Archive For The “Reviews” Category

Classic Reviews: Cactus Throne (ATO)

CRCT magcover

The cover of the magazine

On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue

Brant Guillory, 20 December 2018

An early game from Against The Odds Magazine that looks at what was going on while us Americanos were recovering from the US Civil War / War Between The States / War of Northern Aggression / “The Wahr” ~

INTRODUCTION

Cactus Throne is an operational/strategic-level game that covers the war in Mexico between the Republican Mexican government forces, and the Imperial forces of France, Britain, Spain, Austria, and their Mexican allies. The war was originally fought between 1862-1867.

Although there were significant political machinations that affected the campaign, especially in Europe, the game focuses on the allocation of forces within Mexico, and control of the important areas of country.

Some of the political events are included as random events. Additionally, there are events that could have happened, but did not, such as the appearance of both Union and Confederate forces from the American Civil War. Cactus Throne does include some elements of seapower, but only to the extent that it affected the land battles. Ship-to-ship combat is not simulated.

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Classic Reviews: Runebound 2nd Ed (FFG)

On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue

Brant Guillory, 29 November 2018

  • Pros:  Well-balanced, nifty movement mechanics, gorgeous.
  • Cons:  Little interaction between players, needs a lot of table space.

Some gamers love the intricate role-playing game full of soliloquies, conspiracy theories, and more character development than a British melodrama.  Others would rather dispense with the backstory, role-play an archetypal character, and kick butt.  In the early days of computer games, most fantasy ‘role-playing’ was the former, not the latter.  Runebound strikes me as one of these computer games, transported to a board game environment.
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Battles of North Africa 1941 Preview (WDS & JTS)

Battles of North Africa 1941 Preview (WDS & JTS)

Jim Owczarski, 17 November 2018

There must be something to this.  While it is neither chronologically nor in absolute terms my first wargaming love, there is something about World War II’s struggle in the desert that appeals.

Jackson Bentley:  What is it, Major Lawrence, that attracts you personally to the desert?
T.E. Lawrence:  It’s clean.
–Lawrence of Arabia

Monty, Rommel, the “Desert Rats”, the “Afrika Korps”, are all evocative enough, but what is it about the theater itself?  A vast expanse of sand and forbidding ground; oppressive heat; and armies sweeping back and forth a space far too great for them ever to command. It had none of the hedgerows, sunken roads, farm fields, and tree-covered hillsides of Normandy.  Nor did it play host to the barely-imaginable hordes of the Eastern Front.  And yet we have gamed it again and again.

Consider just the best-known games; games that many who read the articles on this site have been playing for years:  Afrika Korps, Tobruk, Rommel in the Desert, DAK (1 and 2), and, always good for a cheap laugh, Campaign for North Africa.  Combat Mission: Afrika Korps is, for some, the most missed of the series’ first iteration.  And newer consims like Revolution Games’ Operation Battleaxe and Gazala: the Cauldron have been very well received.

MyGuy

And they had this dude.

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Classic Reviews: Dust (FFG)

On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue

Brant Guillory, 15 November 2018

– Number of players:  2-6
– Designed for ages: 12 and up
– Learning Curve: Low to Medium
– Playing time: 1-3 hours
– Pros:  Visually grand; familiar mechanics; lots of choices for players
– Cons:  Backstory irrelevant to gameplay; some game effects not clearly explained

Final Word:  Great chips-and-soda game that is familiar in gameplay, but with just enough added complexity to keep players engaged throughout the game. Combat is nuanced but still fast-flowing, and players have to make serious strategic choices at every turn.

Dust, Fantasy Flight’s new “big box” game, is based on the comics of the same name, in which history was altered by the discovery of alien technology on a polar expedition early in WWII.  You now know more than you need to know about the backstory of the game in order to play it.  But don’t let that get you down, because Dustis a great game, regardless of the story behind it.

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The Best of the Jena-Auerstedt Games

The Best of the Jena-Auerstedt Games

Jim Owczarski, 9 November 2018

 

And now, as I write this, fall has come to the American Midwest.  Football (our flavor) is being played in earnest, a chill is felt in the air, and the leaves have begun to turn.

That means it is time to think of Jena-Auerstedt one last time.

Unlike Waterloo which has been distilled to consims many times — only the unwashed say too many — the double-battle of 14 October 1806 is more slightly covered.  This is not to say there are not some fine offerings, and I would like to take a moment to introduce you to the five I like best. (more…)

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Classic Reviews: Von Manstein’s Backhand Blow (GMT Games)

On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue

Michael Eckenfels, 8 November 2018

The Schwerpunkt series of GMT games is aptly named: a focused, cohesive effort on a

VMBB Box Cover

Box Cover

relatively contracted part of World War II. The first (and currently, only) game in this series, Von Manstein’s Backhand Blow, contemplates admirably the dire situation facing the Wehrmacht in early 1943, with a beautiful map, colorful playing pieces, and a very easy system of play.

BACKGROUND

The German retreat from the Caucasus and Stalingrad is still underway when the Soviets, smelling blood and drunk with victory, give the South and Southwestern Fronts orders to push their offensives to the Sea of Azov. While the Stalingrad pocket had Sixth Army and about twenty-six divisions, the remaining formations of Army Group South totaled approximately forty-one more. If, the Soviets reasoned, their troops could force their way to the coast, the better part of several hundred thousand more hardened German troops could be caught in a massive trap that made Stalingrad look like a minor opening act. (more…)

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