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 The Lamps Are Going Out World War One: 2nd Edition by Compass Games  Let us first take a look at this bemedaled group photo on the cover. &...

The Lamps Are Going Out: World War One 2nd Edition by Compass Games The Lamps Are Going Out: World War One 2nd Edition by Compass Games

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

June 2021

The Lamps Are Going Out: World War One 2nd Edition by Compass Games




 The Lamps Are Going Out


World War One: 2nd Edition


by


Compass Games






 Let us first take a look at this bemedaled group photo on the cover.

"In May 1910, European royalty gathered in London for the funeral of King Edward VII. Among the mourners were nine reigning kings, who were photographed together in what very well may be the only photograph of nine reigning kings ever taken. Of the nine sovereigns pictured, four would be deposed and one assassinated.

Within five years, Britain and Belgium would be at war with Germany and Bulgaria. Only five of the nine monarchies represented in the photo still exist today.

Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of the Bulgarians, King Manuel II of Portugal and the Algarve, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia, King George I of the Hellenes and King Albert I of the Belgians.

Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom, and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

There are several family relations in that picture. For instance, Frederik VIII of Denmark (bottom right) was the father of Haakon VII of Norway (top left), while Wilhelm II of Germany (top, 3rd from the right) was the first cousin of both George V of the United Kingdom (bottom center), and Queen Maud of Norway who was wife to Haakon VII of Norway and sister to George V of the United Kingdom – which made Haakon VII of Norway and George V of the United Kingdom brothers-in-law.

George V of the United Kingdom’s and Queen Maud of Norway’s mother was incidentally Alexandra of Denmark, sister to Frederik VIII of Denmark. This means that Frederik VIII of Denmark was also the uncle of George V of the United Kingdom.

George was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The funeral of King Edward VII was the last time all of the great European monarchs would meet before the First World War, the same war that would end most of the monarchical lines of Europe for good. Imagine, they all knew a war was coming, all knew it was going to be between them."





 Okay, now that you have ingested that blurb that would put an Ancestry.Com page to shame, here we go. The First World War, and its terrors, was for many years placed at the foot of Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II. The event that really sparked it off was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary during a state visit to Sarajevo. With hindsight, and historians poring over records, we now know that the assassination was fostered by certain groups in the Kingdom of Serbia. However, many diplomats thought that this incident would blow over, just as many others did in the preceding years. Back to Germany, and whether it was totally responsible or not. Historians now are torn as to just who was to blame, or was any one nation more to blame than others. The astute Otto von Bismarck had said "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans" He did however, also say "The Balkans are not worth the life of a single Pomeranian Grenadier." British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey's quote "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time", is where the title of the game comes from. So, let us take a look and see what comes in the box:


1 22”x34” MOUNTED MAP

•    176 5/8” counters

•    100 Event Cards

•    20 Technology Cards

•    2 Player Aid sheets

•    1 Rules booklet


This is the information given about the game:


Product Information

•    Complexity: Medium

•    Solitaire suitability: High

•    Time Scale: Seasonal turns

•    Map Scale:  Variable-Sized Areas

•    Unit Scale: Field Armies

•    Players: 2-4

•    Playing Time: 4-6 hours


 As mentioned, the map is mounted (something which is happening more and more on the release of games, instead of an upgrade that you can buy separately), so kudos to Compass Games for this. It is an area map, and not a hex one. The map has areas from Scotland to the Ottoman Empire and Moscow in Russia. There is also a box on the left of the map for the fighting in Africa. While Africa was really a sideshow to the whole war, it is a nice touch to include that part of the war. The map is colorful without being gaudy, and I can read everything on it even without my glasses. There are not many maps I can do that with now. The Rulebook, Design Notes, and Player Aid Sheet are all in full color. The rules themselves are twenty-six pages long. Added to it are Designer Notes, and an Extended Example of Play. There is a separate booklet that has the 2nd Edition Designer Notes, and a description of all 100 Event Cards. There are also descriptions of the eight Optional Cards. The Cards all have a separate actual photograph from World War I on them, along with their information. I believe that anything that adds to a player's immersion in a game is a nice touch. The 5/8" counters are great for old hands and eyes. They also come pre-corner clipped for those who it matters to. Seeing as I have never clipped my counters I do not know if that is a good or bad thing to you clippers out there. Even though this is a game about World War I, which usually means high stacks of counters, the scale of the game makes that a non-issue. 




 This is the Sequence of Play:

Faction Sequence of Play

Players execute these phases in sequence for the current 

faction under their control.

A. Event Card Phase (5.0)

  1. Rebuild Event Deck (Spring Turn only)

  2. Draw Event Card

B. Movement Phase (6.0)

  1. Move Armies, Artillery and Tanks

  2. Redeploy Stosstruppen Marker (Germany only)

  3. Move U-Boats (Germany Only)

  4. Move Fleets (WA & Germany only)

C. Combat Phase (7.0)

  1. Resolve Naval Combat (WA & Germany only)

  2. Resolve Amphibious Invasions (WA only)

  3. Resolve Ground, Guerilla & Beachhead Attacks

D. Production Phase (8.0)

  1. Production Modifiers (8.2)

    a. Check Blockade Box (WA & Germany only)

    b. Resolve Events

    c. Resolve U-Boat Attacks (Western Allies only)

    d. Resolve U-Boat Attrition (Germany only)

    e. Receive Transferred Production

  2. Production Spending (8.3, by nation, least to most PP)

    a. Refit Units

    b. Raise New Units

    c. Construct Trenches

    d. Transfer Production

  3. Technological Advances (8.4) (WA & Germany only)

    a. Draw Bonus Technology Cards (by Event only)

    b. Research Technology

    c. Discard G1 Technology

E. Regroup Phase (9.0)

  1. Determine Air Superiority (WA & Germany only)

  2. Reset Heavy Artillery





 'Lamps' plays out in seasonal turns. There are rules for the following Special Combat Units:

Tanks
Triple Entente Air Superiority
Western Allies Heavy Artillery
Western Allied Trenches

 The U-Boat War is a big part of the game, and just like in history a very big plus and minus for the Central Powers. Unrestricted U-Boat Warfare can really help to tilt the USA to join the fray against the Central Powers. So the CP player must decide whether it is worth it in the long run. The collapse of Russia is just as large an event in the war as the USA joining in. This again shows how the game plays historically, without tying the players' hands. The capture of Berlin or Paris assures an Automatic Victory. Other than that Victory Points are added up by both sides at the end of the Fall 1918 turn to decide the winner.




 The game rules are easy to digest, but it is not an easy game. It puts you in control of either the Entente or the Central Powers at the highest level. You control the destiny of your entire coalition, not just one country. The game is really meant to be two player, but it also plays well solo too. There are also rules to play it as a three or four player game. This is the 2nd edition, but according to the designer it is essentially the same. The game has had some tweaking done to it, and some cleaning up and clarification of certain aspects. Some of the event cards have also been changed. According to the designer, he really wanted to work on the Technology part of the game. Apparently, in the 1st edition, it was possible to have some strange play throughs as far as Technology each side can possibly get. In this edition the designer has made it easier for either side to catch up in Technology. There were apparently some games from the 1st edition that had technology very lop-sided on one side or the other, or at least the possibility of that happening in a game. The inclusion of the 'Rasputitsa' Card in the new edition helps to make the weather in Russia a much more potent and more of a monkey wrench to be thrown into either sides plans.




 I was fully prepared to not really take a shine to the game. I am much more used to having a WWI game with huge stacks of counters that look like man made mountain ranges on a map. A game that plays from this vantage point and with not many areas on the map is not one that I would usually look for. I was very pleasantly surprised in the game and game play. It is a much deeper game than I was suspecting after opening up the box. The game gives each side's player a lot of options. Yes, it does have a meat grinder feel to it with the land war. I am not sure why some people have mentioned this. A World War I game is supposed to feel like a meat grinder. It is the nature of the beast, or at least should be.




 Thank you very much Compass Games for letting me put 'The Lamps Are Going Out' through its paces. Please take a look at their whole line of games, especially the games based on the 'No Peace Without Spain' design. I have all of them and they are excellent, and there are more on the way.

Robert


The Lamps Are Going Out:

The Lamps are Going Out: World War 1, 2nd Edition – Compass Games

Compass games:

Compass Games – New Directions In Gaming

No Peace Without Spain:

No Peace Without Spain – Compass Games

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  Strategy & Tactics #326 Mukden 1905 by Strategy & Tactics Press Decision Games    Writing a review about a S&T issue seems a l...

Strategy & Tactics #326 Mukden 1905 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games Strategy & Tactics #326 Mukden 1905 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games

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

June 2021

Strategy & Tactics #326 Mukden 1905 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games





 Strategy & Tactics #326 Mukden 1905


by


Strategy & Tactics Press

Decision Games





 

 Writing a review about a S&T issue seems a little like blasphemy to me. The magazine has been around in one way or another since I was a teenager. I had already been grabbed by the wargaming bug in my younger years by the simple games from Milton Bradley etc. Then in 1970 I saw Panzerblitz in a toy store. However, it wasn't until a few years later that I went to a hobby store and found both my grail, and the bane of my future wife. There were rows and rows of games including this magazine that not only had articles on the history of war and battles, but also contained a game about one of them. I was literally a teenager who found my first Playboy magazine. The amazing thing about S&T to me has always been its breadth of coverage. One article could be about the Battle of Kadesh, and the next could be about carriers in the 21st century. S & T allowed battles that no one would ever make a boxed version of land on your doorstep or in your nearest hobby store. The magazine itself has gone through a few hands over the years, but it has always been lovingly cared for by the different people in charge of it. Yes, if you look at the first issues made in the 1970's they look dated (although, do not say that to a collector or grognard). The magazine is now very much up to 21st century standards; one might even call it cutting edge. So, let us look what comes in this edition.


 First, we will take a look at the numerous articles, and departments in this issue:

Articles:

The Battle of Mukden, 1905

The Battle of Mycale

Wavell at Bay: February - June 1941

Poland, 1830-31: The November Insurrection


Departments:

On Design - By Joseph Miranda

Work in Progress: Vicksburg: The Assault on Stockade Redan

German Saboteurs in America - By David Schroeder

Did you Know? - By Joseph Miranda

For Your Information:
 
 Wavell's Officers - By Jonathan Lupton

 The Death of Bishop Polk - By Brett Michael Mills

 Nagashino Reimagined - By Joshua R. Gilbert

 Hitler's Haltebefehl - By John Burtt

The Long Tradition


 The list shows that this issue moves in time from 479 B.C. to the 20th century. Just a bit of a time curve. Hidden in this group of excellent writing is a small, but nonetheless mind blowing article about the Battle of Nagashino. It turns out that the stockade fence that Oda Nobunaga's arquebusers were positioned behind may not have actually existed. The author has looked at all of the different historical writings about the battle and found a whopper of an anomaly. It seems that none of the early writings mention the stockade fence at all, and it does not show up until about 100 years after the battle. This would clear up this strange part of the battle we have all read about. Takeda Katsuyori was certainly not on a par with his father Takeda Shingen as a general, however most of the generals that had fought under Shingen were still alive and at the Battle of Nagashino. Contrary to popular belief, a samurai was not supposed to just give up his life for no reason. It always seemed strange to me that the Takeda cavalry would just keep piling up their dead in front of the stockade fence. One could make an argument about the French cavalry doing the same thing at Waterloo. In reality, because of Wellington's positioning of his troops, the French cavalry would not know what was there, or still there, until they climbed the crest. At the Battle of Nagashino we have read that after the first charge, and possibly all along, the stockade fence was visible to the Takeda cavalry. This is but a small example of what can be found on almost every page of every issue of S & T. It is like the Old Man on the Mountain of Wargaming magazines. The maps and OOB's that come with each article are incredibly well done and researched. 

 The Battle of Mycale article is also deceiving. Like most, if not all of S & T articles, it not only shows the history of the Greco-Persian conflict from the beginning, but also adds in some history after the battle. 

 The same goes for the Battle of Mukden article. It takes us back in time to show the reasons for the Russo-Japanese War. Then it continues to inform us about the entire conflict before even touching the Battle of Mukden itself. 





 The game inside was designed by Ty Bomba. If you call yourself a grognard and his name is not familiar, please hang your head in shame. I would even consider making it mandatory to put it on your name tag at the next convention you go to, but I digress. 

 Mukden 1905 simulates just the battle for Mukden, and not any of the earlier battles in the Russo-Japanese War. It is a two-player game, but can be easily transformed into a solitaire experience. The game map has hexes and not areas. Each hex represents three miles. The Units in the game are regiments, brigades, divisions, and one Cavalry Corps. Each game turn represents two days. The map is 22" x 34", and there is one sheet of 228 1/2" counters. The front of the counters are the normal NATO designations. The back of the counters (disrupted side) show the Rising Sun for the Japanese, and the Double Eagle for the Russian. The Zone of Control rules are pretty much the norm. Each Unit exhibits a ZOC into the next surrounding hex, and enemy Units must stop upon entering a ZOC. The rules are only fifteen pages long. Sudden Death Victory is determined by either the Russians capturing Liaoyang (hex 1922), or the Japanese capturing Mukden itself (hex 2310), or any of the railroad hexes from 2210 to 2900 before the end of Turn three. These would be above Mukden itself. 

 The Sequence of Play is:

I: Russian Cavalry Corps Replacement Phase ( skip on Turn 1)
II: Japanese Phase Sequence Declaration Phase
III: Russian Paralysis Determination Phase
IV: Alternating Actions Movement (or Combat) Phase
V: Recovery Phase
VI: Russian Paralysis Determination Phase
VII: Alternating Actions Combat (or Movement) Phase
VIII: Recovery Phase

 As you can see, the Russian Player is possibly as hamstrung as they were in real life. Historically the Japanese Army played the tune, and the Russian Army had to dance to it. In actuality, the Japanese had pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel as far as manpower, while the Russians had been limited by the Trans-Siberian Railway, and its limited hauling power. The Russian Steamroller was massive, but in this case it could not make its weight felt so far from Europe. 





 The game is a very good one, and gives both players the advantages and disadvantages that each side had. The Japanese Player has to attack to win. He has to either gain a Sudden Death Victory, or take Mukden and inflict twenty percent more losses on the Russian Player than he loses. The Russian Player can fight a defensive battle, which they did historically, or become very lucky and get a Sudden Death Victory. This game is another winner in a long line of S & T games that are good to excellent. I still play some S & T games that are thirty years old and more. Thank you Decision Games for letting me review this great issue. Please take a look at Decision Games' four different magazines and all of their boxed games, and books. 

Robert

Strategy & Tactics #326:

Decision Games:





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 COMPANY OF HEROES FROM BAD CROW GAMES To quote from the post on BGG: "Bad Crow Games is a consortium of game designers and publishers ...

COMPANY OF HEROES COMPANY OF HEROES

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

June 2021

COMPANY OF HEROES

 COMPANY OF HEROES

FROM

BAD CROW GAMES



To quote from the post on BGG: "Bad Crow Games is a consortium of game designers and publishers from Utah. The staff comprises multiple entrepreneurs and game designers that have previously published their own titles.
The group has come together to design games off of their new real time strategy mechanic that allows players the experience of RTS action video games in a board game format."
As a player of computer games who actively seeks out turn-based military games that recreate on the PC the hex and counter experience I love in board wargames, I may not be the best to comment on this reverse process.
What I can say is that Company of Heroes hits all my sweet spots and it's a great round of thanks to Bad Crow Games for providing me with this review copy. This is their second game to be published and what a choice and what a publication!
The immediate visual factor bowled me over.  This is the incredible stack that emerged from one of, if not the heaviest game parcels I've ever received.  For this review I'm going to focus on the massive core box, but hope to explore later the additional Cooperative/Solo expansion that was one of the generous bonuses included from Bad Crow Games

What emerges as these boxes are unpacked is astonishing, what's even more amazing is that the contents in the core box that I'm going to show you all repack in a way that I wouldn't have believed possible.


This is nearly everything, just from the core box which is one of the deepest I've come across.  First of all, that stack of maps contains four, each 30" x 20" and double-sided.  Each pair combines to form a 30" x 40" map: Stalingrad, Monastery, Trois Ponts and Hill 331.  The first three have clear historical origins from the Siege of Stalingrad, Monte Cassino and the Battle of the Bulge, while the last comes from the COH2 PC version, though the board game map itself doesn't seem to mirror the computer version as far as I could see..

They are all stunning to look at with large 3" hexes; Stalingrad [seen below] and Trois Ponts being my personal favourites.



The Mission Booklet provides  a wide range of scenarios from small ones using half of a single map to massive 4 mappers.  My only disappointment is that most of these Huge Scenarios demand maps from two copies of the game!  [That said, I'm lucky that a close friend and fellow gamer has his own Kickstarter copy,  so somewhere down the line everything is possible - just need a huge table now!] 

Next up comes the four sets of units for the four nationalities:  British, American, German and Russian.  Each is perfectly accommodated in its own separate plastic storage box.



Above is the German box.  Notice the tray on the right that houses each soldier perfectly making both storage and game play so smooth.  Just lift out what you need as required and slot back in as a unit is destroyed!  Incredibly compact, it helps to keep the fairly large footprint of this game down to a reasonably manageable size!

Apart from appreciating this major benefit,  I was stunned by two things: the variety of vehicles offered for each nationality and the quality of their casting.  Not only do they look great, they are of a weighty heft that I have not found even in many models designed purely for figure gaming!

Equally impressive is Terrain Pack 1 which was part of the amazing package Bad Crow Games sent me.  I had expected mainly good cardboard overlays, but instead we're treated to nine two story buildings in plastic.  Each has a removable section of wall to allow placement of infantry units inside to add an element of FOW [fog of war].  If you don't want to add in that advanced rule, the unit just sits neatly on the roof.



In addition you can see an assortment of barbed wire, sandbags and tank obstacles.  The strange central items are a key factor in the resource/victory point management element of the game - more about those later.

Returning to the core box itself, you'll find the next tray contains a fascinating array of mainly specialised dice and coloured cubes, along with a set of clear transparent bases for your various vehicles and infantry units.  The plastic bags contain figure markers to add to infantry bases to show machine gun and mortar units and notice the two sand timers.  Quality and storage are again first class - though here I have virtually my only concern about the contents... please supply more of the transparent bases, particularly those for vehicles.  I know that they are not as necessary for vehicles, but they are a great addition to the game.

As COH unfortunately wasn't available other than by Kickstarter, I shall have to wait until the upcoming Kickstarter COH 1.5 where, I've been assured, the popular demand for more will be satisfied.  Thanks Bad Crow to listening to your fans.



On top of all this are two sheets of cardboard items which when punched out look like this...



... and neatly fill the remaining empty spaces in the previous tray.



Finally rounding out all this hardware are four HQ boards, one for each nationality, 12 Building Cards and 20 Commander Cards, which I'll explain in more detail when I look at the game's system and rules.

These come in three handsome booklets providing Basic Rules, Advanced Rules and Missions.  All three mirror the game's component quality being printed on thick glossy paper, with even more substantial card quality outer covers.  The rules themselves are abundantly illustrated throughout and follow the easy to understand chronology of the sequence of play.  This is a game that can please and be enjoyed and understood by 
 both newbies and grognards.

Looking beyond the deluxe quality, we come to what sets Company of Heroes as much more than what might place it as a super rival to Memoir 44 or Tide of Iron.  The game's system is built on a familiar basic format.

ROUND
Manoeuvre Phase;
Turn 1
Turn 2
Turn 3
Damage Phase
Supply Phase

A very familiar outline, but each Phase introduces novel elements and successful developments.  Also, it is important to note the use of "Round" for the more familiar word "turn" [which has a different use to divide up the stages of the Manoeuvre Phase, as will be explained further in the next paragraph].

First of all, Manoeuvre springs an immediate surprise - each Player begins a Round with nine Command Points to be spent on moving in the Manoeuvre Phase.  These points are spent over those 3 turns with a maximum of 3 pts spent per turn.  You cannot hold back points to spend in a subsequent turn - so, for example, no spending 2 pts in turn 1 and then 4 pts in turn 2 and then 3 pts in turn 3.  Nor can any individual unit, with a few special exceptions, spend more than 3 pts of movement over the whole Round.
Here an M10 Wolverine has used its maximum 3 pts of movement in a Round and falls just short of being able to enter and take control of a Munitions control point.
Each player spends his/her parcel of 3 pts alternately.  I've already found this produces a new and enjoyable tactical element to moving, as players jockey for position.  Do you counter your opponent's direction of movement?  Do you pursue your own separate goal?  Can you deceive your opponent as to your main goal or are you being lured astray by your opponent?  A great sense of interaction is easily and effectively developed with minimum effort and very simple rules.  

Closely allied to these movement rules and adding a further influence on where you may decide to move are the rules for the third Phase of a Round: namely the Supply Phase.  Being used to the conventional and while nigh universal concept of supply in board wargames being trace back to a supply point or suffer some penalties either in movement and/or combat, COH's approach reflects both its computer origins and a strong dose of Eurogame influence.

Here's where those strange looking objects shown earlier come in.



They mark in 3D where various types of supply are located; the range includes Manpower, Fuel, Munitions and Victory Points.  Also, when you capture a supply hex, you place a coloured flag to indicate control.  All the mapboards have such locations' symbols printed on them and these are the default locations.  However, many of the scenarios introduce different locations and provide a cardboard marker to show the type of supply.
This feature of the game is a great illustration of Bad Crow's willingness to go the extra mile to try to cater for and satisfy individual player's preferences and can be exemplified in the photo below, taken from a close up of the Stalingrad board.



At top right you see the printed supply location of a hex that contains both Fuel and Victory Point symbols.  To the left is a location with a marker showing Munition Supply and the 3D flag pole, plus a red flag showing which Player controls it.  Finally, on the far left, you see the Manpower marker [the fist on an olive green background] and for those who might find the 3D marker not to their taste, you have the alternative of a cardboard control marker.  
This striving for different types of supply is for me a crucial and rewarding aspect of the game, as these locations and fighting for them directs and fuels the major thrust of the game.  It also influences and drives other key decisions made in the Supply Phase. Each Round you adjust the different types of Supply Income according to what you already control and what you have newly captured.  Inevitably, a Supply Point captured from the enemy increases your Income by one, but also decreases your opponent's by one.  These points are then added to your stockpile and used to buy a wide range of items.




This is where the well designed HQ Board, shown in the photo above,  plays its part.  The white cubes mark your Income in the upper part of the display and your Stockpiles in the lower section.  Default starting points for scenarios are as seen.  Again Bad Crow Games have produced the perfect model by using recessed boards and good cardstock mounted on plastic bases. 

So, fighting for Supply has been made an important and rewarding part of the game, providing not only a narrative drive, but opening up a new dimension in subsequent game play.  The wide range of choices and how the designers have factored them in are another major reason for my rating this game so highly.  This brings me to the next original element: the Building Boards.



Each nationality has three each and at the start of a Scenario, you have access only to the first Building Board.  In the photo, this is Wermacht Headquarters.  These give you all the information you need about each of your type of units that are currently available.  The default starting units for scenarios are any two infantry type units.  Reading along the top line, you start with the unit strength, its range for fire, its type of attack, any special ability and cost to buy.  The second line divides into two sections: on the left, upgrades that can be built with Experience points [this is an advanced game rule] and on the right, basic rule upgrades bought with Munition points.

New units don't just appear according to some preordained scenario schedule, but have to be bought from combinations of different types of Supply.  Showing its PC origins, the terminology used in the rules  for producing your reinforcements and where they appear which is actually printed on the Mission booklet maps is the word ... SPAWN!  [Urrh! Sorry, guys, but this just conjures up sinister eggs, face-huggers and aliens!  Please this is WWII.]
Anyway that's what the Supply Phase is all about - logging your current Supply income, adding it to your stockpiles, buying reinforcements and buying their available upgrades. There are two final vital actions that can be performed in the Supply Phase.  One is to unlock your 2nd and 3rd Building Cards which will provide a wider and stronger range of units to buy.  The other action is introduced in what can best be described as a coda to the Basic Rules.  This involves Experience Points that are gained by damaging and eliminating units and can be spent either to unlock further unit upgrades or to buy abilities from the last component in the core game: Commander Cards.  Each nationality possesses several of these, but only one can be chosen for any scenario.



It is very much these Building Cards and Commander Cards that give each nationality its individuality, flavour and variations.  Again, this is a major plus for the quality and scope of COH.  Should this not be enough for you, the core box rounds off with a slim Advanced Rules booklet that adds mainly minor refinements to rules for some some units, such as arcs of fire, retreat for infantry in addition to manoeuvre, refined pinning, slow units and turrets. The two new introductions are damage to buildings and the ability to build battlefield defences like sand bags and razor-wire.  
Having skipped from Phase 1 Manoeuvre straight to Phase 3 Supply, to complete my exploration we need to return to Phase 2 Damage.  In other words, what's normally titled Combat.  In keeping with the originality seen at every step so far, Damage has plenty of newness to offer.  No CRTs [Combat Results Tables], no conventional six sided dice, no attack nor defence strengths.  Instead both sides place their Damage dice in the Damage Phase into the hexes of those units they can and want to attack, with the appropriate Damage symbol uppermost. There are just 4 types of damage: Anti-Infantry, Armour-Piercing, High Explosive and Flame.  A display shows what a particular type of unit can attempt to defend against and what it must automatically take a hit from.  As there are only four types of unit: Infantry, Light Vehicle, Heavy Vehicle and Emplacement, this results in an ultra-simple 4x4 matrix to work with.  Placing damage dice and rolling for saves is simultaneous.  This not only replicates the real-time play of the original computer game, but also is perhaps a more realistic representation of combat. Below is a typical example of infantry combat, where both sides inflict an automatic hit.  Obviously this is an aspect of the game that will draw support from some and disapproval from others.  Personally, this balance of automatic and hits and those that might be saved is an effective and successful approach.




Consequently, the Damage Phase is remarkably swift and easy to execute.  Roll all the dice that can attempt to avoid damage and then take the hits that remain.  This Phase is very easy, very visual and very satisfying and I particularly like the fact that some of those potential upgrades I've discussed earlier include the ability to add defence shielding dice and increase damage abilities.  A great idea, illustrated below with an American infantry stand that has been given a shield upgrade.


Oh, one last item - the sand timers.  If you want to recreate a flash of the hectic play of the original realtime computer game, then these can be used to hasten play along.  Never having had lightning reflexes, this is not a factor for me and would detract from the pleasure of move and countermove that the game so satisfyingly creates.  But the choice is there, which is one of the many strengths of this design.  Though COH is primarily a game of tactical warfare, it also has the flexibility of a superb sandbox to create your own scenarios with designated supply provision, reinforcement entry, specific goals and much more.
At the moment, however, I'm still happily exploring the Mission booklet and learning the strengths and weaknesses of the different nationalities and the different forces each can field. 
Unfortunately, the one and only draw back is that this was not produced for retail sale.  On the other hand the good news is that a Kickstarter for COH 1.5 is in hand.  I shall certainly be exploring some of the expansions and getting some more of those promised additional excellent figure trays.  If you haven't yet bought into this system, I would strongly recommend it as high on any list to consider for its superb quality, accessibility, scope and innovation and sheer pleasure to play.  






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Wings Over Flanders Fields  Between Heaven & Hell II  by OBD Software  The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from ...

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software

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

June 2021

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software




Wings Over Flanders Fields

 Between Heaven & Hell II 

by

OBD Software






 The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from most World War II 400mph aircraft as it was from World War I planes. Yet, compared to planes in 1916 it was a marvel of engineering. What possessed those intrepid flyers to get up in those far from magnificent flying machines? Showing my age on that one. Parachutes that had been invented before the war, and worked just fine, were not allowed in plane cockpits for fear that the pilot would jump out to save his life and thereby lose the machine. So, many pilots kept revolvers handy to shoot themselves if their planes caught on fire. The ever present chance of shooting your own propeller off, or having a wing just decide to no longer be attached to the rest of the plane, was always in their minds. The soldiers in the trenches looked at the pilots as pampered pets who knew nothing of the 'real' war. However, if you look at the faces of the pilots that lasted in combat you will see a marked change. Their faces become lined and take on what looks like the pallor of death. In their eyes you can almost see them say to you "yes, I will be dead soon", almost in a glad sort of way. I believe it was Eddie Rickenbacker who, when taken up in his first flight, was asked if he saw any 'Huns'. He answered "no". The pilot answered their were more than a few in the sky with them. "Beware the Hun in the Sun", became a poster's cry. In reality the pilots had to beware everything, even their own mounts. To become an Ace was truly an act of intense bravery and tremendous luck. The Aces' names during and right after the war were more famous than most sport stars. This is the time and place  that OBD Software has chosen to take us: in the skies of France during the First World war. 




 I am the absolutely last person who should be writing this review. I bought into the original Over Flanders Field right at the start, and I have purchased every add-on or upgrade ever published. If you are a WWI airplane junkie you should already have this game, nothing else needs to be said. Of course, I must respect the usual forms of writing a review, so let us see what the game actually comes with, and why if you have not upgraded to Between Heaven & Hell II, you should immediately. This is a small synopsis of the game as it now stands on their website:


"OBD is proud to bring you our unashamedly single-player WW1 flight simulator : WOFF BH&H II.  What many are now saying is the most immersive flight simulator available for World War One, be absorbed into the WW1 Air War more than ever before.  Superb features.  The videos may look great but there are 100s of fantastic unseen features or improvements over our previous generations of WOFF.   From the visuals in the cockpit to AI, the superb Campaign engine, some of the best looking scenery and more you will discover yourself:  All whilst keeping performance at a similar level or better than previous versions.   Please see the “NEW Features” button just below to read more. Each one of over 80 FLYABLE aircraft now has cockpit vibrations, including vibration affected instrument needles and more, animated pilots intelligently look around for immersive flights and much more. WOFF BH&H II now includes a fresh Albatros D.II model, much improved 3 x S.E.5 series and 3 x Albatros D.III series aircraft, quality improvements to many others including all aircraft from the B.E.2c series, B.E.12 series and the R.E.8 and many more. (HD= home defence) Also includes over 35 main menu music tracks - favourites from previous WOFF’s plus 3 brand new stunning music tracks especially created by the musician Matt Milne for WOFF BH&H II. Immerse yourself in one of over 500 historically accurate fighter and bomber squadrons,  located in the historically correct location with the correct aircraft (over 80 flyable) of the time, anywhere along the Western front during WW1, or defend England from Gotha and Zeppelin raids! Spanning the period from 1915 through to the Armistice in November 1918 with front-lines that move as they did, there is no other combat flight simulator that can bring you the accuracy and feel of being a WW1 pilot, with all of the dangers associated with it!  Staying alive is your number one priority, and that of the AI pilots too."




 So, a few things stick out. First, it is single player only (Shock, gasp, wheeze, and catch your breath). Second, the word immersion. If you can find another simulation that gives you the immersion this does I will eat my flying scarf and goggles. Third, the absence of the name 'Snoopy'. This is a high fidelity simulation. You, however, will not need to start your engines and prime your plane for a half hour before you even take off (although those sims do scratch an itch at times). Even still, this is a simulation. A flightstick and rudders are essential. The goggles and the scarf I wear when playing it are optional. No Mikey, you cannot play the game with a mouse. 




 This is the very long list of the planes that are in Between Heaven & Hell II:

German Aircraft:


Albatros D.I                                 

Albatros D.II

Albatros D.III (early)

Albatros D.III OAW

Albatros D.III

Albatros D.V

Albatros D.V (Later)

Albatros D.Va

Albatros D.Va 200 PS

Aviatik BI

Aviatik BII

Aviatik C.I

Aviatik C.I trainer (x2)

D.F.W. C.V

Fokker D.II

Fokker D.III

Fokker DR.I

Fokker D.VI

Fokker D.VII OAW

Fokker D.VII

Fokker D.VIIF

Fokker E.I

Fokker E.II

Fokker E.III

Fokker E.IV  (Twin gun)

Fokker E.V  (mono-wing)

Gotha G.IV bomber

Halberstadt D.II

Halberstadt D.III (Argus Engine)

Hannover CL.III

Pfalz A.I  2 seater

Pfalz E.III

Pfalz D.IIIa

Roland C.II

Rumpler C.IV

Zeppelin R Type (AI only)

Zeppelin P Type (AI only)




Allied Aircraft:


Breguet 14 A.2

Bristol Scout type D

Bristol Fighter F.2b

Caudron G.4

D.H.2

D.H.2 Early

D.H.4

D.H.5

F.E.2.b

Morane "Parasol" Type L 2 Seater 

Nieuport 10

Nieuport 12

Nieuport 11

Nieuport 16

Nieuport 17 Lewis gun 

Nieuport 17 Vickers gun 

Nieuport 17 Bis  (2 guns)  

Nieuport 23 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 23 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis  

Nieuport 24 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 27 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 27 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 28  

R.A.F. B.E.12     

R.A.F. B.E.12 HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c Early     

R.A.F. B.E.2c     

R.A.F. B.E.2c HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c trainer (x2) 

R.A.F. R.E.8     

R.A.F. S.E.5  (Early,150HP)

R.A.F. S.E.5a    

R.A.F. S.E.5a Viper    

Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel - Bentley 

Sopwith Pup 

Sopwith Snipe 

Sopwith Strutter B1 

Sopwith Strutter A2 

Sopwith Tripe 

Sopwith Tripe (RNAS twin vickers)

Spad VII 

Spad XIII


 I would like to post the updates to the game that BH&H II gives you, but I do not have enough room on the page. You will just have to read it for yourself on the link below.


 You can in the game play both Quick Scenarios and Quick Combat, but the heart of the game has always been playing a Campaign. In the Campaign you will see just how hard it was to survive to fight again in the skies over France.




 The simulation is a tinkerer's dream. You have so many decisions you can make in the different Workshops screens.




 So, you have Single Player, and with that comes no need to have an internet connection, or to fly with a group of twelve-year old kids.  Immersion, Immersion, and even more Immersion (okay I stole it from Danton). You have the ability to adjust settings to get the simulation to play just the way you want it to on your older or super new fangled computer. Then you have 'The Planes, The Planes' (once again stolen). One thing that WOFF does not have is experimental or planes that had just come off the drawing board. These birds were all used, and some of them for most of the war. My favorite year to play is 1915. This really taxes your skill to get kills. You have wing-warping instead of actual control surfaces. For the newbie, I would suggest playing in 1918. The planes are effectively how you would fly in WWII, but still rudimentary. Of course, the later years have that many more chances to run into enemies also. If I was to give any advice to a newbie, I would say pick up a book on the WWI Airwar, and commit to memory what the different pilots said. You have no radios, so continually search the skies. Also before you get into a furball learn your plane's idiosyncrasies. Meaning, find out what maneuvers you can and cannot pull off before the wings rip off. If you dive into this game straight from a WWII sim hell bent for leather, all you will end up as is a smoking hole in the ground. 




 The simulation is a labor of love for the OBD Software crew. It is their attempt to give the computer pilot the closest thing they can to being a pilot in the Great War. You can actually see the ground war taking place and the lines move throughout the conflict. The planes are an absolute joy to just fly and take in the sights. I am still in awe with what the OBD Software crew have been able to do, starting with an over twenty-year old program to start working with. Visually the simulation is stunning, incredibly even more so than it was.


Robert

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II:

Features of the game, along with BH&H II updates:



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  High Flying Dice Games From the Horse's Mouth A look at what comes with Bloody Hell  I was given a few games from High Flying Dice Gam...

High Flying Dice Games High Flying Dice Games

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

June 2021

High Flying Dice Games






 High Flying Dice Games


From the Horse's Mouth





A look at what comes with Bloody Hell


 I was given a few games from High Flying Dice Games to review. Due to work, life, and a lot of 2020 leftovers, I have only been able to review one so far: Bloody Hell -  Operations Goodwood and Spring 1944. This simulation is about these two operations by the British to take control of Caen. I have always been fascinated by Operation Goodwood, so it was a no-brainer. The games was a great one (the review link will be below). So, I wanted to know more about High Flying Dice Games, and asked the owner, and designer of a lot of their games, Paul Rohrbaugh to please write me up something about them. Without further ado here it is:


 "I first started in with board wargames when my parents gave me copies of Afrika Korps and Bismarck for Christmas in 1968. I had been involved with miniatures before that, but with those gifts I was hooked and switched over to board games and have not gone back. I was "tinkering" and designing games from the start. My first efforts were making versions of several of Napoleonic era battles using the Avalon Hill rules and CRT from Afrika Korps and other "classic" games from the time, and home made counters. Although very crude, they were fun to make and got me started on the design path. In high school a bunch of us got involved with play testing a game called "WWII Europe/Africa" that as I look back on it was very likely a first round draft of what would become the Europa series. Everything came on mimeographic sheets of 8.5 by 11 paper and required a LOT of "do it yourself" effort. I was France in those playtest sessions, and I recall everyone liked my counters, and I ended up doing nearly all of them over a couple of month's time. We had a lot of fun with that, and it inspired us to create a game on Antietam using some of the rules from the play test game. We had our photo taken with the Antietam game and a story about our wargame group was published in the Austintown Leader newspaper.


I used games extensively throughout my teaching career, with some students staying after school to play test. Some of my first games that were eventually published got started this way. Among them are Trampling Out the Vintage: The Atlanta Campaign, September's Eagles: The Thompson Trophy Air Races and Blood and Steel: The Battles of Kursk (Prokorohvka, Rzhavets Bridgehead, Oboyan Hills, Ponryi, currently available from L2 Publishers who sells through Noble Knight Games).

I was first published in 1999 by the Microgame Design Group with Trampling Out the Vintage. They did a few others, and I also got to develop several other designer's games through MDG. I will always be indebted and grateful to Kerry Anderson for giving me my first breaks in wargame design, development and publication. Shortly after Against the Odds magazine started I submitted my game on the 1790-1795 War in Ohio, A Dark and Bloody Ground, which they accepted. Soon after I was asked to finish up the development work on John Prados Fortress Berlin, as well as fix some issues that were overlooked with the just then released Go Tell the Spartans, that I was able to correct in just a couple of days. This got me the job of being the first developer for Against the Odds that I enjoyed very much. However, increasing issues with my regular job led to some very stressful and repeated job changes that made it necessary for me to give up the development position at ATO. Fortunately I had met and made friends with, Lembit Tohver, who was my main "Ace" play tester and when I informed Steve that I had to stop being the regular developer I heartily recommended Lembit for the job. His first game was Pocket at Falaise and he's done wonderful work throughout. I still do occasional development work for ATO, and have submitted many games in a variety of eras and sizes to them over the years for publication. I also owe a LOT to Steve and all of the others on the ATO/LSG/TPS crews for their help, assistance and support. I would not be anywhere without them.

I started High Flying Dice Games in 2010. When the economy tanked in 2006-2008 things got very stressful for many publishing companies (some did not survive). Craig Grando, who had been doing the graphics for ATO left suddenly in 2008 which, combined with the economic woes and collapse of much of the board gaming market, nearly did in ATO as well. Fortunately, Steve is a genius when it comes to financial matters and assessing the market, and he is very cool under pressure. Steve used some of the smaller games I had submitted for use in the interview process with graphic artists that had applied to replace Craig. Bruce Yearian was one of them but he did not get the job. He then contacted me directly via phone and he asked if I would be interested in working together in a new company that would produce high quality but low-price games. It was out of that phone conversation that High Flying Dice Games was born.  One of our main missions is to use High Flying Dice Games as a vehicle by which new designers, artists and play testers can be introduced to the wargaming community. We also prefer to do games on topics that have seen little-to-no treatment in game form and also have innovative, creative design and artwork whenever possible.  We have enjoyed growth in sales and customers every year since we started, so we must be doing somethings right. I am very proud that we started High Flying Dice Games in the wake of an economic depression, and we have been going strong since. We started out by selling 2 games a day the first year and are now up to 10 games a day. We have released at l new game a month since we started, and also have enough new product in the pipeline to keep up this pace for another 3+ years even if I or others stop designing today (which is not likely).

We still have challenges. Due to the ongoing pandemic and last year's sabotage of the US Postal System (that has still not been fully rectified where I live), I am currently shipping only to addresses in the USA and Canada. Nothing of what I shipped to Europe, Asian or Australia from April through August of 2020 ever arrived and I had to issue nearly $1,000.00 in refunds by the end of the year to very unhappy customers. Fortunately, our full line of games is carried by Noble Knight Games, and an increasingly number of our titles are also being carried by Agorajeux in France. These vendors have alternative and more reliable means of getting the games and card sets to customers than what I can utilize. I am really looking forward to better days and when I can get our works out to any and all who want them. Another challenge is keeping our prices as low as possible. Our markup is only 25-30% so I don't have any "wiggle room" for significant discounts and promotions. As a result, I cannot offer wholesalers the deep discounts they typically get from other publishers as our pricing and marketing approach is based upon direct sales to customers as much as possible. This is another reason I very much look forward to when things can get back to normal.

I have always viewed board games as wonderful educational tools. Although I'm retired from librarianship and classroom teaching, I am still very much teaching with our games. Life is too short to be bored, and I'm doing my best to stay entertained and learning, as well as encouraging others to do the same. Let the dice fly high!"

--Paul


Flying Gee Bees and Howard Hughes as a Pilot!

  Their game catalog goes from Kadesh to current history.







  Please take a look at their massive and inexpensive catalog of wargames. 

High Flying Dice Games:

Bloody Hell:

My review of Bloody Hell:

September Eagles:
























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