Review – Storm Above the Reich

During the COVID lockdowns, I became very attached to solo games that you can play in an hour or so. I was working from home 5 days a week and it was a nice break from the work and also let me keep my passion for gaming going.

Even now, when we’re back to the office, I am working remotely two days a week so that is still there.

I bought a couple of the solo submarine games that GMT Games puts out, but the game that really caught my attention was Storm Above the Reich, a solo game where you are the head of a Staffel of German fighters (literally translated to “series”, but essentially an airbase and fighter group) who are fighting back against the ferocious American bombing of Germany.

Storm Above the Reich was designed by Jerry White and Mark Aasted with art by Antonis Karidis, Mark Simonitch and Jerry White. It was published in 2021 by GMT Games.

It’s the sequel game to Skies Above the Reich, about German fighter pilots facing off against B-17 bombers over Germany earlier in the war. The 2nd printing of that one is currently on the GMT Games P500 list and is in Art & Final Development. You can get your order in now like I did!

Anyway, if you follow this blog at all, then you’re probably already aware of how I feel about the game since I’ve been doing After-Action Reports for all of the missions (I’ve posted 15 so far).

If you want a feel for how the game plays, go to Mission 1&2 and go to town!

I’ll give you a bit of an overview of how the game goes before getting into the review.

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Book Series Recommendation – “Peter Ash – The Drifter” by Nick Petrie

The Universe works in mysterious ways sometimes.

Sometimes, the Universe is telling you that you need to do something, or read something, or whatever, and it will get you there in the most convoluted way possible.

This is how I come to recommend a wonderful series of books by Nick Petrie, about a Marine named Peter Ash who goes around the United States (and sometimes elsewhere!) solving problems.

The first book is called, notably, The Drifter, and this is where my wonderful confusion came from.

Yes, there is a boardgaming connection to this.

During the pandemic lockdown, I bought a game called Elder Sign, a Cthulhu dice game in the same vein as Eldritch Horror and (I assume) Arkham Horror. My wife and I played a lot of it.

One of the investigators you can play is a guy called “Ashcan Pete,” a drifter with his faithful dog companion Duke.

I stumbled upon Petrie’s first book. Peter Ash? Ashcan Pete? The first part of the book has Peter trying to rescue a dog from underneath a front porch. Could that be Duke? Could that be Ashcan Pete and Duke’s origin story?

I love the game, maybe the book would be cool!

Of course, I was way off base. Sometimes I wonder how my mind works.

(Editor – “You’re not the only one”)

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Combat Commander Europe – After Action Report – Scenario LoM9 – Operation Mercury

It’s April and time for yet another tale from the Combat Commander ladder, run by the unrivaled Patrick Pence of Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials fame.

This game happened a couple of weeks ago but, you know, COVID and everything.

In fact, I was in the middle of my COVID fog when I was playing this, but in looking back at it, there’s only one mistake that I may not have made if I wasn’t totally under the weather.

The other mistakes?

Well, they probably would have happened anyway.

I guess this is also a bit of a spoiler, but still, hang around and see what happened!

For April, my 11th month (since I took last June off for personal reasons) in the Ladder, my opponent was Mark C, and we were playing Scenario #9 from the Leader of Men battle pack of tournament scenarios. Most of these scenarios are quick and brutal with very few special rules.

In Operation Mercury, the British troops (Mark) are on the island of Crete facing off against the German paratroopers (me) as the invasion comes from the air instead of the sea!

As usual, you can click on the picture to make it larger.

The British (tan) troops are ganged up around both objectives that actually give victory points (Object #3 & #4, both up on hills). The Germans are massed to try and assault these positions.

COVID MISTAKE #1

Ideally, the Germans should mass a firegroup that can just obliterate one of the British positions.

Of course, I didn’t do that (and I may not have done that even if my brain hadn’t been foggy). I positioned the Germans on the left under Ganz so that Ganz could activate everybody, but since they’re not adjacent, they have to fire separately rather than as one big firegroup.

I paid for that mistake.

I did position a smaller German force on the right to try and advance and take the other, more lightly-defended objective.

Mark positioned his starting Wire to channel me into a couple of different avenues of approach so he could use his machine guns to decimate me as well.

That didn’t really happen either.

What did?

Let’s take a look.

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New to Me – March 2022

Wow, this is really late.

I think the 25th of the month is the latest I’ve ever posted a “new to me games” post, but April has been a bad month.

I started the month in a bit of a funk, as I’m prone to do.

But I was all set to do some major posting in my vacation week from April 11-15! It was going to be a great week.

And then…well…

Yes, COVID really sucks.

It bled into this week and I went back to work after taking a couple of sick days tacked on to the end of my vacation.

And no writing at all, which also kind of pained me. But every time I thought about trying to form a coherent thought to put it onto this (or any other) post, it just escaped me and I went back to Slay the Spire (a game that kept me sane during this 2 week period, and which I discovered I still suck at).

This also means that next month’s April post will probably either be very small or might not happen, as I’ve missed a couple of game days.

As I write this, I haven’t played a new to me game in April and there’s only one week of lunchtime games left.

So don’t expect a post at this point.

Anyway, the Cult of the New to Me has been very understanding. Though that could be because they’ve been avoiding me so I don’t give it to them.

I’m pretty used to that, actually.

So without further ado (all of my ado was stolen by rabbit with eyeglasses anyway), let’s get started!

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SHUX 2022 is Happening!

Very quick post to just say how excited I was to see the announcement from the Shut Up & Sit Down crew that SHUX 2022 in Vancouver is happening.

After 2 years of being shut down due to COVID, I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen again.

But it is!

September 30 – October 2 here in Vancouver, you can join me, the Shut Up & Sit Down crew, and a bunch of other great people at a wonderful convention (you’re probably most interested in the Shut Up & Sit Down crew, but I won’t be offended).

And Vancouver is a beautiful city, so you can take in the sights as well!

Get your tickets here and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up for a game.

Watch the SHUX announcement video and let me know if you’re coming.

It will be a blast!

Friday Night Shots – Do You Cheat at Solo Games?

It’s been a while since the last Friday Night Shots post, but with the whiskey flowing, vacation rearing its beautiful head, and this idea occurring to me a lot when I started playing Storm Above the Reich, I thought this was the perfect place for it.

The pandemic lockdown actually had me buying a few solo games, including a couple of the GMT submarine games (and now I’ve done the P500 for the out of print ones).

It also made me buy the game that’s been dominating my solo plays for a while now (the aforementioned Storm game that you’re probably sick of hearing about, but if you’re not sure, start here and keep going).

An age-old question of solo gamers has come up, of course: do you cheat when things don’t go your way?

Or do you fudge a little at least, even if you don’t go all-out cheating?

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Castles of Burgundy: Special Edition Coming to Gamefound Soon

(Edit: 5/19/22) – The campaign is scheduled to go live on May 24 at 5 pm CEST!

If you’re a “serious” gamer, you’ve heard of Castles of Burgundy even if you haven’t formed an opinion one way or the other.

“Wonderful game! My favourite of all time!”

“That looks so ugly, why would you want it on your table?”

The 2011 Stefan Feld classic published by Ravensburger with art by Julien Delval and Harald Lieske recently got a graphic design upgrade in 2019.

Which a whole bunch of fans hated, but it came with all of the expansion game boards and even a new expansion.

However, that’s still not enough.

Ravensburger and Awaken Realms have announced Castles of Burgundy: Special Edition and that it will be coming to the crowd-funding site Gamefound soon. (Edit: Just discovered it’s scheduled to be launched in “early May”)

Feature image from the Gamefound page.

And what a deluxe upgrade it looks like it’s going to be.

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Terraforming Mars App: Hellas & Elysium Maps Now in Beta

(Edit: 5/13/22) – The review is live! Go check it out.

(Edit: 5/11/22) – And they’re out for real! No more beta. Available on all platforms. Watch this space for a review of the expansion in the next few days

Exciting news from Asmodee Digital with the Hellas & Elysium expansion maps now coming to the Terraforming Mars app.

This is Hellas, with the South Pole ocean

(all pics taken from the Steam product page, not from my own beta testing, which would be against the terms & conditions)

Fans of the game who have been playing it religiously have been clamouring for these maps for a while now because they’re getting tired of using the basic map.

And this is Elysium!

These two maps come with new Milestones and Awards as well, giving even more variety to the game.

Awards for the Hellas map

Maybe I’ll actually be able to earn some of these!

Celebrity, for example, really rewards you for getting those high-cost projects out there.

How do you get in on this juicy goodness?

Just log into your Asmodee Digital account and go to the Beta Tests page.

There’s a beta for iOS, Android and for Steam (though it looks like you have to actually purchase it if you’re on Android).

After the wonderfulness of the Terraforming Mars: Prelude expansion, it will be so cool to finally have these maps out.

I have a regular asynchronous game going with some friends and it will be good to change things up a bit.

It would be nice if they would get some of the bugs/annoyances out of the game as well, but this will go a long way towards making them more palatable.

At least for now.

Are you as excited as I am?

Let me know in the comments.

Combat Commander Europe – After Action Report – Scenario 90 – The Man Who Would Be King

It’s March (almost the end) and it’s time for another report from the Combat Commander ladder, run by the effervescent Patrick Pence of Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials fame.

This game happened late in March, so I was having a bit of withdrawal as my February game was early!

But it’s always nice to welcome a new victim player into the ladder, and this month’s opponent was Brad F, a newcomer. He was even in my time zone so it made deciding when to play a lot easier.

I won last month, so could I make it two in a row?

Let’s find out!

The Man Who Would Be King is a scenario out of the Combat Commander Battle Pack #6: Operation Sea Lion pack of scenarios, a hypothetical set where Adolf Hitler decided to go through with the aforementioned operation and invade Great Britain.

In this scenario, a group of hooligans from the British Union of Fascists (BUF) decide to break out their leader, Oswald Mosley, from Holloway Prison. The Germans weren’t willing to do it themselves (their troops being occupied elsewhere in Britain), but they did give some arms to the BUF and said “go get ’em!”

Both the British (me, tan counters) and the BUF (Brad, kind of awful green color) are “Green” troops, so they’re pretty slow and they don’t have the greatest morale. The BUF also uses the Italians and the Italian deck of cards, which isn’t always the greatest either.

Here’s our initial setup and then I’ll explain a couple of things.

(Don’t forget that you can click on the pictures in this post to blow them up)

The three objectives that are in hexes are prison cells where Mosley might be located. The objective is revealed if a BUF unit is adjacent to it. If it’s the “Q” objective, that’s Mosley! The BUF player also gets the VP for the objective.

The BUF then needs to exit Mosley off the left side of the map. Until that happens, the BUF cannot get any VP for exiting units.

Even worse, when Routed, they rout towards the closest map edge, even if that’s up or down!

That will become important later.

The British have 4 squads, 3 weapons teams, and 2 leaders with another two squads/leader/team/LMG coming in on Time Track 4. They have to set up one squad in each objective building which means they are very spread out.

Finally, the BUF can use two Command Confusion cards to count as one Advance order, though he can’t advance into melee that way.

And with that, we’re off!

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Storm Above the Reich – After Action Report – Mission #15

It’s the penultimate mission in the Mid-1943 season for my “Staffel Roy” Storm Above the Reich campaign and things are actually looking pretty good.

Maybe I’m starting to figure this game out a bit?

Yeah, that’s probably it.

For those of you just finding this, Storm Above the Reich is a solo wargame, published by GMT Games, where you run a squadron of German fighter pilots trying to shoot down American bombers over Germany.

(I should probably do a review of this thing so I can just point to that, eh?)

After last week’s mission, I was at 29 VP with two missions left in the campaign. You need 30 VP to “not lose” and you need 40 to win.

How did this mission break down?

Did it end in ignoble defeat with me not even getting a point?

Spoilers! (nah, not really).

Let’s take a look because I’m not even sure I remember anymore.

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