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Rifles in the Ardennes
by Stephan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2018 05:40:35

(This only applies to the PDF version, not the print copy...)

Why i only give it 3 stars: the game itself is clever and highly (re)playable, and anything i could say about it here is already stated in the product description or the other review (there's only one other review as of this writing, though there are several reviews and playthroughs over on YouTube). However...

The layout of the counters in the PDF edition makes it far more effort to construct the game than is even remotely necessary: i needed 3-4 hours to completely assemble the counters on heavy stock (beer coasters, actually) and cut them out. If the counters could be assembled (with a reasonable quality) in under 90 minutes, i would rate this game 4 out of 5 (i've sent a mail to the publisher explaining how they can rearrange the counters to cut the assembly time considerably, and will update this rating/review if they take those suggestions to heart and update the PDFs). Likewise, i would rate a physical copy 4 out of 5, but i've got the PDF one, so that's what i'm rating. The counters themselves are gorgeous, and look fantastic when printed out on a laser printer. Their layout in PDF form, however, is highly inefficient, requiring twice as much cutting as strictly necessary (due to large gaps between each and every counter), and lining up the front and back sides is far more work than it should/could be (in particular with the Russian troops, where one column of counters is misaligned). Thankfully, however, the publisher saw fit to add "unusually wide" borders on the counters, which means that slight misalignment (up to about 1mm) when combining the front and back sides doesn't completely ruin the counters (except for the 8 Event counters, which need to be aligned precisely if they're to be used as intended (to convey hidden information)).

Tip: after you've assembled the counters, go over their edges with a black marker. This will cover up most misalignment problems and just makes them look much snazzier. i'd post a link to my Rifles in the Ardennes photo album, but i suspect that posting an external link in this review would get the review removed by a moderator :/.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Rifles in the Ardennes
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In the Trenches: Devil Dogs
by Kim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/19/2017 21:11:07
"In The Trenches: Devil Dogs" is a game of WW I tactical combat. Its a hex and counter game, set in the last year of the war between U.S. Marines and the German Army on the Western Front. It is one of two "Base Sets" for the game system. There are 4 other "Batttle Packs" with additional scenarios at this writing. In order to play any of the other expansions you will need this base set or "In The Trenches: Doughboys".

What you get: 3 great looking maps, one for each of the scenarios included. One of a hill with entrenchments, a forest with entrenchments, and what looks like the same forest, blasted all to hell. The counters are clean and functional, using NATO symbols for infantry and silhouettes for machine guns and mortars. A 20 page rulebook, a turn record sheet and a quick reference sheet.

How it plays: The three scenarios included involve US marines assaulting the Germans in entrenched positions. Turns are made of "rounds" in which players roll 2 d6 to determine who goes first. The difference between these rolls determines how many orders may be given during that round. This creates a lot of variability and randomness typical of any battlefield.

Orders can be given to individual platoons, or to entire formations made up of four platoons. Ordering a formation has the drawback of one less movement point for all of the platoons within it. This can be important when assaulting a position, particularly if one has few orders that round. Moving or firing, exhausts units with two commitment levels: "Engaged" or "spent". A fresh unit that moves or fires (cant do both in the same round) becomes "engaged" and can only fire or engage in close combat thereafter. "Engaged" units may fire at half strength, but are "spent" afterwards and can do nothing but engage in close combat.

A single turn is composed of a random number of rounds and ends when both players roll the same initiative roll or when both players are out of options. At the end of the turn all units return to "Free" status and may start over.

In any round the player who isnt moving may use "reaction" fire against any enemy moving within range. This increases their commitment level by one (either "engaged" or "spent") but can be deadly to anyone trying to close in for close combat.

My opinion The game is about medium complexity, anyone familiar with hex and counter wargames will have no problem picking this up quickly. The scenarios all play in about 30-90 minutes. The game captures WW I infantry fighting without a lot of rules, but what is there is very nuanced, and will take a few plays to fully appreciate. My only complaint is a small one, this game gives you three scenarios which always pit the far more numerous marines vs the defending Germans in different positions. The marines do not have any support equipment, (mortars or machine guns). although the rules cover things like Cavalry charges, tanks and barbed wire, they play no role in this game. Also there are tons of counters which just aren't used. These rules and additional counters do get used in the additional expansions.

Its hard to fault a game with an admission price of $12, but to fully appreciate the system, one will need to buy one of the expansions. What you get with this base set is a bit of a tease, for potentially better things to come. I can't comment on that since I havent played any of them yet. But since I bought all of them, I'll be playing them and offering reviews here. What I see in this game looks very promising.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In the Trenches: Devil Dogs
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Rifles in the Ardennes
by CC C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/03/2017 15:02:14

Rifles in the Ardennes is a fast-playing, streamlined solitaire wargame that brings a solid "quick fix" strategy experience to the Battle of the Bulge.

Overall, the quality of the design is good. You choose a scenario and are given points to allot to build your team. You then advance across a series of zones as the AI drives challenges your way until you are either wiped out, the time runs out, or you complete your mission.

The zone-based layout trades positional strategy for a more abstract operational strategy. If you absolutely need hexes in your favorite wargames for your counters to move on, you might be disappointed, but for a solitaire experience, this greatly streamlines the analysis you have to do to run the enemy, and still models interesting map features like terrain, cover, and line of sight.

The game comes with several scenarios, and for each scenario, you can choose which army you run (Americans, Germans, or, oddly, Russians) and which army you face. Each army type has different characteristics, adding replay value along this vector, but it also means that the specific scenarios don't feel quite as tied to history, since they don't attempt to render specific engagements. From a storytelling and quick strategy standpoint, though, the game delivers, and if you're interested in modeling a particular event, you can always just pick the scenario and army loadout that most closely resembles what you have in mind.

One interesting twist is an event chit-pull system that assigns randomized events to the zones that trigger as you enter them. Each scenario defines different scenarios, and since each one will have different events in different orders, it elegantly drives variation into the experience with very little hassle.

For your part, you roll dice to determine how many action points you have in a turn. This can potentially leave you with no actions, with a particularly bad roll of the dice, but more likely, you'll have enough action points to do something interesting each turn. When you roll your dice, 1's and 2's yield no action points, everything else yields one. Sixes yield "bonus" action points which can be used as regular action points, or can be used to trigger special effects for your squad members like performing recon, which sets you up for benefits in later turns. This does make the game fairly luck-based, but it didn't feel too "swingy" since the rolls tend to even out over the span of the game; it just means your action points tend to vary by plus or minus 1 on a turn by turn basis.

Rounding out all this is a campaign mode that allows you to either advance your squad in capability, or suffer attrition over time from failure to complete missions. (I haven't played through the campaign mode, so I can't comment on how it plays out, but the structure of it seemed reasonable.)

Graphically, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. The abstract zones are not presented as terrain, which seems like a missed opportunity, although the malleable nature of the zones might have precluded doing that effectively. The army loadout cards are a little bland in presentation, but the scenario, rules are presented in a nice format. The unit counters I found to be particularly attractive. I noticed some typos in the rules, but it was clearly and approachably presented for the most part. And the one question I had about the rules was very promptly answered by the publisher within hours, so it appears that the game has strong publisher support from Tiny Battle.

This compact little wargame has a good amount to offer for the modest price tag. With a quick setup and play time, it's an engaging little diversion that's worth a look, especially for new wargame players and people looking for a quicker or more casual wargaming experience.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rifles in the Ardennes
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Neuschwabenland
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2016 10:43:11

Neuschwabenland has a wonderfully novel story line and an excellent rule book. It is a 2 player that plays well solo because the Alien and German sides have quite different mechanics and goals. Other soloed 2 player hex games tend to have two different colored sides that play pretty much the same - one has to stop when switching sides and emotionally try to re-identify with the different color, which can be de-motivating or even boring. In Neuschwabenland, however, it is easy to identify with both asymmetrical sides and one is actually eager to play both antagonists: the Germans as they try to "get the job done" and with the Aliens as they mindlessly thunder across the landscape. Each side has radically different mechanics and motivations that create the asymmetrical play and heighten the interest in an unpredictable outcome. Asymmetrical die rolling increases the tension. Although the rule book is very clearly illustrated, the game can be made much easier to play by creating a spread-sheet of its main actions: Movement, Firing, Close Combat, and Overrun/Trample Down. This eliminates errors when changing game mechanics from the German to the Aliens. The best of the larger, more expensive games deserve their 5 or 8.5+/10 status because they provide huge experiences. This one deserves its 8.5/10 rating for its novel theme, its solid 2-play AND solo "pick up and play" appeal, and its clever mechanics. Its game length feels "just right" for most evenings. I bought the PnP instead of purchasing a copy from Tiny Battle Publishing simply to enlarge the playing area. Because the game provides so many possibilities with its theme and solo-friendly asymmetric play, it would be great to see expansions and/or a run on Kickstarter.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Neuschwabenland
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In the Trenches: Coup de Grace
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2016 16:21:11

Counters and map look good Rules are short. the only thing worng is when the counters are printed out there are no cut lines, and I had it done at office depot.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In the Trenches: Coup de Grace
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