It's been a busy month for new games. From 1960 to Mr. Jack to finally getting to play Downtown to all of the new GMT releases and what I bought in their year-end sale, it's been a busy month. Here's a list of a few things I've gotten but haven't had a chance to try out yet, and some first impressions:
Roads to Leningrad - chit activation game on the German push to Leningrad in 1941 and the Soviet counterattacks that almost certainly prevented it's fall. This game comes out of the Kasserine (GMT) and Barbarossa series (also GMT) by Vance von Borries. There are actually four scenarios covering two battles on two maps, and the counter density looks quite manageable (compared to Great War in Europe, which overwhelms me to look at without tweezers at hand).
The Burning Blue - Definitely interested in this now that I've had a chance to fiddle a bit with Downtown. Battle of Britain from the ground control point of view, with a *lot* of detail and complexity, but mostly in the various subsystems and how they interact. Downtown has been quite manageable using their recommended learning curve, although I still have some sequencing questions (such as - if you move into a space that activates a ground element like AAA, can you still take your free turn after the unit is revealed?)
Deluxe Alex The Great (Great Battles of History series) - A replacement for my 3rd ed copy, which was one of the last games I laminated maps for. I really wanted the paper maps back in their original state, so I figured I might as well get the whole package. I'll play this mostly with the Simple rules. I was surprised that the counters were virtually indistinguishable from the originals, although I've been updating mine from C3i for years so I guess the old ones were fine. I will give my old copy (complete with laminated maps) away to the first member of Rip City Gamers who asks.
Saratoga, 2nd ed - Another replacement, this one mostly because I got it relatively cheap. Really nothing wrong with the old copy, the map isn't even laminated! It has the same offer as Deluxe Alex, and has had all of it's counters updated as well.
Combat Commander, Med and Paratrooper scenario pack - I'm a bit surprised I haven't played this yet, seeing as it's the best game I've bought in the last year, definitely the best wargame. I was hoping to get at least one game in last Saturday when I held an open gaming day, but it wasn't that kind of crowd. (Same goes for Starcraft, although it really will work best with three or maybe four). So many scenarios, so little time.
Race For The Galaxy - San Juan with balls. Some of the phases are a bit hard to parse, and it won't have the same sort of rapid play that makes San Juan such a fantastic filler, but it's definitely good enough and different enough to merit purchase - that means much more than it used to.
Zooloreto, Mission: Red Planet, Colosseum, Mr. Jack - All games that came highly recommended. I usually need to play a game to buy it these days, at least with Euros, but when my wife is out of town I get really really bored. Especially out here in the wilds of Wilsonville. Amazingly, I managed to keep myself from buying the two Battlelore expansions I didn't yet have. I really can't say why I buy expansions for that game when Command and Colors: Ancients fills the niche so well (and there will likely be two more expansions on my shelf around the New Year!)
Vortex - Dial up the way-back machine! This was a huge game in our group some years ago. I still like it quite a bit, and need to find ways to get games in. FFG held a sale where they had a sixteen-pack of boosters for about $33 (incl shipping), so I grabbed it. About a quarter of the flats were dupes, but only one of the rare flats, so that's 45 rare tiles. I will need a new storage solution for these, I think I've maxed out the various baggies all of the factions are in. A fantastic game, one of the few collectable titles I've enjoyed thoroughly (which I can't quite say about WoW:CCG yet).
Asia Engulfed - PTO version of Europe Engulfed, a grand strategic block game. Only one map, what looks to be fewer blocks (I haven't needed to remove the bulky insert to fit everything back after punching and placing labels). I do like the large format map of EE, but it does take more space than I like to use and doesn't lend itself to easy storage (because it won't fit in a poster frame, and thus in my Giant Stacking Trays). AE takes care of the problem nicely. I'm looking forward to giving this a try, and may tear down my nascent GWiE game until the corrected counters are out for that title (who wants to swap counters in an ongoing game?)
Conquest of Paradise - Being married to a Filipina who grew up in Hawaii, I have a passing interest in Polynesian culture (yes, I'm aware that Filipinos aren't Polynesian, they are a blend of South Asian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Spanish). Plus, I'm a sucker for exploration games and have been wanting to give this game a try since I saw a prototype back at WBC a few years ago. This is one of GMTs attempts at a Euro-style game, although it's clearly intended to be a bit meatier. Here's hoping that the added length doesn't kill the game, as it did with Winds of Plunder with more than three.
SCS Games - I came late to the party with these Gamers/MMP titles, but have done pretty well in collecting what I could. When MMP cobbled together copies of Yom Kippur War and Stalingrad Pocket, I grabbed them. The only games I haven't gotten yet, although SCS titles are a well-known quantity. This puts me at seven titles out of eleven total, with a twelfth on the way on MMPs prepub list. Missing are Gazala, Crusader, Ardennes, and Drive on Paris. I'm hoping these, like Fallshirmjaeger, pop up at some point, although I was lucky to find a copy of that game in Aurora, CO while on a trip there. What I really need to do is visit one of the big game stores in NYC or another large city, or better yet visit Australia again. I visited three different large stores in Sydney in 1996 and saw tons of games that were out of print on the shelves, but didn't have enough luggage space for more than a handful.
Quite a list.