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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

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations

Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations

Verdun 1916 

Steel Inferno


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




Chaos in the Rear

Submarine Warfare, and Total Submarine warfare

Reinforcements to and from the Russian Front


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. 


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Verdun 1916 Steel Inferno: