pretty cut and dried answer of 'Yes'! Wait a minute, what if by losing that mission it now takes three times as long to take that town or patch of ground. It may be that your unit would have lost two men completing the mission. Now, the task has cost a total of eight men out of other units needed to complete the mission the next day. The sword of Damocles hangs not only over your head but your men's.

 As a commander in war you are literally asked to make almost God-like decisions. Who do you send to flush out that sniper? Is it a green kid to save your veterans, or do you send a veteran who may well save you and four other men later today or tomorrow with his nerve and experience?

  Again using a quote from the developers:

 "Leadership moment:
 In Sicily, Lt. Col. John Heintges stepped into the open to lure out an enemy sniper. He risked his life for his men. Would you?"

  Another part of warfare will also be a part of the game, and few others have even mentioned them. Civilians, those pesky little things that we never have to deal with. However in real warfare they are always a major concern. Those poor people who are just trying to live or flee for their lives. They block roads and upset timetables, etc. along with running through firing zones.

 Burden Of Command is shaping up to be a great new experience for us wargamers. It is on the path to being a genre bending game for both grognards and newbies. Please take the time to check out their website and all of the features of the game.





Bloody April  by Norman Franks Russell Guest Frank Bailey   As the book states, even those who have only a ...

Bloody April by Norman Franks, Russel Guest & Frank Bailey Bloody April by Norman Franks, Russel Guest & Frank Bailey

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

June 2017

Bloody April by Norman Franks, Russel Guest & Frank Bailey


  As the book states, even those who have only a smattering of World War One knowledge have heard of 'Bloody April'. The month of death came about because of two things. First was the arrival of the new German fighter plane, the Albatross DIII. Second, the Allied offensive took place on the Arras front. The Allies not only had to battle the Germans, but the wind blew from west to east most of the time. With the allied offensive, it meant that the RAF and French Air Force had to  invade German air space with as many planes as they could get in the air. This was a recipe for, as the book puts it, "In many respects the relationship between the German fighters, Allied fighters and Corps aircraft would be akin to sharks among minnows in the coming battle"! 

 The book itself is a tour de force of scouring day to day flight and loss records of all of the combatants in the month of April 1917. The book lists weather conditions and much more for each day. Every day is gone through separately with a write up on the 'British front' and the on the 'French front'. After each write up for the day is a separate index of the day's losses and claims followed by actual Allied casualties.

 There are three appendices of the British, French, and German claims, followed by the known German casualties for each day.

 Most pages are filled with pictures of pilots that we have never heard of before. The pictures are accompanied by small biographies of each pilot.

 The book does not dwell on the why, but it is a true masterpiece of the who, when, and where. Nowhere will you find such an exhaustive book on the day to day events of the aerial war over the Western front in April 1917.

 Here are a few pages from the book: 

Allied casualty list

                                        German casualty list


Book: Bloody April 1917
Authors: Norman Franks, Russell Guest, & Frank Bailey
Publisher: Grub Street Publishing
Distributor: Casemate publishers


Update: Some of the issues I brought up here, with regard to launching missions in a certain order, being forced to launch supply craft f...

Carrier Deck Review Carrier Deck Review

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

June 2017

Carrier Deck Review

Update: Some of the issues I brought up here, with regard to launching missions in a certain order, being forced to launch supply craft first, etc. were fixed via a patch about a month after release. You can see a video featuring the game and those changes using this link.

Carrier Deck tasks the player not with directly fighting the battles of a modern naval warfare scenario, but with managing the logistics of a very busy flight deck. Developed by Every Single Soldier and published by Slitherine/Matrix Games, Carrier Deck falls more on the lighter end of the gaming spectrum than what you might normally expect from those names. Unlike the turn-based Afghanistan '11, Every Single Soldier's other recent release, which focused on long term planning and carefully considered logistics, Carrier Deck requires the player to constantly shift their focus from moment to moment as each new threat pops up. 

Carrier Deck gives you a bird's eye view of the titular carrier deck, from which you click on the various aircraft to select them, then either click to send them to a different parking spot, or select what sort of mission you want the aircraft to be prepped for. You will be doing a lot of clicking, so make sure to warm up that clicker finger ahead of time. It's not quite Starcraft 2, but once a mission starts, don't expect to take a break until it ends. Each of the scenarios only lasts 10-15 minutes, but will demand your complete attention from beginning to end.

 The gameplay revolves around two areas of the screen. The actual flight deck and aircraft, rendered in modest but clear 3D graphics where you will be dealing with the units directly, and the bottom half of the screen where you will see everything that is happening out in the field. Threats will approach in four differently colored channels, representing air, surface, undersea, and land-based enemies. The enemy units approach from the right, and if they reach the left side, they will deal damage to your carrier. Your first problem is that the carrier group has a very short detection range into all the channels other than the land units. To extend your vision, thereby giving you more time to counter a threat, you will need to send aircraft out on reconnaissance missions. Dedicated recon units like the S-3 Viking offer better vision and longer loiter times, but are usually in short supply. In a pinch you can send out the workhorse F-18 Hornets as scouts, but will want to send something better as soon as it becomes available. Helicopters also occupy parts of your deck, specifically Seahawks and Chinooks.

Once a threat appears in one of the channels, you will need to ready an appropriate aircraft to deal with it, queue up the mission, then launch the unit. The actual combat is not your concern, and will always be successful. That all sounds simple enough, if you only needed to deal with one thing at a time. In reality, you will be dealing with many things at once, all the time. Carrier Deck is a bit like learning to juggle, and just as you get a handle on juggling three balls, someone throws in a fourth, then a fifth, a sixth, and so on. As you are sending units out on missions, others are coming back in to land. These returning craft need to be moved out of the way, then re-armed for another go. To complicate matters, units can sometimes return with damage, necessitating a trip below deck on one of the elevators, then back up. In addition to that, new units and supply transports often arrive mid-mission and must be worked into your current rotation. Tougher enemies must be hit by multiple aircraft, and occasionally a really tough enemy will require two different mission types to be flown in sequence.  Needless to say, there are a lot of plates spinning all the time. 

One thing I'm not crazy about is how the missions which are queued up must be launch in the order you created them, even if you have aircraft ready to launch for the second or third mission in line. This often seems pointless, since you can just cancel a less pressing mission then recreate it an instant later. To add to this frustration, the supply craft, which arrive periodically, take absolute precedence over all other missions by default. Even if an enemy destroyer is about to strike in a matter of seconds, and you have fighters primed and waiting on the catapults, you have to wait for that cargo plane to refuel, waltz over to the runway, and then take off before you can launch any other aircraft. I don't really understand the logic of this, other than making things more difficult.

To assist you with sorting through this multi-tasking challenge is the well thought out UI. The bottom half of the screen, with the various channels and sections showing queued missions and returning aircraft, tells you everything you need to know about the situation at a glance. To make mission tasking clear, everything is color coded. Air missions are red, surface is blue, submarine is yellow, etc. The aircraft themselves are highlighted in bright colors to indicate what mission they have been equipped for, matching the icons on the information screen below. Clicking on an aircraft shows all of the locations on the deck it can be moved to, holding down the mouse displays a radial menu with all of the missions it can be equipped for, again with clear color coding.

The game comes with a linear campaign consisting of a few dozen missions of increasing difficulty and complexity. Each outing throws a different combination of enemy and friendly forces at you, though the core gameplay loop remains mostly the same. You are scored based on how much damage the carrier takes and how many aircraft are lost (usually due to collisions on the deck). Simply surviving the mission will unlock the next one, but you can get some replayability out of returning to try for a perfect score when you fall short. Playing through the entire campaign will only take a few hours, as each mission can be completed in a matter of minutes. Perfectionists will need more time though, as getting five stars on every mission will inevitably require multiple attempts at the more difficult scenarios.

Additionally, there is a quick play mode which is basically more of the same at your chosen difficulty level, and a survival mode where the game will keep getting more and more difficult until you are overwhelmed. Whether you play these modes will depend on just how much more of the game you want after finishing the campaign. 

As mentioned, the graphics in Carrier Deck are not that spectacular, but it looks decent enough considering the price point. The various aircraft are nicely modeled and easy to distinguish from one another. The camera can be moved around to get a closer look at everything, but you will rarely have time to be ogling those Super Hornets. The radio chatter was done particularly well, with the aircraft reporting in using all sorts of squadron names. Between aircraft launching, requesting clearance to land, and enemy units being spotted, the radio keeps you informed and adds a bit to the immersion factor.

I didn't experience any major bugs while playing Carrier Deck, though I did have a couple of minor happenings such as an aircraft not changing to the correct color a few times, linked to changing its mission assignment multiple types in rapid succession. More annoyingly, I had to unplug my joystick and throttle from the computer, because the game was apparently pulling input data from one of them, which caused the camera to slide to one side and stick there. The game has already received a couple of patches, so I'm sure any other minor issues will be buffed out in short order.

I enjoyed my time with Carrier Deck, and appreciate it for being something completely different. This is not a detailed simulation of carrier operations, or really a wargame. It is a fast-paced management game with a war theme. Priced at only $10, you will easily get your money's worth of entertainment with one trip through the campaign.

- Joe Beard

Carrier Deck is available directly from Matrix/Slitherine and is also on Steam.


In the frigid depths of the North Atlantic, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine glides silently beneath the waves. The Cold War has...

Cold Waters Review Cold Waters Review

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

June 2017

Cold Waters Review

In the frigid depths of the North Atlantic, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine glides silently beneath the waves. The Cold War has gone hot, and you are at the helm of a vessel that will make all the difference in how it plays out. That is the scenario presented when you fire up a campaign of Cold Waters, the newest nautical experience from Killerfish Games. The developers of turn-based WW2 naval combat titles Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet, have switched gears by releasing a real-time submarine focused title set during the Cold War. 

Cold Waters occupies a happy medium on the sim-arcade spectrum, with all the appropriate bells and whistles you would expect in submarine simulation, presented in a streamlined and easily controlled manner. If you're like me, and most of your submarine skippering abilities were taught via Tom Clancy novels, you will feel right at home here. After playing through the series of interactive tutorial missions, you will understand all the mechanics of commanding your sub. The controls in Cold Waters are very easy to grasp. The sub is maneuvered using the keyboard (WASD to steer, surrounding keys to control throttle and ballast), and firing weapons is as simple as clicking on the map in the desired direction/range. There is also a solid primer on sub combat tactics in the in-game manual that you will probably want to review. Despite the informative tutorial, if you don't have much experience with post-WW2 submarine tactics, the school of hard knocks will likely dish out a few more lessons in short order. 

After completing the tutorials, your next stop will either be one of the preset scenarios or the dynamic campaign. The scenarios offer some good variety, starting with a simple 1v1 sub engagement, then increasing in complexity and difficulty until you are staring down entire enemy battle fleets. I tried out a couple of these to get started, but the bread and butter of the game is definitely the dynamic campaign.

Cold Waters offers two different time periods for the campaign. You can play in either 1984 or 1968. I mostly have played in the 1984 setting, since you get far more toys to play with and the combat is generally faster paced. For now, you can only play as NATO. In both settings you will have several different sub classes to choose from, all the classics are here. Once the campaign begins, you are presented with a series of news bulletins laying out the circumstances that lead up to war. This style of news bulletin will continue to pop up throughout the course of the campaign, keeping you up to date on the state of the conflict. Your successes and/or failures will directly influence these events over the course of the war. 

The campaign map also shows the state of the war, with icons indicating Soviet progress against NATO forces on the continent. A variety of other icons representing ships, aircraft, subs, and even satellites travel around in real time. Keeping track of all of this is a bit of a mini-game in itself, as you click on the map to have your sub travel at slow or fast speed to your chosen destination. Let an enemy air patrol spot your sub and you can expect an enemy attack sub to make a beeline in your direction.

Your movements on this map will be based on the missions you are assigned throughout the campaign. Most will have you moving to intercept or hunt down various enemy vessels. A more exotic assignment might have you dropping off commandos for a daring raid deep in enemy territory. Friendly reconnaissance units will occasionally reveal enemy positions and movements, and then you must use your judgement, and the intelligence from the mission briefing, to rendezvous your sub with its prey. One drawback with the game was that this screen can leave you feeling a bit like you are fighting the war all alone. Your lonely sub ventures out repeatedly to strike at the enemy, but no other friendlies seem to be in the fight at all. This leaves the conflict feeling a bit less "dynamic" than it might be if you could actually see the battle that is supposedly raging in the North Atlantic.

Once an engagement begins, we get to the meat of the game. Your viewpoint for the game is mostly from a third-person camera orbiting your sub or another object such as a torpedo. The only first-person view you will find here is when gazing through the periscope. If you are looking for the claustrophobic immersion you might remember from Silent Hunter III, you won't find it here. That said, I know I spent most of my time in Silent Hunter using the external camera anyway, but the omission does detract a bit from the immersion factor. Other items you will find on the screen include a tactical map and a multi-tab information panel. The map shows all the various contacts you may be seeing, and some detailed information about your sub and whatever item you have targeted. You can also pull up a full-screen map when needed. Over on the information panel you will find just about everything else you need. A panel for managing weapons, one for damage, one for water conditions, and one for sonar contacts. 

I found that most missions played out in three phases, which I dub the hunt, the attack, and the chase. 

During the hunt you will be stalking silently, listening for contacts and working to get them fully identified. In some missions you are there to destroy everything in sight, but oftentimes you will have a particular target that must be taken out or the mission will fail. Getting a positive ID of your target before engaging is a must, since you may only get one shot at it. During this time it is also smart to plan out your entire attack and exit strategy. Failure to plan ahead will regularly result in a poor performance once the action gets going.

Once you have your target and plan of attack, it's time to pull the trigger. Torpedoes and missiles are fired by simply selecting the weapon tube, configuring a few settings for the weapon, and then clicking on the map where you want it to go. Once that first shot is released, things get a lot more hectic. The enemy will now be actively closing on your position, but you will want to stick around long enough to confirm your target's destruction or let loose another volley if needed. 

Gradually the attack will shift into the chase in most circumstances. At the very least you will usually have enemy ASW aircraft dropping sonar buoys, then torpedoes and depth charges if they get a bead on you. Once you become the hunted, the tension really ramps up. You've succeeded in your mission , but now you have to get your crew out of the area alive. This stage is where I lost my sub 90% of the time.

After the mission, whether it was a success or failure, you will go back to the world map. You will soon get new orders, but may need to retreat back to your home port for repairs. The more success you have, the better the war goes, and vice versa. Eventually one side will emerge victorious, though I have yet to survive long enough to see that. 

Overall, the actual combat always left me satisfied. As you start out playing the game, each battle will usually leave you with some kind of lesson you can apply to future encounters. This is always a good sign in any game where death can come suddenly. Usually that death was your own fault, but it isn't a failure as long as you learn from it.

The graphics of Cold Waters work quite nicely. The various sub and ship models are detailed, and the water in particular looks great. The sound effects are also generally good, but one distinct feature is lacking in the audio department, there are no voiced lines at all. Reports of new contacts or weapon discharges are presented only as a line of text. The developers have promised to rectify this with an update, so I look forward to seeing how that adds to the experience.  The game loads up extremely fast and I did not encounter any major bugs or glitches. There were a couple of UI issues which have already been resolved in a patch.

Cold Waters is a submarine sim that I think will please many gamers interested in the topic. However, I know there is a crowd out there hoping for something a bit more hardcore, and this game may not be for them. Some of the finer points of sub combat are left out, for example, the towed sonar array on your sub is completely abstracted. Cold Waters is all about getting you into the action rapidly and often. Once in the thick of things, even the relatively simple mechanics will keep any player quite busy. Between maneuvering the sub, tracking enemy contacts, dodging torpedoes, and managing repair priorities, you will have white knuckles in no time.

What makes me enjoy and want to recommend Cold Waters is how it gives you a sense of being in The Hunt for Red October or similar fiction. Sometimes a scenario will play out simply, with you firing a weapon, destroying the target at range, and then skulking off into the sea. However, other times the battle can turn into a chaotic mess, with your sub maneuvering right next to an enemy sub, looking to get a perfect shot off while dodging torpedoes. In these moments the game really shines, as the simple controls let you stay hooked into the action. 

Killerfish Games are already busy improving the game, with a couple of patches out that have fixed several minor issues and added a couple of quality of life features. They promise to eventually add in voiced lines and a matching set of Soviet scenarios and campaigns. Extensive modding support is also on the agenda, so those looking for a more hardcore experience may need only wait for a mod or two to change things up.

At $40, I think Cold Waters is reasonably priced for being such a niche game. There simply aren't many games like this out there, and this is a very solid title with some more improvements on the way. I give it a strong recommendation for anyone looking for a fun submarine combat sim.

- Joe Beard

Official Site:

Cold Waters is available on Steam for PC and Mac


The English Civil War by   Ageod/Matrix/Slitherine  Before the Second Battle of Newbury, the Parliamentary Gene...

The English Civil War by Ageod Games The English Civil War by Ageod Games

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

June 2017

The English Civil War by Ageod Games


 Before the Second Battle of Newbury, the Parliamentary General the Earl of Manchester said "The King need not care how oft he fights... if we fight 100 times and beat him 99 he will still be king, but if he beats us but once, or the last time, we shall be hanged, we shall lose our estates, and our posterities be undone".

 The game 'The English Civil War' also has another title: 'A War Without An Enemy'. As in most civil wars, the word 'civil' was dropped pretty much at the start of hostilities.

 The English Civil War was actually a series of three conflicts. The first was fought from 1642 to 1646. The second was fought between 1648 and 1649. Both of these were fought between Parliament and King Charles I and his followers. The third part of the civil war was fought between the adherents of King Charles II, and the 'Rump' Parliament, King Charles I having been beheaded on January 30th 1649.

 This game is about the first part of the conflict, July 1642 to December 1646. The game comes with three tutorials and three campaigns, The tutorials are:

Basic Rules
Recruitment, Production, and Decisions
Advanced Concepts and Tips 

The three campaigns are:

Marston Moor
The Great Civil War

 Just like 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', Charles I lost his best chance to end the war by swiftly moving on London. In Charles I's case this was after the battle of Edgehill in 1642.

 As in real war most Ageod games show that controlling land and cities is the key to winning wars. Without a proper amount of area under your control, you will die a slow death. As an army commander you need a population large enough to to recruit soldiers from, and also tax, and grow crops etc. to keep your army intact.

 The system used in the game is 'WEGO', meaning that both sides plan their moves, and the computer shows the outcome of your decisions.  The 'Athena' engine of most Ageod games works best with a smaller number of units in play. So the 'English Civil War' and its older brother the 'Thirty Years War' are a perfect fit for the engine. The turns are fifteen days long. This game, again like TYW, has regional event cards that the player can utilize to influence the war.

 In the campaign game, the king starts with slightly better forces and controls the north of England. The Parliament controls the south and London. The Parliament also gained control of most of the English naval forces at the beginning of the war. As keeping control of areas and gaining new ones is so important, sieges play a large part of the game. This really puts us budding generals on the horns of a dilemma. Do you parcel out your forces over a large area to keep control all of your cities, or do you keep a large army intact for use in both offense or defense? Remembering that, keeping a large army supplied is not easy. This is 1642, not 1942, and there are no trucks or railways.  So everything you need moves by wagon, with the horses that are carrying your supplies probably needing more than your army does. So warfare in this era is a lot like the later rounds of a boxing match. Both opponents have to try and rest, and then pick and choose when to attack. So there is usually a flurry of activity followed by both sides resupplying etc. 

 The Marston Moor campaign is pretty much a toss up between the King and Parliament. The Naseby campaign is, as it should be, tilted heavily in Parliament's favor. I have learned the hard way not to attempt battle early on playing as the Royalists.

 The Ageod 'Athena' engine has always had its detractors and its fan base. The area movement and lack of player input during battles has left some of the micro-management players out in the cold. To me and most others, the 'Athena' engine does a great job of showing how pre-20th century warfare really worked. The system is a bit hard for brand new players. Now however, there are plenty of 'how to' videos for Ageod games, and the tutorials have only gotten better.

 Now we have to move on to one item. For those of you with small children or grand kids, Dora can help us out "It's the map, it's the map, it's the map". Some parts of the map are not correct. From what I understand it is where some cities are compared to the counties or areas on the map. In reading the various posts and then looking at the map I understand these peoples' chagrin. The good news is that it really does not affect the game play at all.

 In May a patch (version 1.02) was posted about. It was supposed to include the following:

-- Some text Issues fixed.
-- Logbatch consumes a lot of memory issue fixed.
-- Leaders dont recover their stats after forming a group fixed.
-- Patch number does not show up fixed.
-- Issue regarding the construction of troops. Fixed, now you can build in the regions you have loyalty over 51% and if you have the assets needed.
-- Reg Southminster tooltip now shows ‘Clear’.
-- More WS for the Parliamentarian. Some structures generates more WS each turn. 

 Per the forum, it looks like it is taking longer than expected to release it because more fixes were going to be added to it. I was trying to hold off until the new patch was released to start playing, but time waits for no man.

 On another note, I love the movie Cromwell. Here are some quotes from people about him that I found:

Robert Leckie in 'A few Acres of Snow' called him a "hymn singing swine".

Clarendon called him a "Brave Bad Man".

An Irish Prime Minister in London is supposed to have said "I am not going to talk until you take that picture of that murdering bastard down"



Military Technology of The First World War by Wolfgang Fleischer    This is not your typical book about arms and...

Military Technology of The First World War by Wolfgang Fleischer Military Technology of The First World War by Wolfgang Fleischer

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

June 2017

Military Technology of The First World War by Wolfgang Fleischer



 This is not your typical book about arms and armaments of a certain period. It does not have just one or two pages about each weapon along with its specifications, along with a small write up on its usage. This book is an overview of all of the weapons and different technologies of the war. The chapters are:

The Administration of Scarcity
Machine Guns In The First World War
Trench Warfare And Geology
The Rise Of Artillery
Chemical warfare
From The Catapult To The Mortar
Flamethrowers In Place of Fire Extinguishers
Motor Vehicles In Field Gray
From The Eye In The Sky To The Fist Of The Military Leadership

 Machine guns are gone over in detail, as they should be. Their development changed warfare tremendously. The book goes into the various countries' early machine guns, and how their armies attempted to come up with tactical plans for their usage.

 The pictures in the book are incredible. They not only show a large amount of obscure armaments, but also allow us to glimpse the life of a soldier from a hundred years ago. The illustrations of bunkers, guns, and ammo teaches you how the war's nuts and bolts really worked.

 The section on trenches describe not only the trenches themselves, but all of the defensive measures taken. On page fifty-nine is something I had never read about before. It shows a British Mark IV tank overturned in what can only be described as a 'Tiger trap' built for tanks. Simple yes, but incredibly effective.

 The section on artillery shows many different guns from all of the combatants, many that I had never seen a picture of. The pictures of gas mortar batteries are especially sinister looking.

 The chapter on mortars alone is worth the price of the book. Many books on World War I artillery pay scant or no attention to this weapon. On page 148 there is a drawing of a makeshift German 24kg 'mortar' in the loosest use of the word. It is really an iron pot with two attached rails to it. Just looking at it makes me feel for the extremely gallant or foolhardy soldiers who had to use them. There is even an illustration of a German spring catapult to toss grenades or gas bombs. This chapter is especially full of one of a kind photos and illustrations.

 For those interested in the military technology of the First World War, this book is an instant buy. For those of us who are interested in obscure and sometimes one of a kind weapons this should also be on your shelf.


Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


Strategy & Tactics # 305 Armies of the White Sun The War in China, 1937-1945  Strategy & Tactics: wow, that...

Strategy & Tactics #305 Armies of The White Sun: The War In China, 1937-1945 Strategy & Tactics #305 Armies of The White Sun: The War In China, 1937-1945

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

June 2017

Strategy & Tactics #305 Armies of The White Sun: The War In China, 1937-1945

 Strategy & Tactics: wow, that brings up a lot of gaming memories. I had played Battle Cry and Tactics II in the 1960s. I had even played Panzerblitz in 1970, but I had never really known how big the wargaming explosion had become. That is, until I stepped into a hobby store in 1976. I saw row upon row of SPI and Avalon Hill etc. boardgames. Among these was a bunch of magazines sold by SPI that was named Strategy & Tactics. These were a godsend. They were not only cheaper than the boxed wargames, they also had articles on warfare in history, etc. Lets be honest folks. We bought Strategy & Tactics for the games, not the articles. That argument was as specious as buying Playboys for the articles, yeah right. Just kidding, the articles were excellent also. Of the original run of the magazine, I probably owned 50 of them. After changing owners a few times, Decision games started to produce the magazine. They have been publishing it since 1991. The magazine is now, incredibly, in its 50th year. The one great thing about the magazine is it has never been afraid to publish obscure games for us history nuts. I believe Ty Bomba came up with the adage that "Nato, Nukes and Nazis" sell wargames. Well lucky for us, S&T has never followed that idea. I lost most of my collection of the magazines down through the years because of different reasons, but with the help of Ebay and actually having a subscription, I was able to bring my stable of S&Ts back up to about sixty of them. Almost all of these were released after Decision Games took over publishing it. 

Chinese Counters

 The magazine has only gotten better as the years have gone by. The games, like most wargames, have improved down through the years. The magazine is actually a wonder to behold. The articles and the physical quality of them are excellent.

Japanese counters

 The long and very comprehensive article, also named 'The Armies of The White Sun', is an excellent primer for the game and the history behind it. More than that, the article starts with end of the Chinese Empire and its subsequent fall into a bunch of petty states. The attempts of Sun Yat-sen and then Chiang Kai-shek (called 'peanut' by American general 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell) to unify the country once more is also gone into at depth. 

Trying hard to capture every city

 We in the U.S. were never really taught much about World War II in Asia except for our involvement. Most people do not realize that WWII actually started with the Japanese invasion of the Chinese mainland in 1931. The battles for Northeast China had been going on for ten years before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The game starts in the year 1937. The Japanese had already stolen a large chunk of Northeast China and renamed it 'Manchukuo' and set it up as a puppet empire under the last emperor of China, Pu-Yi. The war for the rest of China broke out because of the Japanese attempt to grab its own 'lebensraum' on the Asian continent. 

 This is from the game information on the decision games site:

Armies of the White Sun is a solitaire wargame covering the fighting in China from the Marco Polo Bridge Incident through Pearl Harbor to the planned 1943 Operation Go-Go aimed at capturing Chongking and ending Chinese resistance at the national level. The single player actively commands the invading Japanese forces, while the rules system directs him in the deployment of the defending Chinese. The player wins by capturing key areas on the map. Throughout the game, the player selects units for an operational force, then maneuvers with that force to achieve objectives while fighting Chinese forces as they appear during operations.
Components: One 22" x 34" map & 280 counters

My big push for Nanking is on

 In this game you will take on the role of the Japanese player against the solitaire rules of the game. The Japanese player can attack pretty much anywhere, because of his naval might. The first turn is the hardest in my opinion. As the Japanese player, you MUST capture all of the Chinese cities in the FTMOL (First turn minimum objective line). You have plenty of units and the Chinese resistance is sometimes non-existent, but you still have to come up with a plan to capture all of the cities. The Japanese units are given twenty-two movement points for the first turn. There is also a second Japanese movement and combat phase on turn one and four. This is to simulate the Japanese initial invasion and their attempt in1943 to bring the war to a close. On turns two and three, there are no Japanese second phases. This is to replicate the logistical strain the Japanese were under when in China. The two phases on turns one and four really help with with trying to capture all of that territory, but it is still a hard nut to crack. To represent the free wheeling nature of the war and the up and down capabilities of the Chinese, the game has some interesting rules. For each hex entered by the Japanese player you must roll one six-sided die. You can get a Chinese response of from zero to six units for Shanghai and Chunking. This rule makes it so the Japanese player has no idea if by entering a hex he has stirred up a wasp's nest or just some dust. Even before deciding on whether there will be Chinese troops or not in the hex you will have to roll two die to determine if any random events happen. These could have the Japanese using gas to a 'fierce Nationalist counteroffensive', and anything in between. One random event is called the 'rape of' , and is meant to represent the Rape of Nanking. If the Japanese roll it you capture the city, but your entire stack is removed from game play for that turn. The maximum stacking for Japanese units is eight units to a hex. There are only four turns in the game, but since each separate hex movement by you could result in a battle, it is not a short game. There are also rules on  battles that take place in rough terrain or if the hex has fortifications. Japanese units can be no further than six hexes from the nearest railroad or friendly Yangtze river hex to be in supply, and each rough hex counts as two hexes when tracing supply. The Chinese communists are able to interdict your railroad supply. The AVG (American Volunteer Group or 'Flying Tigers') have their own counter and rules for its use.

Close up of my Japanese forces closing in

 The above rules make the game a real nail biter. Do you make many small stacks and hope the die is with you, or do you make large stacks just in  case you run into tough resistance? Conversely, where do you stop? Do you try for one more city with this stack, or hope that the city in the next hex will fall to your next invading stack? 

 It is a bit strange to be playing a game that really has no enemy forces on the map. The fog of war in this game really keeps you on your toes. You can be rolling along for a few hexes and meet minimal to no Chinese forces, and in the next run into a sizable force. The random event roll that you have to do for each hex, even before you roll for the possibility of Chinese forces, really brings home the variables the Japanese ran into during the campaign. No battle plan that you conceive lasts more than a few hexes at most. You can find your force destroyed or too weak to continue with almost every die roll. You want to use large stacks of your Japanese forces in order to avoid the above; the only problem is that it makes your ability to conquer more territory that much harder. This is especially true on turn one with the amount of China that you have to conquer or forfeit the game.

 Thank you Decision Games, and all of the various companies and people who have worked on Strategy & Tactics magazine for the last fifty years. Without you we would not have been able to game so many far flung battles and campaigns.



I'm coming to you from a classified location, somewhere under the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. The Cold War has gone hot, b...

Cold Waters - Review in Progress Cold Waters - Review in Progress

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

June 2017

Cold Waters - Review in Progress

I'm coming to you from a classified location, somewhere under the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. The Cold War has gone hot, but there's nothing warm about this particular theater of operations. Cold Waters, the just released title from Killerfish Games, has you as the captain aboard one of several different submarines, lurking about looking for prey in a dynamic full scale war environment. 

I did not get a review copy until the day of the game release, and I have not had enough game time to reach a final verdict before setting off on a full-fledged family road trip tomorrow. So I thought I would at least give some first impressions on the game since I know a lot of people are interested in it. Such games as this are few and far between, but there is definitely an audience out there looking for their next chance to fire off a few torpedoes into unsuspecting vessels.

So, is this a technical simulation requiring hours of study to even know what is going on (I'm looking at you Dangerous Waters) or is it an arcade style combat game focused on blowing stuff up? Cold Waters manages to tick all of the naval lingo boxes you could hope for, while being startlingly simple to jump right in to. This will probably make it ideal for most players looking for some Cold War naval action, while perhaps not meshing with a few gamers on the extremes of that spectrum.

The sub battles can sometimes turn into real knife-fights.

On the one hand, to play the game effectively you will need to understand and manage active/passive sonar, what cavitating is (and what depths/speeds it occurs at), steering your sub using speed/rudders/flaps/ballast at the same time, weapon loadout, planning your attack as well as your escape, dealing with upwards of a half-dozen or more torpedoes in the water simultaneously (yours and theirs), and how to use the thermal layer to your advantage.  

On the other hand, the game is played entirely with a third-person view of your sub. Looking about in the crystal clear waters, you will be able to watch enemy torpedoes coming in as you try to dodge them. This can feel a bit like cheating at times, since you can even jump the camera to one of your wire-guided torpedoes and steer it into an enemy sub. That said, the situation often becomes complex enough that you need all the help you can get. Targeting and firing your torpedoes feels a bit too simple compared to the likes of Silent Hunter 3 and its kin, since you simply look at the map and click where you want the torpedo to go. However, you do still need to be pointing in the correct direction to fire off the shot. You can also jam your tubes if you try firing while maneuvering too sharply.

I'll save a more detailed discussion for my full review, but my current thinking is that if the above paragraphs didn't dissuade you, and you are looking for some sub simming action, then Cold Waters is definitely worth taking a close look at. The missions and campaigns quickly get you into the action, but then you will usually need some real strategy and planning to accomplish your goals and live to tell the tale. That escaping alive part is really the crux of the game. More than a few times I got my crew killed by firing off my weaponry, then lingering about since I had not thought that far ahead. Anti-submarine aircraft are usually swarming above, just waiting for you to reveal yourself, and then the hunt is on. Run too hard and you may run smack-dab into an enemy sub that was patiently waiting for you in silence. Once the enemy torpedoes start closing in, the tension level ramps up to white-knuckle levels. 

Look for my full review and a gameplay video in about a week.

- Joe Beard

Official Website:


World In Flames  by Matrix/Slitherine   Right now Matrix/Slitherine is having a 30% off sale until Sunday 6/11. I used a co...

World In Flames by Matrix/Slitherine World In Flames by Matrix/Slitherine

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

June 2017

World In Flames by Matrix/Slitherine


 Right now Matrix/Slitherine is having a 30% off sale until Sunday 6/11. I used a coupon to pick up 'World In Flames'. I have been looking at it for a long time, but never pulled the trigger. Now, with the sale and the drop in shipping prices I decided to go for it, and I am glad I did. I have had the game for a few days, but I have been waiting on the rule book and the two player's handbooks. They just arrived today. If you didn't know the book price is added into the physical copy price of the game. So you do not pay any extra for the three beautiful copies seen below. Stay tuned for my thoughts on the game. I did have one of the original boardgame issues, but it has been quite awhile. The only thing so far that I have not been happy about it is the fact that the 1936 scenario is not included. Yes, it still does not have an AI, but I play board games all the time solo so it doesn't upset me , and I knew it going in. There are a some mods listed on the Matrix forum, and also links to players aid videos.



Wartile, the Viking themed miniatures combat game from Playwood Project, received a hefty load of new content in an update today. It add...

Wartile - Major Content Update Wartile - Major Content Update

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

June 2017

Wartile - Major Content Update

Wartile, the Viking themed miniatures combat game from Playwood Project, received a hefty load of new content in an update today. It adds a new character class, new maps, a new game mode, new items, and a lot more. 

If you want to read my initial rundown of the game you can find that HERE.

If you want to see the game in motion, and watch me lose rather horribly, not once but twice, this video is for you:

Official Wartile Website:

Finally, below is the complete list of changes and additions:

New Battle Board & new game mode: Trial of Tyr
New Battle Board: Thor’s Wrath
New Figurine Class: The Archer
2D Art Overhaul
Progression Overhaul
Pickup Items
And much much more.

Progression Overhaul
As we get closer to final release and get more content, we’re slowly starting to be able to organize our progression to our final vision. This means that the map progression has been changed slightly from our last patch.
The Rescue now unlocks after Heidrun Clan
Trial of Tyr (new map) now unlocks after Heidrun Clan
The Monastery now unlocks after The Rescue
Thor's Wrath (new map) now unlocks after The Monastery
The Archer (new class) now unlocks after Heidrun Clan
The Brute now unlocks after The Rescue
Difficulty has been rebalanced accordingly
Progression of experience and loot and gold cost of figurines has been rebalanced accordingly
Pickup Items

In our last patch, we added that characters could carry a Torch; expanding on this mechanic, we have now added items on battle boards that can be picked up. Pickup items will, after being picked up, appear on a character as an ability card that can be used to provide an effect, such as healing or throwing a bomb.

This mechanic will continue to be implemented and improved on in future content and likely added retroactively to existing battle boards.

Trial of Tyr
Added the new Battle Board “Trial of Tyr” adding a new game mode; Skirmish, that involves fighting against waves of enemies and surviving for as long as possible, with randomized events and enemy compositions creating a new and varying challenge.

Trial of Tyr like other maps can be completed like normal, but is also an infinite mode that allows you to test how many waves you can withstand.
New game mechanic: Wave defense
Events that change playing conditions
New Battle Board layout
Thor’s Wrath
Thor’s Wrath features battling your way through not only groups of enemies, but passing through a hazardous thunderstorm that is likely to cause some issues if you are not careful.

Thor’s Wrath features a vast network of caves with partying Vikings, where the element of surprise and tactical use of abilities will certainly be required, unless you choose to brave the dangerous thunderstorm.

New Figurine Class: The Archer
The first female character has been added to the game; The Archer. The archer is strong long range unit, that is particularly weak in close range. The Archer is higher skill cap unit that requires a lot of movement and micromanagement.
The archer class is now unlockable
The archer is a long range unit that requires active input to attack
Archer has the following abilities
Starting ability, Volley: Fires multiple shots in quick succession
Second ability, Rain of Arrows: Lets down a Rain of Arrows in an area dealing AoE damage to nearby units
Third ability, Flaming Arrow: Fires a flaming arrow at a target that ignites the tile dealing massive damage.

2D Art Overhaul
We’re in the process of a full overhaul of all 2D graphics on cards and UI. This is a longer process and this update will contain the first batch of these primarily focusing on Player and Figurine ability cards, quests and Menu UI.

Art in the entire game will follow this new style that will be introduced until the game releases.

Other Updates
Added Quest Tracking
Quests will now be tracked at the right side of the screen after looking at objective cards. This will now distinguish primary from secondary objective as well as adding support for tracking objectives will multiple sub-tasks.
UI element added to the right side of the screen for tracking objectives

Group Moving
Group moving has been introduced as a feature in this patch. Holding down the Shift key while moving a unit, will automatically cause your other nearby units to move with the unit. This has been introduced to reduce the effect of traversal on larger maps.
Group move is done by holding down “Shift” when moving your units

Lost Norse Additional Objective: Poisonous Toads
A new objective has been added to Lost Norse.
Collect toads and earn a new player ability

Battle Notifications
We have added a new Notification system that gives an indication of what effect buffs have and when units receive high grounds and flanking bonuses.
Battle notification appears when a unit enters a flanking position
Battle notification appears when a unit receives high ground defense bonus
Battle notifications appears when a units gains stat debuffs or buffs.

Item tooltips
In an attempt to further clarify the effect of items, we have added tooltips that will improve the feedback of the item’s effects.
Added tooltips to items explaining stats and special effects

AI Improvements
We’re improving a lot of things about the AI systems. Players will notice the following effects:
AI now properly moves through objects on the ground (such as Hel’s Helmet)
AI now reacts better to archers firing at them
AI now reacts to dangerous tiles

Other Changes/Bugfixes
Stat card (lower left corner) should now properly scale and move with different resolutions
Bear Trap is now permanently visible to the player using the card. Opposing players will see the trap setup, after which it will become invisible.
Slight changes to card system behind the scenes. Cards will move cleaner and have less blinking/artifacts as well being ordered differently
Fixed a bug causing friendly invites for multiplayer to not always function
Fixed a bug causing units killed with abilities and ability cards to sometimes not award experience
Units killed by neutral damage sources will no longer award battle points to the player
Minor combat changes (pending an upcoming larger change); Combat now functions slightly differently behind the scene and crits are now visible.
Fixed a bug causing debris to interfere with figurine movement
Fixed a bug that sometimes caused music to stop playing after pressing
Escape to open the menu.
Fixed various missing animations for the Brute figurine class.
Slow time now functions more smoothly. Slow time now properly interacts with other systems, such as no longer slowing down time while showing event card. Slow time will also no longer slow UI elements (such as unit ability cards).
Added hints to the menu to help new players understand more advanced concepts beyond the the scope of the tutorial.
We now save and list your high score on a battle board. This, however, does not work retroactively and will require you to replay maps to display.
Brute “Kick to the Groin” has been re-flavored to “Headbutt”
The godly card “Movement Speed” has been renamed to “Speed of Sleipnir”