Beautiful map, pieces, and playing aids. Pretty straightforward rules set for an Avalon Hill game, too. And when the rubber meets the road, the game is simply a lot of fun to play. I never tried any scenario but the Campaign game, however. Though dated, this would still make a fine addition to any wargamer's collection. Especially for 18th Century warfare affcianados.
Finally! A game that shows just _why_ a blockade of the French and Spanish during the Napoleonic Wars was such a herculean, important, and difficult task. Most books and games simply point to the size and professional zeal of the Royal Navy during the period as the obvious reasons for their superiority and why France and Spain would be fools to go up against them. This game shows that the tremendous resources and organization necessary to maintain the navy were needed as much to withstand the weather as much as to fight the enemy.
But this game goes many steps further and reveals what the Spanish and French were capable of (or what the Royal Navy at least feared they were capable of) if they ever managed to break Britain's hold. As importantly, it shows how weather alone would simply wear down a blockading force to the point of weakness and allow the Allies the opportunity to sortie. It is no wonder that the British invested so much in material and manpower just to keep the blockade in effect: it was cheaper than if the Allied navies were allowed to sail free. Likewise, why the Allies so often stayed in port: weather is the cheapest and most effective ally in battling the blockaders.
As well as the game succeeds in those particulars, the map and play aids I thought were a let-down. 90% of the map is oriented to the person sitting at the bottom. The map itself is quite dark and the hexes for port entry are a bit hard to discern. The Port displays on the map are also unnecessarily elaborate and overly large. The game also requires a large foot print once the map is down and the 17x11 player-aids are spread out. The chit pool I would rather have seen as a deck that is shuffled and cards flipped each turn. IOW, the components are fine, but their design is a bit of a barrier to play.
A recreation of perhaps the closest Presidential election in U.S. history, 1960' is an excellent introduction to the card-driven boardgames (Twilight Struggle) and wargames (Hannibal) that are becoming increasingly popular. Z-Man has given the game a lot of thematic flavor of the era with its graphics for the map and cards and the game itself can be finished in about 90 minutes between experienced players. Compared to other games with similar mechanics, this is a fraction of normal playing times by anywhere from a half to a quarter or even less. My first game clocked in at just two hours and came down to the Late Returns from Cook County and the Recount cards! (Kennedy won. I played Nixon.)
Have played several times now and am very impressed by the decisions players have to make in the game. Players choose offensive and defensive plays based on the team's position on the field and their capabilities. If your team has a strong running game, you want to capitalize on that. Obviously, you're opponent will plan accordingly. This is where the deck comes in. The calls you can make are based on a hand of cards you have from a deck of plays which also doubles as the game-clock. You can burn up time with run plays or play for time with pass plays.
Since the decks for offense and defense are fixed, it's possible to count cards, though it will be difficult. As you pass roles from offense to defense, you'll pass the appropriate deck to your opponent. If there is a turn-over during the final "two minutes" you'll have a good idea of the plays available to your opponent. Time-outs offer the possibility of redrawing or tweaking your hand.
I make it sound confusing, but it is very straightforward, fairly intuitive (if you already understand football), fast, and fun. Looking forward to more plays!
...For anyone that knows me, here's the best capsule summary I can give: Cards. Dice. Decisions. It's like Commands & Colors meets Football!
Hopelessly long and tiresome due to downtime issues and overall frustrating "fiddlyness" of the system. The game changes little from Turn 1 to Turn 49 . Improves if played in a club setting where you can leave it set up and in the hands of a capable organizer. Overall theme and premise rendered obsolete with Through the Ages.
Replaced Civilization in the libraries of most who enjoyed that game. The added complexities and refinements also led to increases in play time and difficulty in finding opponents. Pretty much a ratings wash for me in this case.
Do you like Dungeon Quest? Fireball Island? Or even Ghost Party? If you do, then you should enjoy this exciting filler. Players are adventurers who are trying to steal the Mayan Rain God's treasures before the temple's traps ensnare the players. The temple is a collection of memory tests and press-your-luck stops. Like Dungeon Quest, grabbing a few items and leaving alive may be the best strategy—but (like Ghost Party) the fun is in dodging the traps as that stone boulder rolls ever closer...closer...CLOSER! Probably best for younger players, but I had a devilishly fun time for my first game!
One of THE classic Avalon Hill CRT (Combat Results Table) wargames. Solid presentation, hard decisions, clear-cut and readily assimilated rules. Something every dedicated wargamer should play to understand that a great treatment of a campaign need not be complex. Age has made some mechanics and the presentation passe, but it holds its value better than most games.
Surprisingly tight, three-player contest. Players must balance between exploring for and gathering resources against building civic structures and advancing culture against building armies and waging war. The more competitve the participants, the better the game is. Production values are high, as is standard of Eagle products, but also a bit garish, cluttered, and overdone-- which is also standard. I had a hard time separating my Battle Cards from my Permanent and Random Actions decks, for example. Counters which matched the rich illustration style of the cards may have been been a bettermatch for this particular, but that isn't the Eagle Way. Would be interested in trying the 5-6 player expansion some day. Might be a good candidate for reprinting by another publisher some day...
Detailed game covering an attack on West German and American mechanized forces in the Schweinfurt area by the 8th Guards Army. A surprising amount of chrome is packed into the game and almost every battle features the ground, artillery, air, and EW assets.
I've played twice and much of the time you're trying to engage the heaviest enemy forces with as much artillery and air support as you can muster while keep contact with the enemy using the smallest possible units.
Command points are spent to maneuver units and engage in battles. This is critical as one can't do everything one wants to do. And once a force "shatters" it will be all you can do to keep them moving to form a new line of defense.
Even with experience, it will take 45-60 minutes to get through a full turn, so be prepared to sock away a full day or a long weekend of gaming to get through the full campaign game.
A light and fun game of airship development in the mold of 'Can't Stop'. Players gamble on what advances they can gain to build larger and larger airships by correctly beating the odds on given dice throws. The main strategy to the game is simply: make your rolls.
Fairly intense recreation of Alexander's stunning victory at Gaugemela. Reasonably clean system is marred by a garish map and a complex, though instructive, morale system. Typically, the Persian cavalry must win big on the flanks before Alexander's phalanxes and Companion cavalry make a decisive breakthrough against their weaker infantry.
An enjoyable pick-up/delivery game with missions involving the characters from the Three Musketeers as the theme. Players compete to collect favors from two pools (one for the Muskeeters and another for the Cardinal and his allies) by completing missions. On their turn, players may use any character to assist in completing the various missions, but the favors collected go one to the character and the remainder to the player. Also, players have a secret stake in one of the characters in play, whose favors they will reap at the end of the game. The player who collects the most favors from the pool that is exhausted first is the winner. The trick seems to be to exploit opportunities as they arise with any character available to you while also subtly encouraging the table to use the character you have a stake in. I've only played the prototype for this game once.
The heart of this game is in the battle resolution system, which kinda gives you a game within a game. The overall campaign has some flaws in that players are encouraged to defend forward. And the map, while beautiful, does not take adequate advantage of the monstrous surface space it takes up. Good, but more development is needed.
Gave this a shot with a friend over the weekend. Overall, interesting, but not really the sort of game I like to play. The theme falls away pretty quickly while playing this and you just want to know what a card does. I think the game information could be displayed with a little more attention to intuitive understanding and a bit less cyber-jargon. I'm sure if I owned a copy and read the rules, I'd be a bit more charitable on these points. It seems that until you can get into the rhythm of play for your particular side, you can be at the mercy of the cards for the first two or three turns. I like that the base game comes with four corporations and three hackers to compete against one another.
Update: Have played a few more times and I really don't care for it. As a game, my problems are what I've already stated and I'll add a strictly personal one: I really can't get into the theme. Oh, I understand it's hackers and business networks playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with one another, but there's no one to root for, hiss at, or identify with. It's one of the few really thematic games I've played where the "story" leaves me asking, "So what?"
My folks got this for me during my brief time as a 10-year-old Monopoly fiend. I remember playing maybe four times and finally understanding it on my fourth, last, and best attempt. It may be better than Monopoly, but my memories of it are not nearly as fond. A bit bland and colorless, too.
After two plays at BGG.con. A quick-playing civilization-building game which contains no luck elements. Components are up to the usual standards of Euro-type games the double-sided maps are a nice touch. The action wheel is also an extremely clever idea. One of my faves of the weekend.
Just completed two solo plays using a self-imposed 12 card draw and 18 card limit. I'd basically hit Event B and that would do me in. But it was a good way to get down the sequence of play and going through the available actions.
It seems to me that genuine cooperation from knowledgeable players will be required to get through a game successfully, thanks to the timer and admonishment against revealing cards.
Overall, a positive impression. Rating will probably go up with more plays.
A clever chariot racing game with the added twists of track obstacles and spell-casting. Distills the old Circus Maximus to its AT essence--which is no mean trick. Production and game play favorably reminds me of some classic Games Workshop titles. After one play.
This is not so much a game as an unfolding story and you, the viewer/player, get to insert some decisions on which way to go and less often about what to do. Possibly the single most important thing you can do on each turn is to tweak your character abilities before moving to an encounter spot. At four hours per play, there is too much chrome and not enough game to be a genuine contest. However, the production is top-notch and just about everything Lovecraft ever mentioned is in the game. For fans of Lovecraft and Talisman, "C'thulisman" has arrived...
Saw this in my FLGS and am very curious to see how it compares to Memoir: '44 and Tide of Iron. I'm afraid players will need to assemble the models themselves if they want to play with them.
The models are extremely nice and you get a lot of them for $70 (brick & mortar retail). Each model (tank, artillery piece, infantry group, etc.) represents a platoon-size group of figures, so this roughly a reinforced company or reduced battalion-level game.
You can buy additional plastic models for about $4 apiece. Since Zvezda is a plastic models manufacturer, I doubt these will go away if folks are at all interested in the game. Infantry and their weapons are cast in 1/72. Wheeled vehicles, tanks, and guns are 1/100. Aircraft are 1/144. (Yes, I caught 'em all. That is, the ones not in the base set plus some additional infantry and MG teams. Odd that you can't yet buy extra trucks unless you buy another base set.)
The heart of the game is an order-writing and activation system. Players are given a laminated card for each model that contains unit info and a selection of orders the unit may perform. Players mark an order for each unit, compare them, and then execute them in order of the type of order given.
Overall, fun. There's a learning curve to understanding the symbology for all the various units and their abilities and status. This will only increase as the game progresses. It loses a couple points for not having any play-aids other than the language-independent unit cards. But once mastered, players will have a thorough understanding of how units operate with and support one another—very important for truly managing a combined-arms team!
Rating after one play. See my review/session report.
Figure and mech' quality is astounding for a pre-painted game. And for $80, you really do get quite a lot for your money: two pre-painted mech-things; two opposing squads; a terrain board and some terrain pieces; basic rules, dice, and even a customized tape-measure for use with the game. As a toy purchase, it's a marvel. Even the cardboard box it comes in is exquisite and even contains magnets to help keep everything closed. A glorious loss-leader(!?!?) of a product!
The Therians are suitably weird: a sort of cross between Gieger's Aliens and The Borg from Star Trek coupled with a death-mask fetish. The Steel Troopers (UNA) are also have a strong aesthetic that seems anchored in a kind of Starship Troopers-meets-the-Tau.
The game system itself seems Warhammer-ish: Roll to hit/to hurt/to save modified by weapon/target chrome. There's also an interesting activation that incorporates card play and command points. All with D6s. We had an experienced GM and four players (including a young gamer who was probably 8 or 9) and the scenario (Hang in There!) moved very smoothly. Overall, it was fun but any longevity will depend on Rackham or game owners to come up with interesting scenarios for players to engage in. It's possible that this game could ultimately occupy the void that Space Hulk once filled.
There is also an advanced rulebook that offers a couple other factions to play with: Red Blok Troopers-- a socialist/collectivist force that has an interesting Social Realism meets Buck Rogers look. ...and the Planet of the Apes meets the Terminator Karmans-- a force of genetically-engineered primates. ...Heck, just look at the photos!
After one play. This game is not too difficult to learn, but the situation is a complex one and I'd hate to play it again with a person prone to analysis paralysis. There are a few hurdles to the play of the game, especially for the first couple attempts: 1) Game length: the game takes about an hour to for each player to progress through the six increments of a single, four-year turn. Experienced players may finish more quickly, but my game took seven hours and I've played plenty of block games. 2) Unfriendly map: All the information on the map is oriented in one direction. Which is great if you're playing Sparta. 3) Important map information obscured under blocks: Set up is bad enough if you're not familiar with the geography , but once the game is underway, the blocks cover up or obscure all information. We found that planning during a turn and tallying Build Points at the end of each Olympiad was more difficult than necessary--even though one player was keeping track--because the blocks covered the symbols for walled and un-walled and the BP number for each critical city.
Suggestions for Columbia (and fans that want to help new players): 1) Print coordinates on the map and put set-up coordinates on the block stickers. 2) Give the each player a map he can reference with coordinates for the cities (and their status and values) on the backside or below the map. 3) Include a set of counters that players can trim out with the names, status, and values of each relevant city. Players can trade these as they gain and lose cities so that they always know how many build points they have available at the end of each turn.
Dilemma encountered during play: While under siege, the forces of a player may not use BPs to increase the values of the besieged blocks. Okay. But after a siege, the victorious force may immediately apply a number of Build Points equal to the value of the city to reconstitute its blocks. Why is this? The rules say that it is a reward for pillaging the besieged town. But...What are the besiegers finding that the besieged cannot? If it's a game balance thing, okay, but...it seems odd.
Rating for the Basic Game of Attack only. This game really improves upon both RISK and A&A allies: Open set-up; straightforward and innovative combat system; high-quality components; and strong WWII atmosphere. Quite possibly the best game Eagle has yet made. Only a few subjective nits from me: 1) The lavish map (with expansion) would be an excellent replacement for the WAR! Age of Imperialism map. 2) They should have made different sculpts for the value-5 pieces. They are too close in scale and otherwise look exactly like the value-1 pieces. 3) Be careful about adding players. Analysis paralysis can really grip players who have three actions to perform. Especially if players engage in wheeling and dealing the whole time.
Very fast and fun Age of Sail miniatures game for small warships on lakes and rivers.
My only beef with the system is that going after rigging is really the only way to go. The damage charts weight the chance to hit rigging and hull equally and there are not nearly as many rigging boxes as hull boxes on the ship charts. Once your opponent is dead in the water, you can force a strike quickly.
I suggest making '6's on the Damage Chart Misses rather than rigging hits. Perhaps disallow rallies once a ship is down to 3/4 damage on the hull as well. (Not that that's really a problem.)
I'm working on modified set of gunnery tables to make it more of an all-in-one table. Needs some testing. I may post it if it all works out...
Have played 6 times now and have thoroughly enjoyed each session. The new victory conditions allow players to tailor play to the time they have to spend and the new map breaks up all the old strategies. The addition of destroyers, artillery, and improved tanks give players pause in determining their builds, too. Optional rules import some of the better elements from the Europe and Pacific games. Also, we play that each nation randomly draws 1 national advantage and keeps it secret from the other players, revealing it only when they're ready to use it. If you enjoy the original, you'll like the new game even more. A distinct improvement over the time-worn classic.
Enjoybale, fast-playing, and well-balanced light WWII Naval Miniatures game. Models are actually pretty nice, overall. They'll stand up to abuse from kids and pets, have turrets that swivel, and the paint jobs aren't great but aren't terrible, either. The sculpts themselves are pretty broad (though true, so far as I could tell) and the plastic a bit too bendy, so hard-core miniaturists will find them objectionable. If you enjoy the A&A:WWII Minatures game, add a point or two to this rating. If you are a hard-core WWII Naval Miniatures player, drop a point or two. Too bad this is a collectible minis game.
Beautiful production that follows some innovations in combat resolution and supply found in the A&A:Bulge title. The "Designer's Notes" (a collection of reminiscences about the designer's father and his honorable service in the Solomons campaign) are disappointing as guides to the operational conduct of the actual campaign or insights into how the design/development team approached the subject and turning it into a commercial boardgame. However, the ongoing Developer's Notes (available online) that have accompanied the latest A&A titles prior to their release are excellent. After two plays.
Forget the A&A branding, this is really a solid, light-weight board wargame covering the Battle of the Bulge. Playable in 2-3 hours, this game hits all the highlights of the famous battle: the precarious supply situation for both the Allied and (particularly) German armies; the need to utlilize the road-net as effectively as possible; the telling effect of air-power when the weather finally clears; and the need for the Germans to the keep the Allies reeling before they can form a defensive line. The combat system is also a clean break from the original. It doesn't feel particularly "wargamey, (no terrain, air-power, or combined-arms modifiers or singe-die throw resolutions, for example,) but still stresses the importance of composing combined-arms forces and attacking targets along multiple routes. The best A&A game since A&Aacific.
Looks like they blended in a few features from Fortress America: Limited pool of reinforcing pieces; stacking limits within each territory; cards which affect the flow of reinforcements and conduct of battle on the board. Game is 8-9 during the first 5 turns, but drops to a 6-7 after the reinforcements dry up. This is because gamey tactics to husband and position your forces start to dominate your decisions and the map no longer resembles a battle front but a chessboard. Production is of superior quality, but the type on the cards and play aids is entirely too small considering their size. Not up to par with the new global war game in the system, but still great fun! Upgraded to an 8 after I realized how much I enjoy the game.
Played a couple times and the game boils down to "The Stack." Bascially, a clash between huge stacks of the German and Russian armies will determine whether the game ends immediately after the battle; or if it drags on for another few hours.
Remarkably good treatment of the Pacifc Theater of Operations in WWII using the Axis & Allies system. Great production, tough decisions, and a fairly accurate recreation of the struggle earn high marks. Brought down by scripted srategies that have appeared since its release.
Got rid of this one, but as a recreation of a B-17 mission it is reasonably tense. Repeat play value falls off precipitously after the first few plays. Not a bad curio for the air combat game afficianado.
If you enjoy B-5 and detailed space combat games, you could easily bump this rating to a 7 or a 9. While I was impressed with how the ship-to-ship actions in the show were faithfully recreated in the game, I never cared much for the universe and intensive record-keeping games, like this one, are rarely much fun for me. It doesn't help that turns can take up to an hour to get through.
Fun card game for two with Balloon racing as the theme. Turned something of a corner in the last game I played. Tough decisions as you decide to play high or low cards, for you or your opponent, on lots of differing values.
Light, fun (and funny) filler game that is easy to learn and play. Perhaps a bit short on strategy but long on Hollywood Wild West atmosphere. Fans of Family Business, Nuclear War, and other "take that!" card games will enjoy this one.
After one play: Seems to add a disconcerting overlay of randomness over the whole affair. The cards make it harder to attack players on some turns, while making it very easy on others. Trying to take into account the effect that will be in place for next turn also tends to put an encumberance on play as well. It's not quite Killer Bunnies bad, but more expansions like this will certainly carry it there.
After one play. I really enjoy Bang!, but it seems that the more Bang! expansions you add to a game, the less fun the game becomes. Bang! The Bullet has just about everything ever produced for Bang--which is great if you really want to have the chance to try those long, OOP expansions. Not so great if you try to use everything. For a lean, mean Bang! session, I suggest using just the base set and one expansion.
Played once, but it took as a long time to not get very far into the game. Production is lackluster thought the game is simple enough. Anyone with a serious inclination for Roman History should try it, but the investment of time is not worth the return in fun.
I'm not sure how "realistic" it is, but the game is a _very_ wild ride! Full of highs and lows for both sides. I've played twice now and it has been a real knife-fight each time. If you want a balanced contests between equal players, this is a good one.
Easy to learn and set up. Loads of fun for serious and casual gamers alike. Young and older gamers, too, can share a hotly contested game together. However, Battle Cry is no casually assembled game. Its rules reward thoughtful play and card management, while offering enough luck to keep the less able interested as well as offering an outlet for those weird situations attributed to "the fog of war." Battle Cry is actually one of a stable of games in Richard Borg's Command & Colors series.
Update: with the release of the 2010 edition, gamers have a chance to pick up the revised version of the game that started it all. I have the new game and enjoy it a great deal. I like the new terrain effects and the new Command Deck is also an interesting change. Overall, I'd say the new game is a slight improvement over the old, but game play between the two is much the same. Updated to a '9'.
Three-player game covering the Japanese invasion of China and the tension between Mao's Red Army and Kai-Chek's Kuomintang. The Japanese are light andd hard-hitting, but are susceptible to sustained attacks and must eventually leave to face off against the United States (not played). The Communists are also fighters, but struggle to maintain an existence with Soviet help. The Nationalitsts, however, are inept and corrupt and desparately need US help to stay in the war--but must fight to get it! In short, the situation is desperate for everyone in the game, and the rules covering political events and battle-field realities do an admirable job of keeping the players on their toes. Surprisingly simple, "meaty", and fun. Production values are a bit disappointing, but you certainly get your money's worth from the game itself. Recommend mounting the counters to cardboard before trimming them. Also, enlarging and mountingg the map.
Great game and plain big fun for kids and adults alike. Pure toy factor, high production values, and bargain price (back in the day) pushes it up to a 9. Would be a 10 if the game itself were more enagaging. As is, parts often drift into Warhammer armies. The map is sometimes used as a ground mat for an air-combat game called Canvas Eagles.
The miniatures are really quite nice. The sculpts, paints, and poses are all authentic, well-proportioned, and well-executed. If you're not a painter but are interested in some contemporary/near future figures and vehicles, you should really look into this line by Mongoose. As for the game... I played two games: one 1500pt battle featuring main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored utility vehicles, and a couple under-strength platoons and second focusing on just two opposing understrength platoons. Overall, this is not a difficult game to learn. Combat was deadly in our game, especially vehicle on vehicle--but the basic rules allows a force to continue the fight while taking up to 75% casualties. Infantry sqauds, as listed on the cards, appear to have negligible AT capability. That will probably be addressed by Mongoose very soon. Did I have fun? Yeah, pretty much. For my first two tries... ...I think a lot of the fun will depend on the ability of the GM to come up with interesting situations for the players to work through. There's a solid foundation here for the development of a comprehensive and fast playing near-future combat game--but it's not quite there yet. As it is, there's a lot of encouragement for players to push their force until it's pretty much butchered and I'm not sure that makes for a particularly interesting game.But kudos to Mongoose for an excellent line of figs and a decent, basic set of rules to use with them.
Several things to like about this one: Affordable, portable, playable, and easy to learn. After only a couple brief plays, it feels like a streamlined Warhammer sort of miniatures system. I like, too, that there are enough troops and command cards in a starter deck for two players to practice a force-on-force game. A nice introduction to (fantasy) miniatures games.
Richard Borg and Days of Wonder pool the knowledge gained from their experience with Memoir: '44 and pull out all the stops in producing a truly fantatstic and lavish sequel to the Memoir' System. For the uninitiated, the game is about clashing medieval/early-renaissance/fantasy armies and using might and magic in careful combination to win battles. This is accomplished through careful (and sometimes frustrating) card-play which reflect both command/control problems and the fog-of-war. What really sets the game apart from Memoir and similar games is the use of Lore (which is collected from a missed throw if a special face is also rolled on a die). Collect enough Lore and your Wizard (or Rogue, Cleric, Commander, or Warrior) can perform battlefield wonders to help even the score. Another introduction to the system are Creatures which also have fantatstic, Lore-related abilities. Finally, DOW puts the game in a bundle where all the assembly is pretty much done for you. Figures are ready to play with and stickers for the banners already applied. The rules are 80 pages long, but are straightforward and easy to learn. This is because careful language, symbology, and examples (visual and written) are used to explain every rule.
I have played through en entire campaign, an ad-hoc "Epic" battle with a friend, and many standalone games. I've boosted my rating to an 8 because it is a solid game in the vein of Richard Borg's many other C&C titles and expansions.
If there's a flaw, it will be in the way the Lore Cards, Unit Abilities, and Components, interact. There are countless abilities and card effects and it is rarely clear how one stacks up against the other. (Can the Unstoppable Lore Card overrule the Vigilant Ability? Why or why not?) This can lead to game-halting rules-flipping and discussion. That's never fun.
But being a fan of all things Richard Borg, I would not have missed the chance to jump in and see for myself. I appreciate that expansions for U'thuk and the Daqan are forth-coming, but a chance to to tie this game with RuneWars through the introduction of factions for the Elves and Undead is not being taken at the moment.
Could be there are bigger plans down the road. I hope so!
This Army Deployment system and impromptu scenario generator gives players a new range of decisions to make for playing the game: how to deploy your army, what elements to keep in reserve, and which specialist cards you should employ round out the BattleLore gaming experience. Not strictly necessary if you're happy with your core set, but it does put the game on a different level of play.
If you (or a friend) have second set, then the only thing you're really missing are the rules themselves and a set of scenarios. These can be downloaded free from DoW. However, if all you have is one set and you want to experience the fun of big-map games, then purchase of the Epic board and the glossy rules/scenario booklet are well worth it, IMO. As for Epic play itself, playing on the big-map generally gives players more room and time to compose an attack or defense before launching it. The bonus of playing a second Section card also gives players a bit more flexibility in executing a plan. Playing to 7-9 banners also gives players a bit of a comeback chance and so games tend to be pretty close (unless you can pull together some sort of wicked magic-combo.) I'd tend to favor purchase of the Epic Map over Call to Arms, but having both (if you're a fan) is quite nice, too. I appreciate, too, that the expansions for BattleLore are inexpensive, standalone layerings to an already great, standalone game.
Finally have this figure. Will need to make my own Lair and Card for him. Marks the end of Days of Wonder's involvement with BattleLore. I thought they did a superb job with supporting the game, but I'm also looking forward to what Fantasy Flight will do with it now.
The new scenarios and units are great fun! Medieval Lore rules give some nice historical feel and added flexibility to the base game. A nice, full game of medium complexity between the basic game and the full-on Lore game. Ready for more!
I gave this one a half-dozen tries when it first appeared. It seemed to strip away all the elegant things that I liked about the original BattleLore and replaced them with more conventional wargame mechanics that made the game more complex and take longer to play. Flanking, Morale, the fusion of leader figures into heavy units to make them virtually unbeatable, and the double penalty against light units (fewer dice and fewer chances to hit on those dice) all made for a less compelling game for me.
Two plays. It feels a bit Heroscape and a bit Mag•Blast—both very good things. (I'm even kinda surprised it wasn't called "Hersocape: Galaxies!")
Game play is pretty clean and the various ship types, their weapons and powers, and tactics cards move the game away from the tired sea-battle-in-space genre of most space combat games and into more of an engaging and fresh space-battle-in-an-anime realm. You have heroes and villains, special super-weapons and defences, and all sorts of odd little ships and fighters swirling around the main heavies.
It looks like that expansion packs may be just over the horizon, provided the game sells in the appropriate numbers. If not, I'll bet enterprising fans will come up with suitable decks for their favorite franchises and factions. Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5...all could be fodder for fan mods if this game gets anything like a following!
Never saw the show, but if you want an experience that gets you as close to the set as possible, I'd say this is it. Chasing off that first Cylon attack and taking part in all the finger-pointing afterwards is great fun. Unfortunately, I don't have a very good poker face, otherwise I can't explain how one player was dead-certain that I was the Cyclon the instant I received the card! Still...both Cylons won that first 5-player game!
Engrossing game of haunted house searching. Reminds me of Chill: Blackmorn Manor. The second edition tightens up ambiguities in the original. No game plays the same way twice. A well done expansion featuring The Mystery Gang would be awesome!
I enjoy Phil Eklund's games because you really do get in a lot of learning (and discussion) in with your gaming time.
But once again, the components are crammed so with information and symbology that it's hard to get a handle on what's really going on. It's like you have to fully understand the game before you can really begin to play it.
I don't think his games are meant to be easy. But you should be able to complete a turn with confidence after a few times around the table.
After one play as the Soviets that went the full 26 turns. The game ended in a German tactical victory.
Bitter End is an engrossing, fascinating, thrilling, and infuriating battle for the reduction/relief of Budapest. Players on both sides will require aggressive play, force management, and risk-taking to ensure their chance at a win.
Most games of this sort are steam rollers for one side until the defense can hang on long enough (and well enough) to receive reinforcements and slowly rebuild their strength for the third-reel counter offensive. Not so Bitter End. Both sides will have their periods of attacking and defending, though the Germans seem to have the lion's share of attacking and the Russians must grin and bear it through the lean times of bad weather and no reinforcements until the sun peeks through the clouds and the clank of fresh armored formations can be heard coming up the road.
For the Germans, pedal-to-the-metal dash and vigor are required in reaching Budapest as soon as possible. Once the city is tagged, the next task is to build a defensive line along key terrain and hang on to the objectives you've acquired.
For the Russians, the on-ging task is to reduce the Budapest garrison as quickly as possible. In the early turns, as much force as possible must be preserved in the best terrain you can find. Cutting roads and isolating Germans whenever possible is also important. After January 9, you must become aggressive (but not reckless) and find ways to isolate/destroy the Germans and drive deep to recover objective cities.
Since being out of supply doesn't kill you, even isolated units can be real pains in your opponent's back-side if used judiciously. Both sides need thick hides and not lose hope. The Russians particularly, since the Germans typically enjoy armor and divisional integrity advantages over the Russians in battles.
On the whole, I think the German side enjoys an edge over the Russians. Their units are tougher on both attack and defense. Their divisions are smaller (which, by the rules, means they routinely enjoy "integrity" advantages over the Russians), they have more armored formations (another bump in most battles), and fuel considerations are never an issue for them.
A huge chunk of the Russian OB is tied up in Budapest and is not released when the garrison is reduced, but on a particular calendar date whether they're reduced or not. Several divisions are stuck on the map until either the Germans attack them or the calendar releases them.
It sure seems like the Russians are made to follow a script while the Germans have a freer hand. But, despite that, the Russians have a genuine shot at winning. They just need keen judgement in knowing when to retreat, when to attack, when to be patient, and when to take a calculated risk.
This is not a casual, sit-down-and-play game. The system itself is not difficult to learn, but it will take an average of about an hour per turn as you learn the system and slowly bleed units as you learn things the hard way. It will kill a weekend, even a long one.
Overall, I had a great time, since there was a variety of challenges to meet throughout the game. Most turns offered both hope and despair. I'd probably play again, but would be happier if it were more of a multi-player or club event.
A classic wargame of the early Avalon Hill era. Focuses primarily on land-based campaigns with air and naval operations in the supporting role. Rate higher in played in teams with players assuming different command roles.
Solid title by Eagle. Have heard this compared to Axis and Allies, but it felt a little more like Samurai Swords to me. I like that players have the opportunity to infiltrate gangland frontiers to raid choice targets. Strong, thematic production marred only by the point-tabulating folks engage in towards the end-- which tends to increase downtime.
After one play. Players build or play a pre-built deck of cards from a particular faction (Volca or Hoax) and engage one another in an abstracted war for the struggle of the Blue Moon realm. This is done by challenging your opponent to individual battles which, if won, earn you a dragon. Earn more dragons than the opponent for the win. The fun comes in building card combinations to force an opponent into quitting a fight. Also in managing your hand for future battles and knowing when to fight and when to retreat. Like all the great collectible card games, this offers player a lot of opportunity for strategic thought in composing decks and tactical thought in conducting individual battles. Also, a lot of great artwork can be found in the individual cards. They are a lot of fun to look through. There is also a lot of expandability to the system, but this is not a blind-draw money-pit: players with only the base set can play just as competively with others that own expansion material.
After one play: Fun, playable Formula One racing game. This game uses a vector-based movement and acceleration/deceleration system making movement an excercise in judging the correct trajectories for your cars to handle corners and straightaways. And when to wear brakes and tires--no dice involved in these decisions. At the start; whenever you want to boost your engine; or make a pass through the point occuppied by an opponent: out come the dice. And the throws are even at best for the "attacker", so make sure your position is a bit desperate if you want to make that critical pass play. Pit rules seemed confusing on the first read, and we didn't pit in our game. And the leaders tend to stay in front once they break away from the pack. Formule De has a noticeable edge on presentation and excitement, but I think it boils down to the style of race game you wish to play.
After one play: Ingenious, and brain-burning, recreation of the battle of Marengo between the French and Austrian armies. The visual production of the map and wooden playing pieces aid dramatically in understanding how Napoloenic battles looked (at least from the map-maker's perspective) and possibly developed. The real key to winning the game is to out-manuever your oppenent and to attack parts of their army from more directions than they can adequately cover. Attack is useful only if you're pretty sure you'll prise an enemy element from their position with brute strength to gain a critical position that will unhinge the main enemy force-- otherwise, its a losing method of grinding down your opponent. This is possibly the poster-game for the so-called "Waro". A wargame that embodies eurogame mechanics to achieve the sort of simulation wargamers find necessary for their enjoyment of any battle game.
Veteran players of Diplomacy and Junta should like this one quite a bit. The most critical aspect of this game is deal-making and negotiation. You can't win if you are perceived as ahead in the game, so a lot of (enjoyable) effort is spent in threatening and accusing the competition. I think there is just enough luck to keep even trailing players interested and hopeful-- especially if they can convince others to pull down the leaders! Possibly Eagle's best game, rich with theme, and a great game all on its own.
After one play. A crunchy and slow-moving distillation of AH's old Normandy game (The Longest Day) using the game engine first introduced in Storm over Arnhem. High points include the fairly straightforward combat and supply system. Low points include the rule book and its tangled explainations of just about anything; the laundry list of combat and movement modifers; and the secondary game of taking, destroying, and repairing bridges. The map is colorful and constrasts well with the pieces (which are also nice), but ALL information is oriented for the convenience of the the German player. If you're a dedicated grognard, you can probably add a couple points to this rating.
Fantasy Flight version after 1 play: Engrossing, easy-to-learn, game covering the epic sweep of history in Britain from the invasions of Rome through William the Conqueror. Fantasy Flight's rendition is a colorfully produced effort and seems to have picked up a few cues from Phalanx's treatment of historical games. It also retails considerably lower than their most recent sci-fi and fantasy efforts, too. The biggest drawback is the playing time, which can run into the 4-5 hour range. (For historical boardgamers, that's not a serious complaint. Just be aware that you'll be in for a long afternoon or evening.) (Initial rating: 5)
Update 12/09: After about a dozen games, I'll probably never play this one again. My last game took 6 hours with experienced players. It was a blowout for the Welsh/ Caledonian/ Jute/ Danish (Green player). If Green doesn't win, they usually do very well (usually second place) no matter who is playing them. The Red player must use the Irish to hobble the Welsh—and even so, the Yellow should use the Romans and the Blue should use the Picts to also nibble on Green's kingdoms. If they don't, it's just too easy for Green to sit back and rack up points.
A better balance might be to nerf Green's VP awards by trimming a point for each held Welsh and Caledonian territory on scoring rounds.
Compelling theme, reasonably attractive components, fair rules. I enjoy the early rounds of play but I also think it should conclude sooner than it typically does. Needs a time-limit or other mechanic to encourage aggressive play.
Probably the most fascinating wargame I ever had the displeasure to misplace. (Strongly think I gave it to someone else to learn on their own. Mistake!) The rules take a complex tactical situation and break it down into an axciting and fairly straightforward wargame. And playable in an afternoon! Excellent production. Higher rating if played multiplayer.
Remeniscent in some ways of the Parker Brothers game Conflict. Players have a number of abstract pieces with set movement and combat capabilities. The odd thing is that all pieces have the weakness of the bishop in chess: it is possible for the opponent to have pieces that exist in spaces that cannot be attacked. Perhaps that is the genius of the game: to be careful in the use of your General piece and in the precise placement of reinforcements. Lightly coloring the gameboard in a "checkerboard" pattern would assist players in discovering and planning for that nuance.
Players expecting a Settlers of Catan variant will be disappointed (or perhaps pleasantly surprised) to find that this is really a light RPG boardgame. Not nearly so chaotic as Talisman or as deadly as Heroquest-- but not so colorful nor as engaging as either, IMO-- players instead direct their character through a meager, yet plausible, existence as one of Candamir's villagers. Fun, but it feels as if you're competing against the game more than each other.
You know, everyone has to start somewhere. The very youngest gamers are always (well, almost always, I suppose) happy to play anything with you. Then they learn and you both move on to the next new game.
After a couple plays... Light bidding game of picking up and delivering treasures to one of your pirate lairs. A bit of bluffing as you try to point out particular prizes to others and encourage them to block attempts to pick up and deliver. I think Die Hanse needed a mechanism like this to make that game work, but its hard to say. This one is a great intro to bidding games as you can easily fit a couple plays into an hour's time. Attractive production and clever pirate ship pieces, too.
Another nostalgiac blast. Carrier warfare reduced to the simplest terms. Decent aerial combat system forces players to decide whether to try to sink a carrier early; or to command the skies first. Some simple home rules could turn this into a fun fog-of-war excercise for novice wargamers.
Doesn't quite deliver the "dungeon-crawl" fix you might have been craving, but still a sharp, easy-to-play, and competitve game with a dungeon-crawl setting. The art certainly captures the flavor of some classic 'crawlers like Dungeon! and HeroQuest.
Fast and fun WWII dog-fighting set. If you are a Wings of War: WWII Miniatures fan who can't stand the glacial production pace and enigmatic aircraft choices, you may want to look into this game. It's not a glossy production like WoW, but is faster, easier to learn (once you understand the maneuver chart) and an exprienced player can handle a flight of four aircraft without too much confusion.
Where this game shines is in the scenarios and campaign system. Air battles now exist within a context. Your decisions affect the air battle, which impacts the campaign, which impacts the resources and decisions made for the next battle.
Also, aircraft have significant differences in maneuverability and weapons that the WoW game simply has't reached yet. Better, the altitude rules are easier to master and it's possible to plan some real aerial acrobatics. (I've seen the difference in how both experienced and inexperienced players handle Zeroes and Wildcats, for example, and the difference on the table is amazing.)
All sorts of models and materials available in 1:300 and even 1:144 scale, too.
Lots of great material to carry the Check Your 6! gamer from the Korean War in the early 50's through to the late conflicts in Africa and the Middle East in the mid-80's. Prop-driven craft and helicopters are addressed, too.
What's interesting is the increased emphasis on climbing and diving. Thanks to the power of the jet engine, aircraft can now zoom through three or four altitude levels while performing the Immelman and Split-S maneuver.
Wonderfully atmospheric game of haunted-house sluething and ghost-busting. Players lay tiles and search for items until the horror reveals itself. Then the race is on to get the monster and its minion before they get you! Decent yet evocative components. Surpassed with similar mechanics by Betrayal at House on Haunted Hill, this is still a fun way to pass an October evening.
Chinese checkers is a pretty fun family game. Interesting decisions to make as players race to move all their tokens to the oppositie corner of the board. Mostly, you're trying to exploit the play of others without your own plays being exploited in turn. Would much rather play this than standard draughts.
Another war-themed game of skill that requires players to position their pieces for jumps and captures. Mostly a checkers variant, it nevertheless has some cool bits that miniaturists might filch for more serious wargames.
Invloving and rewarding game of competing empires. Players attempt to progress their state through stages of development with the goal of creating the highest civilization first. Superceded by the longer and more complex Advanced Civilization title. Games like Vinci and Mare Nostrum admirably distilled aspects of this game into shorter and easier-to-play treatments of the theme .
A '6' under the standard rules. With the advanced optional rules, goes to 7. Easy-to-learn and play. Components are well-done, though some may find the reading and positioning of the counters a bit fiddly. For the gamer that enjoys tweaking and fine-tuning their wargames, the game is robust enough to handle and reward your efforts. 15 scenarios cover the battles of the French & Indian and American Revolutionary Wars.
This game receives a components upgrade, thematic embellishments, and 18 new scenarios in Worthington's followup game/expansion set called Hold the Line.
Easily learned and engaging dice game that uses gladitorial combat as a theme. Hex-gridded gameboard and mechanics for gladitorial combat is reminiscent of (but not the same as) Battle Cry or Memoir '44. Probably too light for most Eurogamers.
The dungeon crawl game that started them all. Players pick a character and smash monsters until they achieve enough ability to tackle the heavier nasties. Surpassed by more lavish and better-playing RPG-lite boardgames.
The usual Euro alley-oop. Newbs score the points they can, when they can. Old euro-sharks just pursue a strategy where all their points are scored at the end and "alley-oop" (leap/surge/sprint) past everyone else.
I've seen this arc in so many Euros. It's hardly funny that this is a game that showcases that. They ALL do that.
This is an excellent board game covering roughly the first 12 weeks of the Normandy campaign at the regimental level. The smallest units are German heavy tank battalions. The largest are consolidated Allied divisions. Combat is basically attritional and is resolved with a single d6. Turns cover approximately 3 days.
From the get-go the Germans need to find an efficient way to trade terrain and troops for time. (Terrain if they can. Troops if they must.) For the Allies, they must find a way to outflank the German lines where they can. Or hammer them open if they can't.
For both sides, weather and reinforcements are critical factors. Bad weather grants the Germans the flexibility to shift troops to new positions. Good weather hobbles the Germans (due to Allied air superiority) and give the Allies the opportunity to hammer weak points and exploit breakthrough and end-runs. Both sides will always have need of reinforcements.
My first game took 20 hours to grind through 28 turns with a knowledgeable opponent. That's roughly 20 minutes per player-bound or 40 minutes per game turn. The Germans generally need to take time in planning their move—though a timer for both might make for a more exciting (and, dare I say, "realistic") game.
Both players need a bit of stamina. The German player will basically be hammered throughout the game with high-odds attacks and will have few real opportunities to make counter-attacks. The Allies will have to relentlessly pursue, winkle, and pound the Germans as they withdraw from position to positions—for many, many turns.
If the Germans do well, the Allies will be beating their heads against a wall anchored on critical terrain. If the Allies do well, it will be like flood-water rushing through a broken dam of sand-bags.
By the end, you'll have a good idea of the challenges both sides faces as they struggled through the bocage and with shortages. Playing through the entire game is also a challenge, but worthwhile.
Rather dry and process-driven world domination game. Probably more fun for Eurogamers than AT-type gamers. My biggest beef with the game is the board. The various continents should have been color-coded or made to stand out in some way. The various progress tracks have labels that are ridiculously small—in addition to being hidden in the baroque artwork.
The "character" actions are actually quite ingenious. Typically, you'll want to do both of the actions that are listed on one card—but one of them is all you will get that turn. Programming 4 cards and saving one of the two remaining for a final action is also very nice. I like that you have to commit to doing "something", rather than just waiting to screw someone with every action you have.
The colony markers and tokens are uninspired, but I imagine devotees will pimp them out. Overall, a good game. Probably best with 5 or 6.
Played this back in junior high and high school. It was just about the only game in the area for many years. I remember that it was easy to play but flawed. The errata ran more pages than the core rules.
Solid, squad-level WWII wargame. Does an excellent job of creating a detailed, tactical combat narrative (story) without the necessity of learning and correctly implementing equally detailed rules found in nearly all other squad-level wargames. Play time will vary for players depending on how much of the rules set that they can grasp. That is, players familiar with the concepts found in Squad Leader, Up Front, and Ambush! should warm to this game and play should move quickly. Players not so familair (or rusty from long absence, like me) may take a bit more time to find their groove. I think, with practice, games should finish in about two hours. Still slow for players that enjoy most euros or battle games like Memoir '44, but a reasonably fast and action-packed two hours for genuine wargamers.
The price for playing a game where a lot of the detail is handled by a (IMO, superlative) set of Fate Decks is "control": control over your units and the things that happen to them. And if you are a wargamer who thinks that the actions and events generated by the Fate Decks in this game are true to your understanding of WWII warfare, you will probably enjoy that a lot of fiddly detail is taken off your shoulders. But if you don't think that the Fate Decks do a good job of recreating the events you read about in after-action reports and the like, then the game may come across as a tedious card-pulling excercise.
For all the detail in the Fate Decks, however, the battlefield narrative feels a bit lacking in some respects. For example: there are no vehicles--of any kind--in the game. Not even lowly horsecarts, trucks, or jeeps. Ironically, there are airplanes buzzing overhead that make fleeting and potentially painful appearances. And there is off-board artillery (which are probably being pulled by the missing horse-carts, jeeps, and trucks) that will thunder in when called. Such a lack is not necessarily "wrong" from a game standpoint, but it does feel a bit odd to move down roads that have no vehicles (not even as the detritus of war) and into and past houses that shelter no people. In this respect, it has some of the alien feel of a first-person shooter or other 3-D TacSim computer game. It's just you, the bad guys, and your weapons.
Overall, my impression is favorable. It's nice to get a meaty Squad Leader fix without also learning a ream of rules and dedicating a long afternoon or evening to play.
Best in battalion on battalion actions with several players on a side. Often abused when players are asked to run regiments and "bath-tub" divisions. Requires a knowledgable and impartial judge to adjudicate disputes with the rules-lawyers that invariably crop up when this game is playeed. Otherwise, generally good-to-excellent WW2 operational combat game.
Of the three Richard Borg "BattleCry"-style boardgamesin print, Commands and Colors Ancients is the example that hews closest to its theme and rewards the more thoughtful player. Also, the game is a few steps more complex than its siblings but does not sacrifice the ease with which the rules are learned nor the quick pace at which the game plays. The Command Card deck is well balanced and the sheer variety of unit types and terrain to play them on will keep players busy learning their unique traits in games for quite a while. And the production is excellent. While not as lavish as the DOW games, this item was still "done right" where it counts: in the rules and the fun in playing. If you enjoy Memoir: 44 and BattleLore, you really must try this. Prepare yourself for a remarkably different game!
This expansion makes clear a few ambiguities from the base game; includes a pair of improved player-aid folders; replacement dice; and a ream of 21 new scenarios covering Alexander's conquests,the campaigns between the Successors, and some scrums with the Romans. Also inlcuded are some scenario-specific rules that gives the Greeks some thematic tweaks. Still, there are only a couple new troop types and no new terrain or tactics cards. Bottom line: for the hard-core devotee, this is a worthwhile purchase and the new scenarios will be great fun for a long time. However, if you enjoy the original but are worried that the expansion might be simply more of the same...don't worry: the rules are the same but the army compositions and some unusual scenarios make keep the game fresh.
The new Barbarian Chariots, Slave, Marsh, and Legion rules take the game in yet another new and fun direction! If you are a devotee of the system, this is a must-have! Also: Nice mounted "Epic" map and bigger box allows you store laminated pages easily.
The new Marian/Julian and Epic rules really kick things up a notch! If you are a devotee of the system, this is a great addition! Also: Nice mounted "Epic" map and bigger box allows you to store laminated pages easily.
Ancients, Battle Cry, Memoir... All feel very different from one another and Richard Borg has done it again by creating a Napoleonic battle game using the Commands & Colors systems that is like and yet totally unlike any of his other games. This is a deft blend of Ancients planning and Battle Cry "deadliness" but with unique aspects all its own: Infantry Squares, Combined Arms combat, unique unit and national characteristics. Overall, another big winner for Richard Borg and GMT! *Update:* Bumped it to a 10. More than Ancients, this game infuriates me at every turn. I'm on the cusp of rolling over the enemy line when a First Strike or a Cavalry Bounce breaks my stride. What can I say? I love it!
Update 09-2011: Attacking in this game is a real challenge and requires some patience and effort in slowly applying pressure to the defender while preparing for the final assault. The rock-paper-scissors aspect of the game is a key to good play: Use cavalry against artillery; artillery against infantry; infantry against cavalry. Admittedly, a stationary unit that rolls well in ranged combat can upset your plans, but it happens. The best thing is to stay out of musket range until you're ready to cross that two-hex no man's land! Have a Force March or Bayonet Charge card ready for that time, if you can!
What makes this expansion so interesting is the challenge it is to play the Spanish. They have a poor attack capability since Infantry units typically lose a die for simply moving into musket range or even contact. Coupled with their shaky legs (every unit type retreats 2 or more hexes per flag), you have an army that will understandably take a defensive posture in most scenarios.
Their saving grace is the new Guerilla Actions mechanic. This mechanic allows the Spanish player with a reserve of such actions to effectively cancel the targeted Command Cards played by the French player. This gives the Spanish player the opportunity to take consecutive turns–and thus a chance at taking some offensive action.
Every battle I've played has been a close contest. Most games require a combination of unit elimination and securing terrain objectives. The Pre-Battle Mother Russia roll is an interesting scenario variable that creates all-new headaches for the French!
Another war game of skill. This one is so well balanced that attacking another player is difficult. Not bad, but some assymetry among the forces (or a greater variety of pieces to play with) might encourage more interesting situations to develop.
If there were ever a fast-play version of ASL, this is it. I'll admit that I have no desire to keep track of action points for a unit—but that's the game and it works that way. (This mixes a lot of steps that appear as individual phases in ASL into a continuous series of friendly/enemy actions that appear to happen continuously. That's good!) I still prefer the narrative that Combat Commander offers, but at least this game DOES work guns and vehicles into the system.
This is almost more puzzle than game, the trick is to maximize the the abilties of your pieces with the limited number of moves that you have. Good players can see far ahead and pull off some extremely deft combinations. Great game of skill that is probably better than people give it credit for.
An unsual sort of conquest game: Players attempt to infilrate as many continents as they can before the supercontinent breaks up. As they do, players struggle to be the dominant species in the various territories. There are no dice, some balancing between playing cards to secure points and using them as bluffs in the occasional battle. Cards representing vast stretches of time (miillions of years) also dispense disasters and windfalls but are directed by the drawing player. Some room for deal-making/negotiation, but this is really more of a euro in play. Once the continents split up, game over, and people total the points of the regions they control. Short and engaging, decent closer/opener, but a bit too dry. PS: If you hate Risk for the luck and rote play, give this one a shot.)
After two plays. Once again, Eagle shines in the lavish production department. In addition to going over the top with a reissue and fix of the MB GameMaster title, they give players a huge ~4'x3' map and enough bits to please a miniatures gamer. The basic game is a lot of fun on its own, but the game comes alive in the advanced version. The auction for alliances is an effective way saddle a leader with trailing players. My only complaint with the game is that the rulebooks could do with some illustrated examples of play.
I know the place that this game holds in the hearts of game geeks everywhere. And I love the idea of factions with different powers to influence the rules of the game, but the game always leaves me wondering just what the heck happened and the artwork in most sets just doesn't attract me. I must not be "left brain" enough for this.
The classic SPI folio-game of rubber monster mahyem! Few games have come this close to capturing the genre as well as this one. An excellent find for collectors, the new Monsters Ravage America is the latest standard bearer, IMO.
My absolute favorite two-player card game. Players score points based on the combination of cards played and held in the hand. Dealer also scores for a hand in the "crib." But the 'Pone scores first! Creates some tense end-game situations. And you can hold a conversation and not lose track of the game. Can be played with 3 or 4 as well.
Crokinole is an excellent dexterity. It's like billiards without the need for a special room or equipment--apart from the board and disks. A good Crokinole baord can be a beautiful converstaion starter that hangs on your wall. Sadly, I don't get many opportunities to play.
The expansion module that started the transformation of Squad Leader from a game of infantry combat into a game of armored combat. For (Advanced) Squad Leader completists only. And only for the board. This upgrade path has been replaced by Advanced Squad Leader.
If you're a fan of card-driven games, have an interest in the period, and can find three like-minded friends, this could be a blast.
Overall, the game seems to need more development. It's not a free-wheeling exercise in diplomacy and fighting in the way that Kingmaker and Warrior Knights can be. More more like carefully sequencing your hand of cards and min-maxing the opportunities they present—like a lot of other CDGs.
Of any card-driven game, this one offers players the most options in how they play their hand. It's possible to begin an operations phase with nine cards in your hand, several that are part of a unique set that belong to your faction, and any allied houses that you may have brought into play on a previous turn—a dozen cards or even more.
I can see experienced players knocking this out in six hours or even less. There's a bit of a learning curve, but CDG veterans will probably pick it up quicker than most.
Tense block game covering the 3rd Crusades. European knights try desperately to maintain their tenuous hold on the Holy Lands while the Saracens attempt to create a breach in the network of Crusader forts to exploit. Some fiddlyness in the combat, movement, and reinforcement systems makes this game a bit heavy to even experienced wargamers, but reinforces the theme and makes the game richer for the trouble. After a couple plays, (especially with the latest "living rules",) fans of the system and era should be able to knock out games quickly. Of all the block games I've played, it bears a close situational feel to '1812'. Add 1 or 2 points if you're a fan of block games.
Colorful and easy-to-play game of medieval combat out of England. This and several others in the series made for a ready-made miniatures skirmish game covering Vikings, Samurai, and even fantasy characters.
Decent filler game. Clearly, whoever decided to overlay a Lovecraft theme onto a light auto-racing card game knew what they were about: Accurate knowledge of the Cthulhu Myhtos abounds in the cards. However, the game itself left little impression on me after one play.
More value as a collector's item than as a game, this atmospheric Games Workshop title comes from a time when they produced fairly good boardgames. Rather too much effort for the return in fun. At least the minis were first rate!
Another Avalon Hill classic that holds up pretty well. Would be considered very light by today's standards. I actually like the style of the layout for this game. Looks and feels as if it would have been produced during the war.
After one play: Players familiar with DOOM will grasp the mechanics immediately. The big change is the introduction and expenditure of Threat tokens to activate cards from the GM's "Overlord" deck. The wide variety of monsters, hero types, and scenarios will keep folks busy for quite awhile. The chief drawback I see is the time that it takes to run through scenarios: expect to tie down a FULL afternoon or evening.
Had a chance to play as Character and Overlord. The new expansion provides a lot of new abilities for characters and options for the Overlord. For example, dungeons now have points that the Overlord can spend to acquire new cards for his deck. These cards seem to be tailor-made for particular situations and characters. Characters now have abilities that seem to break the traditional limits of movement and armor-wearing. For example, one wizard-character has the ability to teleport vast distances by LOS, while one of the human fighters can wear no Armor, but nevertheless uses his Melee trait plus a bonus as his Armor rating.
Basically, the new material adds power across the board. GMs that play hard will find they can play harder. Wily players that enjoy power combinations will find wilder combos to try. This adds up to more fun for die hard fans, but perhaps a turn-off for players that were luke-warm to Descent anway. Boost this rating by two if you're a big Descent fan.
Enjoyable, yet surprisingly complex and immersive, game of growing potatoes. Do you grow and sell the smaller, organically grown potatoes and ease your conscience? Or do you keep it "strictly business" and use chemcicals and pesticides to create big, crowd-pleasing potatoes?
Remarkable game of alliances and, ultimately, betrayal set on a map of Europe prior to the First World War. Notorious for causing rifts in friendships when players begin their descent into betraying allies. That this is a game of skill seems to add salt to the wounds. Fun, but needs a group that can set aside their feelings. (Wood block AH and Metal AH/Hasbro versions.)
Played this game with relish when I was in high school, because it played out as if you were reading a great fantasy novel or creating the arc for a role-playing campaign. However, it had always bothered me, even then during the game's heyday, that it took so long to play. The basic mechanics are fairly straightforward. Battles and seiges are handled very cleverly and still hold up as a model of a good combat system. The various characters, monsters, treasures, races, and kingdoms give this game a rich, heady mix for fantasy lovers. And Dave Trampier's unparalleled map art really sets the tone for this TSR classic. So why the mediocre rating? Because you really need to be something of an old-school fantasy fan and a bit of a wargaming grognard to fully enjoy and appreciate the game. It takes a long time to play and requires a bit of setting up. Players have many choices to make on their turn which means there is a lot of down time-- which players will use to plot against you. It takes a while to develop an empire and player diplomacy slows the game even more. It can easily repel the ignorant or those used to snappier Euro-style games. In other words, it suffers from all the disadvantages that more contemporary games of the genre and scale have learned to overcome. (There IS a 20-turn limit, however!) Still, this can be a fascinating game with a close group that wants a genuinely rich fantasy game. (Like a Games Workshop game, but without the gratuitous skulls and battle-madness). Your best bet is to find an experienced hand with an original copy of the game and settle in for a lazy Saturday afternoon and evening.
One of the early American Heritage series classic games. Card playing mechanic for aerial manuevers makes play quick and the awards for kills are a funny gimmick. Aimed at young kids and not serious wargamers.
Finally gave Dominion (Intrigue) a try. Overall: fun. I can see why this is both compared to Magic (addictive, euro-game-crank-turning fun) and rated better then Magic (you only have to buy it "once" to play).
But how many times will I want to play competitive deck-building before it just grows old to me?
Wow! Game play is quick, easy to learn, and FUN! The heart of the game is the combat system which uses a single roll of the dice to determine whether you: hit your opponent (or not), the damage done, and whether you burned up ammo or not. Clever card play by the GM/Invader will really keep the marines on their toes! A better FPS than the Frag boardgame, this is possibly the best bug-hunt game since Space Hulk! I'm very happy that Fantasy Flight are taking on the task of making the sort of lavish board games that Games Workshop used to make.
Pluses: New PvP and CtF rules, airless terrain rules, Sentry 'Bots, new monsters, fixed Dud cards, some rules clarifications, cool scenarios. Minuses: No new dice (Descent's are much nicer), monster sculpts a bit blase, no comprehensive player mat or play-aid sheet, two invader decks to chose from rather than a revamped "overlord"-style deck (ala Descent), "armor" still a generic "coating" rather than a specific piece of equipment from a set. For the DOOM fan, the pluses outweight the minuses and offers plenty of bang for the buck. With all this stuff, the dedicated should be happy and busy for quite awhile.
Among my favorite games to play with 4 players. Players take turns as the dealer and play five hands of different games in rotation, taking as many tricks as they can. Points are scored based on the value of the tricks taken. Fantastic card art make this game a treat to play.
Interesting aerial variant on chariot/horse racing. My only nit after one play is that the course lines should be wider. Or the dragon models slightly smaller. Seemed okay, but our intro only lasted for one lap. The incorporation of manuever sticks was a great idea.
Beautifully produced game about British night-time bomber raids over Germany in WWII, the narrative of this game is more like a movie than a wargame: you're not so much prosecuting a campaign as following the exploits of a cast of "actors." That said, the game is easy to learn, plays quickly, and fairly tense (again, in a cinematic sense) as the RAF Bomber, her Mosquito escort ("Mossie"), and the German night-fighters battle over Germany. Lost of interesting detail covering the ground defenses (Flak, Searchlights, Smoke Generators, Firetrucks, etc.) are seamlessly incorporated into play of the game. ...Finally, the object of the game is simply to rack up points. Generally this is achieved by the Brits avoiding the German defenses and bombing the target. Or-- as the Germans-- by intercepting the Bomber with your nightfighters or correctly surmising its course and planning your ground defenses accordingly.
Excellent two player card game of fencing. Easy to learn and the deck of cards circumsccribing the game makes this even more challenging. Seems to have an uncanny knack for recreating the classic back and forth of a fencing duel.
Another great fusion of game and theme. Similar to Cosmic Encounters in the way special powers for each player break fundemental game rules. A classic game of diplomacy and conquest based on Frank Herbert's page-turner. If you loved the book, you'll likely enjoy the game. (Avalon Hill version with "Sting" cover.)
Just when I thought Cutthroat Caverns was the best distillation of the Dungeon Crawl, here comes Dungeon Roll to break it down even further. Fun choices with dice optimization as you push your luck to get the loot.
I think to get the most out of it, you have to have some "long time" with real dungeon-crawl games. Otherwise, it could come across as too dry.
After one play. Unusual two-player game which uses Fantasy as the theme for a slightly chess-like game that is part race, part puzzle, and part dungeon crawl. The mechanism which extends replay value is the "Dungeon Twist:" a manuever players perform which allows a change in the arrangement of the dungeon (gameboard). Learning the abilities of your pieces and using them in ways that complement their powers is the chief challenge to mastering the game.
Played a couple times long years ago. At the time, I preferred RPGs to this-- even though I played board games, too. Presentation was excellent for 1975, but would not compete in today's world of plastic miniatures and clever combat systems. Enjoyable at the time, games like this later became a Games Workshop sideline.
DungeonQuest: The Wacky Game of Vicarious Suicide! You don't so much play it as watch it to see what gruesome fate (probably) awaits your character. Mostly an opportunity for silliness and making jokes, the game paid for itself then with rich production values and atmoshpere and nowadays with nostalgia. One fix is to ignore the sun track or advance the marker via a die roll.
The new FFG edition of this classic eclipses the old GW version. All the changes that FFG put into this game are for the better and the new combat system is pretty fun. Throwing in the Catacombs rules is a nice bonus and I can't wait to see what may come down the pike for this game. It's as random and deadly as it ever was. And just as fun!
Adding the Descent and Runebound character cards was a nice bonus,too.
Bumped to a 10. I am having way too much fun with this!
After several plays, I find the game pretty fun, but you need a party that is willing to take the hurt that the games dishes out.
Like many good 'crawlers, you need teamwork and careful sequencing to succeed in each scenario. You need to study your characters' special abilities and be ready to use them when the occasions arise.
Strangely, the game does no seem very cohesive from a thematic standpoint. Monsters appear and strange things happen all the time that have no great relation to one another. The game is still fun, but it's nagging that everything feels so random until you meet the boss.
So it comes down to surviving whatever is hurled at you until you meet the final baddy. Do that through a dozen or so of scenarios of increasing severity. Perhaps the best thing that can be said (until I play more) is that it's a bit like DungeonQuest with parties and dirt simple combat.
For a long time, I'd wanted a copy of Divine Right as my "go to" game for old-school swords and sorcery on an epic scale. One play of Conquest of Nerath has just about replaced my desire for Divine Right.
It has a lot of the sorts of things I liked about DR (epic scale, asymmetric forces, weird creatures, mighty magic—even a bit of "dungeon plungin'"), streamlined it, brought in Axis & Allies-type unit-purchase mechanics s, and brought playing time back to the more reasonable span of a weekend afternoon.
Production is top-notch and is hard to beat for "dudes on a map" beauty. Heck, the scale of the bits and the size of the territories are compatible, for once, so there isn't that annoying "spill-over" that bedevils so many other games in this genre. Finally, the game is easy to learn and fairly snappy for the ground it covers. I was pleasantly surprised!
For all the carping about RISK and Axis & Allies that this site routinely offers, they sure seem to be the springboards of choice for game designers that want to develop their own light/medium-weight global domination games. RISK for the map, buckets o' dice combat, and card effects. Axis & Allies for special rules, variety of forces, and the expenditure of points for building economies and military units. DUST is a late example, like War on Terror, which makes these good game systems better--perhaps even great. If you are a fan of such games, add a point or two to this rating and add it to your collection.
...About the game itself: Like a lot of FFG products, the production values and bit count are both very high. Unlike a lot of FFG games, the rules are pretty tight and easy to learn while play is hampered only by (A/P) individuals who insist on mentally computing the odds and cost of every action available to them before taking any action. (A problem which exists in every A&A-type game). The theme is a bit specious for me (WWII in an alternate future) but, I am told, is really based on some sort of graphic novel/comic, but provides some necessary context for the lavish illustrations on the language-independent cards and player-aid charts. Otherwise, it could be whatever you want it to be. Finally, the point-track (while a bit anathema to AT gamers) keeps the game-length in check but is a poor indicator of which player is the leader. Come-back wins and king-making based on a beat-on-the-leader strategy are quite possible.
Compelling "what if?" game about a Soviet invasion of Red China. Plays rather like the older "classics" that Avalon Hill and SPI produced in their beginnings. Some ambiguities and descrepancies in the rules made my first attempt at this problematic, but didn't take away from the fun. Would like to try this one again. The biggest drawback was the horribly produced map art. They tried to get away with a lot using just two colors, but it didn't work, IMO.
Comprehensive yet assessible boardgame of operational land warfare on the Eastern Front during WW2. Clever use of cards to simulate Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) and other battle-related events made this fairly revolutionary back in the 80's. Fine production values by West End Games also carried the theme well, especially on the cards. Notable also for the "battle-scarred" organizations that both sides were given to fight with: players fought with units that were not to TO&E strength. Games could stretch from a couple to several hours. A remarkable faithful and playable tactical WWII combat game.
The stale humor and excrable art overpower whatever game is here. But there is an undeniable camp silliness about the game in spite of its flaws. If Ed Wood were a gamer, he might have conjured something like this.
A fun, card-based "movie skirmish" game in the tradition of Erol Flynn or, if you prefer, "The Princess Bride." We decided after our first game that anyone who used The Pistol card should be taken down by the others immediately! ;-)
Remarkably tight 3-player euro-wargame covering the Roman civil war between Caesar, Pompeius, and Crassus. A precarious balance between political and militaristic concerns frame the decisions that players are tasked to make. Will you win an outright victory through military conquest? Will you harness the will of the people to support you politically? Or will you pursue a path which raises the stature of your fighting forces and poltical acumen until you become the ultimate soldier/statesman? Dirt simple economic, movement, combat, and political rules allows new players to jump into the heart of the game quickly. Playtime is far below what you might expect for a game with a Roman Civil War theme, too. And for a game that is designed for just three players, it has few peers. While the production values for the game itself are fine, the box art and copy are real turn-offs. But don't let it stop you from trying it!
Political game of Europe in the near future. Timely also for the way it addresses the Balkan Situation. Basically, players represent a political ideology and attempt to unite Europe under a common banner. Elections in the various countries seeking admittance into the Union are held and added momentum given to the winners for the upcoming elections. Fighting can break out in the Balkans and players must expend political capital to resolve it. Fascinating, but, why do I not care to play it again?
Entirely too intense, fiddly, and complex for even the dedicated. Should only be attempted by a dedicated club of gamers. (I once played a "short" scenario that dragged on for hours.) Produced with great splash and enthusiasm, the pixelated map and counters were nevertheless extremely hard to read.
Have played in two games. One ending in Jan/Feb 1941 and another in in July/August 1942. Both games I would class as learning scenarios, even though they were attempts at tackling the full Campaign Game without optional rules. I have just one chief doubt about the game: the progressions and returns for the U-Boat/ASW campaign charts seemed to be skewed significantly in favor of the Axis. Otherwise, pretty fun. It often felt like I was playing a charts-and-special-cases version of A&A Europe.
Yet another of Mayfair's seemingly endless string of crayon-rail titles. The challenges in this game are the runs to Spain, Eastern Europe, and the necessity of crossing the Channel and the North Sea. Spread yourself too thin and you'll knock yourself out of the running!
I love it when the mechanics found in euros take on a historical subject deep enough that the theme doesn't end at the title or game pieces. Expedition: Northwest Passage reminded me a lot of Entdecker (another euro I've enjoyed) while also including interesting seasonal and travel-mode mechanics that bring exploration, history, and competitiveness together in one fun package.
IMO, way too depressing to be fun. Artwork is sharp and funny (in a grotesque, "gallows humor" sort of way) and there is certainly a game here. Guess I'm saying I'm appalled by the theme. Play Ernst's other game with a nearly identical mechanic, called Brawl, instead.
Humorous card game of 20's mob turf wars. Players target one another's underlings and put 'em "up against the wall." When the wall reaches critical mass, the fun begins. Some diplomcay as you try to weasel other players into targeting one another instead of you! Very much like Guillotine-- and just as fun. I wasn't very inspired by the production of the "purple" Mayfair set I payed with, but it's still a neat game.
Have played a couple games. While the production and thoroughness of the rules are excellent, this is not an easy game to play or teach. A critical part of the game are the rules for movement: many units must pass a kind of "drill test" to perform complex moves or they may only perform simple ones. More to the point, the rules admonish you NOT to be sloppy with your moves. (You MUST select and PIN the front corner of a unit as the pivot point for a Wheel maneuver, for example.) If you allow your opponent to be sloppy with their movement and "tidy up" afterwards, you'll find him completing all sorts of evolutions of illegal maneuvering that will probably cost you the game. This is because a lot of winning strategy is catching opposing battle groups angled badly to the friendly units behind them. Forcing such groups to retreat is bad for friendly groups behind them. After that, combat is a bit fussy and detailed, but better overall than the DBx rat's nest of minutea I was used to before. There are a lot of subtle conditions and exceptions, so know your opponent's Army List as well as your own!
Everybody "owns" this one. And if you can remember a good joke, you can remember the rules to this game. Great to play at get togethers or even at restaurants/bars. Accountants and math majors can even play around with the exchange rates to create interesting new dynamics.
After one play... A surprisingly clean, if longish, game of Earth's exploration and development of the worlds of our solar system. Players race frantically to become economic powerhouses before the missiles and beam weapons of the jealous bring an end to the boom economy. Possibly the neatest feature of the game is the National Interest index-- which determines how much of your economy the people of your nation wish to invest in exploiting the Soalr System. There seems to be a little too much emphasis on the wargame, but it is pretty simple and quick. To understand the science-fiction of the game, it helps to have read Robert Heinlein's _The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress_ to get an idea of what type of combat is being modeled as well as how the inhabitants of Earth might regard their solar colonies.
Several comparisons ran through my mind as I played this for the first time... It's a bit Britannia. It's a bit pickup-and-delivery (like Bermuda Triangle). It's a bit point-scoring Euro. It's a bit plasticky Amerigame. I love the random missions that the Saga deck offers. And I really like the fateful boons and banes of the Rune deck. The simple mechanics for trading, raiding, and settling keep the game moving at a good clip and the mechanics for movement, wind change, and desired goods change are well-integrated. A lot of little good things. ...So what's wrong? Nothing, really. Production is top-notch and the game is easy to learn and play. The problem is, perhaps, in the titles for the various editions: There are Vikings galore but their impact isn't quite a "fury." There are axes on those Viking pieces, but no "fire" in the game. It's all just a bit... bloodless.
UPDATE: The heart of the game is in "stealing" (completing) sagas ahead of the others that may be working on them. Then the gloves come off and ruthless Rune card play ensues--often leading to the delay or outright ruin of another player's expedition. Damn you, sea monsters! Recommend: swapping the dice with something more like "knucklebone" dice or "skull dice." Also, transparent red or orange disks (like tiddleywinks) for marking raided areas. "Pirate" coins for the money might make a nice addition as well.
Reasonably fast and fun game of the American Civil War. Not as complex as Johnny Reb but more so than Battle Cry. As I recall, something is not quite right about the way attack columns work in this game. Anyway, I prefer Johnny Reb and Battle Cry to this, but it has its devotees and understandably so.
After one play... I admit, I approached this game with some trepidation: I feared yet another needlessly complex and picky treatment of an epic war in Europe. But what a great, compact, thematic, and thoroughly satisfying recreation of war along the three great, European fronts this is! The elegant and refreshing combat system recreates the war of attrition that plagued WW1 in Europe while also allowing for a bit of bluff and manuever-- all with with a 2.5 hour play time! Easily replaces SPI's "First World War" as amy favorite Great War title. A wonderful example of a true Euro-wargame!
Have had the opportunity to replay this with gamers that understand the rules. I still think it a bit complex for what it attempts, but will give it it's due as one of the better and perhaps most even-handed WWII miniatures game available. Everything about the game is designed for compeititve play, and so much revolves around effectively using the game's point system to compose a flexible force to play with.
Played a couple classic match-ups recently as my introduction to the system: Mig-15 vs. F-86 and MiG-17 vs. F-8. Maybe if I had picked this up and played it when I was in my 20's, I'd enjoy it more. As it is, I'm in my 50's and I've already played (and enjoy) Check Your Six: Jet Age. That game is much snappier and has campaign modules to give your sessions some needed context.
Most dogfight wargames require you to do some spatial problem-solving and solve math equations at the same time—in your head. Which is something you can't see on the board and only chart-laden player aids to help you. That can lead to mistakes and hard feelings as you take (or dodge) an attack in error.
Flight Leader isn't as bad as some of these games can be. But it's enough—for me. The investment of my time doesn't yield a high enough return in fun.
Okay to play once or twice. And not a bad game for studying rules and game mechanics. But very random and after a while, you wonder even what the point of winning is-- except that it ends the game so you can play something else.
A fun, interesting alternative to aerial combat with miniatures or on a hex grid. Players take a leader and a wingman and, based on the characteristics of their aircraft, draw, hold, and play cards from a deck of maneuvers and attacks. Object is to destroy or drive off your opponent. Dan Verssen seems to enjoy turning topics into card games--and few are better at it, Like "Harry's Grand Slam Baseball", the odds and action are filtered down to a deck of cards. If you can imagine liking aerial combat (or baseball) distilled to that degree of abstraction, Flying Circus could be real gem. I enjoyed it okay (though more plays would probably help). But for the effort, I would just rather play Wings of War or Ace of Aces.
The primary drawback is the length of time it takes to play. After that, the fiddling it takes to employ generals and keeping straight how the Strategic Will tracks work are the two barriers to easy play. But fans of Washington's War/We the People will have a great time if they ever track down a copy and put in the effort to see it through.
Clean, fast, reasonably simple set of modern skirmish rules. My only quibble is how morale tests are resolved. I'd rather have a 2d6 system where you have to beat x with a -1 penalty for every casualty to the unit. Elites might need to beat a 3. Militiamen might need to beat a 6.
Fun, but rather long, racing game. Like crayon-rail train games, the boards are what keeps the game fresh for its fans. However, I think that there are more interesting decisions for Formula De players to make. My chief complain is with the record-keeping. Too much opportunity for fudging. I would like to see a token system for each vehicle system that players then draw and spend when building and making vehicle checks. (Update: Picked up the Asmodee reprint. Which, by all appearances, is a straight reprint of the Eurogames version.)
My favorite of Milton Bradley's Game Master series and one of my favorite games of all time. Nail-biting decisions on every turn. Even the set-up is critical: America can't defend too heavily forward, and the invaders must husband some heavy pieces for the final assault for that elusive 18th city. Just the slightest tweak will upset the balance of this game. If you enjoy "what-ifs" and don't mind the "light wargame" feel, you won't be disappointed by this.
Not a bad game, and one of my Euro purchases. There are just better games nowadays. The confusing scoring track takes this down by a point, unfortunately. What were they thinking with using an S-track in a game with high scores?
A refreshing take on the Seven Years war, Friedrich uses fairly simple point-to-point movement mechanics to recreate the manuever of armies during this period. A clever and unusual method of using decks of playing cards to resolve battles puts the game in a class all by itself. Players familiar with GDW's old Soldier King game will feel at home and may agree with me that this does a better job of capturing the flavor of this period of warfare. Bumped to a 9 after playing again with the 2nd edition set.
Solid fleet-on-fleet space combat game. Requires some pre-planning in setting up ships for a game, but moves pretty quickly and effortlessly once people start pushing systems. Generic system allows players to flavor their ships according to the universe they wish to play in and fleet lists for Trek and Star Wars exist on fan sites across the internet. Most games I've played used micro-machine space ships from Trek, Bab 5, and Star Wars. (Good luck finding those these days.) You can use most _anything_ to represent your ships and play with as many or as few as you like. I'm not a fan of even the mild book keeping this game requires and so it loses one star. Add one star if you don't mind light book-keeping and another if space combat gaming is a favored genre for you.
Game essentially breaks into three parts on each turn: building powerlines; bidding on powerplants; and purchasing the fuel for them. The trick is to set up the most efficient grid of powerplants as cheaply as possible. After a few plays, the compeition gets to be pretty keen as players seek the "sweet spot" power plants and work the fuel purchasing grid. Pretty fun, but kinda hard to teach and get the hang of, IMO. Known today as Power Grid.
Very clever and hip game about adult life, goals, and friendships. The bidding, passing, and goal-meeting mechanics feel similar to Traumfabrik's, but are much more complex as your (game-made) friends have some influence on whether or not your life goals goals are met. Production values are top notch and the game is pretty fun, though you may find yourself wrestling with the rules rather than enjoying the play of cards and topics on the first couple of plays. I guess it depends on whether you want your real-life analogies on the level of an easy-to-play Chez Geek or a more complex Funny Friends.
Among the very best translations of a book to a game. Excellent atmosphere and theme accentuated by cool metal (or perhaps plastic) figurines. Takes Scotland Yard and squares it with theme and chrome. It's particularly fun to have read the book-- or watched Coppola's movie-- and then jump into this. And to think that GAMES WORKSHOP did this! (And thank goodness they did. This sort of thing would be right up their alley if they ever went back to making boardgames.)
Longer, more lavish and chrome-laden upgrade to the original. If you have the original Fury of Dracula and enjoy it, then you may not be missing so very much if you skip or wait to get the newer Fantasy Flight edition. If you haven't tried the original and the subject and theme are a strong tug on your gaming dollar, then an excellent game about chasing Dracula to ground awaits! One of the best book-to-game adaptations ever made.
Solid, deserving follow-up to the original OGRE. Expanded the number and type of units in play and offered a new map, but didn't really offer much in the way of new tactics or considerations. No new development in the background of the Pan European and Combine armies at war, why they were fighting over, or where. Ultimately, it came across as more of the same. And for the price, it's still worth it.
Clever game of racing the clock to build the most efficient ship for salvaging and mining missions in space. Slight drawback to the game is that that players replaying the same set may learn the imperfections on the backs of the chits (paper tear, nicks, etc.) and have an unfair advantage over inexperienced players or those new to the set. However, there is a neat "story-telling" narrative that this game has that most euros don't: you can tell other players "what happened" when the game is over. There is point of diminishing returns on replayability as there is a bit of repetition of events on journeys--the later ones simply take longer to finish. A friend commented that the system could be used as a vehicle for role-playing or licensed for sci-fi franchises
Part of Avalon Hill's Smithsonian Series and featuring the d10 (ten-sided die) combat system that makes this series so fun and accessible. Good production values and easily leanred rules makes this an excellent starter for budding wargamers-- if you can find it.
I love Ancient Egypian art. And games that feature Ancient Egypt as the theme will almost always get me to peek in at them. Unfortunately, most don't seem to capture the theme very well, IMO. And these days there are a lot of games with that theme. I'd seen Giza in the stores but it didn't grab me at all. That changed when I played. Giza is an engaging point-building game where players can play tiles of negative or positive values on themselves or others. Since there is a strict, Lost Cities-type sequence to how the tiles can be played, players often have lots of potential with little opportunity for exploitation. Since there's a stick-your-neighbor element to the game as well, it makes it more of a competitve social/negotiation game as well. An excellent filler for up to six players!
A funny game. Seats three and only three. This is essentially a euro with a war/history theme pasted on it. Like most euros, it rewards long-term planning (investing early in towns with low invasion numbers—your GM won't tell you that) and punishes short-term planning (defending Poland—your GM will be adamant that this is what needs to be done).
If you want to win, invest early in towns. From there, cajole others into defending Poland while you sand bag on noble points for the national army; turn your gold coins in for VPs; and weep about how you only have enough resources to defend one pet province. Your usual cheesy euro-strategy.
"Graenaland" is an ingenious resource management and negotiation game. It's essentially a reinvention of Settlers of Catan, but the twists are that the victory conditions for each player change from game to game and the modular map with the variable reosurces is surprisingly new and different. Trading has been replaced by equally simple negotiation and cooperation mechanics. And all the building and publics works aspects of that game (and its expansions) have been distilled and condensed into one neat package. Its knocks are that the theme is even drier than Settlers' and there are times near the end-game when it feels and looks like any other process-driven Euro. However, thanks to the variable victory conditions, it's not so rote. One play. Could go up...
This is a great game with the ease of Risk, the treachery of Diplomacy, and the colorful chrome of Junta. Players represent the great colonial powers of Europe marking the world with their big boots in a game of winner-takes-all. The map represents an alternate earth with near-sounding names of old colonial territories (such as the island of Tahihi). The early half of the game has the players carving out their niche in the world, while the latter half has them going up against each other in squabbles that ultimately culminate in a Great War of sorts. Downrated for the ambiguous rules from the first edition. Play with the second edition if you can.
I doubled down on the Kickstarter. Richard Borg is the only designer that could induce me to give that avenue a try.
Update 7/22: Early reviews are positive, some saying that this game matches very well with their understanding of tactical trench warfare in the First World War. I've long said that the C&C system is at its best recreating linear battles. And battles are not much more linear than tactical trench battles of the Western Front during the First World War!
Update 8/4: Played through the introductory scenario as the Germans. My opponent as the British gamely "went over the top" and tried an assault. As the out-numbered Germans I largely shot back. In a second game as the British, it took some effort to create a weaker point in the enemy trench line. Then I committed to broad-front attack so that sheer mass and proximity would overwhelm at least one of the sections.
Attacking is very difficult and you'll need to take advantage of every piece of terrain the scenario and shell craters that Reserve Arty strikes give you to get across No Man's land. And don't forget the Combat cards. The great majority only cost 1 or 2 HQ tokens and many will help you get a needed edge when you're making that fateful crossing. Get that hand of cards built up!
Love the idea, and the components are evocative and well-made, but the rules could use some clarification: For example: do the Fullbacks, Tight ends, and Outside Linebackers REALLY jump like Knights in Chess? (Update: This has since been answered by the designer: the available spaces for the FB, TE, OL are the 8 same spaces available to the Knight in Chess.) Offensive plays--and pass plays in particular-- are very difficult to pull off IF both players can agonize over their moves. Play may improve if players are limited to moves that must be executed in, say, 5 seconds. Limiting the "SET" to say, 30 seconds, might help, too. Will need to revisit.
Played a thoroughly enjoayble 2-hour round of this game recently. A great step up from the old AH Midway game made in the 60's. The entire game would make a fantastic double-blind game for several players at a convention.
A light card game for two players that models the highlights of a baseball surprisingly well. Though the game seems to play itself a bit and a healthy dose of luck comes in the deal of the cards, there is a bit of strategy to the affair and the deck shuffle at the end of innings 3 and 6 generally levels the playing field over a bad run of cards. The game is remarkably fast-- a 9-inning game really IS over in 15-20 minutes. You could easily play a World Series match in a couple hours. While possibly too light for hard-core sports gamers and baseball afficianados (no pitching duels or rosters to assemble), this is an excellent filler while waiting for a space to open in another game. Almost like two people watching a baseball game as they play a hand together.
Phalanx has put out several wargames, so it's a little odd to me why Heart of Africa has such a thin veneer of a theme about "traders" in 19th century Africa applied to it. You know, the type of traders that have "conflicts" with "nuetral traders" and "other player traders." The sort of Age of Renaissance (by Avalon Hill) form of "trading" that feels a lot more like fighting. Clearly, the players represent imperial European powers looking to seize and develop lands in Africa and putting the boot-- or perhaps merely trading them after all-- to anyone that stands in the way. Natives or other European powers. Heck, some of the tiles that folks bid on even allow you to raise native levies! (Er, excuse me: "exchange a nuetral trader for a trader of your own color.") Man! There hasn't been this much politically correct obfuscation in a euro' since Puerto Rico! Oh! And they even preface the affair with a neat intro describing Dr. Livingston's famous quest for the source of the Nile to get you hooked on that explorer/trader theme.
Well, no matter. Once I sanded off the topcoat to reveal the original finish underneath, the game made a little more sense mechanically. It's actually a neat, Vinci-esque game about the European "whatever" of Africa in the late 19th and early 20th Century. There are some keen bidding and scoring mechanics that put this title firmly into the "Eurogame" column, but there are some equally interesting mechanics for resolving conflicts that tells you the game is straining at the leash to be a euro-wargame.
If you're the sort of wargamer/eurogamer that can accept a fairly large chunk of abstraction in your historical boardgame recreations, you may want to take Heart of Africa out for a spin. Just imagine that your "traders" are "colonial regiments" and that your special "Wholesale Trader" is a more than likely a "Major General." Or that your "trading posts" are really "Dominions." It'll all come together for you!
Light, two player game of conquest. Clever card play and compact components make this game an excellent filler for wargamers. Kinda wish it were bult for four or five, but you can probably do that with additional sets if you wanted.
Engaging, thoughtful, and colorful card game for two players. Plays more like a battle game due to the way cards are arranged and played on the table. Not really light enough for casual gamers, unfortunately. Break into the KOSMOS two-player line of games (of which this a part) with Lost Cities or Ballon Cup.
Found the rules and game parts for this and the Catacombs supplements in a battered copy of the original DungeonQuest. Like Ramses' tomb, the real treasure (the figurines) was looted long ago... Update: Dungeon-Quest fans will really enjoy this supplement. Opens up the game and fives the player a bit better chance at the game. The Wizard is sweet revenge for jaded old-timers!