Jeremy Blowers
United States
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This is Jeremy from Field Marshal Games

I came across this Title recently thinking it was another AAA clone... When I finally got my copy I found out it was much much more!!

Components and Quality

The Box and Artwork


The first thing I noticed when it arrived was the highly detailed box art. Both the front and back of the box were illustrated and colorful.. showing everything a wargamer wants to see... a big map, lots of detailed figures, tokens, cards etc. What I was surprised to see when I opened it was detail included on the outer bottom! With detailed drawings of the vehicles and weapons of the conflict. NICE TOUCH



I poured over every component in the box and was amazed time and time again by the quality of the materials used. The cards were heavy stock, The tokens were thick and two sided, the "Field Command Manual" was high gloss and in colour!

On examining each one I found that great care had been taken to research the period and the battle itself. Quotes from the commanders and Historical information detailed the situation for me and I found my self being drawn into the battle even before I set up the game (History Junkies will enjoy this aspect).

Let's look at the components:

"Command & Staff College FIELD COMMAND MANUAL"

The rule book is anything but standard. In full gloss and colour it is higher quality than most these days. Blow-up boxes, Historical notes on the side panels, and colour images explaining the concepts of the game.

The most interesting feature I found was how it was presented. It was writen more like a Tutorial than a reference rule book. In reading it and learning the game it makes you assume the roll of an up-and-coming commander working your way through the ranks.

Starting with the basics in the first chapter COMPANY COMMANDER you and a friend take control of only a single unit each on the battle board, learning the basic concepts of the combat system.

Second chapter is BATTALION COMMANDER in which both sides command a small handful of units each. This tutorial teaches how to combine your units and use basic TACTICS (This I will detail later)

Moving on to REGIMENT COMMANDER artillery barrages and Air units are brought to bear teaching you how to coordinate units and control more complex operations.

Graduation to BRIGADE COMMANDER allows you to really start sinking your teeth into the game. You and your opponent fight out a full Scenario learning the full aspects of the game and using the MAP board in addition to the battle board (where combat resolution takes place). This is done without the use of SUPPLY to make it easier to grasp the mechanics of the game.. without worrying about the larger logistical problems.

DIVISION COMMANDER is the final step to mastery of the game and the end of the Tutorial games (that are enjoyable in themselves). As a Division Commander you will play an entire Scenario using SUPPLY and the "FOG OF WAR" screen to hid your logistic strength or weakness from your opponent. Once this is completed you are ready to try out the many Scenarios and Campaigns this game has to offer.

There is a section called CORPS COMMANDER but this deals with use of strategy cards that are an expansion so we will skip over that here.

The final chapter is ARMY COMMANDER which introduces a plethora of optional Advanced rules and Variants.. should you ever tire of the given Scenarios and have a taste for something more difficult and complex. This review will not discuss this either.



The Game Boards

This game comes with TWO boards. One is the larger strategic map that any war gamer would recognize (similar to AAA BOTB or AAA D-Day). And the second is a "Battle Board" where conflicts are resolved.

The Game Board is High quality and minutely detailed. Showing every section, neighborhood and district of Singapore Island in 1942. Similar to the AAA Battle of the Bulge it is detailed with terrain also including roads, rivers, small islands, defensive lines, Strategic points/Victory locations and *NEW* = Airfields & Gun emplacements.



The Battle Board is more complex than the standard AAA conflict resolution board as it allows each player to choose an Order of Battle and use several different Tactics in resolving combat. It is also well designed and colorful. It may seem complex at first sight but after completing the first two Tutorial missions it becomes second nature and is a great player aid in resolving battles.



"Fog of War" Screen

This is a nice touch to the game. Each Nation has a screen to hide their supply tokens. (Supply strength determines range of action). The screen has movement and Artillery range information on the player side as a quick reference and great artwork detailing the National Commander on the board facing side.... reminds me of playing Samurai Swords... always enjoy a level of secrecy in a war game!



Units, Tokens and Dice

One HUGE attraction for me to the game was the highly detailed units provided. These are of a greater detail than standard AAA units and you can tell that WorldsForge took great pains and expense to produce them. Australian (Blue), British (Tan) and Japanese (Green) armies are included with multiple types of infantry for each, an armour unit, artillery unit (Several for the Allies including *NEW*= Fortress artillery) Fighter aircraft and Bombers.



Two types of tokens are used it the game. One is a National Flag token for marking territory ownership... Thick,very high quality. The other is just a plain chip used for managing supply.

The dice used are varied. d4 d6 d8 d10 and d12 and are of standard quality. They are colored to match the unit strength chart for easy identification.


Scenario Cards and Overview

The game comes with two types of Scenarios, ie; Combat Board Scenarios(4) and Operation Scenarios(3)

The Combat Board Scenarios depict certain Historical battles and are played out on the Battle board only. Each side is given the Historical forces and situation. They are great for a quick game and are enjoyable due to the unique "Tactical" Battle system used in this game. It is never just a "roll-off"... each side can approach the conflict in a different way achieving varying outcomes.

The Operation Scenarios are much more detailed and involve the Map board.. Battle Board, Special rules/situations and a date calendar and reinforcement chart. There are three included with the game to increase re-playability. One is the Historical Scenario playing out the actual battle for Singapore in 1942. The second is a Hypothetical Scenario reversing roles... given that Britain invaded the Island in 1945 to liberate it.

The last is probably my favorite... the "Open" Scenario where both sides can deploy their forces as they see fit... exploring many "what ifs" of this conflict. In this Scenario the Japanese can use any point of attack and even get to choose two "feint" attacks in the first round to set the Allies of Balance. In turn, the Allies can deploy as they choose to prove that they COULD have defended the island successfully in 1942. You can play this one over and over and it is always different!

Scenario Card Overview

Each Scenario has several Large cards bundled that include set-up charts etc. The front card gives a brief Situation report. The Cards are full colour and durable quality



On the back of this card is a game "calender" which is both a Turn counter and a reinforcement chart for that Scenario. It actually shows who's turn it is, the date and if it is day or night.



Each player is given a set-up card for each Scenario. On one side it gives a detailed Historical background specific to that player and the Scenario. It also details the number of starting units.



The back of these cards have a full colour map showing the initial set-up. It also details Victory conditions (Three levels: Total, Decisive and just plain old Victory), Special rules for the Scenario if any and a paragraph on the CONSEQUENCES OF DEFEAT



Historical Scenario Set-up Completed... Let the Battle Begin!!!



The COMBAT SYSTEM

Seeing all these charts and the complexity of the Battle board may scare some at first. But I found the game to be very intuitive and easy to learn. The rules are not too complicated and for the most part would be familiar to the average AAA player,

Movement is very much in the style of AAA D-day; each unit type having a range of movement. In this game however the terrain is a factor which may increase (road/bridge) or decrease (River) movement. It is easy to follow and is one of the two things that is on your Fog of War screen in your play area... after the first few turns you will no longer refer to the movement chart as it becomes second nature.

Combat resolution in this game is very unique and coming from a AAA background I found it revolutionary in the tactical choices presented.

Simple combat; the rolling of dice - unit vs unit is just a matter of attaining the highest roll. Each units offensive and defensive strength is determined by the amount and type of dice rolled. For example; an infantry unit may have an attack roll of 2d6, but a Bren Carrier may have a defensive roll of 2d8, there is a higher probability that the Bren Carrier will win the combat... but the infantry still has a chance.
. The revolutionary aspect of combat resolution in this game is that you can utilize different TACTICS on the Battle board giving you an additional edge over your opponent. Calling in artillery strikes, Flanking, Concentrated assault and Aerial bombardment are all possible and presented in an easy to learn and quickly resolved format. Even the ORDER OF BATTLE you choose when combat is initiated can have an impact on the outcome.

Another aspect of the game I enjoy (one which I first experienced in AAA Battle of the Bulge) is that not all units are automatically destroyed if they lose a combat. Barley defeating your opponent in a roll allows that unit to exit the Battle board (is removed from the battle) but retreats to an adjacent territory on the Map board to fight again some day rather than being destroyed! This gives the game-play a real feeling of a liquid battle front... with some units destroyed and others fleeing only to re-group and hold the line, or even better prepare a counter-attack from a better position. It also leaves some units surrounded or cut-off, either waiting to be relieved or fighting to the death in the enemies rear area.

The SUPPLY SYSTEM which I found cumbersome in Battle of the Bulge and Guadalcanal (Although great games!) is seamless and easy in this game, Supply is not used to move units, nor is it placed on the board and moved like a unit. It is kept hidden behind your screen and is only used when units go into an attack or call in artillery strikes on the battle board. It is more "spent" than used as an on board factor. Like Battle of the Bulge your units must be kept in supply (Have a clear path between them and a supply center) to be able to attack, but are free to move without using supplies both in your own controlled areas and behind the enemy lines. The only way to lose supply tokens is to spend them or lose a supply center to the enemy.

End result - Closing Comments

Overall I found this game to be most enjoyable and would recommend it to any war-gamer. It is not in anyway an AAA clone game as its combat system is unique, yet players of the above mentioned games will find comfort in similarities between the games. The WW2 theme also lends to this and the rich Historical flavor.

My Score 1-10
Components 9: (Highest quality but like D-Day.. their is just ENOUGH pieces to play.. very few extras)
Combat System: 10 (Something New, something old, something borrowed)
Re playability: 8 (Lots of Scenarios to come back to,More being released but like BOTB and DDAY it is one battle)
Historical Content x10 (After awhile I thought I was there!)
Rules: 8 (There are some loopholes in the rule book - But these are clarified on WorldsForge web site)
Multi-player: 7 (Playing Aussies is like UK in D-Day.. Your the Hero or the Zero.. Best for two players, 3 still good)
Overall recommend?: 10 (I really liked it!)










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alex w
Singapore
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Good Review! A picture is worth a 1000 words.

I must say, I did enjoy the game too, but from your note....you must be the game's number one fan!
 
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Alan Kaiser
United States
Aurora
Colorado
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alexisW wrote:
Good Review! A picture is worth a 1000 words.

I must say, I did enjoy the game too, but from your note....you must be the game's number one fan!


Maybe he's a big fan but he's also the US distributor for the game. It's usually customary for these kinds of connections to be disclosed.
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Jeremy Blowers
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alkaiser wrote:
alexisW wrote:
Good Review! A picture is worth a 1000 words.

I must say, I did enjoy the game too, but from your note....you must be the game's number one fan!


Maybe he's a big fan but he's also the US distributor for the game. It's usually customary for these kinds of connections to be disclosed.


FMG is the distributor now.

But I am a fan of this game. Read my review to see the quality of the game. I give alot of detail.. leave my comments aside.

I would not have gone to so much trouble (and expense) to bring this title over without being able to stand behind it 110%

Thanks
 
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alex w
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No matter what Mr Blowers is in this support of the game, I must still thank him for his review.

I believe the (war)gamers will play the game and evaluate for themselves and have their own opinions on it.

For my stand, I felt its a good way to bring some 'external and Asian' designed boardgames to gamers on the other-end of the globe.laugh
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Shane DAmico
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I've got to reply a little to this review.

I'm in agreement that you really should have said you were the distributor of the game somewhere in the post. Having read the review and gotten really excited about the product I feel like I was suckered into it now. I guess it's cause I (foolishly) thought the review was written by a regular consumer, not by someone with a financial interest in the game succeeding.

That being said, what you mentioned does seem to be true. The components look great and the combat system looks interesting to me.

My son and I enjoy all the AaA games in our collection, of which we have four currently. I think we might pick this new game up. The price is a little steep, but if the production quality is good thats understandable.

One last thing before I go. It's kind of funny how much the box of this game looks just like an AaA box. I mean everything from the square in the corner with the company logo to the pictures of the commanders faces on top of a montage of the ground and air units. I'm sure someone took an AaA box to a graphic artist and said "make it look like this" .. and they did. Not that thats good or bad, it just is what it is.

a comparison









 
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Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
Pennsylvania
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Thanks for this review; very informative. I just noticed this game for the first time the other day.

While the production quality seems top-notch, I am surprised at the reported $120 "list" price, given the relatively small quantity of (admittedly very well-executed) plastic components.

The system sounds both playable and innovative within the complexity parameters of an A&A-style game. I'll have my eyes open for this at the upcoming "Cold Wars" con later this month.

Given that the title superscript suggests this could be the first in a series using the system, does anyone have any information on possible upcoming topics? This system seems as though it would work quite well for something like the Sicily Campaign or New Guinea.

Verrry tempting.
 
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