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  Men of Iron Tri-Pack by GMT Games Including the Games: Men of Iron, Infidel, Blood & Roses  This set of games is pretty amazing. It go...

Men of Iron Tri-Pack by GMT Games Men of Iron Tri-Pack by GMT Games

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

October 2020

Men of Iron Tri-Pack by GMT Games





 Men of Iron Tri-Pack


by GMT Games


Including the Games:

Men of Iron, Infidel, Blood & Roses




 This set of games is pretty amazing. It goes from the rebirth of infantry, to the acendency of the English longbow, and finishes with the armored knight having to deal with gunpowder weapons. The list of battles is very long and a delight to Middle Ages boardgame fans. This is what comes with the game:


Five double-sided 22x34” maps and one 11x17" map

Seven and one half counter sheets

One series rulebook

Three battle books

Eight player aid cards

Two ten-sided dice






 This is the list of battles:


"Dorylaeum – Northwest Anatolia, 1 July 1097 - The Crusader line of march, including the people’s Crusade and Peter the hermit, as well as all the great 1st Crusade Leaders, are “ambushed” by Kilij Arslan and his crack Seljuk cavalry.   

Antioch – Northern Syrian, 28 June 1098 - The exhausted, starving and depleted Crusaders – they had few horses left – have just taken Antioch and are now faced with a large Turkish army, under Kerbogha, sent to retake the city.   

Ascalon – Southern Palestine, 12 August 1099 - The Crusaders, having seized Jerusalem, turn south to fend off the suddenly active large army of the Fatimids, with their crack Mamluk heavy cavalry.   

Harran – Crusader Kingdom of Antioch/Edessa, 7 May 1104 - Baldwin II of Edessa seeks to maintain control of his little kingdom in northern Syria, something Soqman, Atabeg of Damascus, is not happy to allow. One of the first major Crusader defeats.   

Montgisard – Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem, 25 November 1177 - Saladin attempts to destroy a small army from the Kingdom of Jerusalem with an army more than five times its size. Though there are only 400 knights, the Crusaders are led by the remarkable Baldwin IV, The Leper King. The outcome - one of the greatest Crusader victories. See if you can carry off this stunning upset!   

Arsuf - Ayyubid Kingdom of Jerusalem, 7 September 1191 - The classic battle between Richard I Lionheart and the Ayyubid Army of Saladin highlighting the major facets of each army in an unusual moving battle.

Falkirk - Scotland, 22 July 1298 - Wallace's great disaster, despite his massive schiltron. Good infantry is fine, but it needs support. The ultimate solitaire scenario. 

Courtrai - Flanders, 11 July 1302 - The Battle of the Golden Spurs. The Flemish shook the elite French army with one of the earliest displays of the power of solid infantry using defensive positions. 

Bannockburn - Scotland, 23-24 June 1314 - Robert the Bruce's famous triumph over a numerically superior, but literally bogged down English army. 

Crecy - France, 26 August 1346 - The first great battle of the Hundred Years War. It showed that infantry, supported by archers, could defeat the best knights in Europe. 

Poitiers - France, 19 September 1356 - The French fight dismounted this time and almost win. But the longbow, and solid English infantry prevail again. 

Najera - Castile, 3 April 1367 - The Black Prince goes to Spain with a marvelous combined arms force to further English plans of "expansion". 

Agincourt – Artois, 25 October 1415 – Henry V wins a mighty victory against the flower of French chivalry. 

1st St. Albans – Herefordshire, 22 May 1455 - Marks the first major engagement in the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York and his ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeated the Lancastrians under Edmund, Duke of Somerset, who was killed during the battle. York also captured Henry VI and forced Henry to appoint him Constable of England  

Blore Heath – Staffordshire, 23 September 1459 - Greatly outnumbered Yorkist infantry used the longbow and a defensive position to drive off the Lancastrian Men-at-Arms. 

2nd St. Albans – Herefordshire, 17 February 1461 - The Lancastrians drove the Yorkists out of the town and then destroyed Warwick’s strangely deployed army, even when sturdily defended by hedges, caltrops and spiked netting. 

Towton – Yorkshire, 29 March 1461 - Easily biggest battle in the box and the biggest in the entire series. It uses over 200 combat units and, much like the actual battle, will probably take a long time to play. It is mostly crash and bash, with little room for maneuver, all fought in a blinding snowstorm!!  

Barnet – Greater London Area, 14 April 1471 - A classic battle of planned deployments, but overlapping wings, cries of treason in the lines, fog of war (actual fog), and the excellent use of reserves. 

Tewksbury – Gloucestershire, 4 May 1471 - A battle that shows one of the key terrain features of the battles in this era, extensive hedges and thick underbrush in otherwise clear fields. 

Bosworth – Leicestershire, 22 August 1485 - The best-known battle of the wars and the tragic (I think) death of King Richard III in a battle he should have won. Using the latest information as to where the battle took place, let’s see if you can cancel out the Tudor dynasty."


Falkirk Setup and Map

 This is a list of some of the historical commanders in the game:


"The great English King, Edward III and his son, The Black Prince, William Wallace and The Bruce, Captal de Buch.  Crusaders Stephen of Blois, Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond of Toulouse, Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy, the leper King Baldwin IV, Raynald of Chatillon, and King Richard I. Saracen leaders Kilij Arslan, Kerbogha, Atabeg of Mosul,  Fatimid Vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah, Soqman the Artukid of Diyar-Bakr and Aleppo, and Saladin. King Henry VI, Richard, Duke of York, King Edward IV, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, King Richard III, and Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (and founder of the Tudor dynasty)."




 The Men of Iron series was originally produced as four separate games:

Men of Iron
Infidel
Blood & Roses
Arquebus

 This is another in a long line of GMT Games giving the gamer a big package of previously released separate games and/or add-ons that were produced after the original game was put out. In this case the Battle of Agincourt was only released in the C3I magazine. So, you get all the battles of the three games with the bonus one Agincourt, and for an excellent price. Please understand that this is not just a rehash of the older separate games. The tri-pack has all of the errata added in along with updated counters and maps.

 The maps are very well done, even if they are mostly empty or devoid of different types of terrain. Almost all Middle Age Battles, and Ancient ones, took place of flat featureless areas. The counters are smaller at 1/2" (except for the Agincourt ones that are 9/16"), but even my old eyes can read the names and data. The European leaders have their heraldic sign on their counters, while the Islamic leaders have a crescent moon on their counters. There are two of each of the player's aids for Blood & Roses, Infidel, and Men of Iron. Men of Iron and Infidel are both four pages, while Blood & Roses is six pages in total. Each game has its own full page Flight Turn Track and General Track on one full page. The Rules Manual is in full color, and is twenty-eight pages long. Each of the three games has its own Battle Book (in full color). These contain all of the setups for the different battles, along with some historical information, and any special rules for each scenario. All of the components are up to the GMT standard of excellence.





 I already own, and have played, the original release of Blood & Roses, and Arquebus the fourth title in the series. I really like the system and both games, so I was excited to see what this release was going to add. This is the sequence of play:

"A. Activation Phase
• If this is a Free Activation, choose a Battle, Army Activation
(6.1), Standard (15.2), or Pass (6.1). If Pass is chosen, the
non-Active player gets a Free Activation; the Time marker
may be moved (16.1).
• If a Standard is Activated skip to Phase D or move the
Standard and skip to Phase E (15.2).
B. Move/Fire Phase
During Army Activation, Activated units may only Move (7.0).
During a Battle Activation any or all units of the Activated
Battle may Move (7.0) and/or Fire (11.0).
• Place any replacement leaders (5.5).
• Before any unit is moved or fires, first the Non-Active
player plays any Battle Cry or Unsteady Troops Seizure
counters, then the Active player plays any Battle Cry or
Unsteady Troops Seizure counters (6.3).
• Before any unit is moved or fires check Command status
for all Activated units (5.2 & 5.3).
• A foot unit armed with missile weapons may fire only at the
end of its move. Light Cavalry Archers, Medium Cavalry
Archers, and Genitors units may fire before, during, or at
the end of their move. A unit may fire without moving.
• Each unit must finish its movement/firing before another
unit may begin to move/fire.
• The Non-Active player’s units may qualify for Reaction/
Return fire (11.2) or Counter-Charge (13.9) depending on
the Active player’s actions.
• After movement in an Army Activation skip to Phase E.
C. Shock Phase
During a Battle Activation, after all movement/firing for the
activated Battle is complete, Shock combat (12.0) and Charges
(13.0) may be initiated.
1. The Active player designates which of his units are
attacking which defending units, including Charges (13.0).
2. Pre-Shock activities:
a) One at a time, the Active player places each Charging
unit adjacent to its target. Any Reaction Fire caused by
this is resolved (11.2).
b) Roll for terrain-induced Disorder checks for attackers;
apply automatic terrain-induced Disorders.
c) Roll for Shock/Charge Reluctance (13.5).
d) Any Retreat Before Combat (12.2) by the defender is
resolved.
e) The defender attempts any Counter-Charges (13.6) of
which he is capable.
3. The Active player resolves all his Shock and Charge
attacks, in any order he wishes. The Charge Table is used
as long as at least half of the units in an individual attack
succeeded in Charging (not Disordered by Reaction Fire
or Counter-Charged); otherwise the Shock Table is used.
Continued Attack (14.7) markers are placed and Advances
(12.4) are taken.
Exception: Attacks by a single attacker against multiple
defending hexes are resolved at the same time, and they are
considered to be going on simultaneously, with results (which
can be cumulative for the attacker) applied after both attacks
are resolved.
4. All Continued Attacks (14.7) are now resolved. Begin again
at Step 1, except that only units marked with Continued
Attack markers Shock and they must declare a Shock attack;
Charging and Counter-Charging are not allowed.
D. Rally Phase
During Battle Activation, Rally (15.0) any Disordered units that
did nothing for the entire Activation and that are currently not
adjacent to an enemy unit. If a Standard was Activated, Rally
(15.0) any Retired unit belonging to that army in or within one
hex of the Standard, and not adjacent to an enemy unit.
E. Continuation Phase
Make any Battle Flight rolls, and then any needed Pursuit rolls
(14.8 and 14.9). If the completed Activation was a Free Activation, both players make a Loss Check (3.0). If the game does
not end due to Loss Check, Pass or choose to Continue with a
Battle or Army Activation (6.2).
• This cannot be the Battle that just Activated, unless the
Active player has only one Battle.
• Army Activation can only follow an Army Activation. A
Battle Activation can follow Activation of a Battle, Army,
or Standard.
• The Non-Active player may attempt to Seize Continuity
(6.3). If so, he plays a Seizure Opportunity counter
and chooses one of his Battles to Activate. The Active
player may play a Seizure Negation (6.3) counter and the
Continuation attempt is then resolved, otherwise the NonActive player makes a Seizure DR attempt. If successful,
he Activates that Battle and proceeds from Phase B with
that Battle. If not, the Active player gets a Free Activation,
proceed to Phase A; this Free Activation may even be used
to Activate the Battle that just completed Activation.
• If no Seizure attempt occurs, make a Continuation DR attempt
(6.2). If successful, Activate that Battle or Army and proceed
from Phase B. If not, or the Active player Passes, the NonActive player gets a Free Activation and proceeds to Phase A"

 As you can see, there are no real 'turns' for each player. The first player can continue to activate his troops if he is lucky enough with his die rolls. The second player can attempt to stop him using a 'seizure counter' to begin activating his own units. However, the first player can also use a 'seizure negation counter' to stop the second player from taking initiative control. Victory in each battle is achieved by eliminating named leaders and enemy units. One very interesting Special Rule is that of 'Timed Engagement'. This is meant to make one side act historically and force them to attack within a certain time period, rather than maneuver about the battlefield. During many of these battles knights became 'fire and forget' weapons that just launched themselves at the first enemy they saw. This would include complete loss of brain function and force the knights to attack at the worst possible time and place. Roughly this equates to when a male elephant goes into 'musth' from a huge testosterone boost. The knights would only think of striking an enemy and being the first to do so. Hence, the wall of dead seen in front of the English archers in many of the Hundred Years War battles. 


Do you like Long Odds?


The individual Battle Books are amazing in the historical detail and all of the information needed for setup and play for each battle. There are also some funny quips added to the mix, "Say goodnight Gracie" being one of them. To say that I really like the series is a complete understatement. I think that this is one of the finest designs that Richard Berg ever came up with. I would love to have an ancients game using this system. I normally do not mention prices, but this game is a true steal at under $100. All three games were probably in the $70 range when released, so you really get some bang for your buck. Even if you do not know a York from a Lancaster these games will be an excellent addition to your collection. Easy rules, relatively short game times, and a small map footprint mean that you will have them on your table in no time. The choice of battles in Europe and Outremer is incredible in its scope. Thank you so much GMT Games for letting me review this new edition of this Berg masterpiece.

Robert

GMT Games:

GMT Games Men of Iron Tri-Pack:

Men of Iron Tri-Pack Rules:

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  Battlestar Galactica Deadlock recently ended its second and final season of DLC with a bang, and after playing through the campaign I'...

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: Season 2 Finale DLC Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: Season 2 Finale DLC

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

October 2020

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: Season 2 Finale DLC

 


Battlestar Galactica Deadlock recently ended its second and final season of DLC with a bang, and after playing through the campaign I'm here to offer my thoughts. As the name of pack implies, "Armistice" is a series of missions leading up to the end of the First Cylon War. There are eight missions in the pack, and the campaign plays out in a mostly linear fashion. There are side missions for gathering extra resources and keeping the Cylon threat level down, but really you can plow ahead with the story missions, only pausing if you really need to.

Each mission comes with plenty of story dialogue before, during, and after the operation. Characters you've come to know throughout the lengthy campaign reach the end of their arcs along with the war itself. If you're a fan of BSG and have read up on the lore, you'll be happy to know that many tidbits from the mini-series prequel "Razor" are tied into the final missions here. The story ends on a rather somber note, as is appropriate given what happens later in the BSG world. As the player, you know that you have come up a bit short, and some of the characters seem to sense this as well. The Cylon "super weapon" hinted at throughout the story gets away, dooming mankind to the events seen in the opening hours of BSG the show. 




While many of the missions in the campaign boil down to wiping out the enemy fleet, many of them have some kind of objective to accomplish as well, and one towards the end even has a fun gimmick that forces you to manage your fleet much differently than normal. Given that this is the home stretch of the game, it's no surprise that every battle here is a massive slugfest between the best ships you can muster and hordes of Cylons. With just about every option in the game unlocked at this point, and plenty of resources to go around, you have free reign to organize your tactics as you see fit. I enjoyed trying out some of the various munitions I had ignored previously, and of course seeing how things would go if I equipped a nuke in every available slot (hint: things get messy).  


The turn-based space combat still holds strong after years of playing it off and on again. It always feels good to pull together a clean attack the knocks out one enemy ship after another while minimizing your own losses. You have to remain vigilant, as getting lax and allowing a ship to cruise head on into the enemy's guns or torpedoes can get it killed in a single turn. 




In addition to the Armistice story DLC, the finale also features the "Modern Ships" pack. These ships don't appear in the story campaign, but instead are available for skirmish and multiplayer modes. These ships fully tie the game into the era of BSG the show, featuring the sleek Cylon basestars of that era and the Mercury class Battlestars (like the Pegasus seen in the show). 


The game also received a free update for all users, the Daybreak Update which you can see all the details of here. Besides a number of quality of life and visual/performance improvements, the update adds a Photography mode for getting those nifty sci-fi screenshots, and new modes for multiplayer and bigger fleet caps.


I've been a fan of this game for years now, and it was great to play out the conclusion of the story. Fans of the show and fans of tactical combat games should certainly check it out if they haven't yet, as it really is so much better than one might ever expect from a TV show based game that came out many years after hype for the show died down. The developers, Black Lab Games, can be proud of what they've done here, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.




Battlestar Galactica Deadlock and all of its content can be found at the usual storefronts, as well as directly from Slitherine Games.



- Joe Beard

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  God's Viking Harold Hardrada by Nic Fields  For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which me...

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields

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

October 2020

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields





 God's Viking


Harold Hardrada


by


Nic Fields





 For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which means hard-counsel or hard-ruler, is a difficult task. Mostly what we know about him comes from Norse sagas. Therefore, it is hard to tell the truth from hyperbole. Dr. Nic Fields has given himself a very hard task to present us with the historical Harold. From the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where Harald was only fifteen, to the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, Harald blazed like a comet across the early Middle Ages sky. The chronicler Adam of Bremen called him the "Thunderbolt of the North". Let us take a look at what the author has given us.


 First, it is a large book, coming in at 366 pages. It is, however, not just a straight biography of Harald. His life is shown us throughout the pages, but the book brings a trove of many other things. The book is filled with the history of the Viking Age from the half-mythical Ragnar, to the death of the last real Viking Harald. The book also is packed with with facts about other parts of the age. It starts with a chapter named 'War', which shows exactly how Vikings fought, etc. The last chapter of the book, called 'He, her, hero, heroine' goes into the details of how Viking women shaped the age. The book is filled with various Norse kings and chieftains. It mentions Eiríkr Blóðøx (Eric Bloodaxe, a happy little sobriquet). The author describes him thus: "Norsemen were all warlike, but Eric Bloodaxe was a special case; he enjoyed homicide as a family activity". 


 The author also dispels some fallacies that we now take as gospel about events and people in the Viking Age. He shows that the 'Blood-Eagle' was just a literary license from the later writers of the sagas. Ivar the Boneless is also a victim of what the author calls "English literalism". In actual fact, the epithet 'boneless' is still used in Norway to describe a crafty, sly character, as in 'No bones, you can't hear him coming'. The Norse were well known for their tongue in cheek nicknames. They would use names like 'fatso' to describe a skinny person, and vice versa. 


 The book does not neglect Harald's life though. We see him as a fifteen year old warrior fighting beside his half-brother. Then we see his long journey through 'Rus' (modern Russia), all the way to the court of the Byzantine Emperor. He becomes a general and head of the Emperor's Varangian Guard. Varangian was the Byzantine word for the Northmen. We follow his return to Norway and the throne, to his twenty-year war to conquer Denmark. He finally falls at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the first and sometimes overlooked  invasion of England in 1066.


 The book goes into incredible depth about Harald and the age before and during his life. I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to really find out about the history of the Viking Age. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this needed and timely book.


Robert

Book: God's Viking:  Harald Hardrada the Life and Times of the Last Great Viking

Author: Nic Fields

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers




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