Friday, March 13, 2009

New Stuff

I went a little crazy over the last month. There were a ton of new wargames that came out just in time for Christmas, then sort of a lull. They all seem to be hitting the door right about now, though...

Age of Conan. A new game from the crazy Italians who brought you War of the Ring, this time with a smaller box and map. Clearly intended to take advantage of the mega-hit MMORPG (which ended up not being such a mega-hit once everyone over the age of 15 got tired of the server issues, resolved too late for me to come back), I figure that the designers have enough cred that I'd give it a shot. Something I plan to try out solo pretty soon, but you'll see that I'm going to be using that phrase early and often in this post.

More stuff from Victory Point Games. In particular, Caesar XL (meaning "40", not Extra Large, to fit in with one of their common design criteria), the two other Paul Koenig's D-Day sets (this time the American and Canadian beaches), and also Soviet Dawn, the followup to Israeli Independence. I've already said how much I like PKDD, and how Israeli Independence was a cool little time waster (on an iPhone, it would be fantastic), but Soviet Dawn is the game that makes this a successful design. Multiple decisions every turn, the chance to turn down the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (which gave both the Germans and the new Soviet government breathing room, but lost the latter a little cred), a political track you have to keep on top of, three different decks that come into play at varying times, there's a lot to like here. I haven't gotten Caesar XL punched or on the table yet, but I can almost guarantee that because it takes place in 51-44BC (the fight between Julius Caesar and Pompey at the end of the Republican era), perhaps I should be focusing first on...

Spartacus. A new CDG from Compass Games, who are doing good work for a fledgling wargame company. This game covers not only the slave revolt, but also the events that led up to the slaves seeing an opportunity to revolt, the Sertorian Wars that raged from Spain and Italy to Asia Minor. Based strongly on Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, the game includes a battle deck for those who prefer that style of combat resolution, or you can just roll the dice in a manner that looks a bit like Sword of Rome. The designer, John B. Firer, and I GMed the Successors tournament at WBC For Real for three years before I stopped going. This is the first of the games to get set up and run (besides Soviet Dawn), and I'm close to getting through the rules. 

Halls of Montezuma. CDGs seem to come in waves, which is why I've yet to play either Kutuzov or Clash of Monarchs from late last summer. HoM, which arrived just the other day, looks to be another light title in this genre, with low counter density and lots of history. Other than getting it punched and sleeved, I haven't had time to look too closely at it yet, but it looks very promising.

Bastogne. If you're a Christian, you probably often ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" It's a good enough question, and if the event that triggered you to ask yourself that question was, "Should I put out yet *another* Bulge game?" then hopefully your answer would be "Hell, no!". Unless it was this one. The latest SCS title from MMP and what's left of the Gamers, we finally have a close-in examination of the siege of this once sleepy hamlet in the Ardennes forests of Belgium, at least until it's strategic position as a crossroads of nearly every highway through the region (and the bogging down of the German attack to the north) turned it into a little Stalingrad for the 82nd Airborne, who held out despite terrible odds. Not only a different treatment of a battle we've all got 30 different versions of on our shelf in terms of scale, it also is reputed to be a quick play as well. Mine has yet to arrive because of some changes to my credit card info when it rolled over from one period to the next, but hopefully today. 

Magazine games. I subscribe to World At War and pick up Strategy and Tactics at Jesse's shop (and will probably shift to getting both there to support him), and there have been a few games in those issues - Hannibal's War, The First Battle Over Britain (WWI airwar) and a game on the strategic bombing air war in 1943-45 over Europe. The two air war games in particular look promising. WaW is "revisioning" old SPI titles, something that would annoy me if I had a big SPI collection, but since I own *no* SPI games (they went under long before I started collecting) I don't mind too much. S&T, however, is putting out new games. Usually magazine games are those that the traditional publishers don't want to pick up because they don't think they'll do well in that environment, and they are typically played rarely if at all. Part of the problem is that if you're getting a new game from a magazine every month, plus more games from preorders, you're probably overwhelmed as it is, even if you have lots of spare time like I do. Still, I'm hoping to play around with some of these, along with games from recent issues like Cobra, Barbarossa, The Bulge (see?), and The Solomon's Campaign, all of which are old SPI revisionings. 

Federation Commander: Klingon Border. I remember the day as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was running around downtown with a couple of friends (who weren't friends for a lot longer), all of us 14-15 years old, when I saw the store. Endgames, long since out of business. They did puzzles (party games weren't around then) and a pretty wide range of board games. Up until then, I'd bought pretty much everything at a local hobby store that carried wargames and some RPG stuff (the very early D&D materials), but this was the first time I'd seen Microgames from what would eventually become Steve Jackson Games, Cosmic Encounter, GW titles like Imperium and Fire in the East, and, of course, Star Fleet Battles. This was the very first edition, back when you got a plastic page sleeve to put the ship data sheets into. With 32 impulses per turn, we never quite got into this quite as much as you'd expect (for one thing, most "starship combat" fought on the TV show - no movies yet in 1979 - was stand and fire, and having ships moving seemed very "wrong"), and while I might have picked up one or two expansions or clones (the Starfire game was very similar, just not a Trek-themed game), I never kept my copy or got into it too much. Given how insane the existing system is, at nearly an ASL-like level, that was probably a good idea. 

With the new movie coming out, though, I'm feeling like I want something more streamlined and easy to digest that I can pull out at will, and the Federation Commander line seems to fit that bill. There are a ton of expansions if I decide I like it, and it's something that I suspect my nephew Alex will play with me from time to time. The Federation and Empire game seems to be pretty interesting to, which is a strategic-scale game (which I also owned the first copy of), although I'm going to start out *very* small with this franchise for now. My copy arrived at Jesse's store today (I've been over there a lot this week), so I'll pick it up tonight.

Highway to the Reich. This is the big one, a four-map, 2200 counter monster (and one that lays more or less linearly, so I may actually be able to set it up). Originally an SPI monster from the 70's, this reprint/revision is supposed to update the OOB, the maps, tone down some of the original color choices (egg-yolk yellow, anyone?) and clean up the rules considerably, and from most quarters I hear that it was a success. There are sub-scenarios for each of the four maps (XXX Corps launch point, Einhoven, Nijmagen, and Arnhem), so certainly playable without taking over an entire room - but still tempting. I know Mike loves Market-Garden games, so perhaps this will be one I can get him to play. Hilariously, it came with a background booklet that was originally an article in World at War (Decision publishes the magazine and this game). Decision Games has a spotty record with it's reprints (it screwed up Proud Monster, made a hash of Luftwaffe, but seems to be doing well with RAF), so we'll have to see. I am *not* going to buy their ginormous War in the Pacific game, which would take up as much space as Case Blue's maps. I have my limits. They're far beyond what most people would find acceptable, but they are limits. 

Time to start clipping. 

1 comment:

Mike said...

> Highway to the Reich

I'm definitely interested in having a look at this one. Trouble is I'd like to spend more time with Devil's Cauldron. At least try some of the bigger scenarios, as I think that's where the game will shine.