“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
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
“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
“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
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...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
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
‘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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
“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...Read More
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...Read More
South China Sea Game Review. Publisher: Compass Games. Games Designer: John Gorkowski Price $ 79.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Attractive, unmounted color map board depicting the key features of the South China Sea and surrounding region. Good examples of play. Gorgeous four-color counters that cleanly depict the required information. Streamlined combat mechanism for resolving the modern conflict environment. Failed basic: Rules could be better organized. More errata than one would like – including some rules changes. Units are named by class and in some cases represent a pair, or a division of smaller ships. The 1980’s were the Reagan era, the time of the ‘600-ship Navy’ when a new generation of American warships joined the fleet to partner with the aging veterans of World War Two and the Cold War. It was a time when the Iowa class battleships could be seen cruising alongside sleek new Ticonderoga class Aegis missile cruisers, while the black hulls of Los Angeles-class attack subs prowled the ocean depths. While the fleet missed 600...Read More
Illusions of Glory Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games. Games Designer: Perry R. Silverman Price $ 65.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Well executed, mounted color map board. The game captures the feel of launching army level attacks across a broad front. Game contains three scenarios supporting early war, mid-war and the full Great War campaign. Supports exploration of alternative ‘what if’ strategies. Insights into the war in the east often overlooked in the western Eurocentric view of the war. Great examples of play. Failed basic: Rules could be better organized. More errata than one would like – including some rules changes. Units are named but feel interchangeable with most having the exact same ratings. The First World War began with the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary (also known as the Dual Monarchy). This ‘minor’ war then snowballed into a series of declarations of war and treaty obligations into a conflict the engulfed the continent. It’s a known fact that most school children can recite. But the conventional narrative usually pivots...Read More
Clash of Giants: Civil War. Board game review. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Ted Raicer. Price: $55.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Fast playing, dynamic game. Clearly defined color counters. Attractive graphics in depicting the battlefield maps. Great examples of play in the battle book. Good replay value Failed Basic: The double-sided map means wear and tear to the map regardless of which battle you fight. The game systems depiction of artillery support may be too abstract for some people’s taste. There is a plethora of board games on the various battles and struggles of the American Civil War. But if you narrowed your focus, you could fill a substantial bookcase just collecting the many different games covering the battle of Gettysburg. In a sea of game choices, what the hobby needs are good games that ease new players into the traditional hex and counter game space. These games should be interesting, exciting and accessible. Ted S. Raicer has applied the Clash of Giants system to two significant battles of the...Read More
Golan ‘73: FAB. Board game Review. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Michael Gustavsson and Rick Young. Price: $65.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Explores a pivotal battle in the modern history of Israel and the Middle East. Quality map board presenting the geography of the Golan Heights. High quality components. Challenging game play. Failed Basic: The quantity of errata items that have been reported. The rulebook shares the same structure as other FAB series games with rules split between the ‘core’ series rules and those rules specific to the game. It’s a little confusing if you are new to the series. On October 6th, 1973 Israel was stunned as the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a coordinated assault that coincided with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The Arab states – rearmed and trained by the Soviet Union – initially made impressive gains on both fronts. However, following the mobilization of the IDF reserves, these gains were erased by masterful counter attacks launched by the IDF. The war ended badly for...Read More
“Two Shermans at 1 O’Clock. Loader Panzergranate. Gunner Fire on Closest Tank!” Review of the Tiger Leader Upgrade Kit.
Tiger Leader upgrade kit. Boardgame Review. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games. Designer: Rick Martin Free with Sherman Leader or download for free from DVG website. Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Updates rules to the Sherman Leader standard. Adds some additional units to the game. Improved game play results in more engaging game. Failed Basic: Presents rule changes as addendum, does not have an updated integrated rulebook. Retains the original unit card graphics. Dan Verssen Games (DVG) released Tiger Leader in 2015. Tiger Leader was Rick Martin’s game of combat in World War II from the perspective of a German battlegroup commander. Designed expressly for solitaire play, Tiger Leader allowed the player to engage in campaigns across the spectrum of the war from the initial invasion of Poland through the fall of Berlin. While the game was generally well received, there was some critiques of the operational movement model and the tactical combat model that appeared to make your opponents quite skilled and always on the attack. In 2017, DVG released Sherman...Read More
Sicily: Fast Action Battle – Operation Husky unleashes Patton and Montgomery in the Race for Messina. Board Game Review
Fast Action Battles: Sicily Board Game Review Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: Rick Young Price $60.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Gorgeous map. Good balance of detail with speed of play. Elegant method for integrating air support, artillery and low level supporting units. Game contains two scenarios, plus an introductory scenario. Supports exploration of alternative strategies. Failed basic: Rules were a bit dense and could benefit from better organization. In July, 1943 the Allied armies invaded Sicily and took the war to the Axis home turf. The invasion – known as Operation Husky – is a bit of a paradox. It’s both a well-known iconic military campaign in which generals Patton and Montgomery competed with each other in the “Race to Messina” while at the same time, the details of that race have receded into the dusty recesses of faded memory. Fast Action Battles: Sicily, from GMT Games, blows away that dust and shines a light on the campaign. A light that reminds us that the battle for Sicily was much...Read More
Over the River and Through the Woods to The General’s House We Go: The Terrain Tile Pack and Enemy Commander Deck Expansions for the ‘Tank Leader’ Series from Dan Verssen Games (DVG).
WWII Tank Leader Terrain Tile Pack. Game Supplement Review. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games. Designer: Dan Verssen. Price $29.99 WWII Tank Leader Commander Cards. Game Supplement Review. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games. Designer: Dean Brown. Price $19.99 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: New terrain tiles add new battlefield configurations and generate new tactical puzzles to solve. New tiles are an artistic match to the tiles in the other ‘Leader’ series games. New Commander Cards add an additional level of difficulty to the game as well as personalize your opponent. Failed Basic: The names with the leaders can give the impression that it’s your band of brothers against the all top generals of the enemy. The release of Sherman Leader game and the Tiger Leader upgrade kit have been nicely complimented with the release of the ‘tank leader’ terrain tile expansion pack and the Commander Card expansion pack, both from Dan Verssen Games (DVG). These expansions are designed to work with either the Sherman Leader game or the Tiger Leader game. The terrain...Read More
Sherman Leader Board Game Review Publisher: Dan Verrsen Games. Designer: Richard Martin. Price $90.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Mounted map board that provides a clear representation of the battle space while providing access to commonly used charts and tables. Clearly written rules that include illustrated examples. High quality die cut counters. Well designed unit and leader cards with artwork that captures the feel of the period. Quick game play that builds and engaging narrative. Failed Basic: Does not contain an exhaustive inventory of equipment/units. Could use additional terrain tiles to expand the variety of constructed battlefields. THUNK! The runner flopped to the ground next to the lieutenant. “Sir, Sergeant Saunders says he sees three enemy tanks moving up through the draw on the left and about 20-30 infantry moving into the woods on the right. Sergeant wants to know if he should shift right and take on the rifleman and let Howard’s boys deal with the tanks.” As he spoke he pulled out his canteen. Out of words, he...Read More
This Fortress Built by Nature for Herself…King Alfred Battles the Vikings in The Ethandun Campaign. Game Review.
Alfred the Great: The Ethandun Campaign Game Review Publisher: High Flying Dice Games. Designer: Mark H. Sheppard. Price: $14.95 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: The game includes a well laid out color map showing the key locations and terrain. Clean, clearly laid out game pieces that convey all the information you need. Well-structured rules that provide a quick playing game. Failed Basic: There were a few minor typos and layout problems with rules and charts that required clarification. The mists hung in the cool, thick air, silencing the call of the birds. The only sound was the slopping suck of the Viking’s own footsteps as the weary warriors tramped through the heavy clay muck. The marsh lands of the Somerset Levels were proving a more dangerous foe than the warriors of the Briton king. What had started as a profitable campaign of conquest and pillage had become a forlorn search within the trackless marshes surrounding the Saxon redoubt at the Isle of Athelney. Would Odin guide them to their foe...Read More
Lighting North Africa Game Review. Publisher: Decision Games. Designer: Dan Verssen. Price: $20.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Well-designed cards that are evocative of the events and units that appeared in the campaign. Four pages of rules. Sturdy box for storage and transport. Quick easy to grasp rules coupled with a fast playing game. Failed Basic: Layout could have been a little clearer regarding the definitions of operations and actions. Lightning North Africa (LNA) is a two-player card game depicting the conflict between the Allies and Axis for control of North Africa during the Second World War. Each turn, players will conduct operations with cards representing the military forces deployed to the theater and use other cards to take actions and conduct battles. The playing space is defined by a set of six map cards that depict the areas of North Africa between Cairo in the East and Algeria in the West. The cards contain a map showing the rough location of the space as well as any rules specific...Read More
Hindenburg’s Hour: The Tannenberg Campaign, 1914 Game Review Publisher: Dr. Richter Konflictsimulationen \ Gesellschaft für historische simulationen (Society for historical simulations), Designer: Benjamin Richter Price $29.95 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Solitaire game. Compact game with die cut counters. Small table footprint that is perfect for small spaces or as a travel companion. Fast playing game that models the high-level decision making by the German Eighth Army in the Tannenberg campaign. Nice map that captures the feel of the period while still overlaid with a hex grid for movement. Failed Basic: Could have used a spare small plastic bag in which to store the counters, once punched out. Good things do come in small packages! Dr. Benjamin Richter has produced a compact, elegant game that covers the Russian invasion of East Prussia in 1914. While the main armies of Germany, Britain and France clashed in the West, a single German army fended off an invasion by two numerically superior, though less capable Russian armies. The German plan is to protect...Read More
Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62. Publisher: GMT Games Designer: Brian Train. Price: $75.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Gorgeous, heavy duty mounted map board. Clear, well written rules. Excellent players guide with examples of both two-player and solitaire play. Separate play aids for both the two player and solitaire games. Failed Basic: None. The French-Algerian War is a lesser known conflict in the United States. Some of this is understandable as the dual language barriers of the French and North African participants limit the quantity of material available. The most accessible English-language study remains Alistair Horne’s Savage War of Peace, which provides a solid, if somewhat dated overview of the conflict. The conflict encapsulates many trends of the modern age and in some sense provided a vision of the nature of conflicts to come in the Cold War era. Algeria is a montage of Mediterranean settlement patterns for the past three millennia. Even today the landscape features the remains of colonization efforts by Rome, the Ottoman Empire and most...Read More
“Putin’s Strikes: The Coming War for Eastern Europe” Game Review Publisher: One Small Step Games Designer: Ty Bomba Price $54.95 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Heavy duty box, relatively straightforward rules. Crisp, clean counter design. Great candidate for a solitaire module. The game does a good job of delivering information about the boundary between Europe and Russia as well as the correlation of forces expected in the theater. Air support rules are quick and clean. Failed Basic: Unique game mechanics will force veteran players out of their comfort zone. Game play for the Allied player has few choices and limits enjoyment. Game lacks an order of battle which can lead to some confusion if the optional Russian counters get mixed with the standard counters. A little too expensive. Way back in the dark ages of the 1980’s a popular sub-genre of board game was the ‘modern game’. Classic board games like GDW’s Third World War, Victory Game’s NATO, SPI’s Next War or the Central Front series. Most explored different aspects...Read More
Triumph and Tragedy, 2nd Edition Game Review Publisher: GMT Designer: Craig Besinque Price: $95.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Heavy duty box, high quality mounted map board. Durable thick, cut cardboard counters and tiles. High quality wooden blocks with stickers detailing unit abilities. Rules are clearly written and to the point. Playing pieces depict various combat units and status markers. Failed Basic: Some assembly is required. As with most block games, the players of the game must attach the unit stickers to the wooden blocks before play can commence. Fortunately, this is a one-time chore that is best viewed as part of the unboxing of the game. It gets a little tedious if tackled by one person all at once. OCD people may find it mildly distressing as you try and align the stickers perfectly on the blocks. Plan ahead and don’t expect to unwrap the box and start playing the game without allowing for this work. Triumph and Tragedy will appeal to those gamers that want to really explore...Read More
1846: Race for the Midwest Game Review Publisher: GMT Designer: Tom Lehman Price $69.00 Ray Garbee Passed inspection: Heavy duty box. Hi quality components with thick cardboard glossy color terrain hex tiles and cardboard tokens. Rules are clearly written and illustrated with examples of play. Failed Inspection: None. From a component and rules standpoint, this is a very well executed game. Ever wondered what it must be like to live the hard life of a corporate president? Sure, they make bank, but really, how hard could the job be? The job basically consists of “Sell more widgets! Cut costs! Keep the shareholders happy!” Easy, right? Well now you too can share the experience of leading a major corporation by playing GMT Games 1846: Race for the Midwest! This is ostensibly a game that pits players against each other as they build competing railroads from the Eastern United States to connect with the emerging markets of the American Midwest. But that façade conceals the true game – a game of...Read More
Conquest of Paradise – 2nd edition Game Review Publisher: GMT Designer: Kevin McPartland $57.00 Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: Heavy duty box, high quality mounted map board. Durable thick, cut cardboard counters and tiles. Rules are clearly written and to the point. Playing pieces are painted wooden blocks for villages and cardboard counters for explorers, canoes and warriors. Failed Basic: None. This game is almost perfect. Jared Diamond’s 1997 book Guns, Germs and Steel is a brilliant study in the origins, rise and fall of imperialist powers. While today we associate “Imperialism” with the 18th-20th Century global domination by (mostly) western European powers, Diamond offered a scaled down case study of Imperialism in the form of Polynesian settlement across the Pacific. It’s a great book. Find a copy and read it. You’ll learn something. But before you do that, run out and buy a copy of Kevin McPartland’s “Conquest of Paradise”. Specifically, the deluxe second edition. Conquest of Paradise is a game of exploration, settlement and conquest. The core concept...Read More
Hot War: Battle for Oil Game Review. Publisher: Zvezda. Designer: Konstantin Krivenko. Price: $69.95. Game Review by Ray Garbee Ray Garbee Passed Inspection: High quality components. Heavy duty cardboard map boards. Full color rule and scenario books that are well illustrated. Detailed example of play that demonstrates the mechanics. Cleanly integrates ammunition and casualties into the game system. Failed Basic: Game only provides data for units included in the box. Missing the canopies for both helicopters. A plain vanilla model of the M1. “Hot War: Battle for Oil” is a Zvezda board game that is part of the Art of Tactics series. It shares the same game system as the Barbarossa 41 game. The game is set in a fictional historical past of the 1990’s where the Soviet Union did not dissolve. Instead, the Soviets and the United States (and presumably the rest of their respective allies) have escalated their competition into open war. The setting is an un-named Middle Eastern state that serves as a faceless backdrop for...Read More