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Age of Belisarius A DLC for Field of Glory II by Slitherine Games   Justinian was an emperor that did not deser...

Age of Belisarius a DLC for Slitherine's Field of Glory II Age of Belisarius a DLC for Slitherine's Field of Glory II

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

Age of Belisarius

A DLC for Field of Glory II


Slitherine Games

 Justinian was an emperor that did not deserve his wife or his generals. This new DLC from Slitherine is for their smash hit Field of Glory II. The Roman empire had risen on their heavy infantry. After Byzantium, or Constantinople if you prefer, became the second and then the only capitol of the empire. Their new enemies required the Romans to rethink their reliance on infantry. Justinian dreamed of reconquering the lost provinces of the Western Roman Empire. This would have only been a pipe dream if he did not have the services of the generals Belisarius and Narses. Belisarius only lost one battle, and that was forced on him early in his career. 

 So let us look at what you get with this DLC:
  • 11 new named factions: Avars, Byzantines, Franks, Gepids, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Turks, Vandals, Visigoths, Welsh.

  • 17 new units: Byzantine Lance/Bow cavalry, Veteran Byzantine Lance/Bow cavalry, Byzantine Flankers, Dismounted Armoured Noble Lancers, Dismounted Noble Lancers, Dismounted Armoured Horse Archers, Sabir Foot, Indian Light Horse (javelins), Indian Light Foot (javelins), Bedouin Cavalry (lancers), Bedouin Light Horse (lancers), Bedouin Foot, Pre-Islamic City Arab foot, Bulgar Cavalry, Bulgar Light Horse, Spearmen (Dark Age), Raw Spearmen (Dark Age).

  • 29 new army lists (which expands the total number of army lists to 166).

  • 6 new Epic Battles: Dara 530 AD, Tricamarum 533 AD, Taginae 552 AD, The Volturnus 554 AD, Bukhara 557 AD, Raith 596 AD (each playable from either side).

  • 37 new Quick Battles (each playable from either side).

  • Expanded Field of Glory II Custom Battles module now includes all 166 army lists from Immortal Fire, Rise of Rome, Legions Triumphant and Age of Belisarius. (Purchase of the appropriate DLCs is necessary to access them all).

  • Expanded Field of Glory II Sandbox Campaigns module now includes all 166 army lists from Immortal Fire, Rise of Rome, Legions Triumphant and Age of Belisarius. (Purchase of the appropriate DLCs is necessary to access them all).

  • 4 new historically-based campaigns:

o   Belisarius

o   Clovis I of the Franks

o   King of Kings 2 (Sassanid Persia)

o   Rise of the Avars

 The base game of FOG II has been updated continually since its release. One excellent choice that Slitherine has made is that all of the upgrades for the base game are available to the player even without buying all of the planned DLCs. So the only thing a person would miss out on would be the new troop types, battles, and campaigns from each DLC.

 As far as the DLC, there is not much to say. The game is the best game as yet released for the computer dealing with tactical ancient warefare. The DLCs just make the experience that much better and wider in scope. If you are interested in early Byzantine or later Roman Empire tactical battles, this is what you have been waiting for. If you haven't picked up the base game, why not! It is as good as everyone has said. The Age of Belisarius DLC is worth its price tag and much more.

One of the big additions in this DLC to the game is cavalry units that can dismount and fight on foot. The sandbox feature has also had an upgrade. Now you are able to pit any of the armies that you have in your stable against any other one you own. This is not only in the Custom Battles, but also the Custom Campaigns. So join the fun and try to recreate the Roman Empire. This time you do not have to worry about Justinian becoming jealous and removing you from command. The next DLC that is coming for FOG II goes in the other direction in time; it is the Rise of Persia. I cannot wait to be able to command Assyrians.


Red Dragon Blue Dragon Against The Odds #45   I have reviewed one other ATO magazine ( http://www.awargamersneedfulthi...

Red Dragon Blue Dragon Against The Odds #45 Red Dragon Blue Dragon Against The Odds #45

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

  I have reviewed one other ATO magazine ( Once again the ATO magazine is a real stunner. The articles are all well done and very interesting. The game in this issue is about the campaign for China during the latest Chinese Civil War in 1948 and 1949. This was the last real showdown between the Nationalists (Kuomintang, GMD) and the Communists (PLA). The game rules use GMD and PLA to differentiate. The background history article is fascinating reading. One of the facts I was not aware of is how many American advisors in China were actually more on the side of the Communists than the Nationalists. This did cost them later when they all seem to have been caught up in the McCarthy era anti-communist purges after returning to the US. From a purely armaments point of view, the Nationalists should have won. Unfortunately for them, the Communists were able to successfully fight for the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.

Back of the boxed version

This is a list of the articles:

Red Dragon Blue Dragon
On Guards: The "China Hands"
Sowing The Wind: The National Air Races 1929-1939 
The Fulda Gap Sandbox: Comparing a Hobby Wargame and a 
  Computer Simulation from the Cold War Era
And The Data Shows On The Move: Kingdoms In Exile
Long Spear, Short Legs: Operational Limitations and 
The Power Of Airpower
Designing 'Dueling Eagles'
Simulation Corner    

 As you can see the articles are varied, and they are also well interspersed with pictures and maps. 

Map from the Nationalist side

 The game is an operational one about the Battle of Huai-Hai. This was a fight for the center of China. The Communists had pretty much overrun the North, and the Nationalists had the South. The Communist party had decided that they were ready to capture the strategic city of Xuzhou. The Nationalists have tanks and air support. The Communists are armed with a jamboree of weapons from the Nationalists themselves to captured Japanese ones. Make no mistake, in these battles the Nationalists are the underdog.

Counters Front

 The map is scaled to twenty kilometers per hex. The game is played in one week turns. The units are mostly Nationalist Corps and Communist Columns. These are anywhere from 15,00-40,00 men. The rules call the PLA Columns Corps for ease. Artillery units represent 36-54 pieces. Armor Battalions are 18-30 tanks. The GMD air units equal roughly 40 aircraft. The actual map portion is small, but it is well done. The small map size allows all of the extras, like the turn track etc, to be on it. The counters are your normal magazine sized counters, but they are well done and easy to read. 

 Nationalist defection is one of the pivotal parts of the game. The Battle for Xuzhou has been described as the Gettysburg of the Chinese Civil War. The soldiers on both sides of the battle came to about a million men. Oddly enough, considering Korea and Vietnam, the U.S. refused to get involved. So let us look at the game play.

 Sequence of play:

Weather Phase
China News! Phase
Interdiction Phase
GMD Movement Phase
  Reinforcement and Replacement Segment
  FDP Relief Check Segment
  GMD Movement Segment
PLA Movement Phase
  PLA Reinforcement and Replacement Segment
  PLA Movement Segment
PLA Combat Phase
GMD Combat Phase
Turn End Phase

Counters Back

 One of the most interesting and innovative rules had to do with one of the events that can happen when checking the China News Table. This is the PLA Political Offensive. This Political Offensive lasts for three turns. During these turns the PLA can move but not attack. They are allowed to do POPAs (Political Offensive Propaganda Attacks) against the GMD units. These propaganda attacks can cause the GMD units to defect. This propaganda offensive actually happened historically. It was caused by a tremendous amount of casualties suffered by the PLA, and the fact that the Communist hierarchy (Mao) wanted to win an ideological war. Historically this was followed by the US shutting off aid to the GMD. This was really the last nail in the GMD coffin. The flight to Taiwan was the next step for the GMD after the battle of Huai Hai.

'China News Table'

 There is also an explanation of the seeming change in the names of Chinese cities and areas in the last fifty years. The difference is that the older names we were used to reading were from the Wade-Giles system of translation. The newer Pinyin system is the reason the names changed. So Peking was Wade-Giles and Beijing is Pinyin. The author of the game's background piece shows both to help the reader.

CRT etc.

 In all ATO games there is a side that has their back up against the wall. As mentioned, in this game it is the Nationalist/GMD. Historically the amount of troops that defected from the GMD was large. So playing as the GMD, you have to be ready for anything. It is a tough side to play. The victory conditions are fortunately skewed a bit to help you. The PLA must get a sudden death victory or annihilate the GMD forces. A sudden death victory is if the PLA occupy Xuzhou with a supplied PLA unit on turns one through three. Do not get me wrong, the game does not all go the PLA's way. When the Political Offensive shows up, the PLA player is pretty much hamstrung. As the designer puts it "The Political Offensive can really wreck what seemed to be a victorious PLA campaign. The PLA player needs to be ready for it; it will happen. This means making hay while the sun shines; do not think that you can afford to take a 'slack turn' just because you are ahead (Unless the Political Offensive has already occurred!)"

 All in all, a great issue, and a pretty good game about a very unknown (to the West) campaign. The background history of the campaign is stellar.



Mark Walker\ Crowbar Interview Transcript  AWNT received a package containing two tape recordings of what appears to be the in...

Interview with Mark Walker Interview with Mark Walker

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

Mark Walker\Crowbar Interview Transcript

 AWNT received a package containing two tape recordings of what appears to be the interrorga..sorry interviews, of two people. Below is the transcript of the first recording. Though not all was clear we have done our utmost to record as precisely as possible what is being said on the tape.

Interview of Mark Walker.

 Mark Walker first of Lock n Load boardgame fame and now the man behind Flying Pig Games needs little introduction within the Wargaming community. His games, mainly at the tactical scale, cover a wide range of conflicts (both historical aswell as sci-fi) are well loved and well known. This man of many gifts is also a prolific author of a genre he has made his own, it’s military fiction crossed with the supernatural.

Now onto the transcript…

Hello Mark, please don’t panic. Let me quickly explain. We tried, oh we tried to do this the proper way Mark. We really did. Not only did we send you an email requesting an interview we also messaged you on that facethingymajig. We waited, yes, we waited three days!! Nothing. So this was our last resort Mark. So now, all you have to do is answer a few little questions and we will put you right back where we, er, picked you up from. OK.What’s that..oh sorry (background..”he still has tape on his mouth, take it off you cretin….”). Painful tearing sound. Sorry about that, now OK to start? One thing, just ignore the wires. You’re connected to ACME 1555 1\3 lie detector, just so you know. OK here we go.


Uh? Mark (base line stick with it)


As young as I feel on any given day. In general, my wife claims that I’m a large nine-year old.

Current Location? 

South-central Virginia.

Favourite TV program?

 Castle Rock

Favourite Music genre? 

Alternative Rock

Favourite band\musician?


Favourite Film?

Sucker Punch

Favourite period of history? 


Favourite Superhero?

Forever Carlyle

Favourite colour?

Blue over tan, like the beach.

Favourite animal? 


Lucky number?


Hurricane or BF109? 

P-51 Mustang. (clever)

WW2 or Vietnam?

WW3 (like it, leftfield)

Werewolf or Vampire?

Katarina (interesting)

Tactical or Operational?

Tactical (me too)

Patton or McArthur


Excellent! That’s the levels sorted, sorry I mean the, we know you better, part done.

When did you first get involved with wargames and at what point did you decide to make a career out of it? 

First game I played was TAHGC’s Gettysburg when I was 9. Decided to make a career of it in 2006 when I opened LNLP.

How difficult was it to get off the mark with your first product? Trying to get this website out there to the communities that would be interested has been the hardest part by far with regards to AWNT. I imagine trying to make a living out of your venture adds the pressure ten fold with regards to getting your name out there. 

It was difficult. I remember the first screen shot I posted of a village in Forgotten Heroes. It was on Consimworld. Some smart ass said, “Where’s the cocktail waitress.”

What was your first successful game design?

I’m not sure any of my designs have been successful. My first published designed was Lock ‘n Load.

Looking back at your game releases what if any are your standout games? Not necessarily from a profit viewpoint but more from a personal view and why is that?

Dark War RPG, because it’s my first RPG and the game everyone wants to play when they come over to my house. Of course, Lock ‘n Load was a lot of fun too. Strange thing about that game was that it worked right away. Some games, like ’65, take quite a while to make click. I like ’65 and Night of Man because of the way they play. The card-driven mechanism makes them feel bigger, richer than a typical tactical game. And World at War? Geez but I love me some WW3 gaming.

Your games go from historical through to WW3 horror and lots in between! Do you have a favourite with regards to the design process?

Not sure I understand this question, but… if you mean a favourite era/genre, it would be military horror. Like Dog Soldiers.  (great film)

What scale is your favourite to design for? I’d love to see man vs man scale, does that scale ring your bell so to speak?

Well, Dark War is man vs man/woman/beast/demon. I guess that squad-level is my favorite scale, but platoon-level is a close second.

What’s your thoughts on Solo games? Many struggle with regards to finding an opponent so solo wargames suit them. Have you thought about designing solo only boardgames?

Although I didn’t design it, we have an excellent solo wargame, Crowbar! The Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, on Kickstarter right now. I like solo wargames, or I guess that I mean that I like the idea of solo wargames, but I find it difficult to find time to solo game. It’s when I get together with friends that I make myself sit down and game.

When did you first come across Herm Luttman and the Crowbar! Tabletop game?

I’ve known Herm for a few years. He suggested Crowbar! To me and I said, not yes, but hell yes. If Herm designed a game about dog poop, I’d publish it. Fortunately, Crowbar! Isn’t about dog poop, it’s an immersive game about the Ranger’s assault on Pointe du Hoc. It’s a push-your-luck type game. The longer and harder you push your luck, the greater the chance for a big fall.

The KickStarter has done extremely well. How pleased are you and Herm about how successful it’s been?

Very pleased and I think there is a good chance to unlock more stretch goals as we approach the finish. It’s exciting stuff.

As mentioned earlier I have an interest in Solo wargames and for me there is always room for solo tactical wargame. What was it about Crowbar! That grabbed your attention? Did the Solo aspect have any say? 

I love the way that Herm puts story into his games. I had played In Magnificent Style and I loved the game.

Will we see expansions or new standalone releases? If so I do hope we get to play as the Germans..pref in Stalingrad pretty please? 

Sure, there are expansions included in the Kickstarter, and yes you get to play as the Germans. 😊 (colour me excited!)

DO you have any tactical advice for the future players of Crowbar?

Don’t push your luck too far! 😊

Finally it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, Just sit tight I’m sure the good men about to burst in are now expert at untying people strapped to a chair..(loud smash) been tickety bo..must dash..bye…(sounds of footsteps and cursing fades into distance. Possibly Marks voice thanking someone and something about unhinged and need treatment..tape ends)

Crowbar the tabletop game has just had a very successful Kickstarter. I highly recommend you go check it out. Mark hasn't let us down yet, and he hasn't dropped the ball on this one either!

Good luck to Herm and Mark!

Coming soon Herm Luttmans interrogation!

Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar Translated by R. A. Maguire  The master does a critique o...

Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar translated by R. A. Maguire Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar translated by R. A. Maguire

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

Translated by

 The master does a critique of an earlier great general. Napoleon's comments on the wars of Caesar are well worth the price of admission. The tidbits that are thrown in from his own time are just amazing. I have been reading military history about the Napoleonic era for about fifty years, and I have not seen these items. The other thing about this book is the absolutely staggering brilliance and memory of Napoleon's own mind. Remember, this book was dictated on St. Helena. There was no library or anything for Napoleon to consult except for his own encyclopedic brain. This next piece from the book will show what I am talking about. This is commenting on his own bridging of the Danube, and comparing it to Caesar's bridging of the Rhine. He then discusses the properties of cork for pontoons:

 "Cork weighs 16lb per cubic foot, water 70lb; each cubit foot of cork can carry 54lb. A pontoon made of solid cork would weigh 1,600lb, would displace 100' and could carry 5,400lb; taking away 1,000lb for the weight of the deck, made of planks and beams, leaves 4,400lb, which is enough to carry campaign vehicles. If this cork pontoon were divided into four floats, each of 25', they would each weigh 400lb and could carry 1,350lb. What advantages would come from a bridge made in this way! It could never be sunk by the impact of foreign bodies, or bad weather, or cannon fire. It would have the proper characteristics of a mechanism of war; durability, strength, and simplicity. A bridge so constructed could have one, two, three, four, five or even six floats supporting each pier, according to the number available, the width of the river and the requirement of the task. The wagons carrying the floats would no longer need to come to the river bank; such floats could be easily carried by hand for 200 or 400 yards."

 "Twelve pounds of cork can form a belt which fits under the armpits, which will keep a man afloat such that he can use his firearm. Several such belts, with the equivalent number of cork shoes and waterproof trousers, should be supplied to each company of pontoon sappers, to assist them in placing pontoons and to increase their security when working in the water on bridge construction."

  So you not only get Napoleon's comments about Caesar's campaigns, and what his enemies did, you are also treated to the master's musings on some of his own achievements. 

 Napoleon starkly dismisses the idea that Caesar planned to make himself a king. He states rightly that "The dignity of kings was a thing to be scorned and despised: the curule chair was higher than the throne. On what throne could Caesar have sat? On that of the kings of Rome, whose authority did not extend beyond the city's outskirts? On that of the barbarian kings of Asia, who had been defeated by men with names like Fabricius, Aemilius Paulus, Scipio, Metellus, Claudius and so on? That would have been a strange course to adopt. What? would Caesar really have sought stability, greatness and respect in the crown which had been worn by Philip, Perseus, Attalus, Mithridates, Pharnaces or Ptolemy, men whom the citizens had seen dragged along behind the triumphal chariot of their conquerors?"

 While it is true that most of these kings were not in Roman triumphs, I understand exactly where Napoleon is heading with this diatribe. Napoleon comments many times that Caesar was very lucky at times to escape some of his battles without losing. He makes it clear that he believed Caesar to be rash, sometimes to the extreme at times.

 The book itself is only 119 pages long including notes. This book was last published fully in 1836. It is high time it has seen the light of day. Thank you Pen & Sword.


Book : Napoleon's Commentaries on the Wars of Julius Caesar
Author: The Master
Translator: R. A. Maguire
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

BLOODY STEPPES OF CRIMEA 1854 BY STRATEGEMATA As promised this review stands at the opposite end of the scale to my previous ...


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



As promised this review stands at the opposite end of the scale to my previous one on The War of the Worlds.  This package from the Polish company, Strategemata, presents the three famous battles of the Crimean War and harks back in several ways to earlier products of the heyday of hex and counter simulations.

In part I was fascinated by the rarity with which this conflict has been gamed.  My first gaming encounter with this period was many years ago with GDW's Crimea [pub. 1975], a largely strategic game, but with an odd, and not altogether satisfactory, substrata to fight these individual battles.  However, my best experience was with SPI's Quad Crimean Battles [pub. 1978] containing four folio sized maps to fight all three of the battles offered by Strategemata, plus Tchernaya River.  I have to say that I played these battles repeatedly, as like all SPI's Quad games they were presented with a simple basic set of rules with  a few minor additions to reflect small individual elements of each battle.  

Bloody Steppes of Crimea couldn't be more different.  It comes with one full sized map with the Battle of the Alma on one side and Balaclava on the other, while Inkerman has its own folio size map.  These maps are glossy and on fairly thin stock.  As I tend to store virtually all my papers flat, the effect of refolding them doesn't tend to be a worry, but I doubt these would stand much folding.  The landscape depicted is largely bare.  Most notable are the colours used to depict the changes in elevation, with only a few other features, particularly the river that gives its name to the Battle of The Alma, but unfortunately, the hex numbering is very heavy and prominent, as can be seen in the photo below..

The maps particularly have a slightly dated appearance to them, but the muted colours work well with the strong, bright colours of the counters.  These are on the thin side which perhaps reflects their being the product of a small independent company.  However, in terms of detail and illustration they are clear with a wide variety of images and the key information of formation and numerical values easy to see and interpret.

They have been so strongly die-cut that about 70 had fallen out of their frames when I initially opened the box and this certainly caused problems of identifying the organisation of brigades and divisions that they belonged to.  At this point, Strategemata were extremely helpful in emailing me photocopies of the countersheets that helped me piece together the original layout of the counters.

Nevertheless problems are still compounded by the fact that there is no overall play aid that identifies the organisation of the units.  Instead each battle has its own separate Order of Battle and its a slow process putting together exactly which units are needed.  The colour bar at the top of some of the counters is a help and essential in play for identifying brigade level formations for activation purposes, but there are many units that operate at corps or army level that add to the complexity - and I'd strongly advise that this is a complex game system in all respects.  This is something I'll return to in my conclusion.

The rulebook is a substantial document and needs careful reading.  By and large the translation for the English rules is fluent, though occasional omission of words and questionable use of the intended preposition makes meaning at time a little unsure. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that small, but important points don't always occur in the main rule book, but in the short individual battle pamphlets.  For example, it is there that you will find which units are at corps or army level.  Even more significant is that some units have a counter that is used in one battle and replaced by a stronger/weaker one in a different battle.

The text is presented in double columns of small, dense text often in lengthy sentences and numbered according to the familiar case system using Roman numerals for the fifteen major sections labelled as Chapters with often as many as 54 subsections, but interspersed with separately numbered side headings.

As you can imagine there is a significantly large amount of reading and assimilating to get through, before you are anywhere near ready to start playing.  Though there are a reasonable number of examples, they are all in black and white and for the depth of rules  several more would have been very helpful.  My advice is to break out a small number of counters for each side and set them up on the Alma map to work through many of the rules.

As you do so, these are some of the key features of the game that you will encounter.  First of all a detailed Command system takes us from the supreme Commander down though Wing/Corps Commanders to Divisional and Brigade level with written orders to be followed.  There is a good degree of flexibility with many leaders able to roll against their own initiative to change orders.  Following the practice in many games with this type of system, a player needs to decide in advance whether to allow a senior leader to attempt to  change orders or wait and allow individual subordinate leaders to roll individually.

A feature I've always enjoyed in some games of this level is the presence of dispatch riders who operate on the turn track in covering shorter distances to transmit orders, but for longer distances actually appear moving across the map.  Alongside this is an intriguing idea that was new to me and that is that accompanying the order a specific vector of 60 degrees must be designated and a specific number of hexes that must be travelled by the leader in question.  Once that destination is reached by the leader the order automatically changes to a Defense order until a new order is issued. 

This information is handled on specific charts that accompany each individual battle.  On one side is the order of battle and the hex set-up for the units, on the other is a display for the strength of each unit and a display for each leader to mark the vector/distance and order.  Unless you're going to photocopy the chart and employ a pencil and rubber, I'd suggest you need to either laminate the chart so that you can use a dry-wipe pen or create your own separate display just for orders.

The chart for the battle of Balaclava
Along with this admirable element is the familiar and popular chit draw for selecting which formation is the next to be activated.  Again some nice tweaks have been added to how this system works.   Each side places a chit for each formation in play into a separate draw cup, but the player with fewer formations adds enough blank chits to match his opponent's total.  One side may not activate more than two formations in a row, the first is drawn randomly [except for the very first activation in a turn], while the 2nd one has to be chosen and rolled for.    

Even these early rules have some depth to them, but the picture that builds up as you progress at times feels formidable.  Any system that employs a variety of formations, as here, inevitably adds to the depth of rules.  By choosing unit strength charts rather than Strength points printed on the counters, one aspect of such complex systems is avoided and that is the use of a plethora of formation markers. Instead change of formation can be covered by simply flipping a counter to its appropriate side. The only exception is infantry entering square formation.  That is a real plus.

However, one downside of various formation types is inevitably a highly detailed movement chart which, even with repeated playings needs frequent referral.  Making things even more difficult is the fact that many of the basic costs as well as the additional costs for hexside and elevation change involve 0.5 of a movement point.  The difficulty is not just in remembering the cost, but the actual maths needed to carry out movement slows the game down considerably.
With a detailed movement chart comes a similarly detailed combat modifier chart based on terrain, plus modifiers for range.  Add on separate charts for Infantry Fire, Artillery Fire and Melee modifiers. And all this is after you've wrestled with the rules detailing how to conduct Fire, Melee [wonderfully titled Attacking With Cold Steel], Cavalry Charge and Counter-Charge, Visibility [oh no line of sight, as always is not an easy task] et al.

There is just so much to get your head round.  Exceptions because of formation, type of unit [e.g. skirmishers and French Zouaves]. effects of disorganisation and rout.  Everything familiar is here and much that is innovative. especially the lack of ZOCs and the ability of the enemy to react when a unit moves adjacent.

In consequence, you have a game that takes considerable time to accommodate mastering all the rules and gives one of the most highly detailed levels of play that I've engaged with.  As a result this is game that can take considerable time to play, depending on your choice of battle.  

If you feel that you can take on the challenge, I would suggest the Battle of Balaclava as your starting point.  It has the lowest unit density and the fewest additional rules.  Follow up with Inkerman, again low unit density and some fairly fragile British units supported by more powerful French ones , though with some of the more detailed additional rules.  Finally, the first major battle of the Crimean War, the Battle of the Alma should be tackled last.  Everything is in there and in large numbers that you can see below.

The Battle of the Alma

My conclusion is that this is a simulation very much for experienced hex and counter players - what in gamespeak are usually labeled as "grognards".  Having served 43 years in the ranks of historical board game players, I still found several concepts challenging to get to grips with and for complexity level I think a comparison with at least the La Battaille series is appropriate.  There is certainly little out there on the Crimean War and for depth and detail I doubt that it is likely to be rivalled or surpassed.  

Many thanks to Strategemata for supplying the review copy and for their very friendly support.  

Purchase cost in UK ranging from £47.99 to £54.99

White Star Rising Nations At War Second Edition by Lock 'N Load   "Macht Schluss mit dem Krieg, ihr...

White Star Rising Nations At War Second Edition by Lock 'N Load White Star Rising Nations At War Second Edition by Lock 'N Load

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

White Star Rising

Nations At War Second Edition


Lock 'N Load 

 "Macht Schluss mit dem Krieg, ihr idioten" (End the War, or Make Peace, you idiots). This was said by Field Marshal von Rundstedt to lacKeitel, sometime after the Normandy invasion. This is the second game of the 'Nations At War' series by Lock 'N Load that I have reviewed (the first was 'Stalin's Triumph'). This game takes us to Western Europe and the battles range from the landings in Normandy to the end of the war.  The name is a bit of a misnomer because it also includes counters and scenarios for the British troops who fought during the same campaign. I liked the game system in the first game, so let us see how it translates to this side of the continent.

One Counter Sheet

 The counters, as usual from Lock 'N Load, are wonderfully done and come pre-clipped. They are a bit busy for their size, although the use of different colors should help all but the color blind. The four double-sided maps are not mounted, but are still well done. The rulebook and the Module Rules and Scenario book are done in full color with large print. The various Players' Aids are also well done and visually appealing. So let us look at what you get with the game:

Four Double Sided Seasonal Maps.

Four Counter Sheets with Over 350+ Counters.

One Color Module Booklet

Twenty-One Scenarios

One Core Game System v2.0 Manual

Two Unit Cost Sheets 11” x 17”

Four Player-Aid Cards 8.5” x 11”

Two D6 Dice


 The sequence of play is:

Operations phase: Players alternate pulling a marker from an opaque container. These can be Formation, Administration, Chaos, or End Turn markers.

Formation Impulse; If a Formation is activated this is the sequence:

 1. Unit Formation Marker removal

 2. Check Command Status

 3. Perform Rallies

 4. Perform Fire Missions: Mortar/Artillery

 5. Perform Operations: Movement, Assault, etc.

Players' Aids

 The meat of this chit pull system is the 'end turn' chits. There are always two, sometimes three, of these in the mix of the other chits. Once the second end turn chit is pulled, the game turn is over; do not pass go or collect $200 etc. So, the players have no way of knowing if all or any of their units will be able to do anything this turn. It is possible to pull the end turn chits one after the other as the first two chit pulls. In time limited, or scenarios where one side has a lot of terrain to cover, this means that one turn has just been lost. Another nice touch is the addition of a 'Chaos Chit' to the chit mix in some scenarios. Once the Chaos Chit is pulled, two six-sided die are rolled. Then you consult the Chaos Table to find out what event or result has been rolled. This is a nice way of adding even more fog of war into the game. The game also includes the use of 'Fate Points' by each player. Each scenario lists how many Fate Points each side has to use. As the rules state, " Fate Points can be thought of as currency and can be used to purchase an event that can change the game". These can be used from re-rolling one dice to being able to remove an 'Ops Complete Marker' from a unit. There are not many rules that apply only to this module. Most of the rules used are just the normal Second Edition Core Rules. This module only rules include:

 Bridge Demolition
 British Cruiser Tanks Extra Movement
 British Headquarters
 American tank Gyro Stabilizers
 American White Phosphorus Rounds (Willy Pete)
 German SS Fanatics
 German Mobile Assault 

 The Core Rules also deal with rules for these and more:

 Close Air Support
 Anti-Aircraft Units
 Mines and Mine Removal


                                Closer Counter View


   There is really not much more to say: The 'Nations At War' series from Lock 'N Load is a well done and thought out game. You really get the best of both worlds in these games, meaning that you are really playing a tactical game without all of the minutiae that come with tactical games. Not that there is something wrong with tactical games, just sometimes I know I am not in the mood for that many rules etc. There were some incidences when the second editions came out with problems with the printing, rules, and some counters. I did find a paragraph in the rulebook about 'Line of Sight' that still needs to be fixed. The spacing in it is non-existent for the most part. From what I have read, Lock 'N Load was quick about sending out new counters etc., and did their best to make things right. The rulebook that came with the game was version 2.0. On Lock 'N Load's website they have posted  a version 2.2. I will put a link at the bottom of the review. As I mentioned, I liked the first game I reviewed, 'Stalin's Triumph', a lot. This game is no different. I can easily recommend it to anyone who has a hankering to play a platoon size late World War II Western Front game. One of my favorite scenarios is 'The Hill of Death'. This is about the fight for Hill 112 in Normandy. Look for my forthcoming reviews of 'Heroes of The Motherland' and the 'Nations At War Compendium'.

 White Star Rising Second Edition Vassal Module:

 White Star Rising Second Edition Clarifications & Corrections Version 2.2:

 Nations At War Core Rules Version 2.0 Clarifications And Corrections:

 Nations At War Core Rules Second Edition:
 There is also a link to download them on the page.

 This is a link to my 'Stalin's Triumph' review:


Armageddon War Platoon Level Combat in the End War by Flying Pig Games    Where to begin; I guess I should stat...

Armageddon War by Flying Pig Games Armageddon War by Flying Pig Games

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

Platoon Level Combat in the End War


 Where to begin; I guess I should state that invariably I play games and read books about historical happenings. That is not to say that I forgo what ifs as long as they are plausible. I usually steer clear of alternative history or, for want of a better term, imagined conflicts. The background story isn't really flushed out, but it seems plausible enough. 

 Armageddon War is based on a conflict that breaks out in the Middle East in 2028. To quote the rulebook," Geddon war has conflict between disorganized and poorly equipped militias, advanced weapon systems barely past the prototype stage in the hands of highly disciplined First World forces, and everything in between". So the player will be able to use a goulash of units from nowadays to some interesting possible future weapons. It is a platoon level game. So the scenarios run the gamut of small knife fights in urban areas to full blown battles of armor.

 The game comes in an oversized box with a bit of heft to it. This is what you get inside the box:
 Two mounted 22" x 33" full-color game boards
 Four sheets of 1" counters, One sheet of Action counters
 Full-color rule and scenario book
 Player Aid Cards
 18 colored dice


 The game comes with 16 scenarios. However, the game also comes with a whole list of the units and their comparable costs. So you can 'tweak' the 16 scenarios to your heart's content, or make new ones. Theses are some of the units you are able to use in these end of the world battles:
 Abrams M1A4
 Bradley M2A3
 Crusher (remote control)
 Merkava M4
 Namer 2
 AH-64D Apache

 The maps are mounted, and visually are very well done. The hexes are oversized, as are the counters. The counters are in line with other games from Flying Pig Games, meaning that they drop out of the sprues if breathed on, and are small pieces of art. The players' aids and rulebook are also easy to read, understand, and strikingly colorful. The game turns are fifteen minutes per. So, one of the problems that the game designer had to deal with is that most of the weaponry could fire off its allotted ammunition in less than a third of a turn.

 The sequence of play is:
 Draw a Command Chit, and place it on the track
 Fire Combat
 Close Combat

 You will have to take the designer's ideas of what the new weapon's offensive and defensive capabilities are. However, these are always what each designer believes, so there is nothing really new here. With other games the designer does have the real world statistics and usage to go by. The game has opened up a new avenue of research for me. I was pretty much in the dark about the weapons that have or are just coming off the drawing board. The Russian Armata tank is one of these. Who knew there was an actual tank with a turret that was fully automatic, and the tank only needs two people to run it.

 The game also has Advanced Rules that include:

Indirect fire
Off-board artillery
Limited munitions
Unguided rockets

  The game designer does explain that because of the lethality and range of these newer weapons that he had to adjust some things. The hexes on the map represent 150 meters each. The range of some of these weapons are theoretically bigger than the map. He also explains that the casualties are not just actual losses, but the loss of the unit's effectiveness. 

 So how does it play? Just as in the real world, the actual armed forces of the combatants have tremendous killing power. The militia forces cannot stand up to them, at least not in the open. The lethality of the weapons mean that the best laid plans of mice and men literally go up in smoke. The air units (helicopters and drones), have only one damage step. Ground attack aircraft are not actually represented on the map. Their offensive capabilities are represented by the off-board munitions. This was probably done to simplify the game, and not make the player also  have to deal with too many extra AA rules etc. This game differs from most tactical platoon level games by taking into account logistics. As mentioned, the units in the game could fire off all of their munitions in less than one turn. So this game system uses Logistic Counters to keep your units at full strength for fighting. These counters must be placed outside of any enemy's line of sight, and no farther than two hexes from a friendly unit. The Logistic Counters can move up to three hexes in a turn, but must end up in a hex that it could have been placed in originally. The game also has no CRT. All of the combat and defense is predicated by the dice. It is a simple way that some games have removed the style of play of, I have three to one odds so I will attack etc, method of play. It just adds that much more 'fog of war' to game play. You can still see if your attack will have any hope of success, but you will not be able to calculate it that well. This mechanic adds more of the 'friction' of warfare to the mix.

 I was fully prepared to not really enjoy the game. I really like Flying Pig Games components; I also really like the way their rules are done. Can you tell I like their games? The only problem being was that a conflict in the Middle East, and especially one that is in the future, was not something that grabs me for wargaming. I bit the bullet and dove in. I can state that I was very, very wrong. Once you get into the game and its mechanics, you will find it is excellent. The game has many innovations that just work really well. I have to thank them again for going with large 'old man' counters. No need for tweezers and a magnifying glass here. So, like me, if you are hesitant about the actual area and time of the conflict, you should look into and get the game just for the system and the game components.

 I will be doing a followup review on the solo expansion "Alone in the Desert'.
 To add to your experience you can also purchase:
 Armageddon War: Burning Lands Expansion
 Armageddon War Strategy Guide
 Armageddon War Special Dice


Rise Of The Tang Dynasty The Reunification of China and the Military Response to the Steppe Nomads AD 581-626 by Julian Romane ...

Rise Of The Tang Dynasty by Julian Romane Rise Of The Tang Dynasty by Julian Romane

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

The Reunification of China and the Military Response to the Steppe Nomads AD 581-626


 For those of you who have read my reviews, you know that I usually just skim the introductions. In this book however, there is one page before the introduction that was very enlightening. The page is titled 'Technical Issues'. The author explains that there are these two different methods of translating Chinese:


 The older Wade-Giles was used under the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek ('Peanut' to 'Vinegar' Joe Stilwell). Under Mao, the different method of Pinyin was introduced. The author goes on to tell us that he uses Pinyin, and tries to use simpler English when translating. For instance, 'erudite scholar' could also be translated as 'accomplished scholar'. The writer goes onto state that "traditional China is an illusion. There are great literary traditions in China, along with great artistic, philosophical, and spiritual traditions, but there has never been a traditional China". The book continues to say that another impediment to our understanding is the fact that most Western commentators are uninterested and unknowing about military matters. This is from the land of Sun Tzu! The author continues to explain that his purpose is "to give a detailed picture of medieval Chinese warfare: to provide background to the structure of Chinese military development; and to illustrate how influences passed across the Eurasian 'World Island'".

 The book starts around 300 AD with the incredibly convoluted history of North and South China during the next few hundred years. Imagine ten different countries like England going through the Wars of the Roses at the same time. Dynasties change so fast that your head wants to spin. 

 It comes with eight color pages of personalities etc.. Unfortunately there are no maps at all to try and help the reader follow along. This is a list of some of the chapters:

 The House of Yang
 The Imperial State Weakens
 War for Guanzhong
 The House of Li
 Battles for the Heart of China
 Tang Victorious
 Imperial Consolidation
 Chronology of Chinese Dynasties (thank you)
 Chinese Military Handbooks
 Chinese Imperial Armies 

 These battles and campaigns for China include hundreds of thousands of troops. These dwarf the size of the armies in Europe until the 19th century. The author shows us that the horse lords of the Eastern Steppe were a constant problem to be dealt with.  We normally think of the Mongols, and possibly the Manchus, as the extent of the issue. There was a reason the Great Wall was built and maintained over a millennia.

 I have a great hole in my knowledge of history, and it involves the history of the Eastern Asian landmass. This book has helped to fill this void. I can easily recommend it to anyone who has an interest, or wants to develop one, in the history of China.


Author: Julian Romane
Publisher Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers