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Introduction Most readers of this blog will be aware of the Strategy & Tactics periodicals released throughout the year. Your FLGS ...

Strategy & Tactics #311 - Pacific Submarine Strategy & Tactics #311 - Pacific Submarine

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


Most readers of this blog will be aware of the Strategy & Tactics periodicals released throughout the year. Your FLGS probably has some back issues in stock at any given time although you may have passed them by in the search for your next game. I am hoping that AWNT can feature regular reviews of these magazines as they are released; I will cover both the magazine and the included folio game that comes with a premium subscription.

I was fortunate to start with Strategy & Tactics issue #311 whose main article is a feature all about US Navy Submarine Operations in the Pacific which marries two of my prime interests of 20th Century Combat, namely the Pacific Theatre and submarine warfare. The history and combatants of the feature article are modelled for the included game, Pacific Subs.

The Game

The included game, 'Pacific Subs' is a solitaire simulation/game that allows the reader to model some of the tactical and operational considerations that a sub-commander may have had, or at least those detailed in the accompanying 'Pacific Subs' article. This marrying of article and game is a very effective way to explore some of the decisions and limitations that were imposed upon submarine crews of WWII. I always appreciate 'Designers Notes' in rulebooks and this magazine/game model takes that and amps it up.

I was taken aback at the quality of the components in this game, I was expecting PnP-grade components, but the reality is that they would not be out of place in any premium hex and counter wargame. The map and tactical display take up 3/4 of the (not quite A1) map sheet and there is a single counter sheet of 280 1/2 inch double-sided counters to play around with. Amazing! The quality of the components alone justify the $39.99 price tag not to speak of the magazine itself.

The rulebook does mention a few minor printing errors, most I could easily rectify however it says that they included 2 replacement counters in the plastic envelope; one for the Harbour - which was misprinted and a missing counter for the Submerged Timer. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find these additions. 

That the game designer and article author are the same, came as no surprise. The rules were neatly glued into the magazine with the glue that easily peels away and it left me with a pristine rulebook. The counters and map sheet come in their own plastic pocket which I will use to safely store the game components after I am finished playing.

I can't remember the last time I LoL'd (I apologise for using that as a verb) but I had a quick chortle about the rules for UHB's (Unnecessarily Hot Babes, or Undesirable Human Ballasts). However, after my first reading I thought I had a good enough handle on the Sequence of Play to attempt my first patrol as a newly promoted Lieutenant in the USN Sub-command. I still appreciated the support that is available online at where you are able to download a detailed example of play which came in handy to resolve some minor issues.


Each scenario will consist of a number of different Actions which get resolved sequentially. The primary Action is Movement where you will expend fuel, move the boat counter (from 1 to 3 hexes) and determine what type of contact has been made in the new hex. In my experience, the move was normally just 1 hex as you attempt to skulk away from an enemy Escort or Flotilla.

Contact is determined by rolling a series of dice depending upon the features showing in the new hex. For example, if there is a shipping lane in the hex this will increase the chance of contact being made (makes sense) this is normally a stalking move and limited to just one hex. During the Contact determination you will roll an about a dozen dice, where 5 or higher means contact has been made by a Target (standard Merchant) a Tanker (higher reward at mission debrief), Escort (enemy combatant protecting a High-Value-Target (HVT), or an HVT itself. You can also make contact with a 'Rescue' indicating downed airmen or casualty evacuation from a beach hex. Although you're rolling a fair number of dice the outcomes felt well balanced i.e. you nearly always have a tactically sensible option - even if that is trying to run away...

After contact has been made the Tactical Display is used to determine the range and bearing from your boat. For me this was the most engaging part of the encounter; it really felt like the contacts were moving around the boat relative to the speed, depth and heading decisions you were making to get a good shot. 

This is one of the first sub-sim board games that doesn't abstract out the relative position and depth of the boat to the targets. I enjoyed this additional level of detail, and it is handled in such a way that doesn't slow the game down. 

I really enjoyed the game-play of this but I thought the rules could have been better with a few more examples of play. In many places you're left to interpret which arrows or tracks are being referenced but as with any game, familiarity makes this a non-issue. I am inordinately impressed that a game of this quality is possible (I hope consistently) every two months on the S&T publishing schedule. The minor printing errors and lack of detail in the rules book are almost understandable considering that major Wargame titles still suffer from this themselves with years of development.

Overall I thought this is an excellent game to explore the sub-combat/survival in the PTO. It won't be to everyone's cup of tea, but it was pretty much perfect for me. Subs - check, PTO - check.

The Magazine

Game-zine's have come a long way since I first experienced them back in the late 80s. With these magazines we get print quality that is indistinguishable from the premium titles you'll find on any newsstand e.g. New Scientist, National Geographic et al. The Magazine has 81 full-colour pages printed on nice thick paper stock. Of which 64 are packed with interesting content, in this issue, ranging from the Ancients Macedonian and Roman wars all the way through to the Pacific Theatre of WWII.

The feature article 'Pacific Subs' details some of the antics of the USN Submarine Force, including photos and attributes of all major types that were in use. The Author of the article, Christopher Perello, recounts some of the many considerations that faced submariners during WWII. Namely their own technical limitations, e.g. torpedo failures and the introduction of RADAR and Sonar systems to locate enemy combatants. The focus was clearly on the USN side as the Japanese submarine force is relegated to a few paragraphs at the end of the article. This was a shame as the Allied focus is very well written, in fact, all the articles are excellently written, I devoured the whole magazine in just two sittings, all of the articles were engaging and informative.

I must admit my knowledge of the religious struggle between Christian Europe and Islamic countries is limited to a school-grade level of awareness of the Crusades featuring white-tabarded knights with red crosses on their chest. My 'crusader' knowledge also has a smattering of Monty Python in my sub-conscious as well...however, the second article laid out some of the major impacts and battle successes that the Muslim armies of the 7th century had on the development and landscape of the Europe that we know today. It could be argued that Northern Europeans, and I still include the UK in that category... owe the relative dominance of their politics/economies to the highly successful Muslim invasions in Spain and Eastern Europe.

I have just finished watching Ken Burns' excellent documentary on the American Civil War so I was pleased to read the third article which recounts the exploits of Major General Sheridan's Cavalry Corps of the Union Army. As an outsider to America, it is obvious that there is a lasting legacy and reverence of the ACW. The author, Arnold Blumberg, has chosen a pivotal moment in the tactical development of the Union forces and how they deployed their Cavalry; shifting from a largely reconnaissance role to a major combat role. I am in awe of the bravery of soldiers throughout history, as they faced increasingly devastating firepower with nothing but their wits and lady luck to protect them. These technological changes are most evident in the ACW and WWI with the advent of the machine gun and artillery capabilities respectively.

The last major article focuses on one 'Fra Diavolo' early in the 19th Century i.e. Napoleonics. Now I'm familiar with the major Napoleonic campaigns but I had never heard of this one. I am no longer surprised when I read something I thought I had a good grasp on and it ever-so-gently reveals to you, you know nothing! Or at least a darn sight less than you thought you did. And I suppose that is where I think I will derive the most pleasure from this magazine, from learning details of minor and major skirmishes of events that I think I knew fairly well. Each major article, with the exception of the first - whose topic I really do know my stuff, was enlightening. The first too was an excellent read.

The back pages of this magazine include a diverse array of military snippets; for example the profiles of memorable U-boats and the tactical difference when the Roman Legion faced off against the Greek Phalanx. I am looking forward to reading the next issue and would like to thank Decision Games for providing this as a review copy.

Panzer Battles of North Africa 1941 by Wargame Design Studio John Tiller Software   Wargame Design Stu...

Panzer Battles of North Africa 1941 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software Panzer Battles of North Africa 1941 by Wargame Design Studio and John Tiller Software

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


 Wargame Design Studios must be one of if not the busiest wargame coders at the moment. They have not only put out their three games based off the larger Tiller 'Panzer Campaigns', but are also upgrading what seems to be the entire older stable of the John Tiller Software stable of games. I have reviewed both of their other two efforts 'Panzer Battles Normandy' and 'Panzer Battles Kursk - Southern Front'. I was impressed by both games. The game play was great, but also the breadth of the games was impressive. These games come with a ton of scenarios, with many of these developed with the solo player in mind. 

 So now I am stuck in a quandary. How does one review only half a game? PBNA 1941 comes with everything you would expect, and tons more. It comes with scenarios from 1940 and the Italian invasion of Egypt. The other scenarios from North Africa are based in 1941 with the arrival of the Afrika Korps and that Rommel guy. This is probably the main attraction that will pull most gamers in. I, on the other hand, am on the opposite pole. Rommel schlommel; who cares about him? PBNA 1941 also has an ace in the hole for me, Crete and one battle in Greece. I do like gaming the 1940 Italian versus British campaign. It pits a 1940 military (British) against a 1936 equipped Italian army. What the Italians did not have in equipment or leadership they tried to make up for in bravery (contrary to some history books). Unfortunately, this did not equal out the playing field. So for you wargamers' sakes I have had to bite the bullet and play a lot of British versus the Afrika Korps scenarios. 

 So, first off what comes in the package? These are the scenarios:
  • Operation Compass, Dec 1940; The Battle of the Camps - 5 scenarios
  • Operation Compass, Jan 1941; The Battle of Bardia - 3 scenarios
  • Operation Compass, Jan 1941; The Battle of Tobruk - 5 scenarios
  • Operation Compass, Feb 1941; Beda Fomm - 5 scenarios
  • Unternehmen Sonnenblume Mar 1941; Cyrenaica - 9 scenarios
  • Siege of Tobruk Apr 1941; Tobruk - 8 scenarios
  • Greece Apr 1941; Corinth Canal - 1 scenario
  • Operation Brevity May 1941; Egypt/Libya Border - 8 scenarios
  • Unternehmen Merkur May 1941; Crete - 25 scenarios
  • Operation Battleaxe Jun 1941; Egypt/Libya Border - 10 scenarios
  • Operation Crusader Nov 1941; Egypt/Libya Border - 26 scenarios

  • Beda Fomm; variable scenario - 3 scenarios
  • Operation Brevity; variable scenario - 3 scenarios
  • Unternehmen Merkur; variable scenario - 4 scenarios

These are the features:

  • 115 Scenarios – covering all sizes and situations, including specialized versions for both head to head play and vs. the computer AI.
  • 8 Master Maps covering Greece, Crete and Libya and Egypt. The North Africa map contains over 1.23 million hexes. 55 sub maps are included. The North Africa map area is over three times bigger than the map included with Battles of Normandy.
  • 8 Order of Battles covering the evolving 1941 force mix for each side. The represented Allied forces include the British, Greek, Indian, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Free French, Polish and Czech. The included Axis forces are the Italians, Libyans, Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe.
  • Unit component, Order-of-Battle and Scenario Editors which allow players to customize the game.
  • Sub-map feature allowing any of the included maps to be "chopped" up into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.
  • Various map graphics with a new visual style to improve height perception. Fortifications and other icons are integrated into the game map.
  • Three different counter sets switchable in game including side on, top down and NATO symbols.
  • All new images for unit art for both sides, including infantry, guns and vehicles.
  • Exceptional Documentation including an 85 page 'Visual Order of Battle Guide' and 159 page 'Designer Notes & FAQ'. Both are included with the game. In addition, for optional download, 340mb digital version of thirteen planning maps.
Battles of North Africa 1941 provides multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet "live" play, and two player hot seat.

 In reality, I could just copy and paste one of the other 'Panzer Battles' game's reviews and change the name. They are all take offs from a long line of tried and true wargames. This is in some ways true and other ways not. Wargame Design Studio really makes an effort to put you, the player, in the seat that the generals had in World War II. They also have continually tweaked the original engine to make it that much better. To be honest, for me the one thing missing is some scenarios about the planned invasion of Malta. I am not much for what-ifs, but campaigns and battles that came really close to happening I am okay with. 

  Corps, Brigade, Regiment, or Battalion, whatever you want to play for moment of gaming is here. You can also play three campaigns: Operation Compass, Operation Brevity, and Unternehmen Merkur. The last one is Operation Mercury and the Battles for Crete.

Lucky For Me

  We have not even scratched the surface of the game yet. I have checked out all of the editors to make sure they work, but have not had the chance to delve too deeply (time is the enemy of all men). The amount that you can customize in the game is very impressive, both in troops, maps etc. The game comes with Unit Component, Order-of-Battle, and Scenario editors.


                                      Order Of Battle Editor

 So what exactly is new and earth shaking about this release? Absolutely nothing at all, but isn't every new game supposed to have a 'catch' or some gimmick? No, no, it is not. For those of us, and some newcomers, who grew up on hexes and these type maps and units, these games are the end all and be all. They give us the ability to play on a map that would take up the dining room table and more. We can also get in a move or a full game anytime day or night against a competent opponent. These games are why we bought our first computers, and most of the other ones (except for when we want to kill orcs etc.). We Grognards have had countless hours of enjoyment from John Tiller games. Now, with Wargamers Design Studio we can count on many more. Did I mention this game has a campaign and scenarios from the Battle of Crete!!!

 So, if you absolutely have to see if you could do better than Rommel or his British counterparts in the early Desert War, then this game is for you. If you want to try your luck at commanding the 'Hunters From the Sky' it's in here also. If 3D and maps with trees blowing in the wind is your gaming taste, either look away or try a sample of Grognard Pie. I will be heading to the American Civil War next to try out WDS's Petersburg. Happy Holidays.


Valor and Victory pre beta vid! Valor and Victory pre beta vid!

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

Strategic Command WWII:World at War by Fury Software Matrix/Slitherine  Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all would ...

Strategic Command WWII: World At War by Fury Software&Matrix/Slitherine Strategic Command WWII: World At War by Fury Software&Matrix/Slitherine

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

Strategic Command WWII:World at War


Fury Software


 Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all would be strategists; there is a new sheriff in town. You can now play with Takagi, Yamashita, Balbo, Graziani, Kleist, Busch, Alexander, Dempsey, Clark, Hodges, Vatutin, Rokossovsky etc. The units are armored trains, battleships, tanks, planes, rockets, any armament that played a role in World War II. I didn't mention the big names because you are in charge of your nation's destiny. The scenarios go back to 1939. Hopefully we get a DLC or a mod that allows players to go further back in time to build up their nation as they want. With these scenarios only Japan really has enough time to alter their force make up. So let us look at what scenarios come with the game:

1939: World At War
1942: Axis High Tide
1943: Allies Turn The Tide
1942-45 Race To Victory
1943-45 Race To Victory

 Without rewriting the entire list of the sales pitch, here it is:

  • New Features! From limited naval repairs to Kamikazes.
  • Take command of the Axis or Allies, and re-fight the whole of WWII!
  • Let the computer take control of some of your allies so you can concentrate on your favorite theaters.
  • Play on a top-down hex based map spanning the entire globe.
  • In addition to the Grand Campaign starting in 1939, Strategic Command WWII: World At War also includes shorter scenarios.
  • A realistic Fog of War simulates the historical atmosphere where you have to make decisions with only partial knowledge of your opponent's intentions and dispositions.
  • Play with a choice of 3-D unit graphics, or NATO counters if you prefer a more traditional wargaming experience
  • Research and upgrade your units with a unique level of choices! Infantry Weapons, Rockets, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, and more!
  • Use Diplomacy to win over new allies and use your intelligence to undermine the enemy!
  • Contains a large number of strategic level Decision Events for you to choose your path to victory.
  • Very easy to use Editor to make your own “what-if” scenarios or create new maps and campaigns from scratch. Modders will be glad to know that this game can have 10 Major powers.
  • Very active modding community eager to share their developments with other players, whether it be changing the look of the map or designing new campaigns, even covering conflicts in other time periods, there is a lot there!

This is the first release in the SCWWII: World at War series (hopefully). So there are not many scenarios to choose from. It is my hope that we will see DLCs that encompass some larger maps and separate campaigns like Fury Software did with their earlier games. As I mentioned, I would like an early pre-war scenario to guide your nation or nations.

 At the start of the game you can choose to play the Allied or Axis nations. However, you can also turn over the nations that you do not wish to play during that game to the AI. This leads to a more sandbox approach to the game. The AI is competent, but might throw you a curve ball on occasion. Speaking of the AI, the Strategic Command series has, since its inception, been beleaguered by some players about the Naval aspect of the game. Submarines and other naval units with zero supply has been one of the major gripes. This has been looked at by Fury Software, and the game has had these improvements:

"While not a complete overhaul, there have been quite a few changes, listed below, which have been reported as nice improvements to the overall game during testing.

- supply rule changes:
- subs can no longer dive at 0 supply.
- all raiders can no longer raid at 0 supply.
- defending units at 0 supply will receive 50% more damage from a successful attack against them.
- fighters and carriers cannot intercept/escort when at 0 supply.
- maximum reinforcement points is now 5 strength points per turn for all naval units except Motor Torpedo Boats.
- naval units positioned top of a small island sea enemy hex will no longer be fully revealed under FoW.
- neutral majors can no longer load units onto Amphibious Transports.
- defending subs at zero supply, or defending land units defending from ground attack at zero supply, will now have their morale fully recalculated after any defending strength losses are applied.
- subs will now have a 25% chance of receiving at least a single strength point loss when diving from attack.

We've also added a change to Special Forces, i.e. US Marines and Japanese SNLF which especially help with island hopping in the Pacific. A few other island hopping related changes are listed below here as well:

- Special Forces units, after amphibiously unloading, now maintain supply for up to 5 turns with a drop of 2 supply points per turn.
- minor nation Capitals, Fortresses with 3 or more adjacent enemy units will now have their supply reduced by one strength point per turn.
- Ports no longer provide supply to land units if there is an enemy land unit adjacent to the port.
- abandoned Ports adjacent an enemy City/Town will now switch to enemy control."

 So, as you can see, the game has been worked on. For those of us who own the older versions we do notice the difference. According to Fury Software these changes will also appear in their last game, Strategic Command WWII: War in Europe.

 For those of you who did not buy SCWWII: WIE, the biggest change in these new games is a return to hexes (Please flash the applause sign). I could never get used to the diamond shaped pseudo-hexes in the other games. The scale of the game opens up the modder community to use the entire world or make their own scenarios as they wish. 

Closest Zoom

 Besides being larger in scope than the last game, there are other things to induce a new player. The scripts that pop-up during the game for each country can be turned off and on in the advanced options screen. So, if you do not agree with the historical or non-historical actions, just remove that script. 

Farthest Out Zoom

 The game play is easy to pick up and the user interface is very intuitive, as it should be. The scale of the game is mostly corps and fleets. As in all the games of the series MPPs (Military Production Points) are at its core. You need these to do reinforcement, diplomacy, or research, you name it, you need them. Each country  has a set number of them at the start of scenarios, but you can increase a country's amount each turn by conquest. All of your units in play use APs (Action Points). These are used to move, fight, or do what the player wants. Each nation starts each scenario with some pluses and minuses in the make up of the armed forces. Germany begins with some better numbers in ground warfare, where Japan starts out with naval ones. If playing just Italy, it might behoove you to stay out of the war for as long as possible to build up your might. The Allied nations, as they did historically, have tremendous production capability, as long as they can stay in the war long enough for it to count. You can try Operation Sea Lion, attack Spain (as either side), or go for Churchill's Balkan gambit. If it happened in World War II it can happen here, or even if it was only thought of during the war.


 As I have stated, the game has a very long pedigree, and it shows. The game just has a very polished feeling to it. I can easily recommend this to anyone who wants to fight WWII globally on the computer. The very large modding community and the fact that Fury Software is always working on DLCs, paid and otherwise, is just an added plus. Thank you Matrix Games for the chance to review this newest iteration of the series.


SHIPS OF THE LINE : TRAFALGAR from TRAFALGAR EDITIONS Having dallied at Waterloo with this company's most recent ga...


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




Having dallied at Waterloo with this company's most recent game, I've now returned to their first production from which the company takes its name.

Despite, its title specifically containing the word Trafalgar, the assumption with naval games tends to be that they will be of a more generic type. But this really does give you the battle of Trafalgar, with a set-up map in colour to denote the positions of all the ships and two and a half pages of stats.  It was this factor that first intrigued me as to how so many ships would be handled, especially as all that I'd seen and read about this a game suggested a miniatures treatment not unlike Waterloo 1815, except with plastic model ships.

Here they are en masse, red British, blue French and yellow for the Spanish.  These are accompanied by sets of three masts and sails for each ship.  There is a substantial amount  of work to be done here if you are going to move beyond the simple basic form.that you see below.

There is also one more physical problem that I have encountered that is illustrated here too and that is the masts.  First of all the size of everything is small -from tip of the bowsprit to stern, each ship is a mere three and a half cms long.  So, handling is a delicate affair, with the masts as the obvious point to pick the ship up by, but these are meant to remain simply pushed into the small retaining holes in the deck.  There is an excellent reason for this: namely that combat can cause individual masts to be damaged and laid to one side of the ship or the other as seen in the picture.  Rules cover this, including the effect on the ship's speed and the ability to carry out repairs later. 

The concept is first rate - very visual, very emotive, but - for me - very impractical.  I've met with a series of problems. Unpainted I've found some masts too loose and some too large to fit into the holes.  Consequently, masts topple, ships can't be picked up safely by their masts. Just fitting all three masts into a ship without causing one of them to fall out has eluded me. Solutions have been suggested, including using microscopic amounts of blu-tac and infinitesimal enlarging of the holes - none of these have I found adequate in dealing with the problem.  Painting the ships simply added to the number of ships and masts causing me problems.

Finally, to add to these physical difficulties is the stability of the ships themselves.  They easily fall over, especially when you are manoeuvring so many in close proximity to each other.  Excuse the pun, but all is definitely not plain sailing.  For me the solution has been to adopt two modifications: the first is to base the ships that gives them immediate stability and makes them easy to pick up and move and adds a further level of visual appeal.  It also allows you to fix the crucial adhesive flags [seen below] that display the ships nationality and the all important number for identifying each ship.

The second is to glue the masts permanently onto the decks.  This latter action  may come as heresy to some gamers, but it instantly removes all the physical problems and the use of small numbered counters [borrowed from the many other games I own] is a simple substitute to keep track of damaged masts.

Here you can see what I mean thanks to the efforts of Clay Stretch  who has courteously allowed me to use his photograph displaying his far superior ability in painting and mounting the ships in the manner that I've chosen to do.

This concern is the only one that I have about the contents of the game.  As with Waterloo 1815, the physical components are very  nicely done with a vast array of markers and a superb set of player mats that present all the ships in the game with their related tracks on which to mark everything from hull damage to type of shot be loaded in the cannons.
As you can imagine with the playing area plus the room needed to display all the ship displays, the footprint for this game is rather large.  Not having a convenient games room, it takes my dining-room table fully extended to 1600 mm x 1010 mm to accommodate everything.

With the number of ship displays comes a fair amount of book keeping, though handled very attractively and elegantly as illustrated by the one above.  When playing the basic game, this involves very little per ship, but grows in complexity with the inclusion of the advanced rules.  What surprised me, as this was the first of Trafalgar Editions games, is that the rule book is far better than the one for Waterloo 1815.  The layout makes better use of white space, layout and font size, adding greater clarity to a set of rules that in themselves are very clearly explained. Complementing this is a separate booklet of examples with ample, if rather hazy, colour shots that takes you step by step through three turns of the basic rules pitting 4 ships per side.  These basic rules consist of initiative, combat and movement.
A page of the very useful Examples Booklet

As with Waterloo 1815, movement is measured using small in increments of 1 UM standing for 1 Unit Marker.and, as I find with most naval games, this is extremely easy to handle, there being no considerations of terrain to take into account.  Inertia, drifting, movement against the wind and the effect on speed because of compass bearing relative to the wind  are covered well and for any that want a very simple start elements can be omitted.  The one factor left out is changes both to wind direction and wind strength, which is understandable given the period of hours over which the battle plays out.  However, to my satisfaction I quickly found that the Advanced Rules section included just that possibility and its minor effects coming in to play.

 Combat too is delightfully straightforward.  A basic to hit number depending on range and if successful, roll on a damage table which gives Hull damage on rolls from 1-5 while a 6 lands a critical hit.  Typical here are such hazards as a wounded officer, the rudder shot away, fires and damage to a mast.  Boarding, grappling, ship surrender and capture all feature with straightforward economy of explanation and clarity giving a very playable set of basic rules.  
As always a shed load of markers, plus the firing template

In the Advanced Rules are many small extras that I think many players will have little difficulty adding in almost from the start including collisions - highly likely with the many ships and especially if you can muster separate players for the French and Spanish ships.  Variations in the wind I've already mentioned and is a must for me to use as is the option for different kinds of ammo loads covering the familiar grape-shot, chain shot and double rounds.  Though not needed for the play of the game's battle, Trafalgar, I was pleased to see the inclusion of harbours and coastal batteries too, as I'm certain many of you will want just those very rules for your own scenarios.  In fact, what I love to see from Trafalgar Editions would be some small expansions with other ship mats and scenario details.

All in all Trafalgar 1805 is a very good addition to Napoleonic naval warfare with a strong touch of the miniatures world without some of the more complex and at times baffling elements that I've encountered in dense many paged rule books.  The only downside for me has been the physical difficulties with the ships and masts already covered and I know that Trafalgar Editions are planning a set of resin ships which may just help,me out.

Once again many thanks to Trafalgar Editions for the review copy and my apologies for the gremlins which every so often play havoc with the physical layout of the text!

Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division by GMT Games   Fighting Formations ...

Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry division by GMT Games Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry division by GMT Games

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


 Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Infantry Division was supposed to be the start of an ongoing series of wargames at platoon and squad level. It was released in 2011 and the series was only added to in 2018 by an add-on named Fighting Formations Grossdeutschland Division's Battle for Kharkov .One of the main pulls of the series was that it was going to spotlight different combat units from both the Axis and Allies. Its design was pretty innovative and people have been waiting for other releases. The game was designed by Chad Jensen, which should speak for itself. 

Box Contents

 Let us have a look at what comes in the box:

4 back printed 22" x 34" maps
5 die-cut counter sheets
2 Player Aid Cards 8.5" x 11"
55 Playing Cards
1 Track Display, 2 sided
24-page Series Rulebook
64-page Playbook
10 dice
10 wood cubes
1 wood pawn

The scale, as mentioned, is platoon and squad. Each hex is 75 meters across. The turn time is five minutes.
Some Cards

 It's coming up on the holidays, so it seems appropriate to open up this heavy box, and see what is stuffed inside. Stuffed is the right word for this game box. I do not know if you could incapacitate a burglar by hitting him with it, but you could sure stun him. First the box itself; some people were put off by the understated cover art. I actually kind of like it. It definitely says to me that here is a wargame, and not a Euro etc. The maps are very well done, and it is easy to distinguish terrain. They also have over sized hexes at 1.5" by 1.5".  The counters are a bit subdued in color, like the box. However, this also makes them easy to read. It also helps old eyes that the infantry counters are also large at 5/8" by 5/8". The tank and artillery counters are even larger at 1 1/4" by 5/8". The information markers are the usual counter size.These counters do show a side view of the weapon in question instead of top down. Some people have stated that they would have preferred to have top down views, but I think that would make them harder to distinguish from each other. The cards are very well done, and easy to read and understand. The ten die are different colors to help you with picking the correct numbered ones. The pawn and small wood blocks are red and not fancy. You also get enough small plastic counter bags for probably two games. 

Game play Picture

 The game's complexity is listed as a six, while the solitaire suitability is listed as a five. Myself and others have found solitaire gaming to be higher in reality. As mentioned, the rules are very innovative. The game borrows on the designer's earlier games, but are not a copy of them, and go to a new level. This does not mean that they are obtuse or hard to understand. It helps that the rule book has eighteen full page, and in color, examples of play. The game comes with ten scenarios, and one introductory one. Two scenarios are half-map size, six are full-map size, and two are double-map size. It is good to see a tactical game not only played on small maps.

Players Aid Card

 I'll try to explain the game's mechanics. Rest assured that I will probably make it sound harder than it is. The game play revolves around the 'Order Matrix', seen below. The scenario information will tell you where the red 'Order Cubes' are to be placed. The red pawn shows which side has the initiative and its placement is also shown in the scenario information. You can see that the Order Matrix has numbers descending on both the German and Russian side. Likewise, the initiative track is numbered with zero being in the middle of the track, and has ascending numbers going both right and left. To start a turn, the player with the initiative gets to pick an orders cube equal or less than where the red pawn is on his initiative track. Here is where it gets a little tricky. Let us say the German player has the red pawn on on number 7 on the initiative track. He then can choose to use the red cube on the order matrix that has 'Sniper' next to it. The German player then moves the red pawn toward the Russian direction of the initiative track seven spaces (it would now be at '0'). The German player can then perform the order on number 7 the 'Sniper' order, or he may choose to do any of the orders below 7 all the way to #1. Whatever he chooses as an order, he must always move the red pawn the number of the red cube that he chooses. In explanation, the German player has taken the #7 red pawn, but only chooses to do the 'move' order that is next to the #3. He still must move the red pawn the 7 spaces toward the Russian side of the initiative track, even though he has only used the #3 order. The results of these innovative rules are that a player is constantly trying to use orders, but he will also be trying to keep the red pawn on his side of the initiative track. So the player is forced to juggle between what he wants to do and what he doesn't want the other player to do.  

Order Matrix

 The turn sequence is:

The player with the initiative performs any order 
At the end of every order players check to see if the turn ends
Whoever has the initiative performs the next order
If no cubes are left on the Order Matrix the turn ends
Advance the turn forward one space
Check for 'Sudden Death' (where it is placed is in the scenario
Remove depleted Smoke Markers
Sniper Activity (the player with the sniper marker attempts to 
    destroy one of the other players 'Command Markers')
Regroup (flip Command Markers per the rules etc.)
Reseed (each player rolls one die10 for each of the ten red 
     order cubes for the next turn)

                                        Counter Closeup

 The game also give each player, depending on the scenario, Command Markers.  These may be placed at any time during the turn by either player. These markers have two sides; one is named 'Mission Command', the other 'Tactical Command'. When placed the Mission Command side is used first. During the Regroup Phase of the turn, all of the Mission Command Markers on the board are changed to their Tactical Command side. Both sides of the Command Markers drop the initiative cost to activate the players' units. 

 The wargaming world was surprised and very happy with this very innovative game in 2011. The only thing that has led to any gripes was the lack of follow up games on other famous fighting units. The 2018 add-on for this game (soon to be reviewed), was the only new piece added to this gaming stable since it first came out. It is very surprising, seeing as the game is very good and was very well received. There is so much more I can talk about in regards to this game. It has air strikes, entrenchments, close assaults, and so much more. The play of the game flows very well for a tactical game with this much inside it. The rules are easy to follow and it plays  much simpler, in gaming terms, than a tactical game like this usually does. Thank you GMT Games for the chance to review this great game.