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Posted on Sep 19, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Do You Have What It Takes to be a Top Gun?  DVG’s “Down in Flames:Locked On” Game Review

Do You Have What It Takes to be a Top Gun? DVG’s “Down in Flames:Locked On” Game Review

Down in Flames:Locked On Board Game Review. Publisher: DVG Game Designer: Dan Verssen Price $59.99 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: challenging multi-player or solo play, tons of aircrafts covering from the Korean War to the near future, fast action, small footprint, can be used as a tactical combat expansion to the other Flight Leader games, tons of replay value, amazing customer support over Facebook, full solo rules included, campaigns included Failed Basic: needs text as well as the small flag identifying aircraft’s country, solo rules require a 10 sided die which is not included, range rules could be explained more clearly, “standard missile load” is not clear. In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Martin has designed three games for DVG – Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader. Down in Flames:Locked On takes the original World War 2 Down in Flames airplane combat game in to the jet age and, while I don’t own the World War 2 game, after playing Down in Flames:Locked On, I...

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Posted on Sep 4, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

One Eye on Manila and the other on Tokyo. Decision Games Luzon Campaign, 1945. Board Game Review.

One Eye on Manila and the other on Tokyo. Decision Games Luzon Campaign, 1945. Board Game Review.

Luzon Campaign, 1945 (World at War, issue #59). Publisher: Decision Games. Game Designer: Ty Bomba. Price $ 39.99 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Short rules with lavishly illustrated examples of play. Easily understood map that captures the major land use features on the island of Luzon. Quick playing solitaire game covers the majority of the campaign. Failed basic: Combat is somewhat abstract and focused at the divisional level. The resulting mechanism lacks the gritty details of the engagements documented in the historical accounts of the campaign and feels like a dry G-2 daily brief summarizing the progress of the 6th Army’s combat formations. In January of 1945, soldiers of the United States 6th Army landed on the Philippine island of Luzon. The ensuing eleven-week campaign would see US soldiers battling through a diverse landscape experiencing beach assaults, air drops, river crossings and prepared assaults on urban built up areas. The campaign culminated in the all-out attack on the Japanese defending the capital city of Manila and the combined amphibious/airborne attack...

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Posted on Aug 30, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A Brilliant Strategic Puzzle! Fortress Sevastopol Board Game Review

A Brilliant Strategic Puzzle! Fortress Sevastopol Board Game Review

Fortress Sevastopol Board Game Review. Publisher UGG.DE Designer: Christian Diedler Price $65.00 Passed Inspection: Beautiful map and counters, organic turn sequences, great value for the price, good replay value Failed Basic: some rules confusion, initial set up needs to be more clearly described in the rules, combat results system could be more streamlined, what are the purple colored German units as these are not in the rules Rick Martin Sevastopol is the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula and a major Black Sea port and, as such, was a tempting target for German military during World War 2. Per Wikipedia: “The Siege of Sevastopol …was a military battle that took place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers of Germany, Romania, and Italy against the Soviet Union for control of Sevastopol, a port in the Crimea on the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Axis land forces reached the Crimea...

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Posted on Aug 17, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

‘GMT Games brings the bomber war home with Skies Above the Reich’. Board Game Review.

‘GMT Games brings the bomber war home with Skies Above the Reich’. Board Game Review.

Skies Above the Reich. Publisher: GMT Games. Game Designers: Jeremy White and Mark Aasted. Price $ 89.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Large block counters depicting the planes of a German fighter squadron, innovative map board graphics that capture the feel of the aerial battle space. Clearly written, lavishly illustrated rules. Good mix of scenarios and campaigns that capture the nature of the air war across the span of the Second World War. Failed basic: Staffel log sheet and pilot log sheet were a little clunky to use for more than a single mission at a time. IN 1981, the board game ‘B-17: Queen of the Skies’ was released. For almost four decades, solitaire board game players have taken to the skies in their cardboard B-17’s and taken the tabletop war to Germany with their simulated bombing missions over the Reich. Like the men documented in Billy Wilder’s documentary ‘Memphis Belle’ the player’s goal is to bomb the target and bring their plane and crew back in one piece. Beset...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“We shook the pillars of heaven!” Big Trouble in Little China Board Game Review

“We shook the pillars of heaven!” Big Trouble in Little China Board Game Review

Big Trouble in Little China the Board Game Board Game Review. Publisher Everything Epic Designers: Christopher Batarlis, Boris Polonsky and Jim Samartino Price $99.99 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Beautifully designed components, tons of replay value, excellently written rules with examples, full index, easy to learn and play, great sense of humor, perfectly captures the feel of the film Failed Basic: 1 important rule (character starting locations) was addressed in a side bar when it should have also been in the set up procedure I am a huge movie fan and was a film critic for a local newspaper in Dayton, Ohio for 8 years. Director, writer, producer and musician John Carpenter is a major influence on my taste in films. From Dark Star and Halloween to The Thing to Escape from New York, The Fog and Big Trouble in Little China, Carpenter’s films can always be counted on to thrill, scare and entertain. To me, Carpenter’s golden period was the 1980s when he worked with almost a repertory company...

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Posted on Aug 6, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Fate of France hangs in the Balance with GMT Games ‘At Any Cost: Metz 1870’. Board Game Review.

The Fate of France hangs in the Balance with GMT Games ‘At Any Cost: Metz 1870’. Board Game Review.

At Any Cost: Metz 1870. Publisher: GMT Games. Game Designer: Herman Luttmann. Price $ 50.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Colorful counters depicting the troops of both combatants, map board graphics that are evocative of the French countryside, core rules tested in two prior games. Good mix of scenarios that capture the pivotal moments of both battles. Captures the feel of battles in the Franco-Prussian War period. Failed basic: Rules lack an index and tables of contents. Multiple pages of errata for rules and playbook. The full battle scenarios are quite long and require multiple gaming sessions to play to completion. The battles along the Western Front in the fall of 1914 were shaped in part by the outcome of the Franco-Prussian War. In turn, the result of the Franco-Prussian War hinged on the outcome of a pair of battles fought west of the city of Metz in August of 1870. Herman Luttmann explores those battles in GMT Games ‘At Any Cost: Metz 1870, the third game in Herman’s Blind...

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Posted on Jul 31, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Fly Your Way Through Over 70 Years Of Conflicts!  DVG’s “Israeli Air Force Leader” Game Review

Fly Your Way Through Over 70 Years Of Conflicts! DVG’s “Israeli Air Force Leader” Game Review

Israeli Air Force Leader Board Game Review. Publisher: DVG Game Designer: Kevin Verssen Price $89.99 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: easy to learn, nicely functional graphics, tons of replayability, great value for the money, exciting Failed Basic: a few minor rules nitpicks (some rules such as situational awareness are too spread out through the book), needs an index, Angle of Attack rules are a neat addition but are a little confusing. In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Martin has designed three games for DVG – Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader. Phantom Leader was my introduction to Dan Verssen Games’ line of solitaire games way back in 2010. In that game, you play American pilots flying in the skies during the Vietnam War. The game controlled the enemy ground forces and planes and you focused on managing your squadron and trying to survive the war. Let’s just say that after playing that game, I was hooked. Phantom Leader’s prequel was 2005’s Hornet Leader which was...

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Posted on Jul 26, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“The Troubles That Now Disturb and Endanger the Country”. GMT Games ‘Fort Sumter’ Board Game Review.

“The Troubles That Now Disturb and Endanger the Country”. GMT Games ‘Fort Sumter’ Board Game Review.

Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis – 1860-1861. Publisher: GMT Games. Game Designer: Mark Herman Price $ 42.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Quick game play to maximize your gaming time, minimal rules you can absorb in a short time, detailed playbook to resolve most questions, deck of cards depicting the events and persons key to the narrative, mounted color map board. Failed basic: Victory and defeat are defined in abstract terms that don’t translate to concrete examples. You know you won the game, but you are not sure what that exactly means for your cause. The American Civil War has been a very popular topic for board games over the years. A quick search of Board Game Geek’s listings returned 67 *pages* of games set in some aspect of the conflict. But few of the games explore the events leading up to the secession of the Southern States and the outbreak of armed conflict. Now you can experience these turbulent times through Mark Herman’s game ‘Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis...

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Posted on Jul 18, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega Rick Martin 1) Tell us about yourself? Hello Richard. I am a 41 year old French guy who loves a lot of things such as Lovecraft, car racing and astronomy. I have been a part of the gaming hobby since 1995 first as a player (with Ambush! and Fall of Rome (Strategy &Tactics issue 191)); then as a translator; then as a reviewer (for the French magazine Vae Victis); and lastly as a designer. I like simple games and due to a chronic lack of players, solitaire systems have my preference. It is a pity Blood Bowl doesn’t have solitaire rules because this game is a blast! 2) How did you become a game designer? As far I can remember, I always created something, either gamebooks or strange novellas or game rules. I still need to create – it is my fate. The 1st project (still unpublished) I showed to publishers was a tactical game recreating battles between...

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Posted on Jul 17, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Prelude to Dunkirk – “But Not in Vain: The Siege of Calais” Game Review

Prelude to Dunkirk – “But Not in Vain: The Siege of Calais” Game Review

But Not in Vain: The Siege of Calais Game Review. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price: $20.95 (non mounted counters) $26.95 (mounted counters) Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Easy to learn. Fast and addictive game play. Great value for the money. Interesting subject matter. Beautiful components. Failed Basic: Historical unit set up would be nice. AA guns should have some affect on air strikes. You have to cut the counters out. High Flying Dice Games (HFDG) has another hit on their hands with their newest release “But Not in Vain: The Siege of Calais ” which covers the fight for the port of Calais over three days in 1940. “But Not in Vain” breaks from many other HFDG products in that it uses a point to point movement system which is overlaid on top of their beautiful map of Calais and the surrounding country side. From HFDG’s rule book: “After breaking out of the Ardennes, the German armored and motorized forces drove for the Channel ports to...

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Posted on Jul 10, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Time to Get Medieval With You!  Hastings 1066 Board Game Review

Time to Get Medieval With You! Hastings 1066 Board Game Review

Hastings 1066 AD Game Review. Publisher: Turning Point Simulations Designer: Lembit Tohver with Jim Werbaneth Price $32.95 (ziplock) or $37.95 (boxed) Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Fun and educational, nice components and expertly written rules, interesting random events, mounted board, innovative activation system, good solo play, living rules updated on company’s website Failed Basic: a little too static in set up, maybe more alternative set ups and scenarios, needs a glossary, yellow banded counter set up not clear on map board “Hastings 1066” is the 8th game in Turning Point Simulations’ wonderful “Twenty Decisive Battles of the World” series which is based upon Sir Edward Creasy’s book. It effectively and succinctly illustrates the challenges, strategies and tactics which encompassed this famous battle. While I could go in to my own dissertation on the basics and historical significant of this battle, let me quote from Turning Point’s expertly written description for the game from their own website: “The background to Hastings is well known, with an English king (Edward the Confessor,...

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Posted on Jul 6, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Better Run Through the Forest! Compass Games ‘Blood on the Ohio’ Board Game Review.

Better Run Through the Forest! Compass Games ‘Blood on the Ohio’ Board Game Review.

Blood on the Ohio: Washington’s Indian War 1789-1794. Publisher: Compass Games. Game Designer: John Poniske Price $ 59.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Attractive, unmounted color map board depicting the landscape of northern Kentucky and a portion of the ‘Northwest Territory’. Large four-color counters that cleanly depict information. Well defined combat mechanism for resolving ambushes, battles and raids. Failed basic: Rules could be more explicit or included additional detailed examples of play that would have helped resolve some of the ambiguities in text. Mention the phrase ‘Indian Wars’ and you’ll likely conjure up images of Custer and Sheridan battling the Sioux and Cheyenne across the western plains of North America. But in last decade of the 18th Century the space that would soon become Ohio, Indiana and Michigan was the setting for a series of American military expeditions designed to forcibly push the Native American inhabitants off the land and out of the region opening the land to American settlers from the East. Compass Games, Blood on the Ohio: Washington’s...

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Posted on Jun 20, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one he said.” DVG’s “War of the Worlds” Game Review

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one he said.” DVG’s “War of the Worlds” Game Review

The War of the Worlds – East Coast of America Board Game Review. Publisher: DVG Game Designer: Arnauld Della Siega with Kevin Verssen Price $59.99 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: easy to learn, fun to play, covers strategic maneuvering plus tactical land and sea battles, can be played in an afternoon, tons of replay value, different editions of the game can be linked for a grand Earth wide campaign Failed Basic: Rules need re-organizing and editing, needs an index, clarity issues, not enough plastic stands included in the game, plastic stands can damage counters if not careful, box not deep enough for easy storage of game components. No index in the rule book. In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Martin has designed three games for DVG – Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader. “Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with...

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Posted on Jun 18, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Return of Bona Fide Rivals at Sea: Compass Games South China Sea Board Game Review.

The Return of Bona Fide Rivals at Sea: Compass Games South China Sea Board Game Review.

South China Sea Game Review. Publisher: Compass Games. Games Designer: John Gorkowski Price $ 79.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Attractive, unmounted color map board depicting the key features of the South China Sea and surrounding region. Good examples of play. Gorgeous four-color counters that cleanly depict the required information. Streamlined combat mechanism for resolving the modern conflict environment. Failed basic: Rules could be better organized. More errata than one would like – including some rules changes. Units are named by class and in some cases represent a pair, or a division of smaller ships. The 1980’s were the Reagan era, the time of the ‘600-ship Navy’ when a new generation of American warships joined the fleet to partner with the aging veterans of World War Two and the Cold War. It was a time when the Iowa class battleships could be seen cruising alongside sleek new Ticonderoga class Aegis missile cruisers, while the black hulls of Los Angeles-class attack subs prowled the ocean depths. While the fleet missed 600...

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Posted on Jun 4, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A Chivalrous Duel and a Deadly Slaughter: GMT Games Illusions of Glory Board Game Review.

A Chivalrous Duel and a Deadly Slaughter: GMT Games Illusions of Glory Board Game Review.

Illusions of Glory Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games. Games Designer: Perry R. Silverman Price $ 65.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Well executed, mounted color map board. The game captures the feel of launching army level attacks across a broad front. Game contains three scenarios supporting early war, mid-war and the full Great War campaign. Supports exploration of alternative ‘what if’ strategies. Insights into the war in the east often overlooked in the western Eurocentric view of the war. Great examples of play. Failed basic: Rules could be better organized. More errata than one would like – including some rules changes. Units are named but feel interchangeable with most having the exact same ratings. The First World War began with the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary (also known as the Dual Monarchy). This ‘minor’ war then snowballed into a series of declarations of war and treaty obligations into a conflict the engulfed the continent. It’s a known fact that most school children can recite. But the conventional narrative usually pivots...

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Posted on May 28, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A Beautifully Designed and Implemented War Game! Arquebus Board Game Review

A Beautifully Designed and Implemented War Game! Arquebus Board Game Review

Richard Berg’s Arquebus Men of Iron Volume IV Board Game Review. Publisher GMT Designer Richard H. Berg Price $65.00 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: solid game play, easy to learn, very detailed, great solo play, highly educational Failed Basic: the counters are a little too small for “mature” gamers Arquebus is the fourth in the series of Richard H. Berg’s Men of Iron games. The Men of Iron games look at the evolution of warfare from the Middle Ages to the Crusades to the War of the Roses. Now, with the release of Arqebus, Men of Iron turns its attention to the battles in Northern Italy from 1495 to 1544. During this time period, warfare began to change with the introduction of the primitive firearm known as the arbuebus. From GMT’s wonderful description of the game on their website: “Northern Italy – and especially Milan – at the end of the 15th century was the brutal focal point for power and control between France and the Imperialist empires of Venice...

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Posted on May 2, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“No Bull – Clash of Giants: Civil War is a Great Game!”   Board game review.

“No Bull – Clash of Giants: Civil War is a Great Game!” Board game review.

Clash of Giants: Civil War. Board game review. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Ted Raicer. Price: $55.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Fast playing, dynamic game. Clearly defined color counters. Attractive graphics in depicting the battlefield maps. Great examples of play in the battle book. Good replay value Failed Basic: The double-sided map means wear and tear to the map regardless of which battle you fight. The game systems depiction of artillery support may be too abstract for some people’s taste. There is a plethora of board games on the various battles and struggles of the American Civil War. But if you narrowed your focus, you could fill a substantial bookcase just collecting the many different games covering the battle of Gettysburg. In a sea of game choices, what the hobby needs are good games that ease new players into the traditional hex and counter game space. These games should be interesting, exciting and accessible. Ted S. Raicer has applied the Clash of Giants system to two significant battles of the...

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Posted on May 1, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Will You Unify Germany?  A Review of Turning Point Simulations’ The Sadowa Campaign Board Game

Will You Unify Germany? A Review of Turning Point Simulations’ The Sadowa Campaign Board Game

The Sadowa Campaign 1866 AD Game Review. Publisher: Turning Point Simulations Designer: Jim Werbaneth Price $32.95 (ziplock) or $37.95 (boxed) Rick Martin Passed Inspection: concise expertly written rule book, easy to learn, dynamic play, great solo experience, excellent value for the money Failed Basic: flipping the counters to show that they have acted gets old fast especially with the small hex size and stacks of 4 or more counters The Austro-Prussian War is a subject that I knew next to nothing about until I started my research in order to review Turning Point Simulations game “The Sadowa Campaign 1866 AD” (Sadowa). If one sign of a good game is that it challenges the player to learn more about the subject then Sadowa is not only a good game, but a great game! Why is Sadowa considered a “turning point in history”, you may ask, I couldn’t put it any better than in the description on Turning Point Simulations’ web page regarding The Sadowa Campaign: “… one could make the...

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Posted on Apr 26, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Dice Me Like a Samurai!” Age of War – Samurai Dice Game Review

“Dice Me Like a Samurai!” Age of War – Samurai Dice Game Review

Age of War Game Review. Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games Designer: Reiner Knizia Price $12.95 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Easy to learn, fast to play, beautiful graphics Failed Basic: Rules for Special Daimyo Battle Line are lacking and confusing, very abstract, no solo rules The Japanese “Age of War” (Sengoku Jidai) lasted from 1467 until 1603. During this turbulent period, Japanese feudal lords called Daimyo fought for control of neighboring kingdoms and, eventually, for control of Japan, itself. This was the golden age of the Samurai and the Ninja. Fantasy Flight’s Age of War is a highly abstract dice throwing game which allows from 2 to 6 players to take control of warriors, cavalry and bowmen in order to conquer castles and take control of Japan. The game is attractively packaged in a small box with gorgeous artwork. The components are 7 custom dice, 14 double sided castle cards and a one page, double sided rule sheet. The game is perfectly sized to take on trips. Age of War is...

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Posted on Apr 9, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

West German and British Forces Enter the Battle – Main Battle Tank Expansions Have Arrived! Game Review

West German and British Forces Enter the Battle – Main Battle Tank Expansions Have Arrived! Game Review

MBT BAOR and FRG Expansions Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games Designer: James M. Day Price $65.00 each Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Highly detailed but very playable expansions to a classic game system, easy to learn, beautiful components Failed Basic: Difficult to get the new maps to lay flat. In 2016 GMT released James Day’s fully updated MBT (Main Battle Tank) which was a tactical game based on a hypothetical war between the NATO forces and the Soviet Union in 1987. Now GMT follows up their initial release with these two well researched expansion packs which add the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) to the mix! And, hold on to your tracks MBT fans – GMT has added an expansion featuring the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group to their P500 list of possible upcoming games! MBT, as previously stated, is a tactical combat game. Each unit is one vehicle or aircraft or a squad or half squad of infantry or a special...

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