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Rule   The   Waves By Naval Warfare Simulations  Editor Comment: No idea why but this review isn't showing when you browse the ...

Rule The Waves by Naval Wafare Simulations Review Rule The Waves by Naval Wafare Simulations Review

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Editor Comment: No idea why but this review isn't showing when you browse the review section. So added it to the Intel section aswell





 Okay, I played Steam and Iron with the campaign expansion, and I thought that anything a warship enthusiast could want was in it. Boy, was I wrong. I think I just saw a kitchen sink float by. Rule The Waves is not a game, it is a lifestyle. If you want it to be, that is. You can go as deep into this game as you want to. It is almost intimidating when opening up the game. Where to start and what to do? Thankfully NWS has thrown in a lot of help for the budding Tirpitz in you. The start of the game is still a few years before the advent of the Dreadnaught changed the entire naval race. The ships you start with resemble those in the Russo-Japanese War, not WWI. 

 You can start the game as one of eight countries. These are:

England, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Japan and the US. You can also click on 'Custom nation'; this allows you to also pick CSA, CSA2, Spain, Spain2.

  Each country has its own research advantages, and it also has some disadvantages listed. One of the disadvantages is the size of the naval guns your country can build compared to others. 




  You can choose to use the historical fleets of each nation and its resources, or make it more of a sandbox game and manually build your existing fleet. This doesn't mean you will be able to start churning out Yamatos immediately, though. All of your ship's designs will have to be researched, including tonnage and gun size etc. You will also have to make sure that your docks are capable of holding the behemoths you plan to build.





  The next screen will show you the fleet you built or the historic legacy fleet you own.




  For the warfare part of the game, it plays out in the same way as their earlier games: Steam and Iron, and the Russo-Japanese War. One thing about the warfare aspect, it does not play out historically. You are leading your country and its naval forces to an all new alternative history. So don't think that you have X numbers of years until World War I starts. You will be dealing with all sorts of provocations and problems that show up on the international political scene. You might have planned to have your navy ready for a war in 1908, and it breaks out in 1906. Just as in your home finances, there is always a price to pay. You have a naval budget to work with. That leads to all sorts of quandaries. Do you spend your money on your fleet facilities to finally build that battleship you always wanted, or just build more of the ships that you already have the research for?

 


This is the ship design screen where all of us budding Tirpitzes and Fishers will run rampant.  





  Building your ships is also a game of one or the other. Do you build an armored giant with pea shooters or do you build a gun platform made of paper? It's all up to you what ships your navy has to use in its wars. You will also have to build your fleets of submarines and forts.

  A massive fleet is only as good as the sailors that man it. Training is another piece that fits under the wide brim of your admiral's hat. It's also expensive and needs to be budgeted for.
 



   This screen shot shows that I am getting really close to ending up in a war with the US. The 'tension' bars are in yellow, green, and possibly a color you would see in a diaper.




  Naval actions can take place all over the world. You can end up at war with a nation on the other side of the globe. As naval chief of staff you will also have to direct your countries intelligence efforts against the other powers.  You do not want to find out about Britain's game changing battlecruiser as it slides down the slip. This game has made the naval world of 1900 yours to conquer. How far into the future do plan for your navy? Is it only until the next war breaks out or are you actively searching out the newest torpedoes, and what about the crazy Wright brothers? Do they actually have something that a navy could use at some point in time? The game has endless possibilities for replay. You can try every build or size, and shape navy and ships that you have ever imagined. Some of the ships you start out with will be equipped with rams, and by the time your game is nearing its end, planes will be flying over your forces.

  For the actual game mechanics of the warfare you will wage, please see my review of Steam and Iron. I wanted to focus on all of the new elements that Rule the Waves brings to the table. Just as a quick rundown: big gun battles, mines, torpedoes, submarine, and antisubmarine warfare etc. are included.

  So the game is everything that Steam and Iron was and so much more. For me, whose knees buckle at the site of a triple turret, it is heaven brought to earth in zeroes and ones. We can only hope that NWS can bring WWII naval warfare to life, and to make it as manageable a game as this one.
 
  For all of you budding naval enthusiasts out there, here is a question. As a child you saw the 'Sound of Music', and watched a family escape the Nazis. What does that family have to do with this game?


  Robert


Game: Rule The Waves
Developer: Naval Warfare Simulations 
Review Date: 8/27/2016
 

                            The War of The Spanish Succession by James Falkner     The War of the Spanish Succession was probably ...

The War of the Spanish Succession by James Falkner The War of the Spanish Succession by James Falkner

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

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                            The War of The Spanish Succession by James Falkner





  
 The War of the Spanish Succession was probably the world's first world war. It was fought in areas as far flung as the Seven Years War, which it preceded by fifty years. The war was fought between the French, and Spanish on one side, and the English, Dutch, and Holy roman Empire. It also had bit parts played by the smaller players that Europe abounded with at the time.

 Our story begins with Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and Carlos I of the Spanish empire. Through his mother and father, he was the heir to both of these along with the Netherlands and more. His reign saw the house of Hapsburg become the world's greatest multi-national dynasty. The story continues until the late 1600s when Carlos II reigned over the Spanish empire. He was unfortunately childless and represented the last true Spanish Hapsburg. Leopold I (Holy Roman Emperor), and Louis XIV (king of France) were both grandsons of Phillip III of Spain. They, with their children, had the greatest claim to the throne of Spain. There was a third candidate who was very important to our story (but who unfortunately for the the people of Europe and beyond) that died young. This was Joseph-Ferdinand Wittelsbach of Bavaria. He was the son of the Elector of Bavaria and the grandson of Leopold I. There were treaties in force between the major powers that would make Joseph-Ferdinand the king of Spain after the death of Carlos II. His death in 1699 turned Europe into a powder keg waiting to be lit by whomever had the will to strike the match. 

  Carlos II passed away, but before he did drew up a will. In it the Spanish crown was to be offered to a grandson of Louis XIV, the Duc D'Anjou. In the event that he or more to the point his grandfather turned it down it was to be offered to the Hapsburg Archduke Charles of Austria, son of Leopold I. 

  Louis XIV's and the Duc D'Anjou's (now Phillip V of Spain) acceptance of the crown struck the spark that turned into the aptly named War of The Spanish Succession.

  The book tells the story of the War, its military campaigns, political machinations, and final outcome. The war would see the rise of England to be a global power. It would also really be the last time the Netherlands was a top player in the world of European politics. France would be brought to the edge of ruin.  

 This being my first review of a book, I wanted to delve into the physical makeup of the book itself. I have some books that I have owned for twenty years that look as bad as some hundred year old newspaper. They are yellow and falling apart. I'm not just talking mass market soft cover books, but hard cover. The older mass market books are only fit for the inside of a reptile's cage. So what does go into the making of a 'good' book that will see you through the years? Well I am here to tell you don't start your search using book making. At best you will find a plethora of hits on 'la Cosa Nostra' etc. As far as the actual pages turning yellow, it is a process that is well known for making our lives more miserable, oxidation. Lignin is found in all trees to varying degrees. It is actually thought to be the reason that trees can grow to great heights. If too much Lignin is in the book's paper, it will oxidize faster. Some book pages are now bleached to make the pages more white. This can break down the page's cellulose and also cause oxidation to happen faster. Book bindings can be either sewn or glued. Suffice to say that in my delving into this arcane study I did find out one thing. The books that Casemate publishing brings to the public are built to last. So, leaving the actual makeup of the book aside, let us start on the Mr. Falkner's part of this endeavor. 

  Louis Le Grand was unlucky in the timing of this war. The Frenchmen that he ruled were still as courageous as they were at the beginning of his reign. The problem was, where were his generals? Turenne, Conde, and Luxembourg were all gone. Only two French Marshals, The Duke of Berwick, and the Duc de Villars were to shine in this war, but not as brilliantly as those older diamonds had.

  Marlborough was close to winning the war in 1709, but his casualties at Malplaquet caused his allies to hamstring him. The Dutch were always an anchor around Marlborough's throat, and even more so now. The political fighting between the Whigs and Tories in England sealed his fate. Louis XIV, with the help of Villars was able to fight on, and managed to broker a much better negotiated peace then was thought possible a few years ago. The author shows this and more in this well done history of the war.

  This book is a godsend for people who want to read about the history of the War of The Spanish Succession, but also the politics and warfare of the time. The author goes into all of the different areas of where it was fought. There have been a few books on Marlborough himself, and a few more about his battles. There have even been some on his entire campaigns, but none on the other parts of the war in recent years. To read about the actions in Spain and elsewhere, you have to spend hundreds of dollars, if not more, on some older books about the war and its personalities. There are some PDF and EPUB versions of these books, but the copying process has left them to be pretty much unreadable, at least to me.  

 This book is an overview of the entire conflict and does not go into the minutiae of the separate battles or sieges. For those, you will have to look elsewhere. However, it does fill the gap in a book that brings the entire war to your finger tips. The author has a solid grasp of the history and reports it in a well done no-nonsense style without any hint of bias. I find this refreshing in a book about this war. Most of the books I have read on the subject have a definite English bias, at least in the amount of information about each side in the war.

 So thank you Mr. Falkner, and Casemate, for this book. It brings to life the war and its battles, and campaigns, and is a great addition to anyone's library.

  Mr. Falkner has the following books (among others) on the history of the times listed with Casemate Publishing:

  http://www.casematepublishers.com/index.php/james-falkner-s-guide-to-marlborough-s-battlefields.html

 http://www.casematepublishers.com/index.php/marlborough-s-war-machine-1702-1711.html

http://www.casematepublishers.com/index.php/marshal-vauban-and-the-defence-of-louis-xiv-s-france.html

Robert

Book: The War of The Spanish Succession
Publisher: Casemate Publishing, Pen & Sword
Author: James Falkner
 Review Date 8/14/2016

Thomas Gunn: New Releases 'Stand To' for inspection!     This is the second review of Thomas Gunn miniatures and this time I ...

Thomas Gunn: Another first class collection stand for inspection! Thomas Gunn: Another first class collection stand for inspection!

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

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Thomas Gunn: New Releases 'Stand To' for inspection!
 
 
This is the second review of Thomas Gunn miniatures and this time I present their most recent releases. We have a collection of Roman Legionnaires, Fallschirmjager and two sets that make a great little diorama of WW2 Aussies!  I was extremely impressed last time round. So had high hopes for this second collection sent to me for review. Read on to see if they lived up to my expectations..
 
First we have to go back to the days of the Roman Empire as we inspect the latest additions to join the ranks of Thomas Gunns Legionnaires.
 
 


 

 
 
As you can see from the pictures it's very doubtful this Legionnaire is going to aid you in any future battle soon. The poor chap has done a 'Harold' and taken an arrow to the eye. Typical of Thomas Gunns attention detail is that the Pilum is separate, as the unlucky Roman would have dropped it when the arrow hit. For the review I received both the Red Shield and the 30th Legion variant as seen in the pictures above. There is also a 9th Legion variant with the black shield and bull motif. The 30th Legion and 9th Legion versions are limited edition, so if your after one of those I'd be quick! The quality of the miniatures is excellent. The posture looks natural and the sculpting from head to toe can't be faulted. The painting is up to Thomas Gunns high standards, with all the details picked out perfectly and not even a spot of paint where it shouldn't be. Shading is well done as is skin tone. This is a rather gruesome miniature, but I love it! Top marks all round. He comes in a silver box and great care has gone into padding so he doesn't get damaged in transit. I'm sure he is happy about that, I expect even the slightest knock on the arrow is going to cause even more pain than he is already in.  He retails at £32.50
 



 

 

 
Here the Legionnaire is kneeling with Pilum raised all ready for the order to go into battle. For the review I received both the standard Red Shield variant as well as the black shield 9th Legion variant. It also comes in a 30th Legion version. You can see both the 9th Legion and Red Shield in the pictures above (the picture at the bottom shows all versions lined up). The figures posture is well sculpted and natural. The uniform, from Helmet to Sandals, is superbly detailed and not just the front but attention is given to all sides of the figure. Paintwork is of the usual high quality, shading is well done as is skin tone. What I've noticed is the uniformity in colour across all the Legionnaire miniatures which is important when dealing with uniforms. What else can I say? He is typical of Thomas Gunns extreme attention to detail across all aspects of the miniature. As usual 9th Legion and 30th Legion are limited editions so be quick if it's one of those you have your eye on. Would look great in any Roman diorama. He comes in a silver box and as usual great care has gone into the padding. To really appreciate how much care and attention Thomas Gunn go into their miniatures all you really need to do is look at the padding in a box. He retails at £32.50
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The last Roman Legionnaire to be inspected today is a Legionnaire who can either be seen as in reserve waiting to go into battle or on sentry duty. The shield comes as a separate piece so you can use it or not as you see fit. For the review I received both the Red Shield and the 30th Legion miniatures. Like other Roman Legionnaires he also comes in a 9th Legion version. The pictures above show both the Red Shield and the 30th Legion miniatures. The last picture shows the miniature in with ROM002 and ROM003 figures to show how the look good as a collection and would be an excellent choice for a Roman Diorama. Like all the other figures there is no drop in standard in both the sculpt and the paintwork. Thomas Gunn figures are ones you just can't stop looking at with a big smile on your face. Care and attention is given to all sides of the miniature which goes without saying for Thomas Gunn. Remember if you want the 30th Legion or 9th Legion they are limited editions!He comes in a silver box and is very well padded. He retails at £32.50
 

 Now we jump forward in time to WWII so we can review the next set of miniatures...

 






 
 
This is a special anniversary set of FJ020A - HMG Set (Normandy) that came in three different versions and is now sold out. As demand was great Thomas Gunn have decided to make another variant in a limited edition set of 100. I have to say this, if you only ever buy one Toy Soldier in your life I have no qualms at all in saying this is the one to buy, oh and be quick as it wont be around for long. We have two FJ manning a heavy MG 42, one FJ firing and the other  loading. It's hard to find words that do this miniature justice. The sculpt right down to the tiniest detail is perfect and the paint work is a triumph. Even the FJ shooting has one eye closed and the other open! They also come with their separate small arms weapon for you to place where you see fit. It's a miniature I'll always treasure and one that will be the first to get shown to anyone interested (or not). You wont find anyone that isn't impressed even if they have no real interest in Toy Soldiers. Seriously be quick and snap this one up before it's gone for good. It comes in a silver box and the usual care as gone into padding. This little marvel retails at £70.
 



 

 
 
This along with it's variant summer version is the last FJ set Thomas Gunn is going to make this year. Not until next year will we see anything new with regards to the FJ and apparently in a format not previously released by Thomas Gunn which sounds very interesting, however that's for another time. For the review I received the winter version which you can see in the pictures above. The winter version is a limited edition of 100 and the summer version limited to 80. They are wearing winter smocks\trousers and are taking aim. Shell casings are scattered on the floor after being ejected whilst firing. It's the detail I love from Thomas Gunn. The sculpt and paintwork are of the highest quality. I love how Thomas Gunn manage to get personality into the faces of their miniatures, no standard look here. They have also got across the feeling of cold especially with the frost effect on their helmets. Another superb miniature from Thomas Gunn. If your after FJ in winter uniform firing a HMG for your diorama, then look no further. Or if you just love collecting Toy Soldiers you can't go wrong putting this in your collection. He comes in a silver box and is very well padded as we have come to expect. He retails at £69.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here we have two Aussies who are laying down  an intense mortar barrage to help out a patrol deep in the jungle. This A version are dressed in fatigues worn in the 1940's during jungle warfare. There will be a B version that will be in early war battledress worn during desert fighting or the fighting in Greece early on in the war. The A version is limited to 100 and the B version will be limited to just 80. The posture of the two figures is alive and full of animation as the sculpture has done a first class job in capturing this intense and frantic moment. The faces of the two Aussies show not only the situation they are in but also the personalities of these two men. Just like the sculpt the paintwork can't be faulted and believe me I do try! The figures are separate as is the mortar. As you'll soon see the next set I review go hand in hand with this one to create a dynamic little diorama. They come in a silver box with the usual first rate padding. This excellent set retails at £75 and is well worth every penny.
 
 
 
 
 
 

The final set I get to review is another Aussie two piece set. Here we have an Officer desperately trying to hear what's being said on the radio as the cacophony of battle sounds all around in the hot steamy jungle. Whilst his  No2 sits patiently, all ready to write down the orders as and when they get relayed to him from his  Officer, when he finally manages to hear them! The set comes with two separate weapons an M1 and a Owen MG to enhance any diorama you put them in. Now talking about a diorama, have you noticed yet? We have the perfect companion piece to make an excellent little diorama, yes that's right the Mortar set reviewed above! As you can see in the last picture they all look wonderful together. Getting back to the set, just like the mortar set above the sculpture has captured the moment exquisitely. Each figure tells a story! The paint work is fantastic as you now come to expect from Thomas Gunn. They also wear the same jungle fatigues as the Mortar set above. A Japanese tank will also be released soon for the RS series and then like the FJ series the RS series comes to an end.

This set is limited to 100 pieces. Comes in a silver box and is fully padded. The set retails £75
 

 
 Being able to review Thomas Gunn miniatures is becoming the highlight for me with regards to running the blog. Opening each box is like a mini Christmas morning for me:) I really can't get  over enough how impressed I am with their miniatures. I honestly do try to find something to fault, but so far no matter how hard I've tried I can't find anything. So until the next set of Thomas Gunn miniatures that come in for review I bid you good bye! (Oh and if you like any of the miniatures above and they are limited edition, then be quick, you've been warned)


PHANTOM LEADER DELUXE VIETNAM AERIAL COMBAT GAME FROM DAN VERSSEN GAMES Prior to Phantom Leader Deluxe , my experience of air w...

PHANTOM LEADER DELUXE: Review PHANTOM LEADER DELUXE: Review

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

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PHANTOM LEADER DELUXE

VIETNAM AERIAL COMBAT GAME

FROM

DAN VERSSEN GAMES


Prior to Phantom Leader Deluxe, my experience of air war games was fairly limited.  Or, perhaps what I should say is that the number of games simulating the war in the air that I liked was very limited.  First and foremost was John Butterfield's original solitaire RAF and its solitaire and two-player remake of the same name and the very light, but enjoyable Wings of Glory.  Other than those two, most other air games had left me cold, often because the mechanics were so convoluted and distinctly user unfriendly.  Some, like Avalon Hill's Flight Leader, I confess I just found boring.

Perhaps, by now, you're wondering why I agreed to accept this particular review.  Mainly, it was because of the publisher, Dan Verssen Games [hereafter DVG], who produce top-notch quality games that I have particularly experienced through their Field Commander series.  Secondly, I had heard very positive things said about the whole Leader series of air games.


"one sumptuous, deep, glossy box"

Phantom Leader Deluxe certainly did not let me down on the question of quality.  One sumptuous, deep, glossy box surpassed even my expectations based on my experience of Field Commander Alexander and Field Commander Napoleon.  The contents no less so, especially the thick, high quality counters that, with their rounded corners, just press out perfectly with no dog-eared corners to laboriously trim off.  Considering the sheer number of counters, that's one big chore out of the way, even for someone like me who can find counter-clipping therapeutic!


"high quality counters"


But it's the stunning packs of cards that blow you away.  First of all there are separate packs for ten different USAF aircraft and nine Navy aircraft.  Not surprisingly, considering the title of the game the number of Phantoms predominates, but add in evocative names like the F-101 Voodoo or the F-102 Delta Dagger and all together you have seven new types of aircraft included in the Deluxe version.  In total there are 19 types of aircraft and 90 aircraft, with each of those aircraft having a different named pilot with three separate double-sided cards that take him from Newbie all the way to Ace.  So, if you've done your maths that's 270 cards in the box just to cover the aircraft - all in full colour with the plane set against a steely blue sky and the key stats in the bottom section of the card.


"the number of Phantoms predominates"


Above you have a typical average USAF F-4 Phantom with the pilot whose call-sign is Smokes with his array of information.   A vast spectrum to choose from with small gradations of ability in the modifiers for ATA [Air-to-Air] and ATG [Air-to-Ground] targets and all affected by whether the pilot status is OK or Shaken, as is his speed.  The guy up there, as you can see, is SLOW whatever his stress level!. 

This degree of choice of aircraft and pilot and then the range of armaments that each plane can carry has led to a few criticisms of detail overload.  As someone with NO modern [or at least relatively modern] knowledge of aircraft, seeing that we are primarily in the period of the Vietnam War, I can sympathise.  But, if you are really so concerned, you could choose just to fly phantoms or use the rulebook's optional rule for how to draw a random set of aircraft.  I certainly would not be put off buying this game, because it contains too much

Beside having so many beautiful aircraft cards, there are cards for Targets and Events.  Here  is the very first target that I came up against - the Barracks.




The card provides details of the enemy aircraft [Bandits] and enemy ground sites that you will come up against.  At first sight that doesn't look too bad, but there are four approach areas, one in each of the compass points, so that's eight potential enemy sites and four bandits and three more sites and two bandits in the centre where the target is!!  The card also tells you how many VPs, Recon pts and Intelligence pts you'll earn depending on how many hits you land on the target.

Much of this involves new additional rules for the Deluxe version.  In the original, it was destroy/fail to destroy your target, as pure and simple as that and VPs or no VPs.  I really like this development that allows for degrees of success.  [Hollow laugh ... on this first mission I scored no hits on the target, lost two out of my four planes and the other two came back so stressed they immediately had to be rested!  Please don't ask if I've got any better.]



And here are my valiant fellows; call signs Jagger, Misty, Smokes and Digger.  The centre two are the planes that went down and the outer two are the ones that survived.

Before I comment on the rule book, there is one last type of card to show you - Events.  During a mission three will be drawn - one Target-Bound, one Over-Target and the last one Home-Bound.  Each card has three sections and you apply the appropriate text according to which stage of the mission you are at.





As you can see, Bandits was my Target-Bound card and Forward Air Controllers my Over-Target card.

And so to the Rulebook.  A very nice product in full colour and glossy paper. One major surprise and drawback is that there is no index.  In part, this may be because the rules, after explaining all the components, take you through the sequence of play step-by-step in the chronology of how the game plays.  As thorough and clear as these rules are,  like any set when you are first learning and playing with them, you will certainly need to check and refer back.  An index should be a requisite part, if only for ease of play, and as the back page of the rulebook is used merely to advertise many other DVG games, this was an unnecessary omission.



An initial skim through quickly established that methodical planning would be the early part of the game.  First up is your choice of Campaign map and there are 8 to choose from, three set at different periods of the Vietnam war ranging from 1965 - 72 and one set during the Cuban Missile  Crisis of 1962.  Each Campaign has a separate USAF and Navy copy with varying targets and the possibility of playing Short, Medium or Long Campaigns.  This wide range of scenarios and variable targets, plus the range of aircraft and pilots make for great replay value.

Then on to selecting the pool of aircraft and pilots that will be available during the campaign.  The longer the campaign, the more pilots you will select for your pool, as a Short campaign typically involves four days and up to twelve days for a Long campaign.  Each day begins with drawing two target cards to choose from and the choice is not just a simple "which do I fancy having a go at."  Each target comes with a political cost that is marked on the Political track on your Campaign card. so that you may find you don't have enough political points to go for either target.  Consequences being that you may have a day of rest or spend some of the Special Ops points that come with a Campaign to buy other targets to choose from.



Rolling Thunder 1967


Here's the typical start of a Campaign, the first day's target has been chosen, the Political points cost marked on the appropriate track and the Target marker placed on the mini-map.  Notice the other two Tracks are for Recon and Intel- both of these may be affected favourably by the degree of success achieved in missions flown during a Campaign.

Then it's move to the core of the game's action and the mounted board on which it will be played out.
This display is clear and totally functional, with a very helpful Turn sequence on the right-hand side and locations for the Target cards and Event cards.



You now have five turns in which to move from the entry point of your flight path to its exit point diametrically opposite where you entered.  Once more this is a detail I like and, I would say an improvement on some of the other Leader games, as you have to do more than just get to the target and drop your bombs.  Now you have to make your exit too!  Your aircraft don't all have to appear at the same Entry point, but if they enter at different points then their Exit points will be also be different.  There is some latitude here, as an aircraft can leave by an area adjacent to its Exit point.

Each of the five turns starts with combat or in this game's term Aircraft Attack Sequence.  If your aircraft is Fast, it will fire before the enemy does: if Slow, the enemy will fire first.  Though there is a good number of aspects affecting fire, I found them very easy to remember and use.  Perhaps the most obvious and important is Altitude.  Many of the Sites you will come up against can only hit you if you're flying at Low Altitude - so, just fly over them at High Altitude.  The next is range; often you can get in a shot before the enemy because you have better range, but beware those enemies that can fire at range, I've found them deadly.

Add in the possibility of Suppression and Evasion, Soft targets and Radar targets, AtA and AtG weaponry, changing altitude and you get a very good narrative and atmospheric feel to the heart of this game.  With named pilots, I felt far more of an RPG effect than in most war games I play.  Each roll, especially when the enemy has you in his sights, is a tense moment.  As with any solitaire game, an iron will is needed to accept the die and see your aircraft tumbling out of the sky.

It's Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings!

You've not finished yet.  I love the final sequences after the mission has been flown.  Remember those planes I lost on my first mission flight out, well, they're not necessarily gone for ever as there is a Search and Rescue Phase with a 50/50 chance of survival.  Both mine did survive, but as always there is a stress cost.

And then comes Debriefing, with hopefully some element of VPs, Intelligence pts and Recon pts depending on the amount of damage scored on the Target.  As your Intelligence improves, the number of targets you can choose from for a Mission increases, while Reconnaissance reduces the number of Sites and Bandits you will come up against in later Missions. 

In this final phase of the game, the last factor and for me is the effects of all those Stress points piling up on your pilots.  Now you have to assess the following: who can continue to fly, who must be rested [above a certain level and you are grounded until those stress points have been reduced], the effect of MIA [Missing in Action] pilots on all your other pilots stress levels.  You don't lose buddies without it having an impact on you. 

You can even Transfer highly stressed pilots out of your team and get a replacement.....but have you guessed what's coming next.  Sure, a new pilot to the team, can you rely on him - consequences, a bit more stress for each of your existing team!!

One final tip before my round-up.  The Campaign Log for recording your Missions and pilot progression will take a lot of bashing if you try to use it to record changing Stress levels during a Mission.  So, making a simple chart for each Mission's pilots that logs the ongoing stress accumulation is well worth the few minutes it takes to knock one up on the computer. [it also adds to the RPG element, I've talked about.]

So, what are my final thoughts and conclusions?  At the start, I gave you my reasons for taking on this review.  Am I glad that I did make that decision.  Above all, I've had a great time playing this game.  More than anything, I've been surprised how much I've enjoyed the preparation and planning stage.  I had thought I'd find this a tad tedious and would want to hurry through, but I now feel this is an integral and enjoyable part of the whole game experience.

I still consider myself very much a newbie and am a long way off knowing what aircraft are best for a particular job and what armament.  But, the rule book has a very detailed Section on each aircraft and each weapon that repays the time spent on repeated reading through.

As to flying the Missions and the whole campaign shebang, love every minute of it.  Never thought I could be rooting so much for an aircraft card with its call sign Digger and whether it would make it through its mission.  Phantom Leader has been a great experience and one I can thoroughly recommend to you.

[Schnell! Schnell! Das Boot.....Torpedoes away.  Dive! Dive!

Having been allowed to take to the skies with Phantom Leader there are rumours that I may be allowed to sink beneath the waves with U-Boat Leader and its American counterpart Gato Leader.

However, until that is confirmed, perhaps you'd like to dip into one of my own collection and march with me in a couple of weeks to the Somme, where you'll be up to your neck in muck and bullets, with Richard Borg's The Great War.]




















































































































Steve Smith Wargame Vault Interrogation  Steve Smith runs Wargame Vault . I’m sure most wargamers have browsed the Wargame Vault w...

Steve Smith Wargame Vault Interrogation Steve Smith Wargame Vault Interrogation

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

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Steve Smith Wargame Vault Interrogation



Steve Smith runs Wargame Vault. I’m sure most wargamers have browsed the Wargame Vault website if not made a purchase or two or five or ten.. For those who don’t know Wargame Vault it’s rather unusual for a wargame online store. They deal mainly with rulebooks for miniature wargames or print old classic wargames long out of print in their original boxed format. Take the classic Upfront, a game many consider the greatest board wargame ever released. The actual game can be bought in separate parts, so the games card sets are separate purchases as is the rulebook which can be bought in either a PDF version or printed. I purchased Upfront from them myself but at the time the rulebook was PDF only, however recently they have released a printed version which I jumped at. The best way for you to understand how they work is to go visit the website yourself. Whilst there I’m sure you’ll find something that takes your fancy. So with that in mind in another expertly carried out covert operation we managed to kidnap Steve Smith, take him to a secure location and start out interrogation!

The following is a transcript of our "chat" with Mr Smith, recorded on our special ACME interrogation recording device.

First we will fire a round of quick fire questions at you…what the wires..lie detector of course.. Pardon…funny that last one sat there said there was no need for all this aswell, but we will be the judge of that!! Now remember no lies..oh and we have ways of making your talk!!

Name? Steve Smith

Age? 55

Current whereabouts? Northern Indiana, USA

Favourite TV program? Archer

Favourite Music genre? Metal/Rock

Favourite band\musician? Many! Metallica, Judas Priest, Queensryche to Static X and 5 Finger Death Punch!

Favourite Film? Dune

Favourite period of history? WWII

Favourite Superhero? Deadpool

Favourite colour? Blue

Favourite animal? Dogs

Lucky number? 26

Spitfire or P51? P51

Panther or T34? Panther

BF 109 or FW 190? FW 190

Patton or Rommel? Patton

Interesting, very interesting. Now be good, answer the questions and all will go well!

What was your profession pre Wargame Vault and what year did you start up the business?

Well, like many folks in the wargame business I have a day job as well as a job in the hobby. I know most wargamers think us guys in the wargame business live like rock stars, but sadly it's not true! I am a machinist in my day job.

As mentioned in the introduction Wargame Vault is pretty unique in the way it runs compared to other wargame shops on the net. I’d love to know what sparked the initial idea and how you went about setting it all up to become the successful business it is today. So could you give us a run down on how you came by the initial idea and then turned that idea into a viable business, including the highs and lows of the process and if there were any hurdles you had to overcome?

Well, it actually wasn't my idea, I just fell into it! Wargame Vault is actually an offshoot of DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. These sites were owned by and run by several guys including Steve Weick, Mike Todd and James Mathe. They had been successfully running digital download sites since 2001 for RPG rules and such, way before downloading anything was cool. As time went on they were getting more and more wargaming material loaded up, and being mainly RPG/Larp folks they weren't familiar with the material, manufacturers or the unique genre that wargaming is.

At the time (2007) Sean Patrick Fannon was employed as Publisher Relations for RPGNow. Sean and I had worked together for GAMA running the GAMA Trade Show and the Origins Game Convention, and he knew that I had been into wargaming for many years. So, when they decided that they needed a separate site for Wargame downloads they needed someone who knew the ground, and Sean brought up my name. They offered me the job and I took it! Nine years later it's still the best job I've ever had.

Starting out was a bit rough at first, selling wargame authors and publishers on the idea of selling games without printing them! We acquired Mongoose's Wargame Downloads website at the launch and gained a good number of titles, and when we kept sending out royalties checks to publishers every month others began to take notice. Also, downloading content became more commonplace, even among grognards! Our goal has always been to have every wargame ever made to be available on our site, so I just kept bugging authors and publishers thru emails and at shows and conventions and we eventually became the largest digital wargame publisher on the net.

If someone was thinking about starting up an online wargame store what advice would you give and is there anything they really need to watch out for?

Do you have any pointers that might set them in the right direction? I would say get the best IT/Technical people you can. If your site doesn't work right nobody will use it. We have been very fortunate in having some great folks on staff writing code for us and fixing technical issues, guys like Mike Todd, Chuck Childers and others who really know what they're doing. Also, customer service is incredibly important, as is knowing what you're selling. 

My introduction was a rather poor attempt to explain how Wargame Vault works. So what’s best is if you could explain what Wargame Vault does and how it works including who can use it and what the costs and terms are etc?

How we work is really very simple. Authors and publishers make an account and upload their titles to their "storefront" on our site. They can use about any format they like, but PDF works best. They can also set up titles to be printed on demand and sent to customers anywhere in the world thru our print houses in the U.S. and U.K.
We can handle about anything, books, cards, cardstock terrain and minis, board games, 3-D printing files, audio books, PC games, etc. The authors set their own prices and margin and what they choose to offer on the site. There are no out-of-pocket costs, as we engage in revenue sharing. We only make money if a title sells. When a title sells the publisher gets 70% or 65% depending on whether they are an exclusive digital publisher with us or not. We get the remainder.

We handle the storefront, site upkeep, digital storage, security watermarking on pdf's, real-time bookkeeping, tax forms, limited advertising, printing and shipping for printed titles and royalty payout thru Paypal or check. We also can digitize products for folks who have a hard copy but not a digital copy of a work, which is great for long out of print titles made before electronic means were available. We pretty much handle everything except the actual creation of the title.

How does your service work for the publishers?

Probably the best part of our service for publishers is the ease of use. Once titles are loaded they really just need to cash out thru Paypal! For publishers and authors that use our print service, they do away with minimum orders thru traditional printers, no warehousing, no shipping and no cost to sell their products. Customers place their order, we print it and ship it, the author gets paid royalties. Simple!

Where are you based?

We are truly a "virtual" office. I'm in Indiana, our servers and tech folks are in Georgia, Florida and I don't know all where, our Publisher Relations folks are in Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, the boss lives in Canada! We all work from home, wherever that may be. I've worked with some people for almost a decade and never actually met them. Publishing has changed over the years!

What formats do you support?

pdf, jpg, epub, mobi, html, stl, audio, video, print

How do you pay royalties?

We pay royalties by Paypal that can be cashed out at any time or at the end of the month automatically, or by check at the end of the month.

What options do publishers and authors have on our site?

Publishers can be as active as they wish. They can spruce up their storefronts in any number of ways, run sales, update rule sets, load new ones, remove others, advertise on the site using our virtual currency, or use us for crowd-funding fulfilments. Or not. They are in control of how they want to use our service and offer their products.

What’s been the most popular rule set\product you’ve sold?

We've had lots of great selling publishers. Rottenlead has sold well, Ivan at Nordic Weasel cranks out great stuff all the time, Admiralty Trilogy Group, Amarillo Design Bureau, Dave Graffam Models, Ganesha Games, MicroMark Army Lists, Mongoose, Steel Dreadnought Games, Osprey and many others have sold very well. But likely the best seller recently has been the one you mentioned earlier, the previously out of print Avalon Hill game Up Front and it's expansions released by Wizards of the Coast. We will continue to try to bring back old AH products in print format as we are able.

What era is the most popular?

From WWII to the present has been the most popular, but then there are a lot of WWII games out there too!

What era is the least?

The War of Jenkin's Ear doesn't sell particularly well.

Do you have a favourite rule set? If so which one is it and what makes it stand out for you?

I don't really have a favorite, I'll play anything!

What’s your favourite era to game?

WWII and ancients.

Do you play digital wargames? If so any favourites?

Rarely play digital games, but I have played a bit of Hegemony which I think is a great game.

As some will already know it’s not just Wargame Vault but you also have DriveThruRPG as well. DriveThruRPG runs exactly the same way. So if you enjoy your RPG’s as well then there’s double the reason to go check out the website!

And not just the RPG sites! We do have DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, but also DriveThruCards, DriveThruFiction, DriveThruComics, and DNDClassics. If it's gaming or Geek related we want to offer it!

You’ve been very cooperative! I see a very successful future for you!

Thank you for the opportunity, and I wish the same for you!

[Bob, tell me that’s not sirens…well what is it then…what!..you said it wasn’t sirens…aaarrghh..Steve we shall contact you soon about recruitment into our organisation..but first we have to run..Bob..run Bob run!!] (sounds of someone running into something, loud clattering sounds, faint cursing..tape ends)

United Bricks Stand to for review!     The first time I came across military LEGO was in a NEWS item about a man who had built a ma...

United Bricks MiniFig: Review United Bricks MiniFig: Review

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

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United Bricks Stand to for review!

 
 
The first time I came across military LEGO was in a NEWS item about a man who had built a massive US warship all to scale in his rather large garage\shed\man cave. I was extremely impressed and I think at that moment fell in love with military LEGO. So when it came to deciding what I'd like to cover in the blog what we shall call from now on MiniFigs was a no brainer. I just needed to get those hives of creativity, the builders and sellers to come on board. Thankfully all those I contacted agreed, paving the way I hope to a successful and popular section of the blog.
 
 
 
United Bricks Minifigs come hot on the heels of the last MiniFig review, a great way to kickstart this section of the blog! This time I have again three complete MinFigs lined up for scrutiny aswell as a torso and a torso and legs, obviously victims of War! All are WWII MiniFigs, hurrah!
 
 
 
 
What Russian tank would be complete with out this little chap present. The printing on the uniform is very good indeed. Details are on both torso and legs front and back, so he looks great in all directions. He also sports a superbly made tankers helmet. He comes wearing his war face! He is available in both light skin tone and a more yellow skin tone. He retails at £7.00.
 
 

Next, 'British Tank Crewman'

Well you couldn't get a more British looking Tank crewman if you tried. Proudly sporting a spiffing moustache! The print work on the uniform is fantastic on front and back and can't be faulted. He even has the 11th Armoured Black Bull insignia on his left arm. Finished off with his black beret. He comes in light flesh tone or yellow flesh tone. He Retails at £7.00.

 

'Light Grey German'

Here we have another WWII historical MiniFig. This time it's the Light Grey German Uniform soldier. The printing of the uniform details is excellent. He also has a corporals rank symbol on his left arm. So maybe it's corporal Steiner! He also wears a BrickArms Stahlhelm. He would make an excellent addition to any German MiniFig diorama. He comes in light skin tone and yellow skin tone. He retails at £8.50.


Finally we have 'Printed Panzer Crewman'

This time we have the torso and legs of a German Panzer crewman from WWII. As you can see the details and printwork is superb. He even sports an Iron Cross and ribbon as well as a Tank Assault badge. Like the others the UV printing means it will never fade or rub off! He comes wearing no gloves or with black gloves. Really love this uniform. He retails at £5.00

I'm really impressed with United Bricks Minifigs and can easily recommend them. I can't wait to see what comes next!










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