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  Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg and DLC Downfall by Matrix/Slitherine Games  This is the final Combat Mission game in the series, and its ...

Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg and DLC Downfall by Matrix/Slitherine Games Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg and DLC Downfall by Matrix/Slitherine Games

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


 Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg and DLC Downfall


Matrix/Slitherine Games

 This is the final Combat Mission game in the series, and its release will also coincide with the release of a DLC for Final Blitzkrieg. The Combat Mission series is one that has been one of, if not the, best tactical games on the PC for a long time. The different games have spanned the time from World War II to the present. 

 This is what Matrix/Slitherine Games has to say about the dual release:

"Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg (CMFB) follows the Western Allies through the battles along Germany's border and into the heart of the Reich itself. The game covers the October 1944 through January 1945 timeframe with a focus on the American sector of the Battle of the Bulge.

The Sturmtiger

Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg allows you to revisit the famous battlefields along the German border, with the wintery Battle of the Bulge as its main focus. It was a time and place where the Wehrmacht was still highly capable at the tactical level, yet fairly evenly matched against the American forces arrayed against it. The mix of harsh weather in an unforgiving rugged environment ensured the fighting was challenging for both sides.

Two expansive campaigns offer two very different experiences. One focuses on American forces pushing into Aachen, the first major German city to fall into Allied hands. The other portrays the famous drive of Kampfgruppe Peiper deep into the American lines. Also included are one training campaign, 25 standalone scenarios, and multitudes of Quick Battle maps that will test your tactical acumen and give you easy access to the full range of weather, terrain, and forces from this period and place in time.

Close-up shot of a German 88


Tactical warfare at battalion and below scale in a true 3D environment

Command individual vehicles, teams, and squads

Expansive simulation of "soft factors" such as Morale, Experience, and Leadership

Innovative systems portraying Fog of War, Spotting, Line of Sight, Command & Control, and Objectives

Unmatched realistic physics, ballistics, and battlefield effects

Fight in a wide range of weather and lighting conditions, all of which realistically impact fighting abilities

Unique hybrid system for RealTime or WeGo (turn based) play

Full featured Editor for maps, scenarios, and campaigns

Quick Battle system sets up deliberate or randomized battles based on player specifications

Single player and head to head play, including Play By Email (PBEM)

The final array of German heavy armor makes its first appearance in Combat Mission

American forces also have much improved armor, including the M36 tank destroyer

Organizational changes in the formations on both sides give even the most experienced CM player new tactical challenges and opportunities

The winter weather and forested terrain set the tactical experience apart from all other CM games

Three Regions within the game help set the mood with Dutch, French, and German accents

Expansive maps with 1m x 1m resolution allow for short and long range action across complex terrain

Buildings have explicitly simulated doors, windows, and floors

Weather and ground condition modelling systems allow for everything from dry sunny days to muddy stormy nights, with visibility and mobility dynamically affected by the conditions. Some Combat Mission games include the full range of Winter, Spring, and Fall weather as well

Line of Sight and Line of Fire are separately calculated, which means sometimes you can see something you can't shoot and sometimes you can shoot at things you can't see

Soldier posture (prone, kneeling, standing) affects everything including spotting, cover, and ability to engage enemies

The way a nation organizes its units has a huge impact on how they perform in combat, therefore great pains are taken to accurately portray formations as they are in real life for a particular point in time

Lighting affects combat in no small way in real life as well as in the game. The correct lighting conditions are simulated based on time of day, time of year, and weather."

Allied Forces 

 They are also having a sale right now on the other Combat Mission games:

The Matrix team is thrilled to inform you that this week, from January 15th to January 22nd, our entire franchise Combat Mission will be participating in the Midweek Madness Sale, off up to 50%. For example, you can now find Fortress Italy, Shock Force 2 or Battle for Normandy at half price.

Matrix/Slitherine Games:

Welcome to Matrix Games

Combat Mission sale:

Games on Sale - Matrix Games

  Strategy & Tactics #340 by Decision Games and Strategy & Tactics Press   The French & Indian War was really the fourth war bet...

Strategy & Tactics #340 by Decision Games and Strategy & Tactics Press Strategy & Tactics #340 by Decision Games and Strategy & Tactics Press

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


 Strategy & Tactics #340


Decision Games and Strategy & Tactics Press

  The French & Indian War was really the fourth war between Britain and France over the new continent. It is also the name given to the North American part of the Seven Years War. These are the wars, and their dates, fought on the North American continent:

King William's War 1688-1697 - Known as the War of the Grand Alliance in Europe

Queen Anne's War 1702-1713 - Known as The War of the Spanish Succession in Europe

King George's War 1744-1748 - Known as The War of the Austrian Succession in Europe

The French & Indian War 1754-1763 Known as the Seven Years War in Europe

 So, you can see there was a large history of warfare between the colonial powers before the last war for supremacy took place. In actuality, France really had no chance. The British colonies had a population of over a million in 1750. The French colony in Canada had a population of just over 50,000. With that disparity of numbers, it is pretty amazing that the French were able to battle that long for the continent. 

 It seems at times that the first thing that one of Noah's children did after landfall was to start printing Strategy & Tactics magazine. It was a bit heftier then and was written in Cuneiform but if you can find an old copy you will see that the format hasn't changed that much.

Part of the map for the Battle of Lake George 1755

 The articles for this issue are:

Decisive Battles of the French & Indian War by Joseph Miranda

Timur's 1398 Invasion of India and Sack of Delhi by Cam Rea

Goose Green - The Falklands 1982 by Andrew Mulholland

US Armor in the Philippines: 1941-42 by Russell Moore

 The usual departments are listed here:

On Design by Joseph Miranda

Work in Progress: Carolingian Twilight

The Russian Prewar Experience by Dave Schroeder

Did You Know? by Joseph Miranda


 Iranian Drones in Venezuela by Javier Romero Munoz

 The Emerging Russo-Turkish Axis by Andrew Mulholland

 Cold War Weapons in the Russo-Ukraine War by Gilberto Villahermosa

 Lightning Carriers in the Indo-Pacific by Patrick S. Baker

For Your Information

 The 1946 Azerbaijan Crisis by Vernie Liebl

 The First Arab Siege of Constantinople, 674 -78 by Cam Rea

 Long Rifles in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans by Arnold Blumberg

 The Renault FT-17 Tank by Maciej Jonasz

Media Reviews: 

 Rome & Parthia, Empires at War Ventidius, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War 40-20 BC by Gareth Sampson and published by Pen & Sword reviewed by John D. Burtt

 It always happens when I get an issue of S & T that they print an article that interests me even more than my interest in the main article. The French & Indian War really interests me and always has. However, the life and reign of Timur is another bit of history that I have always tried to read everything I could get my hands on. The Falklands article takes a different than usual approach to the Goose Green Battle. As always, each page has something to make you think about or get interested in. 


 From Sir William Johnson's early victory in the war, to the penultimate Battle of Quebec, where both Wolfe and Montcalm died, along with the Battle for Fort Oswego in 1756. We have a triple dose of grand tactical battles for the French & Indian War to choose from.

 The game scale is 50-100 yards for each hex. Each strength point equals from 40-150 men. The artillery units equal from 2-6 guns. Each game turn represents 10 minutes to one hour. Both of the above vary due to the different scenario sizes.

The map is the standard 22" x 34". The map is split into three sections. The largest is the Battle of Quebec part. Next in size is the Battle of Fort George followed by the smaller Fort Oswego map. The hexes are nice and large. The nature of the terrain is mostly woods and clear hexes with the added fortification lines. The map is a well-done representation of the areas. The counters seem huge at 5/8" for a magazine game. They are also some of the best looking, if not the best, counters I have seen from S & T. The leader counters have small portraits on them. The counters show these units:

Line Infantry

Light Infantry

Grenadier Infantry


Militia Infantry 


Supply Trains

 There are also counters for the different tactics that can be used by each side. These are used in the 'Special Tactics' of the Optional Rules. 



Bayonet Attack


Forced March

 Each scenario has its own victory conditions. The French and British forces in each battle have a Demoralization Level. The different scenarios have conditions that raise each side's demoralization level. After that level is reached one of the effects are that disordered units cannot rally. The Special Tactics cannot be used on a side that has reached its demoralization level. The different units all have their Combat Factor, Movement Allowance, and Range Factor (if the unit is artillery). Other than some bells and whistles the games rules are pretty standard for this period of warfare. 

 These are some nice small engagements with a minimal of counters and small map footprints. They are a good choice of battles from the war. Players should be able to play a few games easily on game night. Thank you, S & T, for allowing me to review another of your excellent issues.  


S & T Press

S & T #340


  They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games    This game, or actually games, has done exactly what I love about wargaming. It ...

They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875 by Cadet Games

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


 They Were Soldiers and Dak To - Hill 875


Cadet Games

 This game, or actually games, has done exactly what I love about wargaming. It has presented me with a piece of history that I know little about. So, naturally I had to find books about the two battles. I knew some about the Battle of The Ia Drang Valley, as it was the first time that a group of U.S. soldiers were used in Vietnam en masse and not just as trainers or Green Berets. I had never watched the film 'We Were Soldiers' either. I know, shame on me. I knew next to nothing about the Battle for Hill 875. The way I look at it is you cannot judge a historical wargame without knowing the true details about the battle or campaign.

 Cadet Games gives you both battles inside the box. Let us look at the historical synopsis from Cadet Games:

"At 10:48 A.M. on the morning of November 14th, 1965, the first 80 soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry landed in a small clearing at the foot of the Chu Pong Massif in central Vietnam near the Cambodian border.  The Americans had landed in the middle of the base area for an entire North Vietnamese division, and were almost immediately attacked from multiple sides of their small landing zone - called ‘LZ X-Ray’.

The battle raged over the next several days, with high losses on both sides.  In the end, the Americans had proved their new airmobility tactics and had inflicted high losses on the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers they faced.  The NVA had also learned how to fight the Americans - and had inflicted serious losses on a high-tech superpower enemy by using classic light infantry tactics with only a fraction of the firepower available to the Americans.

This game challenges the players to re-fight the first day or so of that battle - the critical time when the NVA forces had the chance to overwhelm the Americans and overrun the landing zone.  Can you, as the U.S. player, hold your ground and repeat history?  Or will the NVA player triumph and overwhelm the perimeter - cutting the Americans off from supply and reinforcement?  Get ready to re-live or re-write history in the battle for LZ-Xray!

At 09:43 A.M. on the morning of November 19th, 1967, the lead platoons of the 2/503rd Airborne Infantry began advancing south up the north face of hill 875 in the central highlands of Vietnam near Cambodia.  The Americans, just 330 strong, expected to face a company of the NVA.  The pre-assault bombardment by aircraft and artillery had created much deadfall, craters and holes in the thick jungle.

The battle that followed became one of the bloodiest in the Vietnam War.  The NVA had been expecting the Americans and had a plan of their own.  The 2/503rd was nearly wiped out but was quickly reinforced by their 4th battalion.  The battle for the hilltop raged for days with serious losses on both sides.  In the end, the Americans took the hill - but the NVA had slipped away with many of their soldiers to fight again."

Map for the Ia Drang Battle

 So, both battles have the U.S. player definitely on the backfoot. Your job as the U.S. is to survive the onslaughts. If playing as the Vietnamese, you must try and destroy the U.S. units without using up all of your troops to do so. 

 This is what comes with the game:

32 NVA And Vietcong Soldiers
20 U.S. Cavalry Troopers
2 105mm Howitzers
3 Huey Helicopters
2 A1 Skyraiders
1 Mortar
50 Number Markers
40 NVA Unit Markers
40 Wounded Markers
30 NVA Markers
100 Gray Chips
40 White Chips
23 U.S. Unit Markers
30 Bright Green Chips
50 Olive Drab Chips
20 Green Chips
5 Downed Huey Markers
78 Game Cards
10 Fire Mission Markers
2-Sided Mounted Map
1 Rulebook
1 Battleboard
1 NVA Reinforcement Card With Hidden Unit Boxes
1 Cavalry Reinforcement Card
1 Fire Support Layout
2 Status Markers
1 Initiative Marker
1 Game Turn Marker
2 Landing/Take Off Hex Markers
15 Airborne Unit Markers
2 NVA AAA Unit Markers
2 NVA Mortar Unit Markers
10 NVA Bunker Markers
1 Spooky Marker

 This is quite the list!

 The map is mounted and double-sided. The maps are very nicely done and really show off the terrain you have to deal with. Both Maps show a smaller area than you might have thought. The scenarios for the battles are very early in each battle and only show the part of the terrain that matches with the beginning of both battles. Think of it as a map of one of the fortified positions of Dien Bien Phu and not the entire valley. I cannot go over all of the game's components separately or this would be one very long review. All of the plastic soldiers and counters etc. are manufactured to a very high degree of workmanship. As I mentioned in my last Cadet Games review, if you do get soldiers or planes that are a bit bent, do not sweat it. Just put them in some hot water and they can be fixed into their original positions. One thing that is great for we grognards that are getting older is that all of the components are large. You will not have to fiddle with 1/2" counters in these games. The game comes with two rulebooks. One is for the Battle of Ia Drang Valley (and is the main rulebook for the games). The other is for the Battle of Dak To Hill 875. The Ia Drang Rulebook is twenty-three pages long, while the one for Dak To is just eleven pages. They are in full color and have some illustrations of the rules inside. The components, maps, and Rulebooks are definitely up the level of the other Cadet Games wargame that I reviewed 'Nguyen Hue '72, The 1972 Easter Offensive in Vietnam'.

 The different colored 'chips' to the side of the map are used underneath the plastic soldiers to show the unit's strength. A full-strength unit of either side has 7 'steps' and thirty-five soldiers. It is an easy and simple way to keep track of your units' strength points. 
Everything that was encountered by either side in the battle is included. There are NVA bunkers, anti-aircraft, and mortar units. The U.S. has Huey helicopters and howitzers. These are just a few of the units that you are capable of using in the game. 

 Victory is determined in Ia Drang by the U.S. casualties taken. The smaller the number of casualties means a U.S. victory. In Dak To Hill 875, the NVA player has to eliminate the U.S. soldiers and make sure none are on the top of Hill 875 at the end of the game. The U.S. wins even if they have a wounded unit on the top of Hill 875.

  The other game from Cadet Games that I reviewed was a strategic one encompassing the whole of South Vietnam. The rules for this game are not just leveled down compared to it. The Sequence of Play, movement, and combat have all been designed for a tactical game. The one thing U.S. players have to keep in mind is that neither of these battles shows off the immense resources that the U.S. had during the war. These are both very small action knife fights. In every hex toward your goal might lie an ambush. The NVA player in Dak To Hill 875 can take as many casualties as are needed to reach your goal. As long as you have one unit left and the U.S. has none you are king of the hill.
 Both of these battles, as has been shown, are very different from the ones in documentaries. The U.S. player has a very minimal amount of air and artillery to keep the NVA at bay. I am as impressed by this game's rules and play as I was by the Cadet Games strategic game I reviewed. The games have short rulebooks and are easy to learn but still have a lot of depth for the player to revel in.

 Thank you, Cadet Games, for allowing me to review another great product from your stable. Wargamers, and especially grognards, should look past the small plastic soldiers etc. to see the real wargame underneath. These games are not Axis and Allies clones.


Cadet games:

They Were Soldiers, and Dak To Hill 875:

My review of:

  Red Blitz An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games   Flying Pig Games should have really used hog ...

Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games Red Blitz an Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition by Flying Pig Games

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


 Red Blitz

An Expansion for Old School Tactical Volume 1 Second Edition


Flying Pig Games

 Flying Pig Games should have really used hog instead of pig for its flying porcine. Their games are enormous with massive maps that come with 1" hexes. The counters come in two sizes. The armored vehicles are 7/8" and the soldier, etc. ones at 3/4".

 This is what Flying Pig Games has to say about Red Blitz:

"In the vein of Old School Tactical Vol 2's Phantom Division we present Red Blitz. This boxed expansion will add more scenarios that occur during the vicious fighting of Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944.

Specifically, there are 6 challenging new scenarios, and an extended battle to be gamed on Vol I's Map 1. The extended battle is a multi-part legacy scenario, where the day's gains remain in your hands and reinforcements are fed into the battle. A running score is kept and the winning side is determined at the end of all the rounds.  

The "one-off" scenarios are fought on 4 new pocket maps, depicting summer and winter terrain. Additionally, Red Blitz presents new combatants, including the SU-76M, SU-85, OT-34, PT34, ISU-152, IS-2, StuH-42 and the Nashorn."

Red Blitz Includes:

4 new 11" x 17" game maps (4 x summer and 4 x winter).
A playbook with 6 new scenarios and a separate, new campaign.
A sheet of gorgeous counters, including--but not limited to-- the new units cited above.
A box to keep everything safe and warm.
This is an expansion. You must own Old School Tactical Vol I 2nd Edition to play.

 The expansions maps are up to Flying Pig Games usual beauty and usefulness. They are paper maps and not mounted. To me it is not big deal. I just break out the plexiglass. Some people may feel differently. The Maps are 'Pocket Maps' numbers four through seven. The Maps are identical on both sides except for one side is summer and one is winter. The counters are just as huge and little works of art like all of the Flying Pig Games I have seen. The vehicle/weapon cards are also up to the same high standards. There are four German cards and six Soviet ones. The Soviet player gets some monster tanks (IS 2, and ISU 152) along with a flamethrower T-34 and a mine sweeping one. The Playbook is fourteen pages long. It is in full color and has large type that is easy to read. All but one page is devoted to the new scenarios. The expansion's components are all comparable to the ones you get with the main games. 

 Once again, Flying Pig Games has given us a very nice expansion to one of their core games. To play the scenarios in Red Blitz you need to either have a copy of Old School Tactical Volume I 2nd Edition or the 2nd Edition Upgrade for the original Old School Tactical. The scenarios will also need some of the counters from the main game. The new maps and units, especially the units, bring a great amount of added value to the base game. Thank you, Flying Pig Games for allowing me to review this expansion. 

 If you have not looked at Hermann Luttmann's magnum opus 'A Most Fearful Sacrifice' game about the Battle of Gettysburg, you owe yourself to take a look. Here is my review of it:


Flying Pig Games:

Flying Pig Games Red Blitz:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3 The Solomon Islands by GMT Games  The South Pacific Islands are some of the most beautiful and desirable pla...

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands by GMT Games

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


The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3

The Solomon Islands


GMT Games

 The South Pacific Islands are some of the most beautiful and desirable places to live on earth. They can also be one of the most inhospitable places that you would want to be in. Heat, humidity, and some of the most impenetrable jungles are present on a lot of the islands. Of course, the soldiers had to do their fighting on the latter and not the former. It was a campaign where your uniform rotted while you were wearing it. These islands also had their fair share of nasty critters, like poisonous snakes and crocodilians. The Japanese and Allied soldiers that had to fight on these islands considered the climate and terrain as much of an enemy as each other. Once the Allied forces decided on the 'island hopping' strategy, many Japanese soldiers were left to starve to death. The Allied command of the air, in the latter stages of the campaign, sometimes led the Japanese to cannibalism while they were still fighting the Allied troops. The US Marines were always knee deep in many of these battles. However, the US Army and its Allies also had to fight in these green patches of hell on earth. The sheer size and mileage of the campaign is breathtaking. For most airmen, their flights during World War II were measured in hundreds of miles. In this campaign it could be sometimes measured in a thousand or more one way.

 The Pacific Theater in World War II has had many games devoted to the full campaign and smaller parts of it. These are usually strategic in view or based on the separate campaigns. Most of the tactical level games are based on the naval war.  There are not too many that are tactical that are based solely on the island battles. One would assume that some grognards are not interested in being the hunkered down Japanese in most of these battles. With this game we have the early battles of 1942-1943, with one scenario from 1944. This is mostly before the Japanese would dig in and dare the Allied forces to take their defenses. So, let us go back to the years where the air would be rent with the yells of Banzai (literal translation 'may the Emperor live for 10,000 years). Notice it is not Bonsai, a small shrub or tree.

American Counters

 This is a blurb from GMT Games on The Solomons: The Last Hundred Yards:

"The Last Hundred Yards Vol. 3: The Solomon Islands is the third game in the Last Hundred Yards Series. This game focuses on the vicious and brutal Solomons Campaign, including actions to control the islands of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and New Georgia.

When you play the Solomon Islands Campaign missions, you will experience some of the fiercest small unit actions in the Pacific Theater. The game will focus on actions involving the 1st (The Old Breed) and 3rd (Fighting Third) Marine Divisions, as well as the Army’s 25th Infantry Division—the unit that finally drove the Japanese off the island, earning them the nickname “Tropic Lightning.”

Take to the jungles of Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division as they begin the first ground offensive of the war. Landed onto Guadalcanal and with intermittent naval support as the struggle for naval supremacy raged offshore, the Marines fought tooth and nail to secure their small foothold around Henderson Airfield. They fought against Japanese Reinforcements coming from all over the South Pacific area. Engage in bitter jungle fighting with the 3rd Marine Division as they attempt to hold and expand the beachhead on Bougainville Island against the Imperial Japanese 6th Infantry Division.

Finally, serve with the 25th Infantry Division’s famed 27th Regiment, the “Wolfhounds,” as they try to reduce Japanese positions on Guadalcanal’s Galloping Horse Ridge (an action that is portrayed in the movie “The Thin Red Line”). You will also fight with the Wolfhounds in the jungle around Munda Point for the airfield on New Georgia. Each of these actions involved tense jungle warfare and the routing out of fanatical Japanese units from hidden bunkers and pillboxes. You will understand the nerve-racking frustration of clearing an enemy position, only to have infiltrators attack you yet again from a different direction, at night!"

Japanese Counters +

 This is what comes with the game:

4 double-sided geomorphic maps (8 total)

4 full-size counter sheets

1 half-size counter sheet

1 full-color Rules booklet

1 full-color Playbook

5 Mission Cards (10 missions)

2 Combat/Terrain Charts

1 Game Turn Track

4 10-sided Dice

Assorted Counters

  "How do I love thee?" Let me look at your counters. I am pretty sure that Mrs. Browning would not approve, but it seems appropriate for our beloved hobby.

 The game comes with four two-sided hard stock maps. This means you get a total of eight maps in total. The maps are numbered instead of lettered as in most games I have played. The colors on the maps are a bit muted, but they work just fine with the dank and dark areas that they represent. The hexes are 1 1/4" in size. This is really big for most wargame hexes. Each hex represents 50 yards across. The only thing that put me on edge with the maps is that they come with terrain height lines, with some of the hexes being at multiple height. I will explain later how the game deals with this in the rules. The counters are nicely done. They are also large at 3/4". The numbers on them that you need to resolve combat etc. are large enough. The numbers and letters that are used for setup are small. Each counter that has a gun or an armored vehicle has its actual name underneath it. Those are very small. The pictures on them are well done, so that if you know anything about WWII weapons, you will have no need of trying to read the names beneath. The counters are somewhat muted also to fit in with the maps. Setup for the units is almost always by Company or Platoon. As I mentioned, those numbers are small but still readable. 

 The Series Rulebook v2.0 is thirty-nine pages in length. It is also in full color. There is a two and one-half page Index included as well. I love when companies add that in. As this is the third iteration of the Last Hundred Yards games the rules are clear to me. The only part I had to go over a few times is devoted to the use of mortars in the games. The designer has tried very hard to mimic their use in real battles. That is why those rules are more involved than others. The Playbook is simply amazing. It is thirty-six pages in length. The first twelve pages show full color examples of most of the rules in the game. This part made even a dolt like me understand any rule that had some nuance to it. From page thirteen to twenty-seven there is a play example of four full turns. If the first part of the Playbook didn't help you to 'get it' these certainly will. The last pages of the Playbook are the Designer Notes. These are a full nine pages in length. Once again, this is incredibly in depth. It is almost like the designer, Mike Denson, invited you over for coffee and you talked at length about the game and his design decisions. 

 There are five double-sided Mission Player Aids. These are made of hard stock and have a picture of the map that you use with that scenario. That map picture also shows you north (don't laugh I have seen maps that didn't), and what sides your troop consider home territory. Being double-sided, this gives you a total of ten missions. The next two Player Aids (one for each player) are a four-page fold-out that have all of the charts and tables for resolving all of the combat etc. They also have the terrain effect table on one page. The last Player Aid is a fold out; this has these on it:

Casualty Track

Random Event Table

Time Track

Fate Table

Coordination Table

Time Lapse

Mortar Support

Sequence of Play

 This is the Sequence of Play:

"I. Initiative Phase: Both players make a die roll. The player having
the Initiative on the previous game turn applies their Initiative die
roll modifier, if applicable, to the Initiative die roll [each mission lists the Initiative die roll modifiers for each player.] The player with the higher modified die roll wins the Initiative and becomes the active player. The losing player is the non-active player. In the case of ties, the Axis player wins the Initiative if the modified die roll is odd, while the Allied player wins the Initiative if the modified die roll is even. The Initiative marker is adjusted on the Game Tracks player-aid card to reflect the side that won the Initiative. A player without a Platoon Leader or an AFV in play at the end of the Initiative Phase — and after any Random Event results — automatically forfeits the Initiative to the other player. If neither player has a Platoon Leader or AFV in play, play proceeds to III. Fire Resolution Phase. In all cases, if the unmodified Initiative die roll is 1 or 10, that player must consult the Random Event Table on the Game Tracks player aid [18.0].

II. Activation Phase: The active player conducts Actions with units
of friendly activated platoon(s) [7.0], followed by both players
conducting Reactions [8.0]. Units of an activated platoon without
a Platoon Leader in play are restricted in their Actions [].
Once all platoon Activations and Reactions have been completed,
play proceeds to the Fire Resolution Phase.

III. Fire Resolution Phase: Fire attacks are resolved in any order.
Each DRM marker in play represents a single Fire attack. (Fire attack die rolls are based on the DRM markers in the hex at the beginning of the Fire Resolution Phase, even if players find an error was made when the DRM marker was originally placed.)

IV. Assault Resolution Phase: The active player determines the order
in which assaults are resolved [14.0].

V. Mortar Fire Adjustment Phase
1. Remove MDRM, Smoke, and Illumination markers.
2. Determine Mortar Recovery [11.4.8].
3. Forward Observers (FOs) that elect not to extend, or are currently
on their Final side, or in a hex without a friendly unit, are removed
— along with the corresponding Primary Impact marker — and
placed in the Mortar Support Pending Box on the Game Tracks
player-aid card.
4. Conduct Mortar Fire Extensions [11.4.9].

VI. Determine Time Lapse: The active player makes a die roll on
the Time Lapse Table to determine the Time Lapse (in minutes) and
adjusts the time on the Time Lapse Track accordingly.

VII. Clean Up Phase
1. Remove Overwatch and Motion markers from all vehicles that
did not conduct an action during the game turn.
2. Place returning Platoon Leaders [].
3. Recombine squads [10.3.3].
4. Conceal any units not in LOS of an enemy unit.
5. Reset counter orientation and record earned Promotion Points
6. Check whether the Mission Objective or Victory Conditions have
been met."

 It is the designer's contention that all battle is first and foremost confusing to the participants, especially at the tactical level. Many games try to take this into account, but others give you 'God mode' like powers to change your units mission and orders on a dime. As Mr. Denson writes in the Designer Notes "This has always bothered me about tactical level games, and one of the goals of LHY is to at least give the 'eye in the sky' cataracts." In this I believe that the design has done exactly what they started out to do. 

 The next important difference of this game to others is the 'Time Lapse System'. The game does not actually have game turns in the usual sense. In most games you will see each turn listed as 'X' amount of time as in fifteen minutes etc. After the turn is done you actually roll a die to see how much time has elapsed. This is meant to put the players on the proverbial hot seat. The amount of time it takes a player to complete their goals is added to their final score. So, dawdling is not encouraged. The only trick to this is that you have to roll the die at the end of each turn to find out how much time has passed. This could be anywhere from two to five minutes. This is to simulate the one factor that is completely out of your hands, which is the time it will take your units to do any action. To add to this, if a player rolls a one or a ten for initiative, they must consult the Random Events Table. If the player rolls a one, they are allowed to remove a concealment marker from an enemy unit that is five hexes away and in the LOS of a friendly unit. If you roll a ten you must consult the 'Fate Table'. These naturally are either a good outcome for the player or a bad one with some being worse than others. 

 Initiative is also done differently than other games. With LHY it is treated more like momentum and is slightly difficult for the opposing player to regain the initiative. So, it is not just the standard die roll at the beginning of a new turn. It sort of makes it like you need to wrest the initiative back from your opponent. If you have the initiative the game allows you to more easily go for broke.

 One other thing to take into account is the actual map size. Most are only 650 yards long. There is no maneuvering before battle really. You are dropped right into the midst of a knife fight. The terrain elevation of each hex is measured by what terrain height the actual center dot of each hex shows.

 What is the verdict, you ask? I believe the designers have hit one out of the park. They have achieved what they set out to do which was to make a tactical game with many new ideas and nuances. Playing this game made me go out and buy the other two volumes. If that isn't an endorsement, I do not know what is. The rules really give you some immersion. You are at times both happy with your units and then mad. You even take the Time Elapse roll as a personal affront at times. 

 Thank you, GMT Games for allowing me to review this game. Count me as being very impressed by this new system. The game volumes are:

The Last Hundred Yards:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 2: Airborne Over Europe:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 3: The Solomon Islands:

Coming up are:

The Last Hundred Yards Volume 4: The Russian Front:

The last Hundred Yards: Mission Pack 1:

  Point Blank V is for Victory by Lock 'N Load Publishing  "I'm here, I'm here! Let the bells ring out and the banners fly!...

Point Blank V is for Victory by Lock 'N Load Publishing Point Blank V is for Victory by Lock 'N Load Publishing

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 Point Blank V is for Victory


Lock 'N Load Publishing

 "I'm here, I'm here! Let the bells ring out and the banners fly! Feast your eyes on me! It's too good to be true, but I'm here! I'm here!"

(If you do not get the reference, I am sorry for your cloistered childhood)

 The fighting that occurred in western and northern Europe in 1944-1945 has had many games designed around it. D-Day has been especially covered by games at all levels and in all sizes. Point Blank V is for Victory is a new tactical game based upon the Allied and German troops that fought in the entire campaign. The game is meant for either one or two players. It does come with a solo 'bot' if you will. So, when playing it solo you do not have to try and be on both sides of the table. Let us take a look in the box and see if we are stuck in the hedgerows or gunning our tank in open fields.

All of the decks stow away beautifully

  This is from Lock 'N Load Publishing:

"Point Blank is a tactical squad infantry card game set in World War II Europe and is loosely based on the award-winning Lock ‘n Load Tactical game series.  Players do not need not be familiar with any of the Lock ‘n Load Tactical rules to play.  Point Blank is designed by Sean Druelinger and is a game that dares to be different, with new game concepts that give a whole new feel to tactical wargaming. 


Point Blank V is for Victory is for two players pitted against each other in situational combat scenarios.  There is also a solo option as well as partnerships in teams of two.  Each scenario presents the players with a unique situation involving squads of men, support weapons, leaders, and individual armored fighting vehicles.  The first game in the series will pit the forces of the USA against Germany just after the landings in Normandy (June 1944) through October 1944. Each player has victory conditions determined by the scenario in which to defend or take objectives, seek and destroy their opponent’s units, or one of many other different scenario objectives.


The game is played on an abstract map board made up of terrain cards in the game and managed through a distance system that accounts for the range to targets, line of sight, and defensive attributes. The player has units that start out on the map and gradually work their way towards their objectives by advancing through the battlefield all the while conducting combat actions against their opponent or defending their troops from return fire or whatever hell that awaits them. Players draw cards from a common action deck where they will play actions on their units on the map board. The game is an IGOUGO impulse system and turns are managed when the action deck is exhausted. (Some scenarios may require multiple deck exhaustion to finish the game). Actions in the game consist of Fire, Move, Assault, Rally, etc. The action cards contain dice icons on them to determine random results.

One of the unique features of the game is that it contains a deck of terrain cards that are not part of the action deck. As players change terrain they will draw a terrain card in which their moving units will occupy. Some action cards such as Recon helps players manage what terrain they occupy but your opponent may have other plans for your moving troops during their turn.  Two players can play a game in about an hour (depending on the scenario size) and if you cannot find an opponent then try the game solo system. 


Point Blank system has been called innovated, realistic, and yet extremely playable, and with solitaire play, and two-player options available we expect you will too."


Playing 'map' or mat for the cards

 The box that was delivered to me was a very heavy one. I knew enough about the game to know it did not come with mounted maps, so I was wondering why the heft? Well, it turned out to be the cards. You see, I believe there are almost 900 cards that come with the game. 

 Sean Druelinger, the designer, had done a write up for AWNT a bit ago about the game and himself. He is also the designer for Lock 'N Load's Tactical Series of games. According to him Point Blank is based on that series and the old Avalon Hill game 'Up Front'. I had seen things about Up Front down through the years, but I was not interested at all. At the time I was a very snobbish grognard and was only interested in hexes and hefty rulebooks. I would not play an area movement game, and the thought of cards being added to a hex wargame was an abomination in my eyes. Block games were another genre that would put my teeth on edge. I have now seen the light of these newfangled additions to my beloved hobby. However, this takes it one step further. You do not even need to use the map/mat at all. I believe I have done two different aircraft games that were just cards, but there was no terrain etc. In Point Blank everything is based upon the cards. So, let us see about this strange new animal (at least to me).

There are a lot more cards there than you probably think.

  This is what comes with the game:

119 x Mini Cards

698 x Poker Cards

1 x 32" x 38" Two Piece Map

1 x Core Rules Manual

1 x Scenario and Module Rules Manual 

9 x Double Sided 8.5" x 11" Player Aids

2 x Counter Sheets With Over 160 Counters

2 x 16mm Dice

Executive Producer:

David Heath

Game Design and Development:

Sean Druelinger

Game Art:

Shayne Logan

Some Cards

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Select a Scenario
2. Determine Sides
3. Layout the Battlefield
4. Deploy units
5. Draw Action Cards

2.2.2 Game Phases

1. Upkeep Phase – The phasing player
conducts upkeep tasks.

2. Impulse Phase – The phasing player
may conduct an action. There are
situations that allow more than one
action to occur from the play of a
card that includes multiple actions
or through the execution of a leader’s
Spend action (see Leaders 2.11).
Once a player completes his impulse
play passes to his opponent.

3. Turn End Phase – Check to see if the
Action Card deck has been exhausted.
If so, follow the turn end procedures
before impulse play begins

4. Victory Conditions Check – Check
to see if you have won the scenario
before impulse play begins again.

Terrain Card

 We will start out discussing the cards that come with the game. As mentioned, there are nearly 700 of the larger cards in six decks. The information needed to play on the cards is huge. These cards will have all your men and larger military equipment, such as: tanks, squads, anti-tank guns etc. They feel just like playing cards do. Then there are 119 mini cards. These encompass commanders, machine guns, PIATs, med kits etc. Even though these are smaller, the information on them is just as large as on the larger cards. Both sets of cards have a very nicely done picture of whatever they represent on them. They look like little portraits, especially the faces. The two-piece map is also well done. It is really only a background with muted colors, but it works well with the cards. It is large at 32" x 38" but if you have been a wargamer for any length of time you will have a table that can accommodate it. The counters are used for bookkeeping etc. You can also use the counters on the cards instead of using the map. These, like the rest of the game, are oversized and very easy to read. The coloring and design of them are up to the par of all the other components. The Core Rules Manual is ninety-four pages long. However, the type size is also huge (Do you see a pattern here?).  The rules go to page seventy-one with the rest being a breakdown of each terrain card and then the Solo Rules. The Scenario and Module Rules Manual comes with twenty scenarios and there is a section on building your own scenarios. At the end of the scenarios are the Campaign Game Rules. Both of the Manuals are in full color and made of glossy paper. There are five Player Aids that are made of hard stock, and they are double-sided. These are also in large type like the rest of the components. These give all the information for playing the game that you would need without having to look through the manual. The next four Players Aids are for playing the game Solo. These rules are done with an easy-to-follow flow chart method. These are also made of hard stock and in full color. 

Some of the Counters

 The cards represent everything you would find on a battlefield in norther Europe during WWII. The Allied cards represent both the U.S. and British and Commonwealth militaries. Here are some examples:

Germans - Marder I, Stug IIIG, Tiger, Panther, truck, halftrack, 75mm anti-tank gun, SS, Heer, and Luftwaffe troops.

Allied - M36, M20, Parachute Squad, Infantry Squads and Half-Squads, Sherman Firefly, Otter, and even a Tetrarch!

The smaller cards show - Satchel Charges, Radios, MG 42, Flame Throwers, and a slew of Commanders.

Mini Card Commanders

 So, you might be thinking: Is this game a behemoth in both size and rules? To be honest, you do need some table space for the game. In actuality it is an easy to play game, at least once you have the rules set in your head. Lock 'N Load says that most scenarios will take about an hour to play. Except for my first couple of dry runs, this seems to be about right. Playing Solo takes a bit longer, but it does in any game that has solo rules built in. The flow chart method for Solo Play does make it a lot easier to follow and play. I think that Solo Play should be included in most games. That way you can play your favorite game of the hour without having to round up a friend or more to play it. 

 As I mentioned. I have never played Up Front nor really ever had an itch to. Many people have compared Point Blank V is for Victory to Up Front and say it is the Up Front for the 21st century. If Up Front was anywhere near as fun to play as Point Blank, I am sorry that my rigidness stopped me from playing it. 

 I was at first a little put off by not being able to know the terrain in in front and around me. Then I put myself into the mindset of a Squad Leader at the time and it really made sense. You know your objective, at least most of the time, and you know what direction it is on your compass. Often that is about the amount of information you would be given. Oh, you know what could be out there between you and it, but you are only guessing. Unless you are extremely lucky you will not know what enemy force is out there until they open fire. Point Blank brings that guessing and Fog of War front and center. This is not a card game of tactical warfare in WWII. It is a tactical wargame that uses cards for play. There is a large difference. Remember that Point Blank uses a lot of the designer's Lock 'N Load Tactical Series as its bones. 

 The scenarios all have their own victory conditions. Many times, it is taking control of and holding a specific terrain piece. The turns all revolve around the Action Card deck. When the last Action Card has been played that is the end of that turn. The scenarios run from two, three, and four turns. So, for each turn you would have to use up all of the Action Cards. If you are not used to Lock 'N Load's Tactical Series games, you will have a bit of a learning curve. If you have played any of them the curve will be pretty short. It is not a difficult game to learn. That is, if you can get the idea of the Lines of Sight and movement and transpose that knowledge to the cards laid out on the table. I have played many of Lock 'N Load's Tactical Series games. However, I did have a problem in the beginning but not because of the rules. It was my own brain that was not getting it. Once I talked myself into the fact that the cards were the same thing as counters on a hex map, things went much smoother. I believe this was certainly a case of an old dog trying to learn new tricks.

 The game is big in components, and they are also visually striking. The muted colors of even the Rulebook pages gives a real sense of being in the rain, fog, and mud of a real battlefield. The visuals only help with the players immersion. Because the Rulebook is so large in size of type the rules themselves are not that long or hard to learn. There is no need of any die because the Action Cards have die values right on them on in the upper right hand. Yes, luck does have a place in playing the game. However, in any battle of whatever size, there is always some amount of luck. As von Clausewitz wrote:

 "The great philosopher of war, Karl von Clausewitz, coined the term: "Friction," he wrote, is "the concept that differentiates actual war from war on paper," those surprising things that happen during wartime that make “even the simplest thing difficult."

More Terrain Cards

 Thank you Lock 'N Load for letting me take this Maserati out for a test drive. I am now fully convinced that a ground wargame can be played with just cards. Not only that but said game can be totally engrossing for the player. It also helps that the manufacture of the cards etc. are of such a high quality. Great Game, Lock 'N Load. Keep up the good work. 


Lock 'N Load Publishing:

Point Blank V is for Victory: