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Posted on Feb 28, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“…we had no idea that France had tanks like that.” James Day’s “Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940” Board Game Review

“…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...

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Posted on Feb 20, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Extradition doesn’t mean anything unless you can catch him.” Fighting A Very Personal War on Drugs. CMON Games ‘Narcos’ Board Game Review.

“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...

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Posted on Feb 14, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” Forbidden Games’ Victory and Glory Napoleon  Board Game Review

“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...

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Posted on Feb 11, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Torpedoes Los!”. Compass Games’   ‘Raiders of the Deep: U-boats of the Great War 1914-18’ Board Game Review.

“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...

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Posted on Feb 7, 2019 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

“No plan survives contact with the enemy”  Open Panzer Computer Game Review

“No plan survives contact with the enemy” Open Panzer Computer Game Review

Open Panzer PC and Android Computer Game Review.  Designed by Nicu Pavel.  Based upon Panzer General II.  Price 0 – Totally Free!   Passed Inspection:  great selection of units, works on any platform, tons of scenarios and campaigns, great fun and free Failed Basic:  some bugs, some scenarios are completely unbalanced and unwinnable, no multiplayer, needs comprehensive rules, can only play from the German side, no zoom feature NOTE: I played this game on both a PC and on an Android phone thus, the review is based upon that platform.  It is also available for iOS systems. Panzer General was a groundbreaking game when it was released in 1994.  It was simple, almost a beer and pretzels game, but addictive and fun.  Strategic Simulations followed it up with multiple sequels one of which sold in excess of 100,000 units!  Sadly, Strategic Simulations is no more but Panzer General lives on and now it’s free thanks to Nicu Pavel. Open Panzer is a multi-platform version of Panzer General.  It is...

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Posted on Feb 5, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

This Summer, Fishing Season Will Open…on YOU. Upper Deck Games ‘Shark Island’ Board Game Review.

This Summer, Fishing Season Will Open…on YOU. Upper Deck Games ‘Shark Island’ Board Game Review.

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...

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Posted on Jan 25, 2019 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Andrea Casarrubea’s new monograph an essential book for historians Great War aerial combat. Book Review.

Andrea Casarrubea’s new monograph an essential book for historians Great War aerial combat. Book Review.

In the Skies of Forgotten Courage: The RNAS and RAF in the Adriatic and Albania 1917-1918 – Book Review.   Andrea Casarrubea, Aeronaut Books. 2018. 364 pages. Soft Cover. $69.99. ISBN 978-1-935881-62-9   Mention Great War aerial combat and most people immediately think the conflict over the Western Front and pilots such as Ball, Bishop, Fonck, Udet and Von Richtofen. Back in the day my education on the history of air power left you with the impression that the air started at the North Sea and ended at Switzerland. While the Western Front was an important conflict, the war in the air was present almost everywhere that the war was fought. Unfortunately, there’s been a dearth of material on the actions in many of these theaters.   But that situation is changing, in no small part due to Andrea Casarrubea’s 2018 book “In the Skies of Forgotten Courage”. The monograph focuses on the activities of the Royal Navy Air Service and later the Royal Air Force in the southern...

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Posted on Jan 25, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Stealth is life.” Triton Noir’s “V Commandos” Game Review

“Stealth is life.” Triton Noir’s “V Commandos” Game Review

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...

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Posted on Jan 21, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

A ‘Flickering, Forlorn Hope’ of victory in War Drum Games ‘Race for Manila’. Board Game Review.

A ‘Flickering, Forlorn Hope’ of victory in War Drum Games ‘Race for Manila’. Board Game Review.

‘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...

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Posted on Jan 16, 2019 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

“Carthage, methinks, ought to be utterly destroyed.” Command and Colors: Ancients Computer Game Review

“Carthage, methinks, ought to be utterly destroyed.” Command and Colors: Ancients Computer Game Review

Command and Colors: Ancients PC Computer Game Review.  Publisher GMT Games and Hexwar Games.  Based upon Richard Borg’s Board Game.  Price $19.99   Passed Inspection:  easy to learn, tough to master, excellent game play, great music, nice graphics capture the board game feel, lots of scenarios Failed Basic:  no multiplayer, needs more comprehensive rules, some bugs, AI seems to be a little too easy on the players at times, typos in the rule book. NOTE: I played this game on a PC and, thus, the review is based upon that platform. Richard Borg’s Command and Colors is a classic board game system which has been adapted to everything from the ancient world to World War II to the Sengoku Jidai civil war time period of Japan.  Now Command and Colors: Ancients has been adapted in to a computer game and it rocks! The game is available on Steam for both the PC and the MAC and the system requirements are as follows: PC  MINIMUM: OS: Windows XP SP2+ Memory: 2 MB...

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

Over the Top and Into the Fire. GMT Games ‘Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble Board Game Review.

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...

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Posted on Dec 21, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Best Games of 2018!  Holiday Buyers’ Guide

Best Games of 2018! Holiday Buyers’ Guide

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...

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

Smoke that Toaster! – Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Board Game Review

Smoke that Toaster! – Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Board Game Review

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,...

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Posted on Dec 11, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Conquer or Free Europe, Your Choice! – Hitler’s Reich Board Game Review

Conquer or Free Europe, Your Choice! – Hitler’s Reich Board Game Review

  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...

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

“Location, Location, Location” – New York 1901 Board Game Review

“Location, Location, Location” – New York 1901 Board Game Review

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...

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

“My center is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.” The First Battle of the Marne 1914 AD Game Review

“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....

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Posted on Nov 22, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Defending the Father Land.  Night Fighter Ace Board Game Review

Defending the Father Land. Night Fighter Ace Board Game Review

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...

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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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