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Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign 1815 4th edition – fund the game you love!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on February 25, 2013

pic36258_mdNapoleon: The Waterloo Campaign 1815 (published in 1974) was one of the early block games and it went through three editions. Since the 3rd ed. published by Columbia Games is from 1993 and the 200th anniversary of Waterloo occurs in June 2015, Columbia Games has decided to produce a new 4th edition of this great game.

Napoléon is a strategy game for two or three players that simulates the Waterloo Campaign. The time is June 15th, 1815. A French army commanded by the great Napoléon is ready to invade the Southern Nederlands (now Belgium) where two Allied armies, one Anglo-Dutch led by the Duke of Wellington, and one Prussian led by Marshal Blücher, are gathering strength to invade France. The French are concentrated and have the early advantage, but the Allies, if they can unite, are stronger.

Napoléon was first published in 1974 by Gamma Two Games, a Canadian company located in Vancouver, B.C. That edition sold out twice. In 1977, the game was licensed to Avalon-Hill of Baltimore, and they produced a 2nd edition. Later, after Avalon-Hill had gone to wargame heaven, Columbia Games published a 3rd edition. This too had several printings and recently sold out once more.
Napoléon is an elegant simulation of one of history’s greatest military campaigns. It has always been a fun, addictive game that you will want to play over and over.

To produce this new edition of the classic game, recently a Kickstarter project was initiated and if you want to get a deluxe version of the game you should consider supporting it via the Kickstarter fund, just click on the link below.

>>>>>> Napoleon by Columbia Games on Kickstarter

The 4th edition of Napoléon will contain the following upgrades from previous editions:

Deluxe Mounted Mapboard, 22″ x 25″.
Large 24mm hardwood blocks.

Two color copies of the rules per game. Both copies will be signed and numbered.
Larger tactical maps.

Two color Order of Battle Charts. The Order of Battle is similar to that found in the first edition. 8 quality dice (4 red and 4 blue).

IMPORTANT: most upgrades are for the Kickstarter version only. Copies of the game produced for later sale will not have the deluxe mounted map, signed extra rules, or extra dice.

The (beta) rule book is available here and feedback is welcome, so now is the time to let the designers know what you think 🙂

Please support a new five-star edition of this timeless classic, the game deserves it!

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The Operational Art Of War III – a call to arms!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on December 18, 2012

TOAW 3TOAW is one of those games (or to be even more accurate a game series) that actually defines the hobby wargaming. It’s a legendary PC consim that offers probably the most flexible game engine ever used in any wargame and there are thousands of scenarios made by fans that you can play. Almost every war ever fought on this earth has a scenario to be played in TOAW, it’s a must have for the serious grognard. The latest version of the game is TOAW III with the mega update 3.4. This update polished the game to a great degree and solved many problems, but alas it also caused some new ones. The community is discussing this now for a while and there is a new update in the making 3.5 or so it was said…but the lead designer on this project is somehow MIA and it seems he’s the only person who can tell us something about progress or decline of the next update. There’s no update on the project anymore and he can’t be contacted. Matrix Games, the game publisher is silent on the topic as well and the fans start to get concerned that their beloved TOAW won’t see the new and needed update to iron out the sometimes severe issues of the game. So over at the Matrix Games Forums there’s an announcement for a petition.

Since its release in 1998 The Operational Art of War has been enjoyed by thousands of war-gaming enthusiast who contributed not only to the game’s popularity, but essentially helped to make the product what is is today. Thousands of man hours of scenario research, design, invaluable feedback and more, that’s what the community has been doing ever since. The product is still selling and we, the war-gaming community, think it is only fair on behalf of Matrix Games to support it. A good example about ongoing support can be experienced with WitP AE, so why not with TOAW?

The HFC is gladly supporting this because we think this wonderful game needs any support possible to stay alive – because there is no other game like this on the market, it’s that simple. So, if you feel the same, then click on the link below that takes you to the petition page and support TOAW with your name as a wargamer.

>>>Click here to sign petition: Matrix Games: Keep TOAW III supported!

The discussion about the need for a new TOAW update can be found here.

Posted in News and Releases, Wargaming in general | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Up Front 2000… announced for 2013?

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on August 22, 2012

Just in case you didn’t notice the earthquake that shook the (wargame) world today, here are a few words on that.

Valley Games, a small game company that also has a few wargames in their portfolio today announced on Board Game Geek that they will publish a reprint of one of the all time classics of our hobby: Up Front – The Squad Leader Card Game

The game was published 1983 and till this day is one of the favorite games of probably the majority of wargamers. Its brilliant design, innovative aspects, simulation value and smooth gameplay was the reason that it won so many friends. The licence was given to MMP by Hasbro (holding the rights to Avalon Hill games) years ago and the well known ASL publisher tried for years to get a reprint done  – without success. It was said that although they got the licence to republish it, Hasbro still had the rights and obviously had different ideas what to do with the game – fact is despite a project Up Front 2000, which was the supposed date for publishing the reprint, this name became sort of a placeholder even after the year 2000 and now the time for a possible reprint by MMP is over. So it seems that the licence is given to Valley Games now and this company says they want to do a kick starter project to finance the reprint.

Valley Games is very excited to announce that we have been offered the opportunity to produce Up Front. In association with the original designer, Courtney Allen, we will reproduce this classic title with improved and enhanced rules, new artwork and new graphic design. We will use Kickstarter to fund the project with a planned launch date of December 2012. More information to come as we get closer to the launch date. (Rik Falch)

After all these years when we thought the reprint is actually never gonna happen and after a big name in the wargaming world failed to get it done for whatever licence or contract reasons and problems with Hasbro, now a small company, not even really deep into wargames let alone consims, just announces ‘we will do it’. But it’s not news that is to be found on their official website, which is kinda strange,  just a thread on the BGG  forum – that you can find here

It sounds unbelievable but of course we also hope that this is true and that a new Up Front will be for sale in the near future. But it will depend of course what they do with this game, so we wouldn’t advice anybody to sell their copy of the classic game now as some do on the internet (‘sell the game before it will lose its value, you won’t get anything for it when the new version is out’) because even if a new version is coming, we don’t know whether it will be the same game we so love or something completely different with the same name.

‘Improved and enhanced rules’ can mean anything and of course the rules of UF are not perfect (but they are not that ‘bad’ either as some seem to think they are) so improvement is always possible and certainly desirable. What they mean with ‘enhanced’ rules we will have to see…new artwork is great because when we consider how cool for example the LCGs by FFG look then Up Front could really shine on the table if done right. Design…shouldn’t mean to redesign the game as a whole however, because it just works.

What we definitely don’t want to see is a watered down version of the game, we don’t want to play an Up Front where there is no Relative Range used anymore – a fantastic concept, but some players seem to have problems to understand how it works. Enhancing could mean to get rid of this core concept to make it ‘easier’, to attract more players. Chits could be larger and more colorful, redesigning the game so it doesn’t ‘need’ any chits anymore would be a mistake. Some cards –  representing the soldiers – in Up Front get flipped when their morale breaks and then they have different combat values, so both sides are printed. In CCGs and LCGs these days cards are ‘tapped’ when something happens and we wouldn’t consider this a necessary step in a redesign, flipping is just fine, it works. Perhaps all this is not gonna happen and what they do is just polishing the game, not changing it in essential aspects, but such thoughts come up when you are a fan of this classic.

That Cortney Allen, the designer of Up Front, is part of the team doing the reprint design is of course wonderful news and hopefully this will be enough to prevent changes the fans don’t want – and the game doesn’t need. There’s probably no wargame out there that is that perfect than Up Front, it just needs a little polish here and there in the rules, streamlining of some concepts, a state of the art presentation and the base game and the expansions all done in one style to transform it into the Holy Grail of Wargaming. No game came ever that close to this, that’s what we actually think.

So lets hope that after so many years we all can indeed sell our old version of this gem of a game  in the near future because the reprint is true to the innovative and brilliant design we know and love to play. But Valley Games will have to convince us with their product and so we’ll stick to the old version with all the worn out cards and play classic Up Front until we can actually see what’s up with this new Up Front – if it ever gets published.

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New Hornet Leader Campaign: Libya 2011

Posted by Denny Koch on March 8, 2011

In view of the current events in Libya, DVG published a new Campaign for Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations: Libya 2011. In this scenario, the US sends a carrier task force to aid the anti-Gadhafi revolutionary forces in their conflict with the loyalist forces.

You can download the Campaign for free from the DVG website (PDF, 234 KB).

Posted in Hypoth. Games A-Z, Leader Series, 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 »

New experimental Wingmen rules for DiF – Aces High (DVG)!

Posted by Denny Koch on November 11, 2010

One of the new wingmen cards

Our review of Aces High inspired game designer Dan Verssen to experiment with new wingmen rules. One of our major complaints was the elimination of wingmen rules from the new Down in Flames game (which were a vital part of the original Down in Flames series by GMT).

Dan Versson developed experimental rules and Wingmen cards for playtest purposes and published a sample dogfight game between two leaders and two wingmen, showing the new rules in action.

“My goal is to return wingmen to the game, while keeping the rules as simple as possible. From what I have heard, almost everyone likes the idea of wingmen, but many people were turned-off by the old rules. For those of you who never played the old game, the wingmen rules were filled with complexity and exceptions. Basically, you had to learn/teach two seperate sets of rules, one for Leaders and one for Wingmen. My goal is to make the Wingmen rules as much like Leader rules as possible, while still retaining their flavor.”

If you are a wingmen fan and want to participate in testing the new rules, you can simply download the rules and sample cards and integrate them into an Aces High dogfight.

Feedback, comments, and suggestions are highly welcome, please leave any comments in the DVG forum on Consimworld!

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

Review: Down in Flames: WWII – Aces High (DVG) and comparison with DiF (GMT)

Posted by Denny Koch on November 3, 2010

Game: Down in Flames: WWII – Aces High

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2008
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: World War II / ETO and PTO / Air combat
Components: 110 Full color Action Cards, 110 Full Color Aircraft Cards, Full Color Rulebook, Full Color Counter Sheet (88 – 5/8” counters), 6 Full Color Campaign Sheets
Game Type: Card based wargame

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10): (Rating for experienced DiF players / Rating for casual gamers who don’t know the original)

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 6
Playability:
6/8
Replay Value:
3/9

Overall Rating: 5/8

PRO Great artwork; very modern design; high production quality;  strong glossy coated full-color cards, counters, and rules; fast gameplay; new actions cards; new fighter ratings (firepower, two Horsepower ratings); PTO and ETO; new maneuvering system with speed and action cards; tactics cards; almost no setup time; fighters can attack in chains and be attacked by several other fighters which provides dynamic dogfights…
CONTRA …which are more ahistorical because of the removal of wingman rules; campaign extremely simplified; elimination of almost all simulative aspects of the classic campaign game; only one bomb mode (no more level, saturation, torpedo bombing etc.); simple hit system; simple bombing system without random element; no more variable mission length; no ingress / egress / target / home bound turns; simple Flak rules; no crews; rules describe only 1 vs 1 dogfights for simplicity – but are raising questions for 2 vs 2 (or more) dogfights; ambiguous rules and wording; some rules only mentioned in examples

A preliminary note or warning:

This is not only a review about DiF – Aces High, but also a detailed comparison between the “new” DiF series and the “classic” DiF series by GMT Games. Many wargamers who enjoy the classic GMT series (and own several modules and expansions) are wondering whether they should “switch” to the new system. Information about the differences and about who should switch – and who should not! – are sparse and scattered all over the internet.

Our intention was to review the new Down in Flames series from a wargamer’s perspective who played and enjoyed the classic series, especially the campaigns, and to give you veterans an overview over what to expect from the new system – and what not!


Introduction

Shoot down your enemies… out of the sun!

In 1993, GMT Games published the first module of the Down in Flames series, “Rise of the Luftwaffe“, depicting WWII air combat in Europe, designed by Dan Verssen, Gene Billingsley, and Rodger McGowan. In 1995, the second module, “8th Air Force” was published. The game series was then further supplemented by two Pacific modules (“Zero” and “Corsairs and Hellcats“) as well as several smaller add-ons published in GMT’s C3i magazine.

The first two modules are out of print by now and there are no plans of reprinting them. Instead, GMT announced a new game which will replace the first two modules and serve as a modern update: “Wild Blue Yonder“. This game is still in P500 status and when (and if) it will hit the market is unknown.
Update 2017: The game is available  now!

If you want to get into the classic and very popular “Down in Flames” series, you have to search eBay or other marketplaces for Luftwaffe or 8th Air Force, and you can expect that it will cost you a nice amount of money. The Pacific expansions are still available at a reasonable price, but if you want to “own them all”, it will require some dedication (and money) to become a “Down in Flames” pilot.

But wait… what about the relaunch of “Down in Flames” by game designer Dan Verssen? Why should I bother collecting the “old stuff” when there is a brand-new, revised, modern version available?

In 2008, Dan Verssen published his own new version of “Down in Flames” in his own company, DVG (Dan Verssen Games). The first game was “Aces High“, supplemented in 2010 by “Guns Blazing” and several smaller card expansions. The new version is not compatible with the old GMT Down in Flames series, but was announced as an advanced, revised new game which improves many aspects of the old game while streamlining the Campaign game (which was quite simulative and of moderate complexity in the old games, so the designer felt the need of making the Campaign more accessible to casual gamers).

WWII air combat on your gaming table!

But should you really sell your entire GMT DiF collection and switch to the new, improved version of Down in Flames with modern and stylish graphics, more fighter abilities, more and different action cards, more maneuvering options, more color, more fun?

The answer is: you could – if you are a casual gamer or a gamer who enjoys playing the basic dogfights variants of the original game and who never touched the campaigns because they were too complex for you, or who always thought the wingmen rules were too static (disregarding historical leader and wingmen tactics which were even more static, so that the RAF pilots were actually dubbed “Idiotenreihen” (rows of idiots) by German fighter pilots due to their rigid and static formations). You will get improved graphics and a more dynamic dogfighting system than in the original game and you will certainly enjoy the new look and feel.

But beware – if you are an experienced wargamer who loved the GMT DiF series, and especially the campaigns, you should avoid the new game system! While the dogfights and several basic mechanics benefit from the new rules and action cards (reducing historical accuracy but enhancing gameplay), the Campaign game is simplified beyond recognition and won’t satisfy you if you loved the old Campaigns – on the contrary, we were heavily disappointed by the dumbed-down Campaign rules.

Aces High: the components

Besides this, the original rules (which consist of two 22-pages-rule books in 8th Air Force) are now condensed into one 24-pages rulebook. The campaign rules, formerly filling a rulebook of their own, are now drastically shortened and integrated into the basic rulebook. The shorter rules are not only caused by a reduced complexity, but also by a new wording which is more ambiguous and less extensive than in the old rule books. They certainly aren’t sufficient to please a classic-GMT-DiF-player, so read this review before considering to sell your old games on eBay!

As we stated in the initial warning, this review of “Aces High” gives a general overview over the DVG game, but also serves as a comparison between the old system and the new system from a wargamer’s point of view, because many wargamers are interested in the question whether they should sell their old games and switch to the new system – or whether they should stick to the GMT games.

Hopefully, our review will help them to decide whether they would enjoy the new game (a more casual gamer with a preference for simple dogfights who loves exciting graphics and thinks the old system to be too static and old-fashioned certainly will, so no game-bashing is intended!) or be disappointed.

What is Down in Flames anyway?

“Down in Flames” is a card-based wargame about Air Combat in World War II, WWI and post-war. Players control single fighters (German, British, Polish, Russian, US, Japanese) and conduct dogfights against other fighters. Fighters maneuver against each other, trying to get an advantaged position from which they could shoot down their enemies. The best position is tailing the opponent, but since each player wants to tail the enemy, there’s a lot of maneuvering until one fighter is behind the other and that’s what makes these dogfights a thrilling and fun experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Down in Flames, Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 26, 2010

Game: Warhammer 40k: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2010
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Topic: Fantasy / Sci-Fi (Warhammer 40k universe)
Game Type: Card Game
Contents: 1 rulebook, 18 Action Cards, 2 Brood Lord Cards, 30 Event Cards, 36 Genestealer Cards, 22 Location Cards, 12 Space Marine Cards, 8 Terrain Cards, 12 Support Tokens, 6 Combat team Markers, 1 die

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

 

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 7.5
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 8

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game with interesting mechanics, captures the Space Hulk atmosphere, lots of tactical decisions, can be played solo or with up to six players, good artwork, can be played quickly…
CONTRA …but can also be quite long sometimes, possible quick elimination of players, rules suffer from necessary back and forth flipping, a few points not well explained

 

Introduction

Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game (SHDA) is a new game published by Fantasy Flight Games. It is set in the Warhammer 40.000 universe created by Games Workshop, also known as Warhammer 40K or simply 40K. This is a huge sci-fi gaming universe in a far distant future and several tabletop systems and roleplaying games as well as books are based on this specific setting.

Game components

Space Hulk is one of  the many spin-offs within this universe and a board game published by Games Workshop which deals with  the battle of the Space Marines (a Templar-like order of genetically enhanced super-soldiers who act as a special guard in the military ranks of the Imperium of Man, one of the factions in the 40k universe) against the Genestealers, an aggressive culture of aliens. Generally, the Space Hulk theme is very close to the story of the Alien movies, which are also about a troop of humans dealing with aggressive aliens infesting a space station. A Space Hulk in the 40k universe often is an ancient starship and it is supposed that many of these are drifting around in the far dark corners of the universe. Sometimes, such a vessel is found when it drifts through the territory of the Imperium, and the technology that can be found in these relics is often something that the Imperium is interested in, so when such a space station is found, squads are sent in to gather information, technology blueprints, or similiar things of interest.

But it seems that these old vessels make for a great breeding ground for the Genestealers, so such a trip into the Hulk  usually leads to some serious fighting before the Marines can find the secrets they are after. The aliens reproduce themselves by introducing their genetic code into a host of a different species which eventually leads to the birth of hybrids. More detailed information about the Genestealers can be found in this article.

The board game Space Hulk is actually quite expensive and hard to get (it contains 64 board sections or room tiles, doors, plastic Citadel miniatures and much more stuff ), and we don’t own it. We never played any game based on the 40k universe before and the only game in our collection that comes close to the topic is Doom – The Boardgame. From what I have read so far, it seems that Doom is quite similiar to the theme of Space Hulk, but is not as detailed and rich in gameplay.

Lately, we became very interested in the new LCG format of several card games published by FFG and when Space Hulk Death Angel was announced, we followed the game development very closely because it was announced as a cooperative game – which is something we like in both video games and board/card games. It turned out that SHDA was not another LCG but a ‘normal’ card game, so there’s no starter set followed by several expansions and no deck building involved here. Instead, it’s a stand alone card game, so you get everything you need in the box (although FFG is known for publishing expansions to many if not all of their games, so it might be possible that we will be seeing some add-ons for this game in the future).

Presentation

The game comes in a small box that contains a 31-page full color rule book in the size of the game box, two shrinkwrapped packages of 128 playing cards, a counter sheet with 18 game markers and a red die that has the numbers o-5 and 3 skulls printed on it. There’s no map included since the game uses a more abstract way to create the environment of the Space Hulk.

The strong cards are made of glossy coated cardboard - very good quality

FFG often uses big game boxes where the package is quite spacious compared to the content, probably making room for possible expansions which will follow the basic game, but the SHDA box is exactly of the size the content needs and that may be a sign that no expansions are planned.

The artwork of the box is great and shows the formation of Marines fighting their way through a horde of aliens in a tight corridor. The quality of the contents is very high as well, the cards being thin but nevertheless sturdy and their surface is somewhat roughened so they don’t stick together as it is often the case, especially with new cards. The cards have a good feel right from the start and are protected by a form of glossy coating.

The cards are divided into several card types (actions, Brood Lords, events, Genestealers, locations, Space Marines, and terrain) and they are richly illustrated, so they are able to evoke the specific environment and atmosphere where the game is supposed to take place. The markers, divided into support tokens and combat team markers are also of a good quality, using thick cardboard and nice artwork, too.

Great artworks and top-notch quality is something we actually expect from FFG by now, since every game we own by this publisher is of an excellent production quality – and that’s really where FFG gives you a lot for your money. Of course, a good-looking game doesn’t have to be a good game, so let’s start with the rules to get an impression of what to expect.

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Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Futuristic Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Reviews, Space Hulk:Death Angel, Warhammer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Review: Toy Soldiers – a diorama coming alive!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 14, 2010

Game: Toy Soldiers

Platform: XBox 360 Arcade
Publisher: Microsoft, 2010
Developer: Signal Studios
ESRB: T
Genre: Tower Defense, Strategy
Setting: World War I
Players: 1-2 (offline / online)



Our Rating (1-10):

 

Graphics: 9
Audio: 10
Gameplay:
9
Longevity:
8

Overall Rating: 9/10

PRO Awesome presentation (one of the best looking Arcade games ever!), impressive sound effects, cool music, strategically and tactically challenging, WWI-setting with attention to detail, 2 single player campaigns (Allied and German), multiplayer online and local split screen
CONTRA Only 5 multiplayer maps (more are added with DLC)

 

 

Introduction

A WWI diorama

I suppose every wargamer is aware of the existence of a certain subgenre within our hobby which is mainly about portraying battles with little tin or plastic soldiers in so-called dioramas. That’s sort of the adult version of the battles we all did as kids with toy soldiers in our room, where the magic of imagination changed the floor into something completely different… soldiers marching off to war, while we were the commander. I really like to look at dioramas and I love the dedication these guys put into their hobby –  it’s a really time-consuming hobby and quite expensive. You have to buy the figures, paint them, arrange them, create terrain (even explosions!), you need some big table (or better an entire room) to show the beauty of it all and it’s simply not for everyone. Usually a diorama is not intended for actually playing out the battle, it’s more like a picture taken in 3D showing a certain  moment of the battle in question, a detailed study of uniforms and terrain, but not a wargame.  You can play with such figures, of course, in tabletop games – which could be called a “diorama in action”.

Toy Commander on Sega Dreamcast

Back in the good old days of the Sega Dreamcast console, there was a great game called Toy Commander which allowed the player to be a kid again, playing with little soldiers and toy vehicles, cars, tanks, fighter planes, helicopters. There was a complete house at your free disposal where these battles were fought while it was supposed that everything within the game was controlled by a young boy and his imagination. The introduction of the game did a great job in showing  how the imagination of a child can make everything real so there’s the moment when the boy fades away holding the aircraft and there’s only the plane flying around then… check out the intro movie to see what I mean.But this review isn’t about Toy Commander, is it? No, it’s not – but that was the immediate reminiscence I had when I first played Toy Soldiers on the XBox 360.

The game takes place in a room where a table with a World War I diorama stands. You see a battlefield, little soldiers, a toy box and all the stuff a kid needs to fight out great battles. I don’t like Real Time Strategy games very much, they are too confusing for my taste, everything happens at once, you’re constantly looking for your units which are always running around where they should not be, while you are suffering from supply problems and are forced to build and protect a base which is in turn attacked almost immediately by the enemy, while it is expected that you destroy the enemy’s base… very stressful. Strategy-wise I enjoy turn-based games much more. RTS is more about clicking faster than your opponent while turn-based games are more about the strategy,  about thinking and decision-making, at least that is what I think.

The WWI diorama in your room

When I first read something about Toy Soldiers I was quite thrilled because it sounded so much like my old favorite Toy Commander – just in a World War I setting, but then after trying out the multiplayer demo on the Xbox 360, it seemed to be just another RTS style game. So after playing a few matches against Denny, the game disappeared from my radar. Interestingly in the meanwhile I got somehow hooked on a specific sub-genre of RTS games – Tower Defense – after playing Monday Night Combat on XBox Live Arcade which is a mix of Tower Defense and Third Person Shooter (it’s also a mix of these genres with gladiator sports and strategy – a weird mix for sure, but a highly strategic game and entertaining game and I wholeheartedly recommend it!).

Monday Night Combat inspired me to look for other good Tower Defense games  and that was when I came across Toy Soldiers again – which was  coincidentally “Deal of the Week” on XBox Live Arcade then where it dropped from 1200 Microsoft Points down to 800 points, so I decided to get the full game and try it out again in the Single Player.

What is it about?

You always have a good overview over your battlefield

What I got was probably one of the most fun games I ever played – and I speak as a wargamer here! As I previously mentioned, the game is about WWI and you can play through an Allied and a German campaign taking place on some famous battlefields like Langemarck, Verdun, and several other places. The campaign consists of 12 single missions which take place in a diorama standing in the virtual room and the soldiers are made of plastic. But what starts as a game with plastic soldiers actually turns out to be a rather brutal and realistic portrayal of the nasty battles known from WWI. There’s no blood – plastic soldiers don’t bleed – but everything else is done so realistically that you soon forget that you are playing with plastic soldiers in a diorama  – and that’s the beauty of this game!

When you start a mission, the camera will first show part of the room and the diorama and then it zooms into the battlefield, so the player is on the ground, actually within the diorama. When the battle starts with all the little soldiers running over open terrain mowed down by your troops manning their plastic machine guns, you yourself sitting in the sniper tower shooting from afar, soldiers dying and screaming because of chemical weapons and flamethrowers or being squelched by tanks while bombs are falling from the sky and the arty is screaming, shells coming in over your head… you simply forget it’s a virtual diorama and plastic and you get immersed in some really intense war action.

There’s a considerable lack of WWI video games with so many games concentrating on WWII, so Toy Soldiers actually fills a gap and luckily it is a good strategy game as well. When you are a wargamer and you have a 360, then read on why this is the game for you!

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