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  The Deadly Woods by Revolution Games Designed by Ted S. Raicer    So, we have another Battle of the Bulge game to enter the fray. Three ba...

The Deadly Woods by Revolution Games The Deadly Woods by Revolution Games

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

Revolution Games

 The Deadly Woods


Revolution Games

Designed by

Ted S. Raicer


 So, we have another Battle of the Bulge game to enter the fray. Three battles pretty much flood the board wargaming industry: Waterloo, Bulge, and Gettysburg. Some would argue that enough is enough. Those same people might also like to eat turkey, ham, or whatever. You do not hear them being upset that someone has cooked their favorite meal again. To me, The Battle of the Bulge in wargaming is an acquired taste. It is one of those battles that one side has the scales all tipped in their favor. The German generals were pretty much in agreement that the plan was slipshod at best. Even Sepp Dietrich, rabid Nazi that he was, thought the plan was beyond the resources assigned to it. That, and the atrocious weather needed to keep the Allied planes grounded, also affected the ground troops of both sides. As it was, the German Schwerpunkt (main point of attack), the SS Panzer Sixth Army in the north, did not punch through the American lines. The American troops bled and died there on the Elsenborn Ridge to stop them. The deepest penetration during the battle was actually further south by von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army.

 This is what comes with the game:


22x34" game map

11x22" setup map

1 1/2 x 5/8" countersheets


Player aids

Game box or ziploc


This is a blurb from Revolution Games about The Deadly Woods:

"In December 1944 Hitler launched a massive offensive against the weakly held Ardennes forest section of the Allied front in Belgium. Achieving complete surprise, the Germans nevertheless faced tough resistance from the battle's opening days, and the offensive was virtually over 10 days after it began. Their followed a bloody Allied counterattack which gradually erased the bulge the Germans had created in the Allied line.

But you probably know all that. Yet another Battle of the Bulge game? Why yes. But one with a different approach. Specifically, award-winning designer Ted S. Raicer has taken a modified version of the chit pull system pioneered in GMT's The Dark Valley: The East Front 1941-45 and brought it west for an exciting new take on this classic wargame subject.

So another Bulge game, but one with the historical action and decisions of games with a much bigger footprint and playing time. And with a unique take on the chaos and friction of the battle that makes it a great choice for solo play. Even if you are bulged out, you'll want The Deadly Woods in your collection!"

 Exactly why do we want another Battle of the Bulge game? The key point to the information above is the name Ted S. Raicer. That name should get you to perk up your ears like a dog. ​

 As you can see above, the map is smaller than most Bulge maps at three miles per hex. However, this also means that a lot of the necessary items for play, Turn Record Track etc., have a place on the map. This gives the game a smaller footprint. The size of the map fits right in with the design for a smaller, easier to play, Bulge game. Not simple, just easier setup and shorter play time. The map itself is well done and is fully functional instead of heading in the artsy direction. It is after all a map. The game also comes with a small 'Setup Map' that makes it easier to see where the starting units are placed. The oversized hexes of the map allow the counters to be larger in turn. All of the unit counters are 1 1/2" in size. Their size allows all of the historical and pertinent game information to be read easily. The units that start on the board have their 'Setup Number' on them for ease in setting up the game. The other counters, out of supply etc., are still large at 5/8". We old grumblers always appreciate that in a game. The Rulebook is in black and white and is twenty-three pages long. The rules do not come with a historical background simply because this is a game about the Bulge. However, the Designer Notes are an interesting read. There are three Players Aids that are in full color and are hard backed and not just sheets. They are akin to the rest of the components in having large print. One thing I have to mention is the artwork on the box. For us grognards it might seem a bit strange. There is no Peiper or at least a Tiger or a Sherman adorning the cover. In fact, it is bereft of any soldiers or weapon of war. It is simply a picture of trees, mostly conifers, in a winter setting along with snow. After looking at it for a bit though, I get a bit of the foreboding that was put into it. What is in those trees? So, the cover as a piece of art is to me a really well done, suspenseful looking and feeling picture.

 The game is slated as playing well both for single player and two player games. I can attest that it plays well as a solitaire game. Most of the units have stepped counters, so there are not large amounts of counters to deal with each turn. A minimalist Bulge game is what we are looking at. This seems completely contrary to the norm in Bulge games. Usually, they try to go down to the level of individual tanks etc. I am jesting, but you know what I mean. Most come with four to five maps and hundreds if not thousands of counters. This game, although much smaller, has been able to add in all of the glitz of the Bulge as in:

Bridges: intact and blown
Divisional Integrity
Airborne Units
SS Withdrawl
Operation Greif

 The design is based on Mr. Raicer's 'Dark' series of games. Due to legality etc., the campaigns he is designing for Revolution Games will be called 'Deadly'. Beyond the name change, there is not supposed to be much difference in the play. So, anyone playing the Dark series should have no trouble understanding the Deadly series and getting down to playing them rather easily. The game is easy to learn and the rules are setup well. As the Germans, just as historically, you have to get the 6th SS Panzer Army moving. The 'easiest' way across the Meuse is at Liege. Of course, the Allies know this too, unless your opponent's map reading skills are subpar. As the Allies you have to hope that your troops can pull off another miracle at the Elsenborn Ridge. The game comes with two scenarios. The first is the 'German Attack' and it lasts six turns. The other is the "Campaign' which lasts twelve turns. There are nineteen Victory Point hexes with nine of them being across the Meuse. Do not, repeat, do not as the Germans expect to get there. There is a 'Sudden Death' victory for the Germans if they are able, at the end of any turn, to have five Victory Point hexes with a line of supply or have nine or more Motorized steps across the Meuse in the British Area in the north of the map. If you are playing the Attack scenario, the Germans win if they have four Victory Point hexes with a line of supply. If you are playing the Campaign scenario, the German player needs either two, if he withdraws the SS, or three Victory Point hexes with a line of supply if he does not withdraw the SS.

 The bottom line is that this is a refreshing take on the Battle of the Bulge. A relatively simple design, certainly not beer and pretzel, and it is a quick playing 'fun' game. Its small footprint allows for the player(s) to try many different strategies without having to worry about the space the game takes up. I can easily recommend this game to both grognards and people starting out in the hobby. Thank you, Revolution Games, for letting me review this game. Please check out their other fine games when you go to their website. 


Revolution Games:

Revolution Games | Main Page

The Deadly Woods rules in PDF:

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This is my review of 'Longstreet Attacks' another fine game from Revolution Games:

Longstreet Attacks by Revolution Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

Kernstown 1st Kernstown (March 23,1862) 2nd Kernstown (July 24,1864) by Revolution Games  These two batt...

Kernstown: 1st Kernstown (March 23,1862) 2nd Kernstown (July 24,1864) by Revolurion Games Kernstown: 1st Kernstown (March 23,1862) 2nd Kernstown (July 24,1864) by Revolurion Games

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

Revolution Games


1st Kernstown (March 23,1862) 2nd Kernstown (July 24,1864)


Revolution Games

 These two battles were fought more than two years apart, but they have a lot in common. Both were fought because Confederate troops were trying to tie up the Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley. The Confederates were also trying to put enough fear into Washington to bring back Union troops outside of Richmond. In 1862 McClellan was trying to take Richmond, and in 1864 it was Grant's turn. In the 1st battle of Kernstown it was Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson in charge of the small Confederate Army. At the 2nd Battle of Kernstown it was Jubal Early's (Per Lee: "His bad old man") turn to take command. The first battle is one of the few blots on Jackson's record. It was a tactical defeat for Jackson who unknowingly attacked a force about twice the size of his. The second battle saw Jubal Early triumphant on his way north through the valley to put a good scare into Federal authorities. Oddly enough, Union General George Crook played the part of Jackson at the second battle. He also believed he was facing a smaller force. As a side note: Richard Garnett, one of the commanders under Jackson at 1st Kernstown, was accused by him of 'neglect of duty' essentially cowardice in Garnett's eyes. Whether through physical constraint or to clear his name, or both, Garnett was the only officer that was on horseback during Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. Miraculously, he was within twenty yards of the Union lines before he was shot down. So, you can see that we get a two-fer here as far as battles. This is what comes in the box:

- 22x34" map
- 2 x 5/8" counter-sheets (352 counters)
- Rulebooklet
- 5 charts/playeraids
- Box or ziploc bag
- 2 dice (Boxed version only)

The game info per Revolution Games:

Complexity: 6 out of 10
Solitaire Suitability: 6 out of 10
Time Scale: 20 minute turns
Map Scale: 150 yards per hex
Unit Scale: regimental
Players: one to two, best with two
Playing Time: three to ten hours depending on scenario

 The map is beautiful and is done by Rick Barber, whose style has graced more than a few Civil War battle games. The hexes on the map represent roughly 140 yards across. Terrain level is divided into thirteen levels, each one of twenty-five feet. The lowest levels of the map are in the darkest color of green. The highest levels are in yellow. All you have to do is look online to see how many people really like this style of map. The counters are 5/8" so they are nice and large. They are very well done with pictures of the leaders on their counters. The combat units show the outline of their recruitment state. There are five Players' Aids; three are in full color and two are black and white. The Union and Confederate Player  each have their own Players' Aid card, and there is one for the Turn Record Chart and eliminated Units etc. The other two full color  Players' Aid cards are for the CRT and terrain, among other charts and tables. I have reviewed both 'Longstreet Attacks' and 'Konigsberg' from Revolution Games, so I am used to their attention to detail and their very well done artwork.

 This is the game's Sequence of Play:

 a. Both players choose event chits and set up draw cup
 a. Union Artillery Step (move or fire)
 b. Confederate Artillery Step (move or fire)
 c. Both sides alternate “a” and “b” above until done
 d. Artillery Rally/Rebuild Step
 a. Held Event Chit Step (play any held events)
 b. Draw Chit Step 
   If Event chit, owning player keeps it or plays it, draw new chit  If Wild chit, resolve immediately, draw new chit 
   If CIC chit, owning player selects brigade and proceeds to Phase 4 or holds the chit 
   If Division Activation chit, proceed to Phase 4
 a. Orders Step
 b. Fire Combat Step
 c. Movement Step
 d. Close Combat Step
 e. Rally Step
 f. If any chits remain in the cup, return to Phase 3.
 g. If no chits remain in the cup, go to Phase 5
 a. Final Held Event Chit Step
 b. Victory Point Awards Step
 c. Flip over all “Activated” brigade markers to their “Available”   side
 d. Broken Track Adjustment step
 e. Each player gathers all his Event chits together and then   advances the Game Turn marker

 The game uses the 'Blind Swords' chit-pull system for play. The system emphasizes the three 'FOWs': fog-of-war, friction-of-war, and fortunes-of-war. Once again, I really like the system in any of the games that I have played that uses it. 

 The game comes with six scenarios, with two being 'what-ifs' of each battle. The scenarios are:

The Stone Wall - 1st Kernstown
The Historical Battle - 1st Kernstown
Jackson is aware - 1st Kernstown
Breckenridge Attacks - 2nd Kernstown
Historic 2nd Kernstown
'What If' - 2nd Kernstown

 The simplest way to do this review would be just to say 'Hey, its the Blind Sword System, with a Rick Barber map'! That should be enough for people to get out their credit cards, but we will continue with the regularly scheduled review for those of you still on the fence. The 'Blind Sword System' is based on a chit-pull mechanic, but then it goes much farther. The chits that can be pulled are these:

Event Chit
Wild Chit
CIC Chit
Division Activation Chit

 There are two other interesting mechanics in the game. The first is that after you have activated a Brigade you the have to give it 'Orders' for the turn. You have a choice of four types of 'Orders' to give your Brigade. These are:


 The other somewhat strange mechanic is that Fire Combat takes place before movement.
 Some of the other rules that enhance the game are:

Canister fire for Artillery
Artillery can fire over friendly troops
Close Combat
Cavalry charging
Mounting and dismounting Cavalry
Cohesion Tests
Skedaddle Test

  I am surprised that we do not have a 'Buck and Ball' rule. The Victory Points for all of the scenarios are either control of victory Point hexes, or a combination of casualties and Victory Point hexes.

 As mentioned, the game comes with six scenarios, with two of them being what-ifs if you are so inclined. These are smaller battles, but the game mechanics are involved (which is a good thing). So, game time is rated at 130-480 minutes. Even though the game does not drown you in components, and the map is not large, you will get a large bang for your buck. I really like this game, even though I am so-so on the campaigns themselves. If you are a frequent reader you will know that I love the 'Blind Swords System', so there isn't much to say about that. The two Battles of Kernstown allow a player to deal with all sorts of military challenges. In both battles you can be the underdog or the force with a clear advantage. This game and the different scenarios are great if you have two opponents of differing skills. The system also works very well for solo play. You never know what is coming out of that chit cup. I am a big fan of Revolution Games, and I will have some links to other reviews I have done for them. Thank you Revolution Games for letting me review another of your splendid games.

Revolution Games:


Longstreet Attacks:


Longstreet Attacks A Game of the Second day at Gettysburg by Revolution Games   It's July 2nd 1863 in a t...

Longstreet Attacks by Revolution Games Longstreet Attacks by Revolution Games

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

Revolution Games

A Game of the Second day at Gettysburg


  It's July 2nd 1863 in a town in Pennsylvania; its only claim to fame is that it is a crossroad for several of the major roads in the area. The early concentrated attack that General Lee was hoping for this day was not going to happen. The afternoon hours were ticking by. Longstreet does not seem to have ever wanted to attack at Gettysburg. Was he suffering the 'slows', or did he actually believe that the best course for the Army of Northern Virginia was to fight on the defensive? No one knows for sure. There have been millions of pages written about this battle and about this particular day of the larger battle. This was probably the closest Lee ever came to inflicting a large defeat on the Army of the Potomac on Union soil. Would it have crushed the Union? Highly doubtful, the defenses around Washington were very impressive. Even a half routed Army of the Potomac could have held off the ANV until the Union could  call in reserves from everywhere. Would Lincoln have been reelected after a defeat like that? 

 So enough of the history. Let's look at the game and see what you get with it:
One Union Aid Sheet
One Confederate Aid Sheet
Two CRT, Cohesion Test Tables, and Terrain Key Sheet
One Turn Record Track, and Victory Point Sheet
One 22" x 34" Map
Two Counter Sheets, Counters are 5/8" in size

 This is the sequence of play:
1) Command Decision Phase
2) Both players choose event chits and setup draw cup 
3) Artillery Phase
  a. Union Artillery Step
  b. Confederate Artillery Step
  c. Both sides alternate steps 'a' and 'b' until both sides have       
     activated all units or passed
  d. Artillery Rally/Rebuild Phase
4) Chit Draw Phase
  a. Held Event Chit Step
  b. Draw Chit Step
5) Brigade Activation Phase
  a. Orders Step
  b. Fire Combat Step
  c. Movement Step
  d. Close Combat Step
  e. Rally Step
  f. If any chits remain in the Draw Cup, return to Phase 3. 
     Otherwise, go to Phase 5.
6) End Turn Phase
  a. Held Chit Play Step
  b. Victory Point Awards Step
  c. Broken Track Adjustment Step
  d. Brigade Activation Markers Reset Step
  e. CSA Attack Coordination, USA AOP Reinforcements

It's the Map, it's the Map, it's the map

The rulebook is plain black and white. It is thirty-two pages long. The rules themselves are twenty-one pages long; the rest is the different scenario setups. It is well set out and easy to read. The counters artwork is very well done. However to me, the map makes them pale in comparison. The map is one of the best looking ones I have seen, and I have seen a lot. The map is very different from most. For one, it is very busy. Most maps look pretty spartan for the player to be able to differentiate from different heights and terrain. This one is very colorful, almost like a painting done of a map. The height differences on the map and hex-side slopes are also very easy to distinguish. Each hex is approximately 140 yards across. One strength point equals about fifty men or a single gun. Each game turn represents twenty minutes. Two of the Players' Aids are in black and white. The other three are in color. For roughly five hours of fighting on one part of a large battlefield, this game comes with a bunch of scenarios to choose from. These are:

The Round Tops - Six Turns
The Whirlpool - Ten turns
Assault on Emmitsburg Road - Nine Turns
Hammerin' Sickles - Fourteen Turns
Sickles Follows Orders - What If Scenario  - Fourteen Turns

No introduction needed

 This is the second Hermann Luttmann design I have played, and I have been impressed by both of them. This game is part of the Blind Swords System that is also used in these other two games by Revolution Games:

Stonewalls's Sword: The Battle of Cedar Mountain
Thunder in the Ozarks: The Battle of Pea Ridge 

 Here is a link to the rulebook:

 This game has been rated very highly by many of its players. The depth and amount of rules do not make it a good game for a tyro, or to try and get someone interested in wargaming. On the other hand, the grognard will find it to be an excellent game on a subject that usually is just a scenario in larger games about the Battle of Gettysburg. The relatively small map and space needed means a wargamer can easily find a place to play it. The rules are very clear and walk the reader through the rulebook. The counter density is not too bad. You will have some congestion because of the very nature of the terrain. There has been talk of one of the follow up games to be on the Battle of the Wilderness. If it happens, it will be one of the few games I buy into before release. Great effort, wonderful artwork, and it is based on a tried and true formula. What more could you ask for in a game?




Königsberg by Revolution Games  Normally, I try to stay away from games that one side cannot win outright. So, ...

Königsberg by Revolution Games Königsberg by Revolution Games

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

Revolution Games



Revolution Games

 Normally, I try to stay away from games that one side cannot win outright. So, gaming the end game of World War II in Europe, especially 1945, is usually something that does not end up on my table. With these types of games, you have to do better than your historical counterparts did. Most of the time it is just holding a hex or hexes up until the end of the last turn, while inflicting more casualties on your enemy than was historically accurate. On the Soviet or Allied side you are trying to finish the war earlier than it did historically, or in this case taking Königsberg earlier and inflicting more damage on the Germans. You should not, as the Germans, in any game based somewhat on reality, be able to defeat the Russians in 1944-1945. You can only prolong the inevitable. However, I have even played games about trials so I will keep an open mind as I am playing.

 We will start with the facts, and "just the facts Ma'am". The game comes in a Ziploc bag and contains:

22'x34' Map
280 Counters
Twelve Page Rule Book
Color Player's Aid Card

 You could play the game as a three player one, with a player taking one of the 2nd or 3rd Belorussian fronts. The Russian player who has taken the most victory hexes would be the winner. That is, of course, if it ends in a Russian victory.

 For those of you so inclined, there is also a Vassal module available.

 The game takes place in East Prussia and northern Poland from January 13th to February 1st, 1945. The number of turns in the game is ten. The playing time is estimated at four to ten hours. The scale of the game is five miles/eight kilometers per hex. The units will go from brigade to corps size. The solitaire suitability is listed as high. You will need to supply a six-sided die along with a chit pull container.

 The map is very well done, and is of high quality. The terrain and defenses etc. are clearly marked. Everything from the CRT to the turn record track is on the map. So it should be easy for almost all gamers to have a place to set it up. The game length, especially during the learning phase, will probably mean you will have to leave it set up for at least a day or two, depending upon your free time for gaming.The counters are 1/2", and are easily readable and compare to the best counters I have seen in a Ziploc or wargaming magazine. Depicted are Soviet Guards units, Volkstrum units, along with air units which are mostly for the Soviets, and the Admiral Hipper even shows up on the German side.

 The rule book is in black and white, and it shows no examples of game play. On the other hand, the game rules are of a pretty standard fare for hex wargames, so unless you are a complete tyro you really don't need too much hand holding. The German player controls all his units, but the Soviet player is split between the 2nd and 3rd Belorussian fronts. So the German player gets X activations each turn while the Soviet player gets activations for both fronts. During the chit pull, you will pull a Command Chit for whatever Headquarter unit, and then the sub-units of that force can move and attack etc. The game also comes with independent units on both sides. These can be activated by any active Headquarter unit in range, meaning that independent units can be activated more than once per turn. German HQ units can activate three independent units, while Soviet HQs can only activate two independent units. A HQ unit has their command radius listed on their counter. The way I read the rules is that you do not count the hex the HQ is in when tracing command. There are a few optional rules, ie. using the rebuilding 20th Panzer division, or two other small German forces. 

 Within the last two years I have had to adjust my thinking about block wargames and a few other things. Once again, I have been shown the errors of my ways. Playing a wargame that you can 'win' only by the victory conditions is actually entertaining and still teaches you a good amount of history. Playing as the Germans, you will have to keep your wits about you, and accurately judge when to cut and run. Do you try to save those surrounded Panzers, or do you just make a defensive line farther back? The Konigsberg area in East Prussia is where many of the German Junker (noble) families come from or at least are close to. The German officers were probably trying to save every inch from the Russians. Playing that way as the German player will have you beaten in no time. Playing as the Russians, you play pretty much historically. You can not even worry about casualties, and just keep storming ahead trying to overwhelm your opponent. I would think a nice touch to the rules would be the following: If the Russian player does not gain X amount of victory hexes in X amount of turns, that player gets a knock on the door from the NKVD and it is a German victory, just to give the Russian player that much more incentive.

 This is a good medium sized game, and relatively easy to play,  about a much overlooked historical period. Anyone who wants to be in the German or Russian shoes in 1945 should give this a try. Equally, anyone who thought like I did about gaming lost causes should rethink this and other gaming possibilities.