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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… the thriving Empire of Lazax dominated the universe from their capital on Mecatol Rex, the ce...

Twilight Imperium 4th Edition Twilight Imperium 4th Edition

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

May 2019

Twilight Imperium 4th Edition


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… the thriving Empire of Lazax dominated the universe from their capital on Mecatol Rex, the centre of the galaxy. A great number of different races were part of their Empire, where trades and technology developments were flourishing under the peaceful rule of the Lazax.  As time passed, greed and apathy grew in the heart of the people which thrust the entire galaxy into a state of war.  The once mighty Lazax Empire was no more and the Lazax Emperor and his people were wiped out thrusting the entire galaxy into a war of succession, the Dark Years. The conflict raged and caused many civilisations to collapse and dwindle into a shadow of their former selves. Years later, as hope and pride started to return, the surviving races began to again aspire to the throne of Mecatol Rex and impose their rule upon the entire galaxy.

You are the leader of one of these races and you're competing to elevate your power and influence upon the entire galaxy and to occupy Mecatol Rex as Emperor once more.

You can watch my poor attempt at an unboxing video below:


Gameplay

The main objective of the game is to be the first player to 10 victory points.  'Just 10 !', I hear you say...well that paltry amount will still take the best part of 10+ glorious hours. These VPs come by fulfiling a variety of objective cards as the game progresses.  At the beginning of the game, public objectives are randomly selected and just two are revealed for the first round.  Each game will have five Stage I objectives (worth 1 VP) and five Stage II objectives (2 VP each). One more objective is revealed at the end of each round.
Ready to go...this game is a table-hog.
Each round has four phases, the Strategy phase, the Action phase, the Status phase, and in this case, the best has very much been saved till last, the Agenda phase.

There are eight different strategy cards in the game which are available every round to the players.  During the Strategy phase, players choose their strategy card and receive its benefits for the remainder of the round.  Each strategy card has an initiative number, and a unique primary and secondary ability. The initiative number of the card determines the turn order for the round and like many other games cards that weren't chosen has a bonus, in this case, a trade good placed on it for the next round.  I really like this mechanism as at some point those low initiative strategy cards are too tempting to turn down.  Adding a bonus onto unplayed cards also reminds me of one of my favourite gateway games that I introduce new players to 'modern' Euros - Puerto Rico.
All the strategy (cards) ...
There are many different types of objectives in this game and the gameplay between experienced players reflects which objective cards have been revealed.  I did find that during the first few rounds of my first game, I completely ignored the public objectives to my detriment.  When the revealed objectives require technology boosts or aren't combative, then you may wrongly surmise that most players will remain peaceful during the turn and try to improve their tech or other aspects of their civilisation to meet those objectives. However, players are also given one secret objective at the start of the game which score VPs in exactly the same manner as public objectives.  

The two main reasons I no longer play Puerto Rico with experienced players, is first I normally lose, but second, you can largely work out what your opponents will do by the board state, Puerto Rico is too prescriptive. The same definitely cannot be said here, there is no way, for me at least, to work out or even in some instances, understand what my opponents were doing.
The Winnu claim Mecatol Rex
During the Action phase, players take turns to do either a tactical, strategic or component action. A tactical action player activates a system (hex shaped tile) and moves their units into it. If there are enemy forces, a battle will ensue. If the battle is won by the invading force then their ground forces will start a ground battle on the planets which is a particularly bloody affair, ending only when one side is eliminated. 

A space dock in the system will allow you to produce units there.  When a system is activated by a player, they must place their command token on that system.  This prevents you from activating the same system later in the round. This mechanism is also found in Star Wars Rebellion and provide a measure of inter-turn strategy that must be considered when moving your forces around the galaxy. You can generally only move a unit only once in the round. 

Command tokens are used to do pretty much everything in this game and like all FFG games, this one comes with the standard plethora of tokens, only much more so!   However, these are a limited supply and you'll soon be crying out for more command tokens - using the secondary ability on other players strategy cards, that will be one command token please; want to increase the fleet size in a system, one command token.  You get the idea, give me more command tokens!
Space Lions player board.
During the Strategic action, the player plays their strategy card and uses its primary ability. Alongside the initiative numbers, the main purpose of choosing a particular strategy card is to get its primary ability.  For example, Strategy Card 2 (Diplomacy) prevents other players from attacking one of your systems and lets you re-use those planet’s resources again in the same round. After you’ve used the primary ability of your strategy card then all other players are given a choice if they want to use its secondary ability.  They must spend one command token and can revive two planes which they have previously spent on its resources. 

The Learn-to-Play book has a very handy chart in the back for new players to match up the best strategy card with their immediate tactics. Want to research more technology? choose Card 7.  Do you occupy Mecatol Rex? Card 8 should definitely be your choice. Every time I picked a strategy card my mind was doing gymnastics trying to work out the convoluted permutations of the secondary abilities for each other player. i.e. trying to minimise their bonuses effect to my empire.  I love the hard decision space this game gives you which is quite unlike any other I have tried.  Although I wouldn't recommend playing this with AP-prone players, for obvious reasons.
Rules, Learn to Play and the Lore Compendium. 
A Component Action is an action in which you can play an action permitted by the components (cards) in front of you. This may also be a race-specific ability.  This is a kind of an optional action and can be used to (smash your opponents) delay using your pass (ending your entire round) manipulating the player order and having the advantage of moving last in the round.  I really like games that allow you to manipulate the turn order to either move early and strike first, or react to your opponents moves. Whenever I manage to pull off such a move in any game; TI4, Empire of the Sun or any of the COIN games spring to mind, I get a huge sense of accomplishment. Although it is usually shortlived because I forgot to anticipate my opponents' next move.

After all players have passed in the Action Phase, players score up to one public and one secret objective, if possible in the Status phase.  One public objective is newly revealed, and players draw some action cards, collect and redistribute their command tokens on the command sheet etc. etc. Basically, you're getting the game board in a fit state for the next round. However, if someone occupies Mecatol Rec, then the Agenda Phase follows.
The battle for Mecatol Rex rages on.
If you've played Diplomacy you'll almost know what to expect in the Agenda Phase, blackmailing,  bribing, lying just like politics today...  The Galactic Council sits in session, chaired by the current speaker and each race is represented to discuss important issues in the galaxy. If you've seen Star Wars I, it's that, but much more interesting... An Agenda Card is drawn, and players vote Yay or Nay using their influences generated by their planets. There are many different agendas in the game, some seemingly irrelevant and some utterly devastating, easily changing the game.  Which is why the debate over and around the table can get so animated, especially when one player is struggling to get their 10th VP. The Ministry of Peace agenda, for example, allows a player to cancel their opponent’s aggression in their system one time.   Even if you are playing a weak race (not all races are created equal), or your planets are not very rich, you could still win the game by manipulating the vote in the Agenda phase. 

Combat is a surprisingly simple affair, you roll one 10-sided die for each ship in the space combat and if you roll greater than the ships combat value (shown on the faction sheet) it's a hit. Each hit kills an enemy ship which is chosen by the other player.  The big ships, dreadnoughts, flagships, and war-suns have the ability to sustain damage meaning they'll take two hits. However, you've got to destroy all of the fighters and frigates defending them before you get a chance to actually hit/destroy the big ships. It is very important to have many cheap fighters as fodder to protect big ships - again, this was not appreciated by yours truly in the first few rounds of the first game.  There are some nuances to this combat, for example, if the enemy has a lot of destroyers, your fighters may be wiped out in an anti-fighter barrage before the combat round begins, leaving your dreadnaught defenceless and an easy target. 
Everybody wants some.
In order to occupy planets, you'll need to bring ground forces with your vulnerable carriers. They are not powerful units (combat value: 9) but can be the most important in your fleet. If you win the space combat, you can land ground forces on the planet.  If the enemy has a planetary defence system (PDS) then they get shoot your troops before they land.  However, if you're Dreadnaught or War Sun have survived the space combat they can bombard the enemies ground troops beforehand.  These variable abilities require you to strategise over every move/destroyed unit and it provides a lot of fun, and also added intrigue in the Agenda Phase.  'You want to deal and you attacked me last turn! That's going to cost you, buddy!'.  Great fun.


Components

This game is a monster. Its box is rather bulky and contains tons of miniatures, cards, system tiles, various tokens and so on but the box is well designed and deserves the space it takes up.  The organiser is well thought out and functional, which is rarely a thing I say about FFG games. However, I really feel that this game is a beloved property of  Christian Petersen (FFG CEO) and it really shows in the fourth edition. A lot of care and attention has been paid to every single component. If you want to see an excellent making-of documentary check out Shut Up and Sit Down's Space Lions documentary.  If each player knows what they're doing setup can be completed inside 20 minutes, although you could argue that building the galaxy is an integral part of the game and not really setup.
It is done...
Each race has a Faction Sheet showing each unit’s parameters, race-specific abilities, and history of the race on the back. In the box, there is a lore guide which can be treated as a piece of Science Fiction in its own right.  This history was very well written and I enjoyed reading through it all.  The detail that has gone into the history shows the amazingly high level of production in this game. FFG normally have stellar production values and they've even surpassed those in this game.

You can (or you should) role-play during the game after reading the history and unique capacities of your chosen race. The seventeen races in the game are all unique and have strength and weaknesses.  For example, the space fish...are physically weak but very intellectual. They suffer -1 drm in combat, but develop technologies rapidly. Then there are the Hacan (space lions) who are purely motivated by trade. and gain trade goods (which is a kind of currency) easily, giving them the ability to build large fleets from the early stage of the game.  Trade goods are power.
The big box is full.
Each kind of shop has a distinctive miniature and the sculpts are excellent. There are fighters, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, dreadnoughts, a flagship, and war-suns. Their combat abilities are all listed on your Faction Sheet. Researching technology can improve units which permits you to place a tech card onto your faction sheet. This is a really effective way to see at-a-glance how powerful (or not) your fleet is.

Apart from unit upgrades, there are 4 categories of technology in the game, Biotic, Warfare, Propulsion, and Cybernetic. There are 4 levels of technology in each and you must research them in order.  One game takes on average 6 to 7 rounds and you will not be able to fully explore the tech tree in one game.  Planning my upgrades and deploying my fleets according is a great game which I enjoyed immensely, but so often ruined by my opponents. Developing Propulsion first and then upgrading your carrier so that it can move 2 hexes is a nice ability to move your troops out into the galaxy, or you may want to concentrate on Warfare techs and try to build a War-Sun early in the game with the ability to literally annihilate an opposing fleet.



Criticisms

The only criticism I can think of this game is that it takes a very long time to play.  It is difficult to find 3 or more opponents who don’t mind committing 6 or 7 hours in one go, but this game has such a reputation in the hobby that almost all gamers want to try it, at least once. But let me reassure you that those hours pass very quickly it is so much fun to play this game.  Afterwards, you will be exhausted but you will have created an amazing experience with your friends I guarantee will have built a stronger bond for sharing this experience.  Look for opponents, and go for it!


Conclusion

If I had to describe this game, I would say that it is seductive yet elusive. I want to play it more, I love the game, I want to try every single race, and experiment with every technology, but it's very difficult for me to get it to the table. I have a young family and losing 10 hours on a weekend so that I can move plastic and carboard counters across my kitchen table is not a position I can defend often. However, given the opportunity, the time and the right opponents, this game is always welcome at my table.  It tells a grand, epic story of battling races and powerful armies clashing across the stars. The mechanics are simple enough to grasp relatively quickly but the layers of strategy are very difficult to master. After 2.5 games (which represents over 24 hours of play time...) I feel that I understand the game well enough to be able to strategise but not effectively. There are so many racial combinations and variances from game to game that I'm relegated to a reactionary play style. 

This game won't be for everyone, but if you like wargames of any kind (if you're reading this blog then I can surmise you do) then you owe it to yourself to play one of the very few seminal games in this hobby. Track down a friend who owns it or plan a game at a convention, weekend gaming retreat (we all do that right?) You won't be disappointed.

Many game-stores will have a copy of this game in and you can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to find your nearest in the UK or support them using their online web stores if you can't make it in person.

I'd like to thank Asmodee for sending this game and permitting me to review it; if only I could play it some more.  I would also like to thank my war-gaming partner of many years for helping me write this review.

Publisher: FFG
Website: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/twilight-imperium-4th-ed
Players: 3 - 6
Designers: Dane Beltrami, Corey Konieczka & Christian T. Petersen
Playing time:  Ha ha ha

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INVASIONS: volume I I was delighted to learn of this new board game in the offing.  I was even more amazed and delighted when I disco...

INVASIONS: volume I INVASIONS: volume I

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

May 2019

INVASIONS: volume I

INVASIONS: volume I

I was delighted to learn of this new board game in the offing.  I was even more amazed and delighted when I discovered that its designer was no less a figure than Philippe Thibaut, renowned for Europa Universalis.

This awesome game first so light as a board game produced by Azure Wish and then in a computer adaptation that has now reached its IV incarnation.

Invasions: Volume I should prove to be an equally engrossing design and one that promises more to come.
To learn more about the game connect to the kick starter link here and to learn about AvalonDigital the company behind the game click here.

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AUSTERLITZ 1805 from Trafalgar Editions Just a brief word Having seen the quality of Waterloo, great news is that Austerlitz is...

AUSTERLITZ 1805 in the pipeline AUSTERLITZ 1805 in the pipeline

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

May 2019

AUSTERLITZ 1805 in the pipeline

AUSTERLITZ 1805
from Trafalgar Editions


Just a brief word

Having seen the quality of Waterloo, great news is that Austerlitz is next on the list for this game's system.  With the scope for wider-ranging  movement and hidden units, this is the perfect choice.

As a taste of what's come look no further than their Kickstarter video: Austerlitz 1805


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WARFIGHTER PACIFIC from DVG It began with modern conflicts against drug cartels and insurgents across the globe and then moved...

WARFIGHTER PACIFIC WARFIGHTER PACIFIC

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

May 2019

WARFIGHTER PACIFIC

WARFIGHTER PACIFIC
from DVG


It began with modern conflicts against drug cartels and insurgents across the globe and then moved back to WWII, initially with the Americans coming up against the Germans.  Soon, single deck expansions reversed the roles allowing the player/s to field German units against the A.I. of American Hostiles.  In came Britain, Russia and Poland with different add-ons giving us more and morevaried equipment, units, actions events etc.

Still, the rules and principles of play remained very similar.  Then, there was talk of Warfighter taking to the future with a sci-fi variant, but for my part I'm glad to say that the latest incarnation has filled the glaring WWII gap and has given us Warfighter Pacific.

Inevitably, the rule book for the most part presents very little that we haven't seen before.  In fact the first 38 pages are well nigh identical, though I was very pleased to see that great care had been taken to consistently substitute different cards and examples in keeping with the Pacific theatre once again to copiously illustrate the rules.


Attention to details like that are what make DVG's products so appealing, as is the quality of all the components.  First class counters - five sheets worth - with rounded corners that press out with ease, combine with the series of decks of cards that both provide the combatants and drive the game functions so smoothly and finally there's the mounted playing board.



This latest one represents for me the best in the series.  Admittedly, still very similar to its predecessors, but once again the various card locations have been given a new set of images, just as the illustrations had been renewed in the rule book.  But best of all is the background scene.


The detail above on the right hand side of the board is very atmospheric, as can be seen in this closer view.



The few charts and deck locations have been streamlined to maximise the crucial space for where the terrain cards and hostiles will be placed, giving a very clean appearance to the whole. Yet again, an ensemble presentation.

For those unfamiliar with the system, I suggest a look at the link here to my original exploration of its processes, before returning to consider some of the specific points in the current Pacific theatre.



As always shed loads of lovely thick counters

As mentioned the bulk of the rule book covers the unchanged base rules; what I didn't expect would be the omission of the excellent final section which provided a play through of a complete 5 turn Mission.  For those new to the system I'm sorry that has not been included.  However, the main reason for that is a new section that covers the very different handling of Campaigns.

Up to now you, the player, have created your own Campaigns by choosing a selection of Mission cards and Objective cards to play out in sequence.  Now Warfighter: Pacific gives you a series of historical Campaigns, covering Wake Island, Makin Island, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Buna Station and Iwo Jima and two that take us back to the European Theatre, namely: Dunkirk and Market-Garden.

It also introduces the concept of Offensive and Defensive campaigns. Only one of the Pacific Campaigns is "Defensive" and only one Campaign features the Japanese as the Soldier Player.  Both of the European Theatre Campaigns, however, are Defensive.  Especially, with my personal interest- I've recently read Antony Beevor's "Arnhem" - Market-Garden is likely to be an early experience.

The following are the major new elements.  Each Campaign Display sheet has a map with Start Points indicated.  Offensive Campaigns list a series of Starting Location and Objective Cards to be used, while Defensive Campaigns list Starting Location and Mission Cards.    With Offensive Campaigns, a random Location card is drawn which is placed on the main game board in the first spot where a Mission card would normally have been placed and then a D10 roll on a chart gives you both the number of turns and the Location spot where you place the Objective card.

Defensive Campaigns work almost in reverse to the normal expectations.  A random Mission card is drawn and placed in its normal first spot on the game board, but the Starting Location card is placed where the Objective card used to be placed.  Your units are then placed on the Starting Location card and the objective is always to fight your way back to the Mission card! 

As with the first Warfighter WWII game, where you could play only as the American Soldiers versus German Hostiles, in Warfighter Pacific, you can only play as the American Soldiers versus Japanese Hostiles.  These Americans destined for the Pacific theatre of operations differ very little from their European comrades, except that many have the Hardy Hot ability.  For those of you unfamiliar with the overall games, this was a feature introduced through cards in some of the earlier expansion packs - except that then the ability was Hardy Cold to suit Campaigns fought on the Eastern Front.

As before, not all your soldiers will have this ability and so will struggle even more than their fellows to cope.  Incorporating fewer soldiers with the Hardy Hot ability is one way of making your game a tougher prospect!!  To match this many of the new Location cards feature … what else, but JUNGLE.  In fact, Hot/Moist/Light/ Heavy and Warm Jungle - oh and just Jungle too.

Lovely jubbly JUNGLE
Pitted against them are decks of Elite and Frontline Hostiles - for the toughest experience just use the Elite deck, for a moderately tough experience combine the decks.  Personally, I find Frontline units quite tough enough!  Once again as the initial Warfighter WWII did, even the single Campaign where you can play as the Japanese soldiers will only be possible by buying Expansion Deck 15 which contains the necessary cards for playing as the Japanese.

Fortunately with my review copy of the core game came a stack of many more expansions and so, if nothing else, I would recommend adding at the very least Expansion 15 to your collection, the contents of which can be seen below.  
However, among the other Expansions there are some that I feel I cannot conclude without a mention.  They are my personal favourites, plus ONE that isn't -  but which I suspect will be a favourite for many!!

For me Expansion #24 US Airborne, Expansion #36 Vehicle Pack and Expansion #43 Shore Invasions are a must have, especially the latter with cards appropriate both to the European and Pacific theatre of operations.  So, what's the one I really can live without, but many of you will immediately want?  Any guesses?

Expansion #42 UNDEAD

As they say "chacun a son gout" and I'm dead [sorry!] sure that it will definitely be to the taste of the majority.  So, kit yourself up and set off on your mission to take on even worse foes.

As always many, many thanks to DVG for supplying the review copies 







2 comments :

Armored Brigade, the real-time tactical sandbox which covers a vast swath of Cold War gone hot possibilities, has received its first add on...

Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator

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

May 2019

Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator


Armored Brigade, the real-time tactical sandbox which covers a vast swath of Cold War gone hot possibilities, has received its first add on content. It's called Nation Pack: Italy-Yugoslavia, and as the name suggests, it adds two unique new nations to the game. I won't go too far into describing the base game, since Robert did a good job of that here. Suffice to say, this a 2D RTS that will feel familiar to anyone who has played Close Combat or Combat Mission. 



What really sets the game apart is its vast scope. The game covers theoretical war in Europe between the years of 1965 and 1991. Accurate army rosters are available for 7 different nations in the base game, with this add-on increasing the count to 9. The other significant feature of the game is how it generates battlefields. Rather than having hand crafted maps or randomly generated ones, the game ships with several gigantic, accurate maps of various interesting locales in Europe. Individual maps are then generated from this by simply drawing a box of your desired size on that big map, and there you go, a new place to fight over. Combat can scale from company sized skirmishes to brigade sized brawls. This is the beauty of the game, it can be stretched and squeezed to give you exactly the sort of battle you want. 


Infantry squad knocks out a T-55 after losing their ride into town.
This new nation pack extends that sandbox even further by giving you two new nations to play with and a new map that covers 61 square kilometers of the Italian-Yugoslavian border. The two nations combined add over 250 new units to the game. That's a lot of new toys to play with! Now, I'm no aficionado of the Italian and Yugoslavian military makeup in this era (or any, really), so I'll link to the official description here which has a nice summary of the strategic thinking in those nations during the Cold War. The short version is, these nations were not the titans of the world, fielding first rate tanks and elite infantry. These are the oddballs, nations that had no desire to fight WW3 to begin with, nor did they have the resources to match the big boys if they wanted to. I've loved playing these sorts of secondary powers in every wargame since I got Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin as a kid. It's always fascinating to dig around in the OOB and see what kinds of units are available, and then figuring out how to fight a battle with what you've got. Here I was especially interested in some of the earliest formations, which include plenty of WW2 leftovers. I know lots of people are clamoring for the game to be expanded into a full on WW2 game, but here you can at least get a taste. 



Now, let's look at the new map a bit, as it offers a great variety of terrain to fight over. There are constricting mountain valleys, wide open plains, urban zones, coastal areas, and lots of rivers to cross. I have not fully explored the map yet, of course, but every battle so far has been on a tactically interesting battlefield. Where the map really shines is when you combine it with the new campaign generator.

The one great shortcoming of Armored Brigade (besides the lack of multiplayer) is that the game does not come with any campaigns and only a handful of scenarios. Those scenarios are mostly tutorials, and after playing around with them you are left with only one-off battles that you generate. While the battles you can generate are excellent, and created exactly the way you want, they are still just one off battles with no narrative or larger stakes to consider. That has all be changed with the free update launching alongside this nation pack, which adds a dynamic campaign generator to Armored Brigade, even if you don't have the DLC. 


Each green box represents a potential battlefield for the campaign. It can be much shorter, of course, or feature much larger battlefields.
This campaign generator is analogous to the single battle generator in that it is very flexible and easy to use. You just click on the map to indicate the general track you want the campaign to take, tweak the settings and scope as you please, and away you go. Each campaign starts off with a meeting engagement, and then the winner will advance and the loser retreat. As the battle moves towards one end of the campaign track or the other, the defender will be able to get more supply points and be able to build fixed defenses like pillboxes and such. If the momentum of the battle shifts and the fighting passes back over old ground, the destruction of the previous fights will be evident. This can change the landscape of a battlefield that is fought over several times, creating an immersive narrative for the player. Losses also carry over from one battle to the next. The player will receive a certain amount of supply points after each battle, and these can be used to repair and refit units lost in the fighting. 



This is a feature that the game desperately needed, and I'm happy to see it added as a free update. Really the only thing that I didn't like about the base game was that the battles never felt like they carried much weight, since they were just randomly generated one-off affairs. Now you can have a narrative arc, with real consequences for your losses and poor (or brilliant) decisions in battle. I haven't had enough time with the game to play out any epic campaigns just yet, but I imagine many players will be firing up a titanic US vs USSR campaign that spans the length of the Germany map. The especially cool thing is that everyone's campaign will be unique!

So, if you have been enjoying Armored Brigade so far, this is an easy recommendation. The two new nations add some extra variety to what is available in the base game, and the new map is excellent. If you were on the fence about Armored Brigade, the free update including the campaign generator has given it a lot more value, and I suggest that you take another look. I imagine we will be seeing several nation packs similar to this one over the next couple of years, and I look forward to trying them out. In a sandbox of a game like this, you can never have too many toys or too much sand.

Armored Brigade and the Italy-Yugoslavia Nation Pack are available directly from Matrix/Slitherine.

- Joe Beard






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Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing  Operation Dynamo was an outstanding success, carried out under the Ge...

Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing

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

May 2019

Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing

Dunkirk

by

Worthington Publishing







 Operation Dynamo was an outstanding success, carried out under the German noses. Was it helped by Hitler's private thoughts about England, or his memories of Flanders, we will never know. The game itself is not just about the Battle of Dunkirk, but about the entire German invasion of France in 1940. Let us see what comes with the game:


  • Hard mounted game board
  • Wooden blocks with labels for German and Allied armies
  • Deck of 55 game cards
  • 6 German strategy cards (larger than standard game cards)
  • Rules
  • Dice





 When you open the game it seems a little sparse, but many times good things come in small packages so I kept an open mind. The map is on the smaller side, but adequately shows the area of Northeast France that is needed for gameplay. The hexes are large, which really helps with block games, especially when you can have more than one block per hex. The other components are likewise, more workman like than artsy. I wouldn't say they were Spartan, but they show the player everything he needs to know without extra glitter. The game also comes with cards for both the German and Allied player. 



 Even though there are cards for both players, they are not the process that runs the the game. To quote the designer, "The game is not card driven, but card enhanced. The game is chit driven". The most interesting part of the design is the 'German strategy cards'. These give the game a lot of longevity and replayability. Sure, the German player could try the 'sickle cut' maneuver, but he could lose nine out of ten times depending on what strategy card he chose at the start of the game. The Allied player is put on the horns of a dilemma, which strategy card did the German player pick. So one of the the things the designer notes suggests is for the German player to make moves to head toward different cities etc. to keep the Allied player guessing. The rulebook is only twelve pages long, and three of them are taken up by designer notes, etc. However, unlike the other Worthington games I have played, the rules are a lot more  in depth. The other games were simpler, but still good games. The rules are deeper than you would assume for the game. This is the sequence of play:

1) Add or Remove Command Chits per the Turn Record Chart.
2) Deal each player a card(s) as indicated on the Turn Record Chart.
3) Seed the opaque container with the Command Chits indicated on the Turn Record Chart.
4) One player (does not matter which) draws a Command Chit from the container. That Formation is now the Active Formation.
5) FHQ (Formation Headquarters) ACTIVATION: The owner of the Active Formation reveals to the opponent the location of the FHQ (in order to prove the FHQ's Command Range).
6A) FORMATION MOVEMENT PHASE: In-Command blocks of the Active Formation may move to their full Movement Rating, limited only by terrain and enemy blocks.
6A) POSSIBLE SHQ (Strategic Headquarters) STRATEGIC MOVEMENT: The owner of the Active Formation may, if desired, spend a SHQ step(s) to perform a Strategic Move with a block(s) of the Active Formation. This may be done concurrent with the Movement described in 6a above, BUT NO BLOCK MAY USE BOTH Formation Movement and SHQ Movement during the same Activation.
7) POSSIBLE SHQ OUT OF COMMAND MOVEMENT: The owner of the Active Formation may, if desired, spend a SHQ step(s) to perform Out of Command movement with a block(s) of the Active Formation.
8) combat phase: Battles exist in any hex containing enemy blocks and at least one block of the Active Formation. Owner of the Active Formation selects the sequence in which battles will be resolved. 
8A) BATTLE CARD PLAY: Each player may place ONE (1) Cattle Card per battle, if desired. Players simultaneously declare (show) a Battle Card if they wish to play one.
8B) BATTLE ROUNDS: Each battle lasts for one round of combat. A second round may be purchased BY THE ATTACKER ONLY using SHQ steps or possibly) a card play. No battle may have more than two Rounds per Activation. A side may NOT play a Battle Card in the second round of battle, if that side played a Battle Card in the first round.
9) Repeat steps 4 through 8b until no Command Chits remain in the opaque container.
10) REINFORCEMENTS & RESERVES PHASE: Players may play ONE Reinforcement card, adding steps per the Reinforcement rules. Players may ALSO spend SHQ steps to conduct a SHQ Reserves action, returning an Eliminated block(s) to play, per the Reserve rules. Players also add one free SHQ step to their SHQ block (Note: there is no Reinforcements/Reserves phase at the end on Turn 6.
11) Start the next turn with step 1 above. At the end of Turn 6, calculate Victory Points to determine the winner of the game based on the German Strategy Card selected.





 

 As you can see, any game (no matter what German Strategy Card is used) lasts only six turns. Airstrikes/Artillery strikes take place when a player uses the correct Battle Card for them. Airstrikes/Artillery strikes cannot eliminate an enemy block. 






 I think it's a good game with a little bit more added  to the rules than most block games. The rules are spelled out plainly for the players. There are also some optional rules that can be added to balance out the play between two players. You can "dial down" certain blocks to make it easier for the opponent. You could also remove certain powerful cards from one player's deck, among a few other things, to make the game more balanced. I have reviewed quite a few block wargames now, and have had a complete change of heart. I used to look down my nose at them as some kind of 'Stratego' game made into a wargame. The block wargames are just as good, and play just as well as hex and counter games. This is another good and relatively quick game that Worthington Publishing has added to their stable of growing games. You will be playing as either von Bock or von Rundstedt, or the Allies in no time flat. Thank you, Worthington Publishing, for letting me review this game.

Link to Worthington Games:
https://www.worthingtonpublishing.com/

Link to Dunkirk:
https://www.worthingtonpublishing.com/collection/dunkirk-france-1940

Worthington Publishing's newest kickstarter 'Napoleon Returns 1815':
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/napoleon-returns-1815?ref=dkeeld

Grant's Gamble review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2017/11/grants-gamble-game-by-worthington-games.html



Robert

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The already impressive roster for Field of Glory II expands into the Dark Ages with the Wolves at the Gate DLC recently announced by Slit...

Wolves at the Gate DLC Announced for Field of Glory II Wolves at the Gate DLC Announced for Field of Glory II

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

May 2019

Wolves at the Gate DLC Announced for Field of Glory II


The already impressive roster for Field of Glory II expands into the Dark Ages with the Wolves at the Gate DLC recently announced by Slitherine. From the press release:

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


This expansion extends Field of Glory II forward to 1040 AD, exploring the rich military history of the so-called “Dark Ages”, from the whirlwind Arab Conquest to the depredations of the Vikings and Magyars, the birth of England, France, Germany and Spain, and the long struggle of the Byzantine Empire to keep Roman civilisation alive in the east.

From 600 to 628 AD the Byzantines were locked in a titanic struggle for survival against the aggressive Sassanid Persian Empire, from which they eventually emerged victorious. Both empires, however, were severely weakened. Six years later, in 634, the newly Islamized Arabs erupted forth from Arabia, quickly defeating the Byzantines and Persians. By 750, under the Umayyad Caliphate, the Muslim Arab Empire stretched from Spain to the borders of India.


The Byzantine Empire, after losing its Levantine and North African provinces, survived the initial Islamic advance. Constantinople endured a year long siege (717-718), and this proved to be the beginning of the end for the Umayyad Caliphate. Eventually, weakened by defeats on the frontiers of their vast empire and internal unrest, the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty. The great Islamic Empire was now split into many separate, and often competing states. The Byzantines grew stronger under the Macedonian Dynasty (867-1056), and ended the period more powerful than they had been for many centuries. In Northern Europe, Viking raids started in the late 8 th  century. Superb sailors, they used their longboats to strike across the Baltic and North Seas against towns, farms and monasteries, and raid as far as Seville and Constantinople. Eventually they settled down, and created important states in Normandy and the Kievan Rus. Their invasions of the British Isles resulted in centuries of intermittent warfare with the English, Irish and Scottish kingdoms.

Charlemagne ruled as King of the Franks from 768-814 AD. The kingdom he inherited already included most of modern France and parts of Germany. By his death in 814, his empire encompassed modern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, northern Italy and a strip of northern Spain. In 800 he was crowned “Emperor of the Romans” by Pope Leo III. After his death the Carolingian Empire split into two main states, West Francia (modern France) and East Francia (modern Germany).


In the 9th  century the nomadic Magyars erupted into European history. Their western raids reached as far as Spain. Their defeat by the Germans at Lechfeld in 955 ended their threat to Western Europe and in 1000 their High Prince accepted Christianity and was recognized as King of Hungary by Pope Sylvester II, ruling under his Christian name of Istv├ín (Stephen) I.

You can read the full description on the Slithirine store page here.

Post men at the walls, and watch for our review in the near future!

- Joe Beard







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Battle Brothers newest DLC invites you to visit the frozen frontiers and battle barbarians. From Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers was ...

Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC

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

May 2019

Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC




Battle Brothers newest DLC invites you to visit the frozen frontiers and battle barbarians. From Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers was one of my favorite games of 2017, and you can read my original review here. In this excellent mash up of Mount and Blade and XCOM, you build up a plucky band of mercenaries as you travel the land taking on jobs to earn money. More money means you can hire more men, buy them more expensive gear, and keep them fed. If, like me, you enjoy sticking new gear onto an RPG paper doll, this is the game for you. Each man in your company has his own little equipment screen, where you can equip him with armor, headgear, weapons, and trinkets. Each mercenary also has an extensive set of stats like morale and max fatigue that can be improved over time. The game has two layers, the over world, which is very much like Mount and Blade, and turn based battles. If you want to read more of the details of the general gameplay, check my review linked above. If you are familiar with the game, you probably want to know what this new DLC is all about.

Warriors of the North, as you might guess from the title and artwork, adds in an entire new faction of enemies to face: Barbarians. These guys have a primitive Viking/Rus feel to them, coming at you with fur covered armor and horned helmets. Like the other enemy factions in the game, they have some unique mechanics that you will want to consider when you go into battle against them. The barbarians like to come in hard and take big swings, but this tires them out quickly. They'll often be accompanied by a tribal drummer, who restores their fatigue at quicker rate. They also might have a beastmaster with them, who brings along a big scary pet or two. Taking down these special enemy types will play a key part in your strategy. 


To go along with these new northern enemies, the north end of the map has been fleshed out a bit, and the game has received some new music tracks. I usually don't pay too much attention to music in games, but I found these to be noticeably good. All the barbarian gear can of course also be looted and equipped by your soldiers, giving them a more "northern" look if you so choose. This is a game that shines all the more brighter with more variety, and this DLC adds to that quite a bit. Previously you mostly had standard medieval style cloths and armor, but now your guys can be decked out with furs and helmets with antlers and the like.

While the barbarians make up probably the single biggest feature of the DLC, there's a lot of other good stuff here too. Previously, each time you started the game, the beginning was always the same. You were part of a mercenary company that is ambushed and the leader killed. You then take control of the company and get three mediocre members to get you started. Now, when you fire up a new company, you'll have a choice of ten different origin stories. These aren't just slightly different variations that ultimately don't matter, no, these starts all have long term advantages and disadvantages. 


I'll highlight the two I was most drawn to for this review. The first I tried was, naturally, the one rated most difficult: the lone wolf start. In this scenario you begin with exactly one merc, a veteran hedge knight equipped with upper end gear and a decent amount of money. This guy can take on two or three early game bandits without breaking a sweat. Where's the challenge? Oh, this hedge knight is actually you, so if he dies then the game ends. In a normal campaign, "you" are never represented in the field. Any given mercenary can die and it doesn't matter. Not so with this scenario.  Pair it up with Ironman mode and you've got yourself a whole new level of tension. Also, you can't hire more than a dozen men at a time, so that means your avatar will have to continue fighting, even as the enemies you face get nastier.


The other scenario I tried is pretty much the opposite. In the peasant militia start you begin the game with 12 peasants looking to take their local militia show on the road and win themselves some glory and coin. While you start out with 12 men, they all have bottom-tier equipment, if they have anything at all! It takes a lot of money to keep all of these men fed and paid, and buy them all some decent stuff. Once you have the funds to supply and pay them all, you can even take 16 men into battle instead of the usual dozen. The downside to all of this is that your group is prejudiced against anyone of higher birth, and so you can only recruit fellow peasants and lower class individuals. This means that any mid and late game losses will have to be replaced with level one nobodies that will need a lot of experience to catch up. 

The other start I'm interested in trying is the Davkul cultists. Yes, you can play the game as a roving group of cultists, recruiting those of like mind and maybe sacrificing them to Davkul at some point...

Another new addition to the game are the Champions. These are especially strong enemies among each faction who carry unique named items for you to take for yourself. While a straight forward addition, it's a welcome one that gives you some emergent gameplay as you follow tavern rumors to track down these mini-bosses. Along that line, there are two new legendary locations and bosses to take on, and a smattering of new quests and events to discover, and of course new weapons and armor to equip. In Battle Brothers, weapons define the abilities of your men in combat, and so adding new ones isn't just a visual effect, it opens up entirely new options in strategy. 


Since I never did a review on it, I'll briefly mention here the other major DLC for Battle Brothers called Beasts and Exploration. This one came out last year and really fleshed out the game beyond the solid, but limited main game content. It adds lots of monsters, bosses, and legendary locations to the game. It also allowed you to loot trophies from all of those new monsters and craft them into new stuff. In addition, it added the ability to customize your gear, upgrade your armor, and even repaint shields. Before that, they put out the Lindwurm add-on for free. This was likely a test run for the bosses and such that came later. It only adds one special enemy and some related items to the game, but hey, it was free! Since release, they've also patched and balanced the game several times, turning what was already a great game into an even better one.


With a reasonable price tag of just $8.99, I find it very easy to recommend Warriors of the North to anyone who enjoyed Battle Brothers. The new faction, items, and bosses add ever more variety to the game world, and the new origins will ensure that you can play several campaigns with quite a different experience than the default start. As I said in my original review, this is a game that has tons of room for quality DLC. The two so far have been exactly what I was looking for, and I hope there are more to come. This game is a wonderful sandbox, and the more toys the better.

- Joe Beard

Battle Brothers is available directly from the developers and can also be found on Steam and GoG.
















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Close Combat: The Bloody First - Join the Beta! Close Combat: The Bloody First - Join the Beta!

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

May 2019

Close Combat: The Bloody First - Join the Beta!

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First things first, this article is much belated. I took a bit of a hiatus from posting here last fall and this new add on for Afghani...

Afghanistan '11 Royal Marines DLC - AAR & Review Afghanistan '11 Royal Marines DLC - AAR & Review

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

May 2019

Afghanistan '11 Royal Marines DLC - AAR & Review



First things first, this article is much belated. I took a bit of a hiatus from posting here last fall and this new add on for Afghanistan '11 was next on my list to review, but when I came back it slipped through the cracks and was missed. So, I thought I would make up for being tardy by writing up a combo AAR and review. 

From developer Every Single Soldier, and publisher Slitherine, Royal Marines is an expansion for Afghanistan '11, a game just as much about the logistics of war as it was about the fighting. Royal Marines doesn't change up the formula too much, but does give you some new toys to play with, and some additional options for conducting your counter-insurgency (COIN) ops. 

Like in the base game, Royal Marines includes a 10 mission campaign with historically based scenarios that give you unique situations and restraints to deal with. The other way to play the game is by jumping into a randomly generated map, where you will always have the same overall objective, but be completely free in how you want to pursue it. I have not played through the entire Royal Marines campaign, but I sampled several of the missions and saw that there is some good variety here if you are looking for a fresh challenge. This early mission, however, is not very complex, but I thought it would give a good sampling of what the game is like.

Today I'll be playing the second mission of the campaign, Operation Condor. This mission is loosely based on a real event. On May 16th, 2002, an SAS patrol was attacked for several hours by militants. The SAS patrol was extricated from its predicament by the arrival of AC-130's and Apache helicopters. The next day, a 1000 man strong force led by Royal Marines was deployed to the area with the goal of eliminating any enemy presence. 




For the purposes of this scenario, that real life operation is abstracted as seen below. I have a base already established in the central, somewhat eastern area of the map. I need to send out forces to hunt down and destroy all Taliban units on the western half of the map. In A'11, the east edge of the map always represents Pakistan, and that is where new Taliban units will come from. Cutting off any reinforcements will be an important part of my strategy. Local militant units can also pop up from hidden caves all over the map. These are difficult to eliminate entirely, but doing so isn't my concern in this scenario. I'll also need to get the Hearts and Minds score above 55, which shouldn't be too difficult. In A'11, winning over the local villages scores you more political points (your currency for new forces) and can yield intelligence, like the location of poppy fields which supply funds to the Taliban until they are destroyed. 



It doesn't take a tactical genius to look at the map above to see that geography will not be on my side in this scenario. Much of the map is mountainous terrain, with only one lonely winding road linking the two groups of villages. I'll need to get SAS units up in those mountains to spot for the enemy, and a convoy organized to travel through the valley and set up a FOB (forward operating base) on the far side. Every unit can only carry a limited amount of fuel/rations into the field. This means that any forays by friendly units must either be short ranged, or directed towards a FOB where they can resupply and take shelter from insurgent ambushes. For the insurgents, the mountains represent their safe haven, where only a few of my units can reach them. My special forces units (the SAS boys) are able to stay in the field longer than regular infantry, and can set up observation posts from which they can spot insurgents scurrying about in the mountains. They will be the key to locating the enemy. Once spotted, helicopters, artillery, and air strikes will be brought to bear to wipe them out. A FOB on the western half of the map will allow me to keep my helicopters and SAS units supplied. A conventional ground force will be needed to establish and secure said FOB.


Before going on the offensive, I first want to send a small convoy out to visit the nearest village to the east, and then set up a FOB a little further down the road. Spreading FOB's all over the map is generally a good idea, as it gives you more places to park units and to extend your reach. You can also use SAS units to train Afghanistan National Army (ANA) units in each FOB. In a normal game of A'11, as the turns go by you are forced to gradually hand over security to the ANA, so the more troops you can train, the better. You can also train ANA helicopters, artillery, and APC's at your main base, which I will also be doing. We will need a lot of helicopters in order to overcome the difficult terrain here and sustain the SAS posts in the field without interruption.



The visit with the village elders goes well, and we are given the location of a poppy field on the far side of the map. Taking this out will net us some political points, and weaken the Taliban. The only problem is that the field is much too far away to reach on the ground until we have a FOB over there. Luckily, we have helicopters on tap. Unfortunately, a couple of Taliban units pop up and damage our mine-detecting unit at the head of the convoy on the next turn. Without its ability to detect and destroy IED's, any road trip into uncontrolled territory will almost certainly meet disaster. The convoy is recalled back to HQ to repair.




While my first mine detector is in the shop, the second is sent down the road to the west, in an attempt to clear the first section of the road for follow-on forces in the next turn. The unit is also ambushed by insurgents and damaged. It seems the enemy is not hiding, but is aggressively operating right outside my main base. A drone is called in (you can have one on the map at a time) to recon the area. Three militant units are spotted and our available firepower is directed at them. Artillery and infantry from HQ, and an airstrike (an ability that can hit anywhere on the map, but has a long cool down) are used to knock out one of the enemy detachments and send the others fleeing. It seems we will need to clear out the immediate area before making a run to the west. To this end, I deploy a couple of SAS units into the nearby mountains.



Helicopters are not completely immune to insurgent forces, but they don't have to worry about IED's or terrain, making them critically important in A'11. Despite the rocky start to the ground campaign, the Royal Marines of Charlie Company are airlifted across the map to that poppy field that the villagers told us about. Destroying it should slow the flow of new Taliban units, and rewards us with 1000 political points, which is quite helpful as I've overextended a bit and almost run out. Without a nearby FOB established, the Marines hop aboard their helicopter for a ride back to HQ. 

(Apologies for some of these images being far too bright. From what I gather, there is some kind of shader issue right now which causes this to happen The developers are working on it.)



A couple of turns later, my second attempt at a western bound convoy is more successful. As you can see above, the vehicles have almost reached the key crossroads on the western half of the map. However, they are still a couple of turns away from safety, and end this turn in a highly vulnerable position sandwiched between two mountain ridges. From the message log, you can see how important sweeping for IED's is in this game. Three were eliminated on this turn alone. The insurgents will come back by and try to place more IED's all the time. Areas under direct observation are safe, but even a recently traveled road cannot be trusted if it was out of your sight for just a turn or two.




Back to the east, the Taliban presence is still strong. I was able to establish a waterworks at the nearby village (which makes them happy and nets you political points each turn) but my convoy was once again forced to retreat to safety before establishing a FOB. Pushing out in this direction will require some firepower. Luckily for me, a special event fired which gave me TWO Apache gunships for free. These are some of your most potent offensive weapons in the game, but come with a hefty price tag. Getting two for free is a real boost, and I set them to work immediately. The Apaches can engage the enemy from long range, don't have to worry about terrain, and have a decent chance of destroying an insurgent unit in one hit. These enemy units are also in range of my artillery, and it gives them a good reason to run back to Pakistan.




Ten turns in, let's take stock of the overall strategic picture. So far, I haven't accomplished much, but the framework is there. I have SAS units monitoring the mountains to the north, my convoy safely arrived in the west, and the local area around HQ is now secure. I've also won over the neighboring village and made visits to a couple of others. All that said, there are still a lot of insurgent units on the board, plus more that I can't see.

Visiting villages is an important part of the game, as it helps increase your H&M score, and occasionally gives you the location of an enemy unit, IED, or poppy field. This intelligence isn't always available however. Villages with little campfires burning are more likely to give you info, and so you want to visit them ASAP. In the original game these fires would stay lit until you came by, but in the Royal Marines DLC, they will go out soon if you do not make a visit. I like this change, as it adds some urgency to this aspect of the game, and forces you to be more flexible. 



On the next turn, a sandstorm blows in. This limits movement for all of my units and I have recall some helicopters back to HQ before they can complete their assignments. Fortunately for my western convoy, they are able to get the FOB built, and take shelter within it. Nature can at times be a greater obstacle than the enemy.



As the sandstorm clears, my western FOB gets to work. The minesweeper heads out to clear IED's from the nearby roads, and the Marines visit the village. My construction vehicle is also dispatched to build a water works there. All of these actions draw the local villages to the coalition side, making things easier for me, and satisfying the second victory condition for this scenario. My next step here will be to try and win over the village to the north. It isn't very far away, and is along the road. The village to the south is irrelevant at this point, as it is too remote to commit my limited resources towards. Sorry, folks! 



Zooming back out, you can see that I now have a FOB in the east and west. The HQ area looks clear, but out west we have a swarm of insurgents and IED's to deal with. I've also lost the village in the NE corner of the map to the militants. Winning them back may be difficult due to their location far away from my primary objective. For now I'll focus on eliminated the enemy from that area. Additional units are dispatched west now that they can operate out of the FOB.




At the western FOB, the fighting gets intense as several more Taliban units pop up. My SAS men are there to spot them, and once again heavy firepower is brought to bear. One Apache arrives to help the outpost, and an artillery unit will be airlifted over soon. Artillery units in FOB's require a lot more attention than they do at the HQ. A dedicated artillery expansion must be built for the FOB, and ammunition must be brought in by supply trucks or helicopters on a regular basis. For this mission, supply trucks are simply not an option. My helicopters continue to do logistics work, bringing rations to the SAS units in the field, and supplies to the critical western outpost.



On turn 16, things are looking good, but we still have our work cut out for us. The eastern FOB is busy fighting off Taliban reinforcements coming over from Pakistan. This is exactly what I want, but continues to tie down one of my Apaches. In the west, the enemy has been beaten back from the FOB, but still has a presence scattered around the objective area. Fortunately for me, I now have a nearly complete net of SAS observers gradually moving west and sweeping the area. Each time an enemy is spotted, artillery and helicopters operating out of the FOB are called up to eliminate them.




A couple of turns later, and the strategic picture is looking excellent. The enemy has been eliminated from most of the map, I have eyes in the field able to stop any new units from entering the objective zone, and a convoy headed out of the western FOB on its way to make nice with that northern village. A couple more poppy fields were found and eliminated, giving me a massive advantage in resources. Things are looking good!



Things are going even better than I thought, as on the next turn my Apache gunship takes out this final Taliban unit in the objective zone, fulfilling that part of the mission. As you can see, my Hearts and Minds score is now at 66, well above the required 55 for the scenario, and my political points are maxed out. All and all, a very good operation for the coalition despite some early stumbles. I call the mission a win, even though it doesn't actually end on the next turn. One thing I don't like about the campaigns in A'11 and this expansion, is that sometimes you are forced to play the scenarios out to the full 60 turns of a standard random map, despite completing the assigned objectives of the scenario. In this case, I've completely taken over the map and won over the villagers. Continuing to play would simply involve clicking end turn and smoking any insurgent unit silly enough to wander into range. Not too exciting, so I call it win and pack things up. In a full standard match, part of the challenge is that you must hand over control to the ANA gradually over time. At the end, the ANA must stand alone against the insurgents. In that case, it makes sense to play out to 60 turns, since that is part of the experience. Here though, it doesn't really gel with the idea of specific set of goals based on a relatively short real world operation.

That ends the AAR, but I have a couple more points to make for the review. Several other changes come with the DLC that I haven't mentioned so far. One significant addition, which didn't make an appearance in this scenario, is the inclusion of civilian traffic along the roads. And yes, as you might guess, this traffic can be used by the Taliban to send suicide car bombs right up to your units. In order to screen this traffic, you can now build roadblocks wherever you see fit. In order to help balance things out, and add some immersion to the game, you can now also get Afghan police units. You earn these by winning over villages to the coalition. This all adds yet another layer to the intricate dance of logistics and planning that is Afghanistan '11. Much like in the real conflict, engaging with and destroying the enemy is the easy part. Building up the infrastructure that will allow you to lock down an area and keep the insurgents out is the difficult part.


If you enjoyed the base game, it's safe to say that you will enjoy the Royal Marines add on. With new missions, new strategies, and new units to play with, there's plenty here to explore. Especially for the very reasonable price of $10, you really can't go wrong.


Afghanistan '11 and the Royal Marines DLC are available directly from Matrix/Slitherine or on Steam.

- Joe Beard




P.S. - I hope you enjoyed the AAR. I plan to do some full fledged ones soon, so this was a bit of trial run.

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