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  Wouter Schoutteten on his upcoming game 'Dreaded Flags' Naval Conflict in the Age of Piracy 1568-1720  This is look into Wouter Sc...

Wouter Schoutteten on his new game release 'Dreaded Flags' Wouter Schoutteten on his new game release 'Dreaded Flags'

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

June 2023

Wouter Schoutteten on his new game release 'Dreaded Flags'


Wouter Schoutteten on his upcoming game 'Dreaded Flags'

Naval Conflict in the Age of Piracy 1568-1720

 This is look into Wouter Schoutteten's new, and first, game Dreaded Flags. Everyone, please practice your Arrgghhs.

 Dreaded Flags is a game for 1 - 3 players about historical naval conflicts between small fleets in the Age of Piracy. It's a hex-and-counter wargame of medium-light complexity, with playtime ranging between 30min and about 2 hours and available as a gamebook.

It is my first release and hence my first (very instructive and enjoyable) experience with game design! 

Robert asked me to write something about the game and since this piece goes together with a review, I like to give you an inside look into the development process.

Much of what we (think we) know about pirates, stories with protagonists like Blackbeard, is highly romanticized. Many of those stories can be traced to Charles Johnson's collection of stories (fact or fiction?), A General History of Pyrates. Nonetheless, when we look at the facts behind the legend, a fascinating story persists. These freebooters did manage to hijack ships or steal goods. How did they do it, with a small - often outdated - ship, only a few cannons and a very small crew? 


The few alliances we know of did not last (as we see between Bonnet and Blackbeard, and Every and Pharo, all featured in the game). Sea battles were deadly dangerous and the gains often unpredictable. A captain had to earn the trust of his men, and had to be able to maintain it in chaotic combat. And then there is the trick of just also being an agile, technical captain who can skillfully steer his ship and keep it on course. My first goal for the game was to make a realistic game in the setting of the age of piracy.

In addition, I also made an amazing observation. Just about all games about the age of piracy lose themselves in the romanticized, mysterious portrait of pirates. A historical simulation - or wargame - based on the facts at hand, is almost impossible to find. And the few I did find are outdated, cumbersome and/or out of print. That brings me to my second goal Dreaded Flags should also be a fun, playable game in addition to its historical depth.

The Counters are on the Back Page of the Rulebook

Playable for me meant that the game should not take hours. One of the mechanisms that slow down play is when the main action or narrative has to be interrupted to do some bookkeeping or when dice have to be rolled again (e.g. if a player rolls an X, roll again to see what happens). 

I wanted as much info as possible to already be hardwired into the game, before any dice are rolled. I believe we have succeeded in that, and it’s the strongest point in the gameplay, if you ask me. Some modifiers provide more or less dice, while others manipulate the value of the dice. Factors such as number of guns, distance, morale, wind speed...all are contained in one small table. Players roll a number of dice once for their cannon fire and immediately read the result. And with the addition of 2 colored dice for the optional hit table we increase the realism (and the agency of the players because with this rule they can aim at either hull or rigging). This way, Cannon fire and combat is very fast and yet yields incredible detailed results. To interrupt the action as little as possible, most bookkeeping and extra checks happen after the main action. 

Some Action from a Test Game

Another way we want to make the game accessible and playable is by avoiding jargon (and probably naval wargame fanatics will raise their eyebrows here!). But new players can't tell terms like backing, aft or port. And because there is already so much info for new players, we have left out any jargon as much as possible. This way gameplay is more intuitive and easier to understand for novice naval wargames. To preserve some of the atmosphere, the well-known terms bow and tern have remained. But wind attitudes have been translated to a number, from 1 to 6. We speak of small fleets - not flotilla, and so on.

Playable for me also means replayability. And that means versatility. In the choice of scenarios we have taken this into account. There are 2 completely solitary scenarios in it, while other scenarios are perfect with 2 players. There is 1 scenario for 3 players. Some scenarios are short and can be played in 30 min, others are longer but can also be played in 1 evening. Something for everyone. Another nice extra, I think, is that besides the 8 scenarios, players can easily create their own scenario. In the book are blank log pages with which they can work out their own duel. The system is perfectly scalable to play with even more players as well ( I think 8 players is a bit the maximum for practical reasons) Also, the standardized map makes working out scenarios easier.

Developing a game from A to Z is an incredible experience. But as a rookie, I still have a lot to learn. I am incredibly grateful to my test players and proof readers. It never ceases to amaze me that people want to take the trouble and time to test a game that may turn out to be rubbish. Or to pick out spelling errors from a text not written by a native English speaker! But it is indeed the passion, knowledge and willingness to help that makes our niche so wonderful. 

One of the things I had the hardest time with was deciding which input from the test players to respond to and which not to. In doing so, I tried to go back to my original goal: a fairly fast-playing, accessible game of medium complexity with the necessary historical depth and realism. Balancing realism with playability became a real obsession. 

You can also use Miniatures to play

For example, I was satisfied with how hits translated into damage. You always have to consult and execute the hit table in a fixed order. This yields predictable damage results. One test player found that not realistic enough and upon request I developed the Advanced Hit Table. Since this adds another layer of complexity to the game, I decided to make this an optional game rule (again, pondering how complex game rules should be).... But I notice that I now always play Dreaded Flags with that optional rule, so maybe that should become a standard rule! So, putting my ego aside here, input from playtesters is very valuable.

I think making a complex game is easier than a simple but challenging game. So what to delete and what to keep? If you want the development process to keep moving forward smoothly, you have to be prepared to make choices quickly. 

This whole process went pretty fast but that's what I had chosen. In a short period of time, this gave me a much better overall understanding of game development and what is involved. I hope Dreaded Flags finds a small, enthusiastic group of players. I am working on new games, and I hope the success of dreaded flags motivates me to continue working on them.

Thank you all for your support!


 Thank you Mr. Schoutteten for giving us a look at your new game.

 These are some of the Battles:

The Trader (A learning Scenario) - 1716
The Ambush: John Hawkins vs. the City of San Juan de Ulúa - 1568
The Sacking: Henry Morgan vs the city of Maracaibo - 1669 (Solitaire)
The Heist: Henry Every vs. the Murghal Fleet - 1695
The Salvaging: Charles Vane and Henry Jennings vs. The Spanish Salvage Fleet - 1715
The Hunt: Frances Hume vs. John Martel - 1717
The Reckoning: Blackbeard vs. Stede Bonnet - 1718
The Menace: Black Bart vs. the people of Barbados - 1720 (Solitaire)

This is the Amazon page for the U.S.:

Dreaded Flags: Naval Conflict in the Age of Piracy 1568 - 1720: A Wargame Book: Schoutteten, Wouter: 9798390935064: Books


  They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games    This game, or actually games, has done exactly what I love about wargaming. It ...

They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games

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

June 2023

They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games

 They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875


Cadet Games

 This game, or actually games, has done exactly what I love about wargaming. It has presented me with a piece of history that I know little about. So, naturally I had to find books about the two battles. I knew some about the Battle of The Ia Drang Valley, as it was the first time that a group of U.S. soldiers were used in Vietnam en masse and not just as trainers or Green Berets. I had never watched the film 'We Were Soldiers' either. I know, shame on me. I knew next to nothing about the Battle for Hill 875. The way I look at it is you cannot judge a historical wargame without knowing the true details about the battle or campaign.

 Cadet Games gives you both battles inside the box. Let us look at the historical synopsis from Cadet Games:

"At 10:48 A.M. on the morning of November 14th, 1965, the first 80 soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry landed in a small clearing at the foot of the Chu Pong Massif in central Vietnam near the Cambodian border.  The Americans had landed in the middle of the base area for an entire North Vietnamese division, and were almost immediately attacked from multiple sides of their small landing zone - called ‘LZ X-Ray’.

The battle raged over the next several days, with high losses on both sides.  In the end, the Americans had proved their new airmobility tactics and had inflicted high losses on the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers they faced.  The NVA had also learned how to fight the Americans - and had inflicted serious losses on a high-tech superpower enemy by using classic light infantry tactics with only a fraction of the firepower available to the Americans.

This game challenges the players to re-fight the first day or so of that battle - the critical time when the NVA forces had the chance to overwhelm the Americans and overrun the landing zone.  Can you, as the U.S. player, hold your ground and repeat history?  Or will the NVA player triumph and overwhelm the perimeter - cutting the Americans off from supply and reinforcement?  Get ready to re-live or re-write history in the battle for LZ-Xray!

At 09:43 A.M. on the morning of November 19th, 1967, the lead platoons of the 2/503rd Airborne Infantry began advancing south up the north face of hill 875 in the central highlands of Vietnam near Cambodia.  The Americans, just 330 strong, expected to face a company of the NVA.  The pre-assault bombardment by aircraft and artillery had created much deadfall, craters and holes in the thick jungle.

The battle that followed became one of the bloodiest in the Vietnam War.  The NVA had been expecting the Americans and had a plan of their own.  The 2/503rd was nearly wiped out but was quickly reinforced by their 4th battalion.  The battle for the hilltop raged for days with serious losses on both sides.  In the end, the Americans took the hill - but the NVA had slipped away with many of their soldiers to fight again."

Map for the Ia Drang Battle

 So, both battles have the U.S. player definitely on the backfoot. Your job as the U.S. is to survive the onslaughts. If playing as the Vietnamese, you must try and destroy the U.S. units without using up all of your troops to do so. 

 This is what comes with the game:

32 NVA And Vietcong Soldiers
20 U.S. Cavalry Troopers
2 105mm Howitzers
3 Huey Helicopters
2 A1 Skyraiders
1 Mortar
50 Number Markers
40 NVA Unit Markers
40 Wounded Markers
30 NVA Markers
100 Gray Chips
40 White Chips
23 U.S. Unit Markers
30 Bright Green Chips
50 Olive Drab Chips
20 Green Chips
5 Downed Huey Markers
78 Game Cards
10 Fire Mission Markers
2-Sided Mounted Map
1 Rulebook
1 Battleboard
1 NVA Reinforcement Card With Hidden Unit Boxes
1 Cavalry Reinforcement Card
1 Fire Support Layout
2 Status Markers
1 Initiative Marker
1 Game Turn Marker
2 Landing/Take Off Hex Markers
15 Airborne Unit Markers
2 NVA AAA Unit Markers
2 NVA Mortar Unit Markers
10 NVA Bunker Markers
1 Spooky Marker

 This is quite the list!

 The map is mounted and double-sided. The maps are very nicely done and really show off the terrain you have to deal with. Both Maps show a smaller area than you might have thought. The scenarios for the battles are very early in each battle and only show the part of the terrain that matches with the beginning of both battles. Think of it as a map of one of the fortified positions of Dien Bien Phu and not the entire valley. I cannot go over all of the game's components separately or this would be one very long review. All of the plastic soldiers and counters etc. are manufactured to a very high degree of workmanship. As I mentioned in my last Cadet Games review, if you do get soldiers or planes that are a bit bent, do not sweat it. Just put them in some hot water and they can be fixed into their original positions. One thing that is great for we grognards that are getting older is that all of the components are large. You will not have to fiddle with 1/2" counters in these games. The game comes with two rulebooks. One is for the Battle of Ia Drang Valley (and is the main rulebook for the games). The other is for the Battle of Dak To Hill 875. The Ia Drang Rulebook is twenty-three pages long, while the one for Dak To is just eleven pages. They are in full color and have some illustrations of the rules inside. The components, maps, and Rulebooks are definitely up the level of the other Cadet Games wargame that I reviewed 'Nguyen Hue '72, The 1972 Easter Offensive in Vietnam'.

 The different colored 'chips' to the side of the map are used underneath the plastic soldiers to show the unit's strength. A full-strength unit of either side has 7 'steps' and thirty-five soldiers. It is an easy and simple way to keep track of your units' strength points. 
Everything that was encountered by either side in the battle is included. There are NVA bunkers, anti-aircraft, and mortar units. The U.S. has Huey helicopters and howitzers. These are just a few of the units that you are capable of using in the game. 

 Victory is determined in Ia Drang by the U.S. casualties taken. The smaller the number of casualties means a U.S. victory. In Dak To Hill 875, the NVA player has to eliminate the U.S. soldiers and make sure none are on the top of Hill 875 at the end of the game. The U.S. wins even if they have a wounded unit on the top of Hill 875.

  The other game from Cadet Games that I reviewed was a strategic one encompassing the whole of South Vietnam. The rules for this game are not just leveled down compared to it. The Sequence of Play, movement, and combat have all been designed for a tactical game. The one thing U.S. players have to keep in mind is that neither of these battles shows off the immense resources that the U.S. had during the war. These are both very small action knife fights. In every hex toward your goal might lie an ambush. The NVA player in Dak To Hill 875 can take as many casualties as are needed to reach your goal. As long as you have one unit left and the U.S. has none you are king of the hill.
 Both of these battles, as has been shown, are very different from the ones in documentaries. The U.S. player has a very minimal amount of air and artillery to keep the NVA at bay. I am as impressed by this game's rules and play as I was by the Cadet Games strategic game I reviewed. The games have short rulebooks and are easy to learn but still have a lot of depth for the player to revel in.

 Thank you, Cadet Games, for allowing me to review another great product from your stable. Wargamers, and especially grognards, should look past the small plastic soldiers etc. to see the real wargame underneath. These games are not Axis and Allies clones.


Cadet games:

They Were Soldiers, and Dak To Hill 875:

My review of:


Sound of Drums    This is just a brief look at Sound of Drums and their upcoming games. The pictures are about their Eylau 1807 game that is...

Preview of games coming from Sound of Drums Preview of games coming from Sound of Drums

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

June 2023

Preview of games coming from Sound of Drums

Sound of Drums

 This is just a brief look at Sound of Drums and their upcoming games. The pictures are about their Eylau 1807 game that is coming soon.

"For thousands of years soldiers all over the world followed the sound of drums marching into battle or marching far away from their homes into unknown territory following a leadership. The Macedonian fighters followed Alexander the Great to India, the French Grognards marched into battle following the “pas de charge” up the hills at the Battle of Waterloo. Military drums have been used for martial music, communication, drill, honors music and military ceremonies."


  "My name is Uwe Walentin, born in 1970 in southern Germany and playing games since I can remember. I love history, books and board games."

The Gorgeous Map

"At the age of 13 I discovered my first wargame (“Waterloo” by international team). From there my wonderful journey of learning about (military) history with the help of games started. A fascinating hobby.

From 1993 to 1997 I worked for different French game publishers before creating my own game company: PRO LUDO. We published and distributed a huge range of games (like “Ticket to Ride”) but I had never the courage to publish what I really love: Strategy games with a historical context and wargames. In 2006 I sold my company and in 2008 I quit the gaming industry to work as a professional football coach in different countries in Europe."

Map Inset

 "During these years I did not lose my passion for board games and had many ideas working in my mind.

In 2021 I decided to found my company SOUND OF DRUMS to design and publish the games I always wanted to. Dedicated to traditional strategy and wargames with a lot of experience in quality (i.e. components) “Eurogames-style” publishing, I am convinced that we will find a new way how to design and publish wargames. We will break with a couple of traditions (no ZOCs, please!) and will implement new procedures and game components to our designs. The goals of our designs are highly interactive game play with a minimum of downtime and although being epic in scale keeping the games playable."

Setup at the Beginning of the Game

 "We are shipping as we speak the game series “History of the Ancient Seas” and will publish this summer “Battles of Napoleon – Volume I: Eylau 1807”. The first part in a game series covering the major battles in the Napoleonic era on a tactical level. Eylau will be followed by Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo, Borodino, Austerlitz."

Lestocq is Arriving

 "This fall we will present a fantastic game about the French Revolution by Jason St. Just and late fall a game series by Carl Paradis.

We have many more titles in the pipeline like “Roma Victoria Semper” and “Neither King Nor God”. All epic in scale, highly playable, with gorgeous game components."

 I want to thank Mr. Walentin for allowing me to show these pics from Eylau 1807. Please take a look at their Ancients games also.



  Spanish Civil War Commander by Civil War Commander  The Spanish Civil War is sometimes broken down to Republican versus Nationalists. This...

Spanish Civil War Commander by Civil War Commander Spanish Civil War Commander by Civil War Commander

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

June 2023

Spanish Civil War Commander by Civil War Commander

 Spanish Civil War Commander


Civil War Commander

 The Spanish Civil War is sometimes broken down to Republican versus Nationalists. This is a much too simplistic way of looking at it. The Republican side was a coalition of Communists, non-native fighters, and normal people who wanted a free Spain. Even the Nationalist side was splintered even though this had much more to do with personalities and jockeying for position in the post-Civil War Spain. Both sides also depended upon outside help from different countries. The Nationalists were helped by both Italy and Germany, but especially by Italy. The Republicans were helped mostly by the Soviet Union and to a much smaller amount other European countries. The Soviet Union was, however, giving aid to see a Communist Spain emerge from the Civil War. The Italians and Germans were also not helping the Nationalists out of the kindness of their hearts. They wanted to see a Fascist Spain come out of the Nationalist side winning the war. 

This is the brand new 2022 map with a turn record track for Nationalists and Republicans on each side of the map.

 The war was used and looked at by most countries as a proving ground to their different ideas of waging war. While the Germans were able to come up with the theory of combined arms and Blitzkrieg, the Soviets were not so lucky. Their idea of 'Deep Battle' (essentially Blitzkrieg) was shelved by them in exchange for turning back toward World War I tactics. This was to cost them dearly in the early years of their involvement in World War II. 

A Republican attack on the Ebro.

 Before I get into the components, I just want the reader to understand that this is a large game. The map itself is large and needs a big table. The playing pieces are numerous, as you can see above. To play the game also involves a lot of stickering, sometimes having to affix small stickers onto the plastic pieces. The game is also in the higher price range for wargames. All I can say is due to the game parts and play I believe it is fully worth it.

Closer image of the pieces.

  The Map is 48" x 35" and is made of canvas. It is a breath-taking work of beauty of the historical period of the Spanish Civil war. Pictures do not do it justice. It really has to be seen in person to get the full effects of it. The entire game comes in a large tube, so the Map is rolled up on arrival. It flattens out immediately upon it being placed upon a flat surface. It is an excellent piece of work.

 Next up, we have the list of components that come with the game:

1 set of 4 rule books
1 game board.
1 deck of game cards.
2 black pawns.
3 sand timers (red, blue, white).
1 set of tweezers.
2 transparent game trays (w/ covers).
5 sheets of labels.
7 flag poles.
10 yellow square border markers.
25 yellow wooden cubes.
20 black wooden cubes.
3 bronze metal cubes.
4 gold metal cubes.
12 silver metal cubes.
1 yellow fraction dice.
1 green victor die.
1 orange measuring stick.
6 × 100 RP tokens.
5 purple disc markers.

6 white ARMY counters
2 white AIR counters
2 white MOB counters
2 white Fleet counters

54 red ARMY counters.
25 red MIL counters.
8 red MOB counters.
6 red ART counters.
5 red AIR counters.
12 Naval counters.
5 red Fleet counters.
10 red Defense markers
10 red Attack triangle markers
12 clear red square Garrison markers

20 red transparent disc city markers
10 red transparent rectangle quality markers
35 red wooden cubes.
2 sets of red DD dice (7 dice).
1 red and black D2 die.
1 red and black D3 die (with dots).

54 blue ARMY counters.
15 blue MIL counters.
9 blue MOB counters
7 blue ART counters
8 blue AIR counters
18 blue Naval counters
5 blue Fleet counters
10 blue Defense markers
10 blue Attack triangle markers
12 clear blue square Garrison markers

20 blue transparent disc city markers
10 blue transparent rectangle quality markers
35 blue wooden cubes.
2 sets of blue DD dice (7 dice).
1 blue and black D2 die.
1 blue and black D3 die (with dots).

 And a partridge in a pear tree.

A Republican defense of Madrid and the surrounding area.

  The Republican pieces are red, and the Nationalist are blue. If you were looking closely at the list, you saw three sand timers included. I do not think I have ever seen a timer used with any game other than chess. More to come on these later. The wooden cubes are done perfectly no mismatch in size or extra hanging material on them. The five sheets of labels need to be placed on some of the red and blue plastic pieces/counters. Some of the smaller triangle and square pieces need to have labels on them, and so do the ship markers. These were the hardest pieces for me to put their respective labels on. Luckily, the glue on the labels is very forgiving and will still stick to the plastic even after being attached and removed several times. Unless you are very adroit it will take a while to finish all of the labelling. I know it seems like a lot to set up a game, but it is nowhere near as hard as a wargame with over 1000 pieces on the board at the beginning of a game. 

 All of the above comes in a large cylinder. This does help to keep the map in perfect condition. However, everything but the map and the four booklets come in two long plastic containers. These are fine for the original shipment, but they are not the sturdiest. Do yourself a favor and pick up a divided tray to put the pieces in as I did. Out of all the components, that is my only small gripe. Other than that, and the small size of some of the labels, these components are awesome. They really went out of their way to make the visuals of the game match the stellar map.

Some Republican counters

 There are four booklets that come with the game. These are:

Game Setup at eleven pages
Events at nineteen pages
Quick Reference at fifteen pages
Main Rules at nineteen pages

 The last is pretty amazing at its size. The reason I say this is that this is a full simulation of the Spanish Civil War, unlike almost every other game you need to keep track of your resources. I do not mean just your supply to your troops, although that is also in here. You have mines, agriculture, and gold reserves to worry about, along with much more. 

 The booklets themselves are made from thicker hard stock and are not glossy. They do come with some illustrations to help the reader understand how the game works. All four are printed in large enough type to make for easy reading. 

 The deck of cards is set up just like a normal deck of cards. They come in the four suits from king to ace. They have a picture on them that shows either a person in the war or a historical event. The cards match the other components in being well designed.

 This is an amazing piece to find at the start of a wargame rulebook. I know at least two other designers that add something like this to their rules. I just really like how this is written. Plus, the designer actually sends you his email address (redacted) if you buy the game. Here it is:

"The first and most important statement that the game
designer would like to make is: “have fun and do not let
the rules get the better of you”. What we mean by this is
that the game does have a substantial number of rules but
half of these are not crucial for gameplay; rather, they
exist to add realism and historical accuracy. Half of the
content is strict, but the other half is more in the spirit of
directions rather than rules. The rules are made in such a
way that, most times, if you were to forget to apply an
instruction, the repercussion might be very small. Also,
since all aspects of war are not certain, you can attribute
small imperfections in following the rules to the normal
course of events anyway. A few mistakes in playing may
not change the outcome too much and will certainly not
keep you from an enjoyable game play; so don’t stress!
Have fun.
If you have questions about the rules email the
designer directly:"

 That is a wonderful way to think when designing games.

Example of a Nationalist attack toward Madrid.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

LAND phase
Initiative player is first player to go. Players may study map for 1 min. before beginning turn.
1. Land Movement: roll D12+pay 1; start your timer; use rolled points actions; pause timer when done. 
Second player follows.
2. Land Combat: initiative player can attack any forces in range (one battle at a time) his timer runs while he
decides which attack to make or until he passes the round to the opponent; use combat/commander cards;
follow combat table on the board.
Initiative player will decide the next attack. When both do not want to attack further, they go back to step 1.
Repeat steps 1-2 alternating between players until color timer runs out or both are finished attacking.

NAVAL phase
1. Naval Movement: roll D12+pay; 1 min timer; use rolled points for actions.
2. Naval Combat: battle enemy units in same sea zone (one zone at a time); surviving units go to missions
(disrupt/escort convoys, disembark troops).

Each player:
1. Waste: (a) remove 1 in 5 cubes from map, or (b) 1 cube min., or (c) place Supply log at 0 (in that order).
2. Receive resources:
GDP = Industry + Agriculture ÷ 10. 
Income points: GDP + Foreign Aid – Depreciation – Convoys disrupted 
Resource points: Income Points roll dice × 10. Receive in points Resource box. 
3. Country cards (that you hold): roll aid; roll war; exchange gold or mines; sell mines.

1. Events: roll all four D12 dice; follow events.
2. Draw 5 cards from “New Cards”; give to players; study map 1 min; place in “Drawn Cards”.
3. Ships to bases: return all ships on missions to naval bases; leave any that are in sea areas.
4. Calendar: pick units to deploy from all or any of (a) current turn, (b) past turns and (c) “Any Turn”.
Pay with tokens and cubes in Resources box. Pick also fortifications (max 10 for all) and garrisons.
Subtract points from Men log (1 per Spanish army or reinforcement). Use credit if running low on
5. Deploy units selected above and supply cubes from Resources box.
6. Roll for war for countries with a yellow cube on the Foreign Aid log; remove cube as you roll.
7. Victory conditions check; move calendar markers to next turn.

The war at sea.

 Now you see where the timers come into play. The game comes with two scenarios but the second one is really a plethora of scenarios. The first is the historical scenario. The second is called the 'Probable Scenario'. This is because you roll a D4 to see which side all of the different cities start on. So, you can see you can have a ton of different starting points for this one scenario. They do lean historically to the side that they actually were on, but the die roll can change that.

 The game seems like it should be vastly complicated by the size of the map and the multitude of components. Luckily for us, it really isn't at all. It goes deep enough to satisfy any grognard, but it is still easy to play. I am really impressed at how the rules make it so easy to play. For a game that uses a measuring stick for combat, these rules are not that hard to learn either. Other countries can get involved due to various reasons. Each country that can intervene has a scale to show where they are in considering open war. The USSR for the Republicans and Germany and Italy for the Nationalists have certain forces in Spain without committing to a full war. However, the Republicans do have to pay to use the USSR help. The Nationalists do not have any cost associated with the different 'volunteer' groups from Italy and Germany. 

 Just because of the type of wargamer I am, I have always played the historical scenario. When dealing with an entire country's civil war there is enough variation for me to keep playing that way for a good long time. Just as it was historically, Madrid is a magnet for both sides in the beginning of each game. Most of the larger battles took place around it during the war. So, you as the Republican must make sure that you hold it with a good solid defense. The historical infighting of the Republicans is also taken into account during the game.

 I haven't even delved into the naval war aspect of the game. It takes on a much greater importance than I have seen in any other game. You have to keep your ports free to be able to receive aid, but also to bolster your economy. There are rules for submarines, air attacks on ships, and destroyers hunting submarines among others.
 So, if you were ever looking to put a toe into the miniature side of wargaming I believe this game is a perfect place to start. It definitely has a miniature feel to it. With its time constraints, if you use them, I can see where this would be a great game for a convention.

An example of a Republican attack.

 Thank you very much Civil War Commander, for allowing me to review this great and beautiful game. I might be a bit biased because the Spanish Civil War has always intrigued me. I am especially waiting, actually drooling, over one of your next releases: Roman Civil War Commander 49 BC to 30 BC. Their website says that American Civil War Commander will be the next release. 


Civil War Commander:

Spanish Civil War Commander:


  Bison Games by Dimitri Bugnolo  This is a small company that does print on demand. I like to help wargamers and designers by showcasing on...

Bison Games by Dimitri Bugnolo Bison Games by Dimitri Bugnolo

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

June 2023

Bison Games by Dimitri Bugnolo

 Bison Games


Dimitri Bugnolo

 This is a small company that does print on demand. I like to help wargamers and designers by showcasing ones that most of us have not heard of. The following is a small blurb about the designer and his company. Please give it a read and look.

 I am Dimitri Bugnolo, Vice President of Bison Games Inc. My company website is I have been designing board games my whole life, but only recently began selling them on demand since 2015. All my games are made to order. My games are historical and educational. The selling prices are high because the cost of printing them keeps going up and up each year.

The First Crusades

Greek City States

 Bison Games, Inc., is a publisher of high-quality board-games which aim to provide endless hours of entertainment and historically accurate information about the era in which they are set. Our games will emphasize player-initiative and an open-ended game-system which will make every game you play a unique entertainment experience.


 Strategy & Tactics #339 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games  Here we are yet again with another issue of S&T. To be ...

Strategy & Tactics #339 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games Strategy & Tactics #339 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games

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

June 2023

Strategy & Tactics #339 by Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games

 Strategy & Tactics #339


Strategy & Tactics Press and Decision Games

 Here we are yet again with another issue of S&T. To be perfectly honest, the game included with the issue is not a possible conflict that would be high on my list to game. Of course, it could be a great simulation/game of the possible campaign. So, I will not just turn away from it. However, I am very interested in reading this issue's articles. 

Take a look at some of the articles:

Pompey vs. the Pirates by Joseph Miranda (for grognards the author needs no introduction)

Operation Roundup Reconsidered (the possible 1943 invasion of Europe) by Antonio J. Muñoz

The Man Assyria Feared by Cam Rea (an excellent author)

World War I Railway Guns by Dave Schroeder

The US Navy's Yangtze River Patrol (definitely for any fans of 'The Sand Pebbles') by Patrick S. Baker

Saddam Moves South by Joseph Miranda

The Curious Case of Benjamin Pole by Peter G. Tsouras (writer of many well-done books on what ifs in military history)

Some of the Game's Map

  As usual, the magazine starts out with the largest article about the history of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. It naturally goes into the what ifs of Iraq deciding to invade Saudi Arabia and going for their oil wells as well. The history of the buildup of the Coalition's forces for the actual Operation Desert Storm is thoroughly delved into. Both sides had political land mines to maneuver around. Saddam Hussein was afraid of his Kurdish and Shite populations revolting while he was embroiled in Kuwait and Arabia. He also had to keep an eye on Iran. He was worried that Iran would try to attack Iraq to win back the slight gains that Iraq had won during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. On the other side, the Coalition had to worry about Iraq launching missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, and deciding just how far Desert Storm would take them. At the time, there were many voices against invading Iraq to topple Hussein. So, Desert Storm would be limited to liberating all of Kuwait and stopping at the border. The Coalition's plan was:

1. A strategic air campaign against Iraqi command control, industry, and airpower.

2. Gaining full air superiority over Kuwait.

3. Preparation of the battlefield by attriting Iraqi armor and artillery.

4. A ground offensive to liberate Kuwait.

 The article shows that Iraq, by only taking Kuwait and then not going any farther, allowed the Coalition ample time to build up its strength. More on the actual game will come later.

Assorted game counters

 Now we come to the main event, the article about Pompey vs. the Pirates. The Republic of Rome had been beset by pirates throughout the Mediterranean for many years. At different times Consuls etc. had been given command to try and eradicate them. In fact, both Marcus Antonius's father and grandfather (both named the same as him) had been tasked with this same issue. In 67 B.C. the Tribune Aulus Gabinus created his Gabinian Law to give one man more power than any other Roman had ever had. The law created a special command called the Prefect for the Fleet and Maritime Affairs. The new command would have authority over the entire Mediterranean and to fifty miles inland. The force under this command would consist of 200 warships, 120,000 soldiers, and 5,000 cavalry. Through the usual maze of Roman politics at the time, Pompey the Great was given command. The law was written for the command to last up to three years. Pompey eradicated the pirates in the entire Mediterranean in three months. If he did not deserve the title Magnus for his other military campaigns, he certainly did for this one. 

 The campaign was so short because of Pompey's inherent strength for planning. The Mediterranean was divided into thirteen zones. First, he dealt with the pirates in the west in a total of forty! days. Then he turned to the east where the largest groups of pirates were based in Cilicia and Crete. He offered the pirates the choice of annihilation or resettlement into depopulated areas. This article is a wonderful read about a campaign that most know nothing about.

 Next, we have another good article on Operation Roundup, the plan to invade France in 1943, by the Western Allies. The article shows that while the invasion could have taken place it, would have been smaller. Not only that, but it would have been faced by all of the German divisions that were defending Italy in 1944. So, there were many good reasons for just letting 'Uncle Joe' beef about fighting Germany all alone until the time was right.

The U.S. Navy's Yangtze River Patrol is another very good article. It goes back to the beginnings of the 'Gunboat Diplomacy' that was used by all of the larger powers against China in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

 The article about World War I Railroad Guns is short but has a lot of information on the 'Paris Gun'. This is sometimes confused with 'Big Bertha'. Big Bertha was a 42cm howitzer that was built to crack open fortresses. Bertha comes from the name of Mrs. Krupp. The Paris Gun was capable of firing a 234lb. shell 81 miles. It was also the first man made object to reach the stratosphere. The firing distance was so long that the rotation of the earth had to be taken into account.

 As usual, the rest of the magazine is chock full of little-known military facts. It is a smorgasbord for history lovers and wargamers.

 Saddam Moves South comes with the standard 22" x 34" Map along with sizeable 9/16" counters. The hexes represent 35 kilometers across. Time in the turns goes from three days of intense fighting to ten days of refitting. The rules are only sixteen pages long. 

 The game is based around Iraq attacking immediately out of Kuwait. This does not give the Coalition time for them to use their sealift capabilities. Therefore, to the Coalition player their Air Transport Points become extremely important in the game. The Iraqi player has to keep moving and trying to grab as many objectives as possible to be able to continue to fight. 

 The game is of a medium complexity. Both sides do have a real chance of winning. The fact that it is a hypothetical invasion of Saudi Arabia etc. means that there is no way to measure your accomplishments against history. There are two additional optional rules for the game. The first is to make the deployments of units based upon a die roll. The second is to use Special Operations Forces against the Iraqis. Victory is determined by the loss or destruction of units and holding objective hexes and Iraqi cities. 

 Thank you, Decision Games, for allowing me to review another great issue in a long line. Hard to believe it is fast coming up to 400 issues.


Decision Games:

Decision Games

Strategy & Tactics Press:

Strategy & Tactics (

Strategy & Tactics #339:

Strategy & Tactics Issue #339 - Game Edition (