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Manipulate Trajectories to Nab Targets, Prepare for Epic Sieges, and Survive The Battle of the Bulge

Candice Harris
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Board Game: The Deadly Woods: The Battle of the Bulge
• U.S.-based publisher Revolution Games recently released The Deadly Woods: The Battle of the Bulge from award-winning designer Ted S. Raicer, who's most well known for his grandiose World War I hit Paths of Glory from GMT Games.

The Deadly Woods is a campaign game that immerses 1-2 players in the action of the Battle of the Bulge from December 16, 1944 to January 15, 1945 using a chit-pull system similar to games from Raicer's "Dark" series he designed for GMT games. While The Deadly Woods was designed for two players, the chit-pull system makes the game solitaire friendly. Here's a detailed overview from the publisher of what you can expect from the gameplay:
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In December 1944, Hitler launched a massive offensive against the weakly held Ardennes forest section of the Allied front in Belgium. Achieving complete surprise, the Germans nevertheless faced tough resistance from the battle's opening days, and the offensive was virtually over ten days after it began. There followed a bloody Allied counterattack which gradually erased the bulge the Germans had created in the Allied line.

But you probably know all that. Yet another Battle of the Bulge game? Why yes. But one with a different approach. Specifically, award-winning designer Ted S. Raicer has taken a modified version of the chit pull system pioneered in GMT's The Dark Valley: The East Front 1941-45 and brought it west for an exciting new take on this classic wargame subject.

The scale of the map (which takes up about two-thirds of a standard 22" by 34" map sheet, the rest given to tracks, charts and tables) is at 3 miles to the hex. Allied units are mostly regiments and brigades, with most German armor and infantry divisions divided into two kampfgruppen (battle groups), German artillery, Greif commando teams, infantry trucks, and the Von der Heydte paratroop unit are included as Asset markers, as are Allied artillery, scratch units, and engineers.

The game runs from December 16, 1944 to January 16, 1945 when the Allies reunited their divided front by recapturing the key town of Houffalize. Each turn through December 31st equals two days, and the turns in January are three days long. The full campaign lasts thirteen turns, while a scenario for just the German offensive is six turns long. But with The Deadly Woods' chit system and its multiple Action Rounds, a lot can happen in only six turns.

Board Game: The Deadly Woods: The Battle of the Bulge
Photo of components posted by the publisher

Each side gets a number of Action Chits each turn, which vary both in number and type. These include multiple Reinforcement chits which determine the arrival Round (but not Turn) of Allied and German reinforcements. There are German Logistics Chits which introduce historical supply effects. There are Movement or Combat chits which allow a player to choose. There are also Movement chits and Combat chits which limit the Active Player to the capability listed on the chit. And there are special chits, such as the German 5th Panzer and Allied Patton chits that allow some combination of Movement and Combat.

After the Initiative Player chooses the first chit played, the remaining chits are drawn randomly from a cup. A player may draw up to two consecutive chits and then enemy player must get the next chit.

Armor is severely limited in moving through other units along roads and bridges and at projecting ZOC into woods terrain. Combat may result in losses, retreats, surrender, or stalemate.

Each turn should take roughly an hour for players who know the rules. The German Player can win an instant victory by exiting units off the north map edge west of the Meuse or by holding five objectives at the end of a turn. Otherwise the game is won on geographic Victory Points. (The Germans also gets Victory Points for crossing the Meuse in supply, even if they are forced back across the river, so they have a reason to push even when the arrival of the British makes an Instant Victory impossible.)
Board Game: Atlantic Chase
Atlantic Chase is a refreshing, new release available from designer Jeremy "Jerry" White and GMT Games. Atlantic Chase is a nautical, World War II game that can be played with 1-2 players in 30-120 minutes depending on the scenario. It uses unique mechanisms and a fresh perspective as players are removed from the battlefield and are challenged with making decisions based on information from various task forces.

Here's the lowdown as described by the publisher:
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Atlantic Chase simulates the naval campaigns fought in the North Atlantic between the surface 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 bedeviled the commands during this period. Just as the pins and strings adorning Churchill's wall represented the course of the ships underway, 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.
A good friend of mine who's also been getting into wargames hipped me to Atlantic Chase. In true "board game enabler" fashion, he got me hype, then my interest got him hype, and we both ended up buying copies. The stars aligned, and we received our copies on the same day, and we've been geeking out and learning it in parallel so that we can play some scenarios together soon.

From gallery of candidrum
Working through tutorials in between chores last weekend

Atlantic Chase comes with excellent components and documentation: a thorough rulebook with tons of examples, a tutorial book that eases you into the mechanisms, player aids, and beefy two-player and solitaire scenario books and more. I am a little past midway through the tutorial book and have been finding Atlantic Chase to be super interesting already.

Bear in mind, I have no prior experience with any nautical WWII games, but Atlantic Chase already just feels way different than any type of game I've played to date. My only complaint is that I haven't had enough spare time to finish the tutorials and try one of the real-deal scenarios (which I'm very excited about). However, I'm finding the learning process alone to be enjoyable, engaging, and challenging. I can't wait to dive deeper in Atlantic Chase.

Board Game: 1759:  The Siege of Quebec
Worthington Publishing announced a Kickstarter campaign launching on April 24, 2021 for its Great Sieges series three-game bundle, which includes Dan Fournie's 414BC: The Siege of Syracuse, Maurice Suckling's 1565: The Siege of Malta, and the new, second edition of Mike Wylie's 1759: Siege of Quebec.

The Great Sieges game series highlights command decisions for players against a solitaire game engine opponent with easy set-up and quick gameplay. All three games use a common set of rules for gameplay, but each game has its own set of unique rules related to specifics of those individual sieges. While each game was developed for solitaire play, 414BC: Siege of Syracuse and 1759: Siege of Quebec can also be played with two players.

1759: Siege of Quebec is the first in Worthington's Great Sieges game series, originally released in 2018, and was developed for solitaire play in which players can play as either the French or the British, against the solitaire player game engine, or with two players. The second edition features new artwork for the game board and cards, updated components and rules, in addition to new rules and game pieces for artillery.

Here's a brief look at how the two newest additions to the Great Sieges series play as described by the publisher:

Quote:
In 414BC: The Siege of Syracuse, gameplay is centered around using Field Commands to issue orders by the Athenian and Syracusan commanders to defeat each other, while in 1565: The Siege of Malta the gameplay is similar, but with you now giving orders to either the Turks or the Knights of Maltese. In both games, either side can be defeated by their morale falling too low. The games allow you to play either side against a solitaire opponent that has three levels of difficulty.

To play, pick the side you want to be, then shuffle the solitaire card deck for your opponent. The card mix used by the solitaire opponent differs from game to game, so no two games play alike.

Board Game: 414BC Siege of Syracuse

Each commander (solitaire or player) can issue one order per game turn from their Commands available. Your order is carried out based on your strategy and current situation faced. Your choice can cause multiple actions and reactions with results that cause troop eliminations, morale reductions, and events to occur.

Any time one side's morale reaches zero during a turn, the other side wins the game.
Board Game: 1565 Siege of Malta
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