“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
Westbound and Down: The Warsaw Pact drives into Southern Germany. High Flying Dice Games’ Land of Confusion 3: The Battle of Hof Gap. Board Game Review.
Land of Confusion 3: The Battle of Hof Gap. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh. Price $14.95-$19.95 Passed inspection: Fast-playing game, good introduction to hex and counter gaming while still offering challenging game play to the grognard. Failed basic: Colors on counters can be hard to read without direct light, needs examples of play If you look at war games, 1985 seems to be the year voted mostly likely to have started World War III. An increasing number of games set during this time frame are seeing print. Some are a nostalgic look back at vintage games of the war that never was. Almost all are variations of the same theme – the Soviets are westbound and down with the pedal to the metal. The goal – The Rhine river. Some games tackle the strategic level operation from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea. Other drill down to focus on the action across the regional battlefields across the Inter-German Border. Paul Rohrbaugh has taken...Read More
Fighting the Decisive Battle of Yesterday’s Future War. Gale Force Nine’s ‘Tanks: The Modern Age’, Tabletop Miniatures Game Review.
Tanks: Modern Age. Publisher: Gale Force Nine Games. Designers: Andrew Haught and Chris Townley. Price $24.99 Passed inspection: High quality model tanks. Well laid out rules. Accessible game for those new to table top gaming. Failed basic: The models are tied to the Team Yankee product line and as a result the game is currently missing some vehicles that are ubiquitous to the modern age such as the Bradley IFV or Apache attack helicopter. Some upgrade cards are only available by buying additional models. At the turn of the 20th Century, military power was measured in the size and number of cannon and cavalry that a nation could field. Times change and by the 1980’s artillery and horses had been displaced by the main battle tank (MBT). The armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact faced off across the Inter-German Border, waiting for the other side to blink. Fortunately, while that war never happened, Gale Force Nine gives us a glimpse of what it might have looked like...Read More
“…we had no idea that France had tanks like that.” James Day’s “Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940” Board Game Review
Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940 Board Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games Game Designer: James M. Day and Fernando Sola Ramos Price $65.00 Passed Inspection: highly detailed but easy to learn, adds French and early German tanks, exciting solo rules which apply to all the Panzer/Main Battle Tank (MBT) games, super fun, adds Leaders to the World War 2 system Failed Basic: no British Expeditionary Forces, hidden unit/fog of war rules need clarification for solo use (one additional paragraph would clarify these rules), counters are a little too dark making it difficult to discern the front from the back of the tank or armored car, needs a rule and cards for fighters to escort or intercept the ground attack planes “After a while, a fourth tank appeared through the orchard. It was a real monster and we had no idea that France had tanks like that. We fired 20 shots at it without success. However, after a few more shots, we managed to knock off its track. […] a fifth...Read More
“Extradition doesn’t mean anything unless you can catch him.” Fighting A Very Personal War on Drugs. CMON Games ‘Narcos’ Board Game Review.
Narcos: The Board Game. Publisher: CMON Limited. Designers: Fel Barros, Renato Silva Sasdelli. Price $54.99 Passed inspection: High quality components. Well laid out rules. Captures the feel of the Narcos television show and the events that inspired it. Requires cooperative actions and deductive skills. Failed basic: Place name errors on the map suggest a lack of quality control and familiarity with the subject matter. “Imagine you were born in a poor family, in a poor city, in a poor country, and by the time you were 28 years old, you have so much money you can’t even count it. What do you do? You make your dreams come true.” – Steve Murphy, DEA In 2015 Netflix rolled out an ambitious television series telling the story of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. Eschewing a simple portrait of a vicious, drug dealer bent on achieving power at all costs, Narcos provided a more nuanced view of the man, his confederates and those who stood in opposition...Read More
“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” Forbidden Games’ Victory and Glory Napoleon Board Game Review
Victory and Glory Napoleon Board Game Review. Publisher: Forbidden Games Game Designer: Glenn Drover Price $79.00 Passed Inspection: Stunningly beautiful board and components, elegantly designed game, easy to learn, tough to master, solo rules included, fast playing, great fun for the whole family Failed Basic: very large footprint, needs a greater incentive to keep a good economy, the Event Cards could use flavor text explaining their historical significant. Victory and War Napoleon is, first and foremost, one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen and that beauty doesn’t just apply to the artwork – this game is pure elegance from its rules to its game play. This game should be played on a wooden table by candle light! The box is huge and stuffed to the gills with goodies. The components include: 10 page rule book 150 full color, beautifully illustrated Event and Campaign Cards grouped by decades 3 piece map board (total size when put together is 45″x36″,) representing Europe and North Africa from 1796 – 1815 Dozens...Read More
“Torpedoes Los!”. Compass Games’ ‘Raiders of the Deep: U-boats of the Great War 1914-18’ Board Game Review.
Raiders of the Deep: U-boats of the Great War 1914-18. Publisher: Compass Games. Designer: Ian B. Cooper. $99.00 Passed inspection: Great narrative based game of World War One U-boat operations. Game generates an excellent narrative of the combat patrols of your character. Includes RPG elements for leader and crew skill development. Covers the war from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. Failed basic: Game play can feel ‘fiddly’ with the need to reference multiple charts and tables across each location in the patrol. Lacks a detailed tactical feel of maneuvering the U-boat to reach attack position against the target. About ten years ago I had a co-worker – Dave – ask me if I’d ever seen the movie “The Sound of Music”. Sure, I replied. So, Dave goes on to question one of the plot points – how was it that the children’s father, Georg Von Trapp, was an Austrian U-Boat commander when Austria is a landlocked state? I then spent the next 10 minutes explaining to background...Read More
Shark Island. Publisher: Upper Deck Games. Designers: Richard Launius and Pete Shirey. Price $39.99 Passed inspection: Great party game for those with an appreciation of killer shark movies. Quality game components. Engaging game play. Easy to digest rules. Failed basic: Players that are not fans of killer shark movies may not get some of the references and inside jokes embedded in the game. But just laugh along with the rest of us as we make seemingly random quotes and laugh hysterically. In 1975, Steve Spielberg’s movie ‘Jaws’ had its theatrical release. I remember it well as a 10-year-old child on vacation to the New Jersey shore. One night all the adults went out to the movies…and for the rest of our vacation, they all refused to go in the water. An enduring classic, ‘Jaws’ made a powerful impression on American culture to the point where parts of the dialog has entered our lexicon of pop culture phrases. Much like it’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls of...Read More
V Commandoes Board Game Review. Publisher: Triton Noir Game Designer: Thibaud de la Touanne Price $50.00 Passed Inspection: Rules and components are in both French and English, very high quality, logically laid out rules with full training courses, tons of replayability Failed Basic: the terrain tiles could benefit by having a unique identifier somewhere on them Triton Noir was founded in 2014 by Thibaud de la Touanne and is based in Montréal, Canada. V Commandos is their first game release and, man oh man, this game is a winner! V Commandos is a solo or cooperative game in which you send teams of commandos in to occupied Europe in order to fulfill various missions. This game puts you down in the dirt with each unit being one person or piece of equipment and each turn being a minute or two. You control the commandos and the game controls the German troops. The stunningly illustrated box includes English and French copies of: 1 rule book 1 training manual 37 event...Read More
‘Race for Manila: The Philippines Campaign.1941-42. Publisher: War Drum Games (Imported into the US by Quaterdeck International). Game Designer: Yasushi Nakagura (English Translation by Jack W Greene, Lawrence Ho and Lorricount Hall) Price $17.00 Passed inspection: Great choice for an introductory war game. Well executed map that conveys a sense of space and place. Easy to read counters. Best die cutting on counters that I’ve ever seen. Great insights into an oft-overlooked campaign. Failed basic: Tough game for an inexperienced US player if they choose the wrong victory conditions. The short game length makes recovering from mistakes very difficult. The American entry into World War II is defined for history by images of the shattered hulls of US Navy battleline in the waters of Pearl Harbor. To a degree the columns of smoke rising from the wrecks obscured the first real test of American combat arms in the war – the Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands. Game designer Yasushi Nakagura brings that invasion to the...Read More
Over the Top and Into the Fire. GMT Games ‘Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble Board Game Review.
Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Geoffrey Phipps. Price $105.00 Passed inspection: A triumph of quantitative design. Very detailed simulation of the early days of the Gallipoli campaign. Game mechanics feed the narrative depicting the nature of the conflict. Failed basic: The game design is bursting with a plethora of modifiers to account for the many dimensions of activities the player may perform. Large map footprint for the full game requires a ‘side table’ for all the charts and counter sleds. My initial introduction to Australian participation in the Great War came from Hollywood in the form of two films – The Lighthorsemen and Peter Weir’s 1981 move Gallipoli. The impression made by these films were of a high command unable to learn from past mistakes, the deadly reality of the modern battlefield and the profound waste of lives expended in the deadly intersection of these concepts. Now with Geoffrey Phipps’ game Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble you can glimpse some insights into...Read More
Gaming Holiday Buyers’ Guide 2018 2018 has been an amazing year for gaming! In 2017, we said that “maybe” we were in a second Golden Age of Gaming. Well after 2018, if anyone doubts that we are in a second Golden Age of Games then they haven’t been paying attention. Let me reiterate – WE ARE IN A SECOND GOLDEN AGE OF GAMING! This year has had some fun surprises. From the adventure, tactical combat, puzzle solving Big Trouble in Little China the Board Game to fantastic games playable on your cell phone such as Mideast 67 to some great ancients and aviation games to Martian invasions of the Earth, 2018 had it all! And while we at Armchair General are still playing catch up on some games that came out in 2018 and have gone unreviewed (shame on us), we hit a good selection of game genres in our reviews this year. But wait my friends, there’s more! 2019 will be positively smashing so look out! There is...Read More
Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Starter Set. Publisher: Ages Games Designer: Andrea Angiolino and Andrea Mainini Price $59.90 Passed Inspection: Beautiful components and miniatures, innovative movement system simulates zero G space combat, exciting game play, multiple difficulty levels, tons of value for the money Failed Basic: Kinetic movement and Acceleration rules need more examples, maneuver cards storage not deep enough to hold the cards in place in the box, slight problem with space ship bases not rotating (but Ares has an easy fix for that) After 4,571 days, the Cylon War ended with a sudden armistice. Peace lasted 40 years. But now the Cylons are back as fierce and combative as ever. They want to exterminate what remains of mankind . . . and they have a plan. The Twelve Colonies are wasted and in ruins. But the Colonial Fleet is there to face the Cylon spaceships and protect what it is left of mankind. As a kid, I grew up on Star Trek,...Read More
Hitler’s Reich Game Review. Publisher: GMT Designers: Mark McLaughlin and Fred Schachter Price $69.00 Passed Inspection: Great value for the money, tons of replay value, attractive components, easy and fast to play, fun, great historical and designers’ notes, plenty of examples, 2 different styles for solo play, many optional rules Failed Basic: Rules are over written, needs a more complete index, needs a “fast start” rule book to ease players in to the game, needs more flexibility for planning invasions or other major events, conflict cards need different backs to differentiate between Axis and Allies Hitler’s Reich is GMT’s new strategic level World War 2 board game whose scope of play encompasses the British Isles, all of Europe and North Africa and the Middle East. Each turn is comprised of multiple impulses in either 6 months or one year. The game starts in April of 1941 and ends before or during 1945. At the start of the campaign game, Hitler controls much of Europe and...Read More
New York 1901 Game Review. Publisher: Blue Orange Designer: Chenier La Salle Price $59.99 Passed Inspection: Beautiful components, family friendly, mentally challenging, pure fun, informative examples of play Failed Basic: colors are a little confusing (and may be detrimental if you are color blind), rules need to show both the back and front of the different card decks Not all battles are fought on the battle field and, as New York 1901 demonstrates, business can be considered a battle as well. Blue Orange’s brilliant New York 1901 is not a war game per say. It is a combination of a worker placement game and an area control game. It’s easy to learn, fast to play, family friendly and extremely addictive. As we gamers gather together with family over the holidays, we at Armchair General think it important that all gamers have family friendly games at their disposal as well as the more tradition “grognard” games that we all enjoy. New York 1901 perfectly fits...Read More
“My center is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.” The First Battle of the Marne 1914 AD Game Review
The First Battle of the Marne 1914 AD Game Review. Publisher: Turning Point Simulations Designer: Jon Compton Price $32.95 (ziplock) or $37.95 (boxed) Passed Inspection: mounted board, good solo play, multiple scenarios, small footprint, can be played in one afternoon, educational, living rules updated on company’s website Failed Basic: Set up is a little confusing, black printing on dark background makes both some of the counters and some parts of the board too dark to comfortably see, army boundary rules and “no Central Powers in Paris” may be realistic but are too constricting on freedom of game play “The First Battle of the Marne” is the 18th game in Turning Point Simulations’ wonderful “Twenty Decisive Battles of the World” series which is based upon Sir Edward Creasy’s book. It looks at the victory during the 1914 “mobile” battles of the First World War and clearly illustrates why the war then bogged down in to the devastating trench warfare for which World War 1 is now remembered....Read More
Night Fighter Ace Board Game Review. Publisher Compass Games Designer: Gregory M. Smith and Joe Gandara Price $99.00 Passed Inspection: Stunning artwork, high quality components, extremely immersive role playing aspects, compelling narrative develops for each mission, excellent rule book Failed Basic: index is not complete, the Event table is referenced by another table and not a standalone table – this needs to be referenced in the rules, no 20 sided die included but one is needed on at least 1 table, some rule references are incorrect and the Dark -1 modifier is not on the Moon Phase Chart. (Many of these are corrected in the November 18th 2018 Errata Update from Compass Game’s website – ed) Oberleutnant Tomosite guided “Lola’s Dream”, his Ju88 R1 night fighter, towards the distant radar contact. Rikard, the radar operator, was giving him slight directional changes. The British bomber should soon be visible. Rikard thought he had detected several contacts with the FuG202 Lichtenstein radar but if there were more bombers...Read More
Sword & Sorcery Ancient Chronicles: final hours on Kickstarter November 20th, 2018 – The crowdfunding campaign to fund Ancient Chronicles, the new stand-alone core set and campaign for the acclaimed co-op fantasy dungeon Sword & Sorcery, entered in its final 48 hours on Kickstarter with over $520,000 pledged (about 350% funded), more than 4,100 backers, 40 stretch goals achieved (and still growing), and a great value for backers: over 108 miniatures and 400 cards, and 16 quests – providing you with many, many hours of gameplay and enjoyment. The campaign ends tomorrow (November, 22nd at 1 A,M. Central European Time). In Sword & Sorcery, up to five players control heroes with unique powers, fighting together against the forces of evil – controlled by the game system itself – to save the kingdom and break the spell that binds their souls. The heroes are legendary characters brought back to life by powerful sorcery. Weakened by the resurrection, they grow stronger during their story-driven quests. By acquiring soul points during battles, the heroes’ souls regenerate, restoring...Read More
Battling Shot for Shot to turn the tide of the war at Pavlov’s House. Dan Verssen Games ‘Pavlov’s House’ Board Game Review.
Pavlov’s House: The Battle of Stalingrad. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games Designer: David Thompson Price $ 59.99 Passed inspection: Clean presentation of the rules and components. Nice graphic depiction of how one building is the critical focus of the entire battle. Concise examples of play included for each section of rules. Failed basic: Counters representing the Kickstarter backers are not required for play of the game and the images don’t match those of the standard counters. Couple of minor typos snuck through editing process. Disclaimer: Your reviewer backed the Kickstarter to fund Pavlov’s House. So clearly, it’s a game he wanted to see brought to market. Beyond that, it means that in return for his financial funding, this reviewer (along with other backers) received a copy of the game and is represented ‘in the game’ in the form of a set of alternate counters. Aside from the Kickstarter rewards for participating in the funding of the campaign, the reviewer has no other connection to Dan Verssen Games. ...Read More