Grogheads Buying Guide – Holiday 2013

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Grogheads Buying Guide – Holiday 2013

 Authors: Brant Guillory and Jim Zabek

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Once again we, or our loved ones, will be faced with attempting to find something for at least one person who either has everything, or is so eclectic that they’re difficult to buy for. What to do? At Grogheads we have a tradition of suggesting a few things that you may not have seen at the mall. Conversely, if your loved ones are struggling to find you something and you are a regular at Grogheads, you’re probably not too interested in most of the things at the mall. Game stores can be intimidating to those not used to frequenting them. So we’ve done some recon on your behalf. We hope you’ll find at least a few things that will save time or be something for that someone who isn’t easy to buy for.


Hardcore boardgamers can be notoriously difficult to shop for. Unless you game with them you’re probably at a loss as to where to start. Here are some great games which, if they don’t have them, they probably should.

Dan Verssen Games Thunderbolt Apache Leader

Thunderbolt Apache Leader was designed from the ground up to be a solo game. A solid wargame about close air support on the modern battlefield, it is perfect for a boardgamer to break when other gamers can’t make it through the snow. Multiple scenarios and campaigns make this highly replayable, and there are even some miniatures that can be purchased to further up the immersion.

Counter Cutters


Some folks like neat, clean lines on their boardgame counters. If they’ve been using nail clippers to get cleaner counters maybe it’s time to get them something actually built for the job. Here are some counter clippers, both large and small sizes, to help expedite their quest for order.

First Strike ‘62

Perfect for the Cold Warrior, First Strike ’62 simulates the Cold War going hot with wings of bombers flying over the poles to deliver their payloads. Here is where the strategic might of the air forces come into their own. ICBMs and bombers will cross the sky in a race to see who might “win” the unthinkable struggle of nuclear war.

Eight Minute Empire

A simple area-control game that deftly balances resource management and simple movement.  You can learn and play in under 30 minutes, and a 2-player game really can get done in under eight.  It’s not true 4x civ-building, but it’s a nifty game that anyone can learn, and easily fits into a lunch break. Here’s a link to the official product page for more information:

Eight Minute Empire Legends

There’s also Eight Minute Empire Legends, that tweaks the cards a bit away from collecting sets of trade goods, and instead gives them unique effects that alter your actions.  With new high fantasy art and some modular maps, it looks there’s a new Eight Minute winner on the horizon.

A Distant Plain

A Distant Plain – It’s rare that you get to wargame a war while it’s happening, but A Distant Plain takes you to, well, the distant plains of Afghanistan.  It’s a solid and detailed look at the difficult decisions facing each of the combatants and the card-driven nature of the game keeps all the players engaged throughout the turn.  Warning: the first time you play will take a while.  Which makes it perfect for the holiday vacation days off! Official product page:

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas – What’s better than pirates?  Confederate Pirates!  Take the plunge into a rarely-gamed facet of the Civil War and move your fights out to sea in this critically-acclaimed game of naval warfare in the 1860s.  Who needs another Gettysburg game, anyway?! Official product page:

 In Defeat, Defiance

In Defeat, Defiance – The squad-level Lock’n’Load system launched with a Vietnam-era game, but WWII has become the bread-and-butter of the system.  After tackling the Americans (Band of Heroes) and the Eastern Front (Dark July), LnL has turned their eyes toward the ugly early days of the war, first with Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, and now with In Defeat, Defiance, covering the British actions in France during the 1940 blitz to the English Channel by the Germans.  Featuring LNLP’s customary stunning graphics, and some knief-edge-balanced scenarios, In Defeat, Defiance will keep wargamers slinging dice year-round. Official product page:

 Allenby’s Blitzkrieg

Allenby’s Blitzkrieg – The last serious mounted cavalry campaign in the West is recreated with a nifty game from Australia’s Schutze games.  The German campaign through Palestine featured mass mounted charges coupled with WWI-era weaponry.  CHARGE!

Litko’s Wargaming Tokens


Litko’s Wargaming Tokens –  Who doesn’t want some ass-kicking counters for their minis games?

Litko has some perfect ones for Flames of War, Gear Krieg, Warmachine, or even WH40K, with a mix of Charlie Foxtrot, FUBAR, and Epic Fail tokens to drop on your game table.  Check out these and more at:




Days of Battle: Golan Heights

Days of Battle: Golan Heights – Why is one of the most wargamed campaigns in history featured in our buying guide?  Because it’s VPG, that’s why!  Victory Point’s take on the ‘73 fighting in the Golan Heights brings their quick-and-fun-yet-detailed philosophy to your tabletop, with a great price, thanks to their print-on-demand model.  Oh yeah, did we mention it was designed by Frank Freakin’ Chadwick? Official product page:

 Pacific Islands Campaign Guam


Pacific Islands Campaign Guam – Grognard sims takes their unique combined-arms games and heads East to the PTO.  Maneuver Army and Marine forces against the Japanese and fight through this challenging WWII campaign with a system that’s designed to focus wargamers on the same decisions faced by real military staffs. Official product page:



Encounter Dice


Encounter Dice – We highlighted these guys back when they were still on Kickstarter.  They made the cut, have gone to production, and are expanding their product line.  The base set of 6 NPC dice are now available for the general public to snatch up and sling about.  Each die gives you a different facet of your NPC – weapons, armor, alignment, class, etc – and lets you quickly generate an NPC on-the-fly.  Great for encounter-based games.  Order at:


 Tide of Iron Normandy

Tide of Iron Normandy – The Tide of Iron line has been licensed out to 1A Games and the expansions and reprints are coming fast and furious.  The Normandy expansions lets grogs tackle some of the most famous WWII battles, with a game that’s much more tactical than M’44 while still retaining a sweet ‘toy factor’ that’s guaranteed to get junior grogs interested in what’s on the table.

Hollow Earth Expedition


Hollow Earth Expedition – Another successful Kickstarter campaign!  Yes, Victorian Steampunkishness is still popular in the RPG world, and yes some people still think popping zombies is cool.  But you want real “cool”?  Grab this great pulp adventure game and head inside the planet for a rip-roaring good time in the vein of The Mummy and Indiana Jones movies.  Wild jungles, dinosaurs, ancient curses, and tommy guns.  You know you want it:




Digital Gaming

Dominions 4

holiday-buying-guide-2013-Domions-4-stellarcascades_1024x627If your gamer is someone who goes heavy on strategy but light on graphics, Dominions 4 may be exactly what he’s looking for. A turn-based strategy game where the player takes on the role of god as he attempts to manage his followers can conquer the land, this game gets major accolades for delivering high quality gaming. The developers have updated the graphics and they’re not bad, but the majority of their efforts has gone into gameplay, and if that’s what your gamer is looking for then Dominions 4 is the game for them. Check out the official game site here:



Total War: Rome II

Most gamers will be familiar with the Total War series. With Rome II there were some changes to the game. A streamlined strategic game and accelerated tactical game moved it along at a faster pace. While initially some gamers were slow to accept the change, after a few hours of playing it became clear that Rome II was every bit as fun and addictive as any of the previous Total War games, and some even thought it the greatest of them all. If your gamer likes any of the Total War games, Rome II is a must-buy.

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm


Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm may yet turn out to be the best wargame of the year. The first game in the series, Flashpoint Germany, was a fine wargame, but On Target Simulations has managed to create a masterpiece with its second title: Red Storm. With the Cold War going hot in the middle of Germany Red Storm brings the player everything a NATO Cold Warrior Gamer could ask ask for: Divisions of Soviet Armor, beleaguered and outnumbered allies, and everything at your disposal including, possibly, The Bomb. Red Storm is an edge-of-your-seat turn-based game for single or mulitplayer games, and if your gamer doesn’t have it he probably needs it.





State of Decay

Zombie games are all the rage these days and State of Decay is one of several highly acclaimed games in the genre. A console port done right, fans of zombie games claim to not be able to get enough. Players shepherd a team of survivors, tasking them with finding supplies and setting up shelter for the inevitable attack of zombies. A persistent world exists online where your survivors will look after themselves while you’re away, and if that doesn’t sound like fun you may need to check your pulse because you might just be a zombie.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is yet another of those games which gets a lot of discussion on our forums. It’s a stand-alone expansion to the base game, Fallen Enchantress (which means you [editorial update; Thanks Martok!] will Do Not need to have the original game), it brings new factions, units, spells and more. In many ways Legendary Heroes delivers what gamers have been seeking for a long time. A fantasy-themed empire building game Legendary Heroes may be the the gift that puts you over the top this year.


Precision Cutting Board

Love to cook? Just a bit OCD and like order to your meals? Worry no more. A cutting board has been created which will allow folks to slice their veggies to precise diminsions.

Roman-Era Cookbook

SPQR. If you recognize those letters you know what I mean. Roman conquest of a continent – most of the known world. What would a Roman general have dined on to celebrate his victories? This cookbook might be the thing to try and recreate a few such meals. Invite your buddies over. Crush them with your legions. Then feast in celebration.



Cthulhu Knit Ski Cap

Want to stay warm and show your respect for the undying Old Ones? Look no further. We have found a winter cap that will help you do it all. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. You’re welcome.

This year’s list isn’t a comprehensive list of every great item a gamer may need this year, but rather should give you a list of some excellent items which, if your gamer doesn’t have, he’ll like. As always, if you have questions feel free to join the forums and ask around. And if you didn’t find what you were looking here, hopefully you’ve got a good head start on where to look.

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