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In the Pipeline

The following games are under active consideration here at Against the Odds and may appear in future issues. If any of them particularly interest you, you can vote for them below. You need to be logged in to your ATO account to vote. Don't have an account yet? Set one up now, no purchase required!

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Votes cast: Current total is 664

A7V - The Moving Fortress

(42 votes)

A7V is a tactical game depicting the first large scale use of Germany's A7V heavy tanks ("Sturmpanzerwagen") during the battle for Villers-Bretonneux, April 24-25, 1918. While their major Spring offensive, Operation Michael, had clearly failed by late March, 1918, the Germans were still fixated on capturing Amiens, a British\French occupied city and an absolutely vital rail junction for the Allies. The German plan was to seize Villers-Bretonneux, Cachy, and the high ground north of Gentelles. The hope was this would allow German artillery to move further west and be close enough to Amiens in order to place it under artillery bombardment. With this key objective in mind, the Germans planned a tank attack with some 13 A7Vs and assault troops.

While 13 tanks may seem insignificant, to the battered British 8th Division manning the front lines, it proved to be an unexpected shock. The A7V tank was not well known and on good ground it could be a more deadly and faster tank than the British Mark V. It was usually manned by at least 20 men, a 57mm gun and six HMGs. Of the 20 men, 10 were used to deploy outside of the tank in villages, so each A7V also sort of doubled as a troop carrier. After the battle, British troops nicknamed it "the Moving Fortress".

This battle is also well known because it featured the first tank to tank battle in history, all by accident. In this encounter, British male Mk V tanks clashed with A7Vs on two different occasions. Both sides exchanged gun fire resulting in a draw of sorts as both sides lost tanks. For another "first" this battle was also the debut of the British Whippet tank, a slightly faster tank armed with a few MGs. While no Whippet ever faced the A7V, a mere seven of them literally routed an unaware 800 man German battalion near Cachy, killing 400.

While the German attack on the 24th did succeed in taking all of Villers-Bretonneux, the two other towns, Cachy and Gentelles, did not fall to them. Another setback happened the night of 24th as nearby Australian troops conducted a surprise attack that totally caught the Germans off guard and nearly captured most of them inside Villers-Bretonneux. So by nightfall of the 25th, both side's troop positions were around they were before the attack. While little had changed overall, only three A7Vs had been lost in the attack, which the Germans deemed an overall success with regards to their first use of tanks.

Designed by Perry Moore, the game map depicts the area around Villers-Bretonneux and is scaled at about 400 yards per hex. Combat units are mostly company level, except for a few non-AFV battalions. For the tanks, each counter is one AFV. A game turn represents two hours of time. Optional rules allow the players to explore the use or extra or fewer units on each side. For example, had the Germans wanted to, they could have used another 6 A7Vs plus 10 captured British Mk IV tanks in this operation, which could have led to a disaster for the Allies.



Ironsides

(51 votes)

Ironsides is a moderate complexity area movement and impulse game depicting four battles of the English Civil Wars plus a bonus scenario where the Parliamentarian armies refused to fight a third battle at Newbury. One player controls the Royalist armies of King Charles I, King Charles II, and the Duke of Hamilton. The other player controls the Parliamentarian armies of the Earl of Essex, Earl of Manchester, Sir William Waller, and Oliver Cromwell. “Ironsides” was Cromwell’s nickname, later used by his regiment, and then his entire army.

FIRST NEWBURY (20 September 1643) After saving the Parliamentary stronghold of Gloucester the Earl of Essex found the road back to London blocked by the King Charles I and Prince Rupert at the small town of Newbury. Essex must fight his way through the Royalists in the bloodiest battle of the war so far.

SECOND NEWBURY (27 October 1644) After his victories at Cropedy Bridge and Lostwithiel, King Charles I and Prince Maurice billet their 8,500 men in the villages around Newbury while they wait for Prince Rupert. But the Royalists are in a trap, surrounded by 19,000 Parliamentarians!

THIRD NEWBURY (9 November 1644) Reinforced by Prince Rupert, King Charles I returns to Newbury to recover the artillery he left in Donnington Castle, now besieged by three Parliamentarian armies. The Earl of Manchester refused to fight, so the King took his guns and marched back to Oxford in triumph. Cromwell demands reforms to remove amateur generals from command and combine the Parliamentarian armies into one New Model Army.

PRESTON (17 August 1648) King Charles I was defeated by the New Model Army and surrendered in 1647 but soon made an Engagement with the Scottish Duke of Hamilton to restore him to the throne. Royalists uprisings in Kent, Essex, and Wales stretched the New Model Army to the limit. Oliver Cromwell, who had forced-marched 4,000 “Ironsides” 300 miles from Wales, destroyed Hamilton’s disorganized army. Cromwell returned to London, purged Parliament, and executed King Charles I.

WORCESTER (3 September 1651) King Charles II succeeded his father as King of the Scots and marched south to rally the English Royalists, gathering 16,000 men at Worcester. Cromwell followed, raising men and arms until he had 30,000 men, the largest army of the Civil Wars. Charles II attacked, but was thrown back and chased through the streets of Worcester in a bloody battle of annihilation that killed or captured 13,000 Royalists. Cromwell would go on make himself Lord Protector, king in all but name.

The designer Philip Jelley uses the same area movement design as Lilliburlero (ATO 40), with units representing the generals and regiments that fought the battles. Each turn represents one or two hours of time, with weather and nightfall affecting unit activation and command and control. Most scenarios last 3-4 hours (including a 1½ hour learning scenario) and each battle has historical and campaign scenarios, optional units, free-set-up, and extended battles. Ironsides contains 470 ½ inch counters, one full size and two half sized maps.



The Locust Warriors

(51 votes)

The Locust Warriors depicts the largest air drop of paratroops by the Soviets during WW2. The late 1941 Soviet Winter Offensive was focused on pushing Germany's Army Group Center (AGC) away from Moscow and hopefully destroying it. Thrusting their armies west, the Soviets got nearly to Kirov (100 miles from Moscow) and exploited any other gaps they could find in AGC's lines. Indeed, from mid-January to mid-February 1942, the Germans found themselves in very precarious situations all along the front, from Rzhev in the north to south of Vyazma, as they tried first to contain, and then seal off, all the Soviet penetrations. But it was the collapse of the German 9th Army to the north - opposite the Soviet Kalinin Front in the Rzhev area - that nearly allowed AGC to become fully encircled as the Soviet 11th Cavalry Corps raced 110 km deep into the German rear to seize Vyazma. Further south, the Soviet 33rd Army had also broken through AGC's lines and pushed to within a few miles of Vyazma as well!

As these events unfolded, the Soviet High Command STAVKA weighed using their 10,000 man 4th Airborne Corps to also land west of Vyazma as to completely cut all German supply and communications to there. Vyazma was critical as all the German supply routes ran through it, both roads and rail. If it all went as planned, the Germans would suffer a major defeat! Simply even dropping paratroops (nicknamed the "Locust Warriors") behind AGC deep into the German rear could cause chaos and mounting supply problems for them as any drop survivors could join any existing partisan bands. But it was also a sign of Soviet desperation, and the need to throw everything into the battles, that saw this operation become one of the two documented cases of Soviet paratroops jumping into deep snow drifts without chutes!

The Locust Warriors challenges both players, from the very start of the first turn onward, to cope with a very chaotic battle. The German player has firm control over the regiments and divisions making up his 4th Panzer and 4th Armies but must watch his rear. Meanwhile, the Soviet player must plan and execute a hasty airdrop while shoving his numerous front line armies (made up of smaller brigades and divisions) west to link up with his paratroops. The game map covers the area from Gzhatsk to Kirov and stretches east towards Rzhev, to fully encompass the main battle area. Designed by Perry Moore, the game features one 22" x34" map and 280 counters.



Crouching Tiger, Hidden Turtle - The Battle of Noryang, 1598

(67 votes)

“I cannot talk peace, nor can I let a single enemy seed go home in peace.” – Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin.

The Japanese invasion of Korea that began in 1592 was not going at all well for the invaders. After more than five years of fighting the Korean armies refused to surrender despite numerous defeats throughout Korea leading to a costly and protracted guerilla war. The Korean fleet managed to elude the various Japanese fleets sent over, and led by Admiral Yi Sun-sin, proved to be another thorn in the invader’s side that inflicted continued losses. When the Chinese also decided to intervene the tide of war went against the Japanese.

As the 1598 campaigning season ended, Japanese forces were bottled up in ports along the southeastern coast of Korea. With the death in September of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had instigated the invasion of Korea, he was replaced by a “Council of Five Elders” to govern Japan, and they ordered the evacuation of all Japanese forces in Korea back to the Home Islands.

Determined that none of the Japanese should be allowed to escape and perhaps return to fight again, Admiral Yi made plans with this Chinese counterpart, Admiral Chen Lin, to bring about a decisive “winner take all” naval battle. The opportunity came when the Allied commanders learned from local fishermen and spies that the main Japanese fleets were preparing to set sail. Realizing the Japanese would have to sail through the narrow Noryang Strait that flowed between the Korean mainland and Namhae Island, Admiral Yi ordered the Allied fleet to prepare a nighttime ambush of the Japanese fleet at the southern end of the Noryang Strait. His greatest planned surprise however was a flotilla of "Turtle Ships" in his forces - terrifying and largely invulnerable to most Japanese weapons. What ensued was the largest naval battle of the Imjin War.

Designed by Paul Rohrbaugh, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Turtle comes with one 22" x 34" map and around 225 counters. Besides the historical scenario there are variant rules and counters that allow players to explore some “what ifs” of the battle. Can you do as well, or better, than your historical counterparts?



(NEW) Hard to Swallow - The Russian Assault on Kyiv

(73 votes)

Hard to Swallow is a two game package that looks at the initial Russian assaults on Kyiv, both the overall operational campaign to take the city, and the intense local battle that erupted at Antonov Airport.

The first game, Road to Ruin is an operational level solitaire design on the Russian attempt to capture Kyiv outright in the first chaotic and brutal month of the war. The game centers on the outer Western defense cordon (Bucha, Iprin and Moschun) and the other closer in suburbs of Kyiv, scenes of the most intense urban combat witnessed since WW2. The player (representing Ukraine) must marshal his limited resources of hastily recruited militia, some professional soldiers, a few highly trained foreign legion troops plus small groups of special forces and then forge them into an force capable of blunting the multiple Russian drives towards Kyiv. Every neighborhood the invaders capture allows them to redeploy their long range firepower a bit closer, each such redeployment then shortens the range to the heart of Kyiv and increases the lethality of Russia’s devastating artillery batteries.

The Russians (controlled by the game system) may appear unstoppable at first. But the invaders did not come mentally prepared to overcome fierce resistance and their front line combat troops sent in lacked supplies and ammo to sustain a prolonged conflict. Another key Russian weakness is their lengthy unprotected convoys of supply trucks slowly twisting through forests and remote highways of the Ukrainian frontier, the perfect location for Ukrainian special forces to unleash ambushes with Javelin and MLAW missiles. Disrupting the Russian convoys gives the Ukrainians a chance to outlast the Russian Forces. And so, despite Putin’s proclamations of Russian invincibility, the longer the Ukrainians can hold out, the better the chances of forcing the Russians to withdraw.

Does President Zelensky have the willpower to resist the apocalyptic artillery bombardments raining death on the Kyiv from captured Ukrainian neighborhoods? Can the defenders outlast the invaders so that first the capital, and perhaps int he future, all of Ukraine saved? Designed by Steven Cunliffe with one 22" x 34" map, 88 large counters and 18 Campaign cards.

The second game, Terminal Illness is a two-player low to moderate level simulation of the battle for the Antonov Airport. A key component of the Russian's planned swift conquest of Ukraine was a large airborne assault upon the Antonov Airport, just west and north of the capital of Kyiv. Composed of two of the most elite and highly trained formations in the Russian Federation’s army, the 11th and 31st Guards Airborne Infantry Brigades, plus support by Spetnaz commandos, the plan was to quickly take control of the airport so follow-on forces could land while the Spetnaz moved into the capital to either kill or capture the Ukrainian government’s political and military leaders.

However, the Russians badly underestimated their opponent’s will to resist, as well as the effects that intelligence leaks from within their own military as well as that provided by NATO and the USA meant that the Russian assault would come with little to no surprise by the Ukrainian defenders. What ensued was the largest battle in Ukraine since World War II. Designed by Paul Rohrbaugh with one 11" x 17" map and 140 counters.



ROME, LLP.

(86 votes)

Before there was Empire, there was a ...Partnership? Yes, it was a world of clients and patrons where the words "The Senate and People of Rome" were not the hollow phrase it became under the Empire. For Senators, engaging in business was taboo, but money-making (even from graft) was not, and citizens of the growing Republic shared in their patrons’ wealth and prestige. But it was at best, a limited liability partnership, an unsuccessful general might merely be banished and replaced by another, but an unsuccessful legion might be....decimated.

ROME, LLP. is a solitaire game of the Roman Republic by Philip Jelley, as it grows from a small city state in 400 BCE to an empire in 27 BCE, when Octavian took the imperial name of Augustus. A prequel to the popular ROME, INC. (ATO 53) and ROME, IInc. (ATO 61) you will again be running a business, but this time the “Republic of Rome” is starting from scratch with minimal resources and highly competitive rivals, Brennus the Gaul, Hannibal Barca, Mithridates the Great, Spartacus, and Queen Cleopatra. The player operates behind the scenes, promoting and removing consuls, censors, governors, and tribunes (and dictators in a real emergency) as Roman legions monopolize the Mediterranean.

The pair of consuls rule Italia, allowing the player to choose which of the co-CEOs are best for the job in hand (unless they start arguing, which could be disastrous), with a censor to maintain public morals, and an obstructive tribune representing the workforce, vetoing senatorial appointments, and changing the game by proposing new laws. Provinces grouped into Italia and the eight proconsular commands of Aegyptus, Africa, Gallia Cisalpina, Gallia Transalpina, Hispania, Macedonia, Pontica, and Syria, each controlled by a Governor, who collects taxes, quells insurgents, and fights wars, but may March on Rome and make himself Dictator For Life.

Patrician and plebeian Statesmen are rated for their military, administration, popularity, and intrigue abilities, and gifted with a special ability. For example, Marcus Antonius has 4 Military, 1 Administration, 5 Popularity, and 4 Intrigue, making him a good general, appallingly corrupt administrator, exceptionally popular, and more than happy to remove his political rivals with a stab in the back, while his Leader special ability encourages him to rebel and might even make him an Aegyptian Leader like Cleopatra. Legions, auxilia, colonies, and fleets are used to fight wars and garrison provinces. Loyal allies protect the frontier as natives are civilized until they are ripe for annexation. Enemy leaders and barbarian wars pillage their way from province to province until defeated, encouraging revolts, and reclaiming territory. Fighting a war may mean a glorious triumph, ghastly disaster, or bloody stalemate, perhaps Fabius had the right idea.

Victory is determined by winning Prestige, earned by prudent administration, annexing provinces, winning wars, and plying the people with bread and circuses. If the barbarians take Rome, the Republic will fall and the game ends in in defeat, but bankruptcy and popular revolution will have the same effect. You alone control the mechanics of a rising republic, choosing four distinct “starting points” (400 BCE, 267 BCE, 149 BCE, and 82 BCE) and running scenarios lasting 10-40 turns (if you get that far), depending on your business acumen and endurance. Each turn represents 5-15 years, with 10 turns in each of the four scenarios. You can extend the game into ROME, INC. and ROME, IInc. for a truly epic game charting the rise and fall of history’s greatest empire.

You decide where to allocate resources (capital spending), raise new forces (hiring), undertake prestige projects (public relations), pleasing the Senate (shareholders) and the People (workforce), or even setting aside a reserve for a rainy decade or two. You need to blend military acumen with careful administration, as well as intrigue, making the most of what you have each turn, just like any modern-day business. ROME, LLP. will give you a new perception of how war is a cost, business is a benefit, and empire is somewhere in between. It’s up to you to find a balance. ROME, LLP. comes with one full color 22" x 34" mapsheet, 280 full color 1/2" die-cut pieces and around 12 pages of rules. Players should average from 2 to 4 hours per scenario.



That Man of Blood

(89 votes)

The story of the Second Civil War is short and simple. King, Lords and Commons, landlords and merchants, the City and the countryside, bishops and presbyters, the Scottish army, the Welsh people, and the English Fleet, all now turned against the New Model Army. The Army beat the lot.

- Sir Winston Churchill

On 30th April 1648 the Army Council met at Windsor Castle for a three-day prayer meeting which resolved “that it was our duty, if ever the Lord brought us back again in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for that blood he had shed”. Despite odds of two or three to one they defeated the Royalists at St Fagans, Maidstone, Colchester, and Preston. Returning to London victorious, the Army purged Parliament and tried and executed the king for treason.

That Man of Blood is an area movement and impulse game for two to four players recreating the Second Civil War of 1648, the direct cause of the English Revolution and the execution of Charles I. The first player controls the New Model Army; the second the Parliamentarian Northern Association, Irish Army, Scottish Whigs, some lukewarm militia and a mutinous fleet; the third has a loose alliance of Cavaliers, Presbyterians, Welsh, and any ships that desert the Parliamentarians, and the fourth the Scots Engagers and Ulster Army. The Royalists and Scots have more men, but worse generals and variable reinforcements. Players maneuver their forces from area to area across the map in order to destroy enemy regiments, capture towns, build up a navy and control the King.

Designed by Philip Jelley, That Man of Blood features one 22 x 34" map and 280 counters with 8 battle scenarios for a quick evening's fun, and 3 full campaigns that force players to take into account all the intricacies of managing their difficult coalitions.



Operation C

(102 votes)

Operation C, by Perry Moore, covers the Japanese naval foray into the Indian Ocean in April 1942 with five of their carriers. The Japanese were on a roll, seemingly invincible after a string of victories since Dec. 1941, including the taking of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. Ceylon was next objective due to its strategic location astride the shipping lanes. The Japanese hoped that by menacing Ceylon, they could force the smaller British fleet (with three carriers) defending it to fight and cripple it, then go on to demolish Britain’s vital shipping ports located in India. The map scale 50 miles to a hex, and the game uses the land-air-sea system first showcased in Perry’s War in the Aegean game.

Historically, the Japanese admiral, Yamamoto, first proposed to physically invade the island, and establish control over the sea lanes that way, but his superiors rejected the plan, and Port Moresby was invaded instead. In this game, the Japanese player does have the option to invade Ceylon (which was weakly defended) but must also cause heavy damage to the Indian ports, and of course, initiate a carrier battle with the British if at all possible. One map with 280 counters.



The Road to Tokyo

(103 votes)

"We are fighting the Japanese, but the US Navy is the enemy."

- MacArthur's Chief of Staff to a visiting Australian general

The Road to Tokyo is a two player (but uniquely, four-sided) game depicting events in the Pacific Theater for the first 6 months of 1944. Players assume the roles of both Nimitz and MacArthur and more indirectly, the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy forces opposing them. The twist is, each player controls forces on both sides and must strive to do better than his nominal ally (but secret opponent).

Designed by Steven Cunliffe, The Road to Tokyo features 176 large 5/8" counters and 52 cards. The map depicts the principle fronts in New Guinea and the Central Pacific and each turn is around 2 weeks.

The victory conditions are a bit unusual. Players must minimize their own casualties, but maximize those of their opponent, and attempt to garner the most "Headline Points" possible, influencing Roosevelt's ultimate decision to take the road to Tokyo through the Philippines (MacArthur's demand) or by Formosa (Nimitz's plan). At times, the imperative to "make the news" will cause "mere war considerations" to seem almost quaint.