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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 »

HFC on Tour: Spiel 2012 in Essen, the world’s biggest consumer fair for gaming

Posted by Denny Koch on October 23, 2012

Gaming tables everywhere!

This year, we attended SPIEL 2012 in Essen, the world’s biggest consumer trade fair for gaming. The fair was held in the Messe Essen from Oct 18th – 21st, which means four days of playing and testing popular and new (even unpublished) games and, of course, the opportunity to buy games. This attracted about 150,000 visitors from all over the world.

On 46,000 square meters of exhibition space, you can find all kinds of games and gaming equipment – from Eurogames to classics (like Chess and Go), consims and wargames, board games, card games, electronic games, role-playing games, tabletop games, up to LARP equipment such as armor, weapons, costumes, and clothing. In addition there is “Comic Action“, a Comic fair, which is part of Spiel. Here you have the opportunity to see, read and buy all kinds of comics and comic related stuff, from European and US mainstream comics up to quite bizarre Japanese Manga products.

Home of Wargamers!

Spiel 2012 was a really big event (the exhibition area, which extends over 10 halls, is even larger than Gamescom, the annual European video games fair in Cologne) and attracted visitors and exhibitors from all over the world. You could find the big players (for example Hasbro, German company Ravensburger…) next to small and highly specialized game shops, independent publishers, smaller companies and publishers (GMT Games, Matrix Games / Slitherine, UGG, Twilight Creations, Days of Wonder, Eagle Games…), organizations and clubs (the German consim society GHS, The Guild of Role Playing Gamers), and special booths, giving an overview over games from a certain country, for example Russia, or South Korea. Even companies who specialize in proofreading game concepts and producing your components (counters, maps etc.) were represented. There were also gaming championships and open tournaments going on, as well as workshops and tutorials.

Entire sections were dedicated to gaming equipment, for example dice, tabletop painting and modelling equipment, or card sleeves, and clothing and weapons for knights, orcs, and the medieval LARP household.

The Location

The Galeria

Essen is one of the 10 largest cities in Germany and located in the heart of the industrial Ruhr area. The infrastructure is very good, the city can be reached easily by plane (via airport Düsseldorf), train, or car. It takes only a few minutes from the central station to the fair grounds “Messe Essen” and shuttle busses as well as subways connect the Messe to the inner-city.

We went to Essen by car, which took probably longer than getting to the fair grounds by subway, because the sheer size of the fair led to a minor traffic collapse around the Messe. There were several parking lots, but some were reserved for exhibitors or journalists, and most of the public parking lots in the Messe vicinity were already occupied by the time we got there. A parking guide sent us to a remote parking lot and advised us to return with the (free of charge) shuttle bus, but fortunately, we discovered a secret parking garage near the Gruga park, a large city park close to the Messe.

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Posted in Events and Conventions, HFC On Tour, Wargaming in general | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Gaming this weekend: Down in Flames (GMT)

Posted by Denny Koch on October 20, 2010

Module 1: The Rise of the Luftwaffe, unfortunately out of print

This weekend, a classic returned to our gaming table: Down in Flames by GMT Games, a card-based game series depicting World War II air warfare.

Down in Flames consists of 4 modules and several expansions, but we wanted to play the dogfight variant this weekend, not one of the larger campaigns, so we only used the first two modules “Rise of the Luftwaffe” and “Eighth Air Force“.

“Dogfights” are the basic game variant where your leaders and their wingmen fight against the other players’ fighters. The “Campaigns” are the advanced variant, they add special rules, bomber formations, and historical scenarios, for example “Invasion of Poland” or “Battle of Britain” with several sub-missions, like bombing raids on railway stations or supply depots.

This isn’t meant to be a review or anything like that, just some short random impressions and general thoughts that occurred to us while we were (re)playing this game which had spent a long time on the shelf (you know the problem… too many games, too little time… ;)).

Down in Flames – more than a series (actually, two series)

Module 2: Eighth Air Force, adding more fighters, more scenarios and replaces the Luftwaffe rules

“Rise of the Luftwaffe” was the first module of the GMT game series, published in 1993. Ownership of this module is the prerequisite of playing the second module, 8th Air Force. Unfortunately, both modules (Luftwaffe and 8th Air Force) are out of print and GMT Games doesn’t plan to reprint them. The other two modules which depict World War II air combat in the Pacific theater (“Zero” and “Corsairs and Hellcats”) are still available. GMT announced that they are planning a “Down in Flames Deluxe European Theatre Game” named Wild Blue Yonder which will replace Luftwaffe and 8th Air Force, but it is still in P500 status and whether it will ever be published in the foreseeable future is unknown.

At the same time, game designer Dan Verssen re-booted the series and published DiF in his own company, DVG (Dan Verssen Games) with revised expanded rules and new modern artworks. The first module of his new Down in Flames series was “Aces High”, published in 2008. The second module “Guns Blazing” was just released this autumn. His new DiF games are not compatible with the GMT DiF series, however.

So getting into the “classic” GMT version of the game is somewhat more difficult than jumping into the new DVG version because especially “Luftwaffe” is hard to find, at least for a reasonable price. In addition, if you own Luftwaffe and 8th Air Force, there might be some slight rules confusion because the 8th Air Force rules supersede the Luftwaffe rules whereas you have to stick to the Luftwaffe rulebook if you want to play any Luftwaffe campaigns.

We are in the lucky position of possessing several copies of the GMT modules as well as the Dunkirk variant from the C3i magazine (the house zine of GMT), so when we decided to bring back the classic DiF to our gaming table, we could jump into our dogfights immediately. We also decided that it would be an interesting task to compare the classic GMT Down in Flames with the brand-new DVG DiF series and to write some impressions about the differences between both series. Since many gamers are confused by the old series vs. the new series vs. the Wild Yonder P500 module, some information about both series could be helpful. We know about the confusion because we fell into the same trap… so you can expect more about both games in this blog – stay tuned!

Dogfights on the table

There is almost no setup time - you select your fighters and off you go!

So this weekend, we returned to the classic GMT version (we will play the DVG version next weekend). We hadn’t played Down in Flames in years, so we actually had to re-read the rulebook and almost start from scratch (although we quickly remembered why we always liked the dynamics of this fast card-driven wargame!).

Since we did a review reset when we relaunched our HFC website, we took the chance to read the rules with a fresh perspective as a new player would read them. And don’t get me wrong – we really love the game, it’s certainly one of the coolest air combat games ever made and the flight and fight dynamics, the speed, the feel of being a pilot are unmatched. Nevertheless, some random aspects, negative as well as positive ones, shall be mentioned here.

The 8th Air Force rules supersede the Luftwaffe rules, so when you are playing the dogfights variant, you only need the 8th Air Force Basic game rulebook. Unfortunately, the Luftwaffe rulebook has more illustrations as well as card explanations which are missing in the 8th Air Force rulebook, but this becomes more problematic in the campaign game (for example when you want to know what a “spoiled attack symbol” looks like – which is only illustrated in the Luftwaffe rulebook). For dogfights, the 8th Air Force rulebook is sufficient and you can leave the Luftwaffe rules in the box.

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Posted in Down in Flames, Gaming this weekend, Historical Games A-Z | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boardgamegeek

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 6, 2010

Boardgamegeek – the nerd page!


“CSW, Web Grognards and Boardgamegeek make up the ultimate trinity in Wargaming!”


Boardgamegeek is not a pure wargame/consim website, but it belongs to the key pages and most important central information sites for The Hobby on the web. Boardgamegeek was founded in the year 2000 and it grew into a page with information about board and card games in a very extensive way. So wargames also belong to the games listed there and the wargame area is already very large and still growing.

The database contains over 45,000 board games (January, 2010) and each game has its own game entry which gives information about a game, user ratings and fora for specific discussions on the game and topics related to it.

BGG is an extremely active platform

Boardgamegeek is interesting because it allows the readers to get all information in a very accessible and compact way. Each game has its own page and there you can find everything related to the specific game: pictures, reviews, ratings, publishers, downloads, strategies, discussion, player aids, files etc.. Everyone can upload files, so these games are supported with information on a steady base.

The website is done in a very clear style and you can start searching from the main page within different categories, say looking after the designer, the year of publication, game mechanics, map/cover artists and so on.

A game page offers detailed information about a game: Publisher, year, players. In addition, you find photos, a forum, files, player aids, comments....

The game statistics allow insights on how you would rate the game for yourself, for the page is not only giving abstract ratings, but personal commentaries as well. These are most important because some players like to rate a game even without ever having it played, just based on what they think the game is about or whether they like the topic or not. This makes the ranking a bit pointless but the true information lies in the reviews given by players who actually played the game, in their comments and in the pictures of the game components. This usually gives you a useful first impression whether a certain game might be for you or not.

You can buy and sell games on BGG MarketplaceGeeklists put together various games on the base of different topics so you can easily see  how many games on a  certain topic exist and  what  could fit your playing style and expectations. Through the marketplace you can get thousands of games and it also allows for a quick check what a game you want to sell is currently worth. Everybody can also start his / her own journal to let other gamers take part in their hobby and their thoughts regarding it. Overall BGG offers a tremendous resource site where you can find many fan made or official player aids, rules and useful stuff to enhance your enjoyment of a game. Registered members can also customize the look of the site a bit to their personal liking so you  always get the info you actually need to know.

It’s free of charge to become a registered member of BGG, although you are certainly encouraged to help improve the site by adding your own reviews and thoughts on games to the existing database or by giving a donation. If you want to see what BGG has to offer: check out the Guide to  BGG .

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