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Heart of Leviathan by imageStudios  These are the ultimate heavy metal for us aficionados: Battleships in World W...

Heart of Leviathan by imageStudios Heart of Leviathan by imageStudios

Heart of Leviathan by imageStudios

Heart of Leviathan by imageStudios



Heart of Leviathan

by

imageStudios





 These are the ultimate heavy metal for us aficionados: Battleships in World War I. The setting was mostly the frigid North Sea, although action took place across the globe. This is one of my favorite wargame/simulation topics. Who wouldn't be in love with their majestic beauty? These ships were the ultimate weapon of war on the high seas until submarines and then finally aircraft came along. In the age depicted, they are like the dinosaurs with no other enemies except other leviathans to worry about. Massively armed and armored, they strode across the seas from 1905 until the beginning of world War II as each nation flexed their biceps. With the building of the British Dreadnought all other warships became obsolete overnight. Oddly enough, Dreadnought was so radically better than any other warship it actually somewhat levelled the playing field between Germany and Britain. So we know what the game is about; how is it to play?





 First things first, I have to tell you what HOL is not. It is not a naval simulation where you need the floor of your den or dining room to play. You also do not need a calculator or have to keep maximizing and reprinting the game's spreadsheets in order to read them. This game is a thing of beauty. It is a mixture of miniatures and wargame/simulation that is wonderful to look at and to play. The game's components are top shelf all the way. The piece de resistance is the miniature ships that come with the game. Even the rulebook is a small piece of art. This is what you get with the game:


4 Battleships - 2 König Class, 2 Iron Duke Class (this game set)
4 Hardstock Ship Counters
4 Ship Command Placards
5 Movement Templates
15 Dice - 5 Red, 5 Blue, 5 Black
Critical Damage Card Deck
Equipment Refit/Upgrade Card Deck
Shallow Water Obstacle
Numerous Minefield Obstacles
Smoke Markers
Ship Captain Card Deck
Numerous Markers
 





 I just cannot say enough about the level of the components. The only games that are comparable are very high level space simulators. The rulebook is only ten pages long including the Advanced Rules. The actual rules probably only take up five pages because of the excellent, and large, illustrations of setup and play. This is not a tome that cannot be memorized and you do not need a medieval monk, complete with scrolls, sitting next to the players as a reference. This is an exceedingly playable game that actually gives the player historic outcomes. It is one of those things where everyone is scratching their heads, going why didn't I think of this? Another great part of the game is that you can use the miniatures unpainted, but why would you, or you can use them after they are spruced up in all their glory. Not only that, you do not need them at all. If you are too wary of damaging your small masterpieces, the game comes with thick stock overhead portraits of the ships. The miniatures actually have a small rectangular keel that fits right into the cardboard. So it is up to you, admiral, on how you want to play. This also means that when leaving home to play somewhere else you do not have to worry about damage to your miniscule beauties. They actually are not that miniscule. The ships are almost 4 1/2" long (at least these Battleships are). You can play the game in as little space as 36" x 36" or larger if you prefer. The key to the game is the 'Ship Command Placard'. Everything about the ship from speed, hull strength, and the dice to use at what range, along with other things are on the placard. Everything about the rules has been streamlined and pretty much thought of. It has turned naval gunnery warfare from an hour for the player to find out if he has hit to what he actually hit on his opponent, to a simple system. I am not saying the other types of games are not enjoyable at times. It is just before this game we never had the choice of what type to play. That is one thing I have to state strongly. This game was never intended to be a simulation of incredible depth. You cannot target a specific part of the enemy's ship. It is a simple die roll that shows whether or not you have drawn blood. If you roll a 'Critical Hit', then the captain of the hit ship pulls a card from the Critical Damage Deck and implements those effects. Some of these are:

Damaged Rudder - Can only move straight
Power Generator Damage - You can only fire at range 1 or 2
Shattered Primary Gun Barrel - Remove one red and one blue die
Command Station Destroyed - Discard all Admiral and Captain   upgrade cards
Powder Magazine Explosion - Something wrong with your bloody ship today





 Both Captain Cards and Equipment Refit/Upgrade Cards are bought at the start of the game. They suggest a 200 point engagement value for each player. You, of course, are free to decide among the players the amount. Some of the Equipment Refit/Upgrade Cards are specific to the type of ship (Battleship. Battlecruiser), and some are specific to either Germany or England.
These are some of the cards:

Elbow Grease - Can freely rotate turrets to the other side
Mast range Clock  - Another Friendly ship within range 1-3 may change one blank result to a hit
Repair Damage - Recover up to two Hull Value of your ship

 Each Ship Captain Card has its own set of allowable Upgrade/Refit Cards it can use.







 The sequence of play is:

1. Plot Phase - Planning phase for the turn. Players secretly set their ship's Movement Value on the Ship Command Placard. Players may also select an Order that is available to them to be used during the turn.
2. Movement/Orders Phase - During the Movement/Orders Phase, players follow through with the movement and orders previously designated for their ships during the Plot Phase. The Player in possession of the First Player Token moves and/or executes orders for any one of his/her ships first followed by player 2 (repeat alternately until all ships have been activated)
3. Combat (Guns) Phase - Ships fire at opposing targets while targeted ships attempt to avoid or minimize damage. Players alternate firing back and forth (just as in movement). Battle damage is resolved immediately/consecutively - not simultaneously - Ships can be sunk before they have a chance to return fire.



 The advanced rules add the ability for a captain to make smoke. The advanced rules also include Close Quarter Melee rules. These ships were still armed for this even at this late age. The age of the ram armed Battleship was not that many years before. Image Studios has also released a set with cruisers that has torpedoes in the game. These are the English and German ships released and planned so far:

English

Iron Duke Class - Battleship
Iron Duke -  This was in my set
Benbow - This was in my set
Emperor of India
Marlborough

Queen Elizabeth Class - Battleship
Queen Elizabeth
Warspite
Barham
Malaya
Valiant


Weymouth sub-class of the Town class - Light Cruiser
Weymouth
Yarmouth
Falmouth
Dartmouth

M Class Destroyer

German

König Class - Battleship
König - This was in my set
Markgraf - This was in my set
KronPrinz
Grosser Kurfürst

Helgoland Class - Battleship
Helgoland
Thüringen
Ostfriesland
Oldenburg

Dresden Class - Light Cruiser
Dresden
Emden

U-boats
U-19
U-51




  

  This game is for anyone who has any interest in World War I naval battles. I think this is a great crossover game for someone who wants to try miniature gaming, or a miniature gamer who wants to head toward board games. This game is the perfect segue for either. Thank you imageStudios for letting me review this game. I cannot for the life of me understand why this game has so little written about it on the web. Its BGG page is almost entirely empty. For a game that is this good it is a shame. 

i
mageStudios Hearts of Leviathan:
https://www.imagestudios.us/heart-of-leviathan.html

Robert
 

2 comments :

  1. WOW! Components look amazing

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice looks awesome, game looks like one up my alley.

    ReplyDelete