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Posted on Nov 13, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Will Tyranny Fall or Rise! King & Assassins Deluxe Edition Board Game Review

Will Tyranny Fall or Rise! King & Assassins Deluxe Edition Board Game Review

King & Assassins Deluxe Edition Board Game Review.  Publisher: Galakta  Designer:  Lukasz Wozniak  Price $30.00 Passed Inspection:  fast playing, easy to learn, good replay value, nice artwork, excellent family friendly board game “The king has finally descended among his people, safe behind a shield wall of his so called ‘knights’ and sure of his immense authority. Walking among the crowd, he pays no heed to the shouts of rising anger, blindly believing that his subjects are too scared to act against his rule. Yet, there are shadowy forces ready to topple the throne and secret agents hidden among the throng who are more than willing to strike at the most opportune moment. The fate of the kingdom is soon to be decided… “ Box Art Kings & Assassins Deluxe Edition is a redesign of a 2013 release.  This new edition streamlines the game, adds 23 beautiful miniatures and features a double sided map board of a medieval village.  The game comes in an attractive and very sturdy box.  It...

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Posted on Nov 6, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Run to the Hills…or Stand on the Plains. “Plains Indian Wars” Board Game Review

Run to the Hills…or Stand on the Plains. “Plains Indian Wars” Board Game Review

Plains Indian Wars. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: John Poniske. Price $65.00 Passed inspection: Quick playing game that provides an overview of the conflict between the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains and the United States of America.  Solid components with oversized cards that convey historical information regarding the period. Failed basic: Rules have a number of ambiguities that resulted in a number of clarifications. In conventional popular memory, the settlement of the American West was a story of European immigrants and Americans trekking into the empty spaces of North America. The Great Plains, mountains and the West Coast were the goals of hardy European’s enduring hardship and risk in a search was a better life. It was America’s ‘Manifest Destiny’ to expand westward, pushing civilization to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The American concept of the ‘frontier’ served as a demarcation between lands subject to the laws and policies of the United States and a ‘wilderness’ waiting to be defined, formalized, settled and civilized. That this wilderness was...

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Posted on Nov 5, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

2021 Charles S. Roberts Awards Nominees are out – and it’s time to vote for the winners!

2021 Charles S. Roberts Awards Nominees are out – and it’s time to vote for the winners!

After some delays, the nominees for the 2021 Charles S. Roberts Awards for Excellence in Conflict Simulation Games have been published. You can see the list over on the CSR website. The awards are given in the following categories Best Ancients to Medieval Era Board WargameBest Early Gunpowder Board Wargame 1453-1793 ADBest Late Gunpowder to Pre-World War I Board Wargame, excluding American Civil War and Napoleonic TopicsBest Napoleonic Board WargameBest American Civil War Board WargameBest World War I Era Board WargameBest World War II Era Board WargameBest Modern Era Board WargameBest Science-Fiction or Fantasy Board WargameBest Solitaire or Cooperative Board WargameBest Magazine Board WargameBest Expansion or Supplement for an Existing Board WargameBest Board Wargame Playing ComponentsBest Board Wargame Map GraphicsBest Board Wargame RulesBest Computer WargameBest Cover Art In addition to the categories covering board games, there the media awards for Best wargame magazine and Best Game Review or Analysis Website, Webcast or Podcast.Best Individual Historical, Scenario Analysis, or Book Then there’s the individual awards Wargame of the YearJames F....

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Posted on Sep 22, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

An Ancient Cold War Goes Hot in Plague Island Games “Sparta!”

An Ancient Cold War Goes Hot in Plague Island Games “Sparta!”

Sparta! Publisher: Plague Island Games. Designer: Kris Van Beurden. Price $59.00 – 89.00 on kickstarter. This is Sparta! That classic line from Frank Miller’s 1998 graphic novels, still resonate. Sparta was a military superpower in its day, fielding a formidable army under capable leaders. But part of what fuels our continuing interest in Sparta were their opponents – Athens and Thebes. Plague Island Games is working to bring these conflicts to the table with Sparta! Designed by Kris Van Beurden and with development support by Stuart Tonge. Plague Island Games provided us with a demo/prototype copy of the game. While it’s not quite the finished production version, it’s really close to it. By way of comparison, Plague Island did the same thing with their first game 2 Minutes to Midnight, and the differences between that prototype and the final game were very minimal, so I expect the finished version of Sparta to be very similar to this prototype. The game board for Sparta! Sparta! Is a two-player game in...

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Posted on Aug 14, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

What Counterinsurgency Looks Like in the Field – “Zurmat” Board Game Review.

What Counterinsurgency Looks Like in the Field – “Zurmat” Board Game Review.

By Ray Garbee Zurmat. Publisher: Catastrophe Games. Designer: Tim Densham.  Price $ 70.00 At Origins in 2021, Catastrophe Games had a demo copy of an upcoming game Zurmat, which depicted counter insurgency (COIN) operations of the Afghan war. Fast forward a year (well, nine months) and I picked up a copy of the recently released game from their booth at Origins 2022. Zurmat looks at counter-insurgency from the perspective of a Coalition military officer assigned to a district in Afghanistan. You have orders to build a secure space within which the residents will support the government.  Of course, this being a two-player game, the Taliban insurgents will be acting to achieve the opposite result in which the populace supports their efforts to build an Islamic state standing in opposition to the government in Kabul. Cover of the box The game description on the Catastrophe Games website sums up the game nicely; Zurmat pits the Taliban versus the Coalition, as players secretly add influence or decoys each turn, then taking...

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Posted on Jun 12, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

From the Halls of Montezuma to “The Shores of Tripoli” Board Game Review

From the Halls of Montezuma to “The Shores of Tripoli” Board Game Review

The Shores of Tripoli Board Game Review.  Publisher: Fort Circle Games  Designer:  Kevin Bertram  Price $60.00 Passed Inspection:   tense game play; easy to learn; a lovely game; solo or two players; excellent replayability; great value for the price; historical supplement included; very educational Failed Basic: Absolutely nothing After the Revolutionary War, American merchant vessels sailed the 7 seas but those merchant ships no longer could rely on the protection of the British navy.  Starting in 1785, the Barbary States (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli) captured over a dozen American merchant ships and took their crews hostage.  In the late 1790s, the Barbary States “offered” to “control” the pirates if America paid a monetary tribute to their governments.  The US government refused to pay the protection money and Tripoli declared war on the US.  In 1801, Thomas Jefferson ordered the US Navy to send armed frigates to blockade Tripoli.  The war against the Barbary Pirates had begun and would be  a trial by combat for the US Navy and the...

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Posted on Apr 16, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Opening a New Front Against the Ottomans. “On to Baghdad: The Campaign in Mesopotamia & Persia, 1914-1918”. Board Game Review

Opening a New Front Against the Ottomans. “On to Baghdad: The Campaign in Mesopotamia & Persia, 1914-1918”. Board Game Review

On to Baghdad: The Campaign in Mesopotamia & Persia, 1914-1918. Publisher: Decision Games. Designer: Joseph Miranda. Price $49.99 Passed inspection: An engaging game of an obscure First World War campaign. Attractive hex map that showcases the theater while integrating most of the charts and tables around the perimeter. Large, legible counters. Failed basic: A handful of minor typos on counters and text, but the majority of these were caught and integrated into the text before the rules were printed.    Mention a conflict in Iraq and most folks will think of the recent 21st invasion and occupation by the United States and her allies to replace the Iraqi government and nominally secure the flow of oil. But a century earlier, another global power waged a multi-year war to take control of Iraq and Iran (Persia) in order to…secure the flow of oil. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a campaign that first came to my attention via the book Wings Over Mesopotamia by Mark...

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Posted on Apr 10, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A World War I Card Game with Incredible Art and Great Game Play!  MacGowan & Lombardy’s The Great War Card Game Review

A World War I Card Game with Incredible Art and Great Game Play! MacGowan & Lombardy’s The Great War Card Game Review

MacGowan & Lombardy’s The Great War Card Game Review.  Publisher: Lombardy Studios and RBM Studio  Designer:  Dana Lombardy  Art Director: Rodger B. MacGowan  Price $49.00 Passed Inspection:   solo or two player; great value for the money; beautiful artwork; easy to learn but challenging to master; includes a War of the Worlds expansion; includes a teaching aid to teach students about World War I Failed Basic:  I would have liked to see a little more clarity on what deck is where on the player’s mat, maybe some text to one side saying something like “Bonus Deck”. A Beautiful Box  MacGowan & Lombardy’s The Great War Card Game is a beautifully designed game with elegant game play created by the award winning game designer Dana Lombardy and featuring artwork by the legendary Rodger MacGowan.  It not only features new World War I themed art by MacGowan but also features reprints of much of his World War I game artwork for such publishing companies as GMT Games. So what’s in the box? ...

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Posted on Mar 11, 2022 in Boardgames

First Look: Salerno ’43 from GMT Games

First Look: Salerno ’43 from GMT Games

My P500 order of Salerno ’43 arrived in the post this week. Here’s a quick unboxing video and perusal of the contents of the box. I’m looking forward to this as it’s my first time playing a game in the series. We’ll get a more in depth look at the components up...

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Posted on Feb 19, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

GMT Games P500 Offering “Infernal Machine: Dawn of Submarine Warfare” Aims to Explores the Role of Submarines in the American Civil War.

GMT Games P500 Offering “Infernal Machine: Dawn of Submarine Warfare” Aims to Explores the Role of Submarines in the American Civil War.

By Ray Garbee Infernal Machine: Dawn of Submarine Warfare – P500 Campaign. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Ed Ostermeyer and Jeremy White.  P500 Preorder Price $55.00 After playing Nicola Saggini and David Thompson’s solitaire game By Stealth and Sea (DVG, 2020), I started to think about what other periods would lend themselves to a similar type of game. The challenge of using ‘bleeding edge’ technology where you were fighting your own equipment as much as the enemy was an interesting way to depict how warfighting can drive technological innovation (and to a degree, vice versa). In conversation with Matt, one of my long-time wargaming associates, we thought that a similar game covering the exploits of submarine warfare during the American Civil War posed similar challenges and would be an interesting topic. I resolved to pull together various reference books off the shelf and then we would sit down and start to envision what such a game would look like. Before we made any appreciable progress (well, I did have a...

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Posted on Feb 5, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

One book – hours of World War II adventures!  Bismarck Solitaire Book -Game  Review

One book – hours of World War II adventures! Bismarck Solitaire Book -Game Review

Bismarck Solitaire Book- Game Review.  Publisher: Worthington Publishing   Designer:  Mike Wylie, Sean Cooke and Grant Wylie  Price $29.95 Passed Inspection:  full solo experience, easy to learn but difficult to master, multiple skill levels as each scenario gets more challenging if played in order, multiple strategies  to win, good  A/I, the whole game is in the book – you just need a photocopier, dice and a pencil, perfect for trips or to pay in the car Failed Basic: would have loved an advanced game with more detail Worthington Publishing’s Bismarck Solitaire is, to put it simply, a brilliant game.  The game is a book and the book is the game.  The book is 58 pages with 4 pages of rules, 2 pages of example play and important game concepts.  The other 52 pages are scenarios, the game’s artificial intelligence charts (called “Event Charts”) and the history of the campaigns in the North Atlantic. Bismarck The artwork and graphic design work on the game are first rate.  Each scenario includes a...

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Posted on Jan 30, 2022 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Kriegsmarine threatens Britain’s Atlantic lifeline in GMT Games, “Atlantic Chase: The naval war in the Atlantic 1939-1943”. Board Game Review.

The Kriegsmarine threatens Britain’s Atlantic lifeline in GMT Games, “Atlantic Chase: The naval war in the Atlantic 1939-1943”. Board Game Review.

Atlantic Chase: The Kriegsmarine Against the Home Fleet. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Jeremy White. Price $85.00 Passed inspection: A multi-layered operational game covering maritime operations from 1939 through 1943.Extensive two-player and solitaire scenarios. Well laid-out rulebook(s) nicely cross-referenced with the play aid charts. Failed basic: “Failed basic” is an overly harsh term here. We could quibble over how specific ships are rated for firepower and if the effect of airstrikes is overstated or understated. But the biggest challenge is that Atlantic Chase is a radically different game from what traditional naval gamers are used to playing. The block format of the trajectories may be off-putting to old school hex and counter grognards. But work through the pain, folks – this is a great game! steamed for the Jutland coast into bad weather and stumbled upon our quarry. After a short exchange of gunfire, the Germans managed to break contact. In the morning, the storm had passed and the real battle began. Luftwaffe dive bombers and torpedo planes repeatedly struck...

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Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Best Games of 2021!

The Best Games of 2021!

2021 was a challenging year for most of us but at least some great games were released to help ease the pain.   Enjoy this list of Armchair General’s Tope Games of 2021!   Corvette Command Designer: Alan Eagle. Corvette Command creates a narrative of events in a way similar to the classic board game “B-17 Queen of the Skies”. Your escort vessel is tied to supporting the convoy (barring some random events) and moves across the sea zones. In each zone, you check for a number of events and try to repair damage. With a little luck, you’ll avoid the U-boats and make it to your destination. The game covers events for the two-year period from May 1941 through May 1943. This is a free print and play game that can be played in a small footprint with optional advanced rules that enable you to play a quick set up one-off game or a two-player game and introduce greater level of detail. There’s even a VASSAL module available (thank you Lee...

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Posted on Dec 28, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Tank Duel takes to the Desert – Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa and Tank Pack 1 –   Board Game  Review

Tank Duel takes to the Desert – Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa and Tank Pack 1 – Board Game Review

Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT Games   Designer:  Mike Bertucelli  Price $70 and  Tank Pack 1 $38 Passed Inspection:  beautiful components, new rules for the North African environment, new rules for infantry and anti-tank guns, night combat, open topped vehicles, recon units, multi-gun tanks, updated solo rules Failed Basic: nothing at all Box Art  The crew of the Marder II worked like a finely oiled machine as the driver put the tank hunter in to a hull down position near a depression in the desert.  The commander spotted a Crusader moving at cruising speed in the distance.  “Probably on a scouting mission or maybe it got separated from its unit after the sandstorm cleared,” thought the commander.  He and his crew were green but were trusted enough by his unit to put his Marder on an over watch mission. “Load AP.”  he said.  “AP loaded answered the loader”.  “Target  Mk II Crusader.  900 meters.  Fire when ready” he ordered.  His gunner fired but the...

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Posted on Dec 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

It’s Epic High Fantasy in a Tiny Box!  Mini Rogue  Board Game  Review

It’s Epic High Fantasy in a Tiny Box! Mini Rogue Board Game Review

Mini Rogue Board Game Review.  Publisher: Nuts! Expert   Designer:  Paolo Di Stefano and Gabriel Gendron  Price $25.00 Passed Inspection:  full solo or two player adventure in a small box; fun artwork; high quality components; tons of replay value for the money; great optional rules; campaign included Failed Basic: when playing the wizard, it’s a little unclear as to how you can get your spells back after you use them; some of the icons need a little more explanation When I was a 12 year old child I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons at a candy store owned by a dentist (he was probably investing in making sure he had future work as a dentist) in Dayton, Ohio.  At one corner of the candy store was a section which included Dungeons and Dragon Basic Sets and the hard cover Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books – Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual.  He also had Ral Partha miniatures made out of real lead and tons of dice as...

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Posted on Oct 27, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“My revenge has just begun. It is spread over centuries.” Count Dracula― Fury of Dracula   Board Game  Review

“My revenge has just begun. It is spread over centuries.” Count Dracula― Fury of Dracula Board Game Review

Fury of Dracula Board Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Stephen Hand, Kevin Wilson and Frank Brooks Price $199.00 Passed Inspection: tense game play, beautiful components, easy to learn and fast to play, Board Game Geek has a great solo play rule set Failed Basic large footprint, Fantasy Flight should have included solo rules, why is the price so freaken’ high?!? I am a huge fan of all things vampire. As a little kid back in 1970, I cut my teeth (fangs?) on Dark Shadows during its initial run and became of fan of its guilt haunted vampire, Barnabas Collins. I grew up on both the Universal Dracula played by the immortal Bela Lugosi and in later films by John Carradine and Hammer’s Dracula series starring Christopher Lee (the only actor who I was nervous with when I met him).  In the late 1970s, I received an interesting Christmas gift – Steve Jackson Game’s Undead. In that Micogame, you either play Dracula or the vampire hunters stalking him...

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Posted on Oct 16, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Star Wars Armada Clone Wars”  Table Top Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Michael Gernes and Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt Price $99.00 (Starter Sets) and $25 Fighter Booster Packs Passed Inspection:   perfectly captures the Star Wars feel, great looking miniatures and components, easy to learn, fast playing Failed Basic star fighter stands come apart during play, very expensive, no built in solo system, boxes don’t hold up as storage for the game, rules reference is not included and must be downloaded and printed The two Hardcell transports took up positions in the asteroid field as Count Dooku paced the bridge on one of the armed transports.  “Captain, when will we be in position to launch the prototype Tri Fighters?” he asked exasperated.  The human commander nervously turned from speaking with the comm officer and looked at the Count.  “We are a ready  to launch now, my lord.  But we just received a parameter alert.  Two Republic Consular cruisers just jumped in to the system.  Passive scans seem to indicate that...

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Posted on Oct 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features, Games PR

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

Or, “What I Did On My Post-Summer Vacation” Origins 2021 was held September 30, 2021 through October 3rd, 2021. It was a unique event, but then these are unique times, eh? I was able to attend on Friday and Sunday. Over the course of my time, I snapped some shots of things that might be of interest to our tabletop gaming audience. If I missed, you, your event or your booth, my apologies, it was a bit of a whirlwind experience. The convention center is a large facility with huge halls. You could park an airliner of two inside these spaces! The new parking garage on the north end of the facility added a lot of much needed parking! The registration desk space was well organized and running efficiently. Across the room was the pre-registration check in stations. This was fast and easy with a staff member on hand to assist with any issues. I arrived very early on Friday morning with vendors completing their set up. Origins 2021...

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Posted on Sep 2, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“300 Earth & Water”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: Nuts Publishing and Bonsai Games   Distributed by Ares Games  Designer:  Yasushi Nakaguro and Antonio Stappaerts   Price $29.99 Passed Inspection:     Very easy to learn; beautiful box and artwork; small footprint; perfect game to take on a trip; great fun Failed Basic: typo on “Tribute to Earth and Water” card; a few alternative scenarios or advanced rules would add some variations to replays; in this Age of Covid solo rules would be a nice addition 300 Earth & Water is a new game which covers the 50 year war between Greece and Persia between 499 BC and 449 BC.  The game is designed to be easy to learn and fast to play.  An entire 5 campaign game can be played in 30 to 45 minutes.  It uses blocks and disks plus dice and cards to drive the game play. The game comes in a beautifully designed compact box of approximately 9” x 6 ½” x 1 ¼” (22.86 x 16.51 x 3.18 centimeters). ...

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Posted on Aug 22, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“This is a story of the Battle of the Atlantic, the story of the ocean, two ships, and a handful of men. The men are the heroes; the heroines the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea that man has made more cruel….” The opening lines of the 1953 movie “The Cruel Sea” captures the feel of Alan Eagle’s recent solitaire game “Corvette Command”. In the game, the player takes on the role of the commander of an Flower class corvette (These were mostly Canadian and Royal Navy vessels). The player is tasked with escorting convoys of merchant ships back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between the United Kingdom and North America. Corvette Command creates a narrative of events in a way similar to the classic board game “B-17 Queen of the Skies”. Your escort vessel is tied to supporting the convoy (barring some random events) and moves across the sea zones. In each zone, you check for a number of events and try to...

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