World War II

TDG: Combat Commander: Europe

Oct
14

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

Mar
03

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

Oct
05

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

Jun
26

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

Sep
04

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

Nov
14

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

Oct
10

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

Sep
16

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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TDG: Paul Koenig's The Bulge: 6th Panzer Army

Aug
27

Cody takes a look at Paul Koenig's The Bulge: 6th Panzer Army, from Victory Point Games.

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The Discriminating Gamer remembers

Jun
06

Seventy years ago today Americans and their allies fought and died in the invasion of France. But for their efforts Nazi rule may well have continued in Europe for years to come. The world owes all men, whatever their nationality, who fought for freedom that day and in the many others of World War II, a tremendous debt. History is a wonderful fit with our hobby, as there are many, many tremendous games that recreate historical events. Wargames often recreate historical conflicts in ways that make the wars easier to understand and appreciate. There are many wonderful World War II themed games on the market today, far too many to mention here. Some of my favorites include Memoir '44, Tide of Iron, and of course, Axis and Allies. Today, as we remember the heroism and sacrifice of those who came before, you may want to break out one of these games in their honor.

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