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Tiger Leader The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)   "Tyger, Tyger burning brig...

Tiger Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG) Tiger Leader: The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game 2nd Edition by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

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

Dan Verssen Games

Tiger Leader

The World War II Ground Combat Solitaire Strategy Game

2nd Edition


Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

 "Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 in the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
(William Blake)

 Yes, it is a different Tiger, but the response of its enemies is pretty much the same: sheer terror. The amount of Tigers that Germany built compared to the totals of other tanks on each side was quite small. However the Allied soldiers would see them behind every house or large bush. Reading the Allied and Soviet reports, they destroyed 10,000 German Tigers. Germany actually constructed only 1,347 Tiger I's and 489 Tiger II's. Yes it is actually a Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B., not a Tiger II. However, not all wargamers have as much OCD about things as others do. Before we get pigeonholed, we have to remember that you will be in charge of a German Panzerkampfgruppe (Battle Group). You will not only have tanks under your command, but almost every other German land combat unit. It will also be a long time before you see or even dream about Tigers if you play the early campaigns. You may even start the game with Panzer I's. these were no better than any other machine gun equipped tanks from the mid 1930's. So, what does DVG actually give you in the box:

Enemy Units include units from the Polish Army, French Army, British Army, Russian Army, and the American Army.
240 Full Color Cards
440 Full Color Counters
12 2.5" Terrain Tiles
1 22"x 17" Mounted Display
1 11"x17" HQ Sheet
1 Player Log Sheet
1 Full Color Player Aid Sheet
1 10-sided die

 All of the DVG games I have played have four things in common:
1. Everything in them is large and easy to read.
2. When possible they fit everything including the kitchen sink in the box for the player to use.
3. They are all excellent solitaire games
4. Mounted map boards

 I could simply end the review here and say why are you bothering to read this, then tell you to go out and go buy it, case closed. However we have to conform to the standards, so here goes. The map board is well mounted; not a surprise there. The 'hexes' on it are almost as big as the bases for miniature wargame units. In reality they are actually 2.5" wide. The counters are 5/8" in size, and very easy to read. Your counters only have numbers at the bottom, to use in conjunction with the unit cards. The enemy counters have their designation, for example infantry, etc. They also have their Armor Piercing and High Explosive ratings on them. The cards are separated into six decks: Event, Unit, Special Condition, Objective, Battalion, and Leaders. The rulebook is only twenty-two pages long. It is also in full color, and is in large type. Examples of play are scattered throughout it. The one Player Log Sheet needs to be copied. I am not a big fan of manual record keeping. However, in this game it makes sense. DVG has given us so much in the box already that some of it would have to be removed to replace the manual record keeping. The twelve Terrain Tiles are double sided. Their use gives the game extra depth and replayability. 

 These are some of the German units you will be playing with:

Tiger Leader includes the following units:
Panzer I
Panzer II
Panzer III
Panzer IV
Tiger Tank
Panther Tank
King Tiger Tank
Armored cars

 Naturally you will be fighting some of the above and more in your solitaire quest to survive the war. This is a list of the campaigns you are able to fight in:

The Invasion of Poland 1939
The Battle for France 1940
The Battle for North Africa 1941
The Invasion of Russia 1941
The Battle for North Africa 1942
The Fight for Italy 1943
The Fight for Russia 1943
The Days of D-Day 1944
The Final Days in Berlin 1945

 The game has been revised a good bit in this Version 2 release. Let me clarify that. If you own only the original Tiger Leader, there have been changes to the game to make it closer to Sherman Leader in the rules. If you already own Tiger Leader and the upgrade kit, the changes are mostly in the artwork. The upgrade kit fixed the issues that people found with some non-historical rules.

 The game is both Card and Die driven. The main driving force behind the game is Special Option (SO) points. These are given to you to use from the Objective Cards. You will purchase your units with SO points. The Leader games from DVG are not supposed to be a highly detailed simulation of whatever they represent. They are a commander lite simulation of the historical conflict that takes place in their area of focus. They are also eminently fun and great games. Just like any other wargame, people can argue about the different numbers given to each unit in the game. It is really a pointless exercise because each person has his own view of what they should be. When you purchase a wargame you are seeing the designer's thoughts on the effectiveness of each unit. I do have an idea, though. If you do not agree with the designer, then try your own. It is a boardgame that you have purchased. Feel free to fiddle with them as you see fit. However, realize that your own numbers might make the game totally unbalanced. There is a reason the designer used his numbers, and it is because play testing showed which ones represented reality in the designer's mind. 

 The game also comes with Optional Rules to enhance gameplay. There are three of them:

Battlefield Heroics
Flank Attacks

 For Tenacity you can decide to extend a battle by one turn, at the cost of each participating Commander gaining one extra stress point. For Battlefield Heroics, if a Commander's unit is destroyed, he can take over from a KIA, Unfit or wounded Commander from the same type of unit. Flank Attacks take place with a die roll at ranges of 0 or 1. Tenacity and Battlefield Heroics also cost one SO point for each week of the campaign that the rule is used.

 The game tries to be as user friendly as possible. The Sequence of Play is shown right on the top of the mounted map. This is the sequence:

Campaign Set-Up
Select Campaign Card
Select Objective Card
Draw Battalion Cards
Buy Units
Select Commanders

Start of Week
Special Condition Card
Assign Units

Event Card
Place Turn Counter
Place Terrain Tiles
Place Friendly Units
Place Enemy Units

Fast Move and Attack
Roll for Enemy Movement
Enemy Actions
Slow Move and Attack
Advance Turn Counter

Event Card
Battalion Status
Record Commander Stress
Record Commander Experience Points
End of Week

Move Battalions
On Leave
Adjust Special Option Points
Priority R&R

End of Campaign
Campaign Outcome

 The game's rules are easy to understand and the fact that almost all of what needs to be done each turn is right on the map makes it that much easier to remember. The big difference in DVG solitaire games is the fact that you are playing campaigns and not separate scenarios. Many players win games by totally exhausting their troops to win one scenario. If they were forced into a battle again with the same troops, they would quickly lose the second battle. Tiger Leader and its brothers are commander games. The player is forced to deal with fatigue, loss, and all the other problems that a real commander is faced with. If you go into the first scenario with guns blazing you will quickly lose the campaign. The player has to deal with the battle at hand, but also keep looking at the long haul. You must win every battle, and also have a strong force left to fight all of the rest. This game has been tweaked to be even better than its first iteration. Tiger Leader has excellent gameplay and components, not much more can be asked of a wargame. If you are interested in WWII European Theater land combat acting as a commander, then this game is for you.

 DVG was nice enough to send me three expansions with the base game. These are:

Tiger Leader Expansion #1 Blitzkrieg
Tiger Leader Expansion #2 Panzers
Tiger Leader Terrain Tile Pack #2

 This comes with new:

Campaign Cards
Situation Cards
Special Condition Cards
Event Cards
Enemy Battalion Cards
Commander Cards
Enemy Battalion Counters

 This comes with these new items:

Vehicle Cards
Infantry cards
Vehicle Counters
Infantry Counters

 Among the new Vehicle Cards are one for a late war E-50 and E-100

 This set comes with these new tiles:


 You can also purchase a Neoprene mat to play on, and Tiger leader Terrain Tile Pack #1.

 These serve to make this excellent game even more so. Thank you very much Dan Verssen Games for allowing me to review Tiger leader 2nd Edition. I have reviewed about six of their games, and they just keep upping the bar with each new release.


Dan Verssen Games:

Tiger leader 2nd Edition:

Field Commander Alexander by  Dan Verssen Games   A madman wears the crown, and everyone around him, courtier...

Field Commander Alexander by Dan Verssen Games Field Commander Alexander by Dan Verssen Games

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

Dan Verssen Games

Field Commander Alexander


Dan Verssen Games

 A madman wears the crown, and everyone around him, courtiers, generals, even concubines are not safe from his murderous drunken outbursts. He believed himself at one time to be the son of a God, but now he thinks himself a God. He is distrustful of the soldiers who won him the crown of the world. A besotted paranoid maniac; this is what Alexander has become. If someone didn't kill him out of self-preservation it would be amazing.

 This game shows the campaigns of Alexander in four scenarios, from the earliest battles when he had just gotten the crown, to his conquest of much of the known world. From Chaeronea to his hardest battle at the Hydaspes, his battles and campaigns are here. I want to thank DVG for adding in the siege of Tyre. Sieges, if represented at all in games, are usually just a die roll. The game is a solitaire one where you fill the shoes of the half mortal Alexander. This is what comes with the game:

4 11"x17" Campaign Maps
1 Counter Sheet
1 Six-sided die
1 Player Log sheet

The four Campaigns are

Granicus - 338 BC to 334 BC
Issus - 333 BC to 332 BC
Tyre - 332 BC
Gaugamela - 331 BC to 323 BC

First Counter Sheet

 This is the sequence of play:

  Advance Turn Counter
  Refit ( -2 Gold per Refit )
  Enemy Orders
  Enemy Operations
  Scouting Roll
   ( If roll > Forces suffer hits
   if roll < Forces lose Gold)
   Move Army
   Battle / Intimidate
    Gain Glory
    Raze or Govern
  May Repeat
  Gain Gold
  Spend Gold and Glory

Granicus Map

 This is the newest reprinting of the game, although there doesn't seem to be many changes between the versions. The main game mechanic is for you, playing as Alexander, to win gold and glory. In each campaign these can be used to continue your conquering ways. Glory points can be especially helpful because they allow you to buy Insight Counters and Advisor Counters. These are some of them:

Insight Counters
Anticipation - Play before the enemy 
 draws Battle Plans. Enemy does not 
 Draw any Battle Plans for this battle.
Courtesans - May play after seeing an
  intimidation roll. Add 4 to the roll.

Advisor Counters
Aristander (Seer) - After seeing each 
 Enemy Orders for roll, you may add 1
 to the roll.
Parmenion (General) - The enemy 
 receives 3 fewer Battle Plans in battle.

Issus Map

 Another major game mechanic is to accept or shun a prophecy when you move into an area that has an oracle. You must decide to accept or shun it before turning over the counter to see the actual prophecy. The number on the Prophecy counter is how many turns you have to complete the prophecy. Completing it on time means that your Alexander gains 1 Glorification, and just a smidgen more madness. Failing to complete it means that you have to drop 1 level of Glorification or remove an advisor for the rest of the game. If you cannot do either, you lose the game. There are 1- 8 Alexander counters. Each one measures his Glorification level, one being the lowest and 8 representing full blown psychosis. Just ask Kassander.


Player Log/Battle Board

 The game comes with one player log that you can copy to use over if you want to keep track of different campaigns you wage. The player log also has information about Battle Plans etc. At the bottom of the Player Log is the battlefield, which is more like a battle board. You line up yourself and your enemy's forces in two lines. "Arrange them from left to right in order of the highest to lowest speed". Both Alexander and his enemies have Battle Plans they can use. Depending upon the situation and the Alexander player's use of gold etc, this will determine the amount of Battle Plans both sides have. You resolve any Pre-Battle plans first, and then get down to business. The battles are set up so that the two heroic leaders (if an enemy leader is present) will have a go at each other. The only slightly strange rule is that only the Alexander unit in his army can attack the enemy leader. The enemy leader unit can attack other units in Alexander's force. Once the leaders have begun to attack each other, they must continue to attack each other until the end of the battle. As Alexander you can choose to retreat from battle (to your everlasting shame). However, unlike in history, this does not necessarily mean it is the end of the war.

Tyre Map

 This marks my sixth review of a DVG solitaire game. Just like the others, the components are very well done, as are the rules. Field Commander Alexander seems to have more immersion than the others I have played. You as the player want to win, but you are also pitting yourself against the Great One's record. As almost any general before you since 323 BC, your victories and pace of conquest is measured against Alexander. Hopefully you don't also get a good dose of megalomania in the bargain. Thank you DVG Games for letting me review another great game.

Dan Verssen Games:

Field Commander Alexander:


Overview Corsair Leader is the latest game from Dan Verssen Games which covers the airborne-antics of the Pacific Theatre.  It is a so...

Corsair Leader Corsair Leader

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

Dan Verssen Games


Corsair Leader is the latest game from Dan Verssen Games which covers the airborne-antics of the Pacific Theatre.  It is a solitaire game and for those familiar with the 'Leader' series follows the tried and trusted formula that the earlier games, e.g. Hornet Leader, Apache Leader etc. built upon. The game was a successful Kickstarter campaign raising many times over its funding goal.

The game pits you as a Squadron Commander that has to manage resources, i.e. pilots and aircraft to successful meet sortie objectives i.e. destroying targets, over a campaign series of linked missions. Each target, be it a fuel depot or enemy bombers grants a number of Victory Points which are tallied and compared against a Campaign VP achievement table to determine how successful you were.

There are 15 campaigns in the box, which is a testament to a successful Kickstarter, as many of them were stretch goals. After choosing a campaign and then your starting pilots, you'll 'fly' a number of missions which all follow the same 5 phases of play.  The enemy, always the Japanese, will spawn randomly by a cup-draw mechanic, so no two missions will ever be the same. Each mission plays in about 20 minutes, sometimes much less, depending on the number of site and bandits i.e. the enemy, that appear to defend the target. 

If you're curious about everything you get in the box, watch my unboxing video below (~14 mins)


Each mission consists of a Pre-flight planning phase, the Target Bound Flight, Target Resolution, Home Bound Flight and Debriefing. During the first of these phases the target, your pilots and their armaments will be selected, you'll also place the 'sites' which are the enemy ground units. There were many little touches in this game that I appreciated the design of and this was the first; it makes sense to me that your Intelligence will be more aware of the relatively static ground defences prior to a mission.

During the Target Bound Flight, you'll place your aircraft in any the Pre-Approach areas on the mounted Tactical Display. You'll only know where the enemy aircraft, 'bandits', appear after this step, nicely simulating the unknown quantity of WWII PTO Air Combat namely, finding and being found by the enemy.  Another design appreciation moment came with the Event Cards which randomise an element of the Approach, Target and Home-bound phases, these cards serve to add some distinct flavour to each mission. 

With practice, you'll be through the first two phases in less than 5 minutes. The meat of the tactical game comes during the Target Resolution phase, which is repeated 5 times, during which you'll attempt to engage bandits, destroy sites and the target without taking too much damage yourself.

Engaging bandits was a mini-game in its own right, and in fact felt like a very distilled version of the dogfighting manoeuvring of Wild Blue Yonder, in fact, the two games share a lot of common dog-fighting terminology. In a dogfight, you'll attempt to manoeuvre into favourable positions to attack, and with any bandit or site, 1 hit will be enough to destroy it.  However, bandits are also manoeuvring to get into favourable positions against your aircraft determined by just two simple and quick-to-use tables on the mounted Dogfight Sheet.

Attacks, whether they're the enemies, your own, or whether the target is airborne or ground-based are resolved exactly the same way, by rolling 1d10.  Each counter has got Attack Number(s) clearly printed on the top which the die result is compared to. If you've rolled greater than or equal to the first Attack Number, that's 1 hit on your target. If you've rolled greater than or equal to the second number that's two hits and so on. This is easily remembered and plays quickly, I thought it was an elegant way to determine combat results.

Attack rolls and Manoeuvre rolls may be modified by your pilots' and the enemies Air-to-Air or Air-to-Ground abilities or their relative position to each other confers dice modifiers as well. Some pilots will also fly with a Gung Ho counter which can be used prior to a dice roll to consider it a natural 10 (always a good thing in this game - unless rolling for the enemy!)

Your aircraft won't be in a position to actually attack the Missions' target until the 3rd round at the earliest and you'll only have 3 attempts to destroy the target, which will require multiple hits (6 was fairly common) to consider it destroyed. Each target also has a different number of bandits and sites that must be drawn to defend it along with a maximum number of aircraft that are allowed to go on the mission. It wouldn't be much of a game if you could send every aircraft at your disposal on every mission, each target felt well balanced if not thematic. I managed to fly a mission in the 1945 Luzon campaign without meeting a single bandit - probably quite accurate... Destroying a target nearly always feels like an achievement, especially in earlier Campaign missions in which the bandit and site counter mix are more aggressive. 

The Home Bound Flight is where you'll attempt to rescue any of your 'downed' pilots and the Debrief is where you'll work out if any pilots have been promoted and how much stress they've accumulated, which should factor into your choice of pilot for the next mission. This strategic side of the game is also quite simple but more importantly, it's good fun. I enjoyed setting up my squadron and choosing the pilots, the experience they earnt over campaign almost gave me the same feeling of levelling up an RPG character which is unusual for a wargame.


My previous experience with a 'Leader Series' game was with a Print-n-Play of Hornet Leader. My first and current impressions of this game are that the components are of a fantastic quality which put my homemade components (which I am quite proud of) to shame. The counters punched out more cleanly than any other game I've experienced and there were no chit-pulls to speak of anywhere.


My biggest gripe with this game is with the rules. They're well written, easy to understand and nicely laid out but I didn't find them to be fully comprehensive.  There were a few edge cases during early plays of the game, specifically around dogfights, that were not covered.  Only after repeated plays, did I satisfy myself that I was playing it correctly, and that was achieved by following the Sequence of Play absolutely literally. 

The rules omit to mention anything about the Carrier and Island Operations charts that are included. I have assumed that these are optional parts of the game and I haven't tried them as there were very limited instructions on how to use them and references on them to counters that were not provided. I really like the thought behind them as there would be wildly different considerations for a Squadron Commander launching and recovering aircraft from an airfield or a carrier, but they feel a bit half-baked.

I found a few errors on cards that I have received which for the most part are of an excellent design and quality. Each pilot should have 3 double-sided cards to show their progression from Newbie, through Green, Average, Skilled, Veteran and to Legendary. however I have one pilot who can never be 'Skilled', his reverse side is for a different pilot, which is definitely a printing error. I checked and there are some more errata listed on the publishers game page and bgg discussions for it as well. However, it's good to see a publisher supporting their products; almost a necessity for wargame publishers.

After punching out the counters, I think I've organised and reorganised their storage 4 times. It should be a one-time-job but I was pretty jaded by the third time through. It would be nice if wargame publishers would add a section to their rules on efficient counter storage. Initially, I organised by aircraft types, then realised that a more sensible approach would also be organised by year, and then I realised I needed to factor in the Service (e.g. USAAF, USMC etc.) as well. To be told up front would be a boon, but at least I've now got lots of baggies which fit the box perfectly. This is a nice full box.


The Pacific Theatre is of particular interest to me and I'm grateful to own this solitaire take on tactical air combat in it. It plays quickly and has very high production values.  The overall mechanism is quite simple but gives a nice feeling of accomplishment after a successful campaign. 

Older games like B-17 feel like a purely random sequence of events to me with such little narrative I just never felt immersed. In this game, you're not just along for the ride. The Gung Ho counters and Special Options that you can spend, along with the levelling of your pilots as they progress through a campaign really add to the flavour and give you some tactical and strategic decisions which can make and break your missions. 

The game system overall, and which is shared with all the other 'Leader' games is little lacking in narrative. However, the elements mentioned in the previous paragraph alongside the Event Cards and my imagination provided enough of a story to enjoy my time flying a Corsair over the Pacific against the Japanese Navy and Air Force.  I certainly have enjoyed my time with this game and would like to thank Asmodee Distributors and Dan Verssen Games for sending this review copy.

If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter earlier this year, and if you did, why are you reading this?, it is still available and may even grace your Friendly Local Game Store's shelves. Find your nearest at

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games
Game Website:
Players: 1
Designer: Dan Verssen
Playing time: 90 minutes +
RRP: £86.99

Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games      Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Dan Verssen Game,  ...

Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games Fleet Commander Nimitz by Dan Verssen Games

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

Dan Verssen Games

Fleet Commander Nimitz


Dan Verssen Games

 Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Dan Verssen Game,  hereon known as DVG. This time it is World War II again. It is not just a single force campaign, but the entire Pacific War from an American standpoint. The campaigns come in full years of:

 A campaign can be played by playing all of the years separately and then adding the results. 

 You are playing solitaire against the might of the Japanese empire. After looking at the setup for the 1942 campaign, I wish I had picked 1943 or 1944. The Japanese navy and their stacks of ships look pretty imposing. 

 As usual, the components from DVG are very good. I believe some early games shipped out with some misprinted counters, but these were all fine. There are eight sheets of counters. They are marked by each separate year of the conflict. So there will be a Japanese 1942 and American 1942 pile of counters etc, along with numerous supply and movement and other counters. There are also separate counters for land and naval air forces. Each carrier is represented by its own counter, even CVLs and CVEs. Battleships and Cruisers are shown as two of each class to a counter, as in one counter is listed BB Yamato/Musashi and they have combined attack and defense numbers. Destroyers and submarines have counters that show groups of each warship.

 Sequence of play:

Advance Turn Counter
US Resupply
US Scouting
  US Movement
  Japanese Orders
  Japanese Movement Orders
   US Force Setup
   Japanese Force Setup
   Roll For Battle Turns
   Determine Japanese Battle Plans
   Select US Battle Plans
Post Battle
   Japanese reinforces
   Japanese Repair
   US Supply Check
 Defeat Check

 You play on a strategic map of the Pacific area. Battles are fought out on a generic 'Battle Sheet'.

 The rules are clear and well written. The last two pages of the rule book is an 'Extended Play Example'. This game, like most DVG games, has a player log that needs to be filled out. You can copy the one that comes with the game or download and print ones from their website.

 At the end of each turn is a 'Defeat check'. The player checks his currently held objectives against the campaign evaluation chart. If a player has only three or less objectives held at the end of a turn, he loses. A player can also lose if a Japanese force is in the Hawaiian Islands and the player is unable to destroy all of the Japanese forces on the first turn of battle.

 The counters come out of the sheets so easily and cleanly that most were already loose in the box on arrival. Luckily my daughter shares my OCD, so sorting counters for a game is like a fun family project. At times, the areas on the board get slightly stuffed with counters. This is totally understandable given the amount of counters you are given to play with. I think DVG hit the nail on the head with the right amount of counters. Having every ship from cruiser on up, as some games have, would make the game play unwieldy.

 Because the player is essentially playing both sides of the game (using die rolls to decide Japanese play), there is a lot to do on each turn. However, the flow of the sequence of play is well thought out and it is not hard to get into the swing of things. To me, the battle sheet being generic is not a minus. With land, air, and naval forces to control the game gives you enough variables to keep it fresh. The rule book says to start with the 1942 campaign and I concur, even though the Japanese might looks so imposing. It is much easier to learn the game with the smaller US forces in 1942. 

 The game was nominated for the 2014 'Golden Geek Best Solo Game', and I can see why. Like the other DVG solitaire games I have played it just seems right and plays well. This is coming from a wargamer who never really liked solitaire games before.

 One point that some people were not happy with was the lack of an actual full war campaign. You can play all four separate year campaigns and check your score against a chart in the rule book for a semi-campaign. While I can understand their view, in this day and age I am happy to get any wargaming in let alone game the entire Pacific War. Another point that some players do not like is the complete randomness of the game. Some feel the game is not historical enough because of the randomness, while  there are others who really like the game for this exact same reason. I am in the latter group. Yes, there is some distortion of history; there has to be to make it a solo game that you want to play through more than once. If all I wanted was history I would read a book instead of playing a game.

 There apparently has been some confusion as to when or how often submarines can attack. This is the DVG answer to the question:

 Subs only attack once each turn during the torpedo step.

 Another questionable tactic was that the player could 'pin' a Japanese fleet with a sacrifice cruiser or sub. This was a fix posted on BoardGameGeek:

 Sortie order:
Randomly select 3 ships and 2 infantry to move to the closest objective with at least 1 US force ASHORE. The poster believes this is how the game was played during beta testing and somehow was changed in the rules. The poster is Steve Malczak. Unfortunately I was not able to play using this change to the rules before posting this review.


Field Commander Napoleon is a solitaire board game which puts you in the driver's seat on many of Napoleon's greatest campaigns....

Field Commander Napoleon - Vassal Module Review Field Commander Napoleon - Vassal Module Review

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

Dan Verssen Games

Field Commander Napoleon is a solitaire board game which puts you in the driver's seat on many of Napoleon's greatest campaigns. It is part of the Field Commander series from Dan Verssen Games, which includes other titles covering the likes of Alexander the Great and Erwin Rommel. Faced with some of the same challenges as the Little Corporal himself, will you be able to emerge victorious?

My review here focuses specifically on the Vassal module for the game. Since this game has been out for many years, and there are a thousand reviews for it online, I will focus this article on the Vassal element itself, and summarize my opinion of the game at the end.

If you are not familiar with VASSAL, it is a free and open source engine for running digital versions of hundreds of board and wargames. These "modules" vary from completely free, but in many cases limited versions of games, on up to paid for versions that include everything you would find in the actual box. FC Napoleon falls into the more premium category, with a price of $30. However, you are getting essentially the equivalent of owning a physical copy, with all the pieces and boards crisply displayed on your PC screen. I should note up front to make it clear, this is not a "PC game" so much as it is a simulation of playing the board game. While the game neatly organizes all the pieces for you at the start of a campaign, it is up to the player to then move the pieces around the board correctly, and follow the rules.

I'm lucky enough to have a copy of the physical version of the game, which is absolutely gorgeous and worth its rather hefty price tag. Since I've played the game before, I only needed a brief review of the rules to get started. This, however, is where I ran into a snag with the Vassal version, it doesn't seem to include the game manual. Perhaps I am completely missing it, but I searched through every menu and button in the module and could not find it. There are handy buttons to open up the various player aides in separate windows, and a useful guide for veteran players getting comfortable with some nuances of playing in Vassal, but the actual rules for the game are nowhere to be found. I'll happily edit this section if anyone can point out its location to me. I was able to quickly Google up a a PDF of the manual and get rolling, so it isn't an insurmountable hurdle.

While playing in Vassal certainly won't be for everyone, it does offer a bevy of advantages over the physical realm of board gaming. First and foremost, game setup takes all of half a second. Just pick the campaign of your choice, there are eleven to choose from, and away you go. This is especially nice for FC Napoleon, the physical version of which includes triple digit quantities of unit counters, many specific to each campaign, which must be sorted out and placed meticulously according to each scenario's opening game state. What might take twenty minutes with the physical version takes only a split-second in Vassal. Just as nice is the ability to save your game and close the program any time you please. No need to leave things set up on the dining room table for a week, open to devastating attack by cats and small children.

Navigating the game through Vassal takes some getting used to. Perhaps more so for me than other players, since I had not used Vassal before. Right-click menus and other shortcuts allow you to perform the various actions of the game, such as flipping and rotating counters, creating/separating stacks of counters, and increasing/decreasing the value of certain spaces like supplies. One very nice feature is that units can be moved from the operational map to the battle map using a short-cut, which will also prepare everything you need for the battle (such as laying out the Battle Plan counters you will need, then stacking them up when the battle is done). However, using this feature is a bit precarious, as the module guide indicates, because the game isn't quite smart enough to realize if you've done something horribly wrong while moving counters around. The player will still need to pay attention to the details.  Another automated function in the Vassal module is that reinforcements will move onto the campaign board as soon as you meet the appropriate conditions, which is nice and leaves you with one less thing to remember. 

I found that playing in Vassal required a serious mental adjustment on my part. This is neither a truly interactive computer game, nor is it as intuitive as playing the game directly with your hands. Vassal veterans may have an easier time making the adjustment, but for me it took a few hours of tinkering around before I really felt comfortable playing in this environment, despite having experience with the game itself. However, once I found my feet on this new gaming battlefield, I could appreciate why it is so popular with many wargamers. The obvious advantages of instant set up and saved games makes it so much easier to play a game like this on a whim, compared to the sizable time commitment involved in breaking out the physical version. That said, at the fairly steep price of $30, you will have to know that you'll like this before taking the plunge. I can't help but think that anyone who can afford to spend that much on a Vassal module, could probably afford to go ahead and get a physical copy.  Regardless of price, my verdict on the Vassal edition of FC Napoleon is that it fully translates the board game experience onto the PC, while adding several quality of life improvements. I did not run into any bugs or other problems while using this version of the game. 

As for Field Commander Napoleon itself as a game, I can confidently say that it is one of the better solitaire gaming systems I have played. The mix of operational force movement and the more tactical battlefield phases of the game gives you a lot to think about. The enemy AI is simple, but effective enough in that it will keep you on your toes and force you to react to the situations that develop in each campaign. At many points in the game you will be faced with the decision of playing conservatively or aggressively, with the greater rewards carrying greater risks. Just like Napoleon, you will more often than not need to be bold in your actions, and trust to your superior forces and leadership to see you through against the odds. With almost a dozen scenarios to play, the game has plenty of variability and it will take quite a while to win them all. 

In short, this a well done Vassal module of a very good game. Whether it is worth the purchase price is up to you, but you can make that decision knowing that you will get a quality product.

- Joe Beard

Available at Dan Verssen Games

B-17 Leader by DanVerssen Games    One should not judge a book by its cover, or so we have been told. Equally, one shoul...

B-17 Leader by Dan Verssen Games B-17 Leader by Dan Verssen Games

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Dan Verssen Games


 One should not judge a book by its cover, or so we have been told. Equally, one should not judge a book or boardgame by its heft. However, I am still pretty much a slave to heft. If I receive a book or boardgame that needs two hands to hold it, I am instantly enthralled. 

 B-17 is one of these games. Holding it in your hands for the first time, you would believe that you have gotten your hands on something special. Once you open the box you would find out that your hunch was correct. The game manual and the parts are gorgeous. For those of us getting older, the larger sized type and counters etc. are especially welcome. The next part of the review will be an unboxing and give you a look at all of the game's finery.

Components: 336 Cards
5 Counter Sheets
1 Commander Counter Sheet
1 Huge 33" x 17" Mounted Display Board
1 Player Aid Sheet
1 Mini Campaign Sheet
1 Single Bomber Sheet
11 Campaign Sheets
1 DIF Crossover Sheet
1 Player Log Sheet

The campaigns included in B-17 Leader include:
• The Air War Begins (Aug 1942 – Dec 1942)
• Operation Pointblank (June 1943 – May 1944)
• Combined Bomber Operations (June 1943 – Sept 1943)
• Allied Invasion (June 1944 – May 1945)
• Oil Campaign (Aug 1944 – Nov 1944)
• Operation Argument – Big Week (Feb 20 – 25 1944)
• Operation Crossbow (Mar 1943 – May 1943)
• Transportation (Apr 1944 – Aug 1944)
• Strategic Targets (Jun 1943 - Aug 1943)
• U-Boat Focus (Aug 1942)
• Aircraft Industry Focus (Aug 1943)

US counters

German counters

More excellent counters


Sequence of play sheet

Player aid sheets

Leader Commander Counters

Some of the campaigns


          Display Board

 The Display Board is so substantial it could be used for self defense.

                                               Memphis Belle card

The game is a solitaire game about the U.S. bombing campaign against Germany in World War II. You are the deputy director of operations for the Eighth Air Force based in England. The German Luftwaffe (planes and flak) are the enemy that you have to out think and outlast. Your mission is simple: to crush Germany from the air. You have to destroy each target that you choose without suffering crippling losses to your bomber force. As it was in reality, the most lucrative targets are the heaviest defended and the furthest away. When first looking at the game, you might have a 'what have I gotten myself into here' moment. The rule book and the sheer amount of what is in the box may give you pause. The truth is if this isn't your first wargame it really isn't that daunting. The sequence of play is rather longer than just moving a counter and attacking, then checking a CRT. The reason for this is due to a few factors. One is for the game system to give you a viable solitaire gaming experience. Two, so that the game has enough variables to keep it from getting stale. Three, to give you somewhat of a simulation experience of actually running the bombing campaign. I have stayed away from solitaire wargames for a good many years, the reason being is that the few I tried in the '70s and early '80s were just missing something. I always found a two player game to be a better solitary experience. Maybe it was that the masochist in me came out when I was able to exploit a dumb move I had made while playing the other side. Those days are gone and I believe that solitary wargames have matured enough to give you excellent gaming options now.

                                                      Official geek pin

 The game itself is much like its predecessor 'Phantom leader'. You are not only in charge of damaging the enemy, you also have to be a pilot/crew manager. A few mistakes on your part and your crews will be useless to you in your aerial attack. The game is very taut in this way. Do you go for broke on this one mission, or play it safe to husband your crews for the next few? I am glad that the game is based upon the U.S. daylight bombing campaign. A campaign about destroying cities would still give me pause. I know that everyone did it. For some reason to me it just seems 'not cricket'.

 There is a player's log that you have to manually keep track of your fighter/bomber groups. A log is a little more time consuming than moving a chit on a printed display, but I have used them many times in the past for games, and it is really not an onus. 

Me setting up to play the U-Boat campaign again

 So the breakdown is this. Do you have the slightest bit of interest in the bombing campaign, or do you just like to own great wargames for their own sake? If either of these are you, I can definitely endorse B-17 Leader for you.

 The geek pin was a nice touch, but I am sure if you ask our partners we really don't need to be labelled.


Designer: Dean Brown