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Night Fighter Ace Air Defense Over Germany 1943-44 by Compass Games    This is an unboxing and review of Nigh...

Nightfighter Ace: Air Defense Over Germany 1943-44 by Compass Games Nightfighter Ace: Air Defense Over Germany 1943-44 by Compass Games

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

April 2019

Nightfighter Ace: Air Defense Over Germany 1943-44 by Compass Games

Night Fighter Ace

Air Defense Over Germany 1943-44


Compass Games

 This is an unboxing and review of Nightfighter Ace from Compass games.  From the moment you open the box you will be astounded by both the amount and quality of the components that come with the game. BGG has a rating of 8.38 for the game right now, and I believe that is right on the money. This is a solitaire game with you playing the German aviator side.This is the product information:

  • Complexity: 6 out of 10
  • Solitaire Suitability: 10 out of 10
  • Time Scale: 3-4 days per Turn
  • Map Scale: Abstract
  • Unit Scale: individual aircraft, individual weapon systems, individual electronic systems, specific crew members, and ammo rounds
  • Players: one (with option for two or more)
  • Playing Time: two to three hours

This is what you get with the game:

  • One Countersheet of 9/16" unit-counters
  • Sixteen Aircraft Display Mats 8.5" x 11" (double-sided, 32 total)
  • Four Player Aid Cards 8.5" x 11"
  • One Combat Display Mat 8.5" x 11"
  • One Bomber Target Mat 8.5" x 11"
  • One Pilot Awards Display Mat 8.5" x 11"
  • One Air Operations Display Mat 11” x 17”
  • Forty Ace Pilot Cards
  • Sixty Combat Cards
  • Rules Booklet featuring extensive Historical Background
  • One Logsheet 8.5” x 11”
  • Two 6-sided and one 10-sided die

  The addition of a real logbook instead of just one page to copy is a great one.

 One of the game's greatest assets is the amount of different airplanes and variants of them that the player can use.
This is a list of them done by their availability:

Bf 110 F-4 - Start of Game
Bf 110 F-4a
Bf 110 F-4/U1
Bf 110 G-4/U1
Bf 110 G-4/U5
Bf 110 G-4/U6
Do-215 B-5
Do-217 J-2
Do-217 N-1/U1
Do-217 N-2/R22
He 219 A-0
Ju-88 C-6b
Ju-88 R-1
He 219 A-2
Bf 110 G-4a/R3
Bf 110 G-4b/R3
Bf 110 G-4c/R3
Bf 110 G-4d/R3
Ju-88 C-6c
He 219 A-5/R1
He 219 A-5/R2
He 219 A-5/R3
He 219 A-5/R4
He 219 A-7/R1
He 219 A-7/R2
He 219 A-7/R3
He 219 A-7/R4
Ta 154A-1
Ju-88 G-1
Ju-88 G-6b
Do 335B-2 - July 1944

  That is one long list.

 The game is really a very good simulation of this part of World War II, or at least it feels it. To me that is one of the biggest challenges to a game designer, to try and make the player feel that he is in that moment of time. The game is one of those that really draws the player in. You develop a interest in your made up or cardboard aviator. It helps that you can actually win medals etc. The component sheet below actually comes with a uniform where you can put the various medals your ace accumulates. This is a very nice touch. 

  The rulebook is up to the high standards of the other components. It is full color and is easy to read with many examples of how to play. Strangely for such an immersive game, the rules themselves are only sixteen pages long with another page for optional rules. A nice touch is that the back of the rulebook has an index of all the rules for finding them quickly if needed. The last part of the rulebook is an entire eight pages of:
Designer Notes
Historical Notes
The Top Five German Nightfighter Aces

 The optional rules allow you to play the game cooperatively or in competition. You can also play with 'Ace Pilot Cards' albeit starting earlier in their careers. One optional rule adds pilot fatigue to the game. There is also an 'Extremely Optional Rule'. I think this is the first game I have ever seen this in. You get the chance to kill Adolf Hitler when receiving one of the higher Knights Cross medals. 

 Theses are some of the skills your pilot and crew can increase during the game:

Radar Operation
Situational Awareness
Schräge Musik Gunnery
Situational Awareness

 Your pilot can win medals all the way through to the Knights Cross with Diamonds. 

Schräge Musik installed in a Bf110

 This next part I call: what the **** is Schräge Musik? Well, it's literal translation is 'Slanted Music'. This was the German phrase for Jazz Music. What does this have to do with the game? Well, Schräge Musik was the name of the cannons that we're usually slanted 70 degrees out of the top of the cockpit behind the pilot. You would fly below and slightly behind a bomber above you and aim for the wigs of the the Allied bomber. You did not aim at the fuselage due to the chance of setting off the bomb load.  Most if not all of the planes have at least one other crew member. He is especially useful once radar becomes a large part of the game. 

 Are you interested in the night fighting over Germany in World War II? If so, then buy the game. If you are interested in the aerial war, pick it up. If you just want to have an enjoyable solitaire experience, then the game is also for you. Compass games has become a powerhouse gaming company that has begun turning out excellent games at a fast rate. They also sponsor a gaming convention in Ct. in the fall. I went to it last year and was able to get some great deals on their games. Here is the link:

Compass Games Link:

Nightfighter Aces Link: 

I also did an unboxing of another excellent game from the Compass Games Red Poppies Campaigns: The Battle For Ypres:



Island of Fire The Battle for the Barrikady Gun Factory in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark    Death in a small pla...

Island of Fire: The Battle for the Barrikady Gun Factory in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark Island of Fire: The Battle for the Barrikady Gun Factory in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark

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

April 2019

Island of Fire: The Battle for the Barrikady Gun Factory in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark

Island of Fire

The Battle for the Barrikady Gun Factory in Stalingrad


Jason D. Mark

 Death in a small place would be a better title for this book. This is a reference book of the fighting around the Barrikady factory in Stalingrad. It is also much more than that. Reading the book also gives an overview of the entire battle from November 1942 until the bitter end. The author, Jason D. Mark, has become a specialist on the Battle of Stalingrad, and it definitely shows in this work.

 The book itself is a large, almost coffee table sized book. It is also long, as it is almost 600 pages in length. Almost every page has a photo of the men, machines, or aerial views of the battlefield. The author has also jammed it full of what is needed in every military history book- maps, and has them by the ton. This is especially needed to help the reader follow along with the actions that are described. The maps zoom down to house by house level, so you are never at a loss in following the attack and defense descriptions.

 For those of you who like personal accounts of the fighting, this book is a goldmine. For me, who for the most part eschews individual stories of battles, the book has enough overview and dry history to keep me interested. I have never been interested in where private Daniels slept the night before Waterloo. So for this book to have so many recollections and diary blurbs and still keep my attention on every page is quite an accomplishment. The book does almost too good a job in describing the hell on earth the combatants had to face, sometimes separated by floors or just a few feet. This book is so good I have gone out and purchased one of the author's other books, 'The Death of the Leaping Horsemen'.

 Even though I am very acquainted with the battle I was still rapt on every page by the story at this level. For anyone with even a slight interest in Stalingrad, this is a must buy. The book is a steal at its present price of $49.95. Thank you, Rowman & Littlefield for the chance to review this excellent book. I am looking forward to anything Mr. Mark will write next.

Island of Fire link:

Rowman & Littlefield link:



The Sniper Encyclopedia An A-Z Guide to World Sniping by John Walter      Once again a book I am reviewing ...

The Sniper Encyclopedia: An A-Z Guide to World Sniping by John Walter The Sniper Encyclopedia: An A-Z Guide to World Sniping by John Walter

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

April 2019

The Sniper Encyclopedia: An A-Z Guide to World Sniping by John Walter



 Once again a book I am reviewing has been misnamed. The Sniper Encyclopedia should be called 'a history of snipers and their weapons'. Almost half of the book is dedicated to just the weaponry of snipers going back a few hundred years.

 The book itself is over 300 pages long. The description reads:

750 Standard Entries
100 Extended Features And 'Top 20' Lists
Over 400 Biographies
200 Illustrations

 This is a one stop reference for almost anything to do with the sniper and his weapons. It is a pretty amazing piece of work. I am certain the author has done a ton of research, judging by the incredible volume of information listed in the book. The only problem some people may have is with his 'Top 20' lists. For male snipers he has Simo Häyhä listed fourth behind three renowned Russian snipers of World War II. Everything else I have read puts the Finn in first place by a wide margin. In my research of the list some people believe that some of the Russian 'kills' were exaggerated for propaganda purposes. I am in no way able to confirm or deny this. I am just adding this to inform the reader.

 A listing of some of the companies and rifles include:

German manufacturers' codes
Natalia Kovshova
Mannlicher sniper rifles
Minute of Angle
Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft  (Steyr)
Remington sniper rifles
Serdyukov & Kraskov sniper rifles
Trench rifles
Top twenty Vietnam snipers

 Ignoring the above possible argument point, the book is still the best one I have ever read in regards to snipers and sniper rifles. From Kentucky Long Rifles to today's 50 caliber extreme long range rifles, all of them are here. If you are interested in the history of sniping this is your book. If you are looking for Biographies of the top snipers then look no further. If the reader is looking for a detailed description of just their weapons, then again this is your book. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this great book.


Book: The Sniper Encyclopedia: An A-Z Guide to World Sniping
Author: John Walter
Publisher: Casemate Publishers


Campaign Eylau-Friedland by John Tiller Software     I have been waiting for this with bated breath for so ...

Campaign Eylau-Friedland by John Tiller Software Campaign Eylau-Friedland by John Tiller Software

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

April 2019

Campaign Eylau-Friedland by John Tiller Software



 I have been waiting for this with bated breath for so long that I should be a cadaver. All other battles, including my least favorite Waterloo, pale in comparision to Eylau, in my mind. The desperate battle in a snow storm is the stuff of legends. Augereau, who should have been on sick leave, is ordered by Napoleon to attack the Russians. In the swirling snow storm his corps is led astray into the belching mouth of numerous Russian artillery. His corps devastated, Napoleon then orders Murat to attack with all 10,000 of the available cavalry. The greatest cavalry charge in Napoleonic times then takes place. The Russian center is then sliced through. Numerous Russian units are ridden down or dispersed. Then the cavalry regroups in the middle of the Russian Army, and cuts its way back out. Now that would be something to see in CGI in a film. Then of course we have Friedland. The Russian general Count von Bennigsen loses all caution, and apparently his mind. He crosses a river into a bottleneck that not only has his army trapped by the river behind, but his two flanks are pretty much cut off from each other by the topography. He does this with Napoleon somewhere on the other side of the river. His attempt to sneak into the tiger cage works all too well. A rejuvenated Grande Armee proceeds to utterly destroy his army. Eylau is the first real time that Napoleon is held at bay by another army. It sent shock waves through Europe, until his completely lopsided victory at Friedland. The Russian troops who had earned a reputation in the Seven Years War as incredibly tough only add to their glory.

 So what comes in the game:


  • Twenty-two battles and over two-hundred and twenty scenarios, to include the battles of Eylau, Friedland, Heilsberg, Guttstadt, 1st and 2nd Ostroleka and Mohrungen
  • Tutorial scenario that helps the player learn the game system.
  • A wide range of scenarios which allow the players to command an entire army or just a few brigades.
  • A select group of campaign scenarios available for play as stand alone battles.
  • Bonus battles that add in forces that were not used in the campaign or standard scenarios.


  • The 1806 Winter Campaign - Includes the Battles of Pultusk and Golymin.
  • The 1807 Winter Campaign - Includes the Battle of Eylau.
  • The 1807 Spring Campaign - Includes the Battles of Heilsberg and Friedland.
  • The full 1806-07 Campaign - Covers the entire campaign in Poland.


  • Turn scale is either 10 or 15 minutes.
  • A Design folder includes files and information that will aid the customer in learning how to build their own scenarios.
  • A Terrain Effects Chart is included that helps the players determine the effects of terrain and the movement allowance of their units.
  • A Weapons Chart is included that allows the players to determine the range and effects of all weapons in the game.
  • Over sixty-two maps (to include submaps) are included covering the famous battles such as Eylau, Heilsberg and Friedland
  • Scenario and Campaign Editors.


  • New 2D Magnified view
  • Night turn length extended to 4 hours (240 minutes)
  • Maxium visibility range can be extended up to 180 hexes

I have had my say about the changes in the games since they came out. The graphics are totally updated and while not state of the art are still fully functional on 2D, and eye pleasing on 3D. I usually play on the 2D magnified view now, unless I need the big picture for a moment. As far as the AI, again I have pontificated enough about it. There are now many scenarios that were built from the ground up as single player ones. They are tough to win, and not because the computer cheats or has extra troops by the ton (this is the usual practice in computer games to try and make single player worthwhile). Napoleonic tactical warfare was a sophisticated game of rock, paper, and scissors. For those of us who are sticklers for historical battles down to the last musket and grenadier, this game delivers. The campaign games adds a little of what if for players who enjoy that aspect of a game. In a day and age when the amount of scenarios that come in a game can be counted on two hands, this game comes with over 220! To put that in layman's terms, that is enough to be stranded on a desert isle for a very loooong time.

 For those of us who suffer from enjoying reading an encyclopedia or a PDR (Physicians Desk Reference, yes I liked to read through it as a child), the game comes with all these extras:

Preview Documents

  • The Armies of Campaign Eylau-Friedland - pictoral display of the uniforms and soldiers of the various nations and minor allies which fought during the 1806-07 Polish Campaign.
  • The Battles of Campaign Eylau-Friedland - a listing of each historical battle in the game to include a jump map image, strength comparison and historical briefing.
  • Terrain Effects Chart - lists each terrain type and the movement costs for each troop type.
  • Weapons Effect Chart - lists all of the weapons in the game and their firepower value by range.
  • Parameter Data File Guide - breaks down each line in the PDT files and is for the customer in designing their own battles.
  • Situation Maps - helps the players understand the history of the campaigns in CEF and acquaints them with the locations where the battles were fought.
  • Order of Battle Guide - gives a detailed explanation of the units in the order of battle files.
  • Order of Battle Compendium - a PDF of all of the order of battle listings for the battles in CEF.
  • Campaign Eylau-Friedland Artwork - lists all of the units in the game and their location in the graphics files.
  • Leaderlist for Campaign Eylau-Friedland - lists all of the leaders in the game and their location in the leaders graphics file.
  • Turn Tracks - useful for the long battle and campaign scenarios.
  • Special Rules - used in the certain scenarios where certain restrictions need to be applied for more historically accurate game play.
  • NEW: Unit Listings for Campaign Eylau-Friedland - lists every unit's order of battle line entry for review by the players or in building new OB files for custom scenarios.

  So for those of us who are only happy when steeped in minutiae this is a game for us. For the casual gamer of Napoleonics, it has many shorter scenarios for your gaming pleasure. You can play by Direct-Play, Email, or Hot-Seat among others. I have been a fan of John Tiller games since they were first brought out by HPS (HPS Simulations). As I mentioned, the bar of the games keeps rising. Not only that, but all of the updates on the newer games are always implemented for the consumer on the older games. Imagine other companies updating almost twenty-year old software. Thank you, John Tiller Software for the chance to review my new favorite game of theirs.

This is a link to the game page:

A link to John Tiller Software:

A review of Petersburg from John Tiller Software:

A review of Panzer battles North Africa 1941 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software:

Review of Panzer Battles of Normandy by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software:

Review of Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software:




Mark H. Walkers Platoon Commander Deluxe The Battle of Kursk Tracks in the Mud The Battle of Kursk Strategy Guide by Fl...

Mark H. Walker's Platoon Commander Deluxe the Battle of Kursk With the Kickstarter Extras by Flying Pigs Games Mark H. Walker's Platoon Commander Deluxe the Battle of Kursk With the Kickstarter Extras by Flying Pigs Games

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

April 2019

Mark H. Walker's Platoon Commander Deluxe the Battle of Kursk With the Kickstarter Extras by Flying Pigs Games


 It's big, bad, and beautiful. It is also very easy to start playing. Flying Pigs hits another one out of the park with this one. I was sent the entire Kickstarter kit and caboodle by Flying Pigs to inspect, thank you very much, you self-propelled porcines. I will go through the three pieces separately in this review. What I received was:

Platoon Commander Deluxe: The Battle Of Kursk
Tracks In The Mud
Platoon Commander Deluxe: The Battle Of Kursk Strategy Guide

 The first thing I noticed when  opening the box is how extremely well done all the components are. The next thing I did was to pick up what I thought would be a heavy sturdy many paged rulebook. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be only nineteen pages long. Included in those pages are the twelve scenarios and the credits. The rules are only nine and a half pages long!!! How can a tactical game have only that many pages. Most tactical games have that many pages of errata. There are however many nuances in the rules that you have to carefully read. Take, for instance, one rule about stacking and movement. Rule 1.3 Stacking:
 "Up to two units may stack in a hex. Stacking limitations apply at all times". 
 This means that unlike many other games, stacking is not checked at the end of the turn. Only two units may be in any hex at one time during the full turn. So you cannot park two units in that hex, and then continue to move other units through that hex. So as the Strategy Guide says, "be careful about causing traffic jams". 

 You can see the sequence of play on the following sheet.

 This is what comes in the box:

252 colorful, one inch square die-cut counters
Two mounted 17" x 22" geomorphic game maps
18 playing cards
3 x player's aid cards
Full-color rules and scenario booklet

 The game plays like you would expect. The rules are easy to pick up, and you will be deciding the fate of your troops in Operation Citadel in  no time. Now, don't think that the brevity of the rules leaves you with a simple game. The rules and game give you the full panoply of a tactical World War II game. The cards can be used for barrages and for aerial strikes among other options. Here is a list of the card options.

 The game allows you to play with Tigers, Ferdinands, and Panthers along with the "animal killer" Su-152. So now we go onto the expansion Tracks in the Mud. Ah, the smell of cardboard representing heavy metal! This comes with this list of bad boys to play with:

King Tiger
Easy-Eight Sherman's
Two what if American versus Russian scenarios
Six scenarios in all

 This is just the icing on the cake. The addition of the ability to play with these monsters is a tactical dream come true. 

  With this already great pack you also get the The Battle of Kursk Strategy Guide. This guide is even longer than the rules and scenario booklet. Stacking, close assault, and fire combat etc. are gone through so that the player is spoon fed what he needs to know. Although to be honest, anyone who has played a tactical game or two should get the hang of the game in no time flat.

 The game play is abstracted so that it gives you a great tactical feel without getting all bogged down in the rules. The close combat rules seem to make a lot of sense. First, the attackers are not in the same hex like most games, so you can use units from multiple hexes to attack. The rules also give you a flanking bonus due to the multiple venues of attack. This would seem in line with real world tactical doctrine. The AFV combat also has some nuances that not only make gameplay faster, but just seem right.  What would you rather do on game night? Stare at the rules and fight over the rulebook or get to it? Those who love tactical minutiae should stay clear of this game. However, those of you looking for a good game that is tense, quick, and challenging, come on down. Simple, but deep tactics, and loads of new shiny AFVs to play with, what more do you want? You are free to argue to your heart's content about the various factors on the AFVs assigned by the designer. That is, once you have played it at least once. 

This is a link to game and expansion:


 This is a blurb from the designer:

So, What's Different?
I hear that a lot. With all the tactical games on the market, what makes Platoon Commander Deluxe: Kursk different?
Clutterless counters. PCD:K uses color to determine a weapon's range. For example, an Armor Piercing factor printed on gold indicates that the weapon can fire normally at a target up to four hexes away.
Unique phasing. Players alternate attacking in the Fire Phase, but move all their units at once during the Movement Phase.
Flanking Friendly Close Assault Phase. Units do not enter the hex of the Close Assault target, but rather attack from adjacent hexes. This allows the attacker to not only amass the overwhelming odds needed to take that key position, but also attack from multiple directions, which provide a flanking bonus. Additionally, alternating attacks in the Close Assault phase allow defenders to conduct true spoiling attacks.
Ranged combat results are based not only an the target's armor factor and terrain, which determine the column on which the attack is executed, but also the target unit's morale which determines how many hits affected the target.
Artillery is card driven. Neither player knows the other's artillery capability by glancing at a scenario card. Artillery barrages are determined by Action Cards.
Action Cards. PCD:K is not card driven, but rather card assisted. The Action Cards provide artillery, rally units, provide combat bonuses, and even unexpected Opportunity Fire shots.
Focus and Aid Markers. These markers allow players to influence the battle much as their real life counterparts would. Players may choose to focus on a specific area, providing combat bonuses, or provide additional aid to those disrupted by fire.


Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came ou...

Command: Desert Storm Command: Desert Storm

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

April 2019

Command: Desert Storm

Command: Desert Storm is the latest DLC pack for WarfareSim's Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (CMANO) which originally came out back in 2013.(How the time flies!). Like other such mission packs for CMANO, Desert Storm can either be purchased as an addition to your CMANO library, or can stand on its own if you have not yet purchased the core game. I'll go ahead and say right now, this is not the best way to dip your toe in the CMANO waters if you have not yet tried the system. Desert Storm is going to appeal far more to the seasoned player by offering an interesting set of 15 large scenarios. If you aren't familiar at all with CMANO, you might want to start with my review of Shifting Sands, one of the previous DLC mission packs, where I wrote about the core game quite a bit. Or just hop on over to YouTube and find some gameplay videos. You'll quickly see the kind of gameplay you're getting here.

What makes the Persian Gulf War interesting enough to justify an entire DLC pack? The original CMANO release even includes a pretty substantial Gulf War scenario, why add on a whole pack of them? I wasn't so sure myself until read through the scenario mission briefings, which provide some great insight into all the different aspects of the campaign. While we can all look back and remember the end of the story, how Western air power absolutely crushed the Iraqi military, at the time no one was quite so sure how it would turn out. The United States had not conducted a military operation anywhere near this scale since Vietnam. The Iraqi's had Soviet aircraft and tanks that were aging but still dangerous, and an army full of veterans from the Iran-Iraq War. Would all the advanced technology of the United States prove itself useful or a waste of money? Well, we know the answer to that. The Gulf War brought conventional warfare into a new age. One in which control of the skies meant complete control of the battlefield. Laser guided bombs dropped from stealth bombers and fighter jets could easily knock out one Iraqi tank after another. Bunker busting bombs could crack open hardened aircraft hangers thought to be impregnable. Iraq's vast network of SAM sites and aircraft radars could be picked apart by highly coordinated coalition aircraft. The entire paradigm of conventional warfare has been changed ever since. Command: Desert Storm gives you a chance to take on the role of mission planner and recreate (well, try your best anyway) the massive success that was achieved.

There are 14 Gulf War scenarios here, most historical, with a few hypotheticals thrown in. There is also a hypothetical 2019 Israel vs Iran scenario thrown in there to offer buyers a little of something different to round out the package. Players may be disappointed to learn that there is not a monster scenario of the entire conflict, nor is this a dynamic campaign or a chronological series of scenarios telling a narrative. These scenarios instead offer a smaller chunks of the conflict, highlighting one interesting aspect of the war in each case. There is a mission for hunting down the SCUD launchers, another for targeting the suspected chemical weapons. There is a mission recreating the "Highway of Death" stage of the battle in which you have control over at least 200 aircraft, I couldn't even count them all. While most of the missions are almost exclusively air campaigns (with a carrier group or two around as a base of operations), there is one mission where you are maneuvering some naval assets around the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting just how strategic that bit of geography can be for all involved and another that features the naval battle of Bubiyan. There's are no ground battles, as you might have hoped from the theater depicted. A few divisions make an appearance, but if you're doing your job right they'll never get a chance to shoot anything.

I found the very first scenario especially interesting in its choice of topic. That is the initial shifting of assets from other places to the Gulf. You might be thinking, how hard could it be to move some units around? Well, it ends up being quite the logistical dance when you are trying to rapidly move dozens of aircraft from all over the globe, even from the US itself, to the Middle East, while the situation on the ground continues to develop. Tankers need to be stationed along the routes, and vulnerable aircraft still need escorts since you don't know when hostilities might break out. The whole time while playing I was imagining how this played out in real life. 

I was also a fan of how some of the hypothetical scenarios can bring Iran into the war. You don't know exactly when or if they will strike, and due to the geography of the gulf you can't avoid getting uncomfortably close to their shores. There are also civilian and Soviet units out there, so you can't just lash out at every sensor contact. It makes for some tense moments, as this uncertainty creates a fog of war even in the age of long range radar. 

Taken all together, the scenarios available here give you a picture of each stage of the war roughly in sequence. The rapid logistical buildup, the first night of bombings, the scramble to take out SCUD launchers and chemical weapons, and the large scale air campaigns which decisively won the war for the coalition. The hypothetical scenarios let you take a stab at many of the what-ifs and offer a greater challenge than the strictly historical pieces.

The Marines are on the way, but will there be anything for them to fight when they get there?

There's not much more to say that wouldn't involve simply describing each of the scenarios. This is a DLC pack that gives you exactly what it says on the box. 15 new scenarios, of high quality, with a mix of hypothetical and historical events.  If you are looking to take a deep dive into the Persian Gulf War, this is the pack for you. $20 will get you many hours of gameplay, as all of the missions are on the bigger, more complex end of the spectrum, some especially so. As I mentioned before, newbies are probably better off grabbing the Northern Inferno pack if they are looking for a taste of what CMANO can offer. For veteran CMANO players just itching for some new scenarios to test their skills on, this is an easy recommendation.

- Joe Beard

Command: Desert Storm is available either directly from Matrix Games/Slitherine or on Steam.


Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games     Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ev...

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games

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

April 2019

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games



  Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ever thought; who knew? We hex and counter guys thought we had the wargame world to ourselves for many years. Block wargames are generally not considered to be that 'deep'. What I mean by that is that usually the rules are not that long and the map and extras are usually not that expansive. The block wargames have a very good history of being 'players games': easy to get into and relatively short and very good for game night. We normally associate hex and counter with monster or mini monster games, ones that will take a lot of space and the players pore over them, much like Napoleon and Berthier did over maps. So now we have this game from VentoNuovo Games that is at least a mini monster. So, let us see what we get when we actually open the box:

• N° 1 87x62cm Mapboard (double laminated)
• N° 1 A4 Strategic Map
• N° 1 A4 Tripolitania Extension Map
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN AFRIKA Rules Manual
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN EUROPE Rule Manual *
• N° 1 24 pages THE BLOCKS TRILOGY Scenario Booklet
• N° 2 Play Aid
• N° 8 Order of Battle
• N° 15 wooden light blue blocks (France)
• N° 29 wooden black blocks (Germany)
• N° 22 wooden light green blocks (Italy)
• N° 1 wooden tan block (Turn Tracker)
• N° 1 wooden dark green block (US)
• N° 22 wooden blue blocks (UK)
• N° 3 wooden orange blocks (Axis Forts)
• N° 66 wooden brown blocks (Minors)
• N° 23 wooden gray blocks (Axis Navy)
• N° 46 wooden white blocks (Western Allies Navy)
• N° 8 wooden pink blocks (Soviet Navy)
• N° 240 PVC stickers (laminated, 2x for the Turn Tracker)
• N° 35 wooden yellow cubes (General Production Points)
• N° 25 wooden white cubes (Navy Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden red cubes (Armor Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden blue cubes (Air Production Points)
• N° 10 plastic black cylinders (Oil Production Points)
• N° 5 plastic white cylinders ("Out-of-Supply" Markers)
• N° 10 white plastic Shipyards *
• N° 5 yellow-black-dotted dice

 This is the list of the actual counters and record keeping pieces:

• 3 Axis Forts: Orange (not used in BIA Scenarios – details in BIE)
• 15 French Units: light blue
• 29 German Units: black
• 22 Italian Units: light green
• 23 Axis Navy Units: grey
• 46 Western Allies Navy Units: white
• 8 Soviet Navy Units: pink
• 1 American unit: dark green
• 22 British units: blue
• 66 Minor Powers Units: brown
• 2 Turn recorders: tan
• 2 Replacement stickers for BITW American units

 What we actually have here in our hot little hands is an incredibly thorough almost simulation of the Second World War in the Mediterranean and adjoining areas in Asia. It comes with a Basic set of rules (still very deep), and then an Advanced set of rules followed by some optional rules. What I especially like is that the naval war has not just been tacked onto the game as an afterthought. It receives the scrutiny and importance that it deserves. After all, the area of the map is mostly sea. There are actually some naval only scenarios.
These are the scenarios that come with the game:

1940 Operation Compass, November 1940 - March 1941

1941 Operation Exporter, June - July 1941
1941 Middle East Uprising, May - September 1941

1941 The Desert Fox, March - July 1941

1942 Axis Hype, June - December 1942

1942 El Alamein, October 1942 - February 1943

These scenarios are primarily NAVAL!

Punta Stilo, 9 July 1940

Capo Teulada, 27 November 1940

Capo Matapan, 28 – 29 March 1941

Harpoon, 21 June 1942

 This is the Basic game sequence of play:

The game is played in turns, each representing the lapse of one
month. Each turn is divided into phases and steps that must be
performed in a precise order.
After the weather is checked, the Axis player completes his
phases first as described in the sequence below. Next, the Allied
player completes his phases.
When both players have finished their phases, victory conditions
are checked. The turn is now over and a new one may begin.
A. Weather Determination Phase
The Weather is always considered good when playing BIA.
B. Axis Phases
1. Strategic Warfare Phase (See Scenario Special Rules)
2. Supply Phase
3. Production Phase
4. Strategic Rail Movement Phase
5. Movement Phase
6. Defender Reaction Phase
7. Combat Phase
8. Blitz Phase
9. Final Supply Status Phase
10. Armor Exploitation Phase
C. Allies Phases
As for Axis Phases 1-10
D. Victory Phase

 I may not be the best person to do a review of VentoNuovo Games. I have to admit that I am an unabashed fanboy. All of the games I have reviewed so far from them have been, I dare say, great. The rules are well written and the components are first rate. This game is not any different. The components are very well done. The map is colorful, but if there was anything to bash the game is that the map is a bit too busy. There is, however, a very good reason for this. The map hexes represent 43 miles (70km) across. So that is a lot of territory and information to fit into some hexes. The map itself is 87cm x 64cm large. There is one questionable design decision with the map. There is an extra piece of the map that comes with the game. It is slightly larger than a copier sheet and represents the area around Tripoli. The only issue is that it also has needed game information on the other side. I realize in this day and age most people could just copy the back, but it still seems a weird decision. This game is part of a trilogy from VentoNuovo Games that includes this game and 'Blocks in the West' and 'Blocks in the East'. Some of the components that are included are only used if playing all three together. I will have a review of 'Blocks in the West' coming up. I will also have links to the different games and rules etc. at the end of the review. You can also separately purchase a pack of twelve special event cards.

 So how does it play? The scenarios are all very short as far as turn length. There are only 1-5 turns in each of the scenarios. The naval scenarios go from 1-3 turns.There are also listed in the rulebook the difficulty levels of each scenario. These go from 1-6 on a 1-10 scale. The rulebook is only 28 pages and that includes four pages on the scenarios. So even with the Advanced Rules it is a comprehensive, but still playable game of the Mediterranean theater during 1940-1943. The gameplay is nowhere near as fast and furious as other VentoNuovo Games. It really cannot be. There are just too many things to think about, especially once you add  the Advanced rules to the mix. This is a mulling over and thinking block game. That is not to say the other games did not have depth, just not to the extent that this game has. There was more to learn in this rulebook than the others, but it is written in an easy to learn manner. It is a great game and a huge undertaking when you combine even two of the fronts together. It is a game you can truly get lost in. The campaign game when all three games are together is a staggering 79 turns. Thank you VentoNuovo for the chance to review this game.

This is a link to Blocks in the West:

A Link to Blocks in the East:

A Link to the rules for Blocks in Afrika



X-WING  2nd EDITION Well the Force is strongly with us once more and looking at the box and even inside the box, you could be forg...


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April 2019




Well the Force is strongly with us once more and looking at the box and even inside the box, you could be forgiven for thinking that very little has changed.  Looking closely, I didn't find much to make me depart from that initial impression. 

The packaging, storage of the ships, and all the markers, range ruler and movement templates, dice etc are totally the same.  So what are the differences and how significant are they?  Well, the rule book is eight pages shorter!!  Wasn't expecting that.  The T-65 X-wing model has pivoting S-foils.  A neat touch to physically show the switch to the attack position, but a cosmetic nicety at bottom.

Some of the contents
The Manoeuvre Dials are slightly less impressive, but are far more functional.  Unlike the original where you could only see the movement chosen and could only check the range of a particular craft's manoeuvres by dialling through them, the face of the new dials displays all the move types and you rotate the back disc to point down at your choice of manoeuvre.  That is a really helpful change.

Here you can see the revamped, easy to read manoeuvre dials plus the ship tokens to fit in the bases, followed by the normal, three basic ships: one X-wing and two Tie-fighters.

The organisation of the rule book follows generally the sequence as before.  A page of Fundamental Concepts is slipped in between Components and Set Up, which now has a much smaller diagram and, in the main, all illustrations tend to be smaller.  The key one omitted, which surprises me, is the very useful Ship Card Anatomy.

Instead, you get a thorough example of how to use the new Position Marker.  a very good addition to the card board components that helps you mark the position of a ship that is obstructing the path of another ship's manoeuvre, but not something that needs a careful set of eight little pictures to show you how to use it. 
Spot the new Position Markers
{just above the Manoeuvre templates on the righthand side}

It seems especially unnecessary when the original important Example of an Attack is paired down from 2 full pages to 3/4 of a page.  My impression is that the small number of new elements has perhaps drawn the focus from basic points.  Of these other new features, often linked to new markers, is the addition of Force Charges - that's definitely a concept that deserves to have been introduced.  
As before lots of lovely markers, 
with several new ones making an appearance.

There are several other tweaks added through new tokens, though I found the list of concepts about gaining and spending tokens seemed almost too obvious to be necessary.  By contrast, the introduction of  new Actions, such as Cloak, Jam and Reinforce are very welcome.
Lots of cards
Lots more
And still some more!
Finally, among the changes is one to Squad Building, which features in both sets of rules and is only applicable in moving to games involving more than the three ships in the core box.  This has been developed by providing Quick Build cards that provide predetermined choices.  I like this for ease of play especially for those coming new to the game.  However, they would seem to have taken the place of the three Missions provided in the original base game.

The next step I really didn't like.  When you want to move on to the full player control of the traditional points building system, you have to download the Squad Builder ap.  A small advantage of this is that the ap. prevents you from accidently [or, heaven forbid, deliberately] building an illegal squad.  I know that there won't be many who don't have the necessary smart phone/tablet/etc., but I'm not in favour of it being wholly out of the realms of a paper print-out.

In conclusion, the new edition is every bit as good as the old one and overall the addition of new Actions and their related tokens is to be welcomed.  For the person new to X-wing, all's fine.  For those, like myself, with 2 copies of the original edition plus a variety of other ships, including a Millenium Falcon, I have more than enough to indulge any Star Wars' inclination I have and won't feel the need to follw the new star.  My concern is for the dedicated or even marginal Tournament player.  Will they be facing a whole new outlay to take part, with once again Wave on Wave of ships or a whole series of conversion kits?

As always thanks to Asmodee for providing not only the review copy, but three bonus ships.

RRP £24.62  X-wing 2nd edition