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 Old Testament Warriors The Clash of Cultures in the Ancient Near East by Simon Elliott    Whether you view the Old Testament as a religious...

Old Testament Warriors by Simon Elliott Old Testament Warriors by Simon Elliott

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

May 2022

Old Testament Warriors by Simon Elliott

 Old Testament Warriors

The Clash of Cultures in the Ancient Near East


Simon Elliott

  Whether you view the Old Testament as a religious work, or just as a historical record of the Jewish People, the information inside it is a gold mine for historians. It is filled with tons of places and events that have been verified by archaeologists, and in the written records of the other Near Eastern Peoples of the time. While most people would be aware of the warring between Israel/Judah and the Philistines, the nation of Israel was at the crossroads of the various kingdoms and empires that surrounded it. So unfortunately, it became a battlefield in the seesaw fighting that took place among them. This book shows the reader the history of the warriors and warfare from the earliest times to about 500 BC. 

 This volume is not a large book at around 150 pages. However, it is an excellent primer for the reader who has not delved into the Near Eastern history of this time frame. The books gives us information on these, and other, following Kingdoms/Peoples:







Sea Peoples






 Given the shortness of the book, it does not go into too much detail. You do however get to read about the 'Genesis of Chariot Warfare', and the armies of the above listed Peoples. The Kings you will see written in its pages may or may not be known to you. Pharaohs such as: Ramesses II, and the Hittite King Suppiluliumas I. The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, and the Akkadian Sargon the Great. Along with many others are shown to the reader. 

 For someone who is interested in the history, and most especially the warfare, behind the Old Testament, this book is the best first stop for the reader that I can recommend. Thank you, Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this great book. This proves that good things do come in small packages.


Book: Old Testament Warriors:

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  Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492 by Compass games  The Moors at one time had conquered the whole of the Iberian Peninsula and we...

Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492 by Compass Games Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492 by Compass Games

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

May 2022

Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492 by Compass Games

 Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492


Compass games

 The Moors at one time had conquered the whole of the Iberian Peninsula and were on their way to taking France before they met Charles the Hammer of the Franks in 732. After the Moors lost that battle they kept most of Spain and Portugal except for some pieces that Charlemagne had recovered for Christendom. The fighting in Spain has given us El Cid. Once a famed Christian hero, he now seems to be just a mercenary who fought for both sides. The Moors made Spain the center of learning and culture during the early Middle Ages. Their architecture is still a site to behold. The battles for Spain waxed and waned for a few hundred years until only the area around Granada was left to the Moors. At that time Ferdinand and Isabella (yes, those two) by their marriage brought all of Spain except Granada under their rule. So, this game would be about one of the last Crusades ever to occur. Oh, and Ferdinand and Isabella had a daughter who married a Hapsburg prince, and their son became Charles V, the first ruler to have an empire that the sun never set on. They also gave some cash to Christopher Columbus. As an aside, their daughter was called Juana the Mad. Her Hapsburg prince had died young and she had this slightly odd obsession of carrying him in his coffin everywhere she went. One wonders if the Nose Gays were enough. But I digress, the game takes us back to Spain before Columbus and the last 10 years of any Moorish holdings there. So, what comes in the box:

22” x 34” mounted map

137 Rectangular wooden blocks in various colors

2 Sheets of stickers (for blocks)

2 Draw bags

20 Wooden Castle shape (10 white, 10 black)

20 Wooden Cylinders (10 white, 10 black)

20 Wooden cubes (10 white, 10 black)

7 Wooden markers (various sizes and colors)

3 Decks of cards (72 Christians, 66 Muslims, 17 Naval)

1 Victory Point track

2 Reference cards (identical)

1 Rules booklet

 This is Compass Games Product Information:

Complexity: Low to Medium (4 out of 10)

Solitaire suitability: Low (3 out of 10)

Time Scale: 1 Year per turn

Map Scale: Point-to-point map

Unit Scale: Units vary from 500-1500 men

Players: 2

Playing Time: 3½ to 4 hours per game

 They have written up a very well done and concise history and game description. I could not best it so here it is:

"Anno Domini 1482. For the past few centuries, the Iberian Peninsula has been a complex battlefield of crossed interests, kings’ ambitions and noblemen’s intrigues. The Muslim power, once uncontested under Cordoba’s Caliphate banners, lies languidly in the last Moor stronghold in Al-Andalus, the marvellous city of Granada.

The last rulers of the Alhambra (“The Red One”) have been buying peace from the powerful Christian kingdoms for decades. Weakened by internal family divisions, they now face their darkest nightmare: a nuptial union between Castille and Aragón in the figures of Isabel I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Catholic Monarchs.

Through cunning diplomacy and negotiations, large armies are congregating to push to the sea the last Muslim presence in Western Europe. The Pope promulgates the last Crusade and military orders join the mixed army of Castille and Aragon, along with mercenaries all over Europe. The Nasrid Kingdom tries to gather its men and garrisons, sending messengers to North Africa for military support and reinforcing the numerous castles and watchtowers all over its lands.

But deception and treason will play their part (Ferdinand II will be the main inspiration for Machiavelli’s ”The Prince”). Boabdil is conspiring to reach the throne in the city of the pomegranates whereas his uncle, el Zagal, is well known for his hit-and-run ambushes and guerrilla warfare. Will Catholic Monarchs be able to consolidate their dream of a united Iberian realm to continue towards world-wide domination? Will the Nasrid Kingdom accept the challenge and fight in a stubborn resistance until it breaks its enemies’ will to continue the fight?

Granada: The Last Stand of the Moors, 1482-1492 is a game for two players in which they will decide the outcome of this decisive historical episode in less than 4 hours.

Units are represented by blocks depicting their strength but also their origin: Castilians, Aragoneses, Leoneses and mercenaries for the Catholic player, and different clans like Banu Sarray, Zegríes, Banu Bannigas and proper Nasrids for the Muslim player.

The map is point-to-point, covering the ancient Nasrid Kingdom in southeast Iberia (present-day Spain). Granada, the capital, is the jewel of the realm: the game ends if it falls into the Catholic player’s hands.

Each season, players receive a predetermined number of cards which they can use to move their armies and fleets or rally new units. When a battle occurs, each regiment is summoned by the play of one card of its nationality, so as Tamerlan said: ”It is better to be present with 100 soldiers than absent with 1.000.” In other words, be sure you have the right cards to send your troops into battle.

As an almost Renaissance war, different weapons will also be present. Cavalry charges and crossbows will be extremely dangerous if well combined, whereas artillery will have a significant value when maintaining or defending sieges. Your fleets will fight for sea control, enabling the transport of North African reinforcements, Catholic naval movements or blocking sieged ports.

Balanced and historically accurate, the game is easy to learn but difficult to master. The Catholic player will have to decide which invasion route to choose and whether he will create a massive army, leaving the Muslim player time to reinforce his strongholds, or go for a quick campaign where losses will be difficult to replace. The Nasrid player, on the other hand, will enjoy a central position but he will need to be cautious about the internal problems that can arise— the Boabdil revolt is almost an inevitable danger to face and crush.

As the Catholic player, will you gain fame and glory accomplishing the Reconquista and enlarging your kingdoms in one unified powerful state? And as the Muslim player, will you resist and save Granada or will you become the last King of the Nasrid dynasty?"

 The writer made a reference to Tamerlane(Timur) so I had to add it.

Some of the Cards

 The map is mounted and is done as a very nice period piece. You get the feeling that you are maneuvering around Medieval Spain. The small period illustrations on the map for castles etc. really add to the players' immersion. There are three main victory point illustrations on the map. These are: Castle, Watchtower, and Resource Location.  The blocks, and there are a lot of blocks, are all uniform in their different shapes. Most of them come in black and white. There are also white and black square castle pieces, and round Watchtower ones. Their colors denote which side has control. These pieces really caught my eye when I opened the box. They are just an extra little thought to bring even more immersion to the game. There are two sheets of stickers; remember, a lot of blocks. They are most definitely little pieces of artwork. The stickers are also large enough to actually enjoy the large amount of work put into them. Again, they are done in period artwork. The two Player Aids are made of hard stock and are in color. They fold out to give you two pages of information, and a full mini map on the inside. This has the block setup and placement shown as illustrations instead of saying "put x amount of y in Granada". This speeds up setting up the game tremendously. Next, we have two Battle Reference Cards. These are hard stock and are in the same color as the Player Aids. The writing on the sheets is somewhat small. However, there is so much information on them I understand why. Either that or you would be faced with shuffling through a few different Player Aid Sheets. You are given one white and one black draw bags. Once again just another nice touch instead of having to use a paper cup etc. The Rules Booklet is twenty-eight pages long. The rules take up the first twenty pages. Then comes Design Notes, and a great four page history of the facts behind the game. Now we come to the three decks of cards. These are of the larger variety that you find inside games. As you can see above, each one is its own small piece of beautiful Medieval art. Each time I look at one of the cards I see another excellent detail that escaped me the first time. Kudos to the artist and Compass Games for these. So that it about it. In the box you have an array of extremely well done components that are obviously a mixture of a 'normal' wargame and a Euro game. I am extremely impressed with the level of detail included in them.

Love the rats

  There are no scenarios in the game. This is just about the campaign in its entirety. The Instant Victory conditions are:

The Christian Player must capture the Alhambra Castle in Granada.

The Muslim Player must eliminate both the Ferdinand II of Aragon, and the Isabella I of Castile blocks in combat.

 If the game runs its course both sides add up their Victory Points at the end of the first turn of the year 1491-1492. The higher total wins, and if there is a tie the Muslim player wins.

"6.1 Sequence of Play Outline

A. Turn Order Step [6.2].
B. Turns I and II [6.3].
C. Reinforcement Step [6.4].
D. Turn Marker Step [6.5].
6.2 Turn Order Step

At the beginning of any year, each player bids for turn order by placing a card from their hand (any card with a number in its bottom right corner) face down on the table; then they are simultaneously revealed. The player whose card has the higher number chooses who will move first for both turns in the current year. Place the Initiative Marker on the “I” space (“II” space if year 1482) of the current year on the Turn track, with the first player’s coat of arms face up. Both players must discard the card they played.

6.3 Turns I and II
There is only one turn during the first year (year 1482, which starts in turn II) and the last year (year 1491-1492, which ends after turn I).
Each other yearly cycle consists of two turns: turn I and turn II. Each turn consists of the first player conducting movement and combat, followed by the second player conducting movement and combat.
When turn I ends, move the Turn Marker to II and play the turn II. The player who was first in turn I is also first in turn II.

After turn II, advance the Turn Marker to next year and begin the Sequence of Play again. After 7 years, at the end of the year 1491-1492, the game is over.

Turn I: Turn II:
1. First player Movement Phase 1. First player Movement Phase
2. First player Combat Phase 2. First player Combat Phase
3. Second player Movement Phase 3. Second player Movement Phase
4. Second player Combat Phase 4. Second player Combat Phase"

 So, what is like to command armies in late Medieval Spain? With the backdrop of the game, and the components being so good, does the game play also deliver? In a word, it is a resounding yes! The rules are easy to learn and remember, but the play is deep enough for the player to get lost in. Everything about the game screams immersion. You do not feel like you are just pushing tanks around a beautiful medieval landscape. You would think that the game would be very tilted on the Spanish monarchy side. In actuality, there is enough backroom politics for both sides to help tip the scales in their favor. Playing as the Moors, you will have to judge when is the right time to defend or go on the offensive. There are more Spanish forces than you have, but not incredibly so. Playing as 'Their Catholic Majesty's' you need to be aware that you cannot attack everywhere, or you will get your nose rapped. This is not 1941, it is medieval warfare with sieges as one of the most important parts. The cards and rules make sure that all good plans will go awry. So, there is a bit of luck involved, but in reality luck has always been a part of warfare. 

 The game designer, Jose Antonio Rivero, says that Granada took a lot from the classic Sekigahara game. The latter had 'Loyalty Challenge Cards', where Granada has 'Morale Challenge Cards'. In Granada, units do not switch sides with a Morale Challenge Card. They just cannot participate in in that given combat. There is the possibility of the Christian player using the Boabdil Mixed Army to start a Civil War for the Muslim player. The use of siege guns by the Christians is a very powerful weapon. This is one of the wars that show the military changes being brought by the use of gunpowder. 

 The game does come with one sheet of 'Clarifications'. There is a small bit of information about the stickers and blocks. It also spells out some Setup information, although it was clearly plain to me. Next is a change in one of the rule's small paragraphs. It ends with a Siege Example. This is actually more than half the page.


 Thank you Compass Games for allowing me to review this beautiful and great playing game. I have come a long way from just being able to play, and enjoy, hex and counter games. Block wargames like this one have also stolen a piece of my heart. I know it is still May, but Compass Games Expo will be coming up on November 10-14 and will take place in the great State of Connecticut. For those of you who do not live in New England increase the zoom on the map to the right of New York State and you will find us. The only one I missed was last year's Expo. They are well worth the trip.


Granada: Last Stand of the Moors 1482-1492:

Compass Games:

Compass Games Expo:


  Orange Swan Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games  The Pacific Theater of War is normally thought of as starting on December 7th 1941. I...

Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games

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

May 2022

Orange Swan: Pacific 1941 - 1945 by VentoNuovo Games

 Orange Swan

Pacific 1941 - 1945


VentoNuovo Games

 The Pacific Theater of War is normally thought of as starting on December 7th 1941. In actuality Japan and China had been fighting since 1937. Japan was allied with Italy and Germany, even though they were not at war with the Allies. The Japanese Armed Forces were split between the Army and Navy factions. This split was so cavernous that assassinations of generals and admirals had been contemplated, and in fact carried out at times. The Army wanted to 'Strike North' and attack the Soviet Union. The Navy wanted to strike south and attack the Western Allies colonies. There were separate arguments inside both branches over the efficacy of both plans. In fact, Admiral Yamamoto was put in charge of the Combined Fleet to remove him from Japan and the chance for his assassination. This was because of his outspoken thoughts against a war with the United States. He had been an attache there and knew the size and capabilities of the US in a war. Japan's economic might paled before the US even in peacetime. Once the US was put on a war footing it was a foregone conclusion to Yamamoto. In hindsight, it is possible that even had Japan not done well with an invasion of the Soviet Union (they had fared poorly against Soviet troops in 1939). They would however, had kept the Asiatic forces of the Soviet Union in place and they would not be allowed to reinforce the Soviet troops in front of Moscow, possibly leading to a German victory. Because of the aggression of Japan against China, the Western Allies had placed many embargos on items desperately needed by the Japanese Armed Forces. The biggest problem for Japan was an embargo on imported oil. This, in the end, forced the Japanese government to finally side with the Navy to attack south toward the Indonesian oil fields. In actuality Japan was to get precious few barrels of oil from Indonesia. Between the effective Allied destruction of the wells, and the US submarine war on Japanese transports, very little ever saw Japan. Enough with the backdrop of the game. Now we must look at the name the designer has given it.

A battle about to take place

 VentoNuovo Games released a game last year called 'Black Swan'. This encompasses the Second World War in the European and African Theaters. The name is described thusly in the Black Swan Rule Book:

"Since antiquity, some have known this as “The Black Swan.” It is the rare and unlooked for event, something that is entirely unexpected and presages abrupt reversal.

In martial terms, The Black Swan symbolizes the unravelling of apparent certainty, together with man’s desire to contrive notions of opportunity, or excuses for defeat, whenever he dares play with the volatile flames of ambition."

 The moniker 'Orange Swan' is because of the above, and the fact that the United States' plan for a war against Japan was 'Plan Orange'.

 The game is a Block Wargame, and this is what comes with the game:

1 Laminated heavy stock 124x86 cm Map

318 Colorful wooden parts

4 Chessex Dice

150 PVC stickers with unit designations

1 Rules Manual

2 Laminated Players' Aid Cards

2 Scenarios

3 Campaigns

2 'Global' Campaigns (The player would need to also own the 'Black Swan' game)

The scale of the game:

Map 1: 9.000.000 (1cm = 90km)

Unit Size: Armies/Fleets

Time: 1 Turn = 1 Season

Players: 2-4 players, with excellent solitaire suitability (we will check on this claim)

As you can see it is a large map

 Before we get into the game's components, I would like to say a little about the designer and VentoNuovo Games. The owner of VentoNuovo Games is Emanuele Santandrea. He is also the game designer and does the artwork for all of their games. You would think that wearing three hats might cause a human to stumble a bit. With Mr. Santandrea this is definitely not the case. I have not come across a game from him that I do not like. When I first started reviewing, I was definitely a snob. Only hexes and cardboard would make the grade for me. I had been away from board wargaming for about 30 years or so, and had never really seen a block game. I assumed that anything with area movement and blocks would be a 'beer & pretzels' game, or just an Axis and Allies clone. I have stated before that I was proven immeasurably wrong in my assumptions. Mr. Santandrea's games had a large part in my changing attitudes. VentoNuovo Games have a wide range of historical eras in games to choose from. Do yourself a favor and check out their website below to see them all. I will also add a link to some of my other reviews of their/his games. Now onto the components.

Both games set up

 The map is massive (okay, there are larger ones but this is pretty big) in size and scope. It is also right between, in tensile strength, a paper map and a mounted one. The colors are vibrant and the information on it is easy to read. Because of its size there are not too many areas where the amount of blocks allowed have to spill over into adjacent areas. This only happens because of the geography of the Pacific Ocean's land masses. The blocks are uniform in size and shape for their type (there are different sized and shaped blocks). I did not find any with nubs hanging off or anything like that. The version I received had the regular NATO stickers. You could have bought into the Kickstarter or bought separately a very nice fancier set of stickers. The information is easy to read on them, and like almost all block games, their strength is determined by which side is facing toward the top of the block. The Rules Manual is thirty-two pages long. The Manual is in full color with large, and in many cases, bold typing. It is also chock full of full color play examples. The rules themselves only take up twenty pages, with the next section's Special Rules and Optional Rules taking up three pages. The last pages are taken up by the scenario and campaign setups along with some rule differences between Black and Orange Swan. This is for people who have enough room and gumption to play one of the campaigns that use both games together. There are two Players' Aid Cards that are identical and are made of the same stock as the map. To pack all that is needed on the Players' Aid Cards, the writing is a tad small, and they might seem 'busy' to some. The components are up to the usual high standards of VentoNuovo Games. Did I mention I like their games?


With over 220 unit counters, players can enjoy hours of fun by playing the full Orange Swan Campaign from 1941 to 1945, the shorter 1942-1945 Campaign, or by playing one of the other scenarios. Each scenario has a different difficulty level, rated in brackets from 1 (Very Easy) to 10 (Very Hard):


- Pearl Harbor Tournament Scenario, Fall 1941 (3)

- Midway to Guadalcanal, Spring - Fall 1942 (3)


- The Rising Swan, Fall 1941 - Fall 1945 (8)

- The Orange Swan, Fall 1941 - Fall 1945 (9)

- Turning the Tide, Spring 1942 - Fall 1945 (7)

Global Campaigns (Black Swan + Orange Swan):

- Danzig to Hiroshima, Summer 1939 - Fall 1945 (10)

- Waking the Giants, Spring 1942 - Fall 1945 (9)

 Sequence of Play

Each Scenario or Campaign is played over a variable
number of years or seasons, as described in their Setup
Instructions (rules sections 11.0 and 12.0).

3.1Seasons: Each year is divided into four seasons:
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
During the Summer, Spaces marked with a Monsoon (rain cloud)
symbol experience Active Monsoon weather, which has several
game effects (see rule 9.1 for details).
3. 2 Force Pool Additions: At the beginning of 1943 and 1944, units with a circled number on their bottom right corner are added to their Nation’s Force Pool (1.5).
3.3 Turn Sequence: Each Season is made up of two Turns: first the Axis Turn, then the Allied Turn. The Side playing its Turn is the Phasing Side, while the other side is the Non-Phasing Side. The Phasing Side plays through the entire sequence of play, with all of that Side’s Nations completing a Phase before moving to the next.
Each Phase is further divided into Sub-Phases. Turn Phases and Sub-
4.0 Production Phase-
4.1 Supply Check-
4.2 Collect PPs-
4.3 Strategic Air Warfare-
4.4 Strategic Naval Warfare (only during Axis Turn)-
4.5 Spend PPs-
4.6 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
5.0 Naval Phase-
5.1 Naval Movement-
5.2 Naval Engagement-
5.3 Naval Combat-
5.4 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
6.0Land Phase-
6.1 Seaborne Operations-
6.2 Land Movement-
6.3Strategic Movement-
6.4 Land Combat-
6.5 Retreat after Combat-
6.6 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
7.0 Blitz Phase-
7.1 Double Blitz-
7.2 Oceanic Blitz-
7.3 Continental Asia Blitz-
7.4 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power
8.0 Final Phase-
8.1 Nations Surrender Check-
8.2 Units Surrender Check-
8.3 Update Sea Control, Economic/Strategic Power-
8.4 Victory Check

 To those hex and counter behemoths that I was once so enamored with, this game seems rather simple. That is in fact a complete falsehood. While Orange Swan does not have a Rules Manual as thick as a phone book, that does not mean it is a simple game. This game will take all of your wits and thinking ahead to work out a coherent strategy to win. You not only have to win battles, but you also have to think about supply lines as well. Effectively you are put into the shoes of the Chief of Staff of both sides. As the US you have to try and blunt Japan's sword in the early days so that you do not have to win the entire Pacific back from them. You need to hang on and wait until the US starts flooding the Pacific Ocean with material, men, and ships. So, you have to choose your early fights with Japan with care. As the Allied player you cannot afford to lose China and or India. Japan is not only able to attack you on the seas but also in Asia proper. The Japanese player will never be as strong as he is at the start (unless by some miracle he never loses a battle up to 1943). The player has to decide how much is too much and will he also suffer from 'Victory Disease'? Does he try to conquer China, India, or concentrate on the Pacific? The one thing that the Japanese player has on his side is that at the beginning the Allied player has to dance to his tune. He always has to keep at the back of his mind that the Allied player can also Island, or in this case Area, hop. This would leave the Japanese forces hanging on the vine.

 The game can be won in several different ways. 

Tokyo is enemy controlled: Allied Victory

Atom Bomb Event: Allied Victory

Japan controls 7 Strategic Areas or Japan has a production of 75: Axis Victory

If at the end of a year in the Campaign game, Japan has a Strategic Power of 6 it wins a Strategic Victory.

If at the end of the year Japan has an Economic Power equal or greater than 65 then it wins an Economic Victory.

Each scenario also has its own Victory rules.

 Thank you, VentoNuovo Games, for letting me review this excellent addition to your stables. Simple to understand rules, and yet it has deep gameplay. It also tastes great and is less filling. In the future I will have a review out of this game's brother 'Black Swan'. 


VentoNuovo Games:

Home Page (

Orange Swan:

Orange Swan (

My review of: Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga:

Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga by Vento Nuovo Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

My review of : Kiev 1941:

Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo games - A Wargamers Needful Things


  Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games  In the last part of the decade before The Second World War, in-line engines for fighters were all the ...

Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games

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

May 2022

Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games

 Storm Above the Reich


GMT Games

 In the last part of the decade before The Second World War, in-line engines for fighters were all the rage. Before this was a time when the bomber could definitely 'get through'. Some of the bombers were actually faster than the fighters that were supposed to intercept them. Some of the countries that were soon to be embroiled in the war were still flying biplanes! At roughly the same time, the English Spitfire and German BF109 were being developed. These two designs were to revolutionize fighter aircraft. The one thing both had in common was that they were powered by in-line motors. These depended on a water-cooled radiator to keep the engine running at a safe speed. The only problem with an in-line aircraft engine is that one nick from the smallest caliber bullet on the water-cooling system leads to catastrophic failure very quickly. This would be analogous to your car's engine and the antifreeze. On the other hand, radial engines are usually air cooled; both types also use oil, for the most part. At the time, bombers were almost universally equipped with radial engines for the sheer power that they produce. The only problem with radial engines is the drag that they produce on the airframe. As a plus, radial engines can sustain a lot more damage and still fly compared to an in-line engine. All of the countries soon to be embroiled in the war were working on how to fit a radial engine to a fighter and still get excellent speed and maneuverability. The P-47 Thunderbolt or 'Jug' for Juggernaut is one that comes to mind for the Allies. In Germany Kurt Tank, a designer for Focke-Wulf, came up with the FW 190. When it appeared over European skies in 1941, the Allies were shocked to say the least. Its nickname of 'Wurger' or Shrike, also called the 'Butcher Bird', pretty much sums up how Allied pilots who had to fly against it felt. The amount of armament a FW190 was able to carry was also a leap ahead in the war. Even some of the early ones were able to carry four 20mm cannon MG 151/20E and two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns. This was when a good number of other airplanes were carrying two-four machine guns. The Butcher Bird was very soon living up to its name. It was also able to carry even more normal and some exotic armaments, but at a loss of speed and maneuverability. Storm Above the Reich is a solitaire game, with a two-player version built in (cooperative), of you taking charge of a Staffel of FW190s attempting to defend the skies above Europe against Allied bombers and their escorts. This is the write up from GMT Games:

"Storm Above the Reich is a solitaire game depicting a Luftwaffe squadron of Fw190s struggling to deter and destroy the relentless daylight raids over Germany during World War Two. The player’s individual aircraft, each represented by a stickered block, must confront the mighty “combat box” formation of the United States Army Air Force, a deadly terrain of B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. Like its counterpart, Skies Above the Reich, the game is a broad strokes depiction that presents the arc of the desperate air war. Stretching from late 1942 to early 1945, Storm Above the Reich follows that trajectory in a series of missions strung together to make a campaign. Each mission will take a half hour or more to play, while a campaign can last anywhere between 6 to 60 missions."

  This is what comes with the game:

one 17” x 22” map board (double sided)

one 22” x 34” map board (double sided)

one 8.5” x 22” off-map display panel

one 8.5” x 11” pad: Pilot Roster & Staffel Log (double sided)

two countersheets (one sheet of 1” counters; one sheet of 5/8” counters)

60 blocks

one sticker sheet

96 attack and continuing fire cards

four bi-fold player aids (11” x 17”, double sided)

one pursuit map (8.5” x 11”, double sided)

one interception map (8.5” x 11”, double sided)

one rule book

one situation manual

one advanced rule book

two 10-sided dice

 For those of you who have played Skies Above the Reich it will be a simple process to just jump into a Basic Game play through of this game. It is only when you get into the Advanced Game Rules and the Optional Rules will you need to read up on things. The Advanced Game Rules add one more part to the game; this is Vectoring. Vectoring is your flight from your airbase to the formation you are trying to intercept. When you are dealing with the 'Friction' of war it becomes obvious how much could happen between those times. Planes could develop engine trouble etc., or you could be set upon by enemy planes. This is a list of what could happen:

Escort - run into enemy fighters
Garble - a radio transmission to you is garbled
Malfunction - one of your fighters returns to base
Radio - you can either be rerouted or rendezvous with other fighters
Straggler - if you are playing the Advanced Game Rules you intercept a bomber that has been damaged
Weather - affects you in different ways

 This is what GMT Games says about Vectoring etc.:

"In Storm, you also get an expanded set of advanced rules that stretches a Mission to include the vector to the bomber formation where your fighters may themselves be intercepted by United States escort fighters. Will you devote some of your fighters to tackle American escort, leaving others equipped to attack the bombers? Will your Sturm 190s be able to fight their way through to the bombers or did you leave them vulnerable? And for those who already own Skies Above the Reich, in Storm you’ll find new Experte skills and green penalties, aft firing rockets for those Sturm 190s, as well as a feature exclusive to that fearsome machine – the “Aggressive Attitude” that augments its Determined Mode capabilities. Finally, the B-24 will be seen in Storm Above the Reich to fly a greater variety of formation patterns than in Skies, reflecting the USAAF’s experimentation with that heavy bomber."

Various results to your planes in the game

 The box is a big hefty thing. It is one of the four inch GMT Games boxes and it has some weight to it. It is filled to the brim with game components. The weight is mostly because of the two mounted maps. The maps are, as is the norm with GMT Games, a sight to behold. Even though they are mostly B-24 Liberators in different configurations the style is very nice. I also have an affinity for B-24s, so I might be prejudice. At first glance they might look 'busy' to the player's eye. However, having most of the tracks and information charts on the maps does speed up gaming, at least to me. You do not have to worry about having to find room for tons of tracking sheets along with the maps. The counters come in two sizes 5/8" and 1". The 1" counters for some reason look even bigger than other games I have seen 1" counters in. The blocks are used for the representation of the different airplanes in your flight. They are all the same size and do not have any jagged pieces coming off them. The cards are extremely well done and as a bonus are the same exact ones used in Skies Above the Reich. This might come in handy if you own the first game and have a wee accident. The Players Aids are all of rigid cardboard and have large print on them and are in full color. The game comes with two Rulebooks. The first one is sixty pages long and is in full color with very large print. The next one is the Advanced Rulebook and is thirty-six pages long. It is printed in the exact same manner as the other Rulebook. Taken as one piece at a time they are very well done by themselves. When you spread out the whole ensemble you just want to say thank you GMT Games. 

The four different maps

 For the neophytes to the game series, please do not be alarmed. Even if you have never played the first game you will be in the air in no time. By the amount of components and size of the Rulebooks you think you would be reading for a good long time before playing. This is not the case at all. The Basic game is very easy to get a handle on. The length of the game and the complexity naturally go up if you start using the Advanced and Optional Rules. In the Basic Game you are just trying to use your Staffel and its armaments to knock the bombers out of formation. In the Advanced Game you get the chance to try and gain more points and actually shoot down a lone bomber. If you do happen to own both games there are rules to combine both together. You can even have a Staffel of half BF109s and the other half FW190s. 

Pursuit maps of the single bombers

 The one thing about this game is that you have more of a choice of what extra munitions, called attachments in the game, you can add to your FW 190s. Of course, the more that you turn them into flying tanks the more they will fly like them. These are the planes you can purchase to add to help your Staffel in the sky:

MC202 - One of the best Italian fighters of the war.
BF110 - Two engine heavy fighter.
JU88 - Originally a medium bomber. It was also used as a heavy fighter along with everything else but a float plane.
IAR 80 - Romanian fighter.
Me 163 - The only mass produced rocket fighter in the world. In reality as dangerous to its pilots as the enemy.

 With the addition of Skies Above the Reich these two planes can be added to the mix:


 The attachments that you are allowed to use on your FW190s:


 The cable was pretty much what hung from balloons used in defense against air attacks. Starting in 1944 you can also arm half of your Staffel as 'Sturm 190s' this is short for Sturmböcke (battering ram). These FW190s will automatically be equipped with armor and cannon. You can also equip rearward firing cannons to your FW190s instead of forward firing ones.

Play Example

 How does it play, you ask? It is just as engrossing and fun as its older brother. One German ace describes the BF109 as a rapier, and the FW190 as a cutlass. The Germans were well aware how difficult it was to take down a B-17 or B-24 in formation truly was. It was perceived as being four times as hard as shooting down another fighter. You as the player will soon learn the same lesson. As great as the game is when only playing one mission, the Campaign game is where it really shines, and you will have to learn to think ahead. It does you no good if you have taken out four bombers, but your Staffel is almost all shot up, or down and you have wounded pilots. Your job is to get in there and do the job while still weighing the life of your pilots against success. Every action on your part does have a consequence for good or bad. 


 Thank you, GMT Games for letting me review another of your excellent titles. This is a wonderful new game in this series. If you liked the first game then you will really like this one, with the additions that have been made to the rules. 


Storm Above the Reich:

GMT Games - Storm Above the Reich

GMT Games:

GMT Games

Skies Above the Reich my review:

Skies Above The Reich by GMT Games - A Wargamers Needful Things