New to Me – January 2023

It’s a brand new year and hopefully it will be better than last year.

Though last year wasn’t too bad, compared to the two before.

It’s January (or February, but we’re talking about January) and that means a new beginning where we’re not sure what all we’re going to play for the year.

Last year I played 111 games. When January came around, I had no idea what games those would be!

I do have some new year’s resolutions.

I do want to get Time of Crisis played again, especially now that I have a nice storage solution for it.

January put 2023 off to a good start as far as “new to me” games go. Going to a convention definitely helped with that one, though I got some old favourites played as well (that post will go up Monday!)

Given the fact that I have games from 2006, 2015, and 2011 on this list, not to mention some newer games, the Cult of the New to Me was actually very happy!

That was them listening to my New Year’s speech.

Anyway, there are nine new to me games on this month’s list. Quite the impressive showing!

Maybe there will be enough during the year for me to do a Top 25 games played series in 2024?

That would be nice.

I doubt February will have as many new to me games, but March has another convention so we’ll see!

Anyway, without further ado (all of my ado was adopted by a Roman Emperor anyway, so I guess it will be the new Emperor some day!), let’s begin!

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Almoravid – Storage Solution from Rails on Board

I promised at the end of last year that there would be one more of these storage solution posts coming, with me buying Almoravid from GMT Games but not having actually picking it up from our US post box.

I finally did, and while it’s taken me a little while to actually open, punch, and sticker the damned thing (damn, that’s a heavy box), I finally did it!

I had bought many game storage solutions from Cube4Me (Rails on Board) and I bought the Almoravid one because I knew I would be buying the game.

Thus, this time you’re not going to get a “before and after” picture because there was never a “before!”

I put this in the awesome storage solution straight out of the punch and sticker phase.

And it fits amazingly!

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Scholars of the South Tigris from Garphill Games Coming to Kickstarter March 7

(Edit 2/2/23: Get notified when it goes live by going here!)

Two posts in a day, but this announcement is worth it!

Today on Twitter, Shem Phillips of Garphill Games announced that the latest edition to the South Tigris trilogy, Scholars of the South Tigris, will be hitting Kickstarter on March 7.

I just received Wayfarers of the South Tigris about a month ago, so this is amazing news.

Now I have to actually play that one! I just missed playing it at OrcaCon earlier this month.

The game is once again designed by Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald with art by the Mico.

Given the Garphill Games track record, a Kickstarter in March means that we’ll probably have it by the end of the year.

Here’s the blurb from Boardgame Geek about this one:

Scholars of the South Tigris is set during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, circa 830 AD. The Caliph has called upon the keenest minds to acquire scientific manuscripts from all over the known world. Players will need to increase their influence in the House of Wisdom, and hire skilled linguists to translate the foreign scrolls into Arabic. In this Golden Age of wisdom and knowledge, be mindful not to neglect one in pursuit of the other.”

We’ll see if it’s amazing as the other Garphill games that I have played.

I’m looking forward to this one!

What about you?

Book Review – Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria in World War I by Alexander Watson

Lately (in the past couple of years, anyway), I’ve been reading a few World War I books, like The World Remade: America in World War I by G.J. Meyer and The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth.

One thing I haven’t really read much about, however, is how the war was waged from the Central Powers’ point of view (Austria-Hungary and Germany).

That changed when I started Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria in World War I by Alexander Watson.

Ring of Steel was published in 2014.

This book has a little bit about the military action, especially during 1916 and the Somme battle.

But it’s more about the other aspects of the war and how it affected society in these two empires.

Watson covers the war from its initial phases where the people, assuming that their countries were in the right and fearing the Russians on their eastern borders, were gung-ho for the conflict. As the war slogged on, the British blockade helped bring starvation and destitution to them, and anti-government protests became more and more common.

The book talks about the opening stages of the war, with the advances on the Western Front but also about Russian advances into both German and Austria-Hungarian territory in the East. While it does not shy away from German atrocities in the West, it also highlights the many atrocities that took place in the East as well.

“The invasions of Germany and Austria by Russia do not receive much mention in history books today. The victims have been largely forgotten, their suffering and the wrongs inflicted upon them disregarded. yet the importance of the Russian attacks cannot be overstated. The Tsarist army’s invasions in the east, far more than the contemporaneous German attack and ‘atrocities’ in the west, offer the closest link between the campaigns of 1914 and the genocidal horrors of the mid-twentieth century. Racial ideology, anti-Semitism and ambitious plans to remould and exclude populations, all hallmarks of later Nazi actions in the same region, characterized these operations.”

One of the points mentioned in the book often is the rising ethnic conflicts (anti-Semitism, but also between many of the other ethnic groups as well) , especially inside the Austria-Hungarian Empire, which was made up of many diverse ethnic groups. The Empire’s defeats during the first few months of the war stoked the fires of this conflict, especially when there were accusations of certain groups either helping the Russians or not doing enough to help the Empire.

Ring of Steel goes on to talk about mobilization in both countries, the increasing food shortages, and the German plans (and Austrian, though mostly as a subset of the German ones) for expansion at the end of the war. What would they be willing to settle for if peace talks were to actually take place?

This war of attrition had exhausted all sides and the idea that this was going to be a “short war” swiftly went away. Many history books talk about the effects of this on the soldiers and generals, and perhaps on the Entente side how it affected the population.

But what about the Central Powers?

Watson goes into great detail on that, using letters from soldiers to their families, or vice versa. Also used are journal entries from those waiting at home for news of their loved ones.

Watson also devotes an entire chapter on the ill-fated German decision to unleash unrestricted submarine warfare, and how fatal that decision was to the Central Powers’ war efforts. German admirals had predicted that unrestricted submarine warfare could starve the British people out of the war within six months, and would be worth the possibility of bringing the United States into the war.

It seems obvious in hindsight that there was no way this was going to happen.

The book ends, as it should, with the collapse of the Central Powers, the mutiny by German sailors who refused to carry out last-minute orders that would result in their deaths for no purpose. It also highlights a little bit of the post-war ethnic instability that took place in the East, something that’s talked about in more detail in The Vanquished.

Ring of Steel was a fascinating book. It’s extremely dense and took me a while to read, but every bit of it was interesting and a large part of it I hadn’t really known before.

Most books on World War I that I have read don’t really talk about the home fronts too much, or if they do it’s mostly about the Allied countries. There’s been nothing this in-depth on the Central Powers’ home fronts.

Not that these books don’t exist, but I haven’t read them.

One thing I was really pleased with was that each chapter (since they are long chapters) ends with a summary of the chapter. Not so much that you can just read the summaries and know everything, but enough that you can retain the main thrust of the chapter in your head.

This made writing this review a lot easier.

One thing that Watson does that made the book harder for me to read (so your mileage may vary) is that many of the paragraphs were extremely long. I found myself having to reread some of them because I was getting lost by the time I got to the end of the paragraph.

I’m not talking about having super-short paragraphs for those with short attention spans. I’m not that bad.

But many of these were just much longer than I am used to.

Maybe that’s common in academic books. I don’t know.

Anyway, if you have any interest in World War I, I encourage you to check this book out. It contains a lot of stuff that you may not have come across before.

Ring of Steel clocks in at 832 pages in hardcover, though many of those are notes. The book is definitely well-documented.

Give this one a try and let me know what you think.

I can think of a couple of people who may be interested (or may have already read it!)

Stone Age Coming to Digital From Acram Digital

Five posts in a week?

It’s been a newsy week, that’s for sure.

I wasn’t going to post anything today, giving myself a rest, but then I saw something in my email last night.

Stone Age, the venerable (2008) worker placement designed by Bernd Brunnhofer and published by Z-Man Games and Hans im Glück, is coming to Steam!

Developed by the awesome Acram Digital, developers of many great games like Concordia and Istanbul, in addition to Unmatched (so Acram is full of news this week!)

No word on any other digital platforms, but you can wishlist it here on Steam.

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Marvel Legendary Update – 2023

2022 was a busy year in the Marvel Legendary universe. A ton of expansions came out because of the backlog that was 2021.

This year, with the backlog cleared out, won’t be nearly as eventful.

But it will still be fun!

As I did last year, I’ll keep this post updated with news as I get it. Feel free to keep checking back!

This year’s first expansion release is an MCU expansion, which means it’s based on the Marvel movies with stills from the movies and not original artwork based on the comics.

Legendary: Marvel – Infinity Saga (no cover reveal yet!) will apparently be another 100-card set with 5 heroes, 2 Masterminds, 2 Villain Groups and 4 Schemes (so the standard).

From the card reveals, we definitely know that Dr. Strange and Black Panther are two of the Heroes.

If they keep to these 100-card expansions, will we ever see new Henchmen?

Anyway, there’s also no release date yet, but the first blog post is up!

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Teotihuacan Deluxe Coming to Kickstarter in April

Received the exciting news from Board & Dice this morning that one of their great games, Teotihuacan, is getting the Deluxe treatment in April.

In addition to having a storage solution that actually works rather than tons of different bags and boards scattered around, barely fitting into the base game box, this Deluxe version will have all new artwork as well.

This beauty will come with new art from artist Olek Zawada, deluxe bits, and all that good stuff.

In addition, if you already own everything (like I do), there will also be included the option of getting a “Beauty Pack” which will have the upgrades and deluxe components without actually getting the new game and expansions.

Details on that will be coming soon.

For a bonus, there’s a free add-on that will come with the Kickstarter if you subscribe to their Teotihuacan-specific newsletter.

Details on that here.

This is kind of exciting. I’m a bit burned out on “deluxe boxes” because they are hard to transport and get to game days, but we’ll see what happens when the Kickstarter goes live.

Keep an eye on the Board & Dice newsletter for more information as this approaches.

Are you excited?

I’m kind of wait and see, but the excitement is definitely there.

You know I’m signed up for the newsletter!

Unmatched: Digital Edition gets full release date with DLC timeline

Some exciting news from Acram Digital!

I was going to just add this to my review of the digital version of the great Unmatched game (boardgame published by Restoration Games) but this news is just too big to keep to that.

Yes, Unmatched: Digital Edition now has a release date from Early Access and onto other digital platforms!

It was announced today and the Steam page has been updated with everything you need.

Unmatched will be hitting iOS and Android, as well as leaving Early Access on Steam, on February 28, 2023.

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Combat Commander After Action Report – Scenario #67 – The Orient Express

It’s a brand new year and time for another adventure from the ongoing saga of the Combat Commander ladder.

The ladder, run by the remarkable Patrick Pence of “Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials” fame (you really should go check that channel out), is the only way I’m able to play a monthly game of one of my favourite games of all time.

No, not Chutes & Ladders.

Combat Commander!

The January scenario comes from the Combat Commander: Resistance expansion (which I sadly do not have yet, but can play on VASSAL with no problem).

In The Orient Express, a force of Greek Partisans along with some British Commandos faces off against some Italian units, trying to blow an important bridge to kingdom come.

(I’ve often wondered where that expression came from…is there a kingdom go? Should I be writing while drinking?)

Anyway, this month’s opponent was Scott K, somebody who I had seen on the Ladder Discord channel often but never had the pleasure to play against.

We got the game set up, played for about an hour, and then the VASSAL server went down.

But we regrouped and finished the scenario the next day!

Scott played the Partisans (Yellow and then Tan when the British arrive) while I played the Italians (some weird kind of Green? Not Yellow, that’s enough).

(Keep in mind you can click on the pictures to blow them up a bit)

The Italians set up with two bunkers, but then all units have to be either in the bunkers, on a road, or in a building.

Thus their setup is quite prescribed.

The Partisans can only set up from columns H through L, and only two hexes deep, so it’s a bit prescribed for them too.

Since I had 5 Wires, I decided to set up three of them to prohibit any Partisan fire groups in the forest. In many scenario AARs that I saw, and from what I expected anyway, I thought there would be some major firefights between Italians on the hill and Partisans in that forest. Best to preempt that!

Another Wire was set up to make moving toward Objective 4 more difficult.

The Partisan/British side, when the British come onto the board during Time Check 4, can move one British unit and the satchel charge off of the side of the board over the bridge and water hexes in order to get 10 points (that simulates blowing the bridge).

Most allied players try to do that…keep that in mind.

Objectives 4 and 5 are worth a 12-point swing, and the other objectives are a 6-point swing, so it’s good to try and defend them.

The Partisan rules are sometimes hard to internalize. When Partisan units would die due to breaking, they might just be reduced. Also, melees only happen at the beginning of the Axis turn so if the Axis advance into their hex, they can move out before it happens.

One thing to keep in mind too: there is a Night special rule, which reduces the firepower of all attacks by 1 for each hex of range. So if you’re firing at somebody 3 hexes away, you have -3 firepower.

Another thing is that the Italians, who usually can only discard 2 cards anyway (which kind of sucks) can only discard 1! What are they, French?

Also just a note. Scott thought that the Partisans only got 3 cards instead of 4 for almost half of the scenario.

Having four cards would have made the scenario move faster (favouring the Italians in our case) but it would also have given him more options (favouring the Partisans). I think it all came out in the wash, but it’s good to keep that in mind.

Were my Italians able to prevail?

Let’s take a look!

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Highlights From the January 2023 GMT Games Update

It’s been a few months since my lost post about the monthly GMT Update!

That’s not GMT’s fault. They do it monthly.

I just haven’t had a lot to say about the more recent ones.

At least nothing that really seemed blogworthy.

How many times can you say “That looks so cool!” in an interesting and readable manner?

Hey, that’s not nice.

Anyway, I thought this month would be a good one to do an update for since there’s actually a bit of news that I can comment on!

Not much, but some.

Of course, this also means that GMT is costing me more money.

I don’t hear them complaining about that…

Here’s the link to the update, and I do encourage you to subscribe to it on their web site.

On that note, let’s begin!

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