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Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing      This is a game about the battle that sealed the fate of Br...

Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing

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

January 2020

Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing




Freeman's Farm 1777

by

Worthington Publishing






 
  This is a game about the battle that sealed the fate of Britain in the American Revolution. After this battle, Burgoyne's surrender was pretty much a done deal. There would be more fighting for sure, but this battle was his last gasp to break through to Albany. The plan to attack from Canada was not a bad one, it would just need much more resources than was allotted to it. For some unknown reason, the people who should have known that dragging an army across this wilderness was next to impossible were unable to sway 'Gentleman Johnny'. The fact that Burgoyne not only made it this far and had taken Fort Ticonderoga is only a tribute to the British and German soldiers' ability to deal with adversity. Unfortunately for Burgoyne, his slow progress allowed the Patriots to build a large army, indeed larger than his own. This battle is also the high point in Benedict Arnold's career as a Patriot (though there seems to be a large rift between historians on Arnold's actual whereabouts during the battle). If not for his insubordination to 'Granny' Gates, the battle could have been lost. So we are placed in the unenviable situation of either winning the Revolution, or breaking through a larger Patriot army, and cutting New England off from the other states. So let us see what the designer and Worthington Publishing has given us to recreate this titanic battle. This is part of the description of the game:


"An innovative card driven board game on the Battle of Freeman's Farm.  1 - 2 players.  Playable in 1 hour.
Freeman's Farm: 1777 is the first game in our new Battle Formations game series. These games are a new game system  centered around battle formations and have been designed for solitaire and two players .  In solitaire mode players can play as either the American or the British against the solitaire player game engine.   
Players decide which formations to activate and how far to push it once it begins attacking. Push it just enough and they can win the day.  Push it too much and failing a morale test will break it." 



 This is what comes with the game:


  • Large Mounted Game Board
  • American and British Formation Cards 
  • American and British Activation Cards
  • Tactic Cards
  • Rules
  • Player Aid Cards
  • Game Markers
  • American Blue Wooden Formation Markers
  • British Red Wooden Formation Markers
  • Hessian Green Wooden Formation Markers
  • 8 Dice




 The components are all very well done, and very easy to read. As you can see, the map looks almost like a period piece or one from a book about the battle. The first thing that should catch your eye is the absence of hexes or areas for movement. The Battle Formation Games have set places where you or your opponent can move his forces. These are all places of the battlefield where action did actually take place. The rulebook is only twelve pages long and the rules themselves take up less than nine of them. The last pages are a Historical Summary and Designer Notes. There are two Player Aid Cards; one side is for a two-player game, and the other is for playing solitaire. It is nice to see so many publishers and designers adding solo play to their games. The Formation Cards are large and simple to understand. The units for each player are just wooden rectangles and cubes, but they fit very well with the look and feel of the game. The Activation and Tactics Cards are simple looking, but are extremely easy to read for even the most myopic of us grognards.  The components easily pass muster. Now onto game play.



This is the sequence of play:

 Each Player's Turn has the Same Phases:

1. Play Activation Card
   1.A Option  - Countermand Activation with General
2. Pay Activation Cost
3. Optional: Play Tactics Cards
4. If Combat is Selected as a Command, Roll Combat Dice
   4.A Optional: Maintain Momentum
5. Apply Results
6. Optional: Purchase Tactics Cards
7. Draw Activation Card

 
The British Player takes the first turn in a round.
Then the American Player takes their turn in a round.
The British Player then begins the second turn.
 Play continues until all Activation cards have been played, ending the game.






 In the Designer Notes, the designer states that what he felt most missing in games was the struggle of generals with keeping command and control of their own forces. He then goes on to state the pedigree of the game, and how he developed a few concepts from many different games to design it. The other two large concepts in the game are morale and momentum. Every time you activate a formation, you must lower its morale by one, or remove a formation marker (wooden rectangle representing your troops). You can use a General Card to countermand the activation, and some Tactics Cards have effects that forego the penalty to morale. Once a formation gets to a morale of five or lower, it incurs a morale test. This is done by rolling a six sided die and comparing it to the morale of the formation. A higher number than the formations morale means that a formation is 'broken'.  Momentum Cubes for each formation are gained by playing the Activation Cards for that formation. Each card has a number of momentum cubes that the player receives (from one to three). One nice touch is that if the player receives the same amount of Momentum Cubes on three Activation Cards in a row, he receives an extra two Momentum Cubes. Momentum Cubes can be used for rerolls, or to purchase Tactic Cards. Skirmishers, which were a large part of the battle, can be used by both sides.  You can download and check out the rules yourself via a link I will post at the end of the review.







 
  The rules seem simple at a glance, but are very nuanced. The designer has succeeded in creating a game where the flow of battle is as changing as a see-saw. I believe he has captured the sword of Damocles that is hanging over every general's head. Do you push your formations one more time and try for victory, only to have the formation collapse in front of your eyes? You will not win the game by 'playing it safe'. That will only allow your opponent to pick and choose exactly what he wants to do. Playing as the British, this is it; you really have this one chance to breakthrough the Americans. Historically, the American Player just needs to pull out a tie to win strategically. The games actual victory conditions show this. The game lasts up to fifteen rounds (fifteen activations by each side). If the British Player has not won by then, it is an American victory. The game ends automatically if either side breaks or destroys  three or more enemy formations. As I have mentioned before, we are now in the 'real Golden Age' of wargaming (gaming in general, but Euro games, eww!). The earlier golden age had more games sold, but nowhere near the innovation that designers are showing us now.   The added touch of an actual fully functioning solitaire mode is a godsend. It is possible to actually play almost every game solo, but it is a very good thing that more companies are adding actual solo forms of play. Thank you very much Worthington Publishing for letting me review this very innovative and great game. It does help that this is one of my favorite battles, and the one that I have spent the most time wandering around the actual ground it was fought on.







 I found this treat going through discussions about the game. If you like what you have read so far, you will really like this. It seems that Worthington Publishing is going to Kickstarter a game about Chancellorsville. It will have most of the same rules, but will also have some new neat twists, such as hidden movement. Here is the link to the preview page:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1040417273/2785622?ref=bggforums&token=b117acc9
 Freeman's Farm 1777 link:

Rules:

Robert











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It's been said that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, then Tales of Maj'Eyal (ToME) might be one the spiciest dis...

Tales of Maj'Eyal Tales of Maj'Eyal

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

January 2020

Tales of Maj'Eyal


It's been said that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, then Tales of Maj'Eyal (ToME) might be one the spiciest dishes ever served up. A roguelike that has been around since 2012, but continues to get significant updates and expansions on a regular basis. Like other roguelikes, ToME involves creating a character and then attempting to beat the game. As a feature of the genre, you can expect to fail much more often than you win. Every run is a bit different, though the overall structure remains the same, leading to endless replayability.  Each run of the game begins, of course, with a selection of your character's race and class from an impressively large menu of options. Assuming you have all the DLC, which I'll go ahead and say now you should get if you like this game at all, you will have 16 races and 35 classes to combine as you please.


Interestingly, when you first fire up the game, you'll only have a handful of options to choose from, and must unlock the rest. As you might imagine, the starting choices will be familiar: various types of humans, elves, and halflings for races, and several flavors of warrior, rogue, and mage for the class options. After a few runs at the game, you'll unlock some more choices, each more exotic than the last. It's practically a spoiler to mention what they are here, but suffice to say that they are wildly different from what you start with. Manipulating time and space, harnessing demonic forces, becoming a champion of the light or a bringer of darkness, there's something for everyone here. 


Once you choose a race and class, you'll get a chance to drop a few points into your skills. Every class has more skill tracks than you'll know what to do with. Even within one of those 35 classes, you'll still be looking at building a unique character each time you play. Each track has four skills within it, which are only unlocked by investing points in the earlier skills and investing in the relevant stat (Strength, Dexterity, etc.) and each skill can be upgraded multiple times, increasing effectiveness with each point. Of course, you won't have enough points to get everything, and so you'll have to focus on what you really need. 


ToME gives you so many options, that even if you play the same class several times, you'll want to play around with different builds. There are entire skill categories that you might ignore or invest heavily in, depending on what kind of character you are building. You can also gain new skills from items and quests, allowing you to do things normally impossible for your class, and perhaps opening up a powerful new strategy. After you've gained a few levels and conquered some dungeons, your skill bar will be filled out with tons of options, so many that it can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, unlike many other roguelikes, ToME actually has a user friendly UI that makes life easier. For one, you can play the entire game with just the mouse if you want to, no need to memorize a dozen hotkeys just to navigate the menus. Rather, ToME works much like any standard turn based RPG, and even goes a step further by giving you options to automate some of your skills. For example, you can set some of your attack moves to always fire when an enemy is next to you, going off every time its cool down timer ends.  Just like that, you can save yourself hundreds of clicks and button presses.


Like most roguelikes, ToME is light on story and you won't be diving into any deep dialogue trees with the NPC's, but there is a surprising amount of lore to discover throughout the world. Hints and rumors will lead you to secret locations which often lead to the unlocking of a new class or race. In all of the dungeons you will find trails of notes that tell a story, usually in the form of a diary of some adventurer who came before you. These are a clever way of adding to the history of that location, and often give you a heads-up about the dangers you will soon face. And you will face danger after danger. Giant sand worms burrowing in and out of the ground, skeletal mages shooting lightning, massive trolls that can knock you across the screen, and endless other horrors. Unlike most other roguelikes, ToME has a variety of difficulty settings that can take the edge off a sudden death. You can play one-life hardcore permadeath if you like, but you can also play a more forgiving mode where you have a limited number of lives, giving you the chance to respawn outside a dungeon that you aren't ready for, or jump right back in the fight if you think you can win. 


Another neat thing that ToME does is allow you to connect with other players, even though the game is single-player. You can choose to create an account, which tracks all of your runs on the official website, and also puts you online when you play. This lets you see when other players earn achievements (there are hundreds) and when they get killed, sometimes at embarrassingly low levels that give you a chuckle and and at high levels that will make you cringe at the loss of a good run. You can also chat with them as you go, asking for help in real time or congratulating someone else when you see they did something noteworthy.

If you are a veteran roguelike player or thinking about dipping your toes into the pool, or if you've never even heard of them but enjoy action RPG's or turn-based tactical games, you should give ToME a shot. The game can keep you occupied for potentially hundreds of hours, it can run on practically any computer, and you can even play the core game for free! The paid version unlocks a few extra options, and the DLC of course adds a lot of content, but more than anything, spending some money on the game rewards years of ongoing work by the developers.

ToME is available for free from the official website and can be purchased (for additional features and support of the devs) along with the DLC on Steam.

- Joe Beard 











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Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio & John Tiller Software  The invasion of the Japanese Home Islands st...

Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software

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

January 2020

Japan '46 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software



Japan '46

by

Wargame Design Studio & John Tiller Software






 The invasion of the Japanese Home Islands started with Operation Olympic. The Allies now have bases on the southern part of Kyushu. Unfortunately, the Japanese show no more signs of surrendering than before the invasion. This, contrary to Saddam, is the 'Mother of all Battles'. The Japanese are fighting tooth and nail, as was expected, for every inch of the Home Islands. The Operation named Coronet is now about to begin.




 Wargame Design Studio has really taken off in the last two years. In the beginning, they released three games in a new series called 'Panzer Battles'. This would be 'Battles of Kursk Southern Front', and 'Battles of Normandy', followed shortly after by 'Battles of North Africa'. Then they took on the role of Hercules and started a long list of labors in updating, and nearly revamping, the 'Panzer Campaigns' series of games from John Tiller Software. Once they were done turning all of those games into a 'Gold Version', complete with many new scenarios and tons of updates and fixes (especially visually), they have now turned their sights into doing the same for the 'Civil War Battles' series.




 So just like any other John Tiller Panzer Campaign game, Japan '46 is massive. These series of games do have smaller scenarios for the gamer to play, but the campaign games are really the stuff of legends. If they were board games you would have your entire table filled and then some. You would also be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome from cutting apart all of the counters. The newer games, and the updates, are very solo playing friendly with the AI tweaked as much as possible. It is almost unbelievable the amount of game and information that you get when you buy one of these games. The historical write-ups and the designer notes are enough reading for long winter nights. If you are interested in tinkering, the games all come with an editor that pretty much can change anything but the name of the game. The series all go down to single guns and tanks when deciding on the variables for combat. The information on each army is exhaustive in its depth.




 Japan '46 is a continuation of the battles for Japan that starts right after the game Japan '45 (which if you haven't picked up, why not?). Except now you will be fighting in the Kanto plain, fighting for Tokyo and other major cities. On the Allied side you now have the French and Commonwealth forces to augment the US ones. The Japanese have four full Armies along with other forces and all the Naval and Air Forces that they have been husbanding until now. The game comes with 59 scenarios. These include:


The Invasion – March 1-5
The Breakout – March 6-10
The Linkup – March 12-17
The Battle of Tokyo – April 3-15
The Battle of the Kanto Plain – April 20-26

"The 59 scenarios range from small actions such as the “Counterattack at Choshi” (19 turns) to the huge “Operation Coronet” (608 turns) covering the entire campaign. The wide variety of scenario length and size will give the players a sense of the scope of the campaign. Weather conditions range from normal to mud. The game map accurately depicts the mix of terrain types that the Allies would have encountered during the operation."


 This is a list of some of the game features:
"Game scale is 1 hex = 1 km, 1 turn = 2 hours, with battalion and company size units.
59 Scenarios – covering all sizes and situations, including specialized versions for both head to head play and vs. the computer AI.
The master map covers the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kagashima and the outlying areas to include minor islands (90,678 hexes) where Operation Coronet would have taken place.
The order of battle file covers the Allied and Japanese forces that could have taken part in the campaign with other formations added in for hypothetical situations.
Order-of-Battle and Scenario Editors which allow players to customize the game.
Sub-map feature allows the main map to be subdivided into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.
All new images for unit art on both sides, including guns and vehicles covering all of the forces of the Allied and Japanese armies involved in the operation.
Design notes which cover or include the production of the game, campaign notes, sources and a scenario list to include descriptions.
Japan ’46 provides multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet “live” play, and two player hot seat.Some sample screenshots follows;"


 One kilometer hexes with two hour turns for the invasion of the center of Japan. I am not kidding when I say that you have bought yourself a game to get lost in. Wargame Design Studio has tried to give the player many more options of scenarios than the games had before (this includes all of the games they have updated from earlier in the series). As you can see above, you can play a nineteen turn scenario all the way to the 608 turn campaign game. These games are what you think of when you are making a list to be lost on a desert isle with. Hopefully along with your computer you have the use of a solar panel array for electricity. The visuals in the game are all up to the 21st century as far as wargames, and zooming in and out is mouse wheel based. The game play is essentially the same as it was, meaning that if you played a Panzer Campaign game a few years ago you would not be lost. You will be however, surrounded by new parts of the game and hopefully notice how they have become streamlined.  


 The fighting is the same that you would have encountered in Japan '45 (and I will include a link to my review of that game). As the Allies you are fighting a desperate foe who has dug in and is awaiting you. The irresistible force has met the immovable object. Think the battles of Tarawa and Iwo Jima etc. on a grand scale. Playing as the Japanese you must plan your strategy very carefully. You do not have the material might of the Allies. If you are going to try and strike back at the Allies, make sure that your timing is perfect. You cannot afford to waste your troops in Banzai charges. The city warfare of this new game brings home battles like Stalingrad to your computer. I hope you have as much fun playing this game as I have. To be honest I have never had a John Tiller Software game that I did not like. They did seem to be getting long in the tooth, but with Wargame Design Studios help they have been given a new lease on life. Thank you both Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software for letting me review another excellent game. 






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Marlborough's Other Army The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsular War 1702-1712 by Nicholas Dorrel...

Marlborough's Other Army The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsular War, 1702-1712 by Nicholas Dorrell Marlborough's Other Army The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsular War, 1702-1712 by Nicholas Dorrell

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

January 2020

Marlborough's Other Army The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsular War, 1702-1712 by Nicholas Dorrell




Marlborough's Other Army

The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsular War

1702-1712

by

Nicholas Dorrell







 This is the story of the campaigns in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession. The last Hapsburg king of Spain, Charles II, had been dying for the last ten years. Europe had been trying to figure out a suitable treaty for when Charles II actually gave up the ghost. The two strongest candidates were Philip of Anjou, Louis XIVs grandson, or the Archduke Charles, brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles III. Louis XIVs wife had given up her claim to the Spanish throne, but Louis felt that because her dowry was not fulfilled her claim was still intact. The Archduke Charles was part of the Austrian branch of the Hapsburg family. The European powers had reached a pseudo agreement on the Spanish inheritance, only they had not bargained on Charles II. His will had named Philip of Anjou his successor, but if he did not agree, the crown would be offered to the Archduke Charles. Louis XIV realized he would be fighting almost all of Europe, but decided to accept the throne for his grandson. The campaigns in Northern Europe of Marlborough and the various French Marshals have been written about at length. Along with the above, this book shows the reader the almost unknown fighting that took place in the Iberian Peninsula.



 The book uses the term 'Confederate' to represent the British, Portuguese, Austrian etc. troops that fought to conquer Spain for the Archduke Charles. The Tory war cry of 'No Peace Without Spain' was the British rallying cry throughout the long war. The author shows that this was almost a complete flip flop from the Peninsula War that Wellington fought. Most of the Spanish nation fought with the French for their new king, and against the English and their Allies. It is very possible that what the English learned in this war was put to good use in the Napoleonic Wars.


 The book is filled with reproductions of paintings of the various commanders and some troops. For the miniature wargamer there are also eight full color pages on the troops and their flags. The book is also supplied with a fair amount of maps to help the reader envision the war. 

 The author shows us the seesaw campaigns which several times saw the Confederates conquer Madrid, only to lose it soon after. The French Army at times was commanded by James Fitz-James the Duke of Berwick (James II of England's illegitimate child and Marlborough's nephew). Some military historians compare his generalship to Marlborough very favorably. The book itself is filled with the actual formation rundown of what regiments etc. fought in each campaign. This is a very good book especially for someone who does not have that much of a grasp of the War of the Spanish Succession outside of the Low Countries. As was mentioned, it is also very useful for the miniature gamer. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this wonderfully informative book from Helion & Company.

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LCVP - Higgins Boat by Cobi  The LCVP (landing craft, vehicle, personnel) or simply ...

LCVP - Higgins Boat by Cobi LCVP - Higgins Boat by Cobi

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

January 2020

LCVP - Higgins Boat by Cobi




LCVP - Higgins Boat

by

Cobi













 The LCVP (landing craft, vehicle, personnel) or simply the Higgins Boat, was the backbone of all of the invasions by the Allies in World War II. It was 11 meters long and 3.4 meters wide, and had a speed of 12 knots. The Higgins Boat was originally built with no ramp in the front of the boat. The US Marine Corps and Navy had seen the Japanese use their Daihatsu class of landing craft in the Sino-Japanese War. The Daihatsu class had a ramp in the front that dropped down. Andrew Higgins was shown pictures of the Japanese craft and with his own money built three craft for the Marines and Navy to use in trials. The boat was capable of carrying 36 soldiers or a Jeep and 12 soldiers, or 8,000lbs of cargo. Its design and light weight allowed it to drive right up onto the shore and deliver its lethal cargo. The Cobi Higgins Boat is built in 1:35 scale and was designed to be released with the 75th anniversary of D-Day.






 I had mixed feelings when getting ready to build the Higgins Boat that Cobi had sent me to review. True, it is a military vehicle, but not a plane or a tank. The fact that it has two machine guns on it and was used in many great battles finally made me come around. I am now very happy that Cobi chose this vehicle to send me. 





 The build itself is extremely well done. It has a very smooth appearance to it and does not have holes or a missing piece here or there (I am sure you know what I mean). Actually, the Cobi sets are just getting better with each iteration. The build is comprised of 510 pieces to build it.






 It was not a hard build and was done in a few hours. I took my time and did not rush through it. I wanted to enjoy the building as much as the finished project. As you can see, the attention to detail on this build is pretty amazing. It even has the track material in the bottom of the boat to facilitate driving a vehicle off it. The ramp actually works and can be shown either up or down.







 The three figures that come with it are also very well done. They come equipped with a Thompson machine Gun, and a Springfield Rifle. One of them is a sailor, and he even has a life jacket. The attention to detail on the figures is also getting to be really amazing. The set also comes with two German landing Barrages. Thank you Cobi for allowing me to review another excellent block set. As I mentioned, they just keep getting better and better. I am extremely happy with the build and it now takes its place right next to the Maus in my collection.






Link to the LCVP - Higgins Boat:
https://cobi.pl/en/small-army-ww2/ships-and-boats/lcvp---higgins-boat,art,11390.html

Robert

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