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  From The Realm of a Dying Sun  V olume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 By Douglas E. Nash Sr.    This t...

From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr. From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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

May 2021

From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.




 From The Realm of a Dying Sun

 Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945


By


Douglas E. Nash Sr.




  This third volume shows the Panzerkorps at the very end of its life.  The book shows us the final battles it fought. They then tried desperately to surrender to the Americans, and avoid Soviet retribution. It also shows, like the other volumes, the deep distrust the 6th Army commander (Hermann Balck) had of the SS troops in general, but the SS Panzer Division Wiking in particular. The IV SS-Panzerkorps was part of the 6th Army. Balck's bad blood with Wiking had come from the actions during the Korsun Pocket in 1944. 


 The IV SS-Panzerkorps was faced with shortages of every kind, and yet there was no end to the Soviet forces attacking them. They fought on, even though even the most ardent Nazis must have known the end was near. It shows what kind of soldiers they were, because the NATO forces delved deeply into how they were able to, time and again, hold off the Russian hordes. 


 The author has written a seminal triad of books on the IV SS-Panzerkorps. Unless one is looking to read a quick overview of its history, these are the books that you want to read. 


 When a good book comes to the end, it is at times like losing a friend. This goes for both fiction and non-fiction books, at least for me. The trilogy of From The Realm of a Dying Sun was much more than a sum of its three parts. The books went from the orders to create the IV SS-Panzerkorps to its inception and finally its life and death. The author showed everything that went into the planning and training of the two Panzer Divisions that were the backbone of the Panzerkorps, the SS-Panzer Wiking Division, and the SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf. With these three volumes military history does not get much better. Mr. Nash showed us not only the Panzerkorps' military effectiveness, but never once shied away from the absolute horrifying acts that the troops were engaged in off the battlefield. The Eastern Front was a no holds barred affair from beginning to end. Both sides took the fighting to the death, and sometimes far beyond. How the IV Panzerkorps was able to take Luftwaffe personnel, and average conscripts (Most of the SS reinforcements for the last few war years were conscripted), and gave them a black and deadly esprit de corps is no longer a mystery due to the author. The three book series is a tour de force, nothing more and nothing less.

Robert

Book: From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume III: IV SS-Panzerkorps From Budapest to Vienna, February-May 1945

Author: Douglas E. Nash Sr.

Publisher: Casemate Publishers





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Verdun 1916   Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations  As Sherman said, "War is hell". Soldiers from ancient times until now ha...

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations

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

May 2021

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations





Verdun 1916 

Steel Inferno

by

Fellowship of Simulations





 As Sherman said, "War is hell". Soldiers from ancient times until now have been brought into bloody conflict. However, the intention was always to defeat the enemy and capture and kill or wound the enemy army. The charnel houses of Cannae, Antietam, Borodino, and Sadowa have all shown us the horrors of war. The advent of World War I brought the horrific toll to a crescendo. Then a general came up with a different plan. General Erich Georg von Falkenhayn, Chief of the Oberste Heeresleitung (German General Staff) from September 1914 until August 1916, came up with an idea that was new, and absolutely diabolical in its inception. He wanted to just kill and maim. His idea was to bleed France dry of her manhood. He thought that by attacking the French at Verdun the French Army would be forced to defend it to the last man. His original plan was not really to take Verdun or the forts around it. He just wanted to turn the area into an abattoir for the French soldiers. Luckily for the French the lower echelon German generals did not really understand Falkenhayn's plan. They attempted to take the forts and Verdun itself. In doing so, they they created a huge butcher's bill for the German as well as the French soldiers. The battle went on for almost the entire year of 1916. This is the battle that Fellowship of Simulations has decided to try and recreate.


A small piece of the Douaumont Ossuary at Verdun


 This is what comes with the game:

Two Decks of Playing Cards (one, French/blue, one German/dark green) 100 Cards in Total

One Mounted Map Showing the Battle Zone as well as Different Game Tracks  

120 Rectangular Wooden Blocks (60 German in Black, 60 French in Blue)

40 Wooden Trench Pawns (20 German in Black, 20 French in Blue)

One Rulebook

One Playbook

Two Player Aids

Game Markers (Control, Supply, Objectives, US Entry, Turn)

10 Six-Sided die

 Playing Time 1-4 Hours

3 Scenarios

Game Design: Walter Vejdovsky

Illustrations: Jacques Tardi




 Even just looking at the box, I am reminded of an old commercial where Ricardo Montalban would say "Marvelous, simply marvelous". I had never heard of Jacques Tardi before, I am ashamed to admit. Now that I have I cannot seem to look at enough of his creations. The Map is 38 1/2" x 19 1/4". Strange to say, it is the plainest of the artworks in the box. However, that does not mean it is not a very beautiful piece. It just means that the rest of the artwork is so over the top, sorry for the pun. The Map is an area one, not hex. The box artwork is so well done you almost do not want to take the plastic off it. There are two sets of cards, one German, and one French. These are each a small artwork by themselves. The depictions are so wonderfully done you may have a hard time remembering that they sometimes show a large amount of death and destruction. Your units in the game are not counters, but different sized small wooden blocks. The Rulebook is thirty-six pages long. It is in full vibrant color, with some of the cards shown along with some illustrations just for the game. The last pages of the Rulebook have a complete inventory of both sides Cards. The Playbook is twenty-four pages long, and has the rules and the setups for each of the three scenarios. There is also a full replay for the month of April 1916 that is seven pages long. Then there are Players' Notes, and then three pages of Designer Notes. Both the Rulebook and the Playbook are some of the nicest work I have ever seen in a game. Now, we come to the Cards. These have some of the best artwork I have ever seen in Cards used for a game. This is not a knock on game Cards that use historical pictures. However, these game Cards, along with the rest of the artwork, really draw the gamer in. The whole of the design is to immerse the player in the game. At that, it works tremendously well. The components are more than up to snuff. 



Illustration from the back of the Rulebook


 The Cards have a numerous plus and minus actions for each Player. let us take a look at the German Deck:

There are twenty-three Barrage Cards, that have a numeric value of one-six.

Some of the other cards are:

Air Support

Rumanian Offensive

Offensive in Russia

Jutland

Propaganda

Trenches

Chaos in the Rear

Submarine Warfare, and Total Submarine warfare

Reinforcements to and from the Russian Front

Flamethrowers

Kaiser's Visit, and Kaiser's Order

Offensive stockpile

No Event (Chatting lice in the cubby holes, trying to bury the dead)

The Red Baron

Bad weather

 As you can see, the game comes with a lot of chrome. It is not an especially hard game, but it was definitely designed to make the player feel he is commanding in WWI.



French and German Barrage Cards


 You can play these three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Operation Gericht The German Assault on Verdun (February-April 1916)

Scenario 2: The French Counter-Offensive (September-December 1916)

Scenario 3: The Full Campaign Game: Verdun 1916, Steel Inferno

There are three Optional Cards that can be used in the game:

Unknown Heroes: Discard to have each Defending Unit inflict three Hits in this Assault.

The Red Baron: The French Player discards one Air Superiority Cards, if any.

Bad Weather: In the next two Infantry Assaults, all attacking Units take one additional Hit.

 The Battle of Verdun is an excellent game to try and simulate, in my opinion, and I am surprised at the few number of games about it. Unlike some other battles, where counter-attacking and other gambits are brought to the table by the players. This game comes equipped historically with them. The actual battle was split up into the Germans attacking first, and then the French counterattacking later in the year. So right off the bat, the game will force both players into attacker and defender shoes. So, if you have a player who is much better on defense than offense it takes them out of their comfort zone. 





 The game is very easy to learn, especially for a grognard. It does not have a rulebook that can be measured on a scale or has enough addendum to make a few compulsory read throughs necessary. Where the game shines is in presentation and actual play. I really have to compliment Fellowship of Simulations on the depth of immersion that they have brought to the game. Being an old hex and counter player I sometime have a tough time getting my mindset in the time frame of a block game. I had no problem at all on that score with Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno. The games I played were all very close and most came right to the wire. This of course will vary depending on the aptitude of your opponents. I also had no problem playing it solitaire. Then again, I think that with a little work every game can be played that way.




 The Sequence of Play is:

Start of Turn Phase: Deck Construction

First Month Phase: Draw Card From Your Hand

 Month Resolution : Each Month Has Seven Rounds

Second Month Phase: Same as The First

End of Turn Phase: Cleanup Etc.




 Thank you Fellowship of Simulations for letting me review this great game. The game play and immersion is some of the best I have ever had the good luck to be able to delve into. 

Robert

Fellowship of Simulations:

FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS – FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS (fsimgames.com)

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno:

VERDUN – FELLOWSHIP OF SIMULATIONS (fsimgames.com)

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Hallertau brings us Uwe Rosenberg’s 36th iteration of managing crops and your animeeples (who knows if that’s right - but it’s a lot). How...

Hallertau by Uwe Rosenberg Hallertau by Uwe Rosenberg

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

May 2021

Hallertau by Uwe Rosenberg



Hallertau brings us Uwe Rosenberg’s 36th iteration of managing crops and your animeeples (who knows if that’s right - but it’s a lot). However, I’ve only played half a dozen or so of his designs but this one is as good as they come, assuming you like minimal player interaction and lots of mechanisms that integrate seamlessly with each other.

During the game of 6 rounds, you’ll develop your farm and manage your crops (and sheep) to build your typical ‘Uwe-Engine’ and a smorgasbord of points to claim victory. If you don’t have enough friends to invite over (even if that’s allowed now) and ultimately ignore whilst you crunch through the actions and work out your optimum moves, the game features a solo mode that plays exactly like the friend-version.

Gameplay




Each of the 6 rounds has 10 phases … there are a standard few phases of round prep, and necessary round-tear down-phases at the beginning and end of a round. These are all nearly dealt with simultaneously by all players, so don’t let 10 phases put you off. What separates my experience of this and other games of this ilk is that the worker placement phase (i.e. the Actions in Hallertau) is far from the only phase in which your Analysis Paralysis can be freely exercised.

That extra AP-inducing phase is Progress in which you’ll be clearing the ground (by picking rocks) and improving buildings surrounding your farm/community centre. This will ultimately give you more workers with which to use next round.



Your workers/blue cubes will be interacting with 13 different resources, 4 different types of cards and five buildings all in an effort to get (more workers, because that’s always a good thing) and get the most victory points.

Ten phases, 13 resources, so far so Uwe… but it really is far simpler than it would appear at first glance. The mechanisms are obviously the result of a seasoned and expert designer to the point where even in your first game the rules will quickly disappear and you’ll properly be playing the game instead of the rule book. I’ve got some games where I’m still constantly referring to the rules (here’s looking at your Fields of Fire).



The only real interaction you’ll have with other players is by denying action spaces to your opponents or more accurately making action spaces more expensive for them. This game is the epitome of multiplayer solitaire, and I consider that a good thing. So much of your brain is engaged optimising your choices that any extra randomness would be unwelcome i.e. having your opponents actively trying to subvert your plans would serve to lessen the experience.

There is a little bit of randomness (driven by 4 decks of cards) and quite a bit of setup variability due to having 8 decks of the cards from which you only need to draw 2. That amount of entropy is just about perfect for this ‘Expert’-level game. Just leaving you reacting to the game state and not the other players (for the most part). You only really have two decisions: whether the cost per action is worth it and how best to optimise your building improvements cost. Despite the cornucopia of resources you need to factor into those two decisions, you’re left with what I think is quite a simple game and why you can quickly ditch the rule book.



During the Actions phase in turn order players will place their supply or workers onto the board and immediately resolve the effect. This continues until every player has exhausted their worker pool or passed. The Action board has 20 spaces and they can be chosen at most 3 times each. If one worker has already been placed on the action space, you’ll need to send two workers to take that action again. (Can you guess how many workers will need to activate the space a 3rd time?) The downtime between your turns is no more than a couple of minutes and the game moves along at a fair clip. For such a thinky, four-player game that is an achievement.

Each round the top row of workers will be removed which creates a mini-supply and demand economy for action spaces. The most popular spaces (i.e. Land Sale/Town Hall) will rarely have fewer than 2 workers on and should be taken (IMHO) at every possible opportunity. They are the only space which grants you Jewels, which are often necessary to save your bacon towards the end of the game.





Another brilliant mechanism that keeps you involved even when it’s not your turn is the ability to play a card from your hand at any time. Most cards will either require you to spend resources or just have a number of resources in order to use them. After a game or two, you’ll start to appreciate how important the cards are...if you want to do well you’ll need to optimise your card play. The most important cards are the bonus cards which give you a welcome boost during the income phase. The earlier you can play them, the more decisive their impact. Towards the end of the game, your focus will likely shift to the Point cards but these are often such a high cost to play (they give large numbers of victory points) that in order to use them you’ll have had to have a strategy throughout the game.

Many cards will also allow you to draw another card when you play them, and having the ability to play cards at any time can lead to playing a 2 or 3 card combo even when it’s not your turn from cards that you’ve just picked up - beautiful. Fulfilling the requirements to play cards is the primary tactical game here. You’ll be choosing action spaces based on the cards in your hand and not necessarily what gives you the most resources.

The other primary tactical consideration is how to most effectively improve your Community Center. This is done in the other AP-inducing phase Progress. During the Progress phase, you’ll slide your community centre as far right as your five community buildings allow. You slide those right by paying their improvement costs - which are each different and are increasingly expensive. By the end of the game, you’ll be paying effectively 6 times what you paid in the first round.

As you improve your community buildings and slide your community centre to the right you’ll unlock more workers (your thriving community can support more workers), allowing you to do more actions. You start the game with 6 workers and this can increase by one per community centre shift up to a maximum of twelve. But the primary purpose of moving your community centre is to get those sweet victory points, the vast majority of which will come from improving your buildings i.e. shifting your buildings right.


There are many other mechanisms that I won’t elaborate on here, suffice to say that Uwe’s expert hand is very visible throughout the game and the different interactions and combos that can be done is rewarding.

Components


The best component is arguably the player aid and the design of the game itself. With the player aid, which is relatively small any player should be able to walk through the entire round with no recourse to the rulebook. This is only achievable because the game, despite the amount of stuff (and phases) you’re dealing with is fundamentally simple … I’m prepared to defend that position too, despite it being contrary to most other reviews I’ve seen.



As ever with a pure Euro we’ve got fantastic wooden bits. I love me some wooden bits and these don’t disappoint. The workers are abstracted to a nice chunky cube and the resources are different shapes and colours and they’re certainly satisfying to move up and down your resource track. They are quite thin, but if they were any thicker then the box would be even deeper than it currently is.

The rules are excellent and should you need them, provide a comprehensive card index (and summary explanation) of every card in the game, of which there are well over 300! The rules also provide a detailed overview of the game which is often lacking in other ‘Expert’ games and I found it helpful to understand the core game before reading the rules properly. I would like to see more rules written like this.

Criticisms


As can be applied to many ‘Euros’ the theme never really grabbed me. I never felt like I was farming hops in Southwest Germany. The names of the resources, Rye, Barley, Flax, Hops were quickly reduced to, ‘the blue one’ or the ‘green one’ for example.



The game is also a bit of a table hog, each player area has got 6 boards in it! However, with so much going on, it’s not really a criticism, more of a ‘be prepared'. I would also like to have bigger cards as they’re the small Euro size but I shudder to think of the required tablespace if they were any larger.

I 3d-printed an organiser for this game which nicely fills up all of the space in the box, (there is still a massive amount of unused space) however even with baggies I found the box to be unnecessarily deep. Unless there’s a plan for lots of expansion content and I don’t really think this needs or could have any, I would love to have a smaller box.



Conclusion


This game has got Uwe stamped all over it. If you like Agricola, Ora et Labora, Fields of Arle et al I am sure that this will be right up your street. I like the seemingly endless amount of resources and different rules at first glance which fundamentally boil down to some simple interactions and easy to grasp rules.

I love the fact that the solo mode is almost identical to the main game. As much as I appreciate a solo mode to many games, I’m not so keen if I have to learn a whole new game (running the AI) in order to play solo. Obviously, we’ve all been a bit constrained with our playing partners but my game groups are back up and running and I can’t wait to play with a few more players. I know this will be a hit.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designers: Uwe Rosenberg
Bgg page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/300322/hallertau
Playtime: 50 - 140 mins
Players: 1 - 4




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Florenza X Anniversary edition is a reprint of a game I knew nothing about. I love games with unique themes and this one is the first game ...

Florenza X Anniversary Edition by Stefano Groppi Florenza X Anniversary Edition by Stefano Groppi

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

May 2021

Florenza X Anniversary Edition by Stefano Groppi


Florenza X Anniversary edition is a reprint of a game I knew nothing about. I love games with unique themes and this one is the first game I’ve played about Italian renaissance art. What’s slightly ironic in a game that worships at the feet of the most iconic names in art is that its own artwork is a little on the bland and beige side. But you shouldn’t let this minor gripe put you off, there is a good game in here with a ridiculously tight economy.

Gameplay


The game pits you, as a patron of the arts in Florence commissioning paintings, sculptures and architecture. Prestige Points are earned for supporting and funding artworks and they ultimately decide who wins the game, most Prestige Points wins. All of that sounds, quite simple but I had a bear of a time trying to learn the game, I think partly due to the fact the rules never explicitly state that the squares across the boards are the artworks. It’s bloomin’ obvious now I’ve played it a handful of times, but I found the initial learning curve pretty steep and opaque. Not least because everything is written in quite arcane Italian - more on that later.



This is a competitive worker placement game for 1 to 5 players. Every piece of art (its name at least) and character card are part of true history and that is fantastic. I feel slightly cleverer...each time I finish a game of this. There are a bunch of different mechanisms and abilities that change each round that you’ll constantly be taxed trying to work out how to afford Bernino to sculpt the Cupola of the Duomo…(confused? Shame on you for not having any archaic Italian language skills...)

The unique selling point of this ‘medieval euro worker placement’ (do we not have enough of those yet?) is that you place your workers out to action spaces, sometimes to collect resources and sometimes to spend them but you don’t actually resolve the action spaces until a later phase Trying to keep a handle on the cost of what you’re planning on building, in an even later phase, and placing your workers in order to meet those requirements, in an earlier phase, sounds simple when written down but is actually a memory game like no other.



Your best-laid plans can quickly and purposefully be derailed by other players as well. If I plan on building a particular piece of art I should make damn certain that I’ll have the necessary resources to build it otherwise I’ll lose prestige points. However, if you place your workers out to get the resources first another player could usurp you on that artwork and you’re left either with an inferior piece or not being able to build at all. There are some deliciously brutal moves you can inflict on your opponents and I love that in any game.

In order to build a piece of art, you’ll have to hire an artist and give them the necessary resources to complete it. There are 5 main resources in this game Marble, Wood, Cloth, Stone, Gold and ‘the green one’. It supposedly Spice but I can’t figure out what that was used for in renaissance art and it looks more like a paint pot to me. There are 7 rounds in which you’ll be building workshops (to get your ‘engine’ going, collecting resources from income or workshops you’ve built (which ultimately let you either build more workshops and complete pieces of art), hiring artists (which provide bonus Prestige), paying alms to the church, working with merchants of Florence (called Captains of Fortune), becoming a captain of the people or a Bishop yourself or even a Cardinal or simply trading at the market or running your business. ‘Phew’...



As you can see there’s a lot going on. For a newcomer to the game (i.e. me), the amount of archaic Italian on the board and cards was a bit of a stumbling block to understanding and learning the game. I’ve got no idea what a ‘Rione’ is or what a Boscaludolo does, and you’ll not find any English guides to help you. What I didn’t realise until my second game is that the text really doesn’t matter, initially it was a stumbling block but by my third play I was appreciating the Italian flare and I’m glad that the designer purposefully retained the language throughout the game to ‘enhance the atmosphere and immersiveness of the playing experience’.

There are 8 phases each round and the player order is variable based on who was farthest on the Prestige Points track. However, this is definitely not a case of a runaway leader as each time you become the first player (i.e. take the Captain of the People card) you’ll reset your Prestige marker back to 0 and collect that many Prestige points as tokens instead. This was a clever mechanism to move the first player marker around the table not just randomly but also based on skill. It is certainly possible to manufacture a couple of game turns where you stay as 1st player.



The second player is determined by the Church Influence track - which works very similarly to Prestige and awards the leading player with becoming a bishop for the next round. If you’re ever elected Bishop twice in a row you’ll become a cardinal and although the rule book says that that has lots of bonus points I’ve never seen that happen. The third, fourth and fifth player orders is based solely on their position on the Prestige track. I like variable player orders and this feels a bit more tactical (i.e. I prefer it) to the typical action space that takes the first player marker - here it’s all based on your accumulated Prestige / Influence.

The ordering of the phases in the round, at first glance, seemed a little disjointed to me. It took a few games to really sink in and I was constantly looking in the rule book and flicking back and forth to find the correct interpretation. Unfortunately, the rulebook wasn’t as comprehensive as I would have liked. For example, the income phase is clearly marked on the game components with a purple colour. Nowhere in the rulebook (that I could) find is that explained. I spent the first 30 minutes of my learning game, wondering what the bizarre colouring on the workshops was. But I did feel a bit cleverer...when I worked it out.



Once the round order clicked, I appreciated the ordering of it, and the ordering is actually what makes this game so brain-burnery…(real word). Your workers are placed in Phase 4 and there can only ever be one worker per space. This is sequentially in player order. In Phase 5 you’ll resolve the actions in a specified order and/or trade in the market. Bearing in mind that you’ll have commissioned artists with their own inherent costs and art with their own resource requirements in Phase 4 and it isn’t until Phase 6 where you’ll actually complete that art...If you’re anything like me trying to mentally keep track of what my workers were going to do and how I was planning on funding that artwork should stave off, or induce a good level of dementia. I found it surprisingly difficult (in a good way) to plan and execute the plan without any mistakes.

Not being able to complete an artwork you’ve commissioned can lead to significant penalties. There are three main areas that you can build in, the Cathedral on the mainboard (or Duomo). Failing to build an artwork there will cost you 3 prestige points. The town of Florenza shows five other buildings on the mainboard. Miscalculations here will cost you 2 Prestige Points. Or you could build on your own player board where the penalty is only 1 Prestige Point for failing to build.



‘But surely that won’t happen', I hear you cry; it does and it will to you too. The economy is so tight that it is often the lack of just one resource ‘spice’ (!?) that prevents you from completing an artwork. You can’t just turn around and build one you can afford as your worker has to have chosen that artwork two phases earlier in order to build it. That, in essence, is the game of Florenza - a hybrid memory game with worker placement and a bit of tearing your remaining hair out because your opponents have just knee-capped you. And I loved it.

I certainly haven’t explored every nuance of this game and I’m not particularly good at it. For example, if you complete the four pieces in your own ‘Chiesa’ (anyone?) or the four in your ‘Palazzo’ (anyone?) you’ll get some bonus Prestige points each turn. However, by just completing one big artwork on the mainboard you can claim smaller but more easily achieved bonus points. I’ve never finished my board in 5 games. I like the fact that there are always some difficult decisions to be made, which are made harder by your opponents thinking exactly like you and nicking the spot you were eyeing up. This is particularly prevalent in the end game where many spots (i.e. art) on the mainboard have already been built, and you’re competing with lots more resources for far fewer spaces. Exactly how I like it.

Components


The components are all made from nice thick cardboard stock or wood and are all perfectly functional and easy to use. I particularly liked the likenesses of the artists and buildings on the cards and mainboard. I even recognised some of them…



There are also dedicated areas on the mainboard and your personal board to store resources which is quite a nice touch and necessary as this game will certainly eat up a lot of table space.

Criticisms


This game is crying out for a more comprehensive player aid. They include a workshop costs/benefit chart which I didn’t find overly helpful. But I did have to refer to the round order or a few common areas in the rulebook more times than I care to remember (and still do). My rule book is certainly looking a bit tired. A better player aid showing the round order and card powers would be far more useful, arguably it will probably take up a whole sheet of A4. For example, nowhere on the board does it mention the penalty cost for not completing a piece of art.



The biggest criticism I have is the set-up and pack-up time. It’s quite fiddly to do so and I’ve not been able to do it in under 15 minutes. You have to set out all of the available workshops (44 of them in approximately 20 stacks) and then draw 9 different artists from a deck matching the randomly drawn tiles; as well as all the other resources and cards to lay out. Thankfully the cards are all uniquely numbered and easy to identify, assuming you’ve packed the 40 cards away in numerical order.

I’ve played this solo and with three players and I don’t think I’d want to try a five-player game. Towards the end or even the middle of the game, you’ll have 8 kinsmen which will need careful consideration to place and resolve. This was an okay length of time in a 3 player teaching game but I wouldn’t want to teach this at any higher player count. I would only endorse this at 5 players if everyone had played before otherwise, it’s at risk of outstaying its welcome.



Conclusion


I had zero expectations or knowledge of this and it’s turned into a bit of a sleeper hit for me. It’s got a fairly unique theme and looks quite distinctive and not many people have heard of it, I find myself drawn to it more and more. I feel it certainly deserves more attention and is easily the equal of some of the most revered games in the hobby. I would recommend this to any seasoned gamer as a competitive and rewarding experience.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designers: Steffano Groppi
Bgg page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/311464/florenza-x-anniversary-edition
Playtime: 90 - 180 mins
Players: 1-5

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  Bloody Hell Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944 Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944 by High Flying Dice Games     Depending upon what book...

Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games

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

May 2021

Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games





 Bloody Hell


Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944

Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944


by


High Flying Dice Games





 

  Depending upon what book you read, and if it was written by an Englishman or not, the battle to take Caen is represented very differently. Field Marshal Montgomery always stated that his part of Operation Overlord (D-Day) went exactly to his plan. He states that it was the plan all along to draw the SS and other strong German units against his troops and that he would be the anvil and the Americans the hammer. Some books follow this lead. However, most state that Caen was to be taken the first day or shortly thereafter. That Monty's 'slows' stuck the Allies in Normandy for almost two months of desperate fighting. Regardless of the plan, Monty's English and Commonwealth Army was forced to try again and again to crack the tough nut of Caen. High Flying Dice Games gives us a chance to fight two of these battles on our tables. I have always been fascinated by Operation Goodwood, so hopefully this is an extra treat for me. Bloody Hell is one game in HFG's Professional Editions line of games. 


 These are the Designer Notes for the Operation Goodwood Scenario:

"Operation Goodwood

At first we seemed to advance quite rapidly, then suddenly, my tank ground to a halt as did all the others I could see...other tanks I could see were all stationary and several were beginning to brew. There were no targets. Nothing intelligible was coming over the radio. I watched through the periscope, fascinated as though it was a film I was seeing.

--Corporal Ronald Cox of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, July 18th.

This game on Operation Goodwood grew out of the interest and enjoyment I had in developing the companion game about Operation Spring, the Canadian offensive on Verrieres Ridge on July 25th, 1944. Montgomery’s massive onslaught against what was thought to be a severely beaten and depleted enemy was meant to be an unstoppable, irresistible offensive that would finally break the Allies out of the Normandy beachhead. That it instead ran into an un-moveable defense, planned earlier by Field Marshal Rommel, made for a ruinous fight that seriously damaged subsequent British offensives in the war. Nearly 2/3rds of the British tanks committed were destroyed in the two-day fight.

The Germans also suffered heavy losses in keeping control of their defensive positions. While many of Montgomery’s supporters pointed out that Goodwood seriously eroded the Germans’ capabilities to resist the Americans’ Operation Cobra offensive a week later, the cost to Great Britain was severe. That the Allied soldiers came close to winning a dramatic victory ahead of the Americans is a testament to the ferocity and courage both sides brought to this battlefield.

Allied Player

You have a massive armored host, but will have to move quickly and aggressively to win this battle. How you fight your infantry, air and few artillery assets will be crucial, as the tanks, despite their numbers, may not have the capability to punch through on their own. Be careful of how many reinforcements you call upon, as the cost in VP to bring them in early may create a deficit you can’t undo. Make the most of the opportunities you get and you may just end up on the road to Paris.

German Player

At the start of the game you may very well understand how Colonel Luck felt. However, time is on your side, and you have a range of weapons with which to fight, if your opponent, and the fates, grants you the time to bring them to the front. You will have many tough calls, and may not have the luxury of redeploying units once engaged if the dreaded jabos (fighter bombers) show up repeatedly. As Colonel Luck pointed out to the commander of the flak batteries defending Bourguebus, by the end of day you may be dead or a hero. Your actions will, for the most part, determine which applies."




 When the designer has done so well, and succinctly written up about the history and each player's role in the game it makes no sense for me to try and outdo it.


Let us see what comes with the game:

Game Design: Paul Rohrbaugh

Graphics Design: Bruce Yearian


Two,  17" x 22" maps

280 die cut, double sided unit counters and markers

One, Player Aid Card: Terrain Chart & Combat Results Table

Random Events Chart

Designer Notes & Bibliography

One Page of Addenda

Game Record Track 

8 page rule book




 We will look at the components now. The maps are your typical wargame maps with not too much flair about them. The terrain is easily distinguishable, and the hex numbers are easy to read. I guess maps are very much in the eye of the beholder, but I have no issue with them. The counters are normal size at 1/2". This makes them somewhat hard to read for those of us of advanced years. However, you always have to keep in mind the map footprint when talking about larger counters. Even if you are playing the two map campaign the game's footprint is small. This really helps with grognards who only have a limited amount of space. So, the counters are no smaller than many others that we play with. The tank and and jagdpanzer units have a silhouette of each kind on their counters. There are also counters for minefields, entrenchments, and smoke. As stated, the Rulebook has only eight pages of rules, followed by four pages of setup information. The Rulebook is in black and white, and does not come with any examples of play. These should really not be needed for a grognard, and this is not really a game that I would use to introduce a newbie to the hobby. The Player's Aid and all of the charts are pretty much self-explanatory. These are all in black and white, except for the terrain chart (naturally). The game components all pass muster. This is not a game where you will look at it and go Ooh and Ah, but it is all completely serviceable.


 This is the Sequence of Play:

Weather and Random Event Determination Phase

Air Phase - Allied Only

Initiative Determination Phase - Starts on Game Turn Two

Operations Phase - Chit Pull of Formations Activation Marker

End Phase




 The game is really not your typical folio game. It comes with two different operations that you can play (Goodwood, Spring), and it also has a campaign game of playing through both operations. There are not too many games at all on this level about Operation Goodwood, and none that I know of about Operation Spring. The life and death struggle for Caen, by the British and Commonwealth soldiers on one side and the Germans on the other, has had many excellent books and articles written about it. With this game it is much easier to understand the history of the battles, and why things happened the way they did. I find the game to be very enjoyable, and spot on as far as following history. Playing as the British you are going to find exactly how large of a can opener you are going to need to pry the Germans out of their defenses. As the German player, you will realize exactly what it was like to try and stem the tide with always diminishing resources.


Close up of some German Units

 

 As mentioned, the game has a small footprint, which is great when you do not want to play a monster, or do not have the room. The game comes with lots of chrome also. These are the Random Events:


Wittman Strikes - If the 1/101st Panzer is in play, you can get a second die roll

Allied Snafu - Remove one Allied Formation Activation Marker, and -1 to the Allied Initiative Die Roll

German Snafu - Same for Germans

Auftragstaktik - One German Formations Undisrupted Units can Activate for a Second Time

Oh Canada! or, For King and Counter - Same as Auftragstaktik for the Allied Player


 On the Addenda sheet there is also a variant that you can try out. According to the designer it is a bit  of a "what if" in his mind. The Allied player, to simulate more planning and cohesion on the Allied side, is allowed to activate the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade with either the 2nd or 3rd Canadian infantry Divisions. This would be instead of activating on its own.


Allied Units


  I am very impressed with my first High Flying Dice Games. Thank you very much High Flying Dice Games for letting me review this. I am also going to be reviewing two more of their games, which look very interesting. These are the two:


A Test of Mettle - Three Battles From the Allied Campaign in the Lorraine: Tough Hombres - Battle of Mairy, Revanche! - Battle of Dompaire, Patton's Finest  - Battle of Arracourt.


September's Eagles - The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929-1939

Name me another game where you can fly as Howard Hughes, or fly Gee Bee Racers!


You can also get boxed editions of all of their games.


Robert 

High Flying Dice Games:

High Flying Dice Games, LLC: From the Filing Cabinet to the Game Table (hfdgames.com)

Bloody Hell:

Bloody Hell Information (hfdgames.com)

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 300: EARTH & WATER from NUTS PUBLISHING Cliche warning - good things come in small packages! This latest release from Nuts Publishing c...

300 EARTH & WATER 300 EARTH & WATER

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

May 2021

300 EARTH & WATER

 300:EARTH & WATER

from

NUTS PUBLISHING


Cliche warning - good things come in small packages!

This latest release from Nuts Publishing covers the Graeco-Persian wars.  Think Darius and Xerxes, Marathon and Thermopylae - and for many the latter battle probably instantly brings up the number 300 and the gore splattered slo-mo film of that name and, of course, the title of this game.

Striking as the film was for its visuals, so equally striking is the all out effort to package this small game in splendour - thankfully without additional blood!  At first sight, it looks identical to the size of so many of the former VPG boxes - but no plain cardboard box with a coloured sleeve here.  Instead it is a very solid box with a fold-over lid, with a magnetic flap that automatically closes into place.  When opened up, two artistic evocative scenes are printed on the inside.  





The map, though small, is a mounted four panel fold out.


The design is elegant in its simplicity, while given a strong touch of colour from the opposing images of leading figures from this mighty conflict.  Nor are they just a matter of attractive decoration.  Each corresponds to a significant moment from the wars on one of the Event cards [usually a death!], play of which will lead to an army unit being permanently removed from the game  to be placed on the historical personage's picture.

A close up of the three Greek figures
This quality is matched in the rule book.  Again small in size, but crammed with a wealth of colourful vivid illustrative examples of play.  Indeed the only spartan [pun intended] items are the Event cards which provide only text with no pictures!

Similar to many CDG games, most have dual texts applicable to whether it is the Greek or Persian player using it.  

As mentioned, the rule  book is a slim item printed on smooth glossy paper edged at the top and bottom with a golden border.  The text is set out in two clear columns and every step is clearly illustrated and reinforced with pictorial examples.

Even the boxes of text within the examples are colour-coded to which side, Greek or Persian, that they refer.  These rules in a mere 12 pages are a model of clarity, taking you through the stages of the game in the exact order of play. It even manages to include at the end brief explanations of the historical events and personages on each Event card and finally rounds off with a potted history of the Graeco-Persian wars!! 

So, looks good, reads well -  but how does it play?  Well, I can happily say that the crucial core has all the elegance of its exterior qualities.  It is a highly abstracted treatment, executed with a small number of cubes for military units and an even smaller number of discs for naval units.

All the wooden components and a neat set of dice

The game in its box takes up minimum space and can be set up in about a minute and here is everything set up ready to play, easily accommodated on my portable playing area.   

The game plays out over 5 Campaigns [the maximum 5 turns of the game], but if the Event card, Sudden Death of the Great King, is drawn by the Persian player then the Campaign is over!  Consequently, I have had several games where only three Campaign turns were played which does produce a very, very short game.  

If you want, this can easily be house-ruled to make sure you get more game play.  However I'd strongly discourage you from rushing off to follow this increasing tendency to tamper with games, especially as this seems to happen after barely one play!!  This is all part of the design and presents the Persian player with an immediate pause for thought.  Each Campaign begins with a Preparation Phase when new units and new cards can be purchased.   The maximum a player can buy is 6 cards and each card can be used only for either its Event or a single activation of units.  

For me, when playing as the Persian, the pressure of time is at the heart of the game.  Do I go for maximum card buy and maximum risk of ending the Campaign?  Do I take fewer, but then have fewer opportunities for Activation or Event Play?  

This is also part of the highly asymmetrical styles of the two sides that starts with the fact that the Persian player has 12 purchase points to the Greeks 6 points.  The Persian has far more land units and one more naval as potential purchases, but they have the burden of attack and that pressure of time I've highlighted.  Their supply problems I've generally found to be greater too.  

It is a game of cat and mouse.  The Persian player can build, and I would say must build, the famous bridge of boats across the Hellespont - represented by a nice brown, thin, wooden oblong.  Rules cover ports, naval transport and land and sea combat.  It is the overwhelming force  against the resolute little defender, metaphorically David against Goliath... and that little Greek defender surely can win, as the end of one of my games shows below!



If either side controls both of their opponent's Major Cities at the end of a Campaign, then it's an automatic victory.  Otherwise the player who has accumulated the most control points over the five campaigns wins. 

So, it's immediately eye-catching, elegant, easy to grasp and quick to play and immensely tense and playable.  Face to face play is absolutely what it is designed for, though I intend using one of the enthusiast- produced systems for soloing CDG games for added plays.

So many thanks to Nuts Publishing for providing me with this review copy of a pocket gem!

25 euros
£17.95
$22.99

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FOR GLORY FROM SPIELCRAFT GAMES FOR GLORY TO RETURN Just an announcement to keep alert for a new launch later this year of a great deck bui...

FOR GLORY FOR GLORY

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

May 2021

FOR GLORY

FOR GLORY


FROM

SPIELCRAFT GAMES


FOR GLORY TO RETURN

Just an announcement to keep alert for a new launch later this year of a great deck builder that appeared in the States last year.  Here's your chance to run a gladiatorial school all in preparation for that final showdown in the arena.  Be a colossus in the colosseum!

Here's a sneak peak at the game set up



LOOK FORWARD TO AN IN-DEPTH REVIEW HERE WITH THE KICKSTARTER LAUNCH

0 comments :

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