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Retro 5th ed.
Publisher: Minden Games
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/06/2020 08:57:18

As a long time tactical wargamer I have been looking at getting Retro for awhile. I own a number of other Minden titles and they all fall solidly in the "Light" wargame category. That is not a bad thing and most of their games are either designed solo or very solo freindly which suits my playing habits well. I am not going to go deep into the mechanics of Retro and I encourage anyone unfamiliar but interested to go to the boardgamegeek.com page which has some excellent reviews and rules discussions. Rather, I am going to focus on "who is Retro good for?"

Ok, Actually I am going to start with "who is Retro not good for?" The answer is "someone who is looking for a game with meticulous detail about World War II tactics and weaponry." In my understanding, Retro was created specifically to eliminate rules minutae and provide a quick and fun experience that still maintains tactical choices and WWII "chrome." I think Retro does this particularly well...

So, who should get Retro? Anybody who wants to play WWII tactics solo or face to face in a reasonable amount of time and with minimal rules referencing. There is one very important caveat however, Retro does not provide boards or counters, you use Retro with the components of another WWII tactical game you own. Retro was designed to be played with Squad Leader or Advanced Squad Leader components but can be adapted to any other tactical system with minimal tweaking.

So should you get this if you don't own any other WWII tactical games? Maybe... I think Retro still has value if you are interested in reading a well written and clever set of rules or maybe you want to try WWII tactics but ASL is too daunting an entry point. You could pick up an ASL starter kit relatively cheap and use Retro to get you feet wet. Retro is also great for VASSAL type games or PBEM if that is your jam.

However, where Retro really shines is with people like me...I have almost every SL and ASL product produced by Avalon Hill but I haven't played a face to face game of ASL in almost 30 years. With Retro I can put the (literal) closet full of ASL game on the table and have fun again. For 20 bucks I can enjoy hundreds (thousands?) of dollars of ASL, now that is a bargain.

If Minden would just do the same thing for World in Flames...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Retro 5th ed.
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Armageddon War
Publisher: Flying Pig Games
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2020 13:05:04

Armageddon War is a top notch tactical wargame covering modern/near-future combat. The rules and mechanics are simple to grasp and the impulse/chit draw turn system keeps the play tense with just enough "fog of war" to make planning ahead critical. I am usually not a big fan of "speciality" dice, however, the dice number/dice quality system I like, and I understand why the specialty dice are used (to keep charts to a minimum, and for clarity). I simply made my own chart in excel and then use standard d6's in the appropriate colors. The only caveat I have about the game overall is that some people may find the subject matter not to their liking. A case of "too soon" considering that one of the primary playable sides is ISIL/ISIS. For me this is not a major issue since A) I play solo using the "Alone in the Desert" supplement and therefore can choose not to play murderous terrorists and 2) they are cardboard pieces and not actual murderous terrorists...I personally think that if you do not have a problem gaming as murderous nazi's or murderous Romans, or murderous crusading knights...anyway, you probably get the point. The components themselves are top shelf...Flying Pig does PnP right! I enjoy constructing PnP games almost as much as playing and everything about AW says that PnP is not just an afterthought but a design choice. I appreciate companies like Flying Pig that are willing to make PnP a viable choice. The counters themselves are big and visually appealing with most all of the information you will need present on the counter itself. The maps are very nice and kudos to Flying Pig for allowing me to print borderless whole page maps that require no cutting or "squaring off." Again, my only caution to potential buyers is you need a good printer and you will use a great deal of ink, I personally have a ink reservoir printer for just this reason. Armageddon War is a great game top to bottom and one of my favorite games of the last few years.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Armageddon War
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PB03 Set 1 Union Infantry Brigade
Publisher: Billy Bones Workshop
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/01/2013 15:50:26

I use paper minis extensively for wargaming and I have many different products from home drawn to relatively expensive sets. The American Civil War sets from Billy Bones Workshop stack up quite well and all-in-all are a very good product.

First of all the sets are done in a stylized manner that imitates mid-19th century photography and as such are sepia colored. The artist has done some pretty cool work such as giving flags a "blurred" look that imitates the limitations of photos in that period. The soldiers themselves are very detailed and look "authentic." The other benefit of the art style is that the figures do not use much in the way of colored ink, a real money saver for someone who prints a great deal. The only real problems with this stylized format is that on the gaming table it can be hard to distinguish one side from the other and the figures do not mix well with other paper minis. One other small niggle is that on a few of the 40X20 mm figures the "scoring" lines are hard to make out making figure preparation a bit trickier than necessary. To me the negatives do not warrant a deduction in the product rating but for some people they may be more problematic.

The Union Infantry brigade set comes with a wide variety of figure poses as per the product description and meets every need I have for infantry. My favorite part of the set is the ease of preparing the figures (despite the aforementioned scoring line issue). The figures are presented in a rectangular format that is very simple to cut out using scissors. No x-acto knife is necessary except for scoring the bends or "shaping' the figures if you prefer. I generally don't shape these minis because I use the smaller figures and they look good without it. The other big plus for me is the figures are "self-basing" in that all you have to do is score the "ground" part of the mini and fold them out to create a ready made stand. I wish more companies would do paper minis like this... I have cut out enough foam-core to fill up a small room (and getting that stuff to cut perfectly square is nigh on to impossible)...I much prefer the style used by Billy Bones.

The only real issue that I have with the product is a relatively (for me) minor one and that is base size. As sold the minis only come in two base sizes, 60X30 and 40X20mm. I use the 40X20 minis which for the infantry stands comes out to about 1 1/2 inches long and 2/3 of an inch wide whereas the 60X30 is going to be 2"x1". Many of the most popular ACW rules use a 1" long frontage base (notably Fire and Fury and Johnny Reb), so regardless of which basing you use it won't match some rules systems. The manufacturer addresses this issue on his web site and suggests that you simply use bases at a two for one ratio while using the "drummer boy" minis which are about 2/3" frontage to denote odd numbered units. It would also be relatively simple to trim the minis to your desired base size, they are paper after all. I use my own house rules that have flexible basing so it doesn't really affect me.

In the final assessment I am very pleased with these minis and I think the art and presentation are superb. Considering the price you can't really go wrong.

Pros

  • Minis are very well priced
  • Minis are presented in a unique and appealing "stylized" format
  • Minis have a wide variety of poses and troop types
  • Minis are low on ink usage
  • Minis are easy to cut out and are "self-basing"

Cons

  • Only two base sizes without altering the minis (60X30mm and 40X20mm)
  • (For some people) Minis are presented in a unique and appealing "stylized" format
  • On some figures the "scoring" lines are hard to make out


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
PB03 Set 1 Union Infantry Brigade
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