second chance games

Search This Website of delight

Stellar Horizons by Compass Games  I received a massive box from Compass games last month. For those of y...

Stellar Horizons by Compass Games Stellar Horizons by Compass Games

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

July 2020

Stellar Horizons by Compass Games

Stellar Horizons


Compass Games

 I received a massive box from Compass games last month. For those of you not now into weightlifting, the box is heavy enough to start doing a home regimen. It is filled to the brim with everything you need to play this game. Once again, Compass has put me on the horns of a dilemma. I do not know much at all about the science and history of space exploration. I lived through the space race etc. so I know a smattering of things about it, but it is something that never interested me enough to really read up on it. So as usual with games, I have not only had to learn how to play the game, but also had to read up on the history behind it. I guess we will have to start checking out this leviathan. 

 This is some of the information about the game from Compass games:

"Stellar Horizons is a "build your own space program" game where you will lead one of seven Earth Factions to explore and develop our solar system. Designed by a real-life space engineer with a PhD in long-duration spaceflight from MIT, Stellar Horizons is intended to be a plausible representation of the first steps of humanity towards the stars between 2030 and 2169, with each turn representing a year of time. You control your Faction’s space program, outposts, and fleets spanning across the solar system, although you will also have some influence over your Faction’s politics back home on Earth as space development becomes more important.

 Movement is based on real physics. You move from orbit to orbit, or conduct long range transfers to move between planetary systems like Earth, Mars, or Jupiter. As you send out robotic explorers and crewed vehicles to explore the solar system, they bring back valuable data to further your scientific research. Technologies are intended to represent plausible extrapolations of existing development during the next 150 years: there are no transporters or warp drive, but you will be able to develop rockets powered by fusion and even anti-matter. In the engineering and biology domains, you'll eventually be able to construct space elevators and put your crews into safe hibernation for long journeys.

You'll have access to a wide variety of robot explorers and crewed ships. These range from tiny probes intended to merely take photographs as you fly past Jupiter, to giant destroyers, cruisers, and battleships which ply the space lanes with peaceful or hostile intentions. New ship types become available as you gain access to better technology over the course of the game."

This is what comes in the big hefty box:

 1 Rulebook
20 Punchboards containing:
  • 231 Units – 33 for each faction
  • 1 Invader
  • 30 Mission markers
  • 2 Turn markers – 1 Year and 1 Decade
  • 8 Asteroid markers
  • 12 Signs of Life/Life markers
  • 12 Pirate markers
  • 15 Helio Transfer markers
  • 27 Trade markers
  • 90 Numbers – numbered 1 through 9
  • 182 Faction markers
  • 30 Damage markers
  • 100 Settlement markers
  • 130 Installation markers – 21 each of Supply Stations, Spaceports, Mining Stations, Refineries, and Research Stations, and 25 Defense Works
  • 40 Politics markers
  • 40 Victory point markers
  • 108 Technology number markers for Engineering, Physics, and Biology – in denominations of 1,2,3, and 5
  • 21 Technology bank markers – 3 for each faction
  • 2 Large Planet tiles – e.g. Jupiter
  • 2 Medium Planet tiles – e.g. Neptune
  • 8 Small Planet tiles – e.g. Earth and Alpha Centauri
  • 24 Satellite/Moon tiles – e.g. Hygeia-Palas and Triton
  • 1 Deep Space Astronomy tile
  • 54 World Cards
  • 29 Currency Coins in denominations of 1,2,5,10, and 25 Billion
  • 393 Resource markers – 131 each of Ore, Fuel, and Supplies in denominations of 1,2,5,10, and 25
4 Punchboards containing the 7 Player Faction boards and the Policy Tree
1 Punchboard containing the Tracks board
1 Technology Tree on a mounted board
7 Player Aids containing the various charts and tables needed to play and the Solar System and Space diagram
7 Rule summary booklets
1 Percentile die and 3 ten-sided dice
1 Box and lid set

"and a partridge in a pear tree"

 Stellar Horizons is a game of space exploration and colonization for two to seven players. You will be in charge of the space program for one of seven Earth factions. These are:

North America
South America-Africa

 Each faction has its strengths and weaknesses. There is a short, but good breakdown of them on page twenty-nine of the rulebook.

 The game plays out the years 2030-2169, in one year game turns. The game begins with the current level of technology, and then builds to an advanced Star Trek future. This means that the game play relies on the technologies that are based on our current knowledge of physics. You will play on tiles that represent planets, asteroids, moons etc. Exploration will kick start your further endeavors to the stars. The game comes with both co-operative and competitive scenarios that last around one hour. Stellar Horizons also comes with a grand campaign that can be played in a day or longer. The campaign can be played solo as well. This is always a great addition to games, especially now. During your exploration you will deal with all sorts of problems, among them: severe radiation, severe atmospheres, and any other problems you can think of when exploring space. The game is not just one of science and exploration. In a twist that I have not seen in a boardgame like this, it also includes combat between fleets of the different factions. In one more twist, it also adds SPACE PIRATES! to your list of problems. The warfare part of the game reminds me of carrier battles in the Pacific. The main part of the build up to combat is searching out your enemy.

 The components are really a sight to behold. They are also of thick cardboard, like a mounted map. The pictures of the components do not do them justice. Holding and looking at the ones in this game is like the difference between a paperback and a limited edition leather bound book. I must caution you to be careful about handling the pieces of the game. They want to jump right out of their places on the sheets. You do not have to fight or worry about needing a pair of scissors or an exacto knife with these. They are like the proverbial lemmings near a cliff (yes, I know it is a wive's tale). The planet pieces are beautiful to look at. In fact, for someone who is very into our nearby space, it is worthwhile to buy the game for the visuals and the information with it, and forget about the game. Opening up the box reminds me of opening up my first monster boardgame so many years ago. The sheer amount of components might put you on your guard. However, I can assure you that even though your house will be overrun with pieces from Stellar horizons, the rules are not really that difficult to follow.

 The rules in the rulebook itself are twenty-one pages long. The next page is a listing of the events that can happen. Then there are two pages of scenarios, seven in all. There is a half-page of optional rules. Three and a half pages of play examples come after that. The last two pages are a picture of the Technology Tree, Policy Tree, and then the Combat Table is on the back page.

 The proverbial tech tree that is present in every space exploration game:

 This is a simplified Sequence of Play:

Each yearly game turn is divided into phases, which are subdivided into steps. Each phase/step is completed in initiative order.

1. Economic Phase (only every decade starting in 2040)

• Collect politics markers & roll for events
• Roll for initiative (simultaneous)
• Diplomacy (in reverse initiative order)
• Earth & base production
• Resource transportation
• Assign bases, pirates, asteroids, & trade markers
• Develop technologies in reverse initiative order)
• Settlement growth
• Policy step in reverse initiative order)
2. Build & Service Phase

• Build and service ships (in reverse initiative order)
3. Movement Phase

• Drop all ships in transfer boxes (simultaneous)
• Movement (order by initiative choice)
4. Combat Phase

• Space combat
5. Exploration Phase

• Explore (with depletion: mission, world card, search for life, politics marker); check for malfunction/recall
• Produce with Crew Vehicles
6. Trade & Base Construction

• Trade with bases
• Build & expand bases
• End of game check
• Advance turn marker

While every single step is quite simple, there is a lot to consider in a game turn of Stellar Horizons!

 So, now we come to the the big question. Sure the game is big, bad and beautiful, but can you actually play it, and is it enjoyable to do so? To sum it up in one word: YES! Like some other great games before it, this game has done something that I believe all great games have to be able to do. That is, the player has to become so immersed in the game, that he feels compelled to read about the actual events and or possibilities the game portrays. In this the game has taken me from absolute novice about space exploration to someone who can actually now have a semi-intelligent conversation about it. If a game is able to do that, it should always be listed as a great game. When a game is not only able to give the player information and make him thirsty for more, but also give you a truly excellent gaming experience, then you know that the game is firing on all cylinders. 

 Thank you Compass Games for allowing me to once again step out of my comfort zone, instead of commanding a Sherman or Tiger to blast off into space. Below will be links to not only the game, but also the rules. Wargamers, you owe it to yourself to widen your horizons and fill your heads with even more information, useful or otherwise.

Compass Games:

Stellar Horizons:

Stellar Horizons Rulebook:



Trench Club by PKB Games  So, just so we understand each other this is a preview of a game that is on Kic...

Trench Club by PKB Games Trench Club by PKB Games

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

July 2020

Trench Club by PKB Games

Trench Club


PKB Games

 So, just so we understand each other this is a preview of a game that is on KickStarter right now. I do have a prototype heading my way, but I have seen the pictures of it and I was really impressed. 

 I have been waiting for a game that has the look of miniatures that come with the high end Axis & Allies games, but is also a deeper wargame under, and above, the hood. This game looks to be the one that will finally scratch that itch for me. I own one or two that come close and I know there is at least one other one the market, but this will be the first, hopefully, that I will get my hot little hands on. This is the company's blurb about the game:

"Highly complex strategy game, yet very easy and intuitive to learn the rules
Detailed miniatures 
 Different unit types with individual strengths and weaknesses – without using a simple “Rock, Scissors, Paper” principle
Individual strengths of the different nations, yet balanced chances
The game stays in balance for a long time, so every player still has a chance to win and stays excited
Complex combat system that depends on type of unit, combat damage, experience, strategic formation, terrain and armor
 “Dice luck” only plays a minor role (since battles involve a lot of 12-sided dice the outcome is usually around the expected value)
High re-playability due to the variable start setup" 

 This sounds exactly what my mind has been waiting to play since I was about eight years old. I was playing the game below, and I always wanted more depth to it. Then, at ten years old, I saw PanzerBlitz in a hobby store for the first time. Since then I have been looking to do a Dr. Frankenstein and splice the two types of games together to make my Holy Grail.

 Let us take a look at what some of the pieces that you get with Trench Club look like, and see the scale of the minis:

This is the two-sided map board:

An English Tank Unit Chart:

A Mounted Infantry Unit Chart:

These are different Nations Units; notice the German Big Bertha:

This is a picture of the different units on the map:

 You will notice in the picture one or two poles that are attached to each piece/unit. These are used to show a unit's damage and the experience points a unit has. This is a link to the RuleBook in English:

 Right now it also comes in German and French, and if there are enough backers, in Italian and Spanish.

 There is also a 'Special Forces extension' that you can purchase that includes these units:

"The Minelayer can install explosive mines throughout the battlefield. You know where they are – but your enemy doesn’t!
The Poison Gas Launcher (one of the many horrors of World War I) damages units on multiple fields at the same time – friend and foe!
The Medic lets you repair units in the field – normally you would have to retreat from the front line to your own forts."

 The game has just passed a second Stretch Goal:

"The game just got better again. We unlocked the next stretch goal together and now Trench Club will get a tactile Linen-Finish for cardboard prints. This is a higher quality print includes a fabric-like texture you can feel and see. I love it and think it makes prints look a lot more premium. A big “thank you” to everyone who supported Trench Club in any way!"

 The KS campaign has already passed the funding for the game and the first Stretch Goal of adding Solo Rules.

 Just look at the detail of the pieces in the next two pictures:

 "Forts (bunkers) are printed on the game board – which is totally sufficient for the game. However, it just looks so much cooler with the extra large Fort miniatures to place on the game board!"

 These forts might make it into the game:

 The game rules seem easy to learn, but also have a good amount of depth to them. Though to be honest they had me at 'Big Bertha' as a unit! I cannot wait to get my hands on the finished product. So, please go take a look at the KS campaign and maybe help them unlock even more goals.

This is the PKB Games page:

This is the KS page:



Pocket General World War II by Pacific Rim Publishing  This game is definitely new territory for me. I have...

Pocket General World War II by Pacific Rim Publishing Pocket General World War II by Pacific Rim Publishing

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

July 2020

Pocket General World War II by Pacific Rim Publishing

Pocket General World War II


Pacific Rim Publishing

 This game is definitely new territory for me. I have been used to at least playing on a 11"x17" map for some tactical games. This game map is even smaller than that. I am also used to cutting and popping out counters by the page-full; again, not with this game. So, what exactly do we have here? Is this a 'wargame light' version of World War II, and do I need to buy some pretzels and beer, or is this actually a deep wargame hidden in a small box?

 This is what comes with the game:

Players' Cards
11 Axis units
11 Allied Units
18 Location Hexes
5 War and Initiative Tokens
2 Ops Dice
Rule Booklet
Small Box

 The last listing is right on the money. The box is 6" by a little more than 4", and about 1 1/2" deep. The components are nowhere near what you would expect in a game that comes with a $20 retail tag. The Map/Game Board is made of the same material as most mounted Maps, and is durable and well designed. It is made up of four pieces that fold up nicely. The Game Board is cut into two pieces. The first is a map of the world sans the two Americas. The other half is the actual Battle Board and the country you choose to play Recruitment Box. In this game you can play either Russia/US or Japan/Germany. You can actually play the United Kingdom or Italy also, but the rules are not in the rulebook and are found on the Pacific Rim Publishing webpage. The main difference is the Italians use a Mussolini counter and the United Kingdom uses an RAF one. The two Player Cards are the only thing that resemble something from a game of this price. They are both well done and easy to read, however, they are are made on pretty flimsy, almost see through paper. What I did was to copy both of mine before playing in case of any accidents. The Player Cards have the Recruitment info on one side, and the Combat Chart on the other. The three sheets of counters are, just like the Game Board, made of thick cardboard stock. Every counter is just a picture of the unit it represents, or one of the terrain in each hex you will be fighting over. The Rule booklet is eleven pages long. The rules are clear and concise. The printing is small (naturally), but not a problem if your prescription is up to date. The die are both eight-sided and the numbers are colored either red or blue. The die have anywhere form +3 to -2 on each of their sides. All in all, a very nicely done package for a wargame that is so small. This is the sequence of play:

"1. Move Location Markers forward to fill the 3
Combat Hexes
 2. Recruit Units
 a. Move the 6 Core Units to the Recruit box
 b. Players may Recruit an additional unit
 3. Place the Threat Markers
 4. Players take turns placing all Recruited Units
 5. Resolve Combat starting with the first Location
 6. Place captured Locations on an available
Theater Marker or back in the Location Pool
 7. Check for Victory or Capitulation
 a. The first player to capture the enemy Capitol
wins a Total Victory, or
 b. The player who captures 9 Locations forces
Capitulation and wins
 8. If there is no winner, rotate the Initiative Marker
to alternate players, repeat the steps above.
Players alternate going first each turn. Rotate the Initiative marker to point at player going first each turn.
To win the war, players battle for vast locations. The
16 Locations represent the terrain the global powers
fought to control. Locations are color coded. These
colors match the Theater Marker edges players must
control to win.
Fast Play Option: Play without Step 2, Recruit Units. Follow these
two rules instead, then skip to Step 3, Place the Threat Markers.
• All 11 units are recruited and must be played every turn.
• Place up to 4 units on any of the three combat Locations."

 So, now the big question. Does it play like a small wargame or does it have more in common with its larger brethren? The game designer describes the game as a mixture of Chess and a Wargame. I believe he has hit the nail on the head. At first glance you might be tempted to think that the units and play is just glorified 'Paper, Rock, Scissors'. In this you would be sadly mistaken. This is not Stratego put into a smaller box. This is a thinking man's wargame that is something that most wargames are not. That one big difference is portability. The game takes up a smaller area than most paperback books. So, you can take it anywhere. The footprint of the game takes up roughly one person's place at a dining room table. The quickness of play, not simplicity, and the size of the game gives the wargame the ability to place this almost anywhere and anytime. Once again, I have been deceived by my prejudices for a lot of years. Bigger is Better, and the more weight a rulebook has, was always my mantra. I have seen the error of my ways with area movement maps, block games, and now small is also good if not great. If this keeps up I might actually buy some Rogaine next month, who knows (although bald is infinitely easier).

 This is how Combat is resolved:

"After all units are placed, start from the first Combat
Hex and resolve combat in this order:
1. The first player uses their Spy (if present) to remove
an enemy unit. Move both units to their Depleted
2. The other player uses their Spy, if present, the same
3. Both players calculate the Combat Values of their
remaining units. Include negatives for Weather,
Anti-Aircraft values and all other combat affects.
4. Both players roll their Operations Die, and add or
subtract it to their Combat Value. This generates a
Combat Roll;
• If one player’s Combat Roll is greater than the
other, and that player has a MILITARY unit present, the higher roll wins. The winner must place the Location on their Theater Marker.
• If a player’s Combat Roll is greater, but they have
no MILITARY unit present, or no Theater Marker
edge available to place the Location, the player
cannot take the Location. Instead, place it at the
end of the Location Pool. The player may then
choose a different Location Marker in the Pool
and move it to the front of the Pool.
• If both players Combat Rolls are the same value, count the number of MILITARY units in the location. If one player has more MILITARY units, that player wins the Location."

 As I said, simple but deep and effective. Thank you Pacific Rim Publishing for letting me review this odd (at least for me), but good wargame. 

Pacific Rim Publishing:

Pocket General World War II:

Check out these two while you are there:



The Hunters German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games   Amazingly, the German  U-Boat service during World...

The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games

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

July 2020

The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 by GMT Games

The Hunters

German U-Boats at War, 1939-43


GMT Games

 Amazingly, the German  U-Boat service during World War II suffered 75% casualties. 75%, let that sink in for a bit. The odds of playing Russian Roulette on the dock without bothering to go to sea are much better. One of the most decorated and prolific U-Boat commanders (Wolfgang Lüth) actually survived the war a whole seven days , and was shot by a German sentry on 5/14/1945.The other amazing thing about the North Atlantic Campaign was what were the Allies thinking! They had barely escaped World War I by using the Convoy System. So, in 1939 you would assume that the Convoy System would immediately be implemented once more. To one's astonishment, it was not. The worst time for Allied losses were just after the US entered the war. The U-Boat sailors called the first six months after Germany declared war on the US as the '2nd happy time'. One other item that is not well known about the undersea war was that the early German torpedoes were just as prone as the US ones regarding how many were duds. In the early part of the war the U-Boat's deck gun was more important than its torpedoes, not for self-defense, but to attack lone ships that they found. This being the third iteration of the game, let us find out what comes in the box:

Rules booklet w/ Designer notes
One full-color,2-sided countersheet
Four Player Aid Cards, 2-sided
U-Boat Combat Mat
Four U-Boat Display Mats, 2-sided
U-Boat Patrol Log Sheet
Three 6-sided, two 10-sided, one 20-sided dice

 This is the write up by GMT Games about the Game:

8 German U-Boat types represented
9 Patrol Assignments
350+ named shipping targets
Special Missions for Abwehr Agent Delivery and Minelaying
 Combat encounters with individual ships, ships with escort,   convoys, and aircraft
Daytime and Night Engagement including wolfpack patrols
U-Boat Damage includes flooding, hull, torpedo doors, periscope, 
 fuel tanks, crew injury (by crew type), engines, hydrophones, flak   gun(s), deck gun, batteries, radio
Crew Advancement, Commander Promotion including special   decoration up to The Knight's CrossMulti-player and Tournament Rule options (including Wolfpack Tournament)
Evasive Maneuvers, Patrol Abort, Variable Escort Quality, Resupply at Sea, Gibraltar Passage, Reassignment to Newer U-   Boat, Torpedo Duds, Random "Historical" Events, and much,   much more!

 The Hunters is a solitaire game of captaining a U-Boat in the years 1939-1943. Your goal is to complete missions and rack up Allied ship and tonnage loss. This is almost a role playing game about a U-Boat commander. As, or if, you complete missions you can be promoted in rank, and also win medals for your accomplishments. These are the U-Boats you can command in the game, and where you can patrol:

Type VII A
Type VII B
Type VII C
Type VII D
Type VII FlaK
Type IX A
Type IX B
Type IX C

Patrol Assignments include:
British Isles
Spanish Coast
West African Coast
North America

 So next, let us look at the game's physical components. This game does not come with a map that will cover up two dining room tables. It also does not come with enough counters to equate one for one for an infantry battalion either. This game is all about information, and it makes sure that the player has a ton, and it is at his fingertips. The Rulebook is in color and is twenty-eight pages in length. This includes a historical briefing about the ten actual U-Boat commanders you can play as. In a nice touch that some games have, you also get a two page spread of the front and backs of all the counters. This is a great help with any mishaps that might occur. The print is smaller than I would like in a rulebook, however it is not GMT Games' fault that I am getting older. Another good design choice I am seeing more of, is that the Rulesbook has an Index on the back cover. The rules are much easier than would seem by their length. Once you have a game or two under your belt the game speeds along like clockwork. There are two 8-1/2"x11" maps. One is a copy of the official German Navy map with the coordinates shown just the way it was used in WWII. This map shows all of the areas of the North Atlantic and its environs that you can cruise in. The other map is the same size, but this continues down to Africa and South America. There are four double-sided pages/mats for each of the type of U-Boat you can command. Next, there are five Player's Aid pages for the Random Events, Encounter Chart, and Target rosters etc. These are all 8-1/2"x11" sized like the maps. The print on these is larger than the Rulebook, and they are also color coded for their use. The counters are 1/2" in size. These are nicely done and easy to read even with some of them having almost painting quality backgrounds. The game does come with a Patrol Log Sheet for the player to fill out. I know, boo hiss! These are my least favorite components in any game I come across. I have more than a few games where you have to keep track of your manpower for each division or whatever on a log. Definitely not my cup of tea as far as games go. I find them tedious and a real joy killer. I know, how much more is it of an onus to write down or mark a page than move a counter on a scale. For some reason it just irks me. However in this game it does not effect me at all. Because the game is more of a role-playing one, and you are listing your achievements, I do not have a problem with this log sheet. So, the components are up to GMT Games pretty high bar. Let us see what else we have.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

 A. Consult U-Boat Patrol Assignment Table
 (7.0) [P1]
 B. Enter patrol assignment on Log Sheet (on
 row corresponding to patrol start date)
 C. Place U-Boat Marker on Display Mat
 beside first Travel Box of assigned patrol
 A. Check for encounters for Travel Box
 occupied by consulting Encounter Chart
 (8.0) [E1]. If no encounter occurs, repeat
 this step for next Travel Box entered. If
 encounter is rolled, follow steps below:
 a. Determine Random Event (if
 rolled, 12.0), or resolve Air or
 Ship Encounter (8.0). Engaging
 enemy ships in combat is always
 voluntary (8.1.4).
 b. You may perform additional
 rounds of combat as necessary
 against unescorted ships (9.4.3) or
 attempt to “Follow” escorted ships
 or Convoys (9.7) until the encounter is completed, reloading   torpedoes between instances.
 c. Additional rounds of combat may
 also occur should your U-Boat
 be detected and undergo repeated
 depth charge attacks. This cycle
 repeats automatically until your
 U-Boat escapes Escort Detection.
 d. Attempt to Repair any Damaged
 U-Boat systems once all combat rounds are completed (10.7).
 Note: Following is still allowed
 once you escape detection.
 B. Proceed to next Travel Box and repeat
 until U-Boat enters and resolves any
 possible encounter for final Travel Box
 (7.5). Upon completion, place U-Boat
 marker in the In Port (Refit) Box.
 A. Assess U-Boat damage and duration
 required (10.10) to complete all repairs
 (record Refit duration on Log Sheet to
 determine when next patrol will begin).
 Note: if the next patrol start date is after
 Jun-43, the game ends.
 B. Check for Crew Recovery and possible
 replacement (10.11).
 C. Check for Crew Advancement (11.1).
 D. Check for Kommandant Promotion and/
 or Knight’s Cross Award (11.2 and 11.3).
 E. Check for possible U-Boat Reassignment
 F. Replenish and set Torpedo Loads (4.5)
 and replenish Ammo markers (4.6) in
 anticipation of next patrol. All damage
 and crew injury markers should be
 removed from the U-Boat Display Mat
 in anticipation of next patrol assignment.

  Because of the loss rate of U-Boats and sailors, the game keeps track of everything that might go wrong on a mission. A Submarine is a very complex machine of war, and could suffer myriads of problems even before you make contact with the enemy. These are some of the random events that you roll a dice for, once every patrol:

Man Overboard
Gyro Compass Fails
Torpedo Breaks Loose
"Hals und Beinbruch" - Literal meaning 'neck and leg break' slang for 'good luck'.

 This is another situation where a game has been good enough to get me reading a lot more about the North Atlantic War. I knew the basics and a smattering of things, but certainly not the amount that I should have known about it. You have to understand that this is from someone who watched the director's cut of 'Das Boot' without a bathroom break! The game itself transcends wargames and really is more of a role playing game for the player. Like all the great games that go down to this level you, the player, become enmeshed with your cardboard warrior. As the years go by in your U-Boat you are forced to decide to go for the glory or just weather the storm and be content to survive until 1943. This is my first foray into the cardboard U-Boat world, but hopefully not my last. However, another game will have to be pretty good to want to make me consign this game to the shelf. Thank you GMT Games for another enriching and great gaming experience. I will be reviewing 'The Hunted' next from GMT Games. That follows the U-Boats from 1943-1945. You can continue with your U-Boat commander from this game or create anew.

GMT Games The Hunters:

Rulesbook, Errata, etc.:

GMT Games:



Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War came out almost exactly two years ago and brought the grimdark world of WH40k into the 4X realm for t...

WH40k: Gladius - T'au Faction and Assault Pack DLC WH40k: Gladius - T'au Faction and Assault Pack DLC

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

July 2020

WH40k: Gladius - T'au Faction and Assault Pack DLC

Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War came out almost exactly two years ago and brought the grimdark world of WH40k into the 4X realm for the first time. Being the grimdark world of 40k, most of the focus was on just one of those X's - eXterminate. This made for a game that was not nearly as deep as the likes of Civilization, but excelled in its chosen area of focus: tactical combat. You can read my full review of the game here.

Today I'm here to discuss two recent DLC additions to the game. The T'au faction, and the Assault Pack. Gladius is a game that benefits greatly from new factions being added to the mix, since it started with just four, and could run into replayability issues as each play of the game is fairly similar. To counter the relatively simple gameplay mechanics, each faction is designed to be distinct in how it plays and to lean heavily into the lore of the universe. The new T'au faction brings its unique blend of high-tech mechanized units and Greater Good ideology to the fray. The T'au only want us all to live in harmony within their empire, so get on board! (Or else.) They at least give you the option. In a universe where almost everyone else is genocidal by default, that makes them the "good guys" to some extent.

Reflecting this ideology, the T'au get several powers that help them to influence other entities in the game, rather than simply doing damage. Some of the local wildlife can be converted to your cause, boosting your forces early on before your Fire Warriors unlock some of their many special abilities. Other abilities allow you to weaken the resolve of the enemy, by lowering morale of units and the loyalty of cities. You can also recruit people into your cities by spreading the good news of the Greater Good. 

As always with Gladius, the core of the game is the tactical combat and the huge variety of units you can build to take part in that combat. Not to mention all the cool upgrades your forces will accumulate as you work your way up the tech tree. The T'au are a faction focused on ranged combat, having almost no units capable of surviving sustained melee battles. This leaves your early units very vulnerable to enemy factions like the Orks and Space Marines, who are tough to kill with light weapons, and love to get into melee. As you work your way through the tech tree, the T'au unlock numerous ways to mitigate their disadvantages and keep their foes at range. Every unit can summon a variety of drones that act as temporary units that can either fight or offer some kind of special ability. They also make great buffers between your units and the enemy. T'au infantry gain the ability to throw a variety of grenades, and vehicles eventually gain extra missiles. 

As one might guess from the faction theme of working for the Greater Good, the units have a lot of ways of supporting each other, making them more effective when, for example, one unit marks a target for the others, or a hero arrives who can boost the firepower of every unit on the line. 

Eventually, you'll be able to field the really fun stuff: the variety of T'au powered armor suits that scale from armored infantry to giant battle mechs. I found that the Crisis Battlesuits became the bread and butter of my forces. Tough enough to take a couple of hits, with the firepower to bring down even Space Marines. They are relatively slow, but a couple of Devilfish transports can taxi your army around the battlefield rapidly. Mix in some lighter and heavier units and the T'au can go toe to toe with any of the other factions. I finished my campaign as the T'au very much satisfied with the experience. I look forward to trying it again on a harder difficulty.

The other DLC that was recently released is the Assault Pack. This is a smaller offering that adds one new unit to each faction. This is a good buy if you really enjoy Gladius and want even more toys to play with. As the name suggests, this pack is all about offensive units, as opposed to last year's Fortification Pack which added powerful defensive options. There's some nice variety on offer here, with some factions receiving heavy transports (that boast plenty of firepower of their own), the Orks getting fast Warbikes, and the Tyranids a Scythed Hierodule, a monster even larger than the options they had before. At just $5, there is little harm in picking this one up if you like the game, especially if you already have all the factions on offer.

I can only imagine that there are several more factions in the pipeline for Gladius, and I look forward to trying them out! This is a game that only gets better as more options are added in. We still don't have any Eldar, and I would hazard a guess that they must be the next to arrive. 

The new expansions are available directly from Slitherine or on Steam and GoG.

- Joe Beard


Wise Bayonets 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia by Acies Edizioni   Alexander Suvorov (the last...

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

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

July 2020

Wise Bayonets: 17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia

Wise Bayonets

17 June - 19 June 1799 Suvorov at the Trebbia


Acies Edizioni

  Alexander Suvorov (the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire) is supposed to have fought sixty-three main engagements and won them all. Some military historians wish that he and Napoleon had been matched against each other during Wars of Revolutionary France. Some of the maxims that are attributed to him sound almost like they came from Napoleon's mouth:

"A strong pursuit, give no time for the enemy to think, take advantage of victory, uproot him, cut off his escape route."

"When the enemy is driven back, we have failed, and when he is cut off, encircled and dispersed, we have succeeded."

"One minute decides the outcome of a battle, one hour the success of a campaign, one day the fate of empires."

 In one way his views differed entirely from Napoleon's. Suvorov is often quoted as saying:

"The bullet is foolish, the bayonet wise."

 However, another saying attributed to him is more in sync with Napoleon's view of firepower:

"Fire opens the gates of victory."

 In 1799, while Napoleon had his hands full in Egypt, Suvorov was given the onus of reconquering Italy from France. In this he was matched against the French Generals Moreau and Macdonald. Moreau's part in this campaign is slight. Macdonald, on the other hand, was to feel the full fury of Suvorov and his Russians and Allies at the two day Battle of the Trebbia. Macdonald also had a storied career and was made a Marshal Of France. However, he was not in the same class of generals as Suvorov. So, this is the backdrop to Acies Edizioni's game about this battle. This is what comes with the game:

One Game Map 84x60cm.
216 5/8" counters and 140 1/2" counters
Four Player Aid Cards
One Rules and Scenarios Manual
Two six sided die

 The game uses these charts and tables:

Terrain Effects Chart
Combat Table
Initiative Track
Casualty Table & Losses Box (on the map)
Turn Record Track (on the map)

The game scale is:

1 turn: 1 hour (2 hours turns 1 and 12).
1 hex: 300 m (about 328 yards).
1 strength point: 2-300 men for infantry, 150-200 men for cavalry, and 2-3 guns.

 The rulebook is in full color and in large print. It is thirty-five pages long. The English translation of the Italian rules is very well done and there is no discernable Yoda speech. The designer, Enrico Acerbi, has included an excellent eight page historical commentary on the campaign and battle of the Trebbia at the end of the rulebook. The rulebook does not include samples of play. The map is well done, and shows the mostly open terrain dominated by the Tidone creek and Trebbia river. There are some higher elevations at the lower edge of the map, but the terrain is mostly clear, except for the marsh hexes next to both the river and creek. The fords and wooden bridges over both river and creek are the salient points to be aware of. The unit counters are 1/2" in size, and are very colorful, but easy to read. The general counters are 5/8", and come with well done small portraits of them. The marker counters (square, charge, etc.) are also well done. It comes with four separate paper like Player's Aids. Three are double-sided and one is single-sided. They are Initiative Track and Losses, Combat Tables and Terrain effect Chart, and the French and Russian setup pages. While not being of hard stock, they are printed in large type and are easy to read. The game itself comes with four scenarios, these are:

Scenario 1: The Battle of Tidone Creek - June 17th, 1799
Scenario 2: The Second Day - June 18th, 1799
Scenario 3: The Last Attack - June 19th, 1799
Scenario 4: The Campaign Game - June 17th-19th,1799

 The victory conditions for all of the scenarios is a combination of controlling hexes and inflicting Strength Point losses on your enemy.

 The game has a few nuances that you normally do not find in most tactical games. One of these is the ability of some artillery units to fire cannister. The weather plays no part in the game; during the battle it was hot and sunny. The games I have played have been touch and go affairs just like the actual battle. This is the Sequence of Play during the Command Phase:

"A. Command Phase
This phase is divided into four segments:
1. Command Segment
Units which are within the radius of their commanding officers are considered to be in command. The units beyond this radius are out-of-command (Place an Out of Command "OOC" marker on top of the out of command units).
2. Orders Segment
The Players check their Chains of Command. In this segment, it is possible to change old orders for new ones (5.3). The player may also declare "independent" brigade (s) in command (5.4).
Out of command officers maintain the order they had in the proceeding game turn, but they can try to change it in their activation (5.5)
3. Initiative Segment
The players roll a die to decide who goes first (7.0), and organize their formations on the Initiative Track (7.1).
4. Reorganization Segment
Players can try to reorganize their Disordered or Routed units if the type of order they received allows for it (19.0)."

Austro-Russian Counters

French Counters

 The game continues with an Action Phase in which Bombardment, Combat, Movement, and Attacking all take place. It might seem a little deep, but it is no harder to play than any other Tactical Napoleonic game, and a lot easier than some I own. The rules work on a tactical scale, and seem to allow, or force the player to use their units in a historical manner. The game does not feel like you are moving generic anytime units across the map. In some games you can substitute Heavy Cavalry for tanks and the action plays out like a WWII game. This is not one of those games. It plays out as a Napoleonic warfare game. As mentioned, it is not as deep as some tactical Napoleonic games, but it has enough bells and whistles to make a grognard happy, and not make a newbie run from the table screaming. 

1st Turn Setup, North and South are switched

 As far as the actual gameplay, this is a battle that should not have been fought. Macdonald was outmatched in wits and soldiers. He believed that help would come from Moreau that never appeared. In truth, Macdonald's force could very well have been wiped out or mauled much more severely than it was. The French can credit their soldiers' tenacity in saving their army. Playing as the French on the first day scenario or the campaign scenario, your first order should be to march quickly and grab all of the passages across the Tidone. Then you have to hold onto them no matter what. The French have more troops than the Allies early in the day. However, the tide changes with each passing turn. Playing as the Allies you can either try to hang onto at least one of the fords or the bridge over the Tidone, or wait until more of your force arrives during the day. For the second day and the campaign scenario, at least the French have the Trebbia River line to fall back on.

game in play shot

 Thank you Acies Edizioni for allowing me to review another of your fine games. My next review from them will take us to the Battle of Austerlitz for their game 'Moravian Sun'. These two games, and a third earlier one 'Massena at Loano', are based on the Vive la France: Empire rules system. The system is of medium complexity and is solitaire friendly.

The photos are from Adriano Visconti; many thanks.

Acies Edizioni:

Wise Bayonets:

My review of their game 'Durchbruch':