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  Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni  Custoza and its fields were a crossroad in Italy for a long time. It was also essential to a...

Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni Custoza Fields of Doom by Europa Simulazioni

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

Europa Simulazioni





 Custoza Fields of Doom


by


Europa Simulazioni





 Custoza and its fields were a crossroad in Italy for a long time. It was also essential to attack or defend the fortress system called the 'Quadrilateral' (composed of the four fortresses Peschiera, Mantua, Legnago, and Verona). The first battle in 1848 was decisive in the First War of Independence of Italy. The third battle took place during the Third war for Independence in 1866. Both battles were fought because Austria-Hungary was trying to keep control of its possessions in Northern Italy. Like many areas in Europe, because of Custoza's geography many other armies have traversed its fields also. The year 1848 saw the Hapsburg monarchy of Austria-Hungary fight for its life against the tide of revolution flowing across Europe. The Hapsburgs were barely treading water, let alone able to deal with insurrections and invasions into the outer parts of the Empire. Finally with some semblance of calm in the inner empire Franz Joseph I, the new emperor, was able to send Field Marshal Radetzky to secure its Northern Italian provinces. Unbeknownst to many, the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 also saw Austria-Hungary fighting in Italy. Custoza was the scene of another battle in this war. Why do I mention two battles? Because the game allows the players to fight both of them. So, let us see what you get with this two for one deal. These are the contents:


Two 23"x34" maps

A rules booklet (the Italian version also contains a rule booklet in Italian)

3 sheets of large (5/8") counters

Charts and tables (both in Italian and English)

Two Dice

Boxed




  This will be my third review of a Europa Simulazioni wargame. I must tell you upfront that the game impresses me as visually as the first two did. Even the artwork on their game boxes are wonderfully done. The maps that come with the game are large and have big hexes to accommodate the large 5/8"counters. The maps are extremely well done. Another thing I like about Europa Simulazioni maps are that you do not have to guess what the terrain is in each hex. They make it very easy for the player that way. There is no need for quibbling if this hex is more forest or swamp etc. The counters are very colorful without being 'busy'. You get very nice looking counters, with small black and white portraits of the different generals. The two Player Aid cards are of thick paper and are done in large print. On one side of the first one is the terrain chart. The other side has the Assault Table and the Fire Table, along with the modifiers and the Cohesion Check Modifiers Table. The other Player Aid is 'The Objective Map'. This is used in the advanced game; more on this later. The Rules Booklet is thirty-two pages long and is in black and white. The rules only take up sixteen pages, and the rest is the different scenario setups, background history, and designer notes.




  The game actually comes with these scenarios:


Three smaller ones to learn the game (two from 1866, and one from 1848).

1848 Historical

1848 Free Set-Up

1848 Late Start

1866 Historical

1866 Free Set-up

So, you get eight scenarios from two different wars in one box. Not a bad package at all.




 The game allows a player to deal with almost every problem or tactical conundrum that faced all 19th century generals. The terrain helps with that, but the various scenarios really help to put you in their shoes. The Basic Game rules only take up twelve pages. There is enough in the rules for anyone who wants to play out a 19th century battle. Where the game really shines is with the addition of the Advanced Rules. These include:


Formation Status

On March Formations

In Reserve Formations

Fatigue

Command Collapse

Line of Communication 

Reinforcements

 There are also a few Special Rules that deal with Fortresses and Night turns etc.





 This is the Objective Map below.





 This is the Basic game Sequence of Play:

"1. Initiative Determination. Each Player rolls two dice,
 adding the Command Rating of the Overall
 Commander, if in play. The player with the highest
 total is the Initiative player. Re-roll on ties.
2. Engaged Formations Action Phase.
2.1 Command Step. Check the Command Status
 of all of the units, and mark the Out of Command
 ones (4.1).
2.2 Activation Step. Starting with the Initiative
 player, both sides alternate trying to activate one
 of their Formations (5.1). A failed attempt is
 considered an attempt. Both players can choose to
 pass, and to not try to activate a Formation, but if
 players pass three times in sequence (i.e. Player 1,
 Player 2, then again Player 1), the Phase ends and
 Formations which have not been activated cannot
 activate any more on the current GT.
 NOTE: Out of Command units can still move in
 their Phase (see Step 4.)
 Once activated, the Formation’s units that are In
 Command can act, Force by Force.
 NOTE: Remember, consider a single unit as a Force.
 For each Formation to activate, conduct the following
 steps:
2.2.a) Assault and Charge declarations
 Assaults and Charges must be declared at the
 beginning of the Activation, before any action,
 using the appropriate markers (see 6.1).
2.2.b) Forces perform Actions
 Each Force belonging to the Activated Formation
 can perform one Action, potentially causing
 Reactions (see 11) by enemy Forces. A Force can
 choose one action among:
- Movement (7.0) (including any Action implying
 expenditure of Movement Points)
- Fire (8.0) (Artillery or Light Infantry), including
 movement before firing, if Light Infantry (6.4)
- Charge/Assault, including the movement to
 perform it (9.0 and 10.0)
2.2.c) End of Activation
 Eligible Forces can Recover Status Levels and/or
 Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 Remove Assault/Charge markers.
3. Non Activated Formations Phase. In Command
 units of Non Activated Formations can Recover
 Status Levels and/or from Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 They must execute Withdrawal (see 12.0) if they are
 in a ZoR.
 The Initiative Player’s units move second.
4. Out of Command Units Phase. Out of Command
 units can move now, and Recover Status Levels
 and/or from Exhaustion (see 13.6).
 They must execute Withdrawal (see 12.0) if they are
 in a ZoR. If they are not in a ZoR and move, they
 must move closer to their Commander (4.1.1).
 Initiative Player units move second.
5. End of the the Game Turn Phase.
 Remove “Low Ammo/Out of Ammo” markers.
 Advance the GT marker one box on the Turn record
 Track."




  When using the above Objective Map in the Advanced Game, only the commander and his scout unit is shown on the large map face down. Every 'On March Formation' has it's marker placed on the above Objective map. One interesting rule is that at least half of his movement allowance must be on any type of road hex. The commander also has to be at least one hex closer to his destination after movement. The designer states that both "fair play and good sense" are to be used in conjunction with the above. They must grow grognards differently in Italy. 

 So, the game comes with eight scenarios and the inclusion of the Objective Map, and the free set-up scenarios mean that the gameplay in this box is almost limitless. 

 The designer states that at first the project was boring and predictable. Their answer: "Hence the radical decision: we reset everything and started gain with a completely new system. Without using predefined schemes,  and with the basic concepts of a) non-absolute control of formations and b) continuous action/reaction, the system that you find was born". Historically, in 1866 the cavalry of both sides were not used to their fullest advantage. Both sides groped about the battlefield trying to find each other. In these essentially Napoleonic battles I am sure that most grognards will do better. The games revolve around a unit's cohesion, and its ability to withstand the enemy fires and then use shock. In my eyes Europa Simulazioni has hit the mark with this game. As long as you are a fan of 19th century warfare, you should be a fan of this game. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for allowing me to review this unknown, but very welcome addition to battles of the 19th century.


This is the link to the English Rules:

Custoza-Rules-P1-2-Eng.pdf (italianwars.net)

This is the link to Europa Simulazioni:

Europa Simulazioni - Home (italianwars.net)

This is the Link to Custoza: Fields of Doom:

Europa Simulazioni - Custoza, fields of doom (italianwars.net)


Robert

Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo  The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo by Europa Simulazioni  Wor...

Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo (The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo) by Europa Simulazioni Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo (The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo) by Europa Simulazioni

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

Europa Simulazioni




Gorizia 1916

La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo 

The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo

by

Europa Simulazioni





 World War I in Italy and Austria-Hungary is the story of two men. The first is Luigi Cadorna, who was the Chief of Staff of the Italian Army in World War I. The second is Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, the Chief of Staff in the Austro-Hungarian Army. They had both risen to the highest places in their respective armies by hard work and seemingly excellent minds, with which to fight the largest war yet on the planet. The only problem was in both cases it was entirely a facade. They were stuck and hidebound, as many other generals in World War I, by outmoded thinking. Again, they both were  like everyone else at the start of the war, in love with the idea that with offensive spirit and with a good dose of 'we can conquer all' thinking the war could be won. Unfortunately for the troops under their command, most generals in the other armies learned the lessons of World War I. Not these two though, no sirree. They could not think of much beyond using their troops in headlong assaults against 20th century weaponry. von Hotzendorf was also obsessed with the idea of taking revenge on Italy (at the start of the war Italy was aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but refused to enter the war). When Italy did enter the war, it was as a member of the Entente against their former allies. Both of these generals seemed unable to learn the new form of warfare that was happening and both were replaced after numerous failures on their armies' part. Strangely, their legacies are also similar. These generals have military historians as both their detractors and defenders. As far as planning, they both seemed to be able to come up with great plans on paper that did not take into account the realities of the war.

 The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo took place in 1916. There were twelve Battles of the Isonzo in all. Five of these are considered Italian victories, four are listed as Austro-Hungarian victories, and three are draws. The Austro-Hungarian Army had just finished attacking the Italians in the Battle of the Asiago or the Strafexpedition (Punitive Expedition). The Austro-Hungarians were stopped just after they had punched a hole in the Italian lines. The Russians also attacked in Galicia, causing them to remove large amounts of troops. The Austro-Hungarians did not believe that the Italians could strike back so soon after the Battle of the Asiago. The Italians were able to move large amounts of troops and artillery in a short amount of time to launch the Sixth battle of the Isonzo. Just as in most of the battles on the frontier between the countries, the assault started well and the Italians seemed to have victory within their grasp. Unfortunately, as was the norm, the attack sputterted out once real movement returned to the to the front. The inability of all of the combatants to keep up pressure once the lines had been broken was seen throughout the first three years of World War I.








 So, there is the background of the game. Sorry if it seems too long, but to me it is one of the most interesting fronts of World War I. This is the second game from Europa Simulazioni that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Being a bit of an aficionado about this part of the war, I was very interested to see how ES's game compared to history. The game comes in English and Italian for the Charts and Tables. This is what you get with the game:


One 22"x34" map of  the battlefield
1120 die-cut counters
Standard rules and Scenario Instructions (three small and one large Campaign Scenario) 
Charts, tables
Dice
Box 






 The game is played in daily turns.
It comes with a campaign game of twelve days (August 6th to August 17th).






 The map comes with large hexes to help with the stacking that comes with a World War I game. It is a very nicely done map of the area of the battle. The colors for the different terrain work nicely together. Only two infantry units can be stacked in one hex, but there can also be artillery and some other units. With a 22"x34" map and four counter sheets, the larger hexes help with the congestion. The scale of the map is 1000 meters per hex. The four sheets of counters are all the same size, and the counters are 1/2" in size, and use NATO identifiers for the troop types etc. They are also color coded as to what division or brigade they belong to. There are four types of counters in the game: Combat Units, Artillery Units, Brigade Headquarters, and Informational Markers. The size of the counters means that there is a lot of information in a small place. The Rulebook is in black and white, but is set up in an easy to follow manner. The components are exactly what I was expecting from a Europa Simulazioni game.







 Just so we understand each other, this is an old school wargame. There are no plastic soldiers, it is not card driven, or do wooden blocks come with it. It is a dyed in the wool wargame whose antecedents are SPI and Avalon Hill. This game, except for the deeper rules and better done components, would be right at home on a table forty years ago. This is a deep simulation of World War I trench warfare on The Italian Front. This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Reinforcement Phase
2. Command Phase
3. Initiative Phase
4. Weather Phase
5. Supply Phase
6. Artillery Phase
7. Event Phase
8. Initiative Player Action Phase
 A. Tactical Movement and Assault Declaration
 B. Offensive bombardment
 C. Defensive Fire (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 D. Assault Resolution
 E. Counter-Assault Declaration (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 F. Counter-Assault Defensive Fire
 G. Counter-Assault Resolution (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 H. Action Completed
 I. Opponent Reaction

 At the end of step I, the Initiative Player can perform another Action Phase, repeating Phase 8 with another Brigade he has planned to activate, or he can 'pass', leaving the decision to the Non-Initiative Player to go to Phase 9 or pass in turn.

9. Non-Initiative Player Action Phase
  A. Tactical Movement and Assault Declaration
 B. Offensive bombardment
 C. Defensive Fire (by the Initiative Player)
 D. Assault Resolution
 E. Counter-Assault Declaration (by the Initiative Player)
 F. Counter-Assault Defensive Fire
 G. Counter-Assault Resolution (by the Initiative Player)
 H. Action Completed
 I. Opponent Reaction
10. Non-Activated Unit Movement Phase
11. Replacement and rally Phase
12.Victory Condition Check Phase



 There are rules about the following:

Logistics and initiative
Command
Supply
Bombardment
Interdiction
Force march
Disorganization
Fog of War







 

 
Austro-Hungarian


 The game also comes with special rules for these Units:

Engineer Units
Cavalry Units
MG Companies
Flamethrowers
Armored Cars
Austro-Hungarian Night Counterattacks



Italian



 The victory conditions are more in tune with the realities of World War I than many I have seen. This quote from the Rulebook sums it all up "The Objectives of both sides were territorial, their own or enemy losses were immaterial". The game can also abruptly end not only because of the Italian Player taking Victory Hexes, but also if he fails to do so. The rule 'Italian Offensive Halt', comes into play and the game is over if the Italian Player does not conquer a Victory Hex for three consecutive turns.

  

Is that Albert Einstein as the Game Turn Marker?

 The game is an incredibly immersive one about the Italian front during world War I. Everything you would want, or expect, in a World war I game is here. The writing of the rules are very well done for a non-English European game. There may be some usage errors. I am certainly not the one to find them, but the rules are easy to follow and clear cut. For a game about an obscure battle, at least outside of Europe, this is a full blown simulation of the battle. Many times not well known battles get the short shrift when it comes to games; not here. That the Victory Conditions do not include losses at all is a neat touch for a World War I game. Playing as the Italian Player you must, because of the sudden death rule, keep attacking each turn. The game forces you to disregard your losses, and this is as it should be. The Italian Player cannot take the time to get the odds just right, like you can in some games. The clock is ticking for the Italian Player also. Playing as the Austro-Hungarian you cannot trade space for time. You must defend everything as best you can. Hang on by the skin of your teeth if need be, but defend those victory hexes. The Austro-Hungarian night attack can be used once per game. If you pass the die rolls it gives you a Brigade to attack for practically free. As in the real world both sides must also balance Logistics and Supplies. Artillery fire used in 'Interdiction' is a powerful tool at your disposal. If you can use interdiction do so as much as possible. If you can you have made that enemy Brigade useless for the next turn.

 In summation, this is a great game on an obscure subject that more people should be playing. When you go the the Europa Simulazioni site, take the time to browse through their other games. I own several and they are just as well done. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for the chance to review this game. 

Europa Simulazioni:
http://italianwars.net/

Gorizia:
italianwars.net/games/gorizia_1916

My review of Europa Simulazioni's La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2019/12/la-guerra-di-gradisca-1615-1617-by.html

Robert



La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni  I am ashamed to admit it, but this war is totally unkno...

La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni

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

Europa Simulazioni




La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617

by

Europa Simulazioni







 I am ashamed to admit it, but this war is totally unknown to me. So, to make it easier on you I will quote from the game's 'Historical Notes':

"The War of Gradisca 1615-1617" is a low complexity game on a subject little studied by professional historians and even less treated in simulation games. The causes of the conflict lie in the ancient rivalry between the Republic of Venice and the uncomfortable neighbor from the Habsburg house, Austria. There were many open questions between the two contenders: the alleged failure to support the defense of Christian Europe from the Turk, the definition of the eastern borders of the Republic, the possession of key fortresses on this border line, with Gradisca in the first place. Last but not least was the problem of the Uskoks, pirates of Catholic faith in Habsburg service, who for a long time had disturbed the merchant routes of Venice in the Adriatic Sea."

 This is what comes with the game:

  • A 23"x33" map (based on an ancient map of Friuli)
  • A rules booklet (both Italian and English)
  • 1 sheet of large (5/8") counters
  • A deck of 36 Event Cards
    (for the Advanced Game)
  • Six dice
  • Boxed




 All of the components are very well done. The map, as described, is a period one of the area. It is roughly of the same area where Italy and Austria-Hungary fought the Isonzo and Caporetto campaigns. As far as looks go, it would work well as living room accent, sans the wargaming extras. The information blocks on the map (eliminated units, etc), are in both Italian and English. The turn record track is only in Italian, but even I could figure it out in a moment. The 5/8" counters are your standard wargame counters, except for the art. The illustrations on them match the period map well and they are little works of art. The information counters are in Italian, but the rulebook explains what they are in both languages. The rulebook is in both languages, and the English part is eight pages in length. It is a low complexity game so the rulebook is easy to follow and understand. It has also been written by someone who obviously has a good command of both of the languages. It is not written like the instruction manual for a bookcase or some other piece of furniture you might have to put together. You do not have to struggle to decide what English words each sentence is missing, nor does it use syntax like Yoda.





 This is the sequence of play:

"Every turn consists of the following steps:
 a) A Command marker is randomly drawn from the opaque container (see Rule 5)
 b) Units of the selected Command are activated and /or cards are played a. At this stage, the opponent can play in turn  cards, under the conditions written on the cards themselves  The drawn Command marker is then placed on the map in the section "Played Commands" ("Comandi giocati")
 c) The sequence from step a) is repeated until all Command markers have been drawn
 d) When all Command markers have finished, check if some area has combat units in excess (Rule 9), and then move the current turn marker to the next box on the Time Line.
 e) If the Game Turn marker has gone beyond the End of Game marker, the game is finished and Victory Points are counted for both players to determine the winner. Otherwise all Command markers are placed again in the container and a new Game Turn begins from Step a).
 The game is anyway finished at the conclusion of Turn  Mar.-Apr. 1618."




  At first glance, the game seems to be one in the 'beer and pretzels' range, like Risk with incredible period pieces and maps. Take, for example, the rule that artillery can fire from one area into another. In actuality, while the game is of low complexity it is a lot deeper than what it seems.  There are also two and a half pages of Advanced rules that make it a deeper and more historical game. These add the ability to have multiple rounds during combat. Some more advanced rules include 'Army Morale', and most importantly Supply rules. Having Sappers and miners (Guastatori), Forts, and Cernide (conscripts), the game really has the ability to transport you to the early seventeenth century. The player even has the ability to counter-mine the other player's mines when he has a Guastatori unit in his fort/castle that is being attacked. You don't feel that the pieces could be tanks or whatever on just an old map. The game's whole ensemble takes the player back in time. The game is not card driven, but it does have the obligatory, at least now-a-days, cards that add to the play. The card rules are a bit different than other games. Some cards are marked 'Mandatory' and must be used at the first opportunity by the player, even if they lead to adverse effects. Other cards are marked as only being able to be used at a certain date etc.






 My wargaming is usually predicated on my reading. In this case it is not so, mainly because there really does not seem to be any books about this war in English. This is too bad because this war is really the swan song of the Lion of St. Mark. Soon after this, Venice leaves the group of power players on the world's stage. Besides the components, which I love, the game is very good. It definitely gives the player a taste of maneuver and fortress warfare of the time period. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for allowing me to review Gradisca. I have two of their Napoleonic games, The Invasion of Russia 1812, and 1813 Napoleon's Nemesis. They are both beautiful and excellent games. I am really looking forward to playing more Europa Simulazioni Games.



Link to Europa Simulazioni:


Link to Guerra Di Gradisca:
Links to the Napoleonic games:
Robert





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