second chance games

Search This Website of delight

Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games Beta screenshots  These are just some screenshots from the game which i...

Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games

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

September 2017

Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games

Field of Glory II by Slitherine and Byzantine Games

Beta screenshots

 These are just some screenshots from the game which is due out on October 12th. They are various shots of units from the battle of Pydna (Rome vs Macedonians), and Chaironeia (Rome vs Mithridates). These are all beta shots so there might be some changes before the game is out. I will show some game play shots next. Ancient fans get your credit cards ready.

The list of campaigns

The list of Epic (historical) battles that come with the game


I had some trepidation in starting to read this book as it is a fairly weighty tome at just under 600 pages. However, it quickly became ...

The Japanese Navy in World War II The Japanese Navy in World War II

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

September 2017

The Japanese Navy in World War II

I had some trepidation in starting to read this book as it is a fairly weighty tome at just under 600 pages. However, it quickly became apparent that the Author/Editor David Evans has deftly married the recollections and considered opinions of former WWII Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) officers into a very readable and well-structured narrative of the IJN's engagements throughout the war.

 Each of the book's seventeen chapters cover a major battle or is an analysis of Japanese naval doctrine. Each chapter opens with the briefest of summaries of the historical situation as it was at the time before the vast majority of the chapter is dedicated to an eye-witness account of those events. In reading every single account I was constantly struck with how erudite and thoughtful each author was, and it did make me wonder how much we have either lost or gained in translation. Most of the accounts are from very senior IJN officers and their education and insight is evident.

IJN aircraft aboard Shokaku - 7 Dec 1941

As I discovered after finishing the book, many of these accounts have been published elsewhere and can be considered, if not the pinnacle, then some of the very best naval writing about the exploits of the IJN in WWII. This book then is an anthology of some of the very best essays on the IJN during WWII. 

One chapter, regarding the sinking of the Battleship Yamato, is truly excellent. In it, the author recounts his experience serving as a junior radar officer at the time of her last battle off of Kyushu. I made a note to remark in this review that the author, Yoshida Mitsuru could have written books for a living. This book's editor has included a postscript that summarises each contributor's life after the war. It turns out that aside from having a successful career with the Bank of Japan, Mitsuru-San also wrote several books on naval subjects. The account in this book is an abridgement from his book, "The End of the Battleship Yamato - Senkan Yamato No Saigo"; which is now considered a classic amongst Japanese books on WWII.

Yamato - under attack and starting to list
I found many of the chapters quite moving, which I think is quite a rare thing for a military history book. However, in these chapters, we have insights into sailors and men, in desperate situations fighting for their very existence. I was particularly moved by the Chapter "The Kamikaze Attack Corps", in which we read the very first flight leader on a kamikaze attack was to be a Lieutenant Seki, a recently married and skillful pilot.

I think this book does a good job at dispelling some of my preconceived ideas about the Japanese during WWII. I have always assumed that kamikaze attacks were an ever-present threat to US Forces that could potentially sink the largest of battleships and carriers. The reality is that kamikaze attacks started in the last few months of the war and their efficacy was dubious at best. The book cites the total number of suicide missions flown compared to the destruction wreaked on US Forces and it is not a favourable comparison.

USS Bunker Hill - CV17 after kamikaze attack
One outspoken critic of the Suicide attacks, Vice Admiral Yokoi Toshiyuki stated: 
"The battle for Okinawa proved conclusively the defects of suicide air attacks. Such operations cannot be successful  ...  It would have been far wiser for the sadly depleted Japanese military to have conserved its manpower instead of squandering it as was done."
He goes on and concludes the chapter on the Battle of Okinawa with:
"... It was a real scourge of Japan's military forces that permitted human life to be treated so lightly through a misinterpretation of the true spirit of Bushido  ...  Japan's suicide air operations mark the Pacific War with two scars that will remain forever in the annals of battle: one, of shame at the mistaken way of command; the other, of valor [sic] at the self-sacrificing spirit of young men who died for their beloved country."

A recurring theme throughout most of the accounts is that the Japanese Navy, throughout the war, was attempting to engage the US Navy in a big decisive fleet battle. This battle never materialised. This may have been a reasonable aspiration early in the war, but as their resources dwindled, they still desperately clung onto the ‘big decisive fleet battle’ doctrine. All contributors who comment on this admit that many mistakes were made by the Japanese military leadership; primarily the inflexibility of their strategic thinking i.e. not being able to move away from their desired decisive battle. I would also include, probably their most egregious error of all, attacking America in the first place.

Apparently, no more than 20% of US naval power was ever engaged in the Pacific, which puts into perspective just how futile Japanese efforts were to be in a prolonged naval campaign, in which nearly all of their resources were dedicated to Pacific operations.

Battleship Row - Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is the very manifestation of the big attack doctrine, and unfortunately for the Japanese, the American carrier fleet was not in port at the time of the attack. If the Japanese had managed to engage the Americans in a major fleet battle at the outset of the war, their hope to dominate the rest of the Pacific may have had a slight chance. Instead, it is my opinion that despite the valiant and courageous efforts of the Japanese sailors and airmen, their inter-service rivalry and lack of coherent command and control, albeit exacerbated by American attacks, left them little to no chance of victory.

Every major naval battle in the Pacific Theatre is included, Philippines, Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, Okinawa and the book predictably starts with the attack on Pearl Harbor. I have read several books on most of these battles and even visited Pearl Harbor and Ford Island. I think I have a good grasp on the events themselves.

However, this book and the perspective of the IJN Officers has increased my appreciation for all those involved, particularly the tenacity and dedication of the Japanese Navy and the skill and professionalism of the US Forces. It has also given me a new perspective on the human tragedy of large naval engagements.

In short, this book has done more to educate, inform and engage me than any other book I have read about the PTO and if you're at all interested in the Pacific Theatre of WWII then I would consider it essential reading. 

This book is available from Pen & Sword Publishing and is currently on sale at £15.99. (RRP £19.99) - Sep 2017.

Book: The Japanese Navy in World War II
Author: David C. Evans
Publisher: Naval Institute Press


Mansions of Madness from Fantasy Flight Games is the second iteration of their H.P. Lovecraft-inspired world. In this cooperative game, you...

Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition) Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)

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

September 2017

Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)

Mansions of Madness from Fantasy Flight Games is the second iteration of their H.P. Lovecraft-inspired world. In this cooperative game, you and your fellow players are trying to escape the horrors thrust upon you by a brilliantly designed and integrated app.

As is typical for FFG games, the game includes an abundance of tokens, tiles and decks of cards which are all produced to the industry-leading component quality that FFG is known for. One misstep as far as the game components are concerned is the miniatures. Not only are the sculpts mediocre, but before your first play, you have to 'assemble' the miniatures. This assembly only involves sticking the base and the miniature to each other and inserting a token. This requires one dab of glue on the miniature base being inserted into a hole on the base. In and of itself, not an onerous task ...

However, what I personally found more difficult than it needed to be was inserting the miniatures token into the slot on the base. The manual indicates that you should do that after you've attached the miniature, which I duly did. However the lug from the miniature was not flush with the inside of the base, i.e. the slot in which the token should slide into was obstructed by the miniature lug. This caused several rips and tears on tokens which at the very least is annoying. I should mention that these tokens will never need to be removed (a good job, I don't think I could) and you can only see slight damage to a handful of miniatures' tokens.

The app is absolutely integral to the game and will need to be downloaded before you play. You can get it on either iOS or Android, and also via Steam on Windows or Mac; the Amazon Kindle platform is also supported. If you don't yet own a device that can run the app then don't buy this game. Although the chances of anyone not having the ability to use this app in this day and age are very small. You need the app to drive the game system. The core mechanics of the game, outside of the app are simple and intuitive to understand.

One slight concern I have with an app that is so integral to the game is of longevity. In 20 years time will the app still be around to play; will FFG still exist to support their back-catalogue of games or will it be obsolete? I own and still enjoy games released in the 70s and 80s, will I be able to say the same of this game in a generation or two? It is only a slight concern because aside from death and taxes, I am certain that there will be many more board-games to play and enjoy.

I think FFG have settled on a tried and tested formula for their miniature games and they're sticking to it here. If you've played Descent or Imperial Assault, you'll know what I mean. On their turn, each player-controlled character has two actions, which can be any of their character options: move, attack, trade, interact etc. Interact covers a few closely related app driven components like searching an object within a room, exploring a new room or attempting to solve a puzzle. After each player has moved the Investigator Phase ends and the Mythos Phase begins ...

In the Mythos Phase, the onboard monsters all activate and there may be some extra events or monster spawns which need to be dealt with. Although the players aren't aware (there's no clock or turn counter) there is an intrinsic timer in the app which ramps up the difficulty the longer your group is not progressing through the scenario. The longer you take the more extreme the Mythos Phase becomes.

Mythos Phase screen-shot
The app is very well designed and if anything adds to the level of immersion in the Cthulu-esque world with ambient sound effects. Interacting with the app is a very simple affair and even the most tech-allergic person will be able to control the app after a few turns. However, you should be aware that there is no undo button, once you've confirmed an action on the app you can't go back and do something else. If you confirm an action by mistake when you meant to cancel, you're stuck with that error. Obviously, you could house rule something but the app doesn't cater for Luddites of the highest order.

As your investigators progress through their mission they'll take both physical and horror damage. If they ever receive damage equal to their health or sanity, they get a reset albeit with a new attribute - wounded or insanity. These are game-changing effects which limit your action allowance (wounds) or a player's individual behaviour (insanity). If you do pick up an insane condition you will read the reverse of that card and keep, whatever you've read a secret from the other players. This may change the mission's objectives completely, so your character could, in an effort to help with the new objective, run off into a different map area, leaving the other players behind and bewildered. Although they will know you've picked up an insane condition and could surmise you're still trying to help ...

Once wounded or insane, if your character receives damage or horror again equal to their wounded state, they are eliminated and all surviving players get one more Investigator Phase to finish the game. This is a good mechanism to deal with player elimination. 

On my initial playthroughs, I was often surprised at how well the game flowed, normally I find dungeon crawl type games to be rather clunky. The game designers and app designers have thought long and hard here, about the rules and the app's user interface. This is a very well designed game, in both theme, mechanics and delivery.

This game tells great stories, it almost feels like a role-playing game. In my first game of the introductory scenario (we lost), we were being chased into a dead-end by some flaming, chanting cultists, all the while trying to prevent the fire from engulfing us. This may not be particularly unusual for the Vanderbilt mansion but it's pretty uncommon around these parts. It was easy to imagine the cultists in a trance, immune to the flames blistering their flesh, flickering over their clerical tunics, whilst lurching towards our unwelcome and unfortunate avatars.

It's moments like these, where the game takes on a life/story of its own, that I play board games for. A movie or a book, great in their own right, will always tell the same story, a board game is different on every run-through. Combine that variability with a story-telling game and you've got a highly re-playable custom entertainment experience. 

During the course of your mission, your characters will pick up items, spells and conditions which are all handled by separate decks of cards. These are often double-sided cards whose text will instruct you to flip them and resolve the reverse effect on use. This adds some entropy to the game as, given 5 of the same spell cards, the reverse effect on each is different. After 'tapping' a card, you may be instructed to return the first copy of the card and draw another copy of the same card; the reverse on this second copy will be different. This is a very clever mechanism that changes the way the story unfolds on each play-through. This keeps replay-ability high and each play-through feels different and fresh. You can never be certain that the same spell or item will work as expected. 

I've played the provided scenarios several times, sometimes I encountered different starting areas and different end-game conditions. I was a bit disappointed upon losing my first game that I didn't get a 'cut-scene' on the app. That only seems to happen when your group wins. There was some concern in other game communities around the 'on-rails' story arc you'll be driven down with an app. I didn't find this to be the case at all. You have a plethora of variability between play-throughs. This is affected by character choices, starting equipment and your in-game choices to make each experience different. Even now I would like to go back and replay the first scenario again to see if I have seen it all.

3 of the 4 available expansions; there is another out very soon
The physical base game and app include 4 scenarios. These are all constructed on your table using the 24 double-sided map tiles. The artwork on all the tiles is great, I found it evocative and immersive. You could expand your base game by purchasing 2 DLC missions in the app. If you're still feeling desperate for even more Madness there are also 4 physical expansions available for the game.

I will be more than happy with the base box for some time to come although I can see myself buying the 2 extra scenarios before long. Not because I'm tired of the content in the original scenarios but I want to explore the Mansions of Madness world more, it is that appealing. The base box has an RRP of £92.99 which is a fair chunk of change and an amount that feels a little overpriced for what you're getting. But you'll probably be able to pick it up at your local game store for a little less than that.

But what you are getting for that money, is a brilliant and innovative game whose app-driven mechanic was, and probably is still, the best app-driven board game experience out there. I felt engaged the whole time and it was a pleasure to see those I introduced the game too, after the slight hurdle of rules explanation (not that they're hard), really get immersed into the theme and be invested in their player characters.

Mansions of Madness is a clever and engaging system that will keep you coming back for more because you almost certainly will not complete each mission in your first or even second play-through. Mansions of Madness melds a modern board game with a digital medium so successfully that many others have and are copying the formula. I can only assume that what FFG has started will continue and get more prevalent in the hobby.


Age of Fear 3: The Legend is a turn-based tactical combat game that fully embraces the idea of gameplay over graphics. The developers are up...

Age of Fear 3: The Legend Age of Fear 3: The Legend

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

September 2017

Age of Fear 3: The Legend

Age of Fear 3: The Legend is a turn-based tactical combat game that fully embraces the idea of gameplay over graphics. The developers are up front in admitting that the visuals in their newest title are nothing to get excited about. Instead, they want you to dive into a detailed tactical combat engine in which your opponents are driven by an impressive AI that manages to effectively control hundreds of different unit types, spells, and abilities.

Watch the official trailer to get an idea of how the game looks in motion, and enjoy the..uh..innovative cinematography.

In this game, you can choose to play one of two fairly lengthy campaigns. I've only played partially through them so far, but they are equally interesting takes on the fantasy setting. The first campaign gives you control of a beautiful, but deadly, dryad and an ugly, but very deadly, drider. The drider fellow is like a centaur but with the body of a spider instead of a horse. Nightmare material for sure. These two are forced into a partnership by circumstance, and then go on a wild tear through the countryside building an army to fight whatever gets in their way. The other campaign focuses on a drunken dwarf lord on a rampage of his own. The game has some charmingly silly writing and I laughed more than once at the characters' frequent banter.

The campaign is made up of a series of scenarios that constantly challenge you with new enemies and hazards, with bits of story and dialogue sprinkled in between. After a few missions you will begin to see optional scenarios as well. These can add to the story and give you various bonuses if you complete them. One thing I found really fascinating was that there were occasional missions where losing would actually open up a hidden branch in the story line. I don't want to give any of these away, of course, but just wanted to let any prospective player know not to immediately reload the game when a scenario is going poorly, there might be a fun twist if you hang around.

The combat itself takes place on grid-less battlefields where you are free to move your troops about however you like. Units cannot pass through one another, and the fighting spaces are often crowded, so this means that it is very much an effective tactic to have a line of melee units backed by ranged units, for example. To avoid hindering the mobility of your own units, you'll always want to plan ahead a bit and arrange your own forces to allow for flexibility. A couple of giant ents can really put a hurting on the baddies, but can also clog up your lines, blocking other units from reaching the enemy. Faster units are best kept out on the flanks where they can rapidly close when an opening presents itself. All of this taken together actually gives the gameplay a sort of wargame feel. Frontage and the logistics of moving your troops around the battlefield is equally important to spells and swords.

AoF3 is a game that may look very simple at first glance, but actually gives you a ton of options in how to shape your fighting force to your own style. Between missions you get a chance to recruit new units, buy equipment, and add new abilities to your experienced forces. Two units of the same type can be specialized by buying different upgrades with their experience points. You can even "evolve" some units into a new type, or spend the XP on strengthening what you already have. Attributes like poison/fire/etc resistance, health regeneration, new abilities, or simple attack and defense buffs are among the many options. Your two hero units have tons of choices available, including lots of new abilities to select from. The heroes can also be decked out with various pieces of gear that specialize them even further. Between all of this, a hero unit might have more than a dozen different bonuses and changes that make them unique after just the first few scenarios.

You will need every bonus you can get, since this a game that requires some real tactical effort from the player. Simply sending all of your units forward to engage with the enemy will more often than not lead to disaster. In just about every scenario there is often some sort of tactical adjustment that will need to be made on the player's part in order to win. For example, in an early mission the enemy has several kamikaze plant creatures which will explode into a cloud of poisonous gas if they can hit more than one of your units. However, if you only send one unit forward, the enemy unit will only engage in melee attacks. In another mission an undead alter will continuously summon new units until it is destroyed, making its destruction a much higher priority than defeating the units it sends at you.  Figuring out an approach that will work, and then executing it successfully, is the central part of what makes this game fun. A successful scenario leads to your forces getting bigger and better, and the cycle continues.

One of the things touted by the developers about Age of Fear 3 is the above average enemy AI. I watched out for this in particular as I played the game, and found that it really did do some interesting things. Enemy units exhibit a multitude of behaviors beyond simply charging at you and attacking. Ranged units will try to keep your melee units at a distance, enemies in a hopeless situation will retreat, leaders will hang out behind their lines providing support and then attack furiously once engaged. The AI certainly pulls no punches, as it will at times focus fire on a single unit, and isn't afraid to use area-of-effect attacks when possible.

While playing the game, I did not run into any serious bugs or glitches. The only annoying thing was occasionally having to click twice on something since the first click did not register. Another issue was that the way stat adjustments worked was not always 100% clear or logical. Particularly, I had to learn the hard way that equipping a weapon with a poison bonus would actually lower my chance to hit the enemy at all to practically nothing if said enemy had poison resistance or immunity.

Overall, Age of Fear 3 offers up exactly what it promises. A detailed tactical combat game with simple graphics and sound, but a lot of substance under the hood. It also has fun story lines to follow along with and all sorts of exotic units to choose from.  The game of course won't be everyone's cup of tea, but at least it is very up front about what you are getting. If you are still on the fence, the first two games in the series are quite cheap and offer a fairly similar experience to let you try out the system.

Official Website:

Age of Fear 3: The Legend can purchased on Steam or directly from the developers on their website.

- Joe Beard


Messerschmitt ME 262 Schwalbe by Marek J. Murawski and Marek Rys  Incredible as it may seem, the earliest desig...

Messerschmitt ME 262 Schwalbe by Marek J. Murawski and Marek Rys Messerschmitt ME 262 Schwalbe by Marek J. Murawski and Marek Rys

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

September 2017

Messerschmitt ME 262 Schwalbe by Marek J. Murawski and Marek Rys


 Incredible as it may seem, the earliest design for a jet engine was in 1863 in France. The first patent for a for a jet engine was issued in 1921 to another Frenchman. Frank Whittle took out a patent in 1930. However, the first operational jet engine was patented in Germany in 1935 by Hans Joachim Pabst Von Ohain. The first flight of an aircraft with jet engines took place on 8/27/1939. This was a Heinkel 178 flown by Erich Warsitz. The engineers at Junkers decided to start afresh because of the inherent problems with both Whittle's and Von Ohain's centrifugal designs. They came up with an Axial Turbo Jet engine, the Jumo 004, which is essentially what has been used in all jet aircraft since then.

 The authors start their book on the Me 262 Schwalbe (swallow), by going back in time to the beginning of jet engines. They then go into the thinking and design work that went into the Me 262. The Me 262 was probably the biggest milestone in flight since the Wright brothers. How would you feel, if you were an Allied pilot, to see a plane whiz past you at 100 miles per hour faster than you could fly? The Me 262's maiden flight was on March 29th 1942. The first Jumo motors weren't available until June 1st 1942. After Adolf Gallands first flight in a Me 262 he said "it was as if the angels were pushing you".

 The book continues with all of the design changes, tricycle landing gear, and all of the different armament configurations discussed. The idiotic Fuhrer directive about all aircraft being able to carry a bomb load is brought up. 

 The authors show that the main reason for the delay of the Me 262's deployment was because of the plane and engines being revolutionary. The plane itself was a marvel, but the engines were always its Achilles heel. Acceleration and deceleration had to be slowly and carefully applied or the engines would flame out. The engine's life span was only 10-25 hours. This was due to Germany not being able to produce the exotic alloys needed to deal with the intense heat of a jet engine.

  The book takes us back to Hitler with a very interesting conference about fighter production for the Luftwaffe on Mat 23rd 1944. Hitler wasn't apparently too interested until the Me 262 was mentioned. At that point he asked "how many of the Me 262s already manufactured could carry bombs". When Field Marshal Milch tells him "none" he explodes. Various figures at the meeting try to talk Hitler into the idea that the Me 262 is a fighter through and through. Hitler abuses Adolf Galland and Milch about it. Then Milch blurts out "mein fuhrer, the smallest infant can see that this is a fighter, not a bomber aircraft". I imagine you could hear a pin drop at that moment. 

 By this, the authors show that the Me 262 fighter version was in production, if haltingly, by May 1944. On August 17th 1944 an allied bombing raid on Regensburg caused serious damage to the Me 262 program. Four hundred staff were killed and the facilities were heavily damaged.

 The book continues with a listing of all production and experimental Me 262s. Then it continues with the complete history of all of the Me 262 sorties during this phase of the war. This part of the book takes up the first eighty pages.

 The twenty pages that follow are scaled drawings of every planned or flown Me 262. The next eighty pages are a modeller's and flight simmer's dream. These eighty pages are of computer generated detailed pictures of every single part of a Me 262, from tail to nose and everything in between. The next section is small at fifteen pages, but these are full of pictures of an actual restored Me 262. The last twenty pages are computer renderings of side or top and bottom views of all the different paint schemes, etc.

 Unbelievably, with everything else the book already provides, there are two separate fold out line drawings of the Me 262 one at 1:32 and the other at 1:48 scale. 

 This book is truly a wonder of prose and art. Any and every thing about the Schwalbe is here at the readers fingertips.


Publisher: Kagero
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


Marlon Brando in all his glory I have the pleasure of reviewing The Godfather: Corleone's Empire which, at the time of writing is ...

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

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

September 2017

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

Marlon Brando in all his glory
I have the pleasure of reviewing The Godfather: Corleone's Empire which, at the time of writing is Cool Mini or Not's latest 'hotness'. Unusually for a miniatures game, this title wasn't a Kickstarter and compared to CMON's other Kickstarter titles it shows. You're not getting hundreds of superfluous miniatures or any add-ons with this game. Instead, you get a game that has been designed to within an inch of its life and that is a good thing.

I suppose we should expect nothing less than a fantastic design when Eric Lang is at the wheel and he has delivered in spades. The top-notch design extends beyond the game play and components to include the box and the vac trays. When I was opening the box it felt like unwrapping a new electronic device whose boxes are notoriously designed to exude luxury and functionality. Godfather's vac trays are among the best I've ever seen in a game. Usually, I will ditch the vac tray and create a custom insert to hold game components, not this time.

The miniatures vac tray, note the horses head first player counter
Godfather's components also include a metal 'suitcase' for each player. I don't know why, but this addition tipped me over from curious to excited to play this game. You'll notice the base of the miniatures is either a square or circle; there are corresponding shapes on the game board which indicates the legal moves for each character. This aid helps to teach and play the game, there are other similar aids on the board to help the different setups at different player counts.

In the game, you control a family and thugs vying for supremacy of New York. The Godfather himself is a rather abstracted figure that only controls the game turns and some aspects of your hand management. Each family aside from the sculpts and names plays exactly the same. The miniatures themselves are, as you would expect from CMON, very well sculpted. But don't be disappointed by the lack of detail on them when compared to a typical fantasy figure; not many mobsters ran around New York bedecked in fur cloaks, leather pouches and scabbards!
A selection of the family figures
When I taught this game to not-my-normal group of players, none of whom would I describe as gamers, it took less than 15 minutes to explain and set-up all the components. (I had packed the game away to make sure setup would be quick but I can't see setup needing more than 10 minutes at the most)

As you can see the box art is sumptuous and evocative of the early 20th-century gangster theme. This immersive art design extends to both the board and the rule book. The rule book is a work of art in more ways than one. Let's be clear here, this is a simple game; if not a gateway game then a very solid next-step game. The rules could have been crammed onto 4 sides of paper. However here you get a lavishly illustrated rule book which introduces the game and explains concepts so clearly, it could be used as an example in rule-book writing.

Revenge is a dish best served cold - said the green player
On my first playthrough of the game, to make sure I knew the rules, I played with my 8-year-old son. For his benefit, I renamed the resource cards from narcotics, liquor, blood-money and weapons to a more palatable medicine, drink, money and guns. I think this may have sanitised my first play-through, a feeling which I haven't shaken on all subsequent plays. I would have liked the actions to feel a little more 'gangster' or brutal.

One of the most enjoyable actions involves taking-out other players figures. When this happens you get to put the proverbial 'concrete shoes' on them and 'give them an offer they can't refuse' and literally toss their miniatures in the Hudson River. The other core actions are spending your resources to complete jobs or shaking down businesses.

In order to maximise your turns, you need to manage your family. With no figures left you're not able to complete any of the ancillary actions open to you. This is a similar mechanic to managing your rage in Eric's previous Viking-themed game Blood Rage.

There are four turns to every game with five phases per turn. It scales well from 2 to 5 players. At 2 and 3 players, however, the board did feel quite barren until the 4th turn where you receive your full complement of miniatures. With 5 players the final turn felt inordinately longer than the preceding ones.

The final act of a 3 player game
Ultimately this is a worker placement game, with a side of card-drafting in an attempt to control Manhattan and Brooklyn. Where you place your pieces doesn't induce the same level of angst in the other players as do the likes of Caylus or Agricola. It felt like there was nearly always an okay, if not a good option left to take. However, for its audience, I think this is a design feature; very few players will find themselves alienated or picked on at any stage.

When I played the game with my slightly-more experienced group, they all agreed that it had become one of their favourite games and would look forward to playing it again. We rarely get the same games to the table but I think the Godfather will be a regular and welcome visitor to my gaming table now. This game feels a little light for my tastes but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and it was definitely a hit with my core gaming group. 

I would like to thank 365games for the copy of Godfather: Corleone's Empire they've provided for this review. RRP for this game is £79.99.


Another superb build by Mike! Yes a strange little beast for sure.

Mike Sandbagger Norris DFW T28 build! Mike Sandbagger Norris DFW T28 build!

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

September 2017

Mike Sandbagger Norris DFW T28 build!

Another superb build by Mike!

Yes a strange little beast for sure.


The Sirdar and The Khalifa by   Mark Simner    'Khartoum', a big motion picture from Hollywood, was made in...

The Sirdar and The Khalifa by Mark Simner The Sirdar and The Khalifa by Mark Simner

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

September 2017

The Sirdar and The Khalifa by Mark Simner


  'Khartoum', a big motion picture from Hollywood, was made in 1966. It starred Laurence Olivier as the 'Mahdi', and Charlton Heston as 'Chinese Gordon'. Like many movies, it plays with the actual history. However, unlike most it follows the historical narrative fairly closely. The movie deals with how England came to be entangled with Sudan. If you haven't seen it, take a gander. It is a perfect segue for this book.

 Like the movie, the author begins with the history of Sudan and the rise of Muhammad Ahmed as the 'Mahdi' the expected one of Islam. According to either Sunni or Shia beliefs and writings, the Mahdi will rule all of Islam before Jesus comes back for Judgement Day. The book takes us back to the early days of Muhammad Ahmed's life, and goes into the history of the Sudan, explaining that it was considered a part of Egypt at the time. Egypt was still considered a part of the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century. Egypt was ruled by a 'Khedive', roughly a governor for the Ottoman Sultan. Egypt however, was only nominally under Turkish rule, and was greatly under English sway.

 The Khedive's armies were smashed by the Mahdist forces, so he asked England for help. The English prime minister refused to get involved other than to send General Gordon to supervise the removal of Egyptian citizens out of Sudan. Gordan had other ideas. He attempted to fight the Mahdists with the few troops on hand in Khartoum. Gordon and the troops were then besieged in Khartoum. At this time public opinion forced the English government to form a relief force to save him. The relief force was under Lord Wolsley. It was too little and too late. Gordon was killed with the relief force just days away. This was in 1885. This campaign was where Kipling came up with his poem 'Fuzzy Wuzzy'. This was an English term for the Sudanese warriors. Strangely, the poem praises the Sudanese warriors' valor and commends them on the fact that they 'broke a British square'.

 The above history takes up roughly the first third of the book, just so the reader can get a grasp of the history up to the main part of the book. British involvement continued to grow in Egypt, and in 1892 Lord Kitchener became the 'Sirdar' or Commander-in-chief of the Anglo-Egyptian army. 

 The Mahdi had died not too long after the fall of Khartoum to his forces. His Sudanese uprising continued under one of the three men he named as Khalipha (Caliph) Abdullahi Al-Taishi. The British press still campaigned for England to avenge Gordon. 

 The rest of the book covers the campaign of Kitchener to reconquer Sudan. The Anglo-Egyptian Army was now much better trained and armed. The battles of Omdurman and others are shown to the reader. These include some of the last successful cavalry charges in history, including none other than a young Winston Churchill with the 21st lancers at Omdurman. Omdurman was the last great battle between a European army and one of so called 'savages'. Although the Sudanese fought valiantly, the Anglo-Egyptian Army was even equipped with some early machine guns, so the issue was never really in doubt. 

 The author, Mark Simner, knows his history well, and writes engagingly about it. He even continues with the 'Fashoda Incident', which almost brought Britain and France to war in 1898.

 The book comes with five pages of maps. It also includes thirty-two pages of black and white photos of the campaign.


Book: The Sirdar And The Khalifa
Author: Mark Simner
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


A year after the Battle of the Somme the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) were tasked with pushing through Ypres in Belgium and occupyi...

The Passchendaele Campaign 1917 by Andrew Rawson The Passchendaele Campaign 1917 by Andrew Rawson

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

September 2017

The Passchendaele Campaign 1917 by Andrew Rawson

A year after the Battle of the Somme the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) were tasked with pushing through Ypres in Belgium and occupying the high ground and ridge-lines to the East. This battle now known as the Battle of Passchendaele or the Third Battle of Ypres is succinctly covered in Andrew Rawson's latest book in the BEF series from Pen & Sword Publishing.

The book starts, just as the battle did, with a series of explosions in mines sunk beneath the Allied trenches and tunnelled underneath German defensive positions. Although the Germans were listening for the tell-tale sounds of boring machinery, they couldn't hear it because the mines were so deep and machinery wasn't involved. The author tells us that humans, literally 'diggers' were quieter and quicker than any machinery of the time.

Initial successes literally became stuck in the mud as the Flanders coast saw unprecedented rainfall throughout August. This left each side not only fighting each other but also the quagmire in which they lived and died.

I was expecting this book to be a bit of a slog (no pun intended) but the way in which the author breaks down each battle with an accompanying map into Divisions and Brigade level really helped my comprehension of what was happening. The author states that his inspiration for this approach came from a book about the American Civil War, 'A Testing of Courage'. I've not read that volume but I think Andrew has achieved his aim of clearly explaining the force disposition, terrain and outcome into a coherent narrative.

I've long known about the terrific amount of ordnance fired by artillery pieces throughout WWI but I've never read an account of how precisely it was integrated into the whole offensive. Not only that but I was surprised at how 'joint' were the separate military outfits. The Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, with the subterranean diggers, with the modern tank, alongside the ubiquitous infantryman all supported with artillery. The level of coordination between all of these services must have been immense and it was achieved primarily by runners and pigeons!

Passchendaele village before and after artillery barrage.
 A common artillery tactic mentioned frequently in the book was the artillery barrage. This served to soften up the German positions but scarily the infantry would hug the line of explosions and walk just behind the explosions in order to capitalise on the defenders turmoil. The numbers of shells fired, given by Mr Rawson are frankly terrifying to comprehend.

I found the prose to be rather terse as the author whips you through one Brigade of a Division then onto another very quickly. The briefest mentions of individual acts of bravery are given scant acknowledgement, with the oft repeated phrase '...for this he received the Victoria Cross'. I appreciated this style as it kept the book flowing along at a very steady clip. If nothing else, the book is a thorough account of the entire Flanders campaign in just over 200 pages.

Bovington Tank Museum diorama of combined arms during WWI
I would have liked more picture inserts as those that the author put in were just enough to whet my appetite. Their clarity was surprising and complemented the text very well.

If you're looking for a good introduction to the battles in and around Ypres then look no further.

Book: The Passchendaele Campaign 1917
Author: Andrew Rawson
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books


Warfare In New Kingdom Egypt By Paul Elliot  We have gazed in wonder at the treasures that were found in Tutankha...

Warfare In New Kingdom Egypt By Paul Elliot Warfare In New Kingdom Egypt By Paul Elliot

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

September 2017

Warfare In New Kingdom Egypt By Paul Elliot


 We have gazed in wonder at the treasures that were found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber for almost one hundred years. In reality he was a boy king whose rule was very short, and his burial a hurried affair. What treasures or history would have been found in an intact tomb of Tuthmosis III or Rameses II? The ancient grave robbers stole from us more than gold and gems.

 Between the Middle and New Kingdoms Egypt was prostrate under the invaders we call the 'Hyksos'. Their names are Semitic in origin, so it is assumed that it was also their heritage. So the proud Egyptian people who built the pyramids etc. were beset, and half of their country was conquered by outsiders. The book starts with the Egyptian fight to regain control of the northern part of their country. Then it continues with the founding of the New Kingdom by the pharaoh Ahmose.

 The book itself is small at 140+ pages, but it is filled with all we know at present about warfare in that age. It comes with maps and illustrations, and fourteen pages of colored photos.

 This was an age where Egyptian armies strode over a large portion of the Middle East. The book also goes into the other Egyptian enemies: the Mitanni, Hittite, and the Sea Peoples. The New Kingdom seems to have been born and died under different foreign invaders.

 The campaigns of the 'Napoleon of Egypt' Tuthmosis III are gone into along with those of Rameses II and other pharaohs. The nuts and bolts of these campaigns are shown to the reader. The book also goes into the simple soldiers' lot in life, along with all of the different weaponry he used. The Egyptians had not known of the chariot before the Hyksos invasion. However, they quickly became masters of chariot warfare.

 Mr. Elliot has written an excellent primer on the warfare of the time. Hopefully the book will make the reader explore more of the history and personalities of the age.


Book: Warfare In New Kingdom Egypt
Author: Paul Elliot
Publisher: Fonthill media
Distributor: Casemate Publishing


Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games      Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Dan Verssen Game,  ...

Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games

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

September 2017

Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games

Fleet Commander Nimitz


Dan Verssen Games

 Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Dan Verssen Game,  hereon known as DVG. This time it is World War II again. It is not just a single force campaign, but the entire Pacific War from an American standpoint. The campaigns come in full years of:

 A campaign can be played by playing all of the years separately and then adding the results. 

 You are playing solitaire against the might of the Japanese empire. After looking at the setup for the 1942 campaign, I wish I had picked 1943 or 1944. The Japanese navy and their stacks of ships look pretty imposing. 

 As usual, the components from DVG are very good. I believe some early games shipped out with some misprinted counters, but these were all fine. There are eight sheets of counters. They are marked by each separate year of the conflict. So there will be a Japanese 1942 and American 1942 pile of counters etc, along with numerous supply and movement and other counters. There are also separate counters for land and naval air forces. Each carrier is represented by its own counter, even CVLs and CVEs. Battleships and Cruisers are shown as two of each class to a counter, as in one counter is listed BB Yamato/Musashi and they have combined attack and defense numbers. Destroyers and submarines have counters that show groups of each warship.

 Sequence of play:

Advance Turn Counter
US Resupply
US Scouting
  US Movement
  Japanese Orders
  Japanese Movement Orders
   US Force Setup
   Japanese Force Setup
   Roll For Battle Turns
   Determine Japanese Battle Plans
   Select US Battle Plans
Post Battle
   Japanese reinforces
   Japanese Repair
   US Supply Check
 Defeat Check

 You play on a strategic map of the Pacific area. Battles are fought out on a generic 'Battle Sheet'.

 The rules are clear and well written. The last two pages of the rule book is an 'Extended Play Example'. This game, like most DVG games, has a player log that needs to be filled out. You can copy the one that comes with the game or download and print ones from their website.

 At the end of each turn is a 'Defeat check'. The player checks his currently held objectives against the campaign evaluation chart. If a player has only three or less objectives held at the end of a turn, he loses. A player can also lose if a Japanese force is in the Hawaiian Islands and the player is unable to destroy all of the Japanese forces on the first turn of battle.

 The counters come out of the sheets so easily and cleanly that most were already loose in the box on arrival. Luckily my daughter shares my OCD, so sorting counters for a game is like a fun family project. At times, the areas on the board get slightly stuffed with counters. This is totally understandable given the amount of counters you are given to play with. I think DVG hit the nail on the head with the right amount of counters. Having every ship from cruiser on up, as some games have, would make the game play unwieldy.

 Because the player is essentially playing both sides of the game (using die rolls to decide Japanese play), there is a lot to do on each turn. However, the flow of the sequence of play is well thought out and it is not hard to get into the swing of things. To me, the battle sheet being generic is not a minus. With land, air, and naval forces to control the game gives you enough variables to keep it fresh. The rule book says to start with the 1942 campaign and I concur, even though the Japanese might looks so imposing. It is much easier to learn the game with the smaller US forces in 1942. 

 The game was nominated for the 2014 'Golden Geek Best Solo Game', and I can see why. Like the other DVG solitaire games I have played it just seems right and plays well. This is coming from a wargamer who never really liked solitaire games before.

 One point that some people were not happy with was the lack of an actual full war campaign. You can play all four separate year campaigns and check your score against a chart in the rule book for a semi-campaign. While I can understand their view, in this day and age I am happy to get any wargaming in let alone game the entire Pacific War. Another point that some players do not like is the complete randomness of the game. Some feel the game is not historical enough because of the randomness, while  there are others who really like the game for this exact same reason. I am in the latter group. Yes, there is some distortion of history; there has to be to make it a solo game that you want to play through more than once. If all I wanted was history I would read a book instead of playing a game.

 There apparently has been some confusion as to when or how often submarines can attack. This is the DVG answer to the question:

 Subs only attack once each turn during the torpedo step.

 Another questionable tactic was that the player could 'pin' a Japanese fleet with a sacrifice cruiser or sub. This was a fix posted on BoardGameGeek:

 Sortie order:
Randomly select 3 ships and 2 infantry to move to the closest objective with at least 1 US force ASHORE. The poster believes this is how the game was played during beta testing and somehow was changed in the rules. The poster is Steve Malczak. Unfortunately I was not able to play using this change to the rules before posting this review.