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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!


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:

CASTLE ITTER FROM DVG A little more than a year after the appearance of Pavlov's House ,  David Thompson has put his excellent ...


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


A little more than a year after the appearance of Pavlov's House,  David Thompson has put his excellent solitaire system to equally good use in this second game, Castle Itter.  Before I say anything else about its implementation, something definitely needs to be said about the historical facts that give rise to the game's sub-title; The Strangest Battle of WWII.  For me and I'm sure for many others, there may be other strange battles of WWII, but I think this certainly ranks as one of the strangest and one of the least known!

It's May 1945 near the small Austrian Tyrol village of Itter and, in almost classic Hollywood movie terms, a small group of assorted German and American soldiers, a handful of French political prisoners and an SS officer seek to hold out against an SS force until an American relief force arrives.  Nor were these any old political prisoners - of them two were former prime ministers of France and one was Charles de Gaulle's sister according to the research that I've done.  I say this because the named French counters that the game gives us differ to some extent from those in online documentation, particularly in the omission of de Gaulle's sister.  Also the fact that only one defender died in the battle, though that was the commanding Wermacht officer, may indicate a less than last ditch defence.  However, don't let that deter you from enjoying this thoroughly taught and engrossing game.  

If you're new to this site, I'd strongly recommend a read of my review of Pavlov's House, as I shall be making a number of comparisons between the two games.  The first is in the scale of each game as represented by the marked difference in the playing boards.

Here we have the three panelled board for Pavlov's House, which moving left to right takes us from the tactical to the operational scope of the game. In contrast, Castle Itter remains purely on a tactical scale and it's very much as if we simply took and expanded the left hand panel and added the German movement tracks from the central panel.  

Consequently, we have a much more intimate game concentrating on the various areas of the castle and its approach on the right via the Gate House and its lone defending tank, the most curiously named Besotten Jenny!

This change of scale brings in many differences.  Most obvious is that there are fewer rules and fewer options for you the player to choose from.  Instead of drawing a hand of cards each turn containing a variety of actions and having to juggle where you consider the main threats currently to be coming from across three locations, you can take five actions from among four choices: fire to eliminate an enemy counter, fire to place suppression markers, move from one area to another or turn a unit counter back to fresh from exhausted.

The result is a much quicker game to learn and a much quicker game to play.  It took several plays of Pavlov's House and constant referral to the Play Aid to get to know what the choices written on each card offered you.  Here you will have memorised your actions and the enemies after a single play.  But, DO NOT think that this makes the current game inferior.  Both are intense struggles.  Both demand that you prevent an enemy unit from reaching and breaching its objective building, though there are other ways to lose in Pavlov's House!

Though the terrain is obviously abstracted to a certain degree, there is far more sense of place here, as a glance at the board reveals.  Initially at set up, there are only German attackers, one rifleman in each of the twelve starting locations, and the five French prisoners lodged in the cellar, which in real life would be below the castle, but here is placed in the bottom left corner.
In the picture above, the rest of the game's physical components can be seen.  Above the board are the various markers: Action Tokens, Command Tokens, Disrupted Tokens, 1 Load Token [for loading the tank's main gun!] and Suppression Tokens.  Below it on the left are the range of SS counters [lots more riflemen, scouts, sturm troopers, machine gunners and mortars].  In the centre are three reinforcements for the defenders, to their right the German wermacht defenders and then on the far right the American defenders.
A closer look at the main part of the castle

Every single item is substantial from the glossy mounted board to the large, thick individual counters.  As with Pavlov's House, many of the defenders are named and, in a touch that contributes to the atmosphere of the situation, have special attributes identified by a capital letter.   Some of the rank and file German defenders have low morale which is offset by the presence of an officer in the same location.  Four of the five French prisoner defenders can inspire others in the same location by adding a die to their attack value.  Those Americans marked with a T for tank can make use of several special locations [mainly on the tank itself] that significantly boost attack and suppression dice, while the senior Wermacht officer has the sacrifice ability to die in the place of one French defender who becomes a casualty. 
Most of the Defenders
Once again these unit counters are of a very satisfying size and robustness which makes both for ease of handling and ease of reading the information on them.

The rule book is a model of clarity and personally I'm pleased with the decision to move to an A4 format which makes for ease of handling.  It's a glossy well laid out product with numerous full colour examples to support every detail of the game from set up, explanation of counters and cards and every action that can be performed.

It is a very straightforward game to get into.  A turn involves the five actions taken by you, followed by drawing three cards from the German deck and carrying out the instructions on them. The first four turns are swift and particularly easy for you the defender as each turn you must use each of your five actions to place one of your defenders on the board and perform an action with them.  At this early stage of the game, this will mainly be placing suppression markers.  
The curiously named tank, Besotten Jenny, fully crewed

From then on the fun and thrill of the game is deciding on what five actions to take and then awaiting the resolution of each of the three German cards which must be drawn and executed one by one.  Your two aggressive actions are firing at a single enemy unit or placing suppression markers that can be used to fire at an enemy unit only when it is first placed on the board.  

Once one of your units has taken an action, it is flipped to its exhausted side and it then takes an action simply to turn it back to its active side again.  Moving a unit within a location is a free action thus allowing the chosen unit to do something else, but moving from one location to another is a complete action.  Soon some of your men are going to become disrupted and, yes, it takes an action just to remove a Disrupted marker.

You have a few units that have the special Command ability to perform three actions on other units that occupy the same location.  Mainly these will be used to remove a Disruption marker or refresh an exhausted unit.  But such affected units are marked with Command markers to show that you can't then use them in the same turn.

Always there are more actions needing to be taken than the five you are allotted and as the various SS units begin to encroach nearer and nearer on their allotted paths to the castle, the tension is ratcheted up.
Here are some of your worst enemies.  The machine gunners and mortar teams cannot advance to take the castle, but remain on starting points for the opportunity to lay down fire when the appropriate cards are drawn, while the Sturm units are the most difficult to kill of your opponents that will be advancing down the avenues of attack!

All the SS actions are governed by the turn of three cards each turn.  These cards are a range that mingle the introduction of units that can advance and those that are stationary, but can fire along with a variety of actions directed to suppress units, damage the fabric of the castle or seek to destroy your one and only tank.
All these involve dice rolls that often seem to have a mind and will of their own!   As these rolls are based on two D6, with the expected range of 2-12, laying down suppressive fire on areas 6-8 is advisable particularly early in the game.  But typically always expect the unexpected.  Having built up just such a defensive shield against those areas, I was subjected to a series of low rolls of 4s and 5s that had the enemy units streaming in on the opposite side of the board.

I've had the tank survive all rolls against it and at other times seen it brew up along with a full complement of soldiers destroyed with it.  My leading German officer has been sniped at and killed as my first casualty, while a terrace full of soldiers has come through unscathed.
Here is one of my more ignominious defeats, as the SS breach the castle. Technically you lose immediately 1 unit makes it into the castle, but I couldn't resist seeing how bad the effects of the killing card play was and, as you can see, three units have breached my defences, with two more lined up behind them.

All in all, I've found Castle Itter a fast playing, nail-biting experience, very easy to learn and highly rewarding to play.  What's more, should you find it easier to survive than I do, there is an excellent Tactical deck of cards that can be introduced that turns the screw from merely difficult to insanely impossible!  Don't say you haven't been warned.

I've no hesitation in recommending this as an addition to anyone's collection and count Pavlov's House with Castle Itter as a perfect pairing. 

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!


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!



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

NEMO'S WAR [2nd edition] from VICTORY POINT GAMES From one game based on a book from my childhood, namely War of...


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[2nd edition]



From one game based on a book from my childhood, namely War of The Worlds, I've here returned to another based on what is probably the most famous novel written by another favourite author from my younger days, Jules Verne.  If the title, Nemo's War, had misleadingly sent you off in the direction of a Disney cartoon, we are in fact heading, not for a fish, but for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Captain Nemo of the fantastic vessel, Nautilus. Just as with War of the Worlds, we're in solitaire mode with options for some cooperative play

A mere glimpse of the box and its artwork tell you that we're right at the top of Victory Point Games' output.  I've been a longtime fan of VPG's products, following them from their zip-lock bag days through the small slip-case packaged boxes to the upgraded boxed versions of their Napoleon 20 series.  But Nemo's War is right there at the very pinnacle of their recent output as seen in games like Dawn of the Zeds.  By this I mean a solid, deep box with insert, mounted board, superb quality counters and marker tokens, and a glorious, full colour glossy rulebook.

The box art you can see above and the insert is perfect, just what I like, deep enough to contain everything when separated out and, a huge plus that many companies overlook, the wells to hold the cards are designed to perfectly fit the cards when you have sleeved them.  All the cardboard components are thick and glossy, with rounded corners that punch out perfectly.  In particular, the many ship units used in the game are superb.  

Just a small sample of the excellent ship counters

They come in a variety of background colours that denote their growing strength and danger to Nemo's exploits, with a darker shading on the reverse which also indicates increased strengths.  With even more attention to detail, each individual ship silhouette captures its real life counterpart where possible and just to add a little extra flavour, a few terrors of the sea have been added in; such as a sea monster [though not the giant squid that Nemo did battle with - that is introduced through one of the Adventure cards]], pirates, slavers and the famous abandoned ship of mystery, the Marie Celeste. 

All the other tokens are equally colourful and first class, pressing out of their sheets with ease and not a cardboard tag in sight.

A colourful mix of the just a few of the game's tokens
The mounted board is every bit as impressive and given additional value because on it is unobtrusively printed handy tables - everything from the Sequence of Play and Combat Sequence to the key table on which most of your Actions will be determined.  
One or two are in rather small print, but frankly they are the ones you will most quickly remember, while the most important one is the clearest and easiest. Once everything is set up, the game just begs to be played and set up couldn't be easier with a clear guide at the start of the rules.
As you can see there's a lot to be laid out, but the guide takes you methodically through each step.  As Nemo you will roam the high seas from ocean to ocean in the fabulous Nautilus, here represented by a plastic model.  Your first choice is which one of the four Motive tiles [Science, Exploration, War and Anti-Imperialism] to choose.  Each one subtly changes the VP values you can gain from a range of fields.  Choose War and, as might be expected, sinking warships increases in value, whereas with Exploration the value of sinking warships is reduced.  Each Motive will have its enhanced areas and its diminished ones, resulting in influencing what actions you seek out in the course of the game.
Above are two of the Motive Tiles
[as well as the 6 Character Tiles that offer bonuses]
The flow of the game is controlled by a deck of Adventure cards and the order of its composition will be modified by your choice of Motive, while retaining some overall similarities in structure.  These Adventure cards provide an engrossing storyline, as each one has an extract of text from the original novel and an accompanying illustration.  They also contain a wide range of benefits and not a few disadvantages usually depending on a dice test.  

What I love here is that there is no simple Pass is good and Fail is bad.  Sometimes that is the case, but often you have choices to make.  With some cards, choosing to automatically Fail a test may bring an immediate benefit at the expense of foregoing  possible VPs at the end of the game from Passing the test.  Other cards may be kept until you decide to use them for their benefit, but again often relinquishing the VPs they bring if you manage to keep the card until the end.
Here are just four such Keep cards
These branching paths to the narrative you thereby construct for yourself lie at the heart of the game and, for me, provide the unique enjoyment and tension that draws me in over and over again.

While the cards make you feel that you are living the narrative, in your deck there will always be four cards that must always appear.  The fact that three of them are named Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3 also create the idea that you are living out the drama of Nemo's life.  You know you will always get to these points, but not exactly when, and the 5th card, the Finale, that brings the play and your game to its resounding curtain-call is drawn randomly at the start of the game from a group of 7 cards and shuffled into the last four cards in your Adventure deck.

As a result, this is a game that will stand up to countless sessions. Each game will use only half the deck and the order that events will occur in will always be different.  I've prayed for the Finale card to appear and had it be the last in the deck; at other times I've needed just one more ordinary Adventure card to be turned up and. of course, up came the Finale card!

The game begins with the oceans seeded with a set number of Hidden [i.e. unrevealed ships] and each Major Ocean possessing one Treasure marker and then a random die roll places the Nautilus in one of these oceans.
At top left is the deck of Adventure cards for the current game and to the right of the map of the world are the remaining Adventure cards that certain actions may allow you to draw from.  Along the top of the board runs the Notoriety track - and Notoriety is guaranteed to be something which you are destined to grow in! While below that track are three more: one for Nemo's state of mind, one for the Crew and one for the Hull of the Nautilus.  These three tracks are crucial to your play of the game, as most Actions will offer you the chance to wager one or more of their bonuses to help you gain the high scores you need on the many Tests you will undertake!  

Pass and your marker on the track will return to its current position, Fail and it will drop to the next lowest position.  Usually as they drop lower the bonuses decrease, but [an inspired touch] as Nemo's mental state deteriorates, his bonuses increase!
In the bottom left corner of the board is the table on which you roll to SEARCH for treasure, to REST your crew, to REPAIR the hull, to REFIT [i.e. add an Upgrade] to Nautilus and finally INCITE [attempt to cause an Uprising in one of the many areas inked to the oceans] 
A glimpse of the Notoriety track 
Below the board are a number of markers and six character tokens, each of which can be sacrificed in dire need to provide one-off benefits. To their right are the two white dice you begin the game with, a single upgrade card for the Nautilus [there are four more such cards lined up to the right of the board that you may acquire as the game progresses].  Finally, two opaque containers [supply them yourself] hold, in one, all the treasure tokens and, in the other, the At Start ships.  So, you're ready to start your Adventure and the world is your oyster, but soon that will change.

Each turn begins as we've seen by turning up and executing an Adventure card.  This is followed by rolling the two white dice and placing new Hidden ship markers on the map.  The difference in score between the two dice gives you the number of Action points you have for that turn.  From that moment on, the pressure begins and rarely lets up.  At best 5 Actions, at the worst none [you've rolled a double and caused a Lull].

Choices, choices, choices! So many, starting with all those mentioned two paragraphs earlier, plus moving the Nautilus and most common of all bringing death and destruction to the oceans of the world: COMBAT - sinking shipping either for salvage which helps you attempt to buy Upgrades for Nautilus or for tonnage which provides VPs at the end of the game.  Do you choose a single Stalk Attack which gives you a bonus +1 DRM on the dice roll or a Bold Attack where you can push your luck and keep attacking providing you are successful, but racking up the Notoriety?  With the appropriate Upgrade you may even be able to make a Torpedo Attack.  All the time deciding whether to gamble one of your bonuses.  Every single time you roll the dice, there is the chance of Failure.

In the early stages, the tension is moderate, but as the game progresses one time bonuses get spent and some of your VP bringing Treasure tokens may need to be used for bonuses instead.  The Crew and Hull and Nemo bonus tracks start to decrease and need to be improved.  More and more ships crowd the seas.  merchant vessels give way to warships and ever more deadly ones are added to the draw cup! Nemo's War gives you action and excitement all the way.

The seas start to get crowded and dangerous!

There's a lot to do and a lot to learn.  So how does the rule book fair in preparing you for the task?  Well, this is the most lavish publication from VPG that I've seen.  It is part of their Premier standard of production level and can't you just tell. If like me you've been with VPG since their earliest zip-lock bag days when the few cards where in a perforated sheet and the rule book was a single sheet that folded out, then you'll be bowled over.  This is 32 pages of high gloss, full-colour glory! 

My one main concern is that the print is small and quite faint, especially against the parchment colouring of the paper.  A lesser issue is that the Table of Contents directs you only to very broad areas of the game. Finding the many finer details, when necessary, demands much closer searching within those areas.  Despite that, I soon found that I gained rapid familiarity with the mechanics of play.  In part, this was because each page has a side-bar of examples, plus numerous illustrations within the body of the text.

Having experienced many a set of rules where the examples blossom with inaccuracies that tend to mislead, Nemo's War is not like that.  These examples consistently complement and help understanding.   I would strongly recommend setting up the game and then read through a section at a time with the board and pieces in front of you.  Within no time I found that I could embark on a first full play through and I survived to reach the Finale - though it is possible to be defeated in a number of ways before that happens.

Then came scoring, with a lovely set of tokens that allow you to chart the individual scores in the many categories that bring VPs.  OK you can just do a running total, but there's a lot of satisfaction in seeing how well you did in each individual field and then adding them up to the grand total.  Though GRAND is not the word I'd use for my first attempt and many of my subsequent ones too.  There are five levels of victory: Defeat, Failure, Inconsequential, Success and Triumph.  The rule book does contain a simple little table that gives the VP range for each level, BUT there is one amazing booklet left to consult!
This booklet contains twenty sepia illustrated pages devoted to individual pictures and text that explains each of the five levels of victory for each of the four possible Motives that can be chosen at the beginning of the game.
Just two of those incredible pages
Almost as substantial in size as the rule book, I will leave you to decide for yourself whether this is a hugely unnecessary addition or something wholly in keeping.  In keeping with a game that begins with its first card entitled Act 1 : Prologue.  In keeping with a game that narrates a story just like the novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, did and finally in keeping with a game that bears the eponymous name of its megalomaniac protagonist, NEMO.

Whatever you decide about this last component of the game, there is only one decision that I can urge you to make.  BUY THIS GAME.

As always many thanks to Victory Point Games for providing the review copy.

RRP     $75.00

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!


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.