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Posted on May 12, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Unboxing Kerry Anderson’s “Smokejumpers”

Unboxing Kerry Anderson’s “Smokejumpers”

Smokejumpers. Publisher: Microgame Design Group. Designer: Kerry Anderson. Price $ 30.00 A recent addition to the game library was Smokejumpers published by Microgame Design Group and designed by Kerry Anderson. Smokejumpers is a solitaire game which pits the player against the threat of wild fires. It’s not a wargame in the traditional sense, but it feels like one with the player having to maneuver their units, build works and use the terrain to their advantage. We’ll get a full review out soon, but for now, we’ll tease you this short description. The cover captures the theme of the game. The bagged edition of the game includes a cover sheet (pictured above) with the key charts for fire growth on the back. In addition there is a player aid sheet and one (1) counter sheet with nicely die cut, double-sided counters. The game has a relatively compact footprint, though this can be expanded by combining two or more of the four mapsheets together. We’re waiting for someone to call in...

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

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”―Julius Caesar – Caesar Rome vs Gaul Board Game

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”―Julius Caesar – Caesar Rome vs Gaul Board Game

“Caesar Rome vs Gaul”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT  Games   Designer:  Mark Simonitch  Developer:  Mitchell Land   Price $60.00 Passed Inspection:    Easy to learn; fast game play; beautiful and useful components; printing is large enough for “mature” eyes to read; high replay value; easy to solo play (contrary to the low solo listing on GMT’s website); almost everything you need is on the game board; excellent value for the price Failed Basic:     influence counters cover town names; subdued tribes don’t count towards victory points; no solo rules included; no zip lock bags included for the counters components Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul needs no introductions to most war gamers thanks in no small part to Caesar’s own writings on his campaigns.  I first read Caesar’s Gallic Campaign book when I was fifteen years old and it brought ancient history to life in a whole new way for me.  Now you can bring that same ancient history to life through this game! GMT’s Caesar Rome vs Gaul was released in the...

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

Retro Review # 4 “Beware the Hun in the Sun!” Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review

Retro Review # 4 “Beware the Hun in the Sun!” Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review

Retro Review # 4 Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review.  Publisher: Nova Game Designs   Game Designer: Alfred Leonardi   Price:  varies (EBay) Passed Inspection: Includes 24 different World War II fighters, easy to learn, can be played almost in real time, different levels of complexity Failed Basic:  out of print so it can be difficult to find, not solo compatible Ace of Aces Wingleader is 33 years old this year and its World War I version is 41 years old as it came out in 1980.  First gracing the shelves of your friendly neighborhood game store in 1988 (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 4, come with me in our fighter plane of the imagination and let’s take a closer look at the Ace of Aces Wing Leader game system. (The original Ace of Aces Retro Review can be read at: ...

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Posted on Mar 5, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Remember to Always Be Bold – The Campaigns of the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla. “By Stealth and Sea” Board Game Review.

Remember to Always Be Bold – The Campaigns of the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla. “By Stealth and Sea” Board Game Review.

By Stealth and Sea. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games. Designer: David Thompson. Price $72.00 Passed inspection: Quality components. Glossy rules and scenario book. Engaging gameplay that explores in detail a rarely covered aspect of the naval war in the Mediterranean. Failed basic: No faults with game play. A minor component fault with one warped game board. When I was a lad, Saturday afternoon B-movies were quite popular. One of these films was The Silent Enemy which depicted British efforts to defend Gibraltar against attacks from Italian frogmen on mini submarines. While it may seem like something straight out of a James Bond adventure, the exploits of the Italian “Decima Flottiglia MAS” (or the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla) are firmly in the historical record. While the Italian Royal Navy struggled to compete against the British on the surface of the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the air, it was beneath the surface of the Mediterranean Sea where the efforts of these Italian commando frogmen demonstrated how skill and determination lead...

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Posted on Feb 8, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“I have yet to hear anyone engaged in this work dying of old age” Jimmy Doolittle  – High Flying Dice Games’ “September’s Eagles  –  The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929 – 1939”  Game  Review

“I have yet to hear anyone engaged in this work dying of old age” Jimmy Doolittle – High Flying Dice Games’ “September’s Eagles – The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929 – 1939” Game Review

“September’s Eagles  –  The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929 – 1939”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: High Flying Dice Games  Designer:  Paul Rohrbaugh  Graphic Design: Bruce Yearian  Price $60.00 Passed Inspection:    fun, fast and furious game play, 11 scenarios, solid game design, beautiful graphics, good for solo or multiplayer games, optional rules add to the challenge Failed Basic:     the rule booklet needs to be a little bigger to accommodate older eyes High Flying Dice Games (HFDG) is known for high quality, low price games as well as for focusing on military topics not often addressed by other game companies.   September’s Eagles goes in a different direction than past HFDG products.  First, it is technically not a war game but a game focusing on air racing.  Second, it is a boxed game as opposed to a game in a zip lock bag.  Third, it can be played by up to 4 players.  And fourth, it has a higher price point than other HFDG products.  So, taken all together is September’s Eagles...

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Posted on Feb 1, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Follow your tanks to victory with DVG’s “Tiger Leader, Second Edition”. Board Game Review

Follow your tanks to victory with DVG’s “Tiger Leader, Second Edition”. Board Game Review

Tiger Leader, Second Edition. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG). Designer: Rick Martin. Developers: Kevin Verssen and Dan Verssen. Price $89.99 Passed inspection: An updated version of the original Tiger Leader. Redesigned unit cards and counters.  Solitaire campaign narrative. Failed basic: Second edition rules for cover don’t match the first edition tiles included in the game. Line of sight rule will cause a problem if read literally. In 2020, Dan Verssen Games (DVG) released Tiger Leader, Second Edition.  One of the many solitaire games from DVG, Tiger Leader is set in World War Two and provides a narrative of combat from the perspective of an anonymous German military unit. The box art has been updated with new images In Tiger Leader, you lead a group of Wehrmacht soldiers into battle. The game includes multiple campaigns that span from the Polish campaign, into North Africa across Europe culminating in the Allied drive into Germany. Over the course of each campaign, you’ll endeavor to defeat your opponent while keeping your own troops...

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Posted on Jan 26, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” — John Paul Jones, 1778  Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons.  Board Game Review

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” — John Paul Jones, 1778 Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons. Board Game Review

Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons Board Game Review.  Publisher: Compass Games  Designer: Joe Carter  Price $69.00 Passed Inspection: well researched, historically accurate, easy to learn rules, beautiful components, easily moded, strong narrative campaign, can easily add players. Failed Basic: printed errata sheet or revised rulebook did not ship with the retail version but are available for download. Devil Boats: PT Boats in the Solomons is the first wargame design by Joe Carter covering the summer and early fall of 1943 as the Allies launched the New Georgia campaign. PT boats played a key role in the Solomons attacking enemy supply ships, rescuing downed airmen or shipwrecked sailors, and supporting the Coastwatchers. Devil Boats is a solitaire game similar to the classic B-17 Queen of the Skies by Avalon Hill or more recent additions such as The Hunters / Silent Victory by Consim Press and B-29 Superfortress by Legion Games. Players take command of a squadron of four PT boats in a three-month campaign to destroy as much...

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Posted on Jan 6, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Hooker’s Brilliant Maneuver or Lee’s Masterpiece? “Chancellorsville 1863” Board Game Review

Hooker’s Brilliant Maneuver or Lee’s Masterpiece? “Chancellorsville 1863” Board Game Review

By Ray Garbee Chancellorsville 1863. Publisher: Worthington Games. Designer: Maurice Suckling. Price $75.00 Passed inspection: Fantastic introductory level game that will also appeal to seasoned gamers. An innovative approach to incorporating the fog of war that is critical to capturing the mind set of the commanders. Supports solo play by either side. A fast playing, easy to set up game. Failed basic: Units can feel almost generic when compared to a traditional board game approach. The solitaire bot for playing the Confederate player is unbalanced. At the start of May 1863, the Union was engaged in campaigns on two fronts. In the West, Ulysses S. Grant was in the midst of his latest maneuvers to capture the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. In the East, the Army of the Potomac’s latest commander ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker was about to embark on a campaign designed to encircle Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia – the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. With a numerical superiority, Hooker planned to ‘go around to the right’...

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Posted on Dec 28, 2020 in Boardgames, Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Top Reviewed Games of 2020

Top Reviewed Games of 2020

If 2020 was a pretty crummy year for the whole planet, at least we had some great games come out to see us through our Pandemic isolation.  I think a trend of 2020 that will continue is that more games will have optional rules for solo play.  Enjoy this list of the top reviewed games of 2020 and let’s all look forward to a better and safer year in 2021. Cold Confusion: The Soviet Raid on Iceland 1985. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games.Designers: Paul Rohrbaugh.  – AG Rating 95%   Small, fast playing game of a hypothetical Soviet raid on Iceland during the 1980s. Good replay value with variable reinforcements and set up. Card deck provides for a good fog of war. This is an affordable game on a unique topic with a variety of elite troops, that is easy to play for a solitaire gamer. With all that going for it, yes – it’s a game that will appeal to cold warriors and solo gamers alike. It sparked...

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Posted on Dec 27, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

One Last Big Push to Victory. “1918/1919: Storm in the West” Board Game Review

One Last Big Push to Victory. “1918/1919: Storm in the West” Board Game Review

By Ray Garbee 1917/1918: Storm in the West. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Ted Raicer. Developers: Ty Bomba and Chris Perello. Price $49.00 Passed inspection: An excellent update to a proven design. Good coverage of a pivotal year in the war. Excellent expansion covering the ‘what if’s’ surrounding the strategic decisions on both sides. Failed basic: A solid design that’s had all the kinks ironed out over the years, there’s nothing to not like about this game! GMT’s recent release 1918/1919: Storm in the West dropped onto the game table in December. This is a game with a storied past, dating back to its initial release in 1992 with Command Magazine. 1918/1919: Storm in the West was Ted Raicer’s first game design and it was an immediate success, earning a Charles S. Roberts Award nomination. Its popularity inspired the design of a Plan 1919 variant which assumed a German defensive strategy in 1918 with an all-out Allied assault to win the war the following year. GMT’s release presents this classic magazine...

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Posted on Dec 17, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A Splendidly Unique Game!  The Mission – Board Game Review

A Splendidly Unique Game! The Mission – Board Game Review

The Mission –  Early Christianity from the Crucifixion to the Crusades    Board Game Review.  Publisher: White Dog Games   Game Designer: R. Ben Madison   Price $50.00 Passed Inspection:  unique subject matter, fun and challenging, lots of repay value, I learned a lot about Christian history from this game Failed Basic:   some rules need a little more explanation, map could be larger (fixed by the publisher), needs different victory conditions if you can’t play the main campaign all the way through (partial play victory points based upon what turn you ended on)             In 2017, I had the pleasure of reviewing R. Ben Madison’s game “The Mound Builders” which was a solo point to point system exploring twenty six hundred years of the Mound Builders culture in North America.  It was an excellent game design and helped me understand the culture of the original people who lived in my state of Ohio.  (http://armchairgeneral.com/explore-north-americas-mound-builders-culture-game-review.htm )  Now Madison turns his attention to 1300 years of Christian history from the crucifixion of Christ...

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Posted on Dec 4, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Reaping the whirlwind – Fortress Games’ 8th Air Force  Board Game  Review

Reaping the whirlwind – Fortress Games’ 8th Air Force Board Game Review

8th AIR FORCE  Board Game Review.  Publisher: Fortress Games  Designer:  Bob Phaneuf  Price $65.00 Passed Inspection:    easy to read map and counters, engaging game play, strong solo play, easy to learn, very challenging, many ways to win and lose Failed Basic:      a little rule confusion as to Luftwaffe set up, would like to see an optional rule for historically accurate Luftwaffe squadron set up, I didn’t understand the use of Squadron counters. “The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind. “ Marshal of the Royal Air Force Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris. “Offense is the essence of air power.” General H. H. ‘Hap’ Arnold, USAAF Box Cover 8th Air Force’s designer, Bob Phaneuf, himself, sent Armchair General a prototype copy of this fine...

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Posted on Nov 20, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Leopards vs T55s – Who Will Survive?   Main Battle Tanks ‘4CMBG Expansion Board Game Review

Leopards vs T55s – Who Will Survive? Main Battle Tanks ‘4CMBG Expansion Board Game Review

MBT – 4CMBG     Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT Games   Game Designer: James M. Day   Price $42.00 Passed Inspection: well researched, new units, great components, an important addition to the Nato forces Failed Basic:  a little light on components, solo rules would have added to the value of this set, difficult to the get maps to lie flat smokescreen 29 September 1987 – the third day of World War III – just before dawn Colonel Sergey Turgenev worked with his command staff on the upcoming attack.  The Soviet 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division was tasked to take a supply depot held by the 4CMBG.  The timing to the advance was critical.  Artillery would fire two smoke screens which should help to obscure the advancing IFVs and T55s.  While the Canadians were occupied, a Mi8T transport helicopter would land three squads of special force assault troops in the village square.  Colonel Turgenev lit up his third cigarette of the morning.  What would be the state of things this afternoon?  Who...

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Posted on Nov 15, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

‘Remember the Maine!’. Compass Games ‘Dawn of Empire: The Spanish American Atlantic Naval War, 1898’. Board Game Review

‘Remember the Maine!’. Compass Games ‘Dawn of Empire: The Spanish American Atlantic Naval War, 1898’. Board Game Review

By Ray Garbee Dawn of Empire: The Spanish American Atlantic Naval War, 1898. Publisher: Compass Games. Designer: Stephen Newberg. Price $55.00 (Holiday sale price $36.00) Passed inspection: Color, mounted map that conveys a sense of space and place in the Atlantic and Caribbean basin. A fast playing game that conveys the relative strengths of each side. Plentiful variant rules for exploring a number of ‘what if’ scenarios. Failed basic: Printing error on the gameboard mars what is an otherwise excellent effort. A number of typos in the rules that may cause confusion (All of which can be remedied by downloading the current errata from the Compass Games website.) Ask for a quick summary of naval operations during the Spanish American War and you’ll likely get a response along the lines of, ‘America, heck yeah!’. The two major naval battles of the war – Manila Bay and Santiago, Cuba were both decisive defeats for the Spanish Navy. The lop-sided casualty ratio – in terms of both ships and men –...

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Posted on Nov 11, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Most Comprehensive World War 2 Air War Game Ever!  Wings of the Motherland – a Fighting Wings Game.  Board Game Review

The Most Comprehensive World War 2 Air War Game Ever! Wings of the Motherland – a Fighting Wings Game. Board Game Review

Wings of the Motherland – A Fighting Wings Game    Board Game Review.  Publisher: Clash of Arms Games   Game Designer: J. D. Webster   Price $135.00 Passed Inspection: stunningly beautiful artwork, covers the entire Eastern Front air war from 1941 to 1945, amazing levels of detail, well researched, tons of value for the price, fantastic replayability, solo and multiplayer scenarios, 3rd edition rules feature programmed learning of the system.  Failed Basic:   rules can be intimidating, has an index but the index does need a little more work as not everything is listed, needs to have on-line learn to play videos Wings of the Motherland is the long awaited 4th game in J.D. Webster’s Fighting Wings game series.  For an interview with J.D. Webster which includes links to two other reviews of games in the Fighting Wings series, follow this link:  http://armchairgeneral.com/j-d-webster-interview-designing-air-combat-games.htm Box Art Wings of the Motherland looks in intimate detail at the air war between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union.  If you play the scenarios in order,...

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Posted on Nov 6, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Great War Comes to Kickstarter!  Game Preview.

The Great War Comes to Kickstarter! Game Preview.

The former editor of ArmchairGeneral.com, Gerald Swick, contacted us to let know about a new game project he’s involved with, MacGowan and Lombardy’s The Great War card game, that hit Kickstarter this week. The two-player game, built around important weapon systems, commanders, and other historical aspects of World War One, was designed by Dana Lombardy, who has won awards for his Streets of Stalingrad and Russia’s Great War, 1914 games. Many of the card illustrations for M&L’s The Great War were done by Game Manufacturers (GAMA) Hall of Fame graphic artist Rodger MacGowan, Editor-in-Chief and Art Director of C3i magazine. Gerald sent ACG some sample card images and a link to the Kickstarter project, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/680099836/macgowan-and-lombardys-the-great-war-fast-playing-card-game. Gerald says he got involved when Dana Lombardy (who was a consultant to Armchair General magazine and ArmchairGeneral.com) contacted him during the summer and asked him to bring his ACG web experience to Lombardy Studios book and game publishing company. The two long-time friends previously worked together at Game News/Game Trade News and later...

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Posted on Oct 29, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“They’re coming to get you Barbara!”  ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Board Game Review

“They’re coming to get you Barbara!” ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Board Game Review

Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game  Board Game Review.  Publisher: CMON as licensed by Image Ten Productions.    Game Designers: Raphael Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult and David Preti  Price  $89.99 Passed Inspection:  beautiful components, easy to learn, fast game play, very atmospheric, excellent replay value Failed Basic:   a few more rules could have been included to simulate the personality of the characters from the movie 1966 to 1968 were fantastic years for film even as America was undergoing massive cultural and political trauma.  Not only were young, new film makers flooding Hollywood with outside the mainstream ideas but independent film makers throughout the country were grabbing their 16 and 35mm cameras and trying new and different approaches to narrative entertainment.  The horror genre was not exempted from this new film movement as 1968 saw the release of two ground breaking horror films – Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead!  These two films would shift the horror genre from the Hammer and AIP Gothic horrors of...

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Posted on Oct 24, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Cylinders are coming down in Japan, the United Kingdom and France!  We must fight a world war against the Martians!!!”  DVG’s “War of the Worlds France, Japan and the United Kingdom” Game Review

“Cylinders are coming down in Japan, the United Kingdom and France! We must fight a world war against the Martians!!!” DVG’s “War of the Worlds France, Japan and the United Kingdom” Game Review

The War of the Words – France, Japan and the United Kingdom  Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG   Game Designer: Arnauld Della Siega with Kevin Verssen   Price  $59.99 each 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.   In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Martin has designed multiple games for DVG – Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader.  While the United States battled the Martians in my 2018 review of the War of the Worlds United States East Coast edition, the war has spread to many other countries and DVG Games has released three...

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Posted on Oct 9, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Can You Do Better than Alexander the Great? – DVG’s FIELD COMMANDER ALEXANDER Board Game Review

Can You Do Better than Alexander the Great? – DVG’s FIELD COMMANDER ALEXANDER Board Game Review

Field Commander Alexander  Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG  Designer:  Dan Verssen  Price $54.99 Passed Inspection:   Easy to learn, fun to play, challenge level can be adjusted through lots of optional rules, small foot print, beautiful game boards, delivers a perfect solo experience, an entire campaign can be played in 2 or 3 hours Failed Basic:    needs an index, some minor typos Field Commander Alexander was originally published by Dan Verssen Games back in 2009 but it quickly sold out and was unavailable.  It was recently reprinted as part of a Kickstarter campaign and now it’s time for Armchair General to review this classic solo game! Box Cover Field Commander Alexander is a solo game featuring 4 campaigns which can be played as stand-alone games or as a giant linked campaign which simulates major campaigns of conquest in the life of Alexander the Great.  The four campaigns include Granicus, Issus, The Siege of Tyre and Gaugamela. The game comes in a sturdy and attractive box featuring artwork by Hokunin.  The...

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