March 5, 2021

#UnboxingDay – Dogs of War by Thin Red Line Games

Billy Riley, 18 February 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay

Wasn’t on my radar. Never heard of the company or the game or any other games they produce. But wouldn’t you know it – those helpful grog pals over at ACD decided to post a link. Of course I looked. It would be rude not to.

I knew nothing about the game and didn’t know a whole lot more after reading some of the blurb…but the setting – West Germany – the era – 1985 – and the combatants – BAOR (+ West German and Belgian forces) v The Soviet Union – and I just knew I had to have it. Also I was in the British Army in 1985 so the era is of particular interest to me.

I was going to hold off – see what people said about it but again – those helpful grogs at ACD pointed out these games go bye bye very quick…limited run and all that.

So I bought it.

Here I am – reading the rules and wondering if I might have just jumped a tad too quickly onto the Paypal account. Anyway – regardless – it was mine – and here’s what’s in the box

Box Art

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Looks like a typical unit waiting on the front line for the Soviet assault.

click images to enlarge

Rules of Play

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The manual is 27 pages. It’s text heavy and there’s very little in the way of visuals. It seems to be pretty well laid out. Again – not in my preferred way (following the Sequence of Play) but everything is indexed so reading a rule which references something else has the rule reference to that – so that’s decent enough.

 

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There’s a decent index at the front of the manual that gives the paragraph reference and the page number

 

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There’s a sequence of play in there. It’s not outside the manual on any of the player aid cards which is a mistake in my opinion. A sequence of play – especially one so big – should be on a reference card

 

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And just whilst I’m on about the manual – there are 21 – yep 21 combat modifiers!! Thankfully, these are part of the rather large Charts and Tables booklet (yep – I said booklet)

 

Operational Procedures Manual

This is a small 8 page manual giving examples of play. There’s not a lot in there and I think there could be more – but it’ll give you an idea of some of the mechanics

 

Scenarios and Designer Notes Manual

This is chunkier than the Rules of Play coming in at 35 pages.

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It has

• An index at the front

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• Two and a half pages of Additional Scenario Rules

These are special rules that could come into play in the scenarios

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• 4 scenarios over 10 pages

• 2 campaigns over 9 pages

• Designer Notes over 5 pages

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• Developer Notes over 3 pages

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I’ve read the Designer and Developer Notes and found them very interesting on how they clashed on design as well as how they managed the expectations of the protagonists in the game

Action and Event Cards

There are four decks – 2 decks of Action Cards for NATO and the Soviets and 2 decks of Event Cards for NAT and the Soviets

 

Baggies and Dice

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Standard baggies provided and 2 10 sided dice

 

Player Aid Cards

There are 5 Player Aid Cards – though essential there’s really only 1 as a player aid…two are time tracks for keeping track of turns, EW points, Air points etc and 2 are organisation charts. No doubt those are handy – but I wouldn’t necessarily call them Player Aids per se.

The Ground Combat Chart is “kind of” misleading. As I mentioned there are 21 Combat Modifiers listed in the manual…there don’t seem to be enough in the way of Combat Modifiers on this player aid – and so it’s kind of redundant imo….there’s definitely a risk that someone would simply use this list of modifiers when performing combat – and I don’t honestly think it’s all on there.

 

Charts and Tables Manual

Well this is the first game I’ve come across in my relatively new and short board gaming life that has a book of charts. I’m sure you more seasoned grogs will laugh at my shock at such a thing in a game…but it did make me choke a bit when I saw it.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking

 

Counters

Honestly – there’s not a whole lot of military counters in the game. There’s definitely more admin counters. They look nice enough if a bit dark.

There’s 7 sheets of counters and they seem to be made of decent card stock.

Also it’s a nice touch that the counters have their “default” or “preferred” posture on the back side…there’s no flipping counters for reductions in combat here – the back side has the preferred posture of the unit. Damage in combat is dealt with by Attrition Points

 

Map

The map isn’t mounted and it’s shiny. It’s a decent size and the art work is very nice…reflects West Germany pretty well I think.

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Thoughts

I read the Designer notes and the Developer notes and they moistened the loins. I’ve been reading the rules for about a week – I know…it’s a bugbear of mine…and I am liking what I’m reading. Different to anything I’ve had before. Attrition Points instead of reduced counters. I also like the posture options and the delays in orders depending on the situation, the order, posture and the HQ issuing the order. I like the postures and how they affect attack, defence and movement. I like the fact there’s a cost to moving between postures and some cost less because they’re authorised or unauthorised

Overall – I’m overwhelmed somewhat – but I am looking forward to getting it to the table (aren’t we always) and giving it a playthrough to see how these new mechanics play out.


Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
The regiment also occasionally musters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and occasionally at a convention near you, once we’re allowed to hold them again.

Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

View all posts by Brant G →

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