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Category Archives: First Impressions

First Impressions of NWS’s Rule the Waves

Developed and published by NWS

Reviewed by Boggit, 26 September 2015

“They [the Sea Lords] must cease to say ‘This is the ideal plan; How can we get enough money to carry it out?’ They must say instead ‘Here is a sovereign; How much can we squeeze out of it that will really count for victory in a naval war?’” Lord Selborne, First Lord of the Admiralty. (Selborne to the Admiralty Permanent Secretary (16th February 1903) in “Distribution of Business 1904”, Adm. 1/7737 P.R.O.). (The quote refers to Selborne’s concern of impending financial crisis arising from the continued construction of modern warships in the numbers and varieties required to protect all of Britain’s maritime interests.)

The British Grand Fleet in WW1 (Courtesy: British Library)

The British Grand Fleet in WW1 (Courtesy: British Library)

Rule the Waves is the latest game presentation from NWS covering the naval arms race period of 1900-1925. The campaign map covers the entire world, portrayed as areas representing the spheres of influence of the Great Powers of the time. The scale of the game is in monthly turns, and your units range from little minesweepers to massive dreadnoughts. Working with a limited budget you face Lord Selborne’s dilemma of creating and maintaining a navy that will win a naval war.

First Impressions of Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men

Slinging dice?  Awwww, yeaaaaaah!

Michael Eckenfels, 5 September 2015

The Dice Masters phenomenon has been going on for a while now, starting with Quarriors! and blowing up into several different themes, including Dungeons and Dragons, Yu-Gi-Oh, and too many others for me to even want to wrap my head around. It’s bad enough that I already have been collecting two of these damnable things, though I’ve slowed my purchases of them greatly in the last few months (mostly to spend it on X-Wing Miniatures stuff, but more articles on that later).

For those curious, the Avengers vs. X-Men Dice Masters game is one of the more popular iterations of this system (because hey, Marvel), but is relatively easy to find in hobby stores or online. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you’re addicted to something bad, is having it readily available a good thing, necessarily?

Dice are the new crack.

Dice are the new crack.

Quick & Dirty! First Impressions of Battle Academy 2: Battle of Kursk Expansion

We’ve got a full review coming later, but we wanted to tease you with some first impressions from Slitherine’s new Battle Academy expansion.

Vance Strickland, 8 April 2015

The newest offering for Slitherine’s Battle Academy 2 is an expansion pack containing 2 new campaigns.

Each campaign takes place during the Battle for Kursk in July 1943. Players take on the role of the German attackers in the northern fighting and the Russian defenders in the southern pincer fighting.

Germans fight in the north.

Germans fight in the north.

First Impressions: World War II in Europe

Published by Schwerpunkt

Michael Eckenfels, 20 December 2014

Click images to enlarge, in some cases, a LOT…

If you want to look for a ‘labor of love’ wargame, look no further than the massive, latest game by Schwerpunkt: World War II Europe (hereafter referred to as WW2E). The game, including graphics, engine, scenarios, and documentation, were all put together by two individuals (Ron Dockal and KC). In the true spirit of a “ma and pa” organization (as Schwerpunkt itself puts it on their own website), this game has been a long time coming and has been greatly anticipated. As it has just been released in recent weeks, GrogHeads is pleased to give you this “first impression” of the game; a full review, and quite possibly some AARs, will be forthcoming.

The Help file looks incredibly wordy, but it walks you step-by-step through how the game works.

The Help file looks incredibly wordy, but it walks you step-by-step through how the game works.


Since the release of AGW (Anglo-German War) about ten years ago, Schwerpunkt put itself on the radar of many grog-minded gamers, and WW2E looks like much more of the same, at least at an initial glance. The game covers tons of scenarios across the entire scope of World War II in Europe, with a promised upcoming ‘Grand Campaign’ that will allow one to battle across the entire map of Europe. In the meantime, there are dozens of scenarios to wade around in.

Take your pick of scenarios – though some are still forthcoming and not complete yet.

Take your pick of scenarios – though some are still forthcoming and not complete yet.

First Impressions of Pike and Shot

By Boggit, 1 November 2014

Developed by Byzantine Games and published by Matrix/Slitherine

O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not forget me.” It was immediately followed with the order -“March on, boys!”(The Royalist General, Lord Jacob Astley’s battlefield prayer, Edgehill 1642)

Pike and Shot is a battalion/regimental level wargame set during the Renaissance era. It features three conflicts: the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War, and the Italian Wars. It also offers a tutorial campaign, a quick-play skirmish mode, multi-player, and a game editor to allow users to design their own scenarios.

Pike and Shot’s opening screen showing all the main options

Pike and Shot’s opening screen showing all the main options

It is described by Slitherine as being heavily influenced by the Field of Glory series, and as a very keen digital Field of Glory player I was enthusiastic about checking it out by way of comparison. It is, however, quite a different game in many subtle respects, and to draw too much comparison with digital Field of Glory can lead to some disappointment if you are expecting a Renaissance clone of that game – since it has a different feel to its play, as I am told by Richard Bodley Scott (the lead designer) that it is based upon the table top game, which for a Grog is a massive bonus for this type of game. If you can dissociate the two games, and play Pike and Shot on its own merits, it is an interesting and absorbing game. The maps and unit blocks all look very clear and nice, giving a good 17th Century impression with the visuals. I’d have liked to have been able to zoom closer to see more of my unit detail than is currently allowed with the system, but that is a minor gripe, with what are essentially nice game graphics. One thing immediately apparent is that generally there are fewer elements in play compared to your average digital Field of Glory game, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.