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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

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games

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