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NAGASHINO 1575 & SHIZUGATAKA  1583 from  SERIOUS HISTORICAL GAMES Samurai battles - those words say it all - and, like so many, my inter...


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




Samurai battles - those words say it all - and, like so many, my interest stemmed from that one evocative word in childhood - SAMURAI.

This was fed by films such as Kurosawa's early Seven Samurai and his much later Ran, though the latter is really transforming Shakespeare's play, King Lear, with no real historical relationship to the key period of feuding Japanese warlords.
In between these two films lay James Clavell's novel, Shogun, which - in fictionalised form and ahistorical names for the characters - opens in 1600 in the closing years of the Sengoku Jidai period, shortly before the battle of Sekigahara.

In game terms, I'd had a nodding acquaintance with various samurai influenced games at roughly 10 year intervals.  This started with Milton Bradley's Shogun of 1986 and was followed 10 years later by the much heavier GMT game, Samurai, a volume in their Great Battles of History series.  Wind on another 10 years [ok 11 years] to 2007 and out came their 12th volume in the GBH series, Ran!  So far a fairly intermittent acquaintance.

But from 2007 to 2022, the period and its name, the Sengoku Jidai, has grown in gaming parlance and familiarity.  Starting with Hexasim's, Kawanakajima [2009], it was followed by the excellent variation on the block game format, GMT's Sekigahara [2011] and then back to Hexasim's Tenkatoitsu in [2016].  Dotted throughout have been a variety of Euro games such as Queen Games' Shogun and CMON's Rising Sun,  as well as, of course, an entry in the Command & Colours pantheon - what else but Samurai, containing three scenarios drawn from the battle of Nagashino! [I have the earlier Zvesda edtion Samurai Battles with its magnificent figures and dual set of rules, one set being the C&C ones.]

Nearly all of these, both serious board wargames and lighter approaches, have passed through or are still included in my collection.  So, it was an absolute must-have when I first heard that a newly founded company, Serious Historical Games, was launching as its first game, Nagashino 1575 & Shizugatake 1583. 

I had even more reason to pursue this game when I found out that the company's founder and designer was Philipp Hardy.  Here was a name I was already very familiar with as a designer of many games for the Vae Victis magazine, an excellent French production that I have had over 90 subscription issues of.  Above all, I also have both boxed games designed by Philipp Hardy, Par Le Feu, Le Fer and Le Foi and Fate of Reiters.  These two sets cover ten battles of the French Wars of Religion, a period exactly corresponding to the later part of the Sengoku Jidai period in Japan.  Here was a pedigree I just had to follow up.

To outline briefly the historical setting, the period spans 150 years from 1467-1615, but most wargames draw on just the major events from 1560-1600 as does this game,  Nagashino 1575 & Shizugatake 1583.  It was a time of warring "Warrior States" and three names stand out of among the many leaders who feature in these two battles.  

Central to the story is the Oda clan and in the earlier of these two battles, Nagashino 1575, Daimyo Oda Nobunaga is the dominant power, though the Army Commander is his greatest subordinate general, Taisho Hideyoshi.  Also featuring in this battle is Daimyo Ieyasu, a clan leader once fighting for the opponents of Nobunaga, but by this battle he had wisely allied himself with Nobunaga. Opposing them is the Takeda clan, led by Daimyo Katsuyori, who were the historical losers.  Though warfare continues throughout the period, Oda Nobunaga is viewed in history as the first "Great Unifier" of Japan.

Moving on eight years later to Shizugatake 1583 and the situation has changed.  In the previous year, Oda Nobunaga had been ambushed and forced to commit ritual suicide, seppuku, though other accounts I have read describe him as being assassinated and at least one that he was poisoned!  His ablest general, Hideyoshi, seen as Army Commander in the first game in this package, took power, though like Nobunaga before him never becoming supreme ruler.  Though Daimyo Ieyasu briefly opposed Hideyosi in 1582, by the next year and the battle of Shizugatake, Ieyasu was once again supporting him in this equally successful battle.
Though his period of power is marked by ongoing struggles and disastrous campaigns against Korea, Hideyoshi is regarded as the second "Great Unifier".  And the third "Great Unifier"?  Well that eventually with be Ieyasu himself after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, who does at last establish himself as Shogun! 

So, how does this design present this fascinating topic.  There's no doubt that it's a very attractive package, from very first sight of the dramatic box art of charging cavalry.  This is repeated on the cover of the single booklet which presents the rules and the two scenarios in both French and English.  
There are two sheets of counters and these are very well produced. They're a solid 18mm x 18mm, easy to read, easy to handle and highly evocative of the range of units. 

What I really like is that each of the two types of samurai unit has both an infantry counter and a cavalry counter and a simple mounting/dismounting rule.  The equally clear markers cover elements including isolation, two levels of disorganisation, army formation, division activation, charge, tactical bonuses and a counter to show your lead unit in attack or defence. 
Here, for example, are six of your seven army formation markers, ranging from very defensive to very aggressive.

These main elements are supported by a single double-sided play aid in English - a version in French is mentioned but was not in my copy. The double-sided map sized [23 1/2inch x 16 1/2 inch], I think, speaks for itself.   Stylistically and functionally, they're excellent.

Later close-ups will reveal the artistic detail, but even at a distance, the maps provide a stylish and sympathetic background to play.  As with his previous games on the French religious wars, the designer's choice has been to work with areas or, to use the terminology of the rules, zones.  For displaying and actually moving units, as well as the question of ZOCs and line of sight too, this choice works very successfully. The simplicity and clarity of the applicable rules is equally important to how well these all work together.  Visually the counters stand out vividly and the stacking rules mean that there is never overcrowding, especially as opposing units can never be in the same zone together.  This departs from most area movement games featuring melee or close combat, but works perfectly here.

Here you can see the set-up for Nagashino with the small number of units stacked, but a closer look at a small portion of the map [from my first play-through] shows how units with disorganisation markers and an activation marker can all be accommodated. 

 In total each set of rules whether in French or English
comes to five and a half pages, with a further one and half pages of examples.  The first battle's Scenario details take up a single page and the second occupies exactly two pages. Finally, the centre pages of the rules contain striking images of each battle with the crucial historical stages mapped out.  Again, I love the concern given to presentation, as the left hand page [not shown here] has the information in French and this right hand page in English.
As I commented on BGG, in my first impressions of the game, there are a few very minor errors and the succinctness of the rules occasionally led to some uncertainties of interpretation.  However, Philippe Hardy has been immediate in his response with answers and clarifications both to my personal emails and questions in general  on BGG. This level of support is very much appreciated and has helped me to get the game straight on to the table and launched into the earlier of the two battles.
From that experience I'd like to take you through the basic steps of a turn with some comments on them.  There are only three Phases to a Turn and both the first and last are very quick and easy to perform so the action of the game gets central focus.
[A] Initiative Phase
Each Army has an overall Formation that can range from Extremely Defensive through Flexible to Extremely Aggressive and can be changed by a simple die roll against the Army Commander's Quality Level [QL].  Each Formation gives a player five tactical markers from which a random selection is made at the beginning of each turn, again using the Army Commander's QL.  The more Aggressive the more positive the markers, the more Defensive the more negative the markers.  This is such a neat idea.  It means that the Aggressive stances add benefits totally or mainly to attacking, while the Defensive stances correspondingly furnish benefits totally or mainly to defending.  Logical, but a neat way of  imposing its own constraints. 
Check whether divisional leaders are within range of the Army Commander and place isolated marker if not.
Determine which player has the Initiative and activates first
Check for possible arrival of reinforcements.
[B] Alternating Divisional Activation Phase
A chosen division is automatically activated if its leader is in command or has to role against the leader's QL if isolated [i.e. out of command].
Active units in command range of the division leader may be moved and charges are declared.
The inactive player may fire against any adjacent activated units.
Melee follows and is optional, unless a charge has been declared which makes a melee mandatory.
The inactive player may make a counter-charge where it is possible.
[C] Reorganisation Phase
Remove or attempt to remove disorganised markers.
Remove tactical and activation markers.
Check for victory at the end of the last game turn.

A range of the games markers
There are quite a few innovative rules in this game, but all are remarkably easy to learn and remember without frequent reference to the rule book.  This is a major reason why I like this system so much,  as too is the fact that they interact on a simple level to cover a whole series of features seen in similar games.
Take the zone identification number.  It will begin with the number 0/1/2 which takes you from the lowest height level on the map to the highest.  The next two numbers like all area movement games is purely for identification purposes; then the final number is a Roman numeral either I/II/III.
This latter number covers a lot of ground: first of all telling you how difficult the terrain is.  No surprises that the higher the number the more difficult.  Next the number is the base cost of movement  for entry and finally it determines whether a unit in it projects a ZOC.  A unit projects a ZOC only if it is located in a higher number  . So, a unit in III projects a ZOC into II or I, a unit in II projects a ZOC into I and, of course a unit in I never projects a ZOC.  It also affects charges as you can only charge into a zone I.  Finally the colour of the box the zone identification number is in tells you whether the zone blocks line of sight.

This close up of the zone containing Shizugatake Castle highlights  the attention to artistic detail, so harmonious with the Japanese background, as well as illustrating the practical zone designation.  It also reveals other typical factors that come into play such as the border between zones that affects movement cost and charges too.

Take care when looking at terrain, as exemplified by this tract of forest just below the castle.  Most terrain II is forest in these battles, but differing prefixed numbers show that the height of the terrain varies and the borders to a single zone of forest often vary too.  One side may be shown by a dotted line as a trail or path crosses it, while another may have a single or double line to show increasing difficulty and so increased cost and finally one side of the zone may have a broad line showing that it is impassable.  All visually very nice and all very easy to remember!
Combat too has several innovative and artful touches.  Only a single unit may attack from a zone or be attacked in a zone whether by fire or melee and each player chooses their unit.  Normally in melee there is only one round of attack, though there are conditions when a unit may fight a second round.  Results only affect the chosen attacker and defender, though one of the modifiers in a melee does reflect a limited combination of different types of units present in either the attacker or the defender's zone.  
The process of a combat couldn't be easier: take the differential between the strength of the two units involved and then add all the applicable positive and negative modifiers.  The resulting number is finally added to a 2D6 die roll and applied to the appropriate Fire or Melee Table.  A key point to remember is that all modifiers are simply added together, they are not applied separately to the strengths of the units. Two states of disorganisation, step losses or quality checks are the possible results.  The only surprise for me was the lack of any rout result.  As well as my satisfaction with the overall simplicity of approach, I was very pleased with how rapidly most modifiers became second nature after only a few combats had been worked out.  One tip I'd suggest is that you make a simple numerical  scale on which to move a marker up and down as you apply modifiers. 
To augment the overall ease of understanding, the page and a half of examples works very effectively taking you through all the steps of a typical turn in order.  As you can see it is well detailed and displayed in full colour and, a point I always like, draws directly on a real play from the first battle featured in the game.
This leads me to the final thoughts on the two battles themselves.  Neither is massive in size and the first battle is especially good to start with; it can be completed in an afternoon or evening's play and both sides are very balanced in numbers.  Both battles feature unit losses counting for VPs and, as the prime target for victory, the capture of a castle.  Despite this similarity, they play out very differently.  In Shizugatake, the initial Oda forces are small and geographically split.  One group has to move to link with the other defending the castle, while fending off a much larger opposing force, until reinforcements start arriving.  The opposing Shibata forces have to try to overwhelm both small groups as swiftly as possible while capturing the castle and then holding it against those Oda reinforcements.  This is a swirling battle.
Set-up for the battle of Shizugatake

In Nagashino, the roles are reversed.  The Oda clan troops are defending the castle which will almost certainly fall, but they have their main strong force that has to fight its way across virtually the length of the map from south to north against a powerful, cavalry-strong enemy and also a secondary force of reinforcement moving upward from the bottom map edge.  Their opponents, the Takeda , historically were the aggressive army hurling their cavalry at the oncoming Oda. All I can say is that if you follow their lead, you'll probably suffer the same crushing defeat! 

Above shows the beginning of the conquest of Nagashino castle. As yet the relieving forces entering from the bottom edge of the map have failed to roll their release number.  So the castle will almost certainly be in enemy hands by the time they arrive. The final appeal of both battles is that both sides get good opportunities to attack and defend.  
This is a very successful opening game in all respects for Serious Historical Games and I'd strongly recommend that you get your hands on a copy.  The next two projected games promise to maintain the momentum to the full.  In particular, the intention to take the system begun here to the climactic battle of Sekigahara will be an eventual release that I'll eagerly await.  


  The Battle of Novi August 1799 An Untimely Death by Acies Edizioni   Alexander Suvorov is considered one of the greatest Russian Generals....

The Battle of Novi August 1799 by Acies Edizioni The Battle of Novi August 1799 by Acies Edizioni

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

 The Battle of Novi August 1799

An Untimely Death


Acies Edizioni

 Alexander Suvorov is considered one of the greatest Russian Generals. He never had a chance to fight Napoleon, which might have been blessing for his legacy. Suvorov did, however, always win in battle against any of the other French Generals. All that Napoleon had gained in Northern Italy was lost to the Austro-Russians under Suvorov (Napoleon was in Egypt and the Middle East at the time). After Novi, Suvorov was ordered to Switzerland to help out the Austrians once again. Because of their defeat, he was trapped in the Alps by future French Marshal Andre Massena. He was able to extricate himself with minimal losses and for that was made the fourth Generalissimo of Russia. He died of disease shortly after. Barthélemy Catherine Joubert was originally part of Napoleon's earlier Italian Campaigns. He had been marked for greatness by Napoleon, and had he lived would probably have been made a Marshal. Unfortunately for him, he was one of the first French casualties of the Battle of Novi. Acies Edizioni has made games about two of Suvorov's battles, including this one.  They have also made other great games about obscure battles and campaigns in Italy. 


 This is what comes in the box:

One game-map

2 sheets of counters and markers

3 Player Aid Cards

Rule booklet

Historical commentary

The scale is 1 hour per turn, about 500 m. per hex,
Each strength point (SP) stands for 50-150 men for infantry
and cavalry (basing on their efficiency rating), and 3-5 guns.
Designer: Enrico Acerbi
Complexity: 3/5
Solitaire suitability: 4/5

 This is from Acies Edizioni about the game:

 "The war of the Second Coalition on the Italian front was becoming a nightmare for the French Republic. Defeat after defeat (Cassano d’Adda, Trebbia) the exhausted French army was pushed away from the northern Italy by the vigorous offensive of the Austro-Russian army led by Suvorov. For this reason, the Directorate decided to call another general, Barthelemy Joubert, at the head of the army. The Directorate ordered General Joubert to immediately attack Suvorov and to make every effort to free Tortona. On the morning of August 15th, the noise of the first shots of the battle of Novi begun to fill the air. Joubert rode to a little hill to better assess the situation. Few moments after his arrival, a bullet hit him in the chest, killing the young general almost instantly. An untimely death."


 I am always impressed by Acies Edizioni components for their games. The box is light compared to some and there are not many parts inside. However, what you do get is well worth your money. The Rule Booklet is made of almost hard stock, and it is in full color. It is only twenty-one pages long but has everything in the rules that you would expect from a Napoleonic game. The eighteen-page Historical Commentary is worth at least half of the game's price, if not more. There are three full-sized Player Aid Cards included and they are all double-sided. The first one has the setup for Scenario I on one side and the setup for Scenario II on the other. The second has the setup for Scenario III (the whole Battle of Novi), with the French setup on one side and the Coalition on the other. The last one has the Combat Results Table etc. and, on the flip-side has the Terrain Effects Chart. The counters are nice looking with small portraits on them. They are a little 'busy' compared to some others. The only thing about the components that you could complain about is the thinness of the counters. The Map is a thing of beauty. All of the terrain is easy to pick out and to know what each hex has for terrain. Kudos as usual for the Map. All-in-all, the components are up to Acies Edizioni standards. 

Game in progress

 This is the Sequence of Play (I wanted you to see the entire Sequence):

 "3.1. Game Turn
Each Game Turn is divided in 3 phases.
Each Phase is divided into various segments
according to the Command activation rules.
Each Phase must be resolved in the exact order
given below.
Any action taken out of sequence is a violation of
the rules.
A - Command Phase
This phase is divided in 3 segments:
A1- Orders
The Army/Wing Commanders may assign/
change Orders to Formation’s Leaders
(Generals). The command range of the Leaders
must be checked and “Out of Command”
markers must be placed on those units beyond
that range.
Each player places the Formation Chits, reverse
side up and one per box, on the Priority Track.
They then assign orders by selecting an Order
marker to place under each Formation Chit
keeping it hidden. The numeric sequence on
the Track dictates the sequence (alternating
between players) of each Formation’s future
In this segment “Independent Columns” can
be created. To do so, place the corresponding
Column or Brigade Chit on the Priority Track.
Their Leader should already be on the map.
A2- Weather
Specific rules manage the Weather during the
battle turns.
Note: In Novi this segment is not relevant, since
the weather was hot and clear throughout.
A3- Initiative
Each player rolls ld6 to check initiative (see
6.0). The initiative player will start the Action
phase (B) first.
A4- Initiative Commands
An independent (see A1 above) or Out of
Command General can try to change his Orders
performing an Initiative Check.
Roll 1d6 and if the DR is equal to or lower than
the General’s Initiative Value, that Order can
be changed.
B - Actions Phase
A player activates his first available Formation
(see A1).
Each Formation performs all of its Action
phase segments, before progressing to the next
Formation to be activated.
This Actions Phase will continue until all the
Formations have completed their actions.
Note: the 1st Player (Initiative Player) begins
with the Chit in Box 1 and activates the
corresponding Leader (and his Formation).
When this activation completes, the 2nd Player
activates his Chit in Box 1... the activation
sequence passes from one player to the other
until all Leaders has been activated.
The Action Phase is divided into 6 Segments.
B1- Reorganization and Rally
Players can attempt to reorganize their
Disordered or Routed units if their Formation’s
Order allows for it.
B2- Replacements and Reinforcements
The active player returns to the map, those
combat units belonging to the activated
Formation previously eliminated (see 12.0 and
Reinforcements belonging to the active
Formation can enter the map in March Column
at this time, in the hexes specified by the
scenario’s rules.
B3- Movement
Activated units move according to their
Formation’s Orders. Artillery that moves must
be flipped onto its “Moved” side; it cannot
perform Bombardment when it is in this state.
Once the movement of all activated “In
Command” units is complete, individual “Out
of Command” units of the active Formation can
attempt to change their generic Defend Order.
B4- Bombardment
Artillery units of the active Formation, not on
their “Moved” side, can execute bombardments.
Use the Bombardment Table.
B5- Combat
Combat is resolved in a series of segments as
outlined below:
B5.1- Attack declarations
The player declares his attacks and place the
markers, “Attack” or “Attack?” according to
their Formation’s Orders.
B5.2- Retreat before combat
Some defending units (e.g., Light Cavalry)
may retreat before combat.
B5.3- Defensive Bombardment
The defensive player may perform a defensive
bombardment with any artillery units, if not in a
“Moved” state, present in those hexes declared
under attack.
B5.4- Assault
All Efficiency checks are performed and the
attacks are resolved on the CRT.
B6- End of Phase
The activated Leader counter on the map is
turned facedown, displaying the reverse with
the letter “A”, and a new Actions Phase begins;
the opposing Player now activates his first/next
available Formation in the Priority Track.
C - End of turn phase
When ALL Formations (both sides) have been
activated the Game Turn marker is advanced on
the Turn Record Track. All Leaders on their “A”
side and all artillery with on their “Moved” side
are flipped face up.
Then the new turn begins with Phase A."

 Hopefully this will show you exactly how much thought has gone into the rules. It should also show you how it was designed from the ground up to be a Napoleonic game, compared to some Napoleonic rules that seem more at home in World War II.

 Command and Control of your forces are the key to this game. There are no pigeons or wireless sets for you to convey your orders. These are some of the parts of a Napoleonic battle that Acies Edizioni has put into the rules:

Elan Attack - For French Generals with a value of 3 or higher.

Advance and Skirmish

March and Build

General's Initiative Check

Artillery in Melee

Cavalry Harassing

Cavalry Retreat Before Combat

Emergency Squares

 This list just scratches the surface.

 Once again Acies Edizioni, and the designer Enrico Acerbi, have given us a great Napoleonic battle to fight, even if it is almost unknown and it doesn't even have Napoleon present. Thank you Acies Edizioni for allowing me to take another of your Napoleonic period games for a spin. I enjoyed the game very much. Right now, you can get a great deal on some games bundled together. Please check them out.


The Battle of Novi August 1799:

Acies Edizioni:

  EUROPE IN THE SPOTLIGHT Just a brief glimpse of three new games that I'll be focusing on over the next few weeks and as the title indi...


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


Just a brief glimpse of three new games that I'll be focusing on over the next few weeks and as the title indicates all from European companies.

The first is also the very first game from an equally new French company, Serious Historical Games, though its founder and designer is certainly a familiar name, the well regarded designer, Philipp Hardy.

This will be Nagashino 1573 & Shizugatake 1583 exploring two battles of the Japanese Shingoku Jidai period.

Following on from that will be the latest from the Polish company, Strategemata, many of whose games |I've covered.  This one is a new departure being a multi-player strategic game, in the style of Here I Stand, but with several two and three player scenarios. Its title is simply Time of Wars and covers conflicts in eastern Europe from 1590-1660.

My third review will bring us back to more recent wars, namely WWII and will cover the latest two expansions, V-Sabotage Miniatures and V-Sabotage Ghost from Triton Noir.  The original core game, originally entitled V-Commandos, and its expansions have been featured in earlier reviews.

The miniatures, I can promise you, is a an excitingly hefty package.


  Dawn of Battle by Worthington Publishing  Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away; no that isn't it. The world was young once; nope...

Dawn of Battle by Worthington Publishing Dawn of Battle by Worthington Publishing

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

 Dawn of Battle


Worthington Publishing

 Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away; no that isn't it. The world was young once; nope not it either. Let us try this: many years ago, when my body did not creak and moan with movement, there was a magical land called SPI (okay it was just a building that made games, but you get my drift). Simulations Publications Inc. in 1975 published a set of games called PRESTAGS (Pre-Seventeenth Century Tactical Game System). It offered the grognard a chance to simulate battles from the Egyptian New Kingdom until the late Middle Ages. It was amazing. For the price of one game, you could fight tons of historical or fictional battles from a few hundred or more years. The game system was an immediate success. The same idea was published by 3W (World Wide Wargames) in Strategy & Tactics issue 127 in 1990. This version was designed by the giants Jim Dunnigan and Albert A. Nolfi. Once again, the game was a big success. Since then, the formula has been tried by several different publishers with mixed results. I have been looking for a revamped version for many years. Then out of the blue I found out that Worthington Publishing was going to produce their own take on the idea of warfare through the ages. This design is a totally redone version of Victory Point Games 'Ancient Battles Deluxe' by Mike Nagel. Worthington Publishing was nice enough to send me a copy to review. I was as happy as the dog getting a biscuit on Quick Draw McGraw; it is a visual:

 Ancient Military History is by far my first love. So, any game that can simulate it is going to catch my eye. However, the game also allows you to fight battles right into the beginning of the Gunpowder Age. Let us see what comes in the box:

Hard Mounted 22” x 34” game board 

Three to five sheets of die-cut counters 

Two Player Aid Cards

80 marker cubes in two colors (red and yellow)

Two decks of 72 cards each 

Plastic bases for the stand-up leaders

Rules Book

Scenario Book

Counter Tray

 The components are well done and appear to be able to take years of gaming. The first thing you will notice about the game board is the dearth of any terrain except open. Most battles fought during this large amount of time were fought on open plains, so it is entirely understandable. The hexes are very large at over 1.5"s. If you wanted to you could play with minis. The Turn Record Track, Army Panic Track, and the obligatory Elephant Effect Table (Pachyderms can be tricky assets) etc. The counters are large, and it is very easy to read their information. They also have a picture on them denoting what troops they are. Leaders actually have plastic bases to stand in. There are eighty red and yellow marker cubes. These are all uniform in shape and size, so no weird pieces hanging off their sides. There are two packs of game cards with seventy-two cards in each. One deck is blue in color and the other is red. The two Player Aid cards are exactly the same with one for each player. They are full-sized and in color. The Rules Book is twenty-pages long. Only sixteen and a half are used for the actual rules. The last three and a half pages are dedicated to creating your own scenarios from history. The Scenario Book is forty-one pages long and comes with twenty scenarios. Each listing visually shows what units you need and comes with a good- sized map picture of where to place them. The game comes with a handy counter tray. So, the components are not stylish by any means, but are well done and completely utilitarian,

 This is a list of the battles:

 The designer has picked a few battles that you do not see many, if any, simulations of.

Various Cards

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Remove Leaders

2. Receive Action Points

3. Determine Initiative

4. Place Leaders

5. Melee Combat

7. Turn End

 The game rules are simple but do give you all the bells and whistles of combat during the chosen age. The game is meant to be played by two players but can be easily played solitaire (as can almost any game). Leaders and morale are the two most important ideas in the rules, as it should be in the ages portrayed in the game. The counters are generic because they have to be. No one would want a game that had a separate set of immersive counters for a game that has twenty scenarios and they come from almost 3000 years of warfare. So, the game is not as immersive as some other games are. You will just have to use your imagination. The game is based on the cards and Action Points that the player picks or chooses to use. The cards add a ton of 'friction' to the game. You can really get lost in the counters of troops for so many centuries. There are also 'Camp' counters that represent your troops' quarters before the battle. To lose one's camp was a terrible sin. Many an army just disintegrated with the loss of their camp. This is just one more historical piece of ancient and medieval battles that is in the game.

This is a blurb about the cards:

"The game’s primary engine is comprised of an action deck used to determine command, the randomly determined outcomes of actions, and melee combat. Additionally, action cards provide special effects that players can use to enhance their units’ abilities as well as the narrative of the gaming experience. The action deck provides a unique means of resolving a battle in an experience that will never be duplicated."

 So, you can see that even though each battle can be setup the same, it does not mean they will play out the same.

 These are some of the generals you get to portray:

Antiochus the Great


William Wallace



Phillip II of Macedon


Brian Boru


Edward I

 The only real problem with the game is the sheer number of counters that come with it. It does come with a counter tray, but it is too small to deal with the tons of different troop types. The box is large, but because of the mounted map there just does not seem to be enough room. So, setting up the different scenarios is a bit of a pain. I think I will ditch the counter tray and go with zip-lock bags.

 Sample Scenario setup pages:

 Thank you, Worthington Publishing, for letting me review this excellent game.  As I mentioned in my last Worthington Publishing review, I had not really been able to tear myself away from this game to do a proper review on it. I would sit down in front of it and just forget about the review and setup another battle. Worthington Publishing is working on some additions to this game. This will add more battles and probably some terrain to simulate more tactical problems/choices for us armchair generals. The map has even been designed to be able to add another to one side to make for even larger encounters.

 This is a list of battles that Mike Nagel has all set for working with the original map:

BCE 717 - Che - Yen vs. Cheng
BCE 547 - Thymbra - Lydia vs. Persia
BCE 331 - Gaugamela - Macedonia vs. Persia
BCE 326 - Hydaspes - Macedonia vs. India
BCE 321 - Hellespontine Phrygia - Successors vs. Successors
BCE 301 - Ipsus - Antigonids vs. Seleucids
BCE 295 - Sentinum - Rome vs. Samnites
BCE 280 - Heraclea - Epirus vs. Rome
BCE 218 - Trebia - Rome vs. Carthage
BCE 217 - Raphia - Seleucids vs. Egypt
BCE 216 - Cannae - Carthage vs. Rome
BCE 206 - Illipa - Rome vs. Carthage
BCE 202 - Zama - Carthage vs. Rome
BCE 53 - Carrhae - Parthia vs. Rome
CE 1081 - Dyrrhachium - Normans vs. Byzantines
CE 1176 - Legnano - Holy Roman Empire vs. Lombards
CE 1177 - Montgisard - Crusaders vs. Ayyubid Sultanate
CE 1214 - Bouvines - France vs. Holy Roman Empire
CE 1244 - La Forbie - Khwarezmians vs. Crusaders
CE 1421 - Kutna Hora (Day 1) - Holy Roman Empire vs. Taborites
CE 1421 - Kutna Hora (Day 2) - Holy Roman Empire vs. Taborites

 These are what he has planned for Volume 2 with terrain tiles:

BCE 1457 - Megiddo - Egyptians vs. Canaanites
BCE 490 - Marathon - Greeks vs. Persians
BCE 479 - Platea - Allied Greeks vs. Persians
BCE 333 - Issus - Macedonians vs. Persians
BCE 217 - Lake Trasimeno - Carthaginians vs. Romans
BCE 197 - 2nd Cynoscephalae - Antigonids vs. Romans
BCE 168 - Pydna - Antigonids vs. Romans
BCE 57 - Sabis River - Barbarians vs. Romans
BCE 48 - Pharsalus - Populares vs. Optímates
CE 16 - Idistaviso - Germans vs. Romans
CE 315 - Cibalae - Byzantium vs. Rome
CE 451 - Catalaunian Plain - Rome vs. Huns
CE 955 - Lechfeld - Magyars vs. Holy Roman Empire
CE 1066 - Hastings - Normans vs. English
CE 1104 - Harran - Seljuk Turks vs. Crusaders
CE 1221 - Indus - Kwarazimids vs. Mongols
CE 1223 - Kalka River - Mongols vs Russians
CE 1346 - Crecy - France vs England
CE 1356 - Poitiers - France vs England
CE 1385 - Aljubarrota - Portugal vs. Castile

  Operation Theseus Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. ...

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations

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

 Operation Theseus

Gazala 1942


Vuca Simulations

 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. The fact that he was forced to take poison and end his life, because he knew about the plots against Hitler's life and said nothing, has given him a bit of a martyr status to some historians. The German generals after World War II had some harsh things to say about him. Did they say these things out of jealousy, or did they really not think that much of him? He was, after all, a darling of Hitler from the beginning of the war. His seesaw battles for control of North Africa even had Winston Churchill praising him. British historians rate his generalship very high; other nationalities go either way. On a tactical level he was a very good commander. It is possible that he was in his element on a more tactical level than in higher commands. Leading from the front while commanding an army in the 20th century is a pretty hard trick to pull off. To many, the Battle of Gazala was Rommel's greatest victory in WWII. The stage is set. The Germans and Italians have overrun Cyrenaica once again and are looking to defeat the British and Commonwealth forces and take Tobruk. The British and Commonwealth forces have dug themselves in. They have sown the desert with mines and have constructed 'boxes' to surround each of their forces. The desperate battle around the southern box and its Free French defenders at Bir Hakeim is the stuff of legends. Rommel looked defeated and was about to be destroyed when he pulled a rabbit out of his hat and defeated the Allies and actually took Tobruk (which had withheld a months long siege the year before). This is the background of the battle. Let us see what is in the box:

One rulebook.

One mounted map.

383 counters.

2 double-sided player aids.

1 double-sided setup display.

1 Solitaire play display

Two 10-sided dice, referred to as "d10".

A hex represents 3.5 kms (2.2 miles) of terrain from side to side.

Each turn represents a period of one to six days.

Combat units are mostly infantry-type regiments/brigades, and armoured-type battalions/regiments.

The Map

  This is a blurb from Vuca Simulations:

"Operation Theseus - Gazala 1942 is an operational level simulation of the Gazala battles of 1942, which took place during May and June 1942.

The game is intended for two players but is also suitable for solitaire and team play. The goal for the Axis player is to hit the Commonwealth forces hard and to seize specific victory locations, thereby opening the door to Egypt. The Commonwealth player wants to prevent this from happening, thereby eliminating the Axis potential for further offensives. The game is played in a semi-interactive way and keeps both players involved all the time..."

 This is the third game in their Operational Level games about World War II. The series does not have a name, but you can see in the rules that they are related to one another. It appears that Vuca Simulations have listened to grognards and also revisited the rules to make an even better game. The other two games are:

 Crossing the Line: Aachen 1944

Across the Bug River: Volodymyr-Volynskyi 1941

  Vuca Simulations has always had very high production standards in their games and this one is no exception. The mounted map board looks very good for a map of what is usually shown as a mostly featureless desert terrain. The detail of the map close up is pretty incredible. The Maps hexes are large ones. The Game Turn Track etc. that are on the sides of the map are large enough to easily read. There are four full page Player Aids. They are made of hard cardboard, almost as thick as the map. Three of them are double-sided:

Player Aid A has the Combat Results Table, Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Sequence, and Combat DRM.

Player Aid B has the Sequence of Play, Action Points, Stacking Limits, Minefield Check, and Command and Supply information.

Then comes the Scenario Setup Aid: one side has the Axis and the other the Allied Setups.

Next, there is one with the Game Turn Track, and Formation Assignment Boxes.

 Another excellent addition by Vuca Simulations is a hard 'ruler' that is used to help the player see the correct row on the combat Results Table. The counters are 15mm in size and come pre-rounded. They are very colorful and have both NATO symbols and small pictures to see what each unit is made up of. Some of the writing on them is a bit small. The information and their respective units use color identification, so this makes reading them easier. The counters are a bit on the thin side, but they feel sturdy enough. The Rulebook is made of glossy paper and seems large because the writing is so big, thank you Vuca Simulations. The rules themselves are twenty-four pages and then come the three scenarios. Then comes two pages of Combat Examples, followed by the Designer and Player's Notes. Next up, is a small Historical Context, and then a two-page Index. The Rules are also filled with full color examples that follow the text. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Admin Phase
  A. Recovery
  B. Organization
  C. Replacement
  D. Reinforcement

2. Ops Phase: consisting of variable number of Ops Cycles
  A. Initiative Determination 
  B. Formation Activation or Independent Unit Action

3. End of Turn Phase

 As mentioned, the game is at the operational level. So, it comes with all of the flavor of a game done at that scale. Headquarters are incredibly important in the game. They are the font from which springs control and supply of the units under them. To be out of command, unless you are an independent unit or isolated, is a capital sin in these game rules. Gazala was a bit of a strange battle. You always read about minefields being used in World War II, but here they were used extensively. As the Axis you must find a way through them to attack the Allies. Historically, after Rommel's first attack was stopped, he laagered up in the middle of some Allied minefields. These are some of the items that the game has rules about:


Stacking and Limited Intelligence

Zones of Control

Effectiveness Check

Formation Reaction


Breach Minefield Action

Improved Defense Action

Schwerpunkt Marker - One Axis formation gets bonuses for that turn.

 The game comes with three scenarios. These are:

Scenario One: Assault on Bir Hacheim - A solitaire scenario where you are in command of the Ariete Italian Division. It is just to show game mechanics. 

Scenario Two: The Opening Phase - This is four turns long.

Scenario Three: The Gazala Battles - This is eight game turns long.

 The designer D. Blennemann, has taken on a large challenge by bringing us the Battle of Gazala. It is a mixture of a WWII and a WWI battlefield. I think that he and Vuca Simulations have done a great job in bringing this battle to life. Do not think that history or the game gives the Axis an easy victory. To win the battle and take Tobruk is not an easy task at all. Playing as the Allies, your job is to not repeat the historic Allied response which was piecemeal. The Axis forces are always dangerous, so plan ahead and hit them with a good-sized force and not dribs and drabs.  

 Thank you Vuca Simulations for allowing me to review this, more simulation than game, newest effort of yours. I have enjoyed playing this as much as your other two operational level games. They have two new games coming up. These are:

1914 Nach Paris:

The Chase of the Bismarck (Jack Greene had his hand in this, so I am expecting very good things):


Vuca Simulation:

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 Rulebook:

Sean Druelinger designer of Lock 'n Load's Point Blank: V is for Victory  I had asked Mr. Druelinger to do a short bio about himself...

Sean Druelinger designer of Lock 'n Load's Point Blank: V is for Victory Sean Druelinger designer of Lock 'n Load's Point Blank: V is for Victory

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

Sean Druelinger designer of Lock 'n Load's

Point Blank: V is for Victory

 I had asked Mr. Druelinger to do a short bio about himself and some information about his game. I would describe it as not a Card Wargame, but a wargame played with cards. It comes with a good-sized rulebook and does not abstract many parts like a card game usually does. 

Game Map

 This is a write up about the game from Lock 'n Load:

"Point Blank" is Lock 'n Load Publishing tactical World War 2 squad card wargame, for 2 players pitted against each other in situational combat scenarios.

There is also a solo option as well as partnerships in teams of 2.

Each scenario presents the players with a unique situation involving squads of men, support weapons, leaders, and individual armored fighting vehicles.

This game pits the forces of the USA against Germany just after the landings in Normandy (June 1944) through October 1944. Each player has victory conditions determined by the scenario in which to defend or take objectives, seek and destroy their opponent’s units, or one of many other different scenario objectives.

The game is played on an abstract map board made up of terrain cards in the game and managed through a distance system that accounts for the range to targets, line of sight, and defensive attributes. The player has units that start out on the map and gradually work their way towards their objectives by advancing through the battlefield all the while conducting combat actions against their opponent or defending their troops from return fire or whatever hell that awaits them. Players draw cards from a common action deck where they will play actions on their units on the map board. The game is an IGOUGO impulse system and turns are managed when the action deck is exhausted. (Some scenarios may require multiple deck exhaustion to finish the game). Actions in the game consist of Fire, Move, Assault, Rally, etc. The action cards contain dice icons on them to determine random results.

One of the unique features of the game is that it contains a deck of terrain cards that are not part of the action deck. As players change terrain they will draw a terrain card in which their moving units will occupy. Some action cards such as Recon helps players manage what terrain they occupy but your opponent may have other plans for your moving troops during their turn.

Combat in the game is similar to how combat is conducted in Lock n Load Tactical. 2 players can play a game in about an hour (depending on the scenario size) and if you cannot find an opponent then try the game solo system. In general, the gameplay is fast and excited and compares to such legendary game systems as Up Front."

Some Cards

 I am not a big fan of interviews. It seems that the same questions always get asked. I would much rather have the designer etc. give us the information without my input. To each their own. 


This is a big game with a lot of cards

 Without further ado, here is Mr. Druelinger's write up. It gives us a good look at his game design:

I was introduced to Squad Leader when I was about 12 years old. I was playing D&D every other week with this gaming group of 20 something’s at the time. I accidentally showed up on a non-D&D day and was asked if I want to play SL. I was hooked from that point on. 

I was lucky to see a lot of AH games in their infancy and was able to participate in many of the playtest sessions. Titles like longest Day, up front, enemy in sight, etc.

In and around 2012 I wrote some scenarios for Nations at War and Tank on Tank for Line of Fire magazine. I then developed an east front prototype for Nations at War and got a green light from the owner of L'nL at the time to proceed. L'nL was then bought by David Heath around 2015. He wanted to redo the original Nations at War titles and asked me to develop them. At the same time, he asked that I include my east front module “Stalin’s Triumph” into the mix. We developed all 3 systems at once. In addition to that, Dave asked me to develop/design the Lock 'n Load tactical solo system to be compatible with every scenario for every L'nL tactical game to date.

In 2016 I began designing PB. I introduced the game to David in 2017 at Origins and after some strong hesitation he gave me the green light.

Point Blank was inspired by games like Up Front and L'nL tactical. The thing that makes this game different is that it introduces what I feel are new concepts in tactical gaming. For instance: 

Movement: Moving is an action that you can issue to the game, but the ordered units do not complete their move until the next owning player's upkeep phase. This models that troops have to gather their equipment, form up and then move out. From a game perspective the opposing player has a chance to react to move action before it is completed. Melee is handled in much the same way. An order is issued and then resolved in the player's next upkeep phase. I do not see a lot of games that handle actions this way. 

Terrain and Line of Sight are other areas that sets the game apart. Terrain is very dynamic in PB. A unit in a sector within terrain can conduct an action to change its terrain while remaining in the same sector. Terrain can also be acquired and held by the player through play of recon actions. Terrain that is collected through Recon actions can place terrain into empty sectors to secure good terrain for units that are in the process of moving or into sectors adjacent to opposing units or friendly units. This mechanic makes of interesting Line of Sight situations and expands the maneuverability options for units in the game.

Spend and Discard actions; Another key factor that sets this game apart from other card driven games is the ability to discard cards to perform some type of action. In every card driven game there are situations where a hand of cards may not contain a card that you need to perform a preferred action. In PB you may, in lieu of playing an action card, discard a card (spend action) to activate an action printed on a unit's card. Once that action is performed however, the unit is "spent" (rotated 90 degrees) to indicate that it can no longer perform an action until it is readied through the play of a "Ready" action. Other actions in the game are available through discard type actions. This whole concept expands the game play and helps to prevent situations where a player is locked down by a hand of cards that may not be of any use.

Leaders in the game are represented by individual cards and they have benefits to units by contributing their modifiers. Additionally, they have actions printed on their card that they can execute through a spend action in action to the play of an action card during a player impulse.

 Visually it is a stunning game. The cards are regular playing card sized. So, you can see that the information on them is incredibly easy to see. I believe I could play the game with my glasses off. I will be doing a review of the full game on our site. Thank you Lock 'n Load for allowing me to take this out for a spin. Point Blank: V is for Victory is still available for late pledges on Kickstarter.


Lock 'n Load:

Point Blank: V is for Victory: