Board Wargames

All I want for Christmas…

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SantaWith the holidays upon us it might not be a bad time to look at some goodies. This has been an especially good year for gaming and the recent months have seen some very high quality releases. Below are just a few items you might want to add to your list…if you’ve been nice! . .

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  • Board Games

    • Star Borders: Humanity 2ed and Star Borders: Aliens are two notable sci-fi titles from Victory Point Games. Surprisingly high-quality components and a quick playing but engaging game system make for a real win. Best of all is that there is more to come.
    • Star Wars Armada from Fantasy Flight Games looks like it could be more fun than X-Wing.Heroes of Normandie
    • Galaxy Defenders may seem a bit odd but it is a nice co-op/solitaire sci-fi tactical game. Take a little XCOM and a dash of Men in Black and have some fun saving the world. Very nice components.
    • Heroes of Normandie from Devil Pig is 15mm miniature gaming as a board game. Tons of options available with even more coming. Fight through the hedgerows in just a couple of hours.
  • Miniature Games

  • Computer Games

    • Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm Player’s Edition is certainly at the top of the list of computer wargames to check out. Excellent Cold War action.
    • Combat Mission: Black Sea gives you more modern warfare with the CM engine moving to a hypothetical conflict in the Ukraine. Available for pre-order.
    • Space Hulk: Ascension will scratch the sci-fi corridor itch. Who doesn’t want to give Genestealers a special present?War in the West
    • XCOM Long War. Thought you were tired of XCOM? Think again. The Long War mod adds a huge host of improvements to the venerable sci-fi tactical game.
    • War in the West is out now and could be Grigsby’s finest. Refight the campaigns in the West on a grand scale. Can you do better?
    • Wars and Battles is perhaps the worst name ever for a wargame but for the iPad it is one of the best wargames to date.

[Updated: 5DEC14]

Star Trek: Furuta Ships

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Furuta NCC1701Following up on our recent look at various Star Trek ship miniatures, we stumbled upon the Furuta line of Star Trek ship miniatures. These are plastic, pre-painted display miniatures. They are sold blind but are easy to find from retailers as specific ships.

First the bad news: Some of these are now essentially collectables and are extremely expensive.

The good news though is many are still very reasonably priced especially considering their strengths. As you can see from the photos below the quality of the miniatures is outstanding. They are as good or better than anything out there. They come in just a few pieces and snap together — We used a bit of plastic cement on ours — in just a few minutes. The paint jobs range from very good to outstanding and also include decals. They are easily equal to or better than what many modelers will be able to do themselves and they are ready to go in literally minutes.

The other good news, as you can see in the photos, is that they also scale very well with other miniatures for gaming. In the photos we put in a Starline 2500 ship miniature for comparison. The new generation Star Trek ships are supposed to be twice the size, or more, of the original ships. The problem with this from a gameplay standpoint is it just looks odd. The Furuta ships are 25% or so larger (depending on the model) than the Starline 2500 ships and that gives them a nice sense of size without being ridiculous. They mount easily on stands for gaming (we use the CorSec Engineering stands) and are perfect for Star Trek: Attack Wing or Federation Commander.

The last bit of bad news is that the Furuta line basically consists of mostly Federation ships. There are a few Klingon, Jem’Hdar, Romulan and Borg ships but the choices are very limited and often now expensive. Also if we see one more large Klingon Bird of Prey we’re gonna beam ourselves into space. But there is always hope Furuta will expand the line in the future. On the plus side, because the scale works well you can use Starline 2500 and AMT Klingon models with these just fine.

If you have any interest in Star Trek and especially if you play Attack Wing or Federation Commander you can’t get any better than the Furuta line.

Note: Here is a nice guide to actual Star Trek ship sizes. As you can see for gaming, keeping miniatures true to scale would get strange especially as you mix in the alien races that have some truly huge ships.

[Updated: 7FEB14]

Picket Duty — Now Available

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Picket DutyLegion Wargames released their latest solitaire wargame Picket Duty: Kamikaze Attacks Against U.S. Destroyers – Okinawa 1945.

By the time of the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, the US Navy devised a plan to help ward off the expected kamikaze attacks during the battle for the island. In order to provide an early warning system for impending kamikaze attacks, the US Navy established 16 radar picket stations around the island  Picket Duty is a solitaire game where you – as the captain of a Fletcher Class destroyer – fend off kamikaze attacks while performing picket duty off Okinawa. The game covers the time period from late March 1945 to late June 1945. Your goal is simple – survive.

The game comes with a basic game, advanced game, six historical scenarios, two hypothetical scenarios, a mini-campaign and a full campaign. Optional rules are also included. Each game turn is divided into three phases, each depicting an eight hour period. Key crew members are depicted with certain functions, as well as damage control teams. 35 types of Japanese planes are depicted on whopping 1.2″ square counters .

Game features include: Weather – Damage Control – Ammo and Fuel Consumption – Ship Trim and Listing – Land and Ship Radar – Air and Surface Fire Support – Ohka attacks, and more.

The rules are available in PDF. The game designer also has updated errata. Also see the designer’s site.

[Updated: 7DEC13]

Star Trek: Fleet Captains

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Star Trek: Fleet CaptainsWe’re a bit late to the party but we recently got in a few games of WizK!ds’ Star Trek: Fleet Captains. As Russ noted in the excellent D6 Generation Review of the game, it is a great title. It is not only an excellent game but a great operational starship game in general. It really gives you the feeling of commanding a fleet of ships accomplishing a variety of missions. The latest Romulan Empire expansion not only adds the ability to have a game with three players but provides a whole new faction for two player games.

ST:FC contains 24 nicely detailed plastic miniatures (and Romulan Empire adds 12 more). The ships are all unpainted but of crisp hard plastic. As you can see from the photos below they paint up very well with minimal effort.

If you have any interest in Star Trek then Fleet Captains is a must get. If you like operational starship games give it a look as well.

But after our look at the new Star Trek: Attack Wing we had a particular interest in the miniatures. As previously noted, ST:FC comes with 24 nicely detailed plastic miniatures. They are all based on HeroClix bases so we decided to pick up a few ships from Star Trek: Tactics to compare them.

Well it turns out that the ships from Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Attack Wing and Tactics are all identical. Of course different ships in the various lines may be released in the future but for the same ship the model across all three game lines is identical. ST:FC and ST:T both use the Clix base but the stats are different. Attack Wing of course uses the FlightPath bases. As mentioned, the ST:FC minis are unpainted. The Attack Wing and Tactics minis are fully painted. They are almost identical but the Tactics minis have just a few more details picked out and some ships have a semi-gloss finish but they are so close that one can consider them the same.

This cross pollination of ship models has a few consequences. First, it gives Attack Wing fans a glimpse as to what is probably coming down the road for future releases. Secondly, it also means if you own any of the other models they could be mixed in with the other games. So, for example, if you have, or can get cheap, some Tactics minis you can pop them off their base and replace the unpainted ST: Fleet Captains’ models and bingo you have a nicely painted ship with almost no effort. Because Attack Wing ships come with a couple versions you could take the model from one of the other games instead of buying a second Attack Wing version.

Napoleon!! – Update

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Napoleon 4th EdIt has been awhile since we looked at what is new in the Napoleonic realm. Since our last post there have been a number of new goodies released and we even discovered some old ones.

Perhaps most recent is Columbia Games’ new Napoleon 4th Edition block game fresh off its Kickstarter. Napoleon is a classic game that is now better than ever. Also from Columbia is their Eagles: Waterloo 1815 card game. We finally got a chance to try this and really like it. It takes a couple of plays to get comfortable with but is a quick playing game that gives a nice feel of Napoleonic warfare and the cards are very nicely illustrated. We wish they would expand the game with more battles. Annoyingly Columbia has not posted the full rules, but check BoardgameGeek for a nice rules summary.

Another classic game we got to the table is Age of Napoleon 2nd Edition. If you want a grand strategic game for two that you can play in one sitting this is a good choice.

GMT Games has been busy and put out the Russian forces for their excellent Commands & Colors: Napoleonics system. Either the Prussians or Austrians will be next. They also released Fading Glory: Napoleonic Series 20, which is a package of four small games previously done by VPG. They are small games that are fun and quick to play. We look forward to the next set.

Albion Triumphant v2Warlord Games released two Napoleonic expansions to their Black Powder miniature rules: Albion Triumphant Volume 1 – The Peninsular campaign and Albion Triumphant Volume 2 – The Hundred Days campaign should keep fans of Black Powder busy for awhile. As always the books are also useful to players of many other game systems.

Another very recent addition is 2HourWargames’ new Muskets and Shakos rules. This is a 65-page ruleset covering the period of 1803-1815 at division level.

Computer gamers are in luck as well. Matrix Games released the excellent Napoleon’s Campaigns game. It takes a bit of time to learn but has a nice tutorial and manual and your time spent will be rewarded with a challenging game.

That should be enough to keep your inner conqueror busy for awhile.

[Updated: 9AUG13]

Heroes of Normandie — On Kickstarter

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Heroes of NormandieHeroes of Normandie is a tactical World War Two boardgame now on Kickstarter. It passed its funding goal within just a few days of launch and now only has eight days left. It has also been running through its stretch goals with just a few more to go. The game was designed by a Devil Pig Games, a couple of French designers, and looks very good.  Devil Pig Games has been very good about posting game play videos and responding to backer requests and queries.

The game is certainly designed to be more Hollywood than history but the draft rules look very interesting and the overall visual design is top notch. Keeping with the Hollywood theme Devil Pigs have incorporated a lot of classic movie/tv archetypes into the game. While perhaps not the most accurate game it looks like a lot of fun to play.

While the game is designed as a pure board wargame the scale (both play and physical size) fits perfectly with 15mm miniatures. So players who wish to do so could easily convert the game for miniature play as well.

The Meeples & Miniatures Podcast – Episode 107 has an interview with Devil Pig Games and they discuss Heroes of Normandie.

We look forward to this one. If you have any interest in WW2 check out Heroes of Normandie.

Update: Heroes of Normandie successfully concluded with over £150,000 in funding. It met all of its stretch goals and supporters will be receiving a ton of cardboard soon. If you missed it look for the game in stores in late 2013 or early 2014.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Overheard at Steve Jackson Games Studios

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Agents were out and the following comments were overheard coming from the studios of Steve Jackson Games over the past 24 hours:

“Well that’s how many streets 37 shipping containers take up….”

“It’s gonna be HOW deep?!”

“Didn’t we once work on some sort of card game?”

“Make it stop….”

“‘Yes Mr Jackson is very concerned about deforestation….'”

“‘Yes the Chinese food is great. But I want to come home….'”

“Smith…Agent Smith. I need to speak with you regarding alleged leaks of weapon blueprints to foreign nations….”

“Yes, nineTEEN pounds….”

“‘Yes, Mr Jackson has plans to plant more trees….'”

“‘Oh, it’ll NEVER break 35’…idiot….”

“Wake up….”

“I swear we did. Yeah it used these little cards….”

“‘What do you mean you don’t have that many trucks?'”

“‘Jackson. Yes, two please. Yes, those are one way. C-A-Y-M-A-N….'”

“WE have to do the fulfillment?!”

“Cotton futures just did what?!”

“We’re gonna need a bigger warehouse….”

“‘No, I do not have a military export license but….'”

“Well tell him if 5XXL is too small he’s just gonna have to lose some weight.”

“No way. Run that calculation again….”

“‘Yes the hotel is very nice. But my wife….'”

“Well yes, that is a lot of pewter….”

“Phone. He says he’s from the FBI….”

“Ok, so I found an old abandoned airbase we can use…”

“Well why wouldn’t I think ONE box would have been enough?!”

“No seriously. It had these little rules on cards….”

“Well tell him he better START liking egg rolls…!”

“Phone. She says she’s from the IRS….”

“Well I guess we COULD build it now….-maniacal laughter-”

“Yes resin. We’d need HOW many gallons?!”

“ZZZZzzzzzzzzz….”

“No, no…that can’t be right….”

“‘Well then add a third shift….'”

“Say ‘reprint’ one more time and you’re OUT!”

“‘Yes sir. No sir. Yes, I assure you it is fictional….'”

“Look at me I’m Bob! ‘Oh that Kickstarter thing will NEVER work!’ -laughter-….”

“-mumble-…passport….”

“Staff. I have an announcement! If we hit $925,000 you will all get a Porsche!! Huh, what’s that? $923,680? Oh, well that’s a darn shame….”

“What do you mean THIS #%&@ November…?!”

“OK. So the closest without going over was Janet with $28,001….”

“‘…L-A-N-D-S. Today. Yes, just the two bags….'”

“Thank you and goodnight….”

[Reproduced and edited with permission and apologies to SJ Games ;-)]

Also see Ogre Designer’s Edition — $923,680!, Ogre – A look Back, Ogre Designer’s Edition.