This past week saw yet another wargame arrival with the delivery of the Kickstarter campaign for French and Indian War 1757-1759 from Worthington Publishing. I am a bit of a late-comer fanboy to Worthington Publishing owning only five of their titles (six if you count the Soviet Moon Expansion to Tranquility Base). Which is sad because several of these games, Enemies of Rome and Hold the Line: The American Civil War are favorite games of RockyMountainNavy Jr. and RockyMountainNavy T respectively. As I read the rules and get ready to play the game the first time here are some of my early thoughts:
- Weeknight Filler: French and Indian War 1757-1759 is a relatively simple to learn area movement block game. The rulebook is 12 pages with the last page being a player aid. The game is supposed to be playable within an hour making this an ideal candidate for a weeknight filler game. In the RockyMountainNavy house, we often need a weeknight filler game, especially these days with RockyMountainNavy Jr. back to school (sorta) and RockyMountainNavy T underemployed (thanks COVID). Having a game that we can pull out and play after dinner without going too deep into the evening is very valuable.
- Simultaneous Hidden Movement: Many block games by their very nature introduce a Fog of War element in that you can often see the blocks but don’t always know what it is until you engage with it. French and Indian War 1757-1759 introduces a simultaneous hidden movement system that looks interesting. Maybe we will try it someday. We might even adopt it, as long as it doesn’t extend game time too much and ruin the ‘filler game’ aspect we are looking for.
- Gateway Wargame: RockyMountainNavy Jr. is also interested in this game as a possible ‘gateway wargame’ that he could use with his friends. The table presence of Worthington Publishing games is always noteworthy; the use of blocks and areas instead of traditional wargame hex & counter make their games more approachable (presentable?) to non-wargamers who nonetheless are interested in a good boardgame.
It is very likely that RockyMountainNavy T and myself will get a chance to play this game in the next few weeks. We just need the right weeknight opening.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see Hollandspiele release Ryan Heilman and Dave Shaw’s new White Eagle Defiant: Poland 1939 this month. This design team previously brought us Brave Little Belgium, the wargame Tom Vassal hates. Which is sad because Brave Little Belgium is a great gateway wargame that should appeal to both wargamers and boardgamers looking for a little ‘conflict simulation’ to round out their collection. As I read the rules and get ready for my first play of White Eagle Defiant: Poland 1939 (Hollandspiele, 2020) I have a few thoughts:
- A series?: White Eagle Defiant shares many game mechanics of Brave Little Belgium. This makes it very easy for me to learn as I pay more attention to what’s different (some) compared to having to learn an entirely new game system. That said, White Eagle Defiant like Brave Little Belgium are small games with a single 17″x22″ map, 88 counters, and an eight-page rulebook. The design team of Heilman and Shaw supported by Tom & Mary Russell at Hollandspiele continue to impress me with their powerful small-package wargames.
- Blitzkrieg Atrocities: In Brave Little Belgium, once the end of turn chits are drawn the German player has the option of trying to push on anyway, but the cost was possibly gaining Atrocities. Too many Atrocities leads to defeat. I was not sure how this would be handled in White Eagle Defiant. I am quite happy with the solution; Blitzkrieg Breakdown which I think captures the penalties of the Germans pushing their forces too far too fast.
- Shipping: Some folks after looking at the picture I posted to Twitter asked if my box was damaged in shipping. The answer is yes, but not to the point I am going to demand a new one. I see many folks who demand a game be delivered in ‘perfect’ condition. After all, we usually paid a good deal of coin to buy the game so it should be ‘right’ in arrival! Thanks to the USPS, my box arrived with one corner slightly (and I mean slightly) crushed. What did I do? I opened the game box and carefully pushed the box corner back. Then I placed a heavy book (which few people apparently own these days) into the corner of the box overnight. It’s fine. Honestly, it looks no different than many of my boxes look after spending a few months on, and off, the gaming shelves.
The back of the box on White Eagle Defiant states, “If Brave Little Belgium was your first wargame, White Eagle Defiant could be your second. It builds on the slick foundations of the original while introducing additional complexity and nuance, such as specialized unit types and pincer attacks.” This old Grognard is certainly looking forward to the game!