Recommend
44 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Tide of Iron» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review: Tide of Iron rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Designer: John Goodenough
Publisher: Fantasy Flight
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 1 - 2 hours
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser


NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine

Tide of Iron is a bit of a departure for Fantasy Flight as they are a company that is primarily releasing fantasy-themed games. One has to carefully peruse their catalog to locate a game that does not involve some type of fantastical creature or theme. Tide of Iron, however, brazenly departs the realm of fantasy and instead concentrates on a brutally historic topic: World War II.

What is the same are the high production standards that characterize their games. Tide of Iron is an impressive sight, filled with over two hundred highly detailed miniatures, including regular and elite infantry, machine gun and mortar crews, leaders, tanks, trucks and half-tracks. Twelve different double-sided boards can be arranged in a large variety of ways, and over two-dozen terrain overlays customize the layouts even further. The end result is a game that not only presents an attractive picture, but also offers players seemingly infinite potential in terms of possible scenarios and variations.

After selecting one of the six scenarios included in the game, players customize their squads based on the units provided by the scenario. Fantasy Flight points with great pride to what they consider a gaming innovation: the "base" method of forming squads and tracking their casualties and current strength. Miniatures snap into plastic bases, allowing players to custom-design their squads to support their strategies. As a squad takes casualties, individual units can be removed from the bases, which also reduces their strength without the need for cumbersome markers that clutter the board. This is clever, although it is a bit fiddly having to snap units in and out of the bases.

Game play follows a specific sequence, with players alternating actions as dictated by the scenario.

Action Phase. It is during this phase that most of the action and decisions are made. Players activate squads to perform various possible actions. Once activated, a squad is usually fatigued, and can perform no further actions during that turn. So, choosing which action a squad will perform is critical. Actions are generally movement or firing, although combinations can be performed, but usually at reduced firepower. Squads can also be ordered to sit-tight and prepare for enemy movement, at which time they can fire in an effort to halt an enemy advance. Much of the 40-page rulebook deals with these actions, as they are at the heart of the game.

Each action has its advantages, and a skillful commander must coordinate these actions amongst their squads in order to achieve the scenario’s objectives. Often it is wise to advance units quickly so they can partake in bloody close assaults and grab valuable territory, while other times it is advantageous to launch long-range attacks with mortars and machine gun units. Strong and bold military tactics will often spell the difference between a glorious victory and an ignominious defeat -- and you make the decisions!

Combat is handled in a fairly quick and relatively easy manner, but line-of-sight to the target must be established before an attack can be launched. The rules regulating line-of-sight can be difficult, with terrain and elevation factors playing a factor. If an attack can be made, the range and firepower of each unit must be examined. A number of dice equal to the units’ cumulative firepower are rolled. The firepower can be increased or decreased depending upon the range, with adjacency causing the firepower to be doubled, while long-range attacks cause firepower to be halved. Other units within line-of-sight of the target that have not yet been activated may join in the attack, but their firepower is likewise halved. The defender rolls a number of dice equal to its "cover" benefit, which is derived from terrain and any fortifications such as trenches or pillboxes, as well as its armor, which is generally only applicable to vehicles. Depending upon the type of attack being conducted, hits are scored on rolls of 4 - 6, while the defender blocks hits with rolls of 5 or 6.

Attacks can be either normal or suppressive. Normal attacks eliminate units from the targeted squad, while suppressive attacks cause a squad to become pinned or disrupted. These conditions prevent a squad from performing any actions, and if disrupted, last for a subsequent turn. Leaders present in the same hex have the effect of reducing these effects. A player must choose which type of attack he is launching prior to rolling dice, and the decision is often critical depending upon a player’s objectives.

Command Phase. Another aspect of the game involves the strategy and operations cards. As dictated by the scenario, each player receives a specific number to begin the game. Each card provides the specified benefit, but can only be activated by paying the required command cost. Command points are earned by controlling certain hexes on the board, which often drives a player’s actions and assaults during the course of the game. Players draw a new card at the end of each round, but must usually choose between various types of cards. Again, this forces players to make critical decisions.

Initiative -- which player moves first -- can be vital. Players spend command points to gain the initiative. Command points are generally scarce, so there is conflict between spending them on the valuable strategy cards and on the struggle for initiative. Initiative is determined at the end of the Command phase.

Status Phase. This is the clean-up phase, wherein players draw new strategy cards, remove status tokens from the board, place units in "opportunity fire" mode, receive reinforcements, etc. If the victory conditions or end-game conditions listed in the scenario have not been achieved, a new round is conducted.

There is more than I’ve described here, with rules covering leaders, armored units, area attacks (mortars, off-board artillery), squad specializations (flamethrowers, engineers, anti-tank and medics), terrain, fortifications, minefields, smoke and more. In spite of an acknowledged effort to create a fairly simple squad-level based conflict game, Tide of Iron is quite involved and fairly complex. It clearly takes its inspiration from Avalon Hill’s revered Squad Leader, a highly detailed game system that is widely hailed as the definitive simulation of squad-level combat. That game, however, is highly complex, and involves hundreds of pages of detailed rules covering just about every aspect of combat.

Compared to Squad Leader, Tide of Iron is, indeed, easier to understand and play. But, be warned: it is still quite a bit beyond the norm in terms of complexity and detail. There is an abundance of rules to digest and understand. Even with years of war gaming experience and armed with a well-written set of rules, I was frequently forced to consult the rules during the course of play, which causes the game to bog down and drag. Only with repeated and regular play will the rules be learned to a sufficient degree to allow games to flow smoothly and quickly. Tide of Iron is not for the casual gamer.

However, for gamers who are ready to step beyond Axis & Allies and similar games, Tide of Iron offers the next logical step. It offers a decent degree of combat simulation, yet it is not too complex to overwhelm. The combat system is fast and fairly easy to understand, and the game is filled with important decisions that test the players’ armchair general skills. Players are free to implement various strategies and tactics, yet none are foolproof as the uncertainties of combat are fairly represented by the roll of the dice. Fantasy Flight promises to intensely support the game system with expansions and new scenarios, all in an effort to provide more and more detail and options and prevent the game from growing stale. That is good news for fans of conflict simulation games, who will find much to like in Tide of Iron.
43 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sacha cauvin
France
rouen
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for your review as i am presenting this game at a game fair this winter. your review is a good reminder of the pros and cons.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Ambush!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What an excellent review for a truly great game that some may find initially overwhelming. Concise and accurate information wonderfully presented here. Great work, thanks.

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
R M Chair General wrote:
What an excellent review for a truly great game that some may find initially overwhelming. Concise and accurate information wonderfully presented here. Great work, thanks.

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup


Thank you so much for the compliments! I really appreciate it, and am happy you enjoyed the review.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Linda Baldwin
United States
White Plains
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks, Greg. This is a game I've been eyeing, and it's good to know what I'd be getting myself into.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.