The Wargamer at Essen 2015 (Part II)

By Eddy Sterckx 22 Oct 2015 0

Part 1 of Eddy's report can be found right over this way.

Race to the Rhine is that hardest kind of wargame to make: a 3-player one. The players are Patton, Montgomery, and Bradley, each trying to get to the Rhine first. This heavily abstracted logistics-focused game was released last year to great acclaim, so it was back at Essen this year for an encore. This game is published by Poland's Phalanx Games.

 

Another blistering tabletop success story is that of Saga – a Dark Ages-set skirmish tabletop miniature game that strips away a lot of that genre's usual complexity. Already well-known in the tabletop wargame world they’re clearly looking to expand into the boardgame universe so it was no surprise to find them at Spiel. Publishers Gripping Beast have developed a wide range of kits for the title.

 

Stronghold was one of the older games at Essen this year. Originally released in 2009, this 2-player game about low-fantasy siege warfare is still a pretty unique proposition. Designer Ignacy Trzewiczek is the man behind Imperial Settlers, one of last year's most universally admired new games.

 

Japan has had a thriving wargame scene for decades, but only rarely does one of its designs make it to the Western markets. Tank Hunter is one of those: a card-game that simulates armored warfare in WWII, first released way back in 1989. At Essen the game was showing off new expansions -- this game's been running for about twenty years longer than the actual war did.

 

Team Yankee is a tabletop Cold War simulation based on a novel of the same name first released back in 1987 -- back when the Cold War was a reality and the Berlin Wall hadn't even come down yet. The game is being rebooted into a miniatures game from the WWII miniatures house Flames of War. The quality of the models is just jaw-dropping.

 

Osprey is widely known as the number #1 publisher of illustrated military reference books, with literally thousands of titles in their catalogue. Last year the publishers announced a new boardgame division and its first product has now been released: The King is Dead, a fast-playing wargame about the power struggle in medieval Britain following the death of King Arthur.

 

The Magnates is another Polish release from the previously mentioned Phalanx Games, this one based on a Martin Wallace design. It depicts the struggle of the magnates / noble families in the heyday of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth era. The theme is intruigingly off the beaten path.

 

In the year of 3-player wargames this is another serious contender for the throne: Triumph & Tragedy is GMT’s geopolitical strategy game for 3 players covering the competition for European supremacy during the period 1935-45 between the democracies of the West, the growing Communist bloc, and fascist states of southern and central Europe. 

 

Victory and Glory: Napoleon is the newest design from Glenn Drover, creator of Civilization: The Board Game and many other respected titles. Victory & Glory: Napoleon is both a grand strategy game where one player is Napoleon and tries to take over Europe with the other players allying in various configurations to try to stop him and a tactical battle system where players duke it out on the battlefield. So it’s an interesting mix of strategic- and tactical-level gameplay.

Slitherine working on the PC version of the game, and the tabletop version will be published by Electric Games next year.

 

The 200th anniversary of Waterloo has inspired a number of games, but none so intriguing as this laudable attempt at a filler wargame, W1815 is a beautiful 20-minute wargame about the battle of Waterloo. Needless to say this was one of my purchases too. This is just the second release from Finnish publishers U&P Games, who are clearly a house to watch.

 

 

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