Archive For The “Reviews” Category
Mike Colello, 5 December 2019
Armchair Dragoons takes a first look at Strategic Command: WWI from Matrix Games
Fury Software released their first title in the Strategic Command series in 2002 and have been going strong ever since. Released on December 5, Strategic Command: WWI is an updated version of the original SC: WWI grand strategy game. Those familiar with the classic version will immediately notice a big change in graphics. Not just a visual update, the game now uses hexes instead of tiles.
Click enlarge most images in this article
You can choose to use either 3D or NATO type counters on the map. The game is mod-friendly so it is also possible to create your own counters and maps. In fact, a quick trip over to the Matrix Games forum shows that there is already at least one mod, The Blue Max 2D Counter and Map Mod by IronX that does just that.
And speaking of options, there are plenty to choose from. At the start of a game, even one in progress, you can change both Basic and Advanced settings, although some options can only be set at the start of a new game.
The game also allows you to set friendly controlled Major Powers to AI-controlled if you wish. For example, if you want to just play as Britain you could set the other Entente powers to AI-controlled. It is even possible to switch sides if you wish. You can change these settings at any time during a game, a feature new to this version of Strategic Command: WWI.
As the game progresses you will have to make important strategic decisions that could affect the outcome of the war. When a Decision Event pops up you now have the option to minimize the Decision box and look around the map before choosing a response. Each Decision Event also includes historical notes that you can review.
Another new feature in this version of Strategic Command: WWI is the ability of Destroyers and Torpedo Boats to lay mines. Caution is advised, however, as laying mines in certain strategic locations could actually trigger an event with other nations.
Also as you would expect from a World War I game, Entrenchment is possible for infantry and cavalry units. Trenches can have up to three sides (which is recommended) and will receive defensive bonuses if attacked from one of those sides. The game will even default to which sides should be entrenched based on the proximity and location of enemy units.
If you are familiar with the classic version of this game or have played any of the other titles in the Strategic Command series, you will feel right at home with this version as most of the basic gameplay is the same.
Other new features to this updated version of Strategic Command: WWI include new unit types (ANZACs, Colonial Corps, Mountain Corps), an Enhanced Fog of War that shows the limits of a unit’s spotting range, Dynamic Movement which allows you to re-select and move units with unused Action Points, Naval Cruise movement which allows naval units to move quickly over long distances, and Land Convoys in addition to Sea Convoys. The AI is also rumored to be much improved.
If you are familiar with the classic version of this game or have played any of the other titles in the Strategic Command series, you will feel right at home with this version as most of the basic gameplay is the same. And newcomers to Strategic Command: WWI need not worry. The Strategic Command games are not overly complex and are easy to learn. Strategic Command: WWI’s complexity is on par with games like Panzer Corps and Order of Battle. Strategic Command: WWI also includes and excellent manual that comes in at almost 300 pages. Additionally, three strategy guides are also included that cover the three campaigns included with the game.
The three campaigns included with Strategic Command: WWI are:
- 1914 Call to Arms
- 1914 Triple Alliance (where Italy joins the Central Powers)
- 1917 Fate of Nations
Strategic Command: WWI also includes the same features as the previous edition including: Supply Rules, Partisans, Diplomacy, Weather effects, Research, Production, and Reinforcing. The new version also supports Single Player, Hotseat, and PBEM++ Online modes of play.
Stay tuned for more as we dig further into the game.
Michael Eckenfels, 12 November 2019
If you’re feeling like you need more tactical-sized French and Indian War combat in your life, you might want to take a look at Bloody Mohawk by Lock n’ Load Publishing.
For one or two players, with high solitaire suitability regardless of scenario, this game is, as the title infers, firmly planted in the North American theater of the French and Indian War, fought between the English and the French.
To be clear, the game is not a campaign covering the entire conflict, but rather, a simulation of twelve battles in that campaign. It is meant as a light, introductory-level wargame that can be set up, played, and put away in a short period of time (the game says “about an hour” for each game).
Michael Eckenfels, 5 November 2019
Full disclosure up front: I was commissioned by David Heath at Lock n’ Load Publishing to re-edit the rules to this game, as they were fairly atrocious (my opinion). I was compensated for this work, but I still will speak freely about this first look article for the game. This might be a bit more than an unboxing article, but will fall short of a full review.
Let’s speak a bit more about the rules before proceeding. The rules were originally translated (and very well I might add) from the original Japanese. You see, this game was originally published in Japan; I don’t know a lot about its history then, so I cannot speak to it offhand. Since the rules were translated from Japanese, some ambiguities were left. Though the translation was excellent, there were a lot of instances where the different languages do not translate well, which led to some unclear points.
The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbor to the Philippines (let’s say it’s The Pacific War for the rest of this article) is a grand-scale, two-player card and counter game that reflects the entire war in the Pacific in one sitting. Counters represent forces in the game (e.g., ships and aircraft), and cards represent both events as well as resources that are used to conduct actions.
Michael Eckenfels, 30 October 2019
To put it in a, as Bob48 would say, “smart-arse” way, a P500 is a landmine of fun where you bet your credit card number on possibility of getting a GMT game that you’re pretty stoked about. When the game’s goal is met and goes to the printer, you get an email saying your CC is about to get charged for a game you, likely in a haze of the past (because who remembers what happened yesterday, let alone six months ago), jumped all in to get.
I’m not speaking of Kickstarter, of course – which is, I’m happy to say, something that’s not yet gotten its claws into me. Though, I can no longer now say that about P500 games. Oh sure, I’ve signed up for plenty of them in the past, but I usually end up going back and cancelling them later. What seemed like a great idea at the time ends up being masticated in my head a bit more, and suddenly no, I decide I don’t need a game about wizards in submarines (which isn’t a thing…yet).
I’m currently in on The Hunted: Twilight of the U-Boats, 1943-1945 and Mr. President, two games I’d really like to get my hands on – especially the latter. I did just yesterday add SpaceCorp: Ventures to my P500 list. SpaceCorp is a fantastic game and you should certainly check out the AAR that I wrote in 21 parts.
The first P500 I ever ordered, though, just arrived last night. I unfortunately did not have time to do a video, nor do a punch-and-clip, but I did have time to take a lot of pictures and throw them together into an article for your reading pleasure. The P500 in this case is Stalingrad ’42.
This game is a division-level simulation of the Axis 1942 summer offensive against southern Russia. For some reason, it is among one of my favorite campaigns to read about and play games about, though I am sorely lacking in the game department when it comes to that particular part of the War. This one was designed by Mark Simonitch and is apparently very similar to Ukraine ’43 (one I was interested in but missed out on). Mark also designed Ardennes ’44 and Holland ’44, of which I own the latter but have yet to get to the table, strangely enough (shut up, mirth).
Brant Guillory, 23 October 2019
Tanner Yarro launched a Kickstarter earlier this year for a set of “immersive battle maps” that would be bound in a book, but lay flat for RPG use. I pledged at the lowest level, and did not add on any of the options. The sample maps quite attractive, and the idea of an oversize book (11×17 closed) that I could pull out for a quick skirmish was too good to pass up for under $40.
Now, the original delivery date was supposed to be May, and here we are in October and it just showed up. Yes, that’s way late. But Tanner Yarro never left backers in the dark about the status of production, or shipping, and was very forthcoming on the current state of the project such that when the delays popped up, there was no mystery as to whitings were moving slowly.
So how does the finished product look? In a word…. amazing.
By Michael Eckenfels, 19 September
On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “harbinger” as “one that indicates or foreshadows what is to come; a forerunner.” If a game developer could tell the future, they could take everything that will go wrong with a title before it happens and create games with such ardor and primacy that awards would become commonplace – every developer would have such an award. This is, of course, as probable as making a good giant starship-simulator game in the year 3000 A.D., but nobody’s perfect. (more…)