As COVID 19 will unlikely go away so easily (or anytime soon), my gaming group and I will continue meeting by VASSAL over the weekends and almost daily during the Christmas break. In fact, some new boardgaming projects are being planned already during the early part of 2021.
One game to be extensively played next year is GMT's Empire of The Sun. This is a game to become very popular in the Spanish-speaking world, following the recent publication in our native tongue by the nice people of Devir Iberia.
The game was released almost coinciding with the Pearl Harbour Anniversary last week. The Spanish version can be considered a deluxe variant of the English original, with mounted boards, high quality cards and some extras like the mini-scenario publsihed in the C3i magazine issue 30. I ordered my copy the release day last week and it is now on its way home. It will have a distinctive place under the Christmas tree on the 25th.
For those of you not familiar with the game, Empire of the Sun (EotS) was designed by Mark Herman, also the father of the monstergame The Pacific War. Unsurprsingly considering who is the designer, EotS is a very robust game despite being card-driven, profitting from Herman's deep reserarch and knowledge of the Pacific Theare of Operations.
The game takes an strategic view of the conflict, in which the Japanese player is doomed over time when confronting the industrial, demographic and economic power of the United States. Japan's only hope is eroding the social and political support of the American public, enough to force a negotiated truce before becoming too weak to resist the almighty US military force.
I'm fairly familiar with the game, as I had the opportunity to play three long campaign games during the summer via VASL and to attend as an observer a a few other played by my gaming group. This past summer I also read two tomes of the Pacific Crucible trilogy by Ian W. Toll. These are books that I cannot recommend more if you are interested in the topic, covering not just the military aspects but also the political and economic; the content is also well balanced, describing the internal situation at both sides (Japan and the Allies) with good level of depth.
The second major boardgaming project for next year is the Battles from the Age Reason (BAR)system, published by Clash of Arms. This is a battalion level wargame covering most of the XVIII century period, from the Wars of Spanish Succession to the American War of Independence.
The system currently covers 10 battles, of which 3 is in the period of the Austrian Succession War (Fontenoy, Mollwitz, Chotusitz), 3 from the AWI (Monmoth, Brandywine and Germantown) and 4 related to the SYW period ( Kolin, Lobositz, Prague and Zorndorf).
I have always been attracted by the period to play with miniatures, but I have been scared about the complexity of painting the uniforms of that age. The boardgame will hopefully allow me to recreate the period reallistically withouth having to make a major investment (and painting effort).
One important dimension for me in the hobby is to study the history of the period. I have been doiung some research and bought a few interesting books, including a "classical" tome The Armies of Frederick the Great by the well known military historian Christopher Duffy. This is an out of print work but you can find second hand copies at very reasonable prices in eBay among other sites. Nonetheless, to get a high level and quick view of the period, I decided to buy the conrresponding Osprey book about the conflict.
BAR is no a light set of rules. The system is very detailed in many aspects (from movement, to fire and close combat, to changes in formations) and takes into consideration the very different tactical features of each nation in conflict, as awell as specific factors affecting each battle within the system.
Some people argue that the level of complexity equals that of Advanced Squad Leader. It is no an easy system but it's far less complex than the ASL system. I am just getting myself introduced into the system through some videos in the YouTube channel of the Spanish wargamer celebrity Agustí Barrio, and reading the rules and the primer manual (available in pdf from the Wargames Vault site).
Last but not least: Caesar- Rome vs Gaul. This is a recently released title by GMT Games by one of my favourite designers Mark Simonitch. The system is very similar to Hannibal Rome vs Carthage This is
a pure card driven boardgame (very different to Empire of the Sun in all aspects), based on a system designed to be fairly asymmetrical at the beginning and the end of the game.
Caesar's campaigns in Gaul are very dear to me and no doubt I was going to be hooked by the game as soon as it was announced; a plus in my interest is of course the designer. For some reason copies of the game have not yet arrived to our local stores in Spain (or they arrived in limited numbers and flew away in just a few days) so I'm in a waiting list with my usual supplier of games.
As you can see an exciting wargaming year ahead. In addition to these three new sets, I plan to continue with my regular weekend ASL games on VASSAL. And if the pandemic allows it, I plan to return to my miniature games specially with Infamy!Infamy! and Chain of Command. It's a shame that I heavily playtested the former and when the book was finally released, the club was shutdown I haven't had the opportunity to display my minis yet!!!
Tell me about your plans in 2021 in the comments section of this blog.