February 2023 Gaming

February was a weird month for gaming. I missed on Sunday Funday because of doing a math trade (where I traded 17 games for a bunch of money and 5 other games!) and then I was on vacation for a week so we didn’t play any games at work.

Plus, snow kept us home from another Sunday Funday.

Even so, I managed to play 16 games in February, which isn’t too bad!

I’ll talk about the “new to me” games in an upcoming post (hopefully Monday or Tuesday!), but let’s just talk a little bit about the other games.

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Aces of Valor – Storage Solution with With Rails on Boards

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of the Rails on Boards (Cube4Me) storage solution for wargames.

Heck, I’ve already done 5 posts about various ones that I have purchased from them.

However, you may notice that the title of this post is “with” Rails on Boards and not “from” Rails on Boards.

That’s because the kind folks there sent me a bunch of trays of various types, including a few card trays, and said “hey, why don’t you come up with some sets?” (I don’t think that’s an exact quote).

I may write with the panache and quality of…well, somebody who writes high-quality stuff with panache.

But trying to figure out spatial relationships, how things fit together, and all that jazz?

I said I would be willing to give it a try, though.

And here’s the first one, a very simple one (gotta start small, right?)

I just recently purchased my first game from Legion Wargames, a wargame company with some great-sounding games that I probably would never get to the table.

The game in question is Aces of Valor, a solitaire World War I air combat game where you are running a squadron of fighters and taking them through campaigns of certain lengths (8, 12 or 16 missions).

The game is designed by Erik von Rossing, was just published in 2023 (BGG says 2022 but I don’t think it was available until January sometime. I could be wrong) and it looks very cool!

As I was punching out the counters (only two sheets), I got to thinking that this would make a good candidate for my first Cube4Me job.

And it worked almost perfectly.

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Twilight Struggle: Red Sea Coming to Digital via Playdek on March 28

(Edit 3/28/23) – Playdek announced in the March GMT newsletter that they wouldn’t be meeting the March 28 release date. Further information will be released as soon as they have it.

More news from the GMT February newsletter!

This one is exciting too, though not quite equal to yesterday‘s.

The newsletter also had the announcement from Playdek that the electronic version of the new lunchtime game Twilight Struggle: Red Sea lunchtime game (which I just finally picked up a few weeks ago and haven’t played yet) is coming to digital platforms on March 28!

Published on the table by GMT Games, this game is a quick-playing miniature version of the classic game, playable in a 45-60 minute time frame and focused solely on the Red Sea area of the world.

I’ve been looking forward to breaking this out but logistics has made it impossible so far.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do so prior to being able to play it on my iPad!

It’s Playdek so you know it will be good. They’ve done an excellent job with the Twilight Struggle app as well as Labyrinth: the War on Terror app.

I thought this would be a longer-term project. The fact that it’s coming out so soon hopefully means they will be able to start on that Imperial Struggle app or something else GMT-related!

It will be available to pre-order on Steam, iOS and Android on February 28, so you know I will be down on that one.

No word on cost, yet. I guess we’ll see when the pre-order page goes up.

This is exciting me as well.

You know a review of this baby will be coming at some point.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and whether we might be able to get a game in!

Combat Commander News from GMT Games

(Edit – 2/25/23) – Kai Jensen confirmed on Boardgame Geek that the Minor Nations battle pack will just have updated scenarios with the new Minor Nations artwork on them. I’ve asked whether or not the Minor Nations counters will be the same as the Italian/French counters but with updated artwork, names, and leader names. I’m assuming that they will be or the scenarios would be really changed. But I’ll update here if that’s different

I was taking the week off (both from work and blogging) but then the GMT monthly newsletter came out and I had to share this excitement.

Remember from previous GMT updates the stuff about some news regarding Combat Commander?

Well, this news is big!

If you’re a fan of the game.

Even better if you’ve become interested in the game because of my ladder posts and couldn’t find the game to get started!

Both the base Combat Commander: Europe game and the two expansions for it (Mediterranean and Resistance) have been languishing on the P500 reprint list for quite a while. They’ve been impossible to find.

But now GMT Games has announced that they are issuing Combat Commander: Europe as it was always planned: both in the same master set!

I’m sure that’s not what the cover will look like

Yes, now you can order off the P500 list the new Combat Commander: Europe/Med. Master Edition for $99 US.

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Expansion Review – Viscounts of the West Kingdom – Gates of Gold

With the last Viscounts of the West Kingdom Kickstarter (way back in…I can’t remember when!), Garphill Games decided that rather than release expansions for this great games in dribs and drabs, as well as then finally releasing a Deluxe box for the entire game, they would release both expansions and the Deluxe box all in one go!

That was one expensive Kickstarter.

But it was fun!

Now that I’ve reviewed Keeper of Keys, let’s go ahead and review the other expansion, and the one that I think is better (even if only slightly), Gates of Gold.

This expansion, along with the base game and other expansion, was designed by Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald with art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski (commonly known as “the Mico”). It was released by Garphill Games and Renegade Games Studios.

And it is sooooooo good!

I guess that might be considered a spoiler, but really.

You know me, right?

Let’s take a look at this one.

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First Look – Undaunted: Normandy app on Steam

Undaunted: Normandy is a wargame/card game combination designed by the excellent designers David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin. It was published in 2019 by Osprey Games and I actually wrote about how excited I was when it was first announced.

Then I never bought it. I think it was mostly the lack of opponents.

During the pandemic lockdown, I went ahead and bought the second iteration, Undaunted: North Africa but have yet to get it to the table.

But I was excited to hear that Undaunted: Normandy was coming to Steam!

Now Bookmark Games, the developer of the digital edition (and developer of the excellent Pavlov’s House app), has given me access to the game in its current Alpha state.

(You can click on each picture to enlarge it)

I repeat, just to emphasize things, that this first look is about the game in alpha, so there will be bugs, there will be things that need to be improved, and there will be changes.

This isn’t even in Early Access yet.

However, even in Alpha state, it’s actually pretty good!

Let’s take a look at it.

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Expansion Review – Viscounts of the West Kingdom – Keeper of Keys

Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald of Garphill Games fame, seem to have a side job in addition to designing great games.

They are the Adepts of Alliteration!

That’s why all of their expansions have brilliant alliteration.

Works of Wonder, Age of Artisans, and now the Viscounts of the West Kingdom expansions, the first of which (at least the first of which I’m reviewing) is Keeper of Keys.

That has to be intentional!

Both of the expansions, Keeper of Keys and Gates of Gold shipped with the same Kickstarter, though I’m going to review them separately.

Because that’s how I roll.

That and it would be kind of pointless to review both at the same time.

Keeper of Keys adds chests to the game, as well as the ability to have more than one Hero in your deck and Public Buildings.

It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t.

So with that all being said, let’s take a look!

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Combat Commander After Action Report – Scenario #82 – Hidden Guns Lash Out

It’s the second week of the month and I’m already posting about my monthly Combat Commander ladder game?

Yes, my February opponent and I managed to get our game in early this month over two lunchtime sessions.

In fact, we finished on Tuesday though due to other posts being scheduled, it’s not going live until today (note to self: if you say “today” then it doesn’t matter what day it is!).

What the hell am I talking about?

The Combat Commander ladder tournament, of course!

This ladder, run by the brilliant Patrick Pence of Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials fame, is where we get our monthly fix of one of the best wargames out there (ok, my favourite, anyway).

The February scenario comes from the Fall of the West battle pack using the French forces (so it does require Combat Commander: Mediterranean if you are playing on the table). This battle pack has a bunch of scenarios taking place during the German invasion of France.

It also has a couple of scenarios (including this one, #82, Hidden Guns Lash Out) that have tanks in them!

Tanks are a bit beyond the scope of Combat Commander, but in these scenarios the tanks basically consist of a leader, 1-2 crews/teams, a couple of machine guns, and perhaps a gun or two, along with an entrenchment for “armor” (i.e. cover for morale checks).

My opponent this month was Nathan F, a guy after my own heart because he actually finds it easier to play on lunch than at night too!

We played the scenario over a couple of lunches earlier in the week (thankfully on VASSAL you can save the game state and just pick up where you left off).

The scenario has a number of French forces (light blue – Nathan) facing off against a German (grey – Me) attack force heading toward the railway line, with a couple of tanks thrown into the mix.

Here’s our set up.

A couple of interesting special rules, though.

First, the French guns (circled in red above) aren’t set up at the start.

Instead, the French can place them during the game in any hex with at least one Cover between the railway and the French (south) side of the board. They can then fire them!

Which brings us to special rule number two.

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Clank in Space – Storage Solution From Folded Space

I know I’ve done quite a few posts about storage solutions from Rails on Board/Cube4Me, but they’re not the only game in town.

For some games, what they offer isn’t quite sufficient, because there is literally a shit-ton of cards in them and big pieces (that’s a word…go look it up).

Games like one of my favourites, Clank in Space (no, no exclamation marks!), have too many cards and lots of bigger tokens.

My box was a literal mess when I was just having things in baggies.

Sure, I could hand baggies out to people with their stuff and then we could pile a whole bunch of other stuff on the table, in piles…sorry, too many piles in that sentence, which is what I have always said when trying to put this on the table!

I’ve always been leery of storage solutions that you need to assemble, mainly because I have the craftsmanship of an elephant.

After watching the “how to assemble our inserts” video from Folded Space, however, it looked remarkably easy.

Could this be beyond even my ability to fuck it up?

I decided to give it a try.

Did it work?

Let’s take a look.

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January 2023 Gaming

January 2023 was a great month for gaming, especially with OrcaCon and everything.

I’ve already told you about the new games I played, but here’s my month in review.

(Many thanks to BG Stats for the ability to do stuff like this!)

For me, 29 plays of 20 games in a month is much better than usual.

There are definitely some highlights for the month, in addition to the new to me ones (which since I talked about them in the earlier post, I won’t really mention them here, for the most part).

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