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  Warsaw 1920 by Revolution Games  This was supposed to be the start of the world Communist revolution. All the Red Army had to do was to ma...

Warsaw 1920 by Revolution Games Warsaw 1920 by Revolution Games

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

 Warsaw 1920


Revolution Games

 This was supposed to be the start of the world Communist revolution. All the Red Army had to do was to march into Poland,  the oppressed workers would join them, and then it would march through the rest of the world. What really happened was that the Poles rose up in force to defeat the Red Army. This was just another time that Poland was left to defeat a rapacious neighbor. The picture on the cover is of Field Marshal Piłsudski, the main Polish hero of the Polish-Soviet War in 1920. During the first part of the war, the Red Army went from victory to victory and almost succeeded in taking Warsaw. The Poles then held them off and counterattacked to push the Red Army back over the border. On the Soviet side Marshal Tukhachevsky and Stalin and some of his cronies: Budyonny etc. were in charge of some of the troops.

 This is what Revolution games has to say about the game:

"Warsaw 1920” is a two-player wargame that recreates the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, 101 years ago. One player controls the Polish (including Ukrainian and Lithuanian) and the other controls the Russians.

The war between Poland, which has regained its independence, and Russia, which wants to export the revolution to Europe, also called the "Soviet-Polish War," has been waged since September 1919 without a formal declaration of war. Full-scale combat began in April 1920, when the Polish army launched an offensive in the south and occupied Kiev while the Russian army was extracting troops from the front to clear the remnants of the White army.

However, the Polish didn't achieve the results they expected, and were repulsed by a counterattack of Semyon Budyonny’s 1st Cavalry Army. In July, the West Front Army, led by Mikhail Tukhachevsky, launched an offensive, and the Polish left wing collapsed. The Western Front reached the gates of Warsaw after defeating two Polish army groups and advanced 500 km in five weeks. In August, when Poland was thought to be engulfed by the red tsunami, reorganized troops and Polish units from the south launched an unexpected counterattack from the south against the Russian flank. Relentless and aggressive, the Polish continued to move forward, inflicting heavy losses on exhausted Russian troops and destroying many of them.

This game shows the battle from July 1920, when the Western Front began its offensive, to the end of August, when Tukhachevsky’s army was almost eliminated by Polish counterattack.

Designed by Yasushi Nakaguro"

 This is what comes with the game:

-22 x 34 inch map

-1 counter sheet of 5/8" counters

-Rule Book

-Player Aid

-Ziplock Bag

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Polish Player Turn 
1. Reinforcement and Reorganization Phase 
2. 1st Operation Phase (Game Turn 2 or later) 
3. 2nd Operation Phase (Game Turn 3 or later) 
4. 3rd Operation Phase (Game Turn 5 / 6 or later) 
5. Refit Phase 
2. Russian Player Turn 
1. Reinforcement and Reorganization Phase 
2. 1st Operation Phase 
3. 2nd Operation Phase 
4. 3rd Operation Phase 
5.Refit Phase 

After the Russian Refit phase is finished, advance the turn marker to the next turn, and start a new game turn. At the end of turn 8, the game is over, and the winner is determined

 The map is not sartorial, but more of a modest type. The hexes are nice and large, and the terrain is easy to discern. The Pripet Marshes divide the eastern side of the map into two separate areas. The counters, as you can see, are also large and east to read. You will not have any counter clutter with this game. The Polish Player is allowed to have two units in a hex. The Russian Player can have up to three units in a hex. The only caveat to those rules is that units from the Russian Western and Southwest Fronts may not stack together. Polish units are not allowed to stack with Lithuanians either. The Rulebook is twelve pages long with ten of them being the actual rules. Pages eleven and twelve are the counter manifests. Like every other Revolution Game Rulebook, these rules are short and sweet and to the point. There is no ambiguity here. It is in full color and has some examples of play in it. The Player Aid is one sided and has the CRT and Terrain Effects Chart.

 Looking at the counters you will see that the Soviets are hampered by a slow movement rate. Their infantry units have a movement ability of four and the Polish infantry have one of five. The cavalry units for both sides are a different matter. The Polish cavalry have a movement rate of nine compared to the Russian six. The Russian Western Front does have two artillery units. The war was probably the last where cavalry formations were one of the largest parts of each army. In fact, most of the war was determined by swirling masses of cavalry. 

 The Victory Point system is a bit long so let us take a look at how Revolution Games explains it:

"The game begins in July 1920, when Tukhachevsky’s West Front 
launches the offensive, and ends in August, when the Polish 
army almost eliminated it (exception: see 4.2 Russian Sudden 
Death Victory). Victory is determined by the number of controlled cities / major cities, eliminated elite units, and surrendered units.
4.1 Win by Victory Points
At the end of the Game Turn 8, both players calculate each victory point: The side with the higher number wins. Draw if tie
4.1.1 VPs for Controlling Cities / Major Cities
At the end of the game, a player receives one VP for each controlled city hex: 2 VPs for each controlled major city hex. The 
Polish player receives four VPs if they control Warsaw (Exception: 
4.2, the Russian receives only two VPs for Warsaw). However, 
neither player can score from a city / major city unless it can 
trace a continuous railroad from its hex to a controlled friendly 
supply source (see below).
4.1.2 Supply Source
Polish supply sources are Warsaw and the railroad hex at the 
western map edge (printed national emblem). Russian supply 
sources are Smolensk and Kiev (printed red star). At the end of 
the game, if you can trace the unblocked railroad from a controlling city / major city to any friendly supply source, you can 
receive VP from that hex. Enemy units and EZOC that are not 
cancelled by friendly unit blocks railroad trace.
Note: The Polish player always receives 4 VPs from a Polish controlled Warsaw because Warsaw is a supply source. 
4.1.3 VPs for Eliminating Elite Units
The Polish player receives one VP for each eliminated Russian 
Cavalry Division and/or Artillery Brigade. The Russian player 
receives one VP for each eliminated the Polish unit belonging to 
the Polish Legion. Those units have a red star (Russian) or eagle 
(Polish) on the upper right.
4.1.4 VPs for Surrendered Units
Both players receive one VP for each two surrendered enemy 
units (see 12.3) round up.
4.1.5 Russian Re-supply
If the Russian player did re-supply (see 8.3), the Polish player 
immediately gets one VP for each two supply points (round up, 
calculate each front) the Russian player received.
Example: On Game Turn 4, the Southwest Front received 5 supply 
points by re-supply. The Polish player immediately receives 3 
VPs. On Game Turn 5, the West Front received 7 supply points by 
re-supply. The Polish player immediately receives 4 VPs.
4.1.6 Piłsudski’s Early Counterattack
At the beginning of Game Turn 3, the Polish player must decide 
to counterattack on Game Turn 5 or 6 (see 5.3). If the Polish 
player chooses Game Turn 5, the Polish side will lose 4 VPs at the 
end of the game. No VPs are lost if the counterattack begins on 
Game Turn 6. 
4.1.7 Recording VPs
Both players have VP markers. To record VPs place it on the 
VP Record Track. Almost all VPs are recorded at the end of the 
game. During the game, the Polish player may need to record 
VPs for the Russian re-supply if the Russians choose to receive 
them. Use the back side of the VP marker if your VPs exceeds 10 
4.2 Russian Sudden Death Victory
If the Russian player controls Warsaw before re-supplying (see 
8.0) the game ends with a decisive victory for the Russians at 
that moment. No need to trace the supply source railroad connection (4.1.2) for this condition. After Russian Re-supply, Warsaw is treated as a major city for the Russian for all purposes"

 Warsaw 1920 is a fast-paced game that is built around the historic war. Both sides have a chance to win - just like in reality. This is another game from Revolution Games that has both a small footprint and deep gameplay. For a game with only ten pages of rules it also has plenty of immersion. Thank you, Revolution Games, for letting me review this fine product. I can recommend the game for both its history and gameplay.


Revolution Games:

Warsaw 1920 Rules:

  Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations  One of the biggest questions that comes out of World War II is whether the German...

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations

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


Escape From Stalingrad


Vuca Simulations

 One of the biggest questions that comes out of World War II is whether the German troops surrounded in Stalingrad could have escaped or not. There are many games about the entire Fall Blau Campaign and most of them have scenarios about the attempt that was made to break though the Soviet units and reestablish contact with the 6th Army. This is one of the few games that are just about the break into Stalingrad or break out from there. The overwhelming consensus of historians is that even if the troops in Stalingrad did break out, they would have done so only with the clothes on their backs and what they could carry. The other issue is that all of the Soviet divisions around Stalingrad would then be able to hunt this moving mass of men across the frozen steppe. Many historians have theorized that the only reason the German Southern front in Russia did not collapse completely is because so many Soviet divisions were tied up around Stalingrad. 

Notice the A, B, and C zones

 This is what Vuca Simulations has to say about the game:

"'Donnerschlag' is a two player game which is playable in one sitting. It is more of a game than a simulation and intended to bring a high player interactivity and replayability to the player's table.

 From December 12 to December 23 in 1942, "Unternehmen Wintergewitter" was in progress. This was the code name for a relief attack by Heeresgruppe Don to free the trapped 6th Army in Stalingrad.

 The Axis formations entered with 50,000 men and 250 tanks, while the strength of the Soviet formations was reported to be about three times that. For the enterprise to have any chance of success, the troops in the encirclement had to break out and meet the advancing Axis troops. The breakout had to be precisely coordinated with the advance of the relief troops and was to commence on the cue “Donnerschlag”. The breakout was never ordered and the troops in Stalingrad were never able to be relieved. This sealed their fate.

 Players will be recreating this episode, with the Axis side attempting to secretly establish and reach a meeting point, thus effectively freeing the 6th Army, while the Soviet will try to impede such outcome."

 This is what comes with the game:

One rulebook.

One mounted map.

184 counters.

Two player aid charts.

Two Setup Displays.

126 Cards.

Two 6-sided dice.

The Scale

A hex represents 4 kms (2.5 miles) of terrain from side to side.

Each turn represents a period of 1-2 days.

Combat units are mostly Brigades & Regiments for the Soviets and Romanians, Battalions & Abteilungen for the Germans.

  As usual, Vuca Simulations has hit another long ball with their components. The map is a mounted one. It is roughly 21 3/4" X 34" in size. The color is of a winter landscape, which fits the campaign fine. The Turn Record Track and a place for both sides' cards are also on the map. It is a very fine-looking piece of work. The counters are what we have come to expect from Vuca Simulations. They are pre-rounded and come off the sprues easily. They are color coded with a band across the top for their different formations. Nato symbols are used for everything except the various armor units. You actually get a choice with the armor unit counters. There are two different styles to choose from. One style is the normal profile of the tank. The other is a little more artsy, with the tank looking like it is charging at you. They also included a good number of 'Breached Minefield' counters for use in their 'Theseus' game. All of the information is pretty easy to see on them. The Rulebook is glossy and in full color. The rules are really only ten pages long. Then come four and a half pages of 'Historical Notes'(these are very well written). Next up is one page of 'Designers Notes'. This is followed by a setup page and last by the Index. Even though they are only ten pages long, there are a good number of play examples in the rules. The game comes with four Players' Aids. The first thing to say about them is that they are of hard cardboard. These are not as thick as the map, but I was still pretty amazed that they were not just paper. Two of them are one-sided and have the German and Soviet setup and reinforcement information on them. Then there are two identical Player Aids for each Player. On one side, there is an extended Sequence of Play. The other side has The CRT and Terrain Effects Chart etc. Having them be on a hard piece of material is just another way that VS shows how much effort they put into the manufacture of their games. 

 Next, we have three decks of Cards. There is an Activation Deck for both the Soviets and the Germans. There is also a Combat Deck. The cards have all of the information and die rolls needed for the activation of the different formations. They are not artsy, just plain large instructions in English. Even the boxes you get with VS games are better than normal. They are very heavy duty and have an interesting matte finish on them. 

 This is the Sequence of Play Summary:

1. Admin Phase
a. ‘Schwerpunkt’ marker is placed 
  (after becoming available).
b. Reinforcements placement. 
c. Deal Formation Cards and Combat Cards 
  & place Cards in the STAVKA/OKH box 
d. In Turn 4 (and possibly in Turn 8): Reshuffle 
  and add Formation Cards & Combat Cards.
e. Calling out ‘Donnerschlag’.
f. ‘Schlachtenglück’-Marker goes back to the Axis.
2. Action Phase
  Resolve Activations alternatingly 
  with the German player always going first. 
  An Activation consists of the following four steps:
a. Play one Activation Card and activate Units
b. Check Supply of activated units only
c. Movement
d. Combat 
  If there are Activation Cards left in 
  the hand, return to step a.
  If there are none, advance to segment e.
3. Advance ‘Donnerschlag marker’
4. Adjust Turn Track Marker

You can see the profile compared to the art for the tank units

 Before we start into playing the game itself, we need to take a small course in German first.

Donnerschlag - Thunder Clap (Donner being the German equivalent to the Norse God Thor)

Schwerpunkt - Main Effort

Schlachtengluck - Fortune of War

Alarmgruppe-Einheiten - Alarm Group

Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung - Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance

 Okay, you really do not need the last one. It is officially the longest word in German. Mark Twain wrote an essay called "The Awful German Language". He also wrote this "In German, a young lady [das Mädchen] has no sex, but a turnip [die Rübe] has." Enough said.

  So, the first thing that happens after setup will be the placement of the Schwerpunkt counter (when it becomes available by one of the Combat Cards). This game is very much about command and control of your units by their HQs. The Schwerpunkt counter allows all friendly units within four hexes to be activated. Other than that counter, all units need to be activated by the owning player's Activation Cards. These work muck like a Chit Pull System for activation. 

 The Schlachtengluck counter allows the owning player (it physically goes to the opposing player after use) to reroll a die or to discard a card and draw a new one. The counter returns to the Axis player at the beginning of every turn. 

 The Donnerschlag marker and use is a bit convoluted so I will use the designers' words from the Rulebook:

"With the code word “Donnerschlag”, the breakout of the 6th Army
begins. On any turn, the Axis player may call out “Operation
Donnerschlag!” in the corresponding segment of the turn and
secretly determine a Meeting Zone. Place the Donnerschlag
Marker on the “0” box of the Donnerschlag Advance Track.
In each corresponding segment, the Donnerschlag Marker is
moved forward one box.

There are five boxes on the Donnerschlag Advance Track. When
the Donnerschlag Marker reaches Box 4 on the track, the game
ends and Victory Conditions are checked. If currently on the "6.
Army Survival" side, the game ends when the marker reaches
Box 5 instead.

If the Axis cannot meet the victory conditions in the Victory
Check Segment, that means the 6th Army could not be reached.
The 6th Army then disintegrates and the Soviet player wins.
This usually means, from the moment “Donnerschlag!”' is
called out, that the Axis player must reach the chosen Meeting
Zone exactly four turns later in order to win the game (and
must be in Supply and in Command).

Special Case
The Axis player can extend the survival of the 6th Army by one
turn (and only one turn). To do so, he must successfully play
the “Air Fleet 4” event. (If “Donnerschlag!” is called in Turn 4
and the “Air Fleet 4” event is played in Turn 7, then —and only
then — does a Turn 8 occur. Conversely, if the Axis units are
progressing well and “Donnerschlag” is called before Turn 4,
there can be no Turn 8.)
 Assuming the German plays 'Luftflotte 4' and thus unlocks
Donnerschlag box 5 for turn 8, but then fulfills the Victory
Conditions already at the end of turn 7, the game would end
with a German victory.
 If ‘Donnerschlag’ is called out after turn 4, we did not explain
this rule well enough.
There are special rules for Turn 8:
The last great effort
There are special rules for Turn 8—No Activation Cards are dealt.
There are only five Activations for each side. These Activations
take place as follows:
Axis Player
 At each Activation, the player decides whether to activate an
HQ or the Schwerpunkt Marker.
Soviet Player
 At each Activation, the player decides whether to activate an
HQ, or a formation, or the color of an army.

Axis Victory
The Donnerschlag Marker must be in Box 4 of the Donnerschlag
Advance Track (either side) and at least one Axis unit must be
in Supply and in Command in the chosen Meeting Zone at the
end of the turn. (Note that if on its “6. Army Survival” side, the
marker can be in Box 5.)
Soviet Victory
If the Axis does not meet its victory conditions, the Soviet player

 To me the game hits the sweet spot in between a simulation and a game. It has more 'meat' to it than Vuca Simulations suggests in their writeup about the game. The game is based solely on if Operation Thunderclap would succeed in linking up with the German pocket at Stalingrad. The player does not have to worry about what to do when you get there (thankfully). So, you can try as hard as you like to meet the victory conditions without having to worry about trying to get back. The little extras that have been added to the game make it much more than a game. Only quick thinking, and not just luck, will help you playing either the defender or attacker.  

 One little twist to the game happens after the German player announces Donnerschlag. At that time, he must also choose which zone he is to meet up with the besieged in Stalingrad 6th Army. If you noticed, there were three zones at the top of the map marked A, B and C. On the map, there is also a track for these three different areas. The German player chooses which zone to strive for and then puts the three markers down (two are dummy counters). This rule helps to make the Soviet player not really sure where to place his units and which one to defend against.

 Once again Vuca Simulations has come through. The components are top notch and the rules and gameplay easy to follow. In their summary about the game, they said they strove to make it fun to play and were not going for a hardcore simulation. As far as the former, they hit the nail right on the head. As far as it not being a simulation that is a bit hard to judge. It is certainly not Axis and Allies, that is for sure. The game has only one map and a small number of counters. It is also playable in an evening or shorter. So, they have met all of the parameters they set out in the beginning. I can easily recommend this to anyone who is looking for a smaller game that can give the players a lot of enjoyment. Thank you Vuca Simulations for letting me review this fine game. Hopefully, it gets more press than it has gotten.

 If you get the chance, have a look at 'Nach Paris' from Vuca Simulations. It is about the 1914 campaign on the Western Front. Any gamer with even a passing interest in World War I will want this game. They have also released 'The Chase of the Bismarck: Operation Rheinubung - 1941' with Jack Greene as a co-designer.


Vuca Simulations:

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingard:

  Europa Simulazioni Upcoming Games  Here is a look at the first game:  " The long-awaited "prequel" of All is lost save Hono...

Europa Simulazioni Upcoming Games Europa Simulazioni Upcoming Games

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

 Europa Simulazioni

Upcoming Games

 Here is a look at the first game:

 "The long-awaited "prequel" of All is lost save Honour is finally here. A game about the campaigns fought during the Italian Wars (1494-1530), the long struggle for Italy between the Habsburgs (the Empire) and the French Crown. This second volume is centered about the wars in Southern Italy, from 1494 to 1503. Featuring also the unfortunate Lautrec's campaign of 1528"

The Campaigns

This second volume includes all the major campaigns fought in Southern Italy:

- Ferrandino’s War, 1495-96, the Aragonese, with the help of El Gran Capitán, retake the Kingdom of Naples to the French.

- The fight for the Kingdom of Naples, 1502-1503, the French and Spanish, led by El Gran Capitán, fight for the Kingdom of Naples. This campaign historically included the two most famous battles of Cerignola and Garigliano (1503), where Cordoba gained the title "El Gran Capitán".

- Lautrec’s last chance, 1528, the unfortunate campaign of Lautrec to conquer Naples once again

- The crusade of Charles VIII (a what-if scenario), 1495-96, what if Charles VIII would have not decided to come back to France soon after his conquer of the Kingdom of Naples ?

These were longer campaigns with respect to the first game, and fought on larger areas. Scale has been adapted to these facts (3x in space and time)

Map Sample


* The game system of All is lost save Honour, scaled 3x to adapt it to campaigns which were longer and fought on much wider areas

* Operational-level warfare in the XVIth century

* Highly interactive sequence of play, focused on Manoeuvre and careful planning

* Various forms of combat: Major battles, Skirmishes, Sieges

* a 22" x 34" fine-art Map , reproducing all of XVIth southern Italy, based on an accurate study of ancient maps and sources

* Gorgeous iconic counters representing all the main Capitani who fought there and the different combat units

* Detailed (as it is possible) order of battle, with combat units differentiated by strength, maximum movement, quality and reliability

* Very low counter density and limited play time



22"x34" map of southern Italy, depicting the Kingdom of Naples

280 1/2" die-cut counters

Standard rules

Optional rules and Scenario Instructions for 4 campaigns

Charts, tables


Designer: Nicola Contardi

Counter Samples

Historical introduction

"This game encompasses a long period of the Italian Wars when the two main European powers, France and Spain, confronted for the possession of Southern Italy. Both countries claimed their rights upon this part of Italy, for dynastic and religious motivations. But the true stake was political of course. Southern Italy at the end of Middle Ages was a rich and fertile countryside, within the parameters of the era. Furthermore it was in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, focal point of all sea trading routes for Spain towards Middle East. After the Angiovin domination, the Kingdom of Naples passed in the hands of the Aragonese Crown, a dynasty of Spanish origins. King Ferdinand of Spain and his wife Isabella, the catholic kings, appointed Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba as commander in chief for the Spanish operations in Naples. Gonzalo gained his glory, and the name "El gran Capitán, while Ferdinand gained the south of Italy to Spain for centuries."

 The next game that is coming from Europa Simulazioni has me drooling.

The Great War Vol.III

Caporetto 1917

"After Strafexpedition 1916, and Gorizia 1916, the third chapter is added to the Great War series: Caporetto 1917. Caporetto 1917 proposes the rules of the system in their updated version, to recreate, at battalion and company level, the most famous, tragic and controversial event of the Great War on the Italian Front."

The Battle

"The third volume of the series proposes, in turns of 12 hours each, the first four decisive days of the battle of Caporetto, in four scenarios:
1. The historical battle: The complete battle in the first four days, with the historical disposition of the Italian Army, in which the two players are both attacking and defending, respectively manoeuvering one wing of each side: attacking with an Austro-German wing, defending with the Italian one opposite the opponent. Each player, or team of players, will have to reach their goals faster than the opponent.
2. The battle that might have been: The battle as it might have been if the Italians had been better prepared. The clash is between the Italian player, who can arrange his troops more carefully and respond more quickly to the enemy manoeuvres, and the Austro-German player, however stronger, who must break through against a prepared enemy.
3. The Battle of Cividale: The final phase of the breakthrough on the Italian right flank. A short scenario, to learn the system, or commit a little time.
4. The Fall of Monte Maggiore: The final phase of the breakthrough on the Italian left flank. This is also a short and undemanding scenario."

Counter Sample


"The game system has been updated and refined in version 2.0. It is based on the concept of action and reaction by the formations, typically brigades or regiments, which make up the opposing armies. It is a system that requires planning in the activation of formations, provides for a lot of interaction between them, and, at first glance, it may seem demanding. The use of artillery is greatly important, as it is the morale of the fighting troops, which can deteriorate as a result of fatigue or fighting."

Map Sample


a 22"x34" map covering the battlefield area, from Monte Canin and Rombon in the West, to the bridgehead of Tolmino in the East, from Bovec and Monte Nero in the North to Cividale and the Friuli plain in the South
a reduced map of the Tolmin beachhead, for managing artillery in that congested sector
1400 counters
system rules and specific rules for the game, including Rommel Grouping ( Rommel Abteilung ), Stosstruppen, gas and mine attacks, the Fog of Caporetto, and more
very detailed order of battle, the result of years of research and information gathering
Terrain Effects Chart, Assault and Bombardment Tables sheet; sheets to contain: German battalions, which can be divided into companies
assignment sheet for Italian formations
sheet for eliminated units, Turn Record Track and Logistics Points.

Also included is the game " Fire & Water, 1918", which reproduces the Italian offensive in the Piave delta in July 1918, with the same system and scale, including:
a 11.7”x16.5”(A3) map, representing the area between the Venice Lagoon, the mouth of the Piave at Cortellazzo, and San Donà di Piave.
140 counters
Specific rules for the game
Designer: Andrea Brusati

Historical introduction

"Caporetto is a picturesque mountain village, located in the upper Soča valley. It has always been a border town; his German name is Karfreit, and its Slovenian name is Kobarid, but for the story he has the Italian name. Probably the most famous battle in Italian history, it is synonymous with "catastrophe", and in use in the Italian language with the same meaning. Also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of Caporetto was the aftermath of the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo, which saw the Italian army advance across the Isonzo River, creating a dangerous salient for both Ljubljana and Trieste. To drive the Italians back and make them unable to carry out new offensives quickly, an offensive was needed, but the weakened Austro-Hungarian Empire lacked sufficient resources. German help was therefore needed. Aid materialized in the 14th Army, composed of some of the best German divisions, experienced in mountain warfare, and returning from successes in Riga and Romania. But above all that they employed unknown tactics and materials on the Italian front. Operation "Waffentreue " (Fedeltà d'Armi) was born, with the aim of pushing back the Italians to the Tagliamento. The results went beyond expectations. Recall the story of the first fateful days of that battle."

 I have done a few reviews of their games and they have always impressed me. Below are the Links:

Europa Simulazioni:

ES Preorders:

My Review of Gorizia 1916:

My Review of Custoza Fields of Doom:

My Review of Piacenza 1746:

  Mark McLaughlin writes about himself and his games and books  How I Got Into Wargaming – and How It Changed My Life by Mark G. McLaughlin ...

Mark McLaughlin writes about himself and his games and books Mark McLaughlin writes about himself and his games and books

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

 Mark McLaughlin writes about himself and his games and books

 How I Got Into Wargaming – and How It Changed My Life

by Mark G. McLaughlin

One Saturday morning in Brother Aloysius' optional/mandatory extra-credit class at Christian Brothers Academy (a military school run by Irish Christian Brothers), my fellow seventh-grade classmate, Dan Bunton, stood up to read his essay on “what I got for Christmas.” He wrote about a game called “Waterloo” that his father had given him. Guess whose house I showed up at that afternoon?

That was well over half a century ago, and I have been playing war games ever since. Yes, I did -and still do- play Battle Cry, Broadsides, Dogfight, Hit the Beach, and Risk, but Waterloo by Avalon Hill was my first true wargame – the first of a collection that at one point topped 800 titles (almost all of which I have sold, but I still have about 50 games, not counting my own designs).

That same year my father decided that since I was 13, I should give away all of my toy soldiers, as those were things of childhood, and I was no longer a child. I was crushed but did as he asked. Four years later, however, I picked up an issue of Time with  West German Chancellor Willi Brandt on the cover. On page 68 there was a picture of Brigadier General (Ret) Peter Young pushing painted miniature soldiers across a table in a pub in England. I showed it to my dad and said “this guy is not only a man, but he also is older than you, was in the same war as you, is a much-decorated general, and if he can play with toy soldiers then why can't I?”

My dad conceded. That day I went to the Palace Hobby Shop in downtown Albany, New York, and bought a bunch of Airfix HO boxed sets (Napoleonic, to begin with). I painted them up, and mybestfriendNino (all one word, always) and I started playing a very rudimentary set of miniatures rules we had written.

When it came time to decide which college to go to, it was between Boston College and Georgetown (heh, from Franciscan Nuns to Christian Brothers, why not go Jesuit and make a clean sweep?). I picked the latter. Why? Because I wrote to Time, to the journalist, and then to Brigadier General Peter Young, and asked the general if he knew of anyone in the states who made figures like he played with. He gave me the address of Duke Seifried in California (a legend in the miniatures community, with whom I developed a strong friendship over the next 50 years). Duke told me about Jack Scruby, and I wrote to Jack to ask if he knew of anyone in Boston or DC who bought and played with his line of miniatures. Nobody in Boston, he replied, but I know a couple of guys in DC.

..and THAT was the deciding factor. The day my parents dropped me off at my dorm before I unpacked, I got on my bike, pedaled three miles uphill to the home of Curt Johnson – and we played miniatures. Through him, I met more miniatures gamers and some board gamers. And I met more of both when I set up games (miniatures and board) in the common space in my dorm. One of those was Chris Vorderbruege, another was John Tuohy, both students at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service (from which I, too, graduated)..

These names are important. After graduating, I stayed in DC. I was at Curt's house one day, gamed late, spent the night on his sofa, and was there the next morning when his publisher came for a breakfast meeting. Curt was supposed to do a book on the Civil War for him. The publisher wanted it in six, not twelve months. Curt, a history teacher in a local (Catholic, of course) high school, said he couldn't get it done without a co-author. The publisher said, “you have anyone in mind?” Curt pointed at me and said, “how about him?”

These books are excellent

 The Amazon links to Mark's books: Mark G. McLaughlin: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

….and that is how I came to co-author my first book: Civil War Battles.

...and how I came to write my second book: The Wild Geese (as the publisher liked my writing and had introduced me to Osprey, who published this book on the Irish Brigades of France and Spain.

As for John Tuohy, well, John has an older brother named Larry. A Vietnam veteran. He began to game with us. A couple of years later, when I got promoted from copy boy at the Associated Press (yes, even after being a lieutenant in the army I took that entry-level job just to get my foot in the door) I introduced Larry as my potential replacement. He and my former boss hit it off, and Larry soon moved up the tech path at AP while I went along the journalist path. One day when his car was in the shop I drove him home. It was midnight, and we were both supposed to be back at work in the morning. He suggested I stay the night on his couch (yeah, couches are karma for me). The next morning one of his roommates comes out, sees me, and says “who the hell are you and what are you doing on my couch?”

Her name was Cheryl. We have been married 534 months as of this September (44 and a half years).  We have two children. The elder of which is our daughter, Ryan, for whom a boxed set of miniatures rules, an Avalon Hill boardgame, and my sci-fi novel, Princess Ryans' Star Marines, are named.

And Chris? He is godfather to our son, Campbell. Chris has also been a playtester, editor, credited consultant, and/or co-designer on every one of the 27 games of mine that have been published, including the very first:

War and Peace.

PS: When Cheryl and I came back from our honeymoon in London in 1978, we both found ourselves suddenly unemployed. Having some free time, I wrote to Avalon Hill and asked if I could come up some morning to see how they did what they do (I lived an hour south of Baltimore). I was there, talking with Don Greenwood, when the senior VP, Tom Shaw, walked in. He and Don were going to lunch, and Tom said “bring your friend along, on me.”

We went to a great Baltimore old-school restaurant, and as I was raising a spoonful of a lovely crab bisque to my lips, Tom asked “so, what's this game you want to pitch us?”

War and Peace example

I froze for a second. I had not come to pitch a game. I had not thought of designing a game (I was then and still am a journalist and author, but at the time only played games). But I know when opportunity knocks. Over the course of lunch, I came up with, pitched, and sold them on the idea for a game. We went back to their office and signed a contract, for me to design that game....

War and Peace.

War and Peace Counters

War and Peace: From Avalon Hill to Avalon Digital

by Mark G. McLaughlin

Wargaming changed my life, and War and Peace was not only one of the “game-changers” (pun intended) but has continued to be so for more than 40 years – and will be so for a few years more!

War and Peace was published by the storied Avalon Hill Game Company of Baltimore, Maryland. I got an advance copy in December 1979. I brought it with me on a visit to my inlaws in Connecticut, and had set it up, punched it out, and was going to play a quick solo game when I got a phone call from my editor. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan the night before. As I was on the “slow, quiet” and very lightly staffed South Asian beat, I had to pack up and head back to DC that night (without so much as rolling a die or moving a stack!)

The game did so well in 1980 that it sold out and they decided on a second edition – which was really just a second printing but with extra scenarios and optional rules (which I wrote in articles for The General, AH's all-AH all-the-time magazine). It sold so well that even with my measly 2% royalties it paid for most of the downpayment on our first house. (Yes, royalties were a third of what they are now, and games sold for about a fifth of what they sell now....or in the case of the newest edition of War and Peace, one-ninth; but houses were a lot cheaper too – under $85K).

Another great game from Mark

I digress.

Right up through 1985 War and Peace was THE game I took to and ran tournaments for at conventions. By then, however, I had designed and published No Trumpets, No Drums (a Vietnam game), Holy Roman Empire (Thirty Years War), and East Wind Rain (WW2 in the Pacific), and was working on Viceroys! (age of exploration). And I was a dad (my daughter, Ryan, arrived in 1983). So I set aside War and Peace and, basically, it just sat on my shelf like a trophy.

Twenty-five years passed – seriously – until a friend who played games on something called Vassal (which I only started playing on during Covid, seriously) showed me that my game was there – and that there were several websites with scores of articles – and two unofficial new “editions” (3rd and 4th) of which I had no prior knowledge of and nothing to do with. Soon after, I was contacted by one of these web fans, John Gant, who had reworked my original game and called it The War Between France and England. He showed it to me, and I introduced him to GMT. They liked it, assigned my regular editor, Fred Schachter, to the project and forward they went – until they didn't. Creative differences between John and Fred, and between John and GMT, ended the return of War and Peace much like Napoleon's return from Elba collapsed on the field of Waterloo.


John and I kept in touch. In the meantime, Jon Compton of One Small Step Games asked if he could update and upgrade my No Trumpets No Drums and Holy Roman Empire (both of which had appeared in The Wargamer, of which I was managing editor for three years). After they came out, we sat in his study in Virginia and, a nice single malt in hand, and he said what he really wanted to redo was War and Peace. “Too bad Hasbro (which had bought AH) has the rights.”

I smiled. “No, I have the rights. Hasbro kindly gave them back to me.” (Hasbro had also tried to give me a nice royalty check for AH sales of War and Peace in stock, but I sent it back, as my agreement with AH had been 2% for five years, and vice 1% for life. They were touched by my honesty and offered me the rights back. Which they had done long before I met John Gant even).

He was excited. He was even more excited when I told him “I know a guy.” That guy is John Gant. Using the design he was originally going to do for GMT as a starting point, he and I (mostly he) went to work.

Out came the 5th edition of War and Peace. (As I mentioned, the first two editions were AH products, while 3rd and 4th were rules redos by assorted fans).

And we did it bigger, Bolder, BROADER and BRIGHTER! than the original!

The original map is there, but was broadened to include the British Isles, Scandanavia, Italy, and more – including a naval strategic game mini-map and an insert map for the Egyptian Campaign. John Gant added three scenarios (Italian, Marengo, Egyptian campaign) plus the naval mini-game AND a brand new Campaign game based on HIS designs.

This last bit was really critical, as when I originally did the game it was only supposed to be for scenarios. Six months before it went to the printer Frank Davis at AH (my developer) said they wanted a campaign game. Frankly, we had to rush – and it showed. It was “ok” but not great, which is what most of the 3rd, 4th and Gant's works addressed. John's campaign game is not only what I would have done if I had had more time in 1978 – but also is better than what I could of done, as he built upon 40 years of tradition and industry advancement. And John is also one very smart, savvy CEO (he has made of a career of running businesses).

The map had many changes, most notably rivers along hexsides (not through them – a definite improvement in terms of shortening rules and ease of play), and bridges, plus well-defined ports for the naval parts of the game.

Then there was the pure beauty of the new art work – and not just in the gorgeous map but also in the brilliant work on the counters - no more mere silhouettes - full color, CORRECTLY uniformed figures, faces, and flags....Antonio Pinar and I went over every single one of them; he is a stickler for detail and me, well, I paint miniatures. That should tell you everything you need to know.

Perhaps the best thing about it, was that if you played either first or second edition, you could pick up this game, lay out the pieces and without having to read the rule book play any and all of the scenarios. The basic rules from the original are almost exactly the same as those in the new editions.

One Small Step did this as a Kickstarter, and when it sold out (within a couple of weeks) decided to do another edition. Kickstarter does not like mere reprints, however, so we had to do something different to make it a 'new' edition. That meant backprinting two counters (French transports) adding a sticker to put on the map for a production center that had been overlooked, and fixing some minor typos.

The sixth edition sold out even faster than the fifth.

And then the French arrived.

A delightful Frenchman named Philippe contacted me. He said War and Peace was one of his favorite games and wondered if I had any interest in seeing it made into a computer version.

I said I would love it, but did not know any computer company that was interested in it.

Then Philippe told me there was one: his. Philippe has a very well-respected computer game design studio and company.

It's name?

Avalon. Avalon Digital.

How is that for Karma? Add to it that this is a French company doing a game on Napoleon and, well, vive l'empereur!

Screen of Avalon Digital's War and Peace (Beta)


We are currently alpha-testing and it is going extremely well. Most of the scenarios are up and being played by us both hot-seat solo and multiplayer, and the mechanics of the game are almost all done, but we keep fine-tuning. After we agree that everything is working properly, we have to move on to beta-testing, creating and testing an AI, and then, of course, there will be the campaign game to put to the test. The advertisement for the game for players to watch and follow just went up on Steam, and our goal is to have the game out by August 2023.

Latest Rules for War and Peace:

War& - Google Drive

Windows 64 Demo:

Setup_WarAndPeace_Demo_Lite_1.0.exe - Google Drive

Mac Demo:


 Kickstarter Link:

WAR AND PEACE - THE DIGITAL VERSION by Avalon Digital — Kickstarter

 A list of Mark McLaughlin's games form BGG:

The Games of Mark McLaughlin | BoardGameGeek

War Diary # 21 A Wargaming Journal Issue #21  War Diary is an amazing wargame magazine that I have just found out about. Unlike most wargami...

War Diary #21: A Wargaming Journal War Diary #21: A Wargaming Journal

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

War Diary # 21

A Wargaming Journal

Issue #21

 War Diary is an amazing wargame magazine that I have just found out about. Unlike most wargaming magazines this one does not come with a game inside. It is strictly articles about games and the history behind them. These are the articles in issue # 21:

4 MEETING TRIUMPH AND DISASTER: The Italian Campaigns     in East Africa and Greece by Paul Comben. The second installment   of this three-part look at the Italian military in World War II.

16 THE FALL OF CRETE: The Games by Andrew McGee. A     “compare and contrast” look at a number of games on the invasion   of Crete, 1941.

28 CRETE: The Battle by John D. Burt. A brief overview of the   battle.

34 GUADALCANAL: Updating a Classic by Mike Nagel.   Designer’s notes for this new game from War Diary, a homage to   the  Avalon Hill classic.

39 ROADS TO LENINGRAD AND MOSCOW: Con-Z House   Rules by Clair Conzelman. New “house rules” to facilitate play of   these two Vance von Borries’ designs.

44 THE ITALIAN ARMY IN THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN by   Patrick Cloutier. Here the historian looks at the Italian order of     battle for this game from Compass, and includes some   recommended adjustments. 

49 FRONT TOWARD THE ENEMY: A Review by Arrigo Velicoga.   An in-depth look at this title from Multi-Man Publishing.

56 PASS IN REVIEW: Capsule reviews by John D. Burt and Andy   Nunez.

Issue # 20s Cover

 All of the articles that I read in issue # 21 were top notch. This was both the gaming and the history articles. I am very surprised that I let this magazine slip under my radar for so long. I am always hunting for information about the Italian participation in World War II. I was so enthralled by the first article (which is actually #2 of 3) that I am going to have to get whatever issue the first part is in. The way that the writers use the games to show the different historical situations is pretty amazing. 

 The article comparing the different games on the invasion of Crete is worth its weight in gold. I have a number of the games that the writer compares, and while I do not agree with some of the conclusions, the writer certainly has used the rules of the different games and their different ways of winning a victory for either side.

 The next article is called 'a brief overview' of Operation Merkur for the capture of the Island of Crete. This article is an excellent overview of the campaign and is a great starting point for someone who wants to learn about the battles for Crete.

 The next article is an in depth look at the games 'Roads to Leningrad' and 'Roads to Moscow' games. These were designed by Vance von Borries and released by GMT Games. The author Clair Conzelman gives us his Con-Z House Rules for the game, along with a good look at the rules themselves. I do not own either game, but I still like reading about other games. 

 The Italian Army in Compass Games 'Russian Front' is next delved into by author Patrick Cloutier. When and how the Italian units should arrive on the map are gone into in minute detail.

 Multi-Mans Publishing's 'Front Toward the Enemy' is given a deep  review by Arrigo Velicogna. 

 Last, but not least, is a part of the magazine they call 'Pass in Review'. First, there is a review of Quarterdeck International's '278th Squadron'. This is neat little card game about trying to torpedo Allied ships with the SM79 Italian bomber. Then there is a review of the book 'Stalingrad: New Perspectives on an Epic Battle, Volume one, The Doomed City' by Christer Bergstrom. The reviewer and I are on the same page that this book is something that everyone interested in history should have.

Their first Game Collaboration

 This is from issue # 21 about the above game:

"One of the unfortunate side effects for prolific wargame designers these days is “pre-order constipation.” Much like the supply chain problems that much of the economy has been suffering from, game designs that are ready for publication get stuck in pre-order queues, waiting for enough orders to come in to allow a design to “graduate” to production or, for those designs lucky enough to get there, wait for their own opportunity to float to the top of the production queue for actual printing. This is not a slam against those publishers who use pre-order systems to manage their production, as the process is necessary to ensure that their revenue stream continues unabated.

 But what’s a designer to do while they wait?  In my particular case, in addition to working on other designs that will eventually find their way into the queue, I thought it would be helpful to practice my graphic design chops by redoing the maps and counters for some classic games that have been out of print for years. I started with Avalon Hill’s Blitzkrieg and then tackled their 1914 game, each of which are over fifty years old. The third game I converted was the 1966 edition of Guadalcanal, also from Avalon Hill, but not the “American Heritage” version that was more of a naval operations game involving fleet and air management and was a sister game to the reissue of Avalon Hill’s Midway. This older version of Guadalcanal focused on land-based operations and the U.S. Marine Corps’ efforts to capture and hold Henderson Field from Japanese occupants."

 I will be reviewing their Guadalcanal Game soon, so there will be more on that in another post.

The Cover of the Next Issue

 This is an incredible magazine from front to back. Just like me, you might not agree with all of the different writers' ideas or their take on different games. However, it is well worth the read. 

 The is the magazine's information:

"Subscriptions to War Diary are for three issues, with subscribers being able to choose between receiving traditional print issues or electronic pdf copies.  

Please join us.  One year print subscriptions (three print issues) are $32.00 (U.S. and Canada), and $46.00 (Overseas).  PDF subscriptions (three issues) are $16.00.

 All subscribers will receive single use discount codes good for 25% off any single order from LNL Publishing, 20% off any single order from Revolution Games, and 15% off a single order from Diffraction Entertainment (TKC)!  Visit their websites at,, and ​ to view their available products."

 This is a very good deal. Thank you, for letting me take a look at War Diary # 21.

War Diary Magazine: