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The newest DLC for Gladius is out, and it brings the Chaos Space Marines to the fray. I haven't had enough time with the game yet t...

Chaos Space Marines DLC for WH40K Gladius - Gameplay Video Chaos Space Marines DLC for WH40K Gladius - Gameplay Video

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

2019

Chaos Space Marines DLC for WH40K Gladius - Gameplay Video



The newest DLC for Gladius is out, and it brings the Chaos Space Marines to the fray. I haven't had enough time with the game yet to give a full review, but I wanted to share some gameplay if you wanted to see how they handle in the early turns.







- Joe Beard

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A Step To Victory by Quarterdeck International   Quarterdeck Games (1981-1988) was a company I had heard and read...

A Step To Victory by Quarterdeck International A Step To Victory by Quarterdeck International

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

2019

A Step To Victory by Quarterdeck International



A Step To Victory

by

Quarterdeck International






 Quarterdeck Games (1981-1988) was a company I had heard and read about for quite a while. To be honest, I didn't know about their revival until recently. I had seen some of the naval games that had been made down through the years by Jack Greene, but for one reason or another I never picked one up. So, I am very proud that Quarterdeck International sent me two games to review. This one is on the Campaign for Bougainville from 1943-45. The game is very small and comes with this:

Rulebook
Map
36 Counters
One sheet with Terrain Effects and Combat Results

 The map is 11" x 17". The game needs a six-sided die to play.






 The sequence of play is:

Allied Player Turn
Reinforcement Phase
Movement Phase
Combat Phase
Japanese Player Turn
Reinforcement Phase
Movement Phase
Combat Phase







 The rulebook is only seven pages long. As you can guess,  there are not a lot of rules to try and remember. The game is only ten turns long. If the Allies do not control any of the Japanese bases at the end of the game, it is a decisive Japanese victory. Other than that, both sides can accumulate victory points in various ways. Both players can 'rest' all of their troops by declaring the turn a 'rest' one. The Japanese Player cannot rest his troops after turn six. This represents the Japanese units being cut off from any supplies, especially food.







 The other usual wargame rules are also represented: zones of control, stacking, and movement cost for the different terrain. Combat is resolved by the Combat Results Table. The game rules follow the arrival and departure of the three different Allied forces. First the US Marines land and then are removed and replaced by the US Army between turns three to five. On turn six, all of the US troops are removed and the Australians take over. 







 This is not a game about blitzkrieg. Like all of the islands in the South Pacific, trying to get troops from one part of the island to another is a nightmare. Bougainville has a spine of mountains and hills through the center of the island. The fighting here was as bad as that on New Guinea. Half of the battle is against nature. The only real thing I can ding the game for is that the map does not show 'Hellzapoppin' Ridge. This could be because the game map is bilingual in both Japanese and English. This is a great little game. Replay is somewhat limited because of the limited terrain, although the friction of war can make it a somewhat different game each time you play. Thank you Quarterdeck International for letting me review A Step To Victory.



Quarterdeck International:

A Step To Victory:

Robert

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Field Commander Alexander by  Dan Verssen Games   A madman wears the crown, and everyone around him, courtier...

Field Commander Alexander by Dan Verssen Games Field Commander Alexander by Dan Verssen Games

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

2019

Field Commander Alexander by Dan Verssen Games



Field Commander Alexander

by 

Dan Verssen Games







 A madman wears the crown, and everyone around him, courtiers, generals, even concubines are not safe from his murderous drunken outbursts. He believed himself at one time to be the son of a God, but now he thinks himself a God. He is distrustful of the soldiers who won him the crown of the world. A besotted paranoid maniac; this is what Alexander has become. If someone didn't kill him out of self-preservation it would be amazing.










 This game shows the campaigns of Alexander in four scenarios, from the earliest battles when he had just gotten the crown, to his conquest of much of the known world. From Chaeronea to his hardest battle at the Hydaspes, his battles and campaigns are here. I want to thank DVG for adding in the siege of Tyre. Sieges, if represented at all in games, are usually just a die roll. The game is a solitaire one where you fill the shoes of the half mortal Alexander. This is what comes with the game:

4 11"x17" Campaign Maps
1 Counter Sheet
Rulebook
1 Six-sided die
1 Player Log sheet

The four Campaigns are

Granicus - 338 BC to 334 BC
Issus - 333 BC to 332 BC
Tyre - 332 BC
Gaugamela - 331 BC to 323 BC




First Counter Sheet


 This is the sequence of play:

Preparation
  Advance Turn Counter
  Refit ( -2 Gold per Refit )
  Enemy Orders
  Enemy Operations
Conquest
  Scouting Roll
   ( If roll > Forces suffer hits
   if roll < Forces lose Gold)
   Move Army
   Battle / Intimidate
    Gain Glory
    Raze or Govern
  May Repeat
Resupply
  Gain Gold
  Spend Gold and Glory




Granicus Map



 This is the newest reprinting of the game, although there doesn't seem to be many changes between the versions. The main game mechanic is for you, playing as Alexander, to win gold and glory. In each campaign these can be used to continue your conquering ways. Glory points can be especially helpful because they allow you to buy Insight Counters and Advisor Counters. These are some of them:

Insight Counters
Anticipation - Play before the enemy 
 draws Battle Plans. Enemy does not 
 Draw any Battle Plans for this battle.
Courtesans - May play after seeing an
  intimidation roll. Add 4 to the roll.

Advisor Counters
Aristander (Seer) - After seeing each 
 Enemy Orders for roll, you may add 1
 to the roll.
Parmenion (General) - The enemy 
 receives 3 fewer Battle Plans in battle.




Issus Map


 Another major game mechanic is to accept or shun a prophecy when you move into an area that has an oracle. You must decide to accept or shun it before turning over the counter to see the actual prophecy. The number on the Prophecy counter is how many turns you have to complete the prophecy. Completing it on time means that your Alexander gains 1 Glorification, and just a smidgen more madness. Failing to complete it means that you have to drop 1 level of Glorification or remove an advisor for the rest of the game. If you cannot do either, you lose the game. There are 1- 8 Alexander counters. Each one measures his Glorification level, one being the lowest and 8 representing full blown psychosis. Just ask Kassander.

  


Player Log/Battle Board




 The game comes with one player log that you can copy to use over if you want to keep track of different campaigns you wage. The player log also has information about Battle Plans etc. At the bottom of the Player Log is the battlefield, which is more like a battle board. You line up yourself and your enemy's forces in two lines. "Arrange them from left to right in order of the highest to lowest speed". Both Alexander and his enemies have Battle Plans they can use. Depending upon the situation and the Alexander player's use of gold etc, this will determine the amount of Battle Plans both sides have. You resolve any Pre-Battle plans first, and then get down to business. The battles are set up so that the two heroic leaders (if an enemy leader is present) will have a go at each other. The only slightly strange rule is that only the Alexander unit in his army can attack the enemy leader. The enemy leader unit can attack other units in Alexander's force. Once the leaders have begun to attack each other, they must continue to attack each other until the end of the battle. As Alexander you can choose to retreat from battle (to your everlasting shame). However, unlike in history, this does not necessarily mean it is the end of the war.


Tyre Map


 This marks my sixth review of a DVG solitaire game. Just like the others, the components are very well done, as are the rules. Field Commander Alexander seems to have more immersion than the others I have played. You as the player want to win, but you are also pitting yourself against the Great One's record. As almost any general before you since 323 BC, your victories and pace of conquest is measured against Alexander. Hopefully you don't also get a good dose of megalomania in the bargain. Thank you DVG Games for letting me review another great game.

Dan Verssen Games:
http://www.dvg.com/

Field Commander Alexander:
https://www.mcssl.com/store/danverssengames/tabletop-games/field-commander---alexander

 
Robert
 

1 comments :

Rule the Waves II by Naval Warfare Simulations      So the first thing you need to know is that you only have ...

Rule the Waves II by Naval Warfare Simulations Rule the Waves II by Naval Warfare Simulations

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

2019

Rule the Waves II by Naval Warfare Simulations


by

Naval Warfare Simulations



  










 So the first thing you need to know is that you only have two scenarios to pick from, 1900 and 1920. The second thing you need to know is this is a sandbox game from beginning to end. This is so sandboxy that you might need to empty your sneakers out when done playing. This is not a bad thing, just something you should know up front. There are no built in World War I or World War II scenarios in the game. You are dropped into the shoes of your country's Naval Chief of Staff. Everything, absolutely everything, is in your control. The other part of the job is that if you screw up, there goes the job and game. You can build any force you want, within restraints, but if it doesn't function in the battles you will need to fight, then off with your head. 

 For those of us who stare at spreadsheets Monday through Friday, this may seem like a strange game for us to pick. You will be looking at spreadsheets, a lot of them. Just like in the real world, the biggest constraint to your naval dominance is cash, cold hard cash. Without it you cannot build a minesweeper, let alone a super-battleship. So let us say you want to build that 80,000 ton behemoth. Well the first catch is that your dock size only accommodates 40,000. So you had better start building, but of course construction costs money. Next up, you want to have it carry 20" guns; great, but your country only has researched up to 16". Then you have to research 17" through 19" before you even start  researching 20" ones. Hopefully you see where I am going with this.






Preferences



 Before you get the wrong impression, I really like the game. Yes, it is a study in office politics, negotiations, and those dreaded spreadsheets. However, once you have the screens under your belt the actual game story starts to flow. Remember this is your Navy, not King's or Yamamoto's, yours. You have every reason to be proud of all of the ships that you have rolled off the docks (or not, if they are all duds). What do you do when you are in that Admiral's chair? Do you go for big guns, or do you throw the dice only on air power? If I haven't made it clear yet, it is all up to you. It is possible to let your computer subordinates help you in many ways, such as designing ships etc. but where is the fun in that?





Country Selection Screen



 Some countries, such as Britain, Japan, and the United States, have deeper pockets and give you a better starting position out of the gate than say Austro-Hungary. That is not to say you can't win with other countries, but your vision for your Navy can be visualized much quicker with some nations.




New Game or Saved Game Screen


 As you can see, the player can have nine saved games at the same time. You can however, write over any of them at any point in time. I might as well bring up the dreaded DRM of the game right now. Yes, it does have an ET phone home part of the process to it. It is incredibly easy to use the process and I had no problems whatsoever. It does not phone home (like another naval game that shall not be mentioned) every thirty seconds or so.




Main/Ship Screen



 This screen is what you will call home for a lot of the game. It is also the screen where you can view your new super-dreadnoughts or your rusty old scows. This is also the screen where money juggling will become an art. Why exactly do you have twenty year old ships still in your fleet? Is it worthwhile to upgrade them in any way, or do you simply scrap them for there steel? If you do scrap too many your government might ask some questions. You will also have to keep track of your tonnage in different areas of the world. Don't forget that you have to have your flag flying in many different ports. Gunboat Diplomacy may be derided now, but in the game's time it was one of the main reasons for your fleet to be in existence. 

 On the right of the above screen you will see how your country is doing diplomatically with the other countries in the game. You can see that I have five countries in the green, which is where you want them.The baby 'blank' color (why oh why that color!) is where you will be heading toward a confrontation. Many things could happen along the way though.





Ship Design Screen



  To many players this is the heart of the game and why they bought it in the first place. Is your next design a war winner or the next Vasa? Ship design can also be constrained by following the rules of the different naval treaties that were in force during the game's time frame.



War


 In the screen above you can see that I am at war with France. Once that happens, windows will pop up to see if you want to battle it out with the enemy's force. In this case I have two light cruisers and the enemy has a battle cruiser and two light cruisers with six destroyers. If you decline battle the enemy is automatically given the specified amount of Victory Points. Although, as in this case, "discretion is the better part of valor".





Aircraft Type Screen



 You can fight real battles or even take your fleet out on exercises. Speaking of which, this is one place where I will knock the game. Of course it could be me, but I have never been able to cancel a fleet exercise once it has started. By the way, fleet exercises cost money also. 

 So is the game a boring dud or a direct hit from a 16" shell? It is a direct hit as long as you take the time to put some effort into it. This is not a game that you can play halfheartedly while watching the Bears (I am a Packers fan but when Football teams' names come up, I can never forget SNL's "da Bears"). Take your time and slowly get into the cold water of the North Atlantic or wherever you have chosen to run roughshod over your country's naval history from this moment on. Some players tinker for hours on end on the ship design screen. Others let the computer take up that task to get into the thick of battle. Who cares, as long as it is fun for you, and this game can definitely be fun, as long as you let it.

Rule The Waves I review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/08/rule-waves-by-naval-wafare-simulations.html

For more info on the tactical side of the game please see these reviews:

Steam and Iron The Russo-Japanese War
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/09/steam-and-iron-russo-japanese-war.html

Steam and Iron The Great War With the Campaign Expansion
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/08/naval-warfare-simulations-steam-and.html 

Robert






















4 comments :

Great naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees   Once again I am proud to review a Pen & Sword r...

Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees

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

2019

Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees


by








 Once again I am proud to review a Pen & Sword release. The book shows us thirteen naval battles from The Battle of Lade in 494 BC to The Battle of Cnidus in 394 BC. The author has picked a very interesting group of battles to depict. There were, in actuality, so many to choose from that he mentions he chose only the ones that have the most information available to historians.

 The author's introduction is unusual in that he does not just explain why he wrote the book, but gives the reader a grounding in Grecian naval warfare. It is a short, but very informative lesson. What exactly was a trireme, how were the rowers set up, and what was each bank of them called? These and more are answered in the introduction. He also dips our toes in the water of their tactics. Even the earliest battles show how sophisticated the Greeks had become in naval warfare. More than 1500 years later some European naval battles were no more than a land battle at sea, with ships lashed together to make to make a pseudo island to fight on.

 The battles start at the Persian Wars, where Persia was invading Greece. They continue through the Archidamian and Ionian  (usually called the Decelean War by scholars, but the author points out that all of the action took place in Ionia)Wars. The familiar names are all here: Conon, Lysander, and of course Alcibiades. The Greek strategy and tactics of the period are still studied today. Many of the famous ancient historians are quoted in the book. The author attempts (I think successfully) to make sense of these military actions from the sometime very skimpy sources.

 The duel between Alcibiades and Lysander are the most interesting parts of the book in my opinion. The author shows that Persian money was the only reason that Sparta was able to keep fighting at the end of the Peloponnesian War.

 All in all, this is a great book to add to your collection. The maps, which are a little Spartan (sorry), do help. It would have been nice to see more of them. Mr. Rees, soon to be Dr. Rees, does an excellent job of sweeping away the cobwebs of 2500 years. Thank you Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this book.

Robert 

Author: Owen Rees
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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Metaverse Keeper By Sparks Games  Metaverse Keeper is a dungeon crawler/rogue indie game developed and published by Sparks Games...

Metaverse Keeper Metaverse Keeper

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

2019

Metaverse Keeper

Metaverse Keeper

By Sparks Games 





Metaverse Keeper is a dungeon crawler/rogue indie game developed and published by Sparks Games. In the game, you play as a group of heroes (who have previously saved many different worlds) who come together to save the universe. The games art style is very cartoon like and reminds me of Nintendo's Paper Mario series. 




I always like to mention tutorials in my reviews as a real pet-peeve of mine is when games leave it up to you to figure out what's going on and what the controls are. Metaverse Keeper, fortunately, comes with a handy set of tutorials at the start of the game, covering things from basic controls to using items and powerups. 

Let's talk about the characters. This is one of the most interesting and colourful games I've come across in quite a while, the cartoon style adds extra charm to these characters but their unique abilities and style on their own make them stand out as well. When you start the game you don't have the option of all the characters being playable yet, they unlock the once you do certain things within missions, It's a nice little challenge, however you can still view all of the characters when you're not on a misson. The character you start off within the tutorial is Wong. He seems the most normal of the four unlockable characters but that doesn't mean he's not fun to play as! Then there's Brooks, who looks like someone from an 80s metal band. He carries a guitar and rocks an awesome red bandana. Unfortunately Brooks does not keep his guitar as a weapon when you play as him during a level/mission, instead, he carries what seems to be a DIY gun/knife combo. A very interesting choice...
The other two characters are Zoe, she seems to be some sort of pilot and the only playable female character in the game, and then Howard, who seems to be some sort of robot, or possibly a man wearing a scuba diving suit. I'm not 100% sure but he looks brilliant.  





The game offers three different hardness settings for you to play. The first one is the standard 'Normal' mode. Then 'Hard' and then, 'Out Of Control'. The normal mode seems quite challenging enough but if you really want to go hardcore i'd recommend 'Out Of Control' as it's a lot of fun. Don't be deceived by the more 'cute' art style, this game isn't as easy as you think it is!

 There is also a local co-op mode and online co-op mode for you to play with your friends. I wasn't expecting these options as it seems like quite a story driven game. However, when I tried to find someone online to play with there was no one available at that time, so I didn't try that mode out. 

In the game, there are a lot of retro themes and items you can collect and see. For example, you can collect cassette tapes that you can use to buy new upgrades from the upgrade depot. The upgrades increase certain stats or help you. There are also items lying around your base that would give any video-games fan a smile of their face. A Dreamcast lies on the floor near where the characters stand. The Dreamcast was SEGAs last home console, quite an unusual choice to put in a game but I think it's brilliant. 




The soundtrack has a very Daft Punk, Electronica feel to it. Very 80s, which makes sense because of the cassette tapes and some of the characters have old-school looks.


Overall, Metaverse Keeper is a game that has created a very charming art style that I've not seen from many titles in this genre. The gameplay is smooth and you can really get ingrossed into this world. If you're a fan of dungeon crawlers, this is a game for you. 

Here's a summary of the features I really liked in the game:
- Interesting bosses for the dungeons
-A range of different weapons to use/pick up 
-Unique art style
- Little hidden objects for die-hard gaming fans (Dreamcast)


Metaverse Keeper is available to buy now on Steam .



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If you're curious about  WarPlan the new strategic level WW2 game from Kraken Studios and Matrix Games, look no further than the v...

WarPlan - First Look at Beta (Video) WarPlan - First Look at Beta (Video)

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

2019

WarPlan - First Look at Beta (Video)



If you're curious about WarPlan the new strategic level WW2 game from Kraken Studios and Matrix Games, look no further than the video below. I give the game a quick spin, going through the various menus and invading a bit of Poland. 

Please note that the game is still in beta!







- Joe Beard

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Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition by  GMT Games   Paths of Glory started out as a book by Humphrey Cobb. It was then ...

Paths of Glory deluxe Edition by GMT Games Paths of Glory deluxe Edition by GMT Games

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

2019

Paths of Glory deluxe Edition by GMT Games

Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition

by

 GMT Games








  Paths of Glory started out as a book by Humphrey Cobb. It was then turned into a movie, by none other than Stanley Kubrick. Both in their own right are hailed as one of the best anti-war pieces in their own milieu. Here is a quote from the book: "the paths of glory lead but to the grave". World War I saw the advent of killing in Western Europe on an unprecedented scale. Machine guns, terror bombings, the chemical warfare, to name just a few, come during the years 1914-1918. So it would seem a little incongruent for one of the best games on World War I to use the same name. I must digress for a moment about wargamers and our hobby. We seem to be painted with a brush that condemns us as warmongering geeks. The actual reality is as far from that as possible. In our reading and playing, we get to glimpse the worst and best side of man. We emulate battles as a mental game, much as Chess was in its infancy. I will now return the soapbox to its proper place. The First World War led directly to the Second and helped transform our world into what it is today.


 The games name notwithstanding, it has been one of the most popular WWI games since its release in 1999. This review is of the deluxe edition released by GMT Games in 2018. Here is list of what comes with this edition:


  • One 22" x 34" double-sided mounted mapboard (Classic Simonitch Map and the new Historical Scenario map by Terry Leeds.)
  • 316 full-color die cut counters including the optional counters first released in the POG Player’s Guide in 2002.
  • Updated 2017 Edition Rule Book incorporating prior rulings and errata.
  • 110 Core Strategy Cards & 20 Optional Cards from the POG Player’s Guide.
  • Updated Two Player Aid Cards
  • Two six-sided dice 


This pic includes the old map


 The game uses point-to-point mechanics for movement. Each game turn represents three months. As was listed, this edition comes with a two-sided mounted map. There is a new map for this edition by Terry Leads, and the reverse has the classic map by Mark Simonitch. The new map represents players' inputs through the different editions. The Rule Book is thirty-nine pages long. It is in color and has an adequate amount of illustrations of game play. This being the sixth edition of the game, the rule book has red diamond markings on new rules or significant changes. There are four scenarios that are available to the player. The Introductory Scenario ends after three turns. The next is the Limited War scenario that ends at turn 10, or the end of the 1916 summer turn. The Campaign Game ends at the end of 1919. Of course, there are many ways of winning an automatic victory in all of those. The Historical Scenario is described as "Refined over hundreds of playings, the historical scenario is a finely balanced match suitable for competitive and organized matches. The new 'Deluxe' map uses the historical scenario conditions and these rules are aligned with the historical scenario used in tournaments." The player is free to try the Schlieffen Plan (the plan and its authorship is now in debate by historians), or turn Germany's attention to Russia. 


 
New Map

 The game is played through the Strategy Cards the players receive. To quote the rule book "In Paths of Glory, the Strategy Cards are the heart of the game. The players initiate all actions, including movement and combat, through the play of Strategy Cards." The cards are all based on actual events, or strategies etc. that occurred in WWI. This is the sequence of play:

A. Mandated Offensive Phase
B. Action Phase
C. Attrition Phase
D. Siege Phase
E. War Status Phase
  E.1. Check the Victory Point Table
  E.2. Determine if Automatic Victory has occurred.
  E.3. Determine if Armistice has been declared.
  E.4. Check War Commitment Levels (not on Turn 1).
F. Replacement Phase
  F.1. Allied Powers Segment
  F.2. Central Powers Segment
G. Draw Strategy Card Phase
H. End of Turns





 The counters used in the the game are either Corps or Armies. Corps units are 1/2" sized, while Army units are 5/8" sized. As in most games the front of the counter represents full strength while it's obverse is reduced strength. 






 War Status is one of the innovative concepts that is in the game. The three different War Statuses are Mobilization, Limited War, Total War. This mechanic shows how the different nations moved from what they thought was going to happen in the war to the reality they were presented with. All of Europe headed down the rabbit hole and didn't look back. The War Status mechanic gives the player more strategies to use, but it is a double-edged sword. The higher the War Status the more cards, etc. your opponent can use to block your moves and make his own path to winning. The players are also able to add optional cards to the game. These cards are numbers 56-65. Some of these are:

The Sixtus Affair
Paris Taxis
Prince Max
Stavka Timidity



 From when it burst on the scene in 1999 and won a Charles S. Roberts award, this game has only gone from strength to strength. Many people consider it their favorite Wargame and now I know why. Its pull is not just on gamers who like WWI, gamers who are just looking for one of the best wargames are pulled into its orbit. It is certainly not the flashiest of wargames, but it works visually very well. As far as gameplay, you would be hard pressed to find a better designed game. This is why it is so popular in tournament play. GMT also has the 'Paths of Glory Player's Guide' for sale. This is a treasure trove of information acquired by players after many games. It also has new scenario setups for each year designed by Ted Racier, the game's designer. I will list some links for the reader below. Thank you GMT Games for letting me review this classic/new game.

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The Vikings have landed on the shores of Field of Glory II from Byzantine Games and Slitherine. In this fifth DLC add-on for the tactica...

Field of Glory II - Wolves at the Gate DLC Field of Glory II - Wolves at the Gate DLC

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

2019

Field of Glory II - Wolves at the Gate DLC



The Vikings have landed on the shores of Field of Glory II from Byzantine Games and Slitherine. In this fifth DLC add-on for the tactical turn based ancient warfare sandbox, the timeline is extended much further into the future, all the way up to 1040 AD. The base game "only" covers 280 BC to 20 BC, for reference. You can read our original review here. Since it's release, other DLC have covered the highs and lows of the Roman Empire (both East and West), with other packs focusing on the earlier powers of the Mediterranean and Middle East like the Greeks and Persians. This pack moves us firmly into the so-called "Dark Ages" of history, when the lack of a civilizing influence from Rome led to barbarians and heathens running wild across Europe. As any history buff knows, this concept is rather passé these days, but it still makes for a pretty good theme for a wargame. 




If you're reading this, you probably have a pretty good idea of what Field of Glory II is like, so I'll get to exactly what's on the tin of this latest DLC. Wolves at the Gate expands FoG II by adding:


  • 19 new factions
  • 55 new units
  • 76 new army lists
  • 6 new Epic Battles
  • 74 new Quick Battles
  • Expanded Custom Battles module.
  • Expanded Sandbox Campaign module.
  • 6 new historically-based campaigns.
  • New Allies feature added in accompanying game update.



You can get the full list of factions and armies from the product page, but I'll list off a few that might get your attention. The Vikings are most definitely here, and I played a few battles with them. Huscarls and Berserkers give them quite an offensive punch, though their other infantry are a bit rubbish. Also, don't expect too much cavalry support. Some of the battles I played in this era were purely melee infantry affairs, with not an archer or mounted warrior in sight. This was quite different from the last DLC I played, Age of Belisarius, which featured the exact opposite, with mounted archers dominating the battlefield. There are many other armies representing northern Europe on hand as well. The Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Scots, Irish, British, Visigoths and more have all come to play. There is also plenty of new content here for the east, with the Byzantine and Arab rosters being filled out with multiple armies. Going even further east, some Indian factions are represented and featured in a full campaign. Here's the full list of new campaigns so you can see some of the major historical figures who fit into this era:


  • Arab Conquest
  • Basil II (Byzantine Resurgence)
  • Charlemagne
  • Mahmud of Ghazni
  • Wolves from the Sea 1(Viking Age from Viking point of view)
  • Wolves from the Sea 2(Viking Age from enemy point of view)


  • I tried a sampling of the campaigns and found them all to offer some different flavors of combat. If you have played any of the previous campaigns in Field of Glory II, these work the same way. You go from battle to battle with some small choices in between that change the scenarios a bit. There is also, as always, a sandbox campaign mode that plays similarly but lets you take your nation of choice and go up against a variety of historical enemies in randomly generated battles.


    One new feature that was patched into the game alongside this DLC is the "Allies" feature. This lets you mix in units of historical allies with a given army roster in custom battles. This means even more variety as you can spice up your favorite faction or army with some new units. If you like ancients warfare games, this is really a one stop shop. I can only assume, based on Field of Glory I, that there is plenty more DLC coming that will add more and more factions to the game. Just about any match-up you can imagine is either in the game already or will be before long. 

    I thought I'd end the review with a little recap of how the Battle of Clontarf went for me. This is one of the epic battles included, and one that I had never heard of before. The battle featured a mix of Vikings and Irishmen fighting for control of the Emerald Isle. It was an infantry only battle, which was actually tactically interesting, as my standard strategies involving archers and cavalry were not options at all.



    The battle lines are drawn up. A roughly equal number of infantry on each side are facing off across mostly flat ground. I'll need to look for any advantage that could give me some leverage.



    I'm commanding the forces of Brian Boru, the man credited with breaking the hold of the Vikings over Ireland by decisively winning this battle. Hopefully I can match up to my historical counter-part!



    The fighting begins, but both sides have a large reserve of infantry not yet committed to the line. I try to position my men to take advantage of a couple of dips in the terrain. Units fighting uphill will always have a harder time of it. 



    Now the fighting is raging in earnest, units begin to waver and break all down the line. On my left flank I see an opportunity. A morale check cascade causes multiple enemy units to waver, and I have several strong infantry units on the far edge of the line. If I can hit the enemy just a couple more times they should go from bending to breaking.



    Success! The enemy's right flank flees the field and my strongest units are positioned to roll up the line. Although my center and right flank wavers off-camera, my forces manage to hold. Catching the entire enemy line in the flank as I'm about to do above is essentially game over. With no strong enemy reserve on hand to blunt my advance, my forces hack their way down the line, routing the enemy units one after another. The Vikings are driven from Ireland!

    Field of Glory II continues to entertain me even after a couple of years of playing off and on. I really wanted to enjoy the fist game in the series, but could never quite get into it. The sequel however gets me hooked every time I fire it up. I always want to take just one more turn, and see if this time I can finally crack the enemy line, or find out whether my flank can hold long enough for my overall strategy to come together. Wolves at the Gate doesn't fundamentally change anything about the game, but it does offer a new series of campaigns and scenarios to play around with. This game really is a massive sandbox, and more toys always makes the sandbox more fun!

    The DLC can be purchased directly from Slitherine/Matrix. It's also available on Steam and GoG.com. 

    - Joe Beard

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    THUNDER IN THE EAST from VICTORY POINT GAMES When I reviewed Nemo's War , I didn't think that Victory Point Games could su...

    THUNDER IN THE EAST THUNDER IN THE EAST

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

    2019

    THUNDER IN THE EAST

    THUNDER IN THE EAST
    from
    VICTORY POINT GAMES
    When I reviewed Nemo's War, I didn't think that Victory Point Games could surpass the level of quality shown in that game.  In some respects I was right. It's hard to imagine that the quality of artwork, the thickness of counters, the superb mounted game board and the glossy rule book could be improved on.  BUT, Thunder in The East [TitE] has certainly moved the goalposts in other areas of VPG's output.  

    This may be no surprise, considering that the game's designer is the legendary Frank Chadwick co-founder of GDW [Games Designers Workshop] back in the 70s when my boardwargaming days began.  Famed for an amazing diversity of games, perhaps two stand out: Traveller the iconic role-playing sci-fi and the Europa series covering WWII. 

    There can be no doubt that Thunder in The East is a proud descendant of that series.  This first instalment in Frank Chadwick's intended magnum opus series titled European Theater of Operations [ETO] is massive, just as its designer's ambitious intentions are massive.  There have been some quibbles on the various forums over whether it is a "monster" game or merely a "mini-monster" - let's just settle for it's BIG, BIG, BIG!  To be precise 124 cm x 95cm or, as the back of the box surprisingly tells us in these metric days, 49 inches x 41 inches!

    This superb map gives room to play out the whole of the WWII on the Russian Front from 1941-1944.  So, perhaps by the standards of 1973 when it took two massive games [Drang Nach Osten and subsequently Unentschieden] made up of 9 maps in total to cover the same geographic area and timescale, TitE is a not as physically daunting, but it still means that my camera couldn't do full justice to the map!

    Let me say that I love the assembled maps, for the manageable size [I haven't had to have my arms forcibly extended], clarity of detail, colour blends and perfect alignment. There has been, in my opinion, undue criticism of the fact that the smaller south eastern map's colour match is slightly lighter.  I've found it neither any hindrance to play nor to the overall aesthetics of the game.

    Unfortunately some copies have had misaligned counter printing which in our age of immediate reaction tends to produce intemperate online postings.  A simple request to VPG is the solution, not an online outburst.  From a range of companies over the years I've experienced everything from missing counters,maps and a rulebook as well as misaligned counters [in that last case, over 50% of the reverse of all my counters in the original Streets of Stalingrad].  It's rare that a polite request for replacements doesn't do the trick, even back in the days when an airmail had to wing its way to the USA, wait for a similar reply and then await shipping!  

    My own copy, as with all the gamers I know who've bought a copy has been perfect and once more they are substantial with pre-rounded edges and great to look at.

    Considering the number - 12 full sheets [plus a very small 13th sheet!] and the number that are combat units, I'm very grateful for the simple, large figures and even more so for the decision to have three sizes of counter.  More about those later.

    However, it has to be said that this is not a game that can be managed without considerable devotion of space and time to the undertaking.  Even with my special boards covering 64 inches by 42 inches, I can accommodate only the maps, the two Faction Displays and the Air Display.  This leaves three further display sheets to be laid out, never mind the six further Player Aids [3 per player] that don't have to be spread out with markers on them, but contain a serious amount of double-sided information essential to play!


    Just one double-sided play aid


    Three display mats for markers
    So, TitE is for those lucky enough to have a room or "significant" space where the game can be left undisturbed for a period of time or, like myself, willing to wait for the convention weekends or longer when this type of game frequently makes its appearance, often with two players per side.  I should point out that this sort of time scale [from one to several days] is needed just to play one of the six scenarios!  Should you be inclined to attempt the whole war on the Eastern Front, then book your holidays or be prepared and able to leave the game set up permanently to be returned to for weekly sessions. 

    Having looked at the WHEN and WHERE of playing this game, we inevitably, we come to HOW.  In other words, the rule book and BOOK is what it is.  I have held and learned longer rulebooks, but rarely one of this quality.  In fact, it reminds me of many of my Osprey military books, except that the page size is much larger!  




    It is high gloss with many examples and illustrations.  White space is used to great benefit, but much of the text is in a print size that my optician's form classes as the smallest readable!


    Though this may cause some problems for aging eye-sight, a number of factors have been introduced to attempt to make this a workable document.  First is the simple and familiar decision to divide the rules into three sections: Standard [60 pages], Optional 13 pages and Campaign 15 pages.  In addition, a small number of both Optional and Campaign rules, colour-coded with yellow and orange backgrounds, are incorporated in the Standard Rules.  This is a great idea and is carefully explained.  



    I just wish that, having established these essential colour codings,  the rules format hadn't then gone on to use a series of other coloured backgrounds purely to highlight features - e.g. overcast weather rules are printed against a grey background and mud rules against a brown background.  Another slight puzzle: why ZOCs and the Sequence of Play get labelled Big Ideas Part I may make some sense, but do Capturing Objectives and Weather Effects deserve to be considered as Big Ideas Part II?

    There is a vast amount of information to be absorbed - another reason why playing in teams has its advantages.  Two heads or rather four are definitely better than one when it comes to remembering all the minutiae of detail.  Nevertheless, at the heart of the game, two basic ideas go a long way to grounding the weight of rules in a very manageable starting point.


    Just over half the counters in TitE
    This is where the concept of having three distinctive sizes of unit counter comes in.  This combines with an excellent stacking rule that allows a maximum of three units in a hex, with one of each type in total or any equivalent combination.  So, your choice is simple from the following:

    1 large/1 medium/1 small 
    2 medium/1 small 
    1 medium/2small 
    1 large/2 small 
    3 small.

    First of all this keeps the board very clean and clear despite a large number of counters.  No tottering stacks here, thank you, and counters are easy to distinguish, organise and physically pick up and move on the map.  The inclusion of large circular markers for HQs looks stunning and is another great help to game play.  Smaller conventional square HQ markers are provided for those who prefer them, but I like the ability to see at glance exactly where my HQs are! 

    The second basic idea to help ease play is the limit on how many units can attack through each hex side.  Again ultra-easy - 

    one Large + one Small 
    or one Medium + one Small 
    or two Small

    In the past, I've watched players coping [or not coping] with high stacks and sorting through endlessly to find just what they need and consequently have been discouraged from participating in many another monster game.  TitE does not have that effect on me.  

    Nevertheless, there are many rules to absorb and I'm not sure that having to declare all Combats first [including placing helpful little odds ratio markers], before executing any of them is one of my favourites.  I was also surprised to find that Air Combat needs seven pages of rules, while Ground Combat takes only four pages!  Certainly happy that the Ground Combat rules are so compact.  So, why make the air rules so lengthy and detailed?  Thankfully, the Naval rules come in the Optional section.


    In fact, the rules in total are for me a mixture of pluses and minuses in their scale and scope.  All are well explained and thorough. Movement and Combat, the heart of the game, are succinct and excellent.  If only other areas could have been dealt with in the same way.  More than anything it is the thirteen pages of Logistics that seem disproportionately long.  Covered are such aspects as Supply, Repair & Recovery, Unit Substitution, Purchase with Repair Points, Building and Improving Pieces.  Familiar aspects from many games I've played and each does its job well, but there's a lot to step through.  At times I feel that the trees are slightly obscuring the forest.

    However, the Reference Book is an excellent help in keeping me sane, while I negotiate the paths of the rule book.

    Many games have an alphabetic glossary, but usually it is at most two or three pages long incorporated into the rule book. TitE's is 12 pages long in its own separate booklet and as wonderfully glossy as all the written material in this game.  Besides, nearly every single term has a small colour picture to illustrate it.  It's a great asset, as is the next item, the Scenario book.

    This is a further substantial 40 pages leading through the six scenarios from Operation Barbarossa to Operation Bagration. In turn, each one details scenario length and starting weather, special rules and victory conditions and then starting set-up and is rounded off with additional deployment information for when using Optional rules or playing the Campaign game and finally ends with a detailed picture of the Economic Mat [again only used when playing the campaign game].


    To turn to a practical note, over and above the depth of rules, are the dice in the game, ranging from normal D6s, special support dice related to Ground Combat and a set of yellow dice used as a very helpful visual aid on the map that assists in the identifying and executing of Supply.
    Normal D6s and Special Combat Support Dice
    Special Dice to aid Supply Logistics
    The final element in the game play is a substantial deck of Event cards that I like, both for the additional historical details and potential uncertainties they always bring, but even more so for how they are used.  This is no simple sequence of turn a card over and apply its effects.  Both players have a hand of cards which they can use to play in the appropriate Phases of the game.  Just as I welcomed the three sizes of unit counter, I'm equally impressed by the idea of having three sizes of Event: Large, Medium and Small and how to combine them.
     You can imagine how this will be used!

    Again great quality, with the bonus that I received the tuck-boxes to store the various cards in -  a very kind extra from VPG who, as always, I have to thank for their providing a review copy.

    So, my final thoughts are that Thunder In The East is definitely a manageable monster; the six Scenarios step you through each stage of the Great Patriotic War with map and counters that are just beautiful to look at; excellent core rules for movement and combat and stacking concepts that all make for ease of play, while logistics and the air rules are perhaps over detailed.   

    And not to forget that this is just the first step in the ETO series  - next up, though still in its playtesting stage, will be Vol II: The Middle Sea, where those Optional naval rules will become even more significant!



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