This Week


Last Battle - Ie Shima 1945

This is Michael Rinella’s (Take Aim Designs) coverage of the battle for the Japanese island of Ie Shima towards the wars end and is published in association with Revolution Games.

The design is in the classic Area Movement style. It is a small format game, with a 22" x 17" map, 88 large counters and a 12 page rulebook. The map is very distinctive, being a lift from an intelligence map of the island and known Japanese positions, giving an interesting and unusual period feel to the look of the game.


On the opening of each of the first two turns, I launched a Kamikaze attack on Mike’s naval group, each time being successful and forcing the naval asset counter to be flipped to its ‘used’ side. At the start of turn three, I got distracted and did something else instead, Mike was not about to lose that opportunity and he struck ‘Bloody Ridge’ (3 VP’s) with a naval bombardment. He rolled ‘12’ which would have been bad enough, but I rolled ‘2’ as part of my defence value, which just ensured that the attack shredded my defence and cost me three full strength units, leaving the area vacant.

The whole naval story for these first three turns could easily be woven into an engaging narrative and essentially, the game is filled with similar little twists, that hold interest throughout play. The two armies play quite differently, with the Japanese forces having some abilities that help counter the powerful Amnerican forces and make for a more balanced game.

I have re-set the game for a solo run at it today and then do a fuller write up for the blog.

EDIT - link to blogged post


Saratoga by GMT.

This is the new reprint that is part of the Tri-Pack that also includes Brandywine and Guilford. Given a bit of a deluxe update, it has thicker counters and a mounted game board.

Yesterday, I replayed the 12 turn scenario (Campaign Scenario), which again yields a tight and tense fight at Bemis Heights. The tactical detail on the map is very nice and the way this starts to have a relationship with unit types such as rifle or light troops brings about plenty of nuance, making the game replayable.

The course of the game and a few observational notes have gone up over on the blog at the below link.


Gettysburg from Paul Keonig Games.

This is a print on demand game that comes with a single map that covers the same area as two traditional sized boardgame maps.

We played to just 1 PM on day one and decided to call it, simply because we were not enjoying it and it looked a tough task for the Confederates to reach end of day 1 positions. It would be fair to say that the Confederate player had more than their fair share of high rolls (bad), but even so, we felt that the CRT had the sort of swinging chaos that one might expect more with a D10 CRT and that the Confederate force became spent too early in the day. Due to the CRT, I had called off Hill’s attack by noon.

The Union ‘at start’ cavalry seem unusually resiliant and by Noon, the Union defence had a lot of confidence in defending forward and the Confederates felt less inclined to want to attack ...... except of course they need to. Not sure what to make of this game, it may deserve a replay, but with so much other stuff that we like, I doubt it will get it.


Building up some trees for the larger scales.

During a tidy up, I came across a box of trees that had been collected for some 20mm / 28mm gaming and they were in various states of  completion and condition.

Getting them all together, I refurbished them as a group. All the clump foliage type trees got a spray of watered down PVA to strengthen them. All of the nylon bristle type trees that were showing some wear, were sprayed with that glue that is used for mounting photographs and then were rolled in Scenic Woodland course turf to re-flock them.

Finally, I had some large plastic armatures from Woodlands Scenics and I have never had much luck with getting clump foliage to stick properly to these, so looking for an alternative, I used a hot glue gun to stick that moss lichen to the branches, which acts like a bulking material. These then had thinned PVA glue sprayed on them to firm them and allowed to fully dry. Once dry, they were sprayed with the photo glue and then rolled in the course turf, which conceals the moss texture and instead gives a finer ‘clump foliage’ type look, that is quite passable as a tree. The only downside to this, despite the PVA glue, is that the lichen remains a bit spongy, so needs a bit of gentle handling and someone else on a forum suggested that the lichen will dry out and degrade over time, so I will keep an eye on this.

Tap on the photo for an enlargmenet, the tress on the lower right are lichen based.

Everything once done was given a couple of coats of hairspray as a fixative. Anyway for a relatively small amount of time / work, these should give quite a presence on the table for some time to come.


Saratoga - published by GMT

This is a title from GMT’s Battles of the American Revolution series. In fact, it was published as the first game in the series. Having been reprinted twice, it now finds itself most recently in a third release, this time as part of the BAR special ‘tri-pack’ that includes two other reprints (Brandywine and Guildford), though this is something of a deluxe version, as each game gets a mounted map.

We played the campaign game last night, which uses the full 12 turns, in which the opening turns play out in a fairly predictable way, due to the very dense terrain and the British therefore approaching on the various roads and trails, though the weight of their attack can be made greater in one place than another, bringing a little variety to the opening engagements.

The photo shows one quarter of the map, with the Americans set up in their at-start positions. And they mostly stayed on the Heights throughout the game, defending against strong assaults in the closing turns, though managing to throw the first attack back. 

A main feature of the game is an Army Morale Track and the marker for each side moves up and down that track depending on good or bad fortunes of battle. As morale is raised or lowered, the combat die roll, the initiative die roll and the rally die roll is modified. Once an army morale degrades and reaches the Wavering band, then a tipping point has generally been reached, recovery can be difficult and the gains made by the other side can be prosecuted with increased vigour.

Overall very enjoyable and more about this system will be appearing here.


ISU 152 from Pegaus

This is one of the Pegasus fast build kits. You get two models in a box and can make either the 152 or 122 models.

The best think about fast build is that generally the running gear and tracks all come as single combined parts, that saves a lot of track wheels pinging off the table, across the room, never to be found again, not even by the hoover!

For just a bit of fun, the picture of the ISU 152 and another model (Armourfast Sd Kfz 251/c) are included in a ‘Fake News’ post over on the blog.

LINK (part of my Fake News series)


War of 1812

An oldie but goodie by Columbia Games, having seen several editions since its 70’s publication.

The game covers a three year campaign, with each year having ten turns. Our first game was over at the end of year one with a spectacular American win, but the second game played very differently and went on for the full three years, ending in a draw, with the British considered to have got the advantage.

Here the British have exploited an advantage, pushing on to Ticonderogan and also securing Lake Champlain. In the following turn they would move down and take Albany, though they were not be able to hold it, but the threat kept the American forces tied to that area.


7th Kursk themed game played - Ponyri

This is the final scenario from Dark July and we move to the norther sector to look at the attacks on Ponyri.

Referred to as Little Stalingrad by those who fought there, intense fighting with attack followed by counter-attack, saw buildings captured, lost and recaptured, only to be lost again.

This scenario covers the action around The Tractor Station and the School, buildings that were fought and refought over. The scenario has quite a varied order-of-battle and result is a very involved and narrative filled battle.

There is a full write upover at the blog LINK

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