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Toe-to-Toe Nu'klr Combat with the Rooskies» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Rookie Wargamer's Review: Toe-to-Toe rss

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Jonathan Holen
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Welcome to my first review! I have to say that I've learned a lot from BGG.com, and want go contribute myself, so here goes with my first review.

Overview:

I recently posted a thread looking for recommendations for some solitaire wargames and received a lot of advice, which I'm thankful for. Some of the games that were mentioned were produced by a small company called Victory Point Games (VPG) - so naturally I started to do some research as I hadn't heard much about them before. I read some posts, and watched some reviews most notably Marco Arnaudo (Thanks Marco! You have some great video reviews). Finally I sent a GeekMail to one of the designers who works for VPG and got his take on which games would be best to purchase to get a good feel for the company and what style of game they produced. On Thursday my order arrived with Ottoman Sunset and the game that this review is about, Toe-to-Toe. Lets open it up and take a look.

Components:

Here is what you see after you open the package. Everything comes all contained in a ziplock style bag, with a cover sheet clearly stating which game is which. Now for those not familiar with Victory Point Games philosophy, they are a print-on-demand style company meaning that in order to fill your order they print your games personally for you. They don't have large stock piles of games waiting to be sent out. This allows them to try many different styles of games and game designs without investing tons of money into producing a multitude of copies. They produce what they need. Obviously, some might not be a fan of this style of business, but you must realize that VPG's standpoint is that the gameplay is what you are paying for. I knew this going into it, so wasn't shocked when I opened the envelope. It sure wasn't like opening my the box to Earth Reborn, but then again they don't ever claim to have that as their goal. Lets keep looking at what comes with the game.



Inside are various cardboard counters, which I've punched out - they have also included a small baggie for storing these which can be seen below.





Also in the package is a set of event cards which have various situations that can arise when trying to complete your objectives, most of them in some way hinder your progress. Again, these cards are printed on cardboard - don't expect super high quality fiber count cards. However, they work - they are easy to read, and contain all the information needed to play the game. The counters are the same - legible and make the information very clear to see.



Here are some examples of the event card side where it describes what actions to take.



I suppose if you were concerned about the durability you could get some card sleeves for the cards and maybe try some sort of sealant on the counters, but I'm not concerned. I've heard that people have been playing these games for a number of years without any trouble, and if it were ever to break down you can just buy yourself another copy if you truly enjoy the game.

Here are the included rules - which walk you through the game's structure, and what to expect when playing the game. They were a fairly quick read, and made enough sense to get in and play the game.



In addition to the rules they have included an Example of Play which walks you through some sample turns - I found this very helpful! This combined with the rules allowed me to step into my first game and get off to a running start.



Here is a conveinient player aid that gives you a nice recap of turn structure, combat, victory points, and other game related material.



Now lets take a look at where you'll be spending most of your time; the board game map. This again is printed on a thick type of paper, and is folded in half. I found no clarity issues with the map, however it was a bit faded. Again, nothing that will impact gameplay but just a sidenote. The map is a nice size, and definitely doesn't take up too much real estate on your table - things are clearly laid out and in a logical place.





Overall, for what the components are, and being aware of VPG's philosophy on game production, I'd rate the components 7/10. I knew what to expect going into it, but wasn't super thrilled when opening the game up. With that said, lets now take a look at what VPG focuses on, Gameplay!

Gameplay:

The game is broken down into four missions that you can fly, ranging from Easy (green) to Hard (red) with two in between. These missions obviously scale in difficulty, and can be flown in connection together as a full campaign. This campaign might be a bit different than some you've experienced before, as the scores from each mission are simply added together to receive your campaign. From the two missions that I completed last night, they seemed to take around 15 minutes for the Easy mission - it is said that a full campaign ranges from 50-60 minutes in entirety.

Your B-52 starts at the indicated start track for the mission that you've decided on partaking. At the start of your turn you have an option to determine what altitude you'll be flying at, and can move up or down one level (ie. High to Medium, Medium to Low). Your altitude can give you certain benefits, however some come at a cost. Once you have determined your altitude you move onto the Defense stage - this is where the defense counters are flipped over and the combat is carried out. Printed defenses on the board are handled first and then the counter. Counters can range from MiG attacks, SAM attacks, as well as having to draw an event card or increase the threat levels for both MiGs/SAMs. This is all via a D6 and is based a number of factors such as altitude, threat level, and other modifiers such as event cards already in place. Once all defenses are handled the player draws an Event card. These Event cards are rarely in favor of your crew, and most are carried out after they are drawn. Some have a "watch over" effect where they are placed at the top of the board and have effects on future actions, such as reducing victory points gained from bombing key locations/objectives.



After the Event phase the player moves to his bombing phase - this is where you decide what ordnance you want to unleash upon the objectives on your route. Each bomb has certain characteristics, and some cause more damage resulting in more victory points if certain conditions are met. However, this all comes at the price of being drastically more heavy than their "weaker" counter-parts. Once the bombing phase is handled, the cycle repeats itself. Fuel depletion is a constant struggle, as each four spaces you move you lose one fuel. Additionally some altitude levels cause a faster depletion rate of fuel, and Event cards can cause immediate loses of fuel. Needless to say, there is very clear tension felt in the game.



Conclusion:

I find myself really enjoying this game. It is light, however it sets up rather fast and more importantly plays fast. There is enough strategy that it doesn't feel completely controlled by luck, yet things are random enough to encourage more plays through. I got this game again from a recommendation of one of the designers who works with VPG as a good taste of what they have to offer. The components work for what they are, however the main focus here is game play which I find myself enjoying. We'll see how long it can last compared to some other solitaire games, but so far I'm pretty sure it'll have a spot among my small solitaire collection.

Is this for you?

If you don't consider yourself a component enthusiast where top of the line components are a must in any game you own, and you are looking for a light introduction to the solitaire games that VPG has to offer, at a very reasonable price, then I'd say this game is for you. That is primarily why I bought it - to get a sense for the games produced by VPG, and see if solitaire war games are something that I'd like to get into, and I feel that is most definitely has succeeded in accomplishing that. My wife and I are going out of town here shortly, and you can be sure this game is going with me.

I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. Thanks VPG, Chris Taylor, and most importantly Steve Carrey for your recommendation to check this game out. VPG definitely has my interest in what they have to offer.

Most importantly, thanks for reading,
Jonathan

I've started a GeekList - to checkout my other reviews feel free to subscribe and view them as linked below:

A Rookie Wargamer's Reviews
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Steve Carey
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review

You're very welcome Jonathan, and also welcome to the wonderful world of VPG.

For a first review, you did an outstanding job!
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Victory Point Games
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Wow! As an old game reviewer and editor (FIRE & MOVEMENT, COMPUTER GAMING WORLD magazines, etc.), that's more than a good first effort. That's a nice bit of writing there, sir! Well done!! :)

Of course, I'm glad you liked that game as well, and we look forward to appearing on your game table from time to time!

Best,

Alan Emrich
Victory Point Games
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Gregory Amstutz
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Steve Carey wrote:

You're very welcome Jonathan, and also welcome to the wonderful world of VPG.

For a first review, you did an outstanding job!


I second that. Very well done!
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Joshua Gottesman
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
What a great review...it really showed off everything about the game and gave a good overview of the gameplay.
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Christopher Taylor
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Thank you for the review. I'm glad you're enjoying the game!
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Tony Buman
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Excellent review! I look forward to seeing more of them from you!
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Jonathan Holen
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Thanks for the feedback! I suppose Ottoman Sunset is on the chopping block next, gone through the example of play and definitely looking forward to it.
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Paul Lister
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Outstanding review!
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Adrian Hague
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Nice review thumbsup

I bought TTTNCwtR for exactly the same reasons as yourself, and also came to the same conclusions as yourself!

I then went on to purchase Nemo's War, and I didn't regret it cool
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Jonathan Holen
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
AdrianPHague wrote:
Nice review thumbsup

I bought TTTNCwtR for exactly the same reasons as yourself, and also came to the same conclusions as yourself!

I then went on to purchase Nemo's War, and I didn't regret it cool
Nemo's War looks really interesting, as does Astra Titanus. Also Zulus on the Ramparts.. VPG has some pretty cool games.. probably will be putting in another order in the near future.
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Darren Dew
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
As the others have said, nice review! Clear, cncise, and VERY readable! Just the right amount of details without bogging down!

And as for the "excitement" factor, this might be relative to the experience of the buyer; I loved the components, but "in my day" we opened games with less glitz and chrome and were thrilled! If, however, the buyer is only used to buying Horus Heresy and Through the Desert, they might find the production a little "PnP" for their tastes.

As a PnP-er myself, I loved the graphics and design. The colors were a little light, which reminded me of a few other games that almost give the appearance of fading or ruffled use. Sienna and Railroad Tycoon coem to mind (see images below). I don't know how long I held off on RRT before buying it beause I thought the box was faded! But, in the case of TtTNCwR, I think its the nostalgic color and look of the Cold War posters and propaganda that informs the pallette.

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Jonathan Holen
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
Thanks Zelif,

Yeah, I'm really of the opinion that components really can only add to a game, they sure don't make it for me. Can components deter from your gaming experience? Yeah of course, but I haven't found that to be the case with VPG games. This is a game that is solid, fun, and well designed with simply more PnP styled components. All that translates to a winner for me.

Interestingly enough, I was of the same mindset in my earlier years of computer gaming - always preferring game play over fancy graphics. Hehe, suppose I shouldn't be surprised then, board games share some close similarities to video games.
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Steve Carey
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Re: A Toe-Ta-Lee Nu'klr Review
jholen wrote:
Thanks Zelif,

Yeah, I'm really of the opinion that components really can only add to a game, they sure don't make it for me. Can components deter from your gaming experience? Yeah of course, but I haven't found that to be the case with VPG games. This is a game that is solid, fun, and well designed with simply more PnP styled components. All that translates to a winner for me.

Interestingly enough, I was of the same mindset in my earlier years of computer gaming - always preferring game play over fancy graphics. Hehe, suppose I shouldn't be surprised then, board games share some close similarities to video games.


I've actually come to prefer the crisp and colorful VPG-style components over the more flashy or artsy components that we see too often in some games today.

When it comes to components, function over form always rules the day (for me at least). But it's VPG's top-notch gameplay that's their real boon.
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Paul O\\\'Grady
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AdrianPHague wrote:
Nice review thumbsup

I bought TTTNCwtR for exactly the same reasons as yourself, and also came to the same conclusions as yourself!

I then went on to purchase Nemo's War, and I didn't regret it cool


Ditto and completely agree - both are GREAT games cool
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Joe Thomas
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I really like the super small d6 that comes with the game. A good game indeed!
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B Schneider
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Great review!

But, do the Russians have a Doomsday Device they've failed to tell anyone about?
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