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Nations at War: White Star Rising» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Goldilocks of WWII Platoon Level Wargames rss

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A.T. Selvaggio
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Webster
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I never expected to be a wargamer, but now that I look back it makes complete sense. I love history, strategy, tactics and narrative. As a kid, I was an avid Strat-o-Matic baseball gamer. I would solo play entire seasons keeping copious records of statistics, etc. Although I loved baseball games, I could not brook a game that was not an historical simulation, that is I had no interest in playing a baseball game that did not use actual players, actual stats, etc. What I wanted was an historical simulation. What made Strat-o-Matic appeal to me is still there and wargaming is scratching that itch.

I began with Memoir ’44, but I soon wanted more. I think Memoir is a great game and I still play it, particularly with my 7 year old daughter. But I was craving a bit more depth and a more convincing emphasis on historical simulation. I tried Conflict of Heroes and it has many things to commend it (particularly the best counters!), but it left me a bit flat and uninspired after several plays. Then I found Combat Commander. I absolutely love this game. Fantastic story and suspense, just the right level of complexity and history. The randomness of the game actually adds to its value for me as I solo it. So Combat Commander hit that desire for a squad level game, but alas it has no tanks or other vehicles and does not depict platoon level combat. I still had a hole in my WWII gaming. Then along came NaW:WSR.

I learned about WSR from Marco’s great video series. It seemed like it was just what I was looking for and so I ordered it. I have not been disappointed. I have played through a couple of test games and the first 3 scenarios and here are the pros/cons:

Pros:
1. The rules are readable and accessible. They provide just enough level of detail to make it feel deep and real without becoming overburdened (you get command and control with HQs and Sub HQs, mortars, MG, tanks, armored infantry, opp fire, close and ranged combat, artillery, concealment, disruption and there are even advanced rules adding other elements). I highly recommend using the last page of Grimnir’s rule summary posted as a file below. After reading the rules once, I just used this summary making a few notations on it. Essentially, all I need is this one page summary. I have not had to flip through the rulebook very often.
2. The counters are big, clear and comprehensive. There is no need for CRTs or other charts. Everything you need to know is on the counters. This makes for fast and exciting play.
3. The maps are mounted and attractive. They are geomorphic. Plenty of interesting terrain adding to tactics.
4. The game uses a chit pull system for activation purposes. I absolutely love this, particularly because I solo game a lot. The chit pull activation system makes solitaire play interesting because you don’t know who will act next. This is a very satisfying mechanic. The inclusion of chaos markers, which can spawn random events, can also add further mystery to game play.
5. The game comes with ample scenarios and there is already an expansion to the series on pre-order.
6. Most of all the game is exciting, fun and...just right (at least for me!). What has struck me about the first three scenarios is how each of them has gone down to the last turn and sometimes the last move. For instance, I finished Scenario 3 last night and I had one U.S. unit left in the town hex, the Germans had to eliminate them all to win. The turn track time limitation placed on the scenarios forces action and they must have play tested this well because I have felt that you just almost have enough time to get things done. You have to get busy in this game, you can’t lay back and turtle. You must go after your objective and you must do it quick. I think this time factor gives the game a sense of suspense.

Cons:
1. There were some problems with misprinting on counters and a missing formation marker which has been covered on this forum.
2. My (and many others) map boards are warped. They curl up on the ends and I find this annoying. I have tried to flatten them out, but the warping seems to return.
3. The difference in color between a units full and reduced strength is sometimes difficult to discern. For example, on the German units full strength is a very light blue whereas the reduced strength is white. I have also had some trouble with the armored infantry units because they have the infantry on one side and the vehicle on the reverse - this means that they have a separate counter for reduction purposes and my problem has been finding them in my counter tray because depending on how they flipped they can look like a tank at first glance. I think this is more my problem than the game's problem!
4. The rulebook is not well organized and it is sometimes difficult to locate a rule. Thankfully, this is not a big issue once you have a few plays under your belt.
5. Although stacking is limited to only two units, when I have two units stacked with an HQ and one of the units has a support weapon, it can get pretty cramped in that hex.

While this game will not satisfy an ASL player, I find it to hit the Goldilocks spot for me. Not too light, not too complex...just right. It also provides me with narrative and suspense. I am looking forward to the expansions in the series and have pre-ordered the next game. I think Lock n Load hit a sweet spot here. Plus, as I understand it, you can move easily from this system into the fictional World at War system if you want to experience more modern combat. Thanks Lock n Load for living up to your motto "more game, less guff."
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Gregory Amstutz
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Chula Vista
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Well said! As a new war gamer myself, I have fallen in love with this game myself. I just wish I had more time to play it. Nice review.
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Darrell Hanning
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Did all the boards warp in the same direction (i.e., all corners up, or all corners down)?

If so, trying leaving them out face-down for a couple of days. It might be a difference in humidity level that will equalize.
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A.T. Selvaggio
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DarrellKH wrote:
Did all the boards warp in the same direction (i.e., all corners up, or all corners down)?

If so, trying leaving them out face-down for a couple of days. It might be a difference in humidity level that will equalize.
All corners warp up. I tried laying them face down anut books on them, but they curled up. It is annoying, but not something that significantly diminishes the game. I like mounted maps, even if they curl a bit. Hopefully, this won't occur with the next game in the series.
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Thank you for this concise review. It helps me weigh whether or not I, who rarely gets to play anything and must play solo, should take the plunge on the other LnL titles.
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Dundy O
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Quote:
You have to get busy in this game, you can’t lay back and turtle. You must go after your objective and you must do it quick. I think this time factor gives the game a sense of suspense.
Amen! That's what is so appealing about WSR. Limited turns that can become even more limited if your formations fail to activate. You have to consider your opponent's strengths and positioning, your own, and BOOM! Move, man, move.

Fun!
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