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  Junkers Ju52/3m by Cobi  The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. J...

Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi

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

January 2021

Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi

 Junkers Ju52/3m



 The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. Junkers soon realized that it was too underpowered with only one, and added two more engines. The Junkers designers used their J 1 aircraft (the first all metal aircraft) as its starting point. It was originally conceived as an airliner, but was turned into a bomber for a short time by the new Luftwaffe. It found its niche in life as a transport plane. As a transport plane before and during World War II, it was used constantly from 1936-1945. The German airmen and paratroopers called it 'Tante Ju' (Aunt Ju), or 'Iron Annie'. Very surprisingly the aircraft was also built by some other countries after the war. Some JU 52s were operational as late as the 1980s. It was also used as the personal aircraft of two countries' leaders during World War II. Both Hitler and Chiang Kai-shek had JU 52 personal airplanes. The plane type that Cobi has brought us was used as both a paratrooper and transport plane.

 The kit comes with 548 pieces. I was anxious to build this model for two reasons: One, I have always had a soft spot for the plane, Two, I had already built Cobi's Douglas C-47 (which is an excellent build and model), and I wanted to compare the builds and the finished product. 

  The building of the kit was as straight forward as usual with a Cobi kit. I believe I made one mistake, and just like during my other builds, it was my fault. Sometimes I get into a groove building these kits and I do not take the time I should to really inspect the instructions. However, a small flat edged screwdriver and some cursing always seems to do the trick. 

 The building of this kit was very enjoyable, as they all are. There is no glue stuck everywhere (especially on your fingers), and any mistake you make is easily righted. The Ju 52 took shape very early. The build starts with the wings so you know right away what the build is. Cobi tank kits mostly start out as a rectangle of blocks, and the tank does not show its excellent features until late in the process. With both of these plane builds I was able to see from the beginning how well the plane would look in the end. 

 As you can see, the kit in its finished form is a sight to behold. One thing, if you do not have much space to show off your kits, the bombers and transport planes are LARGE. The Douglas C-47 has a wingspan of 21" plus. The wingspan of the Junkers JU 52/3m is over 23". These are both big kits when finished.

 Once more, Cobi has given me a very enjoyable afternoon, and then followed it up with an excellent looking plane to add to my collection. Cobi kits are also great ways to start the young ones on the road to appreciating historical vehicles and the history behind them. I never really check how long a kit takes to finish. The building is so much fun and relaxing that the time just rolls by. I have never tried to speed build any of the kits. To me, that takes half the fun out the kit itself.

 The kit comes with two figures. A Luftwaffe pilot, and a Fallschirmj√§ger (Paratrooper). Just as with their kits, Cobi takes painstaking efforts to make sure they look as realistic as possible. So, once again I am in debt to Cobi for sending me this great looking Junkers Ju 52/3m kit. It is a magnificent build for anyone to display on their shelf. You can also buy the Junkers Ju 52/3m as a civilian version in white and blue, with Red Cross markings. The next Cobi kit I build will be a Sherman M4A3 (Easy Eight).



Blocks and toys for kids from Cobi - internet shop

Junkers Ju 52/3m:

Junkers Ju52/3m - WW2 Historical Collection - for kids 9 | Cobi Toys


  If you hear a rumor that long time wargame developer Battlefront is making a modern Combat Mission module about the place where you live, ...

Combat Mission: Black Sea Combat Mission: Black Sea

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

January 2021

Combat Mission: Black Sea


If you hear a rumor that long time wargame developer Battlefront is making a modern Combat Mission module about the place where you live, you might want to look into taking an extended vacation. I say that because both of their titles set in our time were developed based on smoldering conflicts that soon after turned into serious real life wars. First in Syria with Shock Force, and then in Ukraine with Black Sea. The key difference in each game of course being the intervention of conventional NATO forces, which in both cases was at least within the realm of possibility. If you wanted to see just what a NATO intervention in Ukraine might have looked like, then you are in luck, because Combat Mission: Black Sea is here to provide that experience.

Although originally released back in 2014, Black Sea is now joining Shock Force 2 on Steam and the Matrix Store, as Battlefront continues their venture with Slitherine of bringing the Combat Mission series to the largest games platform around. I wrote my take on Shock Force 2 and to some extent the Combat Mission (CM) series as a whole in an article a few months back. Today I'll try to focus on what sets Black Sea apart and why you might want to add it to your collection. 

As mentioned, Black Sea depicts the most modern conflict of any game in the Combat Mission series, a war in Ukraine involving a full on United States military intervention. That means peer-on-peer conflict with the best Russia has to offer, as well as scenarios involving the slightly less well equipped Ukrainian forces. This is a far cry from the mostly asymmetric scenarios in Shock Force, where the highly trained and well equipped US and NATO troops faced a challenge only because they were asked to accomplish difficult objectives while taking minimal casualties. The enemy forces in that game usually varied in quality from militia rabbles to poorly motivated regular Syrian army units. One can also make a comparison to the WW2 settings of the other CM games. There, the forces are evenly matched in terms of quality most of the time, as they are here. However, as deadly as a WW2 battlefield could be, infantry firefights mostly involved bolt action rifles slinging only a moderate amount of lead around, and tanks could often shrug off a hit or three. Not so in Black Sea. 

In Black Sea, everything on the battlefield is a glass cannon. Every unit is deadly when positioned correctly, and dead when not. Modern optics and thermal sites and other gizmos make any move in the open a potential death sentence. In this kind of highly lethal environment, information becomes king. If you can see the enemy first, you can eliminate him without risking your own units. Unmanned drones are present in many missions, providing you with intel about whatever part of the battlefield you task them to observe. If you can get eyes on, say, an enemy APC holding an intersection, you can then drop a burst of precision artillery rounds directly on it and open a gap in the opposing defense. The same can happen to your units just as easily.

In a way, playing a battle in Black Sea can feel like something of a game of chess. This isn't a WW2 situation where you hurl an entire infantry company or two into a slugfest over a village, then roll in some tanks to provide extra firepower, and maybe throw in an artillery strike over a general area. This is a game where you carefully position each asset you have to maximize its potential, and hope it isn't blown up in an instant by some unseen foe.

The assets you have in Black Sea include many of the same units we saw in Shock Force, but with new bells and whistles to reflect a conflict a decade further into the future. For the United States, we have Abrams tanks, Bradley's, and Stryker's of all models. The Russians have T-72's and T-90's and of course a smorgasbord of BMP's, BTR's, and so on. The differences between these vehicles in Black Sea vs Shock Force reflect the nitty gritty details that make Combat Mission games shine. Depending on the exact model in question, many of these vehicles have better optics than they had in Shock Force. Some also have Active Protection Systems which can destroy incoming anti-tank rockets, giving these vehicles a fighting chance on the modern battlefield. Being aware of whether your vehicles are equipped with one of these systems or not is essential to forming a successful plan. Another easily overlooked difference from Shock Force is how the playing field has been leveled during night combat. In Shock Force, the Western forces ruled the night with their night vision equipped vehicles and infantry. Now everybody has some kind of night vision capabilities, although quality still varies. 

For better and ill, Black Sea is also still a very similar game to Shock Force and the other CM titles. The interface is exactly the same, which may be frustrating for some, but cozy enough for those already acclimated to it. Quick Battles against the AI are even more underwhelming here than in the WW2 titles, as the generic moves the AI makes in this mode tend to get their units wiped out. Performance with the engine continues to be a mixed bag. While it remains impressive that Battlefront can model a 1:1 battlefield with such exacting detail and at a realistic scope, the engine is just barely up to the task. The framerate can wildly swing as you move the camera around in medium to large scenarios, no matter how powerful your PC might be. Continued updates to the engine have improved things over the years and also made the game look nicer, but at this point I think we would all love to see a jump to something completely new. Hopefully the partnership with Matrix and additional funds from Steam sales will get them there.

The base game comes with 21 stand alone scenarios as well as a campaign for each faction, plus a training campaign. This will keep you busy for a quite a while, as most scenarios are difficult regardless of which side you play, and the campaigns even more so as you must keep your units alive to fight in battle after battle. If you want even more Black Sea, there is also the Battle Pack which adds a new campaign for the Russians and US Forces, along with 6 more stand alone scenarios. For only $10 it's a good amount of content that will keep you busy for hours. There are also a couple dozen user made scenarios and at least one campaign available over at The Scenario Depot that you can freely download.

If you are already a huge fan of Combat Mission, then Black Sea is an easy recommendation. The shift to a very modern battlefield really does make the game feel fresh as you must adjust your tactics to the high-tech, high-lethality reality of a conventional war between two major powers. If you've been putting off the purchase because you didn't like Battlefront's DRM policies of the past and messing with manual patches, well, there's no excuse now. With the game now on Steam, you are only one click away from having the most up to date version of the game on any computer, any time you want it. If you are new to the series and unsure about which game to purchase, remember that Battlefront is great about providing demos for every game. The demo for Black Sea includes a training scenario and two full scenarios from the game, more than enough to see what you are getting into.

Combat Mission: Black Sea is available on Steam, the Matrix Store, and directly from Battlefront.

- Joe Beard


  BY STEALTH AND SEA FROM DVG Not so long ago when I reviewed Pavlov's House , the designer David Thompson was a comparative unknown and...


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

January 2021





Not so long ago when I reviewed Pavlov's House, the designer David Thompson was a comparative unknown and it was the topic and game company publishing it that drew my interest and many others'.  Fast forward to today and the question now is what's David Thompson designing next.  That has been accomplished through a number of very different successful designs and the makings of a "must-have" series that began with Pavlov's House.

If you, like me, want that third series game then you'll have to be patient for the arrival of Soldiers in Postmen's Uniforms.  Instead once again it's "... and now for something completely different."  Well that's not quite true.  It is a purely solitaire game. We are still in the period of WWII and, like Castle Itter, we're still with a topic barely known, never mind gamed!

By Stealth and Sea takes as its subject the exploits of Italian two-man torpedo actions in the Mediterranean.  If you're asking what on earth they are,  I was slightly ahead of you.  My encyclopaedic knowledge of the topic comes from a strip cartoon story in the hardback Christmas annual of one of my favourite childhood comics!  Perhaps, however, it's no surprise that the heroes of my comic were British and highly successful against insurmountable odds.  

In fact, the British "Chariot", as it was named, was directly inspired by the exploits of the Italians, but, as you'll discover, the Italian actions are a far cry from those depicted in my comic.

The presentation of the game, being a DVG product, is unquestionably immaculate and with some additional surprises.  This was most evident in the game board or, I should say, boards!  I had expected a generic map with terrain tiles in the style of Sherman Leader or, considering the nautical topic, that it would be even more likely to have an abstracted board as in U-Boat.

Far from it, there are three boards.  Each depicts a specific geographical location; the harbour areas of Gibraltar, Alexandria and Algiers.  In their monochrome grey-blue tones, they exude the feel of an aerial blue-print that I find adds to the impression of historical authenticity.

The boards also boast the traditional standard hexes for manoeuvring your equally traditional square cardboard units.  These mainly depict the various ships that will be both the targets for your Italian attackers and, in some cases, the ships that will be seeking to attack and thwart your plans.  You, yourself, have but three counters to manoeuvre - these are your three SLCs.  These letters SLC stand for "siluri a lenta corsa" or, as we called them, slow-running manned torpedoes.

Though much smaller than the counters familiar from other David Thompson designs, they have a similar appearance with a coloured edging identifying whether they are Navy, Cargo or Patrol vessels.  However, if you were hoping for the familiar head and shoulder profiles of historical individuals, they are still here.  In this case, they are not on counters, but on a set of small Operator Cards that depict each two-man team and there's a substantial range to choose from 

The ones you choose or those designated by the Scenario are placed on separate display sheets, one for each SLC.  The only slight criticism I have of the components is with the thin card for these displays.  A much more substantial quality would have added little to the cost.

By contrast, the several wooden discs that mark various items of equipment on these cards are much solider, as are the various A4 sized player aids that cover the Turn Sequence, potential SLC Actions, Roster Sheet for the Operators  of the manned torpedoes and both an Historic and a Custom Campaign After Action Report Sheet.

Finally, there are the two booklets: one of Rules, the other of Missions.  They are identical in being printed on quality glossy paper and laid out in large, clear text with an abundance of illustrations.  Though the basic rules occupy 20 pages, this is misleading as the generosity of diagrams and textual layout probably double the amount of space a less luxurious  production would fill.  In addition the rules are sequenced to take you step by careful step in chronological order through a turn.  The Mission set up uses the first scenario from the Mission Guide, the attack on Gibraltar harbour.

Nothing could be simpler or more straightforward - for those weened on the typically extensive choices and deliberations made in planning that begin most of DVG's solo games, this may be a welcome relief or a disappointing departure.  Even when you add in the extra elements introduced when playing a Campaign, the preparatory choices remain fairly few.

In fact, this is the main limitation of the game and it is a limitation based on the historical abilities of what is being simulated.  You are dealing with actions in which the participants could only manoeuvre their craft either on the surface or submerged. Their prime actions are avoiding detection until they can reach a target, detach the warhead that is part of the craft they are manning and attach it to the target ship.  Along the way you will mainly be coping with the vagaries and inadequacies of the equipment and as often as not these will determine the success or failure of even reaching your target. 

There are only four Phases to each turn.

The Fault Check Phase: its title is fairly self-explanatory.  The top card of the Fault deck is turned and a die roll check made.  Failure affects a range of six possibilities including individual items such as breathing gear or a wetsuit to the ballast tank of your manned torpedo or its warhead.

SLC Phase is where you choose two from the possible action list for each of your manned torpedoes.  Many of these choices are related to movement, either on the surface or submerged.  As a full move is two hexes and ordinary movement only one, while even changing facing takes up one Action, progress is very slow!  The other Action choices include diving and surfacing, repair [a highly likely essential choice], evading anti-torpedo nets, detaching the warhead, attaching the warhead to a target and attack from an SLC; these latter two are variations of the only type of attack you can make and lead to the compulsory Actions of Scuttling the SLC and Escape.  Nearly all of these involve some sort of die-roll check, though a few can be automatically achieved by spending both Action Points.

Harbour Defense Phase
Here the Alert Deck comes into play.  Some elements of the harbour defence are not immediately introduced, while others may be strengthened, particularly if playing a campaign of three scenarios.  Though typical elements such as Searchlights and Shore based Mortars feature, along with detection by ships,  All comes down to card turning, even the slightly more mobile element of Patrol Craft Response & Patrol Craft Attack follows the same lines. 

Clean-Up Phase
This simply covers the removal of Patrol Craft or their flipping from Exhausted to Ready and moving the Time marker on.

All in all, a very straightforward and easily assimilated system: even  playing a Campaign, which takes up the rest of the rule book, adds only a few more options, such as choosing the skills that can be increased and the Harbour defences developed.  Finally, there is an equally beautifully produced Mission Guide with 9 Scenarios of which six are devoted to Gibraltar, one to Algiers and two to Alexandria. 

The key decks that cover virtually all that you do.

All the contents bar the wooden markers.

The SLC  displays with appropriate markers

 The many targets at anchor in Gibraltar harbour

The history has been thoroughly and lovingly researched and crafted with the expected quality of production, but the nature of the situation leads to what I would call a very passive experience.  As a player you are very much in the hands of the turn of the various cards and the accompanying dice rolls.  I felt very much that I was in a narrative with too little control of its outcome and, more than anything, I was disappointed that all the many lovely counters depicting historical ships simply sit there as interchangeable targets for a last lucky or unlucky die roll!  Unlike both Pavlov's House and Castle Itter which are tense, pulse-raising every time, By Stealth and Sea didn't get my heart racing.



I first learned many of the details of the First Barbary War  from Ian Toll's excellent book Six Frigates , which was one of the best hi...

The Shores of Tripoli The Shores of Tripoli

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

January 2021

The Shores of Tripoli

I first learned many of the details of the First Barbary War from Ian Toll's excellent book Six Frigates, which was one of the best historical works I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It was quite the tale of a scrappy young nation deciding it was better to fight the local bully than to pay him tribute. Now Fort Circle Games has released their first board game, which captures this moment in history with a very elegant and simple design. The Shores of Tripoli is a strategy game for two players that can easily be played in under an hour. 

One player takes the side of the Americans, the other takes on the role of the Pasha of Tripoli. Each gets a hand of cards, but the actions that each player can take after that are almost entirely different. The American player has powerful frigates that they can freely move around the map, but these are very limited in number in the early phase of the game. America seeks to build up forces in the region, blockade the Barbary corsairs in their harbor(s), and potentially build an army on land. The Tripolitan player is racing against time to send their corsairs out on raids and gather all 12 gold coins before being overwhelmed. They can also win by managing to destroy 4 American frigates over the course of the game. Both players will feel stretched thin, and wishing they could take just one more action throughout the entire game. 

Sometimes things come down to a climactic battle!

The game is split up into 6 rounds each representing a year of time, and 4 turns within each year, with each player getting one action per turn. At the end of each year, the players draw more cards to refresh their hands, and potentially receive reinforcements. That means that, at most, there are only 24 actions to be had in a game of Shores. Therefore, every single action you take carries weight, and there is precious little margin for poor moves. At the same time, the game is so brief that if you do screw up, you won't have to wait long to get it over with and try again!

The cards each player has come in three flavors. Cards which let the player take a moderately powerful action, and then can be put in the discard pile to come back around later. Cards which trigger a unique event that can only fire once per game, and finally cards which can add on an extra twist to other specific events or battles. All cards can also be discarded to take a minor action (building a new small ship for both players, moving two frigates around for the US player, or going raiding for the Tripolitan player). On each turn, a player must either play one of their cards for an event, or discard one to take an action. There is also a hard hand limit, and so one must think carefully about cards they may want to hang onto for plans down the road.

While I haven't fully explained the rules, there isn't much more than that to the rulebook. Players move satisfyingly chunky ship pieces around on a relatively simple map, where there are really only a handful of spaces that are used throughout the game. Combat is resolved via very simple rules and rolling big handfuls of dice. The game can even feel very luck based at first. However, after just a few plays, another level to the strategy emerges. There are not that many cards in each deck, and every single one will filter through the game at some point. With many of the most powerful cards being one use only and very specific in their function, strategies begin to build around guessing which cards your opponent has in their hand at any given time, and noting which cards they have already played. It's definitely a game that benefits from familiarity and repeated plays.

The game includes a solo mode in which you play as the Americans against a Tripoli bot who will mostly play sensible moves, but is predictable. That said, you will still need to play very smartly if you want to find a path to victory. I lost twice to the bot before finally winning on the very last turn of my third game. While I would not recommend buying this game to only play solo, it's nice that there is a satisfying opponent in the box. 

It shouldn't be very difficult to find a live opponent for The Shores of Tripoli, as the rules are extremely simple to teach, and the game can be played in a casual manner as one learns, while still having fun. Neither player can roll over the other without extreme luck, and the quick turns keep the game moving at a good pace. My wife, an occasional board gamer at best, and certainly no wargamer, was able to defeat me on her first attempt! 

If you are looking to learn more about the conflict, this game is a great place to start. Each of the unique event cards is based on either events which actually happened or very much could have happened. Besides the rule book, the game comes with a historical supplement which offers a great deal of context for the design of the game and the cards. One nice bit of fluff in the box is a copy of the letter sent by Thomas Jefferson to Yusuf Karamanli just before the war broke out.

The Shores of Tripoli is a charming game that could fit right in on any gamer's shelf. The mechanics are simple, the game plays fast, and each side offers a unique approach. The American player will need to be active, moving ships around, attacking when the time seems right, and trying to find the balance between covering ground and spreading themselves too thinly. The Tripolitan player is racing the clock, weighing risk and benefit with each raid, all while looking for openings to exploit. If you are at all interested in the historical conflict depicted, I heartily recommend The Shores of Tripoli. 

The game can be ordered directly from Fort Circle Games or from other vendors on the web. 

- Joe Beard


 Romans at War The Roman Military in the Republic and the Empire by Simon Elliott  This book is oversized, at right around 300 pages long. I...

Romans at War: The Roman Military in the Republic and Empire by Simon Elliott Romans at War: The Roman Military in the Republic and Empire by Simon Elliott

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

January 2021

Romans at War: The Roman Military in the Republic and Empire by Simon Elliott

 Romans at War

The Roman Military in the Republic and the Empire


Simon Elliott

 This book is oversized, at right around 300 pages long. It is also filled with pictures of reenactors, and art and ruins that the Romans left to us. The author gives himself a hard task to show the whole history of Roman warfare in one volume. Normally, books are written about Roman warfare with the history of it split between the Republic and Empire eras. Even if you are writing about just the actual Roman era, without adding in the Byzantine, you are talking about 1000 years of history. In this book the author has taken up the challenge to show us all 1000 years in one book.

 These are the chapters of the book:

1. The Roman Republic

2. The Republican Military

3. The Roman Empire

4. The Principate Military

5. The Dominate Military

6. On Campaign and in Battle

7. Non-Conflict Role of the Roman Military

8. Allies and Enemies of Rome


 From the earliest times of Rome, to the destruction of the Empire after more than 400 years, the author shows us this panoply of history. In the book are a number of maps and a very nice timeline of the entire period. We are presented with these personalities: Scipio Africanus, Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Trajan, Septimius Severus, Stilicho,  and the entire cast of those 1000 years.

 Naturally, given a book of 300 pages, this book can only do an overview of most of the historical information. However, I am quite surprised about how much the author managed to stuff into this book. This book is an excellent starting point for someone who wants to learn about the Roman system of war. It is also a handy reference guide for those of us who have already delved deeply into the field. Mr. Elliott has been able to do much more with these 300 pages than I thought possible. It is a pretty amazing feat. Thank you Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this great book. Do yourself a favor and check out some of the other books by the author.


Book: Romans at war: The Roman Military in the Republic and Empire

Author: Simon Elliott

Publisher: Casemate Publishers


Tiger Leader The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)   "Tyger, Tyger burning brig...

Tiger Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG) Tiger Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

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

January 2021

Tiger Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

Tiger Leader

The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game

2nd Edition


Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

 "Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 in the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
(William Blake)

 Yes, it is a different Tiger, but the response of its enemies is pretty much the same: sheer terror. The amount of Tigers that Germany built compared to the totals of other tanks on each side was quite small. However the Allied soldiers would see them behind every house or large bush. Reading the Allied and Soviet reports, they destroyed 10,000 German Tigers. Germany actually constructed only 1,347 Tiger I's and 489 Tiger II's. Yes it is actually a Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B., not a Tiger II. However, not all wargamers have as much OCD about things as others do. Before we get pigeonholed, we have to remember that you will be in charge of a German Panzerkampfgruppe (Battle Group). You will not only have tanks under your command, but almost every other German land combat unit. It will also be a long time before you see or even dream about Tigers if you play the early campaigns. You may even start the game with Panzer I's. these were no better than any other machine gun equipped tanks from the mid 1930's. So, what does DVG actually give you in the box:

Enemy Units include units from the Polish Army, French Army, British Army, Russian Army, and the American Army.
240 Full Color Cards
440 Full Color Counters
12 2.5" Terrain Tiles
1 22"x 17" Mounted Display
1 11"x17" HQ Sheet
1 Player Log Sheet
1 Full Color Player Aid Sheet
1 10-sided die

 All of the DVG games I have played have four things in common:
1. Everything in them is large and easy to read.
2. When possible they fit everything including the kitchen sink in the box for the player to use.
3. They are all excellent solitaire games
4. Mounted map boards

 I could simply end the review here and say why are you bothering to read this, then tell you to go out and go buy it, case closed. However we have to conform to the standards, so here goes. The map board is well mounted; not a surprise there. The 'hexes' on it are almost as big as the bases for miniature wargame units. In reality they are actually 2.5" wide. The counters are 5/8" in size, and very easy to read. Your counters only have numbers at the bottom, to use in conjunction with the unit cards. The enemy counters have their designation, for example infantry, etc. They also have their Armor Piercing and High Explosive ratings on them. The cards are separated into six decks: Event, Unit, Special Condition, Objective, Battalion, and Leaders. The rulebook is only twenty-two pages long. It is also in full color, and is in large type. Examples of play are scattered throughout it. The one Player Log Sheet needs to be copied. I am not a big fan of manual record keeping. However, in this game it makes sense. DVG has given us so much in the box already that some of it would have to be removed to replace the manual record keeping. The twelve Terrain Tiles are double sided. Their use gives the game extra depth and replayability. 

 These are some of the German units you will be playing with:

Tiger Leader includes the following units:
Panzer I
Panzer II
Panzer III
Panzer IV
Tiger Tank
Panther Tank
King Tiger Tank
Armored cars

 Naturally you will be fighting some of the above and more in your solitaire quest to survive the war. This is a list of the campaigns you are able to fight in:

The Invasion of Poland 1939
The Battle for France 1940
The Battle for North Africa 1941
The Invasion of Russia 1941
The Battle for North Africa 1942
The Fight for Italy 1943
The Fight for Russia 1943
The Days of D-Day 1944
The Final Days in Berlin 1945

 The game has been revised a good bit in this Version 2 release. Let me clarify that. If you own only the original Tiger Leader, there have been changes to the game to make it closer to Sherman Leader in the rules. If you already own Tiger Leader and the upgrade kit, the changes are mostly in the artwork. The upgrade kit fixed the issues that people found with some non-historical rules.

 The game is both Card and Die driven. The main driving force behind the game is Special Option (SO) points. These are given to you to use from the Objective Cards. You will purchase your units with SO points. The Leader games from DVG are not supposed to be a highly detailed simulation of whatever they represent. They are a commander lite simulation of the historical conflict that takes place in their area of focus. They are also eminently fun and great games. Just like any other wargame, people can argue about the different numbers given to each unit in the game. It is really a pointless exercise because each person has his own view of what they should be. When you purchase a wargame you are seeing the designer's thoughts on the effectiveness of each unit. I do have an idea, though. If you do not agree with the designer, then try your own. It is a boardgame that you have purchased. Feel free to fiddle with them as you see fit. However, realize that your own numbers might make the game totally unbalanced. There is a reason the designer used his numbers, and it is because play testing showed which ones represented reality in the designer's mind. 

 The game also comes with Optional Rules to enhance gameplay. There are three of them:

Battlefield Heroics
Flank Attacks

 For Tenacity you can decide to extend a battle by one turn, at the cost of each participating Commander gaining one extra stress point. For Battlefield Heroics, if a Commander's unit is destroyed, he can take over from a KIA, Unfit or wounded Commander from the same type of unit. Flank Attacks take place with a die roll at ranges of 0 or 1. Tenacity and Battlefield Heroics also cost one SO point for each week of the campaign that the rule is used.

 The game tries to be as user friendly as possible. The Sequence of Play is shown right on the top of the mounted map. This is the sequence:

Campaign Set-Up
Select Campaign Card
Select Objective Card
Draw Battalion Cards
Buy Units
Select Commanders

Start of Week
Special Condition Card
Assign Units

Event Card
Place Turn Counter
Place Terrain Tiles
Place Friendly Units
Place Enemy Units

Fast Move and Attack
Roll for Enemy Movement
Enemy Actions
Slow Move and Attack
Advance Turn Counter

Event Card
Battalion Status
Record Commander Stress
Record Commander Experience Points
End of Week

Move Battalions
On Leave
Adjust Special Option Points
Priority R&R

End of Campaign
Campaign Outcome

 The game's rules are easy to understand and the fact that almost all of what needs to be done each turn is right on the map makes it that much easier to remember. The big difference in DVG solitaire games is the fact that you are playing campaigns and not separate scenarios. Many players win games by totally exhausting their troops to win one scenario. If they were forced into a battle again with the same troops, they would quickly lose the second battle. Tiger Leader and its brothers are commander games. The player is forced to deal with fatigue, loss, and all the other problems that a real commander is faced with. If you go into the first scenario with guns blazing you will quickly lose the campaign. The player has to deal with the battle at hand, but also keep looking at the long haul. You must win every battle, and also have a strong force left to fight all of the rest. This game has been tweaked to be even better than its first iteration. Tiger Leader has excellent gameplay and components, not much more can be asked of a wargame. If you are interested in WWII European Theater land combat acting as a commander, then this game is for you.

 DVG was nice enough to send me three expansions with the base game. These are:

Tiger Leader Expansion #1 Blitzkrieg
Tiger Leader Expansion #2 Panzers
Tiger Leader Terrain Tile Pack #2

 This comes with new:

Campaign Cards
Situation Cards
Special Condition Cards
Event Cards
Enemy Battalion Cards
Commander Cards
Enemy Battalion Counters

 This comes with these new items:

Vehicle Cards
Infantry cards
Vehicle Counters
Infantry Counters

 Among the new Vehicle Cards are one for a late war E-50 and E-100

 This set comes with these new tiles:


 You can also purchase a Neoprene mat to play on, and Tiger leader Terrain Tile Pack #1.

 These serve to make this excellent game even more so. Thank you very much Dan Verssen Games for allowing me to review Tiger leader 2nd Edition. I have reviewed about six of their games, and they just keep upping the bar with each new release.


Dan Verssen Games:

Tiger leader 2nd Edition:


  Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest by Mighty Boards  Once again, wargaming is increasing my knowledge. I knew that the Hungarian Uprising...

Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest by Mighty Boards Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest by Mighty Boards

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

January 2021

Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest by Mighty Boards

 Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest


Mighty Boards

 Once again, wargaming is increasing my knowledge. I knew that the Hungarian Uprising took place, but I did not know any of the actual history of it. On October 23rd a student protest against the government started the Hungarian Uprising. Originally the Soviets started to remove their troops. However, Imre Nagy, the head of the new government, in a speech declared that Hungary was going to leave the Warsaw Pact and become neutral. This is seen by many as the turning point that made the Soviets decide to invade Hungary and remove the new government. On November 4th the Soviets invaded Budapest. The uprising was crushed, and 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviets were dead. This number does not include any Hungarians that were murdered during the crackdown after the uprising. Imre Nagy was grabbed by the Soviets and later was brought back to Hungary for a closed trial that ended with his execution. The Western powers were involved with the Suez Crisis at exactly the same time. Egypt's Nasser had nationalized the Suez Canal. In retaliation Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt. Most historians believe that there was not a chance that the Western Powers would intervene on Hungary's behalf. Mighty Boards has a game that is about the beginning of the Hungarian Uprising; it is called Days of Ire. This game is about the Soviet invasion and crushing of the uprising in Budapest. Let us see what comes in the game box:

Mounted Game Board


83 Cards (57mm x 89mm)

30 Wooden Blocks


59 Cardboard Tokens (counters etc.)

4 Glass Bead Markers

1 Six-Sided die

 The game is one of the new breed of a cross between a Euro game and a Wargame. In its design you can see the influence of both. The board is separated into areas and not hexes. As you can see, the turn record track is done in a novel way in the lower right corner. There are both blocks and cardboard counters used in the game; this is another testament to its DNA. The blocks are done well, along with the stickers. The cardboard counters are very large and all of these pieces are easy to read. The card decks are extremely well produced. There are two double-sided Player Aids. Two are the 'Soviet Rules Reference', one is the 'Konev Revolutionary Rules Reference', and the last is the 'Revolutionary Rules Reference'. The Rulebook is done in vibrant colors and is easy to read with tons of illustrations. The rules are twenty pages long. This is followed by both a Historical Essay, and Designer's Notes. The Historical Essay gives the player all he needs for background on the Soviet invasion. The Designer Notes are very interesting and go through how this hybrid Euro/Wargame came about. 

 One thing about the game that you should know up front is that there is no way for the Hungarians to actually 'win'. You can win the game playing as the Hungarian by victory points (helping civilians flee etc.), but you will not defeat the Soviets. Your job, as the Hungarian player, is to slow the Soviets down and make the invasion as costly as possible for them. The game is set up for one, two, or three players. In solitaire or two player mode, the player faces Konev, the Soviet Marshal in charge of the operation, Mighty Boards name for their bot. In two player there can also be a Soviet and a Hungarian player. In three player there are two Hungarian players and one Soviet. The Rulebook states that you can pick who will play each side, or a player can demand to be the Soviets by banging his shoe on the table. The Rulebook is set up different than most. The rules for the multiplayer and solitaire are listed one after the other in each separate phase. The game comes with both Basic and Advanced rules. These are also listed in each phase, and not as usual in its own listing after the basic game. Both the Basic rules and the Advanced are shown on the Player Aid cards.

  The game is a card driven one. There are four decks: Soviet Tactic Cards, Konev Cards, Revolutionary Cards, and Headline Cards. When one player is playing against the Soviet, either a Soviet player or the Konev bot, the player draws 12 cards as long as the Revolutionaries morale is over 19. The Konev, Soviet bot, deals out 5 cards from the deck and shows 1,3, and 5. The other two cards are turned over. All the directions on the cards are easy to follow and pretty self-explanatory. As the Revolutionary, your job is to stall the Soviets and to help civilians flee. The more you stall the Soviets the lower their prestige falls. As the Soviet, you must capture Budapest with as much speed as possible. The Soviet player must attempt to capture as many civilians as possible. 

 This is the sequence of play:

1. Draw Phase

2. Tactics Phase

3. Reinforcement Phase

4. Operations Phase

5. Adjustment Phase

6. Clean-up Phase

 What is the Red Army Pack?

Days & Nights: Red Army Pack is an add-on pack that contains 28 miniatures compatible with both Days of Ire and Nights of Fire. It also contains a small deck expansion to Nights of Fire, and an additional deck allowing campaign play. 

In Campaign mode you can play a game of Days of Ire followed by a game of Nights of Fire (solo, cooperative, or conflict mode up to 1v2 supported), and have the winner decided only at the end!

 The game, as mentioned, has a Basic and Advanced rule set. Once you become used to the basic game, you can turn it up a notch. The game is easy to learn. The actual mechanics of the game are fairly simple. One or two playthroughs and you should not need the Rulebook again. The Player Aids should walk you through the game. The rules are simple, but like many games with easy rules there is still a lot to learn and do. The fact that setup is random means that the game is always fresh and you cannot work out a strategy that will work every time. Games are here for us to have fun. Wargames and historical ones have an extra onus. They should be fun and teach the player something. Nights of Fire is both fun and a learning experience, and that is all you can ask from a game like this. Thank you Mighty Boards for allowing me to review this great game.


Mighty Boards:

Nights of Fire: