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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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Posted on May 12, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Unboxing Kerry Anderson’s “Smokejumpers”

Unboxing Kerry Anderson’s “Smokejumpers”

Smokejumpers. Publisher: Microgame Design Group. Designer: Kerry Anderson. Price $ 30.00 A recent addition to the game library was Smokejumpers published by Microgame Design Group and designed by Kerry Anderson. Smokejumpers is a solitaire game which pits the player against the threat of wild fires. It’s not a wargame in the traditional sense, but it feels like one with the player having to maneuver their units, build works and use the terrain to their advantage. We’ll get a full review out soon, but for now, we’ll tease you this short description. The cover captures the theme of the game. The bagged edition of the game includes a cover sheet (pictured above) with the key charts for fire growth on the back. In addition there is a player aid sheet and one (1) counter sheet with nicely die cut, double-sided counters. The game has a relatively compact footprint, though this can be expanded by combining two or more of the four mapsheets together. We’re waiting for someone to call in...

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Posted on May 3, 2021 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

“Taranto And Naval Air Warfare in The Mediterranean, 1940-1945”. Book Review.

“Taranto And Naval Air Warfare in The Mediterranean, 1940-1945”. Book Review.

Taranto And Naval Air Warfare in The Mediterranean, 1940-1945. 2021.  Author: David Hobbs. Seaforth Publishing. 440 pages. ISBN: 978-1-5267-9383-6 Years ago, a professor encouraged us to attend as many seminars as possible. His reasoning was that while some seminars might be tedious and most would not be useful, occasionally, you’d encounter a seminar that was a valuable gem. This memory came to mind while reading David Hobb’s recent book Taranto and Naval Air Warfare in The Mediterranean 1940-1945. The book is a chronological history of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in the Mediterranean theater. In many ways Taranto is a sequel David Hobbs’ earlier books The Dawn of Carrier Strike. Taranto is an engaging story of the pilots of the Fleet Air Arm that conveys how, to paraphrase Churchill, so many owed so much to so few. But in this case the “so few” are the pilots of the Fleet Air Arm serving in the Mediterranean theater. By focusing on the Fleet Air Arm, David Hobbs provides a narrative...

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

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”―Julius Caesar – Caesar Rome vs Gaul Board Game

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”―Julius Caesar – Caesar Rome vs Gaul Board Game

“Caesar Rome vs Gaul”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT  Games   Designer:  Mark Simonitch  Developer:  Mitchell Land   Price $60.00 Passed Inspection:    Easy to learn; fast game play; beautiful and useful components; printing is large enough for “mature” eyes to read; high replay value; easy to solo play (contrary to the low solo listing on GMT’s website); almost everything you need is on the game board; excellent value for the price Failed Basic:     influence counters cover town names; subdued tribes don’t count towards victory points; no solo rules included; no zip lock bags included for the counters components Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul needs no introductions to most war gamers thanks in no small part to Caesar’s own writings on his campaigns.  I first read Caesar’s Gallic Campaign book when I was fifteen years old and it brought ancient history to life in a whole new way for me.  Now you can bring that same ancient history to life through this game! GMT’s Caesar Rome vs Gaul was released in the...

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Posted on Apr 14, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

From Biplanes to Ballistic Missiles — The Career of General Thomas S. Power. “To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of Strategic Air Command in the Cold War”. Book Review.

From Biplanes to Ballistic Missiles — The Career of General Thomas S. Power. “To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of Strategic Air Command in the Cold War”. Book Review.

To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of Strategic Air Command in the Cold War. 2021.  Author: Brent D. Ziarnick. Naval Institute Press. 312 pages. ISBN: 978-1-68-2475874 The National Museum of the United States Air Force has an impressive collection of artifacts representing the Cold War and the Strategic Air Command. The hulking airframe of a B-36 Peacemaker heavy bomber dominates the hall. The Peacemaker is flanked by the sleek lines of the B-47 Stratojet and B-58 Hustler jet bombers. The adjacent missile gallery houses the silent pillars of ballistic missiles that made up a third of the nation’s nuclear triad. But you can walk the length and breadth of the museum and not find a mention of General Thomas S. Power. It’s surprising as General Power led the Strategic Air Command through both the trying test of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the transformation of SAC into a strike force encompassing both the bomber and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Dr. Brent D. Ziarnick aims...

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Posted on Mar 20, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

The Eagle and the Sun Duel at Okinawa in “Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ugaki’s Thunder Gods, and the Kamikaze War Off Okinawa”. Book Review.

The Eagle and the Sun Duel at Okinawa in “Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ugaki’s Thunder Gods, and the Kamikaze War Off Okinawa”. Book Review.

Rain of Steel is an indispensable reference for understanding the Okinawa campaign. Moore’s book leaves the reader with a good understanding of how the scope of the campaign extended well beyond the waters surrounded Okinawa. Reading the book, the reader gains an understanding of how both the tenacious Japanese defense as well as the cost in lives and material, shaped US planning for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

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Posted on Mar 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Retro Review # 4 “Beware the Hun in the Sun!” Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review

Retro Review # 4 “Beware the Hun in the Sun!” Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review

Retro Review # 4 Ace of Aces Wingleader Game Review.  Publisher: Nova Game Designs   Game Designer: Alfred Leonardi   Price:  varies (EBay) Passed Inspection: Includes 24 different World War II fighters, easy to learn, can be played almost in real time, different levels of complexity Failed Basic:  out of print so it can be difficult to find, not solo compatible Ace of Aces Wingleader is 33 years old this year and its World War I version is 41 years old as it came out in 1980.  First gracing the shelves of your friendly neighborhood game store in 1988 (for me it was the Tin Soldier in Dayton, Ohio), Ace of Aces has not lost any of its allure and, like a fine wine, seems to get better with age.  For Retro Review Number 4, come with me in our fighter plane of the imagination and let’s take a closer look at the Ace of Aces Wing Leader game system. (The original Ace of Aces Retro Review can be read at: ...

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

Remember to Always Be Bold – The Campaigns of the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla. “By Stealth and Sea” Board Game Review.

Remember to Always Be Bold – The Campaigns of the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla. “By Stealth and Sea” Board Game Review.

By Stealth and Sea. Publisher: Dan Verssen Games. Designer: David Thompson. Price $72.00 Passed inspection: Quality components. Glossy rules and scenario book. Engaging gameplay that explores in detail a rarely covered aspect of the naval war in the Mediterranean. Failed basic: No faults with game play. A minor component fault with one warped game board. When I was a lad, Saturday afternoon B-movies were quite popular. One of these films was The Silent Enemy which depicted British efforts to defend Gibraltar against attacks from Italian frogmen on mini submarines. While it may seem like something straight out of a James Bond adventure, the exploits of the Italian “Decima Flottiglia MAS” (or the Tenth Assault Vehicle Flotilla) are firmly in the historical record. While the Italian Royal Navy struggled to compete against the British on the surface of the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the air, it was beneath the surface of the Mediterranean Sea where the efforts of these Italian commando frogmen demonstrated how skill and determination lead...

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