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We're finally getting a first look at the big sequel to Panzer Corps, the aptly named Panzer Corps 2! In what should be th...

Panzer Corps 2 - Dev Diary #1 Panzer Corps 2 - Dev Diary #1

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

We're finally getting a first look at the big sequel to Panzer Corps, the aptly named Panzer Corps 2! In what should be the first of many developer diary posts, we finally get to see some details on the features of the sequel and some screenshots to gawk at. You can head over to the official post here, or see the contents below:

Welcome to the first issue of Panzer Corps 2 Developer Diaries. The initial announcement of Panzer Corps 2 was a little while ago now, and we understand that it left many people waiting for more information. In this issue we will try to provide a general overview of where we are going with this project and what to expect from it. We will provide much more information on each individual aspect of the game in future diaries.

Gameplay changes

Panzer Corps was intended as a spiritual sequel to the classic Panzer General series, and we were very careful to preserve the traditions of that series that made it so great for its day. We are taking the same very careful approach to game design in Panzer Corps 2. We are not trying to fix things which are not broken in the first place. Many aspects of the game, including the list of unit classes and unit stats, remain unchanged, and Panzer Corps veterans will feel themselves instantly at home with the new game. At the same time, we are giving the player a number of new tactical options, which will make the playing experience even more interesting and engaging. Here are some examples of these options:

Overrun. This was probably the most requested feature in Panzer Corps, and we had no other option other than to include it. Overrun is a unique ability of tanks to run over crippled enemy units and destroy them in the process, without spending their move or attack action. This feature not only helps to better represent the role of tanks in WW2, but also gives many interesting tactical implications from a pure gameplay point of view.

Encirclements. Panzer Corps is a “wargame” in the first place, and for most players its “war” aspect is the most interesting of all. On the other hand, moving around non-combat supply units, counting supply points etc. is much less fun. For this reason, we decided early on that the new game would not include a full-blown realistic model of supply. However, we felt that cutting enemy units from supply was a very interesting and useful tactical option, so we have included it in the game. It works like this: when a group of units is encircled by the enemy (only “passable” terrain needs to be blocked), it no longer receives any supply, and on top of this, encircled units will get a progressive combat penalty every turn. So now, the player has a choice: tackle the next objective head on, or try to encircle it and weaken the defenders before dealing with them.

Infantry unit is isolated on a small peninsula by the sea and the enemy. It does not get any supply here.

Splitting units. In Panzer Corps 2 any unit can be split into two equal halves (of course, at a cost of additional unit slots) which will act on the battlefield as two independent units. Splitting has countless tactical uses, especially in combination with encirclements as described above. Certain unit classes can especially benefit from it, like recon.

Captured units. Captured units in Panzer Corps campaigns were so popular, we’ve decided to make them a part of core game mechanics. When you force enemy unit to surrender, its equipment is captured and added to a pool. Later you can use this pool to create new units or replenish existing ones for free. This adds yet another tactical consideration: shall I destroy this unit, or try to make it surrender instead?

Unique hero abilities. Unlike Panzer Corps, where heroes only gave stat boosts to units, in Panzer Corps 2 they will have many unique tactical abilities, and some of these abilities will be synergistic. So, using your heroes in the best way possible will be a different task in every playthrough.

Air and Naval Warfare. Other major changes will happen in air and naval warfare. Ground combat was the most sophisticated and interesting part of Panzer Corps. With so many different rules, unit classes and terrain types, ground war was a varied and rich gameplay experience. We felt that air and naval warfare was somewhat lacking in comparison. Our ultimate goal in the sequel is to make them interesting enough to allow dedicated “naval only” and “air only” scenarios, and to achieve this goal, we are looking at various “naval only” and “air only” hex-based wargames for inspiration.
The most important change in the air war is that all aircraft act from airfields now, and return to their base automatically at the beginning of their turn. Also, just as in real life, the effectiveness of aircraft drops as the distance to their base increases. This means that all air rules and mechanics from Panzer Corps (like mass attack, interceptors etc.) remain in place, but at the same time the airfields, their location on the map, timely capture and proper defense become key elements in air warfare.
As for naval war, naval terrain is “by definition” less interesting than ground terrain, with endless sea hexes going in all directions. To compensate for this, ships themselves will be more complex entities, with various factors (like orientation and position of turrets) affecting combat effectiveness, and a damage model (inspired by Pacific General) going beyond the simple “strength number” under the ship. Carrier and submarine classes will be much better fleshed out to represent their unique roles in naval war. A more advanced naval model will allow this series to branch out into any theatre of war in the future, including the “naval-heavy” Pacific, something which Panzer Corps never did.

Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games  I have been looking for a game to replace or better Avalon Hills &...

Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games Napoleon and his Marshals by Two Generals Games

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


 I have been looking for a game to replace or better Avalon Hills 'War and Peace'. I believe I might have found it. This game has incredible detail, and seems so far to play out historically. By that I mean that it wouldn't play the same if you were using tank units or foot soldiers.  

 The first thing you should know about this game is the packaging. You get a rolled up map in a circular tube. Then you get the counters in a small plastic wrapped bag. The next thing you receive is a small plastic case that you would usually keep washers or small screws in. So after separating the counters it has its own little case for them. What you do not get is the rules or scenarios. These are downloaded from the company's website. This is also nice, and is something a lot of companies are doing now so you can peruse the rules and scenarios before you buy the game. 

 We will look at the actual physical pieces you get now. The counters are 5/8 of an inch square. They are mostly your typical strategic game counters with just strength and their movement factor listed. The counters are physically different than any I have ever seen. They seem to have some plastic or something added to them to make them almost pliable. It also seems to make them more durable than the usual cardboard ones. The map is also different than normal. It almost feels and rolls up like it is made of leather. I assume it has gotten the same treatment as the counters. Whatever it is, I love it. When you spread it out it flattens immediately so there are no folds etc. It almost seems like you are unfolding a map from the period. I have not tested it, nor will I, but I believe the map would survive a drink being poured across it. As far as looks, the map is a standard hex map of Europe. This map goes from the French Atlantic coast to the border of Russia, and from the top of Italy to Denmark. The map's size is 23" x 30". The colors of the map are so much more vibrant than any other I have seen. There are maps just as beautiful out there, but none that pop out at you like this one. I assume this also has to do with the manufacturing process. 

 The rules are long at seventy-nine pages. This might make some people pause. However I believe most of us have tablets or phones that it can be downloaded to. As mentioned, you do not get the rules or scenario booklet with the game. If this was to save money to make the counters and map better, then it worked.

  The unit counter types in the games are as follows:


 Forts are also in the game, but they are shown on the map.

The map

 The games turn mechanics are a bit different from the norm. There are six two month strategic turns (Jan-Feb). Within the six strategic turns are six operational turns for each strategic one. This is not just an operational game, but a strategic one. So in effect you are running your entire country or countries' war and peace efforts (in the campaign game). As a king or emperor you have to decide your country's production, replacements, and policy, and also mobilization and demobilization. Each strategic turn, the phasing player may purchase 'Command Points' which are used to activate leaders, units, or other actions. Movement and combat take place during the operational turns.

The outside of the counter box/tray

 Supply and lines of communication are important in the game. As a matter of fact, they take up four pages of the rule book. Lack of supply and attrition can kill your armies much quicker than losing battles.

 Leaders and their various abilities, and the rules of what they can do is another important part of the game and rule-book. Leaders affect activation, movement, combat, reinforcement, and also have special abilities. Napoleon has the ability to 'split' the coalition armies that he is fighting into their separate national units. Wellington can remove disruption on British units that suffer it during battle.

The inside of the counter box/tray

 As I mentioned, the rules and scenarios are a download only, but that means anyone interested in looking at them can peruse them at their leisure.The rules for combat are unique and quite involved. There is a CRT, but there are no dice rolls. First the attacker figures out the defender's losses and then the defender checks on the attacker's losses. They both take place at the instance of combat. Meaning that the defender doesn't take casualties, and then checks on the attacker's losses after his losses are deducted. So if both the attackers have a combat number of twenty, twenty would be where on the CRT you would check for casualties to both (terrain etc. are also added in). The leader with a stack can 'protect' or absorb losses. So the higher the number of the leader the easier to absorb losses. In this, the French have an ace up their sleeve until the latter years of the Napoleonic conflict. I am making it seem more involved then it really is. I will include a link to both the scenario rules and the rule-book at the bottom.

 So what we are looking at is a game that tries to recreate the Napoleonic years in a game format. The following is a list of the scenarios and the 'game set' you need to play them:

1805 Introductory Scenario - (solo, or two players; requires only basic set) Napoleon attacks Austria in 1805, culminating in the Battle of Austerlitz in which he decisively defeated Austria and Russia.The French can follow the Danube(historical), attack through Bohemia, or come from Italy. Will Austria fall back to join the slow Russians and risk losing
most of its production, or stay forward and risk losing most of its army?
1805 - 1807 Campaign Game - (requires only basic set)
France must be prepared to take on three opponents at once (Russia, Austria and Prussia), plus a fourth one (Britain) that finances the others. Napoleon must nimbly defeat each one at a time, or risk facing them all together.
 2-France, All other nations
3-France, Austria/Britain, Russia/Prussia
4-France, Britain/Russia, Austria, Prussia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1809 Scenario - (requires only basic set)
Austria has completed Army Reform and increased the size of its army and is ready to take on Napoleon again, but without Prussia or Russia to help.
2-Franceand Russia, All other nations
     3-France, Britain/Austria, Russia(only recommended if the optional       rule for full Russian participation is included)
1807-1810 Scenario - (requires basic set plus Peninsular War set
and expansion maps are optional) Napoleon must deal with the "Spanish ulcer" and a resurgent Austria at once.
2-France, All other nations
3-France, Britain/Prussia, Austria/Russia
4-France, Britain/Prussia, Austria, Russia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1811-1814 Scenario - Zenith and Nadir(requires all games in set)
France is victorious everywhere but Spain, and that is encouraging Russia to resist once again. Can Napoleon defeat the Russians once and for all while handcuffed in Spain, or will he try to defeat Spain before Russia can liberate Germany and get Prussia and Austria as allies?
2-France, All other nations
3-France, Austria/Britain, Russia/Prussia
4-France, Britain/Russia, Austria, Prussia
5-France, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia
1812 Scenario -The Patriotic War
(requires basic set plus expanded maps)
Napoleon puts together his largest army ever to defeat his biggest continental rival. But can LaGrande Armee repeat its successes in such a large nation against a foe that is prepared to fight it?
    1813-1814 Scenario - German and French Campaigns  (requires basic       set or add on Peninsular War)
Following the loss of most of his army, Napoleon must scramble to retain his client states, and rebuild his army. Can he hold the now united Coalition off long enough to achieve the impossible yet again?
1815 Scenario (requires basic set and Peninsular War set)
Can Napoleon retake France and return it to glory? Or will he face another Waterloo?
2-France, All other nations
1807/1809-1814 Peninsular War Scenarios (requires basic set plus Peninsular War set) A long scenario, starting in either 1807 or 1809, with a small number of units, the players will have to face the limitations of a small war in a poor nation with terrible terrain for campaigning and a long sea coast that favors Britain's best asset-the Royal Navy.
2-France, Britain & allies
1805-1815 Campaign Game (requires basic game and all expansions)
The entire French Napoleonic Wars, from 1805 to 1815. Up to 396 operation turns and 66 Strategic Turns. Expect to play
for 130 hours or so. That's about 32 weeks if you play 4 hours once a week. Play tests averaged about 4 months.
2-France, All other nations (the Coalition)
3- France, Russia, Britain/Prussia/Austria.
Alternatively, Russia with either Prussia or Austria, Britain with either Prussia or Austria
4-France, Britain, Russia, Austria/Prussia

The counter setup for the 1805 scenario

 As you can tell, I am very impressed by the game's components. As far as the game play I am somewhat impressed. This might be because as a person who has rolled a die for most of the last fifty years on a CRT, new things are hard to learn. I have played other games that do not use die rolls for the CRT, but those have made the function of combat in these games relatively easy. Combat in this game was a bit hard to get a grasp on until I worked through a few examples for myself. The rule-book does have examples and I probably just needed hands on to get the gist of it. As I mentioned at the beginning, I was looking for a replacement for a tried and  true friend. I am not sure I have met the replacement as added another good friend to my table. The game has so much more to offer (marching to the guns etc.), than I can mention in this small space. Please take a look at the link below.


As you may have heard, in the grim dark future, there is only war. So what to do when you create a 4X strategy game in the universe of...

Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War

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

As you may have heard, in the grim dark future, there is only war. So what to do when you create a 4X strategy game in the universe of Warhammer 40k? You go all in on that last X, eXterminate. WH40k: Gladius - Relics of War (let's call it Gladius), is the first WH40k game to enter the 4X world of titles like Civilization and Master of Orion. Gladius strips down the classic trappings of the genre to only those elements which make sense in the 40k setting. The most notable feature lacking is any kind of diplomacy. All factions are at war from the start and there are no truces or trade agreements. Other aspects of classic 4X games are here, but streamlined down and serve only to facilitate the production of bigger and better units for the combat which kicks off early and rarely lets up. If I could describe Gladius in the simplest terms possible, I would call it the deathmatch mode of 4X gaming.

Gladius was developed by Proxy Studios and published by Slitherine Games. The same duo previously created the underrated Pandora: First Contact, which was something of a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. Now the team is trying to do something fresh with the 4X genre; instead of adding layers of mechanics and complexity, they are trimming things down to create a fast paced combat focused strategy game. We'll cover each X in turn, leaving the best for last.

Whether you're playing as the Space Marines, Orks, Necrons, or Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard), the first thing you will need to do at the start of the game is explore your surroundings. You'll start with a handful of units and the option to place your starting base anywhere you choose. Each hex shaped tile in the game world has different resource bonuses and finite spaces for buildings. Finding some easily defensible terrain is worth considering as well. When playing on the default medium sized map setting, your neighbors will come calling before you know it.

The battlefield you will be fighting over is the scarred and ruined remains of Gladius, a planet that was, until recently, a thriving Imperial world covered in cities and loyal followers of the God-Emperor of Mankind. Then a cataclysm of ill fortune hit the world. An Ork invasion, a Necron awakening, and a giant warp storm. All of these events have left the surface of the world an ugly and toxic place. Though there are some surviving patches of green here and there to keep things from getting too bleak.

While scouring the landscape, you will find special resource tiles which can be captured to provide a resource bonus and offer your units a defensible outpost in a world filled with dangerous wildlife. The "wildlife" ranges from packs of kroot hounds up to giant guardian automatons and Enslavers, particularly dangerous enemies which can mind control one of your units. With danger comes rewards, however, since the first faction to fight their way through the baddies will find numerous resource boosts and relics which grant various bonuses like passive healing or extra movement to all of the units of whichever faction controls them.


As you might expect, you won't be building trade networks or art galleries in Gladius. Expansion has only one goal in this game: build bigger deadlier units and more of them. There are several resources to juggle, but the economy is pretty simple. You'll need a bit of everything, so keep an eye on the numbers and build whichever resource building is lacking (in the tile with the highest respective bonus) and you should be golden. Each type of production building you create has its own production queue, so there is little need to create additional cities at the beginning of the game. In fact, the Space Marines can never second city, but instead can occasionally drop down fortresses next to desirable resource nodes.

The tech trees in Gladius, the contents of which are completely unique for each faction, are structurally simple. There are ten tiers of research and about a half dozen options in each tier. Research two techs in one tier and you unlock the next. The vast majority of the techs either unlock a unit, building, or combat upgrade, but there are also some resource bonuses and special powers scattered around. This simplicity creates some stark decisions. Do you focus on providing upgrades for your starting grunts, climb the tree to find more powerful and exotic units, or try to build up your war machine? 


So what are you doing on Gladius anyway, what is the goal here (other than killing and destruction, obviously)? Each faction gets some nice flavor text and "quests" to offer them direction throughout a match. This was one of the best features of Endless Legends, and it works just as well here. Completing these objectives as they come up will give you bonus resources and units. After the first few simple tasks, the story objectives will require you to venture out into the map for one reason or another, inevitably leading to conflict with neutral units and other factions. This gives the game some nice replayability, since each faction has its own story to follow and different goals to achieve. In the end though, only one faction can win, and the others must all perish. This brings us to the final X:


While some other 4X series like Civilization have tried to make combat more of an option than a necessity in recent iterations, Gladius goes all in on warfare.  While research and production is streamlined, combat units have detailed stats and options to consider. Units have health, armor, morale, perks, experience levels, sometimes multiple weapons, and so on. All of the variables can be improved through new technologies. For example, the lowly Imperial Guardsmen begin the game at a disadvantage against literally everything else. However, with some researched upgrades, later in the game they can have decent stats and multiple special abilities.  All of the favorite units from WH40k lore are here. Dreadnoughts, Killa Kans, Baneblades, and many more all take to the battlefield in a surprisingly short period of time. Where in Civilization, by the time you hit turn 50 you've probably said hello to a couple of neighbors and built a second city, in Gladius you will already be skirmishing with multiple opponents, by turn 100 it's a full scale war that doesn't let up. Whether you find that to be a positive or negative will determine if this is a game for you or not.  Combat is very much the meat of the gameplay.

I've only played the game on the default map settings so far, and it makes for a real knife fight compared to other 4X games. Three and even four way battles are common sights. It's fun to watch a battle for one of the special resource tiles swing back and forth between two or three factions, as units are destroyed and reinforcements arrive to counter-attack. As the battle rages your units that survive can gain up to ten experience levels, making a battle hardened veteran from the early game a really potent tool in your arsenal. You can give such units a distinct name if you like, creating a bit of extra attachment with them. 

Hero units in particular can be devastating to lose, since they unlock multiple extra powers and abilities as they level up. Each faction gets three hero types, typically some variations of a warrior, mage, and support. Each hero has three starting abilities to choose from, and a more powerful ability unlocked at level 6. All of these abilities can be upgraded multiple times, allowing you to customize your heroes as you see fit.  

All of these elements taken together make for a simple, but fun 4X game focused on combat and building cool units. The missions given to each faction give some context to all the fighting, though it wouldn't hurt to see some extra variety there. Each faction always gets the same set of goals, which can railroad some of your early build order decisions if you know what is coming. 

The game looks very nice for a 4X, with especially good animations and weapon effects. I saw a lot of comments on my preview video from people saying that the game looked too brown and ugly, but I found that most of the randomly generated maps feature a decent amount of green grass and other colorful areas, in addition to the obligatory ruined cities and wastelands. It certainly feels like a world beset by a warp storm and multiple alien invasions. It's a hostile and dangerous place to be for everyone involved. 

Although the game only features four factions, each is completely distinct and will give you different experiences. Fans of Endless Legends will feel right at home playing factions with radically different mechanics. One really fun mechanic is the Ork "WAAAGH!" meter; keep the fights coming and your units will all get extra attack damage that builds more and more. Each faction has a different starting difficulty rating, and you should pay attention to it. I stubbornly attempted to play as the Imperial Guard several times, despite the HARD difficulty warning, and got my tail kicked on each attempt. Hopefully we'll get to see some more factions added to the game. It would be great to see the Eldar, Tau, and Chaos Space Marines joining the fray, among many others.

WH40k: Gladius - Relics of War succeeds at what it sets out to be. This is the arena shooter of 4X games, where combat is the primary focus of each campaign, and moves at a much faster pace than you might expect. Just when you think you're unstoppable, the enemy will show up with a next tier unit and rain on your parade. This creates an enjoyable back forth with fluid front lines. I didn't get a chance to play multiplayer, but I can only imagine that a group of friends would have a fun afternoon exterminating each other. The fast paced turns and relatively simple gameplay mean that you could potentially play an entire match in one long sitting.

The drawback of this streamlined approach is of course that the game could suffer from a lack of variety after you've tried out each of the four factions. The winning strategy is always war, never diplomacy, science, or culture, they aren't even an option. This may be a relief for some gamers, however, who just want a good fight and not to worry about establishing the most efficient trade routes or converting others to your religion (this is 40k, you purge anyone who isn't your religion with gratuitous violence!). For those players, I can safely recommend this game if they are at all interested in the setting. For myself, I have enjoyed all the time I've spent with the game so far, and haven't managed to win just yet, so I'll be heading back out there shortly to claim Gladius for myself. 

Warhammer 40k: Gladius - Relics of War releases July 12th on Steam and GoG. The regular price is $45, but you can get a 10% discount if you hurry. The GoG version comes with a free copy of WH40k: Rites of War if you pick it up before July 26th!

 - Joe Beard

World in Flames Deluxe Collectors Edition by Australian Design Group Front of the box/treasure chest Back of the...

World in Flames Deluxe Collectors Edition by Australian Design Group World in Flames Deluxe Collectors Edition by Australian Design Group

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


Front of the box/treasure chest

Back of the box

Closer view of the back.

 I own Victory Games Pacific War, and I also own Fire in The East by GDW. From SPI, I have both The Art of War and Atlantic Wall in the old 'soapbox' boxes. I have been awed looking at the unpunched counters on these games and the huge expanse of their maps. That  is until now; now I am jaded. I have just received WIF, and I am just completely blown away by the box size and its heft. This is coming from a wargamer who regularly used the heft of a game to measure my interest in it. Not that smaller games are not great, it's just sometimes one wants to be inundated with counters and rules etc. I thought in that respect I could never be sated. Right now I feel like a python that has killed its prey, but finds its jaws do not open wide enough to swallow it. My other thought after the box is open is to scatter the contents of the box into a pile, and then like Smaug or better yet Fafnir take off my clothes and roll in it. This is the hoard. I have found the Rhinegold. After coming to my senses, I realize that no, we cannot build on an addition just for setting up and playing WIF. Here is the list of what comes with this edition:

1) Four Large (574mm x 830mm) full-color hard-mounted maps of the world
2)One (297mm x 420mm) full-color hard-mounted map of the Americas
3) One (297mm x 420mm) full-color hard-mounted turn record chart
4) One (297mm x 420mm) full-color hard-mounted Task Force display
5) 4800 (12.7mm x 12.7mm) full-color counters of all of the armies, navies, and air forces of World War II (Including Planes in Flames, Ships in Flames (Including Cruisers in Flames, Convoys in Flames, and Carrie Planes in Flames), Divisions in Flames, and Territories in Flames).
6) Full-color rule book
7) Full-color campaign book 
8) Five x A3 full-color games charts
9) Two ten-sided die

What you see when you open the box and remove the packaging

The different sets for the Deluxe Edition

This is the package for the 'normal' Collector's Edition

 Mail persons, or their counterparts, may all have to wear trusses after delivering this game. The actual weight of this edition is over fifteen pounds. I also want to make sure that you understand that there was no typo in the list. There are 4800!!! counters that come with this edition. The classic counter set in the box comes with 1600 counters in eight sheets by itself. The added counters are 3200 in sixteen sheets. If I could trust them not to make mistakes, I would give my kids a few bucks per sheet to cut them out.

The sixteen sheets of the Deluxe Edition counters

The eight sheets of counters from the the Collector's Edition

 Again, let me stress that the maps and add on charts are all hard-mounted. The maps are large and so is the writing on them. They are easy to read for even old grogs. The counters are the small ones that we are used to playing with, but they have to be. If the counters were any larger you would need your garage floor for the map. There are games, especially series games, that have larger maps, but none to my knowledge were ever hard-mounted. 

Close-up of one of the plane counter sheets

 Even the packaging of the game is extremely well done. The classic edition is packaged all by itself, so you can start to play with that edition without disturbing the deluxe edition. Even the booklets are packaged separately in the box. The box also comes with enough small plastic bags as you would find in a warehouse to use for small parts. 

The map package

The maps bundle on its side. I wear XXL gloves.

 The entire presentation and packaging lets you know that you have bought a quality product. Let's face it, you have put a large amount of money into this purchase. Upon receipt you will see that physically your money has been well spent. The box is like a cornucopia of goodness that never ends. I would be pretty amazed if someone who received this edition of the game wasn't awed by the components and their size. 

The Western Europe Map

The Pacific Map

The Americas and the Turn Record Chart

This is the Task Force Display from 'Ships In Flames'

 So, how does it play? I have no idea. I am still wrapping my head around the components. I will have to do a separate review just on the game play itself. The rules and game play have been worked on almost continually since the game was first released in 1986, when it won tons of wargaming awards. If you owned an older version of WIF like I did, or you have always been tempted to try the game out, now is your time. The years (I am not being facetious) of gaming that you will get with this edition is an incredible bang for your buck.


Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele  I normally only have one game at a time set up, that is unti...

Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era by Hollandspiele

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


 I normally only have one game at a time set up, that is until Horse and Musket showed up at my door. I had to figure out a way to set it up and play it. For those of us who are interested in the wars of Louis XIV, this is almost the Holy Grail. The campaigns and battles of Marlborough during the War of The Spanish Succession have had a lot of games designed about them (I should know I own almost all of them). Some games even allow you to fight battles from earlier in the Sun King's reign. This game allows you to fight battles from 1683 until 1720. So this includes the Nine Years' War or the War of The Grand Alliance. This war was fought from 1688-1997. What this means is that you can now refight the battles of French Marshals Catinat and Luxembourg. The game actually allows you to start your tour of the Horse and Musket era in 1683 and fight to save or keep besieging Vienna during the Ottoman's last gasp toward conquering Europe. This is a list of the battles included:

Vienna - September 12, 1683 – “We came, we saw, and God Conquered.”
Sedgemoor - July 6, 1685 – The Bloody Assizes
Killiecrankie - July 27, 1689 – Slaughter at Sundown
Fleurus - July 1, 1690 – The French Cannae
Aughrim - July 22, 1691 – Bloody Hollow
La Prairie - August 11, 1691 – Double Ambush
Neerwinden - July 29, 1693 – Le Tapissier de NĂ´tre Dame
Marsaglia - October 4, 1693 – The Massed Bayonet Charge is Born
Narva - November 30, 1700 – Charles XII Smashes the Russian Army
Chiari - September 1, 1701 – Catinat’s Last Battle
Klissow - July 19, 1702 – Charles XII Invades Poland
Blenheim - August 13, 1704 – “A Famous Victory”
Fraustadt - February 13, 1706 – The Swedish Cannae
Turin - September 7, 1706 – Eugene’s Greatest Victory
Almansa - April 25, 1707 – Battle of the Exiles
Poltava - July 8, 1709 – The Student Surpasses the Master
Malplaquet - September 11, 1709 – Mort et convoi de l'invincible Malbrough
Villaviciosa - December 10, 1710 – A Bourbon on the Spanish Throne
Sheriffmuir - November 13, 1715 – Confusion on the Moors
Glen Shiel - June 10, 1719 – Rob Roy’s Last Battle

 The map for the game is 16"x 32". It is a 'blank slate' type of map. To represent the different battles, there are geomorphic tiles to be used in the hexes. So this allows the player to be creative and make up his own scenarios once he has played through the ones that come with the game. To me, the geomorphic tiles have an old type style to them that sets the tone for the game. 

The game comes with a 15 page rule book. It also comes with a 27 page scenario booklet. At the end of the scenario booklet are 6 pages of historical notes on the battles and the era.
The core rules are only 10 pages long. To these are added another 38 optional rules. Some of these are listed 'highly recommended'. Then there are ones that are 'strongly recommended'. This is the funny yet entirely true warning before the optional rules:

 You've reached the end of the core rules. What follows are Optional Rules. For your first few games, please use the core rules only. I know almost every rulebook says this, and you ignore that and jump right in for the 'real stuff', but we really mean it this time. Once you've gotten a grip on the core rules, you can add one or more of the thirty-eight optional rules that follow."

This is a list of the units that you get to command:
Elite infantry
Line infantry
Light infantry
Highlander - these ones are not immortal

The game turn sequence is:

1. Player A rolls and determines random action points available and adds to the Command Action Points and stored Action Points for his total.
2. Player A spends Action Points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
3. Check Victory
4. Player B rolls and determines random Action Points available and adds to the Command Action Points and stored Action Points for his total.
5. Player B spends Action Points one at a time and performs allowable actions in any order he wishes.
6. Check Victory
7. End turn - move turn marker ahead one space on CAP Track, and go back to step 1.

 So along with Marshal Luxembourg you get to try and do better than Charles XII, Marlborough, Villars, and Prince Eugene. If it was a movie what a cast you would have! 

  The game uses very few pieces to represent the forces in each battle. This might be a turn off to some gamers who love to see their army all lined up and taking up most of their side of the map. To me, the small number of counters mean that you will have to spend much less time to set up the game and start playing. I don't think that the low counter use detracts from the game play either. There are still a multitude of tactics and plans that you can come up with to win your battle. Once you are set with the rules and start using the optional ones is when the game really shines. It gives the player the feel of fighting battles in the 17th and 18th century. I would say that the game is easy to play and not simple. There is a really big difference between the two. I have played a few of Mr, Chick's games, and I am a real fan. It is not just because of the time period, but I am also a fan of the games' designs and mechanics.


Desert War 1940-1942 by Matrix and Slitherine Games  We wargamers seem to be split at times into two camps. First, ...

Desert War 1940-1942 by Matrix and Slitherine games Desert War 1940-1942 by Matrix and Slitherine games

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Desert War 1940-1942


Matrix and Slitherine Games

 We wargamers seem to be split at times into two camps. First, we have the generation that grew up on computer wargames. Second, we have the grognards that cut their teeth on board wargames before they found computer ones. To me, Desert War is very much like a board wargame ported to the computer, and not a game that was built from the ground up as a computer game. This, I think, is where the almost Jeckyll and Hyde reviews of this game have come from. The younger computer generation seems to find the game hard to get into and the UI not user friendly, while those of us who have manually picked through stacks to figure out battle odds are more at home with the game and how it plays. I know I am over simplifying each side of the argument for length's sake. 

 In terms of what games wargamers really want, the North African campaign is always near the top of any poll. I believe this is because there has been so much written about the campaign compared to many others. Rommel has been put on a pedestal as the greatest German general, and a master of tank warfare. The Italians have unfortunately been labeled as inept, and very easy to defeat. I think you would get a different answer to that label by the English soldiers who were in the desert campaigns. This desert war has been shrouded in myth, much like T.E. Lawrence and his desert war. So let us see what exactly you get when you purchase Desert War:

  "Air, Naval, and Ground Assets are off-map capabilities that can be brought into play when the owning player sees fit.
Air assets represent squadrons that can conduct counter-air, interdiction, ground attack and ground support missions. Air reconnaissance (recce) assets represent flights of two to four aircraft. Air recce assets can collect information about the location and type of enemy ground units on the map.
Naval Assets represent individual ships able to provide of ground attack and ground support missions.
Off-map Ground Assets provide additional capabilities that can influence the on-map battle. Ground Assets include electronic warfare assets, command and control (C2) activities, and Special Forces.
Unlike in many computer wargames, Desert War 1940-42 employs a WEGO system. WEGO by its nature is about the Player’s ability to plan for and manage chaos; to find solutions to perceived challenges to accomplishing the mission with the tools at hand.
In this way, every decision you make must be carefully considered. Learn to think three moves ahead and outsmart your opponent!

  • Re-discover surprise on the battlefield!  The WEGO game system makes for great fun and realistic game play.
  • 12 scenarios that explore the action from the Italian Invasion of Egypt in 1940 to Rommel's defeat at El Alamein in late 1942.
  • Control land, air and naval forces at the battalion, air group, and individual ship level.
  • Allocate Command, Special Forces and electronic warfare (EW) assets to influence the battles.
  • Simple on-line gameplay using Slitherine's PBEM system.
  • Full game editor; build your own maps, forces, and graphics.  Includes an AI scripting language that provides a challenging AI opponent capable of "changing its mind" based on the human player's actions.
Scenario List:
  • 2nd Battle of Bardia (introductory scenario)
  • Operazione E: The Reluctant Offensive, 13-20 Sep 1940
  • Into The Blue: Battle of Sidi Barrani, 9-12 Dec 1940
  • Beda Fomm: Death of an Army, 1-7 Feb 1941
  • Enter Rommel (only Multiplayer - no SP)
  • Battle of Sollum: Operation Battleaxe, 15-18 Jun 1941
  • Sunday of the Dead: Battle of Sidi Rezegh, 18-24 Nov 1941
  • Rats vs The Ram: Battle of Bir el Gubi, 19-21 Nov 1941
  • Gazala--First Five Days, 26-30 May 1942
  • Gazala--The Cauldron, 29 May - 10 Jun 1942
  • Gazala--Fall of Tobruk, 11 - 21 Jun 1942
  • High Tide at Alam Halfa, 30 Aug - 5 Sep 1942
  • 2nd Alamein: From Lightfoot to Supercharge, 24 Oct - 3 Nov 1942"

Options Screen

   So the first thing to notice about the game that it is a WEGO, and not a IGOUGO game. This type of action is where a computerized wargame really shines. To those unfamiliar with the term WEGO means that both sides determine their moves, and then they are simultaneously played out during the movement and battle phase. Board wargames have come a long way with simulating time and fog of war, but computer wargames are still better at it. The only thing that computer games cannot replicate is the ability to see the consternation in your opponent's eyes. 

Scenario Selection Screen

 The next item to notice about the game is the large amount of different scenarios that the game comes with. The game simulates the incredible difference in warfare from 1940 to 1942, not only the large difference in the armaments, but also how it was used.  

Battle of Sidi Barrani
  The third item about the game is that is has a lot of counters. I am talking a Grigsby game amount of counters. It seems funny that I have no problem, and actually enjoy, a board wargame with hundreds of counters. However, in computer wargames it is always nice to have an AI adjutant to hand things over to such as artillery fire etc. I can see where some gamers might have a problem with the amount of counters and data that a player must absorb in order to play the game correctly.

Introductory Scenario

  The developer likes input from buyers, but also non-buyers. The game has been worked on continually from its first version until now. That is one of the biggest reasons to support different developers.

 I am not a big fan of the North African campaign so maybe it is that fact that has given me more pause than usual in digging into the game.

Second El Alamein, These are just the Axis Units

  So I am not truly ambivalent about the game. It is just that I have to be in the right state of mind to fire it up. It is not a game that you can start and then play for a half hour, and then head off to dinner. For this game I have to be ready to invest some time and to sink into my chair for a good long while. I am sure players of 'World in Flames', or 'War in the Pacific' will understand. I like the game, I just have to be ready to delve deeply into it. For those of you who like 'beer and pretzel' games, please stay far, far away. For anyone who is looking for a deep wargame, here it is. It is unbelievable to me that this started as a labor of love. This was a free download once. The game has come a long way since then, but it's still really only a hobby project. For everything that the developer has added into the game this is still hard for me to grasp.

 If you noticed, the review is late. I waited for the first patch to see if some items cleared up. I was having 'artifacts' show up on my screen after playing for a while (an artifact is a left over portion of a window that has since been closed). After seeing that no one else was complaining of this, I updated my drivers etc., and it no longer shows up. The AI in the game was another matter. In some of the scenarios the AI would not really attack at all. The developer has worked on this and has said that he would continue to look at the AI. It does seem to be better after the patch. The other thing is this review seems to be cursed, at least for me. I have lost the rough draft twice on it, which is funny because it has never happened to me before. 

 So, bottom line, this is a good to great game as long as you are interested in putting the time into learning it. One good thing about the game is the number of tutorials that have been done. Some of the best have been done by "Slick Wilhelm" from the Matrix Games forum.