This Week


Julius Caesar by Columbia Games

A face-to-face game at Mike’s last Friday with an old favourite that is easy to pull of the shelf and get straight into. 

As a strategic game based around the lands adjacent to the Mediterranean, I am always surprised by what appears to be limited ways the game can go, mostly delivers a fresh gaming experience each time we play.

Covering the  Roman Civil War 49 - 45 BC and with each side getting five turns per year, this game moves along at a good pace and easily fits into a short evening session.

Within the hand of activation cards that each player gets, there are some special event cards, but if both players play an event card at the same time, they are cancelled and play moves on to the next round. Twice this happened to us, each time I was really thrown as I had planned the turn to revolve around the feature of the card. All told an enjoyable game .... again. 


Kursk Battles

The second game from the Dark July module - Clearing the Ditches has been played and an AAR is up on the blog



Kursk Battles

The Kursk Battles Month continues with first scenario, the assault on hill 252.2 has been played and is up. 

It is a longish post and further posts will be shorter as there will be less to explain.



Intro to the Dark July map.

As scenario 1 gets set up, there is a new intro post (link below) looking at the background to Operation Citadel and the Dark July map / terrain and mention of the rather convoluted start to the Lloyd Clark book.

Scenario 1 only uses the left hand half of the map.



A bit of a Kursk theme is planned for July. 

It just so happens that 5th July will be the 75th anniversary of the opening of the German 1943 summer offensive. A campaign (Operation Citadel) that was monumental in terms of the direction of the war and renown for the huge tank battles fought around Prokhorovka.

Dark July, is the Lock ‘n Load Tactical boardgame module that covers the tactical level fighting in the region just west of Prokhorovka and specifically at the Oktiabrski State Farm and Hill 252.2 

The module has six scenarios, with one of them using a full sized map. I happen to have the X-Maps, which are essentially doubled in size, so you get a larger gaming hex as it stretches a one map game into a two map space.

To coincide with gaming the module, I am reading Kursk - The Greatest Battle, Eastern Front 1943 by Lloyd Clark and published by Headline Review. This has been on the ‘to read’ list for too long and if the opening pages are anything to go by, this should be a good read.

It talks about a Tiger company being charged across the steppe by 100 T34’s first identified at a mile out and then suddenly the T-34’s disappear from sight as they drop into a fold in the ground, only to re-emerge half a mile out. It’s the kind of first hand account that helps us understand those ‘to hit’ numbers in our games, even when the ground looks featureless and flat. The Tigers inflicted great carnage, but some T-34’s got through and four Tigers were damaged. It has T-34’s shooting on the move as they close in and the Tigers moving to get better firing positions. All that sort of stuff really helps visualise what out games should be doing.


Arnhem by Beevor.

This is his latest title and is well told in his easy read, but factual and detailed style that knits the story of the overall campaign at the senior command level, right down the many stories and experiences of the individual soldiers and the citizens of the local populations. I do like the way that at various points in the book, he adds personal opinion such as ‘no doubt this was the right course of action’, which helps shape the way that the reader views the various capabilities and character of the commanders from a position of hindsight.

The first 70 pages of the book looks at the various planning stages and gives some insight into the personalities of the senior Allied Commanders, which frankly is often unflattering and then the account of the campaign that brings together four distinct aspects, the desparate struggle in the various paratrooper battles, the drive of XXX Corps to reach the bridges, failures at the planning / command level and both the bravery and the missery suffered by the local populations. The individual stories show the best and worst of people and the whole read is a thought provoking exercise, from a pen that does this sort of thing so well. 

I was left feeling very much more informed, but also somewhat dismayed by war itself. He does a good job at making this emmotional connection with the facts of matter.


Phoenix Wargame show 2018.

This is a small frindly event that sees 19 traders abd 7 game tables plus a couple of tournaments and it is set in a modern eco friendly centre within the beautiful county of Cumbria.

I found some traders who were new to me, plus I picked up a few items that I had not come across before, including some interesting and rather nicely presented English Civil War rules and some pre-formed plastic hlls done in the old Belona style, but in heavier plastic.

There is a full report of the show on the blog at the below link




For moving and shifting through stacks of counters in boardgames.  

I have been looking for long legged tweezers with a fairly wide gait and an angular head, so that counters on crowded maps can be moved easily without banana fingers sending the counters flying all over the place and knocking over stacks.

Nobody seemed to know what I was talking about in the beauty shops on the high street, but an E-Bay search came up with ‘London College Tweezers Serrated Tip Dental Surgical Instruments CE UK’. Anyway after that bit of specialism posh, it turns out they can be yours for just £2 post included.

I had to widen the arms a little just by gently prising them apart and now they seem to do the job just fine.

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