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Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812-Kickstarter campaign live

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on June 18, 2017

Following up on my earlier post about the upcoming strategy game, Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812, I wanted to share in a brief post that the Kickstarter Campaign Hand2Hand Entertainment is starting for the game is now live.

The stretch goals look quite interesting, including extra scenarios, units, and illustrated battle cards. One thing to note is that the project is based in Canada, so the backer levels will be in Canadian dollars, but are converted into USD below. To get a copy of the game will set you back about $57 based on the exchange rate. Thus far, the project is 20 percent towards its goal.

My only critique of the campaign is that they have the backer level jump from Recruit at CA$75 where you get one copy of the game and all stretch goals to Officer at CA$340, where you get five copies of the game and all goals. In my humble opinion, I feel a middle-level “NCO” backer level in between those two, where a backer could get two, or three copies, would also help entice folks to back the game, as this is what I have seen from other board game campaigns. I also feel this would be nice, as then a backer could opt for this to have their own copy of the game and give one (or two) as a gift.

I do hope you will consider going to their Kickstarter campaign and check it out and, if you are so inclined, support it, as the game does look interesting.

Posted in 19th Century Military History, American Military History, Game Review, General | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An exciting new game on the War of 1812

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on June 12, 2017

Cross-posted on Frontier Battles.

I was recently contacted about a new two-player strategy game that deals with the War of 1812 that will be launching on Kickstarter later this week. Created by Hand2Hand Entertainment, Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812 looks to be an interesting and tantalizing game that employs a mechanic similar to the game Commands & Colors: Napoleonics, though with some differences. You can view a video they have created below.

I recently reached out to them for a Q & A via email with Eric, one of the creators and wanted to share it with you all to let you know about this game.

How long has your company been in existence?

Our founder started working on Sabres and Smoke: War of 1812 in July of 2016. Sabres and Smoke is our first game.

What is your company’s overall mission?

We want to create a game that has a high level of historical accuracy but is also fun and not to complicated to learn. We hope that this get people interested in the War of 1812 and want to learn more about it.

How did you come to choose the War of 1812 as the conflict you would design a game around, and, what interested you about this particular conflict?

We chose the War of 1812 because there are very few other board games that focus on the War of 1812. There are lots of games that focus on other wars but we thought a game featuring the War of 1812 would be really unique.

How did you decide on the style of game to create, and, did you consider other types (miniatures, point to point map, etc.)?

We considered elements from different games that we really like and how we could bring those elements together to create something different that we could call our own.

How long was the design process from conceptualization to prototype?

The design process took a very long time. We started making rough drafts of the Battles in August of 2016 and had finished our final prototype of the Game by April 2017.

What has been the biggest struggle during the design and play testing process?

The Biggest struggle was finding different people to play test our game. We played the game ourselves a lot but had difficulty finding other people to play it in the early stages. Since then we were able to have multiple board game bloggers publish reviews of Sabres and Smoke and give us some really valuable feedback. We also play tested it with some 12 year olds to make sure that kids enjoy the game as well.

This question is for those interested in designing their own game. How did you go about designing the components and where did you source them?

We actually did all of the illustration and prototype design ourselves. Creating the prototype copies was very labour intensive for us, it involved a lot of printing and cutting on our end. The only part of the prototype games that we did not make ourselves were the plastic stands and the dice, which we used from sample orders we received from our suppliers.

Why do a Kickstarter campaign?

We decided very early on that a Kickstarter campaign was right for us because it would allow us to raise the money for Sabres and Smoke before it goes into production. This helps reduce a lot of the financial risk that comes along with producing board games on a large scale. Also, a Kickstarter launch is a great way to get people excited about our game.

What are your favorite elements of the game?

My favourite part of Sabres and Smoke is the way units are ordered. A lot of other games like like this have rules that make it difficult for players to carry out their battle strategies. In Sabres and Smoke, the only thing stooping a player from executing their strategy exactly how they planned it is the other player. This adds depth to the game and forces players to think more strategically than they might when they play other games.

Did any interesting situations arise as you play tested the game that potential players should be aware of, or that you realized needed editing?

Not really. There were a few minor things like typos in the rule book and certain battles needing to be more balanced, but there were no major changes that we needed to make to the game.

Do you have plans for expansions of Sabres and Smoke, or creating similar games around other historical conflicts?

We have some extra battles that we are using as stretch goals for our Kickstarter campaign and maybe for an expansion pack to be released later this year. We are not sure what type of game we will create next or if we will create further expansion packs for Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812, we have been focused lately on making this upcoming Kickstarter a success.

What is the best way to reach out to you regarding the game itself, and/or looking to get involved with your company?

The best way to contact us is by email, you can reach us at hand2handentertainment1812@gmail.com. People can also reach out to us by sending us a message through our website and can receive more information and updates about our game by joining our mailing list. This can be done through our website https://www.hand2handgames.com.

I would like to thank Eric for his time and will be following this project in the coming weeks and am seriously considering backing this, if my finances permit it.

Posted in American Military History, Game Review, General, US Army, US military | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review of Escape from Colditz

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on November 19, 2016

I was privileged to receive a copy of Escape from Colditz about a month ago from Osprey Games, a division of Osprey Publishing, who is famous for its series of military history books. I was pleased to be able to finally test play the game with some friends at Broken Sentry Games, a new store in Grand Forks. It was a great time as we navigated the rules and planned our moves. I chose to be the German guards and prevent the escape.

History of Colditz Castle

The game is actually a reboot of a version of the game, with the same title , that appeared in 1973. It is based on the real story of Oflag IV-C, a German POW camp in Colditz Castle that housed Allied officers that escaped from other camps. Several attempts to escape the prison were unsuccessful, but a few were, including Pat Reid, who was one of the designers of the original game.

Several tunnels and bed sheet ropes were constructed to attempt to help prisoners escape. One unique story is that prisoners constructed a glider, named the “Colditz Cock,” from various materials in the camp, which had a wingspan of roughly 32 feet and was to be launched via a pulley system on a runway made from tables. Though the real glider never flew, a replica was built and flown.

Game Components

Osprey outdid itself in the quality of the game pieces. The box art is stunning and the board is quite nice, including the logo being printed on the underside, something I have not seen before.9781472818935

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In addition to the box and board, the other components of the game are quite nice. The cards are sturdy and have nice artwork on them. The pawns represent the nations represented (Americans, British, Dutch, French, Germans, and Poles), more specifically Allied prisoners of war and their German guards.

Another fun thing with this game are the surprises hidden among the game components. There are several replicas of artifacts related to the real history of the POW camp, including a postcard from a prisoner to their family, a Red Cross care parcel, a German Wanted poster for escaped prisoners, and a leaflet urging Allied prisoners to cease escaping. The biggest surprise is hidden in the box and I will not give it away, as you will have to get the game to find out, but it will be worth it.

Rules and Game Mechanics

The rules are pretty straightforward. POW pawns are set up in the white-shaded area of the central courtyard of the castle in a specific way, based on the number of players. The game supports 2-6 players and our play test consisted of four of us, which I felt was a nice balance to grasp the workings of the game.

Each round ends with the German player, with each player rolling dice to determine available movement points, which allows the player to move any number of its pawns up to the die roll. If a player rolls doubles, they may re-roll and add that total to their double roll. Further, if a player rolls a total of five or less, they may draw either an Opportunity Card (Allied players), or a Security Card (German), which can be used during their turn to bring about various events that can aid an escape attempt, or hinder it.1118162019

Allied players navigate the castle, attempting to gather their items needed for their escape kits and equipment to help in the actual escape from the castle, all while trying to avoid arrest and being thrown in solitary confinement, or being shot. Once outside the camp perimeter, the POWs attempt to reach one of several targets on the board that signal a successful escape. The game ends when either two pawns of one nation successfully escape, or the countdown marker reaches the eagle (zero rounds left) and no escapes have succeeded.

The game seems to progress fairly quickly and the cards can affect play in many fun and unique ways. Further, you can feel a little rush when a pawn attempts an escape and the player is attempting to reach a target, or stop an escape.1118162158

One unique aspect of the game is that the rules from the original 1973 version are included in the rule book to allow one to experience the original style of play, which includes “Do or Die” cards that offer the chance of a player getting out by making a break for it. However, there is great risk, as if that player fails, all its pawns are “killed” and removed from the game.

Criticisms

There is much to like about this game, from its relatively simple mechanics and rules, to its beautiful components. That said, there are a couple criticisms I have on the game. First, the circular spaces that pawns move and land on are a bit too small and tight, which can create a cluttered situation on the board in some regards. Coupled with that are the size of the pawns themselves, which are easy to slip out of one’s fingers and slide a bit easily on the board, which can knock other players’ pieces from where they may have been. Slightly larger spaces on the game board would alleviate this issue, as well as perhaps putting a surface on the bottom of the pawns to prevent them from sliding on the board as easily would also solve this minor problem.

The other has to do with the number of rounds in a game, which the rules suggest starting at 50, with an option of starting at 40 if players are more experienced. Given our game took over 3 hours (despite it being our first time), it seems that 50 rounds might be a bit much and the board has marks for up to 70 rounds. That said, like the issue of board spaces and pawns, this is a minor issue that does not significantly impact my feelings on the game overall.

Final Thoughts and Ratings

Escape from Colditz is a great game with a unique and exciting theme that will appeal to a wide variety of gamers, from those into historical games, to those who enjoy strategy with a twist. Osprey did an amazing job on this reboot of a classic and it’s one that you should have in your game collection.

Ratings:

Components-5 stars (an awesome board and game components with the addition of replica artifacts and a wonderful surprise too)

Rules and Mechanics-5 stars (relatively simple and easy to learn, plus the optional 1973 rules are a nice touch)

Design-5 stars (beautiful artwork and game play)

Price-5 stars (At $65, you definitely get your value with this game.)1118162220

Posted in Game Review, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The King is Dead-A Great New Game by Osprey

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on October 31, 2015

The King is Dead: Struggles for Power in King Arthur’s Court by Peer Sylvester and illustrated by Peter Dennis ($24.95)

Two weeks ago, I received a copy of a new game by Osprey Games, a division of Osprey Publishing, known for their series of military history books. Osprey Games seeks to bring the reputation of the publisher to the world of tabletop and miniature gaming, which is growing in popularity (if the game Twilight Struggle on the Cold War is any indication). The game is called The King is Dead and if it is any indication of what Osprey is hoping to create for historical and fantasy games, future products should prove to be quite good.

The game is set in early medieval Britain, in the wake of Arthur’s death. Players assume the role of a member of his court seeking to gain influence over three factions in Britain: the Welsh, Scots, and Romano-British, all of which are vying for control of the various regions of the island. In the background is the constant threat of a Saxon invasion. While some of the game is wrapped up in the legends of Arthur, the historical aspect comes from the very real conflicts between Britons and the Anglo-Saxon forces during the late 5th and early 6th centuries A.D. According to Osprey’s page dedicated to the game:

The King is Dead is a board game of politics and power struggles in the dark Arthurian Britain for 2 to 4 players.

King Arthur is dead. The nation is divided. The Saxons are coming.

Now, more than ever, Britain needs a ruler who can unite the kingdom, but who will take the crown? Players work behind the scenes, marshalling their limited resources to give power to competing factions and gain influence within their ranks. Players owe loyalty only to themselves, however, are free to shift their allegiances as they see fit. Whoever has the most influence over the most powerful faction will rule Britain from the shadows. But be careful – too much infighting will give the Saxons an opening and put the entire nation at risk.

Its rules and mechanics are quite simple, but with a degree of strategy to keep it quite interesting. I test-played it with a co-worker Friday afternoon and we both found it enjoyable and fun. The length of play is between 30-45 minutes, making it great for players seeking a quick game that is still fun. The game board is very nice and mounted on cardboard, containing a map of Britain divided into eight regions.

The action is driven by cards, with each player having eight action cards they can play. There are also eight region cards that are shuffled and then placed next to each section on the board edge, numbered 1-8. Players then engage in power struggles related to that region, where they attempt to have more followers from one of the three factions (represented by colored cubes) than the other two in a region to gain control of that region for their faction. At the same time, players are removing a follower from the board and inviting them to their court. Power struggles for the regions end when both players consecutively pass and are decided by the number of followers in the region.

The action cards allow a player to move followers, settle followers, or garrison a region with followers. When a region falls under a faction’s control, the followers are moved into the common pool in the corner of the board and are no longer contested. If no faction has a majority when the power struggle ends, it comes under the control of the invading Saxons. This is something the players do not want to happen.

When all eight regions have fallen under a faction’s control, the game ends and whichever faction holds more regions and whichever player has more of that faction’s influence by the number of its followers in their court becomes the next King of Britain. However, if the Saxons control enough territory, the winner becomes the leader of the resistance.

Overall, this game is similar to another board game I have played with historical themes Tammany Hall, which I also enjoyed. The game is easy to play, requires a degree of cunning and strategy to both sway favor with the factions, while also preventing your opponent from gaining an advantage, or letting the Saxons invade. It can be played with 2-4 players and also has an advanced option for King Mordred’s followers.

With a nice board, a great theme, nice components, and a clever box with storage for the components, The King is Dead is definitely a great game and well worth its price of $24.95. It’s short playing time make it great for a lunchtime game with friends, and its relative simplicity makes it accessible to younger players too, as while the recommended age is 12 and up, I think with the right explanation of the rules and some patience, slightly younger kids could even play this game. If you are looking for a good gift for that gamer in your family, or someone that is interested in medieval Britain this holiday season, definitely add The King is Dead to your shopping list.

Download the game rules here.

Check out its Board Game Geek page too.

Posted in Game Review, Medieval Military History, Other military history | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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