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World at War: Blood and Bridges and Operation Garbo – First Impressions!

Michael Eckenfels takes a look at two of Lock’n’Load’s key expansions to the World at War universe

Lock ‘N Load’s World at War series is a huge compendium of NATO vs. Warsaw Pack wargaming goodness, with several titles detailing that hypothetical conflict. In this First Impressions article, we’re taking a look at both Blood and Bridges and Operation Garbo as they are unboxed.

Click images to enlarge.  A lot.

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Blood and Bridges has what I’d think of as a ‘standard’ size wargame box, with Garbo being a bit smaller in both height and width. That’s a little annoying to someone as anal as I am when it comes to storing and displaying games (as well as books, actually), but that’s about the only bad thing I can say (and it’s not even THAT bad). The artwork, done by veteran artist Marc von Martial, is his usual high standard of excellence.

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The backs of both boxes. I like that the Complexity and Solitaire ratings stand out so well.

 

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The rulebook for Blood and Bridges is of a superb quality; it feels like a magazine, and is in full color throughout.

 

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A peek inside the Blood and Bridges manual. I like the standard organization of rules (1.1, 1.2, etc.) and the layout, two columns per page.

 

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The counters really stand out. The font is pretty interesting and has a total retro 80s feel to it. The colors, too, are sharp and make units easily distinguishable. Each unit counter has the usual plethora of information on them, but it’s all well-organized to not make it overwhelming.

 

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Two Player Aid charts are in here as well – both also full color and of high quality. I’m almost afraid to manipulate anything from out of this box, since they all have a great look and feel to them.

 

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No game would be complete without dice. It’s admittedly odd to see just normal dice in the middle of all this great design work, though.

 

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The maps are actually of very hardy, thick stock. Very impressive.

 

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This map actually reminds me of my original Squad Leader game, for some reason.

 

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The laid-out map is…well, it’s a map. The component itself is excellent quality; the map itself is fairly dull-looking, though. After slowly peeling away layer after awesomely-designed layer, coming to this map is something of a disappointment. It’s tough to be blown away by great design to see a relatively simple map, but that’s probably the whole point. The look and feel of the average German countryside doesn’t seem to be quite captured – at first glance, anyway.

 

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Taking a closer look at the detail, there are things that stand out that did not immediately. There seems to be battle damage in the form of smashed houses and churned earth; there is a slight shadow to the bridge over the water; and the buildings look decent, if cookie-cutter. However, after my initial less-than-thrilled impression, I can see that keeping the map less busy and standardized throughout would help during play. Time will tell, once this hits the table for gaming a few times.

 

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Now, on to Operation Garbo. This game portrays a hypothetical conflict between Sweden and the Soviets. This is the rule book, which isn’t nearly as nice quality as the Blood and Bridges book is.

 

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The black-and-white interior of the Garbo book doesn’t stand out, but it is just as well-organized and easy to read as the Blood and Bridges manual.

 

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I really like the colors they use for the Swedes, as the contrast between the background color and the rest of the counter’s info is sharp. The Soviets are the same as in Blood and Bridges, which is hardly a bad thing.

 

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There are two Player Aid cards, both in full color and looking good.

 

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The Garbo maps are not nearly as thick as the Blood and Bridges map; it’s a pretty standard stock thickness and not as sturdy as the other. There are two maps included in this game, one labeled A and the other B.

 

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It’s interesting to note that while the game says there are TWO maps included, my copy actually had FOUR. However, they’re repeats; so there’s two A maps and two B maps. Very strange; this must have been a packing mistake, and I’d wonder how many other copies of Garbo have this.

 

It will be great to get both of these to the table and put them through their paces – which we are working on right now. Stay tuned for full reviews, one for each game!


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