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Prelude to Rebellion Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games  Okay boys and girls,...

Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games

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



Prelude to Rebellion

Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837

by

Compass Games




 Okay boys and girls, this is a bit of a strange one for me. In the 'Designer Notes' a section is titled 'The Wargame That Never Was', so why do I have this game in front of me? The other problem for me is that what I know about Canadian history could fit into a thimble. I know about French Canada and the time before the British conquest, but nothing after the American Revolution. I only knew that there has been a long standing feud between the French speaking Canadians and their English speaking counterparts. I have been to Canada once, through Montreal and up to Quebec. I was given the good advice to brush up on my almost non-existent French before going. It was very good advice. So it was kind of shocking to read in the Designer Notes and preamble to the game that Canada came close to having a Civil War in the 1830s. Not only that, but Martial Law was in effect from 1837 until 1841 in Canada. So naturally, I had to find as much as I could to read up on this blank page of history in my brain. I will try to put the history into a nutshell; here goes. The French speaking, essentially small farmers mostly, citizens were effectively a group of second class citizens to the English speaking citizens who actually ran the government. The government was supposed to be an elective parliamentary one, but it was really just run by the English Governor and the English upper class. This game is about the tensions that boiled forth during these years in Lower Canada. The victory conditions are a bit convoluted. Effectively, as the Patriote (French) player you are trying to roil the lid off the boiling pot. As the Loyal (British) player, you are trying to force the British government to send in the troops to crush the French speaking Republic in the bud, or play well enough to win politically. A Patriote victory politically really only seems to be the beginning of their fight for freedom. I don't see how it could have not ended in the troops being called in. Meaning that, the Patriotes would then have been forced to armed insurrection. 





 We will start with what you get with the game:

1 - 22" x34" mounted game board
3 green Patriote dice and 3 red loyal dice
4 custom Scoring dice
150 green Patriote Mobilization Cubes
125 red Loyal Mobilization Cubes
147 cards divided as such:
  8Key Event cards
  24 cards forming the 1834 Deck
  24 cards forming the 1835-36 Deck
  39 cards forming the 1837 Deck
  52 cards forming the Generic Deck
1 sheet of counters
1 dice and cube bag





 The components are all what I have come to regard as standard from Compass Games. What this entails is the usual high production values of Compass Games. The map is mounted, again mostly a standard with Compass games. It is not a piece of artwork, but a blueprint to play a political game on. Because you have to keep track of so many things during the game, you might even call it 'busy'. The rulebook is in full color and is twenty-four pages long. Believe it or not, the rules are only fourteen pages long. The rest is taken up by Designer Notes, card clarifications, and a four page 'Extend Example of Play'. The cards are also well done and easy to read. The card clarification section of the rulebook helps to clear up any ambiguities for the player. 





 This is the sequence of play:

Action Round - Choose Between:
 Play a card from your hand (You will have cards in your hand for your faction, neutral cards, and cards from the opposing faction).     
    1.If it is a card from your faction, choose between:
   A. Play the cards Event. The card is then discarded unless the Event states otherwise.
   B. Play the card for its AP (Action Points).The card is then discarded.                                                                     
  2. If a neutral card, choose between:                                              
   A. Play the cards Event. The card is then discarded.
   B. Play the card for it's AP and place it in the Opportunity Pool.
  3. If a card from the opposing faction:
   A. Play the card for its AP and,
   1. If the Event's prerequisite is met the Event happens(opponent makes all relevant decisions). The card is then discarded unless the Event states otherwise.
      2. If the Event's prerequisite is not met, place the card in the Opportunity Pool and your opponent receives half the cards AP value in Opportunity points. 
Play a card from the Opportunity Pool:
  1. Spend x Opportunity Points to play the Event from a card of your faction or a neutral card worth x AP from the Opportunity Pool. The Event's prerequisite has to be met.      The card is then discarded.
Pass - (only if you have no cards in hand)

Spending AP - You can split your AP between different actions:
Mobilization -  Urban - 2 AP, Rural -1 AP
Creating Organizations:
  Perform a Mobilization check. Target number = Targeted county's MV (Mobilization Value) + x AP spent (minimum 2) + Rural Organization bonus (1/2 if associated Urban County's MV is 6-10/11+)
Call for Composure:
 Prevent the Rebellious Spirit from increasing at the end of the Turn.
 Costs 2 AP in 1834, 4 AP in 1835-36 and 6 AP in 1837                   
Volunteer Corps Recruitment (Rebellious Spirit at 8+)
 Perform a Mobilization Check:  
 Target number = Targeted County's Mobilization Value + AP spent (minimum 2).
La Tete a Papineau/Governor's Privileges:
 Maximum once/Turn, each Special Action once/game - Spend the special Action cost in AP to perform it.


 As you can see, the above is quite a mouthful, and I really just set out the outline.





 I could regurgitate the game's play for you, but this blurb from the game does it much better than I could:



 "Prelude to Rebellion" depicts this conflict of ideas as a card-driven game using key events from 1834 to 1837. In CDG-typical hand management, you will be torn between using each card’s activity points or event while doing your best to defuse your opponent’s cards. The gist of the game is that you will strive to mobilize the people of the various counties of Lower Canada and rally them to your point of view. In addition to Montréal and Québec (considered urban counties), 24 rural counties, each biased towards a faction, are represented on the board. Every county has a number of mobilization boxes, each costing a number of activity points to put a cube in it. Whoever has the most cubes in a county is said to control it.

After building up a sufficient amount of support in a county, you will try to create organizations (a grouping of leaders) in them. The more cubes in the county and the more activity points you dedicate to this action, the greater your chance of success. A fixed amount of opportunity points per turn allow you to mitigate the whims of the dice but also allow you to purchase helpful events from the 'Opportunity pool', where a few cards as well as key events of the conflict are put into at the start of every turn. Spend too many points to 'shave' a die roll and you might not be able to purchase a helpful card from the pool. Likewise, spend all your points to purchase cards and your next die rolls will be all the more stressful."





 The above captures playing the game to a tee. It is not just an ad blurb that is meant to sway you to buy the game. 




 I had to do a lot of work on this game before even playing it. I always want to know the history behind the games that I play. I think that any game that can make someone open a book to find out the how, why, and where of any situation is already a winner. You could play the game without having any background at all in the actual history. The rules are done well enough to have two people playing in a relatively short period of time. Political games seem to have more of the element of chance in them more than straight wargames, or at least it seems that way to me. For people who already like games such as Twilight Struggle or its ilk, this game purchase is a no-brainer. For those of us who are a little more afraid of that end of the gaming pool, go ahead and put on your flotation device and dive in. Unlike most of the other political games, you do not start out with both sides already fully developed and have a complete organization for each player to work with. This is a game where you have citizens that are like-minded, but have no real political organization as of yet. It is up to you to build your political party from the ground up. Besides the vagaries of chance, at each turn the player has to think through so many different choices and what could be the end result of each of them. In a traditional wargame your objectives are almost always clear cut. For instance, take these victory hexes or cut through the enemy to re-establish a supply line etc. Prelude to Rebellion is more like playing chess on a three dimensional board setup. The other interesting, and great piece of PTR, is that in most games you can figure out a strategy to win at least x amount of times. In this game, the player at times doesn't even know what he should do at any given moment. I am not saying that the game is completely up to chance; that would make it quite unenjoyable. What I am saying is that the choices in this game reflect the 'Butterfly Effect' much better than any game I have played. Thank you Compass Games for allowing me to review this excellent game, and broaden my history knowledge. After all, isn't that why we spend our days like hermits at times with these damn games? There is already a Vassal module for download on the games web site.





Prelude to Rebellion link:
https://www.compassgames.com/prelude-to-rebellion-mobilization-unrest-in-lower-canada.html

Rulebook link:


Robert




Crossing The Line Aachen 1944 by Furor Teutonicus Games  I have been inundated lately with games coming from sm...

Crossing The Line: Aachen 1944 by Furor Teutonicus Games Crossing The Line: Aachen 1944 by Furor Teutonicus Games

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




Crossing The Line

Aachen 1944

by

Furor Teutonicus Games





 I have been inundated lately with games coming from small game companies, mostly new, in Europe. Mostly they have been from Italy, but this game comes from Germany. To those of us who long for the halcyon days of wargaming in the 1970s and early 1980s, I have news for you: this could very well be the 'Golden Age' of wargaming. Whilst it is true that the individual games do not have sales numbers like their predecessors, the sheer plethora of games and companies now is nothing short of amazing. The components in the games are also many times better than what we were used to. Well, enough of the speechifying, onto the game.





 This is the historical breakdown from Furor Teutonicus Games:

 "While Operation Market Garden was in the final stage of preparation, Lieutenant General Hodges led the leading elements of the First Army towards the Westwall fortified line south of Aachen. If successful, he might have the opportunity to drive through the fortified line crossing the Roer River and perhaps reaching the Rhine River.
 The Game Crossing the Line – Aachen 1944 is an operational level simulation of the Battle for Aachen, which took place from September 12th to October 21st, 1944. The game is intended for two players but is also suitable for solitaire and team play.
The goal for the US player is to hit the Germans hard and to seize specific victory locations. Of course, the German player the German player wants to prevent this from happening. The game is played in a semi-interactive way and makes both players sit on the fence at all times…"


 The Scale
• A hex represents 1.2km of terrain from side to side.
• Each turn represents a period of two to eight days.
• Combat units are mostly battalions.





 This is what comes with the game:

• One rulebook 
• One scenario booklet including four scenarios and extensive historical notes
• One 22”x34” map sheet
• 360 extra large counters of which 160 are combat units
• Four Player aid charts
• Setup charts
• Reinforcement & Withdrawals charts




 Right now 'Crossing The Line' is the sole game in Furor Teutonicus Game stable (although they do have some interesting ones in the queue). What is surprising to me is the polished look and quality of the games components. The Rule Book is in full color, and is very well done. It is very nicely laid out and also has a three page glossary at the end. This is very handy for looking up the game's rules and concepts. The map is beautifully done and its size is large for the battle. Everything on the map is easy to read and make out, including terrain. The counters have what the company calls a 'linen like' finish. Whatever it is, it works. The counters are extremely well done. They are also slightly rounded for the gamers who care. The Player Aid cards are also very well done and easy to read. The manufacturing is all done very well. There are four Player Aid Charts, each player getting two (labelled A and B). The Combat Sequence is even spelled out in one on a flow chart that even I could understand. 

For the German player the armored vehicles included are:

Panzer IV
Panther
StuG III
Jagdpanther
Jagdpanzer IV (although the silhouette looks more like a Jagdtiger)
StuG IV
Brummbar
Nashorn
Tiger II

The US player gets to maneuver:

M4 Sherman
M8 Greyhound
M10 Wolverine





 This is the sequence of Play:

Admin Phase: Consists of the following segments in that order:
1. Recovery Segment
2. Assignment Segment
3. Victory Plan Segment
4. Replacement Segment
5. Reinforcement Segment


"Ops Phase: Consists of various repetitions of the Ops Cycle, which itself consists of:
1. Initiative Determination 
2. Formation Activation:  Activating a formation allows the initiative player to activate all subordinate units, including Independent units currently assigned to it, to conduct one or more Actions (see 7. Actions).
Most game activities will take place in this phase. At the end of the Ops Cycle, the turn marker will be moved into the next box on the turn track."






 The game has stacking limit rules for each hex. One hex can have one HQ, two AFV (Armored Fighting Vehicle), and one Infantry unit in it. Overstacking causes automatic disruption to the units. The game's Zone Of Control rules are easy to understand and implement. Infantry has a ZOC over all six of the surrounding hexes, unless they are urban or Industrial hexes. AFVs only have a ZOC on clear or Pillbox in clear hexes. Disrupted units have no ZOC whatsoever. The game rules seem to be a mixture of  both solitaire and two-player together. The game purports to be solitaire friendly (it actually is), so it is possible that is the reason for the rules and mechanics being the way they are.





  The game is based upon the player's 'Formation Units', meaning their parent organization. You activate only formations, and not willy-nilly counters that are close enough to an HQ. Independent units are also used in the game, especially for the Germans. These can be attached to HQs if they are in the HQ's command range. They can be reassigned if they are in the command range of their current HQ and the new HQ. Initiative is rolled for at the beginning of each Operations Phase. The roll for initiative is modified by certain conditions, ie. interdiction level etc. The player with the initiative can choose to activate formations, or transfer the initiative to the other player. The next two features of the game mechanics is what elevates the game to a higher level than normal. First, a formation has to be activated before the player can use its units. This is pretty standard. However, in this game each time you activate a formation its activation level is reduced by one. Then you roll to see how many 'Action Points' you receive for the formation, but the lower the 'Activation Number' equals lower numbers for your 'Action Points'. So, this mechanic shows the gradual reduction of the units' abilities, even without combat. Second, the inactive player does not just sit there waiting for his turn. The inactive player can try for a 'Reaction Attempt' when an enemy unit triggers it by certain actions, ie. moving into a ZOC etc. Victory in the game is determined by control of Victory Hexes and German strength point losses. 


 There are four scenarios in the game:

First Blood
The Stolberg Corridor
Across the Wurm
Campaign Scenario

 The first scenario is a solo one played from the American side. The German units are static. The American player has from two to five activations of the 1st Infantry Division to clear three victory hexes. Victory is determined by how many activations the player needs to take the three hexes. Two activations is a Decisive Victory whilst five is a 'poor' performance. The other three scenarios play the game normally. The Stolberg Corridor scenario goes from turn one to turn three. Across the Wurm scenario is played from turn five to eight. The Campaign scenario plays all eight turns. The American player has to use finesse to take all of his objectives and not be a bull in a china shop. The German player has to remember that this is late 1944 and not early in the war. Furor Teutonicus has created a nail-biting operational level late war game. 





 This is one very well made and great to play game. This is all the more amazing, being that this is Furor Teutonicus's first game ever. I actually checked to see if the designers were old hands that moved on from other companies and that is not the case. For neophytes to come up with this design and know how to make sure what they have in mind gets placed in the map, counters, and rules is quite an accomplishment. They have created a tense and historical game that is a joy to play. The game mechanics and units make for a tough game for playing as either the US or the Germans. Thank you very much Furor Teutonicus Games for letting me sail on this maiden voyage with you.  Count me very impressed.

Furor Teutonicus Games Crossing The Line:
https://www.furor-teutonicus.com/produkt/crossing-the-line-aachen-1944/?lang=en

Robert

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito      Megas Alexandros is dead, more...

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito

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




Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC - AD 30

by

Gabriele Esposito




  


  Megas Alexandros is dead, more then likely poisoned by one or more of his closest generals. Alexander had put to death a good number of his father's old guard and the ones that were left were feeling very insecure. There had also been several plots on Alexander's life. It is possible that Alexander died a natural death, but even so the Macedonian generals probably did not shed many tears.

 This book describes probably my favorite period of history: the Age of the Diadochi (Successors) of Alexander. It is the time from Alexander's death to the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic States. This was the age of the Macedonian Phalanx. This time period also saw the first large use of elephants in war outside of the Indian Peninsula.

 The book starts with the father of Alexander, Phillip II, forming Macedon into a military state, and the reforms that he put into place to make the Macedonian Army the greatest in the known world. It then goes into the story of Alexander and how he used the army to conquer a large chunk of the that world. From there it goes into the history of the Wars of the Diadochi, often referred to as Alexander's Funeral Games. The names of the various contenders, Antigonus, Cassander, and Ptolemy are well known to most people. This takes up the first third of the book.

 The next part of the book goes into the history and the Armies of the different monarchies that evolved from Alexander's Empire. The Antigonid (Macedonia), Seleucid (Asian), and Ptolemaic (Egypt) monarchies' Armies are gone into in detail. All of the various wars between the realms are also described in the book. Their final fall at the hands of Rome are also discussed. The smaller nations such as Pontus and its king, Mithridates the Great, are gone into by the author. Mithridates' sole claim to fame is being the mole for many years in a Roman version of whack-a-mole.

 The book is adequately supplied with maps. The book's greatest asset is that is liberally filled with color photographs of all of the different troops that were used in the various armies. These are a treasure trove for miniature gamers. The different arms and armor of the period are reproduced as well. As a primer for the history of the times it is an excellent book. For the wargamer it serves as a valuable resource. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this book.

Robert

Publisher: Pen & Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



Tank Duel Enemy in the Crosshairs by GMT Games  Tanks in battle; this is what has drawn a lot of us into warg...

Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs by GMT Games Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs by GMT Games

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




Tank Duel

Enemy in the Crosshairs

by

GMT Games







 Tanks in battle; this is what has drawn a lot of us into wargaming. Remember the pictures and info of the tanks on the back of Panzer Blitz? What is the first thing we all do with a tank wargame? We check the stats of all the different vehicles to see if they match what we believe. If the numbers are different than what we believe we almost invariably let out a little harumph, and scoff a bit at the designer. When a post is made online about the stats that a tank should have, or which tank is better, you might as well just sit back and enjoy the fireworks. To question someone's stats on their favorite tank is worse at times than insulting their mother! So, let us open up the game and let the fights begin.






 The first thing you will notice is the weight of the game. My scale has it coming in at about six pounds. You can tell by the design on the front that this is a game about Russian and German tanks in conflict. The front picture is somewhat strange. It has the commander of a T-34 pointing at a commander of a Panther, and both of these are standing halfway out of their hatches. The Russian commander is just pointing and the German is looking at him with his arm draped over his hatch mounted MG 34. It is a very well done painting of both tanks. It just leaves the viewer wondering if they are playing 'tag' or something else. The game is for one to eight players. The best part of the game for these long winter nights is that it comes with a 'Full Solitaire System'. No need for us to fiddle or wait until some half baked solitaire system is posted somewhere. This is what comes in the box:

● 129 Battle Cards (100 base Battle Cards, 1 Game End Card, 1 Shuffle Card, and 27 Alternate and City Battle Cards)
● 21 Damage Cards
● 6 On Fire Cards
● 6 Broken Cards
● 6 Anti-Tank Gun Cards
● 8 Anti-Tank Infantry Cards
● 30 Other Cards (15 Scenario Cards, 7 Road/Hill Cards, 4 Solo Move Cards, 2 Infantry Advance Cards, and 2 Deep Mud/Snow Storm Cards)
● 10 Robata Cards
● 4 Reference Cards
● 16 double-sided tank boards
● 3 sheets of counters
● 8 player aids
● 1 Solo player aid
● A Rulebook and Playbook




 The game components are 'marvelous, simply marvelous', and come in Corinthian Leather. Sorry, just a joke showing my age. The Rule Booklet is twenty pages long and is in full color. There are many insets to help the player deduce how to play this beast of a game. The Play Booklet is fifty-two pages long and is crammed full of goodies. The first eighteen pages of the Booklet contains a very well done tutorial on how to play the normal game. There are then three pages of Advanced and Optional rules. These include Anti-Tank Guns, Radios, and Infantry. The next thirteen pages are for the scenarios that come with the game and suggestions for creating your own, or modifying the existing scenarios. The Solitaire Rules for the game start on page thirty-six. The solitaire component in the game is called 'Robata'. There is then a five page Solitaire Play Example. The Booklet ends with three pages of Designer Notes. The Player Aid Cards are well laid out and give the player exactly what information he needs at his fingertips. The Tank Boards have an aerial view of the tank that they are showing. They are large enough for the player to keep track of everything from crew to terrain, and also a penetration table for the main gun. The Tank Boards are as thick and durable as a hard mounted map.




 These are the tanks that you get to play with:

Russian:

T-34/76 M40
T-34/76 M43
KV-85 M43
T-34/85 M44
SU-100 M44
IS-2M M44

German:

PZKPFI AUSF. J
PZKPFW IV AUSF. G
PZKPFW V AUSF. A
PZKPFW VI AUSF. E
SUG III AUSF. G
PANZERJAGER TIGER (P) (Ferdinand)

 The question that pops up is why these tanks? Usually with games you get a range of tanks from a certain year or years of the war. This is a smattering of tanks from the middle years of World War II until the end. The biggest gripe a German tank lover will have is where is the Konigstiger? The Soviets get to use the largest beast that actually prowled on their side with the IS-2M. Why then was the King Tiger not invited to the party?

 This is the sequence of play:

1.Draw Phase [6.0] Players refill their hands to their Hand Size [4.2.7].
2. Initiative Phase [7.0] Players bid for Initiative.
3. Tank Phase [8.0] - In Initiative Order: Administration Step [8.1]    a. Discard Active Tank’s Initiative Card.
   b. Score scenario specific VPs.
   c. If the Active Tank is in Smoke, perform a Smoke Check.
   d. If the Active Tank is On Fire, perform an On Fire Check.
   e. If the Active Tank’s crew is Broken, perform a Morale Check.    f. [Optional] Button Up or Open Hatch [17.3.4].
  Action Step [8.2] The Active Player resolves one Tank Action       [8.3] and any number of Field Actions [8.4], in any order they choose.
  Discard Step [8.5] The Active Player may discard one Battle Card  from their hand or, if the Active Tank’s Range counter is in a red box, they may discard two Battle Cards.
4. Reinforcement Phase [9.0] If any tanks have been Eliminated [12.7], their controlling player prepares a replacement tank.


 The best word to describe playing this game is 'suspenseful'. Which side will spot the other first? After I have missed my shot, will I be able to get another one in before my opponent zeroes in on me? Do you worry about the Anti-Tank Gun or the enemy tank first? Do I bet on my crew being able to pass the morale check or do I discard the four Battle Cards to automatically rally my crew? You feel a real sense of accomplishment when you have played your cards correctly and turned imminent defeat into victory. If it could happen on the ground during a tank battle on the Eastern Front in WWII it is included in the game.


 Theses are the scenarios:

1. Merging Forces
2. Hold the High Ground
3. Capture Hill 818
4. Break Out of the Pocket
5. Establish a Bridgehead
6. Streets of Steel
Robata can be used in six of these scenarios.

Historical Scenario 1: Fog of Counteroffensive
Historical Scenario 2: Hungary for Oil
Robata cannot be used with either of the Historical Scenarios.

 There is also a good primer on making your own tank matchups. The tanks are listed by year and also by size. A 'Suggested Tank Matchup' chart is also included. These were chosen by the playtesters. The 'Notes about the Historical Scenarios' in the Play Book is a must read. I like this quote from it: "Crafting a historical CDG drama in the language of Mike's (Mike Bertucelli) Tank Duel is like composing a haiku poem, albeit armor plated."






 There are a few kinds of cards that come in the decks these are:

 ● Battle Cards, which are shuffled to create the Battle Deck [4.2].
 ● Damage Cards, which are shuffled to create the Damage Deck [4.3].
 ● Broken and On Fire Cards, which indicate which tanks are Broken and/or On Fire [4.4]. 
● Anti-Tank Gun Cards, used in certain scenarios [17.1].
● Anti-Tank Infantry and Infantry Advance Cards, used with optional Infantry rules [17.3]. 
● Scenario Specific Cards, used as Scenario Objectives or for scenario specific rules. 
● Robata Cards, used when playing with the optional Solitaire Rules.




 This game is very good from a technical aspect, and it is also a blast to play. Some games fit into either category. You can have a game that while it may not be easy to play or is very involved, it does give the player an accurate description of the warfare portrayed. Then, you can have games that while abstract or completely ahistorical are still fun to play. This game hits the spot on both meters. The best tactical games make the gamer, for want of a better term, 'feel' for the cardboard men under his control. Tank Duel is one of those games. You do care about saving your tank crew, and not just because of points or whatever. This is one of those games where, win or lose, both players want to try one more scenario late into the night. The game also has endless possibilities for add-ons. I can easily see trying to hunt a Char B1 with a Panzer II. Hopefully sales are great enough to flesh out tank on tank warfare from the Spanish Civil War until the Vietnam War. With a little (probably a lot) of work, we may even see M1 Abrams and T-80s going at each other at some point. Thank you GMT Games for letting me review this excellent game and making my holidays that much better. Now excuse me, my Tiger is being hunted by an IS2 and my crew is already a bit rattled.

Robert

Tank Duel:
https://www.gmtgames.com/p-615-tank-duel-enemy-in-the-crosshairs.aspx



  

Deep Blue is Days of Wonder’s 2019 family game. In the game, two to five players are competing to recover the most treasure from the wr...

Deep Blue Deep Blue

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


Deep Blue is Days of Wonder’s 2019 family game. In the game, two to five players are competing to recover the most treasure from the wreck sites that make up the gameboard.  Deep Blue is primarily a simple push-your-luck game of drawing the right coloured gems out of a bag.  But where this game differs is that your opponents will be involved in nearly every decision that you, as a dive leader will make.

Gameplay

Players are acting as the captain of two treasure-seeking ships, all of which start in the Harbour space.  After setup, there will be a total of fourteen wreck sites randomly placed across the board that you and your opponents will have the opportunity to explore.  The wreck sites are split into six basic and nine advanced wreck sites.  Basic wrecks will start the game face up, so all players know which immediately accessible spots could be the most helpful.  Advanced wrecks start face down and the game will end after four of the advanced wrecks have been revealed which contain the sunken city.
4 player early game
Players can do just one of four actions on their turn: Recruit, Sail, Rest or Dive.  The first three actions are quick and simple to complete, even in a five-player game your turn comes back around relatively quickly.  However, the Dive action is the meat of this game and does interrupt the normally rapid turns, during a dive each player may also be able to participate and each bag-pull will cause a flurry of actions.  Downtime doesn’t really exist in this game.

Each player starts with four starting crew cards in their hands and must play one or more cards each turn to commit an action (except resting which returns spent cards to your hand).  Each crew card has icon(s) that dictate what that card can be used for.  For example, crew cards with propeller icons allow you to sail, money icons allow you to recruit more crew; and then there are the oxygen, creature and gem icons which only are used when diving.  After you’ve used any card it will go to your rest area on your player board. 
All the icons
Additional crew are recruited from the market which is down the side of the board.  Newly drawn crews in the market will always go to the most expensive spot ($4) and the market will gradually fill in the least expensive slots as crews become cheaper.  Whenever a new crew card is placed in the market an extra (good) gem may be placed in the treasure bag.  Switched on players should pay attention to those crew that add to the bag as they probably won’t stay in the market for long.

Push your luck games tend to be multiplayer solitaire events without additional mechanics.  In Deep Blue, the player interaction primarily comes when diving, although there is some during the recruit actions as well.  When you take the Dive action, all other adjacent ships may rush to the wreck and ‘share’ in the spoils.  After each gem pull, whether good or bad, each player in the dive can play cards to increase their reward, or prevent them surfacing early (and losing points).
A dive in progress
Dives finish when the Dive Leader chooses, or when they can no longer cancel out the bad gems drawn from the bag.  Blue (oxygen)and black (trident) gems are considered bad; after the first-drawn warning of each, each player must defend against them by playing a card or using the inherent defence of your ship's location, with an equivalent black or blue icon.  Nearly half the starting bag is bad gems that will cause you to surface early unless you’ve bought extra crew or your ship’s location on the wreck tile has those defensive icons.

As Dive Leader you will get an extra bonus and will likely score more victory points than other players. However, if you’re forced to surface early you will lose all the points that you would have got from the drawn gems.  Players that are able to defend when the dive leader fails would still get the points from gems.  Pushing when you have more defensive icons available than your opponents and knowing when to rest (often) is crucial for success.  A well-played dive could net the dive leader over 50 points quite easily.  However, the final scores for each player will likely be different due to the crew cards that they were able to play during the dive.
Quality components
I enjoyed the ability to indirectly mess with your opponents that this game permits during the dives.  Diving also prompts a lot of over the table pleading with the Dive Leader to stop the dive early.  As your crew increases and players get familiar with the diving mechanics/probabilities you’ll be earning upwards of 200 points per game.  Although I have seen quite large gaps in scoring from first to last, whether that was down to poor skill or good luck, I’m not sure.

Components

Very little needs to be said here. The game’s components are all of excellent quality and I particularly like the little ship meeples.  This is a simple family game and the cartoony artwork throughout reflects the typical family audience that this game would appeal to.  The actions and particularly the icons the permit them are simple and easily understood. After two rounds any adult player will need no further guidance.
A well thought out insert
I often ditch provided inserts or make an alternative insert for most of my games.  There is no need for that here, the insert is great in almost every respect and the little treasure chest each player gets to store their victory point in is a nice touch.  The only criticism of the insert is that they’ve provided slots for the victory points.  No ones got the time to stack dozens and dozens of chips into these slots, mine are just thrown into a baggy.

Criticisms

The game is a little simple for my tastes and I think relies on luck just a little too much.  There are obviously ways to mitigate bad luck (black and blue gems), but as you’re building a communal bag of gems throughout the game every other tactical player will be wanting the same crew to mitigate bad pulls or enhance good gems.  

There are no apparent scaling or rule changes for 2 or 5 player games.  The board felt a bit empty with 2 players.  In a 5 player game, there weren’t enough available defensive options and the crew deck seems to run out very quickly.

Conclusion

There’s an easy comparison to make with Quacks of Quedlinburg but this game is far simpler.  I imagine this would make an ideal Christmas gift for a non-gamer family.  It’s not that expensive and it plays quickly, if you’re stuck looking for a fun gift that may convince friends there’s fun to be had beyond the Christmas pain and suffering of Monopoly then this just may be that game.  The rules are easily understood and I’ve even had a 6-year-old playing it.
The last sunken city tile
I would recommend it at four or five players but beware with five new players it may just start to drag a bit. When a game is this light the last thing you want is it for it to outstay its welcome.  The published game length is fairly accurate at 45 minutes.

There are some tactical decisions to be made, e.g. finish the dive early to deny your opponents even more points, keep pushing to exhaust cards, rushing to dives to move further into the advanced wreck sites etc. but there’s not really enough here to keep me coming back for more.  The Captain’s Log cards do alter the gameplay and help to an extent but I didn’t find any of the rule alterations particularly interesting and I don’t think this will keep the attention of any gamers beyond one or two plays.

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending out this review copy for the website.

Publisher: Days of Wonder
BGG Page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/283649/deep-blue
Players: 2 – 5
Designers: Daniel Skjold Pedersen & Asger Harding Granerud
Playing Time: 45 minutes

La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni  I am ashamed to admit it, but this war is totally unkno...

La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617 by Europa Simulazioni

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La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617

by

Europa Simulazioni







 I am ashamed to admit it, but this war is totally unknown to me. So, to make it easier on you I will quote from the game's 'Historical Notes':

"The War of Gradisca 1615-1617" is a low complexity game on a subject little studied by professional historians and even less treated in simulation games. The causes of the conflict lie in the ancient rivalry between the Republic of Venice and the uncomfortable neighbor from the Habsburg house, Austria. There were many open questions between the two contenders: the alleged failure to support the defense of Christian Europe from the Turk, the definition of the eastern borders of the Republic, the possession of key fortresses on this border line, with Gradisca in the first place. Last but not least was the problem of the Uskoks, pirates of Catholic faith in Habsburg service, who for a long time had disturbed the merchant routes of Venice in the Adriatic Sea."

 This is what comes with the game:

  • A 23"x33" map (based on an ancient map of Friuli)
  • A rules booklet (both Italian and English)
  • 1 sheet of large (5/8") counters
  • A deck of 36 Event Cards
    (for the Advanced Game)
  • Six dice
  • Boxed




 All of the components are very well done. The map, as described, is a period one of the area. It is roughly of the same area where Italy and Austria-Hungary fought the Isonzo and Caporetto campaigns. As far as looks go, it would work well as living room accent, sans the wargaming extras. The information blocks on the map (eliminated units, etc), are in both Italian and English. The turn record track is only in Italian, but even I could figure it out in a moment. The 5/8" counters are your standard wargame counters, except for the art. The illustrations on them match the period map well and they are little works of art. The information counters are in Italian, but the rulebook explains what they are in both languages. The rulebook is in both languages, and the English part is eight pages in length. It is a low complexity game so the rulebook is easy to follow and understand. It has also been written by someone who obviously has a good command of both of the languages. It is not written like the instruction manual for a bookcase or some other piece of furniture you might have to put together. You do not have to struggle to decide what English words each sentence is missing, nor does it use syntax like Yoda.





 This is the sequence of play:

"Every turn consists of the following steps:
 a) A Command marker is randomly drawn from the opaque container (see Rule 5)
 b) Units of the selected Command are activated and /or cards are played a. At this stage, the opponent can play in turn  cards, under the conditions written on the cards themselves  The drawn Command marker is then placed on the map in the section "Played Commands" ("Comandi giocati")
 c) The sequence from step a) is repeated until all Command markers have been drawn
 d) When all Command markers have finished, check if some area has combat units in excess (Rule 9), and then move the current turn marker to the next box on the Time Line.
 e) If the Game Turn marker has gone beyond the End of Game marker, the game is finished and Victory Points are counted for both players to determine the winner. Otherwise all Command markers are placed again in the container and a new Game Turn begins from Step a).
 The game is anyway finished at the conclusion of Turn  Mar.-Apr. 1618."




  At first glance, the game seems to be one in the 'beer and pretzels' range, like Risk with incredible period pieces and maps. Take, for example, the rule that artillery can fire from one area into another. In actuality, while the game is of low complexity it is a lot deeper than what it seems.  There are also two and a half pages of Advanced rules that make it a deeper and more historical game. These add the ability to have multiple rounds during combat. Some more advanced rules include 'Army Morale', and most importantly Supply rules. Having Sappers and miners (Guastatori), Forts, and Cernide (conscripts), the game really has the ability to transport you to the early seventeenth century. The player even has the ability to counter-mine the other player's mines when he has a Guastatori unit in his fort/castle that is being attacked. You don't feel that the pieces could be tanks or whatever on just an old map. The game's whole ensemble takes the player back in time. The game is not card driven, but it does have the obligatory, at least now-a-days, cards that add to the play. The card rules are a bit different than other games. Some cards are marked 'Mandatory' and must be used at the first opportunity by the player, even if they lead to adverse effects. Other cards are marked as only being able to be used at a certain date etc.






 My wargaming is usually predicated on my reading. In this case it is not so, mainly because there really does not seem to be any books about this war in English. This is too bad because this war is really the swan song of the Lion of St. Mark. Soon after this, Venice leaves the group of power players on the world's stage. Besides the components, which I love, the game is very good. It definitely gives the player a taste of maneuver and fortress warfare of the time period. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for allowing me to review Gradisca. I have two of their Napoleonic games, The Invasion of Russia 1812, and 1813 Napoleon's Nemesis. They are both beautiful and excellent games. I am really looking forward to playing more Europa Simulazioni Games.



Link to Europa Simulazioni:


Link to Guerra Di Gradisca:
Links to the Napoleonic games:
Robert





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