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STALINGRAD ROADS   FROM NUTS PUBLISHING What's in the box Stalingrad Roads has been a game that I have been waiting for with great anti...


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





What's in the box

Stalingrad Roads has been a game that I have been waiting for with great anticipation and enthusiasm and, I confess, some trepidation about its eventual realisation, as it continually seemed to be coming...but not yet.  So, at last, with a resounding cheer, it's a reality and I must give a big thanks to Nuts Publishing for not just sending me a copy to review, but a bonus of the neoprene map...only the second one that I've ever owned.  Stalingrad Roads is the third in a series that began with Liberty Roads and was followed by Victory Roads.  These first two were published by Hexasim, another games company I greatly admire, though with them my focus has been on their excellent Napoleonic series.   
My knowledge of the first two Roads games is purely of their physical appearance which, in both cases, was lavish with vibrant colours on the map and counters. Nuts Publishing has gone for a much more austere map and counters that in their simplicity of layout and contrast of ochre and grey have a distinctly retro feel to them.
This is a major aspect that may divide players.  I’m certainly in the camp that favours the austerity of the pale wintery palate of the map that suits the span of November to March deep in Russian territory. With the counters I have mixed feelings, not so much for colour, but size. In fact, I found the multiplicity of badges on the units in the first two games distinctly distracting and one For those with the modern gaming taste for the larger and more lavish the better, they may be too small and too simple.  Nonetheless, they are totally practical and clearly readable with the standard three number sequence: attack strength, defence strength and movement.

In all other respects, the contents should be uncontentious.  The game contains a substantial number of double-sided Play Aids, all on thin, glossy card.  An item I wish all games provided is an identical terrain, combat and weather chart, one for each player.  Thumbs up to Nuts Publishing for that.  So much easier than passing one backwards and forwards across the table and much more appealing than one player having a photocopy.  
Both players have double-sided charts that explain the many individual Support markers each side may potentially have in the course of the game.  Three more contain set-up charts for the different scenarios and a final four combine a variety of functions.  One side of each presents a variety of other play aids, from holding boxes to player specific charts, while the others provide more set up displays and one contains a mini-map for the introductory learning scenario, Wintergewitter.
Wintergewitter mini-map

...and how it appears if played on the full map
The rulebook (partially seen above) is a similarly attractive, glossy product of 22 pages of rules, 4 pages of scenarios and a 1 page index. It’s very compact and functional and, though the print size is fairly small, I’ve found it easy to read.   Illustrations are limited, but focus extensively throughout the excellent, detailed examples of the central elements of Combat, Retreat and Exploitation.
The rules themselves are an interesting blend of the familiar and the unusual.  The core of the system is a fairly basic one common to even early hex and counter games of  the igo-ugo format with the Soviets having the first half of the turn and the Axis having the second half, founded on supply check, movement, combat and reinforcements and replacements.  

However, a level of added complexity derives from both players having a Support Phase as well as specific individual Phases.  These latter Phases apply mainly to the Soviet player and for that reason I would recommend that a more experienced player take the Soviet side at least for the first few games.
Combat and Weather Charts on back of the rule book

A number of points looked daunting, but in reality weren’t. The first such was the weather table and its rules.  My one complaint here is that the explanation of the lettered code used in the table is given in the reproduction of the chart in the rule book and on the back cover of the rule book, but not on the Play Aids - an odd choice!  When I saw that Snow and Mud are the only two weather conditions, I feared I might be in for a mass of complexity.  However, as Snow predominates, it has been largely been dealt with by factoring it into movement rates and other data on the terrain chart; as a result it turned out easy to handle.  Apart from obvious ground features, especially rivers, being dealt with through the weather table, so too is cloud cover which affects air support markers.  Both sets of conditions have handy tracks and markers on the map as reminders - a welcome help.

Explanation of Weather Effects on Cloud Cover and Rivers

Perhaps surprisingly, weather does not affect supply, though supply itself is handled in a novel and interesting fashion.   Apart from a direct trace of 4 hexes to map edge supply hexes, roads and rails are the key.  This is a familiar rule; what is unusual is that you check HQs first for being in supply and then those that aren’t are removed from the map.   They will return to the map in the Reinforcement and Replacement Phase which is the last Phase of each player's turn.  Unfortunately, as the rules don't clearly specify, it must be assumed that they return by the same process as unit reinforcements arrive.  In the final step of the Supply Phase all combat units are checked for whether they are within command range of an HQ on the map.  If not, then they are marked as out of supply. 
Close up on the Combat Table

The other intriguing feature is the Combat Results table.  Though it is the standard CRT with an odds ratio and 2D6 roll, unlike the very conventional single columns for each ratio with either an Attacker result or Defender result or a split result for each, there are three columns.  The first column gives step losses, strangely in the rules labelled under the heading Application of Attrition Results, but then referred to from then on by the more familiar phrase "step loss."  The second and third column respectively provide what are called Attacker Tactical Results and Defender Tactical Results.  At first sight, several of these look familiar - AR, DR, DR1, DR2, DR3 and Eng - but the last one Eng definitely does not mean the well known Engaged Result which normally is much the same as "no effect." Here the Attacker has to roll 2D6 again and apply only the Attrition Result i.e. more step losses.

And now for something completely different
On top of these are several new results: E, F, S and R.  Unlike "E" usually meaning Eliminated, here it means Exploitation and its effect is influenced by a surprising number of additional rules for a single CRT result.  It is a Tactical result only found in the Attacker columns and allows a limited number of units to make exploitation and attack moves in the Exploitation Phase that immediately follows the Combat Phase.  The number of Attacking units allowed to take part is changed by such things as whether an armoured attack had been declared and terrain.  Added to that, the type of units chosen may mean that some can only move, while others can both move and attack.  Again an interesting and new approach replaces what is usually handled by the standard, conventional Exploitation Phase of many games.  On the other hand, the F, R and S are all Tactical Results that can only occur for the Defender and mainly add extra choices between retreats and additional or reduced step losses.
The final and crucial development in the novel twists to well known war game tropes is the Support Phase - what I might call the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (well, ok the last adjective doesn't apply) of the rules.  The fact that it is given its own separate Phase and both players get a double-sided aid to explain the use of each support marker signals its importance.  First of all, there are far more potential Support Markers in this game than I have come across before in most games.  Then the Soviet Player has four separate Available Marker holding boxes, while the rules for Support markers take up almost a full page of rules and unfortunately several other Phases separately contain details that affect the use of Support Markers.  At this point when learning to play the game, I began to feel that a little less might have been a lot better.   When mastering the information about the markers and the rules that govern them became far heavier to memorise than the whole Combat process itself, I felt a little overtaxed.  However, though they do add quite a bit to the learning process and to the complexity of game play, they also add a lot of chrome and historical feel to the game which I enjoy and appreciate.

Just a few of the many and varied Support Markers
So far, I've concentrated on what I would call the expected generic areas of rules as well as some of the intriguing individualities of the "Roads" system.  The last part of the rules that I want to consider are those designed specifically to simulate historical elements of this campaign, Operation Uranus.  Considering that this was a major and crucial Soviet offensive, it's not too surprising to find in the Sequence of Play a Soviet Offensives Phase.   The Soviet Player starts the game with one Soviet Major Offensive marker and will gain two Minor Offensive markers as reinforcements.  The conditions for launching a Major Offensive are closely bound up with the Support Markers just discussed, though the player is at liberty to choose the moment of launch whenever those conditions are met. 
Also highly important is the Stavka Phase.  This covers rules for releasing Reserve units generally during the course of the game and none of these reserves could be more important or valuable than for release at the beginning of the Major Offensive!  The Stavka Phase is also vital for withdrawing units and rebuilding them.  So far, these are all areas of the rules that help to give the Soviet Player both their characteristic feel and specific punch for this campaign.  The final element of specifically Soviet rules should be equally familiar to students of this period of the war and that is Soviet Lost Momentum.  The negative effect of these rules is closely bound to the number of times Soviet HQs move - a good incentive for ensuring that your HQs stay in supply and so don't have to execute lots of movement to return!
The final special Soviet Phase is the grand sounding Operation Mars Progress Phase.  This is designed to cover how a parallel Soviet Offensive launched by Stalin in another sector might have impacts on Operation Uranus.  It couldn't be easier to apply, as it is abstracted into a simple 2D6 each turn, from Nov IV to Dec III.   Depending on the dice roll, the marker on the Operation Mars track will either stay still or move on the track.  Possible outcomes may be a Soviet Collapse or a Soviet Breakthrough.  If neither has happened by the Dec IV turn, this Phase no longer occurs.  
All in all, these rules work together very well with a minimum of effort and plenty of flavour, as do the brief rules on German Superiority and Major Soviet Successes.  The very last section to consider is the Fortress Stalingrad Supply Phase.  This can be declared by the German Player, if both hexes of Stalingrad are German occupied and these units are out of supply.  It brings with it a substantial level of extra rules and is cancelled if the German units in at least one Stalingrad hex regain normal supply and, of course, may recur if both hexes again are out of supply.  It is obviously highly historical and again strongly adds to the game's "feel."  Whether it is worth the extra complexity and rule commitment will, I think, be dependent on the individual players and I would suggest that players discuss its implementation.  I'd expect more experienced gamers to go for it, but less experienced might like to leave it out until they felt comfortable with the overall system.
Finally, there are the Scenarios which offer a very good range in both length and complexity.  Without doubt the Wintergewitter Scenario is truly "introductory", as the rule book says, aimed at getting to know the basic, underlying "Roads" system. 
The three shorter scenarios range from 3 to 7 turns and use a reduced section of the full map.
Operation Uranus - a 3 turn blast that sees the campaign kicking off, using part of the full map.  Be careful to note the reminder that you use the set up for the full campaign, except for those units whose hex placement is in red.  The rule book advises playing this, above all, to familiarise yourself with the rules that pertain especially to this game's situation and I would go along with this suggestion.  Its brevity allows you to learn and make mistakes and try it out again.
Operation Star and Gallop - seven turns.  This has the advantage again of fewer turns and units at their last gasp.  It also follows on from the fall of Stalingrad and so helps again to experience situation rules specific to this game without having to master the added depth of the Fortress Stalingrad rules.
Backhand Blow - 5 turns.  It too has the same advantages as Operation Star & Gallop and having encountered this in several games devoted wholly to this part of the war, I greatly relished having this to play as a scenario.  In my view a great bonus.
Finally, it's the main attraction, the full campaign game scenario:

On The Brink of Disaster.

Soviet forces poised to launch their envelopment

A substantial 17 turns.  Fairly modest on map counter presence at start, with plenty of reinforcements to follow for both sides.

Initial Soviet Set Up Forces

Inevitably the full campaign for me remains the major draw in any game, but it's always pleasing when there are several shorter scenarios, as here, which all provide a solid play session.

 The Origins of Surface -To-Air Guided Missile Technology German Flak Rockets and the Onset of the Cold War by James Mills   This is the mos...

The Origins of Surface -To-Air Guided Missile Technology by James Mills The Origins of Surface -To-Air Guided Missile Technology by James Mills

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


 The Origins of Surface -To-Air Guided Missile Technology

German Flak Rockets and the Onset of the Cold War


James Mills

  This is the most technical book that I have ever read from Casemate Publishers. It goes through the tentative steps that the UK and the US made toward SAMs (Surface-To-Air Missiles), before and during World War II. The real crux of the book is the Allied and Russian scouring of Germany after the war for technology and designs of the German SAM programs. Much like Operation Paperclip (the US grab for German scientists, whether they were war criminals or not), this is a story of who is able to grab who and what before another country finds it.

 To tell this story, the author takes us back from the end of the war to the German designs and testing that took place before then. As usual, with the German Wunderwaffen programs, it is a tale of too little and too late, which is a tremendous blessing for the Allied and Russian Air Forces. It shows how the Germans were going in so many directions at once. They were working on both guided and unguided munitions. 

 The main part of the book is taken up by the story of the UK and US attempts toward producing a SAM. Then it goes on to show how each of these nations combed Germany for scientists and technology from the German projects. The US Nike SAMs came out of the collaboration between the scientists. The book then shows how France also got into the race to find information. Then the author goes into his conclusions about this hidden part of history (until now). Next, there are an extensive number of Appendices which also includes a look at the Russian attempts to appropriate the knowledge for themselves. 

 This is not an easy book to read. That does not mean that it is not engrossing. It is much more for history readers that are also military tech lovers. This is not just a strict book of who did what and when they did it. There is a tremendous amount of 'how' that are in these pages.

 Thank you, Casemate Publishers, for allowing me to review this deep and interesting book. It tells a tale that needed to be added to the military history of World War II and its direct aftermath.


Book: The Origins of Surface -To-Air Guided Missile Technology: German Flak Rockets and the Onset of the Cold War

Author: James Mills

Publisher: Casemate Publishers

The Cruelest Month: Air War Over Arras, April 1917 by Against The Odds Magazine  The game that comes along with this 2020 Annual from Agains...

The Cruelest Month: Air War Over Arras, April 1917 by Against The Odds Magazine The Cruelest Month: Air War Over Arras, April 1917 by Against The Odds Magazine

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


The Cruelest Month: Air War Over Arras, April 1917


Against The Odds Magazine

 The game that comes along with this 2020 Annual from Against the Odds magazine is about 'Bloody April'. In a war that saw so many bloody months, April 1917 saw the Royal Flying Corps (it would not become the Royal Air Force until April 1st, 1918) almost bleed out. British pilots' lives were counted in hours and days during Bloody April. This being the Holiday Season, one is reminded of Snoopy and the Red Baron song. Unfortunately for the British, the lines in the song "Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more, the Bloody Red Baron was rollin' up the score", are quite apt for Bloody April, if not for the Richtofen himself.  

 This is what ATO has to say about the game:

"The average flying life of an RFC pilot in Arras in April was 18 hours in the air. Our whole picture-- from movies like "Dawn Patrol" or "Aces High" -- of young men going straight from flying school into combat (and straight into the ground shortly after) comes from this six-week period, preparing for and supporting the "spring offensive."

Now, Paul Rohrbaugh's The Cruelest Month looks at this struggle, with the focus primarily on-air operations and ground battle abstracted (something like he did in Chennault's First Fight.) As the British player, you will marshal your limited numbers of fighters to help secure the skies for 2-seaters that would be better suited to training planes. As the German player, you will employ your well-armed modern fighters against waves of RFC planes that simply keep coming, regardless of how many you shoot down."

This is what comes with the Annual 2020 issue:

Maps - One full color 22" x 34" hex mapsheet

Counters - 176 full color 5/8" die-cut counters

Air Displays - 2

Rules length - 16 pages

Charts and tables - 2 pages

Complexity - Medium

Playing time - Up to 3 to 4 hours

How challenging is it solitaire? - Average

Designer - Paul Rohrbaugh

Development - Steve Rawling

Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey

Very nicely done counters and map

 As usual, this issue of ATO is filled with excellent articles from all ages of military history. These are:


The Arras Campaign, 1917 

 by Paul Rohrbaugh

Appendix 1: Dramatis Personae 

Appendix 2: Aircraft of Bloody April 


Some Other Plane Stories 

Rules of Play for The Cruelest Month: Air War over Arras 1917

 by Paul Rohrbaugh

Rules of Play for Backlash! An Expansion for The Lash of the Turk

by Andy Nunez


What if Britain and France had won the Dardanelles Campaign? by Matthew Adams


The Holy League invades occupied Hungary, 1685-99 by Andy Nunez


These are from 'Backlash' an add-on for "Lash of the Turk'


 As with any issue of ATO, you get a huge dose of history and a well-designed game. The Annual issues give you more of a dose than the normal issues. The articles that come with any ATO issue, at least the ones I have read, are as well written as a military history book. They should be, because a lot of the article writers have written their own books.

 At the end of the article, The Cruelest Month, are two appendices. The first, Dramatis Personae, has bios for Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard (the father of the Royal Air Force), Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Empire's troops in France, General Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff, usually considered the brains of the Great General Staff for the second half of World War I, General Ludwig von Kalkenhausen, German general in charge of the defense of the Arras Front. Appendix 2 gives us the information on all of the aircraft on either side that fought the battle in the air. The next article, A Tale of Two Planes, is a deeper dive into some of the major aircraft from both sides and how they were used in Bloody April. 

Some of the two-part map

 Just so you understand, this is not a game of air-to-air combat above the fields around Arras. This game puts you in the general's seat of either side. Here is more information about the game:

"While losses in the air were puny compared to the thousands dying on the ground, those aerial actions had great impact on how things worked out on the ground. The Cruelest Month will give you a full selection of aerial operations, including balloon busting, ground attack, bombing, and the all-important photo-recon and artillery observation missions, plus the fighter dogfights that center around protecting or stopping all the others. You'll use a Air Battle Board for these fights, and your planes will interact with ground forces on a map of the Arras area.

On the ground, your gray-suited soldiers will face mines, tanks, and the newly adapted "creeping barrage," in trying to maintain your hold on key defense lines. Can you hold the line? For the British, your objective is not so focused on the big "breakthrough," but now working with the idea of biting off chunks of key landscape and holding it. Can you equal the magnificent Canadian assault on Vimy Ridge?"

English Air/Ground Display

 This is the game's Sequence of Play:

Random Event Phase

Airbase Construction Phase

Initiative Phase

Air Operations Phase

Ground Operations Phase

Supply Determination Phase

Regroup Phase

Allied reinforcement Phase

Victory Points Phase

 The victory levels are determined by subtracting the German VP total from the Allied VP total. The victory levels are:

19 or fewer VPs: German Victory

20-40 VPs: Draw

41 or more VPs: Allied victory (historic result)

 The victory points are received by either forcing your opponent to abort air missions or by losing air strength points. At the end of the game, you also get victory points for losing or gaining ground hexes, specifically for the Allies to take Vimy Ridge and parts of the Hindenburg Line or for the Germans to keep them in their control.

 The magazine itself is 53 pages. It comes with the articles listed above. It is its usual beautiful full color self. There is one full counter sheet for The Cruelest Month game. There is also a smaller counter sheet for use with the add on scenarios for ATO's earlier game, The Lash of the Turk. The counters for The Cruelest Month are 5/8" in size. The plane counters show an above view of each plane that is in that group. The counters are all very nicely done. The ground campaign counters are not little works of art like the plane ones. However, they are easily read and some, like the artillery, tanks, and balloons are made as well as the plane ones. There is an Airbase Display for each player. These are made of thin cardboard. You may want to copy them and use the printed sheets. The map is split into two separate sections. One is a map for the ground war and the operations of the air groups. The other contains the Air Battle Board for resolving aerial combats. Printed on the map are also the Turn Record Track, Game Record track, Random Events Table, and the Sequence of Play. All of the components are well done. Be careful when unfolding the map. I fat fingered it and ripped a small hole in it. Fortunately for me, where I damaged it has no bearing on the map's usefulness at all. 

German Air/Ground Display

  I very much like the game and its play. Please remember that you are not dogfighting separate planes but groups of them. This is an operational look at the air and ground war around Arras in 1917. If your play is bad enough you can call in reserves. However, like a lot of games, you will get penalized in victory points for doing so. The Allied player will also be penalized if there is clear weather, and he does not execute a bombing mission. This gives the German player a whopping +4 victory points. So, try to avoid this at all costs.

Another look at the counters

 This large annual edition is also filled with excellent information on other times and wars. The issue also comes with rules and counters for 'Backlash' a few scenarios to add to one of ATOs earlier games Lash of the Turk. The scenarios look interesting; however, I do not own that issue so I cannot give you a rundown of them and the game.

 Thank you, Against The Odds for letting me review this close look at Bloody April from a totally different view than the cockpit. 

 They also have a surprise for we grognards. ATO is doing a reprint of 'Stalingrad Verdun on the Volga' in an annual issue format. This game originally only came in a boxed version. It sold out incredibly fast and is now as rare as hen's teeth. This is what comes with the Ziplock version:

 Maps - One full color 17" x 44" hex mapsheet

Counters - 230+ full color 5/8" die-cut counters

Rules length - 24 pages

Charts and tables - 4 pages

Complexity - Medium

Playing time - Up to 3 to 4 hours

How challenging is it solitaire? - Average

Designer - Mikael Rinella

Development - Kevin Duke

Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey

   Just a few pics to wet your whistle.


Against the Odds Magazine:

The Cruelest Month: Air War over Arras, April 1917:

Stalingrad: Verdun on the Volga:



  Hall or Nothing Productions  This is a little information that Hall or Nothing Productions sent me. You will see they have a lot of RPGs a...

Hall or Nothing Productions Hall or Nothing Productions

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


 Hall or Nothing Productions

 This is a little information that Hall or Nothing Productions sent me. You will see they have a lot of RPGs and Historic games already published and a lot more planned. I will be reviewing their 1565, St. Elmo's Pay in a bit. 

Illustration from their upcoming 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

"We’re a passionate indie gaming studio based in the North of England. Since 2015 we have been developing and publishing immersive thematic games. Amazing artwork, achingly beautiful music, and award-winning game designs are our hallmarks. 

Our unique Fantasy Quest Games – Gloom, Shadows, and Call of Kilforth – deliver an unparalleled RPG fantasy tabletop experience in one sitting, including hundreds of remarkably unique cards to create luscious living worlds for bold adventurers to explore. Whereas our richly detailed and lovingly researched Historic Epic Battle System games breathe exhilarating life into critical conflicts throughout history offering slick war-gaming combined with the gorgeous aesthetics of modern, non-collectable card games.

And if you want to experience the apocalyptic, haunting beauty of the world’s end, look no further than our very first Veil Odyssey Game, the monochromatic masterpiece that is Veilwraith and our latest game in production, Kreel Manor: Citadel of Horrors, The Dungeon Crawl Card Game is a prequel to the award-winning Veilwraith and is an all new epic fantasy adventure in the Kilforth universe, for 1-3 cooperative players (up to 4 with expansion) where players become the legendary champions of bygone times, embarking on a doomed quest to save the world."

Hall or Nothing Productions:

Hall Or Nothing Productions - Tabletop Games, Board Games

Veilwraith video:

1565, St. Elmo's Pay video:

  The Siege of Malta by Worthington Publishing   The Knights Hospitallers, their actual name is ' Order of Knights of the Hospital of Sa...

The Siege of Malta 1565 by Worthington Publishing The Siege of Malta 1565 by Worthington Publishing

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


 The Siege of Malta


Worthington Publishing

 The Knights Hospitallers, their actual name is 'Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem' or in Latin if you prefer 'Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani', are probably the least well known out of the three main knightly orders of the Roman Catholic Church. Their well-known cousins, the 'Knights Templars' and to a lesser extent the 'Teutonic Knights', usually steal the limelight. The Knights Hospitallers were founded in Jerusalem after the First Crusade had won it back from the Muslims. They had been displaced with the other crusaders after the fall of Acre in 1291. They then had found themselves on Cyprus and after the fall of Cyprus on the Island of Rhodes. When Rhodes was conquered by the Ottomans in 1522 their next stop was Malta. Their rent for their lands was one Maltese Falcon a year on All Souls Day (November 1st). Unfortunately for Hollywood, it was an actual falcon and not a gem encrusted piece of art.

 This is the story of one of the greatest sieges of the Renaissance. The historical notes of the game tell us that the Turkish invasion of Malta was commanded by Mustafa Pasha and Piyale Pasha, the first a general the latter an admiral. It also tells us that the Turks had 40,000 troops with them and 380 ships. The Knights Hospitallers could count on the walls of their fortresses and around 6,000 men, with only around 500 of them being knights. The famous corsair Dragut also joined the Turks to help take the fortresses. The main part of the siege, as well as the game, centers on the attack and defense of the three fortresses: St. Elmo, St. Michael, and St. Angelo. You can see below that St. Elmo is separated from the other forts.

The game map

 "This is what Worthington Publishing has to say about the game:

Both sides have elite units that can affect battle results with die re-rolls.  These are limited so deciding when to use them is important.

The siege in 1565 was during the early days when gunpowder came into use.  Each side has very limited use of gunpowder for musketry which can help their odds of success.

The Turks also have limited gunpowder for artillery.  While in supply they can bombard the Malta forts.  The Turks also have a siege tower they can use.

Play solitaire as Muslims or Christians"

 This is what they have to say about the Great Sieges Series:

"Syracuse 414 BC - The Athenian army lays siege to the great city of Syracuse.

Malta 1565 - The Turks versus the Knights of Malta in the last battle of the Crusades at the dawn of gunpowder.

Quebec 1759 - The siege that won North America for the English.

The Great Sieges game series highlights command decisions for players against a solitaire game engine opponent. They have been designed for easy set up and quick game play. Game unit placement is shown on the game board and units are wooden markers representing troop and ship formations. 

Each game was developed for solitaire play. In 414BC Siege of Syracuse and 1759 Siege of Quebec there is also a two player version of the game.  Both sides require you to make great decisions based on good strategy, keep your wits about you when orders do not turn out well, and press on to victory.

All three games use a common set of rules for game play, but each game has its own set of unique rules related to specifics of those individual sieges."

Turkish Order Book

 This is what comes with the game:


Hard Mounted Game Board

2 sets of troop markers (one set per army)

2 sets of solitaire cards (one set per army)*Only 1 set of solitaire cards in 414BC Syracuse

Command Decision Cards

2 Field Order Books (one per army)

Rule Book

Custom plastic storage tray


Complexity: 3 of 10

Solitaire Suitability: 10 of 10

Playing Time: 30 to 60 minutes

Players: 1-2

Sample of Turkish Cards

 The components are more toward the utilitarian side of things compared to the arty hex and counter or Euro wargames we might see today. As far as the map goes, because there are only a few places to put your units, the map does not have to show terrain. It can also be smaller than usual for the same reason. The map is mostly light green and blue with the places you can put units coming in as dark green for the Muslims and white for the Hospitallers. It is a mounted map. I believe the units are made of wood and none of them are misshapen in any way. The cards are your standard wargame size cards. They come with a piece of artwork from the time on them. They are easy enough to read and understand. There are two Player Aids, called 'Order Books', one for the Turks and one for the Hospitallers. The Turkish player one is just in green and white with the Hospitaller one having a few more colors. They both come with slightly smaller writing on them than I would like. There is a map in the middle of the 'Orders' and a Sequence of Play on the back of both. The Rulebook is 12 pages in length and is in full color. The rules only take up nine pages and the other have Design Notes and Historical Notes on them. This is written in two columns and has the standard size rulebook type. The game does come with a nice little Battle Record pamphlet where you can record your playthroughs. The bottom of each page has a piece of artwork from the siege. I have reviewed two other of the designers, Maurice Suckling, games and these components are comparable. These games are meant for play and not aesthetics. 

Hospitaller Cards

  The games play out pretty simply. After all, Worthington Publishing has them listed as a three on the complexity chart. Play time is also listed as between 30 minutes to an hour. So, you can see that these are not the kind of wargames that take one player an hour to make one move. That is not to say that the game does not have depth or give you some immersion. It most certainly does. It is just the mechanics of playing are extremely streamlined. This is great for people who do not have dedicated wargame space. In a night of gaming, you could easily play three of four games all the way through. These Great Siege games are also meant to be played solo. The solo mode is not something that was tacked onto the games at the last minute. These games were built from the ground up to be an excellent choice for the solo game player. I believe that only the game in the Great Sieges series that you cannot play solo on either side is 414 BC Siege of Syracuse, (and no, you are not playing against the Orangemen). Worthington games has made a point of making a lot of these, I hate to say it, easy to learn and hard to master wargames. The way to victory is to drop your opponent's morale to zero. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. SELECT ORDER: select one of your available Orders
by placing the Order Used card on the order in the Order Book corresponding to the choice you make.

2. USE ADDITIONAL ACTION: decide if you want to use one Aggressive Commander Action (or, for the Knights, a Defiant Speech
Action). If so, place the appropriate Order Used card on that order too.
A. The use of an Aggressive Commander Action or Defiant Speech also refreshes all expended Orders, so remove any Order Used cards from the Order Book (except Knights’ Order 6: Launch Reinforcements, if it is not yet available). These orders become
available again.

3. EVENTS & SPECIAL EVENTS: reveal the top card of the Counter Orders deck and place it face up. Implement any effects
from the Event section of the card, or take them into account in any ensuing die rolls in the current turn. Then implement any effects from Special Events, if present on the card.

still proceeds, find the column on your issued Order that corresponds with the Counter Order from the side you are not controlling, then roll the white die, applying any modifiers, to calculate then apply the result. If an Aggressive Commander Action or Defiant Speech is played, roll the black die calculating results from the relevant table, then apply results.
A. Optionally, you may use your +/-1 ability (if you have any remaining) - your Musketry (for Turks) or Greek Fire (for Knights). Only one may be used per turn, and it may only be used on an Order. But you must decide the use of this ability before you roll, then apply results.
B. Optionally use your reroll ability (if you have any remaining) - your Janissaries (for Turks) or Elite Knights (for Knights). Only one may be used per turn, and it may only be used on an Order, then
reroll and apply results.

5. ORDER EXPENDED: once you have finished rolling for the current turn, flip the selected Order facedown. It cannot be selected again until refreshed.

6. Begin next turn.

7. Play stops immediately victory conditions have been

 I have been in awe about the siege of Malta since I was a child. I read The Great Siege of Malta by Ernle Bradford not too long after it was published in the 1960s. I make a habit of rereading it probably once every two years or so. Thank you, Worthington Publishing, for allowing me to review this great game about an incredible historical event. The next Worthington Publishing game I will be reviewing will be 414 BC Siege of Syracuse; I hope Alcibiades makes an entrance into it.


Worthington Publishing:

1565 Siege of Malta:

My review of Freeman's Farm:

My review of Chancellorsville 1863:

  The Maps of the Wilderness An Atlas of the Wilderness Campaign, Including all Cavalry Operations, May 2-6, 1864 by Bradley M. Gottfried  W...

The Maps of the Wilderness by Bradley M. Gottfried The Maps of the Wilderness by Bradley M. Gottfried

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


 The Maps of the Wilderness

An Atlas of the Wilderness Campaign, Including all Cavalry Operations, May 2-6, 1864


Bradley M. Gottfried

 We have all read about how Napoleon and Marshal Berthier would crawl over maps during their campaigns. I think possibly that image in my mind started a lifelong love of maps. I love to look at all maps but especially campaign and battle maps. I believe it gives me, and others, a much-needed visual representation of the histories we are reading.

 These books by Bradley M. Gottfried completely switches the program from what we military history readers are used to. Instead of the prose being the main part of the book, in this case the maps are the real headliner. The descriptions are not inferior; in fact, far from it. It is just we are finally given exact and easy to read and follow maps of a campaign or battle. This is in comparison to many very well written military histories that have two or three maps that look like they were drawn by a second grader. This is actually the fifth in this series of books by the author. I can easily recommend all of them to the reader. They are:

The Maps of Gettysburg

The Maps of First Bull Run

The Maps of Antietam

The Maps of Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns

 This book easily measures up to its elder brothers. The confusing and claustrophobic fighting of the Battle of the Wilderness is finally brought into the light of day. The books written about the battle are sometimes hard to follow because of the complete confusion on the part of the actual participants. They sometimes had no idea of where they were, let alone where the units on either side of them were at any given time. The painstakingly drawn maps clears up all of that confusion. 

 In conclusion, if you have any interest in the Battle of the Wilderness, or the American Civil War in general, this book is a must have for your library. While you are ordering it at Savas Beatie please take a look at the rest of the series.


Book: The Maps of the Wilderness

Author: Bradley M. Gottfried

Publisher: Savas Beatie

  Conquering the Valley Cross Keys/Port Republic by Tiny Battle Publishing  The Shenandoah Valley 1862 campaign raged by the forces under Ma...

Conquering the Valley Cross Keys/Port Republic by Tiny Battle Publishing Conquering the Valley Cross Keys/Port Republic by Tiny Battle Publishing

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


 Conquering the Valley Cross Keys/Port Republic


Tiny Battle Publishing

 The Shenandoah Valley 1862 campaign raged by the forces under Major General Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson had an immense impact on the American Civil War. Union Major General McClellan was poised to attack the Confederate forces by an amphibious landing on the Virginia Peninsula southeast of Richmond. McClellan, aided by Pinkerton, believed that he was outnumbered by the Confederate forces by as much as two to one. Jackson's campaign was to keep the Valley in Confederate hands and also to panic President Lincoln in Washington to draw troops away from McClellan. Jackson did his job admirably while at the end being outnumbered almost three to one. McClellan slowed his glacial pace toward Richmond while also writing almost daily to his superiors in Washington that he was surrounded by millions of Confederate troops. The game represents the last two battles of the Valley Campaign before Jackson marched to join the Confederate forces at Richmond. The Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic took place on June 8th and 9th of 1862.

 The game rules are one of the offshoots of Hermann Luttman's numerous designs for wargaming the Civil War (All hail King Hermann the first of his name). This is what Tiny Battle Publishing has to say about the game:

 "Following the release of The Hill of Death, Conquering the Valley is the second game in the Shattered Union series. Heavily influenced by 2022's Wargame of the Year, A Most Fearful Sacrifice, Herm Luttmann’s Shattered Union series is a new line of American Civil War wargames designed to be accessible to gamers of any experience level and playable in 3 hours.

Conquering the Valley covers the final two battles of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862. Jackson fights two Union armies, beats them both, and then heads off to Richmond for “The Seven Days”. 

Players can fight each battle separately or combine both as they historically were fought. The game also includes an interesting “What If” scenario; a Union cavalry force captured a key bridge but they failed to burn it and thereby cut Jackson off from his supply train. In the “What If” scenario, those Union troopers actually burn the bridge and force Jackson to fight Fremont’s army but Jackson has limited ammunition. In the end though, the historic game comes down to fighting it out for the Union guns at “The Coaling”. If Jackson can capture the Union artillery at Port Republic, he has won the campaign and can head towards Richmond!"

Illustration of the Battle of Cross Keys

  This is what comes with the game:

2 – Maps each 17" x 22"

189 – Counters 

39 – Playing Cards

Player Aid

1 – Series Rulebook

1 – Game Module Rulebook

5 – Six-Sided Dice (Red, White, Black, Blue and Gray)

A box to stuff it in

Designed by Claude Templeton Whalen 

Art by Jose R. Faura 

Number of Players: 2 (but solo friendly) 

Ages: 9 and up (potential choking hazard for anyone under 9 or hungry adults ) 

Playing Time: 2 hours 53 minutes (except if you play both battles back to back) 

 The battlefield maps are double-sided. The colors are somewhat muted, but you can clearly see the terrain and elevation. Their biggest claim to fame is that the hexes are 1" in size. The counters are well done with a picture of the troop type on each counter. The number on the bottom left is the unit's Strength Point value. The one on the bottom right is the unit's Cohesion Rating. Artillery units can be either Rifled (R), Smoothbore (S), or Mixed (M). The counters come in at 3/4" size. The game also has an 11"x 17" Players Aid that on one side has the CRT, Terrain, and other charts. The flipside has the Sequence of Play and rules etc. The game can pretty much be played by just looking at it without needing the Rulebooks. As I mentioned, the game materials are mostly in muted colors. However, I assume the art director decided to break free on the CRT and Terrain Chart side which is awash with color. It does not hinder the reading of it; on the contrary, it makes it easier to read and see what you are looking for. It just surprised me compared to the rest of the materials. The game, like most series games, comes with two Rulebooks. One is for the Series and the other for the Conquering the Valley game itself. The Series Rulebook is only 15 pages long. It is printed in double columns and the type is on the small size. It has only one example of play that is pictured; all of the rest are just written. However, there are a lot of them to help the player. This games Rulebook is only 11 pages in length and most of that is taken up by the scenario setups and individual rules. The game comes with four scenarios with the last one being a 'campaign' game of playing both battles. The 39 cards are used for unit activation, among other things. There are also Event Cards, Commander-In-Chief Cards, and Wild Cards The activation cards come with a nice ink drawing of some of the commanders. 

 The components measure up to the standard of the other Tiny Battle Publishing games I have played. About the only thing one could gripe about is the thinness of the counters. I do not remember the other games' counters and unfortunately, I have all of my games packed up for a move. It is possible the counters are the same thickness as in other games. They are certainly not thin enough to be detrimental to the longevity of the game.

Illustration of the Battle of Port Republic

  As mentioned, the game and its ruleset are an offshoot from the massive wargaming hit, 'A Most Fearful Sacrifice' from Hermann Luttmann. I for one, would look at buying a game of Tiddlywinks if Mr. Luttmann's name appeared on the rules. So, I was very familiar with his varied rule systems. I also reviewed the other game in the Shattered Union System: 'The Hill of Death', link below. There are only about three and a half pages of rules that pertain just to this game, and already knowing the system made it that much easier. This series is also supposed to be light on the rules and quick playing. The games that Tiny Battle Publishing puts forth are in direct contrast to its older brother Flying Pig Games. Yaah! magazine is the inhouse magazine for both of the companies' games. It comes with in-depth looks at the games and new scenarios or changes to existing scenarios. 

  The game comes as exactly advertised. Light on the rules and quick and easy to play. This comes without losing the historical flavor or play of the games. It does not make you think that these are cookie cutter rules where you could just put in a counter of panzers, and it would play the same. The cards used in the game are a refinement of the tried-and-true chit pull system of gaming. It allows the designer so much more latitude in what can be presented to the player for and against him. So, instead of just doing a cup pull to find out what units can move you can vary the number of units that can move etc., the designer can almost design a completely different battle for the player but still be in the realm of historical possibilities. 

 The Battle of Port Republic (Jackson Attacks scenario) is a hard one for the Confederates to get a win. First of all, it is only nine turns long. You have almost a two to one advantage in numbers playing the Confederates but that is because of reinforcements. At the beginning of the battle, it is about even. The South River ford causes the main problem for the Confederates because high rain has made the ford very hard to get troops through. So, as the Confederates you have a numerical advantage but because of the ford can you get your troops to where they are needed in time? Between the four scenarios I think it is my favorite because the cards, friction of war, make it so hard to make a plan and go with it. Although, because of the cards it really seems that each battle you play in the system is completely different than the last one. My second favorite scenario is Campbell Burns the Bridge. 

 There are a total of four scenarios. They are:

Ewell Does His Job - Historic Cross Keys

Jackson Attacks - Historic Port Republic

Campbell Burns the Bridge - Cross Keys What if

Two Days in June - Both Cross Keys and Port Republic

 Thank you, Tiny Battle Publishing, for letting me review another great game in your stable. With the rules and the small number of counters, this is a great game for anyone, but especially for gamers who do not have a dedicated gaming space. 


Tiny Battle Publishing:

Conquering the Valley:

My review of The Hill of Death:

The Hill of Death: Champion Hill by Tiny Battle Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things