Homefront Wargame Center

…supporting our hobby!

Posts Tagged ‘Dan Verssen’

Tiger Leader – new solitaire & coop WWII board game!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 31, 2014

4a78d3ecdccc954bf38e889b9c8a36be_large

 

DVG has launched a new Kickstarter campaign to fund a new game in the well known and popular Leader series. The game was eagerly awaited by fans of the series and funded in the first 24 hours! So the Tiger engine is already running full speed, but there is still time left for you to back it up to get even more convenient map tiles and other improvements that will be announced as new stretch goals for this campaign soon. By backing the game you may opt for the base game or for the game including 136 miniatures to add to your gaming experience!

Tiger Leader being the latest game in the Leader series is therefore based on an extremely polished and great working game system fans know from Hornet Leader, Phantom Leader, Thunderbolt-Apache Leader and U-Boat Leader. Check out the links to our reviews to see what we mean, these games are great for experienced wargamers and new players alike.

Campaigns take about 30 minutes to set-up, and each battle can be resolved in 15 to 30 minutes, game play time total is usually depending on your own style, which is one of the advantages of true solitaire games –  you can play whenever you have time, at your pace. But what makes the Leader games so special and what we always stress as one of the aspects that make them so outstanding is the fact you can bring a friend to the table and play cooperatively! Sit down, divide up your forces and plan with your fellow commander how to get the job of the mission done 🙂

Tiger Leader includes dozens of German vehicles and infantry types and includes 5 Allied Nations that you battle against: Poland, France, United Kingdom, Russia, and USA. The battlefield units for each nation have unique stats that reflect that nation’s combat capabilities. The game is played on a map that allows for always changing terrain and combat situations keeping the experience fresh and the replay value high.

d5d3a9f61685d117cc5cc042df92d4db_large

Components announced so far:

240 Full Color Cards

2 Full Color Counter Sheets

3 Full Color Sheets of MOUNTED Terrain Hexes 

22” x 17” Full Color MOUNTED Tactical Sheet

11″ x 17″ Full Color Head Quarters Sheet

1 10-sided die

To back up the game, get more detailed information and to see a funny video explaining the game to you go to the official Kickstarter site –> HERE

As always with DVG games, you can expect high quality stuff inside the box reminding us of the famous quote by Heinz Guderian….

Nicht Kleckern, sondern Klotzen!

1db8904a02f60a365be5769ba5c7a267_large

 

 

Posted in Leader Series, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Battle for Stalingrad – The Epic East Front Battle Game (DVG)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 2, 2014

Stalingrad_box_mockup200Game: Battle for Stalingrad – The Epic East Front Battle GameReview

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Published in: 2014
Designer: Dan Verssen

Era & Topic: WW2/ Urban Warfare in Stalingrad
Game Type:  Card Game
Contents: 168 Full Color Cards, 1 Full Color Counter Sheet, 1 Full Color Rulebook 

Number of Players: 2

HFC Game-O-Meter: E

 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 9
Playability: 8
Replay Value: 9

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Quick set-up, well written rules, many options despite using simple mechanics, fitting to the historical theme, both sides play differently, enthralling and tactical game play…
CONTRA  …that might be slowed down because some cards are not as clear in their meaning as they should be; Uranus cards can be crippling for the German player if no counter cards are in hand; a tracking sheet for combat would have been nice

Introduction

Many (if not most) wargamers who are interested in the World War II topic are particularly drawn to the fightings of the Eastern Front. The fierceness of the battles fought on that front, the gigantic scale of this Clash of Titans, the different style of the tactics used by the Soviets and the Germans, all this seems to create the background for a scenario that is ideally suited for wargames.

Fighting for Stalingrad on the gaming table!

Fighting for Stalingrad on the gaming table!

Today the name Stalingrad is directly connected to the senseless brutality of war and is the epitome of the war of slaughter fought on the Eastern front. When the Wehrmacht started the largest invasion in the history of warfare, Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, with more than 4 million soldiers, 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses along a front almost 3000 km long, the city of Stalingrad was rather unimportant – as General Field-marshal Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist said:

The capture of Stalingrad was subsidiary to the main aim. It was only of importance as a convenient place, in the bottleneck between Don and the Volga, where we could block an attack on our flank by Russian forces coming from the east. At the start, Stalingrad was no more than a name on the map to us [Clark, Lloyd, Kursk: The Greatest Battle: Eastern Front 1943, 2011, page 157]

In the course of the later events of the war, it became a battle of prestige however – for both Hitler and Stalin – and this caused it to turn into one of the bloodiest battles of WW2. For over 5 months, the city saw extreme close quarter battles, soldiers fighting for single rooms in buildings like grain elevators, apartment blocks, factories, warehouses etc. or for other ‘strategic points’ like streets, staircases and sewers and both sides had high casualties to suffer. The nerve-wrecking close combat and man-to-man killing (which was called Rattenkrieg (rat war) by the German soldiers) was accompanied by the terror of artillery and air attacks that laid the city into ashes. The harsh winter weather, a lack of supply and ammunition because of a complete encirclement of the German forces in the city in the later stages of the battle, and the ability of the Soviet forces to bring in reinforcements eventually ended the Battle of Stalingrad and resulted in an total of about 2 million Axis and Soviet casualties.

Because of the fact that wargamers usually have the historical situation in mind and know a great deal of their era of particular interest, there is always the point of “how close and how accurate can a wargame be” in regard to the historical battle and how good it works as a game. The new DVG game we are reviewing here was announced with the promising words:

The Battle For Stalingrad puts you in the rubble-strewn streets as the German forces fight through one block of the city after another. The only hope for both sides is to secure the city before they run out of blood and food.

As the game unfolds, you’ll see one section of the city after another ground into rubble by your ceaseless fighting. As the city deteriorates, the amount of supplies generated for your men decreases. Supplies are the lifeblood of your army. Without them, you cannot move or attack, and you’ll suffer higher casualties in combat.

In the end, you’ll be scrambling through the ruins, as much in search of food as the enemy.

Let’s see if the PR announcement actually matches the game experience and what you can expect on your table 🙂

Presentation

Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) is a card game that comes in a very sturdy box that has a glossy finish, giving the feel of quality even before you open it. The first thing you see is the striking cover art done by Christian Quinot (who also did the great artworks for DVG’s Cards of Cthulhu game), evoking a feeling of desperation and chaos that seems rather fitting to the topic of the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

WARFIGHTER Kickstarter project now live!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 29, 2013

1375107_10151748536986226_548212014_n

Warfighter – The Tactical Special Forces Card Game

We love cooperative games and wargames on the topic of Modern Warfare,  so we started to listen attentively when DVG announced a new game that would combine both aspects! It will be published if the Kickstarter project that was going online today is raising enough funds and the HFC wants to encourage you to support this game. There are not that many cooperative wargames around or wargames on the topic of modern warfare and since we know the quality of the game designs by Dan Verssen especially when it comes to games you can play coop with a friend we are sure this one will not disappoint. You get to equip your soldiers, deploy for a mission, fight your way through a hostile city, and take out your objective. If you like fast-paced card games, co-op play, modern tactical military combat, and want a chance to use M16s, M4s, LAW Rockets, Grenades, call in mortar strikes, and perform sniper kills, this is the game you should support with your bucks!

e09584017b3b22d2bcffd385e5146187_large

Command the world’s best Special Forces operators and complete vital assault missions around the world!

Warfighter is a card game for 1 to 6 players.

You play cooperatively with your friends against the system to complete present day squad-level combat missions.

At the start of each mission, you each select a soldier, equip him/her with skills, weapons, and combat gear within the mission’s Resource limit.

You then fight your way through hostile territory, engaging hostiles, as you attempt to reach and complete your mission objective.

Every mission is a stand-alone game. You build your Soldiers, select your Gear, and then run your mission. Within 30 to 60 minutes you will have succeeded or failed.

Warfighter uses a new combat system that takes into account the fire mode you select for your weapon, range, running out of ammo, suppression, and cover – all in the same dice roll! This system creates an incredibly deep narrative with every attack.

As you eliminate hostiles, you gain experience to Upgun your Action cards.

Very easy to learn!

Plays in 30 to 60 minutes!

1 to 6 players!

No special rules needed for solitaire play!

Awesome new combat system!

Access to modern tactics, weapons, and equipment!

59e7deb0f4dc6e8a5bec8af45e037ebe_largeWhat’s in the game box?

168 Full Color Playing Cards 

– Soldier Cards

– Mission Cards

– Objective Cards

– Action Cards

– Location Cards

– Weapon Cards

– Equipment Cards

– Hostile Cards

 1 Full Sheet of Full Color Counters

– Ammo Counters for different Weapons

– Bandage Counters

– Wound Counters

– Kill Counters

– Grenade and Rocket Counters

– Suppression Counters

– Experience Counters

3x 10-sided Dice

1x 6-sided die

1x Rulebooklet

                                                                                                                           

 

To check out additional information about the expansions that are planned for this new game system, about possibilities to get your personal soldier card in the game, to watch the promotional video and to make this game a reality go to the Warfighter Kickstarter website.

Posted in News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Cards of Cthulhu – support a new DVG title!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on August 6, 2013

e503b30f57a4f0aa3279cd768a3b38ff_large

I must warn you about a threat to our world.

Long before mankind roamed this earth, there lived great and terrible beings. Even a single of these ancient beasts held the power to enslave or even destroy the world. When they entered a state of hibernation, humanity was allowed to prosper.

Even now however, their power infects mankind.

Weak-minded men have fallen under their control and formed Cults dedicated to each Elder God’s revival.

You must prevent them from succeeding or the world will be lost.

– Walter P Matherson

Dan Verssen Games, the company known for their high quality wargames and especially great Solitaire and Coop games has a new cool game title in the pipeline – The Cards of Cthulhu by Ian Richard

A game that pits you against the forces of The Great Cthulhu and other Elder Gods. You will battle Cultists, slay Minions, banish Horrors, seal the Gates, and protect our world from the enveloping insanity that threatens to consume us all! Easy to get into and playable in 30 to 45 minutes for solo games, or 60 to 90 minutes for multiplayer games.

What you get in the box:

Cards – Each card is a work of art, literally. Cloud Quinot created these masterful pieces of horror art and we are very pleased to have been able to work with him. The cards will be printed on extra thick card stock to stand up to the wear of tear of many battles.

8 – Investigator cards549519_10151798269703545_750616184_n
8 – Follower cards
10 – Item cards
8 – Cult Gate cards
4 – Minor Horror cards
4 – Major Horror cards
4 – Unspeakable Horror cards
60 – Minion cards

7 CUSTOM CTHULHU DICE – These are your Health, Body, or Spirit dice. You’ll roll these to resolve your attacks on the foes plotting your destruction.

4 CULT BOARDS – More amazing artwork! Each of these 8.5″ x 11″ sheets features a piece of Cloud Quinot artwork of an Elder God. These sheets are vital in organizing the cards for each Cult.

3 METAL CUSTOM CTHULHU COINS! – Use these to track the Experience Investigator earn from battling Cthulhu’s Otherworldly Foes!

1 RULEBOOK

As you can see  the art is stunning and you can read the complete rulebook before deciding to back this project. If you find something unclear in the rules, send your questions to DVG and the designer will see to make points clearer – so this is a game where you know you get the rules you expect before you open the box instead of having errata and clarifications published later! The game is ready to go to the printers as soon as funding is complete, so here’s your chance to get a nice backer bonus like your name on a card or just to get the game first (since backer copies are sent out first).

We wish DVG  all the best in their new project and hope to see this game on everybody’s gaming table soon 🙂

If you want to play this game go to the Cards of Cthulhu Kickstarter website now!

Update:   Due to the great support of the backers the game now includes custom coins, mounted boards, and custom dice!

Go here and watch the Set Up video!

 

 

d8bafd0fc40f1f97a99a386283076465_large

Posted in News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Battle for Stalingrad – new DVG game announced

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 18, 2013

Dan Verssen Games (DVG) is known for regularly publishing a lot of quality (war)games and so it’s no surprise to see this announcement for a new game. It’s a card based wargame about the Battle of Stalingrad and seems to deal with sector control and getting supply/rations by doing so to keep the fight going. Nothing is mentioned yet about the actual scale but tactical or squad level is probably to be expected in this portrayal of the brutal house to house and street fighting this famous battle of WWII is known for.

If you like what the official announcement below is telling you, head over to the Kickstarter website to support this project and hopefully we’ll see another winner on our gaming table soon.

More info about the game, with pictures of the cards can be found here and you can also take a look at the rules draft already.

 

One of the most brutal events of the Second World War, the Battle of Stalingrad has long been regarded as a turning point in the fight against Hitler’s forces. The Fuhrer had ordered that Stalingrad be taken in a bid to crush the morale of the Soviet Union by giving the Germans a springboard to potentially seize control of the East. Supported by Luftwaffe bombing, the city was quickly reduced to rubble and hundreds of thousands were killed in the later months of 1942. Yet, despite staring into the face of defeat, the Red Army dug in and pushed back, eventually cracking the Nazi forces amidst the one of the bleakest winters on record. 

Now you can experience it for yourself in Battle for Stalingrad from DVG. Two players face off against each other, one taking control of the German Army, the other commanding the Russian forces, in a bid to either maintain or rewrite this momentous period of history. Using an intuitive card-driven game system that is quick to pick up yet offers an incredible depth of play, Battle for Stalingrad sees you and your opponent fight block by block through the rubble-strewn streets, struggling to keep your troops going as morale and supplies grow ever more scarce… As the battle draws to a close, you’ll be running low on everything – especially willing soldiers – leaving you to consider whether victory is worth such a high price…

The goal of the game is simple: gain control of five locations within the city of Stalingrad. At the start of each game these locations are randomly selected from a set of nine, adding variety every time you play. Locations contain a Control area and a Perimeter area for each player; if you have forces in your Control area when the enemy does not, the location is yours.

Commanders must balance their plays carefully by gaining control of locations while preserving their forces, managing their cards and spending ration counters – possibly one of the most vital aspects of the game. Rations are gained by controlling locations. They are necessary if you wish to move and attack, and are also used by forces to absorb battle damage. Players must decide when to spend cards, when to discard rations, and when to let a force get destroyed. There are always casualties in war.

The game is built around combat, with every action card having a Firefight value in the top-right corner ranging from -3 to +3. Cards can be played from your hand to build up your attack or decrease the enemy’s strength, and players draw Firefight cards back and forth. Once both players pass in succession, they each flip one last card from their decks as a randomizer, finally allocating damage to each other’s forces.

Throughout the game, the Russian player is also trying to get three Operation Uranus cards into play; if all three are still in play at the end of the German player’s turn, victory immediately goes to the Red Army.

Posted in News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game (DVG)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 8, 2013

Game: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game Review

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Published in: 2013
Designer: Dan Verssen

Topic: Surviving in a  Zombie Apocalypse
Game Type: Cooperative-Competitive Card Game
Contents: 168 Game Cards, two 6-sided dice, 8 Plastic Stands for Survivor Characters, 1 Sheet of Counters, 1 Digital Timer, 1 Rulebook

Number of Players: 1-8OFFTOPIC_rund

HFC Game-O-Meter: E 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 8
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game mechanics, fast to learn, good written rules, lots of decisions, very thematic, good simulation, high replay value because it is difficult to win, cooperative, quality components (cards, rule book, box)…
CONTRA …but some of the components are less convincing (counters hard to read because of the chosen font which sometimes looks too cramped; plastic stands are ugly and don’t hold the counters in place too well; the timer looks a bit cheap and battery sometimes detaches from the electrical contacts so it stops working), no player aid, for some players the extremely unforgiving nature of the game may lead to frustration.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Introduction

RotZ_table

Zombies on the table!

There are so many Zombie games available on the market that it didn’t really awake my interest when Dan Verssen Games announced Rise of the Zombies, their new game funded by Kickstarter. We own several Zombie themed games and all of them are fun to play once in a while, but there was no reason to believe that a new game would actually bring some new game experiences to the table, so this game was not really on our radar. Then a review copy of the game arrived out of the blue and we did what we always do when a publisher sends us a new game – we quit playing the games we were currently playing for fun, took Rise of the Zombies into the HFC Test Lab and started our test sessions. 

So, what is the game about? It’s the usual setting you would expect from a Zombie game: the players are survivors in a world which was overrun by Zombies, no one knows what and why it happened, the world is just a looting ground and life is reduced to a constant run from a safe house to a new shelter, while trying to survive the walking dead. Actually, the rule book draws you into the story right away by letting you read a letter written by a certain “Gordon”:

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

“If you can read these words, there is still hope. On these sketch cards you will find my recounting of The Last Days of our World. Did it start in the water? The food? As a bio weapon? I never found out. 

I was touring Washington D.C. when the President declared a National Emergency and the Army barricaded the streets. Trapped in my hotel room, I watched Apache helicopters firing wave after wave of rockets into the shambling masses surging up Pennsylvania Avenue. I sketched what I witnessed on the cards you are holding now. For two days, the helicopters came, and my towering hotel shuddered from the ever approaching blasts. The third day was the worst. I awoke from a troubled sleep to silence.

Just before dusk of the fourth day, flames engulfed the White House. It burned throughout the night. At dawn, our flag over the White House had fallen. I raided the hotel’s kitchen for food and supplies and began my trek out of the city. For six days, I slept in sewers, slunk down alleys, and peered out of garbage dumpsters, sketching deep into the night to preserve my sanity. Seeing was never a problem. Something was always on fire. They were everywhere. Swarming. Searching with mindless eyes and rending flesh with outstretched hands. They never slept. They never stopped feeding. They mindlessly stalked the living. That’s all they did. 

I met other survivors along the way, but they each fell to the mindless hoards through carelessness or misplaced courage. On the seventh day, I found this house. I call it my Safe House. It was fortified with boarded windows and barbed-wire around the front yard. I met the guy who did the work. He was a construction worker before things went bad. There are more of them every day, and it is dangerous to sneak out for food. I don’t know how much longer I can stay here. I saw an Army helicopter circling the park on the other side of town yesterday. If I see another one, I’m making a run for it. I asked the construction worker if he wanted to come with me, but he said he’d stay here for a while and wait for the Army. I wish him well.

I’m leaving my sketches behind as a sign of hope. All is not lost. We will survive”

-Gordon

This letter explains the situation at the beginning of the game because the players start in the mentioned safe house, and since it’s not really safe there anymore, they will have to follow Gordon, who left the house to make a run for the rescue helicopter he saw.  This story introduction also gives the background for a very distinctive art style that is used in the presentation of the game: it’s a card game and all cards are sketches, pencil drawings that look interesting and fresh, and that’s what Gordon left behind to give other survivors some hope. It’s a nice touch, a great introduction for such a game and it did awake our interest and we wanted to know more…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Misc. Fantasy games, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rise of the Zombies – Now available from DVG!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on February 4, 2013

RotZ_Contents

“Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game” – a new release from Dan Verssen Games (DVG) funded with Kickstarter is now available! It’s a coop game, playable solitaire or with up to 7 other players who try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse and reach the helicopter that brings them all to safety. It’s played in real time – that’s why the game comes with a timer – how cool is that? 🙂 – and the Zombies are controlled by the game system. Play together, stay together, or go and be a lone wolf trying to survive on your own…

Zombie Hunters can now add a cool dude to their game – go and look for Zombie Santa, perhaps he’s got some nice gifts for you 😉

The new card is free to download and can be downloaded here.

Since DVG sent us a review copy of the game (Thanks Dan!), which arrived yesterday, RotZ now enters the HFC test lab, so this first unboxing pic is only the beginning – stay tuned for the in-depth HFC review. Is this Zombie game fun like a Romero movie, or is it rotten as Zombie flesh? We’ll play the game and let you know 🙂

Posted in News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Lightning: D-Day!

Posted by Denny Koch on February 25, 2011

Game: Lightning: D-Day!

Publisher: Decision Games
Published in: 2004
Designers: Dan Verssen
Era: World War II, D-Day (Normandy invasion)
Game Type: Card game
Players: 2
Contents: 110 full color cards, Quick Play rules
Average Playing Time: 30 min

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 7
Rules: 6
Playability:
9
Replay Value:
5

Overall Rating: 7.5

PRO Very short playing time, almost no setup time: perfect starter, filler, or closer game; nice historical photos, small box and quick gameplay = perfect travel game, strategically challenging, tough time limit, amazingly high simulation value, very short rules…
CONTRA …which may be too short and imprecise for some players, artwork somewhat boring, not too much variety

Introduction

A card game about the Normandy invasion 1944

Lightning: D-Day! was the first game of the “Lightning Series” by designer Dan Verssen, a game series consisting of five very small and fast card games. Other games in the series are Lightning: Midway, Lightning: North Africa, Lightning: Poland, and the contemporary Lightning: War on Terror.

We own the game for several years now and we also had a small review on our old HFC website, but we recently “rediscovered” it and decided that this game is cool and needs a new review in our ambitious Operation Review Reset.

The Lightning games are famous for their speedy gameplay, very short rules (1 sheet of paper!), and low setup time. They can be played within 30 minutes, but they still offer a strategical challenge and are a tough nut to crack. Lightning D-Day isn’t an exception from this rule; the Allied player fights against a brutal time limit while the German player tries to slow him down and to make his advance as costly as possible.

As the name suggests, Lightning: D-Day! deals with the Allied Normandy invasion on June 6th, 1944. One player controls the Allied forces (US, British, and Canadian units), the other player controls the German forces. There is no game board; the play area is defined by five beach cards which represent the historical landing areas (named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah beach by the Allies).

Gaining control over Omaha Beach is much harder than controlling the other 4 beaches

Both players control a fixed number of units or Forces per beach (3-4) which represent the historical units from both sides, for example the Canadian 3rd Inf., the British 7th Armored, or the US I Corps on the Allied side or the 21st Panzer, 352nd  Infantry on the German side. In addition, both players have draw decks of Action cards which heavily influence the combat. Action cards can lower or raise the attack or defense value of units (by representing bunkers, squad cohesion, artillery, the chaos of battle) or add special bonuses to a beach, for example by placing the famous 101st and 82nd Airborne there. Stragglers on the Allied side and reinforcements on the German side can further fortify a landing zone.

A game is played over 5 turns, each turn representing roughly one hour. Each turn, the conditions for the Allied player improve, representing his successful landing and advance on the beaches. After five turns, the number of beaches controlled by the Allied player is counted. The game outcome or victory level depends on the number of beaches in Allied hands. The Allies have to control at least four of the five beaches to achieve the historical outcome; less than four beaches mean a draw or a German victory.

Because of the time limit of five turns and the limited number of actions each player can resolve on a beach, one game doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes which makes the game a perfect starter, filler, or closer game on a game meeting when there isn’t much time left for a larger wargame or for “warming up” before moving over to the more complex games.

Despite being a small and fast card game, Lightning D-Day is challenging and requires strategical decision-making and planning in advance for both players.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Lightning Series, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations (DVG)

Posted by Denny Koch on February 3, 2011

Game: Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2010
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Historical and Hypothetical / Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground warfare
Components: 330 Full Color Cards, 2 Full Color Counter Sheets (352 counters), 8 Full Color Campaign Sheets (Libya 1986, WWIII North Atlantic 1986, Iraq 1991, Israel Defense 2003, North Korea 2007, Taiwan Defense 2008, Russia 2012, Iran 2014), 11″x17″ Mounted Tactical Sheet, Full Color Player Aid Sheets
Game Type: Mixed: Board, counters, card-driven

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9.5
Rules: 7
Playability:
9
Replay Value:
10

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Awesome presentation; excellent production quality; heavy box crammed with cool stuff; historical and hypothetical scenarios; solitaire game which can be played as 2-player cooperative game; tough decision-making; interesting mix of tactical and operational gameplay; large variant of aircraft; world-wide missions; various adaptable difficulty-levels for beginners up to experts; Navy and Marines variants; lots of “chrome” adds to the atmosphere; rulebook includes background information about weapons and friendly aircraft…
CONTRA …but no information or design notes about enemy units; no hints about coop gameplay included in the rulebook; service years and aircraft type should have been printed on the counters for easy reference; only one log sheet in the game box


Introduction

We are big fans of Thunderbolt Apache Leader (GMT), so we were looking forward to Dan Verssen’s Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations, the latest game in DVG’s Leader Series.

Believe it or not, the "Solitaire game" Hornet Leader is one of the best cooperative wargames ever!

We are also notorious for our special interest in cooperative games, so we were really delighted when we discovered that Hornet Leader (HL) isn’t only an excellent solitaire game but also a very challenging 2-player cooperative game experience which requires much teamwork, planning, and tough decision-making.

In Hornet Leader, you are in command of a Navy aircraft squadron, stationed on an aircraft carrier. The game is scenario based and offers historical and hypothetical contemporary scenarios ranging from Libya 1986, Iraq: Operation Desert Storm 1991, Israel Defense 2003, North Korea 2007, Taiwan Defense 2008 up to WWIII North Atlantic 1986, Taiwan Defense 2008, Russia 2012 or Iran 2014.

Scenarios (“Campaigns“) come in various difficulty levels, ranging from introductory to expert. You can also “tweak” all scenarios if you want them to be easier or more challenging by adding “advantages” or “disadvantages”. In addition, you can choose to play each scenario as an US Navy or US Marines squadron which means that you have different aircraft at your disposal (because Marines carriers are smaller and operate closer to the shoreline) and different rules regarding the target zones of your attacks. You can also play each Campaign as a short, medium, or long campaign, depending on how much playing time you have at your disposal. Combined with the fact that you face different enemies each time you play the scenario, this system ensures a very high replay value.

There are different types of mission, you don't destroy targets day in, day out - sometimes, you also fly Search & Rescue Missions or protect your own fleet

The main objective of the game is to fly “Missions” where you destroy enemy ground units, for example tanks and convoys, stationary installations (Radar stations, factories) or fight enemy fighter squadrons or fleets. There is a large variety of available targets which have different special traits as well as variable numbers of protective ground units and/or fighters. Some are easy to destroy, some are tough nuts. Some can be destroyed in addition to a primary mission as a secondary target. Each destroyed target is worth a certain number of Victory Points, so you have to pick your targets carefully.

The game is an interesting mix of card game with a game board (“Tactical Display Sheet”) and counter system. Aircraft are represented by cards (and counters while flying a mission), their weapons are counters. Random events and the composition of enemy forces are determined by card draw, the main target is represented by a card, but you fight ground forces and enemy aircraft which are randomly drawn counters on the Tactical Display Sheet.

Coop gameplay isn’t much different from solitaire gameplay, except that each player commands their own aircraft. But you plan and fly your missions together (which requires much coordination and teamwork to be successful). This variant works great and is really challenging, so if you know another Hornet Leader player in your area, you should give it a try together. To be honest, in our opinion, Hornet Leader is one of the best cooperative wargames ever published

After intensive Hornet Leader sessions, we have to admit that we became enthusiastic HL fans. This is a very good game, it’s demanding, it’s very variable, it’s challenging, and it’s just fun to play. But more about that later…

Game components and graphic presentation

The heavy gamebox is crammed with cool stuff

Hornet Leader is a game with a very high heft factor: the heavy box is crammed with high quality components such as a mounted (!) map-board, various counter-sheets, card-packs, a full-color rulebook and more. This big gamebox isn’t a bluff package (like what you probably know from some other game publishers, big boxes filled with little stuff and much cardboard), here you get a heavy box full of cool stuff for your money.

The overall production quality is very good. The counters are of a thick, sturdy quality and with a nice glossy coating which gives them a very attractive look and a great feel. It’s not a problem to punch the counters from the counter sheets, they are accurately pre-cut without being too loose (so that they would fall out of their counter sheets during shipping).

The full-color cards are also of a very high quality and glossy. The artworks are really cool and add much chrome to the game. There are various types of cards – Aircraft, Target cards, and Event cards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Historical Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, Leader Series, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Review: Thunderbolt / Apache Leader (GMT)

Posted by Denny Koch on December 1, 2010

Game: Thunderbolt / Apache Leader: Joint Attack Weapons System

Publisher: GMT Games
Published in: 1991
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Close Air Support combat / Aircraft and attack helicopters
Components: 110 full-color two-sided cards, 300 full-color two-sided counters, one 22×17” full-color combat display, one 10-sided die, 20-page rulebook, Sector Map, Pilot / Crew experience log, aircraft & pilot damage chart
Game Type: Solitaire or coop / card-driven / counters

HFC Game-O-Meter: C


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 7
Rules: 7
Playability:
8
Replay Value: 9.5

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Can be played solitaire or in cooperative team-play, rules contain background information about CAS warfare, high replayability, various difficulty levels, tactical and strategical level, challenging and tough decision-making required, resource management, clever combat system
CONTRA Rules somewhat cumbersome here and there

Introduction

Planning, calculating, and conducting CAS missions together is challenging and fun!

We love cooperative games! We enjoy the card game Space Hulk – Death Angel, we love cooperative board games like Arkham Horror or video games like Too Human or Borderlands on Xbox 360. Thunderbolt / Apache Leader isn’t a cooperative team-game in the first place, it is primarily a solitaire game, but it offers variants for cooperative team play, so one weekend we decided to give the game a try… together!

We own a number of solitaire wargames, for example the Ambush series, London’s Burning, B-17, Carrier, Patton’s Best, even SASL (Solitaire ASL) which are designed to be played by one player “against the game system” or Paper AI. Fortunately, many of these games can be played by two players as well who team up against the enemy. And some of these games even offer specific rules or instructions for playing the game cooperatively. A great example is the modern air combat simulation “Thunderbolt / Apache Leader” by Dan Verssen.

This review doesn’t only deal with the coop variant but is a general in-depth review of the game. So if you are a dedicated (or involuntary) solitaire gamer, this review is also for YOU. In addition, we will tell you something about flying cooperatively (which works excellent, btw!), so if you are a fan of wargames supporting team-play, read on!

What is Thunderbolt / Apache Leader?

Thunderbolt / Apache Leader (TAL) is a wargame depicting modern tactical air combat, utilizing a combination of card- and counter-based mechanics and a combination of tactical and strategical planning and gameplay. It was published by GMT Games in 1991 and is part of the “Air Leader series”. Since players have to conduct a good deal of math calculation and consulting of several tables, the game is definitely not a “light wargame”, but effectively a consim with medium complexity.

In the game, the player commands single A-10 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. In addition, he can use AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and AV-8B Harrier vertical takeoff fighter aircraft as support. The game is scenario-based and takes place in various cold-war and contemporary hot spots all over the world: Operation Desert Storm Iraq, Korea, Germany, Russia, Libya. The focus lies on air-to-ground combat, but in the course of a campaign, players can also possibly face opposing air units in air-to-air combat.

Operation Desert Storm in full progress

The objective differs with each campaign. Basically, players have to defend their air base and destroy opposing ground forces before they overrun the base. Enemy ground forces consist of various different unit types, for example SAM sites, Anti-Air-vehicles, heavy armored tanks, infantry, APC, or non-armored trucks. In addition, friendly ground forces (AFV and Mechanized battalions) engage the enemy ground forces, but the player’s main task is to provide air support and to soften the ground targets before the friendly ground forces encounter the enemy.

Players can choose between various types of munition for their aircraft. There are three types of attacks, cannon attacks with board cannons, strike attacks with various rocket types (rocket pot, cluster bombs, Mk.82-84), or stand-off attacks with laser-guided missiles (Hellfire, Maverick). A focus lies on resource management; players have only a restricted contingent of “Air base points” with which they have to “pay” aircraft, pilots, and ammunition for each of the daily missions. So you cannot simply put all the cool stuff into your jets and helicopters – you have to plan carefully and in advance if you want to fly and fight another day.

 

AH-64 "Apache" attack helicopter card

Players also have control over different pilots (jets) or crews (helicopters) with various skills and special abilities. Pilots are humans, though, and suffer from stress during flight missions. Choosing the right pilot for the right task is another challenge of the game. Pilots can get lost or end the day in sick bay or shaken, so they cannot fly the next day. Optional fatigue and experience rules add even more realism to pilot management.

The map (“Combat Display“) is a sheet printed with several tables, turn record tracks, and terrain space which consists of randomly placed terrain cards. You see the combat area from high above – from an aircraft’s perspective. There are two types of combat resolutions each day – a primary (mandatory) mission which is resolved tactically in aircraft vs. single units of ground vehicles, infantry, or enemy aircraft, and a secondary (optional) mission which is resolved strategically by comparing attack and defense strength, troop quality, and several other scenario-specific modifiers.

All in all, Thunderbolt / Apache Leader is a quite simulative game with lots of mathematic calculations and cross-referencing of combat and effect tables. This sounds very technical and dry, but in fact the game accurately portrays air warfare from the perspective of a squadron leader which feels very cool and authentic.

Graphic presentation and production quality

TAL depicts modern air warfare, so the overall game design corresponds with the topic.

The box art shows photos of the A-10, the AH-64, and infantry soldiers during Operation Desert Storm. The box contains a paper map sheet, several additional displays (a sector sheet and the air base sheet), log sheets for pilot fatigue, counters for several game effects, enemy ground units, friendly ground units, ammunition types, combat results. There are several card decks – double-sided aircraft and pilot cards as well as draw decks for random events. Campaigns and combat conditions are also printed on small cards. The design is somewhat technical and abstract, but all in all, the game looks modern.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »