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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Resistance is futile!

My last words after reporting a few weeks ago on the games of Ivanhoe I'd played with Badger and my neighbour Liam were, "He'll be back!" This prediction was proved correct when Liam joined Donald, Gav, Tony and myself for our recent Sunday session. Liam being new to that table first choice went to him, which left us playing Risk, a game Liam knows.

In my innocence I thought we'd get the game finished in 2-3 hours but we were still playing 4 hours later, when the game had to be put away unfinished so that we could eat in time to settle down for the latest Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars. Still, the game was great fun and Liam is keen for more. I guess I'd call that a result.
While on the subject of Risk: searching Hasbro.com for links, I finally caught up with last year's makeover. The revised Risk has a more modern look and intriguing changes to the rules (some look to me to have been lifted from Axis & Allies). After last Sunday's game I confess I'm quite interested in the "faster gameplay" the ad copy promises. Readers who are interested can click through to find the online demo.

Oh dear, not more!
While on the subject of random finds, I last month happened upon yet another WW2 tactical game: France 1940, designed by Juan Carlos Cebrián. Based on Cebrián's A las Barricadas- about the Spanish Civil war, France 1940 is on MMP's preorder list and currently stands at about half the orders needed before it will go into production. I hope France 1940 makes it over this first hurdle. It is a very nice looking game about a crucial moment in WW2 which has received scant attention from games designers.

The overwhelming German victory- which would make for a dull game if represented authentically, and would raise objections from grognards if it wasn't- means that this is perhaps unsurprising. It's a shame though, because once you get round the overpowering mystique of the Blitzkrieg the early years of the war are very interesting from a wargaming point of view, thanks in no small part to the variety of AFV's taken into battle from prewar armouries by all sides; some- eg. the FT-17 pictured below, were of WW1 vintage! More than just a range of oddities, the AFV's that saw action in France in 1940 crystallised the true nature of the narrow margin of the since much-vaunted technological superiority of the German panzers. In 1940 this technical superiority had little to do with armour or weapons and was more a matter of details like crew compartment layout and the universal provision of radios.

The designer and graphic artist are available for comment on their thread @CSW as is the norm these days. The thread contains plenty of nice pictures of both games. A nice bonus to be found there is a free download of a demo version of France 1940. You can be sure that yours truly has his copy and is looking forward to printing and playing.

With Poland to feature in the next Conflict of Heroes expansion- Price of Honour (release expected before the year is out), grognards hankering for something a bit different from the familiar Tigers on the Russian front really do have plenty to look forward to (not that I've anything against Tigers; I just prefer Panthers).

And finally: the worst of all impossible worlds?
Academy Games- publishers of Conflict of Heroes, has cut itself a slice of the zombie action sweeping a world apparently powerless to resist. 'All Souls Day'- the latest bonus firefight for Conflict of Heroes, features a zombie horde attacking German units resting in a Russian village in late 1942. The firefight uses some simple special rules to create what should be a fun game.

Grognard that I am, I've always been of a serious simulationist bent; eg. I never played any ahistorical matchups in Up Front, not even a speculative one pitting the Americans against the Russians. But I've had a thing for undead on the Eastern Front ever since reading 'Fiends of the Eastern Front' in 2000AD back in 1980, so I expect I'll play this. And I suspect that the zombie special rules might get past even Andy's disinterest in WW2 tactical boardgames! ;)
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