Modern Land Battles – First Look!

Jim Owczarski, 16 September 2015

It is sobering to note that the original “Modern Naval Battles” card game dates back to 1989.  It and its offspring have remained one of the more successful titles in the canon of Dan Verssen.  I must confess myself, however, to be not the greatest fan of modern naval battles so I’ve somehow managed to give it a miss all these years.  Now, however, comes this box in the mail and matters are different:

Oh...my...

Oh…my…

It’s not the “Field Commander” or “Tiger Leader” monster box and it’s all together lighter than either.  Inside is a rule book, a sheet of counters, a wee bag of four 10-sided dice, and a lot of nicely-done cards.

 

All shrinked up and no place to go.

All shrinked up and no place to go.

 

There are three main types of cards.  The first are the “Force” cards representing various units from the seven different nations represented.  Here you will find the first several of the game’s many abstractions.  Units represent an undefined organizational level; although I will say they feel kind of battalion-y to me.  There are force pools available from seven countries, but each nation’s troops are taken from a slightly different era in world history.  This is why, for example, you’ll find a U.S.S.R. deck, and why the Israeli deck is of some antiquity.

Oh, the scenario possibilities.

Oh, the scenario possibilities.

 

I don’t know if Dan Verssen Games has ever been widely reputed as such, but it has often seemed to be the master of what some would denigrate as war-tech pornography and what I regard as games-that-come-with-buckets-of-cool-toys.  A few samples to make my case:

 

Yeah, they've got T-34s, too...

Yeah, they’ve got T-34s, too…

 

Pickup trucks with machine guns.  Good plan.

Pickup trucks with machine guns.  Good plan.

 

THIS is more like it.

THIS is more like it.

 

Let me tell you, that "9" on the M1A2 is a BIG deal.

Let me tell you, that “9” on the M1A2 is a BIG deal.

 

The other major set of cards are the action cards.  These serve a great many functions depending on how the players use them.  Principally, though, you have to match an ammunition symbol on the action card with a like symbol on a force card to get the latter to attack.  They can also heal hits on units, call in special events, assist in battlefield maneuver, and a whole lot of other things.

Git 'er done...wait, is that still a thing?

Git ‘er done…wait, is that still a thing?

 

So there’s what you get in the box.  I’ll be back later with a full review, but, for now, I’ll say two things:  First, this is an abstract game at many levels.  There’s already a dust-up on-line about whether it’s “too” abstract or whether it’s “realistic”.  Be advised no rivets will be counted in the playing of this one.  Second, I’m several games in already playing against my son and we are having a blast…pun intended.  If you have questions about the game and how it’s played, feel free to post them in the forum.


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One Response to Modern Land Battles – First Look!

  1. […] in the period following the Second World War.  I’ve already done a piece un-boxing the game (Modern Land Battles – First Look!) so what follows is a review of the game’s mechanics, level of simulation, and overall […]

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