World War II

TDG: The Russian Campaign, 5th Edition


The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! In hex and counter form! Join Cody as he explores this latest edition of the classic Eastern Front wargame from GMT Games. Will it blitzkrieg over your table top? Or will you just surrender on game night? Let's watch!

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TDG: Absolute War: The Russian Front 1941-1945


Nazis, and Soviets, and armies! Oh my! Sit a spell and watch as Cody takes a look at this new Eastern Front wargame from GMT Games. Will it break through your heart's defenses? Or will it just fall short of its objective? Let's watch!

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TDG: Combat Commander: Europe


Don't you hate it when you and your squad are pinned down by enemy fire, and you literally don't have any cards to play? Join Cody as he finally takes a look at this card-driven WWII tactical game from GMT Games. Will it advance on all fronts? Or will it just disrupt your good times? Let's watch!

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TDG: Black Orchestra


Black Orchestra, from Game Salute, is a new game based on the various resistance plots that existed to assassinate the Nazi Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. The game depicts a map of Germany (with several locations in Berlin their own spaces- the Chancellery, Gestapo HQ, Sportspalast, etc..) as well as various other locations in Europe like Prague, Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, Auschwitz, and more. Most locations have random items on them, which are placed face down to hide them from the players. Each player draws a random conspirator, based on an actual historical resister like Clause von Stauffenberg, Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster, and more. Player cards have motivation tracks- how committed they are to the cause; and suspicion tracks- how much the Gestapo suspects their loyalty to Hitler. On a players' turn he or she may take three actions like conspire, roll dice in an attempt to add successes to the dissent track which will help to increase motivation or lower Hitler's military support; move from one location to another; search to reveal the item at a location, obtain that item, or draw a conspiracy card, or more. Conspiracy cards may give you advantages in the game to move directly across the board, or modify dice rolls, or contain plots to take the Fuhrer out. After the player takes his or her action, the player draws an event card which may move Hitler or his henchmen (Goebbels, Himmler, Goering, etc..) around the board, which can cause the player problems when they start their turn in the same space with one of them. Event cards also unfold the course of the game. Divided into seven decks, they unlock more territories as the war expands in Europe. Each deck also contains a number of Gestapo Raid cards, which will result in the arrest of on conspirators who have the highest suspicion ratings. Once arrested, they may be interrogated and forced to do bad things to their co-conspirators.

Players attempt to carry out a plot. The plot card will tell them what they must do to kill Hitler, and what cards and conditions will give them more dice and other advantages. Players then roll dice the plot card allows them to, and add in any more dice from conspirator cards. They must roll enough successes that it beats the rating of Hitler's military support, but also not roll the German eagle symbol greater than their own suspicion level- lest they go to the Gestapo prison. The players win the game when they successfully kill Hitler. They lose if all of the conspirators go to jail, or if a certain cards is revealed from the final event deck.

Black Orchestra is designed by Philip duBerry, who designed one of my favorite games, AEG's Courtier. The mechanics here are solid, and players really get a sense of the difficulties it took to get all of the pieces into place to take down of the most heavily guarded figures in history. Every turn you've got something to do, even if it is trying to get an item to another location in order to lower your suspicion level. Where the game really shines, however, is in the strong narrative that it provides. Conspirators are darting around Europe, collecting the pieces of the puzzle that they need, all the while careful not to make a misstep that will leave them to the tender mercies of the Gestapo. The way the war expands with the different event decks is really cool, allowing European locations to open up with the growing tide of war. Also, the various abilities that the conspirator cards provide offer some great decisions and touch choices, particularly when you want to keep them all but are limited to your hand size.

With a background in history myself (I wrote my master's thesis on Hitler and Stalin as military commanders, and studied for a time in Berlin), I really appreciated the strong historical narrative here. Also, I love games based on history- and do it well- that are not wargames (though I do love wargames, too). Black Orchestra will take its place alongside historical board game gems such as Twilight Struggle, Origins of World War II, The Grizzled, Churchill, and others. The only complaint I have with regard to this game is that it can feel a little random, and therefore a little frustrating at times. It's not nearly as random as Escape From Colditz, but there is that element there if that is something that might turn you off of the game. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Black Orchestra and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys solid cooperative games and rich, historical games that are filled with narrative.

The Discriminating Gamer

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TDG: Amerika


Nazis to the left of me, Imperial Japanese to the right, here I am: Stuck in the middle with you! Join Cody as he takes a look at this alternate history scenario wargame from Historical Board Gaming, and learns how to protect his Los Alamos in the process.

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TDG: Barbarossa


Cody takes a look at this mesh of World War II and lingerie themes from Kamikaze Games and Arclight Games. Does it extend the borders of the Reich? Or will it just leave you blushing?

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TDG: Churchill


Do you ever get in arguments with your friends over strategic materials, where to launch your next offensive, or political and military control over small countries? Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, and yet they always managed to remain friends and share secrets like schoolgirls. Now, you can recreate their historic hi jinks with this new game of negotiation, cooperation, and competition. I just hope Stalin and FDR don't feel bad that their names aren't on the box.

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Tide of Iron: Next Wave Deseret News Review Added


Cody's written review for Tide of Iron: Next Wave has been added to the Deseret News review page.

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TDG: No Retreat 3


Cody looks at a board game dealing with one of his favorite historical events, the Fall of France in 1940. No Retreat 3, from Victory Point Games, takes us back to the dark, early days of WWII. Let's watch!

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TDG: Tide of Iron: Next Wave


Tide of Iron is back, but will 1A Games' Next Wave live up to Fantasy Flight Games' proud tradition of producing this WWII game of tactical battles? Cody investigates.

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