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 The Lamps Are Going Out World War One: 2nd Edition by Compass Games  Let us first take a look at this bemedaled group photo on the cover. &...

The Lamps Are Going Out: World War One 2nd Edition by Compass Games The Lamps Are Going Out: World War One 2nd Edition by Compass Games

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

World War One

 The Lamps Are Going Out

World War One: 2nd Edition


Compass Games

 Let us first take a look at this bemedaled group photo on the cover.

"In May 1910, European royalty gathered in London for the funeral of King Edward VII. Among the mourners were nine reigning kings, who were photographed together in what very well may be the only photograph of nine reigning kings ever taken. Of the nine sovereigns pictured, four would be deposed and one assassinated.

Within five years, Britain and Belgium would be at war with Germany and Bulgaria. Only five of the nine monarchies represented in the photo still exist today.

Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of the Bulgarians, King Manuel II of Portugal and the Algarve, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia, King George I of the Hellenes and King Albert I of the Belgians.

Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom, and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

There are several family relations in that picture. For instance, Frederik VIII of Denmark (bottom right) was the father of Haakon VII of Norway (top left), while Wilhelm II of Germany (top, 3rd from the right) was the first cousin of both George V of the United Kingdom (bottom center), and Queen Maud of Norway who was wife to Haakon VII of Norway and sister to George V of the United Kingdom – which made Haakon VII of Norway and George V of the United Kingdom brothers-in-law.

George V of the United Kingdom’s and Queen Maud of Norway’s mother was incidentally Alexandra of Denmark, sister to Frederik VIII of Denmark. This means that Frederik VIII of Denmark was also the uncle of George V of the United Kingdom.

George was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The funeral of King Edward VII was the last time all of the great European monarchs would meet before the First World War, the same war that would end most of the monarchical lines of Europe for good. Imagine, they all knew a war was coming, all knew it was going to be between them."

 Okay, now that you have ingested that blurb that would put an Ancestry.Com page to shame, here we go. The First World War, and its terrors, was for many years placed at the foot of Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II. The event that really sparked it off was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary during a state visit to Sarajevo. With hindsight, and historians poring over records, we now know that the assassination was fostered by certain groups in the Kingdom of Serbia. However, many diplomats thought that this incident would blow over, just as many others did in the preceding years. Back to Germany, and whether it was totally responsible or not. Historians now are torn as to just who was to blame, or was any one nation more to blame than others. The astute Otto von Bismarck had said "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans" He did however, also say "The Balkans are not worth the life of a single Pomeranian Grenadier." British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey's quote "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time", is where the title of the game comes from. So, let us take a look and see what comes in the box:

1 22”x34” MOUNTED MAP

•    176 5/8” counters

•    100 Event Cards

•    20 Technology Cards

•    2 Player Aid sheets

•    1 Rules booklet

This is the information given about the game:

Product Information

•    Complexity: Medium

•    Solitaire suitability: High

•    Time Scale: Seasonal turns

•    Map Scale:  Variable-Sized Areas

•    Unit Scale: Field Armies

•    Players: 2-4

•    Playing Time: 4-6 hours

 As mentioned, the map is mounted (something which is happening more and more on the release of games, instead of an upgrade that you can buy separately), so kudos to Compass Games for this. It is an area map, and not a hex one. The map has areas from Scotland to the Ottoman Empire and Moscow in Russia. There is also a box on the left of the map for the fighting in Africa. While Africa was really a sideshow to the whole war, it is a nice touch to include that part of the war. The map is colorful without being gaudy, and I can read everything on it even without my glasses. There are not many maps I can do that with now. The Rulebook, Design Notes, and Player Aid Sheet are all in full color. The rules themselves are twenty-six pages long. Added to it are Designer Notes, and an Extended Example of Play. There is a separate booklet that has the 2nd Edition Designer Notes, and a description of all 100 Event Cards. There are also descriptions of the eight Optional Cards. The Cards all have a separate actual photograph from World War I on them, along with their information. I believe that anything that adds to a player's immersion in a game is a nice touch. The 5/8" counters are great for old hands and eyes. They also come pre-corner clipped for those who it matters to. Seeing as I have never clipped my counters I do not know if that is a good or bad thing to you clippers out there. Even though this is a game about World War I, which usually means high stacks of counters, the scale of the game makes that a non-issue. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

Faction Sequence of Play

Players execute these phases in sequence for the current 

faction under their control.

A. Event Card Phase (5.0)

  1. Rebuild Event Deck (Spring Turn only)

  2. Draw Event Card

B. Movement Phase (6.0)

  1. Move Armies, Artillery and Tanks

  2. Redeploy Stosstruppen Marker (Germany only)

  3. Move U-Boats (Germany Only)

  4. Move Fleets (WA & Germany only)

C. Combat Phase (7.0)

  1. Resolve Naval Combat (WA & Germany only)

  2. Resolve Amphibious Invasions (WA only)

  3. Resolve Ground, Guerilla & Beachhead Attacks

D. Production Phase (8.0)

  1. Production Modifiers (8.2)

    a. Check Blockade Box (WA & Germany only)

    b. Resolve Events

    c. Resolve U-Boat Attacks (Western Allies only)

    d. Resolve U-Boat Attrition (Germany only)

    e. Receive Transferred Production

  2. Production Spending (8.3, by nation, least to most PP)

    a. Refit Units

    b. Raise New Units

    c. Construct Trenches

    d. Transfer Production

  3. Technological Advances (8.4) (WA & Germany only)

    a. Draw Bonus Technology Cards (by Event only)

    b. Research Technology

    c. Discard G1 Technology

E. Regroup Phase (9.0)

  1. Determine Air Superiority (WA & Germany only)

  2. Reset Heavy Artillery

 'Lamps' plays out in seasonal turns. There are rules for the following Special Combat Units:

Triple Entente Air Superiority
Western Allies Heavy Artillery
Western Allied Trenches

 The U-Boat War is a big part of the game, and just like in history a very big plus and minus for the Central Powers. Unrestricted U-Boat Warfare can really help to tilt the USA to join the fray against the Central Powers. So the CP player must decide whether it is worth it in the long run. The collapse of Russia is just as large an event in the war as the USA joining in. This again shows how the game plays historically, without tying the players' hands. The capture of Berlin or Paris assures an Automatic Victory. Other than that Victory Points are added up by both sides at the end of the Fall 1918 turn to decide the winner.

 The game rules are easy to digest, but it is not an easy game. It puts you in control of either the Entente or the Central Powers at the highest level. You control the destiny of your entire coalition, not just one country. The game is really meant to be two player, but it also plays well solo too. There are also rules to play it as a three or four player game. This is the 2nd edition, but according to the designer it is essentially the same. The game has had some tweaking done to it, and some cleaning up and clarification of certain aspects. Some of the event cards have also been changed. According to the designer, he really wanted to work on the Technology part of the game. Apparently, in the 1st edition, it was possible to have some strange play throughs as far as Technology each side can possibly get. In this edition the designer has made it easier for either side to catch up in Technology. There were apparently some games from the 1st edition that had technology very lop-sided on one side or the other, or at least the possibility of that happening in a game. The inclusion of the 'Rasputitsa' Card in the new edition helps to make the weather in Russia a much more potent and more of a monkey wrench to be thrown into either sides plans.

 I was fully prepared to not really take a shine to the game. I am much more used to having a WWI game with huge stacks of counters that look like man made mountain ranges on a map. A game that plays from this vantage point and with not many areas on the map is not one that I would usually look for. I was very pleasantly surprised in the game and game play. It is a much deeper game than I was suspecting after opening up the box. The game gives each side's player a lot of options. Yes, it does have a meat grinder feel to it with the land war. I am not sure why some people have mentioned this. A World War I game is supposed to feel like a meat grinder. It is the nature of the beast, or at least should be.

 Thank you very much Compass Games for letting me put 'The Lamps Are Going Out' through its paces. Please take a look at their whole line of games, especially the games based on the 'No Peace Without Spain' design. I have all of them and they are excellent, and there are more on the way.


The Lamps Are Going Out:

The Lamps are Going Out: World War 1, 2nd Edition – Compass Games

Compass games:

Compass Games – New Directions In Gaming

No Peace Without Spain:

No Peace Without Spain – Compass Games

Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer scree...

Strategic Command: World War I Strategic Command: World War I

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

World War One

Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer screen, I can only feel pity towards the counters representing hundreds of thousands of soldiers as I begin turn one of the campaign. They think they'll be home for the holidays, but I know there is only a long and difficult war ahead.

Strategic Command: World War I from Fury Software is the studio's second stab at the Great War. I enjoyed the original game  quite a bit a few years back, and the game has only been refined further since then. The most fundamental change that fans of the older game will notice right away is that the square grid is gone, replaced with more traditional hexes. Also, the game is much nicer to look at without a doubt. Beyond the visuals, the gameplay will be very familiar to fans of the series, to the point that you can jump in and play without bothering to check the manual.

For those approaching the series for the first time, here's a look at how the game handles. Strategic Command WW1 (SCWW1) is a grand strategy turn based game where you take on the role of leading either the Entente or the Central Powers in WWI. Unit density is kept to a minimum by using a corps as the standard unit size for infantry. Aircraft, artillery, and HQ units are around as well, but never in great numbers. On the sea things flip the other way, with individual ships each having their own, very valuable counter. The combat is, at a glance, similar to Panzer General and the like, with unit health being represented by a scale from 1-10, and the average combat knocking off 1-3 points from that total. Things aren't quite that simple though, as morale, supply, terrain, entrenchment, and more factors come into play to determine the odds. Still, the game keeps things simple, and it is a great place for less experienced wargamers to dip their toes into the deep end of the pool. 

As someone who likes to fancy myself a hardcore wargamer, but in reality never finds the time for the real monsters, the Strategic Command series is a perfect fit. SCWWI is no exception to that rule. The reason I enjoy the games so much is because they are just complicated enough to make you think hard about decisions, while keeping each aspect of the game simple enough that you can easily pick up and play a few turns a day without any need to consult the manual or go hunting for answers on the forums. I say that in terms of the mechanics of playing the game. When it comes to the actual strategy, well, I can always use a little more help. SCWWI actually delivers on that need right out of the box. 

Besides a manual describing how to control the game, there is also a lengthy strategy guide included for the full campaign. It goes over all of the quirks of the gameplay which are not readily apparent to the new player. Things like decision events, partisans, naval blockades, and how certain specific actions you might take will influence the game. Besides that, the guide includes broad strategies for each side, and specific tips for each individual nation. Skimming through this document is a good idea before you embark on the full campaign, since SCWWI, like the other SC games, contains a lot of scripted events that will fire on specific turns or under certain conditions. All of these events are listed in the strategy guide, with information about when they will fire and what the possible outcomes of each decisions will be. 

These events can be very powerful and important, sometimes giving you special new units, or allowing you to take a unique action that is otherwise unavailable. You can opt to take the historical path in each of these decisions, but you can also explore the "what-if" of an alternate choice. Many of these events can also have randomized outcomes, so history may take a different path even if you make the historical choice. For example, the Zimmerman telegraph just might work this time around, drawing Mexico into the war. Unlikely, but you never know! Some people might feel that this approach can railroad the game a bit, but I appreciate how it is used to handle things that happened historically, but would be difficult to replicate organically through game mechanics. 

Besides all of the combat occurring on the map, the player will also need to concern themselves with managing diplomacy, production, and research. All of these areas share one pool of resources (MPPs), and that same resource is also needed to repair damage to existing units, and to use railroads to move units great distances. This means you'll need to be very judicious in how you spend those precious points. Choosing to build a very expensive unit like a battleship, which will take many turns to complete, is not just a simple choice, but something you are actively building your entire campaign strategy around. Other long term decisions like influencing other nations to join your side, or focusing on aerial warfare over submarine warfare, are likewise not choices to be made lightly. No matter what you choose to do, your opponent will put up a stiff fight, and only by matching your choices with an effective strategy will you prevail. 

While the AI is prone to make the occasional odd move, and leaves itself open to attack from time to time, it will mostly put up a good fight. If you find the default settings too easy, it's possible to gradually turn up the difficulty, putting yourself at a disadvantage, though this won't necessarily make the AI play any smarter.  To get the ultimate challenge, you'll need to go online and find a human opponent. Although I didn't use the online function while preparing this review, it uses the same PBEM++ system as most Matrix/Slitherine turn based games. Using this system you can play asynchronously, completing a turn and coming back later when your opponent has played their turn. It might take quite a while to play a full campaign against another player, but I imagine it would be a thrilling experience. If you want to try a shorter match, there is a scenario included which begins the campaign in 1917, with the end nearing, but much tough fighting still to be done.

Overall, I have no real complaints about the game, though there are a few areas where improvements could be made. Naval combat continues to be the weak point of the series, as it is difficult to portray those battles on the same map and scale as the land combat. Some abstractions are forced upon the game due to the question of scale, such as ships entering specific zones in order to be teleported across particular areas.  Naval blockades involve parking units on specific hexes, which works but always feels a bit odd. The other main complaint I have is the lack of alternate scenarios. Only three scenarios total are included in the game, the full 1914 start, an alternate version where Italy switches sides, and the 1917 start. I don't recall if the original base game had many extra scenarios, but I really enjoyed all of the smaller scenarios included in the Breakthrough expansion. I was hoping to see some of those reappear here, but no luck. Perhaps they will come along in a DLC at some point.

Strategic Command: World War I is a solid entry into the series, and I can very comfortably recommend it to anyone who has enjoy the series before, and anyone looking for a good WWI strategy experience. I think Strategic Command strikes a near perfect balance between depth and fun.  Few other games can give you so many details and potential strategies to explore, while remaining mechanically simple enough that anyone could sit down and learn all of the mechanics in under ten minutes. 

- Joe Beard

Strategic Command: World War I is available directly from Matrix Games and on Steam.

Japanese Battleships 1905-1942 by Miroslaw Skwiot  Japanese battleships; the list of them is a long one: the Mika...

Japanese Battleships 1905-1942 by Miroslaw Skwiot Japanese Battleships 1905-1942 by Miroslaw Skwiot

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

World War One


 Japanese battleships; the list of them is a long one: the Mikasa, Kongo, and the Nagato among others. Notice I didn't mention the Yamato or her sister ship the Musashi. They will appear in due time.

 The first Japanese battleships were built by ship building firms in Britain. For those of you who didn't know it, there was a close connection between Britain and Japan pretty much from the 1860s to the 1920s. Japan was seen by the British as a counterweight to Russia in the far east. Britain and Russia were inveterate enemies for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. So to the British a strong and well armed Japan was a good thing to have next to the Asian continent. The above is pretty amazing given the fact that the British navy attacked the Japanese port of Kagoshima in 1863.  The British fleet burned it to the ground. This pointed use of a modern fleet was the last part of a wake up call to the Japanese if they didn't want to end up like China. The Japanese would have to join the modern world.

 By the 1870's the world had two undisputed leaders in land and sea warfare, Germany and Britain. The Japanese wisely based their fledgling Army on Germany's and their Navy on Britain's. Japan as an island did have somewhat of a seafaring tradition, but this was mostly of a coastal and fishing nature.

 In the beginning the Japanese had to start her Navy from almost nothing. She had no modern docks or shipbuilding facilities. So again, she naturally turned to Britain. Strangely, the British firms at the time were able to produce better or more battle worthy ships than the British Navy employed at that point.

 The book itself starts with a background history of Japan's sudden awakening to the outside world. It then continues with the birth and setup of the Japanese Navy. The first battleships brought to our attention are the Katori and the Kashima. These two were ordered in Britain from the 1903 Japanese Naval budget. These ships were based on the battleship King Edward VII. Oddly, though the ships were built in Britain, their armor was made by Krupp in Germany.

 The first battleship built in Japan was the Satsuma, although her armament and armor was purchased outside of Japan. The book then goes into how the world's navies were put on their ears by the advent of the British battleship Dreadnought. As a matter of fact, all battleships were then classified as either Dreadnoughts or pre-Dreadnoughts. That is how revolutionary her design was. 

 The book shows you the planning and building of Japan's only battlecruisers the Kongo, Hiei, Haruna, and Kirishima (these were updated in the 1930s to fast battleships). The first Japanese 'super- Dreadnought' to be built was the Fuso. The Battle of Jutland and the naval clashes during World War One caused the Japanese to come up with new designs. The design they came up with were for the Nagato and here sister-ship the Mutsu. They were arguably the 'best battleships' in the world from 1920 until the end of the 1930s. Some will immediately argue that position for the British Hood. However, she was in actuality built as as a battlecruiser and not a battleship. The Hood's lighter armor would be tested in 1941 and was found wanting.

 The book continues with the plans for Japanese battleships before and after the Washington Naval Treaty. This treaty was signed in 1922 by all of the major powers. It was supposed to have stopped the world-wide naval arms race that was happening at the time. It goes on to show the plans for the battleships that were either scrapped or converted to aircraft carriers. The Washington treaty had few clauses about aircraft carriers. Their usefulness in 1922 was not recognized as being worth limiting them.

 The book goes on with the planning of the three largest battleships ever made, the Yamato, Musashi, and the Shinano ( the Shinano was converted to a carrier after the Battle of Midway). It also shows all of the plans for even larger battleships, with the planning going to the year 1950. The year 1941 saw the age of the battleship come to a close. The last titans of the era, the Yamato class battleships and the USA's Iowas, never battled each other. In fact, both of Japan's super-battleships were both sunk by lowly airplanes.

 This is my second Kagero book and I am even more impressed than I was with the first one. The book is jammed with photos and even has double paged 3D computer generated foldouts of some ships. Visually stunning, and filled with all there is to know about Japanese battleships, this book is very easy to endorse.


Publisher: Kagero
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

Bloody April  by Norman Franks Russell Guest Frank Bailey   As the book states, even those who have only a ...

Bloody April by Norman Franks, Russel Guest & Frank Bailey Bloody April by Norman Franks, Russel Guest & Frank Bailey

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

World War One


  As the book states, even those who have only a smattering of World War One knowledge have heard of 'Bloody April'. The month of death came about because of two things. First was the arrival of the new German fighter plane, the Albatross DIII. Second, the Allied offensive took place on the Arras front. The Allies not only had to battle the Germans, but the wind blew from west to east most of the time. With the allied offensive, it meant that the RAF and French Air Force had to  invade German air space with as many planes as they could get in the air. This was a recipe for, as the book puts it, "In many respects the relationship between the German fighters, Allied fighters and Corps aircraft would be akin to sharks among minnows in the coming battle"! 

 The book itself is a tour de force of scouring day to day flight and loss records of all of the combatants in the month of April 1917. The book lists weather conditions and much more for each day. Every day is gone through separately with a write up on the 'British front' and the on the 'French front'. After each write up for the day is a separate index of the day's losses and claims followed by actual Allied casualties.

 There are three appendices of the British, French, and German claims, followed by the known German casualties for each day.

 Most pages are filled with pictures of pilots that we have never heard of before. The pictures are accompanied by small biographies of each pilot.

 The book does not dwell on the why, but it is a true masterpiece of the who, when, and where. Nowhere will you find such an exhaustive book on the day to day events of the aerial war over the Western front in April 1917.

 Here are a few pages from the book: 

Allied casualty list

                                        German casualty list


Book: Bloody April 1917
Authors: Norman Franks, Russell Guest, & Frank Bailey
Publisher: Grub Street Publishing
Distributor: Casemate publishers