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BATALJ is a simultaneous turn-based tactical game about 1v1 combat with each player leading their own custom built team of units. ...

BATALJ BATALJ

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

February 2019

BATALJ







BATALJ is a simultaneous turn-based tactical game about 1v1 combat with each player leading their own custom built team of units. The title is the first game from studio Fall Damage and shows a lot of promise, but may need some more work to be given a full recommendation. 

BATALJ features combat that in some ways resembles the new XCOM games, where each of your units can move and do one action each turn. The twist is that each player chooses the movement and actions of each of their units in secret, and then once both players hit go, the action plays out. The units do not act all at once, however, instead they go in a specific order that is known to the players while choosing moves. This opens up some serious strategy calculations. Do you go for the sure kill, knowing your units can act before their hapless victim gets a chance to escape? Or do you try to predict your opponent's actions, hitting them where they least expect it? Of course, you might be totally wrong, and watch helplessly as your units whiff at empty air. You also need to think about future turns when making your choices. Different actions incur different amounts of delay, which is what makes the overall unit order get rearranged each turn.




 All of this action takes place in one of several small arenas, with three objective locations that the players must fight over. If you end a turn with more locations in your control, you get a point. 5 points wins the match. A location can be contested by both players, which means no one gets control of that spot. The really interesting thing to me was that control of more objectives only ever gives you one point. So, if you have control of one objective, and no one controls the others, you get one point. If you control two or even all three of the locations, you still only get one point. This creates the opportunity for a variety of strategies. You can try to use fast units to spread out and have a presence across the board, or you can move your units in a blob and try to crush whatever resistance they encounter, or a hundred other approaches in between. Each side gets some reinforcements at specific intervals, and depending on how the battle is going you might want to bring in a healer to fix up your hero, or a unit to counter whatever strategy the enemy is using. Everything, of course, depends on what units you have and what the enemy has. Being a novice, I just picked a variety of units and then figured out a strategy as I went!


There are three different factions of units in the game, each with a different theme and set of heroes. There is a default squad for each faction, but the real tinkering fun comes from assembling your own squads and thinking about how different units could work together to create some serious combat synergy. In my relatively brief time with the game I did not get into the nitty gritty details, but I did play several matches and studied the various abilities available to each unit. Each faction has a half dozen or so different unit types, and each of those units has its own set of two to four possible actions it can take during a turn. Many units also have passive buffs that shape their role on the battlefield. If you are a fan of MOBA's you will immediately feel comfortable with this aspect of the game. Most units have some kind of basic attack, and then either more powerful attacks or support type abilities. There are units to heal, units to take out an enemy's armor, units that can cloak, some that can fly, some have area denial weapons while others focus a ton of damage on one target. There is a lot of variety here and simply exploring what the various units are capable of will take some time.


So, it might sound like I have nothing bad to say about this game, but, unfortunately, we are about to get to that part. The actual gameplay is very solid, the problem is that you might have a hard time finding an opponent. BATALJ is meant to be a competitive game, focused on 1v1 matches between human players. The game has some lovely stat screens and battle logs, and promises that ranked play is on the way. However, it isn't clear whether the player base is there to support it. I was able to find several matches via the automatic matchmaking, but at times I was stuck waiting for a while with no opponent to be found. The forums aren't very busy, and Steam Charts shows that only a handful of people are playing at any given time. Normally, I wouldn't knock a game for having a small player population (some of my favorite games over the years are pretty obscure), but in this case, if you don't have a reliable supply of opponents, you can't really play the game. There is no single player mode to speak of. There is a tutorial against some bots, which I found enjoyable the first time through, but after that you have to go online.


I really, really hope the game finds a player base, because the developers seem enthusiastic and responsive to player concerns. Perhaps a few more updates and greater awareness will draw people into the game, but I fear it might be a tough sell without any kind of single player gameplay. Another option would be adding asynchronous matches as seen in Frozen Synapse. That would make it a lot easier to find and play a match, even with relatively few players out there. 


As it stands, I would like to recommend this game, but can only do so with the massive caveat that this is an online only game with a very small player base, which may or may not be around in a couple months. I hope this doesn't discourage the developers, because they clearly put in a lot of work into this and released a game that is fun to play and looks great. Hopefully they can find a path forward that will bring in the player base that this game needs. 


BATALJ is available on Steam
Developer/Publisher: Fall Damage


- Joe Beard

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Heroes of the Motherland With the add-ons Dark July 43 - X-Maps for Dark July 43 by Lock 'N Load Publishing ...

Heroes of the Motherland with add-ons Dark July 43 - X-Maps for Dark July 43 by Lock 'N Load Publishing Heroes of the Motherland with add-ons Dark July 43  - X-Maps for Dark July 43 by Lock 'N Load Publishing

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

February 2019

Heroes of the Motherland with add-ons Dark July 43 - X-Maps for Dark July 43 by Lock 'N Load Publishing












 An Argosy of wargaming goodness arrived on my porch a while ago. There is just so much that comes with Heroes of the Motherland that I have a real problem figuring where to start, and what to write about. I received not only HOTM, but also two add-ons for it. They are  Dark July 43: The Battles for Prokhorovka Third Edition, and also the X-Maps for Dark July. 



HOTM Counters


 The Eastern Front in World War II is probably the one campaign that has more games, tactical, operational, and strategic than any other. The types of weapons and troops you can use in this game span the depth and breadth of the war. Tanks that were built before the war to King Tigers and JS-2s are present for your gaming pleasure.




HOTM Maps


 LNL's premise for their tactical World War II era games is simple but breathtaking in scope. They have developed a core set of rules that span the years 1930-1959. This core set allows gamers to learn it, and then adds a few extra rules for each game. That means that gamers can game all of the conflicts and campaigns during those years with a single rules set. This has been tried in the past, but to my knowledge only for Ancient and Medieval gaming. The game scale is fifty meters wide to the hex. You play with squads, half-squads, and vehicle crews etc. 



Scenario

 The Core Manual is sixty-six pages long. However, do not be discouraged. It is written in large script and has many pictures and examples throughout. The Module Rules and Scenario Booklet really has only four pages of rules to learn. This is how encompassing the Core Rules are. They are also constantly being updated. The rules are up to version 5.0 now.

 The game comes with:

14 x Color Geomorphic  8.25 x 12.75 Maps.
5 x CounterSheets with over 550+ counters. 
1 x Color Core system manual featuring the latest v4.1 rules.
1 x Color Game Module rules,  Examples of play with 12 scenarios and One Campaign.
3 x 11 x 17 Player Aid Cards.
2 8 x 11 Player Aid Cards.
1 x Heavy Duty box.
 


HOTM Campaign


 The sequence of play is:

Rally Phase
Operations Phase
Fire Combat
Movement
Laying Smoke
Melee Combat
Administrative Phase


 I really like this system for tactical gaming. That does not mean that I do not own and like others. You can ask my wife. I think it is a losing proposition to compare games against each other. Much like a parent, you can find good and bad traits in your children, or a game's rules and mechanics. We are Wargamers, so we buy Wargames, many, many Wargames. Back to HOTM, the rules have been worked on to be streamlined and as easy to understand as possible. The setup of the rules and scenarios are done in a sequence to make it easier on the gamer to learn.

 The components that come with any Lock 'N Load game are some of the best on the market. The counters are extremely well done, and for those who cannot play without it, they come already clipped. Almost all of them fall out of the sprues with nothing extra stuck to them, or the need for cleaning them up. The maps are once again well done. They are on thick paper stock. Some people prefer mounted maps, but I can play on either surface without giving it a second thought. 









 The Dark July module adds in the seminal fight between the SS divisions and the Russian forces rushing forward to make sure that operation Zitadelle is a German defeat. The module is a bit misnamed because there is also a scenario about the Battle for Ponryi on the northern flank of Zitadelle. So this means you can see how effective Ferdinands really were. There are only two pages of rules that come with Dark July, and some are optional. This is what Dark July comes with:

1 x 34 x 22 Color Map.
2 x Color Geomorphic 12.75 x 8.25 Maps.
1 x Counter Sheet with over 80+ counters.
1 x Color Module rules, Examples of play with 6 Scenarios.
1 x 8 x 11 Player Aid Cards.


                              

                                  Dark July Counters


 The X-Maps add-ons that Lock 'N Load sells are worth every penny. The maps are the same as the ones that come with the module, for example Dark July. The difference is that the hexes are much larger. The standard maps in Dark July are 8.25" X 12.75". The X-Maps come in at 11" X 17".
So you get the same maps, but are able to play with less clutter, which is always a good thing. So if you do buy any of the main game's modules I suggest that you do invest in the X-Maps for it. The X-Maps for Dark July contain:

One Color Two Part 51 x 33 Map.Two Color 11 x 17 Maps.

One 11 x 17 Player Aid Card.






 Great system, great components (besides the lack of mounted maps, which again I could care less about), if you have any interest in the theater I think it is time and money well spent investing in HOTM. Thank you Lock 'N Load for letting me review all of this gaming goodness.

X-Maps Size

Robert

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Fighting Formations Grossdeutcshland Division's Battle for Kharkov by GMT Games   The new histories show us t...

Fighting Formations Grossdeutcshland Division's Battle for Kharkov by GMT Games Fighting Formations Grossdeutcshland Division's Battle for Kharkov by GMT Games

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

February 2019

Fighting Formations Grossdeutcshland Division's Battle for Kharkov by GMT Games



by







 The new histories show us that Kursk was not the blood letting for the German Army that we were led to believe. The defensive battles after Kursk are really where the Wehrmacht was steadily depleted of machines and trained men. This add-on lets you game the Third Battle of Kharkov, but also a few of the defensive battles going into early 1944.


Box Contents


 This is a list of what comes in the box:

  • 1 back-printed 8.5” x 11” player aid card
  • 3 back-printed 22˝ x 34˝ mapsheets
  • 2 back-printed 22˝ x 17˝ mapsheets
  • a half sheet of die-cut counters
  • a 24-page Playbook 


Counters

 Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Division's Battle for Kharkov is an add-on to the original very well received game. The included battles show the deterioration of the German Army's quality and quantity. The game covers scenarios that show German victory and defeat historically. The original game was designed by Chad Jensen of Combat Commander game. This add-on was done by Bryan R. VanNortwick. The units that are added to the base game are:

  • The Soviet SU-76M “Suka” open-topped assault gun;
  • SU-85 tank destroyer;
  • T-34C;
  • T-26b light tank;
  • The German Mk VI Tiger I
  • PzIII M;
  • 7.5cm PaK 40 anti-tank gun;
  • Low quality troops representing GD artillerymen forced to fight on the front lines





Play


  This is a great addition to an already great game. Gamers have been clamoring for more in the series because it is so good. Hopefully we will see more Division battles start to show up as was originally planned. Thank you GMT Games for letting me review this product.

 This is a link to my review of the base game:

Robert

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Overview Fury of Dracula is a one against many cooperative deduction game in which the team are trying to find and defeat the one who i...

Fury of Dracula Third Edition Fury of Dracula Third Edition

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

February 2019

Fury of Dracula Third Edition

Overview

Fury of Dracula is a one against many cooperative deduction game in which the team are trying to find and defeat the one who is playing Dracula.  To win, Dracula is attempting to prey on the weaker hunters and increase his influence throughout Europe.

The game is played out on a map board containing 70 locations in which Dracula can hideout and players can search and recover, amongst other things. The game has elements of deduction, bluffing and combat, all wrapped up in a deliciously-dark and thematic experience. 

You can watch my unboxing video of the Third Edition of Fury of Dracula from Wizkids below:



Gameplay

The game will be played over a series of rounds until either Dracula has been defeated/killed? (the players win) or he has achieved a total of 13 influence points (Dracula wins).  Players' primary method to defeat Dracula is through finding his current hideout, fighting and wounding him. Dracula can be quite vulnerable and will take significant damage when multiple hunters attack him. However, Dracula's influence comes from a variety of sources which also includes fighting hunters.  There is a delicate balance for both teams (the hunters and Dracula) to consider in this game.
Game ready to play
The game consists of a Hunter Phase and a Dracula Phase until the victory conditions have been met. During the Hunter Phase, players will all take a day action, and once the day is over, they will take a night action. Effectively each hunter has two turns in which to prepare for the Dracula phase, in which he simply moves to a new location. 

Every time Dracula moves, he places a new Location card i.e. where he's moved to, and an Encounter card onto his Trail. From the start of the game, the trail will grow from just 1 location to 6 locations indicating where Dracula has been and currently is. If the Hunters haven't found the first location placed it will slide off the board and the encounter card will 'mature'. A maturing vampire encounter card will cause Dracula's influence to increase by 2.  
'Learn to Play' book
Every time a hunter travels to a location which is on Dracula's trail, Dracula may immediately Ambush the hunter by revealing the Encounter card in that location.  This will discard the encounter card and prevent it from maturing later. If Dracula doesn't Ambush the players may surmise that it is a baby vampire and searching for it will prevent Dracula's influence increasing at a later date. However, Dracula has lots of opportunities to dupe the hunters in how he reacts to his trail being revealed. 

If the Hunters are ever in the same location as Dracula, they will have a combat round. Combat is resolved after the Hunter's Day actions have been completed and then again after Dracula's actions have been completed.  The timing of the combat rounds needs to be carefully considered for when players elect to supply, rest and move.
Three rounds of combat, Dr John Sewards combat card has been blocked by Dracula (matching icon) another combat round will begin.
Combat is resolved similarly by both sides; they take a certain amount of combat cards into their hands and reveal one card. If the icons on the revealed cards don't match then Dracula will perform his cards action, and then the hunter's action will resolve. If they match then only the hunter's card will resolve. Dracula will never stand toe-to-toe with a hunter for long though, eventually, he must escape from combat, unless he is going to defeat the hunter else he will lose the game

There are a myriad of extras rules that I could explain but this review would get far too long without actually reviewing the game.  The gameplay does suffer a little bit from a slow-burn at the beginning but once it gets going it is one of the most cinematic experiences I have ever had with a group of players playing a board game.  The tension inexorably ramps up to the endgame which, in my plays up to now, have always been very tense, due to the fact that Dracula or the Hunters had victory just within their grasp.
Where is he?
There is a fair bit of downtime for the Dracula player between his turns but as the Hunter players are openly discussing their plans it is not really downtime. In fact, it is a perfect opportunity to listen and goad the Hunters as they stumble around the board.  There is as much gameplay off the table whilst discussing plans as there is on the board. Many cooperatives have this feature but I have never played one in which I found myself pseudo-roleplaying my role just a little bit. That is a testament to the high-level of immersion that this game has.

Components

The fourth edition is printed by WizKids and comes with painted miniatures which as far as I can tell is the only difference between the third and this version.  

Any time a Hunter takes a supply action, a card is drawn from the item deck. During a day supply action, this is from the top of the deck where players will see whether it is a Hunter card or not. If it is a night action the card is blind-drawn from the bottom of the deck. If it is not a Hunter card then the card will be given to Dracula and may also resolve immediately. There is an element of push-your-luck as well in this action and it keeps the Dracula player involved even more during the Hunters turns. However, in my copy, the backs of the two card-types have vastly different colours so we needed to keep the cards very neatly stacked to prevent the Hunters from seeing which card type was on the bottom. 
Should be the same colour
The rulebook comes in two parts, a Learn to Play and Rules Reference which I do like. I think you can get up and playing much quicker by having rulebooks like this. The Learn to Play is very nicely illustrated with a large number of examples included.  The reference book is just dense walls of text but it is perfect for looking up edge cases not covered by the rules.  I can't think of any time that a gameplay question wasn't resolved by either the learn to play (most commonly this) or the Rules Reference (mostly just for clarification).

The artwork throughout the game and all components are nicely thematic and if you're a fan of the original novel or the vampiric-genre then you should appreciate not only the artwork but the chosen Hunters and their special abilities. Van Helsing is included and he is the Hunter's primary damage dealer; Mina Harker is also a hunter but should rarely be in combat against Dracula but her special ability lets her work together i.e. in the same location as another hunter, to quickly whittle down the possible locations of Dracula.
Cards and Components

I also had a printing error on the player's boards regarding their hand size, but this is easily remembered.

Criticisms

The game can drag for the first few turns. This is when Dracula is still building the Trail and there is little for the Hunters to work with without an element of luck. What makes this game really shine is tension, which is largely absent for the first 20 minutes or so. There's still plenty of things for all players to be doing, i.e. collecting item cards, getting tickets, incubating vampire babies etc. but in the first game I played with a new group they almost bailed before it got going. They were glad they didn't/I forced them not to.

The game does stay on the table for a while. If both the Dracula and Hunter players are familiar with the game, it will probably take the full three hours with both teams finishing within one point or so of each other. If one side doesn't know what they're doing it will probably still take three hours but finish much earlier in game-play terms i.e. early on week 2 instead of week 3 or later but after three hours have elapsed.

Conclusion

There is a reason this game has had three reprints after the original release in 1987. It is an excellent game that combines many popular boardgame mechanics into a finely balanced gameplay experience that plays best with 5 players.  It is also good with 3 players and playable with 2.  I didn't like it as much with 4 players though as one player is controlling more Hunters than another which unbalanced the game a little. 

Lots of games have tense endgame but I haven't experienced one as dramatic as this one. Often in a standard 'euro game' the tension comes from adding on your Victory points and bonus VPs on the score track at the end of the game. In this game (definitely not a euro game) the tension starts about 30 minutes in and steadily ramps up to the conclusion 2 and a half hours later.  It is an intense experience. I would even say that it is a high-stakes game...

The game arguably provides a more cinematic experience than going to the cinema and more suspense than any whodunit novel. It just may be a perfect blend of board-game where you're constrained by rules which tells a story without any narrative.  After you've played you will feel exhausted just as you would having traipsed across Europe for the last three weeks hunting and being hunted by Dracula.

Most game-stores will have a copy of this game in and even if you're not interested in this game, you can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to find your nearest game store.

Publisher: Wizkids
Website: https://wizkids.com/fury-of-dracula/
Players: 2 - 5
Designer: Stephen Hand
Playing time: 2 - 3 hours

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Combat Mission Shock Force 2 by Battlefront  So I was given Combat Mission Shock Force 2 to review. I was a...

Combat Mission Shock Force 2 by Battlefront Combat Mission Shock Force 2 by Battlefront

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

February 2019

Combat Mission Shock Force 2 by Battlefront



by











 So I was given Combat Mission Shock Force 2 to review. I was absolutely horrified. The last time I installed one of Battlefront's games my life changed. My ride to hell started out slow. First I bought one of their games, and then it came time to install it. Oh, I had read the different posts about Battlefront, but I figured how bad could it be. I mean if the game doesn't work I'll just get my money back, right? So it started. I couldn't get the serial to work. Then I opened the portal. You see, I just hadn't believed that any contact (be it phone or electronic) would place you in Battlefront's clutches. Much like the word Beetlejuice it opens the gates of hell. First my bank account was drained by those sly devils. It was kind of amazing because the card I used was not attached to it. Then I noticed their were a ton of flies in the house. Now, I was starting to get worried. Then I got the email from Battlefront about the serial. The moment I clicked on it to open it two draped figures appeared in my computer room. One announced himself as Mephistopheles, the other as Dante Alighieri. Okay now I started to panic. The flies were starting to get thicker. I cannot express in words the horrors I had to endure. I would need the skills of Lovecraft to even start to explain them to you. I can tell you that much like a country song, my dog died, and so did my pickup. I have never gotten the game to work, but after having a priest bless the CD case and wrapping it in garlic it is now buried safely in the backyard.






 So, now back to reality. I believe I have purchased at least eight different products from Battlefront in total. This does not count the different upgrades that I have also purchased. The work that goes into their games is pretty amazing and while it would be nice to get a bone from them now and again those coders have to eat too. I believe I had one problem with a serial number with an installed game, when their DRM was somewhat draconian. The problem was taken care of in one day by Elvis C., so I am at a loss over all of the hubbub at times. 






 So here we are with Combat mission Shock Force 2. I will admit that compared to the other titles I have purchased, the original Shock Force did not grab me and I did not play it much at all. Shock Force 2 is a different animal for me. Is it because of all of the upgrades to the engine in between, or is it just something battlefront did differently this time? I don't know. This version of the game is very engrossing to me. This is pretty amazing, because I am usually pretty blase about gaming after World War II. The visuals in all of the Combat Mission Game Engine 4 environments are pretty stunning.






 As far as game mechanics go I will go through the rundown, but if you are not new to wargaming, or haven't been living under a rock, it should be familiar. The game can either be played real-time or in WeGo 60 second segments. It is a tactical game that is played in the modern Middle East. Rather than rewriting it, I will list the games salient points from their website here:

  • Tactical warfare at battalion and below scale in a true 3D environment
  • Command individual vehicles, teams, and squads
  • Expansive simulation of "soft factors" such as Morale, Experience, and Leadership
  • Innovative systems portraying Fog of War, Spotting, Line of Sight, Command & Control, and Objectives
  • Unmatched realistic physics, ballistics, and battlefield effects
  • Fight in a wide range of weather and lighting conditions, all of which realistically impact fighting abilities
  • Unique hybrid system for RealTime or WeGo (turn based) play
  • Full featured Editor for maps, scenarios, and campaigns
  • Quick Battle system sets up deliberate or randomized battles based on player specifications
  • Single player and head to head play, including Play By Email (PBEM)
  • Supported for the long haul with patches, upgrades, and expansions

 There is a demo you can try, and I will have a link to it at the bottom. If you want, you can also buy the game on a DVD and purchase a Combat Mission Game Engine Manual. The game can be bought with these modules:

Marines
British Forces
NATO




 For me, one of the big hurdles to get over is that this is not Grandpa's WW2. The lethality of modern warfare is shown in all of its potency. You cannot play the game as you would one of the World war II Combat Missions. Oh you could, but you will have smoking wrecks strewn about the battlefield in no time. These are some of the 'Special Features' Battlefront believes they have added to the game:


  • Detailed and realistic combat formation for the United States Army and Syrian Army
  • Two types of Syrian Unconventional Forces, Spies, IEDs, and VIEDs
  • One large campaign, a small training campaign, 20 standalone scenarios, and numerous Quick Battle maps.
  • On map mortars, mortar vehicles, drones, anti-aircraft fire, and other modern warfare features
  • Expanded arid combat environment, now including waterways, bridges, and other new terrain
  • Intricately detailed and highly realistic combat equipment for the United States Army and Syrian Army, including 41 vehicles and 35 assorted small arms and crew weapons.

  For the base game this is the TO&E:


US Army SBCT
  • Stryker Infantry Battalion
  • Stryker Infantry Battalion (MOUT)
  • Stryker Cavalry Troop
  • Stryker Antitank Company
  • Stryker Engineer Company
  • Supply Platoon
US Army HBCT
  • Combined Arms Battalion
  • Combined Arms Battalion (MOUT)
  • Armored Cavalry Troop
  • Engineer Company
  • Supply Platoon
Syrian Army
  • Republican Guard Mech Infantry Battalion (BMP)
  • Republican Guard Tank Company
  • Republican Guard Recon Company
  • Tank Company
  • Reserve Tank Company
  • Static Tank Battery
  • Special Forces Company
  • Special Forces Engineer Platoon
  • Special Forces Antitank Platoon
  • Mech Infantry Battalion (BMP)
  • Mech Infantry Battalion (BTR)
  • Reserve Mech Infantry Battalion (BMP)
  • Reserve Mech Infantry Battalion (BTR)
  • Reserve Motorized Infantry Battalion
  • Reserve Infantry Battalion
  • Militia Battalion
  • Recon Company
  • Reserve Recon Company
  • Self-Propelled ATGM Platoon
  • Reserve Self-Propelled ATGM Platoon
  • Antitank Platoon
Syrian Unconventional Forces
  • Fighter Command
  • Fighter Groups
  • Combatant Command
  • Combatant Groups
  • Spy Groups
  • VBIED Group
  • Wire IED Group
  • Radio IED Group
  • Cell IED Group
  • Technical Group
  • Transport Group                





  • Vehicles, Weapons, and Support

    US Army
    • M1A1HC Abrams (Heavy Common)
    • M1A1HC SA Abrams (Situational Awareness)
    • M1A2 Abrams
    • M1A2 SEP Abrams (Systems Enhancement Package)
    • M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)
    • M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV)
    • M7A3 Bradley Fire Support Vehicle (B-FIST)
    • M1064 Mortar Carrier
    • M1126 Stryker ICV (M2 50 cal)
    • M1126 Stryker ICV (Mk 19)
    • M1127 Stryker RV (M2 50 cal)
    • M1127 Stryker RV (Mk 19)
    • M1128 Stryker MGS
    • M1129 Stryker MCV
    • M1130 Stryker CV
    • M1131 Stryker FSV
    • M1132 Stryker ESV
    • M1134 Stryker ATGMV
    • M1114 HMMWV
    • M1114 HMMWV (M240B)
    • M1114 HMMWV (M2 .50 cal)
    • M1114 HMMWV (Mk 19)
    • M1152 HMMWV Expanded Capacity
    • M707 Scout Humvee
    Syrian Army
    • T-72M1V TURMS-T
    • T-72M1V
    • T-72M1
    • T-72M
    • T-72M (early)
    • T-62MV
    • T-62M
    • T-62-1975
    • T-62-1972
    • T-55MV
    • T-55-1974
    • T-55-1970
    • T-54B
    • BMP-2
    • BMP-2K
    • BMP-1P
    • BMP-1PK
    • BMP-1
    • BMP-1K
    • BRDM-2
    • BRDM-2 (AT-4)
    • BRDM-2U
    • BTR-60PB
    • BTR-60PBK
    • UAZ-469B
    Syrian Unconventional Forces
    • Pickup (PK)
    • Pickup (DSHKM)
    • Pickup (SPG-9)
    • Taxi (IED)
    • Pickup (IED)

     So, you can see that you have a ton of military hardware to play with, and this is just a list of what comes with the base game. There are other tactical games out and about, but for me the different Combat Mission games is what I always come back to. I could go on and on about what comes with the game and the modules, but your best course of action is to head there and check it out yourself. Remember there is a demo (somewhat strange in this day and age, but welcome) for you newbies or old hands to get some hands on time with the game.

     This is the link to the demo:
    https://www.battlefront.com/shock-force-2/cmsf2-base-game/?tab=demo
     This is link to the games main page:





    Robert
















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Against the Odds Magazine #48 Apocalypse in the East and Balck Friday    ATO was unable to send me the #48 iss...

Against The Odds Magazine #48 Apocalypse in the East and Balck Friday Against The Odds Magazine #48 Apocalypse in the East and Balck Friday

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February 2019

Against The Odds Magazine #48 Apocalypse in the East and Balck Friday














 ATO was unable to send me the #48 issue magazine, but they were able to send me both of the games from it. One game is about the fighting on the Eastern Front in December 1942. The next game is about the Rise of the First Caliphate in the years 646-656 A.D.

 We will start with the smaller game first; this is the Eastern Front game. General Hermann Balck was one of only twenty-seven officers to receive the Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds of the RitterKreuz (Knights Cross). In the game, the Soviets were trying to capture the airfields being used to supply the German troops in Stalingrad. On Christmas Day 1942, Balck's Panzer Division almost totally destroyed a Soviet Tank Army. This game comes with:

8.5" X 11" Map
100 die-cut counters
Rule Book 
8.5" X 11" Page of Charts and notes



Balck Friday Map

 The sequence of play is:

Air and Artillery Unit Determination Phase
Supply Determination Phase
Operations Phase
 A. Fire Combat
 B. Movement Only
 C. Movement and Fire
 D. Entrench
 E. Rally
End Phase



Balck Friday Counters


 The game is based on a chit pull system. The designer calls the chits 'Formation Activation Markers'. There are rules covering supply, stacking, and reinforcements. The game is only thirteen  turns long. Play takes 30-60 minutes per game. I was able to get a few games in and I like the game and the rules. The game shows what the German Army was still capable of at that time. Even in a situation where they were heavily outnumbered, the Germans were still able to mete out a large amount of damage to the Russian Bear. The game mechanics show this, so a good German player, although in a tight spot, can still win the game outright. Victory is won by the accumulation of Victory Points. These are given for eliminated enemy units, as well as for control of various hexes. The map is sparse, but works well for the terrain the battles were fought in. The counters are easy to read and self-explanatory.







 Apocalypse in the East is a totally different animal. I have to give tons of Kudos to ATO for publishing this game. The early history of Islam is not a subject that we in the West know much about. The rise of Islam took place right at the same time that the Byzantines and Sassanids had fought each other to exhaustion. The wave of Islam was able to very effectively make use of religious and other cultural differences that affected both empires. The game takes place during the time of the third of the Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs) Uthman ibn Affan (ibn means 'son of' in Arabic). So, let us get on with the game.



Islamic Counters

Byzantine Counters

 These are what come with the game:


Map - One full color 22"x34" mapsheet
Counters - 200 assorted full color die-cut pieces
Rules length - 12 pages
Charts and tables - 2 pages
Complexity - Low
Playing time - 3 to 5 hours
How challenging is it playing solitaire - Average
 The sequence of play is:
A) Administration phase
 Events Table Segment
 Generate Replacements Segment
 Maintain Fleets Segment
 Mode Adjustment Segment
 Attrition Segment
B) Muslim Sea Movement Phase
C Byzantine Sea Movement Phase
D) Byzantine Patrol Movement Phase
E) Muslim Land Movement Phase 
F) Byzantine Land Movement Phase\
Next Turn
 

 The Byzantine player wins if he controls Constantinople at the end of the game, or kills Mu' awiyah ibn Abi-Sufyan. The Muslim player wins the moment he captures Constantinople.

 Some people might be surprised (I know I was) about how much sea movement and warfare took place this early in the wars between Islam and Byzantine Empire. This age also saw the creation or remembrance of the terror weapon 'Greek Fire'. The exact recipe for this horrific weapon of war is lost to us, but scientists and historians working together have come up with several theories on the matter. Some historians believe that Greek Fire was the only thing that saved the Byzantine Empire at this time. The game comes with rules for its use.



Inset of the Apocalypse in the East map


 Sieges and assaults on towns/cities are a large part of the game. The Rulebook is well done and easy to read and understand. You are not lost in it trying to make up your own conclusions. The map is your normal magazine wargame type. It is highly functional, but maybe a bit dull or dark in the colors used. The counters for the most part are also well done, but some of the darker colors used on them caused me to have some problem reading some of them. One of the things that has always made wargaming magazines great is their courage in letting games from obscure periods see the light of day. I am sure some designers feel trapped in our sometimes 'Bulge or Gettysburg' world. Thank you Against The Odds for letting me review these two good, seemingly disparate, games.

Robert





  








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