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Showing posts from 2018

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

I've done a bit more mapping recently. My friends and sometime game opponents Pete and Matt are running a Megagame on Case Blue in June (see flyer below). I gone done them a map for it. 20km hexes over large swathes of southern Russia.

This one was surprisingly quick, think I've spent about 5 hours and its 80% done. I need to do the Georgia area, and the area east of the Don as these were not covered in the source map I raided. The main challenge was projection. I used a google maps screen shot Pete provided as my base map for getting things in the right place, but given the size of the earth being mapped this leads to some distortion. All maps project a spherical bumpy world on to a 2 dimension flat surface, as such you cannot keep all things in perfect proportion. My map distorts the coast a bit different to say Mark Simonitch's map for the up coming Stalingrad 44 game. Most things look pretty good but If you measured the exact distance between the Don and Volga it migh…

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…

A weekend of Wargaming Part 4: 1:1200 Pre-Dreadnaught Naval, A Quick Look

I don’t know what the rule set we have used is called but it’s based around Tsushima, so im going to refer to it as that (Pete may comment with more info). In both games I’ve played the Russian Baltic Fleet, Pete the IJN combined fleet.
Tsushima is a game of two very distinct halves. In the first you move around paper markers trying to out bluff and out manoeuvre each other to cross your opponents T and get your destroyers in close. This is by far the most nail biting time I have had with miniatures.

Once your two bluff counters have been seen through and your others revealed you swap them out for metal ships (1:1200) and your fleet is on the table. The first half is the initial jockeying for position and the first pass. The second half is the following confusion and then perhaps a second or more passes. The first pass is very much a calculated icy affair of trying to secure the best fire angle for your fleet. After this the game sort of takes a life of its own as your formations brea…

A weekend of Wargaming Part 3: Plan Orange: The Pacific 1930-1935 Review

I’ve played a fair amount of Empire of the Sun over the past 5 years and now there are two magazine games based on the same system; South Pacific which is effectively a trimmed down version of the 1943 (or is it 42) scenario from the original game, and Plan Orange, a variant that takes a pacific war in the 1930s that was war gamed and considered by both sides but never took place.

I’m not going to discuss many of the games mechanics. Empire of the Sun is a very complex game and it is also rather unique. The core conceit is that you play cards from your hand to launch operations. An operation would be something like the battle of the Coral Sea, or the invasion of Guam. Based on the resources your cards give you, you would send out a fleet, your opponent may detect your move, either by die roll or card play) and counter with their own fleet. A battle or more may result perhaps followed by an amphibious landing. It’s a concise way for Mark Herman (the designer) to get you to juggle intel…

A weekend of Wargaming Part 2: Urban Operations, A Quick Look

This game was originally developed as a training tool for French infantry officers and this shows through. The game is unforgiving of mistakes and seems to revolve around teaching you the by the book methods for assaulting strong points or clearing streets.  In Grozny I had to clear out about 12 Chechen rebel squads/sniper teams. The game gave me three platoons of infantry, two Shilkas, two T80s, some snipers, combat engineers and some off map rocket artillery and hello strikes. This is enough tools to do the job, but you are expected to know how to use each tool properly. For my part, the huge defensive bonus provided by the strong points proved costly to overcome.

In practice I did not know how to use these tools, or at least not for the first half of the game, later I did sort of start to figure things out, but only after the loss of one T80, the best part of a platoon and all my spetznaz and sniper teams.  

This is a heavy game with a horrible rule book. It’s not necessarily full of…

A weekend of Wargaming Part 1: Fivecore Review

I shuffled in to 2018 with a weekend of Wargaming at my friend Pete’s. Here follows a look at four of the games we played, two miniature, two board.
Five Core Brigade Commander is essentially the RTS video game Wargame Airland Battle in table top form. Our setting is cold war gone warm central Deutschland 1980s. In this weekend’s game I had a Soviet Armoured regiment mostly composed of T72s with some infantry and specialist support, and crucially two hind attack helicopters. The game is structured around ‘bases’ a square a few cm wide holding some 6mm minis that represents a company, either armoured, mech or foot. You get perhaps 12 of these with a few platoon sized assets supporting them. Each asset, e.g. Anti-air manpads or engineers either confers a special ability to its attached company or operates as an orbital unit that is thrown out from its parent to do something useful. For instance recon units can be thrown out to spot enemy in cover.

You also get some cards you can play that…