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  The Maps of Spotsylvania through Cold Harbor: An Atlas of the Fighting at Spotsylvania Court House Through Cold Harbor, Including all Cava...

The Maps of Spotsylvania through Cold Harbor by Bradley M. Gottfried The Maps of Spotsylvania through Cold Harbor by Bradley M. Gottfried

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

May 2023

The Maps of Spotsylvania through Cold Harbor by Bradley M. Gottfried

 The Maps of Spotsylvania through Cold Harbor:

An Atlas of the Fighting at Spotsylvania Court House Through Cold Harbor, Including all Cavalry Operations, May 7 through June 3, 1864


Bradley M. Gottfried

 If you ask most readers of military history what they find most annoying in some history books the answer will be the lack of maps. However, to me that is not the most annoying. The thing that will set my blood pressure higher than anything is poor unreadable maps. We have all seen it. A book has one to three maps in it that looks like either a Rorschach test or something drawn by a four-year old. If you are going to add maps to your books, please look at them. I cannot believe that these things that pass for maps are just gleefully published by editors. The addition of good maps helps the reader immensely when they are trying to discern not only what happened but also why it happened.

 Savas Beatie has been publishing a group of books that are a complete one-eighty turn from the books I mentioned above. However, some readers take umbrage at books that have 'maps' in the title. They believe that it is really just a picture book for adults and while the maps are done well, they will have to read a second book on the actual battle/campaign to really know the history.

 So, with these books Savas Beastie has hit the perfect middle ground. The maps are gorgeous and give you not only troop placement but also the terrain. You can see exactly why this or that regiment was disorganized when it moved up to its position. You also get the written history to further explain what is actually happening and why.

 One side note about the actual 'wilderness' areas both before and during the Overland campaign that Spotsylvania etc. were part of. These areas were 'new growth' and not older forests. If you go to the battlefield today it is very easy to not understand the problems the troops had compared to what you are walking through. Now you can easily go off trail and walk between the trees etc. In 1864 the trees were all still young with many branches obscuring anything except the man in front or behind you.

 It is hard for us in the 21st century to understand the amount of sheer bloodshed and horror that took place in the areas shown in this book. The casualty figures are absolutely insane for the small amount of ground that is shown and discussed. You can easily drive for only five to ten minutes to get from one part of these maps to another. 

 This is from the author about the other books in the series and the idea behind them:

"I began the overall project with The Maps of Gettysburg in 2007. It continued in 2009 with two more installments: The Maps of Chickamauga (by David Powell and David Friedrichs) and my own The Maps of First Bull Run (2009). I continued the series with The Maps of Antietam (2012), The Maps of Bristoe Station and Mine Run (2013), The Maps of the Wilderness (2016), The Maps of Fredericksburg (2018) and, most recently, The Maps of the Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (2020). All of these titles have been reprinted at least once (and several many times) and all of them remain in print today. 

 This series uses maps and precise facing-page text to visualize the action and thus better explain and understand a military campaign. There is no better way to understand military actions and no book can contain enough maps. Coverage herein is intended to be neutral. As anyone who is familiar with this series will attest, its purpose is to offer a broad and full understanding of the subject matter rather than a micro-history of a particular event or day."

 At least in this book the author has met and exceeded his ideas for the series. It is so much easier to understand military history with well-done maps for you to look at in between reading passages.

 The book itself covers a lot of ground. Not only do you get full maps of the Battle of Spotsylvania, you also get to read and look at the Battles around the North Anna and then end up with the foolish Union attack at Cold Harbor. All of the cavalry engagements that took place during the same time period are also given the full treatment. 

Two of the excellent maps in the book.

 This book, and the entire series, should be a part of any history lover or wargamer's library. I will definitely be picking up The Maps of the Wilderness and a few others. Thank you, Savas Beatie, for allowing me to review this very good book.


Publisher: Savas Beatie


 Victory was Beyond Their Grasp With the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division From the Hurtgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich by Douglas E. Nash...

Victory was Beyond Their Grasp by Douglas E. Nash Sr. Victory was Beyond Their Grasp by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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

May 2023

Victory was Beyond Their Grasp by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

 Victory was Beyond Their Grasp

With the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division From the Hurtgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich


Douglas E. Nash Sr.

 The book follows the 272nd Volks-Grenadier (Peoples-Grenadier) Division from creation until the end of the war. Actually, the division came from the remnants of the 272nd Infantry Division. That division was first incorporated in 1940 but was disbanded after the fall of France. The division was recreated in late 1943 in Belgium. The division had fought during the Normandy campaign and was in the thick of the fighting around the city of Caen, or what was left of it.


 I have been reading about the Second World War for many years. However, it is only recently that I have started reading and wargaming the last year of the war. Before I had done this, I had made the mistake of lumping the Volks-Grenadier divisions with the Volkssturm. The latter was just a last-ditch home guard of little to no military use. The author shows that the Volks-Grenadier divisions were actually an attempt to reconfigure the German Army divisions, especially upping the firepower of the infantry. These divisions have a spotty record, but it is not their fault. Due to limited training of replacements, and lack of some of the planned armaments, the divisions were not as effective as they had looked on paper. Colonel Nash goes into the 272nd VG beginning, training, and movement of the division to the front line.

 The division's first taste of battle was in the Hürtgen Forest, a name that is not well known as some of the other U.S. battles during WWII. The Battle of the Bulge, fought around the same time, really took all the press. The Battle of The Hürtgen Forest was more of a grinding battle of attrition between both sides. The author does a fine job of moving from the overall picture of the front to the very small actions that took place.

 This book is a wonderful addition to any history lover's library. It shows how after the last year of the war (after the closing of the Falaise gap) it was still a nightmare for the troops of both sides. You will see that even after the fall of Germany was plain to see the German Army continued to fight and to do so as effectively as they could.

 Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for allowing me to review this great book. For anyone who wants to look at the last year of WWII this book is a place to start from.


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 LIMITS OF GLORY:  BONAPARTE'S EASTERN EMPIRE FROM FORM SQUARE GROUP The Prologue Recently I first heard of this game's title - noth...


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

May 2023






The Prologue

Recently I first heard of this game's title - nothing more and I instantly headed over to BGG for enlightenment.  At that point the only message was "No discussions" and three photos.  Despite - or was it because of this lack of information - I determined to contact the company to see if they might provide a copy of the game to review.  But first I had a board wargaming convention to get to soon.  
A little later...I arrived at a venue near Coventry where PunchedCon 2023, a new board wargame convention which was started and held for the first time last year was being held for its second time!
Walking into the large gaming hall, I was surprised to see there was a person setting up a demo stand for Form Square Games, the future publishers of Limits of Glory: Bonaparte's Eastern Empire.  Not only was this person the publisher, he was also the game's designer, Andrew Rourke.  Several conversations with Andrew and his fellow gamer, Ray, and a play through of the game later and I was back home with a proto-type copy from the designer [many, many thanks] and straight on to BGG to post my first very brief impressions of the game and a promise to write a full review.  The rest, as they say, is history or rather this review of what, from now on, I shall for brevity's sake call Bonaparte.  And why Bonaparte and not Napoleon?  The answer is for historical accuracy.  The game is set in the period when he ranked as General of Division Bonaparte. His crowning of himself as Emperor Napoleon lies in the future.  This points to the fact that, though this may be considered a light game, it is one for which the designer seeks to create the right feel and historical verisimilitude for the period.
In The Beginning
The campaign in Egypt, for this is what the game portrays, is generally not widely known.  If it is, then the Battle of the Pyramids and the naval Battle of the Nile in 1798 [sometimes called the Battle of Aboukir Bay] along with the British landing three years later, also at Aboukir Bay, are the main and only events usually mentioned.  The other famous fact is that the French expedition led to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, so important in the later deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  My one and only board wargaming experience with this campaign has a map that is widely considered fairly off-putting and it was the map for Bonaparte that immediately grabbed my attention.  Here it is, remember that it is a proto-type and then read on.

Perhaps your reaction was similar to mine. It certainly grabbed my attention and my curiosity, but my impressions and reactions were mixed.  Its parentage was clearly a cross between Eurogames and more traditional board wargames..  The colours were strong, vibrant, perhaps even, dare I say, garish. And what had happened to the sea?  As I commented on BGG, it was a " strangely pale and un-blue sea. This turned out to have been a designer's typical nightmare, as Andy showed me a photo of the board's colours that went off to the printers with a lovely pale blue sea and came back with...well. a different colour."  Thank goodness, only the proto-type!  To emphasise the point my photograph here doesn't even give you an accurate representation of the printer's incorrect colour, turning it into a far more sludge-like one!!
The board, as you can see, is very simple, and mainly an area movement map of parts of Egypt, Syria and the Mediterranean.  But what was the purpose of that dominating numbered track and what are those cartoons dotted around and why are they there?  Answers to those two questions will come later.
In part, I'm trying to recreate for you my experience and what yours may be if you see and buy this game. I was intrigued, I was puzzled, I did want to know more. It didn't look like the normal game I would buy, despite being an avid board wargamer for 47 years and a similar Eurogamer for a mere 15 years.  Particularly, would it satisfy me to play as a grognard board wargamer and here I'm going to leap ahead, just in case you give up reading at this point, it did.  I was hooked! 
The game has its abstractions, but models the campaign surprisingly well. It provides both an historical feel with an exciting game and a system which has more unique features than I've come across in any game in a long time.  Even more unique features than in my previous recent review.
 The System
I'm going to start by looking at the two key points of the system.  The first is that the numbers 5 and 6 govern everything.  To move from one area to another whether on land or sea, you need to roll at least one 5 or 6.  

How many dice you roll depends on the those numbers you see printed in each area on the map.  Want to move from an area designated with the number 1, then you get just one dice to roll to achieve your critical numbers 5 or 6. That's a tough area to move from.  An area is marked with a 3, that's easier to leave because you've got 3 dice to roll and you only need the one 5 or one 6 to be successful.  In combat, want to inflict a hit on an enemy unit, yes roll a 5 or 6 and you've achieved a hit.  This time the number of dice you roll is always four.  So, you might inflict up to 4 hits.  Sounds all too simple.  Well, those basic rules couldn't be simpler or easier to understand - a feature generally of the rules in fact.  Despite this, there is plenty of subtlety incorporated, especially in the combat system. 
However, the second and even more important key feature of the game's system is Glory Points.  This will take a little longer to explain, but is just as easy to learn and apply.  It also explains the generic part of the game's title, Limits of Glory. This heralds that the game is the first in a series and the second game design is already underway. To understand more, we need to turn to the two sides' separate Leader Displays.  As the game is focused on Bonaparte, it's the French Display I'm going to use as an example.

Each Leader has two markers on the display.  The first time a Leader is placed on the map board, one Leader marker is placed directly on the map, while his other Leader marker is placed on the Glory Track after rolling for his Glory Points as indicated on the Display Chart.  Their purpose will be explained later as we move into the Sequence of Play.

A closer look at the Glory Track

Before all this, you will have set up the map with all the appropriate units on it and all other necessary charts and displays.  Besides the main map and the Leader Displays are two other Charts of very thick solid cardboard.  The first is the Events Clock and again a definitely new approach that I enjoy whole-heartedly.

The Events Clock

The other chart is the Combat one and, dare I say it, here is yet another unique approach.  In fact there are several original features embodied in this Chart that I'll discuss when exploring Combat.
Combat Chart

Sequence of Play

First of all there are three Phases to this game and it's important to note that this refers to three separate stages in the course of the game, not that there are three phases each turn.
The first stage is the Invasion Phase.  This is a brief "cat and mouse" section involving three French fleet markers of which two are dummies and one is the real fleet, commanded by Admiral Brueys, and one British fleet commanded by, of course, Nelson. The three French fleets set out respectively from Toulon, Genoa and Civitavecchia.  I love this stage of the game as the French player tries by how he/she manoeuvres the fleets to deceive the Allied player as to which is the real fleet, while endeavouring to reach the coast of Egypt without being discovered and, if possible, visit Malta en route and Nelson simply tries to intercept and discover the real fleet.

Nelson fails to reach me, before I'm about to disembark!

There are three possible outcomes;  [1] the French Fleet will be intercepted at sea [2] the French Fleet will be intercepted while disembarking the French troops in Egypt [3] the French Fleet will disembark without being intercepted.  Whichever happens, you move on to the Disembarkation Phase.
Disembarkation Phase
First, consult a chart that tells you what actions to take, how many troops Bonaparte lands with and where, as well as how many Glory Points to calculate for him, plus 2 VPs if you did manage to visit Malta. [I can't help adding that in the game I am using for photos, I managed to visit Malta, scoring 2 VPs, land without Nelson intercepting the French fleet, thus arriving with his maximum number of troops and chalked up 63 Glory pts for Bonaparte to use - one less than the maximum.]

Here he is having disembarked safely, by the way there are 26 infantry and one artillery unit in that stack!  It's a lot bigger than it looks.  I also love the counter to the right, Les Savants, and the attention that this game design gives to creating such an historical atmosphere.  These were a group of scientists and intellectuals that as the French player I have to get to the Valley of the Kings and maintain them there as part of achieving an automatic victory.  Frankly that's the easiest part, for the rest of an automatic victory the French only need to capture all the built-up areas that award VPs!! 
Other enjoyable narrative elements that add historical colour in this very brief Phase are the possibilities that you might have some Mamluks to fight or a Bedouin marker that causes a test that may mean a minor loss of Glory.  All these little details add so much flavour and enjoyment to this game with such simplicity and ease of rules.   After disembarking, it's on to the last and longest and most important Phase of the game.
Conquest Phase 
At the beginning of each turn in the Conquest Phase, an Event roll is made on this chart.  At first you will roll a single die and locate the Event on the Chart corresponding to the number rolled.  As the game progresses, certain Events will lead to an increasing number of dice [up to an eventual maximum of four] being rolled and added up to find the Event that has happened.  Some Events happen each time that number is rolled [indicated by the letter R after the number], others when rolled are replaced by a new Event.  This is an ingenious and engaging device that is another important factor in producing that historical ambiance.  It also creates a degree of linearity to events, while allowing some potentially never to occur while others may appear earlier than expected.  
Lurking among those Events is the one located at the crucial number 14 - roll this number and the Peace of Amiens occurs and the game immediately ends!  

But look carefully at the Event instructions; you need to have reached the maximum of rolling four dice before there is any possibility of the game ending, but, once it is a possibility, the tension starts to ratchet up.
After the Event roll, each Turn then proceeds with the French player always active first and the Allied Player active second. Each player's half of the turn begins with a Momentum roll of 4 dice and. like every other roll in this game. a 5 or 6 will gain you a Momentum marker and each payment of a glory point allows you to reroll a failed die.
A player's turn is very, very fluid, being a mixture of movement and combat.  An initial area will be chosen and, as described earlier, a number of dice are rolled according to the number in the area that you are attempting to leave.  A single roll of 5 or 6 is a success and rerolls can be attempted by spending glory points from the senior commander.  There is so much possibility for variation here.  For example, if there were three leaders and a number of units in the area, all could move into an adjacent area together or each leader could move into a separate area with or without accompanying troops.  If any moved into enemy occupied areas, then combat would have to take place in all such areas before any other further movement could be taken.  Provided a group has not failed in moving or combat, they can continue further movement and combat as the active player wishes.  Any failure results in one of the Momentum markers being placed in the area where the failure occurs.  Once all the Momentum markers gained by the first player at the beginning of their activation have been placed on the map, then their activation is over and the second player follows the identical process.

Above you can see the French steam-roller led by Bonaparte has momentarily been halted, while Menou has been dispatched to garrison the adjoining Cairo area.  Meanwhile on a different route seen below, Lannes is about to overwhelm a small leaderless force on his way ultimately for a massive confrontation with the Ottoman leader and a strong force at Acre.   

Obviously, the French player carries the burden of the attack from the beginning of the game onwards with generally superior leaders allowing the potential for major marches and magnificent victories to be won, but they get precious few reinforcements and attempting an automatic victory inevitably leads to separating some leaders and troops, while the necessary victory areas must be garrisoned with at least a leader, if not some troops.  Slowly the game is likely to begin to swing toward the Allied player whose automatic victory conditions are much less grandiose than the French ones.  He/she simply has to capture and retain control of Cairo and Alexandria until the end of a turn.
If neither player wins an automatic victory, then the game ends when Event 14 occurs and the player with most victory points wins.  Inevitably, this is the most likely way the game will end.  At the start of the game, the Allied player occupies all the victory areas and so has 25 VPs, while the French player has none. Slowly or swiftly, the French will start to capture and take control of those VP areas.  In a demo game that a friend played at PunchedCon, he was barely in the lead and desperately hoping for the ending Event 14 to be rolled.  In my current game, my huge initial success as the French has led me to gamble on splitting my forces and driving for an automatic win.  Probably hubris, but what satisfaction if I can pull it off.  Combats have decimated the Mamluks with barely a French unit lost.  Soon a contingent will be marching with the Savants to the Valley of the Kings, while Buonaparte will be hastening to Alexandria and Kleber with his subordinate leader, Lannes, are already about to capture Arish and then on to Acre and a very tough siege against the city manned by a substantial Ottoman force.  Meanwhile, My Allied opponent is lurking off the Egyptian coast and a fairly substantial Ottoman force and fleet has appeared in Rhodes!  The clouds of opposition are gathering! And there's no doubt that combat and sieges play a crucial and exciting part in the game, using the distinctively original Combat Chart and combat system.
This is a major element in the game and a favourite of mine.  Above all, it allows by the use of leaders' glory points significantly smaller French forces the ability to defeat much larger Allied ones and substantially adds to the concept of that Series title, Limits of GloryThis is by far the most complex part of the game rules, but is very quickly and easily learnt.  The combat system begins by placing your Combat Pawn in the box where the total combat value of your troops on the top horizontal row of the chart intersects with the vertical column for nation and command.  [e.g. the Allied player cross-referencing 9 Mamluk value of troops led by a Mamluk leader would place their combat pawn in the box with the large number 17 and the information that a 6 will score one hit and a 5 will score none.]
Next, both players roll 4 dice.  Each player then decides whether to spend glory points rerolling failures and finally each player decides whether to spend glory points forcing their opponent to reroll successes.  If the total of the final 4 dice is equal to or greater than the large number in the box where your combat pawn is then you look at how many hits a 5 or 6 scores.  Yes, you did read that correctly - the number of hits scored by rolling a 5 or 6 varies.  Generally the French player will score more hits per 5 or 6 than the Allied player.  Even more unusual, however, is the rule that, if the total of your 4 dice is less than the large number, then you have scored no hits at all!!  As I keep emphasising, there is a lot of originality in this game design.  This game doesn't just have an historical feel and appeal, it has its very own distinctive game feel and appeal.  These were both very important factors in firing my enthusiasm for and enjoyment of Bonaparte's Eastern Empire.
On top of all that, there are those strangely familiar artists named in the credits: George Cruikshank, Isaac Cruikshank and James Gillray. If you haven't guessed who they are from the box art, then one look at the board and all the leader counters should do the job. They are the trio of cartoonists from the late 1700s and early 1800s whose satirical lampoons of the great and the good brought them to fame.  On the box is Bonaparte scrabbling to reach the top of the Great Pyramid, while on the board there's Nelson cracking the heads of tricolour flag-draped crocodiles.

Each cameo head and shoulder image on each leader counter is similarly drawn from the contemporary historical drawings of these three men. This game really is unique in so many different ways and this art work is just one more feature in that uniqueness.  The one major component that I can't fully comment on is the rule book, because as a proto-type I'm working from a simple, stapled booklet of black on white A4 pages.  What I can say is that the booklet is well organised in much the same order as I have followed in my review. The rules are clear and easy to understand, presented in what I would describe as a narrative format rather than the minutely regimented multi-case number format.  Layout with good sized print and spacing adds to that easy reading.
All in all, I hope I've been able to share my enthusiasm for everything about this game.  It's certainly one that I shall be adding to my collection with every intention of following the series and for those who might be heading to UK Games Expo this weekend, I'd strongly suggest dropping in on Four Square Games to have a good look at Limits of Glory: Bonaparte's Eastern Empire.  Otherwise, look out for information about the game's launch on Gamefound towards the end of June/beginning of July.



  WE ARE COMING, NINEVEH FROM NUTS! PUBLISHING The front of the box lid Where to start?  There are so many avenues to approach with this gam...


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

May 2023





The front of the box lid

Where to start?  There are so many avenues to approach with this game. Well, my starting point is going to be a personal one - recently I was at PunchedCon, a new three-day convention of board wargaming launched last year and located in Coventry.  One of its two sponsors is Nuts!Publishing and so I had the greatest pleasure to meet Florent Coupeau, the head of the company, who I've been communicating with for several years, whenever I've had one of their games to review.  That pleasure was doubly compounded by the opportunity to play a ftf game against Florent himself of their newly published We Are Coming, Nineveh, which I had already received to review.  He was a great guide through the game, as we played, and just the nicest person to meet.  So, it's a huge thank you to Florent for providing my review copy and for the time spent gaming and talking about games with me.
My prior reading of the rules helped and I was already enthusiastic about the game just from that and viewing the components;  I left the table absolutely certain that I will be playing this game repeatedly.
The next avenue I need to explore is the topic and history being presented in the game.  This is a major issue.  Recent and, in this case, very recent warfare always raises questions about whether they are suitable for the gaming table.  I won't rehearse in detail the arguments for and against that I touched on in reviewing, early in January this year, FITNA [also published by Nuts!Publishing].  For some, including a few I spoke to at the convention, it will be unlikely to be their choice.  However, considering the huge success of the game, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, I'm sure this will not be a bar to the game being a success, for reasons that I hope will become clear in my review.
What we're dealing with is the last battle to retake Mosul and the intriguing title, We Are Coming, Nineveh - some I've met were baffled by it - is the name of the operation launched in 2016 to overcome Daesh or what many know better as ISIS.  As the game uses the word Daesh, that is what I shall use throughout my review. This was a brutal conflict and no individual encounter more so than this last appalling battle.  Some games on modern conflicts have been criticised for how little the historical facts are dealt with.  That cannot be said here, as the separate Design Notes booklet devotes the first eight of its eleven pages to the historical background alone.  These I found to be a serious and well presented section, well researched and referenced.  The remaining section begins with that very consideration of the ethics of gaming modern warfare and then explains the gaming decisions taken to fulfil the objectives of modelling this battle.  I have to say that during my game with Florent, he devoted plenty of time to exploring and developing my knowledge of this side of the game.
Aspects of this will be expanded on, as I look at the components and the games system.  I hope I can do justice to what there is to see and read and play in the game and to what Florent told me.
On the surface visually, We Are Coming, Nineveh [WACN for short from now on] is an area movement, block game.  The mounted map, like many other images used in the game, is viewed as an aerial picture of West Mosul depicting the open areas [dark brown], urban areas [light brown] and The Old City [dark grey].  These are the colours ascribed to the areas in the rule book.

Here's the full board and I would call those open areas and urban ones dark tan and light tan.  Doesn't make any difference, but I'm just anticipating someone commenting on my inaccurate colour palate! 
There is an unusual addition to area movement type games, I would say unique if I could be 100% certain that there wasn't another game lurking out there that might have this terrain feature.  This unusual feature is the important addition of the use of major roads - marked in light yellow along with key road junctions marked with a yellow circle.  These are very important for ISF movement.  For historicity, district names are written in block capitals and a number of individual buildings are picked out and labelled.  There is none more important than the Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in the Old City where the leader of Daesh declared the establishment of a caliphate in 2014.  
The units are the very familiar wooden blocks with the equally familiar sheet of stickers to be detached and placed on the blocks: black ones for Daesh and green ones for the Iraqi Security Forces [ISF for short].  I'm glad to say that they fit well on to the blocks, unlike some games I could mention! The number on each edge of a block is the "to hit" value, ranging from 2+ to 6+.  So, for 2+ you'll hit on any number except 1, but for 6+ only a roll of 6 will hit.  A slightly different twist on the usual procedure and you'll need to be very careful that you rotate them correctly, as we're so used to seeing numbers decrease as we take hits.  As the special HQ blocks do follow the normal pattern of decreasing in number as a point is used and increase as you resupply them by one point each turn, these need even more care.  On first play, I found myself initially rotating them in the wrong direction!  In the photo below, you can see on the left and bottom right the stickers and top right shows the very few carboard markers needed to play the game.  Unit density, as can be seen from the number of block stickers, is low and adds to speed of play.

Other vital components are several decks of cards which I shall introduce and discuss when I move on to discuss the rules and game system.  Lastly there are the two booklets, the Rules book and the Design Notes books.

This whole game was designed as a university  project by two students for their wargame design class. In the process, their Professor, Rex Brynen, provided some design advice.  However, the two students, Juliette Le Menaheze and Harrison Brewer are the creators of this impressive game and writers of the Rules Book.  Later in the process and after Nuts Publishing had appreciated the quality of their design and signed the game up, the well known designer, Brian Train, entered the project, advising and working as the final proof-reader.  After some initial work by Brian towards a solo mode, the final solo design incorporated into the game was the work of Rex Brynen, while the Design Notes book was a collaboration of thoughts and ideas from all four participants and written by Rex Brynen. 
So, that's the genesis of WACN.  Now it's time to look at the game in action and immediately encounter  a major aspect of WACN that generates its individuality, its variability and above all its high replay value.  Before play starts, each player takes an identical deck of three cards seen below.  He/she secretly chooses one of these three victory determinants which will be scored on the three tracks on the edge of the map board.

Time is obviously dependent on when the game ends: there is maximum of 12 turns, unless the ISF player automatically ends the game by eliminating all Daesh units in the Old City.
Collateral Damage tracks the amount of damage done by the ISF. 
Casualties tracks the number of unit blocks lost by the ISF player.
Finally, the scores on these tracks may have small adjustments made to them at the end of the game.
What I like about how this is developed is that there are two ways of assessing victory at the end of the game. 
[1] Competing Narratives.  For each of the three Tracks there are a series of written descriptions of what this level of victory means for each side.  
[2] Victory Points. At the end of the game, the points on a track chosen by a player are doubled and if both players have chosen the same track they are trebled.  All the adjusted points are then totalled and compared to a victory point table: the lower the total the greater the ISF victory, the higher the total the greater the Daesh victory [even if such a victory may be very much considered a pyrrhic one].  
No doubt the real combatants might disagree about the statements made, particularly on Method One of judging victory and perhaps the players too may choose to argue about it as well!  [How like more peaceful real life events. Just think about any sport or competitive occasion!] 
Next each player takes their core unit cards that will remain the same in every game.  These cards tell each player how many of these units they receive and the specific capabilities of the particular type of unit.
The ISF player receives: Headquarters, 9th Armoured Division, Counter-terrorism Service [CTS], Emergency Response Division [ERD] and Federal Police units.

In the right-hand column are the core ISF unit cards
The Daesh player receives: Leader, Veterans, Militia, Rumours [in most games these would be simply called Dummies] and IEDs, large IEDs, and VBIEDs [vehicle-borne ideas].  These last three may be one difficult element of the game for some, because of the images they immediately arouse.  Yet how many board wargames involve hidden mines or minefields from North Africa in WWII, to caltrops in ancient battles, to barrels of gunpowder in siege warfare, to Spanish guerrilla tactics in the Napoleonic Peninsular campaign...  Not to mention the many films, novels, history books et al.  It is an issue only the individual can resolve.  All I can say is that this game treats it with seriousness and due respect. 
The next step of preparation, Additional Units & Capabilities, also introduces another and perhaps the strongest feature to give the game its high replay value.   Both players have a Capability Deck, 25 cards for Daesh and 18 cards for ISF.  They provide a mix of extra units and special abilities and each card has a purchase price.  Each player has 30 pts to spend on purchasing whichever cards they want up to that limit. 

Typically the cards break down into supporting the three victory determinants I've outlined.  So, generally players will select from amongst those that best support their chosen path for victory.  At first, your choices may seem a little overwhelming and you might feel that it slows the game down for you.  Don't worry, the designers have taken care of this by providing a prepared selection of cards tailored to fighting the campaign according to its historical terms.
In fact, it was that selection that was used in the game I mentioned against Florent Coupeau. 

The front of each card in the Event Deck

This whole aspect of the game introduces so much of value to the game play and for me is a very strong element, admittedly one among many other reasons, for adding this game to your collection.  It is original and a very interesting stage of the game, which  provides extra factual knowledge and understanding of this battle and modern warfare in general.  Each card is kept secret, until you first use it.  A rare few are single-use only in the whole game, but the majority can be used each turn, with the familiar turning the card at right angles to the board when used or you can employ my preferred alternative of putting some handy marker [a blank counter, coloured bead etc] on them.  There is a whole little game within the game of trying to divine your opponent's victory determinant from their capability cards and the potential for introducing an element of bluff or deception through your game play.  Like it! 
The Event Deck too adds equally strongly to the replay value and the tension of game play.  In total there are 71 Event cards and though some several cards of the same event, there is a very wide range. 
Each card has either a 1 or a 6 printed on the front and so whenever a 1 or a 6 is rolled in combat, if the matching number is on the top card of the deck it is turned over and the event carried out.  This generally deals out a high number of events from my experience and, if you want a massively eventful game, the rules suggest carrying out an event every time a 1 or 6 is rolled, never mind what number is on the top card!
ISF approaching the Old City, but still  a lot to achieve

So, you are now ready to set-up all your core units and any extra ones you purchased on the map.  The ISF player places his green wooden unit blocks first and the rule for this was one of the only two rules that caused me a moment's hesitation.  The rules state that the three set up areas are marked with a star.  Looking at the map, the three areas on the south edge of the map are very, very obvious, but are marked with the symbol of a white bird on a green background.  Looking more carefully, I realised that there was a very small star on each bird symbol.  Slight doubt over.
The Daesh player sets up second and has the more thought-provoking decisions, as these black wooden block units can be placed anywhere on the map following stacking limits.  The choices made will strongly influence the game.  I have some personal opinions on placement, but nowhere near enough plays to judge their value. I look forward to forthcoming views on this and even more on that eternal knotty question of play balance. 
The Turn Sequence is very straightforward: an IGO-UGO system with the ISF player going first each turn.  Each player carries out three Phases.
Support Phase
Considerations of supply are dealt with and these are very simple and limited.  Generally, each HQ regains one step to each block and the most significant action may be those which result from any Capability cards that can be activated in this Phase.
Movement Phase
The rules are very clear, with the ISF having the advantage of the ability to use Fast Movement using the road system, while very few types of Daesh units can.  Other than Fast Movement, moving is one area at a time.  No surprise that all areas of the Old City with its narrow alleyways provide a slow grind forward for ISF as they try to clear it and end the game before turn 12.  Also, though the ISF 9th Armoured are very powerful and are the only units that have a saving roll against hits, they can only operate outside the Old City.  So, it's important to preserve your strong Counter-Terrorism Service forces for that crucial and difficult task.  Very simple differences like this and the differing Capability cards for each side build to create the distinctive feel of each side and the flow of the game.  
Combat Phase
Combat is mandatory when you enter an enemy area and is handled very effectively. After a single round of combat, the defender decides whether to retreat.  If they don't retreat, the attacker must retreat, but with the option that very specific units [Veterans for the Daesh player and Counter-Terrorism units for the ISF] may remain for a second round of combat.  After this second round, if any defending units still remain, the attacker must retreat.  So, each individual combat ends either with one side having retreated or one side having been eliminated.  Modifiers are few and all rules easily learnt so that, like every other step in this game, they are quickly assimilated and rule book referring to is seldom needed.
Should you find yourself without a partner - and I realise that solo play for some is preferred or forced upon them by lack of players where they live - Brian Train's solo mode rules are equally short and manageable.  However, you can only play solo as the ISF player, as  the Daesh player is handled by a deck of cards labelled Military Council.  Not being a lover of BOTs, whose rules I find may often be cumbersome and can produce long-drawn out turns, the Military Council cards and the ability to make sensible decisions when necessary provide a satisfying alternative.  Still, there's nothing like the challenge of a live opponent!
The low unit density of the game makes for quick moving turns and, through the combat system and actions that may happen as the ISF enter Daesh held areas as well as the effect of Event cards, both players feel involved the whole time.  The game play, the rules system, the tension, the multiple decisions, the replay value, the immediate enthusiasm generated from reading the rules and ftf and solo play - all have added We Are Coming, Nineveh to my list of favourite games.  Learning to play the game is easy and playing either side is rewarding and enjoyable.  It's the sort of game that you want to set up as soon as you finish it, just to try out one new combination of cards or one different approach.  It's also safe to say that the short nine core-pages of very well written rules contribute to this.  Over the years, I have come to value highly conciseness, clarity and the ability to play a game with barely any need to refer to the rule book after a few plays.
Still having seen one large group dedicate one out of three days at the convention to setting up Death Ride Kursk, all I can say is "each to their own taste!"  WACN is definitely to my taste and I highly recommend it to yours.


  The White Swan by JMBricklayer   This ship could be from the late 19th or the early 20th century. This is much more of a display model oth...

The White Swan by JMBricklayer The White Swan by JMBricklayer

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

May 2023

The White Swan by JMBricklayer

 The White Swan



  This ship could be from the late 19th or the early 20th century. This is much more of a display model other than a toy that you can play with. The sails and some other parts are a bit too dainty for a child to play with. However, what it lacks in the play department it makes up for in sheer beauty when built. The kit comes with 1672 pieces and is meant for ages 14+. 

 Once you feel how heavy the box is you know that the kit is going to be a big one. The kit comes with six marked bags of parts with another bag with the sails and chains in it. Just look at the details that you can see in the picture below.

 Make no mistake, it is a large and pretty much intricate build. I spent a whole week on it, working on it for two to four hours a day. I did not want to make a mistake and find out near the end of the build. 

 This is definitely the largest block kit I have worked on so far. I was a little taken aback at the number of bags (7) that were in the box. 

 I had made some comments about the last JmBricklayer kit that I had constructed. The comments were made about how the instructions could have been a bit better in places. Either JMBricklayer took them to heart, or they were already working on making building easier without my input. These instructions were very easy to follow even with the number of instructions and bricks being so large.

The most perfect piece in the entire box.

 In the pictures above is one plastic piece that puts JMBricklayer above every other block kit company I have had the pleasure to build kits from. This is the handy dandy fixer for those of us who still have problems following instructions. This will take apart any type of bricks that you have put together through either not paying attention or just being in a rush. I used to use a small eyeglass straight screwdriver for my mess ups. This led to some close calls of almost impaling the palms of my hands. This little device is worth its weight in gold.

 Above is the next big trick that JMBricklayer has up its sleeve. They now have the ability to make bricks that can be printed with what you would want on them! This is a real game changer. The above piece now sits proudly on my desk.

 The build proceeded in a fairly straight manner. Other than there being just more pieces and instructions.

 In a shorter time that I believed possible the ship was taking shape. As I mentioned, I was not trying for a speed build but was taking my time with it. Building these kits are somewhat soothing, and at least for me, calming. 

 The ship comes with so many excellent details that you lose track of all of them. Here is a bit of the list:

Chains for the front of the ship and for the lifeboats


Tiller wheel


Rigging for the masts, and so much more

 I have to admit that I had to stop the build right before doing the last step. The only thing that remains to be done is putting the thread that is used to add three more small sails like the one at the stern. The thread also really gives it a look of a real sailing ship from the time period. If you looked at the box, you would see that the suggested age for building the kit is 14 and up. This is that high because of the cloth like sails and the rigging using the thread. I stopped the build here because I wanted to get the review posted as soon as possible. I also wanted to take my time with the thread and sails to make the ship look as nice as possible. 

 Thank you JMBricklayer for allowing me to build this excellent kit. I will add a picture once I am done with the sails and rigging. I am still surprised that the sails are not made of plastic and yet looks so good on the masts.

 JMBricklayer has graciously given some codes to lessen the price on the White Swan:

1. The US Amazon code for White Swan 40104 is:  vipawgnft15  (from tomorrow to June 16) , and now it has a $8 off, so if you use the code, it will be $8 OFF+ 15% OFF

2. On our website
the code is: vipawgnft15 (from now to 2323 12 31)
for all non-discounted sets
worldwide shipping, free shipping, and tax.
If customers register to be our members, they will get 100 points worth $10 , and with the code , it will be $ 10 off + 15% OFF



The White Swan: