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Thermonuclear war is the game about which it's been said that the only winning move is not to play at all. What would it look like if yo...

ICBM ICBM

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

December 2020

ICBM




Thermonuclear war is the game about which it's been said that the only winning move is not to play at all. What would it look like if you had to play it out anyway? ICBM is a game which answers that question. Millions will die as eight global regions duke it out with every weapon of mass destruction in their inventory. 

ICBM is a real time strategy game from Slitherine with sparse graphics but a deep well of strategy to explore. At the beginning of the game you will be presented with a mostly empty map of the world. Eight regions, such as North America, East Asia, and Europe, are each outlined in their own color and dotted with targets, ahem, cities filled with millions of innocent civilians. In terms of military power, things start off completely even, with everyone building from the same relatively blank slate. Once the clock starts ticking, the player is given a wide open decision space in terms of what to research, what to build, and where to deploy it. Additionally, at some point alliances will form, which the player is free to enter into, or not, though isolationists will likely find themselves very, very alone once the nukes start flying. That's because alliances allow not just the sharing of vision, but also the sharing of technology, both of these things being absolutely crucial to gaining an edge over the enemy. 



At the start of the game it would be foolhardy to rush into conflict. ICBM is all about the slow burn as you build up forces and technology, shaping your strategy as you go. Radars must be built so that you can find targets to begin with, as well as defend against the enemy. Then you'll need to decide on what your offense and defense will look like. Do you want wings of bombers or fleets of subs? Maybe you'll attack from space, or a good old fashioned carrier strike force?  As you're building up, you'll likely find yourself skirmishing with neighbors. Maybe you catch their sub lurking off the cost and sink it, or maybe they notice your isolated radar site and take it out with an airstrike. Since everything you build costs you time that could have been spent building something else, you'll feel these losses. On top of that, this fighting adds tension to the game, since you never know if this is IT, or just another quick strike before things quiet down again. 



Once things do kick off, you'll quickly find out just how well or poorly you have planned, and also how well your enemies have done. Didn't bother patrolling your coastlines at all this game? Maybe there's a couple subs hanging out there ready to waste your infrastructure in a matter of seconds. Underestimate the enemy air defenses, and now your bomber wings got wiped out before reaching their targets? That's the ballgame folks. Just the same, the enemy will be running up against your defenses and maybe you've got some surprises for them too. This quick release of destructive energy is what all of the tension of the early game build up has been leading towards. ICBM even has specific mechanics to ratchet this moment up. 

One is the option to turn off a feature which pauses the game for every little semi-significant update (like spotting a new enemy unit) because once the full scale war kicks off, it's going to get hectic and there's no fun in stopping it every few seconds. Second, there is a tool for setting up large scale coordinated strike plans that can be set in motion with one click. Given enough buildup time you can find yourself in command of dozens or hundreds of weapons of mass destruction. The tool makes it easy to divvy up appropriate targets for them and even time the attacks to hit all at once. 



For long time strategy fans, you'll likely remember DEFCON from 2006, a game which certainly paved the way for this title. Where DEFCON was streamlined and colorful, ICBM is grayer and more complex. One could certainly enjoy both games, but I could also see someone greatly preferring one over the other. I appreciate the more complex and involved systems in ICBM, where you have a great deal of freedom in shaping your force composition, but while playing I was constantly reminded of how DEFCON managed to provoke a stronger emotional response despite it's more colorful and simpler presentation. Almost 15 years later, I can still vividly recall the ambient sounds in DEFCON which included distant alarms, doors closing, and someone crying in the background as the war played out on screen. ICBM feels much more sterile in terms of presentation. It's functional, but not much else.



ICBM offers a fun take on strategy gaming, especially if you can get online and play with a group. I could see friends taking multiple runs at each other using different strategies and styles. There is also an online ELO ranking if you want to get into serious competitive play. The AI does a good enough job, but of course will never be as creative or unpredictable as another human. 

ICBM is available from the usual online stores, as well as directly from Slitherine.

- Joe Beard








3 comments :

  Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne by Shakos Games  In 1806 Napoleon crushed Prussia in a campaign that looked pretty much like a 19th c...

Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne by Shakos Games Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne by Shakos Games

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

December 2020

Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne by Shakos Games





 Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne


by


Shakos Games





 In 1806 Napoleon crushed Prussia in a campaign that looked pretty much like a 19th century blitzkrieg. He had beaten an Austro-Russian Army in 1805 at Austerlitz, but just as Frederick the Great learned, the Russian Army was a lot like the Energizer Bunny. The Russians had pulled back into Poland to reorganize. This led to the Grande Armee's first taste of campaigning in eastern Europe. The French Army did not like it at all. The roads were dirt tracks, and the poor villages were nothing like what they had found in what would become the Germany we know. Instead of glory and march on, Napoleon often heard his grognards (grumblers) yell 'peace' at him as he rode by. The campaign in Poland was two phased. First, at the beginning of 1807, Marshal Ney had disturbed a hornet's nest by disturbing the Russians, when the French Army was in winter quarters. This led to the brutal, and inconclusive Battle of Eylau on February 7th and 8th. This was the first real check Napoleon had ever received on the battlefield, and had not come out with a clear cut victory. It was also one of the bloodiest. Marshal Ney observed "What a massacre! And without result". Napoleon told Marshal Soult "The Russians have done us great harm," to which Soult replied "And we them, our bullets were not made of cotton". Later that year in June, General Benningsen (commander of the Russian Army) seems to have had a momentary attack of lunacy at Friedland. He had thought to defeat Marshal Lannes, before the rest of the Grande Armee came to the rescue. Benningsen decided to cross a river and trap himself right in front of Napoleon. It would have been wiser to jump into a lion's den. The Battle of Friedland led directly to the Peace of Tilsit. So let us see what Shakos Games has given us:


1 mounted game board 90 x 60 cm

1 rulebook

1 scenarios booklet

1 quickstart booklet

3 player aids (orders of battle)

2 player screens

2 sets of 48 cards

6 additional cards for Napoléon 1806

2 sticker sheets (100)

More than 250 wooden pieces

10 combat dice

2 cloth bags




 This list is very much akin to someone saying they bought you a diamond and they hand you the Star of Africa. Opening the box, you are presented with something new in the wargaming world. This is a wargame that is the offspring of a Euro game and a normal wargame. So, it has the beauty of a Euro game, and it is also an in depth wargame. This is about the third game I have seen with this kind of pedigree, but this game by far has the best looking components. The mounted game board is a beauty to behold. From the picture of a flintlock pistol along one side, to the Victory Point Tables, it is wonderfully done. The wooden pieces are among some of the best I have ever seen. They were cut precisely, and there are no extra flanges, etc. The stickers are either pictures of the actual Marshal/General or a Cossack and a French light cavalry. These represent vedettes, and are used in the optional rules. In a change from most block games the side that faces your opponent actually has a sticker to denote which side it belongs to. So many little things like this are added to the game. There are two screens to hide your opponent and your Order of Battle Aids showing your forces strength and amount of fatigue. The French one has a golden eagle and the Russian shows a golden double-headed eagle. On the inside of both screens are various aids, done in wonderful color, to help with the play sequence and other rules. There are three double-sided Orders of Battle Player Aids. These show the setups for the Pultusk, Eylau, and Friedland battles. There is one very large Player Aid that is four pages long. The middle two pages are a fold out showing exactly how to set up the map and the various Player Aids. There are two cloth bags that also have the French and Russian eagles on them. These epitomize the care and sheer artistry of the game's components. There are two sets of cards (Russian, French) that are on par with the rest of the components as far as looks. They are also easy to read and understand. I cannot say enough about how wonderful the game looks. The Rulebook is in large print and full beautiful color. The actual rules, with examples of play, are fourteen pages long. There are 'Rules of the Grognard' that can be used to enhance the game. The last four pages explain each Playing Card in detail. The Scenario Booklet is just as sumptuous as the rest of the game's components. There are thirteen scenarios in all. These are the scenarios:


1-7 are Campaign Scenarios

1 - Pultusk Scenario Historical Placement

2 - Pultusk Scenario Free Placement

3 - In the Mud of Poland Free Placement

4 - Eylau Campaign Historical placement

5 - Eylau Campaign Open Placement

6 - Friedland Campaign Historical Placement

7 - Friedland Campaign Open Placement

8-10 are Battle scenarios

8 - The Russian Offensive Historical Placement

9 - Battle of Eylau Historical Placement

10 - Battle of Friedland Historical Placement

Scenario 11 is the Grand Campaign

11 - From Pultusk to Friedland

Scenarios 12 and 13 are for use with the 1806 game from Shakos

12 - The Russians Come to the aid of the Prussians in Saxony

13 - From Napoleon 1806 to Napoleon 1807





 This is the sequence of play:


"Operations

 Pass: If a player passes, they can no longer

perform operations, but can still play 1 card

with its name on a green background in order to

apply events to the operations of their opponent.

The opponent continues operations until they also

pass. If both players have passed, the operations

phase is over. A player who has activated all their

corps is forced to pass.

• Perform an operation: During an

operation the active player selects a stack where

each corps has to be Activated status – i.e., face

up. The player is not required to select all the corps

present in an area. Activated corps will be able to:

 move

 initiate combat

 or both by performing a moving attack

At the end of an operation, flip the activated corps

flag up on its has been Activated side, even if the

corps did not actually move. Also, activate all

other corps that have participated in a combat,

attacking or defending.

During an operation, each player may play a single

card from their hand with the name of the event on

a green background. The card is placed in the

player’s discard pile once the effect is resolved.


Recovery

During the recovery phase, players perform the

following actions in order:

1) Each corps that is still on its to be Activated side

removes all its fatigue points.

2) For each of their other corps, the player can

play 1 card from their hand, and only 1, and

remove the number of fatigue points indicated in

the recovery box located bottom right.

3) All corps that still have between 5 and 8 fatigue

points then lose 1 strength point immediately.

4) Flip all corps face up to indicate that they are to

be Activated for the next turn.

5) Advance the Turn marker and repeat the game

sequence.


Very important: at any point in the game when a

corps has no strength points or more than 8 fatigue

points, it is immediately and permanently removed

from the game.

Remember that strength points lost due to fatigue

award victory points to your opponent."





 As you can see, the game is relatively simple in its actual rules. However, do not be fooled by the dearth of the rules. This is a medium complexity wargame from the ground up. You will find no 'Beer & Pretzels' in this box. The main rules that makes this game so very good is the rules on fatigue. Some Napoleonic games allow the player to march, attack etc. with no penalties whatsoever. In this game EVERY action causes fatigue. This is as it should be, and is historically accurate. You can only ask so much of real troops before their cohesion breaks. From the beginning, the designers were predicated on making a historically accurate game that is also easy to get into, and to easily remember the rules. In this they have succeeded, probably far beyond their expectations. After one play through you should have no reason the look up anything in the rulebook. The amount of excellent Player's Aids also help in this regard. The game has been set up so that you can use either the cards or the dice included to decide combat. You can either look at three cards or roll three die. The Rulebook is written as if you are using the cards.




 The game has another interesting rule up its sleeve. This is the 'Axis of Retreat' rule. When a stack moves into an area occupied by an enemy force, the force moving into the occupied area places an Axis of Retreat symbol toward the area it just moved from. If a new enemy force is able to move through the connection that has the Axis of Retreat on it, then the force that had the Axis of Retreat loses 2 fatigue points. This is just another example of the ingenuity of the rules and the designers' ideas to make the game as historically accurate as possible.


 To achieve victory, you must:

Eliminate opponent's strength points

Control fortified towns

Protect your citadels

Besiege you opponent's citadels


The Fatigue markers are the Round Red Ones


 Bottom line? It is a game that is on another level of beauty of its components. From the moment you see the box to when you start opening it up you will be amazed. The whole ensemble is a sight to behold. Do not think that Shakos Games have shirked on the game play. This is not the case of something beautiful but shallow. The way fatigue is handled really makes the game seem historically accurate. If you march and fight willy-nilly about the board like some games allow, you will pay for it. Thank you so much, Shakos Games, for letting me review this wonderful beauty. From what I can tell their Napoleon 1806 is just as beautiful.

Robert

Shakos Games:

Shakos | Historical board games 

Napoleon 1807:

Napoléon 1807 | Shakos



5 comments :

  From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. N...

From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr. From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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

December 2020

From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.





 From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II:


The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945


by


Douglas E. Nash Sr.





 The first volume took us from the creation of the IV SS- Panzerkorps, and all that entailed, to the battles around Warsaw on the Eastern Front in WWII. This second volume takes us to Hungary and the desperate battle to relieve Budapest. The action takes place on the Eastern Front which by that time is getting uncomfortably close to Germany itself. Hitler demanded that the besieged in Budapest be relieved. Guiderian (Chief of the General Staff) wanted as many troops as possible to keep the Red Army off German soil. He described the Eastern Front as "A house of cards. If the front is broken through at one point all the rest will collapse".


 There were three relief attempts to fight through to the beleaguered in Budapest. Each operation was named Konrad. So, we have operation Konrad I,II, and III. The IV SS-Panzerkorps was in the thick of the fighting in all three operations. The backbone of IV SS- Panzerkorps were the two SS Panzer Divisions Wiking and Totenkopf. At different times during the IV SS-Panzerkorps existence, many other divisions and kampfgruppe's (battle groups) were added to its Order of Battle. 


 Long before the IV SS-Panzerkorps was created, both of the SS Panzer Divisions had been in the thick of the fighting in Russia. While one can be disgusted by their actions, one also has to reluctantly give them their just do. Both of the divisions were nearly destroyed several times over in the fighting on the Eastern Front. However, their cadres were able to install an esprit des corps in even their most reluctant, almost press ganged, soldiers. 


 The first volume was by far one of the best military history books I have ever read. This volume continues in that vein without even the slightest hiccup. In this book, like its sibling, the author seamlessly takes the reader from the highest councils of war to the individual battles for each plot of ground.

 

 There are two groups of photographs that are in the book. The first is a portrait gallery of most of the German persona listed in the book. The second is sixteen pages of photos taken of the troops during the actual operations described in the book.


 Some of the book is pretty eye-opening as far as the actual relations between the German Army and this SS-Panzerkorps. General der Panzertruppe Hermann Balck was the commander of the newly reconstituted 6th Armee. The IV SS-Panzerkorps, under Herbert Otto Gille, was subordinated to the 6th Armee for these operations. That there was no love lost between Gille and Balck is shown in several areas of the book along with Balck's actual disdain for the SS. On page 311, Gille is quoted as saying that his new deployment "smelled like a briefcase". This is in reference to the July 20th 1944 attempted assassination of Hitler. The book states that Gille believed Balck was actually trying to destroy his command in an act of treachery. This amazing piece of history is just one of the many that are found in the volume.


 This book, and the preceding volume, are exactly the kind of history that history buffs want to read. From the who, what, and when to the actual descriptions of the battles, these books are almost unparalleled. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this second volume of a planned trilogy on the IV SS-Panzerkorps. I cannot wait for volume III.

Robert


Book: From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945

Author: Douglas E. Nash Sr.

Publisher: Casemate Publishers

1 comments :

Legacy of Dragonholt is a choose your own adventure style RPG game where you and up to 5 others spend a week in the FFG-familiar fantasy wor...

Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games

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

December 2020

Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games


Legacy of Dragonholt is a choose your own adventure style RPG game where you and up to 5 others spend a week in the FFG-familiar fantasy world of Terrinoth (…think Descent or Batllelore). Full confession, I’ve only played this solo due to Covid-related restrictions (but I have completed it). It describes itself as a cooperative narrative adventure which is spot on. However, winning and losing is a nebulous affair, the rules themselves state “You might fail to find a fabled treasure or to save an innocent victim, but if you enjoy the story, that is a victory”.

Gameplay

The first thing required of you is to create your character – I became a social-outcast, disfigured chubby cat-woman who wanted nothing more than to escape her humdrum life and the unwanted gaze of children and other people so she naturally became a stealthy thief and ventured solo. So far so D&D-lite. You’re then thrust into the tutorial adventure which introduces the rules through different entries in the first of the adventures. The first adventure, although the shortest, does such an excellent job of teaching the game system that you probably don’t even need to read the 3.5 pages of rules glossary.

No spoilers here!
 

The rest of the campaign is delivered through five adventures and a central location (Dragonholt Village) which you’ll call home for the entire game. These distinct events are each presented in their own booklet with several hundred entries to determine your choices and consequences as you go through the adventure. Each booklet will comprise a complete adventure and be formed of Encounters and you’ll be asked to mark your time or progress in different tracks to determine what further options are open to you.

If you’ve ever played a choose your own adventure type game, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here but there are a few differences to my own experience of the Fighting Fantasy books (and a Ninja series I’ve forgotten the name to, a 2 player dog-fighting series which I would love to find again, and the relatively new Van Ryder gamebooks) which are worth mentioning.

Each entry is given a four-figure number which I found really easy to remember when moving from one location to another. This may sound like an inconsequential thing to say but I remember losing my place numerous times playing a Fighting Fantasy adventure book which are sequentially numbered 1 to 400 or so. The four figures start at around 1000 in each book and go up to 9000 or so. Due to that amount of number space each entry is numerically separated from its neighbours by 30 or more. I think it is this separation that allows you to thumb through the pages quickly without losing your place. In the whole campaign over 4 or 5 sessions I only had to backtrack to find my place once.

The Story Point / Oracle system
 

The second ‘worth mentioning’ difference is the Story oints. You mark your progress down different story branches by marking off a variety of checkboxes which indicate a significant story event that you’ve just witnessed. In a later encounter, not just within the same booklet, your available choices will depend on which checkboxes have been marked off, i.e. your past actions directly influence your present. I thought this was a clever system that provided an elegant way to feel like your actions made a difference. Although I’ve completed the game, I’ve only marked off 25% of the Story Points boxes. At this point, I presume it is impossible to mark them all off in a single campaign and multiple playthroughs are necessary to see the entire story.

First completed run through

Which brings me onto the most notable aspect of this game, being the story itself. The characters and locations (particularly the village) feel genuine and are immersive. The writing is engaging and is on par with most of the good fantasy novels I’ve read. Typically, I would expect a gamebook to briefly describe a situation in a couple of sentences and give me an either-or choice. In Legacy of Dragonholt, your choice will come after a paragraph (or sometimes many more) of story and character development. Your choices will also depend on what time of day it is, and what Story Points have been marked off. I presume this is the Oracle system at work and I know I’d like to see some more games using this system.

The adventures

I’ve not played this multi-player but the game allows for an activation system in which you flip your activation token when you’ve taken the lead on a decision. You cannot make a group decision again until every other player has done so. I think this sounds like a neat solution but I still maintain reservations about playing this multiplayer.

Components

The game is presented in 7 adventure booklets (including the village book). You also get a small deck of cards, a village map and a couple of other handouts related to the story. As ever with FFG games I have nothing but praise for the components and presentation.

Is this enough to warrant a board game?

Criticism

Is it a board game or is it a gamebook? The inclusion of the six activation tokens (only one per player) and a deck of cards are really all that separate this from another choose your adventure book. (I’ve been enjoying the Van Ryder gamebooks series lately which are in my opinion at the pinnacle of choose your adventure design). I don’t think those components do enough to claim that this is a board game which leaves me with the conclusion that this is a £50 book … admittedly it’s well written and enjoyable but I don’t think it merits £50 when other gamebooks are less than half the price.

I’m pretty sure this game is best-played solitaire. There’s sometimes a significant amount of reading to do and that can get quite painful in a group situation. Each of the six adventure book states a realistic-sounding time of 50-80 minutes but as a solo player, I could blast through the quicker adventures in 30 minutes or less. I know I hugely enjoyed my time with the characters and the village of Dragonholt but I didn’t have to listen to anyone else reading ‘dramatically’ or discuss why I thought the group should choose a different decision. However, because I effectively ‘speed-runned’ (new verb) the campaign I was left at the end wishing it lasted longer.

Conclusion

If your group has played Battlelore and is well versed in Descent 2d Edition and you’ve played through the base game and own lots of the expansions then I can really see this having a place on your group’s table, for a few sessions. I do recommend this to solo players looking for an immersive fantasy experience, albeit slightly short-lived, again assuming the price doesn’t put you off.

I certainly enjoyed the story and although my ending wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, I am claiming a victory. After all, it's the first time I've ever reviewed a game where I've completed it.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. This is probably in stock online more than local FLGS but you can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store who do need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designer:  Nikki Valens

Bgg page:  https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/234669/legacy-dragonholt

Playtime:  30-80 minutes per adventure.

Players:  1 - 6 

0 comments :

 LATEST NEWS CTHULHU WARS: DUEL The latest in the Cthulhu saga has been announced by Petersengames.  To learn more click on here A swift, br...

LATEST NEWS : CTHULHU WARS: DUEL LATEST NEWS : CTHULHU WARS: DUEL

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

December 2020

LATEST NEWS : CTHULHU WARS: DUEL

 LATEST NEWS

CTHULHU WARS: DUEL


The latest in the Cthulhu saga has been announced by Petersengames.

 To learn more click on here

A swift, brutal 2 player rendition of Cthulhu Wars is upon us!!   Be very afraid!

Look out for a future review here at A Wargamer's Needful Things.

0 comments :

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games    The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) is a war that not many people know about. Oh, you have...

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games

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

December 2020

Cockpit of Europe by Red Sash Games





Cockpit of Europe


by


Red Sash Games



 



 The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) is a war that not many people know about. Oh, you have history buffs that because of Frederick the Great know about the war in central Europe, but not many people know anything about the war in the Low Countries. The English Army did not always have things their way against the French. In another war that is even less known about, The Nine Years War (1688-1697), Marshal de Luxembourg consistently had the upper hand. It is true that during the War of the Spanish Succession, Marlborough beat the French Army whenever he faced it. Now we come to one of France's greatest Marshals Maurice de Saxe; as an aside, he could bend and snap horseshoes with his hands, just like his father Augustus the Strong of Saxony. Neither a Frenchman nor a Catholic, he became Marshal General of France's Armies during the War of the Austrian Succession. I believe his writings helped to bring about the Corps system that allowed Napoleon to rise to fame, and it is still used today. de Saxe was also able to beat the English whenever he faced them. This simulation is focused in the Low Counties in the years 1744-1748. So, for those of us who have longed for the day, we now have an operational simulation of the war that featured the Battle of Fontenoy. So, let us see what comes in this oversized box. These are the contents:


1) One 24x18 inch map representing Northwest Europe from the Channel to Metz, and from Paris to the Zuider Zee, derived from a mix of modern cartography and period maps dating from 1715 to 1750. Scale is 8.5 miles per hex (roughly 4 leagues per hex).

2)  1080 die cut counters representing contingents from France, Britain, Holland, Austria, Hesse, Bavaria, and even Russia! (The Dutch army itself contains Swiss, Saxon, Bavarian, Walloon, and Scottish mercenaries, not to mention forces from Holstein-Gotthorp and Hessen-Philipstahl).

3) Rules, charts, tables, and display cards.

4) An historical commentary.




 Opening the box is like looking into a cornucopia. You do not know where to start first. The map may seem kind of small for anyone who is used to monster games. However, if you have played any games about the campaigns of Marlborough you will notice it is exactly the same area. There is a reason it was called the Cockpit of Europe. France and her allies and enemies alike had been fighting over this area for centuries. The next thing you will notice about the map is how colorful it is, and the fact that it is covered in fortresses. Again, if you are not used to wargaming this area during this period, sieges and battles to stop sieges were a way of life for the military in the Low Countries. Movement on the map is point to point, although the rules, to follow wargame norms, call them hexes. Looking at the map, you can easily see how easy it is to fight a defensive war, and how difficult it is to prosecute an offensive one. The map might seem 'busy' to some, but the actual space between points is only 8.5 miles. Barely a good stretch of the legs (if you are into old movies). The game comes with two rule books. One is the 'Lace Wars' rulebook. Lace Wars is the series of games that Cockpit of Europe is part of. Lace Wars is based on the War of the Austrian Succession and the different games are based on the different parts of Europe during the war. The second is the actual Cockpit of Europe rulebook. They are both in black and white. The Lace Wars rulebook is forty-two pages long, and the Cockpit of Europe rulebook is twenty-three pages long.  Some people might look at them and believe they are daunting to behold (more on this later). However, they are well set up and take the player through the different concepts in an easy manner. The counters seem larger than their 5/8" size. On one side is a beautiful recreation of the unit's actual uniform jacket. The flip side is the unit's name and rating, etc. This side is in large type and easy to read. The officer counters also have all their ratings  displayed large enough to easily read them. They also have small portraits of the officers when they could find one available. I cannot say enough about the counters; they are extremely well done. It also comes with a fantastic forty-four page Historical Commentary that is better than most articles about the war. There is so much else that comes in the box. I will give you a list:


Two, two-page French and English HQ Display Charts

Turn Record Track and Peace Index & Operation Track etc.

Cockpit of Europe Counter Guide

Cockpit of Europe Terrain Effects Chart, The other side shows how to setup Battlefields

Sequence of Play

Four sheets of Tables

Allied Campaign Plans, Opposite side has the French Campaign Plans

Cockpit of Europe Unit Class Summary

Cockpit of Europe French OOB Book

Cockpit of Europe Allied OOB Book

Two sheets with Officers" Mess, Recovery Box etc.

Two sheets of 'Wings' A through J to use for battles


 In a word, it has anything you can think of that a player might need to play a deep simulation like this. All of the tables are in black and white. The Counter Guide and Terrain chart and a few other are in color.



These pics are of the Print & Play map


 So, in a nutshell this has all of the trappings of a monster game without the size. I will tell you straight off, anyone looking for a light or medium complexity game please avert your eyes. This simulation, and its brothers, were meant for the grognard. Some gamers who are used to the sweep of panzers across the steppe might think the game slow. For those of us who have wished and prayed for an operational game about the Austrian War of Succession, our prayers have been answered. There have been some games about the war, but almost all of them center on Frederick the Great's part in it. For me the battles in the Cockpit of Europe are the end all and be all. My birthday is May 11th, the same day the battle of Fontenoy was fought. Just hearing the name de Saxe gets my ears to perk up. This is a piece written in the latest Lace Wars rulebook to give an overview of the system:


"Focus of the Series

The Lace Wars series examines the wars of the 17th through 18th centuries (with an option to move into the 19th Century) at the Operational level. In the military thinking of the period, there was no written doctrine entitled ‘operational art’. It was either strategy or tactics. So, by Operational I mean you play the part of a theatre commander. Above you are the Monarch and his or her cabinet (or a republican senate), and the diplomats, and any allied rulers, and all the faceless socio-economic forces. None of which are in your control, though you may be able to manipulate them. Under you are the combat Units, the regiments, brigades, battalions, and war-bands, plus a logistics net and a motley group of generals. These also are not entirely under your control. Generals have personalities of their own, and combat Units have variable strength and cohesion. Since you are in the middle, ‘winning the war’ is not all that vital, and is usually not made the focus of the game, even when the situation is a balanced one. Most historical situations are not balanced. But, the system does provide a balance between you and your opponent, which is all that really matters. This is done by making you chase after personal Prestige. Campaign Plans (CPs) are the key to earning Prestige. They are essentially a set of ‘mandated objectives’, but you usually have a lot of leeway not only in resolving them but in picking them. This way, you can experiment with different strategies. In fact, the series is intended to give you lots of scope for experimentation. The system does not absolutely constrain you to a particular course of action, but it rewards you if you hit on the correct strategy and penalises you if you make mistakes. As you might expect with an operational-level game, the core elements in the Lace Wars series boil down to managing your Units effectively, supplying them, outmaneuvring your opponent, and winning in combat. In the period covered by the series, battles were infrequent but important, sieges were all-important, armies were usually fragile instruments, and supply was centered on the establishment of a network of depots. If you can maintain your forces in being while accomplishing some Campaign Plans, you have a good chance of winning. "





 This is a link to the Lace Wars Quick Start Guide on Red Sash's website:

LW QSG (redsashgames.com)


 How does it play? Like a simulation of an 18th century war, focused on operational warfare. The tactical module is an added attraction. The tactical battles play out much like other games that have 'Battleboards'. Movement is slow compared to most other wargames. The period relied on depots, and while sacking was not uncommon, a king did not want to add a burned out shell of a province into his realm. As I had alluded to, the movement will seem glacial to gamers that are used to 20th century games; even Napoleonic warfare has more movement to it. The simulation rewards you if you can play as an 18th century general. If you go into it with the mindset of Zhukov or Guderian, you will quickly fail. 



 The simulation has everything an 18th century general would have to contend with:

Lines of Communication

Fortifications

Formations

Siege Artillery

Auxiliaries

Leadership

 This is just a small taste of what you will have to deal with while playing. The rulebooks are filled with excellent quotes from many of the generals etc. of the time:

"The French are what they were in Caesar's time, and as he described them, brave to excess but unstable" Marshal de Saxe 

"A pack mule can go on the campaigns with Prince Eugene of Savoy, and still learn nothing of tactics". Frederick the Great




 This was one of my Grail games, and after reviewing it my mind has not changed one bit. It is a labor of love, as is the whole series, of one man's vision to bring the War of the Austrian Succession to a wargamers table. In this, Red Sash Games has hit the bullseye in the target. This is not a simulation to start on your road to becoming a grognard. This is one of those jewels of wargaming that you find after you have traveled that same road for awhile. Thank you Red Sash Games  for the chance to review this beautiful, and excellent simulation.

 The Lace Wars from Red Sash Games are on the pricier side of wargames. However, they also offer 'Print & Play' options for all of their games at incredibly low prices. I myself would suggest to save up and buy the games ready made. Then you have nothing to do but open the box and start playing, or at least start reading the rulebooks.

Red Sash Games:

Red Sash Games Home Page

Cockpit of Europe:

Cockpit of Europe (redsashgames.com)


Robert 

 

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