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Category Archives: Reviews

GrogHeads Reviews Order of Battle: Winter War

Airboy bundles up for a fight in the snow ~

Avery Abernethy, 1 April 2017

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Finland. The Finns were one of the few who repaid their World War 1 debts to the United States. I’ve had three enjoyable trips to Helsinki in the last thirty-five years. The Finns have good beer and you can take a “beer trolley” tour of Helsinki. “Hello” in Finland is “Hey” – the same way Auburn fans say hello to each other.

WinterWar-1 - Scenario 1 Intro

GrogHeads Reviews The Political Machine 2016

Is politics just a war by other means? ~

Avery Abernethy, 25 March 2017

The Political Machine 2016 is a light simulation of the 2016 Campaign for President of the United States by Stardock. The Political Machine debuted in 2004 and an updated version has been released for every subsequent US Presidential Election. The review is based on the 2016 simulation and I’ve not played the previous versions.

The game starts by selecting your avatar for the Presidency. You can select one of nineteen Democratic candidates, one of twenty-six Republican candidates, or build your own candidate. This is a two candidate race with no third party candidates. The leftist third party options are included with the Democrats (think Jill Stein) and the libertarian candidates are included with the Republican options (think Gary Johnson).

PolMach-game setup

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics – EPIC!

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.

Impressions of Strategic Command 3

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.

 

The old style artwork…

The old style artwork…

GrogHeads Reviews High Treason!

See you in court! ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 February 2017

Function before form!

Function before form!

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 Reviews Tank on Tank, Digital Edition

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.

tot-pic1

Classic Reviews – Revisiting of Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds in 2017

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.

Car Wars – A Trip Down The Memory Fast Lane, Part 8

The Car Wars retrospective is back! ~

Michael Eckenfels, 3 February 2016

click most images to enlarge

UNCLE ALBERT’S AUTO STOP & GUNNERY SHOP
2035 CATALOG

UA001

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.