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Posted on Oct 16, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Star Wars Armada Clone Wars”  Table Top Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Michael Gernes and Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt Price $99.00 (Starter Sets) and $25 Fighter Booster Packs Passed Inspection:   perfectly captures the Star Wars feel, great looking miniatures and components, easy to learn, fast playing Failed Basic star fighter stands come apart during play, very expensive, no built in solo system, boxes don’t hold up as storage for the game, rules reference is not included and must be downloaded and printed The two Hardcell transports took up positions in the asteroid field as Count Dooku paced the bridge on one of the armed transports.  “Captain, when will we be in position to launch the prototype Tri Fighters?” he asked exasperated.  The human commander nervously turned from speaking with the comm officer and looked at the Count.  “We are a ready  to launch now, my lord.  But we just received a parameter alert.  Two Republic Consular cruisers just jumped in to the system.  Passive scans seem to indicate that...

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Posted on Oct 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features, Games PR

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

Or, “What I Did On My Post-Summer Vacation” Origins 2021 was held September 30, 2021 through October 3rd, 2021. It was a unique event, but then these are unique times, eh? I was able to attend on Friday and Sunday. Over the course of my time, I snapped some shots of things that might be of interest to our tabletop gaming audience. If I missed, you, your event or your booth, my apologies, it was a bit of a whirlwind experience. The convention center is a large facility with huge halls. You could park an airliner of two inside these spaces! The new parking garage on the north end of the facility added a lot of much needed parking! The registration desk space was well organized and running efficiently. Across the room was the pre-registration check in stations. This was fast and easy with a staff member on hand to assist with any issues. I arrived very early on Friday morning with vendors completing their set up. Origins 2021...

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Posted on Sep 25, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

On the Origins of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. Book Review.

On the Origins of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. Book Review.

“They pay me to be an Admiral, not to think!” This quote attributed to Berkley Milne sums up an era of change that transformed the organization of the Royal Navy at the dawn of the Twentieth Century.  Author Christopher M. Buckey explores this transformation in his recent book Genesis of the Grand Fleet: The Admiralty, Germany and the Home Fleet, 1896-1914. Buckley examines the factors and personalities that led to the creation of the mighty armada that was a foundational element in the Entente’s victory in the First World War. Buckey spotlights the truism that while technological superiority is definitely important in naval warfare, it means little if not paired with an effective tactical plan that in turn rests on a solid foundation of strategy. Buckey explores the intersection of geography, politics and personality and how these factors shaped the formation of the Royal Navy in the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War.  The book serves as an effective proof that geography matters. The...

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Posted on Sep 2, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“300 Earth & Water”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: Nuts Publishing and Bonsai Games   Distributed by Ares Games  Designer:  Yasushi Nakaguro and Antonio Stappaerts   Price $29.99 Passed Inspection:     Very easy to learn; beautiful box and artwork; small footprint; perfect game to take on a trip; great fun Failed Basic: typo on “Tribute to Earth and Water” card; a few alternative scenarios or advanced rules would add some variations to replays; in this Age of Covid solo rules would be a nice addition 300 Earth & Water is a new game which covers the 50 year war between Greece and Persia between 499 BC and 449 BC.  The game is designed to be easy to learn and fast to play.  An entire 5 campaign game can be played in 30 to 45 minutes.  It uses blocks and disks plus dice and cards to drive the game play. The game comes in a beautifully designed compact box of approximately 9” x 6 ½” x 1 ¼” (22.86 x 16.51 x 3.18 centimeters). ...

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

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“This is a story of the Battle of the Atlantic, the story of the ocean, two ships, and a handful of men. The men are the heroes; the heroines the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea that man has made more cruel….” The opening lines of the 1953 movie “The Cruel Sea” captures the feel of Alan Eagle’s recent solitaire game “Corvette Command”. In the game, the player takes on the role of the commander of an Flower class corvette (These were mostly Canadian and Royal Navy vessels). The player is tasked with escorting convoys of merchant ships back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between the United Kingdom and North America. Corvette Command creates a narrative of events in a way similar to the classic board game “B-17 Queen of the Skies”. Your escort vessel is tied to supporting the convoy (barring some random events) and moves across the sea zones. In each zone, you check for a number of events and try to...

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Posted on Aug 20, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Combat makes the pilot’s will to win stronger. With every fight they become much stronger. I got stronger with each victory. ”― Lieutenant Saburo Sakai, Ace Zero Pilot –  Zero Leader   Board Game  Review

“Combat makes the pilot’s will to win stronger. With every fight they become much stronger. I got stronger with each victory. ”― Lieutenant Saburo Sakai, Ace Zero Pilot –  Zero Leader   Board Game  Review

“Zero Leader”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG Games   Designer:  Chuck Seegert   Price $99.99 Passed Inspection:     perfectly captures the atmosphere and challenges of being a pilot for the Empire of Japan during WW2; fun to play; easy to learn; great AI; beautiful components and artwork; a nearly perfect game; years of replayability Failed Basic:      the Pearl Harbor campaign needs a tweak; the box needs to be deeper to hold all the goodies Full Disclosure – Rick Martin has designed Tiger Leader and Sherman Leader and is currently designing T34 Leader for DVG Games In 2018, I reviewed a game called Corsair Leader. It was a solo World War II aviation game in which you fly for the US Navy or Marines in the Pacific Theater.  It was one of my favorite games that year and a game I continue to play over and over again.  Now DVG Games has put out a companion game to Corsair Leader called Zero Leader.  Zero Leader tells the tale of Japanese Army and Naval...

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Posted on Aug 7, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Resentment, Rebellion and Retribution: The Second Anglo-Sikh War 1848-1849. Book Review

Resentment, Rebellion and Retribution: The Second Anglo-Sikh War 1848-1849. Book Review

The Second Anglo-Sikh War.  Author: Amarpal Singh. Publisher: Amberley Publishing.  Price $ 25.00 In the later half of the 1840’s the Sikh state founded by Ranjit Singh found itself in competition with the expanding British Empire’s East India Company. A short conflict in 1845-46 had led to concessions by the Sikhs, with those concessions fostering resentments which sparked a second war in 1848. Amarpal Singh’s book The Second Anglo-Sikh War provides a comprehensive overview of the war, it’s causes and the aftermath. The book is divided between an extensive portrait of the personalities and events that led to the second war and the campaign and battles that resulted in the defeat of the Sikh armies and the annexation of the Sikh territory into the British Empire. Starting from the final events of the First Anglo-Sikh War, Amarpal Singh provides a detailed narrative that delves into the personalities of the coming war. The reader is introduced to the feudal nobility of the Sikh leaders and the families. You’ll gain insights...

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Posted on Jul 24, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Take a Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea with The Bathyscape Trieste. Book Review.

Take a Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea with The Bathyscape Trieste. Book Review.

Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. 2021.  Authors: Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mathers. Naval Institute Press. 304 pages. Price: $44.95 ISBN: 978-1-6824-7591-1 The United States Navy submarine branch has long carried the nickname as the “Silent Service”. During the Cold War that phrase referred to both how quiet the boats were as well as the often-clandestine nature of their work. While not as glamourous as the attack boats and boomers, research submersibles like the Trieste, Alvin and the NR-1 performed critical missions and often operated under the cloak of deep waters. Now, Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mather bring the origins of the deep submersible operations to the surface in their recent book Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. The Trieste was one of the earliest of the submersibles designed from the pressure hull outward as a way for a human crew to explore the deep ocean and ultimately, to explore the very bottom of the sea. Trieste, and her crew of Jacques Piccard and...

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Posted on Jul 12, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

The Flutist of Arnhem covers “A Bridge Too Far”.

The Flutist of Arnhem covers “A Bridge Too Far”.

The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden. Author: Antonio Gil. Publisher: Dead Reckoning. 152 pages. Price $ 24.95 ISBN: 9781682474631 I first encountered the defense of Arnhem bridge in Cornelius Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far”. Later came the movie with a cast of thousands and a number board games covering aspects of the operation. Antonio Gil revisits the events of this battle with his recent graphic novel “The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden”. Gil weaves a good overview of General Montgomery’s big push to end the war with a fictional tale of an SOE agent trying to deliver important documents to the Allied High Command. The two separate story lines intersect during the events of Operation Market Garden – the combined air assault and ground offensive designed to push the Allies over the Rhine and into Germany. The book retells the story Operation Market Garden with enough detail to understand the events, without getting bogged down within individual combat actions. While the...

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Posted on Jul 9, 2021 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

An Amazing Virtual CCG Experience KARDS Computer Card Game Review

An Amazing Virtual CCG Experience KARDS Computer Card Game Review

KARDS –   Computer Game Preview.  Publisher: 1939 Games   Lead Game Designer: Gudmundur Kristjansson  Price: The base game is free but expansion packs can be purchased starting at $2.99. Way back in 2018, Armchair General did a preview of the World War 2 themed virtual collectable card game KARDS.  Well now its 2021 and the game is going strong.  Here is our much anticipated full review of KARDS!  In order to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I have used some material from my original preview in this full review. World War 2 themed card games have been few and far between.  Two standouts that I played almost all the time many years ago are the fantastic Echelons of Fury and The Last Crusade.  During this decade, DVG Games’ Warfighter has breathed new life in to the genre and is considered a classic by many. Now, a company out of Reykjavik, Iceland called 1939 Games is developing a World War II themed CCG (Collectable Card Game) with a twist – the...

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

Where’s There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – “Smokejumpers” Board Game Review

Where’s There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – “Smokejumpers” Board Game Review

Smokejumpers. Publisher: Microgame Design Group. Designer: Kerry Anderson. Price $ 30.00 Passed inspection: Solid components and well laid out rules. Failed basic: It’s a harsh, but realistic model for controlling wildfires. If the fire gets away from you because the weather shifted unexpectedly – you may lose the game through no fault of your own decision-making. Growing up in a midwestern suburb we had our share of natural hazards. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, blizzards, even the rare red flag event when open fires were discouraged. But wild fires were not a hazard with which we had to contend. The only exposure to forest fire was via movies like “Fire on Kelly Mountain” or “Always”. Sometimes we’d encounter the effects of wildfires during our infrequent travels to the southeast or western parts of North America. On those trips, it was the occasional appearance of a charred landscape, or smoke tainted air were the rare signs that wild fire was an ever-present natural hazard. Working to contain fires is often expressed in martial...

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Posted on Jun 29, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Age of Dogfights Takes Us to the Dangerous Skies of World War II – Kickstarter Preview

Age of Dogfights Takes Us to the Dangerous Skies of World War II – Kickstarter Preview

Age of Dogfights World War II Board Game Preview.  Publisher: Forsage Games  Designers:  Predrag Lazovic and Dragan Lazovic Age of Dogfights World War II is a sequel to Age of Dogfights World War I.  Age of Dogfights World War II is currently active on Kickstarter and Armchair General has been fortunate to have been sent a demo of the game to preview.  Forsage Games of Serbia again utilizes their patented “Triangle System” of movement.  Previously Armchair General reviewed their modern tactical naval battles game “Naval Battles in the Archipelago” and “Age of Dogfights World War I” which also both use their movement system. You can find the Kickstarter campaign at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1732812836/age-of-dogfights-wwii While the game’s components are not finalized based upon fulfilling Kickstarter goals, the components seem to be close to what was included in the World War I edition, namely: 3 bi-fold maps 4 board extensions 60 aircraft counters 112 plastic altitude stands including level flying and banked versions 2 tilt compensators Initial position markers 21 control panels Fuel tracking...

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Posted on Jun 26, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ArtificiaI Intelligence. Book Review

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ArtificiaI Intelligence. Book Review

The birth of AI is coming, and it’s going to be messy. You’re thinking about Skynet, aren’t you? Or maybe the visage of giant, self-aware autonomous armored vehicles rolling across the battlefield dealing death and destruction as they execute their instructions. Well, relax, because it’s not going to be a self-aware AI like Skynet or lumbering super tanks…well, probably not like...

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

Operation Judgement: The Taranto Raid Hits the Tabletop in “Terrible Swift Swordfish”. Board Game Review

Operation Judgement: The Taranto Raid Hits the Tabletop in “Terrible Swift Swordfish”. Board Game Review

Terrible Swift Swordfish. Publisher: LPS, Inc. Designer: Roberto Chiavini. Price $19.95 Passed inspection: Generates an engaging narrative of the attack on Taranto. Simple rules that lead player through gameplay. Color map of the Taranto harbor area. Color counters represent each plane in the attack.  Failed basic: The rules are printed as part of the gameboard as white text on a medium blue background. The combination of distance from the eye combined with the relatively small size of the text and the contrast between text and background may pose an issue for readability for visually impaired players.   There’s a long history of synergy between history books and historical board games. An engaging historical game can prompt a player to seek out additional information through various books and maps. The converse is true where inspiring historical books can motivate the reader to find a historical game on the topic. For  me, David Hobbes book Taranto was the catalyst which led to the acquisition of the tabletop game Terrible Swift Swordfish...

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

We’re Eyeball to Eyeball – Now’s Who’s Going to Blink? Plague Island Games Takes on the Cold War in “2 Minutes 2 Midnight.” Board Game Review

We’re Eyeball to Eyeball – Now’s Who’s Going to Blink? Plague Island Games Takes on the Cold War in “2 Minutes 2 Midnight.” Board Game Review

...Stuart Tonge’s upcoming game 2 Minutes to Midnight explores the Cold War in the form of a game in which atomic weapons were still sought after and stockpiled, while the United States and Soviet Union competed for dominance by using means that fell short of a Global Thermonuclear War. Starting in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War the players strive to expand their influence and rebuild nations shattered by war. Their ultimate goal - create a global community in which they are recognized as the dominant socio-political economic philosophy. In other words, it’s a geopolitical struggle for the ages....

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Posted on Jun 5, 2021 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Fight the Civil War Right On Your Cell Phone or Computer John Tiller’s Civil War Battles Computer Game  Review

Fight the Civil War Right On Your Cell Phone or Computer John Tiller’s Civil War Battles Computer Game  Review

“John Tiller’s Civil War Battles”  Computer Game Review.  Published and Designed by John Tiller Software Price – Free Passed Inspection:    Available on PC, Mac, Android and I Phone.  Easy to learn; fully implements touch screens on modern cell phones; great sound effects and easy to discern graphics; full on-line cloud stored PDF instructions included; completely free Failed Basic:     no way to cancel out an incorrect unit order, operational tempo can be difficult to plan as you often don’t know how long you have to achieve an objective This review is dedicated to John Albert Tiller who passed away April 26th from brain cancer – (1953 to 2021).  John brought us many fine computer game designs over the last 26 years.  John’s first games were designed for TalonSoft back in 1995 and include Battleground Ardennes and Battleground Gettysburg.  Leaving Talonsoft, John formed John Tiller Software and the rest, as they say, is history.  John’s games run on PCs, Macs, tablets and cell phones.  He will be missed by his extended...

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

Touring the Crystal Palace: Unboxing “2 Minutes 2 Midnight.”

Touring the Crystal Palace: Unboxing “2 Minutes 2 Midnight.”

Ron Perlman’s narration in the Fallout game series usually opens and closes with the phrase “War never changes”. But in the latter half of the twentieth century, we saw that war did change. The invention of the atomic bomb and the end of World War Two ushered in an era in which some weapons had become so destructive that it was impossible to rationalize their mass use, except as a form of deterrent. Plague Island Games current project 2 Minutes to Midnight explores this period of history in the form of a game in which atomic weapons were still sought after and stockpiled, while the United States and Soviet Union compete for dominance using means that fell short of all out global thermonuclear war.  Starting in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, in a devastated global landscape, the players strive to expand their influence and rebuild nations shattered by war. Their ultimate goal is to create a global community in which they are recognized as the dominant...

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Posted on May 18, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Who are the Britons?”  Morgane Gouyon-Rety Mints a Roman COIN Embedded in Arthurian Legend with GMT’s “Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain”. Board Game Review

“Who are the Britons?” Morgane Gouyon-Rety Mints a Roman COIN Embedded in Arthurian Legend with GMT’s “Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain”. Board Game Review

Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain. GMT Games. Designer: Morgane Gouyon-Rety. Price $95.00 Passed inspection: An exiting four player game that explores the decline of Roman Britain. Engaging game play with high replay potential. Failed basic: The font used on event card headers evokes the period, but some players found it difficult to read. This only impacts the title – the event text itself was easy to read. GMT Game’s Counter Insurgency (COIN) series has been a literal game changer for strategy games. While the core rules of the series explores conflicts grounded in asymmetrical warfare, each new title has adapted and evolved to bring something fresh to the game table. Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain  is no exception. In Pendragon, the eighth title in the COIN series, game designer Morgane Gouyon-Rety started with the foundation of the traditional four-player COIN game and transformed it into a struggle depicting the decline of Roman Britain. The imprint of Roman colonization can still be seen across the landscape of modern...

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Posted on May 16, 2021 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

“War and Resistance in the Philippines 1942-1944.” Book Review.

“War and Resistance in the Philippines 1942-1944.” Book Review.

War and Resistance in the Philippines 1942-1944. 2021.  Author: James Kelly Morningstar. Naval Institute Press. 384 pages. ISBN: 9781682475690 The popular perception of the Philippines during the Second World War is shaped by a handful of key events – the surrender of Corregidor, The Bataan Death March, MacArthur’s pledge to return and of course, the actual return of US combat forces to the Philippines beginning in 1944. But between the bookends of General Wainwright’s surrender of Corregidor and General MacArthur’s return at Leyte was a period of over a thousand days during which the Philippine islands were occupied by the Japanese Empire. Conventional histories suggests that the Filipino people were a people without agency, led into resistance by a handful of American troops that took to the hills, with a s trickle of aid provided by the United States and motivated by the remote directions of General MacArthur from Australia.  Dr. James Kelly Morningstar’s recent book War and Resistance in the Philippines 1942-1944 dispels that traditional interpretation and explores the...

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