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Case Blue: Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein MegaGame!

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Quick Looks; Red Star / White Eagle

I generally hate it when people describe designs or ideas in games as dated, because many of the most innovative games  are older than I am. Equally it implies there is something innately good about new designs, which I don't think there is.

Dune is arguably the best multiplayer 'war' boardgame and the 70s basic DnD is in my view still the best RPG. I wasn't born until the late 80s and didn't discover these things to the mid 2000s so this isn't nostalgia doing my thinking, its just that some old ideas are better than new ones, despite our apparent 'progress'.

But having said all this Red Star / White Eagle is a dated game design. And this matters if you are looking at popping £70 on a new reprint of it from Compass Games. I am a wary cheapskate so I picked up a second hand copy with a trashed box of ebay for £20. It was worth it, but only just.

Red Star / White Eagle is a GDW 1979 Hex and Counter wargame covering the 1920 Russo - Polish war. Everything …

Quick Looks: SCS Autumn for Barbarossa

Standard Combat Series (SCS) by MMP should probably be known as Vanilla Combat Series since in today’s wargame market its throwback simple jack of all trades system. There is no command and control system, no supply, no moral, just move and attack, and then move again if your units have wheels.

Other than being fairly simple the system has a reputation for high movement rates and a really bloody CRT, both are evident in Autumn for Barbarossa. A tank division could almost move right across the length of the half sheet map and back in turn, assuming it moved again in the exploitation phase.

In most WW2 wargames you want to outnumber the defending forces by 3:1 to get good odds on your attack role. This is apparently based on lots of research and has become ubiquitous in game CRTs. Unlike A Victory Lost, or a Kevin Zucker game Autumn for Barbarrossa’s CRT kills units on any result. For the Ruski 1:1 ratio is worth a punt given your replacement rates.

That’s the system, not much there but i…

Quick Looks: A Victory Lost

The first hex and counter war game I bought and played was A Victory Denied, a follow up to AVL from about 10 years ago. I hated it, and wrote off hex and counter games for about another year. The victory conditions seemed off, the combat was ok but not that interesting and the whole thing just seemed to lack any hook. I assumed hex and counter games were only popular with nostalgic old men and I’d stick to card driven or block games.

Sometimes I get this urge to East Front. Had it about 2 months ago, asked around and ended up picking up SCS Autumn for Barbarossa and A Victory Lost.

A Victory Lost is actually great, and for good reason spawned a system that will soon include a reprint of Konigsberg, a game on Narwa and the whole of Barbarossa.

This is operation Uranus through to Von Manstein’s vaunted back hand slap in the winter of 43, in Ukraine post Stalingrad. Units are divisional or bigger and the hook is the game uses chit pull. Chit pull has been around since the 80s but was rea…

Future War is over Fishing: Command:Modern Air / Naval Operations

Command:Modern Air Naval Ops is a very complicated mil-sim game that I periodically dip into but never quite invest in. I believe there is a commercial version sold to militaries. As the name suggests its only ships, subs and planes, no land units.

I tend to find the more complex scenarios over whelming, so I try and stick to smaller engagements where I control a handful of ships and perhaps a helo or two. In this way I don't have to worry about wing composition or getting fighter jet load outs correct. Instead I can play a simpler game where I tell my units where to go and whether they are weapons free or restricted and what active sensors are on or off.

 Quite a few of the scenarios in game are about fishing rights. It seems if you are a small scale naval engagement scenario designer its war for fish every day and a tuesday.  It is 2023 and I have to protect a small fleet of Indian fishing boats from the South African military for 24 hours. I've got two F39 Betwas - Indian M…

Quick Play Thru: Washington's Crossing

Being a man who likes diversity I bought / pre-ordered 4 games for Christmas about dudes in flashy coats with muskets marching around road networks. I’ve already Quick looked at Nappys Nemesis 1813, Metz is yet to be released from P500, Autumn of Glory is on the shelf, so this weekend I have played Washington’s Crossing.

The Patriot opening more or less followed the script. Washington moved with his stack, crossed the Delaware with decent movement and ferry rolls and come morning was sat just outside Trenton next to Rall’s Hessian garrison. The American gets a rather scripted +5 to surprise rolls when attacking Trenton, plus it being dawn and a prepared attack gave Washington very favourable odds but the roll was terrible and Rall escaped with only 25% losses and a retreat.
Further south Greene collected a few detachments of militia and drove the other Hessian garrisons north.

The Hessians forced marched out wide forcing Washington to either hunt them down for a few extra vps, or look el…

Quick Looks: Napoleon's Nemsis 1813

A question often asked of a boardgames is does its mechanics represent its theme? Or is the theme just art work over a set of dice rolls and cube trading?

Whether a war game simulates its historical era would seem easier to determine. Today we have a quick look at an east front war game set in 1813 1945.

1813 Napoleon's Nemesis covers the Leipzig campaign following Italian publisher Europa Simulazioni's previous game on the ill fated 1812 Invasion of Russia. The napoleonic game of maneuver has long been the grail of wargaming for me. I looked for it in Zucker's Day's series and found a bumper cars CRT, I looked for it here and found something more akin to Red Storm.

Lets look at some numbers.

According to the Wiki (that venerable source of 'facts') there were 380,000 coalition vs 225,000 French Empire men on the field at Leipzig. According to the Nemesis rule book each infantry counter represents a division of ~8000 men and 6 unit counters is the strict stackin…