Replay iBattle Academy – Western Desert Campaign 1

The Western Desert Campaign is the first one available in Battle Academy for iPad. One will argue that this game is not the most realistic simulation one can find about WWII at tactical level, and that’s fair enough. But what an awesome lot of fun to move troops across the dunes and villages on a tablet!

Western Desert Campaign

Mission #1 is titled “Capture the fort”, and it is some sort of tutorial set up involving just 3 AFVs and a couple of squads, whose mission is to take control of an isolated Italian fort. I love these briefing screens:

Capture the fort - Briefing

Capture the fort - Tactical map

The interest here will be to tick the 3 proposed achievements:

  1. Do not lose any units (probably the hardest one)
  2. Kill at least 10 enemy units
  3. Capture all victory points in 12 turns

So let’s get started! No option to configure your army here, you’re just offered the default 3 “Queens of the desert” aka Matilda tanks. A couple of Bren carriers full of tommies will come along a bit later, to help securing the buildings.

OOB and Achievements

 

Turn 01

 

I launch my platoon of reco tanks at full speed along the trail, and on turn two they spot their first column of italian tankette, which turn out to be CV33 or L3. The Matildas easily deflect the rounds of machine-guns, and in a snap I have blasted the first two in the column down to hamburgers. The 3rd one will face the same doom minutes after, hammered by my off-board artillery.

Turn 02

 

Pushing forward, I encounter some opposition in the rugged terrain around the road, where italian footmen have taken cover during my artillery barrage. These crags are indeed the ideal cover in barren lands, I should be mindful of them later on.

But resistance is futile and I bypass the obstacle to meet another column of brazilian tankettes. Meanwhile, my infantry is catching up, riding fast on the priceless Bren carriers. Stupid me! There was another italian squad hidden on the opposite slope of the valley. They were quiet so far because suppressed, but now they show up for a last hurrah. The tommies have to disembark for a surgical cleanup, while the Matildas teach english to their italian counterparts. In the bloody battle, I loose one of my squad, which is taking one achievement away, damn!

Turn 05

 

Finally, we are reaching the settlement and the fort, which looks dangerously quiet. No doubts there are some machine guns ready for an opportunity fire behind these dark windows.

Turn 06

Using Assault movement, I scout around the buildings, to spot some jerrys entrenched in the building on the outskirts. The tommies carry out a merciless assault and take ground. Good surprise, more reinforcement are coming, 3 more squads to support the final assault. Although they’ll take 3 turns to reach the settlement, in the absence of proper transport.(And now I realise I should have sent my empty Bren carrier to accelerate deployment). As there’s no signs of life, I decide to call for another artillery barrage, hopefully to suppress the last defenders.

Turn 08

 

My AFVs circle around, with a hope to take them aback, while infantry comes closer to the city wall, and capture another outpost.

Turn 09

 

 

We finally spot the last defenders and HQ officers trying to flee from the back of the fort. They are snared in a snap, and we claim victory on Turn 11!

Turn 10

 

Victory

PocketTactics: Battle of the Bulge announced

Bulge by SPI in 1979Battle of the Bulge is one of these legendary titles that have founded modern wargaming and changed the life of the young boardgamer I was in the 80’s.

Initially published by Avalon Hill in 1965, it has been then replicated, duplicated, and reissued countless times by the most prestigious publishers, both on cardboard and on PC screens.

There were certainly some serious opus along the way, and any serious wargamer should have in his library Bulge released by SPI in 1979.

Battle of the Bulge for iPadAnd when you hear that one of the grognards from SPI, Eric Lee Smith, decides to start a new venture named Shenandoah Studio to port the game on tablets, starting with iPad, you can start believing again in Santa!

The game should be available on the appstore this September 2012, so keep an eye on the developer’s diary. We’ve been able to grasp some screens and game arts here and there on the web, and it just looks awesome, nothing clumsy or clunky anywhere, this is all beautiful and polished and we just need now to assess the gameplay!

Battle of the Bulge - Game interfaceBattle of the Bulge - Game interface

This is great news for all grown up pocket gamers. Add on top of it that the next battle using the system is already planned for 2013-Q1: Get ready to fly to North Africa, to meet Rommel at El Alamein. That will be Volume 2 of this new game series titled “Crisis in Command”. It’s a wonderful world.

El Alamein announced!

Eric Lee SmithProject’s video inspirational pitch by Eric himself: http://kck.st/I5cHzt

Eric Lee Smith is a game designer and software development specialist. He worked for both Avalon Hill and SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.). Most of his games were published by Victory Games (I), a subsidiary of Avalon Hill formed around ex-SPI employees. In 2005, he became Vice President of Product Direction for Investor Force Incorporated.

Battle of the Bulge – Very early interface preview

Start Small: Rattenkrieg

Rattenkrieg: Game mapRattenkrieg is a postcard game published by Turning Point Simulations, the new venture by LPS Inc, publishers of Against the Odds Magazine. It has been designed by Steven Cunliffe who also made The Hell of Stalingrad. It’s a solitaire simulation of the intense fighting for the Tractor Factory in the Battle for Stalingrad. The player takes the roll of the Germans as he maneuvers panzers, infantry, and elite pioneers into the ruins to hunt down the Soviets. Ambushes, snipers, and tough decisions await the Germans as they push deeper into the city.

The longer the game lasts the more Soviet Reinforcements infiltrate through the ruins to surround and cut off the attackers. To win the player will have to master warfare in the most brutal of all WWII battlefields. Rattenkrieg is literally “War of the Rats” and is the name given to irregular and deadly city fighting.

Rattenkrieg: RulesNote that you’ll get the game for free, including die cut counters, with your next order at LPS Inc., go for it!

The system proposed here by Steven Cunliffe is lean, smart and highly scalable for any sort of area control game. It’s about a dozen blocks in 1942 Stalingrad here at a tactical level, but it could be as well about provinces in North Vietnam at an operational level, or galaxy sectors in a sci-fi strategy game.

5 dices, well balanced double sided counters to define opposing forces, a couple of resource scales, and a beautiful game board is what it will take you to create your own solitaire entertainment. This might also easily become the next viral tablet game for digital wargamers.

Initial Setup

Gameturn sample

I start the game with 4 balanced squads, each of my leader leading armor in the North and in the South. My objective is to quickly take control of well defended zones 3 and 10. I push westward and start cleaning the sewer system of the iconic soviet city …

German push on turn #1

A bit of luck on this first round:

  • Soviet roll a die and add a new counter in zone 5. But I do not change my plans, I’ll address that with Infantry on halftracks (2MP). Damn! This is one of these platoons of T34! They pin down my assault and suppress my infantry. Air support is more than welcome to balance the odds and to finally get rid of the reds.
  • North squad enters 3 and reveal an ambush by Molotov cocktails, depleting infantry.
  • Grenadiers enter zone 12 and spot a sniper who retreats, as there is no German leader in the area.
  • In the southern part of the industrial complex, grenadiers secure area #11, while my armour push forward with Colonel Baess. We meet strong opposition there and call for Stukas, but the assault fails and outcome remains uncertain.

That concludes Turn #1 and I realise a couple of mistakes: I forgot to promote Khol in the North, that’s an easy one to fix, giving me an extra iron cross for upcoming battles. As turn 2 begins and soviets are going to roll dice to infiltrate new troops, I bite my fingers and think I should have sent an infantry counter in zone#2 to cover my back. Luckily enough, the soviet rolls 5, and there’s no infiltration as the area is under control. The assault can continue. Good fun!

Situation after turn #1

Black Cross / Blue Sky add-on out … and sold out!

Lost SquadronsBlack Cross / Blue Sky is a reference for Air Combat during WWII. The game is published by Blue Sky Enterprises and covers the battle for Britain at a tactical level with focus on air units, but also involving naval and terrestrial objectives. Find out more about the game here.

John F. Stanoch strikes again by publishing the add-on “Lost Squadron“, first seen this August 2012 at the World Boardgaming Championships held in Lancaster PA, USA. The game seems to have been well received as all of the stock was sold out at the show. Players are now able to expand their gaming experience with “Black Cross/Blue Sky” by adding the French, Polish and Dutch air forces. Ships are also introduced including the French battleship ‘Richelieu’.

Black Cross / Blue Sky game board

The Pitch of Lost Squadron: Months before the commencement of the Battle of Britain, the skies over Europe witnessed intense aerial battles of obsolete and outnumbered Allied aircraft fighting desperately for survival against incredible odds and widely superior aircraft of the German Luftwaffe. This was the stage upon which the Lost Squadrons flew. The Polish, French, Dutch and ubiquitous British air forces tried valiantly but in vaint to blunt Germany’s invasion of Europe from the air. Now you can fly as these desperate and brave pilots to see if you can change the course of history!

But you’ll have to wait for a reprint of Lost Squadrons, stay tuned.
(Although it has been seen on eBay)

An enthusiast review by Marco Arnaudo

ASL Video Tutorials

ASL TutorialsSometimes you just roam on Youtube and you can stumble upon gold nuggets. And the video tutorial from ID Jester are some of those, for Advanced Squad Leader fans!

There are probably 2 you want to start with, in relation to how to play ASL using VASSAL and the VASL module:

Beyond the basics, you’ll probably also enjoy this series of 14 tutorials, each of them spoken in a very clear and comprehensive manner. Good job ID Jester, the ASL community thanks you.

Episode #1: ASL Tutorial Video

 

MMP preparing electronic rulebook for ASL

ImageAccording to a recent post of Chas Argent from MMP on both ConsimWorld and Gamesquad, the firm is on the verge of releasing an electronic version of ASL rulebook. That’s certainly exciting news for the players community, striving to make the game more popular and struggling to attract new players, often scared off by the complexity of just the Starter Kits.

Current printed version of the 2nd edition can be purchased for 80USD on MMP site, or 84AUD at Milsims. Interesting to see how they will ship and charge for the eBook version.

Against the Odds 36

Against the Odds #36It just landed in my mailbox, with a special focus on the Burma campaign.

The included game is Defeat into Victory, by designer Paul Rohrbaugh, and it covers this neglected aspect of WWII history, using a very interactive and easy to play (chit-pull activation system) design. The game map stretches from Dimapur in the north to Rangoon in the south. Rules cover supply (a crucial aspect in terrain that was among the most inhospitable of the war), various types of combat (fire, maneuver and assault), as well as morale and leadership. Rules also include random events (that simulate the effects of battles and decisions by higher-ups elsewhere), weather, Japanese suicide tank attacks (human combat destruction squads) and changing war goals. The air campaign is also simulated (in much more detail than generic “air points”).

Defeat Into Victory - MapScenarios include the initial Japanese offensive against Imphal and Kohima, two on the Allied 1945 offensive, as well as the Campaign Game. Tough decisions will have to be made by both sides as they allocate precious resources among their formations, determine their enemy’s intentions and balance their plans, as well as attack and defend.

  • Map – One full color 22″x34″ mapsheet
  • Counters – 300 full color 1/2″ die-cut pieces
  • Rules length – 12 pages
  • Charts and tables – 2 pages
  • Complexity – Medium
  • Solitaire suitability – Average

Read more and order here.