Category Archives: Reviews
Jim descends further into his Napoleonic madness with massive-scale gaming ~
Jim Owczarski, 18 March 2017
I have been waiting for this one for a long time.
It’s almost unreal to me that Battle Cry, the first of Richard Borg’s “Commands and Colors” series, was released in 2000. I like the American Civil War well enough, but, from the beginning, I hoped that the simple, elegant system evident in the game could be elaborated into the best of all periods, Napoleonics.
In the years since, I’ve bought and happily played Memoir ’44 (2004), Commands and Colors: Ancients (2006), Battlelore (also 2006), not to mention the remarkable array of expansions, special editions, and the like for all these systems. I gave Zvezda’s Samurai Battles a miss if only because it’s the only era covered that doesn’t appeal to me.
True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep.
And then it came out. In 2010, GMT Games gave the waiting world Commands and Colors: Napoleonics. Sure, it was wooden blocks not lovely figures. Yes, it was the British, Spanish, and Portuguese versus the French. And, yes, for reasons known only to the grim gods of game production, the Prussians were excluded from the included Waterloo scenario. But it was Napoleonics and that, at first, was enough.
This was no longer the simplified rule set found in Battle Cry. There was the forming of square; different grades of horse, foot, and guns; and even elegant rules to differentiate leaders and national troop characteristics. In the latter case, French troops, and their famous columns, fight better in melee, while the British lines do real damage with ranged fire, &c.
After much fun was had, though, it was ultimately not enough. True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep. It is this that leads us to do really, really dumb things like this: Historicon 2010 Part V Wagram (Shako II) and Outro
For the record this is my shaky-cam — I’ve become better — but this game had run 14 hours before I had to leave with it far from finished.
And… a comparison with Strategic Command WW1 Breakthrough ~
Boggit, 23 February 2017
Developed by Fury Software, and Published by Slitherine
About three years ago I did a detailed review of Fury Software’s Strategic Command WW1: Breakthrough and ended up recommending it as “not only highly playable but also a very deep, subtle and immersive game.” What, I wonder, has Fury Software been doing since? Well, they’ve spent a couple of years working on their new WW2 game – Strategic Command WW2: War in Europe, and have changed their publisher.
So what’s it like?
The first thing to hit me between the eyes is the artwork. In comparison to SCWW1: Breakthrough, Strategic Command WW2 looks like a different game. Of course it is, but in comparison the artwork is stunning, and that includes the map, the counters, and the event notifications. It is a dramatic improvement.
See you in court! ~
Jim Owczarski, 18 February 2017
My love of the Napoleonic era is high, wide, and deep, but I’ve always taken the age of empire to be my second true love, if such a thing can be countenanced. Much of my early study of the era came from Jan Morris’ Pax Britannica trilogy, particularly the first volume, Heaven’s Command. Far from an academic exercise, it’s an evocative series of sketches of the men and women who peopled the British empire, giving more weight, it has always seemed to me, to the interesting as opposed to the more objectively significant, although one can certainly be both.
Grogheads gets under the hood with the new digital adaptation of the fast-and-furious Tank on Tank boardgame ~
Chris Paquette, 10 February 2017
Tank on Tank: Digital Edition is Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s computer adaptation of designer Peter Bogdasarian’s Tank on Tank board games covering the East and Western Fronts of World War II. The Digital Edition offers a combined version of both games though each theater can be purchased separately.
Tank on Tank, as described in the game manual, is “a low-complexity, Second War World War armored combat game.” The statement accurately captures the nature and flavor of both the tabletop game and the Digital Edition.
The game offers a simple, clean interface. On the start screen, there is an option to “Fight!” This jumps you into a randomly generated quick battle if you don’t want to fiddle with choosing a scenario or campaign.
The other game options deal mainly with the volume sound settings. There are no difficulty settings or anything else along those lines to fuss with. As far as I could tell, the “Arch Height” slider is only for adjusting a visual effect with no impact on game play.
Checking in on the original digital D&D classics ~
Avery Abernethy, 08 February 2017
The first computer adaptation of the Dungeons and Dragons game was Pool of Radiance released in 1988. The success of Pool of Radiance led SSI to release a series of D&D games often referred to as the “Gold Box” games. Almost thirty years has passed since their release, but they are still sold by www.gog.com in a package containing an additional six titles for $9.99. But are these games worth playing today on a modern computer?
Both Pool of Radiance (Pool) and Curse of the Azure Bonds (Curse) use the first edition D&D rules. These have some confusing conventions for gamers unfamiliar with the system. Armor class starts at 10 for someone with average dexterity wearing normal clothing. Plate Mail and Shield will get most characters to Armor Class 2. But add in magic items and your characters can have negative armor classes, up to -10. When you toss a fireball in this game you need to be able to assess the radius of effect, there is no convenient shadowed outline of the blast radius. Make a mistake and your front line fighters get singed. This will take a bit of refresher reading for someone who played D&D back in the 1980s. Players who never played tabletop D&D or the computer games based off that system will have to study the manual.
The Car Wars retrospective is back! ~
Michael Eckenfels, 3 February 2016
click most images to enlarge
UNCLE ALBERT’S AUTO STOP & GUNNERY SHOP
Ah, good ol’ Uncle Albert and his catalogs ‘o death. If the ‘basic’ Car Wars rules just didn’t have enough creative ways to destroy, maim, and otherwise disassemble, the Uncle Albert catalogs certainly helped pad those needs, and then some.
Another throwback to the classic review days of years gone by under another moniker ~
Brant Guillory, 03 January 2017
Warrior Knights is a board game of diplomacy, commerce, and, of course, warfare, in the Middle Ages. It is published by Fantasy Flight Games and available now. The game covers a hypothetical kingdom in Europe, with real-world territories along the edge of the map, such as Ceylon, Alexandria, and Syracuse.
The knights and barons involved are also hypothetical, but have names evocative of the kingdoms of the Middle Ages: Baron Raoul d’Emerande is Spanish, Baron Mieczyslaw Niebieski is Polish (or perhaps Czech). In all, there are 6 Barons, each with 4 subordinate nobles. Although the names are aligned by nationality, there is no real attempt to have them reflect any real personalities from history.
The original Warrior Knights was designed by Derek Carver and published in the mid-1980s by GDW. The current version is described by Fantasy Flight Games as being reinvented for a new generation while paying homage to the original. It does not appear that Mr. Carver was involved in the design of the current incarnation.