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Tim Korchnoi
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
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Dreadnoughts and Dice!

Nine Navies War is a hypothetical game of naval combat in World War I. The game begins with the premise of a German victory over France in 1914 and proceeds from there as Germany and Austria-Hungary(with its new friends Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey) battle it out for naval supremacy with the two remaining Allied powers(Britain and Russia). The game focuses on the ability of the two sides to control various sea zones located all along the European continent. Each turn that a side controls a sea zone, it scores victory points and the player with the highest victory point total at the end is the winner.

Playing Time: This is quite lone as the game only contains two scenarios: one, a short three turn contest and the other the full twelve turn knock down, dragg’em out, fight to the finish! angry Thus, the playing time is quite long, although it does shorten after the first few turns as navies begin to take damage and ships are sunk. Still, this is not a game you can pound out in an evening unless you are choosing the short three turn scenario and even then you will need a few hours at the least.

Map: The map depicts Europe and the bodies of water located along it. The bodies of water are divided into sea zones and some of the bodies of water have more than one zone (The Atlantic, for example, has a north, central, and south zone) while some seas have their own zones (like the Baltic). The map also contains victory point boxes for each sea zone, base areas for the ships while they are in port, and a turn record chart. There are also boxes to denote the capture of areas due to land combat and a table to decide what happens to the French navy after the German conquest. The map has a simple color scheme to it and is very functional which works just fine as this is an area movement style game.

Counters: The counters represent the various ships of the navies engaged in this war. Each counter has an attack rating, a defense rating, and a movement rating. The counters have a ship pictured on them and each navy has its own distinct color making identification a snap. The ships have some decent detail and the counters are of the 5/8 size which makes them nice and this size counter works well with this type of game system and the map it is played on.

Rules: Nine Navies War uses the old Avalon Hill War at Sea system with an important new wrinkle. The game follows the movement and combat rules of War at Sea(WAS) so ships can move into a sea zone adjacent to their home base and can make a speed roll to attempt to move a second space. Combat is simple: roll a number of dice equal to the ship attack factor with a 6 =hit and a 5 =disengage and return to port. The ship defense rating determines how much damage a ship can take: once the defense factor is exceeded it is down to Davey Jones’s Locker. gulp The new wrinkles in the system are basically two fold. One is the random events that can cause bases to be captured in Russia, Egypt, and Gibraltar as well as the Central Powers African Colonies. Second, and more importantly IMO, is the chit draw to decide when each base deploys its ships. Unlike the WAS system where one side moved and then the other side moved, Nine Navies War allows for more possibilities since you do not know who will move when and this addition also makes it nice for solitaire play as well. The basic break down of each turn is: determine possible random events, draw chits to deploy ships, throw buckets of 1 2 3 4 5 6 assess damage and disengagement, total victory points for the side that controls the sea zone(determined by who still has ships in the zone) and repeat until the end. While this may seem rather repetitive and tedious, the chit draw rule makes it tense and tension is the hallmark of a good wargame, IMO.

Things I like about the game:

● The chit draw. This keeps the game tense and makes it easily playable for lonely admiral
● The simplicity. This is not a complex wargame and sometimes you just need a simple minimal strategy blast away with buckets of dice slugfest!
● Easy set up. This is quite simple due to the colors and the area approach to the game.
● World War I naval game. I don’t know how many strategic games there are out there on this topic, so this alone makes it cool

Things that can be annoying: angry

● The buckets of dice. My advice: get a sturdy cardboard box the throw the dice in and throw all the dice needed for each ship in one throw. Yes, this can be tricky with six dice, but you will be thankful in the long run.
● The fact that the USA can only come in on a roll of 1 At some point, you would think the USA would eventually come in. shake
● The random events. These can be a bit on the heavy side. The first time you have both the north and south Russian bases fall on the same turn, you will know what I mean! shake Plus, if the UK loses Gibraltar, you can kiss your.....Mediterranean Sea good bye! wow

Overall Evaluation: d10-1 = I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month! yuk d10-9 = Wargamer heaven

Map= d10-6 The map is okay. It is not fancy, but not ugly either. It is purely functional and it works well in that way, but it does not have any redeeming beauty quality.
Counters= d10-9 Now THIS is the way to make counters! Simple information, nice color distinction so you know who is who and can see where they are in a flash and the 5/8 size rocks! cool
Rules= d10-6 The rules are simple and the thing that really saves the game is the random chit draw for base activation. At times, the random events feel almost too powerful(perhaps they should’ve chosen to include Gibraltar or Suez but not BOTH!?) And yet the rules themselves are simple, clean, and fairly easy to understand. If you already know WAS, you will be able to pick this up with only a skimming of the rules. For the type of game and the scale it is at, the rules work fine and make for an enjoyable game in the end.
Playing Time= d10-3 If you play the full campaign game, be ready for long hours and dice rolling galore. However, the short scenario is quite manageable and, quite frankly, I cannot see any reason why you could not pick a point to stop (say start 1916 or 1917) and just play to there. The only thing that might upset the applecart in this sense is the possibility that the random events become really strong in the shorter time frame.
Deployment of Forces= d10-6 This is fairly easy due to color scheme, area spaces, and large counters.
Overall= d10-6 5 I have to give this a 6.5 in the end for several reasons. First, it is a simple game, but a game that can be fun if you are in the right frame of mind. That being said, being in the wrong frame of mind could make the game very annoying, especially if those dice rolls don’t go your way. Second, the chit draw system makes the game very playable and enjoyable and is the greatest improvement over the old WAS system. Third, the topic itself is quite cool and fans of alternate history should enjoy the possibilities of this game. Fourth, the random events can be fun, but they can feel like they are smothering the allies player if they come too close on the heels of each other which can make the game decline rapidly from a tense contest to a tedious exercise for the allies player. So the bottom line is this: this is a good game if you have the right attitude going in. If you are not looking for deep strategy or fancy combat resolution or nuances, then this game will fit your bill nicely. That being said, there will always be the debate over whether the time investment is worth the gaming experience payoff. IMO, this is the type of game that you dust off after having played numerous games with thick rule books, a game that makes for a nice change of pace from time to time, but not one that will achieve a high level of replays in your collection nor will it ever receive the coveted title of classic. It is what it is and the enjoyment level will largely be dictated by player attitude.
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Pete Belli
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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Nice review.

Somebody needs to upload some images of this game... the gallery is a bit sparse. A BGG admiral with a camera can grab that easy GeekGold!
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Nameless Necromancer
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Do what yhou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." - Aleister Crowley
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"I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." - John Galt
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Thanks for the review Tim. I don't normally go for alt-history games and put off purchasing for many years. Looking over your review again helped me decide in the positive. Game set up and ready for the weekend!
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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New Orleans
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
Thanks for the review Tim. I don't normally go for alt-history games and put off purchasing for many years. Looking over your review again helped me decide in the positive. Game set up and ready for the weekend!


Let us know how it goes.
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Nameless Necromancer
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Do what yhou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." - Aleister Crowley
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"I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." - John Galt
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gittes wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for the review Tim. I don't normally go for alt-history games and put off purchasing for many years. Looking over your review again helped me decide in the positive. Game set up and ready for the weekend!


Let us know how it goes.


I'll write up something, maybe not a full AAR but I'll certainly let you know. A variant is already running through my mind and I haven't hurled the first bucket of dice shake
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