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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

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

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.