second chance games

Search This Website of delight

  Nguyen Hue '72 by Cadet Games   The Vietnam War, at least the US involvement phase, was something I always stayed clear of in wargamin...

Nguyen Hue '72 by Cadet Games Nguyen Hue '72 by Cadet Games

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

April 2023

Nguyen Hue '72 by Cadet Games

 Nguyen Hue '72


Cadet Games

  The Vietnam War, at least the US involvement phase, was something I always stayed clear of in wargaming. I think it has something to do with growing up during it. The nightly list of the dead and wounded was something I will never forget. The kids I knew, including myself, always assumed we would end up going there. It was talked about only once in a while. The way we talked about it was more in low tones and usually at night. A year when you are ten years old lasts about ten of one of your years when you hit sixty. So, the memory of these late-night talks has stayed with me.

 This game is about the 1972 North Vietnamese offensive, and as an extra for the grognard, it also has the last offensive in 1975. Historically, because of US and Allied help, the 1972 offensive was finally stopped. In 1975 it was just a straight up fight between North and South Vietnam. The collapse of South Vietnam took only fifty-five days. You probably remember the pictures of the helicopters at the US embassy.

 This was reported about the actual offensive:

"Time Magazine - April 17, 1972…”The offensive began in the sky—with a shattering barrage of at least 12,000 rounds of rocket, mortar and artillery fire across the Demilitarized Zone, which divides North and South Vietnam. Said Specialist Fourth Class Michael Hill, a U.S. adviser with ARVN units in the area: "It was like nothing we ever expected and nothing we ever saw." Then came the ground attack. Some 25,000 North Vietnamese troops, with Russian-built tanks and artillery, swept down through Quang Tri province, sending 50,000 refugees fleeing south and U.S. advisers scurrying to their helicopters…”

 This is what Cadet Games has to say about the game:

"Strategic-level oversize hex & miniatures treatment of the huge conventional contest in 1972, as the Northern Communists attempted to militarily defeat the South before the US presidential election at the end of the year. Fast-paced and easy-to-play but complex enough for the true wargamer. Event cards and mystery units make for great re-playability. Terrain effects, supply, ZOC, airmobile moves, air and naval gunfire, amphibious operations, air defense, NVA tanks and artillery, B-52s and more.

The two full sized maps together

 Speaking about childhood, this game tries to reach your inner child by using plastic soldiers etc. instead of cardboard counters. Many of today's computer wargames use 3d representation of units instead of the tried-and-true square NATO symbol ones. It does not affect how the game plays, and some other games actually give you a choice between the two different sets of graphics. 

Allied Ground Forces displayed

 The game box is a big and hefty one. Cadet Games describes the maps as "two big, beautiful ones". I cannot argue with that statement at all. The maps are both standard wargames maps at 22" X 34". They show South Vietnam and a small amount of North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at ten miles per hex. I agree with Cadet Games that the maps are beautiful. The Rulebook is in full color and is twenty-pages long. The Rulebook is this size because this game is much more than an Axis & Ally clone. The rules are written out in an easy-to-understand manner. There are two Player Aid Setup Charts. These are made of the same material as the mounted maps. One of them has the NVA/NLF Deployments and Reinforcements and the other has the Allied ones. The reverse on both Player Aids has the Terrain Chart. There is one Counter Sheet that has 117 circular counters on it. They are mostly color coded to show their use. They come wrapped in plastic because they do want to jump out of the surrounding cardboard. There are twenty-seven cards for both sides. For each scenario, both sides get thirteen 'named' cards and one mystery one. The cards are the usual card type you find with wargames. The information side of the card come with a black & white photo and are easily read and understood. Next up, we have the plastic soldiers. These plastic minis are colored brown and green. I will say that they have brought some childhood angst with them. Because of their small size, the gun barrels and the wings of the aircraft sometimes come, Oh the horror, bent. While almost 60 years ago this would cause my OCD to rear its head. It doesn't bother me as much as I thought it might. The minis are actually pretty cool looking. The Allied Skyraiders (I love those planes) are a little bland, but it is because of their size that they have to be. The B-52s and everything else look very good. So, all of the components as a whole, are very well done. 

It also comes with two Spookies or Puff the Magic Dragons. For those of you who do not know, these were Douglas AC-47s that were loaded to the brim with anti-ground armament.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

NVA Player Turn

Reinforcement & Card Phase
Movement Phase
Combat Phase
Rally Phase

Allied Player Turn

Reinforcement & Card Phase
Movement Phase
Air Attack & Naval Gunfire Phase
Combat Phase
Game Turn Advancement


  The game is much deeper than I thought it would be. So, kudos to Cadet Games. The supply rules are not just if a unit is in or out of it. There are different supply states for NVA and Allied units. Allied units are considered in General Supply if they can trace an unobstructed line to any un-besieged Allied controlled town or base. It does not matter how far they are from them. They are also in General Supply if they are in a town or base hex. If an Allied unit cannot trace a hex line for supply, it is unsupported.  The NVA has three supply states. These are Attack Supply, General Supply, and Isolated. During the Combat Phase a 'Real Supply Token' is expended from a supply center within eight hexes of the unit. That unit has Attack Supply for that entire Combat Phase. Any NVA units in the eight-hex range are in Attack Supply also. An NVA unit is in General Supply if they are within eight hexes of an NVA Supply Center. If any NVA cannot make an eight-hex line to a Supply Center, it is considered Isolated. Due to the NVA buildup before the 1972 offensive, all NVA units have Attack Supply for the first two game turns.

  At the beginning of each player turn they are allowed to pull one card from their deck of fourteen. Each player can only have one card to play each turn. So, if they do not use a card during a turn, they will need to discard one of the two that are in their hand at the beginning of the next turn. They can use that one card anytime during the game turn. 

 This is the Combat Sequence:

1. Determine strength and supply status of all attacking units.
2. Reveal and hidden defending units.
3.Reveal strength and supply status of any defending units (including militia) and air/naval effects.
4. Check and terrain effects on the combat.
5. Attacker plays and desired card.
6. Defender plays and desired card.
7. Determine combat ratio and CRT column and roll die.
8. Apply combat results immediately.
9. Advance after combat option.
10. Re-hide any defending units.

 As you can see the game uses the tried-and-true CRT (Combat Results Table) method.

The game laid out before placing the minis

 Thank you, Cadet Games, for allowing me to review this very good game. They have eight games on Vietnam and its environs right now. They go from this game's strategic look at the conflict to tactical battles. Speaking of which, I will have a review coming of their They Were Soldiers/Dak To Hill 875 tactical game. F-105 Thunderchiefs here we come. I hope they get to work on a Dien Bien Phu game.

 I just read on the game's BGG website how to straighten out the bends in the plastic pieces. It is a pretty simple process that just involves immersion into hot water.


Cadet Games:
Nguyen Hue '72:


  Philippines '44 by Wargame Design Studio    On the cover is the dramatic moment when MacArthur lands back on the island of Leyte in th...

Philippines '44 by Wargame Design Studio Philippines '44 by Wargame Design Studio

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

April 2023

Philippines '44 by Wargame Design Studio

 Philippines '44


Wargame Design Studio

 On the cover is the dramatic moment when MacArthur lands back on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. A lot of people do not know that he was a Field Marshal in the Philippine Army. He had actually retired from the US Army in 1937. His own history is full of defenders and detractors. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941, he had been in charge of the defense of the Islands. One day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and war was declared, his air units were still nicely lined up on the airfields for the Japanese to destroy a good number of them (the Japanese could not fly on December 7th because of the weather). The rest of the '41 campaign saw the Japanese break through the Philippino/American forces time and again. The forces under MacArthur were nowhere near ready for war as the Japanese forces were. Unfortunately, the Philippines was lost to the Japanese in a matter of Months. This game is about the American invasion of the Philippines in 1944.

 This is what Wargame Design Studio has to say about the game:

"On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous “I Have Returned” speech upon landing on Leyte Island. It is one of the most iconic phrases of the war, coupled with some of the most famous photographs, that captured the moment as he waded ashore.

With the return to the Philippines in 1944, both Roosevelt and McArthur’s pledges were honored, but this was to be a titanic struggle to liberate the islands for the next eight months.

In Philippines ’44, as MacArthur you will command units from both the US Sixth and Eighth Armies as well as US Army Air Force and Naval air groups. The Japanese forces, led by General Yamashita, had at his disposal, three major commands, the Shobu, Shimbu and Kembu Groups. Yamashita’s command outnumbered the Allied forces but had to defend a vast territory with limited knowledge of where the Allied forces may land. All that is lacking is for you to kick off one of the largest land campaigns of the Pacific War."

 The campaigns you will be able to fight are:

The liberation of Leyte: Oct 20, 1944 - Dec 23, 1944

The liberation of Luzon: Jan 9, 1945 - Jun 22, 1945

The liberation of Manila: Mar 3, 1945

The Northern Luzon Campaign: Mar 6, 1945 - Apr 26, 1945

 Once again, Wargame Design Studio has sent me a game to review that is too large to really do so, unless I devoted my entire gaming life to playing this game for about six months or more. There are too many scenarios, and they are so large that the campaign games cannot really be played until their outcome is decided. Luckily the game does come with some smaller scenarios that can be played in full. I am talking about the time a review would be expected of the game. Once you buy one of their games, feel free to forget about your life and dive in.

 While this is a brand-new game from Wargame Design Studio most of their games came from the John Tiller stable of wargames. These were originally released by HPS about 20 or so years ago. However, all of Wargame Design Studio's games have been updated thoroughly within the last few years. The games might have a resemblance as to their looks, but their DNA has definitely been changed. Even the resemblance is starting to go away with how many changes that WDS has built into the games. Some people have complained that Philippines '44 should not be listed under the title of Panzer Campaigns. It has been placed there because the only WWII campaigns that were released had Panzers. If you look on their web site and see Japan or the Philippines, it should not cause your brain to misfire. 

 As I mentioned before, these games are huge. The real work with these games is behind the surface. Look above at the listing of the troops and units that were included. These games go down to each single man, machine gun, and other weapons. I cannot even believe the amount of work that would need to be done to get this correct. Yes, we do have computers now but still the amount of cross checking boggles my mind. Look at the numbers in this breakdown below:

"Philippines '44 includes 76 Scenarios – covering all sizes and situations, including a solo tutorial scenario plus specialized versions for both head to head play and vs. the computer AI.

The master maps for Leyte (24,570 hexes) and Luzon (184,800 hexes) cover the main landing beaches and subsequent advances to liberate cities such as Manila.

The order of battle file covers the Axis and Allied forces that participated in the campaign with other formations added in for hypothetical situations.

Order-of-Battle, Parameter Data and Scenario Editors which allow players to customize the game.

Sub-map feature allows the main map to be subdivided into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.

Design notes which cover or include the production of the game, campaign notes and a bibliography that includes the sources used by the Wargame Design Studio team to produce this simulation game.

Philippines '44 provides multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet "live" play as well as two player hot seat."

184,800 hexes! Try and roll that neatly off the tongue.

 Now we have to dispel at least one myth. "My grandfather told me that the AI in these games is terrible". Yes, when using Microsoft 3.1 that AI was not that good. However, it never stank. People would play one game until they found a weakness in the AI and then use it and post about it continuously. If you have enough time in your life to spend doing that, then my hat is off to you. I would be able to play maybe once per week for a few hours. The amount of time that came between those hours of play were enough for me to forget about what I was doing, and possibly what my name was. As you can see from above, nowadays there are certain scenarios that have been set up from the very beginning to be played against the AI. Believe it or not, about 80-90% of the PC game players play against AIs. This number includes all of the multi-player games that abound now. 

 So, where does all this leave us? What we have is a game that if judged by board wargames would possibly be the size of a 4' X 4' skid or pallet. Just think about it. If you could ever find a place to put the maps, maybe a gymnasium floor, the next hurdle would be to start slicing and dicing the 30 lbs. of 1/2" counters. Unless you had hired out a good number of workers, there is no way you are not getting carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. The sheer vastness of what goes into these games should make your head spin. A very large board wargame with this much depth would cost into the hundreds of dollars (ask my wife she knows). These can be bought for $39.95! I could paint that car for $39.95 (you have to be a certain age to get the joke).

 To try and explain how one of these games are played would be a pretty big task. That is why much smaller and easier scenarios are included in the games now. You would need to learn about Logistics and combined arms to name just two things that come to mind. If you tried to print off an AAR of one of the big scenarios, you'd better hope you have enough ink. One of the best things about these games is that they are meant to be played in a historical manner. These are not Panzer General clones. I am not saying that you are forced to only play the game out historically. You have to play it like a general from the 1940s. Japanese tanks out in the open against Shermans is just a foolish move. Now, if you dig in those tanks and put some other antitank forces with them, then you are talking. 


 The odd thing about the 1941 and 1944-45 campaigns is that both sides had changed places. In 1941 you had a smaller but better equipped Japanese force invade the Philippines. In 1944 the American invasion force was smaller but better equipped than the defending Japanese.

 Grognards who have played these games for many years will only have to get used to the new upgrades to this group of games. The smaller scenarios are where a tyro to these games should begin. These are very deep games that give you the control of units that a board wargamer is more used to than a computer wargamer. You have to control not only your tanks and infantry but also your air units and artillery.

 This game is going to be different than slicing Panzers or Shermans and T-34s across Europe. The terrain can be both a hindrance and a help depending upon your victory conditions in your chosen scenario. I almost always play the underdog in any wargame. In these scenarios it is the Japanese. The maps in most of the scenarios are large enough for you to give up land to keep your units intact and slow the American advance to a crawl. Unlike Yamashita, who historically had to deal with the Japanese Banzai attitude, the game allows you to give orders to your troops that will be obeyed. The American artillery is your greatest fear. You will always read in books that the Russians' God of War was their Artillery. The Russians would release the power of thousands of guns. Strangely, if you read the stories of Germans who fought on both the Russian and Western Front you will read a different tale. They say that nothing on the Russian Front had prepared them for the onslaught of the English and American artillery, especially the American. You will also have to deal with the American Air Forces. They have almost complete control of the skies around the Philippines. On the invasion beaches you will also have to deal with the guns of the American Naval Forces. One destroyer with four or five 5" guns can ruin your day, let alone the massive fire from a capital ship.

 Thank you, Wargame Design Studio, for letting me review this great addition to your already huge stable of games. In the time that it has taken me to review this game I see you have released at least two more updates to the other games. Now then, let us get you back to work on some of the more unknown battles and campaigns in history.


Wargame Design Studio:
Philippines '44:


  Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261 by GMT Games   Most people would equate the name Hohenzollern with the German E...

Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261 by GMT Games Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261 by GMT Games

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

April 2023

Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261 by GMT Games

 Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261


GMT Games

  Most people would equate the name Hohenzollern with the German Empire. These were parvenus to the Emperors of the Hohenstaufen dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. Two Emperors from this line were named Frederick. The first was Frederick I Barbarossa (red beard), the second Frederick II was nicknamed 'Stupor Mundi' (the wonder of the world). Both had problems with the Italian city states and the different Popes. Since Pope Leo III crowned and invested Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor in 800 there had been a power struggle between the Popes and Emperors. The citizens of the Italian states were divided over their allegiance to Pope or Emperor. The Ghibellines stood behind the Emperors, and the Guelphs stood behind the Pope. This of course is a oversimplification of the rivalry and fighting for power between the Italian families and states. 

 On the back of the box is a quote from Dante Alighieri's Inferno:   "You thirsted for blood now drink your fill". Sometimes it is translated as “You did thirst for blood, and with blood I fill you”. The meaning is much the same. However, the latter seems to me to be an even darker way of saying it.

 This is what GMT Games has to say about the game:

"Tuscany, 1259. As wealth from crafts and foreign trade elevated northern Italy's urban families above the landed lords, rivalries within and among their cities hardened into conflict between two great parties. Ghibellines aligned with the Hohenstaufen imperial dynasty that ostensibly ruled Italy, while Guelphs backed rival imperial claimants and the greatest challenger to each Emperor's authority, the Pope. Should any faction gain advantage, others coalesced to resist.
The comuni (republics) of Firenze (Florence) and Siena dominated inland Tuscany at the head of these competing alliances. As Guelphs sealed their control of the populous Firenze, Ghibelline Siena turned to Hohenstaufen King Manfredi of Sicily for reinforcement. Local rebellions and reprisals escalated on each side, as political exiles stirred the pot. After Manfredi dispatched German knights to protect his loyal Tuscans, Firenze mustered its people and allies to march on Siena, which responded with its own great army. Pisa and Lucca, Lombardia and Orvieto joined in. Guelph and Ghibelline in September 1260 at last faced off en masse in the center of Tuscany, at Montaperti—the result, a bloody Florentine defeat. But when Ghibelline exiles returned as masters of Firenze, its Guelphs rallied to Lucca and Arezzo, portending an eternal conflagration.
Inferno—the third volume in Volko Ruhnke's Levy & Campaign Series—fires up the cauldron 13th-Century Tuscan warfare, factional conflict fueled by the gold florins and teeming populations of up-and-coming cities and well-to-do valleys. Expert Italian wargame designer Enrico Acerbi brings the age to life within Volko's accessible medieval-operation system. Gathering transport and provender may not be as much the challenge here as the sudden treachery of rebel towns and castles along key roads. Italy's plundering berrovieri horsemen, famed elite crossbowmen, and distinctive palvesari shield bearers are just a few of the unique inhabitants of this volume. Muster, mount up, and find out whose blood will make the Arbia run red!"

The Game Setup

 This is a few hundred years before Machiavelli, but the Tuscan Lords and all of the personages that took part in this bit of history seem to know his tenets by heart. The two earlier games in Volko Ruhnke's Levy & Campaign games (Nevsky and Almoravid), did make the player have to worry about treachery. However, in this game it becomes almost a byword. 

The Game Map

  This is what comes with the game:

One 17x22 inch Mounted Map
175 Wooden pieces
106 Playing Cards
Three full-color Countersheets
15 cardboard Lord and Battle mats
One Lords sticker sheet
Four Player Aid sheets
Two Screens
Rules Booklet
Background Booklet
Six 6-sided dice

Command Card Sample

 The components are as beautiful as any Euro game that I have seen. Which, of course, is exactly what the designers and artists were looking for. Let us take for example this next piece from the game. This will show you the artistry that went into the design of this game.

Front Picture From one of the Screens

 The map itself is on the small size. However, it is definitely bellissimo! I am not sure if wargames are male or female in Italian. From the illustrations that adorn it to the actual Middle Ages look of it, it oozes the work of an artisan. The map picture above makes it look much smaller and busier than it actually is. There is plenty of room on the map for things not to get congested. It has the Turn Record Track at the top of it. The wooden pieces are all copacetic as far as size goes. They also have smooth edges. They are on the small size and if your dexterity isn't what it once was it might be a bit of a problem. The Playing Cards are divided into four decks. Each side has a 'Command' and an 'Arts of War' deck. The Command Decks have a Lord or City name on the front side along with its associated coat of arms. In the Command Deck you will find both 'Pass' cards and 'Treachery' ones. The Art of War decks have a nice picture of a knight on the back. The front has the instructions for the use of the card along with some nice pieces of art around the sides of the card. The counters are very colorful and come in a few different sizes. The large rectangular ones are for the Lords or Cities. The most numerous counters are 5/8" in size and come pre-rounded. These come out of the sprues with ease. There are a number of 1/2" counters that need to be cut the old-fashioned way. If you have looked at either of the other Levy & Campaign games, then you know that they come with Lord & Battle Mats. These are hard 5" square mats to keep track of troops etc. I first saw these in Almoravid and have been a fan since then. The mats help keep track of each Lord and city thereby keeping clutter on the map down. Next up, we have the small round Lord stickers. These fit on top of the round wooden pieces. There are twenty-eight of them so, one for both sides of the Lord token. There are four Player Aid sheets. These are made of hard stock and are just as nice looking as the rest of the game components. One of the sheets shows the Guelph (boo hiss) Lords and Vassals while the other side has the Ghibelline Lords and Vassals (Yay!). The next sheet shows the Revolt against Guelphs and Ghibellines Tables. The obverse side has the Revolt & Treachery Summary. The next two sheets fold out to make four Player Aid cards, one for each player. On these are:

Battle & Storm
Sequence of Play

A Selection of Art of War Cards

Assorted Command Cards

  We have already talked about the Screens. The Rules Booklet is thirty-two pages long. It is in full color and the pages are shiny like a magazine with thick pages. The rules are twenty-five pages long. The next pages have the setup for the game's six scenarios. Then comes a two-page index. Now we come to the Background Booklet. It is sixty-four pages long and has to be seen to be believed. This booklet is chock full of full-page examples of play. Reading the booklet will give you all of the necessary information you need to know. I also think that reading it should give you at least one credit toward a college course on Medieval Italy. It also goes through the information on every card in the game. The bibliography spans two pages. The only problem for me is that the books that are in English I have already read. The rest of the books are in Italian. Unfortunately, the only Italian that has stayed with me cannot be used in mixed company. Oh, and there are six die. They are three for each side; one set is in purple and the other gold. 

Assorted Lord/City Maps

 This is the 'General Course of Play' per GMT Games:

"In Inferno, players take one of two enemy sides, Guelphs (purple) 
or Ghibellines (yellow-orange, hereafter “gold”). The wealthy 
city-state republic of Firenze leads an alliance of Guelph towns 
aligned with the Pope. The Ghibellines comprise city-states Siena 
and Pisa and allied landholders. Guelph expeditions from northern 
and eastern Italy can join in, while Manfredi Hohenstaufen, King 
of Sicily, sends German detachments to back the Ghibellines.
In turns covering 60 days each, Guelph and Ghibelline players 
will levy lords and vassal forces, gather transport, and recruit specialists. Each lord’s forces and assets are laid out on a mat. Players then plan and command a 60-day campaign with their lords.
Cylinders on the map show the lords’ movements, as they seek to 
take strongholds by siege, storm, or revolt and perhaps face each 
other in battle. Markers on a calendar show how long each lord 
will serve, varying by hunger, pay, political events, and success or 
failure in their campaigns"

Ghibelline Lords and Vassals Player Aid

  I understand completely why the years 1259-1261 were chosen for the game. If I had my druthers, I would wish that it took place earlier during Frederick I Hohenstaufen's campaigns to put down the Guelphs in Northern Italy. Putting my own thoughts aside, we have a game that, just like its brethren, give a wargamer the chance to try and herd Jello or cats if you like. Playing either side gives you a good look, not just a glance, into how medieval campaigns were run. You must make a plan for each sixty-day turn. Then you may or may not see the plan completely destroyed before the other player even moves a piece. Your Lords and Vassals may decide to show up and be a part of your grand scheme. However, they might decide to leave you in the lurch or even worse, try to stick a nicely made Italian dagger in your back. Each turn will see you being taught another lesson from the school of hard knocks. After all, this is the arena where Machiavelli learned everything he wrote down. So, while you are herding your vassals toward your objective, and looking over your shoulder for the glint of steel, good luck.  The immersion in the game is highly palpable. You might want to take a short course on impolite Italian and the correct way to bite your thumb at an opponent. 

 Logistics and supply are a large part of the game. It does you no good to have a group of knights ready to descend on your enemy, only to have them fall out of their saddles from starvation. This is where your planning each turn really shines. You must carefully amass enough supply and carts to assist your forces in their endeavors. Conversely, you can put a monkey wrench in your opponent's plans by stopping him from foraging and ravaging his lands.

 My favorite scenarios are C and F. Scenario C has German Knights from Manfredi Hohenstauffen helping to stop some Guelph rebellions. Scenario F is the Campaign Game. There is also a nice learning scenario about the Battle of Montaperti. This was the largest battle of the time fought in1260. This is included to teach you how a battle works in the game.


 "I come to take you to the other shore, into eternal darkness, into heat and chill" (Inferno III 86-87)

 Thank you, GMT Games for allowing me to review this bright new star in the firmament. All of the game components were designed for utility and also beauty. Even if the gameplay was sadly lacking, and it isn't, any player would be proud just to show off the game on his table. If you have played any of the Levy & Campaign games, then you will not find this game hard to play. Each of the Levy & Campaign games have to have some tweaks to reflect the different situation. However, gameplay is pretty similar across the board.


GMT Games:
Inferno: Guelphs and Ghibellines Vie for Tuscany 1259-1261:


  Red Blitz An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games   Flying Pig Games should have really used hog ...

Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games

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

April 2023

Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games

 Red Blitz

An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition


Flying Pig Games

 Flying Pig Games should have really used hog instead of pig for its flying porcine. Their games are enormous with massive maps that come with 1" hexes. The counters come in two sizes. The armored vehicles are 7/8" and the soldier, etc. ones at 3/4".

 This is what Flying Pig Games has to say about Red Blitz:

"In the vein of Old School Tactical Vol 2's Phantom Division we present Red Blitz. This boxed expansion will add more scenarios that occur during the vicious fighting of Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944.

Specifically, there are 6 challenging new scenarios, and an extended battle to be gamed on Vol I's Map 1. The extended battle is a multi-part legacy scenario, where the day's gains remain in your hands and reinforcements are fed into the battle. A running score is kept and the winning side is determined at the end of all the rounds.  

The "one-off" scenarios are fought on 4 new pocket maps, depicting summer and winter terrain. Additionally, Red Blitz presents new combatants, including the SU-76M, SU-85, OT-34, PT34, ISU-152, IS-2, StuH-42 and the Nashorn."

Red Blitz Includes:

4 new 11" x 17" game maps (4 x summer and 4 x winter).
A playbook with 6 new scenarios and a separate, new campaign.
A sheet of gorgeous counters, including--but not limited to-- the new units cited above.
A box to keep everything safe and warm.
This is an expansion. You must own Old School Tactical Vol I 2nd Edition to play.

 The expansions maps are up to Flying Pig Games usual beauty and usefulness. They are paper maps and not mounted. To me it is not big deal. I just break out the plexiglass. Some people may feel differently. The Maps are 'Pocket Maps' numbers four through seven. The Maps are identical on both sides except for one side is summer and one is winter. The counters are just as huge and little works of art like all of the Flying Pig Games I have seen. The vehicle/weapon cards are also up to the same high standards. There are four German cards and six Soviet ones. The Soviet player gets some monster tanks (IS 2, and ISU 152) along with a flamethrower T-34 and a mine sweeping one. The Playbook is fourteen pages long. It is in full color and has large type that is easy to read. All but one page is devoted to the new scenarios. The expansion's components are all comparable to the ones you get with the main games. 

 Once again, Flying Pig Games has given us a very nice expansion to one of their core games. To play the scenarios in Red Blitz you need to either have a copy of Old School Tactical Volume I 2nd Edition or the 2nd Edition Upgrade for the original Old School Tactical. The scenarios will also need some of the counters from the main game. The new maps and units, especially the units, bring a great amount of added value to the base game. Thank you, Flying Pig Games for allowing me to review this expansion. 

 If you have not looked at Hermann Luttmann's magnum opus 'A Most Fearful Sacrifice' game about the Battle of Gettysburg, you owe yourself to take a look. Here is my review of it:


Flying Pig Games:

Flying Pig Games Red Blitz:


  Japanese Tanks and Armored Warfare 1932-45 A Military and Political History by David McCormack  The Japanese tanks and their usage are usu...

Japanese Tanks and Armored Warfare 1932-45: A Military and Political History by David McCormack Japanese Tanks and Armored Warfare 1932-45: A Military and Political History by David McCormack

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

April 2023

Japanese Tanks and Armored Warfare 1932-45: A Military and Political History by David McCormack

 Japanese Tanks and Armored Warfare 1932-45

A Military and Political History


David McCormack

 The Japanese tanks and their usage are usually compared to the Italians in World War II. Both their tank tactics and the tanks themselves seem to be better suited to the 1930s than the 1940s. So, let us see if the author has some new insights on the Japanese tanks and warfare.

 It actually turns out that he does. For a country that had a very limited supply of automobiles and trucks and no home-grown plants to make them, Japan produced the first diesel powered tank in 1936. Using European tanks during the Manchurian incident in 1932, the Japanese had used tanks and trucks to move 320 kilometers in three days. This was by a combined arms ad hoc group of Infantry, tanks and towed guns. While it is true that the resistance they faced was not that great, it did show how some of the Japanese military was able to think in a manner very outside of the box for the time. This was the same as blitzkrieg or deep penetration that was written about in other armies, but just put on paper and never actually used. Britain was the first country to experiment with these units in the 1920s. However, lack of funds stopped all of their training in this direction.

 The author goes onto show how even though the Japanese thinking was very advanced, their manufacturing of tanks was slowed to a crawl. The Japanese Navy and Army were in a struggle for all of the limited manufacturing that Japan had during those years. The Japanese infrastructure was nowhere near the size that it needed to be to fight in World War II. 

 On page eighteen there is what first looks to be a small tidbit of information but in reality, is very significant. The author writes that the Japanese Army had an Achilles heel. This was their looking at logistics as an afterthought if it was thought about at all. I know we have read constantly that "amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics" (USMC Gen. Robert H. Barrow). On this page we find quotes from Edward J. Drea that shows that the Japanese actually looked down upon the transport and logistic troops. Military academy officers were not demeaned by being placed to such postings. He goes onto say that the troops assigned to logistics were not even eligible for promotion. This one page of the author's book explains away a lot of what happened during the Pacific War. The book has many other interesting points as well to share with us. 

 Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for allowing me to read this short but very deep book. This book is meant for anyone who has interest in World War II in the Pacific or the Japanese Armed Forces before and during the war.


Publisher: Fonthill Media
Distributor: Casemate Publishers


  Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle  Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström  This volume has to fill a big pair of sho...

Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle: Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle: Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström

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

April 2023

Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle: Volume 2 The City of Death by Christer Bergström

 Stalingrad New Perspectives on an Epic Battle

 Volume 2 The City of Death


Christer Bergström

 This volume has to fill a big pair of shoes to follow the publishing of volume one. The first book was one of the best military history books I have ever read, and I have read tons of them. 

 These are the chapters etc. that are in the book:

Part One: Street Fighting
Chapter One - Onto the Volga
Chapter Two - The Legendary Strongpoints
Chapter Three - Paulus's Fatal Mistake
Chapter Four - The City of Death
Chapter Five - The Battle for Red October

Part Two: The Turning Point
Charter Six - The Trap is Set
Chapter Seven - Success and Failure
Chapter Eight - The Stab-in-the-Back Myth

Part Three: Diary of a Dying Army
1: December 1942
2: January February 1943

Part Four: The Battle in Reality and in History Writing

Appendix One - Axis Order of Battle at Stalingrad on September 12,1942
Appendix Two - Soviet Order of Battle at Stalingrad on September 12,1942
Appendix Three - Axis Order of Battle Stalingrad Don Area December 1, 1942
Appendix Four - The Soviet Terma of Surrender, Presented to 6. Armee on January 8, 1943
Appendix Five - Film Clips From the Battle of Stalingrad

There are also various Glossaries and a good number of well-done maps.

 So, this volume will take us from the hell of the street fighting in Stalingrad to the point where the Germans had managed to almost conquer the entire city. Then the story continues to the Soviet encirclement of 6. Armee and its final death throes. 

 This is what Vaktel Books has to say about the book:

330 pages hardcover. Format 6″ x 9″
Illustrated with many previously unseen photos
Large and clear maps
QR codes with relevant film clips

The realistic air bridge – and why it failed.
How could the Russians persevere?
General Paulus’s greatest mistake.
What happened to the civilians in Stalingrad?
The myths about ”Pavlov’s house” and the Mamayev Kurgan hill.
The German plan to evacuate Stalingrad – and how it failed.
A critical analysis of writing history about Stalingrad.

 This is an excerpt from the book:

"In a way, the Battle of Stalingrad was decided on September 12, 1942. That day, General Friedrich Paulus, the commander of German 6. Armee in Stalingrad, met Hitler at his Eastern Headquarters in Vinnitsa, and presented a plan in two stages, aimed at solving all problems in the Stalingrad area: First, the city of Stalingrad had to be
taken, in order to prevent the Soviets from bringing more troops across the Volga to strike a blow at the German flank. After this had been completed, all forces of 6. Armee and 4. Panzerarmee could be released for aims which truly would be decisive if realized: The former was to surround and annihilate the Stalingrad Front north
of the city and wipe out the dangerous Soviet bridgeheads in the northern part of the Don Bend at Serafimovich and Kletskaya; the latter was to carry out an operation called “Herbstlaub” (Autumn Leaf), intended to capture the Soviet positions south of Stalingrad at Beketovka and Krasnoarmeysk. If all of this was to be achieved, it was assumed that the Germans could occupy winter positions in relative calm."

 This volume does not have to look on its older sibling with envy. The second volume is just as well written and full of new information as the first. The writer moves effortlessly from the larger picture to the intimate recollections of the poor civilians who were caught up in the hellish maelstrom. 

 The author believes that Paulus had committed a 'fatal mistake' in the battle during the last days of September 1942. This is from the book:

"Paulus had indeed committed a grave mistake. Had the Germans continued to attack the northern industrial area instead of shifting their attention towards the Orlovka Salient, one might assume that the by then remaining Soviet forces would not have been able to withstand the pressure, and the Germans could have captured the whole area. The significance of this simply cannot be underestimated, since it would probably have caused the entire Soviet defense in Stalingrad to crumble, after which the LI Armeekorps could have been in an offensive to push the ne Don Front northward. This in turn could have avoided the whole Stalingrad catastrophe for the Germans." 

 These books are also on the cutting edge of technology. You have the ability to download materials and to actually watch videos of the actual events with the embedded scan codes and links.

 Thank you, Vaktel Books and Lombardy Studios, for letting me review this excellent book.

Author: Christer Bergström

Publisher Vaktel Books

North American Distributor: Lombardy Studios

Lombardy Studios is doing a new Kickstarter for 'Aerocatures':

As an FYI Lombardy Studios is working on releasing the wargame 'Streets of Stalingrad Death of a City' You can find more information here:


  PANZERKAMPF FROM TRAFALGAR EDITIONS The latest   game from Trafalgar Editions continues their   concentration on miniatures   related sys...


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

April 2023





The latest game from Trafalgar Editions continues their concentration on miniatures related systems.  Their two Napoleonic games were a very happy marriage of board wargame and miniature techniques.  Panzerkampf is much nearer to Ships of the Line: Trafalgar 1805 in that it is purely a miniatures game to be played out on a convenient table top.  However, the focus is much different and the contents of this core game very small in number.  First of all, I would describe Panzerkampf as a light skirmish game of small scale tank encounters, unlike Trafalgar's fleet sized action.  The actual physical size of both games' components is 10mm, but a change from plastic to resin means that the tanks in Panzerkampf  have a much greater solidity and for their size the level of detail is clear and well executed.  Below you can see on the left the basic unpainted Russian T34 41and on the right the basic PzIV F1 with a simple undercoating of field grey and a light dry-brushing to pick up a few highlights.  

The basic core game provides for the German player three Panzer IV F1s, a Tiger VI and a Stug IIIA, while for the Russian there are three T34 41s, one SU 76M and a KV 1 and Trafalgar Editions very generously included all the supplementary models that will become available, but for the moment I want to focus on the rest of the core contents.
Being a miniatures game, the box feels rather light without the familiar paper maps or even heavier mounted maps that are becoming a familiar feature in many games.  Besides the vehicle models are two sheets of cardboard [one mainly of essential markers, the other mainly of terrain] and the rules book.  Having seen the proto-type counters, I was a little disappointed by the sombre hue to most of the markers, which caused some difficulties identifying details at times. 

I discussed this with the designer, Jose Luengo, who I must thank for his willingness to respond so swiftly to any of my queries.  He explained that the intention was to maintain a steely artistic palate in keeping with the armoured focus of the game.
The cardboard terrain elements were particularly important for me, as the 10mm scale doesn't match the very limited miniatures that I've dabbled in over the years.  That is something that I shall definitely have to rectify, as functional though the cardboard is, the photos I have seen of the game with even a modicum of buildings etc to scale greatly enhances the game.
Preparing for play
Here you see in cardboard the game's three buildings, a small section of walls just off centre and the woods markers which serve to delineate an area of woodland, just as some 3D trees would.  Just playing on my handy rough countryside playing mat was at least a help to the visual aspect of the game.  Also in view are a number of the other essential, helpful items. Near the bottom right is the card strip displaying the basic to hit numbers depending on terrain, which can be seen more clearly below, along with the very familiar basic movement marker [MU], as well as one of the building terrain pieces on its reverse side showing that the building has been destroyed.

Also to be seen in the photo above, labelled Preparing for Play, are more terrain pieces, the D6 dice and three useful devices [two shown below].

template for assisting in identifying angle of shot
template for assisting in turret rotation
Finally, there is a card for each type of vehicle that contains all the stats need to play the game.  Once again these have changed somewhat from the prototypes that I had seen, but this time I would say the final version is a definite improvement, with the use of coloured bars and labelled images adding to ease of use, a factor which I'll discuss in more detail when exploring the rules system. 

Rounding out the package is a 16 page Rule Book of which just over 11 pages are rules.  They are very well laid out in double columns with plentiful illustrations and double-spaced text which makes them so very easy to read.   Thumbs up all round, because they're not just visually clear, but totally clear to understand.  Though I would describe this as very much an introductory level miniatures skirmish game that would ease a beginner in with no difficulty, there is a pleasing degree of nuance delivered too.
Sequence of Play
{a} Initiative Phase
{b} Repairs Phase
{c} Movement Phase
{d} Turret Movement Phase
{e} Fire Phase

Initiative is determined by a simple D6 die roll by each player; highest gaining the Initiative and consequently moving second.  A neat marker not only shows which player has won the initiative, but also records an increasing negative modifier, so that, however poor your dice-rolling skills are, at some point you'll definitely get the initiative. 
Repairs can only be made to a damaged gun or turret.  Considering the brief  "real" time being covered, repairs more realistically might be thought of as malfunctions being rectified, but whatever the label this is just one of the little touches I like about the game.  Suffer damage to your vehicles tracks and that's you immobilised for the game and never mind the likelihood of gun fire doing the damage, just entering a wooded area or rubble has its risks! 
Movement too is swift to execute with Trafalgar Editions' typical MU markers and couldn't be clearer.

I particularly like two rules related to movement. The first is that you place a numbered chit that records how many MU you've used that becomes a modifier to the To Hit die roll in the Fire Phase making it harder to hit or be hit.  The second is that if you've used your maximum  MU in a turn - except when your maximum is 1 MU - then you must move at least 1MU at the beginning of the next turn.  I also like the fact that the marker is coloured differently on one side so that you always know whether the number is your maximum move or not.  No having to keep checking vehicle cards or trying to memorise all the different vehicles' movement stats! Again very simple, but very helpful.  
I was fascinated to see a Turret Movement Phase, where this handy little gadget [see below] comes in!

Hold it over your tank, with the barrel lined up and roll a D6.  A pivot up to 80 degrees is always a success, but to pivot more you need to roll the appropriate number.
Moving on to the Fire Phase is to come to the heart of the game, where once more a series of simple rules provide a subtle blend for very little effort.  First of all, a straight line from the gun barrel must touch some part of the target.  So for vehicles such as the Stug IIIA that can't rotate its barrel make sure your move gets you lined up.  Your first roll of 2D6 [modified for range and movement modifiers] is for Impact which is compared with the target's terrain number.  Roll too high and it's a total miss.
If you've scored a hit, then roll 2D6 for Damage - penetration is achieved by rolling less than the target's profile number [Front/Side/Rear] on the vehicle card, taking into account any defensive modifiers to the dice roll, as seen below.
The next step is to check whether the firer's shell penetration value at the given range is greater than the target's armour value.  If it is, then the target is destroyed.  Referring to the vehicle cards above, imagine that the German Panzer is firing at the Russian T34's front armour. The Pz IV fires an APCB shell at range D1, so its penetration value is 45mm, but the T34 has armour value of 52mm [as seen on the silhouette]. So, no direct kill.   
But there's still the chance of a Critical Hit.  This is dealt with easily, if the penetration value is greater than half of the target's armour value, you've achieved a Critical Hit.  In this example, the Russian 's 52mm armour is halved to 26mm, the German's penetration of 45mm is greater - so a Critical Hit.  Roll on the Critical Hit Table to see what has been damaged - gun/turret/hull/engine/track/crew stunned and place the appropriate damage marker against the tank.  The effect of each type of damage takes just a brief, succinct paragraph to explain. Through this simple three step process, the game achieves a surprising level of detail with all the typical effects you'd expect in a game of tank warfare.

The remaining details on the vehicle card are its maximum movement number, crew survival number and points value.  As in most miniatures' systems, the latter is used for creating battles by each side being allocated a total points to spend on buying units.   
All this is accomplished in a mere 8 pages of simple, brief and precise rules followed by 3 pages of optional rules. Most of these I'd have no hesitation in advising that you include from the very start, especially the Random Events rule based on drawing an Event chit whenever you roll a double for hit determination.  This adds a colourful extra layer of detail for all your games, while the optional rules for crew survival and crew types will appeal to those of you who want to play a mini-campaign or tournament.
So, how can you resist a system that potentially contains an 88mm mounted on a half-track - apologies that this model hasn't yet been touched up. 

So, I couldn't resist showing off what even a quickly done paint job can do to a Tiger VI.

To sum up, the core box gives you a hugely accessible, light system for creating swift, skirmish scenarios between tanks, but - be warned - you will want to buy in to the whole range of additional vehicles and I hope that some at least will come in multiple packs!