MGPRP: The Wargamer pocket reviews

Issues 50-62

· Wargamer #50: Knights of Justice
· Wargamer #51: Duel in the Desert
· Wargamer #52: Glory Road
· Wargamer #53: Dynamo: Dunkirk 1940
· Wargamer #54: Condottieri
· Wargamer #55: Okinawa
· Wargamer #56: First Team (Vietnam)
· Wargamer #57: Race for Tunis
· Wargamer #58: Clash of Empires: 1914
· Wargamer #59: Bloody Keren
· Wargamer #60: Anvil-Dragoon
· Wargamer #61: Campaigns of Marlborough
· Wargamer #62: Fallen Eagle: Khe Sanh

Wargamer #50: Knights of Justice
“Turks versus the knights of Malta. Yes, it is a siege, but the emphasis is on the assaults. The knights are outnumbered something like 15-1, and I could never repeat their historical victory, but an interesting game.” RKB

“The only game I remember on the siege of Malta (1565), boring as a siege should be. So slow to become unplayable.” RC

"Only problem here was that I don't like seige games. This one was a cut above most, however. A real funky map!" WS

"Beautiful map, counter normal,rules simple, but the campaign game is too long." RR

"The Ottoman assault on Malta in 1565. I thought it was an intersting game, although slow." JGo

Wargamer #51: Duel in the Desert
“I've played Duel in the Desert a few times and it's a fun game, fairly fast with few rules. Agonizing decisions though.” MS

“North Africa with the double blind system pionereed in Clash of Steel. As the previous two games.” RC

“Another double blind game, this time on WW2 North Africa. Pretty much the same as Clash of Steel: a decent game, noteworthy as the only double-blind on the subject (again, that I know of). However, of these games, DitD comes out ahead, as it did seem to capture the subject rather well.” DS

“Double blind game on the battles for North Africa (map covers from El Agheila to Alexander), also can be played as a one mapper ftf game. Have played it twice as a double blind game and would say it was a fairly sound design, a little bit of errata (though fairly important). Good map graphics, but counter art only serviceable. Slightly pro Allied IMHO, however still fun and tense. Rating B” CH

"I thought Duel in the Desert was a reasonable game - haven't played it enough times to tell if it's broken though." MM

"A decent double-blind game, more manageable than the earlier Clash of Steel based on size alone. I remember three playings, the "balance" drawback for both sides was it was hard to make a come back if you really did a boo-boo. Thus, the ebb and flow of the real campaign is lost." WS

Wargamer #52: Glory Road
“I was impressed with Glory Road# 52. It seemed like a neat system. The only problem was keeping the different commands straight. They didn't have color coding in those days. System seemed very well thought out and playable.” LR

“Fairly good magazine game on 1st Bull Run (1st Manassas). The unit strength/morale rosters work here every bit as well as the aforementioned Napoleon vs. Charles.” KD

“The battle of First Bull Run with a system similar to the napoleonic one used three issues before. Very good.” RC

"Ick. Tried to play a couple of times, but the game is tedious and nothing like history. IIRC, the Union is better off being out of command than in command for the first few turns -- they've got a better chance to activate." DT

"A dud. This was supposed to be the beginning of a series using the same system. It died a quite death." WS

Wargamer #53: Dynamo: Dunkirk 1940
“Dynamo is early Ty Bomba and is a gem of a game.” LR

“I really liked Dynamo (...) A very good early Ty Bomba design.” BT

“Actually Dynamo 1940 is one of my all time faves and I think the first to appear with his monnicker attached.” AP

“I enjoyed this one, it's a good quick little game (aside from the depressing map graphics). I've played it solitare (it works fine) and face-to-face. Surprisingly, the result is not a foregone conclusion. If the German mech units get bogged down in the rough terrain, a devious Allied player can wreak havoc on them. I'd say it's worth picking up for a reasonable price. Even after all these years, I still enjoy hauling it out every so often.” ASt

“Solid game on the BEF's valiant stand in 1940. The Germans have a flexible combined-arms force here, but the Allies have an opportunity to throw a monkey wrench into the German war machine.” KD

“Another great design from Ty Bomba. Offers both sides a decent challenge, and usually comes down to the wire. I hope to see this one remade some day.” DS

“A very good game on the battle of Dunkirk, one of my favorite ever among the games appeared on this magazine, fast and furious, with enough chrome to be playable more than once or twice.” RC

"Gem. Interesting situation, nice components." DT

Wargamer #54: Condottieri
“Condottieri (sp?) was one of my favorites from The Warg, but I only played it solitaire (too obscure a subject for others). I've often wondered how it would shape up in face to face play.” PP

“I also played it solo. Fun little game.” MGa

“A small but compelling game on a Renaissance-era battle. You get mounted archers, crossbowmen, pikemen and even crude cannons.” KD

“The battle of Castagnaro (1389), a late medieval struggle in northern Italy, with a very good map and a not so usual system with a lot of chrome and several different kinds of units. Too slow to be real fun, but not one of the worst of the period.” RC

“Had it. Played it. Came away with a similar impression to Roberto's. I sold it a few years ago.” MJP

Wargamer #55: Okinawa
“I've twice tried to get through the rules and twice failed. There are some abstractions in naval and air forces that make it difficult to conceptualize. I've never heard anyone mention playing it (usually a bad sign).” DCa

“Looked to be an interesting game on the topic, but in the end just had too much detail for my taste. I prefer the S&T Pacific island battle games, namely because they were built as solitaire efforts.” DS

“Surprisingly big game for a magazine game. Map very good, counters reasonable but colour selection, especially for the Japs a bit hard on my eyes. Rule book, big for a magazine game but reasonably complete. There is a little bit of errata and we have sought some clarification from the designer, but its certainly playable (played it FTF), not a bad system, seems challenging and there is a fair bit to do, Air, naval and land. If the topic interests you and you have the time, (its a fairly big game) then worth a look. Rating B+” CH

Wargamer #56: First Team (Vietnam)
“Of those I've played I liked (...) First Team Vietnam (now resurrected as its own mutant brother by Vae Victis).” MS

“I really like the solitaire Vietnam game(First team Vietnam?). I remember thrashing the system pretty easily. Its been a few years tho and the game remains on my "to do" table.” TO

“Ia Drang, but done better elsewhere.” SS

“great little solitaire game” SN

"A solitaire game covering the early fighting by American forces in Vietnam. The map uses point to point. The player takes the side of the Americans whereas the ‘system’ is the NVA/VC. Not an intuitive game and the rules have a few gaps but once you nut out what you have to do its not too bad. Counter art is okay but colour matching choices for the Americans are a bit tough on the eyes. Map is nice enough. Rating C" CH

Wargamer #57: Race for Tunis
"I haven't played the game. All I know about it is that it is NOT part of Vance von Borries Battles for North Africa Series, that game is called Objective: Tunis and appeared in S&T not long after. Both games seem to have a reputation of being nearly unplayable errata disasters." EN

"This game covers the early part of the battle for Tunis. The map itself is nice but the way the set up chart is portrayed is a real pain and doesn’t seem to add anything to the setting up of the game and causes a lot of the confusion due to the colours of units onteh set up map being different to the true colours of the units. The rules have some problems but the main issues seem to be with the set up charts and the counters themselves. However the system is basically sound as it uses the Battles for North Africa system and the rules are not as bad as Objective: Tunis. I’ve only played the first scenario, solitaire and FTF, and can not for the life of me see how the Allies could even get a draw, but it’s a bit of fun trying. Rating C" CH

Wargamer #58: Clash of Empires: 1914
“CLASH OF EMPIRES is a cracking game. I once got Plan XVII to work!” CV

“Fairly ugly point-to-point map, but an interesting take on the start of WWI - what if some of the things people believed were possible then (liked Russian corps arriving in France) could actually have happened?” RKB

“Clash of Empires was also interesting.” MS

“I really enjoyed this game (enough to post a review of it on web-grognards!), as it plays fast and is a lot of fun. I recall I played the whole game in one night (solo), and the Germans just managed to beat the French out of Paris. As this is one of my favorite periods of history, this game is tied with S&T's Reinforce the Right! as the best on this period (no disrespect to other games on the subject; it's just that CoE is very accessible & a lot of fun).” DS

“Printing the French counters with a colour scheme of black ink on a dark blue field was a trial for my eyes, even when they were a lot younger than they are now.” BT

“I liked the map. I felt the game really put me in the mindset of the times, far more so than Guns of August or Great War in Europe. As for the Russians showing up, the Germans really were afraid that it could happen.” SS

“The opening campaign on the Western Front in 1914, this is my other favorite Wargamer effort. A great game that plays well, with a few strange twists thrown in (Russians in France!), and always a nail-biter. Although this game also suffered from 3W's lackluster production values, its designer, Kerry Anderson, has created a new version in DTP format that outshines the original.” DS

"Thought it contained many interesting ideas, but I didn't play it much because it didn't solitaire well. Odd choices for map colors (ahem), but I liked the style." DT

"The game covers the opening months of WWI on the west front. The map is useable, its point to point, though it can be a little hard to read some information, the counters are shockers, two main problems: the French are black on a very dark blue, I could not read them under normal light conditions, (the same conditions I play all my other games under), and the counters themselves are pollard markers but are required to be face down when on the map. Very fiddly. Are there better ways to do it in a magazine game? Probably not. Rules are okay, but I didn’t think the rules covering fortresses are entirely clear. However we played the game twice, once with homemade (readable) counters and once using the counters from the DTP version and I must say I liked the system. It really gave that feeling of grinding away; there is some manoeuvre, though not as much feel as say XTR’s 1914: Glory’s End. But it played pretty well. Only the fact that I found it fiddlier and the fortress rules not that clear would I rate it behind the XTR game. Rating C" CH

Wargamer #59: Bloody Keren
“Of those I've played I liked (...) Bloody Keren...” MS

"Played this one to death when I was a kid. Uses a simplified version of Vance von Borries Battles for North Africa system. Interesting situation (the battle for Eritrea) that to my knowledge hasn't been done at this scale before. Fairly good looking for its time. Recommended!" EN

"I liked the historical campaign because it showed that Italians could fight, and fight well. The game is a bastard son of the Borries African series. Other than the novelty of the subject it didn't stand out for me one way or the other." WS

Wargamer #60: Anvil-Dragoon
“I also liked Anvil-Dragoon, but some major (IMHO) problems keeps it out of the top three.” ASt

“While the design seemed interesting in theory, it was too much for me when actually played. Some original ideas, though.” DS

Wargamer #61: Campaigns of Marlborough

“The War of the Spanish Succession with a system developed from Frederick the Great, possibly the better game ever appeared on Wargamer: great map, interesting rules both for the yearly scenarios than for the total campaign. A great game, probably botched by the magazine limits; it deserves a new remake with today's graphics.” RC

Wargamer #62: Fallen Eagle: Khe Sanh
“I was underwhelmed by Fallen Eagle, but it was many years ago and the recollections are dim. I seem to recall that the US had a huge stack or two in Khe Sahn itself, and a small stack out on an outlying hill (880? 860?) The VC/NVA didn't seem to have a lot of options - try to take the outlying hill, while getting pounded by the base artillery seemed to be their best bet. Then everybody sat around, as it was suicide for the NVA to assault the main base, and there was no point in the US coming out of the base.” RKB

“I remember it as terminally broken, a chart missing or combat results not explained, something like that. Never covered by errata. This was a long time ago, at the start of my wargame career, so I might be wrong. Could be that they did that 3W thing, putting the CRT on the feedback card. Or something I might easily figure out today but that eluded me back then.” EN

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