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Wolfpack by John Tiller Software  We as wargamers have had a number of boardgames released on the subject. However, ...

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software Wolfpack by John Tiller Software

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

March 2020

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software



John Tiller Software

 We as wargamers have had a number of boardgames released on the subject. However, the computer simulation player has had a good amount of games released on Uboats and other nations' submarines. There have also been a good number of games that are for the Cold War and beyond. These games are probably the easiest to start with for a computer gamer. Usually you are only handling one sub, and the gamer only has a handful of choices. It is still a cat and mouse game with some options. The gist of the game itself is to get close enough to the merchants, or capital ships, to fire a torpedo at it that has a chance of hitting said vessel. While doing this you have to avoid the escorts. Pretty simple on the scale of what do I do in this game scale. If a merchant is sailing alone it is usually a goner, unless it is a Q ship. Then you just surface and hit it a few times with your deck gun until it surrenders. The real test for you, as a submarine captain, is attacking a convoy with escorts. I also think that a sea battle with only twenty units all told is a lot easier to program the AI than a land battle with 100 to each side. I own, or used to, almost every single submarine game that was released for the PC. So, let us make sure the batteries are full and head underwater to take a look at this new John Tiller Software game/simulation. let us read about the features:

 "50 scenarios ranging from small single submarine actions to massed wolfpack attacks.
Scenarios also highlight the role of air power, both land and air based.
Two campaigns are included, one on the career of the legendary ace Gunther Prien, and the other highlighting the changes in the Battle of the Atlantic from 1940-45.
Wolfpack uses a real-time game engine that can be run from 1x to 10x real-time and has the ability to pause.
Players can play each scenario against the computer A/I or using network play.
The British player has access to the full ASW arsenal, including Depth Charges, Depth Charge Projectors and Hedgehogs, while the Germans have innovative equipment like Snorkels and Homing Torpedoes.
A powerful Scenario Editor and Order of Battle Editor are included so that players can design their own scenarios of historical or hypothetical situations.
Shore terrain is included for Scapa Flow, the Kola Inlet, Gibraltar, Aruba and the North Carolina Coast."

 The first thing you will notice is that the game comes with fifty scenarios. The second thing that will catch your eye is that you get to play either the hunter or the hunted. That is correct, in this game you also get to play the escorts. While submarine games have abounded, I can think of only one other game where you could take on the role of a submarine hunter. There are a few games where it is part of a larger naval war or battle, but not ones that are based on separate scenarios about it. You can also see that you get to simulate the entire war, not just the early war, in which it was much easier to survive as a Uboat. Then, in the middle of the war, being in a Uboat was pretty much a death trap.

 The first notion that you have to get in or out of your head is that this is not Red Storm Rising. This is the 1940s. While the Germans do have rudimentary homing torpedoes at the end of the war, most of your time is spent with mark one eyeball, and a lot of guesswork. Another thing to keep in mind is that torpedoes fail at an alarming rate and are slow to reload. This is actually quite factual and I believe the German torpedoes were not much better than the American ones in the early years of the war. A lot of the early success of the Uboats was because the convoy system was not started up again immediately after the war started. Seeing as how this defeated the Uboats in world War I, the absence of the convoy system was idiotic. Many times the Uboats were able to catch single merchant ships and use their deck guns to persuade them to abandon ship. Which leads us back to your torpedoes, treat them as golden fish. Use them only when you are guaranteed of a hit, if they would only work correctly. This is much more of a simulation than a game so all of the problems of reality are here. It is much safer to approach a convoy at night, however your ability to search for the enemy at periscope depth is heavily curtailed. The early anti-submarine efforts also work the same way. The earlier in the war it is, the harder it is for an escort to find a submarine and destroy it. For those of you who cannot sit still, please pick another game. You will have a lot of times where you are just searching for the enemy. I can only state, use the faster times of the game's speed with incredible caution. Many times you will only be aware of enemy vessels by the firing of their guns at you using the faster speeds.

Scapa Flow

 The game graphics are those needed for a simulation of submarine warfare in World War II. There is no glitz or 3D to be found here. This is not to knock the game, it is just to let you know what you are buying into. The absence of anything on the map at most times means that this game does not even approach the visuals of John Tiller Software land simulations. You are not going to be aware of, let alone worried about, the thermal layer; see above. It is a slightly more in depth version of a cat and mouse game. The only difference here is that at any moment you can go from being the cat to the mouse. The audio of the simulation is superb. It is just as good as any other submarine game. The upswing of this is that it becomes one of your biggest assets that the game gives you. With repeated play, you can actually tell by listening how close the other ships are. It will also tell your speed and whether your periscope is up or down without even needing to look at the game buttons. One more thing to be aware of is that this is a planning game. Torpedoes have an effective distance of about how far you can throw a rock. You need to be precisely where that enemy ship is to even think about firing a torpedo at it. The good, or bad, thing about the game is that it follows history to a tee. In the beginning years both sides have many disadvantages. In the middle years of the war the Allied escorts have it mostly their way. Then at the end of the war the German advances in torpedoes and snorkels etc., swing the pendulum back again.

 This is a write up from the 'Getting Started' help file:

"As soon as the enemy is spotted, dive to periscope depth, and continue your approach. As the convoy zig zags you may need to adjust your course. Notice that you get different background sounds when you are submerged. This helps remind you if you are currently surfaced or underwater.While you are submerged, the pale green lines represent sound bearings to enemy ships, while the
bright green ones represent the enemy active sonar. From here, you'll want to maneuver your submarine to get into position to get a good shot at the enemy convoy. The closer the better... however, the escorts are looking for you! Take your shots and see if you can destroy the cargo ships and maybe an escort to boot...and then dive deep and run for safety. But how do I shoot? With your u-boat selected press and hold the Ctrl key and then right click where
you want your torpedo to go. A “fish” will launch and begin it’s course. Remember, your target is moving, so you don’t want to shoot where it is now, but rather where you believe it will be.
In my action I got very lucky with my first torpedo salvo and sunk the K class Corvette and started flooding on one of the merchant ships. From there I was able to sink two more merchants and then
square off with the remaining Frigate escort. I ended by hunting down the lame merchant ship and sinking her with my deck gun. A very successful ambush, but I exhausted my torpedo supply, which

would then force me to seek re-supply. If this had been a larger convoy I could be in real trouble now.."

 In the above picture my Uboat is at the upper right of the map, in the middle of the white circle. The white circle shows how far I can see. This is at night and I am at periscope depth. The large blue arc at the bottom of the Uboat is the range of the deck gun. The small arc not far at all from the Uboat is the range of the torpedoes. Yes, you read that correctly. How any submariners survived the war is beyond me. The 'K' on the screen is an escort. The 'AK' are merchantmen. This is early in the war so the escort would have to be parked on top of me to find me in the dark. 

 Thank you John Tiller Software for allowing me to review this great, but sometimes maddening game (in a good way). I do not know how many times I have redone the same scenario to try something different this time. The feeling you get when your plan comes to fruition and your attack works to a tee is something to be savored.

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software:

Please take a look at their Midway and Jutland simulations:



Antietam September 17, 1862 by Worthington Publishing  Antietam was the costliest day of fighting during ...

Antietam Septmber 17, 1862 by Worthington Publishing Antietam Septmber 17, 1862 by Worthington Publishing

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

March 2020

Antietam Septmber 17, 1862 by Worthington Publishing


September 17, 1862


Worthington Publishing

 Antietam was the costliest day of fighting during the entire American Civil War. The cover shows a picture of Burnside's Bridge. This is just one of many places in this small battlefield that were etched upon the soldiers' minds. The East and West Woods, and that terrible Millers Cornfield; I have walked this battlefield, and was simply amazed at the smallness of it. How so much death and destruction was wrought in this little area is hard to fathom. By the way, the Sunken Road is not what many people think it is. I always assumed that it was a sunken lane, and that the area in front of it was flat and offered the Confederates a sweeping field of fire. In reality the lane is sunken, but it is actuality much lower than where the Union attacks came from. The Irish and others attacked over a small hill right above the Sunken Lane. You would think that the Confederates would have occupied the crest of the hill. However, they were already the closest Confederate unit to the Union batteries on the other side of Antietam Creek. The heavy Union artillery would have wreaked havoc on them. From the crest to the Sunken Lane is probably only a few hundred feet, if that. The battle there was at the same close quarters as the Cornfield. The battlefield is very well kept up and if you get a chance, go and check it out. Now on to the game. This is one of Worthington Publishing's first games in their 'Civil War Brigade Battle Series'.

 The game comes with:

22 X 33 hard mounted game board
4 counter sheets
8 page Series rules
8 page Playbook
2 ten sided dice
1 6 sided morale die
1 box

 Instead of me rewriting it, here is information about the game from Worthington Publishing:

"The game is igo-ugo, brigade level with each strength point representing 100 men. Map scale is 250 yds per hex. An 8 page rule book will have you playing within an hour as many concepts will be familiar to war gamers. Ranged artillery fire, morale, melee, cavalry charges, and more will have you battling until the last turn to see if you can achieve victory. Step loss counters in 1 point increments."

 The map is big and beautiful with very large hexes. The terrain of each hex is easily identifiable. The counters are large, easy to read, and color coded for their division. They are also marked as far as what corps they belong to, come pre-rounded, and fall out of the cardboard sprue like they have been greased. The numbers on the strength point counters are large enough for me to see without my spectacles (bifocals). The overall appearance and manufacture of the game pieces is pretty darn good. 

 You get two rulebooks, one for the game and one for the series. They are both only eight pages long. The designers went for a game that will have you playing in under an hour. I think they have succeeded admirably in reaching that goal. The game comes with four scenarios. These are:

The Morning Attack
Bloody Lane -  (Sunken Lane)
Burnside Bridge - (Or how to waste the day)
The Battle of Antietam: The Full Battle

 The game comes with the usual rules for nineteenth century warfare. Cavalry can be either Mounted/Dismounted. Artillery are either Limbered/or Unlimbered, and can only move when Limbered. You do get a bonus for moving in column on road or clear hexes, as long as you are four hexes away from an enemy unit. The Player does not have to remember to put his units into and out of column. The rules assume that the general in charge would be able to take care of this detail. Unfortunately in history this was sometimes not the case. Leader units are extremely valuable. If a Leader is stacked with a unit that has to make a morale check, a -1 is added to the die roll. During the Command Phase if an infantry or cavalry unit is within four hexes they are in command. Leaders can be eliminated and then the counter is placed on its obverse side (replacement). A unit has to be within three hexes of a replacement leader to be in command. In the Rally Phase a unit has to be within Command Range of their Leader to attempt to Rally. Battle in the game is as bloody as it was in reality. You will be using a lot, if not all, of the strength point markers. The game rules allow the battle to swing back and forth just like it did in reality. The rules do a good job of giving you historical and plausible outcomes in your different playthroughs.

This is the sequence of play:

First Player Command Phase
First Player Organization Phase
First Player Offensive Artillery Phase
First Player Movement Phase
First player Combat Phase
   Second Player Defensive Fire 
   First Player Offensive Fire
First Player Rally Phase
Second Player has the same exact phases
The Turn Marker is advanced one turn

 The Victory Conditions are pretty straightforward. Each side scores one point for every casualty point the other side has accumulated. This is a list of the Victory Point hexes:

Dunker Church - Confederate Control 10VP - Union Control 25VP
Any Sunken Road Hex - Confederate Control of all of Them 10VP - Union Control of any of Them 25VP
Potomac Ford - Confederate Control 25VP - Union Control 50VP

 Antietam is a battle that only a general like McClellan could lose. Lee would not have forced this battle if he had not been the Union general. In actuality, the battle is only for the Union to lose or win. McClellan's timidity is shown in the rules by only allowing the Union player to activate only two corps each turn. This is the only way that the battle can be recreated, and show McClellan's timidity, and also not allow the Union to just crush Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. If the Union player does not use his two corps a turn better than McClellan, he will probably lose. If the Confederate Player does not use all of his units as fire brigades he will probably lose. The Confederate player must play like the 'Little Dutch Boy' and use all of his fingers and toes to dam up the dike. The game was designed by Mike and Grant Wylie. Grant 's suggestions for the Union are that you get Sumner's Corps and Porter's Corps across the middle bridge before doing anything on the Confederate left with Hooker's Corps. He also states that you have to get Mansfield's Corps in position with Hooker's Corps before attacking there. Grant's suggestions to the Confederate Player is to "Be like Lee". Meaning run about the board and deal with one disaster after another. The game is an excellent medium complexity game on the Battle of Antietam. It has just the right amount of rules and glitz to make it eminently playable and fun. Thank you Worthington Publishing for allowing me to review another great game of theirs. I cannot wait to see some more battles in their 'Civil War Brigade Battle Series', especially The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, or The Seven Days Battles.

Antietam website:


Tanaka 1587 Japan's Greatest Unknown Samurai Battle by Stephen Turnbull  This is a small book of 120 pag...

Tanaka 1587 Japan's Greatest Unknown Samurai Battle by Stephen Turnbull Tanaka 1587 Japan's Greatest Unknown Samurai Battle by Stephen Turnbull

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

March 2020

Tanaka 1587 Japan's Greatest Unknown Samurai Battle by Stephen Turnbull

Tanaka 1587

Japan's Greatest Unknown Samurai Battle


Stephen Turnbull

 This is a small book of 120 pages that goes into what happened in Japan right after the death of Oda Nobunaga. The siege of Tanaka Castle took place right after Toyotomi Hideyoshi's conquest of Kyushu. The siege at Tanaka castle was the culmination of the Higo Rebellion. Hideyoshi had installed Sassa Narimasa as the overlord of Higo Province. He was very unpopular with the locals, so they revolted.

 Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the second of Japan's greatest warlords who tried to conquer all of Japan. Oda Nobunaga was well on his way to subduing all of Japan before he was brutally betrayed. Hideyoshi did manage to become the sole ruler of the land, but when he died he left as his heir a child. It was left to the third warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu to start a ruling family for the next 200+ years.

 To finally become master of all Japan, Hideyoshi needed to invade Kyushu and conquer it. He was able to divide and conquer the various lords of Kyushu and take control after the largest military campaign in Japanese history up until then. Sassa Narimasa was once described by the Japanese historian Tokutomi as a "dried sardine gnashing its teeth". Sassa Narimasa was actually a general underneath Oda Nobunaga, and he fought against Hideyoshi in the power struggle after Nobunaga's death. 

 The book goes into the archeological search for and the finding of the remains of Tanaka Castle. The Siege is also presented in the movie Kumamoto Monogatari in a highly fictionalized account. Some of the movie was shot on the actual site of the Castle. The siege was apparently unknown except by locals until 1987.

 The actual story of the siege is that the Castle was defended by 1000 troops against 10,000 led by Hideyoshi for 100 days. The sources have various glorious deaths or forget to mention what happened to each of the three Wani brothers who were defending the Castle. The story of the siege and rebellion etc. is just a microcosm of the history of Japan during and before the time the Castle fell. The heroism and the self sacrifice along with betrayal were unfortunately a well know theme during the Sengoku Period. The book does a very good job of showing how retainers and lords interacted at the time. Statues of the three Wani brothers now greet you at the parking lot.


Publisher: Helion & Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) D-Day Edition by Cobi  The Douglas C-47 Skytrain, Dakota in English service, ...

Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) D-Day Edition by Cobi Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) D-Day Edition by Cobi

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

March 2020

Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) D-Day Edition by Cobi

Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota)

D-Day Edition



 The Douglas C-47 Skytrain, Dakota in English service, was based on the Douglas DC-3 Airliner. It seems amazing, but the DC-3 was first flown in 1936, and there are still ones being flown today in parts of the world as passenger or freight planes. The C-47 continued in the U.S. Air Force until the late 1960s. Its variants are too numerous to list. You might have heard of it being used as a gunship in Vietnam. It was nicknamed 'Spooky' or 'Puff the Magic Dragon'. It was armed with an array of weapons with which to rain havoc upon enemy soldiers. This model that we are building was modeled after ones used on D-Day in 1944.

 I think we will first delve into the fact that this is a Cobi block kit. Like addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, this is a block kit that in a slightly different form, most children would love, and often get on Christmas or their birthdays. Another yes would be that we are grown men building with Cobi blocks. I say who cares. To me the sense of accomplishment that comes with building a Cobi kit is the same as building a model. No, I take that back, it is better than building a model. Some of us are artists, but most of us are not. There are some people who have a lot of free time on their hands; again most of us do not. To build and craft and paint a model is a lot of time and work. Yes, some of them do look just like the real thing. I, and a lot of other people, cannot build a model to look like what you see in magazines. I do not have the time nor the skill sets needed for it. I can however, build a Cobi kit that looks amazing and have fun doing it. This part of our hobby is something that anyone can do and enjoy. First of all, building a Cobi kit is affordable. When you buy a Cobi kit you are not spending a car payment for the model. To be perfectly honest, I do not think that the finished block models that cost $300 and more look any better than a Cobi one. In fact, I think some are quite inferior. Please do not get me started on the cheap knock-offs. They look bad and are only slightly less expensive than a real Cobi model.

 This model of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain is exceedingly well done by Cobi. Their planes are looking less 'blocky' with each new one coming out. A tank is a lot easier to make out of blocks because of its shape. By their very nature, planes do not lend themselves to be made out of blocks. So the fact that Cobi can pull it off is even more amazing. I proudly put my Cobi sets on display next to the diecast models that I have bought. 

 So how is it to build one of these? In one word, enjoyable. You are not waiting for paint to dry, or have to get these two pieces together right now before the glue dries. If the phone rings, just answer it. If you want to get a cup of coffee go ahead. The blocks will be waiting right there where you left them. if you want to finish your entire model today or just put together ten pieces it is up to you. The directions stop at roughly each two to ten pieces for each separate piece of the construction. Have fun; that is why you bought it. You didn't buy it to think everything through and to worry about what about this part, do I have the right paint etc. You bought it to enjoy building it, alone or with someone. Then there is the absence of fear, what if I did the last pieces wrong. Just take the few pieces off and do it over. No fuss, no mess, and completely hassle free. 

 This build for me was very calming and I really wanted to see how good Cobi could make this plane look. I was astounded at how much better it looked than I thought it could in the end. The build itself was only 550 pieces so I knew roughly how long it would take. I spread it out over a few hours and two days, because, well because I could. There were no hiccups in the build other than one of my own making by not looking close enough at the directions. 

 I want to thank Cobi for allowing me to review this excellent addition to their air fleet. One thing I want to discuss is missing parts. I have built ten of the Cobi models so far and I always have extra pieces. The only time I have come up short is because I used the wrong part earlier in the build. I have seen some people posting that they have missing parts and for me I have never had that problem. 

Link to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain:,art,11660.html



In the wargaming space, it's particularly interesting to see a game that bends the norms of the genre to suit a particular war or ev...

Battle for Iwo Jima Battle for Iwo Jima

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

March 2020

Battle for Iwo Jima

In the wargaming space, it's particularly interesting to see a game that bends the norms of the genre to suit a particular war or even specific battle. That's the nature of Battle for Iwo Jima, the new title from one-man operation YoboWargames. As you might imagine this game focuses on just one battle, the brutal struggle for that tiny island in the Pacific. Battle for Iwo Jima takes a look at the conflict through the lens of simple, yet thoughtful game design where each side follows a different set of rules. 

This is a single player only title, where you can only play as the US Marines, and there is only one scenario. This might sound pretty limited in an age where we expect games to have unlimited content and options, but in this case it works in the favor of the game. By designing the entire game around playing this one battle from one direction, the focus is entirely on making that specific experience more interesting. At the same time, the game uses a straightforward and simple set of rules that are more reminiscent of a boardgame than anything else.

Play proceeds through a fixed set of phases. The player controls the US Marines from the initial beach landings to the bitter end of the battle. If you manage to get there! This is not an easy game and it's entirely possible to be relieved of duty after only a few turns if things go exceptionally poorly. Each turn progresses through a series of distinct phases as the player assigns limited support points to units of their choosing, and moves the Marines around (while the Japanese shoot at them), then the Japanese get to hit them with artillery, and attack Marines that are adjacent. Surviving Marine units then get a chance to attack the Japanese units. Afterwards there is a night phase where the Marines can be attacked again by the Japanese. Occasionally a suicidal Banzai charge will occur which is a high stakes affair for everyone involved, but often favors the player. 

You'll notice that the Japanese defenders get many opportunities to inflict casualties on the Marines, while the player's forces only get one attack per turn, if they manage to get into position and aren't so fatigued as to make the attack more risk than reward. The key advantage that the Marines have is that they are highly mobile, able to move as far as they want each turn, while the Japanese defenders are fixed in place and never move. The trouble is, the only way for the Marines to find and close the distance to the defenders is to take fire and hope for the best. Often, if you aren't careful, your Marines will wander into a killzone, taking fire from two or three Japanese units at once. This hazard is at times unavoidable, as the time constraints mixed with the physical constraints of the geography force you to choose between making a safer, yet limited attack, or rolling the dice and trying to overwhelm the enemy.

I will admit that this was a difficult game for me, and I have not managed to win the entire campaign yet. Repeated plays have given me a better sense of strategy and how to deal with the challenges the game deals out, but it's still rough going. The battle also changes as it goes through a couple of phases. Taking the airfield near the beaches isn't too hard, as the Japanese are mostly in the open and there is some room to get at them once you crack the line in a spot or two. The next item on the agenda is taking Mt. Suribachi, which limits the damage from the Japanese artillery and eliminates one front from your concerns. This is a bit harder, as the Japanese are dug in and there is little room to maneuver. After that, the real grind begins as the player must break through and defeat multiple fortified lines of defense to conquer the rest of the island. While the Marines do get several waves of new units and some reinforcement points, they never feel like quite enough for the task at hand. Fortunately, the game does come with a thorough manual that includes a strategy guide, which you will definitely want to read through. 

To make all of this a bit more complicated, Marine units can only fight when they are in range of their HQ, which must by necessity be kept right at the edge of dangerous territory if you want to keep with your timetable. It's very tempting to move them up closer, directly into danger, so that your flanking units are still in contact. You also get several tank units, which can attack directly but are best used to support the attacks of infantry. You have no choice but to send the tanks into harm's way if you want them to be of any use, but you can dedicate your "support" points to them each turn to give them a better chance. 

So that covers most of the gameplay mechanics. It is indeed a relatively simple game that you can learn how to play in a matter of minutes. To win, however, will require you to learn the nuances of the system and how best to approach the problem at hand. Thoughtlessly throwing your Marines at the Japanese defenders will quickly result in them being whittled down to nothing long before you have control of the island. Rather, you must consider the potential risks and benefits of each move, and exploit any seams that appear in the Japanese defenses. You must also accept up front that you will take considerable casualties no matter what. I found this to be a sobering aspect of commanding this particular battle. There is no tactic that allows you to completely avoid taking fire and the accompanying loss of men. You have to put your boys into harm's way in order to achieve your objectives.

Battle for Iwo Jima has relatively simple graphics to go along with its simple rule set. That said, the visuals do have quite a lot of charm to them. The occasional animations bring the boardgame-esque map to life, like when flares go up during the night attack phase, or the occasional flight of US Navy fighters cruises across the map. One clear benefit of the simplicity is that the game has extremely low system requirements and should run on practically anything.

For the very low asking price, this game is easy to recommend to anyone interested in the battle or in the market for a simple, if not easy, wargame. You will get an enjoyable experience for sure, though once you have beaten the game there might not be too much reason to return. Still, this is a nice one to add to your collection whether you are an experienced wargamer or someone looking for an entry point into the genre. 

Battle for Iwo Jima is available on Steam.

- Joe Beard

Contact me at or on Twitter @_AWNT_


Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862 by Tiny Battle publishing  The Battle of Shiloh is considered by most to be the turn...

Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862 by Tiny Battle Publishing Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862 by Tiny Battle Publishing

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

March 2020

Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862 by Tiny Battle Publishing

Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862


Tiny Battle publishing

 The Battle of Shiloh is considered by most to be the turning point of the war. Up until that time there had been battles, but this was the first one with a horrific casualty list. To add to the frightfulness was the fact that it really didn't affect the situation at all. True, it was a tactical win for the Union, but because of it the Union almost lost Grant (and Sherman). It was a blood bath that had no real conclusion, except that Americans were now really at war, and the bloodshed was only going to mount. Tiny Battle Publishing has been making a few Civil War games lately. I recently reviewed their 'The Devil's to Pay' about the first day of Gettysburg. That one was designed by Hermann Luttmann, one of my newest favorite designers. This game was designed by Sean Chick who I also like, and whom I have a fair amount of games from. So let us see if Tiny Battle Publishing can pull off another smaller or better coup. This is a blurb from Tiny Battle Publishing:

"Rally 'Round the Flag! is a brigade grand tactical system that combines old school hex and counter maneuvers with rules for command and control, leader personalities, and a CRT that favors quality and firepower over raw mass. For Shiloh the series will feature rules for the 47th Tennessee, Lew Wallace’s variable arrival, and Union gunboats among other things. The game comes with multiple scenarios, including a better Confederate attack plan, the battle starting on April 5, and the second day of battle. In addition, rules are included to modify each scenario with a variable arrival for Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio and part of the Fort Donelson garrison escaping and taking part in the battle. For those wanted to be even more adventurous, units are included from Earl Van Dorn’s Army of the West, and the brigades involved in the siege of Island No. 10."

 This is what comes with the game:

One beautiful 11"x17" paper map
One two-sided 8 1/2"x11" Player Aid Card
One single-sided turn and point tracking card with Random Events Table
One full-color 24-page rule book
121 two sided unit counters
Two Command Point markers
Two Victory Point markers
Ten Out of Command markers

One Game Turn marker 

 So you can see that for $22 you really do get a lot of gaming in a small package.

 The map is small, but entirely adequate for the job. The terrain features for each hex are easy to discern. Shiloh, like some other battles, was actually fought in a very small area so there is really no need for a larger map. The counters are large and very easy to read the information needed off them. The Rulebook is in black and white, and the rules themselves are only nine pages long. The other pages are filled up with four scenarios. To add to the replayability the designer has added eleven different options for the player to choose from for each new game. Some of these favor the Union and some the Confederates. These are the scenarios:

Historical Battle
Better Confederate Plan
Attack on April 5th
Day 2: April 7, 1862


Fort Donelson Division
Earl Van Dorn Crosses the Mississippi River
Island No. 10
Confederate Flanking Forces
Pittsburg Landing: Headquarters Army of the Tennessee
Henry Halleck in Command
Charles F. Smith in Command
Nelson Arrives
Lew Wallace Takes the River Road
Don Carlos Buell at Crump's Landing
Army of the Ohio and the Transports

 These help or hinder each side as far as the Victory Points etc.

 The Sequence of Play is:

Initiative Phase
Random Events Phase (if triggered during initiative)
Artillery Bombardment Phase
 First Player Phases
Activation Phase
Movement Phase
Combat Phase
 Second Player Phases same as First Player
Recovery Phase
Victory Phase

 The Units also have their quality listed as one through 5.

1: Green
2: Trained
3: Experienced
4: Veteran
5: Elite

 There are also Optional Brigadier Personality Rules. Each leader has his personality listed as:

(A) Aggressive: Brigade must be moved toward the nearest enemy; if equidistant the acting player chooses.
(C) Cautious: Brigade must move away from enemy and cannot enter an Enemy Zone of Control during movement.
(P) Prudent: Brigade cannot move.
(W) Wild card: No restrictions.

 The above effect play only when results of 2,3, or 10 are rolled on the Random Events table.

 Speaking of the Random Events table, it is exceedingly brutal at times and a complete game changer. If during the Initiative Phase the die rolls are a tie, the Random Events table is looked at. On a die roll of 1-3 it is a Confederate Event, and on a die roll of 4-6 it is a Union one. We will look at #2 as an example:

2. Grand Blunder: On a 1-5, move 1 enemy corps as if it were under your control. On a 6 you command that enemy corps in the following turn as well.

 The game functions on Command Points. Each Player is given a set amount of Command Points per the scenario rules. At the beginning of the Activation Phase the Acting Player rolls a die to see if they receive extra command Points.

 This is a great little game that has plenty of 'big game' glitz and rules. The amount of scenarios and options to play are really amazing for the price. A lot of work was put into the game by the designer. There is nothing wrong with small games, but you almost wish the ruleset was used in a full sized game of Shiloh. Thank you Tiny Battle Publishing for letting me review this small wonder.

The game's website:



278th Squadron "The Same 4 Cats" by Quarterdeck International I do not know why, but I absol...

278th Squadron by Quarterdeck International 278th Squadron by Quarterdeck International

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

March 2020

278th Squadron by Quarterdeck International

278th Squadron

"The Same 4 Cats"


Quarterdeck International

I do not know why, but I absolutely love Italian planes from right before and during World War II. I have flown them in every combat flight simulator that has been made, from the biplanes to the 2005 series of fighters and most of the bombers, including this one the Savoia Marchetti 79. This was usually shortened to just SM.79, or as the English called it "Damned Hunchback". The Italian nickname was Sparviero (Sparrowhawk). In this game you will be flying it in the 278th Squadron, nicknamed "The Same 4 Cats (I soliti 4 gatti). The plane, although of prewar design, was a very good torpedo bomber. It scored many hits against the Royal Navy in World War II.

 The game is composed of a Game Mat and several decks of small cards. These decks are:


 The game retails for $16, so understand these are small decks of cards made of thin cardboard. They all work fine except for one small snag, and it has nothing to do with gameplay. The Ship Cards are done in yellow and the small write up about the ship, not needed for play, is in a red that for me is very hard to read against the yellow background. Even with that slight blip it doesn't change or hurt the game one iota. 

 The rules are very simple. The player will play out ten missions with your SM.79 to try and torpedo a ship(s). So the Mission Card is pulled first. The Mission Card will show you if you have to add any cards to the Event Card deck for that mission. It might be more AA Cards or a Sun Card etc. Your plane will start out with seven Event Cards away from the ship. Now this is the tricky part, you can choose to release your torpedo between cards four through one. Of course, the closer you get the more you have a chance for a torpedo hit, or for you to turn into a fiery ball. On your way to the ship you have to deal with Event Cards that can help or hurt you ie. Sun Cards or AA Cards. Then when your nerves have had enough you let go of your torpedo and check to see if you have hit or missed the ship. You will have to make up 'Decks' of cards to figure out damage, hits, or what have you. The instructions will tell you exactly what cards will make up these Decks. So for example, the game will say to see if your torpedo hits, "make a deck of three Hit Cards and one Miss card". As I said, the rules are pretty easy. Your goal is to first, survive your ten missions and second, to torpedo ships and win medals.

 I am the worst pilot that the Regia Aeronautica has ever had. My abilities to miss a ship with a torpedo is only bested by my ability to attract AA fire. One problem that I have is that to increase my chances of getting a torpedo hit, I continually try to get as close as possible to my target. I should weigh the odds more and try from further away. My nickname in the Italian Air Force is 'Smoky'. I think it comes from my inner thought while playing 21 to always say 'hit me'. Either that or I believe that the ship will be damaged by the pieces of my flaming plane hitting it. 

 The game is simple to play, but it does have some thought behind it. The game is not just a time waster or card turner. You do have some control over the life of your plane. Thank you Quarterdeck International for letting me kick the tires in this fun, exasperating little game.

Link to the game:



Preview of End of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games  I took advantage of the 40% off sale at Compass Games and fin...

Preview of End Of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games Preview of End Of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games

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

March 2020

Preview of End Of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games

Preview of End of Empire: 1744-1782


Compass Games

 I took advantage of the 40% off sale at Compass Games and finally picked this one up. It has the Colonial Wars between France and Britain, and the American Revolution rolled into one. Here is the blurb from Compass Games:

 "End of Empire: 1744-1783 is a two player game covering the three great conflicts fought on the North American continent between 1744 and 1783: King George’s War, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolutionary War. The game represents great value with 15 scenarios spanning these 3 wars."

This is the Northern Map

 This is what you get with the game:

Two 22 X 34 inch maps
Five countersheets (9/16” size) & Replacement Counters
One rulebook
One scenario book
Multiple reference cards

 The map is done very well and it is easy to read and figure out the terrain of each hex. The counters are excellent and have the picture of each general on their counter. The Rulebook and Scenario Book are in black and white, but the type is large and easy to read. The Rulebook is twenty-three pages long. The Scenario Book is twenty-seven pages long and is packed with the aforementioned fifteen scenarios. I was very pleased to see that Compass Games had added another scenario to the game 'Lord Dunmore's War 1744'.

 These are the scenarios:

Invasion of Canada 1775
Main French and Indian War
Full French and Indian War
The American Revolutionary War: 1775 Start
American Revolution 1776 Start
The British Invasion Scenario
American Revolution 1777 Start
The Saratoga Scenario
Burgoyne's Second Chance (What If)
The 1778 Scenario
The Southern scenario
The Final Year Scenario
The British Dream Scenario (What If)
King George's War
The war of Jenkin's Ear

 So with the added scenario that gives a player a whopping sixteen. The game pieces look excellent and it portrays some of my favorite periods to game. I cannot wait to get this on the table. Compass Games' sale continues until 4/5, so hurry up and get your order in. Thank you Compass Games for what looks to be another great gaming experience.