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The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C.  Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts ...

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts

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

June 2020

The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. Volume II: Battles & Tactics by Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts




The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. 

Volume II: Battles & Tactics

by

Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts








 Alexander's last words were recorded in several different versions. One of them was that he wished he could see his 'funeral games'; another version says he left his empire "to the strongest". If he did actually say either, it was pretty astute of him. The 'funeral games' and the fight for primacy took up the next four decades. The wars after Alexander's death occupied the Hellenistic World until the end of the Hellenistic Age. The main antagonist of these wars was Antigonus Monophthalmus (the one-eyed). According to Plutarch he was the "oldest and greatest" of the Diadochi (Successors). The wars and battles continued for so many years because a few of the Diadochi were trying to be the last one standing, and conquering the entire kingdom that Alexander had held at his death.

  This book is Volume II in the series. The first volume dealt with Wars of the Diadochi. This volume deals with their battles and the tactics used in them. The greatest battle of the age and one of the largest battles in Ancient History is described here. That would be the Battle of Ipsus. It was fought in 301 B.C. On one side you had Antigonus, Demetrius, and Pyrrhus. The other side was populated by troops from all of the other Diadochi. Seleuces was there along with his 400 elephants! Lysimachus was also present on the field. Ipsus ended the Antigonid dream of reuniting the empire. Antigonus was killed and Demetrius was forced to flee. 

 Just as in Volume I, the information in this book is priceless for both the history lover and wargamer. To see how exactly the great generals of the time used their elephants, phalanxes, and cavalry in battle is eye opening, and sometimes different then what we think their use was. Many of us also believe that when an ancient battle was being lost there was not much a general at the time could do about it. The fact that Antigonus twice pulled his irons from the fire and came up with victories puts paid on that score. 

 Thank you Casemate Publishers, for letting me review this great second volume. No one with an interest of the military history of the period should be without the set.

Robert

Book: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 B.C. : Volume II Battles & Tactics
Authors: Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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It's exactly what it says on the tin, here's a video of me running through the demo for Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift . If you s...

Let's Play Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift Demo Let's Play Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift Demo

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

June 2020

Let's Play Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift Demo


It's exactly what it says on the tin, here's a video of me running through the demo for Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift. If you scurry over to Steam right away you can grab the demo yourself (it goes away June 22nd), but if you missed it or just want to kick back and watch a video, here are the four missions featured in the demo.








- Joe Beard

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LIBERTAD O MUERTE from AVALON-DIGITAL When I first received this beta version of what was originally entitled Libertadores from Ava...

LIBERTAD O MUERTE! LIBERTAD O MUERTE!

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

June 2020

LIBERTAD O MUERTE!

LIBERTAD O MUERTE
from
AVALON-DIGITAL
When I first received this beta version of what was originally entitled Libertadores from Avalon-Digital and has finally be named Libertad o Muerte, it didn't even have a rule book available online. However, from my experience with their digital game Battles for Spain, I was able to start to explore the game as most of the mechanics are identical.  Obviously, we're in a different time and a different part of the world altogether with a very different feel to it.

My knowledge prior to this game was purely the name Simon Bolivar whose nickname, El Libertador, lent itself to the game's initially projected title and whose surname is the title of the first Scenario.


The historical background is the Wars of Independence in the Spanish colonies of South America from 1810-1825.  The two players represent the conflicting factions: the Patriots against the Royalists.

Once more, we are in the digital manifestation of the sort of tabletop board wargame that stacks out my game shelves. It's an IGO-UGO system with the Patriot player going first and the Royalist Player second.  You can play either side against the computer A.I., but there's also the option to use playbymail to take on another human opponent.

A familiar framework of Phases takes you the through the rules and as with Battles In Spain, there is now a full 52 page online rule book that you can access.  
The Phases speak for themselves.:
Draw Cards
Reinforcements
Income
Maintenance
Purchase
Naval Movement
Naval Combat
Land Movement
Land Combat
Siege
Place Purchased Units
Replacements
As with so many digital games, the actions are often far swifter to execute than manipulating physical counters and negotiating a paper rulebook.  
Draw Cards and Reinforcement Phases
As with all good card assisted games, this is the opportunity to pick up some of the essential history belonging to this campaign.  Any Event cards will be outlined in purple and have to be played immediately.   I'd also strongly advise reading the inroduction to each Scenario carefully, where you'll find information crucial to winning the game, particularly key regions to eithe hold or capture.

A typical Event that gives the Patriots some VPs 


and increases the Tension Index

Some cards will provide reinforcements that will appear in a later Phase.  These tend to a Leader and some accompanying units and the potential areas that they can be placed in will be highlighted by those areas turning green.  Along with the familiar three arms, you may at times receive ships and privateers.  I always like games that do more than jus provide basic fodder, but create the ambience of the period through touches of chrome like this.
Income and Maintenance
These are the type of Phases which I hate when they appear in a board wargame: the totting up of how much money you're bringing in and how much maintaining your troops cost.  In a computer game, I'm happy because the computer does it for me.  The only input you may need to have is if you don't have enough to pay all your troops and then you will be presented with a list to click on those you choose to retain and pay for.
Purchase [every other turn]
Having had the hard work done for you, you are now free to buy units with any military resources or use some for replacement points.  Once again where you can place what you buy will be shown by the areas being lit up.  This is a very useful help, as some types of units can only be placed in certain types of terrain.  No making accidental mistakes. A final good point is that a black silhouette of the type of unit is left in the area.  The unit will be placed there in a later Phase*.  

Primarily we're in the era of infantry, cavalry and artillery with combat and movement strengths as well as morale.  Replacing the steps that you would have in a physical copy, each counter shows its steps by a number of green dots -  a nice point is that some units that arrive as reinforcements aren't always at full strength! 
Movement 
A simple process of clicking on a stack and dragging it to its destination takes care of movement.  An aspect I like is that not only does the program, as you'd expect, not let you exceed movement allowances, it also provides a written message if there are other reasons why the move cannot be made.  Wish I could be programmed to avoid those mistakes when I'm playing with physical components!
Combat
This is one area that I want to control for myself, but in this game you can't.  For once, the computer taking control for me is not a good idea.  It does make battles fast, but I like games where I can choose how I line up my units, see the dice rolls and know why I've hit or missed.  In games where you've masses of counters that can become a chore, but this is not that type of game. By and large these are fairly low unit encounters.  I have several computer games that employ an almost identical mechanism and visual display for battles as Libertadores does, but give you that degree of control where I think it matters. 
Sieges
These are fairly rare and occur when you have units in an area and the only enemy, often just a garrison, are in a city.  They are handled by a simple die roll system.
*Place Purchased Units
As it says, this is when you actually get those units you bought earlier.  
Replacements
Similarly this is when you can use the replacement points you purchased earlier.

All in all this is a very satisfying system with an interface that is largely intuitive and a clear rule book to clarify any uncertainties you might have about carrying out any functions.  At 52 pages it seems like you've got a fairly deep game on your hands, but text size and plentiful illustrations in fact make this a rule book I'd be very happy to have if this was a conventional board wargame sitting on my dining room table.  After a session or two, I doubt that you'll have any need to refer to it, especially if you take the time to go through the Learning Tutorials.   

Turns go by quickly and smoothly with the ability to set your A.I. opponent at three levels of difficulty: Basic, Voluntary and Expert.  The centre one is the default setting with the choice to make it easier or more difficult.   The Scenarios are diverse and range from ones that cover a small portion of the map to much vaster campaigns.  For this, navigation around the map couldn't be easier with the mouse wheel making zooming in and out at your fingertips, as seen below.  One minor draw back is that when the A.I. is playing the map zooms out.  You can manage to manually reframe this, but as it moves from Phase to Phase it automatically zooms out again.  I believe that small irritant is something the company are hoping to improve.

The Big Picture
A Closer Look
I've greatly enjoyed this game and would particularly recommend it to those, like me, who enjoy what is essentially a traditional board wargame in digital format with many of the advantages of the latter form.  In fact, I hope that the rumours I've heard of its intended production as a traditional board wargame come to fruition.  It's certainly one I'd like to have in front of me handling the excellent cards, moving the pieces physically and conducting the battles myself - I'd even put up with having to work out my own income, payment and resources!

As always many thanks to AvalonDigital for providing a review copy



The game can be purchased direct from AvalonDigital for 19.99 euros.


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Naval Battles Simulator, in development by  Anarchy'97 , has recently appeared on Steam Early Access. Although it's not going to be ...

Early Access: Naval Battles Simulator Early Access: Naval Battles Simulator

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

June 2020

Early Access: Naval Battles Simulator



Naval Battles Simulator, in development by Anarchy'97, has recently appeared on Steam Early Access. Although it's not going to be a game for everyone, NBS is an ambitious project from a small team that I wanted to give you a look at. So what Naval Battles is the game simulating exactly? That would be the battles between the Axis and Allies in WW2. The game features scenarios depicting notable battles, and a campaign mode, which is the meat of the game. As the Allies, you'll need to protect shipping as it moves from the US to the UK and other locales. If you choose to play as the Axis, you'll be trying to intercept those same convoys.  


Although I have only dabbled in the campaign mode, I've seen that it has a lot to dig into for any wargamer interested in the setting. As the Allied player, you'll be setting up convoys, escorts, and patrols to keep supplies flowing for the war effort. Just as in the real war, the key step towards destroying the Axis raiders is finding them in the first place. How you go about this is a big part of the strategy. Do you dedicate ships to directly escorting convoys, spread them out to cover more ground, or try to pen in the Axis at their ports? Likewise, as the Axis you'll need to dodge enemy patrols and hunt down those convoys. You only have so many ships available, and the oceans are vast. To aid you in this effort, you will receive some intelligence from various sources that will give you an incomplete, but useful, picture of what sorts of enemy task forces are out there, and where they were last seen.


If you don't want to handle the big picture, you can leave it up to the AI and only engage in the tactical battles. The reverse is also possible, directing the strategic efforts and leaving the battles to the computer. If you do choose to control the battles directly, the game switches to a zoomed in tactical view. While the visuals are pretty simplistic, they do convey what is going on well enough. Various icons on a blue field show the location and direction of the ships, with shells flying and back and forth once combat begins. If you want, you can get pretty nitty-gritty here, selecting targets for individual turrets on each ship and manually ordering them to fire. Most likely you'll want to keep it simple, but it's nice that the option is there. NBS models many details relevant to naval warfare at this time. A display shows the flooding status of different compartments in the ship, pumps can be manually directed to correct listing of the ship or save critical systems. If the magazine takes a direct hit, the ship might be gone in an instant. Every major part of the ship you would expect to command has a screen that can be opened or closed. Once you play around with things a bit, it becomes easy enough to direct your ships, and then you can enjoy watching the rain of shells flying back and forth.


However, controlling the ships is where you might run into some frustration, as the UI still leaves something to be desired. Having a half dozen small windows cluttering the screen isn't the most efficient system, but it is customizable at least. One thing that really got me (unless I'm completely missing something) is that I couldn't simply click on the icon of a ship to select it, I had to the use the "next ship" button/hotkey to cycle through them all until I got the one I wanted. Additionally, there's not much documentation for what is a fairly complex game. There are only a couple of short written tutorials going over the absolute basics. This sort of thing can always be fixed with time of course.

I plan to keep an eye on this game as it continues development and will do a more in depth review when it reaches an official release in the future. At only $15, it certainly won't cost you much to give it a try yourself.

Naval Battles Simulator is available now on Steam.

- Joe Beard










  

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Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios  Image Studios Heart of Leviathan is a game many o...

Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios

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

June 2020

Heart of Leviathan Wave 2 Expansion by Image Studios




Heart of Leviathan

Wave 2 Expansion

by

Image Studios






 Image Studios Heart of Leviathan is a game many of us have been awaiting for a long time. The age of the Dreadnought, and especially the naval war during WWI, catches many people's imagination. The original game was and is excellent with a miniature look, and a rule set that does not take the combined forces of a CPA and an attorney to play it. Heart of Leviathan hits the sweet spot right between playable and fun, and a true simulation where every shell fired has to be counted and examined through two or three data charts to see if it hit, if it penetrated, and what was the damage if it passed the first two checks. Image Studios has not stopped with just the original game with two Dreadnoughts per side. They added the Wave 1 Expansion and allowed you to complete the Iron Duke and Konig classes of English and German Dreadnoughts respectfully. So, after the Wave 1Expansion you would be able to have four battleships apiece fighting each other, unless you just wanted to buy more and have a slightly non-historical giant free-for-all.





 The Vail family and their co-conspiritors have not stopped there. They have now completely changed the game with the Wave 2 Expansion. This gives the players two German and English Light Cruisers apiece. Big deal, you might be saying to yourself. What can Light Cruisers do against a Battle line of Behemoths? Turns out they can do a lot more than you would think. The Light Cruisers now bring not just one, but two of the most dangerous weapons to face Dreadnoughts. One is the torpedo, and the second are mines. Both of these weapons gave the respective Admirals the fits during the war. Jellicoe was especially afraid of getting lured into a mass of torpedoes heading his Battle Fleet's way, so much so that one of the reasons the German High Seas Fleet had escaped at Jutland was because of one such German tactic during the battle. The entire British battle line was forced into a 180 turn to escape the deadly fish. Do not discount the power of laying mines for your enemy's fleet to sail over either. Many capitol ships were lost in WWI to mines. 





 So, the Wave 2 Expansion adds a ton to the game as you can see from the above. The separate ship miniatures come in their own beautiful little cases, just like their big brothers. If possible, the cruiser miniatures look even better than the larger ships. The rules for the new weapons take up only three small pages in one of the three booklets that come in the case with each ship (The Light Cruiser named ship Log Book, Secondary Weapons Operations, Cruiser Operations). Each ship package comes with:

The three mentioned booklets.
Plastic model of the ship.
Bag of small metal parts to enhance the model.
Two laser etched thick cardboard sheets of the Ship Base, Seven Mines, Fourteen Torpedoes, Six Smoke Clouds, etc.
Four Ship Captain Cards.
Eight Refit/Upgrade Cards.
One Ship Command Placard, made of thick cardboard.





The four cruisers you get are:

German:
Emden
Dresden

English:
Weymouth
Falmouth







 I do not know how, but Image Studios has managed to top their game and first expansion. Thank you very much for letting me review this excellent upgrade to an already excellent game. You will find below their website and the two other reviews I did of the game and the first expansion.

Image Studios:
https://www.imagestudios.us/

Heart of Leviathan review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2020/01/heart-of-leviathan-by-imagestudios.html

Heart of Leviathan Wave I Expansion:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2020/02/heart-of-leviathan-wave-1-expansion-by.html

Robert
 



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Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven t...

Unlock: Epic Adventures Unlock: Epic Adventures

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

June 2020

Unlock: Epic Adventures



Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven tests and Mission #07, each one harder than the next. If you’re familiar with the Unlock games, then nothing more needs to be said (apart from Mission #07 is my favourite of the lot). If you’re not then read on. No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review...

Gameplay

Each adventure is contained in a deck of 60 cards and a companion app which is necessary to play the game. Each of the 60 cards has a number (or other identifiers) on its back which are pivotal to how the game works. The top card in the deck contains the introduction on one side and the initial location on the reverse. There is almost no setup time (just place the deck of cards on the table and start the app) and the rules can be explained in about 5 minutes. If you’re playing for the first time, each box also contains an additional tutorial deck of 10 cards which can teach the rules by playing through a mini-mission before starting one of the adventures.

Easy to follow rules

Once you’ve read the starting card and flipped it, you’ll usually see some obvious numbers and/or letters in grey circles. This is the primary mechanism of the game and it tells you to find the corresponding cards in the deck and put them face-up on the table. Sometimes there will be hidden numbers on the cards, which also permit you to take the corresponding card, don’t forget to inspect every card if you get stuck.

The story is told in the text and images on each card and the designers of all the Unlock games have done a great job in telling very different (and interesting) stories across each adventure. There are also object cards, whose numbers should be combined, the sum of which will indicate another card in the deck that you’ll be allowed to take. For example card 14 (a magnifying glass) can be combined with card 65 (a marble statue) to take card 79 (14 + 65) that reveals a new clue hidden on the plinth of the statue (this is not a spoiler as I just made it up).

A 'machine' card being used in the app

There are also machine cards which will require the app. I’ve not played all the Unlock boxes but I am always surprised at just how much variation you can get out of one deck of cards. It is certainly true that the designers are not limited to ‘you’re stuck in a room and you have to get out in 60 minutes’. This variety ultimately comes from how you interact with the machines (using the app).

The app will also provide hints if you get stuck. Which I recommend using fast and often if you’re unsure what to do next. Instead of taking hints you could guess at what cards join together but doing this or many other guesses (by adding cards together or guessing on a machine) will often result in a penalty card, these take 1 min of your overall time from the countdown timer in the app.

These games try to recreate the experience that you’d have if did a real escape room, there is a timer counting down and you do feel the pressure of completing within the time.

77 minutes to solve the Dragons Seven Tests

I found that sometimes the cards or even the solutions were quite obscure and even after being told the solution or stumbling upon the answer, we weren’t quite sure how we got to that stage or even how the answer works. This was a bit disappointing as you’re robbed of the ‘ah-hah, I’m such an idiot!’ moments that make deduction games shine. After you complete an adventure you’re given a rating out of 5 stars, (disclaimer - I’ve not got more than 3 stars). But the best thing about these games, as opposed to the Exit: The Game series, is that nothing is destroyed and you can freely give it to some friends to try or trade it away.

I see this screen a lot, taking a hint

There is a good mix of puzzles and different ways to use the app and cards in this box. I am continually amazed at the imagination of the designers of these games. There is one section in the Dragons’ seven tests where you’re instructed to work in two teams (hence its a 2-6 player range not the usual 1-6). Having said that, the solutions do start to feel a bit repetitive, after-all there’s only so much you can do with a single deck of cards. However, Mission #07 did stretch what was possible and has easily been my favourite Unlock mission so far.

When the cards are face down you can only see the next number in the stack. Seeing any number can be gamed a little bit and if the object combinations add up to a number seen in the stack then you could guess… Initially I was annoyed that the stack of cards was not in numerical order. So I spent the first 5 minutes arranging, however I quickly learnt that you're not supposed to do this. The OCD in me struggles not to reorder them, but doing so will give you an uncalled-for advantage and cause other issues. A benefit of not sorting them is that the new location cards visible objects often appear just on top of of the deck.

Cards which are answers to the puzzles will never be on top of the deck. You and your team will have to search the deck for the card number you think is the solution. The rules suggest splitting the searching between the players, which keeps everyone involved (not just the alpha who just has to handle the cards). Splitting the card search amongst the team gives more eyes the opportunity to see the backs of all the cards. Which will probably help to solve later riddles.

A lot of empty space

The only criticism I have of the components is the size of the box. There are three decks of cards and a few bits of paper. And a lot a wasted space taken up by the plastic insert. I wish publishers wouldn’t feel the need to make boxes that belie the size of the components.

Conclusion

I will always sit and play an Unlock game and will enjoy it but due to the constraints of a single deck of cards to contain the entire game, I think they are limited in what they can achieve. I would recommend any of the unlock games but I would suggest, and prefer, Kosmos' Exit: The Game series instead. You can get two of those for the price of one unlock. Which I think is a good trade. If you can get an unlock in a trade or play a friends copy then they’re definitely worth your time, if not your money.

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending this review copy. Many local game stores will have Unlock games if not this one, although they may not be open currently. You can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to find and use their online store during this difficult time.

Designer: Cyril Demaegd
Bgg page: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/294612/unlock-epic-adventures
Play time: 60 minutes.
Players: 1 – 6 players

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Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games  From Germany we have Lothar and Manfred von Richthofen, Immelmann, Boelck...

Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games

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

June 2020

Age of Dogfights: WWI by Forsage Games




Age of Dogfights: WWI

by

Forsage Games




 From Germany we have Lothar and Manfred von Richthofen, Immelmann, Boelcke (whose 'Dicta' is still used in air warfare today), and Werner Voss (possibly the greatest of them all). From France we have Rene Fonck (the Allied Ace of Aces), Georges Guynemer (French children were taught, just flew up until he reached heaven), and Charles Nungesser. From England and the Empire we have William Bishop (the top Empire Ace), Edward Mannock, and the young Albert Ball. The skies of World War I were an incredibly dangerous place. Many pilots' lives were spent in a few weeks at most. Those that survived their ordeal were strapped into their planes again and again to fight until the war ended or their luck ran out. A good number of pilots kept a pistol on board to save them from a fiery death. Parachutes were well known in WWI, but they were never handed out to pilots, at least for most of the war. So Forsage Games has asked me to take a look at their Kickstarter game Age of Dogfights: WWI. Let us kick the tires and take her for a spin.





 This review is more of an unboxing and quick run through the rules etc. than I am used to doing. So the first thing you notice when holding the box is the heft of it. Once you open it, you find out that Forsage Games has handed you pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in the box. It is one of those boxes where you are not sure after looking at the contents if you are going to be able to close it up again properly. Let us look at what they put in there:

Board (3 bi-fold segments) total size 70 x 63 cm.
4 Board Extensions
54 Plastic Aircraft Pieces
100 Plastic Altitude Stands (5 Heights x 20)
18 Plane Control Panels
60 Red and Green Counters for use on the Plane Control panels
24 Photo markers
30 Bomb markers
30 Plastic Damage Markers
24 Plastic Ace/Rookie markers
3 Plastic Tilt Compensators
6 Plastic Task Zone Markers
3 Initial Position Markers
Sun and Wind Indicators
10 Plastic Cloud Markers
5 d6 Dice
Rulebook
Shooting Chart






 No wonder I didn't think I could get it all back in the box! Oddly enough, there is not a small bottle of castor oil included in the box. The manufacture of the pieces is really well done, you could even say excellent and not lie. The Map pieces are made of what seems like laminate on top of cardboard. They are not as thick as usual mounted maps, but they seem very sturdy. The game is played in eagle eye fashion so you are looking down on the aircraft. The map does not really show any details like houses or anything, but resembles what a pilot would see from a great height. Most of the pieces being plastic and not cardboard means that they will be here for a good long time. The plane pictures on the pieces are a bit small, but you can easily tell the difference between the planes. The Control Panels are also well done. They are easy to read, and some gamers will be familiar with them from other aerial games. The plastic Altitude Stands are also sturdy and I think they are a great innovation. The Plane Pieces have a slot built into their bottom to slide onto the clear plastic part of the Altitude Stands. All of the game components have the look and feel of parts that will last, and were well thought out in the designing process. The Rulebook is thirteen pages long, with two extra pages including a summary and a look at the expansion for the game. More on that later. 






 These are the planes that come with the standard game:

Germany
AEG G.IV
Albatross D.V
Aviatik DFW C.V
Fokker E.IV
Fokker Dr.I
Fokker D.VII

France
Hanriot HD.3
Letord Let.5
Morane Saulnier AI
Nieuport 24
Salmson 2
SPAD S.XIII

England
Airco DH.2
Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8
Bristol F.2 Fighter
Handley Page O/400
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
Sopwith Camel







 A far as the rules, it is one of those simple yet hard to master games. One of Forsage Games' blurbs says you will be playing in five minutes. If you are used to aerial warfare games that seems about right. The use of stands for the different heights of the planes has been used before in other games. In this game, at least to me, the use of them just seems easier. One interesting point the rules look at is the 'Gyroscopic Effect'. This is the effect where rotary engine planes could turn to the right much easier than turning left. This is due to the nature of the rotary engine and its spinning. I am a nut about World war I planes and aerial warfare, but I have not played many board games on the subject until recently. It is really only the last year that I have started playing aerial warfare board games; before that I was just a PC simulation player and voracious reader. I have made up a lot of lost time in the past year though. I have to say that Age of Dogfights is now my favorite World War I aerial warfare game. The game is extremely easy to set up and start playing. It is not as deep as other games, but it makes up for it in sheer ease of play and fun. 






 As was mentioned, Forsage Games had already designed an expansion that you can buy with the game itself on the Kickstarter campaign. This includes six planes each from Austria-Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Bulgaria, and the USA. Tell me how many games let you fight above Serbia and Bulgaria in the First World War? With this add on and hopefully many others to follow, we may see a very large stable of WWI aircraft to play in the game. The game itself is $48 on Kickstarter, and the game and the expansion are $76. The game has hit nine out of ten of its stretch goals. It only needs about $3000 more pledges to hit all ten of them. Forsage games has already run more than four successful Kickstarter campaigns.  If you are looking for a simple, but deep game on WWI air warfare look no further. For those of us who are into the aesthetics of games this is also for you. 






 Forsage Games has also generously sent me 'Tank Chess' and its add-on 'Fun-Set' to review. look for them in my upcoming reviews. Thank you very much Forsage games in allowing me to review your products. Now, please get to work on a ton more expansion planes.

 Sorry, I forgot to add a few things. I was sent the 'trial version' of the game, so some things will change. Here they are:

The game will actually come with 6 altitude levels.
The Cardboard Counters will be wooden blocks.



Forsage Games:
https://www.gamesforsage.com/

Age of Dogfights: WWI on KS:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1732812836/age-of-dogfights-ww1

Tank Chess:
https://www.gamesforsage.com/product-page/tank-chess-standard
Robert









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Serbia '14 by John Tiller Software    Serbien muß Sterb i en (Serbia must die), this was the jingo phr...

Serbia '14 by John Tiller Software Serbia '14 by John Tiller Software

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June 2020

Serbia '14 by John Tiller Software




Serbia '14

by

John Tiller Software







 
 Serbien muß Sterbien (Serbia must die), this was the jingo phrase the Austro-Hungarians used in 1914. Conrad von Hötzendorf, the head of the Austro-Hungarian Army was responsible for all of the calamities that his own army suffered. His plan in 1914 was to crush both Russia and Serbia almost at the same time. The AH 2nd Army was to help with the Serbian invasion and then jump on trains and become part of the invasion of Russia. In actuality it gave almost no help in the Serbian invasion, and then was too late to stem the Russian tide. The Serbian invasion was considered to be a walkover by the AH Army. Unfortunately for them, it was an unmitigated disaster. The next two attempts by AH to invade Serbia ended almost exactly the same way. It was not until late 1915, and then with German help, that Serbia was finally conquered. So this is the background for the game. This is what you get in your handy little megabyte package:

"28 stand alone scenarios, 4 campaigns to choose from, as well as 4 "Grand Campaign" scenarios designed to play with France '14 and East Prussia '14.

Battles include:

Mount Cer
Syrmia Offensive
Macva Peninsula
Mount Jagodnja
Serbian offensive in Bosnia
Mackov Kamen
Drina Stalemate
Romanja Planina
Valjevo
Kolubara (the full battle, as well as separate A-H and Serb offensive phase scenario)
1st Beograd
2nd Beograd (1915)
Pozarevac (1915)
Timok (1915)
Bulgarian invasion of Macedonia (1915)
Krivolak (1915)
Kragujevac (1915)
Kosturino (1915)

Campaign scenarios consist of:

The 1st Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia (102 turns)
The 2nd Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, which includes a simultaneous Serbian invasion of Syrmia (131 turns)
The 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia (319 turns)
The massive 4th Austro-Hungarian and German invasion of Serbia (389 turns), which includes forces from Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian forces against Serbian, Montenegrin, Russian, British and French forces.
A bonus small campaign/large battle scenario covering the ill fated Serbian invasion of Bosnia to "liberate" Sarajevo, which occurred between 2nd and 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasions of Serbia (278 turns)
Three Grand Campaign scenarios designed to be played along with Grand Campaigns scenarios for France '14 and East Prussia '14, which are intended to establish context and allow the player influence the outcome of the war across many different scenarios (102 to 389 turns)"

 Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them, and the info will be displayed in the upper left hand corner.






 There is not much to say about the above, except the usual exclamation used with a John Tiller game: Wow! With many games, board or computer, you would get one campaign to play out. The lists of them in a JT game is nearly endless.




 I am very late again with a review for a John Tiller Software game, but you have to realize it is all their fault. Oh, I could play a turn or two of the smallest scenario and say that I have played the game enough to do a review. Of course, I would be lying. Even though I have played the game a lot it still doesn't mean that I have even scratched the surface of it. When wargamers are looking to get the most bang for their buck, you could do no better than picking up any Tiller Software title. The other thing that Tiller Software does is lie. Look at this title, it says Serbia '14. So, you would think that you were getting only the battles and campaigns of 1914 in Serbia, when in actuality you are getting the entire campaigns and battles for Serbia until its fall. I again apologize for the lateness of the review, but please remember it is your fault not mine. 

 This is a blurb from JT about the game that lists other important things about the game:

"Game features include:

Game scale is 1 hex = 1 km, 1 turn = 2 hours, with battalion and company size units.
Scenario Editor allows players to customize the game and create new scenarios.
Sub-map feature allows the main map to be "chopped" up into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.
Multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet "live" play, and two player hot seat.
Game engine changes that model the Montenegrin Army's irregular soldiers, Austro-Hungarian mountain troops, expiring objectives that put pressure on the attacker and allow the defender to fight a delaying action, river boats and monitors, and many other improvements.

A highly detailed Order of Battle, where the ethnic composition of every regiment in the Austro-Hungarian Army was researched to determine their unit quality."





  So we are always told that size does not matter. However, in computer wargaming that is just not the case. At all times, but especially now, we are looking to get the most for our money. This game is $39.95, as are pretty much all JT games. I dare anyone to find a better deal in the wargaming world. Now we will have to revisit the usual when talking about JT games. The cry from the wilderness will be, "but the AI is no good". Yes, twenty years ago the AI was less than stellar and it would have been relevant. That is far in the past and these games have "Come a long way Baby", for those of you who remember ads from the 1960s. If you are a player who plays one scenario to death over and over again you will find the cracks in the AI armor. However, if you have a life, you can easily play these games against the competent AI. As I have mentioned in other reviews, (some will be listed below), the player has the ability to edit almost everything he wants except the copyright. The knowledge that gets poured into JT games is only equaled by the time that they go through testing. So much goes into each JT game that I am tempted to believe they have a small army of monks, sworn to silence, that work into the wee hours each day toiling on these games. I am once again in debt to John Tiller Software for allowing me the privledge of reviewing one of their games. The only thing I could possible add, is if you have any interest in the campaigns for Serbia or World War I in general, please take a look at this game.






 If I sound like a parrot in my John Tiller Software reviews, I apologize. There is so much to talk about concerning these games it is hard to know where to start. I am also guilty of always trying to dispel the myth, at least to me, that these games have bad AIs. If I come over as a 'true believer' in my reviews, it is because I am precisely that.

This is a list of some of the extra files that come with the game:

"Designer Notes (PDF file)
Planning Map - 1st Invasion (PDF file)
Planning Map - 2nd Invasion (PDF file)
Planning Map - 3rd Invasion (PDF file)
Planning Map - 4th Invasion (PDF file)
Planning Map - Bosnia (PDF file)"


John Tiller Software:
www.johntillersoftware.com/

Serbia '14:
www.johntillersoftware.com/WWICampaigns/Serbia14.html

Campaign Eylau-Friedland review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2019/04/campaign-eylau-friedland-by-john-tiller.html
Shenandoah Campaign review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2020/03/shenandoah-campaign-by-john-tiller.html

Robert

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