Archive For The “Reviews” Category

Classic Reviews: Empires in America (1st Ed)

By Brant Guillory, 29 August 2019

Designed by Joe Miranda for Victory Point Games

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

Victory Point Games is still considered by some to be a “small” publisher.  If so, I’m curious what the definition of “small” is.  These guys churn out a game a week – and excellent games, too.

A perfect blend of size, simplicity, and skill, Empires in America challenges players with an interesting variation on a tower defense scenario, well-blended with a nice dash of history.

One way they’re able to do so is by relying on some well-tested basic mechanics, such as the solo game rules known as the States of Siege series.  These card- and track-movement-driven games provide a player with a significant and well-balanced challenge, in a variety of genres, including the Israeli War for Independence, and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Empires in America, the third entry in the States of Siege series, covers the French and Indian Wars in North America.  A precursor to the American War for Independence, the French and Indian Wars were the battles in New World as a part of the larger Seven Years’ War across the globe between various European powers.



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Classic Reviews: Blitzkrieg (PC Game)

Michael Eckenfels, 25 July 2019

Developer: Nival Interactive
Publisher: CDV Software

I’ve reviewed my share of RTS-type games. Heck, I’ve played more than my share. Titles such as WarCraft and StarCraft whetted my appetite for such games: building, training, destroying, encroaching…conquering! Such is the makeup of most serious wargames, whether tactical or strategic in nature, and while an RTS is inherently enjoyable from its base qualities, it’s a very difficult genre to capture effectively across the board.

I had reviewed a similar World War II RTS-type of title recently (Panzer Claws), and while I enjoyed that game, Blitzkrieg is in many ways a fuller experience for a gamer eager to get their fix from World War II era battlefields. And yet, it is still not quite a full RTS game in the same sense that it’s predecessors are.


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Classic Reviews: Africa’s Commandos (book)

Brant Guillory, 11 July 2019

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

A new collection of memoirs and first-hand accounts of the actions throughout the distinguished history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry makes for a compelling read and memorable look into the first-hand accounts of Africa’s bush wars of the 60s and 70s.

We took off en masse, ten G-Cars carrying the 2Cdo troops; ten K-Cars; two
command helicopters and ten G-Cars carrying the Support Commando troops detailed
to man the forward admin base and ferry in fuel and supplies to the target

The flight provided us with some impressive and memorable visuals.
All 32 helicopters were flying in single file through the majestic Penhalonga
Mountains, some of the most magnificent terrain in the world. The troops gazed
in awe at the spectacle as they leaned out of the Alouettes and looked around.

Two or three Canberras thundered low over us en route to their targets.
For a few minutes there was the amazing sight of the command helicopters and the
ten K-Cars peeling off in front of us to position over their allocated targets;
the six paradaks dropping the 3Cdo and the SAS paratroopers; and the Hunters
diving in on their targets. The air was thick with dust and smoke and the
streaks of SNEB rocket trails.

And the tales of Op Dingo – the Rhodesian raid on an ZANLA camp inside Mozambique – put the reader front and center in the battle.  These are not analyses of secondary sources with discussions of geo-political implications.  These are the memories of the men on the ground, at the sharp end of the spear, pulling triggers and “culling floppies.”  This isn’t the news conference soundbite; this is the scene in Blackhawk Down when the choppers are taking off and the trucks are rolling out and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover of Voodoo Chile is providing the soundtrack.

As you read the book and pore over the memoirs, however, you realize that although the raid on Chimoio was an aberration in its size and distance from the RLI’s bases inside Rhodesia, the action wasn’t.  These men were a battle-hardened brotherhood who had chased “terrs” (slang for “terrorists”, the ZANLA and ZIPRA guerilla forces) across their entire country, protecting the population from invaders whose semi-safe bases outside of Rhodesia’s borders gave them a geographic and demographic edge.  The RLI didn’t care.  They found a way to succeed in every battle they faced, and along the way became perhaps the most successful counter-guerilla force in history.

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Classic Reviews: FFG’s original Tide of Iron

Brant Guillory, 6 June 2019

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

click images to enlarge


So you may have heard about this little shooting match that happened waaaaaaaay back in the ‘40s? Started out when the Germans decided they needed a little more elbow room and they decided that Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and most of Western Europe was perfectly suited to their needs? No? Buddy, you really need to read up on your WWII history.

Tide of Iron is a hex-and-figures boardgame (a combination gaining in popularity) covering actions between the US and German forces on the Western Front in WWII. It is played at the tactical level – squads of soldiers and individual vehicles – and decked out in Fantasy Flight’s trademark gorgeous components and graphics.


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Classic Reviews: Aria, Canticle of the Monomyth

Brant Guillory, 30 May 2019

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

An RPG book you could show off on an academic bookshelf.  But what’s the payoff?

click images to enlarge

Digging through my boxes of game books (if you ever want to know exactly how much game stuff you really have, pack up and move a few times) I found this old treasure.

I can remember when I bought it – it looked like what all of us gamers had been holding our breath for all these years: A serious intellectual take on role-playing, which addressed an adult audience in an adult fashion.

It succeeded on that level.


archive Aria 74

The front cover is gorgeous.


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Classic Reviews: Aliens versus Predator 2 – Primal Hunt

Michael Eckenfels, 23 May 2019

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

Once More Into the Breach

Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt continues the grand tradition of first-person-shooting one’s way through dark, nightmarish corridors populated by ghastly creatures. Insofar as the movie genre is concerned, Aliens vs. Predator 2 is a knockout of a game; as a first-person shooter it is adequate

The location: LV-1201, a planet not much different from LV-426 (the location from the first two movies). The sun never shines, and terrain inspired by a Lovecraftian nightmare mixed with a Dr. Seuss bender adds an impossibly brilliant aspect to the game. The terrain is as deadly serious as the game itself, with three species vying for survival and ultimate possession of a unique and powerful object merely known as “The Artifact.”


So this is what all the fuss is about? The Aliens sure don’t like it, so it’s important to all three species.


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