Review – Kampen om Norge (Battle of Norway) from Vega Forlag

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Review Kampen om Norge (Battle of Norway) from Vega Forlag

Designers –Yngve Bækholt and Eivind Vetlesen

Art – Eivind Vetlesen

I spotted this game on the Boardgamegeek Essen 2013 list and thought, I’ve got to play!

I haven’t studied much about the German assault on Norway and its always intrigued me. I read about Kampen om Norge and it seemed like it was at the right level of complexity for my taste so  I was keen to have my first go at playing a game about this campaign.

From the English rulebook –

Kampen om Norge (The Battle of Norway) is an exciting strategic boardgame for 2–3 players (or teams) about the German WW2 invasion of Norway in 1940.
• Each player takes on the role of the Chief in command of the military forces of either Norway, the Allies or Germany.
• By the use of soldier playing pieces, dice and cards the players fight a battle on the game board, where Norway and the Allies together must try to stop the German advance on Norwegian soil and prevent Germany from occupying the important cities.
• The players must make strategic decisions, manage the resources of the game cards, move their battalions on the board and fight their
opponent for territories.
• The player choosing the best strategy has the greatest chance of success, but being friends with the dice helps too.

Unboxing

Components

* Game board – The map board consists of three different types of areas:

• Land areas
• Sea zones
• Impassable areas

* Rule Booklet

* Booklet with historical info

* 50 game pieces (battalions) – divided into the 3 armies

* 112 playing cards (6 blank cards) – with decks for the three armies as well as Naval ships, with loads of photographs from the campaign. These cards are the heart of the game as managing your cards and using them effectively will impact your operations and combat actions. Action cards can be used at different times during the sequence of play (including your opponents turns).

* 22 “9 April Card ”

* 36 ship cards

* 35 white and 5 black chips

The first thing that you notice is the production quality of the components of this game.  The artwork is very nice indeed. The game board has a minimalist approach to the map of Norway. The only terrain shown are water features such as fjords and spaces with uncrossable mountains. Victory Point Cities are also marked on the map. So the map is at the strategic level and terrain plays little part. Not a problem at the strategic level. The map looks lovely and is clearly marked with the areas for movement.

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The minis represent German, Norwegian and Allied forces. The sculpts are nice and as good as I would expect to see in a board game. The three armies are very easy to differentiate as each has a separate pose.

The cards are very nicely done, and in this version are in Norwegian. The English rules have all of the information you will need so its not a problem for english speakers.

My only issue with the components as that the cards are too thin and they get a lot of use and will bend and I fear could be damaged so its a good ideas to sleeve them. When there is a reprint, I would strongly recommend that the card stock needs to be thicker. Other than that, this is a very nicely produced game which is a pleasure to look at.

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Gameplay

The introduction to the rules gives you a good sense of the very interesting situation. This game can be played by 2 players or 3, each needing to take a different approach to how they will use their units.

Norway
Norway’s mission is to defend against the German invasion. The Norwegian army is not the strongest, but time is on their side. They have good defensive cards and the longer they can delay the German advance, the greater their chance of success.
The Allies
The Allied forces consists of combined British, French and Polish forces. They are treated as a single faction in the game. At the start of the game, they have not yet landed in Norway but they control most of the sea along the coast. The Allies are flexible and unpredictable and have cards that complement the Norwegian cards.
Germany
Germany has the strongest army and a superior air force, but they are pressed for time. Germany needs to constantly be on the offensive and have cards that are primarily suited for this purpose. Germany faces two opponents and fits a player who
enjoys planning a big operation and playing aggressively.

Winning

The game comes to a conclusion the moment the German players draws the last unused card from his card deck. This represents Germany having used all the military resources available to the assault on Norway. The game ends immediately and the winner is decided. Germany wins the game if they at this point control all the victory cities. Norway and The Allies win if they are in control of one or more victory cities. Unoccupied victory cities are considered Norwegian.

Note – There are shorter campaigns included with the rules which can be played, and in fact I recommend this so that you can learn how to play. The short campaigns are excellent in themselves and an interesting challenge.

Turn sequence

Turn Sequence (Phases) Germany performs the first turn.
1. Movement –

Phase 1 a) Naval Movement (used in the advanced game)

Phase 1 b) Land Movement – moving into an enemy occupied zone forces mandatory combat

Phase 1 c) Norwegian Sabotage in the German Turn

2. Combat

Phase 2 a) Naval Combat (used in the advanced game)

Phase 2 b) Land Combat – uses dice and various modifiers from the cards played

3. Reinforcements placed on the map

4. New cards drawn up to the hand limit

ITS ALL ABOUT THE CARDS – The coolest part of this game is the card system. The cards for all three armies are the engine for getting things done.

From the rules –

Green and Red Symbols
Preceding the description of every action on a card is at least one symbol with a number on it.
• The number indicates in which phase the action card can be played to achieve that particular effect. The symbol indicates whether the card can be played in your own or your opponents turn:
• Green “play” symbol: Actions preceded by a green triangle must be played in your own turn.
• Red “stop” symbol: Actions preceded by a red square must be played in your opponent’s turn, as a reaction to an action he performs or a card he plays.
• Green circle: Actions preceded by a green circle must be played in your own turn, as a reaction to an action your op­ponent performs or a card he plays.
Action cards and actions with more than one symbol on it can be played at different times during the sequence of play.

This is a very clever, and user friendly system which gives the players a feel for the options available to the commanders during the Norway campaign. The system is very easy to use and the clarity of the green/red system aids the players and allows you to keep the game flow moving. The cards are used for specific operational actions or can be traded in for reinforcements.

Each army has specific mechanics that are used for their cards which reflect the capabilities of each:

Germany (62 cards)
• 5 action cards on hand
• Must use at least one card every round
• The game ends when the German card deck is used up

Norway (22 cards)
• 3 action cards on hand
• Card deck is reshuffled when used up

The Allies (28 cards)
• 3 action cards on hand
• Must use at least one card every round
• Does not receive any more cards when their deck has been used up, and must then remove 4 battalions from the board

The basic game rules are plenty to get stuck into. They work very well and come together smoothly. There is a similarity to Axis & Allies – type games which if you are familiar with them will make this game a breeze to learn and get into. The card system is the stand-out feature of the game. It doesn’t take long to understand the choices and when you can play them. The limitations of the cards in your hand is subject to the luck of the draw but reflect that commanders couldn’t control everything and had to make the best of resources available.

The advanced rules add the naval units movement, combat and raiding, bombers, fighters, special rules for April 9th covering the German invasion landings and certainly all this does add to the complexity and length of time required to play the game. Having said that, the complexity is interesting as the advanced game is mostly about the naval aspect of the campaign. The German navy definitely has the edge and I think that the German player does have a greater opportunity to win as as not only can they take British ships out of the game but they also impact the cards that the allies have available to them. This is all historical but it does mean things become tougher for the Norwegians/Allies.

Did I enjoy Kampen om Norge?

I can comment on playing Kampen om Norge with the the basic rules and advanced rules and say that I think that it is a brilliant game. The design is clean, and well structured. The rules are clear and its pretty easy to get into. The subject matter is not found in many games at all yet, it is very unusual due to the the mix of military factors involved and the challenges for the combatants. You really get a sense of the risks involved for all sides and that this campaign could have gone either way. It feels very tense with victory on a knife edge. The game looks great and you don’t feel overwhelmed as you might in some of the Axis & Allies games as there are a limited amount of units in play.

The card system is a master stroke and really gives you operational options which are interesting and pushes you to think through how best to use your cards. Having said that, the game turn plays pretty quickly and with a limited amount of units, moves along nicely.

This games avoids the “death by chrome” problem found in far too many war games and gives you just enough historical elements, and most of this is resolved in the cards and when you play them for a specific effect. Really nice. The ability to use card effects during your  turn or your opponent’s turn is an interesting and clever mechanic and gives you some interesting choices. The relatively limited amount of spaces and limited movement means the crunch points will be combat led. And yet, its not a static game due to the spread of areas of conflict.

Overall, Kampen om Norge is a lovely game, nicely designed, with nice components. It is a game you can pull off the shelf for a quick game using the scenarios or crack open for a longer game for the main campaign and advanced rules which add the naval game without too much complexity and extra time but do add a deeper coverage of the wider elements in what is a very interesting campaign. I am itching to get this to the table soon and also to read up on the campaign and those two points alone tell me that I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

For more information go to – www.kampenomnorge.no/

Review – The Outcast Heroes from Historical Games Factory

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Review – The Outcast Heroes from Historical Games Factory

Designers – Adam Kwapiński and Michał Sieńko

Art – Iga W. GrygielIlona SopuchRadosław Jaszczuk

Thanks to Historical Games Factory for providing a review copy of this game.

One of the really cool things that I love about playing historical games is when I learn about a piece of history that I knew little or nothing about. The Outcast Heroes is a case in point. This game is based on the story about the members of the Polish Home Army who refused to put down their arms after World War 2 when the Soviets installed a Communist government. These “Outcast Heroes” fought against the illegal government for a free Poland. I had never heard of this piece of history and was fascinated to play this game as a result.

From the rules –

In The Outcast Heroes 2-4 players take the roles of the leaders of units fighting against the illegal communist government. Their goal is to combat the occupying forces by carrying out missions aimed against the People’s Government and to realize their secret goals. Players’ actions are rewarded with glory points – whoever scores the most glory points wins. So this is a Semi-Cooperative game in which the players need to work together to win the missions and yet, only one player will gain the most glory.

Unboxing

Components

  • 32 Cursed Soldiers cards – representing the actual Outcast Heroes with Leadership value, Strength and Name
  • 20 Order cards – with orders that are assigned to the heroes on each mission with Name, Effect and Strength modifier
  • 8 Government Actions cards – these increase the level of difficulty to complete the mission
  • 15 Mission cards – 3 phases of 5 Missions, 3 of which are randomly chosen for the mission
  • 20 Glory Points cards
  • 8 Secret Goals cards – 6 for the Heroes, 2 are traitors
  • 4 Glory Counter cards
  • 1 special mission card “Free the prisoners” – your heroes will get caught!
  • 1 Commander-in-chief card
  • 1 Nomination card
  • 4 wooden cubes for marking the number of points

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The card quality is good as is the art which is very evocative and really gives you a strong thematic feel for the historical events. The only small issue is that the art on the backs of the cards should have been a little more easy to distinguish from each other as it took a little while to figure out. Otherwise, the images are excellent.

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Gameplay

The game is divided into 3 stages. Each stage is divided into 4 rounds. The players begin each stage with a randomly chosen secret goals card.

Rounds

Each round follows these steps

Place the top Mission card for the Stage on the table (except for the 4th round)

Players take 2 Actions each from –

Mobilise Heroes – Heroes are placed in your hand

Deployment – Heroes are deployed to a Mission with a particular role (Liaison, Recon, Commander or Strike Force. Each role has a different effect on the mission

Taking over – You swap one of your heroes with another belonging to a different player if your hero has a higher leadership value

Starting a mission

The player with a hero in the commander position of a mission can decide at any time to start the mission. And then the Mission is resolved immediately.

Missions are resolved by assigning Glory Points that will be earned if successful, assigning a Government Action card which effects the difficulty of the mission, assigning orders to the heroes and lastly, checking the results of the mission and take the end of mission actions..

The process is very interesting and full of thematic elements which really gives you a sense of the historical events and challenges. The Missions themselves are based on actual historical events. And because your heroes actually are real people, you really feel for their loss when they are killed or sent to prison. There is an additional Free the Prisoners mission that you will need to attempt at times to get heroes back into the game. Its jus all so interesting and cool.

Once you go through the 4 rounds, you complete the stage and you add glory points if you win the Mission, apply the glory point card effects and check hidden stage goals. Once you go through the 3 stages, the game is over and you check the final glory point scores.

The process takes a turn or 2 to feel comfortable and then it moves along nicely. It is structured well, makes sense and has a nice level of tension.

Did I enjoy The Outcast Heroes?

This is an excellent game. The game turn process works really well, the historical events and tension are palpable as you strive to beat the missions which is by no means easy. You have a number of tough decisions to make. And you quickly realise that the lives of your heroes are on the line as they face the dastardly communists.

Outcast Heroes brings to life a hidden aspect of the struggle for Poland’s freedom and its very interesting. The game is challenging, but not so hard that you want to throw in the towel. The game certainly has a good pace BUT I do not, repeat, do not, recommend playing this game with friends who suffer from analysis paralysis. This is the one danger and downside of the game for me. The choices are so crucial that players can be stuck figuring out the very best hero placement and order assignments. With 2 players this is tolerable but with 4 payers, it makes the game too long and tiresome.

So make it a rule that everyone needs to make their decisions quickly and you should be fine.

Added to this is the artwork which is very attractive, very evocative and adds do much to the theme. Simply brilliant.

My instant reaction to Outcast Heroes is that it is a fun, well designed, intriguing gem. If you enjoy military history, especially obscure heroic stories, this is a great little game that I can highly recommend.

Essen 2013 news!

The Historical Games Factory Team (Fabryka Gier Historycznych, Poland) is currently working on launching a new, English-language website of the company. However, in order not to keep the fans waiting, the HGF  decided to start the Essen preorders today despite technical problems.

You can place your orders via e-mail at preorderfgh@gmail.com and contact this address if you have any questions/problems concerning the prorders.The prices of particular games available at SPIEL 2013 are as follows:The Outcast Heroes 12 Euro (15 at booth 2-B130)
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/145381/the-outcast-heroes
Sigismundus Augustus 30 Euro (37 at booth 2-B130)
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/133534/sigismundus-augustus-dei-gratia-rex-poloniae
Theomachie (German edition) 40 Euro
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/129951/teomachia
Teomachia (Polish edition) 18 Euro
W Zakładzie (Polish edition) 20 Euro
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125585/w-zakladzie-lubelski-lipiec-80As a limited number of copies of non-international releases will be available, the prices in preorder and at the booth are the same for these games. Please note that the special lower prices are valid only for Essen pick-up, the company doesn’t send games abroad at these prices.

Review – Autokrator from Diachron Games

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Review – Autokrator from Diachron Games

Designer – Lefteris Iroglidis

Art –Lefteris IroglidisAris Liapis and Andrejs Pidjass

Thanks to Diachron Games for providing a review copy of this game

 

I haven’t played many Euro-style wargames and there aren’t many around but here is one which caught my attention. The idea of Euro-style wargames is of interest to me as the idea of interesting wargames that could be played using a level of Euro-style simplicity means I can get into them and get them played in the limited gaming time I have.

Autokrator (a.k.a. emperor) is a medieval wargame for 2-4 players, about the wars between Christians and Muslims from 7th to 11th century A.D. In Autokrator, you control one of the major kingdoms and Caliphates of the Medieval Age: The Franks/Holy Roman Empire, the Moors, the Saracens and the Byzantine Empire, striving to protect their cities and to expand their Empire.

Unboxing

1 Gameboard (medieval map)
54 Battle Cards
4 Wooden Pawns (Kings)
4 Wooden Pawns (Generals)
4 Wooden Pawns (Admirals)
2 Wooden Cylinders (indicators)
60 Octagons (Garrisons/indicators)
Rulebook.

This is a gorgeous game! The board has a lovely, ancient world look and everything is laid out really well. A clean, and attractive look for sure. A very nice touch is that the board bottom has a large version of the box art which is awesome. The cards are well done, with nice art and clear layout, Really nice. The rest of the components are wooden pawns and the 3 meeples representing military units are pretty basic. This game would have been spectacular to look at if more would have been done, for instance if minis would have been used. But of course, this would have been at a significant increase in cost.

Overall, the components are very nice and of very good quality.

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Gameplay 

DURATION OFTHE GAME: The game lasts for 5 rounds. Before the beginning of each round, players read the historical reference and the conditions which are set in the new round. The players then allocate their battle cards to the military units and the round begins.

MILITARY UNITS OFTHE GAME:
Each player has 3 military units to use on his turn in any order:
The King (has 3 lives)
The King may perform one move and one attack in each round.

The General (has 4 lives)
The General may perform one of the following :
Α: One move and one attack each round. Ηe makes his move first and his attack afterwards. If the General makes his
attack first then he cannotmove in the current round.
B: Τwo movements each round but only between owned areas.
The General can move to all adjacent mainland and coastal areaslike the Κing.

The Admiral (has 4 lives)
The Admiral may perform one move and one attack each round. Ηe makes his move first and his attack afterwards. If the
Admiral makes his attack first then he cannot move in the current round.
The Admiral can move only between harbours of the appropriate colour. Harbours are depicted on the map with
coloured anchors.

So its as simple as, move one of your 3 units, then attack. Each round you will do this with each of your three units. Then the next player goes. There is more down time between player activity though (especially if anyone suffers from analysis paralysis and there is an alternative suggestion to alternate one unit each so then this is less of an issue. I prefer this method.

You will move and attack to capture territory as well as selectively attacking enemy units. with only 3 units, it is risky to attack enemy units, as I have found out so you need to pick and choose your battles carefully where the risk is warranted. This to me, reflects the period as well as there was a lot of campaigning and territory grabbing but the pitched battles were very few, yet crucial.

The Garrison
A player’s Garrison represents all areas that bear his coat of arms. Whenever a player conquers a neutral or an enemy
area, he places one of his Garrison’s pawns to denote his occupation of the area. Garrisons do not attack and do not
move, they are used only for defence.

On the board, there are tracks where you will keep track of the lives lost by your three military units. Interestingly, as they lose lives through battles, they get more bonuses to help their survival. This is a nice balancing mechanism and I assume also represents the survival instincts of the fighting forces. As you battle and attempt to extend your territories, you will gain money when you win and place garrisons in conquered lands.

You also have a track for keeping track of your finances. Money allows you to take extra actions The financial aspect of the game doesn’t dominate thankfully, in fact it is easy to forget that you can take actions by paying some cash. However, you will forget this at your peril as it could be that a General’s Campaign or another of the actions may be just the thing that gains you the victory.

Battles are fought using the army cards. The cards are chosen and kept hidden until combat begins. Each military unit has a set of cards which make up their army. You are able to re-distribute cards too to try and out think your opponent and get a killer combo to seal the battle in your favour. Victory is determined by comparing the terrain value, the training and the size of the opposing forces. Its a clever system and after a few goes, it works really well.

The winner, of course, earns the most victory points which are earned by conquering territories, killing off enemy military units and preserving your treasury so you don’t want to go on a crazy spending spree.

The system actually works really well and is relatively simple in a Euro-game style but, it took us a number of rounds for it all to fall into place. There are enough nuances and small details which can be easily played wrong. The rules have good illustrated examples but it would be useful to have a 1-page reference sheet of all of the key things to remember. Having said that, after a couple of plays it really isn’t a problem.

Ok, so what you don’t get in the system is loads of stats and historical detail. What you do get is a sense of the strategic problem and that’s enough for this level of complexity. This is a game, not a simulation. Chess-like in a sense but it feels like a military game, which I like.

Did I enjoy Autokrator?

This is really a fun game! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I really like the design and, in particular the use of the cards for fighting battles. Its pretty different and clever, yet its simple and fun. The game only has 5 rounds. So its not going to take too long. The 2-player game plays across half the map and is a straightforward slugfest. The 4-player version allows for more negotiation and temporary and mutually convenient deals, etc. So there is lots of scope to have different, yet fun experiences.

I like that the players are walking a tightrope and need to think carefully where and how to commit their units. 5 rounds are not a lot, I promise you. You will need to decide on your basic strategy and stick with it. If you try and change your strategy part way through, I think that you will struggle. You will find the special actions useful, especially the campaigns that give you that little bit more stretch to your reach.

Ok, this is not a simulation and its not rich in detail but there is enough of a strategic feel to make this game accessible to new gamers and those new, in particular to wargames. Having only 3 Units, actually didn’t hamper me as I feared, it just focussed my mind to my limitations. Ultimately, you will win by the total victory points you gain. You can win by being the first to capture an enemy capitol but I think that this is very risky and a tough ask. And, the card mechanic for battles is unusual, but good fun. Yes there is a level of randomness which I think works well in a game of this simplicity. I enjoy it.

I recommend that you alternate moving one unit each to cut down on down time. The game plays faster and it cuts down on AP.

Overall, Autokrator is a very nice game for a short, easy to play, yet satisfying Euro-style wargame. It makes an interesting change to the more traditional wargames that I am used to playing. Very much a “game” rather than more of a simulation. You won’t learn a lot about the history by playing but you will have a good fun experience.

 

For more information go to – http://www.diachrongames.com/en/index.html

Review – C.O.A.L. – Combat-Oriented Armored League from Dast Work srl

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Review – C.O.A.L. – Combat-Oriented Armored League from Dast Work srl

Designer – Stefano Castelli

Art – Alan D’Amico

Thanks to Dast@worl srl for providing a review copy of this game.

Steampunk! One of those geeky themes that seems to attract gamers like bees to honey. I spotted this game on the BGG Essen list and my first thought was, how fun! Rockem Sockem Steambots duking it out!

From the publisher –

C.O.A.L.: Combat-Oriented Armored League, is a two- to four-player card game with a steampunk setting. C.O.A.L. uses an original game mechanism that combines resource management, bluffing, and memory to simulate the heat of a real battle. The game includes four steambot models – each with its own features, attacks, and defensive maneuvers – and eight different pilots, which have special piloting abilities of their own.

C.O.A.L.: Combat-Oriented Armored League includes customized rules for two-player games, for battles with three or four players, and for two-vs-two partnership games. Deck-building rules are included for advanced players who want to combine parts to build different steambot models. Duels are quick, typically ending in about ten minutes.

Ok, you had me at Steampunk… The story line behind the game has 2 competing companies who stage combat between their Steambots. I am supposing that this is a substitute for wars of conquest and I can imagine the fans of the C.O.A.L. tournaments creating their fantasy Steambot leagues.

Unboxing

The components that you get are of good standard although I would say that this is a game crying out for Mini’s in a deluxe version…

You get –

Components

  • 4 Steambot game boards
  • 80 Steambot cards – 4 sets, 1 to use for each Steambot
  • 8 Pilot cards – 2 per each Steambot
  • 49 Resource tokens – used for tracking the energy used to activate attack and defence actions
  • 4 Damage tokens
  • 8 Tag tokens
  • 2 Training pilot cards – in case you want to start with a simpler version of the game
  • English and Italian rules

The artwork is striking and evocative of the Steampunk theme for sure. The Bots have a look of crazy technology which could go wrong and the Steambots look like they will have some kinks to work out.

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The player boards are nicely done with a space to place your Steambot Pilot card and a damage track as well as an image of your Steambot. The cards are laid out well with a number of icons. On the back of the rule book there is a reference guide to these icons.

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This is a visually attractive game although this is a game that is crying out for some really nice miniature Steambots and maybe a battle arena board to polish off the look and feel. Maybe a deluxe edition?

Gameplay

Right up front, I would say that C.O.A.L. is a very straightforward and relatively simple game which is meant to be played in fast-playing matches. The English rules were reasonably easy to go through to learn the mechanics although there were a few small challenges in translation from original Italian and some typo issues but nothing too problematic.

In essence, this is a card game as the meat of the game is the deck for each Steambot which has cards that give the players choices as to the number and type of energy resources that you can deploy to your Steambot. The cards display the following –

– Number and type of energy resources you need to place on it to Activate its attack or defence ability

– Type of effect such as attack, reaction (defence)

– Activation effect – damage, etc.

Pretty straightforward and easy to understand how to use them.

Player turn

At the start of a player’s turn, they must declare whether they will be taking an Action or a Maintenance turn.

Action Turn

The Player can take any or all of the following actions:

– Play one or more cards from their hand during any part of the turn (optional). These determine what attacks and defence actions you want to set up.

–  Activate any card(s) that have been previously played (optional) The timing of activation is important as is getting the right energy allocation for the cards you activate or else you may find your own Bot self-inflicting damage.

– Use one of the 2 Pilot manoeuvres (mandatory)

The Player ends this turn by drawing 1 card from their deck into their hand. If their deck is exhausted with no cards left to draw, their steambot takes 2 points damage.

Maintenance turn

During the Maintenance turn, the Player is limited to drawing the 2 top cards from his Steambot’s deck. You can’t choose a Maintenance turn if you don’t have at least 2 cards left in your deck.

Playing your cards

This is an interesting aspect of the game. You can either play your cards face-up or face-down. You will need to place energy tokens on a played card to build up the right amount of energy to attack or defend. The interesting thing is that you will want to play cards face-down so that your opponent cannot see what you are planning to unleash upon their Steambot. The challenging thing is that once you place a card face-down, you cannot again look at it until you activate it so you will have to rely upon your memory to remember the exact required energy that your card needs to activate. If you get this wrong, you will cause yourself damage to your own Steambot.

Tricksy this, for those of us who don’t have the best of memories. I had to deliberately keep the number of cards that I’ve played low so I could remember and not get it wrong. The danger in this is that you may not have enough cards in play fast enough.

Accumulator cards must be played face -up and they will automatically accumulate 1 resource token per turn. The advantage of playing cards face-down is that you can

So there are a reasonable amount of decisions to make in C.O.A.L. For example –

– Which pilot and Bot? These are crucial decisions. You will want to experiment with different Bots and Pilots so you can get a sense of the different strengths and weaknesses. I think half the fun is doing this to get a flavour of the different types of fights that will go on.

– Which cards to play? You will be drawing cards randomly so you will have to choose from the cards come into your hand when they do and which will be best to play. Well, you will want to go on the attack for sure but if you don’t play reaction cards, you won’t be able to cancel your opponent’s attacks. Its a tense balancing act.

I won’t go into the details of what all the cards can do as you should find out for yourself. Suffice to say that there is a nice variety of decisions and card effects to choose from and the choices that you make will determine how you get on. It is important to note that you only have 20 cards to go through for your Bot and it can get close before you run out of cards to play.

Generally, after the first turn or two, you should have a pretty good sense of the game flow and you move along quickly. The structure of the gameplay is easy enough to pick up. Using the icon chart on the back of the rulebook is done comfortably. And since the game plays quickly, you won’t find yourself wanting to play again to try different Bots, etc.

Did I enjoy C.O.A.L. – Combat-Oriented Armored League?

I enjoyed C.O.A.L. I like Steampunk  as a theme and it seems to be well represented here. If Steampunk combat is an appealing theme, you will definitely want to play C.O.A L. Yes, it is limited in depth but its not meant to be a deep game. Having said that, there is a nice and interesting range of decisions. You don’t have complete control as the randomness of the card selection is what it is. I personally like the randomness as this gives you the challenge to work out how to make the most of the cads in your hand. It also feels like the Bots are still “experimental” and won’t always do what you want them to do which is a good thing. I like the placement of the cards face-down which brings a memory element into the game as well as the opportunity to bluff your opponent.

I found the mechanics relatively easy to pick up and the flow moved along without too much of a problem. Having said that, the English rules need a little proofreading as there are a couple of ambiguities but nothing that really gets in the way. I like the different abilities of the Bots so its like you a have a puzzle to solve in terms of how to make the most of the your Steambot’s capabilities and the abilities of your Pilots.

The game looks pretty good, the components and art work well. This game definitely needs Minis though.

C.O.A.L. – Combat-Oriented Armored League is a fun game which I can see being used in a mini-tournament, kind of like a jousting competition. It works nicely as a short game between sessions which heavier games. I like the flexibility to play 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2 and 3 or 4 player bouts. There are even additional rules to build a deck for your Bot by mixing cards from all the Bots.

I think that if you enjoy quick playing combat games, with weird technologies, and Steambots, this is a good game to pick up. It is a good social game that can be quickly set up, learned an played.

C.O.A.L. – Combat-Oriented Armored League will be available to purchase at Spiel at Essen in October from Dast@work at stend 2-F133 and at 25 Euro or 20 if you preorder, its a good buy with lots of replay value.

For German gamers from Dast@work –

I’m happy to tell you that we will have the German rules for Essen Spiel, too.

They will be given together with the game (not into the game, but a part with the game) to the German people.

As you know the game is independent from the language, so the rules are enough to play the game for Germans who do not speak English.

For more information go to – http://www.dastwork.it/

News – Backspindle Games launches Codinca on Kickstarter

CodincaCvr

 

News – Backspindle Games launches Codinca on Kickstarter!

Another British publisher who will be publishing my game, Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice has launched a Kickstarter project for their cool abstract game, Codinca.

Codincaboard

 

Have a look at the project here –

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/backspindle/codinca?ref=live

News – Another Kickstarter project from Pants-on-Fire Games – You Cannae Push Yer Granny Off the Bus

Granny

 

News – Another Kickstarter project from Pants-on-Fire Games  – You Cannae Push Yer Granny Off the Bus

……but you can push someone else’s off. Battling Grannies fight it out to be the last on the bus.

Yes, there’s a massive amount of Granny stereotyping but there’s plenty of slapstick humour and it’s all part of the fun that makes You Cannae Push Yer Granny Off The Bus a great family game. It’s simple enough for children to play amongst themselves but there is enough tactics and humour in it to engage a group of adults.

 

Always happy to support a British game company, have a look at this Kickstarter project here –

 

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1399933906/you-cannae-push-yer-granny-off-the-bus

 

 

Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE – King’s Ransom, Journey Stones, and If Only I Had are now available!

KingsRansom 50 Card Wrap v0-6

Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE – King’s Ransom, Journey Stones, and If Only I Had are now available!

KIng’s Ransom, from designer Frank Zazanis II, is a 2-player strategy card game pitting royal rivals against each other. Using the basic mechanics of Chess, there’s an additional layer of strategy due to each card entering play hidden from the opposing player’s view.
On their turn, each player flips a face-down card so it is face up, and then moves any face-up card. He or she then announces check, if applicable. If no check is announced, then a card is placed face down, and a new card is drawn from the deck.
If you can set traps and lure your opponent into making mistakes, you might be able to snatch their King and ransom him for control of the kingdom!
Click here for all the details and to order King’s Ransom.  
JourneyStones_SlipCover
Journey Stones, from designer Frank Zazanis II, is a two-player, Viking-themed strategy game where players attempt to capture 7 stones from their opponent.
Using a Chess / Checkers game style, each side has two different types of stones: The Warrior Stone, which moves and captures vertically and horizontally; and the Journey Stone, which moves and captures diagonally.
With various movement and stacking options, the game changes each time you play. Maneuver your way to victory in Journey Stones!
Journey Stones is printed by Victory Point Press for General Nonsense Games.

Click here for all the details and to order Journey Stones.

ifOnly_SlipCover


If Only I Had …
, from designer Frank Zazanis II, is a whimsical and hilarious game where one player each round plays the victim caught in a crazy situation and the other players use cards to “help” the victim out. If the victim chooses your item card, you get a point. However, unlike most games of this genre, if your card is not chosen, you get to defend your answer verbally to try to get a point as well.

The victim rotates each round as players try to play and explain their way to 8 points. Can you defend your choices and convince the victim that yours is the correct option? Or with the victim be asking, If Only I Had?

If Only I Had … is printed by Victory Point Press for General Nonsense Games.

Click here for all the details and to order If Only I Had… .