Jan 072014
 

legendarionBy Ben Monro

You may have read my previous blog about joining the world of war gaming and if you haven’t I suggest you do so as It’s simply fantastic check it out here. Well here’s the follow up and a wrap up to what I’d say has been a vastly enjoyable first month of the hobby, I’ve indulged myself in various fantastic pod-casts, The Overlords and Independent Characters and D6 Generation , being my particular favourites, the latter not being particularly War gaming focused does provide a nice overview of what else is going on the world of Table top games.

I’ve decided to add a little bit of a narrative spin to my intrepid journey into the world of war gaming, no doubt many of you reading this do as I do and have crafted names and back-story for all your beloved units and I have done likewise and hopefully you’ll continue to join me as I not down the tales of Knights of the Red Blade.

As a new or returning player to the fantastic world of 40k (seriously I challenge you to offer me a table top game featuring such an extensive and well developed back ground.) I thought that I’d take at least one early morning per-week (it’s currently 6:30am) to note down the tales of my first 40k force, I’ll try and keep it brief as no one wants to waste their time reading a blog full of waffle! Seriously I’m surprised most people have made it this far?!

Grey Knights abound, I opted to tackle these most valiant of warriors for my first force of any table top game. Simply because the look and lore of these guy’s in particular was simply fantastic, Knights of the crusades set in space? I’m game!

For my own first great crusade I christened my force the Knights of the Red Blade led by the Sir Markus Red Blade himself, a great honour bound Knight who takes his devout worship of the God Emperor with all seriousness above all else, he strides across the battle field smiting all the evils of the empire with his giant (yup you guessed it) red blade. Hence his name.

The Knights of20131113_161259 the Red Blade is the beginnings of the narrative background I’ve been constructing for my Grey Knights force which from now on I’ll refer to as KoRB (Knights of the Red Blade). I understand that many people are into the hobby simply for the Hobby side of things or competition side of things, however I believe that crafting a narrative around you’re force charting their every victories….victory and every gracious defeat, allows you as the [player to get so much more from the process of playing with and constructing you’re force. The tale I’ve started to weave into my intrepid crusaders has already began, I’ve constructed a temporary 2000point list containing a Brother Captain, a Librarian and an Inquisitor along with Dread knights and Dreadnaughts, Land raiders and razorbacks and of course a squad of those ever immortal paladins accompanied by the not so regular troop choices available to KoRB. An they’ve all been given a names and back stories as to how they achieved those titles (the particular favourite of mine is the tale of Sir Damnos the Old paring my dreadnaught pairing up with his Dread Knight counterpart Sir Damnos the young.

I think once I have all these units constructed and my entire force of Templar crusaders is ready to take the field in the Red Fist (my Land Raider) that playing with a narrative tale surrounding the forces I’ll be able to enjoy the game more as tale comes to close with the death of every mighty paladin warrior. Or maybe Strike Squad the silver blade will be able to add another purity seal to their shoulder pads as they successfully capture that Chaos artefact. This is my hope anyway, I can’t wait to begin the narrative tale of the Knight’s of the Red Blade and hopefully, which begins today as I take part in a kill team campaign with the Silver Blades a 5 man Strike Squad at my local GW. It’s Halloween and hopefully they’ll be able to put paid to the forces of Chaos that threaten the president of some distant colony world. Take a look at these beauties for yourself, there the first squad I’ve fully painted and constructed and so they’re ready to take the field!

In the terms of the rest of my hobby activity, currently nearing completion is that Brother Captain himself Sir Markus of the Red Blade, he’s getting extremely close to completion although I’m not entirely happy with my results at the moment painting wise, (where did I go wrong?) The miniature Its self looks simply fantastic, for a guy so special I did a little searching beyond the GW range and found a fantastic website called Sci-bor minatures, which features a brilliant range of Roman, Templar and Spartan themed sci-fi knights that will look great amongst my own Grey Knights. (If they ever eventually arrive, I seriously discourage ordering from Weyland Games L) , next up for the hobby desk however with Christmas on the horizon is this little guy, yup another purchase from Sci Bor miniatures, It’s a Christmas bauble!

Oh and on a final note, I’m pretty excited to be starting my first table top RPG campaign of Rouge Trader (Pirates in Space? Yes please) so no doubt I’ll be keeping my you guys updated with regular reports on how my space faring in the 41st Mellenium is going.

With a few more games lined up this week along the eventual delivery of the remainder of my Grey Knight’s force no doubt I’ll have more tales to tell of the Knights of the Red Blade or KoRB so please come back and enjoy the tale with me.

Well I think I’ve covered everything hobby at story wise for one week, thanks for reading guys! Till next time… I need to think of a motto.

Ben Monro

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Nov 082013
 

WIM01-01[1]By Ben Monro

Little over two weeks ago now I walked into my now local gaming store Firestorm Games of Cardiff, Wales, with one intention in mind. I wanted to start a table top war-game, something which I’d never done before and it was something that I wanted to do to find hobby where I could shake my opponents hand, I will admit I had grown addicted to videogames and found myself spending countless hours sat alone at my desk while a trawled through Skyrim and standing up after a 3 hour play session and having very little to show for it, no I wanted a hobby neigh a passion where I could show of my artistic capabilities and play a game and then maybe even have a pint with my opponent afterward rather than just hitting ‘return to lobby’ It’s a personal situation I understand but looking for a more active and communal hobby I found war gaming and it’s filled the void nicely!

I was confronted by a vast array of platforms to choose from It was simply bewildering, I didn’t know the industry was so active I’d obviously seen the crossover into other mediums, games, films and the like of the flagship systems such that our beloved Games Workshop produce. However I wasn’t expecting to be faced with such a difficult decision of what platform to choose!

Did I opt for the massively popular rim darkness of the 41st millennium? Or maybe its fantasy counterpart. There was also the Steampunk brutality of Warmachine and Hordes, I could have even have opted for re-enacting the bravest and most brutal combats of WWII on a miniature scale.

But what’s the point I’m trying to make here? I suppose as new member to the world of War gaming I suppose I’m simply expressing my joy and excitement of such an expansive hobby from my fresh baby faced perspective, no matter which platform I opted for, I was presented with a live and active community populated with players of all kinds; those seeking nothing but a competitive edge and the gloating rites till they met across the table next week, or maybe the guy who’s list was full of fluff and story and we could build a story together through the role of the dice.

Not only that, I’m also finding my spare time dominated by either painting, building, creating discussions of forums, listening to podcasts and enjoying my time that much more. These hobbies are all encompassing in a manner I simply wasn’t ready for. I’m constantly checking my Twitter feed for the latest leaked images of figures to drool over, or watching hours of YouTube video’s featuring tips on how to improve my (very) mediocre painting skills.

Before I waffle on any longer and before I lose the attention of many readers out there, I’d just like to finish on a note to say that I couldn’t have found a better hobby with a more active community to replace my reclusive video gaming addiction, and would like you to hark back to those favourite hobby memories, maybe it is the very first time you picked up a paint brush? Or rolled a dice, you’re first victory or defeat which was more enjoyable?

And maybe you’d like to join me on my journey of hobby first timers, as I experience all that our hobby has to offer, I could even bust out the odd useful piece of information for all those new hobbyists as I search for the best painting tutorials or podcasts. Something that no doubt every hobbyist needs to know!

But I’ll leave it here for now, this has been a very selfish article, I understand I used “I” a lot! But if you come back to read again I’ll have some more tips and recommendations for you from my fresh and un-cynical perspective.

By the way, I’m currently constructing my very first Grey Knights force, I lost my first game to a rather rowdy Chaos Lord, and yet I can’t wait to hit the table again!

Thanks for reading,

Ben Monro.

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May 132013
 

Pegasus Logo[1]By Peter Ruth II

Friends, I’ve decided that I’ve been remiss in not sharing with you the vast pool of knowledge that I’ve learned over the years regarding tabletop miniatures gaming, and so this is the first of many articles that will pass on some of the laborious research I’ve carved out of the Internet. The tag will be “Miniatures Gaming 101″ and I’ll be putting articles ranging from figure sources, game rules, painting tip sites, terrain building help, the best books to buy, and all manner of things relating to all things miniature. I’m not a great figure painter, though I can hold my own, but I am a very capable terrain builder, so I’ll likely share some of my projects with you fine folks as well. So, let’s begin with a great source of material to quickly and cheaply get a table going for a skirmish: Pegasus Hobbies (PegasusHobbies.net).

There was a time, so long ago, that I was playing Battletech, Mage Knight, and all manner of miniature game on paper mats. Yes, they do serve a purpose, but why would you want to if you didn’t have to, and further, if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive? It’s because I didn’t know just how many miniatures companies are out there, nor did I know just how inexpensive miniatures terrain can be if you know where to look. Well, I was at a game store just before I got sick a year and a half ago, and I saw this wonderful, detailed church sitting on a Warhammer table. After inquiring, it turns out that the guy spent all of two hours painting and assembling it, and the amazing part, he spent just over twenty dollars on it.

Gothic City Ruins Box[1]I immediately got online and found that this company’s products are both inexpensive and ubiquitous, and so I jumped in with both feet and got both a Gothic City Ruins and the same church set that I had seen at the store. As soon as I got it home I realized just how easy it was going to be to turn the box into what would be the ruins of the Esoteric Order of Dagon church, an ancient, decaying factory, the burned-out hulk of an old apartment building, and so many other terrain features. Within an hour I had glued it and assembled it, and because I tend to overthink things, three hours later I had the whole thing primered, painted, blackwashed, and three-color dry-brushed. It is simply amazing how wonderful these things look once you’ve got them painted.

I’m never one to do something half-assed, so I took it further once I’d had it for a year and really got interested in making beautiful landscapes to play on, so I then based the entire set, flocked it (including adding moss to the model), and put another ten dollar Pegaus set of rubble in the center to create the illusion that the top of the building had fallen in long ago. In all, it looks just like I hoped it would, and I’m out maybe a total of 6 hours time and forty bucks in materials. That said, it was very nice looking with a simple blackwash/drybrush treatment, and the flexibility of the sets are such that if you were to buy two, you could present them on the table as four sides of the same ruined building.

The second set I got was, as I noted, the church itself. The beauty of these sets is that you can make them in a great many configurations, and so I made mine a little non-standard, since I’m a pretty non-standard individual myself. I ended up making it an “evil church”, airbrushing the entire thing flat black and following with a grey drybrush treatment. I also airbrushed ~flame light~ on and around the lanterns but it didn’t turn out as well as I liked. It’s still got some work to go, a year later or so, but it’s been good enough for my table so I haven’t put effort into it to get it to what I consider “quality work”.

Pegasus Ruins Done[1]About a month ago I downloaded and printed the free rules for “The Skank Game”, otherwise known as Warlords of the Wasteland 2085, which is a post-apocalyptic skirmish game that includes vehicles and very light RPG elements. I was looking for a Fallout-esque game and therefore I needed to have some post-apocalyptic game pieces. Well, a forum member at Fortress:AT was talking about Pegasus’ Syberclicks terrain, which is the Warhammer 40K equivalent of the Hexagon terrain (shown left), so I bought both the large and small packs, which cost a total of $32.00. Well, let me tell you, it’s really quite modular in that you can build virtually anything you can imagine, much like Lego products, but with a very “hodge-podge”, scavenged feel to the buildings. As usual, I couldn’t follow the directions as listed, so with the small set I made something not remotely resembling the shown product, which integrated into the walled wasteland outpost I

Gothic Small Set 1[1]created using the large set. The wife likes it, and she’s a tough customer to please, so I’m content. It’s very lightweight, so I think it really will need to have a base on it to sturdy it up. It snaps together with these clips that I believe were sent by the Devil himself, because after 2 hours of modelling, my fingers were LITERALLY bleeding. They’re a real bitch to assemble, no doubt, but it’s worth it. As you can see from the photo of the frames, there’s a bazillion little rippy bits and each one is sharp as a razor, even after you’ve removed them from the frame. The clips come in six styles, from 90 degrees to multi-angle three-way, and there’s a lot of flexibility in what you can do. Again, these things bite into your hand like a spur when you assemble the buildings, so be advised that you will not get out of this without some serious finger damage. I’d argue that it’s worth it.

I spray painted the assembly after I glued it, and while you don’t need to glue it, I wanted this to be a permanent structure so I used some CA and with a fine needle tip, dispensed a small drop at each joint and let the capillary action draw it into the connector. It’s very durable now, and I left several joints unglued so that I can break it into two pieces for storage. I’ll base it using some small lengths of plasticard epoxied to the bottom and flocked with sand. I may even use some modelling clay or Sculpey to create small berms along the base to make it look as if the structure has been there a while.  What I was going for, in all honesty, is Hexagon Box[1]something like a scaled-down version of the”juice” refinery in The Road Warrior. This photo shows what I built, and in retrospect, I really should’ve primed it, but the Rustoleum Hammered Copper spray paint usually sticks to pretty much anything. This is just the first coat, and only sprayed from top down. I ran out, so off to the store I go after work for another to finish the job. Once I’ve got it coated, I’ll airbrush several layers of brown, grey, red, orange, and yellow on it to create a very rusty metal look, then I may or may not hand-paint some “hot spots” of dripping rust effect.

Along with the Hexagon stuff I also got the Pegasus Technobridge, which runs $15.00, and will save me a ton of time having to scratch build it out of Plasticard and balsa. It’s the same as the church stuff, very simple to construct and looks great right out of the box, although I’ll be painting it, probably to match the outpost, and then putting some sand on it here and there to give it a more realistic look.

Now, Pegasus also creates some pre-painted stuff as well. For fantasy, or even some early American settings, you can buy a lot of small buildings that come ready-to-play. These are made of a hard stone material, perhaps even dental stone, so they’re really rather heavy for their size compared to the Gothic stuff. This Small Stone Cottage cost me $13.00 and its larger brother cost me maybe five dollars more. They’re a single, solid cast piece, so these are really only good to create the feel of a village rather than actually allow you to have door-to-door fighting. I’ve used these for Strange Aeons, and they fit in passably with my 1920’s period pieces fairly well. It beats having to build and paint a Plasticville O-scale building, which I’ll get into in a another Miniatures Gaming 101 article, when all you want is a prop piece to sit on the table as a thematic line-of-sight blocker.

Outpost[1]In conclusion, you can get a lot of really great terrain, and I mean an entire city block’s worth, for around a hundred dollars with Pegasus, and the stuff is so easy to assemble, aside from the Hexagon finger-scourge stuff, that it’s a no-brainer. My only complaint with any of it is that they have only a few “lines” to choose from. I’d love if they moved into doing something like Plasticville, but in different time periods. It would certainly save me a lot of time in sourcing parts to kit-bash into what I want. Hope you enjoyed the article, and there’s much more to come.

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Jun 172012
 

mb_cover_frontfull[2]By Mark Rivera from Boardgames in Blighty

From Victory Point Games

Designer – Steve Carey

Art – Tim Allen

Victory Point Games provided a copy of this game for review

The latest in the States of Siege Series of games brings Steve Carey’s design skills to an interesting aspect of the 2nd World War in the Mediterranean. Having set such a high standard with We Must Tell The Emperor, my expectations were high for Malta Beseiged: 1940-1942.

In this solitaire game, you are in charge of the Commonwealth forces and are tasked with maintaining the beleaguered island of Malta while supporting Allied efforts to interdict the Axis war efforts in the Med which will have an impact upon the war in North Africa.The games system plays the Axis forces against you.

Unpackaging

mb_mapAnother typical Victory Points release with their standard production. Within their parameters, they surely make the most of space and resources. You do get a lot in a small package. The map is on cardstock, and shows the operational area for the game. There is a lot there but it makes good use of the space and it is relatively easy to negotiate. And it looks very good.

The counters and markers are die-cut cardboard and look really good and thematic.

The cards, which are the heart of the game system, are small but give you the information you need in a nicely laid out format which is easy to follow.

mb_countersfrontThe rules are 8 pages, which is really something special considering the depth of the game content.

Gameplay

A card driven game, Malta Beseiged: 1940-1942, as other games in the series,  relies on the Event cards to drive the game. These cards are divided by colour into 3 different Epochs or stages of the conflict, each of which provides an increasingly difficult set of circumstances to deal with. The cards, which are nicely laid out, provide the following information –

  • The Headline – which is the main event for the turn
  • Advancing Unit – Which Axis forces are advancing and thereby creating a greater threat
  • Resource gains and losses
  • Die roll modifiers
  • Actions – these are the number of actions available to you to take
  • Historical flavour text

The sequence of play is as follows:

Headline phase – pull the next current event card

Military phase – Move Axis armies, and naval and Air units

– ULTRA Escort attempt – the Allied ULTRA intelligence can really be helpful

– Battle Stations – Flip Active Axis Fronts

– Conduct each battle

mb_samplecard4[1]Resources phase – Adjust resource markers, and add new fortifications to the Holding Box

Orders phase – You may attempt to expend the ULTRA marker to gain intelligence, then perform the allowed number of Attack,  Support, Fortify, Resource, Raid, and/or ULTRA Actions. You can also expend Supply points for extra Actions. You will certainly need to do this.

Housekeeping phase

A – Check for Convoy arrival

B – Determine if the game is over

C – Refresh map

D – Turn Ends

As with other games in this series, its a case of following the steps and although it sounds like a lot to do, after the first couple of turns it all moves pretty smoothly and quickly. The Axis AI which is revealed with each new card puts you under considerable pressure and puts you in a situation of having to choose, sometimes between the lesser of too evils, hoping for the best.

The information you need is ready to hand and very accessible, and the feel of the game is Operational with an interesting mix of land, sea and air threats and the ever present Rommel moving across North Africa.

mb_samplecard2[1]Did it work for me?

Boy this is a tough game to win but its terrific. Steve Carey’s previous effort, We Must Tell The Emperor remains a Victory Point Games best seller and Malta Besieged: 1940-1942 is at the same standard of tension, playability, frustration (this is a good thing…) and clever design. Some nice wrinkles such as the ULTRA intelligence and the convoys mark this game as a unique theatre of warfare. The history revealed through the flavour text is interesting and the feel of impending doom is never very far away. But you always feel that you just might crack it and when you get beat up, you just want to have another go.

I do marvel at VPG‘s ability to squeeze so much into a small package. The map is very busy, and may look overwhelming but it works well. The counter artwork is excellent. Yes, the scope is quite as grand as the War in the Pacific but this game really brings out the challenges and importance of the War in the Med and the desperate scrape the Allies found themselves in. It clearly illustrates the problem that Malta created for the Axis and why the Allies needed to hang onto it to disrupt their operations. There are very few games covering this theatre of operations and particularly covering the varied operational issues and Malta Besieged: 1940-1942 brings it all to life in a playable way. Fans of the States of Siege system will not be disappointed and if you haven’t tried out any of these games, this is an excellent entry point.

Another absolute winner for Victory Point Games!

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 9 out of 10

Family friendly? No, its a war game and solitaire

For more information – www.victorypointgames.com

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Mar 062012
 

pic1117422_md[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

This is what the publishers say:

X610Z: On the Ruins of Chaos is a living card and board game. In this game you control a brave band of survivors seeking refuge from the dangers of Mount Vargah. You achieve this by making your way towards the relative safety of a victory point, or by destroying your opponent in direct combat. Play your cards in order to gather resources, summon powerful allies, and cast dangerous fluxes or catalysts. However, you will suffer defeat if you run out of cards, so make sure you either defeat your opponents or reach the victory point before that happens.

The box contains four ready-to-play decks, four sets of playing pieces, a rulebook, a quick reference rules sheet, and a game board presenting a map of the world to track your adventures.

But is it worth your money? This video is not a review of the gameplay, but a review of the game components, the quality and the looks. This is to help you decide if your money will be better spent elsewhere or if this game is what you should be adding to your shelf

It is!

Paco Garcia Jaen review the contents of X610Z: On the Ruins of Chaos
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Mar 052012
 

uboatcover[1]Review – U-Boat Commander from DVG Games

By Mark Rivera from Boardgames in Blighty

Designer – Dave Schueler

Art – Val Nunez

A copy of this game was provided by DVG games

No, I don’t like being convide in close spaces which means I would have never volunteered for the submarine service although I surely tip my hat to those who did and continue to do so. I just don’t know how anyone could do it, but they certainly did. The Battle for the North Atlantic during World War II was typified by the German U-Boats hunting for convoys, and causing havoc until the Allies were able to develop parity and greater numbers and resources. Although I don’t know a lot about the history of that expect of the war, I know enough to have a sense of what went on. Films like Das Boot, certainly the best submarine film I’ve seen, give a view from the German side of the conflict, and it was certainly harrowing for the sailors to say the least.

When it comes to playing war games, I’m a land lubber really. The only submarine game I’ve ever played was the old SPI game, Wolfpack  so it was certainly interesting to see how things have moved on in the design and development of submarine games with U-Boat Leader. I’m not a tactical fan either but I can see the attraction for war gamers who enjoy playing at that level of conflict. So I went into playing this game a low level of interest. I did some checking and the DVG Leader series of games is pretty well regarded so I thought that at least the pedigree of U-Boat Leader was good.

uboatboxbackWhat you have here is a solitaire game, for age 12+, which means it will be a systems anchored approach to playing it. In other words, the system was the thing as in may solitaire games and a good solitaire system shouldn’t be something you are fighting with, in fact the more seamless it moves from stage to stage, allowing the story to command your attention, the better.

Unboxing

Inside the sturdy box you get –

  • 165 full colour cards – representing Merchant ships, Escort ships, Naval ships, U-Boats, Events
  • 264 die-cut cardboard counters representing U-boats, other ships, torpedoes, and other bit and pieces
  • 4 campaign sheets
  • 2 player sheets – Tactical Display and Help Sheet
  • a 10-sided die
  • 1 Player log sheet

The components are pretty typical war game fare and are very functional. The information is laid out for you, the solitaire gamer in a way that you can get a hold of easily enough and thankfully, they are presented in a concise way without tons of tables, charts, etc. The artwork is very effective and accessible and I found it all very appealing. There have been some comments about the lack of mounted Tactical Display and Help sheet and I would have to agree that for the price, that would be a reasonable expectation, although, I have no real problem with them being on sturdy cardstock.

U-Boat Leader includes the following type of U-boats:

  • Type IIB/C coastal submarines
  • Type VII A/B/C Atlantic submarines
  • Type IX A/B/C long-range submarines
  • Type XXI Elektro-boat

U-Boat Leader includes four campaigns covering different stages of the Battle of the Atlantic:

  • The Battle Begins: covering operations at the start of World War II to about mid-1940.
  • The Happy Time: covering the period from mid-1940 to mid-1941 when the U-boats and wolfpacks dominated the seas.
  • Operation Drumbeat: covering operations off the American coast and in the Caribbean in early 1942.
  • The Hunted: covering the time period when the tide starts to turn against the U-boats.

The campaign structure makes things manageable  and allows you to pick up and play in short time settings. Very nice.

UBoat sheets_Layout 1.qxdGameplay

As a solitaire game, U-Boat Commander has a system that takes you through each campaign. Dave Schuelerhas put things together in a reasonably easy to follow set of rules, which at first, seemed a bit much, but were actually fine for me to go through and get playing. I haven’t played any other games in the DVG Games Leader series so I can’t compare, but from what I’ve read, this game fits in well alongside the others in the series.

Helpfully, the rules start by giving you the lay of the land by walking you through the components.

The important Campaign Sheets are divided into areas and you place your U-Boats in these areas and move between them. They also provide information on Ports, Patrolling, Number of movement cards you can draw, Number of enemy contacts, Searching, and special Missions.

The Help Sheet holds the Merchant, Naval and Escort Ship cards to make things nice and accessible.

The Tactical display is cool as this is where the tense action takes place as you resolve combat using U-Boat and ship counters as well as torpedoes in status counters to reflect you tactical decisions.

The U-Boat cards give you information on U-Boat ID, Captain, Class, Years in service, Special Ops cost, Skill rating, Experience, Special Abilities, Crew Stress

Event cards indicate what happens as a U-Boat moves during the relevant year Campaign year.

Convoy cards show the ship types the U-Boat encounters as well as how to deploy them, the type, and any special conditions.

Merchant, Escort and Naval cards detail the ships in the convoys. Details include – Name and type, Tonnage, Speed, Victory Points, Experience cards, Torpedo and U-Boat Gun Hit numbers, and Surface Attack numbers. Escort Cards also have Detection values and Surface and Submerged Attack numbers.

Set-up

You start by choosing a Campaign sheet from which you will choose the Campaign length, how many Patrols you will make, how many Special Operations points you have. You will also set up the card decks and Select your U-Boats.

uboatcard[1]Sequence of Play

Strategic Segment – You may Expend Special Operations Points on Air Search, Supply ships to refit (reduce stress), Intelligence to improve Contact results, Priority R&R  (to reduce crew stress), Advanced Torpedoes, Radio Call to try and form  a Wolfpack. You may also assign Special Missions – To place Mines , Attack enemy units, Aid a German Surface Raider.

Operations Segment – Very simply, this is about moving your U-Boats across the Campaign map (resolving Event cards and Special Missions) and then you can choose to end your patrol once you enter a Port box.

Tactical Segment – During the Contact phase, for each U-Boat you determine if there is a contact, and then, the number of them. Then you draw a Convoy card to see what the contact is. If you don’t choose to retreat, you set up the convoy and your U-Boat on the Tactical display. Then you can see if you can form a Wolfpack!  Combat is resolved through movement on the Tactical display, revealing targets, dealing with Escorts before they get you, firing torpedoes to hit enemy shipping, firing with your deck gun, causing enough damage to sink the enemy, dealing with their counter measures by taking evasive actions, etc. There’s more but you get the picture.

The Post-Combat Resolution Phase is where you Add Stress to surviving U-Boats (I really like this as it talks to the human element which tends to be missing from these types of games), Reloading Torpedoes, Recording experience points, Recoding Victory points. If there are Contacts remaining, you can do nothing, return to the Contact phase and have another go for different Contacts, Re-Attack the Convoy  or take one last shot at a heavily damaged ship (which will be a juicy option if you’ve taken out the Escorts),  or end the phase for that U-Boat, choosing another to carry on with.

During the Refit Segment, you can promote U-Boats to the next experience level (so there is a progression which gives you more of a stake in your U-Boats’ survival), determine if you have reached the patrol limit for this Campaign, Recover Stress, restock in Port, Reload at sea, and reset the Campaign map markers.

Lastly, you have the Campaign outcome where you add up your victory points to see how you’ve done.

On top of all this, there are optional rules for different types of U-Boats, Snorkel, and Linked campaigns.

Yes, there is a lot here, but it is reasonably followed as you track through the rules phases. Its all explained pretty clearly, with some supporting example illustrations. Interestingly, and to the credit of the design, unlike many other war games, no one aspect of the rules is complex or difficult to follow in its own right. On top of this, the mechanics reflect the feel of the U-Boat war rather than the technical effects which to me, makes it very playable and not a simulation exercise. A very successful of a design for feel approach by Dave Schueler.

Did it work for me?

Having said up front, that tactical games aren’t really my thing, I found that I enjoyed U-Boat Leader for a number of reasons.

First, it’s actually not purely a tactical game. Yes the tactical aspects are there when you get into the fight but this is a stripped down view and approach which I appreciated. It didn’t feel like I was dealing with very technical aspects and not simulating being a U-Boat captain but gave me enough for my level of tolerance. Also, you have the operational and strategic aspects of the war and campaigns which broaden the picture nicely and make things very interesting indeed.

Next, the rules were pretty good to go through to play the system. I didn’t feel that I was struggling and it came together for me without too much effort. The rulebook is done rather well and reasonably user friendly which helped me learn the game.

Third, the information I needed was readily available through the cards and Player aids. I didn’t have to refer to myriads of charts and subsets of rules. U-Boat Leader was easier than I expected it to be, if I’m honest, although it by no means is an easy game that I would recommend to newbies. I would say moderate complexity is accurate as you do need to invest the time to familiarize yourself with how the system works.

Overall, this is as deep as I would care to go with this type of game. A very interesting experience which was enough to give me a feel for the key aspects of this aspect of the War in the Atlantic without burning my brain up and worse, boring me with the technical details found in more simulation-type games. I found it to be just the right mix in depth, strategy, and most importantly, fun, and it all comes in this very nice game from DVG Games. A nice production and a good alternative for those who like me, don’t like tactical simulations.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7 out of 10

Family friendly?

Nope, its a solitaire war game

For more information, go to – http://www.dvg.com/

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