Monthly Archives: July 2013

Red Menace

Developer: R. Brent Ward

Pubhlisher: White Dog Games

Author: Scott R. Krol

Can nuclear war in the ‘50s translate into an exciting solo experience?

There was a time when kids looked to the skies in fear, expecting an incoming onslaught of Soviet missiles and bombers to wipe out the world in a blaze of nuclear fire at any moment.  Today the biggest fear most kids have is not having enough Twitter followers.  Times have definitely changed since the height of the Cold War, but now everyone can relive those glorious days of duck and cover with White Dog Games’ latest title, Red Menace.  So put on a ‘I Like Ike!’ button, groove to Buddy Holly, and let’s fight the fight that never happened.

Red Menace is a solitaire board game set in the year 1959 of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, with collateral damage being spread to Canada, Greenland, Great Britain, and possibly Cuba.  The player takes on the role of supreme commander of the joint forces of the USAF, RCAF, and RAF as they try to intercept waves of Soviet bombers, controlled partly by the game,  before they drop their megadeath.   At the same time the player sends out US and British bombers to turn Soviet cities into glowing piles of slag.  Yep, family fun gaming at its most jolly!


What you get in the boxed version.  Pretty cool components for a small company.  Print and play and folio editions are also available.

Tuesday Screenshot

Tropico 4

Behold the beginnings of my very own banana republic.  While it might not look like much now I have plans to use this island for my own nefarious gains.  First we need some natural resources to exploit and some slums to house the peasants.  Once we have plenty of workers I can begin the building of tourist traps and drain the money from the pockets of rich foreigners.  As long as other governments don’t interfere I’ll be live the good life in no time.  It’s good to be the king … or at least the supreme leader for life.


Game – Tropico 4

Sir, You Are Being Hunted – Interview

GrogHeads Editor Jim Zabek eagerly jumped at the opportunity to interview James Carey, Designer of Sir, You Are Being Hunted. The team at

GrogHeads (GH): Can you tell us about Big Robot and the people behind it?

James Carey (JC): Big Robot is a core of three people, two full time, with a couple of art freelancers into the mix as well. We started the company to make a game called Fallen City for a British TV broadcaster (which is still freely available through Channel 4’s website). Since then we’ve released a second title called AVSEQ (available on our website or through Steam) and successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Sir, You Are Being Hunted last year. The core team is: Jim Rossignol – Creative Director, author of This Gaming Life and co founder of Tom Betts – Programmer, procedural generation genius, and then me, James Carey – Designer, before Big Robot I worked on Arma 2 and for the Creative Assembly.

GH: Tweedpunk? What’s up with that? It sounds instantly cool. If you guys haven’t invented the genre, you’re definitely putting a big stamp on it. What does Tweedpunk mean to you and where do you see it going?


JC: We came up with the term ‘Tweedpunk’ as a sort of off-the-cuff line for an interview. It seemed to get pounced on by everyone even though we only meant it as a half-joke. Basically we wanted to try and distinguish ourselves a bit from being ‘steampunk’ because Sir is not really Victorian in that way – we have modern phone boxes and wind turbines and stuff like that in the world – it’s more a sort of parody of the British upper classes, of fox hunting and tweed-wearing privilege.

Birth of Rome Review – Part 1

Developer: AGEOD

Publisher: Matrix Games/Slithereine Ltd.

Author: Boggit

Recently, AGEOD created the standalone ancients game Birth of Rome. For players new to the AGEOD ancients world, it is a standalone expansion of their earlier game– see here for my earlier review of the core game. For owners of Alea Jacta Est it is essentially a scenario pack of 6 new scenarios. Boggit takes the Grog’s view of whether it is a “Spoil of War” or just “a collection of broken swords.”


There has been some mixed debate in the Matrix forums regarding the game, with two issues being of greatest concern. Whilst some critics have been a little toxic as to the “value” of the game scenarios, there is reasonable constructive criticism regarding “drive bloat” for existing owners of Alea Jacta Est. The concern here is core game files being duplicated just to play the additional scenarios, so adding unnecessarily to drive space. This isn’t actually as bad as it sounds and a quick email to the developer provided a workable solution, provided here:

Essentially all you need to do is take all the content of the Scens folder of Alea Jacta Est and add it to Birth of Rome, and do the same for the Events folder, then this should be ok. Birth of Rome will then be Birth of Rome + Alea Jacta Est… And you can uninstall Alea Jacta Est afterward (after ensuring that the core Birth of Rome game works)…. Problem sorted!

As to the scenarios, there are six, namely:

  • 3rd Samnite War 298BC (104 turns)
  • Ager Gallicus 283BC (31 turns)
  • Pyrrhic Victories 283BC (70 turns)
  • First Punic War 264BC (284 turns)
  • First Punic War 256BC (183 turns) (Punic War Lite…? At 183 turns I’m ROFL!)
  • Mercenary War 241BC (48 turns)

It must be said that as a game, or scenario pack – depending on whether you are already an owner of the excellent Alea Jacta Est – this early Roman period is rarely seen as a wargame, making this a fresh experience for “Roman Period” gamers.

Unlike previous one off scenario reviews, I’m dealing with six scenarios. To keep this article manageable I’ll summarise each scenario with a bit of background history, a little AAR, together with gameplay observations and my assessment of how the scenario played out both in terms of historical accuracy and as entertainment. Hopefully, that will make the review an easy read, yet give you a fair idea as to what you’re getting for your money if you buy the game.

3rd  Samnite War (298-290BC)

The Samnites had fought several earlier wars with Rome for the supremacy of Central Italy. As part of this ongoing struggle the Samnites attempted to ally with the Lucanians. The Lucanians did not agree, so the Samnites attempted to compel them by force. The Lucanians turned to Rome, and drove out the Samnites. In response the Samnites forged more alliances with the Senones (a Gallic tribe), and the Etruscans.

The main Samnite army was commanded by Gellius Egnatius, and Rome’s under L. Scipio Barbatus. At the battle of Cemerinum in 295BC Scipio was defeated. Rome then raised its largest force to date and campaigned against the opposing Italian tribes and Senones in northern Umbria. Gallic forces caused significant Roman losses, but ultimately the Romans prevailed and destroyed the alliance. This resulted in Rome receiving the surrender of the Umbrian rebels, the occupation of the Senones’ territory, and peace with the Etruscans. Having disposed of the allied forces, subsequent campaigns were fought against the Samnites until they sued for peace in 290BC. Ironically for a defeated enemy of Rome the Samnites received citizenship without the vote. The later war against the Senones would not be so considerate… At the end of the Third Samnite War, Rome was pre-eminent in Central Italy and its territory now extended across the peninsula from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic.


Roman progress is slowed in an early skirmish. Check out the unit artwork… nice. 

Warlock Four-Player AAR – Tuna Round 3

LongBlade: Hmmm.

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

As of Turn 38 our four-player Warlock game suddenly became a three-player game. Bartheart had the misfortune to be crushed by MetalDog. It was tough to watch but these things do happen.

You you may recall, dear reader, Bartheart had sent a request for help to Tuna. Tuna couldn’t figure out how to conduct trade for a turn, and while that delay was costly, probably most costly was a probable distraction between the other two players. Allowing MetalDog free reign to go one-on-one against any other player is likely to only feed MetalDog’s success.

So let us turn our attention to the north and see what has preoccupied Tuna from helping a possible ally in Bartheart.

Turn 34

The Command Tent declares war on Tuna.



Here a picture can tell a thousand words. In this case it probably tells the outcome of the game even though three players still wander the land. On Turn 32 Bartheart lost the city of Unceraculum. It’s now blue, indicating MetalDog has conqured it (in the lower center of the above image).

More interestingly, however, is the fact that The Command Tent and Tuna are going after each other hammer-and-tongs. They should be able to see that MetalDog is crushing Bartheart. Will they call a truce and attempt to gang up against MetalDog? Or will they stay locked in a deathgrip with one another and ignore the threat from their south?

Some good news for Tuna – he’s founded a new city and building an infrastructure to get some higher quality archers.