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DESCENT : JOURNEYS IN THE DARK 2nd EDITION For a typical dungeon crawler [?] it seemed appropriate to begin with a bit of na...

DESCENT : JOURNEYS IN THE DARK 2nd EDITION DESCENT : JOURNEYS IN THE DARK 2nd EDITION

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

DESCENT : JOURNEYS IN THE DARK

2nd EDITION





For a typical dungeon crawler [?] it seemed appropriate to begin with a bit of narrative text to set the scene and so I offer you ...

The Atonement

"Many years ago, a wise and kindly man discovered an artefact of great popularity, which its creators had in their infinite wisdom deemed worthy to call HeroQuest and it contained many sculpted figures.  With great patience, this father, for such he was, didst paint all the figures most carefully and the father's children were wondrous pleased and spent many an hour with him amassing untold treasures and encountering strange beings in the dungeons of that fantasy realm.

However, as time passed, those children grew older and left to make their own way in the world and the father unwisely did dispose of the artefact into unknown hands at which his children, now adults, discovering this some years later were sore dismayed.

And so the father sought to atone for his grievous error..."

In the way such confessional revelations usually continue, I must confess, "I was that man."

Consequently, it may come as no surprise then that I was more than pleased when Jason asked me to take over the task of reviewing Descent : Journeys In The Dark [2nd edition].  What a package!  And in a deceptively modest-sized box too, for this sort of offering.


There's no doubt that there are many similarities between the two games, but the gap of nearly 28 years really does highlight the changes in our gaming expectations.

 Descent : Journeys In The Dark [2nd edition] is a product of Fantasy Flight Games [FFG] and all that label promises.  First and foremost, that represents a standard of excellent physical quality and an initial unboxing lived up to all those expectations.  It amazed me that so much came out of the box and even more amazing that you can fit it all back in again.  Though, when you see the figures, you'll realise why I have chosen to store them separately, even though technically it's not necessary. 

I particularly hope you enjoy this element of the review, as you see spread throughout, the transformation of some of the 31 monster models and 8 Hero figures from their original, bland, plastic state to their final incarnation.



In pale creamy/white or plain red


The reason each set of monsters has one figure moulded in red is because it represents a master version of the type with stronger stats than the lowly minion version.  Fine at the moment, but painting obscures this distinction. So, watch the various ways in which I restored the difference when I painted the models.

After the figures, a brief [or not so brief] list of the components tells you all:  152 small cards in six categories, and 84 larger cards in eight categories, 150 cardboard tokens 8 Hero card sheets and then 48 sumptuous dungeon pieces, along with 7 doors and their plastic stands - oh, and 9 customised, specialist dice.




Last, but not least, 3 substantial full-colour booklets - the main Rule book and two separate Quest books.

All the components are impressive and it's hard what to single out as a starting point, but I've got to start somewhere, so to begin with... the map tiles.  What's not to like - well, like virtually everything I have to say in this account, you can find someone else who WILL differ in their opinion.  For me they are a visually rich, varied mix of very good quality pieces displaying highly accurate die-cutting.  They can be matched up in a myriad different ways, including small link units, with precision and ease.  They are double-sided and are clearly numbered, making each dungeon's assembly from the diagrams in the two Quest books a very easy and swift procedure.





The range of large tiles



Connecting corridors




And finally the little connecting bits & pieces


Of the differing views I've come across [e.g. mine - they capture the menacing dungeon atmosphere/ someone else's - too dark, too similar; mine - clearly numbered/ someone else's - obtrusive; ]  only one stands out as a fact and not an opinion and that is the fact that for each encounter the whole plan of the dungeon is laid out from the start for all to see. 



Just one of the maps for the many Encounters

[As a brief aside, the distinctive white lines between the pieces is purely a helpful element of the diagram to aid you in distinguishing what you need to put together this map.  As you'll see later, when assembled, the pieces fit beautifully together.]

This has led some to proclaim that Descent is not really a dungeon crawler at all [now you can understand what the question mark was doing in my opening sentence].  Unlike HeroQuest, there is no opening a door with trepidation, unsure what you will meet on the other side and what sort of room you will be stepping into - a torture chamber, a mystic vault with unspeakable creatures lurking in the shadows, a pit into which you plunge onto sharp poisoned stakes.  You get the picture.  But when all's said and done, you only get that frisson once, as next time you play the same scenario you know exactly what is to come.

If that is the absolute defining, essential ingredient for you, then perhaps Descent will not satisfy you, but that feature never stopped me having a whale of a time with Space Hulk and it certainly hasn't stopped me getting the same enjoyment out of Descent.  After all, when you have enjoyed all that this game has to offer, you have all the physical tools ready to hand to create your own scenario [or as this game calls them, Encounters] replete with unknown rooms and doors just waiting to be opened.


Pause for breath - transforming the models




An Elemental, white-primed






Goblin archers still in the queue for priming






The red plastic Merriod with black priming



The Wealth of Cards



Next in line for scrutiny is the wealth of cards.  The different size of card, the distinctive background colours, the art work, text and symbols all add to the spectacle and atmosphere.  The sheer variety at first may seem almost overwhelming.  In fact, I've not felt that they are.  This is mainly because most cards are not all in play at one time, only some will appear in the course of the game and each player doesn't have to cope with them all individually.

Even where there is a range of choice, rarely is one person having to deal with all the choices.  Take the Class cards, which are allied to the Heroes.  There are 84 of these alone, but as there are eight heroes to choose from that means that each player has only 10 or 11 cards to consider and only if you are beginning a campaign rather than a single encounter.


4 Archetypes with 2 classes in each.

Most of the cards offer the customary elements for a dungeon game.  The Class cards give you the typical skills associated with each of the four archetypes Warrior, Healer, Mage, Scout and within each archetype, there are two classes. For example, the Warrior archetype may choose between the sub-classes Berserker or Knight, while the Mage archetype may choose between Necromancer and Runemaster.

Of all the cards, the most criticised have been the Search cards for their limited range and not particularly striking effects.  In all, there are nine different possibilities, including finding nothing[!],  three different types of potion [for two of which there are duplicates] and a number of individual items including a treasure chest.  Both the type of objects to be found and their effects seem absolutely typical of dungeon games.  Added to these are a number of relics that come in to play. when playing the encounters as part of a campaign.  These are primarily rewards for the outcome of an encounter. What I like most about them is that the card for each relic is double-sided; one side for the Heroes if they win and one for the Overlord player [more about him/her soon], if the heroes fail.

Other categories of cards include Condition Cards, which detail such "joys" as what happens if you are inflicted with a condition such as being poisoned, stunned or diseased. Travel Event Cards, which come in to play between Encounters on a Campaign and Shop Item Cards [one of my favourites], which provide the wide range of typical offensive and defensive equipment that you can buy or acquire in the course of any fantasy adventure. 


The generic front of the Shop Item Cards



Just a few of the items you can buy in the shop

Then we move on to the superbly illustrated monster cards that display each monsters stats along with their image and specific abilities.  Among the many attentions to detail that I rate Descent highly for is that there are two cards for each monster type, one for use in Encounter I, the other for use in Encounter II.  In addition, its stats as a minion and its stats as a master monster is indicated at the top and bottom of each card.  Mainly, it is a question of small increases in strength or health or the range at which they can attack.  But, I just love the fact that this game bothers to make such distinctions. 



Goblin Archer :

note the two cards for the different Encounters


Linked to these and very similar are the Lieutenant Cards that identify six individual characters.  These are intriguing, as each plays a part in the unfolding Campaign story and features in the substantial eleven page narrative that introduces the first of the two Quest booklets.  The only downside is that they are represented by cardboard tokens, not plastic figures.  I'm not sure what six more figures would have added to the cost, but it seems a missed opportunity for even more of the excellent detail Descent pays attention to.  Much as I'm sorry that FFG didn't do this, it's a very minor point in such a substantial package and I envisage seeking out some appropriate models at a future date to correct this. 



The six Lieutenants - servants of Evil


Even more impressive are the substantially larger card displays for each of the Heroes.


The exemplary knight, Avric Albright

As you can see, each Hero has his or her special Heroic Ability that can potentially be used every turn and below it the Heroic Feat, a once per game usage that tends to be a more powerful form of the Heroic Ability.  Running down the centre are the Hero's stats for Speed, Health, Stamina and type of defensive dice rolled in combat.
Finally, in the bottom left corner are the stats for Might, Knowledge, Willpower and Awareness which generally come in to play for varying tests that may have to be taken in the course of the game.

These cards have also been very useful as guides to help me in painting the Hero figures.


Avric Albright & Leoric of The Book

[basic grey plastic, prior to priming]


 Jain Fairwood & Syndrael



From the imbalance of 3 male figures to 1 female in the former days of HeroQuest, we've moved to total equality with 4 female and 4 male figures - which probably makes the world of Descent about the most egalitarian realm in existence.

Of the many cards, we come finally to the deck used by The Overlord.


The full range of Overlord Cards


In the basic game, if you are playing a single Encounter, there are 15 cards used.  More are available if playing a Campaign [i.e.  a series of linked Encounters] or an Encounter in Epic form.


A typical Overlord Card


Here, it's appropriate to introduce another key aspect of the game - the Overlord.  As with virtually any dungeon type game, one person has to take the role of the "dungeon master" equivalent.  For many, this has always been one of the drawbacks to the D&D world.  Everyone wants to be the Hero. So, who plays the dungeon master?  Certainly, that was my allotted role when I played HeroQuest or some of the earliest Dungeons & Dragons products, years ago with my young children. 

Being Overlord in Descent : Journeys In The Dark is about as good as it gets.  Instead of a "passive" organiser/story-teller/plot-driver, you have a very positive [seeing that you're evil, should that be negative?] part to play.  At the very least you are running the monsters, moving and fighting with them with your hand of Overlord cards to add to the nasties you can deal out and thwart the pathetic plans of those miserable Heroes.  On top of that and even better [worse?], many Encounters have goals for the Overlord to pursue.  This, for me, is a major bonus to the game, producing conflicting plot lines and goals for both the good and the bad!

The Counters



Though many in number, the majority are Health markers [shaped like hearts] in various denominations with which to track the health of the Heroes. Essentially think "life points", though most unusually your Heroes cannot die and, for me, this is the one key point I find plain weird and fundamentally at odds with all fantasy game practice.   The terminology used in Descent is the word "Defeated" i.e. a monster or hero whose Health points are reduced to zero is "Defeated" - now normally that's what I'd call "dead".  For the monsters, it is as good as, because they are removed from the board and play no more part in the Encounter.  Not so for our Hero.  He or she is considered knocked out, removed temporarily from the map and a token replaces them on the map!  This token no longer has any physical effect on the game.  The square it's in is treated as empty.  Any figure can move and even end its move in the square where the counter lies.  


On the left, Health markers, on the right Stamina markers


Come the next time it is the Hero's turn, wonder of wonders our Hero is allowed one Action and one only - to stand up [i.e. put the figure back in the square on the map] and roll for how much Health and Stamina is recovered.  Indeed, if another Hero has the ability/equipment necessary then this can be achieved even earlier.  So, a monster cannot kick you while you're down, or stab, throttle or wreak its nasty actions on you, but another hero can revive you.  This really does not make any logical sense, except as a game mechanic to keep you in the game.

A surge of rule tinkering desire does raise its questing head for me.  As things stand, it is one rule I really struggle to accept.  I leave it for your considered judgement to mull over.  Side by side with the Health markers are the Stamina markers.  Stamina makes much more sense - and I love the droplets of sweat [sorry, beads of perspiration] that represent it.  Some actions cause you to lose stamina and you can only lose 4 before you have to take an action to regain all your stamina.  Ok that's no great sweat, perhaps, dash a hand across your brow and everything's fine again, but at least your Hero can't just rampage on endlessly [even if he/she can revive endlessly] without a minor pause.  So chalk up one good idea against one dubious one.

So, dear reader, as my Stamina is getting low, seems like a good place for you to pause for breath too and enjoy another pictorial interlude.




Flesh-moulders

primed and then given a base coat of flesh and clothing colour 






Zombies

Clothing nearly complete, shading applied to the skin colour and an initial coat of grey on the base





Love these finished Spiders.

Note the red edge to the base & red stripe to distinguish

the master model from the minions.

Hopefully refreshed, on we progress to Condition Tokens which obviously relate to the Condition Cards already mentioned.


Condition Tokens - love those skulls!

and then Villager Tokens, which stand in for a variety of minor characters that you may come across such as wounded clergy in the opening Encounter : Acolyte of Saradon or captives in Rise of Urthko.



Villager Tokens -

kinda sinister for most of what they represent.


Objective tokens represent an astonishing range of functions depending on the Encounter, from levers that open doors to pillars that the Overlord is trying to destroy in order to bring the dungeon crashing down on your heroes' heads, to documents to be found to name but a few.

I've kept my comments about the counters much briefer largely because they play a simple, functional subsidiary part in any game of this type.  However, I feel that it's important to focus on their substantial quality and appearance.  Not only do they complement the atmosphere of the game, but there's a really good solidity to them, even the small heart shaped health points, and all match the similar quality of the map tiles.


Rules and Quests Booklets

These three substantial booklets maintain the same high product standard of all the other components, being presented in sumptuous glossy magazine quality and style.  The Rules are supported by full-colour examples and take you in a very logical progression from an outline of the components, through the Setup procedure first for the Heroes and then the Overlord, on to a very brief summary of each side's turn and then a more detailed one and finally the core of rules with substantially more affecting the Heroes than the Overlord and his/her Monsters. 

I found everything clear, logical and well ordered and, though not overly complex, a considerable distance from the simplicity of the old HeroQuest.  In particular, Combat is perhaps the most detailed element in the rules.  Starting with the appropriate attack dice versus the defender's, as designated on the Hero or Monster's card, these may be affected by such things as character traits or skills along with weapon abilities or defensive qualities.  Most often these will be brought in to play by what are called Surges - essentially lighting bolt symbols on the dice that can be used to trigger the corresponding symbol on the range of cards linked to the figures. 

If playing a single Encounter as a one-off stand alone scenario, equipment and skills are pre-set, but once again you have the option to upgrade both the Heroes and the Overlord, if you want a stronger, more varied session, or simply enjoy that element of a fantasy game where you purchase skills and equipment.
  The Quest booklets, particularly the first one, are illustrated throughout with strong artwork from the front cover to the back.








This is maintained with a mixture of full page illustrations and narrative text before even reaching the details of the Encounters themselves.




Delving beneath the substantial surface attraction of the Quest booklets reveals, if anything, even more substance.  The first booklet contains an introductory Encounter, two Interludes [consider these three as shorter links in the vast expanding Campaign story] and seven Encounters.  But even this is misleading, as five of the seven main Encounters are divided into two sections which in most cases means two full-blown connected Encounters.

The second Quest booklet is equally rich with nine Encounters, including five doubles and a finale of a triple Encounter.  Virtually every Encounter seems strongly detailed and the whole expanse provides a wide range of goals for both sides involving different approaches.  Pressure of time features quite strongly, often with fatigue tokens being potentially wracked up by one side leading to defeat.  Occasionally, I've felt that one or two seem well nigh unachievable especially for the Heroes.

To some extent, this doesn't matter as failure, as mentioned before, does not lead to the end of the Campaign, but simply provides the Overlord with some reward prior to the next Encounter.  Here we return again to the question of your personal reaction to the fact that your Heroes cannot die and the doubts I raised earlier. 

In the earlier games of this type that I've played where there are linked scenarios with items/gold/experience acquired and then able to be spent to develop your Heroes' abilities and equipment, I have to admit that the death of a Hero usually seemed dealt with by resurrecting the character [son of the barbarian?] ready for the next quest [though often with a loss of experience and/or equipment].  So, perhaps, Descent's way of dealing with it is not so different.  Ultimately, it is essential for a campaign of such length.  But - BIG question - having battled through so many Encounters are you up to the final, "You have failed the Overlord has defeated you!"  Well, if you're the Overlord player then yes.

Again, I think this is a major point about this game, especially for the Overlord player who must realise that he/she is a combatant in this game.  If you play as a traditional dungeon-master i.e. a facilitator for the Heroes, then, first of all, you'll probably lose.   Secondly, for me that's not what I'm in it for.  To some extent these are puzzles like in Space Hulk and as always the luck of the dice will play their part, but above all it's the experience, the atmosphere, the whole immersive quality.  On this count, I think Descent scores admirably.  On the other hand, you will find those who've dismissed it as bland and generic. 

I know looks aren't everything, but have a look at the Encounter below.  This is the opening set up for the Siege of Skytower, where our heroes have to defend and prevent monsters that have not yet appeared  from exiting the bottom of the board, while at the same time being harried by monsters already on the map.


Such as the spiders to their rear, which the dwarf, Grisban the Thirsty, has turned to deal with.  Meanwhile, the other heroes are going to try to cut through the flesh-eaters facing them to reach the leavers that will close some of the doors to the Tower!




Love the plot, love the action.
These are just some of the other features I particularly like.  That each Encounter gives the Overlord player a number of set groups and individuals and then an open group/s that can be chosen from a range of traits such as cold, cursed, water, dark that each Monster group is linked to.  That most of the Encounters are substantial enough to provide a good stand alone experience.  Again this has been criticised by some, but using the simple facility in the Epic rule to upgrade both your Heroes and Monsters seems a valid way to enhance the experience.

That the number of monsters in each group and the number of reinforcements that the Overlord is allowed to bring in is tied to the number of hero players is a strong point, unlike some fantasy games where you were always constrained by not having enough players to make the scenario worth playing.  Though that could usually be overcome by each player running two hero characters.

A Final Glimpse of Some Painted Heroes




Syndrael, Elf Warrior



Jain Fairwood, Human Scout



Grisban the Thirsty, Warrior Dwarf


And the largest Monsters





Should you too take to this system then there are certainly more than enough expansions to feed your appetite for some time to come and, as  I believe that the majority of players will still want to become the Heroes and for those who simply have to be on the side of good, then Roads to Legend the app provides the necessary Overlord, so that all the human players can choose from the good side.  But, as with so many aspects, this too has its devotees and its dissenters.

Ultimately, I cannot speak as one who has a vast experience of many fantasy systems and I imagine that, if you are, then you'll already know whether you like Descent or not.   Perhaps. more than any other genre of gaming, fantasy seems to attract strongly polarised opinions.  Personally, I have found Descent a strong contender in quality of component, variety and game play.  It meets all that I find enjoyable in fantasy gaming and for me has been a far better and richer experience than the several, different games that sit on the fantasy/horror borderline that I've had friends press me to try. 



Esdevium Games: UK supplier of FFG games and a whole host of other games and toys.






















































































































































































The Tide at Sunrise A History of The Russo-Japanese War   By Denis and Peggy Warner  The Russo-Japanese war has ...

The Book of The Week The Book of The Week

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



A History of The Russo-Japanese War 

 By

Denis and Peggy Warner




 The Russo-Japanese war has always fascinated me. I have read everything I could about it, that has been written in English. The land war has so many what if moments on the Russian side. As far as the naval war, the funeral procession around most of the world by 'The Second Pacific' squadron is mesmerizing. The fact that this is a rehearsal for WWI just makes it that much more interesting. Machine guns, search lights, and modern firepower should have alerted the major powers what was in store for them.

 I first bought this book when I was a teenager, and now I am on my second aging copy. It just has everything about the war, and also goes into all of the different personalities. This is a picture of General Nogi, who lost two sons in the war.




 I reread it or bits of it on a yearly basis. Funny thing though, I have never looked up any other books that the authors have written. Maybe this book is so good that I think nothing else the authors could do would match up to it. There are more than a few books on the Russo-Japanese War, but when I am asked "Which book should I read on this war?". The answer is always the same, this book.

Stalin's Favorite The Combat history of the 2nd Guards tank Army from Kursk to Berlin by Igor Nebolsin Translated by ...

Stalin's Favorite The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin Volume 2 Stalin's Favorite The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin Volume 2

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



by

Igor Nebolsin

Translated by






 Stalin's favorite; at one time it would have meant honor. In this day and age, the phrase might be met with a bit of revulsion.

 This is the second volume of a masterful work on the history of the 2nd Guards Tank Army. In this volume we see its history from the battles for Lublin,Warsaw, and finally the capture of Berlin. After the war, it was stationed in East Germany and was actually disbanded in 1997. In 2001 it was reactivated. More than 103,000 of it's troops were decorated with medals and 221 of them were named Heroes of the Soviet Union. After the tank armies success in the Berlin battles is when it became 'Stalin's favorite'. The 2nd Guards Tank Army would have been in the thick of the Battle for Germany had WWIII broken out.

 This is a monumental work that is filled to the brim with combat and after-combat photos, but also contains photos of all of the separate unit commanders that made up the 2nd Guards Tank Army. There are sixteen pages of colored maps of the tank army's various battlefields. The pictures also show you the different lend-lease tanks that were in action with the Soviets, especially Shermans. The author not only shows us its history, but also adds his own conclusions to the write ups of its different combat actions. One of the highlights is the remarks of General Bogdanov's thoughts for the correct order of battle for a tank army, and an appreciation of the correct use of tank armies in combat. For each operation, the author not only gives us the order of battle for the 2nd Guards Tank Army down to the individual tanks, but also the order of battle for their enemies. There are also some remarks from German officers who had to face the 2nd Guards Tank Army. 


General, later Marshal Bogdanov


 The book is separated into three parts. The first 412 pages are dedicated to its use and actions up until the end of WWII. Next there is next an 'afterword' section that details its history for the next fifty years, and even discusses veterans' reunions. After that comes almost fifty pages of appendices.

 For a complete history of a Soviet tank army in WWII, look no further. This is a wargamer and statistician's gold mine for information. You even get a Soviet appreciation of the vaunted German panzerfaust, and its effectiveness. Thank you once again Helion & Company, and Casemate Publishers for bringing us another history home run. 


Robert

Autheor: Igor Nebolsin
Translator: Stuart Britton
Publisher: Helion&Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishers 




I love board games and tabletop wargames, the problem is finding someone else who shares an interest in the hobby, and then finding the t...

Tank on Tank (Digital) Review Tank on Tank (Digital) Review

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




I love board games and tabletop wargames, the problem is finding someone else who shares an interest in the hobby, and then finding the time to play against them. My wife is my only regular gaming partner, but, understandably, her tastes in theme are a bit more limited than mine. Tactical wargaming just isn’t her thing. Or on the flip side, it might be exactly her thing and bring out her extremely competitive side, getting me in trouble if my Sherman scored a lucky hit on her Tiger. Either way, it’s just not a good fit. That’s why I’m always excited when I hear about a good wargame going digital, now I too can get in on the fun. 





Tank on Tank, from Lock ‘n Load Publishing, is the latest such title to come to my attention. I had heard about the tabletop version several times in the past, and found it a tempting purchase. By all accounts it was a very accessible wargame with a limited scope, but a large fun factor. With the arrival of the digital version, I can play any time against the AI or go online to find a human opponent.



The game features a long list of scenarios depicting armor and infantry fighting across the battlefields of Europe. The “full” game bundle includes both East and West front action, but you can purchase just one front if you prefer. The units take the form of counters representing infantry, AT Guns, vehicles, and, of course, a wide array of tanks. These units move around relatively small hex-based maps trying to destroy each other and control objective locations. The scale is at a sort of abstract tactical level. It isn’t exactly clear how many units a counter represents, but it doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that units have movement, range, and defense values, be aware of a couple twists for using them efficiently, understand how each turn works, all of which can be learned via a five minute read through the in-game manual, and you are good to go. That said, there is an intriguing amount of depth to how you use your units and their limited actions each turn.

The limited actions each turn is really where the game forces some hard decisions on you, since you often get extra activations, in addition to the default two, but sometimes you don’t. You have to take a moment to consider what your highest priority is, since you might only be able to do one effective movement/attack on that turn. Grouping your units around HQ’s must be a part of your plans, since this lets you activate several units at once. On the flip side, concentrating your units together reduces your overall operational flexibility. Scenarios always have a limited number of turns, and multiple objectives, so when on the offensive you often need to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.


Combat results in the game are calculated by rolling two six-sided dice, adding or subtracting some modifiers, and then comparing to the target’s defense value. Counters are either undamaged or completely destroyed by the result, as there are no “steps” to be found here. This can result in some very wild swings in luck at times. You might attack with four units at once and fail to knock out that pesky AT Gun, but then on your next turn you take a shot at it with a single counter and destroy it. One of my early battles was particularly frustrating, as I watched a lone enemy infantry unit knock out three of my tank counters, one after the other. Of course, it was my rookie leadership that left those tanks vulnerable to attack in the first place.

One must approach this game with the proper mindset to get the most enjoyable result. This is not a game attempting to accurately depict WW2 combined arms warfare, this is a game that wants you to push some counter around a board and watch them blow each other up. Which isn’t to say that there is no strategy involved, since there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of winning. Just don’t go in looking for a game where careful positioning and realistic tactics will always win the day, since the dice might not be on your side that battle. If you take the game for what it is, you can have plenty of fun quickly playing a scenario or two or three, and you will find that the luck factor evens out over time.

Replaying scenarios is encouraged by the individual high score charts for each one. Victory is determined by which side scores the most points, earned by controlling objectives and destroying enemy units. More than once I found myself immediately restarting a scenario that I just won, simply to see if I could win by a greater margin. This also reinforces the idea that this game is meant to be simple and fun. You can blaze through a scenario, making some mistakes, and then play it again and do better, all in one lunch sized gaming session. This makes Tank on Tank an ideal game for wargamers like me who usually have small windows for gaming each day. I can hop in, turn some tanks into smoldering wrecks, then get back to real life. I kept track of time while playing several scenarios in a row, and found that many could easily be played in less than ten minutes.

Graphics and sound in Tank on Tank are relatively simple, but nicely done considering the transition from physical to digital. Tank counters throw up dust trails as their engines rev and the counter moves about, each attack features a shell being lobbed through the air and exploding, and air attacks are visualized by a fighter buzzing across the screen. There are snowflakes that fall on “snow” turns, a condition which also has important effects on the gameplay. The sound effects are all nicely done, with music that is pleasant and never distracting. The UI is clear and readily displays all of the information you need to play the game, with big buttons that are satisfying to click on, especially the fire button!

The AI will give you a good fight in pretty much every scenario. Early on I found that it bested me repeatedly, but once I nailed down the game mechanics the battles tended to be close run wins more often than not. I actually watched what the AI did at times to figure out how best to play the game as I was learning the ropes. The relatively simple structure of the scenarios and combat mechanics means that if the AI does make a major mistake, it won’t hamper your fun at all.




The game also features a multiplayer mode, where one can play out many of the same scenarios against a real live opponent. Unfortunately, I was never able to find a public match, despite waiting for an opponent to join my game for 30+ minutes as I wrote this review. It would be nice if there was some kind of indicator showing if anyone else was even in the multiplayer lobby. I can only assume the game would be great fun to play online, especially with friends.

A recent patch added the ability to create your own scenarios and campaigns, if you digest everything the game has and want some additional variety. However, doing so will require an extra bit of dedication, since units and their initial positioning must be done by writing some lines of “code” in notepad. Nothing too difficult really, but don’t expect to just click the map in the game and add units. Perhaps that kind of functionality will be added in later. It does not seem that you can create or modify the actual maps in the game. It would be nice if you could do so, since there are only a limited number of maps available, and many are simple variations of just a few unique maps. I suppose these are the same maps available in the physical version of the game, but it seems a waste to not take advantage of going digital by offering a wider selection, or letting players create their own.

Whether this game is worth your gaming dollars depends on what you are wanting it to be. For $40, one can get much meatier wargaming fare, but maybe meaty isn’t what you are looking for. If you are seeking a well polished game that lets you load it up and get into the action in a matter of mere seconds, then this could very well be worth the price. You can get your wargaming fix in fifteen minutes or less, no muss, no fuss. However, if you are averse to random rolls of the dice winning or losing a battle, steer clear. You will have the occasional match where absolutely nothing goes your way, despite making all the right decisions. This is a game that is meant to be quick, simple, and fun, and it succeeds in checking all of those boxes. I see myself playing bite sized bursts of this game for a long time. The icon is always there on the edge of my PC desktop, taunting me to go back for one more round.





- Joe Beard


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Tank on Tank for Windows (Mac version in the works) is available directly from LnL Publishing at http://store.lnlpublishing.com/

Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section. CLICK TO ARTICLE

Sopwith Build Updated Sopwith Build Updated

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

Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section.

http://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/07/sandbaggers-wingnuts-build.html

CLICK TO ARTICLE

Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn               It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest,...

New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face! New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face!

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

Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn

 
 
 


 
 
 It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest, the reason being that they've been doing so well and have been so busy that they just haven't had time to send me anything to review, until now. If you check their website this can hardly seem like a surprise. All the soldiers they release are excellent but over the last few months they have been excelling themselves! The recent WWI pilots are absolutely amazing, you must go check them out and grab yourself one or two...oh what the heck buy them all!!
 
 
 
 
 First in line is GB002 Scots Guard Marching. This is the second WWII Scots Guard on parade release, the previous miniature GB001 was a Scots Guard standing sentry. Both miniatures are in battle dress wearing No1 dress peaked cap. The Scots Guards is one of Great Britain's famous historical regiments dating back to 1642 formed under the reign of Charles 1st to serve in Ireland and were originally known as Marquis of Argyll's Loyal Regiment. They served with honours in the Great War and during WWII were based in North Africa, Italy and France.
 
 
 This soldier is marching on parade and as usual for Thomas Gunn is limited to 100, though if demand is there they will produce more:). The sculpt is faultless and the paint work absolutely perfect. Take a close look at the base. You can even see tufts of grass poking up:) The sort of detail I've come to expect from Thomas Gunn. I've yet to see a miniature that doesn't ooze quality. I'm so happy they have been so busy as they deserve it when time and time again they release such fantastic soldiers as this Scots Guard who is marching in front of me.


 
 As you can see in the picture above it looks amazing when you have a few of them all marching in line. Thomas Gunn have stated more Scots Guards on parade will be released during 2017 and I for one can't wait.

 Limited to 100 he retails at £32. Another Thomas Gunn bargain.

Editors note: Check out the superb book which follows both battalions of the Scots Guards throughout WWI. CLICK HERE

 
 Next we go back in time to our WWI release that's up for review. Last review we met some historical figures from WWI. We met Ben Butler, a footballer who served and died in the War, plus a famous war artist Muirhead Bone. This time we meet someone whose name I'm sure is known by all our readers. Probably (along side Wilfred Owen) the most famous Poet to come out of WWI, Siegfried Sassoon.
 
 What can I say about Sassoon that you don't already know? In the UK anyway there probably isn't a single person leaving school who hasn't studied Sassoon, not in History lessons but in English Literature were his war poems are, and most likely always will be, part of the curriculum. Sassoon and Wilfred Owen I'd say are the most well known poets here in Blighty. Sassoon at first actually enjoyed the War and was a first rate Officer, loved by his men. He won the Military Cross and was also recommended for the Victoria Cross. However the futility of it all and the horror of the trenches became apparent and he threw his Military Cross into the sea. He went on to write "A Soldiers Declaration" which was read out in parliament. This anti war rhetoric didn't go down well with the powers that be and he refused to go back to the trenches, so he was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Scotland, the Craiglockhart War Hospital run by Dr Rivers,  as a shell shock case, this they said was the reason for his behaviour. Whist there he met Wilfred Owen. Another close friend of his was the author of the WWI memoir 'Goodbye to all That' Robert Graves. It was Graves who managed to stop Sassoon going to military prison and instead being sent to the hospital. It was also Graves, along with his own conscious regarding leaving his men out in France, which made him stand down and go back to France. Not long after he returned he was shot in the head by accident by a British soldier and sent home again. After the war he wrote the excellent 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer',  a fictional account of his War experience. He served with Robert Graves in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He is not only mentioned in Robert Graves book but also in the superb, must read, 'The War the Infantry Knew' by J Dunn, Capt Dunn was the medical officer for the 2nd Royal Welch Fusilier Battalion. Two other books written by serving soldiers in the Royal Welch are the superb 'Old Soldiers Never Die' by F Richardson (unusually for a Great War memoir Frank was a private) and 'Nothing of Importance' by B Adams. In recent years Pat Barker wrote the excellent Regeneration trilogy which focused on Dr Rivers and Sassoon and Owen are in the book as is their meeting in hospital, though obviously this is a fictional account. A film Regeneration was also made which I recommend.
 
 
 GW072A The Poet.  The sculpt of Sassoon has him sitting on a wooden crate with pen and notepad in hand. I'll leave it up to you to decide on what he is writing, could it be the "A Soldiers Declaration" or is he penning another of his timeless classic poems, or maybe something more war like, like a trench raid plan (as he enjoyed those). The sculpt is first class. His posture is natural and easy on the eye. As standard for Thomas Gunn I can't fault the paintwork.

 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Now who wouldn't want a Sassoon miniature? I'm pretty certain these will sell fast!


 

 
 
 Now we jump forward again to WWII. However we are sticking with an historical figure. This time we have a famous German Ace Major Bruno Meyer.
 
 LUFT014 Major Bruno Meyer.
 
 Bruno Meyer was one of WWII top rated pilots. With over 500 combat missions and around 50 tanks destroyed you can see why. To fly so many missions as a ground pounder is something to be marvelled at, coupled with is superb kill tally he can stand proud with the likes of Rudel and 'Bubi' Hartmann. Flying both the FW190 and the HS129 he would have been a total menace to any Russian tank commander who was aware he was flying in their vicinity. He was born in Haiti and joined the party in 1933. On 21st August 1942 he was awarded the Knights Cross. His last command was with 1/SG 104 flying both FW190 F & G and JU 87 D & G.
 
 Here he is kneeling down taking a photograph, possibly of his plane or maybe his squadron members. His posture is very well sculptured and looks natural. The paintwork is faultless. Again note the blades of grass poking up around his boots! He also has a cup or most likely  ersatz coffee as well as a jerry can (no doubt has a similar taste to his coffee!). I love this miniature. The idea of him taking a photograph was pure genius, as it works perfectly. Thomas Gunn have announced they will be releasing two planes that would go with Bruno, a 75mm long cannon HS129 and the shorter 37mm cannon version.
 
 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Like Sassoon I'd grab him whilst he is still around.
 
 
 RS042B 8cm Mortar with Crew (Early War). The last miniature for review this time is a two figure set, and one you may well recognise. Click here and then scroll down and you'll come across this same sculpt. However that time they were wearing Australian Jungle fatigues, as they were fighting the Japanese, in the jungles of the Pacific. This time however, they are still Australian soldiers, but are fighting in the deserts of Africa, against Rommel's infamous Afrika Korps! As you can see they create an excellent little diorama all on their own. Their postures are dynamic and really capture the intensity of the moment. Just like the jungle set the paintwork is absolutely perfect. Typical Thomas Gunn quality.
 
 Again limited to just 100 this two figure set retails at £75. A bargain.
 
 Now I leave you with a couple of pics of Thomas Gunns recent WW1 pilots. WOW! they look fantastic.
 
 
 
 Until the next time...when I'll showcase some more of Thomas Gunns jaw dropping miniatures...bye!
 
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