Gamers Alliance, which bills itself as the "longest running, continuously published English language game review publication" has a large selection of their previously published board game reviews available online. I've found it useful in looking for some older board games to purchase to add to my collection.
I recently punched a copy of Fury of Dracula third edition that had been sitting on my shelf for several years for a Horror Themed game night. This particular version is out of print, thanks to the Fantasy Flight - Games Workshop divorce, but the good news is that Game Workshop recently married Wiz Kids, and a new edition is on the agenda.
I actually have a copy of the original Fury of Dracula from 1987, along with the special miniatures that came with the game then. The third edition comes with some nice plastic miniatures, which look to be about 20mm, size-wise. I'm going to paint them in the near future.
Fury of Dracula third edition is easy to learn, with my group of two adults and three teens figuring it out in short order. Dracula's movement is hidden, and tracked by location cards placed upside down on one end of the board. On their turn, the Vampire Hunters visit cities across Europe, travelling by road and rail to find clues as to Dracula's whereabouts. When they happen across one of the locations that Dracula has previously visited, the card is revealed and actions resolved. Revealing these cards lets the Vampire Hunters begin to deduce Dracula's path and converge on possible locations.
The Fantasy Flight third edition is a better game than the original, with a neat card track (shown in the photo above) that Dracula uses to play/record his movement. In the original, there was a separate board with a screen. I also like the card based combat. With day and night phases, the hunters can act twice per turn, while Dracula can activate only at night.
The game is tense, and oozes theme. Deep strategy it is not. A Euro it is not. It does, however, build a good story. In our first game, Dracula was cornered and eliminated in the nick of time. In the second, the Vampire Hunters knew where he had to be, but were unable to corner him before he spread his influence and horror all over Europe.
Assuming that Wiz Kids doesn't mess this up, I recommend this game.
A Wargamers Guide To 1066 And The Norman Conquest is one of a new series of books from Pen and Sword publishers that bring a wargamer's perspective to critical periods in military history.
Written by veteran gamer and author Daniel Mersey, A Wargamers Guide To 1066 And The Norman Conquest interprets primary and secondary sources on the Norman conquest in "wargamer speak." After a broad description of the events of 1066, Mersey begins the second chapter with a discussion of the various troop and equipment types engaged in the campaigns, equating them in standard wargamer's lingo, such as "Elite Heavy Cavalry," and "Medium Infantry."
The third chapter looks at the individual battles of Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings. For these, Mersey offers brief descriptions from primary and secondary sources, and then extracts key points that a gamer should consider when developing a scenario.
Chapter Four looks at broad themes of the period and how they can be applied to existing rules sets. The fifth chapter takes a look at some existing rules sets -- both commercial and free -- and discusses their merits. Chapter Six is a discussion of available figures.
Finally, the last chapter offers five more general period scenarios for gamers to try after exhausting the fun of the historical battles.
Throughout the book, Mersey offers some nice recommendations for further reading, and follows it up with an appendix with additional titles.
My one wish for the book is that the battle descriptions and scenarios included some maps. While maps of Hastings, et. al. are readily available, it would have been nice to see them in the book with references to things mentioned in the text.
For the newcomer to the period, A Wargamers Guide To 1066 And The Norman Conquest is a nice starting point. It is not a comprehensive history, nor a rule set, but it does offer a road map for beginning to wargame the period.
Veteran gamers also may find something here. I have long been interested in the Norman Conquest, and have large collection of Normans, Vikings and Saxons. I consider myself fairly well-read on the topic, but still found a lot of points to ponder. For example, Mersey offers the question of what might have happened if William had landed much earlier. In that case, Harold might have faced the Normans with a much stronger army; the victor of that battle then would have needed to turn north to take on Harald. That simple twist offers two (or more) completely different historically plausible scenarios to play.
I like the book and look forward to seeing others.
Casemate Publishers recently sent two of their books of paper soldiers for review: Wargame: 1066 and Wargame: The Wars of the Roses. They are part of a Battle for Britain series, which also includes books for the Roman Invasion of AD 43 - 84, the English Civil War, and the Spanish Armada.
The books each contain around thirty pages of beautifully illustrated, full-color paper models representing all of the troop types necessary to recreate battles of the period on the tabletop. The figures are approximately 30mm from top of helmet to base. Paper models of buildings, trees and other battlefield accessories are included. Finally, the books contain instructions for assembly, as well as simple sets of rules by Andy Callan.
To build your armies, first photocopy the pages with the desired troop types. Then simply cut and paste. In this fashion, you can create as many stands of figures as desired. Don't need Flemish spearmen? Don't copy them. Want extra billmen in livery? Copy away.
In the example below, I made a copy of a page of cavalry on plain paper with my printer at regular resolution. The copy came out looking pretty good, but if I were doing this to build an army, I'd use heavier inkjet paper and a higher print resolution.
After printing, I followed the instructions in the book: scoring the line, gluing, then cutting. I did a quick job with a lousy pair of school scissors, but I still like the overall effect. With the investment of a little more time and some decent scissors, the paper models would look just first rate -- especially in ranks, as designed.
The figures have paper bases for mounting, but I'd suggest gluing those bases to thicker pieces of wood or plastic for easy movement. I also wonder if there isn't some sort of sealer that would stiffen the figures without making the colors run. Mod Podge, for example, or an artist's spray sealer.
The Battle For Britain series looks like a great way to quickly build playable, good looking armies for the tabletop. Priced between $20 and $30 on Amazon, they are reasonably affordable, even when taking into account the price of the paper and ink. And based on my experience in quickly cutting out a stand of cavalry, I think you could build an impressive army very quickly.
I am definitely going to build a War of the Roses army. I may even get the English Civil War book. I have long wanted to have armies for both those conflicts.
The good folks at Vis Bellica Online have this review of 15mm ancients wargames figure lines, including Essex Assyrians and Egyptians, Chariot Egyptians, Tin Soldier Greeks, Thracians and Persians, Xyston Greeks, Pass O' The North, and Pendraken 10mm late Romans.