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Home of Wargamers Report: An Unexpected Journey, part 2 of 2

A Boggit’s tale

Day 2 of Home of Wargamers 2014

Part 2 of a Boggit’s Tale concludes the story with the Day 2 presentations, and concludes on Day 3 with the Saracen Warrior Trophy competition. Let’s get back to the games presented…

Peacock Hall

Here we saw

  • To End All Wars

To End All Wars is a classic AGEOD style game addressing the First World War. Why on earth did AGEOD produce this when First World War Gold is ostensibly an AGEOD game? Doesn’t it compete? The fact is that it’s nowhere near the same as the other game save for the link with AGEOD. It is not set at the Army level as First World War Gold is, but at the corps level with divisions, brigades, and regiments putting in appearances. Also the learning curve doesn’t leave you fighting the game.

 

Philippe Malacher – ‘Pocus’ on the forums - takes us to the border of East Prussia in To End all Wars

Philippe Malacher – ‘Pocus’ on the forums – takes us to the border of East Prussia in To End all Wars

If you are a player of AGEOD games, you will ease relatively comfortably into this. As I mentioned earlier, this is classic AGEOD with all the depth, attention to detail, decisions, and political events. This is definitely on my review list! It’s a solid looking, but nonetheless a starter base game – as with other recent AGEOD titles, it will be fleshed out over time with DLC to extend the range of campaigns, and scenarios. There are two 1914 Campaign games, the standard one in August, and a ‘what if’ campaign as a preparation for war starting in July where players can try out differing deployments to test the various national war plans.

Produced by the AGEOD team, it’s due out for the PC Q3 2014. It features both single and multiplayer.

  • Hannibal – Terror of Rome

Hannibal – Terror of Rome is the latest DLC expansion to Alea Jacta Est, but also to Birth of Rome, since in practice you should be able to play it with either game even if you only have one of them. For players totally new to the Alea Jacta Est series, Hannibal is a very exciting start point to get involved, since it is also a stand alone game in its own right. The expansion offers an additional 6 scenarios, including the Gallic War (in Cisalpine Gaul), Illyrian War, and 2nd Punic War (with 4 scenarios) and has AGEOD’s usual great attention to detail, and lots of special events are promised. Produced by the AGEOD team, the expansion is due out for the PC Q2 2014. It features both single and multiplayer.

 

The Gallic War being fought just round the corner from us – 2,250 years or so before we got to see it presented!

The Gallic War being fought just round the corner from us – 2,250 years or so before we got to see it presented!

This looks to be a very exciting series with plans announced to take the Alea Jacta Est base game as far as the Dark Ages – in fact, up to and including the Campaigns of Charlemagne! Two new DLC are planned for each year, with a 3rd Century AD Palmyran, and Persian Wars DLC currently in the pipeline, and due end of this year. A Britannia expansion pack is being considered next, featuring the Boudicca rebellion, the Roman invasion of Caledonia (Scotland), and the hypothetical, yet planned Roman invasion of Hibernia (Ireland). Greek wars were suggested as a possible third expansion to the ones mentioned here.

  • Distant Worlds Universe

I have covered this in a mini review, which you can read here

 

  • Gary Grigsby’s War in the West

I have tended to avoid Gary Grigsby’s eastern front games so far because if – War in the Pacific, and Eagle Day to Bombing the Reich were anything to go by – I was facing a gaming black hole that would suck me in for the next 10 years before I ever got to play another game! War in the West gave me the impression that I may have been a little too judgmental, and I was comforted by the suggestion that this game engine might be the basis for a more streamlined future War in the East 2, where playing the whole game is a realistic possibility without devoting half my life to it!

 

Approaching Rome, the Allies make their big push north

Approaching Rome, the Allies make their big push north

Despite the aforementioned, War in the West looks rather good. Set at the divisional, brigade, and regimental scale it plays out the Western front in World War 2. The Eastern front is abstracted, and the Axis player can transfer units between the fronts, having a cost-benefit effect. The emphasis of the game is on logistics, and preparation counts, as casualties particularly in amphibious and airborne operations will be high if the preparation isn’t in place – which is reflective of history. The logistic model can be automated according to player preferences, and the game apparently offers good modding support.

The air model appears good, and you can micromanage or set priorities for the AI. From what I saw, the AI did a pretty good job, and stops the game bogging down into the situation I hinted at where you drown in the micromanagement. All in all I might look further into this game. It struck me as a quality game with depth, but not a quagmire that would make me kiss goodbye to other games if I ever wanted to play it to the end!

War in the West is produced for the PC by 2 by 3 Games, and is expected to be released Q4 2014. It will feature both single and multiplayer. I shall be a good boy for Santa in the hope that it is ready for Christmas!

 

  • Brother against Brother – the Drawing of the Sword

This is the start of a series of regimental level games set during the American Civil War. Each release plans to cover 3-5 battles on a related theme. This one covers the first major encounters of 1861, and 1862 in the East and West theatres of war, namely 1st Bull Run, Wilson’s Creek, Mill Springs, and Williamsburg. The key selling point made by Slitherine, was the extensive research put into the maps, and orders of battle, so players should expect a very historically accurate game.

Featuring both single and multiplayer, Brother against Brother releases on the PC Q4 2014.

 

  • Flashpoint Campaigns

This is the sequel to Flashpoint Campaign: Red Storm released last year. I really liked what I saw of it. There are a number of new features, such as way point editing, a more refined use of combat engineers, more detailed intel features, and an extension of the Fog of War to include a partial Fog of War option. As well as a number of game engine improvements, the user interface has been improved to make the game more user-friendly. The game adds new campaigns scenarios, and combatant nations. Expect to see forces from the UK, US, Soviet Union, West Germany, France, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. We asked about expansion DLC for Poland, the Baltic nations, and new campaigns, but Slitherine were not in a position to comment at the time.

All in all Flashpoint Campaigns is an attractive looking game. It’s to be released on the PC, Q4 2014, and features both solo and multiplayer gaming.

 

  • Gary Grigsby’s World at War – A World Divided

A Slitherine World War 2 strategy classic originally created for the PC by developer 2 by 3 Games is now coming out on the iPad Q4 2014, offering both single, and multiplayer gaming.

 

  • The Operational Art of War 4

The Operational Art of War 3 was a great remake of the earlier games, and the fourth iteration is on its way. I learnt little about this upcoming gem, save that it will address the longstanding complaints about abstract naval combat, and will make it much more realistic. That’s good news. The bad news is that’s pretty much all Slitherine could tell me.

 

Crusaders Hall

Here we were presented with

  • Battle Academy 2 – Eastern Front

This is a sequel to the original Battle Academy, and brings a host of game engine, modding, and UI changes.

To give you a better idea of what you get with the game; the rules now add

  • Vehicle facing rules affect spotting, reaction fire etc
  • Green troops are added to the unit quality mix, with various penalties to morale and combat effectiveness
  • Partial – non-fatal – damage to tanks from gunfire
  • Special rules for trenches and smoke
  • A new air model, introducing fighters, and air superiority as a mission type
  • A skirmish mode system, together with random map generation
  • A streamlined scenario editor supporting improved moddability, and allowing a designer to add new features like paratroopers, and naval warfare
  • Changes to support cooperative multiplayer

 

Battle Academy 2 brought the action to our doorstep! Here you can see a special scenario with our “castle home” as an objective

Battle Academy 2 brought the action to our doorstep! Here you can see a special scenario with our “castle home” as an objective

  • Flexible setups within the pre-set scenarios
  • Historical Army lists offering minimum and maximum values for a more realistic balance of arms
  • Competitive points play with units destroyed, and objectives giving a player points during play – actually this works very well in competition play

Battle Academy 2 ships with 4 campaigns set across 1941-45. New DLC are probable for new campaigns, but at the time of presentation, remain unconfirmed.

Coming out on the PC, Mac, and iPad Q2 2014, offers both solo and multiplayer gaming.

 

  • Battle Academy – Pike and Shot

For me this is a particularly exciting project. Veteran game designer and Field of Glory table to wargame rule writer – Richard Bodley Scott – is assisting Slitherine’s foray into war during the Renaissance period.

As I understand it, we will see a Battle Academy 2 front end with pretty graphics, with a modified Field of Glory engine underneath – so you’re looking at units being rated for fire, impact combat, and melee – reminiscent of Slitherine’s successful Field of Glory PC game, which I regularly play.

 

Swedes exchange fire with the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War

Swedes exchange fire with the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War

Pike and Shot will start off with the battles of the Thirty Years war, with the English Civil War, and the Italian Wars to follow as planned DLC. The system is regarded as being very flexible, with no reason to rule other time periods out using this game engine. In particular, Iain McNeil mentioned in passing that depending on interest in the game, there is no reason to rule out a Napoleonic game being produced as an expansion.

It’s all at an early stage, and the earliest we’ll see the game is Q3/4 2014. It will almost certainly be multi-platform in line with Slitherine’s development policy, and playing both solo, and multiplayer. I know many readers will be very excited to learn that this game will be going into beta testing soon!

  • Hell

Fantasy meets Battle Academy 2. It’s a classic good vs evil faceoff between the Order of Light, and the Demons of Hell. The game will have its own magic system, 30 unit types, and will be easy to mod. On first impressions, I was tempted to write it off as a lightweight spin-off, having looked at a few screen shots. However, during the game we saw some interesting tactical play focusing on supporting units as a key to success, reminiscent of games like Blood Bowl (set in the Warhammer world), so it may be worth looking into a bit more, if fantasy is your thing.

Developed by Hunted Cow Hell will ship with a 20 level single player campaign, and skirmish mode for both solo and multiplayer, it will be in beta shortly. It will release on the PC, Mac and iPad Q3 2014.

  • Magnifico

Set in the 16th Century, this strategy game developed by Mixel, is releasing on Android Q2 2014. It is a single player game.

  • Field of Glory

This popular classic is being seriously upgraded by Slitherine’s internal development team for the PC, Mac, Android, and iPad Q4 2014, offering both single, and multiplayer gaming. A good game will be made much, much better based on a long period of community feedback. I can’t wait!

  • Close Combat: Road to Caen
  • Pandora: First Contact, and The Return of the Messeri expansion
  • Qvadriga

I covered these in the “Clear and Present Gaming” article, which you can read here

 

Cuirasses Hall

Here I saw

  • Frontline: Road to Moscow

Recently released by 88mm Games for the iPad, and iPhone. For more details read my Home of Wargamers Report – Frontline: Road to Moscow

 

  • Order of Battle: Pacific

Set in the Pacific during World War 2, I initially thought this was to be a reworked version of Pacific General. I was wrong. Superficially there are similarities, but Order of Battle: Pacific is a much deeper game than first meets the eye. Eye candy wise it is very attractive for a map based game, but the real meat is in the gameplay. Here are some very nice features in the game:

  • Leadership is important. Nearby commanders can provide bonuses to units.
  • Units can have dynamic specialisations, which can change during the game. These represent changing tactical doctrines during different stages of the war. For example, the Japanese can use the doctrine of fighting for the landing beaches, Banzai charges, to defence in depth (as seen at Iwo Jima, and Okinawa), Night training etc. If the Japanese adopt Kamikaze, then also a range of special units open up for them. For the Americans, specialisations include technology such as jets, atom bombs, radar advances, and what if units.
  • Supply, and amphibious support planning is vital to success
  • Special support rules for some weapon types

Whilst the initial release is basically Americans vs Japanese, there will be DLC for the Australians and British, each with their own campaigns. The war in Malaya, and Burma was mentioned as part of this DLC plan.

 

US Marines push hard to extend the perimeter on Guadalcanal in August 1942

US Marines push hard to extend the perimeter on Guadalcanal in August 1942

Although the designer has previously worked with the Lordz Game Studio on a number of titles, this is Artistocrats debut game. Order of Battle: Pacific is out on the PC, Mac, Android and iPad Q3 2014 and offers both single and multiplayer gaming.

  • Heroes of Normandie

Set in Normandy in 1944, this is a platoon level game, with the maneuver unit being the fire team. A German and American campaign is supplied, during which a player will fight out a series of tactical vignettes giving a flavour of the fighting around D-Day and beyond. Each unit plays out alternating with the opposite side, and typically results in a fast play game.

One of the strengths of the game is the scenario editor, which is apparently very quick and easy to use. I didn’t get the impression it was a very deep game, but it did look sufficiently engaging to be fun, and easy to get into. There was more attention to detail than I expected, for example, different armour ratings for vehicles, hard and soft target fire ratings for units, alternate combat modes such as set-up MGs or ambush status for some units.

As you might expect DLC is planned for the game. Expansions will include Carentan, St Mére Église, the D-Day Beaches, and Pegasus Bridge. Somewhat further from the beaches, there is even a plan to do a Stalingrad expansion, which is an altogether different direction from the hedgerows of Normandy!

Developed by Cat Rabbit Heroes of Normandie releases on the iPad Q4 2014, and offers single and multiplayer.

  • Legions of Steel

Space Hulk-like Legions of Steel is a port by Studio Nyx of the sci-fi board game Legions of Steel to the iPad, and Android platforms. Essentially, one unit represents one soldier, or alien. The game has two playable factions; the humans, and the machines, but 3 alien factions are planned as future DLC. The game is fairly intricate with quite detailed orders possible. This works very well with the initiative system used in the game, you plan your orders in advance but don’t know who will get to move first, which keeps the game tense, and unpredictable. There are 2 solo campaigns of linked scenarios, with a third to be added as DLC. The game also offers a skirmish mode, with both single and multiplayer support. Legions of Steel will be released Q3 2014.

 

Day 3 of Home of Wargamers 2014

Day 3 and the adventure was drawing to a close. After breakfast we had the opportunity to engage in bloody battle in Slitherine’s Saracen Warrior Trophy competition. Yours truly missed out on the start of this as he was too busy interviewing ‘famous’ people in the Wargaming World, but didn’t miss joining the last batch of entrants to the competition. Playing Battle Academy 2 we had to play two games of a specially designed scenario involving the capture of the very castle we were in! The best average score would win the competition. The average score of most competitors was about 4-500pts. Of course the designer of the game, Iain McNeil, beat us all at around 1100pts, but fortunately he wasn’t competing! I managed 879pts in my first game without losing a single unit, so was feeling pretty smug. However, my second game was a shocker. I lost a tank in my first turn, and another a couple of turns later. I thought “well, that’s it, it’s all over now. Just play as aggressively as you can and enjoy the game”. By the last turn I was on 903 points!! More luck than design really.

 

Fighting for Glory, Boggit receives the Saracen Warrior Trophy from Slitherine’s CEO. JD McNeil

Fighting for Glory, Boggit receives the Saracen Warrior Trophy from Slitherine’s CEO. JD McNeil

So in the end, Boggit of Grogheads won the Slitherine Saracen Warrior Trophy Competition for the Glory of Grogheads, and our forum members! Who’d have thought it?

After I returned to the Shire of Dorset, it was rumoured that Brant the Great Wizard of Grog, learning of our great victory said: Boggit really is an amazing creature, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about his ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years he can still surprise you at a pinch.”

I can’t speak for Brant, but I am really not that old – honest! 😉


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