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

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

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

Block Wargame





 Orange Swan


Pacific 1941 - 1945


by


VentoNuovo Games





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



A battle about to take place


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


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

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


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




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

1 Laminated heavy stock 124x86 cm Map

318 Colorful wooden parts

4 Chessex Dice

150 PVC stickers with unit designations

1 Rules Manual

2 Laminated Players' Aid Cards

2 Scenarios

3 Campaigns

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

The scale of the game:

Map 1: 9.000.000 (1cm = 90km)

Unit Size: Armies/Fleets

Time: 1 Turn = 1 Season

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



As you can see it is a large map

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


Both games set up



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





 
SCENARIOS and CAMPAIGNS

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


Scenarios:

- Pearl Harbor Tournament Scenario, Fall 1941 (3)

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


Campaigns:

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

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

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


Global Campaigns (Black Swan + Orange Swan):

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

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





 Sequence of Play

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

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




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


 The game can be won in several different ways. 

Tokyo is enemy controlled: Allied Victory

Atom Bomb Event: Allied Victory

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

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

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

Each scenario also has its own Victory rules.




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


Robert

VentoNuovo Games:

Home Page (ventonuovo.net)

Orange Swan:

Orange Swan (ventonuovo.net)

My review of: Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga:

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

My review of : Kiev 1941:

Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo games - A Wargamers Needful Things

Leningrad '41 by VentoNuovo Games  The city enraged Hitler and he wanted the cradle of Bols...

Leningrad '41 by VentoNuovo Games Leningrad '41 by VentoNuovo Games

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

Block Wargame




Leningrad '41

by

VentoNuovo Games














 The city enraged Hitler and he wanted the cradle of Bolshevism utterly destroyed. However, once his troops got there, he was so afraid of the house to house fighting in a city that he decided to surround it. So, Leningrad was forced to suffer a siege of almost three years. What went wrong, and could you have done better than von Leeb in 1941? This game was produced to answer that very question.



Map


 This is a block wargame, just like all of VentoNuovo's games. The map is a beautiful piece of work (as are all of their maps). The map is divided into areas, and is large at 62cm x 84cm. This is the second game of this series on campaigns from the Eastern Front. Moscow 41 and Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga are the other two, soon to be followed by Kiev 41. The blocks are 15mm x 15mm, so they are smaller than most used in block games. Some areas on the map are small, so even with the smaller blocks there is congestion to deal with. The stickers are, again, small pieces of art that really should be larger to show them off. The whole game production exudes quality. The game comes with four full sized and thick full color players' aids. There is a five page historical analysis which is excellent all by itself. Here is a list of what you get with the game:

Heavy Cardboard Map 62cm x 84 cm
110 Wooden Block Units
124 PVC Stickers
100 Other Wooden pieces for initiative, Bombers, Defensive     Positions etc.
2 Lightly Laminated Player's Guides
3 Short Scenarios, and the Campaign Game




Stickers



 This is the sequence of play:

Logistic Phase (2nd,3rd,4th,5th,and 6th Turns)
Impulse Phase (Combat, HQ Activation etc.)
Final Phase




Soviet Navy Counter



  The game itself is a challenge for both players. It plays almost exactly like Moscow '41 (a favorite of mine) except for the addition of the new terrain. The German player can, if he is good enough, take Leningrad. The Soviet player seems weak, but he can forestall his opponent's attacks, and slow him up to take the win. The game is very finely balanced between playability and history. All of the scenarios start after the Germans have already captured Riga. There are tactical HQs for both Zhukov for the Soviets, and Mannerheim for the Finns. Both can be game changers if used correctly.
Random reinforcement makes the game a very good solitaire game. Once you get closer to Leningrad, the terrain is heavily forested with some swamp. This means that the German player has to slow down regardless of the opposition. The German player can make good time through Estonia etc., but then has to slog through these areas along with tougher Soviet opposition. The German player also has to decide what he is to do with the Finns. Historically the Finnish troops only moved to take back what territory they lost in The Winter War in 1939, so they were really not much help to the Germans. The rules allow the Finnish troops to attack first in any battle (a nice touch). As the German player, you also have to decide whether to spend any resources to try and take Murmansk. So, the game comes with the chance to blitzkrieg, but also attack and defend in swamps. The varied terrain taxes both sides to play their best. As with the rest of Vento Nuovo Games this game is also very suitable for solitaire play. I will caution the German player that Leningrad looks a lot closer on the map then it will turn out to be.




Playtesting shots



 VentoNuovo has been able to take the simplicity of block games, and add in rules, while easy to understand, that represent the historical campaigns to a tee. So a player gets the best of both worlds. The game is easy to setup, learn, and play, but still be deep enough for us grognards. The formula is a guaranteed success, and it shows by all of their games' ratings by players. Thank you VentoNuovo for the chance to review Leningrad 41. Here are links to the game and company, and some links to other reviews I have done on their games. I cannot wait to do a review on Kiev 41.


Accessories you can buy


Vento Nuovo Games:
www.ventonuovo.net/

Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games      This is another game where I am entering uncharted t...

Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games

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

Block Wargame

Victory: World War II Second Edition

by

Columbia Games



  




 This is another game where I am entering uncharted territory. I was a dedicated hex and counter gamer for many years. Within the last two years I have been shown the errors of my ways as far as block and area wargames. Now Columbia Games has sent me a huge bundle of the game and add-ons for their game Victory. Victory is not a historical wargame. I know I shuddered too when I realized it. Victory allows you to fight a sandbox World War II, and what a sandbox! Especially with the add on maps, you can create pretty much any type of map configuration you want. I haven't seen anything with this randomness except in computer games. Of course, I have to add that until this game I held my nose up over non-historical wargames. Guess what, once more I have had to adjust my thinking about wargames. Let us see what comes with the base game:

4 Geomorphic Maps
100 Wooden Blocks
Logistic markers
Game Rules
4 Dice

Add-ons I was sent:

Victory Blockset Orange
Victory Blockset WW2 German (Black)
Victory Blockset WW2 USA (Green)
Victory Blockset WW2 Soviet (Red)
Victory Dirty Dozen 12 Map Bundle (3-4, 7-16)

There are too many other add-ons to list that can be purchased to enhance the game. Here is the webpage:





 Like the rest of Columbia Games, it is a deceptively easy game to begin playing. The rules are only nine pages long, and that includes a page of Advanced Rules. Let us look at the sequence of play:


[1] INITIATIVE: Each player rolls 2d6. Highest total becomes Player Turn 1 for this Game Turn. Roll again to break ties for highest roll. 
 [2] MOVE PHASE: All players move, starting with Player-1, then clockwise in sequence.In turn, a player may move any/all unpinned units, but must make Strategic Moves (5.9) first. Hex control changes immediately
 [3] COMBAT PHASE: Each battle where Player-1 is the Attacker is fought to a conclusion in any sequence chosen by Player-1. Then resolve all battles where Player-2 is the Attacker, and so on. Reveal blocks only when a battle is fought. Aircraft involved in a battle, land after their battle ends.
 [4] SUPPLY & VICTORY CHECK: (Simultaneous)Check Supply of your units (See 7.0). Unsupplied Ground/Air Units immediately lose 1 step. Naval units ignore supply.• Determine if the game has been won by any player. Otherwise go to step [5].
[5] PRODUCTION PHASE (Simultaneous)Build with available PPs in supplied cities. 




Add on German, Soviet, and USA Stickers


 The game is one where both sides have exactly the same units and unit values (except for some of the historical units). I haven't played a game like this since Tactics II in the 1960s. I will tell you this, I had completely forgotten how tense and fun Tactics II really was. I always looked back at it as a quaint way to get into real wargaming. How wrong I was. The fact that you do not have a panzer unit with a strength of twenty-four or have to worry about your opponent having one puts an entirely new spin on wargaming. Oh sure, you could try to put all your tanks together, but that leaves the other player the chance to attack at numerous other points and possibly cut off your tanks. It is like a boxing match where both of the boxers have the same punch and strengths. So you are forced to play as well as you possibly can. I have included a link for the games FB page. There you can find user made scenarios, and some of them are historical in nature. As usual with a Columbia Block Game, the blocks have their different strength steps printed out on the block. This way you just turn the piece instead of looking for another counter. You can also handicap each player if needed by starting some of their units at a lower or higher strength.The built in fog of war that block games have is present as usual, although I have had no problem playing any of their games solo so far. 


 These are some of the unit markers used in the Advanced Rules:

Factories
Storms
Destruction Markers for destroyed bridges and canals
Airfields
Mulberries




Logistic markers


 This is the second edition of Victory: World War II. The 'elite' units, which have been tweaked and modified, are now included with the main game. I am a bit confused as to why there are not more reviews of this game, and not much postings or talk about the game either. It doesn't have many votes, but is very highly rated on BGG. As I mentioned, I had forgotten how much fun a sandbox game can actually be. Thank you, Columbia Games, for letting me review Victory, and for reminding me of my wargaming roots.



One of the Add On Maps You Can Buy

 This is a neat idea to take your Victory battles to a lower level:



Have an climatic battle taking place in Victory? Use Combat Infantry, Columbia Games’ tactical World War 2 wargame to play that battle out at squad level!




 
 This is the link for Columbia Games:

http://columbiagames.com/

 This is the link for the game:

http://columbiagames.com/victory/ 

This is a link to the Victory FB page where you can find user created scenarios:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/346333536011986/


 

Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing  Operation Dynamo was an outstanding success, carried out under the Ge...

Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing Dunkirk by Worthington Publishing

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

Block Wargame

Dunkirk

by

Worthington Publishing







 Operation Dynamo was an outstanding success, carried out under the German noses. Was it helped by Hitler's private thoughts about England, or his memories of Flanders, we will never know. The game itself is not just about the Battle of Dunkirk, but about the entire German invasion of France in 1940. Let us see what comes with the game:


  • Hard mounted game board
  • Wooden blocks with labels for German and Allied armies
  • Deck of 55 game cards
  • 6 German strategy cards (larger than standard game cards)
  • Rules
  • Dice





 When you open the game it seems a little sparse, but many times good things come in small packages so I kept an open mind. The map is on the smaller side, but adequately shows the area of Northeast France that is needed for gameplay. The hexes are large, which really helps with block games, especially when you can have more than one block per hex. The other components are likewise, more workman like than artsy. I wouldn't say they were Spartan, but they show the player everything he needs to know without extra glitter. The game also comes with cards for both the German and Allied player. 



 Even though there are cards for both players, they are not the process that runs the the game. To quote the designer, "The game is not card driven, but card enhanced. The game is chit driven". The most interesting part of the design is the 'German strategy cards'. These give the game a lot of longevity and replayability. Sure, the German player could try the 'sickle cut' maneuver, but he could lose nine out of ten times depending on what strategy card he chose at the start of the game. The Allied player is put on the horns of a dilemma, which strategy card did the German player pick. So one of the the things the designer notes suggests is for the German player to make moves to head toward different cities etc. to keep the Allied player guessing. The rulebook is only twelve pages long, and three of them are taken up by designer notes, etc. However, unlike the other Worthington games I have played, the rules are a lot more  in depth. The other games were simpler, but still good games. The rules are deeper than you would assume for the game. This is the sequence of play:

1) Add or Remove Command Chits per the Turn Record Chart.
2) Deal each player a card(s) as indicated on the Turn Record Chart.
3) Seed the opaque container with the Command Chits indicated on the Turn Record Chart.
4) One player (does not matter which) draws a Command Chit from the container. That Formation is now the Active Formation.
5) FHQ (Formation Headquarters) ACTIVATION: The owner of the Active Formation reveals to the opponent the location of the FHQ (in order to prove the FHQ's Command Range).
6A) FORMATION MOVEMENT PHASE: In-Command blocks of the Active Formation may move to their full Movement Rating, limited only by terrain and enemy blocks.
6A) POSSIBLE SHQ (Strategic Headquarters) STRATEGIC MOVEMENT: The owner of the Active Formation may, if desired, spend a SHQ step(s) to perform a Strategic Move with a block(s) of the Active Formation. This may be done concurrent with the Movement described in 6a above, BUT NO BLOCK MAY USE BOTH Formation Movement and SHQ Movement during the same Activation.
7) POSSIBLE SHQ OUT OF COMMAND MOVEMENT: The owner of the Active Formation may, if desired, spend a SHQ step(s) to perform Out of Command movement with a block(s) of the Active Formation.
8) combat phase: Battles exist in any hex containing enemy blocks and at least one block of the Active Formation. Owner of the Active Formation selects the sequence in which battles will be resolved. 
8A) BATTLE CARD PLAY: Each player may place ONE (1) Cattle Card per battle, if desired. Players simultaneously declare (show) a Battle Card if they wish to play one.
8B) BATTLE ROUNDS: Each battle lasts for one round of combat. A second round may be purchased BY THE ATTACKER ONLY using SHQ steps or possibly) a card play. No battle may have more than two Rounds per Activation. A side may NOT play a Battle Card in the second round of battle, if that side played a Battle Card in the first round.
9) Repeat steps 4 through 8b until no Command Chits remain in the opaque container.
10) REINFORCEMENTS & RESERVES PHASE: Players may play ONE Reinforcement card, adding steps per the Reinforcement rules. Players may ALSO spend SHQ steps to conduct a SHQ Reserves action, returning an Eliminated block(s) to play, per the Reserve rules. Players also add one free SHQ step to their SHQ block (Note: there is no Reinforcements/Reserves phase at the end on Turn 6.
11) Start the next turn with step 1 above. At the end of Turn 6, calculate Victory Points to determine the winner of the game based on the German Strategy Card selected.





 

 As you can see, any game (no matter what German Strategy Card is used) lasts only six turns. Airstrikes/Artillery strikes take place when a player uses the correct Battle Card for them. Airstrikes/Artillery strikes cannot eliminate an enemy block. 






 I think it's a good game with a little bit more added  to the rules than most block games. The rules are spelled out plainly for the players. There are also some optional rules that can be added to balance out the play between two players. You can "dial down" certain blocks to make it easier for the opponent. You could also remove certain powerful cards from one player's deck, among a few other things, to make the game more balanced. I have reviewed quite a few block wargames now, and have had a complete change of heart. I used to look down my nose at them as some kind of 'Stratego' game made into a wargame. The block wargames are just as good, and play just as well as hex and counter games. This is another good and relatively quick game that Worthington Publishing has added to their stable of growing games. You will be playing as either von Bock or von Rundstedt, or the Allies in no time flat. Thank you, Worthington Publishing, for letting me review this game.

Link to Worthington Games:
https://www.worthingtonpublishing.com/

Link to Dunkirk:
https://www.worthingtonpublishing.com/collection/dunkirk-france-1940

Worthington Publishing's newest kickstarter 'Napoleon Returns 1815':
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1456271622/napoleon-returns-1815?ref=dkeeld

Grant's Gamble review:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2017/11/grants-gamble-game-by-worthington-games.html



Robert

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games     Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ev...

Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games Blocks in Afrika by VentoNuovo Games

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

Block Wargame


by





 

  Apparently block wargames have been around for a lot longer than I had ever thought; who knew? We hex and counter guys thought we had the wargame world to ourselves for many years. Block wargames are generally not considered to be that 'deep'. What I mean by that is that usually the rules are not that long and the map and extras are usually not that expansive. The block wargames have a very good history of being 'players games': easy to get into and relatively short and very good for game night. We normally associate hex and counter with monster or mini monster games, ones that will take a lot of space and the players pore over them, much like Napoleon and Berthier did over maps. So now we have this game from VentoNuovo Games that is at least a mini monster. So, let us see what we get when we actually open the box:

• N° 1 87x62cm Mapboard (double laminated)
• N° 1 A4 Strategic Map
• N° 1 A4 Tripolitania Extension Map
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN AFRIKA Rules Manual
• N° 1 24 pages BLOCKS IN EUROPE Rule Manual *
• N° 1 24 pages THE BLOCKS TRILOGY Scenario Booklet
• N° 2 Play Aid
• N° 8 Order of Battle
• N° 15 wooden light blue blocks (France)
• N° 29 wooden black blocks (Germany)
• N° 22 wooden light green blocks (Italy)
• N° 1 wooden tan block (Turn Tracker)
• N° 1 wooden dark green block (US)
• N° 22 wooden blue blocks (UK)
• N° 3 wooden orange blocks (Axis Forts)
• N° 66 wooden brown blocks (Minors)
• N° 23 wooden gray blocks (Axis Navy)
• N° 46 wooden white blocks (Western Allies Navy)
• N° 8 wooden pink blocks (Soviet Navy)
• N° 240 PVC stickers (laminated, 2x for the Turn Tracker)
• N° 35 wooden yellow cubes (General Production Points)
• N° 25 wooden white cubes (Navy Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden red cubes (Armor Production Points)
• N° 10 wooden blue cubes (Air Production Points)
• N° 10 plastic black cylinders (Oil Production Points)
• N° 5 plastic white cylinders ("Out-of-Supply" Markers)
• N° 10 white plastic Shipyards *
• N° 5 yellow-black-dotted dice






 This is the list of the actual counters and record keeping pieces:

• 3 Axis Forts: Orange (not used in BIA Scenarios – details in BIE)
• 15 French Units: light blue
• 29 German Units: black
• 22 Italian Units: light green
• 23 Axis Navy Units: grey
• 46 Western Allies Navy Units: white
• 8 Soviet Navy Units: pink
• 1 American unit: dark green
• 22 British units: blue
• 66 Minor Powers Units: brown
• 2 Turn recorders: tan
• 2 Replacement stickers for BITW American units




 What we actually have here in our hot little hands is an incredibly thorough almost simulation of the Second World War in the Mediterranean and adjoining areas in Asia. It comes with a Basic set of rules (still very deep), and then an Advanced set of rules followed by some optional rules. What I especially like is that the naval war has not just been tacked onto the game as an afterthought. It receives the scrutiny and importance that it deserves. After all, the area of the map is mostly sea. There are actually some naval only scenarios.
These are the scenarios that come with the game:


1940 Operation Compass, November 1940 - March 1941

1941 Operation Exporter, June - July 1941
1941 Middle East Uprising, May - September 1941

1941 The Desert Fox, March - July 1941

1942 Axis Hype, June - December 1942

1942 El Alamein, October 1942 - February 1943


These scenarios are primarily NAVAL!

Punta Stilo, 9 July 1940

Capo Teulada, 27 November 1940

Capo Matapan, 28 – 29 March 1941

Harpoon, 21 June 1942

 This is the Basic game sequence of play:

The game is played in turns, each representing the lapse of one
month. Each turn is divided into phases and steps that must be
performed in a precise order.
After the weather is checked, the Axis player completes his
phases first as described in the sequence below. Next, the Allied
player completes his phases.
When both players have finished their phases, victory conditions
are checked. The turn is now over and a new one may begin.
A. Weather Determination Phase
The Weather is always considered good when playing BIA.
B. Axis Phases
1. Strategic Warfare Phase (See Scenario Special Rules)
2. Supply Phase
3. Production Phase
4. Strategic Rail Movement Phase
5. Movement Phase
6. Defender Reaction Phase
7. Combat Phase
8. Blitz Phase
9. Final Supply Status Phase
10. Armor Exploitation Phase
C. Allies Phases
As for Axis Phases 1-10
D. Victory Phase





 I may not be the best person to do a review of VentoNuovo Games. I have to admit that I am an unabashed fanboy. All of the games I have reviewed so far from them have been, I dare say, great. The rules are well written and the components are first rate. This game is not any different. The components are very well done. The map is colorful, but if there was anything to bash the game is that the map is a bit too busy. There is, however, a very good reason for this. The map hexes represent 43 miles (70km) across. So that is a lot of territory and information to fit into some hexes. The map itself is 87cm x 64cm large. There is one questionable design decision with the map. There is an extra piece of the map that comes with the game. It is slightly larger than a copier sheet and represents the area around Tripoli. The only issue is that it also has needed game information on the other side. I realize in this day and age most people could just copy the back, but it still seems a weird decision. This game is part of a trilogy from VentoNuovo Games that includes this game and 'Blocks in the West' and 'Blocks in the East'. Some of the components that are included are only used if playing all three together. I will have a review of 'Blocks in the West' coming up. I will also have links to the different games and rules etc. at the end of the review. You can also separately purchase a pack of twelve special event cards.





 So how does it play? The scenarios are all very short as far as turn length. There are only 1-5 turns in each of the scenarios. The naval scenarios go from 1-3 turns.There are also listed in the rulebook the difficulty levels of each scenario. These go from 1-6 on a 1-10 scale. The rulebook is only 28 pages and that includes four pages on the scenarios. So even with the Advanced Rules it is a comprehensive, but still playable game of the Mediterranean theater during 1940-1943. The gameplay is nowhere near as fast and furious as other VentoNuovo Games. It really cannot be. There are just too many things to think about, especially once you add  the Advanced rules to the mix. This is a mulling over and thinking block game. That is not to say the other games did not have depth, just not to the extent that this game has. There was more to learn in this rulebook than the others, but it is written in an easy to learn manner. It is a great game and a huge undertaking when you combine even two of the fronts together. It is a game you can truly get lost in. The campaign game when all three games are together is a staggering 79 turns. Thank you VentoNuovo for the chance to review this game.

This is a link to Blocks in the West:

http://www.ventonuovo.net/games/blocks-in-the-west

A Link to Blocks in the East:


http://www.ventonuovo.net/games/blocks-in-the-east

A Link to the rules for Blocks in Afrika

http://www.ventonuovo.net/download-afrika


Robert



Commands & Colors Ancients Expansions 2-3 Reprint by GMT Games   Commands & Colors Ancients was designed...

Commands & Colors Ancients Expansions 2-3 Reprint by GMT Games Commands & Colors Ancients Expansions 2-3 Reprint by GMT Games

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Block Wargame

Commands & Colors Ancients Expansions 2-3 Reprint


by


GMT Games






 Commands & Colors Ancients was designed by Richard Borg and first took the wargaming world by storm in 2006. This GMT game has exploded into all of these eras:

Samurai
Medieval
American Revolution
Napoleonics

 As you can see, the wargamer has a smorgasbord of eras, battles, and armies to choose from.






 For those of you who have not read about or delved into the Commands & Colors world, here is a a simplified breakdown of the game. The mapboard is generic with extremely large hexes. The player adds tiles to the board per the scenario instructions. The game itself is of medium complexity, and is a perfect segue to add new Wargamers to the fold. The game is card driven, so the player is always forced to think ahead. Each scenario lists the amount of Command Cards each player starts with. The player's opponent may make a mistake that the player is just dying to take advantage of. Unfortunately, the player only has a Command Card that only allows him to move or attack on a completely different part of the field or other troops. The rules are now up to the 3rd edition. The rules have been tweaked down through the years to rid them of any ambiguities, etc. This is the sequence of play:

1. Play a Command Card
2. Order units and leaders
3. Move
4. Battle ( combat between units)
5. Draw a new Command Card



This is actually a picture of the first printing. The only thing different on the newer box is that it says "Second Reprint"


 Much to the gaming community's relief, an anonymous donor was kind enough to bankroll the re-release of the game and all of the expansions for it. May he be blessed by the wargaming Gods. The base game, Commands & Colors Ancients, is needed to play all of the expansions. This review is of the new combined expansions 2-3. The expansion does not come with a mapboard as they originally did. This was to cut down on both shipping costs and the overall price of the expansions. 

 This is what comes with the combined expansion:

  • 3" Box
  • 457 red, green, gray and black blocks
  • 1 sheet of terrain tiles
  • 7 sheets of labels
  • 2 reference cards
  • 1 combined rule and scenario book 




 Expansion #2 covers battles that feature Roma versus various Barbarians. The battles range in time from the Battle of Closium in 225 BC, to the Battle of Cefn Carnedd in 51 AD. There are seven battles alone that deal with the revolt of Spartacus. The next, Expansion #3, deals with the various Roman Civil Wars. These go from the Sullan Battle of the Colline Gate, to the last battle that was fought in the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, the Battle of Munda.


 The game components are ones you typically see in GMT Games, meaning that the production values are extremely high. The blocks are of four different sizes. The largest is for elephants, the next size is for leaders, and the medium size is for cavalry. The smallest blocks are for your Infantry forces. About the blocks, there are a ton of them to be stickered, and I mean a ton. For those of us who have arthritis or some other problem (I have a mashed right-hand thumb), it might be worth your while to pay someone to do it. Other than that, for those of you who are lucky, or unlucky, enough to have kids living with you, corral them into helping. The stickers themselves are very nicely done. It is easy to distinguish between the forces by the size and their colorful picture. The two expansion rule books are well written and done in full color. This makes it extremely easy to setup the battles. Both expansion booklets have special rules for the battles listed.





 There is not much else to add. The game system is tried and true and has continually been upgraded. This expansion is a must for an ancients wargamer. The game itself brings the color and feel of ancient battles with shorter game times compared to other ancients games. One addition that I tremendously appreciate is the number of battles of Sertorius that have been included. A big thank you to GMT Games for letting me review these two expansions. GMT has also posted that there will be another expansion coming up dealing with early ancient warfare and chariots. These are links to the main game and all of the expansions:

Link to the downloads for Living Rules:
Commands & Colors Ancients main Game:
Commands & Colors Expansion 1:
Command & Colors Expansion 4:
Commands & Colors Expansion 6
Robert
PixelPLaybox.co.uk