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"Paladins of the West Kingdom is set at a turbulent time of West Francia’s story, circa 900AD.  Despite recent efforts to develop ...

Paladins of the West Kingdom Paladins of the West Kingdom

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


"Paladins of the West Kingdom is set at a turbulent time of West Francia’s story, circa 900AD.  Despite recent efforts to develop the city, outlying townships are still under threat from outsiders. Saracens scout the borders, while Vikings plunder wealth and livestock. Even the Byzantines from the east have shown their darker side. As noble men and women, players must gather workers from the city to defend against enemies, build fortifications and spread faith throughout the land.  Fortunately you are not alone. In his great wisdom the King has sent his finest knights to help aid in our efforts. So ready the horses and sharpen the swords. The Paladins are approaching."
Rule book introduction

Gameplay

Paladins of the West Kingdom is not your typical worker placement game. Normally you’re denying action spaces to other players on a shared board.  Paladins gives each player their own board on which to place their own supply of workers.  A criticism often levelled against worker-placement games is one of being multiplayer solitaire, and that is definitely the case here.  However, the game is that crunchy, that I feel increasing the interaction between players would actually lessen the overall game and I am happy that my opponents aren’t able to thwart my well-considered plans (too much).  

The game is played over seven rounds in which all players will be taking multiple actions with their supply of workers.  Each player will take as many actions as their workers permit and there are often clever ways to combine effects and abilities to increase the amount of workers during your round.  If you don’t mind a bit of analysis paralysis, then you will be able to work out an optimum round. However, this game continues to reward my impulsive play; I often realise possible combinations half-way through my turn and I have been able to exploit it immediately.


Player board at the start
Aside from the player boards, there is an elongated main board which holds a variety of King’s Orders and King’s Favour cards.  Each game will consist of 3 Orders and 6 Favours and there is twice this number provided in the box.  This means that the focus and overall objectives of each game will be different.  I have played this a number of times now and in each play, the different cards and sometimes order in which they’re revealed, significantly change the game and keep it feeling fresh.

Each player has their own deck of Paladin cards from which you’ll select one to be your Paladin for the round.  The selection mechanism is quite clever as you’ll know one of the Paladins which will be available in the next round (from a choice of 3).  I’ve tried to plan current turns to optimise my next turns’ Paladin but for some reason, either lack of brainpower, or just getting sidetracked by the number of options, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to exploit this.  However, I like the mechanism and look forward to trying again.


Main Board at the Start
There is also a shared pool of Tavern Cards which are chosen individually by each player.  These combine with the chosen Paladin card to give players the workers shown on both cards to use for the round.  This will normally be 6 workers of various colours unless you passed in the previous round and kept workers to use the next round; I have started a round with 9 workers. There are a few spaces on your board which only require one worker per action, but most require 2 or more workers.  You can feel like you’re burning through workers quite quickly, particularly at the beginning of the game.

One of the best aspects of this game is that you’re able to change the requirements for some spaces through the use of Workshops.  If you take the time to Develop your board you can reduce some 3-worker spaces down to 1-worker spaces.  This is crucial to stretching your turn and giving you more actions each round.  However, you won’t get very far by just building workshops, the most Victory Points come from focusing on the attribute tracks at the side of the player boards.


Green Workshops (being ignored)
Three attributes (Faith, Strength and Influence) are measured per player and drive the whole game.  Most spaces require a certain amount of one of these attributes in order to place a worker there, however, there is usually a reward in another attribute. For example, if you wanted to attack an Outsider I would need to have a specific amount of strength and I would be rewarded with Influence.  Although this is a pure-worker placement game, the game and its actions do make sense thematically, if it is a little loose.  I still can’t quite work out why, when I pay tax I am taking money from the Tax Supply.

Not only are there attribute requirements but there are also worker requirements, for example, a red space requires a red worker.  There are 6 different types of worker in the game and the right colour must be used on a coloured space.  An outlined space can take any colour worker. However, the purple worker (a criminal) breaks this rule and can go on any space, coloured or not (apropos yes?).  These colours are defined as red-fighter, black-cleric, green-scout, blue-merchant, purple-criminal and white which is a generic labourer.  These colours also are linked thematically to their corresponding action spaces, for example, the Pray action requires a cleric, (arguably the only space that you should definitely use each round).


Absolve, close-up 2 Clerics and a Merchant.
There is very little downtime for any player unless you’re the first player to pass early in a round and your opponents still have a handful of workers left.  If so, you’re likely doing something wrong and that is probably only your fault.  However, this downtime could only be 5 minutes at the absolute most.  Normally I would expect your turn in a four-player game to come round within a minute or two.  You will be involved and thinking about your turns or taking your turns right to the end of this game.   Your success and failures of the consequences of your actions alone and that is something which I like. 

The are several mechanisms through which you can affect other players games however none do so significantly.  You’re limited to just denying certain cards or spaces from your opponents, but there will usually be other cards (and spaces) still available.  I don’t think you would be competitive if you were playing to hurt your opponents instead of playing to benefit yourself.


End-game main board - there are still open spaces.
It is quite difficult to determine which player is ahead until the end-game scoring through which there is a veritable point salad available to players.  I found that games where I thought I was romping home and clearly ahead (in points) were actually much tighter.  Even if you think you’re well behind on scoring, I’ve found that the scores have been tight and I’ve not been able to deduce from glancing at all the player boards who the leader is.  Players score points from a wide variety of cards and board spaces which can really only be calculated at the end.   This keeps all players involved in the game right to the end.


Components

The art design throughout the game shares the same distinctive style used in Architects of the West Kingdom and the third game in this trilogy, Viscounts of the West Kingdom.  The wooden components are great and there are approximately 200 of them in six different sculpts and seven different colours. There are also approximately 100 cardboard components which weren’t just standard circles and squares and they all punched cleanly.


A perfect fit
Once you’re familiar with the rules and actions there was/is little need to refer back to the rulebook. The iconography on the board is intuitive and consistent throughout the game.  Each action space is sufficiently described on the board to allow new players to grasp the rules within about 20 minutes.

What is great (in terms of components) about this game is the box size.  I have seen negative comments about the box size and some people finding it difficult to get all the components back into the box.  When the game is all bagged there is literally no free space left in the box, to my mind that is a perfect box size. However, I can understand if you’ve sleeved your cards then you would struggle.


Criticisms

The biggest criticism I have is one of table space.  Although the box is deceptively small, what comes out of it is ravenous in terms of its appetite for tablespace.  The mainboard is long, (but thin) and around that there will be at least six different areas for card decks and tableaus.  Each player board is a more typical size of player board but again you’ll need space around the sides to place recruited Townsfolk cards, converted Outsiders and any successful attacks in their own face-down deck.  That's without storing your workers, provisions and money. I can’t recommend this game if you’re table is on the small side.


A deceptive table-hog.

Conclusion

This game ticks a lot of boxes for me; it’s fairly crunchy with lots of interactions between your own resources and attributes.  Affecting them in positive ways and the decision to focus your efforts on one over the other is a nice decision space.  Fortunately, other players aren’t really able to affect your own path to victory too much and in this game, that is a good thing.  It would be intensely frustrating to have your plans ruined by another player's actions purely by chance, and in this game, I feel that you’re not able to play to hurt your opponents; there’s too much going on, on your own board to be concerned with your opponents. 

There is very little downtime throughout the whole course of the game and after two hours you do feel as if you’re brain has had a good work out.  Of course, you could just go along for the ride and select actions with no clear purpose, just to see how the game works, but I guarantee that you’ll do terribly when it comes to scoring.  This game rewards, clever play and finding combinations to extend your turn, getting additional workers is critical for success. 


Set up takes about 10 minutes.
There are a finite number of components that will fit in any box and I’ll admit I’m amazed at how much they’ve managed to cram into this box.  But due to the King’s Orders and Favours changing each game, the tactics and strategy that were successful in your previous play won't necessarily be successful in your next.  After your first game, which will just be a learning game, you’ll have a wide array of tactics to consider each turn which will be different each game.  This game has high replay value. 

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending this review copy.  Many local game stores will still have this in stock and you can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to support your FLGS or use their online shopping web store. 

Publisher: Garphill Games
BGG Page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/266810/paladins-west-kingdom/
Players: 1-4
Designer: Shem Phillips, S J Macdonald
Length: 90-120 minutes

Operation Crusader Tank Warfare in the Desert, Tobruk 1941 by Hermann Büschleb translated by David Dorondo ...

Operation Crusader: Tank Warfare in the Desert, Tobruk 1941 by Hermann Büschleb translated by David Dorondo Operation Crusader: Tank Warfare in the Desert, Tobruk 1941 by Hermann Büschleb translated by David Dorondo

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




Operation Crusader

Tank Warfare in the Desert, Tobruk 1941

by

Hermann Büschleb

translated by

David Dorondo






  This is an extremely interesting, if short, book at less than 100 pages. Hermann Büschleb was a staff officer in the Germany Army during WWII. The book was apparently written for the United States Army. After WWII, Hermann Büschleb became a Major-General in the West German Bundeswehr. The jacket states:

"Writing in the 1960s, Büschleb framed his account of Crusader as a case study, almost an instruction manual for the leadership and command of armored and mechanized warfare. He intended it to be of practical use to contemporary military personnel, who expected to fight a similar type of warfare against the Warsaw Pact."

 The first thing you will notice when opening the book is that it comes with twenty-one maps of the action before and during Operation Crusader. The background and "Situation in Context" of the battle take up the first twenty-eight pages. The length of the German supply line, and the reduction in the ports available to the Italo-German were only the first two problems.  The active British intervention against their supply lines was the third and most dangerous threat to the Italo-German supply. With the amount that the author tells us of supplies that got through, it is amazing that the Italo-German forces were able to eat let alone fight. 

 The actual course of the battle takes up the next forty-seven pages. This gives an almost minute by minute breakdown for the engagements that took place. The majority of the action follows the Deutsches Afrikakorps, although the author also mentions some of the Italian actions. The author's three page "Conclusion", which is divided into "Historical Considerations" and "Tactical Considerations", are concise but right on target. 

 This book is probably the best German Officer written appraisal of a battle in WWII that I have read. Many that I have read are tough to slog through, but this is written as well as the better histories are. I am not sure if this is because of the translator making it slightly more appealing, or does it come across the same way in the original German. Whichever, it works superbly. Thank you Casemate Publishers in allowing me to read this concise, but well done appraisal of Operation Crusader.

BooK: Operation Crusader: Tank Warfare in the Desert Tobruk 1941
Author: Hermann Büschleb
Translator: David Dorondo
Publisher: Casemate Publishers

Robert

Ostkrieg WWII Eastern Front by Compass games  The Eastern Front in World War II was absolutely immense. It i...

Ostkrieg WWII Eastern Front by Compass Games Ostkrieg WWII Eastern Front by Compass Games

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





Ostkrieg WWII Eastern Front

by

Compass games






 The Eastern Front in World War II was absolutely immense. It is by far the largest military campaign in history. It included millions of men and hundreds of thousands planes and tanks, and other Soviet and German machines of war. We Grognards love the multiple maps and thousands of counters that come with most Eastern Front Wargames. So, why am I presented with this small box with its tiny map and one sheet of counters? Let us see if good things really do come in small packages. First let us hear from one of the designers about the game and its history:

"Although I have played a lot of these kinds of games since I was a child, and toyed with designing one, this is my first design. I wanted to make a very simple World War II game. Why World War II? There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of excellent games around that cover every facet of World War II, from tactical to strategic, with every conceivable game mechanic. What new perspective could I possibly bring to this topic?
 I started design on this game four years ago. My goal was to make a simple game, that would fit on an 8½ by 11-inch map, and take only an hour or two to play. Initially I only had one type of unit, and everything was abstracted in the cards. I also wanted something simple that could be played quickly but have decision points and focus on concepts that one would not need to be a historian to understand and recognize as being important.
 This game ended up having three generations. The first game was the simplest. The second was similar except that it had tanks, and then the third iteration which is the one that you are playing. This points out the importance in testing, and how key it is to refine a game’s design. Each cycle of playtesting brought up issues that needed to be addressed, and were addressed, to the improvement and strengthening of the system."

 This is what comes with the game:

  • One map (17" x 22" map size)
    One Countersheet of 9/16” unit-counters
    53 Game Cards
    Rules booklet
    2 Player Aid cards
    16 Six-sided Dice
    Box and Lid

  •  Pertinent information:

  • Complexity: 3 out of 10
    Solitaire Suitability: 8 out of 10 (solitaire bot system)
    Time Scale: Single Year Turns with alternating, multiple cards plays per player
    Map Scale: Area map
    Unit Scale: army-level infantry, armor, air groups, and partisans
    Players: one to two, best with two
    Playing Time: two to four hours




  As you can see it is a card-driven game that is based on a point-to-point moving system. The map is rather a Plain Jane with all the information needed, but somewhat bland. The counters are not what I have come to expect from Compass Games. They are easy to read, but to me they seem a little thinner and the color scheme is  downright ugly. I guess that is too strong a word. They work and are completely functional, but somehow reminiscent of when my children were much younger. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we buy these games for the game play not the aesthetics. The errata states that for both of the scenarios the Turkish Areas are out of play for both sides. I am not sure if that means there will be more scenarios or an add-on forthcoming. The rulebook is only twenty-four pages long and does have an index of the rules on the back. It is also in full color and eight pages of it is actually of play examples. So, the actual rules are only twelve pages long. The playing cards are well done and are the most eye pleasing part of the game. The game comes with a 'Bot' system, so it is very solitaire friendly. 




 On the plus side, the game does come with everything you would expect in an Eastern Front game. You get all of the Axis Allies, but you also get Partisans. The map does not just end at Poland, but shows the Balkans, Finland and Turkey. This means that you can also play the Partisan War that took place in Yugoslavia. Partisans can be placed through the effect of the Soviet Players cards. The game comes with two scenarios: The Barbarossa Campaign starting on June 1941, and the Uranus Scenario starting on November in 1942. The sequence of play is as follows:

The game consists of five turns, each representing one year of the war. Each turn has the following sequence of play:

Year Start - Determine first player based upon the year ( 1941-1942 the Axis player, 1943-1945 the Soviet player).
Card Play  - Players alternate playing cards until both pass.
Year End - Perform a Victory Check, determine country control, add cards to hand from next year, purchase cards from discard pile.





 One of the most innovative ideas in the game concerns combat and die rolls. This is a simple and easy way to show how the Soviet forces grew in actual ability throughout the war. These are the rules:

Any axis attack of defense that involves at least 1 German Armor or Infantry Unit gets one die roll for every two Units.
Any Axis defense which involves only Finnish Units gets one die roll for every two Units.
Any other Axis attack or defense gets one die roll for every four Units.
Any Soviet attack or defense in 1941 gets one die roll for every six Units.
Any Soviet attack or defense in 1942 gets one die roll for every five Units.
Any Soviet attack or defense in 1943 gets one die roll for every four Units.
Any Soviet attack or defense in 1944-1945 gets one die roll for every three Units.
If one player has more Armor points than the other in any combat, he rolls one additional die.





  The stacking limits for the game are a liberal twelve Infantry or Armor points per area. The air stacking limit is two normally or four for any Victory or oil area. A Player wins automatically if he controls Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, and Baku. If there is no automatic victory the Player who has the most Victory Points wins a Marginal Victory. If it goes to counting Victory Points, Baku counts as 2. Advances into Victory Point Areas increase your production by one. If you are able to take an Oil Resource Area, your production is increased by the number of oil symbols on the map. At the end of 1943, the Italian Card goes to the neutral discard Area and all Italian Units are removed. Bulgarian Units can only enter Greece, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. Hungarian and Romanian Units can never stack in the same Area. These rules are meant to show the historical realities of the time. Maybe we could add a house rule to do a die roll to see when Italy actually leaves the war, possibly starting in 1942 and continuing until 1944.



The cards are easy to read and not flimsy

 So, you can see that it is an encapsulated game about the Eastern Front. Even given that it plays in year long turns and is pretty small, the game's playing time is listed from three to five hours. That should prove it is not a lightweight in the strategy department. The 'Bot' solitaire system works, especially because it does not tie the players hands, but only gives the player a general overview of what he has to do. Other than that, the player just tries to play as well as he can on the 'enemy' side. I am pretty amazed that the designers have been able to incorporate so much into so little. The game plays well, and for those who can get into its design it is well worth the cost. To be truthful, it is not my cup of tea. I really think that it is just because I have been indoctrinated into the 'bigger is better' when it comes the Eastern front. Had the game been released as one about North Africa I really do not think I would have any trouble with the designers' approach for that campaign. Thank you Compass Games for letting me review this very different approach to the Eastern front.

 PS: The game has been starting to grow on me after playing it some more. I wanted to leave my initial impressions in the review to show my change of attitude toward the game. Its rules do make it work and you do get historical outcomes. It just proves you should not be so hasty in your first judgements. I have had to change my mind on block wargaming, area instead of hexes, and now bigger is not always better. 

Compass Games:
https://www.compassgames.com/

Ostkrieg:


Robert






Verdun Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations    This is just going to showcase some of the beautifully don...

Verdun: Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations Cards Verdun: Steel Inferno by Fellowship of Simulations Cards

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





Verdun Steel Inferno

by

Fellowship of Simulations




 

 This is just going to showcase some of the beautifully done cards that come in the game. The game has smashed it's KS goals, but only has nine days left.







This is the best picture I have ever seen of him. Usually he looks emaciated.





 

Interview with Ray Weiss from Conflict Simulations LLC  Ray, please give us a bit of background on you, and how...

Interview with Ray Weiss from Conflict Simulations LLC Interview with Ray Weiss from Conflict Simulations LLC

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





Interview with Ray Weiss from Conflict Simulations LLC







 Ray, please give us a bit of background on you, and how you got into designing games?

 32-year-old from NYC, previously a touring musician that managed to screw up every other job I had other than this one. I started off designing RPGs 10 years ago, and wargames for the past 3-5 years. I majored in History and Political Science in college and was already into strategy games, the first time I laid eyes on a proper hex and counter wargame (John Tiller’s East Prussia 14) I was entranced. Experiencing that kind of control and attention to detail enraptured me to no end, and soon after I moved onto board games as I stare at screens enough all day. After getting sick of waiting for others to check out and publish my games, I decided to just jump off the deep end and publish them myself. I’ve now been running CSL for 2 years. 

 So what wargames have you developed, or working on?

Wargames I’ve Designed which are currently shipping:
1916 – Operational combat @ Verdun
1950 – Strategic Korean War
1812 – Strategic Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia
1987 – Operational What if Kaliningrad
1864 – Grand Tactics 2nd Schleswig War
AGN – Operational Barbarossa
AGC – Operational Barbarossa
AGS – Operational Barbarossa
1995 – Strategic What if Yugoslavia
1870 – Operational Franco Prussian War
1968 – Strategic Tet Offensive
1914 The World Undone: East Prussia – Operational Tannenberg

 If you had the chance and all the time in the world, what game would you design?

 Maybe a tangent, but my dream would be to design a computer or video game at some point, something like a CRPG, roguelike, or something as equally niche as wargaming, if not a computer wargame itself. One of the main reasons I got into analog design though was because I am so bad at programming so there’s that. One of the benefits to running your own publishing company is that you get to publish whatever you want, so I'm very fulfilled in terms of the stuff I’m working on, from the Eastern Front in 1914, an American WW1 What-if, Diadochi and more.

 Diadochi, that really hits the time period I enjoy gaming the most. Please hurry up with that design.

 What plans do you have for you and your company in the future?

  I am hoping to release an upgraded/deluxe version of our Destroy All Monsters series of games (AGN, AGC, AGS) which combine for a larger mini-monster type game. We’ve made the print larger, rewritten some chapters for clarity, and tweaked the exclusive rules for each module for historical accuracy and balance. I think it’s probably wishful thinking but I was hoping to get Imperial Bayonets: Sedan 1870 done or close to done this month, but I’ve been compulsively refining and perfecting the rules for this series making sure everything makes sense. The world undone is probably our simplest game at 6 pages of rules, whereas Imperial Bayonets is maybe our most complex system with both series and exclusive rules, similar to OSG’s Library of Napoleonic Battles (the system is similar as well). Basically, I hope to get most of if not all of everything that’s been up for pre-order the past 2 years out this year, which is a sh*t ton of work, but such is my (lovely) lot in life. 

 From what games and designers do you get your inspiration?

 One thing I’d hope sets my games apart from other contemporary publishers is that I really attempt to put many of the same design principles as practiced by SPI into practice. I prefer older games as I find them more immersive and less distracting, along with often times being more historical. My favorite designer is John Young of SPI who tragically died pretty young, but designed my favorite wargame The Marne, after him would be Kevin Zucker, who was gracious enough to encourage and help my initial efforts at design, and finally David Isby who designed SPI’s Soldiers and East Front Quad. I believe these designers represent a holistic approach to design in which every aspect of a game works to support another, there is little to no “chrome” in most of their games, and the games are historically accurate above all else.

 Full disclosure; I invested in a preorder of Ray's 'Imperial Bayonets: Solferino 1859: For Liberty & Lombardy. I couldn't help it, another of my favorite historical times.

 Thank you Sir, and good luck with your designing and company.

Here is the link to Conflict Simulations LLC:

Robert 

Preview of Nations At War Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing  The Nations At War boardgames from Lock 'N Loa...

Preview of Nations at War Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing Preview of Nations at War Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing

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




Preview of Nations At War Digital

by

Lock 'N Load Publishing








 The Nations At War boardgames from Lock 'N Load comprise these games and add ons:

Nations At War Starter Kit
Stalin's Triumph
White Star Rising
Desert Heat
Solo Assistant for Nations At War

 These games portray platoon-level combat in the different theaters  of World War II. You will get to command armor, artillery, infantry and air support. From tanks fighting tanks to close infantry assault. If you are inclined to play both digital and boardgames (who isn't?), you should take a look at this series.


 So, I did reviews of two out of the three boardgames that comprise the L'NLs stable of Nations At War games. I found them to be great games that were quick to play, and gave historical results. The rules were meant to allow the player to play the game, and not to pore over page after page of the manual. In this, L'NL succeeded admirably. Now I have been allowed to do a preview of Nations At War Digital edition, and put it through the paces and see if it is as good as its cardboard cousin. So on to the game.







 First, the action is based entirely on the Western Front of WWII. The scenarios and equipment, etc. were taken from the 'White Star Rising' edition of the boardgames. Before we get too deep, please remember that this is a preview and things could and probably will change. I had played a much earlier version of the game, so I have seen it grow and become much more polished. 


 The player can play either the German or American side in the game. This means that you get to play with both Shermans and Panthers, along with most of the other equipment that each army used.

 The AI plays almost like a human opponent. To give you an example; I had four Tigers and the AI has a multitude of Shermans, M18s, M36s, and a few Stuarts. The victory conditions for the German side was that I destroy all of the enemy and exit the western edge of the map. The AI would use the Stuarts in Kamikaze like attacks towards the Tigers. At first glance, this seems a rather foolish move. However, for at least two turns I was forced to deal with the Stuarts and not do anything about the real threats that were enveloping my position. So, even though the tactics seem 'gamey', it is exactly what some players would actually do. The Allied airpower is not to be trifled with either. The ground attacking American planes took out two of my Tigers and a Wirbelwind in the above scenario. I have lost more than I have won playing against the AI.




 Another factor that is part of the boardgame, and is a real game changer at times, is Fate Points. Both sides are assigned so many of them at the start of each scenario. I will use L'NL's words to explain them:

"Despite generals, sergeants,riflemen, spreadsheets,tables, and game designer’s best efforts, battles are often won not by the side with the best weapons, most men, or better morale, but by the unforeseen actions of men and women and inexplicable twists
of fate. Fate Points (FPts) in the Nations at War system represent those twists.Fate Points are points that can be used to sway the turn of events and change an unfavorable situation into a favorable
one.
Fate Points are assigned within each scenario to a side and can be used anytime within the game. They cannot be carried over to other scenarios.Fate Points can be thought of as currency and can be used to purchase an event that can change the game. They can be used by the active player or their opponent at anytime.  The defending player ALWAYS has the last chance to use FPts to adjust a unit’s outcome. Fate points that are used to adjust die results may only be used on that players own die results."




 So instead of getting an almost faithful representation of the boardgames, L'NL was able to transpose the boardgames right into the silicon world. This in itself is a major kudo for the game. The AI knows what it has to do to win victories, and is able to follow through and do it. It uses its forces very aggressively, so don't assume it will be passive and better on the defense (as most AIs are). I am very impressed by the game, and really looking forward to L'NLs Tactical Digital series of games that is also coming out soon. Thank you L'NL for allowing me to do this test drive on Nations At War Digital. I almost forgot, this game will be available on Steam at release, as will L'NLs Tactical Digital series.

Lock 'N Load:
https://store.lnlpublishing.com/
Nations At War Digital:
https://store.lnlpublishing.com/series/nations-at-war-series/nations-at-war-digital-for-windows
Nations At War boardgames:
https://store.lnlpublishing.com/series/nations-at-war-series

Robert

From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume 1 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.  This is an amazing book from cover to ...

From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume 1 by Douglas E. Nash Sr. From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume 1 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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





From The Realm of a Dying Sun Volume 1

by

Douglas E. Nash Sr.









 This is an amazing book from cover to cover. The author not only shows you the IV SS-Panzerkorps from inception on August 5th 1943, to the end of the Battle of Modlin on November 25th 1944, he does it in spectacular fashion. You get to see the actual creation of the Panzerkorps from the ground up. From the paperwork that created the Panzerkorps, to the assigning of medical and all other staff, it is in this book. The first ninety pages are taken up by the organization and the actual officers who were to command the separate parts of the Panzerkorps. The rest of the book's 500 pages are taken up by the intensive fighting the Panzerkorps took part in on the Eastern Front. 

 The two Panzer Divisions that made up the Panzerkorps were the 3rd SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf, and the 5th SS-Panzer Division Wiking. Both of these divisions were already known for being in the thick of the battles on the Eastern Front. Their history after being coupled in the Panzerkorps only cemented their reputations. I think we should stop here to explain something. It is possible to read about the SS-Panzerkorps and be amazed at their level of battle-worthiness while fighting at extreme odds against the Soviets; however, you can still feel a revulsion at what the SS actually stood for. At this time of the war the reinforcements sent to the SS divisions were very rarely recruits, but ordinary Germans who had been drafted into the Armed Forces of Germany. This fact makes the actual exploits of the IV SS-Panzerkorps even more amazing. To be continually refilled with recruits and then able to give them the esprit de corps that the veterans had was pretty incredible.

 One of the more interesting claims by the author is that the Warsaw Rising did not really impact the German forces fighting off the Soviets that much. As a matter of fact, Field Marshal Model was actually using the IV SS-Panzerkorps at that moment to counterattack the Soviet forces attempting to capture Warsaw. 

 The book is an excellent overview of what it takes to start up an armored corps from scratch. If it showed only that, the book would be worth buying. Then the author goes on to show it fighting for its life in amazing detail. From the decisions taken at the highest levels to the actual stories of the men in the tanks and on the ground, it is an unparalleled work of military history. The book comes with a good amount of pictures of the officers and troops, along with some well done maps. It also comes with a glossary of German military terms. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this book, and I am anxiously awaiting Volume II. The fighting on the Eastern Front in 1944 is usually given the short shrift in books compared to the volumes written about the Western Front at the time.

Robert

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing  The Wehrmacht had been rocked back on its heels sever...

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing

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Monty's Gamble: Market Garden

by

Multi-Man Publishing





 The Wehrmacht had been rocked back on its heels several times during World War II. In late 1941 the Russian winter and Soviet counterattacks had caused it to stumble backwards. In late 1942 the Soviet surrounding of Stalingrad brought it again to the brink of disaster. Now it is 1944, and the Allied invasion of Normandy, followed by the breakout and then the Falaise Gap, had caused it to almost cease to be a fighting force on the Western front. The Allies had them on the run and it did not look like it would stop until Berlin was taken. Most Allied intelligence had the Wehrmacht in the West as a spent force and that the war would be over by Christmas. The only thing that stopped the Allies were supply problems. The Allied Armies had to stop and take a breather right then at the most inopportune moment. They were poised on the Netherlands border, waiting for their precious supplies to catch up. At this same moment the German Field Marshal von Rundstedt was put back in charge of the German forces on the Western front. He was given the Herculean task of trying to make the streaming refugees that were now the German forces into a fighting machine once again. That he succeeded was a testament mostly to the average German soldier during the war. At the same time, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was in command of the northern area of the Allied Armies poised in Belgium. Montgomery, who was a master of the set piece battle, decided to break free of his mold and devise an uncharacteristically bold plan. He would drop three Allied Airborne Divisions in a line, described as a 'carpet', to capture bridges in the Netherlands, with the British First Airborne tasked with taking a bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. The Rhine was the last natural barrier between the Allied Armies and Germany itself. The British First Airborne would be landed more than sixty miles behind enemy lines! The topography of the Netherlands, with it being mostly land reclaimed from the North Sea, made the task for the British land forces to connect with all of the Airborne troops that much more difficult. The stage is set for you to fight for 'Hell's Highway'. You are put in the shoes of von Rundstedt or Montgomery to refight this epic battle. 


 Multi-Man Publishing was founded in 1994 by four Avalon Hill playtesters and a graphics art designer. They originally tried to get the rights to Advanced Squad Leader from Avalon Hill, but it did not go through. Curt Shilling (yes that one, sorry I am a Yankee fan), also tried to buy the rights to ASL. He was put in touch with MMP and joined as a 1/3 partner in 1995. Once Avalon Hill was sold to Hasbro, Hasbro did allow MMP to license the ASL name for their products in 1999. In 2002 MMP acquired The Gamers, and increased their game line greatly. ASL continues to be a huge part of MMP's stable with many new and revamped modules sold every year. The games from the 'Great Campaigns of The American Civil War' series have been or are in the process of being reissued, with even more added content to the games I have looked at. So, there we have the history behind the game and the company, so let us head to Monty's Gamble: Market Garden.

Let us first see what comes with the game:

1 Unmounted Mapsheet
3 Countersheets
1 Rulebook
4 Setup Cards
4 Six-Sided die





 The game is an area movement one and is played in impulses. The scale of the map is approximately 1" = 1.5 miles. The map is divided into sixty-five numbered areas. The game also comes with a new addition for this printing. This would be a new scenario that was originally published in Operations Special Magazine #2. The scenario/full game is 'Fortress Holland', and deals with the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940; more on this later. The rulebook for Monty's Gamble is thirty-four pages long with an additional ten for Fortress Holland. The rulebook is in full color and a good number of pages are dedicated to examples of play. The printing of the rules is in large size and can easily be read and more importantly understood. The rulebook comes with an index on the first page; that is always a nice touch. The map is also very well done with a good number of the player aids built into it. The map is marked for all three of the Allied Airborne Divisions' different Operational Sectors. The three divisions are, The British 1st Airborne Division and Polish Brigade, The American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions ( respectfully the Red Devils, All American, and Screaming Eagles). As the game deals with an airborne assault to take and hold bridges, most of the rules have to deal with airborne landing and bridge seizure or demolition. There are also rules dealing with playing the Extended Game, and a few interesting Optional Rules. One of these deals with Optional D-Day Landings for the airborne troops. The historical landing area for the British 1st Airborne was particularly far from the bridge that they were entrusted with.





 This is the sequence of play:

The game has four turns (there is an Extended Game you can choose to play). Each turn has four Phases and a variable amount of Impulses. Each Turn is comprised of:

1 - Dawn phase (place Reinforcements, reset markers, and make a Weather Die Roll if it is September 19th or 20th)
2 - Daylight Phase (players choose Assault, Bombardment, infiltration, or Pass Impulses)
3 - Refit Phase (Refit and place Supply Depots)
4 - Regroup Phase (move any units into adjacent Free Area)

 The Turn sequence for the first Turn is changed from the above and replaced with four special D-Day Phases:
1 - Air Bombardment Phase
2 - Artillery Bombardment Phase
3 - Airborne Landing Phase 
4 - XXX Corps Ground Assault Phase

The Germans conduct their Refit Phase first. The Refit Phase is as follows:

1. Supply Depots are placed and moved to eligible Areas on the map.
2. Units use supply points to Refit. After All units have finished refitting Impulse advance/retractions may be purchased with reserve Supply.

3. Isolated Units may have to make a Surrender die roll.




The Germans have five Depots that they can use. Also German Units in Zone I may automatically Refit without using a Supply Depot, as long as it is German controlled.
The Allied Player has five Supply Depots for XXX Corps and three for the Airborne Units, and an air Supply Marker.

The Air Supply Marker is worth five Supply Points. The German Supply Depots are worth five Supply Points in clear weather and six in cloudy weather. The Allied Supply Depots are always worth five Supply Points regardless of the weather.




The above is a simple and elegant way to portray how units recover from movement or battle etc. The Player is not forced to keep a log of each Unit's supply throughout the game. The flipping of the Unit to its Spent side and the Disruption Markers also make it easy to keep track of the abilities of each Unit. Map Areas that are heavily contested, and are small on the map, do lead to a bit of congestion, but it never reaches a problem point.




Another interesting and seldom seen ‘historical reality’ is that if the Allied Player uses Air Bombardment in a contested area, there is a chance that his own troops will be hit by some of the bombing.
 

 The Allied Player must deal with German Interdiction from FLAK Towers, FLAK Units, and Air Interdiction Markers when trying to Invade, Supply, or reinforce his Airborne units. Bad die rolls on the Airborne Landing Phase can possibly turn the game into a first turn nightmare for the Allied Player. Airborne Units can be landed Fresh (available for use), Spent (cannot do anything else), to even being disrupted. For the Allied Player, speed is of the essence to get and keep those bridges. For the Allied XXX Corps it is just as imperative to keep moving as quickly as possible to the next bridge. The Allied Player will understand why the name Hell's Highway was put on the roads leading to Arnhem. For the German Player it is naturally the reverse. Delay the Allies at every turn, and if in danger of losing a bridge destroy it if possible. The historical recipe of the battle cannot help but make a tense and eventful game for a player of either side. To make it more nerve wracking the designer added the 'Advantage Chit'. This chit starts in the Allied Player's possession and when it is used goes to the German Player, and so forth during the game. The Advantage Chit has various uses, including rerolling a die roll etc. In speaking with the designer he had this to say " The fact is the game sets up and plays quickly and yields consistently historical results, better than most other Market-Garden games." 

 One part of the rules is a little perplexing: knowing the history of World War II airborne attacks. The only way that an Airborne Unit that is landing in a Drop Area becomes Disrupted or Spent is if a German FLAK Unit, FLAK Tower, or Air Interdiction Marker is in or adjacent to the Drop Area. Going by what really happened during the war in air drops I think that you should use a house rule and have every Airborne Unit have to pass a die roll to see if it is Disrupted or Spent on landing. This would represent the actual chaos that ensued during the different airdrops in WWII.





 The addition of the scenario of the attack on Fortress Holland is a great plus for the buyer. This is one of the few Western Front battles of WWII that has not had too many games done on it. The scenario uses many of the same rules from the main game. There are some additions like a German Armored Train and some other interesting twists to the rules, so that it does not seem like the scenario was just cookie-cuttered in.





 The designer is correct in that the game sets up rather quickly. The play, except for new players, goes along at a good clip. As far as being historical, the events that happen during games are well within the historic might-have-beens of the battle. Thank you Multi-Man Publishing for letting me review this very good and very different approach to 'A Bridge Too Far'. The 'almosts' that happen in a game really portray the nature of the battle, without the player getting bogged down in details.


MMP:
www.multimanpublishing.com/

Monty's Gamble:
www.multimanpublishing.com/Products/tabid/58/ProductID/276/Default.aspx

Link to my review of Baptism by Fire by MMP:
https://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2018/10/baptism-by-fire-by-multi-man-publishing.html

 
Robert




PixelPLaybox.co.uk