(Video Version of this material: https://youtu.be/932PNG81gXA)
The Christmas time is quickly approaching – not a full month away. Second time in a row this great period of the year will be different than what we normally were used to – of course, due to the widespread pandemic (on a rise again 😦 ) and the resulting restrictions, severely impacting the possibility to meet live.
Of course this is still a fantastic opportunity for us to do a great surprise to our beloved ones and I would not be myself if I would not have couple of suggestions connected to my greatest hobby – wargames.
So what I have in mind is presenting a selection based on the games released in 2021 – the condition was only those I had chance to play. I am fully aware that there are many other war and conflict themed titles which can be recommended. Unfortunately, I did not have chance to play them all – there are simply too many releases!
So, without further delay, let us look at the selection!
Atlantic Chase from GMT Games
Definitely my Top 1 recommendation. Fantastic game, very thematic, with great modes, rulebooks and components. What is it about? Atlantic Chase simulates the naval campaigns fought in the North Atlantic between the fleets of the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine between 1939 and 1942. It utilizes a system of trajectories to model the fog of war that was so common during this period due to technology limitations.
How it works? Players arrange trajectory lines across the shared game board, each line representing a task force’s path of travel. Without resorting to dummy blocks, hidden movement, or a double-blind system requiring a referee or computer, players experience the uncertainty endemic to this period of naval warfare – you know your and enemy ships are somewhere on the trajectory, but where exactly is an unknown.
The game in essence is a 2-player title but has also a very elaborate solitaire system with couple of campaigns. All in all, the content contained in the heavy box will allow for many hours of gameplay.
In my humble opinion, this is one of the best games published in 2021. I love the approach taken by the author to teaching the game. The Tutorial is one of the best I have ever seen and can be used as actual scenarios. Next, you have many game modes – you have short skirmishes, large operations, campaign, solo system, pure ships engagement on Battle Map with basic and advanced rules.
Of course, GMT stands to its reputation, components quality is fantastic – rulebook, tutorial, scenario books – with top quality paper, large font, tons of pictures and examples. Then wooden trajectory markers which are beautiful, and correspond greatly to the mounted map. The ships are simple counters, the least impressive part of the game, but they do their job just fine. If you are interested how it all interacts, just have a look at the below How to Play video:
Important to note, the second reprint is on its way – the first edition was in such demand that disappeared within a month! Strongly recommended!
More about the game – tons of articles where you can see the components, read the review, check the play options, etc.:
- What is in the box?
- Game REVIEW
- Video How To Play Atlantic Chase
- Advanced Battle Rules
- All articles on my blog
Successors from Phalanx
Successors 4th edition – a long awaited new version of fantastic classic – is a 2-5 player card-driven wargame based on the Alexander the Great generals conflicts. Each player controls a faction of two or more leaders and attempts to win the game either by achieving legitimacy with the Macedonian royalty or by conquering and maintaining control of the empire.
The rulebook is very detailed so the authors – rightfully – suggest starting with the example of play. Of course the Fourth edition brings the updates to the game. It includes more generals, more scenarios, new Tyche cards, plenty of new components, and a changed map, with Libya and Cyrene being merged. All in all, a great refresh of fantastic title.
I have to underline that this is a very thematic game – covers all that grand battles of Alexander generals and not so long ago – friends & compatriots. We have Alexander legacy, heirs, prophecies, grand armies, elephants, as well as surprising event cards. As a fan of history I love to have a chance to replay it and possibly alter. Of course, new edition has great quality components – it is vividly and clearly visible when you use miniatures. Oversize Tyche cards, mounted map, province cards – all those elements adds to unforgettable experience.
If there is one thing which in my humble opinion might increase the fun factor from the game, would be the battle resolution. Hannibal & Hamilcar had a great mini-game to resolve battles, where luck factor was significantly diminished. Something more sophisticated than pure roll of dice would be welcome here.
More about the game:
I am devoted fan of Valiant Defense Series by David Thompson. It currently encompasses Pavlov’s House (siege of Stalingrad), Castle Itter (Wehrmacht and Allies fighting versus SS troops!), Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms (which I am describing here) and recently announced Battle of Lanzerath Ridge (an incredible defense by two dozens of US Troops during the Battle of the Bulge). So this will not be a surprise that I recommend newest installment in the series in this article!
In Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms you take control of the valiant defenders of Polish Postal Office No. 1 in the Free City of Danzig on the first day of the Second World War. Under your command, the defenders must fend off relentless attacks from the Danzig Schutzpolizei and two German SS units.
The goal of Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms is to recreate the incredible historic accomplishment of the Polish postal workers by defending the post office during the day-long siege. In the game, this is represented by playing through three decks of enemy cards
SIPU is divided into three Attack Phases (Morning, Midday, Evening). Each of them lasts typically six turns. Every turn consists of couple of phases: German Phase (so 5 attacker actions driven by cards); Defender Phase (four moves and four actions by Postmen); Optional Clearing Phase (Assault counters inside the building remove defenders) and Escape Phase (Defenders escape from the building).
Let me share some of my experiences with the game. First and foremost, the game theme – while unique and extraordinary as with every installment in the series – is pretty special for me as the Post office defenders were my compatriots; their fight was valiant but later on their fate was tragic. Secondly, the difficulty level – the game is truly challenging and requires from you constant risk mitigation and risk taking. You do not have enough moves or actions and prioritization of scarce resources is key. Last but not least, top quality components – I like the DVG products – large counters, shiny but useful map, good quality rulebook.
All in all, highly recommended game, tackling in a very respectful way tragic events but at the same time give you hours of great game-play.
More about the game:
I hope that above small sub-set of wargames published in 2021 will be some form of inspiration to the Dear Readers regarding what great Christmas present you could prepare for your bellowed ones (or ask for yourself!). Above I focused on the new releases but in two weeks time I am going to publish one more article – with All Time Classics, which you should also consider. Stay tuned!