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Waterloo The Truth at Last Why Napoleon Lost The Great Battle  by Paul L. Dawson   To merde or not t...

Watrloo The Truth at Last by Paul L. Dawson Watrloo The Truth at Last by Paul L. Dawson

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

April 2018

Watrloo The Truth at Last by Paul L. Dawson


  To merde or not to merde, that is the question. Did General Cambronne say it, or did he utter "The Guard dies but never surrenders", or was he as this book says lying unconscious on the ground? 

 This book is large at roughly 500 pages, and it is jam packed with first person accounts of the battle. What makes this book different from so many others is that these accounts do not gel at all with the history as we have been told until now. We have been taught through word and screen that the Old Guard was destroyed by English troops. The author shows more than just a few accounts that say the Old Guard was actually destroyed by the Prussians. Another 'myth' the book tries to do away with is why the French attack was so delayed. We have been taught it was because of the condition of the ground that morning. There are many accounts and the author shows us that the French were just not ready to attack early. The author also questions if this army was one of the better ones that Napoleon commanded. This has been put forth in many written accounts of the battle.

 Mr. Dawson backs up his assertions with a lot, and I mean a lot, of facts and figures. The book can stand on all of the points the author shows that can be backed up by figures etc. The only problem with these first hand accounts is what if they are not correct, or are remembered incorrectly? 

 This book is one that everyone should have in their library, whether they agree with all of its findings or not. It is good to have a book that makes us question what we have believed in for the past two hundred years. The only thing I can fault the book for is a total absence of maps. A map to show where the author believes the Old Guard was destroyed/surrendered would have helped the reader to understand what exactly, and how much, the author was trying to correct the historical record. Even with the lack of maps, it is still a great book for a reader to ponder over. Do yourself a favor and read the author's other books on the campaign.


Book: Waterloo: The Truth at Last
Author: Paul L. Dawson
Publisher: Frontline Books
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



Hitler's Secret Weapons by David Porter  Readers who are looking for a story about the history of the Third Rei...

Hitler's Secret Weapons by David Porter Hitler's Secret Weapons by David Porter

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

April 2018

Hitler's Secret Weapons by David Porter


 Readers who are looking for a story about the history of the Third Reich's secret weapons should look elsewhere. For those of us who are enthralled by statistics and diagrams, this book is for us. The book does not only dwell on one weapon system, but shows all of the different types manufactured or on the drawing board. The author also starts out by going backwards in history, and shows us a little about the large caliber guns that were German secret weapons in World War I.

 The book takes us through the tanks, jets, and rockets, along with much more, that were used or dreamed up by the German engineers in the Second World War. There are tidbits of information on every page. Did you know that a Panzerkampfwagen IV, and Panther cost about the same to make as a Sherman tank? The same chart shows that a Tiger I or II cost roughly three times more than the aforementioned tanks. There are also charts that show the monthly production rates for the Tiger I and II tanks. Charts and diagrams that show the different speeds, armor thickness, and gun calibers of some Allied and German tanks are shown. According to the book, an IS2 tank was slower than a Tiger I, and a Churchill VII crawled along at only 15.5 MPH. The Maus is here along with the unbelievably huge land battleships of the 'P Series Land Cruisers'. These had 11" guns the same that were in the Scharnhorst battleship/battle cruiser.

  The book also shows the different railroad guns Germany made, and a chart compares their various muzzle calibers.So the largest gun ever built, the railroad gun Gustav, is here. Its smaller brothers of 'Anzio Annie' fame are shown here also. The author also shows us the state of the art infantry anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

 Each weapon has a small write up about it. The main focus of the book is the charts and diagrams that are liberally shown throughout the volume. Land, Air, and Sea weapons are shown, from the largest battleships ever dreamed of to miniature submarines. From 'Mistel' bombs (a fighter with a bomber attached to the bottom of it filled with explosives) to jets that actually made it off the drawing board and were produced by other countries after the war, this book has them all. So if anyone needs a reference book that has the dimensions of a E100 tank or a H-45 battleship, this is your book.


Book: Hitler's Secret Weapons
Author: David Porter
Publisher: Amber Books
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


CHARIOTS OF ROME from VICTORY POINT GAMES First there was Circus Maximus [Avalon Hill, 1979], then there was Circus Minimus [20...


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

April 2018



First there was Circus Maximus [Avalon Hill, 1979], then there was Circus Minimus [2000].  Along the way was Ave Caesar [1989] and very recently Chariot Race [2016].  These are some of the key precursors to Victory Point Games' Chariots of Rome [2018] and, of course, behind them all lies Lew Wallace's novel, Ben Hur, though I suspect that is really only known by most of us from the film, Ben Hur, starring Charlton Heston [please do not mention the remake!].

For me Chariots of Rome is definitely the offspring of Circus Maximus and a cleaner version.  By "cleaner" I'm not talking less blood and violence, but smoother systems, far more accessible rules and the advantage of modern graphics and physical quality.  The board is very similar in shape and concept, but seeing that they're both reproducing the famous hippodrome in Rome that's only to be expected.

The board folds out in three panels and so far, whatever measures I've taken, both end panels become slightly bowed during play.  Despite that, the standees - which you can see in the picture above - sit well on the track and don't slide or topple.  All components are serviceable.  No doubt it would be possible to go down the deluxe route and produce the sort of tank-stopping quality of game board such as seen in Tide of Iron and add in brilliantly sculpted miniature chariots.  But for a fairly light chariot-racing game would you really want to pay the substantially heavier cost?

Unlike the uber chart-heavy tables of Avalon Hill's game and a large record sheet for each player to log speed, damage etc., all this is handled very effectively by player boards [again shown above].  Each chariot in play has such a display. They are quite thin card stock, but work fine to chart endurance, rattled status, tactics and speed.  These are all recorded on the various tracks with cardboard markers whose size and quality tend to mean that they aren't subject to problems of being displaced, but it can be very easy to forget which actions need a loss of endurance or increase in damage.  This is especially true when the action hots up and chariots are vying for position.
Here, for example, as three chariots are closely bunched together on the bend is just such an occasion when the focus is likely to stray a bit when paying for some actions. [You might also notice that the red chariot appears to be going the wrong way - several of us laughed when the rules stressed making sure that you faced your chariot in the right direction!] 

The other main components are three decks of cards.
and two specialised dice.

Game play is very streamlined.  All players start with 12 Endurance points, no Rattle points and a set number of Tactics points [the latter depend on the number of players involved and you can never hold more than 8 Tactic points].  Lose all 12 Endurance points or reach 6 Rattle points and you're out of the race.  There are only three Speed levels to choose from that respectively allow you to move 4/7/10 spaces - the first two give you small bonuses [either removing penalties, at times a vital, life-saving benefit, or gaining Tactics], while the top speed inevitably has a penalty.

The best element for me is that virtually all the mechanics of the game depend on the use of a single, fine deck of Action cards.  
The four major functions of the game can simply be referenced by drawing the next card and identifying which is relevant.  The first three [Corner, Ram and Whip] should need no explanation.  Danger occurs in a few specific situations; the main ones being when you crash or are forced to overtake another chariot by passing through its position on the track.

The procedure for negotiating corners is one of the best I've encountered.  As you enter the first position on a corner, you add your speed to your current Rattle factor, then deduct the speed number on that line of the track.  This produces the number of action cards you draw.
So, if your speed was 10 and your Rattle factor 3 and you enter the corner at the lane marked VI [Who doesn't know their Roman numerals?] you would draw 7 Action cards!

That's a lot of potential harm coming your way!  So, is there any way to mitigate it?  First and foremost you can use Tactics points.  For each Tactic point you pay, you draw one less Action card.  The rules would have you draw all 7 cards and then return as many cards to the deck as Tactic points you spend.   That process is carried out without revealing or knowing what is on the Action cards.  A far simpler and quicker process which we've adopted is to pay the Tactics points and then draw the requisite number of cards.  Continuing the example above, needing to draw 7 cards, you decide to pay 4 Tactics points and so draw only 3 cards.

How you execute these cards is an equally effective refinement to many race games.  For each space you enter you reveal one of the cards and follow the symbols on the top line [appropriately labelled "corner"  - sometimes "no effect" ensues at others loss of endurance or swerving or gaining a Rattle point [consider the latter to be a type of damage point, either directly to the chariot or to the charioteer's mental or physical state].   If you've drawn rather a lot of cards, you may even find yourself having to continue to play out the remaining ones as you start your movement on the next turn!

On the whole though the effects of moving through a corner tend to be relatively mild!  Whipping another player's chariot - is that the horses or the charioteer you're aiming at? - tends to be more likely to cause harm and ramming is even worse.  Though, the latter may have ill consequences for the person doing the ramming, worst of all are the possible consequences of crashing when you consult the bottom line of the Action cards that read "DANGER"!  As you can see from the card above, even here you may be lucky with a No Effect result.

Though Swerving sounds fairly innocuous, when the track is crowded the result of chariots being forced to move into the space of other chariots can have nasty knock-on effects.  Initially too they were the only rules that caused any degree of uncertainty in what is a short and very clear set of rules.  In fact, the main fault of the rule book for me was the size of the print!!  The instruction "Read the small print carefully" takes on a whole new life of its own when coping with the text.

Adding a few other refinements to play are the Fate cards, Charioteer Skill cards and two dice.  Starting with 4th Round of play, the first player to take their turn rolls the Fate die which provides a small bonus for all players or the draw of a Fate card.  The other die in the game can be rolled for the cost of losing an Endurance point by each player on their turn to gain from 1 to 3 extra movement points. 

The last item is the Chariot Skill cards - each player draws one at the beginning of the game to give an individual ability.  This is the one and only feature I have some reservations about as the Skills do seem to vary considerably in the quality of their benefits.  This is particularly true of the card that allows a Charioteer to look at the Initiative Deck and move one card to whichever place they like in the Deck - no surprise that the player with this card tends to place their card first in the Deck!  More about that in the following view of game play.

So, how does it play?  Well my view is that it depends quite a lot on how you play the game!  My first experience with a large group of players was underwhelming.  As mentioned above, one player drew the Skill card that allowed him to manipulate the Initiative Deck, placed himself first and romped home in that position!

However, there was a distinct lack of player interaction i.e. except for myself and one other player, virtually no one chose to whip or ram their opponents.  Verdict by the group: too simple, unbalanced not a great deal of fun.  My verdict - that's not how the game should be played.  If the central mechanic of a game depends on Action cards for which three-quarters of the decisions involve whipping, ramming and actions that lead to Danger, then not taking actions that involve them is missing out on a major aspect of the game.

A corollary to what I would describe as "the lack of conflict" approach described above also led to comments that the ability to use Tactics points to negate/mitigate Endurance loss and Rattle gain was too easy.  So, by contrast  the "aggressive" approach brings out a whole different game.  Lights, camera, action! 

Boxing in opponents so that they are forced to overtake, whipping and ramming fairly frequently, focusing on not giving the lead player/s an easy ride produces a much more dynamic and exciting experience.  Chariots/charioteers will fail to make it to the end of the race, their chariots left behind as debris and potential obstacles.  The game becomes a real contest, the turn of an individual card becomes far more crucial at times.  Tactics points rapidly get spent and become far more critical a need and all the elements of the game come in to play.

I've already praised the way cornering is dealt with. I'm equally in favour of this game's use of a randomly shuffled set of Initiative cards, one for each chariot, that not only determines the order in which chariots move, but as one card is revealed at a time means that there. So many race type games suffer from the leader-goes-first mechanic and should you decide that the power of the Charioteer Skill that would allow the owner of it always to go first is too much, then it's easy enough to house-rule a modification to how often it can be used - though my advice would be just gang up on said leader!

So, whip up your horses [and whip your opponents] - oh, and don't forget to point your chariot in the right direction!

As always thanks to Victory Point Games for providing a review copy.



Bloody Monday by Ventonuovo Games  Bloody Monday, not a day in some insurrection against an invading power, or ...

Bloody Monday by Ventonuovo Games Bloody Monday by Ventonuovo Games

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

April 2018

Bloody Monday by Ventonuovo Games


 Bloody Monday, not a day in some insurrection against an invading power, or a day that the Stock Market crashed. This is about the Battle of Borodino. Borodino is a city that is right on the direct route in Russia from Smolensk to Moscow. In both 1812 and 1941, titanic battles took place there to decide the fate of Russia.  

 In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia to put a seal on his conquest of Europe, and to force England to its knees through the Continental System (The Continental System was thought up by Napoleon to force all of Europe to stop trading with England). The Russians had been backpedaling since the beginning of the campaign. This strategy was put in place by the 'Fox of The North', Marshal Kutuzov. He wanted to harass Napoleon, and let the breadth of Russia and its weather destroy him. Some other generals in the Russian army did not want to give up Moscow without a fight, and forced Kutuzov to stand at Borodino. Napoleon was approached by Marshal Davout about attacking the Russians from their flank, but Napoleon would not even think about it. He was too worried that the Russians would escape him once again. So the stage was set for the bloodiest day of the Napoleonic Wars. Much like Waterloo, it was  a straight up slug fest between the combatants. Between the two armies, 250,000 men fought and suffered 70,000 casualties. 

 In this game the players take the commend of each army, and put themselves in Kutuzov's or Napoleon's shoes. The game is a block game about the battle. You are provided with stickers to place on the blocks to represent the troop units and different generals of each side. The units are as follows:

Jaegers -  Light Infantry
Light Cavalry
Heavy Cavalry
Tactical leaders
Foot Artillery
Horse Artillery

 This player aid will show the sequence of Play:

  The map is a large one at roughly 24" by 34". It is also very colorful, if a bit busy. The setup for the block units are also put right on map. It is an area map instead of hexes. This is what it looks like:

 The game rules are longer and more involved than other block games that I have played. The rules take up eighteen pages, with the last three being optional rules. The game also treats leaders differently than most games. Leaders can be destroyed in this game, and one of the ways to win is to destroy the enemy Supreme Commander. I like that the game rules include a chance for leaders to be eliminated. The game itself is only four turns long. The turns are:


 The other victory conditions are that you control all seven victory areas, or eliminate ten enemy blocks (Russian Militia, Jaegers, and Cossacks do not count toward destroyed units). 

 The units are divided into 'fast' and 'slow'. Fast units are Cavalry, Horse Artillery, Tactical Leaders, and Supreme Commanders. These all have a movement allowance of five. Slow units are infantry and Foot Artillery, and these have a movement allowance of three. As usual, the units have their current strength points at the top of the block in the 12:00 position. Losses to the unit will involve flipping the block counter-clockwise one side.

 The sequence of play is:

1.Logistics phase (not on turn one)
2.Impulse Phase
     A.Tactical Action
     B.Initiative Action
3.Final Phase

 In the Logistics Phase, both the players may call for reinforcements, restore artillery, tactical leaders and Combat Units.

 During the Impulse Phase, players take turns performing single impulse actions (a tactical Action, a Pass, or a Initiative action). The Impulse Phase ends after two consecutive Passes.

 During a Tactical action, which is the most common action undertaken during the game, the Phasing Player:

 1.activates his Tactical Leaders
 2.moves his Units
 3.resolves battles

 During the Initiative Action (which can only be done if the phasing player has and spends the initiative Disc) the Phasing Player may move his Units and resolve battles without activating any Tactical leader.

 During a Pass, the Phasing Player may move only one of his units.

 The Final Phase is just moving the Turn Track marker forward one space to the next turn.

 Besides being able to be destroyed, the Supreme Commander's Unit has a few other interesting design choices. Both Supreme Commanders can only be activated a maximum of three times, and the actual block has to be turned over so that the enemy can see where it is located if it is activated. Without activating your Supreme Commander, a player cannot call for reinforcements or restore any unit's strength. The logistical value of each Supreme Commander unit is lessened by each time it is activated. The block is flipped one side each turn it is activated. Both Supreme Commanders start with four stars, and these can be used for three turns so that they will become two stars on the third activation. This is a large part of the game because the logistic value is totaled up between the stars on the Supreme Commander, and the number of victory areas its side is in charge of. So you will have to choose wisely when you want to use your Supreme Leader activations. The initiative disc is moved between each player by its use. On turn one, it starts with the French Player. If it is used by them to call for reinforcements etc. it is then expended, and handed to the Russian player until he uses it, and so on. After two consecutive passes, one for each player, that turn ends.

 As was mentioned, this is a stand up brutal battle. The French player will have to batter and then pry the Russian player from the Raevsky Redoubt and the Fleches. This is not easy, and comes at a high price. As The Russian player, you will have to tenaciously defend and guess when to counterattack. Your job is made a little easier because of the straight forward nature of the French attack. However, you have to deal with the Grande Armee during one of its last hurrahs as a fighting force. 

 I have five boardgames and a few computer ones that deal with the Battle of Borodino. The design choices made in this game have made it a clear winner for me, and has been put on my favorites list. I can readily endorse this game to any gamer.


 They just had a KS on their game 'Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga'. It has a huge map, but is playable in only 1-2 hours. It also has what they call an AI to be able to play either side in solitaire. I am very interested in the game's mechanics. Here is the webpage if you are interested also:



Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth C. Sampson  Murder and mayhem in the waning years of the Roman Republic; what ...

Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth Sampson Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth Sampson

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

April 2018

Rome, Blood & Politics by Gareth Sampson


 Murder and mayhem in the waning years of the Roman Republic; what more could you ask for in a book? This is a tour de force of the public and private machinations of the different characters in this time period of the Roman Republic. Not only that, but the book also goes back in time to show the violence that had erupted at different times all through the Republic's life. The cast of characters is out of a Hollywood epic. Sulla, Marius, The Gracchi, Pompey, Crassus, and all of the other players are here. 

 The book starts off with a background into the history of the Republic, specifically its political history. You will learn how the Tribunes and Consuls (among other elected officials) were supposed to, and actually did, interact in their different capacities. The author shows that violence and mob rule did not start with Tiberius Gracchus. It was simmering right below the surface of the Republic for many years.

 The book comes with eight pages of black and white photos of the principal players and the historic backdrops. The book ends with three appendices. The first, titled "The Butchers Bill: Murdered Roman Politicians 133-70 B.C.", gives us a list of the men and also the reason for their murder. The second, "Who Were The Tribunes", gives the reader a list of all of the known Tribunes for the dates listed. The third appendix gives us a list of the sources used by the author in writing this book. The book also comes with four maps of the Republic in different years in which it takes place.

 I will admit to being extremely biased toward this time in history. I have read almost every book on the time period. I find this book to be not only an enjoyable read, but also indispensable as a handy reference of the time period that it shows. I can easily recommend Dr. Sampson's book to anyone who has an interest in not only the workings of the Roman Republic, but also the time period. I have read other books by the author, and have enjoyed them also. Now, if we can get a military biography of Pompeius Magnus from the author it would be spectacular.


Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele  Our review today is about this little known gem by Hollandspiele. Thi...

More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele

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

April 2018

More Aggressive Attitudes by Hollandspiele


 Our review today is about this little known gem by Hollandspiele. This game is about the 1862 campaign in northern Virginia that climaxed with the Second Battle of Bull Run. It starred John Pope, and a little known general Robert E. Lee. Contrary to his usual stoic behavior, Lee seemed to have a large dislike or even hatred toward this one opponent. Pope had put in place some draconian measures to be used against the southern population and sympathizers. This would be the first step of the total war that the Civil War became. Pope was made famous by his quote that his "headquarters would be in the saddle", which led to the bon mot that his headquarters were where his hindquarters should be. The quote was well intended, but not too thought out.

 The game map is supposed to be 11" X 17"(my ruler say it is closer to 13"X19"), and there are only 88 counters to worry about. You play the commanding general of either side. One nice touch, and a fly in the soup, is that that the officers below you might or might not follow your orders. So every game that you play even if you use exactly the same strategy will never play out the same. As the Confederate general, you will have to dispose of Pope and his soldiers before too many of "Little Mac's" Federal soldiers from the Peninsula campaign can intervene. As the Federals you can either try to trap and annihilate Jackson before more Confederates show up, or back pedal and fight Lee's Army defensively. The length of the campaign is from August 9th to September 2nd. The game is played in daily turns.

 The map was produced to look like it is on old paper. There are not many points of interest on it besides some towns, cities, and rivers. However, if you look closely you will see a ton of details and place names. It is just a paper map, so do not do what I did and get too aggressive trying to straighten it out. Mine now has a crumpled portion right at the junction of the folds in the middle of the map. 

 As mentioned, the game comes with 88 counters. These are not elaborately designed, but are fully functional. They are thick counters, and to take them off the sprue is not a hassle at all. The amount of actual troop counters on the map, even when all the forces are present, is minuscule. The counters are of the step variety, meaning that if you lose troops, the counter is flipped or exchanged for another counter. As you can see there are very few units on the board on turn one. To add to the Federals' problems is that Jackson's Confederates must be attacked by Bank's troops on the first turn. Many might see heresy on the Jackson counter. He is given a '2' for attack and a '3' for defense, whilst Longstreet is a '3'. I am not a big fan of 'Tom Fool', and would certainly not have liked him as a teacher. So I really think his counter could have had a variable number with a die roll, just as Pope's is. You have a one in six chance with the some of the Union units that even your good commanders will not attack when ordered, unless they are stacked with Pope. The drawback to that is that the Pope counter is a '1' on a die roll of 1-3, and a '2' with a die roll of 4-6. This puts him at a great disadvantage against Lee (who is a '3'), as it should be. These represent negative shifts on the CRT when pitted against one another.

 The rules are only five pages long, with designer notes on the sixth. The seventh page is for the CRT, Casualty Table, and the Terrain Effects Chart.

 The victory conditions are easy to remember. The Federal player only gains points by winning battles and causing casualties. The Confederate player can also do the above, with added victory points for destroying federal depots, and occupying several hexes. Both sides can put into play 'special events chits'. There are also several other rules that add to the game. Infantry units can try to retreat before battle, cavalry and leaders can do so automatically. Jackson does get one rule in his favor: his units can recover from disruption on a die roll of 1-4. All other units have to make a 1-3 roll. Forced march, night march, and other special event chits add to the flavor and immersion.

Turn one

   Unlike many games that try to bolster or skew a campaign to make it more gamey, MAA gives the Federal player a rough hand of cards to play. The designer has added some rules/innovations that to me truly help represent 19th century battles. It costs an extra movement point to stack with friendly units. Attack coordination is also not a gimme, you have to roll to see if two or more stacks can add their numbers to the original stack numbers. So a three stack to one attack could quickly become just three separate one to one stack attacks. The nuances in the rules etc. leave the player always thinking, and mulling over the different options he has. In my play- throughs I wouldn't say that the Confederates are a juggernaut fast approaching Pope and his saddle, but some good play as the Federal player is required. You cannot afford to just auto play even one turn.

 I like the game and can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the campaign. It is not a campaign that has too many games that represent just this small part of the Eastern campaign in 1862. So for that thanks Hollandspiele.  

 These are two optional rules posted by the designer, John Theissen, to help with the use of Pope as the Federal player:

" What to do with a lowly rated leader in wargames? A leader with a poor rating might be historically accurate, but then a game player might not want to use him. For this game, here are two optional rules that give incentives to use the leader Pope more and get him into the action.

A. To reflect Union command and control problems in the absence of the overall commander, Pope, the following rule is used:

If two or more US units (both of McDowell's units in the same hex are considered to be one unit for all purposes in this rule) are stacked in a hex and attempt to attack, they must roll for Attack Coordination. If a 1 or 2 is rolled, at least one US must attack, Union player's choice. After that, the Union player may continue to attack with one unit at a time or cancel any further attacks, at the US player's choice. If a 6 is rolled, the rightward CRT shift is ignored and not used.

If the leader Pope is stacked in a hex the above is negated. The units stacked with Pope may automatically attack with one combat strength.

B. To moderate Pope's leader rating, use the following:

Roll for Pope's Leadership rating as in the rules when required. Modify the results of a roll of 2-6 so that the indicated rating is used, but instead of the rating negating all others in the hex, that rating is averaged with all other ratings in the hex. Count Pope as one unit for the calculation. Example- Pope is stacked with Union Corps Reno and Sigel, and they participate in a combat. Roll for Pope's leadership. A 3 is rolled. Pope's rating is 1. Now calculate average leadership. 1+3+2 (Pope + Reno + Sigel) = 6 . Divide by 3 (three units) = average leader rating for this battle is 2.
If a 1 is rolled for Pope Leadership Rating, his overconfidence and unwillingness to accept intelligence reports give a result as the original rule. That is, the rating for the stack is 1."



Tally Ho by Minden Games   Tally Ho by Gary Graber of Minden Games is another study in minimalism  by  Minden Gam...

Tally Ho by Minden Games Tally Ho by Minden Games

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

April 2018

Tally Ho by Minden Games


 Tally Ho by Gary Graber of Minden Games is another study in minimalism  by  Minden Games. It is either a solo or two player game of air battles in WW II during the early years of 1939-1942. Tally Ho is actually a compilation of four other earlier games by Minden. The game comes with 119 different planes, fighters, bombers, and also transport aircraft. Tally Ho gives you the following:

Flying Tigers - Far East
Faith, Hope, and Charity - Malta and North Africa
Battle over the Pacific - Pacific
Battle over Britain  - Blitz and into 1942
+ more added planes

 You can buy just the game rule book, which contains all of the items needed for play, and then print them off. Your other choice is to buy the 'dogfight display' and combat results table along with the plane counters from Minden. You will have to supply a regular deck of cards, and a six-sided die. Did I mention minimalism? The game rules take up just sixteen pages, and this includes scenario information for the various campaigns you can fight through. Just like the other Minden games I have played, there are advanced and optional rules to make the game closer to a simulation. There are also rules for playing a campaign. This is like many other game campaigns where the player or players play X amount of scenarios and add up the points from each scenario to determine the winner.

Dogfight Display

 At heart, the game is meant to to be a quick playing game with relatively simple rules for the players' quick foray into air combat. The advanced and optional rules enhance the game for a bit more  immersion. This is my third Minden game that I have played, and just as with the other two, I am impressed. Not only for what gaming you get for such a small price, but just the games themselves. Of course it is not a detailed simulation, and it was not meant to be. However, the game mechanics seem to represent the differences between aircraft quite well. In this fast paced world of ours the inclusion of solo rules is a great free add on.


 The following will be a play through of a scenario that occurred many times over Malta. It will feature an Italian MC (Macchi) 200 against a Hurricane. I will be using the normal rules, and playing solo against the Hurricane. I am a sucker for Italian planes.

 On the first card draw no one has the advantage.

 On the second card draw the Hurricane does, but fire is not allowed from the Spades to the Diamonds hex row. If the  Hurricane were in the Hearts or Clubs hexes he could try for a hit.

  On the next draw the Hurricane has pulled off a three and the MC200 a jack of Clubs. To check to if you can open a fire, an ace   is equal to1 and and all numbered cards up to and including 10 are their stated number. A Jack, Queen, or King are all 0. So long as one number minus the other is more than 0 the plane with the advantage can open fire. The Hurricane rolls on the 3 column of the CRT, and rolls a 1 for no hit.

 The MC200 now has the advantage, but cannot fire because the difference of the cards is -1. 

 The Hurricane now has the advantage, and can open fire because the difference of the cards is a +5. The Hurricane drew a 10 of Hearts, and the MC200 drew a 5 of Clubs. Rolling a 5 on the CRT the Hurricane gets 5 hits on the MC200, but also gets to roll on the critical hit table. The Hurricane rolls a 5 again for engine damage. 

 This reduces the hand/speed of the MC200 by 1. We could continue, but just as in real life over Malta the MC200 really stands no chance. It is destroyed two rounds later. The game is quick, fun, and easy to learn. As mentioned, you can add the optional and advanced rules to put more of a kick into the game. 



Aces of The Luftwaffe The Jagdflieger In The Second World War  by Peter Jacobs  Adolf Galland, Werner Molders, ...

Aces of The Luftwaffe by Peter Jacobs Aces of The Luftwaffe by Peter Jacobs

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

April 2018

Aces of The Luftwaffe by Peter Jacobs


 Adolf Galland, Werner Molders, Erich Hartmann, Gordon Gollob, and possibly the best of them, Hans Joachim Marseille, are all here. All of the above, and nine more fighter pilots, were awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (Brillanten). Many other pilots are in the book also. Gunther Rall was the greatest deflection shooter in the Luftwaffe (deflection shooting is shooting where the enemy will be, instead of from straight behind etc). This book shows the titanic struggle in the air over the East front. It also shows the almost suicidal courage of the Luftwaffe pilots when they flew against the massive bomber streams in the west.

 The book is 200 pages long, and it has twenty-four pages of black and white photos of the pilots and war. Some of these are posed propaganda pictures, but most are candid shots from the pilots' lives.

 The author does not get involved with the argument of the German fighter pilots' claims of 'kills'. He states his case in the introduction and then leaves the matter to the reader. If we take one fighter pilot and compare his 'kills' to his sorties, I believe it will clear up the issue. Erich 'bubi' Hartmann is credited with 352 'kills'. The number of sorties that he flew was 1,404. He was in air combat over 800 times. There were many instances where he notched up more than one 'kill' on a sortie. So roughly he is credited with one kill for every four sorties. The East front was an environment full of Soviet airplanes of all types. Also, as the writer points out, German fighter pilots flew until they were killed, wounded too much to fly, or the war ended. If the Allied pilots were given the same number of sorties and a rich target environment I believe they too would have tallied up impressive scores.

 Mr. Jacobs was in the Royal Air Force for over thirty years. So if anyone is qualified to write this book, it is him. He manages to tell the story of the war, and weave in the different pilots' lives and actions into it. It is true they fought for a horrible cause, but many of the people we history lovers read about would be listed in that way also. I congratulate Mr. Jacobs for this excellent volume on the German Jagdflieger. It is a great book for the novice and the expert alike on German WW II fighter pilots. The book not only describes the day fighters, but also the Reich's night fighters.As the author points out, many of these men were in their very early twenties when the war took place. At the same time that many people are just finding their way in the world, these men were in a life and death struggle with other young men and women (at least on the Soviet side). The appendices list the top scorers and their medals. 


Book: Aces of The Luftwaffe
Author: Peter Jacobs
Publisher: Frontline Books
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



1500 THE NEW WO RLD DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So...


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

April 2018



DVG are renowned for their high quality series of solitaire wargames featuring conflict on land, sea and air.  So, 1500 The New World is a major departure for them: a light-weight Euro-game with multi-player focus!  The title immediately pinpoints the theme - the competitive exploration and exploitation of the Americas.  Christopher Columbus and all that jazz!

A simple, but attractive board presents a deliberately crude depiction of the Americas and the Caribbean.  For game play purposes these lands have been divided into five Regions labelled North America, Central America, Caribbean, Amazon and Cape Horn.  You'll need to look quite carefully at these areas as the colours that distinguish them are very muted and very similar and the dividing lines between the three regions that constitute the western coast of South America easily disappear into the representation of mountain terrain.  Also printed on the map are icons for five different types of goods, each of which appears in three different areas.

All necessary tracks are on the map board as is a thorough outline of the Turn sequence, End of game resolution and Scoring for each turn.  There are only six turns, game play is very simple and easy and, even with the maximum of 6 players, each game turn passes very quickly.  This is a game at the ultra-light, intro-level end of the gaming spectrum.

If you've struggled, as I did many, many years ago with the complexities of the early S&T magazine game Conquistadores [my solo initiation into board wargames], this is a stroll in the park.  The contents can be swiftly enumerated: an attractive board, two sheets of solid but very plain, basic and functional counters, 112 very pleasing cards and the easiest of brief rule books. 
Serviceable, but very plain counters
Ten pages of rules are so lavishly set out in large font and background illustrations that the fact that they aren't numbered is no problem at all.  In the bygone era of cramped rules, minimal examples and no pictures, I suspect that this would have fit easily into two sides of an average rule book.

In addition there are two pages illustrating a turn of play and four pages reprinting the 22 different types of card with even an example of how to play 8 of them.  With the excellent summary of a Player Turn printed on the game board and 10 minutes explanation, you should be up and running in lightning fast time.

Basic game play can be summed up as, by the play of cards from your hand, placing colonies on their Successful side [i.e. face-up], flipping other players' colonies to the side marked "Struggling" and scoring a point for each one and eliminating colonies that are already on their Struggling side.  Each player then scores points at the end of their turn for each of their face-up colonies.  There is also a bonus for having a Regional Monopoly [i.e. having a successful colony in each of  the three areas that make up one Region] and a bonus for an Export Monopoly [i.e. having a Successful colony in each of the three areas showing the same goods icon].  Add in a limited number of Reaction cards which you can interrupt another player's card play with and that really is it in a nut shell!

A few of the very attractive cards

So, fast, easy, simple to grasp, with fairly limited strategy.  1500 The New World makes a good intro game or light family game.  For more experienced gamers it may serve as a prelude to a more intense, prolonged gaming session or a wind-down after such a session.  It's a fascinating departure for DVG and will, I hope, be a successful new avenue.

Clearly DVG have spent time preparing this product as five companion expansions have been released simultaneously with the core game.  Each Expansion allows you to play as one of the five key nations in that early colonial drive: England, France, Spain,  Portugal and the Netherlands.  
Each Expansion gives you a customised nation deck and an A.I. deck.  Though each nation's deck does have small individualities they primarily contain identical cards to those in the core deck.  A brief rules sheet explains that each person playing as a Nation uses use their own individual deck while others use the core deck.  This in itself may lead to an imbalance, since the core deck is not reduced in any way.  The A.I. deck is played as an extra player following its own set of rules after all human players have had their turn.
England: A.I. Deck on left, English Player Deck on right

I quite like what the A.I. decks bring to the game, but feel that that the National player cards purely make a minor augmentation to game play without any significant changes.  If you kickstarted the whole package then you'll probably feel satisfied, but I wouldn't recommend investing in the significant extra cost of buying all five expansions.  Nor do I think that the ability to play totally solo with a set of several A.I decks is worth the cost.  Play is so straightforward that a solo session immediately made me wish for a much more complex game!

So, with that final thought in my head, it's off to open up DVG's long awaited Sherman Leader for just that more complex and satisfying solo experience.  No surprise that you'll be hearing more about that at a future date on this site!

But before then, it will be off to Rome for some whipping and ramming!  Yes, it's chariot racing Ben Hur style in ancient Rome's Circus Maximus.

 As always, many thanks to DVG for the review copies.  


Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono  Lucullus usually brings to mind a plethora of epicurean delights. With this biograp...

Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono

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

April 2018

Lucullus by Lee Fratantuono



Lee Fratantuono

 Lucullus usually brings to mind a plethora of epicurean delights. With this biography of Lucullus, Dr. Fratantuono brings the subject's whole life into focus, not just the end of it. Lucullus' story starts at the age of sixteen. His father had been sent to Sicily as a Propraetor, this was during the Second servile War (slave war). When he returned Lucullus' father was charged with extortion of the Sicilians and convicted, then condemned to exile. So Lucullus was entering manhood just as this scandal broke upon his family. Lucullus and his brother were commended for their 'pietas', for trying to prosecute the man who had convicted their father. 

 Lucullus was attached to the army of Lucius Cornelius Sulla right before Sulla turned on Rome to drive out the Marians. When Sulla turned his army against Rome, only a sole Quaestor marched with him. The Quaestor is not named, but Dr. Fratantuono and many others believe that this man was Lucullus. 

 Lucullus then goes with Sulla to fight Mithridates of Pontus. Mithridates was trying to keep his conquests in Asia Minor, and had even invaded Greece. Once Sulla had forced Mithridates to the peace table, Lucullus was left in Asia Minor to keep an eye on him and to clean up some other matters. As usual with Mithridates, the minute he believed Rome's back was turned he started to reconquer Asia Minor for himself. He did not count on Lucullus and his military abilities. Lucullus then chased Mithridates out of Asia Minor and into Armenia. Lucullus was the first Roman to bring Roman arms so far into the Near East. Unfortunately for Lucullus, this Third Mithridatic War also ended in a stalemate. Lucullus' Roman Army became mutinous over the length of time that had transpired in this campaign, along with the mileage that they had been forced to march chasing after Mithridates. Lucullus was replaced as governor, and he pretty much retired from Roman political life. His epicurean delights and life after his military fame have unfortunately caught most people's eye. Cicero himself felt that Lucullus and his achievements were exemplary, and even described Lucullus as the 'highest man'.

 This book is only 145 pages long, but it is followed by an extensive 'endnotes' section. The book has eight pages of colored pictures from places mentioned in the text. Dr. Fratantuono does an excellent job of bringing this man Lucullus back out of the shadows and into the light. 

Book: Lucullus
Author: Lee Fratantuono
Publisher: Pen&Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers