Peloponnesian War Board Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games Game Designer: Mark Herman Price $65.00 Passed Inspection: beautiful components, stunning cover artwork, dynamic narrative to the game play, solo and 2 player rules included, multiple scenarios covering different wars, tons of replayability, can be played in one sitting, easy to learn Failed Basic: a few typos or unclear rules, map board doesn’t law completely flat on the left side, counter stacks can get unwieldy Mark Herman has taken his Peloponnesian Wars game originally published by Victory Games in 1991 and given it an unbelievably brilliant upgrade. This new edition is winner! For those who own the original edition, Herman has added the following to the game: 1) This new edition not only covers the 2nd Peloponnesian War (431 BC to 404 BC) but now includes the 1st Peloponnesian War (460–445 BC), the Archidamian War (431 BC to 421 BC – a shorter game which can be played in an hour or so), the Decelean War (413 BC to 404...Read More
Confederate Iron Clashes with Federal Courage in High Flying Dice Games’ “Thunder on the Water”. Board Game Review.
Thunder on the Water. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. Game Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh. Price $14.95 (base game) $28.95 (with mounted counters and the custom draw deck). Passed inspection: A fast playing game of a pivotable naval battle in North Carolina waters. Failed basic: A number of typos in the rules and player aid chart that can cause some confusion and some questions on unit names and ratings. A long time ago, I lived in eastern North Carolina. At the time I was doing a fair bit of travelling between the Outer Banks and Greenville and often found myself traveling around the waters of Albemarle Sound. As I passed through Plymouth or crossed the bridge at Edenton, I’d often think of that epic naval battle fought between the Union Navy’s wooden warships and the Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle. After assisting with the Confederate victory at Plymouth, the ironclad had then sortied in attempt to steam south to the Pamlico Sound and help in the assault on the town...Read More
“Ask me for anything but time.” GMT’s ‘The Last Hundred Yards’ is a hit that leaves you wanting more. Board Game Review.
‘The Last Hundred Yards’. Publisher: GMT Games. Game Designer: Mike Denison. Price $ 59.00 Passed inspection: Colorful counters depicting the troops of both combatants, map board graphics that are evocative of the European countryside, core rules that cover the major elements of WWII ground combat. Good mix of scenarios. Captures the feel of company – platoon ground combat in the European Theater. Failed basic: Focused solely on US and German forces in ’44-45. Vehicle assortment only covers the basics of the armored and support units found on both sides. There are few more iconic wargaming experiences than the Western Front in 1944. The image of heroic GI’s going toe to toe with the grim Wehrmacht troops defending the Reich has been ingrained into popular culture through photographs, books, movies and, of course, games. It’s rare when a game triggers both feelings of nostalgia and an appreciation of innovative design. Mike Denison has nailed both of those with ‘The Last Hundred Yards’ from GMT Games. Why nostalgia? This game transported...Read More
Legendary War Game Designer Richard H. Berg has Passed Away. Armchair General Presents a Personal Tribute by Tim Williams and Rodger MacGowan.
Tim Williams Another One Gone… Richard Berg 1943-2019 Richard H. Berg was one of the best wargame designers that ever took up a pencil and a history book and converted the results into a historical simulation game capable of stimulating players’ interest in History, sharpening their intellects, and damaging their friendships. Outside of movies, my primary hobby between 1977 and roughly 1991 was Board Wargaming, and Berg designs were prominent in my collection, which at its peak numbered approximately 320 games. Aside from game design, Mr. Berg was a retired Criminal Defense Lawyer by trade, but was also a true ‘Renaissance’ individual, capable of holding forth with great authority on subjects as diverse as Literature, Baseball, Haute Cuisine and Opera. Having joined several wargame-related FaceBook pages some years back, I took a chance and sent him a friend request, which to my surprise he accepted. I was even more surprised how willing he was to make comments on my posts, especially considering that we were not actually “friends” or even...Read More
“With you it rests, Callimachus, either to bring Athens to slavery, or, by securing her freedom, to be remembered by all future generations.” Marathon 490 BC Board Game Review
Marathon 490 BC Board Game Review. Publisher: Turning Point Simulations Game Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price $33.95 zip lock bag, $39.95 boxed Passed Inspection: beautiful components, fun to play, can be played in 2 or 3 hours, small table footprint, easy to learn rules, high replay value owing to both a historic and a hypothetical scenario Failed Basic: abatis counters are printed too lightly, counters must face a hex vertex which I kept forgetting to do, needs slightly bigger hexes ‘With you it rests, Callimachus, either to bring Athens to slavery, or, by securing her freedom, to be remembered by all future generations. For never since the time that the Athenians became a people were they in so great a danger as now. If they bow their necks beneath the yoke of the Persians, the woes which they will have to suffer…are already determined. If, on the other hand, they fight and overcome, Athens may rise to be the very first city in Greece.’ Herodotus The Battle of Marathon...Read More
Halls of Montezuma: Publisher: GMT Games. Designers: Michael Welker & David Fox. Price $55.00 (On sale for $35.00) Passed inspection: Does a good job of teaching Mexican geography through the map. Highlights the key events of the war through the event and action cards. Failed basic: Set up instructions are unclear. Original rulebook is a muddle that makes learning to play the game very difficult. Card driven games have become a staple of the board game hobby. Be it “Twilight Struggle”, “For the People”, or any of the growing number of COIN series games, the card driven game seems here to stay. And rightly so as the mechanism of the card driven game allows a great blend of history lesson, special rule delivery vehicle and an agent for conveying the fog of war. The Mexican American War is a great topic for a card driven game. With a rich history of events that span political and military affairs, the period offers the opportunity to convey a lot of...Read More
Bloody Dawns. 2017. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. Designer: Pierre Razoux. Developer: Paul Rohrbaugh. Price: $45.00 Passed inspection: Game provided insight into the little covered Iran-Iraq War. Rules were easy to digest and focused on speed of play and player experience. Great introduction to card driven games. Die-cut counters! Failed basic: A few minor bits of errata you need to integrate into the rulebook, but that errata are included with the game. Mention the Iran-Iraq war to most American’s and they’ll likely focus on either the first gulf war in 1990-91 or the post-9/11 events of the past 18 years. Those that do remember the conflict often view it through the lens of Ronald Reagan’s presidential victory, the end of the Iranian hostage crisis and a more militant, interventionist United States foreign policy. What’s often lost in this view are the details of an eight-year war that pitted two intractable competitors engaged in total war. While it’s easy to view this as a proxy war between cold war adversaries,...Read More
“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us… they can’t get away this time.” -Chesty” Puller USMC. ‘Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game” Board Game Review
Warfighter The World War II Pacific Combat Card Game Board Game Review. Publisher: DVG Games Game Designer: Dan Verssen and Kevin Verssen Price $59.99 Passed Inspection – fast playing, fun, the game creates an immersive narrative for your squad, unique combat system, beautiful components, solo or cooperative play Failed Basic: rules could be reorganized for easier reference, needs an index, box cannot hold everything once you unpack the cards. There is a steep learning curve. Game requires a large table top footprint, rules say you can play Japanese or American teams but the game only includes cards for playing as the Americans, needs more equipment and weapon cards, I would prefer a greater variety of enemy encounters. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller’s quote above was actually made during the time he served in the Korean Conflict but it easily applies to the US Marine and Army combat in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. The quote especially applies to the adventures you will have in...Read More
It’s Not Your Father’s Cold War. The Iranian seek an Undeniable Victory with Operation Fath ol Mobin, March 1982. Board Game Review
An Undeniable Victory: Operation Fath ol Mobin. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price: $45.00 Passed inspection: Game provided insight into a little covered battle of the Iran-Iraq War. Focuses rules were easy to digest and focused on speed of play and player experience. Die-cut counters! Failed basic: A few minor bits of errata you need to integrate into the rulebook, but the errata is included with the game. I was a teenager in 1982. I was also a wargamer with a keen interest in ‘modern’ Cold War gaming. But the real-world action in those days did not focus on the Inter-German Border. Instead, the newspapers had sketchy reports from the front lines of a distant land – the ongoing war between Iraq and Iran. In 1980 Saddam Hussein launched an offensive into Iran designed to weaken the Islamic Revolution, secure Iraq from infiltration and allow Iraq to replace Iran as the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. As you might know, that plan did not work...Read More
Retro Review # 3 Ace of Aces Game Review. Publisher: Nova Game Designs Game Designer: Alfred Leonardi Price: varies (EBay or limited copies reprinted by Flying Buffalo Games) Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, can be played almost in real time, each set covers different time periods of military aviation, can almost fit in your pocket, different levels of complexity Failed Basic: out of print so it can be difficult to find, a few errors in the pages, early World War I planes are somewhat unbalanced, not solo compatible Ace of Aces is 39 years old this year. First gracing the shelves of your friendly neighborhood game store in 1980 (for me it was the Tin Soldier in Dayton, Ohio), Ace of Aces has not lost any of its allure and, like a fine wine, seems to get better with age. For Retro Review number 3, come with me in our biplane of the imagination and let’s take a closer look at the Ace of Aces game system. As stated...Read More
“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” ‘Sails of Glory 2018 Ship Pack Expansion’ Miniatures Game Review
Sails of Glory 2018 Ship Pack Expansion Miniatures Game Review. Publisher: Ares Games Game Designer: Andrea Angiolino and Andrea Mainini Price $13.00 to $20 depending on the ship Passed Inspection – beautiful, fully built and painted ships ready to set sail using the Sails of Glory game system Failed Basic – not a single thing “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” When the legendary Rear Admiral and computer scientist (think COBOL) Grace Hopper made this statement in which she was re-quoting John G. Shedd , she was not talking about sailing ships from the 1700s and 1800s but her statement is completely apropos to ships of that time period which is the focus of Ares Games’ brilliant Sails of Glory. In late 2018, Ares released 12 new ships for the game. With the addition of these ships, the total number of ships available is now 58 ships including ships of the line, frigates, sloops and merchantmen. Each fully painted and assembled...Read More
A Step to Victory: The Bougainville Campaign 1943-45. Publisher: War Drum Games. (English Translation and distribution: Quarterdeck International.) Designer: Yasushi Nakaguro. Price 11.00 Passed inspection: Colorful map is a clean, effective depiction of Bougainville. Counters are perfectly die-cut, colorful and easy to read. Rules are clear and to the point. A great game to introduce new players to hex and counter wargaming. Failed basic: Reinforcement rules are open to interpretation and could use clarification. Games covering the Pacific Theater tend to focus on either the naval battles or a handful of land battles like the Kokoda Trail, Guadalcanal or the Philippines campaigns. Glossed over in that perception are a number of ground battles and campaigns that were far less glamorous, but just as critical in prosecuting the war against the Japanese Empire. Yasushi Nakaguro has done a good job bringing one of these lesser known campaigns to the tabletop in the form of ‘A Step to Victory: The Bougainville Campaign’. The game was most recently re-published by War Drum...Read More
Jack Greene’s “Togo Dawn of the Dreadnought – Naval Battles of the Russo-Japanese War” Board Game Review. Publisher: Bonsai Games and Quarterdeck International Game Designer: Jack Greene Price $39 Passed Inspection – well organized, clearly written rules. An elegant system for ship to ship combat. Easy to learn. Excellent value for the price Failed Basic –gun combat results table needs an identifier for the columns and rows to help with identification, fleet sheets are slightly larger than 8.5 x 11 so can provide a challenge to photocopy for use “Certainly the Japanese navy had performed well, but its opponents had been weak, and it was not invincible … Tōgō’s victory [helped] set Japan on a path that would eventually lead her to the Second World War.” -Historian Geoffrey Regan “You are young, and it is you who will one day retrieve the honor and glory of the Russian Navy. The lives of the two thousand four hundred men in these ships are more important than mine.” -Russian Rear Admiral...Read More
Retro Review #2 Star Trek III. Publisher: West End Games. Designers: Greg Costikyan, John M. Ford, Doug Kaufman. Price: $16.95 (1985), $24.00 (current used) Passed inspection: Contains three distinct solitaire games. Captures the theme of classic Star Trek episodes. Gives you the opportunity to game out the Kobayashi Maru scenario from Wrath of Khan. Failed basic: The lack of thematic connection to the movie ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock’ makes the game’s title feel a bit like a bait and switch effort. Some game play is weak with one of the games having little feel of specifically being set in the ‘Star Trek’ universe. Time travel is a common theme in Star Trek, so in today’s episode, we’re going to step back in time a few decades and revisit the crew of the starship Enterprise in the form of West End Games’ board game – Star Trek III. Back in the early 80’s, you couldn’t swing a Denebian Slime Devil in a game store without hitting a...Read More
Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance Board Game Review. Publisher: River Horse Game Designer: Alessio Cavatore Price $84.99 Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, captures the frantic energy of the movies perfectly, beautiful components and minis Failed Basic: a few vague rules can lead to confusion I still remember with great fondness that day in 1984 when my good friend dropped by and asked me if I’d seen the new film called “The Terminator”. At that point I hadn’t as the film had only been out for one day and I was waiting for the weekend to see it. My friend, Anthony, said “good” and then set up a Car Wars role playing and car combat game for us to play which ran my character through the events of Terminator movie! Well my character and his tricked out Mad Max style combat car survived our encounter with futuristic cyborg and a few days later I saw the film, itself, and was completely blown away! When Terminator 2 rolled around in...Read More
Terror from the Skies: Bringing the War Home to the British. Compass Games’ Zeppelin Raider. Tabletop Game Review.
Zeppelin Raider. Publisher: Compass Games. Designers: Gregory M. Smith and Paul O’Grady. Price $79.00 ($59.00 sale price) Passed inspection: Captures the experience of taking a Zeppelin into action. Catalogs the risks and dangers faced by the commander and crew of the airships. Failed basic: Could have used a flow chart to walk through the mission steps. World War I is remembered for the innovation and industrialization that transformed war into the mechanized meat grinder it is today. Aerial warfare emerged as a new dimension by which one could project force while avoiding the traditional obstacles of land and water. While conventional airplanes lacked the range, reliability and payload to carry the fight deep into the enemy’s territory, Germany quickly recognized the military value of the rigid airship – and the role of the Zeppelin in military service took off. Which brings us to Compass Games’ new release – Zeppelin Raiders. Created by Paul O’Grady, Zeppelin Raider is a solitaire game that pus the player into command of a single...Read More
“I could never be so lucky again.” – Jimmy Doolittle ‘Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid’ Board Game Review
Enemy Coast Ahead – The Doolittle Raid Board Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games Game Designer: Jeremy White Price $60.00 by Rick Martin Passed Inspection – rich, dynamic game play, fully immersive, various levels of play, programmed rules, full campaign can be played in one day, great replayability, fantastic narrative, entire game (from planning to denouement) can be played in one day Failed Basic: needs an index, many chit draws makes one wish for a simple die roll table, mission security rules not as clear as I would have hoped “One of the pilots asked what Doolittle would do if his plane were hit. “Each pilot must decide for himself what he will do and what he’ll tell his crew to do if that happens,” he answered. “I know what I’m going to do.” A silence hung over the men before the pilot asked the logical follow-up. “I don’t intend to be taken prisoner,” Doolittle replied. “I’m 45 years old and have lived a full life. If my plane...Read More
“O God, Thy Sea Is So Great and My Boat Is So Small” ― John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage PT- 109” Board Game Review
Profile in Courage PT-109 Board Game Review. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games Game Designer: Rod Bauer Price $11.95 with unmounted counters or $17.95 with mounted counters Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, great fun to play, company is very responsive to questions, unique subject matter, nice graphics, good replayability, solo game Failed Basic: typos cause some confusion, the PT boat template isn’t used to its maximum effectiveness, needs a fuel tracking chart Profile in Courage: PT-109 is a terrific little solo game. It is a tactical look at the legendary operations of John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 during July and August of 1943 during the Japanese attempts to reinforce Munda in New Georgia. This boat, PT 109, became so associated with JFK that a swimming pool float toy of the 109 was produced in the 1960s (I know this because I still have my PT 109 swimming pool toy that I got when I was 4 or 5 years old!) American PT boat operations were predicated upon the relatively small...Read More
“1942” Publisher: Game Designers’ Workshop. Designer: Marc W. Miller. Price $17.00 – $75.00 Passed inspection: Fast-playing game, good introduction to hex and counter gaming while still offering challenging game play for veteran players. Good overview of the war in the Far East. Failed basic: Allied player is constrained into a passive defensive posture with limited decisions. “Retro Reviews” is a new feature here at Armchair General. Each Retro Review will look at a classic (or not so classic) game from yesteryear. So jump in your “way back machine” (or if you are like me, your Tardis) and check out 1978’s “1942”! Remember the movie “The Final Countdown”? You, know – the one where the USS Nimitz travels back in time forty years and (spoiler alert!) wrestles with whether or not they should change the course of World War Two in the Pacific? That movie was on my mind during my play through of GDW’s board game ‘1942’. Not only are the players also looking...Read More
“Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam…” Brett Myers’ “Dual Powers Revolution 1917” Board Game Review
Dual Powers Revolution 1917 Board Game Review. Publisher: Thunderworks Games Game Designer: Brett Myers, James Kyle and Keith Matejka Price $39.95 Passed Inspection: beautiful artwork and components, solo or two player, lots of historical information, easy to learn, player reference cards are provided, high replay value for a low price Failed Basic: some information on Petrograd and its suburbs would have been helpful as it forms the area of conflict on the map; rules are short but need an index “In March of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne of Russia. In his place, a conservative Provisional Government formed, representing the official authority of the state. Opposed to the newly formed government stood the Petrograd Soviet, an elected council of workers organized by socialist activists. Over the following months, an internal struggle for power and influence would dominate the country and spark a social revolution. In this state of dual power, or dvoevlastie, charismatic and powerful leaders would rise with the tide of public dissatisfaction...Read More