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Posted on Nov 15, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Battling Shot for Shot to turn the tide of the war at Pavlov’s House. Dan Verssen Games ‘Pavlov’s House’ Board Game Review.

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.  ...

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Posted on Nov 12, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A Comprehensive Look at a Nightmare Scenario.  Next War Poland Game Review

A Comprehensive Look at a Nightmare Scenario. Next War Poland Game Review

Next War Poland Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT   Game Designer: Ralph Shelton,Gene Billingsley, Mitchell Land, Douglas Bush and Chris Fawcett  Price  $89.99    Passed Inspection:   Covers all aspects of a modern war in the region, programmed rules, three complete levels of complexity, tons of replay value, full index   Failed Basic:    needs a more complete glossary of abbreviations, sheer number of rules can be overwhelming   “More important than the modes of warfare, however, are the possible scenarios in which Russia might employ them. Here it is possible to distinguish two essentially different types of aggression that correspond to different political objectives. The first is an ambiguous, low-intensity operation, employing hybrid, largely non-military tactics and deliberately kept under the threshold of war to avoid triggering NATO’s collective-defence mechanism. The other is a sudden and decisive strike on another country or countries. Conceivable variants include action aimed at seizing a territory populated predominantly by ethnic Russians; occupation of a swathe of NATO territory in order to use it as a bargaining...

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Posted on Nov 8, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Unleash Your Inner Black Sheep!  DVG’s “Corsair Leader” Game Review

Unleash Your Inner Black Sheep!  DVG’s “Corsair Leader” Game Review

Corsair Leader  Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG   Game Designer: Dan Verssen   Price  $99.99  Aces Expansion Deck $24.99   Passed Inspection:   top quality components, tons of replay value, highly immersive solo or cooperative experience, box stuffed with tons of campaigns and other materials, beautiful artwork, errata and fast support/Q and A on Facebook   Failed Basic:    some typos, damaging enemy planes would be a nice option instead of just shooting them down, needs and index and an in depth example of how to maneuver in dogfights   In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Martin has designed three games for DVG – Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit and Sherman Leader.   As a kid growing up in the mid to late 1970s, Pappy Boyington was everywhere.  The TV series “Ba Ba Black Sheep” was running on TV and the star of the show, Robert Conrad, and Pappy Boyington, himself, were appearing at the Dayton International Air Show in what I believe was late July of 1977.  I remember...

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

Grappling with the Anaconda’s coils in GMT Games ‘For the People’. Board Game Review.

Grappling with the Anaconda’s coils in GMT Games ‘For the People’. Board Game Review.

  ‘For the People’. Publisher: GMT Games. Game Designers: Mark Herman. Price $ 65.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Gorgeous full color mounted map board, deep deck of event cards, clean, simple combat system. Dynamic gameplay that provides unique experiences in each game. Captures the scope of not just a single theater, but the grand sweep of a conflict that raged from the Atlantic into the Great Plains.   Failed basic: Implementation of the naval blockade feels too random, Card-driven game mechanism allows for a degree of friction that can thwart the best strategy.     Over the years I’ve played a number of Civil war games. I’ve written games on the naval aspects of the American Civil War for miniatures gaming. My bookshelves groan under the weight of my library. I have friends that have a deep knowledge of the war and several with published books to their name. In short, I like to think I know a little bit about a lot of things related to the Civil...

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Posted on Oct 8, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Speed is life, altitude is life insurance” New Wing Leader Board Games Review

“Speed is life, altitude is life insurance” New Wing Leader Board Games Review

Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 and Wing Leader: Blitz 1939 to 1942 Board Game Review.  Publisher GMT  Designer: Lee Brimmicombe-Wood  Price $79.00 For Supremacy and $36 for Blitz   Rick Martin Passed Inspection:   interesting and unique perspectives on World War 2 air combat, beautiful components and artwork, tons of replay value, complete index   Failed Basic:   needs a complete random combat generation system   As many of you loyal readers have picked up, I love aviation games.  I am a diehard addict . . . er . . . player of Wings of Glory, Target for Today, Hornet Leader, Night Fighter, Ace of Aces and many other air combat games.  From easy to play games such as Wings of Glory to intermediate games such as Check Your Six and to the very complex Squad Leaders of air combat games – Over the Reich, Achtung Spitfire and Whistling Death, I love playing these things!  I guess I was a pilot in a past life!   Back in 2015, I reviewed Wing Leader:...

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Posted on Sep 25, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Disperse the vehicles and ready for action!” Long Range Recon Actions in Russia –  Greyhound vs Bear: The Raid on Astrakhan Game Review

“Disperse the vehicles and ready for action!” Long Range Recon Actions in Russia – Greyhound vs Bear: The Raid on Astrakhan Game Review

Greyhound vs Bear: The Raid on Astrakhan Game Review. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price: $7.95 Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Easy to learn – only 3 pages of rules! Great looking components. Tense game play. Perfect for solo play as the Germans. Excellent value for the money. Failed Basic: Rules need some clarification, no Russian victory point counter, Soviets should be able to get a move bonus from their railroads High Flying Dice Games (HFDG) continues their tradition of high quality, low price games with Greyhound vs Bear: The Raid on Astrakhan. Greyhound vs Bear is a cleverly designed game whose rules are only 3 pages long – 1 page of which are optional rules! The game reminds me quite a lot of the classic “One Page Bulge” game from the 1980s in which the designer, Steve Jackson, was challenged to design a Battle of the Bulge game with only 1 page of rules. Paul Rohrbaugh’s Greyhound vs Bear elegantly captures the German operation to scout...

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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 23, 2018 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

“In peace you are an able subject; in chaos you are a crafty hero!” Romance of the Three Kingdoms Part XIII Computer Game Review

“In peace you are an able subject; in chaos you are a crafty hero!” Romance of the Three Kingdoms Part XIII Computer Game Review

Romance of the Three Kingdoms Part XIII Computer Game Review. Publisher Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd. Price $59.99 (available for PC on STEAM) Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Very immersive, excellent graphics, beautiful music and visuals, models almost every aspect of Han Dynasty military and court life. Failed Basic: there is so much in this game that it is difficult to learn even with the training “Hero” mode, needs a complete manual, sometimes crashes Years ago I cut my teeth on the Keoi strategy game series with Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunaga’s Ambition on my Nintendo and then Romance of the Three Kingdoms II and Nobunaga’s Ambition on my Amiga 2000 computer! That would have been around 1989 or 1990. Nobunaga’s Ambition was set in Japan during the Sengoku Jidai (focusing specifically from around 1568 to 1603 AD) while Romance was set in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. These games were an amazing breath of fresh air and allowed the players to control a province...

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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 Aug 3, 2018 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

“Panzer at 2 O’Clock!  Fire!” Battle Fleet 2: Ground Assault Computer Game Review

“Panzer at 2 O’Clock! Fire!” Battle Fleet 2: Ground Assault Computer Game Review

Battle Fleet 2: Ground Assault Computer Game Review. Publisher Mythical City Games Price $19.99 (available for PC and Mac) Rick Martin Passed Inspection: Excellent graphics, music and sound, easy to run and play, solo mode or play against others, great value for the money, skirmish and campaign modes Failed Basic: a little too “arcady” for some players, no infantry support, computer AI is a little too accurate with its attacks, sometimes unbalanced in solo mode, too many rare tanks show up too often, at this time only American, British and German tanks are included Back on August 5th of 2014, I reviewed the excellent Battle Fleet 2 which simulates ship to ship combat during the Second World War. The players control one or more ships (from destroyers and frigates to battleships and aircraft carriers) and fight epic sea battles between American and Japanese forces. The player can play head to head against a human opponent or in a campaign mode or against the computer. That game has been upgraded...

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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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