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  Keep up the Fire The Boxer Rebellion by Worthington Publishing   This quote has been attributed to Napoleon “Let China sleep. For when she...

Keep up the Fire: The Boxer Rebellion by Worthington Publishing Keep up the Fire: The Boxer Rebellion by Worthington Publishing

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

July 2022

Keep up the Fire: The Boxer Rebellion by Worthington Publishing

 Keep up the Fire

The Boxer Rebellion


Worthington Publishing

  This quote has been attributed to Napoleon “Let China sleep. For when she wakes, the world will tremble”. It is in the movie 55 Days at Peking (1963 movie about the same history as the game). Nowhere can the quote be explicitly attributed to him. However, some of his sayings on St. Helena do come close and have the same gist.

 The year is 1900, and China has begun to awake. At this moment China is akin to a prostrate beef cow who is being carved up still alive by the European powers and Japan. China had been ruled by the Dowager Empress Tz'uhsi or Cixi for almost forty years. The 'secret' Chinese society ' Righteous and Harmonious Fists', hence the 'Boxers' had been around for a few years. The Boxers original reason for existence was to overthrow the Qing/Manchu dynasty of China, while also expelling the foreign devils. They were especially against the Christian Missionaries, much like the North American Indian movement the 'Ghost Dancers' (active around the same time). The Boxers felt that by doing certain exercises they would make themselves impervious to weapons. Around 1898, the Chinese in government who agreed with the Boxers about the foreign powers came to an agreement with them. In return for a truce against the Qing dynasty, the Imperial forces would be used to help the Boxers rid China of the hated foreigners. So, this is the backdrop to the situation and game. The Boxers and the Imperial Army have attacked the Foreign Legation compound that is close to the Forbidden City of Peking. They have also broken the railway and pushed back a small force of foreign troops that were on their way to the Legations. 

 The game starts here, or should I say games. This is a solitaire game where the player has two different objectives. The first is to hold out in the Legation Compound as long as possible. The second is to march a new, much larger, foreign contingent from the port city of Taku to save the people in the Legation Compound. 

The Legation Compound Game Board

 This is what comes with the game:

Rule book

Large hard mounted tactical game board of the Legation

Smaller hard mounted strategic map for relief column

Deck of Action/Event cards

Counter sheet

Battle Archive

1 die

Tray for components

 The beautiful box illustration looks to be taken right out of a still of shot from 55 Days at Peking. The game comes with two mounted maps. The first is a 22" x 17" map of the Legation Compound and surrounding areas. The second is an 8 1/2" x 17" map of the Relief Column trek to Peking. Both maps are very nice looking with period piece artwork. The counter sheet is small and contains only forty counters/tokens. However, the counters are very large. They have some nice artwork on them and are extremely easy to read. I can almost read them without my bifocals. The Rulebook is twelve pages long, including the Designer Notes and Historical Notes. The rules themselves take about just over ten pages. The Rulebook is in full color. There are two separate card decks of twenty-four cards each. One is used with the Legation Map and the other with the Relief Column one. The cards have either four or five parts to them. They have the title of the card, such as "Hold That Line Soldier", then an explanation of the card's use. Command points are also shown on the cards. Next up is a small, but very evocative and immersive picture or photograph of the events at the time. The bottom of the cards have a historical footnote about the siege and what happened on different dates. Due to the normal size of the card, the historical footnotes are small. The Battle Archive is a small booklet where you can keep track of your victories or defeats. This is a very nice touch that has found its way into other Worthington Publishing games. Opening the box, I was a little taken aback by the small number of components inside. The siege of the Legation has been in my mind since I saw the movie as a small child. My small disappointment with the number of components was totally erased by the game play. 

 This illustration of the Sequence of Play is a perfect player's aid for the game.

 The Victory Conditions are spelled out in this illustration.

 This game sets a precedent with me. I almost never look at reviews or anything about a game I am going to review. I had to look at some with this game. I was afraid that, even though the rules are simple, I was somehow playing the game wrong. I could not win for the life of me in the beginning. I take that back. I wasn't just losing - the game was spanking me. I swear I saw the boards light up with glee every time I lost another one. Do not get confused here. It is not that the rules make the game unwinnable. It is just that you have to play really well, with some luck, to win it. This really makes sense in the historical situation the Foreign Powers in the Legation faced. It is pretty much a miracle that they survived the siege. So, to show that, the game is meant to be hard to win. The rules are very simple, and they all make sense. If you are scratching your head over these rules, it is time for a new hobby. 

 Each game plays out entirely different than the one before. You have to choose very carefully about your actions. Simple rules, but the game is deep with many choices.

Random Cards

 This is an excellent and quick playing game about the siege. The table space it takes up is minimal, but it is not really an issue because of the relatively short time it takes to play. The game can also be played with a team of friends playing against the game's AI. In effect, just like the different powers had to play nice with one another to live through the siege. Thank you, Worthington Publishing for allowing me to get frustrated with this game, originally. My next review for them will be 'Dawn of Battle'. That review has had to wait on me, because I really just want to play it and not review it. 


Keep up the Fire:

Keep Up the Fire! Deluxe — Worthington (

Worthington Publishing:

Worthington (


  War for America The American Revolution, 1775-1782 by Compass games  'The World Turned Upside Down' is actually a song from 1640 a...

War for America: The American Revolution, 1775-1782 by Compass Games War for America: The American Revolution, 1775-1782 by Compass Games

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

July 2022

War for America: The American Revolution, 1775-1782 by Compass Games

 War for America

The American Revolution, 1775-1782


Compass games

 'The World Turned Upside Down' is actually a song from 1640 and laments that Christmas can no longer be celebrated due to an Act of Parliament. So, it would seem to be a strange tune for the British to play at their surrender at Yorktown. However, whilst the words have nothing to do with the occasion, the songs title fits perfectly with it. Washington had refused the British the 'Honors of War' (they would have been allowed to fly their colors and normally play a French or American song), because the British had denied them to the  American Army who had capitulated the year before in Charleston. It seems that some historians doubt it was that song, but they are a cantankerous bunch. 

 Strategic games about the American Revolution have had a large growth spurt after around 2000. Before that, there were many battle games/simulation but not that many on the strategic level. This is actually Compass Games second strategic game on the American Revolution. The other is 'End of Empire 1744-1782' which also covers the French and Indian Wars leading up to the Revolution. It is an excellent game on one of my favorite eras for wargaming, but I digress. Trying to compare the two would be like apples to oranges Bart. 

 This is what comes in the box:

2 Map sheets

2.5 Countersheets of 9/16″ and 5/8″ unit-counters (432 counters total)

6 Player Aid Cards

1 Sequence of Play Card

2 Army Organization Displays

1 Setup Card

51 Action Cards

1 Rulebook

1 Playbook

 This is a Compass Games blurb about the game:

Complexity: Medium

Time Scale: Seasonal turns (6 turns per year)

Map Scale: Area point-to-point map

Unit Scale: 1,000 men per strength point, individual capital ships, and leaders

Players: 2

Solitaire: Medium

Playing Time: 8 hours (15+ hours for Campaign Game)

 The game comes with two maps that are each 22" x 34". They show from Nova Scotia to the top of Florida. One has an inset for travel to Europe and the other has a large inset that includes the Caribbean Islands. While these were not important to the Revolution, they were important to England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands after the three latter joined the war. The maps are not just paper. They have a coating on them to help them last. The Action Cards seem sturdier than most cards that come with games. These are easily read and understood. The cards come with small pictures on them of period pieces or other depictions of people and places of the Revolution. There are six separate Player Aid Cards. These are the obligatory hard stock and in full color. They are:

British Reinforcement Chart

Colonial Reinforcement Chart

British - Patriot Start Positions/Terrain Effects Chart

Six Nations Card/Foreign Entry Card

Charts And Tables/Sequence of Play

 The Rulebook is twenty pages long including the Index. It is also in full color. The writing is smaller than I would like, but still readable. There is enough separation between the paragraphs etc. to make it not really difficult to read. The Playbook is twelve pages long. Six of these are for examples of play. The other six pages are comprised of Scenario Setups, Card Check List, Gazeteer of Place Names, Designer Notes, and Bibliography. Physically it is the same as the Rulebook. The counters are square in shape. So, if you are a wargamer who cannot live without rounded counters you will have to do this yourself. They are scored better than you would get with an older game. This means that very little snipping of any excess is needed. The strength points are generic. Most major commanders from both sides are represented by counters. These have small portraits on them. The counters are easily read and not 'busy' at all. The components easily pass muster.

The two Maps together

 The Sequence of Play is:

"Step 1: Reinforcements

  Both players place reinforcements according to their own

Reinforcement Chart. British first. (8.1)

All Turns:

  Both Reinforcement Charts are consulted and reinforcements are


  Units moving from the Europe Box by Naval Transport do not

consume an AP.

  Leaders are Promoted/Demoted/Removed/Transferred.

Early Spring Turns Only:

  Both players position their available magazines (British first).

If St. Eustasius is not controlled by the British, the Colonial player

receives a bonus magazine in the Deep South.

  Cards which have been set aside by year, are introduced commencing in 1776 and shuffled into the Draw Deck along with the cards

from the Discard Deck.

  Each player then draws enough Action Cards to fill his hand to a 3

card maximum.

  If a player already has 3 Action Cards, he can draw 1 Action Card

and then discard any card of his choice.

  The Colonial player rolls on the CLT to raise and place new SP.

Winter Turns Only: 

After both players have moved two Action Rounds:

  Colonials check for Expired Enlistments.

  Both sides check for over-quartering.

  Both sides remove all magazines at turn’s end.

  Six Nations units return to their villages

  If British Withdrawal is in effect, 12 SP must be removed to their

Caribbean possessions.

Step 2: Initiative 

Players roll a D6 for 1st initiative. The player with the higher result 

performs the 1st AP of the Action Cycle.

Step 3: The Action Cycle (9.0)

The player having the initiative moves and has combat with one single 

force from one single space. He performs any ‘free actions’ (9.10) during

this AP, at any time and in any order of his choosing. He can perform 

these at the beginning or end of his AP. It is entirely his choice. When he

has completed his actions, the other player proceeds with his AP in a 

similar manner.

Step 4: Administration Phase

  Check for Victory. (4.0)

  Advance Year/Season markers on the Turn Record Track"

Close up

 This is a big game in both size and scope. It comes with two scenarios: The 1775-1782 full scenario and the 'The French are in 1778-1782' scenario. This is a bit of a shame. With the maps conveniently splitting the colonies almost in half it is a shame there were not smaller scenarios for just the Southern and Northern Colonies. Perhaps a Burgoyne and Cornwallis scenarios could have been added. Do not get me wrong, what the game portrays in the two full scenarios it has it does very well. This is the first game that really adds some strategy to the Caribbean theater instead of just an off map box. The game also shows how seapower was the one really decisive part of the war. Without seapower there is no Yorktown. This not only goes for actual fleet actions, but also for supply. So, the game mechanics really show how the war was fought and what you need to do to win it. 
 The Colonial Militia and its disappearing and reappearing act throughout the war is taken care of simply and elegantly during the battle phases. In the early years of the war the Militia was absolutely needed for any Colonial Army to stand a chance against the British. 

 As mentioned, the game is physically large. You also have to invest a good amount of gaming time to it. The full campaign game can last up to twenty hours or several game sessions. This is not a game where you are going to be able to set it up and play in one night. There is nothing wrong with long or short games for that matter. It all depends on your appetite (thank you Billy Joel) at the moment. Getting immersed or lost in a game is one of my favorite pastimes. I agree that it seems harder to do this in 2022 than it used to, but I still love to do it on occasion. If you are like me in that respect you will be very pleased with the game. 

 The game gives a player so many different strategies to try out. I do not think anyone will ever get bored or find the game repetitive. Each side has its own strengths and weaknesses. This is a recipe that is needed for good gaming. 

 We do have to deal with the elephant in the room though. This would be the page of errata that comes with the game. You can, however, look at this in two different ways. You can castigate Compass Games for having the need of any errata. This mind set is really not something that is useful in the real world. When I was young I had a boss that told me "that is why they have erasers on the end of pencils". We are human and mistakes will be made. Also if you can find any game that was released without any errors at all I would be amazed. You could look at it and thank Compass Games for giving you the errata right in the box when you open the game. This saves you from searching online for the correct wording etc. It also could have been released six months after you bought the game, and you had to download it also (I have seen this more than once). So, I guess errata can be looked at like half full glasses. It is all in the mind of the beholder.

  The only real point of contention between myself and the game is William Howe's Command Rating. I have always had a soft spot for the Howe brothers.

 The games victory conditions are these:

"Three main factors influence the various Victory 
Conditions (VC) which must be met to win the 
• The year victory is obtained
• Before or after France enters the war
• The Political Will of each side
Hint: The British have their best chance of victory
during the early stages of the rebellion before 
French seapower can swing the balance. Victory 
will be much harder to achieve once the
‘Declaration of Independence’ Action Card has 
been played or the French have recognized the 13
4.1 British VC Prior to French Entry
Accomplish either:
• Reduce the Colonial PW/VP to ‘0’ after any 
Colonial AP.
• In 1775, control all the colonies in New 
England while not losing both Montreal and 

4.2 Colonial VC Prior to French Entry
Accomplish either:
• Reduce the British PW/VP to ‘0’ after any 
British AP.
• Cause the surrender of a second British army or 
force of at least 5 SP of regulars at the end of 
any combat.

4.3 British VC After French Entry
Accomplish one of the following:
• Reduce the American PW marker to ‘0’ after 
any Colonial AP.
• Capture all French ports in the Caribbean while 
not losing any of their own, at the end of the 
• Control 4 colonies at the end of the game.
• Control all the following port spaces in the 13 
Colonies in the following chart at the end of the 
game while still controlling Halifax, New York 
City and Norfolk, VA.
Boston, MA Baltimore, MD
Newport, RI Alexandria, VA
New London, CT Wilmington, NC
New Haven, CT Charleston, SC
Wilmington, DE Savannah, GA

4.4 Colonial VC After French Entry
Accomplish one of the following:
• Avoid the British Victory Conditions.
• The British are unable to move 12 SP of 
regulars to the Caribbean for British 
• Capture both Quebec and Halifax at the end of 
any British AP.
• Capture all British ports in the Caribbean while 
not losing any French Caribbean ports at the 
end of the game.
• Capture both Montreal and Quebec while 
preventing British control of New England and 
the Middle States at the end of the game.
• Prevent the British from controlling any of their
possessions in the 13 Colonies at the end of any 
British AP. (The specific cities listed in rule 
• Prevent the British from controlling any of the 
13 Colonies while not losing any French 
possessions in the Caribbean at the end of the 

VC - Victory Condition
AP - Action Pulse
PW/VP - Political Will/Victory Points

 So, the game is essentially cut in two segments once the French become involved. The British should also really push in 1775 to end the war as quickly as possible.

I think it is an odd choice of a picture of good old Banastre. Instead of the usually dashing cavalryman he looks a bit stodgy

 Thank you very much Compass Games for letting me review this very good game. As usual I have been very impressed by the components and gameplay from one of their stable. 


Compass Games:

Compass Games – New Directions In Gaming

War For America:

War for America: The American Revolution, 1775-1782 – Compass Games



The End of the Gallop   The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943 by  Alexei Isaev Translated by Kevin Bridge   This book is about the Th...

The End of the Gallop: The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943 by Alexei Isaev, Translated by Kevin Bridge The End of the Gallop: The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943 by Alexei Isaev, Translated by Kevin Bridge

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

July 2022

The End of the Gallop: The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943 by Alexei Isaev, Translated by Kevin Bridge

The End of the Gallop

 The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943


 Alexei Isaev

Translated by

Kevin Bridge

 This book is about the Third Battle for Kharkov. This would be at the end of a string of Russian victories that started with the encirclement of the German 6th Army in Stalingrad. After this battle would come a relatively long lull for the Eastern Front until the Battle of Kursk started.

 The book is not a long one at about 130 pages. However, the author packs into its pages everything the reader needs or wants to know. I have read two books from Alexei Isaev, and I am very impressed with the detail and impartiality that this author brings to the table. The book gives an explanation of why the Battle of Kursk had to be postponed as long as it was. The German troops were in very bad shape after plugging the huge gap that the defeat in the South had caused. This was also the first time that the Soviet Armed Forces had ever fought and had to resupply attacks that reached far into the German rear. So, their forces were as bad off as the Germans at that time. The author shows us just how debilitated the divisions on each side were before the battle even started. For a division or higher to have only 20-30 available tanks on its roster was not uncommon, sometimes even less.

 The fight for Kharkov was akin to two older fighters slogging it through the last round. In this case, the Germans had just enough left in the gas tank to eke out a win. In the author's conclusion, he also goes into what effect if any the new German Tiger tanks had on the fighting. 

 This is a very well-done book on the Third Battle of Kharkov. By its length you would think it would be just a primer, but this is not the case at all. This is just more proof that good things do come in small packages. Thank you, Casemate Publishers for allowing me to review this book. I will have another book review authored by Mr. Isaev coming up. It is 'Stalingrad: City on Fire'.


Book: The End of The Gallup: The Battle for Kharkov February - March 1943

Author: Alexei Isaev

Publisher: Helion & Company

Distributor: Casemate Publishers


  Piacenza 1746 by Europa Simulazioni  The War of the Austrian Succession engulfed Europe in 1740. The war was caused by many of the same ci...

Piacenza 1746 by Europa Simulazioni Piacenza 1746 by Europa Simulazioni

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

July 2022

Piacenza 1746 by Europa Simulazioni

 Piacenza 1746


Europa Simulazioni

 The War of the Austrian Succession engulfed Europe in 1740. The war was caused by many of the same circumstances as the War of the Spanish Succession. Before each of these wars all the European Powers were given a treaty to sign to stop any conflict that might arise from the succession in each country. The War of the Austrian Succession was preceded by the 'Pragmatic Sanction'. This was a law to allow a woman (shudder, gasp etc.) to inherit the Hapsburg lands. Every European power agreed with their fingers crossed behind their back, or with a stone in their hand (extra credit if you understood that last part). The minute Maria Theresa assumed power in the Hapsburg lands, the war drums in Europe started beating. Like buzzards around a dead body, the different Kings of Europe wanted their piece of the Hapsburg pie. The war pitted France, Prussia, Spain, and Bavaria on one side, while Great Britain, The Dutch Republic, and The Hapsburg Monarchy were allied on the other. There were numerous other small allies on both sides. Most people associate the war with the rise of Prussia and the start of the legend of Frederick the Great. The war was actually fought in many places in Europe. The Battle of Piacenza was part of the Spanish and French attempt to take some of the Hapsburg lands in Italy. 


Player Aid Cards

 This is what comes with the game:

One Map (roughly 23" x 25")

One Sheet of Counters

Rules Booklet

Complete OOB (Order of Battle) and Uniforms Booklet

Three Player's Aid Sheets

Two Die

Map and Rule Booklet

 I have a good number of games from Europa Simulazioni and I am always impressed by the components and work that goes into their games. The map looks a bit like a cross between a period piece and a new Euro one. The actual paper, or possibly a coating, feels much more resistant to normal wear and tear than normal maps. I believe it will hold up to many years of playing. The map is also easy to read, and the terrain is easily discernable. There are three hard stock Player Aid cards. They are double-sided and are in full color. Three of the pages are in Italian and three are in English. The first has the Terrain Effects Chart and the Turn Record Track on it. The second has all of the Combat Charts etc. on it. The third contains the map and has all of the setup hexes for the different units. The Rule Booklet is twenty-four pages long and is in full color. The actual rules take up just over eighteen pages. This is followed by a Historical Context essay which is about the whole war, but mostly about the Italian theater of operations. Then follows the scenarios and some Examples of Play. The OOB and Uniform Booklet adds a lot to the immersion of the game. It also acts as a manifest to check for missing counters if something untoward happens. I left the Counters for last. They are exceptionally well done. I know I have used the phrase before, but these are really little pieces of artwork. The Strength Points are easy to read, and they are color coded for which formation they belong to. Great Work Europa Simulazioni!

Full Battle Setup. The Wooden Pieces do not come with the Game.

 This is an abbreviated Sequence of Play:

"A) Wing Selection Phase

Each player must choose a Wing Commander. Whoever

wins the die roll (see below), may decide to go with his

Wing Commander OR let the other go. These two Wing

Commanders must activate, one in step A.1 and the other

one in step A.2. Exception: in the first game turn, the

Spanish left wing begins, followed by the Austrian right wing.

A.1) Activation of the first Wing. Activate one of the

two Wing Commanders (see Wing Activation, 3.1 or


A.2) Activation of the second Wing. Same as point

A.1 above.

A.3) Repeat from A1 with other two Wing Commanders

until all WC have been activated.

B) Reorganization and End of Turn 

B.1) Reorganization. Both players may try to restore

units to Good Order. See Reorganization, Par.11.4

B.2) Markers removal. All “Smoke” and

“Changing” markers are removed. Feu de Billebaude

markers are not removed.

B.3) Turn. Advance the current game turn and start a

new game turn.

C) Proclamation of the Victor. If the Austrian

Player does not obtain an Automatic Victory (see 13.2)

before the end of the last game turn, check whether one

of the two players has reached his Victory Conditions. In

this case, he is proclaimed the Winner.

Wing Activation

 a) Removal of Feu de Billebaude markers

Units of the activated Wing Formations may try to

remove the Feu de Billebaude markers (see 9.1.2).

b) Movement

Move all, some or none of the units of the activated Wing

Formations. For details see par.5.

 c) Bombardment

Bombardment by artillery units, as described in par.8., is


d) Combat

Fire, Melee or Charge combats as described in par.9. are

conducted by one Formation at a time for the activated

Wing, in the order chosen by the owning player."

Play Close up

 This is a pretty amazing game for its size and length of rules. It manages to catch the feel of 18th century warfare as has been described to us in books. It has many rules that you do not see in other games of the same era. These are a few:

Wing Movement and Activation

Commanders in Chief

Capture of Commanders

Line Formation

Cavalry Refusal to stay next to an infantry unit


Presence of Smoke

Cannon Failure

Infantry Changing of Ranks 

First Volley

Second Volley

Feu de Billebaude - It means 'Firing at Will', which in 18th century warfare is not a good thing. The unit would be firing haphazardly in any direction.

 These really add to the immersion of the players. 

 The game comes with four scenarios of varying length:

Full Game - 12 Turns

Scenario One - 5 Turns

Scenario Two - 5 Turns

Scenario Three - 3 Turns

 The smaller scenarios take place on smaller portions of the map. 

 The game has a little twist to the victory conditions. The Franco-Spanish player has to choose four geographical locations out of a possible eight. The Austrian Player is not told which of the four he picked. So, he has to assume that everyone might be needed for victory. If the Franco-Spanish Player only holds onto one, it is an Austrian victory. If he manages to hold onto two, then it is a draw. Three or more of his chosen geographical locations means he has won.

Another Closeup

 I am very impressed with this game, really a simulation, of a battlefield from over 150 years ago. You can really see the change of warfare from the charge of the pike to Napoleonic warfare. The battlefield is now ruled by firearms and cannons, but not that much has changed since the Campaigns of Marlborough, etc. Playing this game is like gingerly strolling through a minefield. Will your commanders activate? What happens if some of your cannons are no longer usable? What happens to your well-made detailed plan after the smoke of an 18th century battle obscures everything? The Friction of War is here in droves. I absolutely love historical simulation type games. Oh sure, a pundit or two will argue about the finer points. Let them; I will be busy having a great time playing the game, not discussing it.

 Thank you very much Europa Simulazioni for letting me review this very good looking and playing game.


Europa Simulazioni:

Europa Simulazioni (

Piacenza 1746:

Europa Simulazioni (


  Tarawa 1943 by Worthington Publishing  The name of this battle is normally given as Tarawa. However, Tarawa is an Atoll that comprises sev...

Tarawa 1943 by Worthington Publishing Tarawa 1943 by Worthington Publishing

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

July 2022

Tarawa 1943 by Worthington Publishing

 Tarawa 1943


Worthington Publishing

 The name of this battle is normally given as Tarawa. However, Tarawa is an Atoll that comprises several small Islands and a larger one named Betio. Betio Island is actually where almost all of the action took place and all of the videos you see are about the fighting there. 

 The U.S, Navy had decided to attack the Japanese straight through the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This put Tarawa on a line between Hawaii and the heart of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese also understood that their base there was in the first line of defense of their Empire. The Japanese had been given about a year to erect their defenses on Betio to repulse any American attempt to conquer the Island.  This would be the first real island invasion of WWII that most people have come to associate with the actions in the Pacific. The 2nd Marine Division were to be the troops assigned to capture Betio. In a quirk of fate, the Japanese Yokosuka 6th SNLF (Special Naval Landing Forces, the Japanese version of the Marines) was to be the defender. The island was ringed with barbed wire and many mines and obstacles to slow any attackers so that they could be slaughtered on the beach.  The attack was made by the marines on November 20th, 1943. The island was blasted by the naval surface and air units. The devastation brought by the bombs and shells looked like not much could live on the island. However, the Japanese had dug themselves in so well that it was really only superficial damage. This was to be a recurring theme in other island attacks. One island was later described as looking like it had been picked up and dropped from 10K feet. Unfortunately, the Japanese proved themselves as masters of defense. Enough of the history. The stage is set for the battle.

 Tarawa 1943 is a solitaire card driven game where you take command of the U.S. forces attempting to invade Betio Island. This is what comes with the game:

Hard Mounted Map Board

USMC green wooden markers

Japanese yellow wooden markers

Labels for the markers

black cubes

brown cubes

Japanese cards

USMC cards



Battle manual with history, examples, pictures, etc

Battle archive

Storage tray

 As you can see by the map picture, Tarawa 1943 does not have hex or area movement. This game is designed much like two other Worthington Publishing games I have played: Freeman's Farm, and Chancellorsville 1863. Your success in battle will decided if and when your troops will be able to move from their starting positions. 

Map close up

 The Mounted Map is 22" x 17" in size. Even though it does not have the terrain etc. that a hex map has, it still is a very good depiction of the island at the time of the battle. The Dice Results for the two sides' attacks are on it, as are the USMC Battalion Cohesion Tracks. The green and yellow wooden markers are all the same size and do not have any points or any other deformity. This also goes for the brown, yellow, and red smaller cubes (these are for bunkers, or to keep track of cohesion etc.). Next up are the Japanese and USMC cards. These are the standard size cards used in most games. The top part of the cards has the game information needed, while the bottom part of most cards has a historical tidbit about the battle. This is a really nice touch and adds to the immersion. The cards are not little masterpieces of art, but fully functional, with some of the writing a bit small. The Rulebook is in full color and is only twelve pages long. The Battle Manual is twenty-four pages long. The first seven pages have an explanation for each card you can play. The last seventeen pages contain an excellent history of the actual battle. One other nice touch is the inclusion of the 'Battle Archive'. This is a small pad to keep track of the results of each battle played. As you can see, the components are up to snuff.

Stickered Blocks

  The rules are short and sweet and easily understood. Keeping track of the Cohesion of the USMC is also straightforward. I know I have said this before in other games, but just because a game's rules are simple does not necessarily make it a simple game. Some games do not have heavy rulebooks but are still very deep. This is one of those games. You are given lots of choices of what to do with your cardboard Marines. The AI bot in this game works extremely well. It could be the designer and it could be the small number of units. Of course, it could be a combination of both. The game footprint is pretty much the size of the Map Board. The length of the game is not very long (30 cards in each deck). You can adjust the difficulty of the game by adding and subtracting Japanese Cards. There is also an Optional Rule to land on the other side of the island. This was where the Japanese expected an attack.

Marine Cards

 This is the Sequence of Play:

"Before the first round of the game is played, the Special
Landing Phase is conducted.

SPECIAL LANDING PHASE: This only occurs once during
the game. Make an initial Japanese fire attack roll of 4
dice against each of the USMC occupied wave 1 positions
adjacent to an occupied Japanese position. Any die roll
of 1 are treated as no result during this phase. This phase
is only conducted before the first turn of the game. No
cards are played for either side during this phase.
After the Special Landing phase at the beginning of a
game, a series of rounds is played in the sequence below.
Each round consists of one turn for the USMC player followed
by a turn with the play of the Japanese AI.

Draw up to 2 new cards from the tactics draw deck and
place it face up into the USMC hand of tactic cards.
Maximum of 3 cards allowed in the USMC tactics hand.
» Place a new wave
» Regroup
» Rotate Battalions
» Move
» Attack
Note: A USMC tactics card may be played before,
during, or immediately after this activation.
Check for exhaustion for any USMC battalion that reduces
below 6 cohesion this USMC turn.
If no tactics card was played, the USMC player may discard
1 tactics card from his hand.

Draw the top card from the Japanese activation draw
deck and place face up in the discard pile.
Follow all instructions from the face up Japanese AI activation

Note: A USMC tactics card may or may not be played
before, during, or immediately after this activation.
Check for exhaustion for any USMC battalion that reduces
below 6 cohesion this Japanese turn.
1. Once the last Japanese card is played, the game
ends after the next USMC player turn.
Note: The USMC player gets one last turn after
the last card is played from the Japanese AI deck.
2. The game immediately ends when the USMC player
controls all island positions at the end of the USMC

 That, my good gentlemen, is the game. It seems pretty simple, does it not? Your biggest job is to decide what action you will take with your USMC units. Your job is to take the island. However, you must worry about your units losing cohesion and/or getting exhausted. 

Japanese Cards

 These are the Victory Conditions:

» Marines receive 2 VP per USMC controlled island
» Marines receive 1 VP per Japanese card remaining
after USMC control all island positions.

» Japanese receive 2 VP per USMC marker eliminated.
» Japanese receive 1 VP per USMC battalion
» Japanese receive 3 VP for each Japanese controlled
island position.

» If the Japanese tie or exceed the USMC VP total it is
a Japanese win.
Catastrophic USMC Defeat: The USMC 2nd
Division is effectively out of action for 2 years as it
is rebuilt. The US island hopping strategy is abandoned
and Douglas MacArthur’s slower strategy is

» If the Marines have more VP than the Japanese it is a
USMC victory determined as follows:
» 1 – 5 VP = Marginal (Historical Victory)
» 6 – 9 VP = Moderate Victory
» 10 VP+ = Smashing USMC Victory

USMC Smashing Victory: The island-hopping strategy
is confirmed as successful and continues but is
sped up and the war is ended 6 months sooner,
some islands are bypassed and losses for the US
side are reduced as a result."

 Again, these are straight forward and easy to understand. The only trouble for the player is in getting those victory points. Do not be surprised if you lose. I have seen it posted by a lot of Grognards that this AI bot is a tough cookie. 

 Thank you, Worthington Games in letting me review this on the smaller side gem. The next game I review for Worthington Publishing is 'Keep up the Fire'. This is about the siege of the diplomat zone in Peking during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. The movie '55 Days at Peking' is a good starting point for a backdrop to the game. Oddly enough for Hollywood it is fairly historical. 


Worthington Publishing:

Tarawa 1943:


  Imperial Tide The Great War 1914-1918 by Compass Games   There was always a dearth of World War I games. Because of the nature of the West...

Imperial Tide: The Great War 1914-1918 by Compass Games Imperial Tide: The Great War 1914-1918 by Compass Games

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July 2022

Imperial Tide: The Great War 1914-1918 by Compass Games

 Imperial Tide

The Great War 1914-1918


Compass Games

  There was always a dearth of World War I games. Because of the nature of the Western Front trench system many players and designers stayed away from gaming the war. Oh, here and there were excellent games on the subject, but never the amount that the war deserved. In the last few years that has thankfully changed. Compass Games is mostly to thank for this change of events. They have released a large number of games, from the strategic level on down to the tactical level. These are:

 On the Strategic level:

The Lamps are Going out: World War I, 2nd Edition

Balance of Powers

An Attrition of Souls

Empires and Alliances

Europe in Turmoil, Prelude to the Great War

Tactical Games, The Red Poppies Campaigns:

The Battle for Ypres

Last Laurels at Limanowa

Assault Artillery

 Solitaire Games:

Raiders of the Deep: Uboats of the Great War 1914-1918

Zeppelin Raider

Do not forget these two that are coming up:

Western Front Ace1916-1918 - Solitaire

Death in the Trenches - Strategic

 They also carry this game from Australian Design Group:

Fatal Alliances - World in Flames game set in World War I

 This is what comes with the game:

One Rulebook

Two Counter Sheets with 216 Counters

One Solitaire Play Aid Card

One 22" x 34" Mounted Map

One Deck of 51 Cards

Two six-sided Die

There are three types of cards. These are Year, Central Powers, and Allied Powers cards.

 Sequence of Play:

Alternate card play or resource expenditure play. The first player is noted on the year card.

When both players pass without having played a card or used a resource point, the year ends.

At year end, any besieged forts are destroyed. Out of supply units surrender and are removed from play.

Put the next year card in the year card box. Zero out all resource points. Place new resource points per the new year card.

Receive the new year's cards for free and spend build points to rebuy previous cards.

Shuffle all the purchased, held, and new cards face down, deal two into two piles, and choose one pile randomly (or take the larger pile if uneven). The next turn starts.

  Let us take a look at the components. The Mounted Map is very nicely done. It uses point-to-point movement so there is not much terrain on the map except for major rivers. The terrain for each point is at the bottom of each movement box. This makes it simple with no confusion. The Map also has all of the charts on it. So, you do not have to worry about off map sheets with tables. If you have room for the map in your playing space, you are good to go. There is only one Player Aid Card and that is for playing solitaire. A solitaire 'bot' or way to play is quickly becoming a must in our hobby. The Player Aid Card is two-sided and is made of hard stock. The Rulebook comes in color and is only thirteen pages long. It is easy to read and is written so that you will be up and playing in no time. There is also a page of a play example of the first year. The last page has the Designer Notes. I, like many others, love to read the thoughts of the designer of my games. The next part up is the counters. They are color and flag coded. They have generic numbers on them for strength, and they are large. They will pop out of the sprues in a small breeze and are pre-rounded. It might not seem like much, but the other day I bought an older game and was forced to pull out the old scissors and cut apart two counter sheets of small counters. I believe I now have Carpal Tunnel in my other hand. Compass Games components are some of the best in the marketplace. After dealing with the older counters, I was just so thankful that these counters were so easy to deal with. Next up is the Cards. These are your standard game size cards and have well done pieces of art on them. They are easy to read and simple to figure out. 

  So, what we have so far is: a strategic World War I game with very good components and a short, but informative Rulebook. It is a simple to learn game that has many nuances. The rules make you feel that you are playing a World War I game and not pushing Panzers around the map. By that I mean that is does not seem cookie cutter in play. Playing either side you will be forced to deal with the realities of early 20th century warfare. Naturally, this would be as the designer sees it. This game adds in the ability of both sides to use 'Attrition Combat'. This effectively just inflicts casualties on your opponent, but also yourself. However, this was used throughout World War I as a viable strategy. The game also uses Resource Points for each country in every year of the war. The design is meant for the player to use the Resource Points as an Operational Reserve for whatever use they are needed. 

 This is some of what Compass Games has to say about Imperial Tide:

"The core of the game is the unique card re-buy system, in which players take their annual production (adjusted for U-boats, blockades, and Zeppelin bombing) and decide which cards they need for the upcoming year. Cards not only provide for reinforcements, but allow for movement, combat, and entrenchment. Which cards to rebuy is without question one of the key decisions the player must make to prepare for next year’s operations.

The game has infantry units for all of the major participants, and artillery “units” actually represent stockpiles of ammunition to be used for offensives. Naval operations are mainly abstracted, although sea movement to Salonika and Gallipoli is allowed."

   The cards for each side explain to the players what effects they will have on play. These are some of each side's cards:

Central Powers:

Poison Gas
U-boats Attack
Zeppelin Attacks

Allied Powers:

Messines Mine Attack
Miracle of the Marne
Brusilov Offensive

The Year Cards show how many Build Points each side gets, along with their Resource Points.

 The gameplay is fast but deep and gives the player a lot of different options, while still putting on him the constraints of a commander in World War I. The designer, Gregory M. Smith, also designed the game Pacific Tide. So, if you are familiar with that game the learning curve is almost nil. Mr. Smith was looking to design a fun game that was playable in under three hours, along with sufficient depth to keep the players interested. I believe he has done just that.

 Thank you, Compass Games for letting me review this game. The next game I will be reviewing for Compass Games takes us back to the 18th century. It is 'War for America: The American Revolution, 1775-1782'. 


Compass Games:

Imperial Tide: The Great War 1914-1918: