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Against the Odds magazine investigates military history from a broad perspective. The economic, political, religious and social aspects of warfare are examined in concert with events on the battlefield.

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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 837

(New) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Turtle - The Battle of Noryang, 1598

(9 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 17" x 22" 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?

The Locust Warriors

(12 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.

(New) Is Rome Burning?

(18 votes)

September 7, 1943. Tomorrow, General Eisenhower intends to announce that the government of Italy has secretly surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. Hitler feared this, so the Germans have long been preparing, and will launch, Operation Alaric to take over as much of Italy as possible. The Italian government led by King Vittorio Emanuele II and Marshal Badoglio, on the other hand, are not expecting the Allied announcement so soon. They have barely begun preparing their units for the most difficult battle of the war – turning against the old ally while awaiting an Allied landing somewhere in Southern Italy – without knowing when and where. The fate of the Eternal City hangs in the balance, and you must decide its future.

Designed by John Prados and Leopoldo Nuti, this game will utilize the tactical system popularized in Monty's D-Day and Fortress Berlin. A city fight set among the glories of classical history. Will the Italian divisions around Rome be able to halt the German onslaught? How much will the Roman citizens count in the fight? Will any member of the Royal Family lead the resistance while the King and Government head South to shelter among the Allies? And above all, will US paratroopers, which Eisenhower promised Badoglio, arrive in time to help the Italians protect their patrimony?

Is Rome Burning? gives you the opportunity to relive this dramatic moment of World War II, when the fate of Italy and its capital are in your hands. The game has one map and 280 counters. There are two major scenarios, one pitting the Italians alone against German reaction forces, the second (Operation “Giant II”) featuring the airdrop of an American parachute division into central Italy—a gambit actually prepared by the Allied command, which was cancelled at the last minute when the C-47s bearing the 82nd Airborne Division were about to take off!

Trying Men's Souls

(49 votes)

By 1776, King George III convinced hardliners in Parliament to raise a massive army and fleet that would bring the colonists to heel and end the rebellion. In August, a British fleet of over 400 ships, including 73 warships, arrived in New York harbor and landed over 32,000 men on the shores of Long Island. Opposing them was the largest American army ever assembled with 23,000 men under the command of General George Washington.

Washington took a bold gamble by defending on Long Island. Hoping to replicate what happened in Boston on a larger scale by defending the Gowanus Heights and fortifying those about Brooklyn, as well as constructing numerous obstructions in the Hudson and East Rivers, he hoped the British would incur such high losses in taking the American defenses that an assault on Manhattan would be impossible. However, the British had also learned from what had happened in Boston and would make use of the many loyalists’ knowledge and sentiments in and around New York in their efforts to bring the rebels to heel.

For the American player, Trying Men's Souls will be a game that can indeed, try one’s soul. You must transition from a static defense in depth to a more mobile fight in which defiant stands must be matched with bold counter-attacks. For the British player, you have a preponderance of force but will need a delicate blend of activation among your commands to keep the Americans off balance while pressing the attack. Use of the Royal Navy requires a deft touch in and around the American forts, but can open up opportunities along the rivers. One 22” x 34” inch map of the New York City-Long Island area, 280 counters, and moderate complexity. Designed by Paul Rohrbaugh.

Rome, IInc.

(52 votes)

ROME, IInc. is a game of the Late Roman Empire (the period from Diocletian to Heraclius) by Philip Jelley for one player or two co-operating players. A sequel to the popular ROME, Inc. you again will be running the Roman Empire like a business, but this time the barbarians are well and truly at the gates. Together the players operate behind the scenes, promoting and removing emperors, governors, and the occasional pope.

When corporate axeman Diocletian terminated his predecessor in the finest traditions of ROME, Inc., no one expected a complete rebranding operation. Realizing that something new was needed to revive the flagging fortunes of a corporate dinosaur he made his friend Maximinus co-CEO in a new east-west operation, ROME, IInc. Players can accept the challenge solo, or share control of the empire with a partner, one in the East, and the other in the West.

Together or alone, you control the mechanics of a failing empire, choosing four distinct “starting points” (286 CE, 364 CE, 455 CE, and 527 CE) and run scenarios lasting 10-40 turns, depending on your corporate acumen and endurance. Each turn represents 8-10 years, with 10 turns in each of the four scenarios. If you already own ROME, Inc. you can extend the game into ROME, IInc. for a truly epic 80 turn game charting the rise and fall of history’s greatest empire.

Historical statesmen are not only rated for their abilities as a commander, administrator, and intriguer, but their devotion to the Christian Orthodoxy, and each has a special ability to give him an edge. Every turn sees crises and challenges that the players must deal with, to expand, or sometimes simply to survive.

The map consists of provinces grouped into the four great commands of Gaul, Italy, Illyria, and the Orient, each commanded by a governor. Provinces may be given to foederati barbarian allies to guard the frontier or plagued by heretics. Beyond these is the dreaded Attila the Hun, driving lesser barbarians from their homelands, and pillaging his way from province to province until defeated.

You decide where to allocate resources (capital spending), raise new forces (hiring), undertake prestige projects (public relations), pleasing the church (shareholders), 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, IInc. 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, IInc. 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 3 to 4 hours per scenario.

Blind Faith

(57 votes)

In A.D. 1415, at the Council of Constance, Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague, two church reformers from Bohemia, were burnt at the stake for heresy. In the years that followed, outrage over the execution convulsed civil society in Bohemia, a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. Now, with Bohemia in rebellion as well as consumed by heresy, Emperor Sigismund must wage war to both extirpate the heresy and secure his throne.

This bitter and sustained struggle devastated large parts of the empire in a manner not seen again until another religious conflict, the Thirty Years War, took place in roughly the same regions. The Imperial player must destroy the heretics and retake Bohemia before the Pope is forced to make concessions in another church council. The Hussite player, led by the devout, sightless and gifted military leader, Jan Zizka, must prevent this and try to begin a Reformation in Europe one hundred years early.

Designed by Jason Juneau, Blind Faith depicts a classic example of asymmetric warfare, granting both players many options in waging war. The resources and position of the Imperial side are pitted against the skill and morale of the Hussite side. This war was part of a larger sea change in warfare in Europe. Knights and peasants, artillery and threshing flails, clergy and laymen were thrown together in a war the signaled the demise of the feudal system and the universal church. One countersheet and a 22" x 34" map.

Operation C

(59 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.

That Man of Blood

(61 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.

The Road to Tokyo

(62 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.

Operation Round Up, 1943: What If?

(73 votes)

This two-player game covers the first month of the never-run Allied plan to invade France at the Pas de Calais (instead of landing at Salerno), late in the summer of 1943. The map area covers the French coast from around Dunkirk south to the mouth of the Somme and inland to Lille and Arras. Operation Round Up uses a standard 34" x 22” large-hex (3/4” / 19mm) map and 216 medium (9/16” / 16mm) counters. The game is scaled at 2 miles (3.25 km) per hex, with 10 three-day game turns, and uses regiments and brigades (and a few battalions) as units of maneuver. The game system is an evolution of the classic old-SPI Cobra, simple enough to allow for a game to be completed in one sitting, and can also easily be adapted for solitaire play.

Allied forces are not the mighty invasion armada of 1944 lacking both the armored "funnies" and Mulberries that worked so well in Normandy. For the Germans at this time their "Atlantic Wall" and panzer arm are more promises of what is to come than actual impenetrable defenses. Yet the game remains highly re-playable time after time as, at start, neither player knows Hitler’s reaction to the invasion until it is rolled for during Turn 1. Strip the East of as many divisions as possible in order to transfer them to this new front to try to annihilate the landing, or merely try to contain it as a “self-sustaining POW camp.”? Order the as-yet-unbroken Reich Air Defense fighter force to temporarily give up the war against the Allied strategic bombing campaign and switch to combat air support over the battlefield? Mobilize the II Parachute Corps (standing by at air bases in southern France) to drop directly into the Allied beachhead? Depending on how many of them survive, they might prove decisive in upsetting the whole Allied plan. Or trigger powerful Allied countermeasures. Designed by Ty Bomba.

Teutonic Nightmare

(115 votes)

Even on the Eastern Front where savage battles were commonplace, few were as bitter as the Soviet siege of Königsberg from late January until early April 1945. The Germans fought fanatically to retain control of the ancient East Prussian capital and used all means at their disposal to defeat the Soviet onslaught. The city was surrounded by an extensive series of fortifications which allowed the defenders to withstand withering artillery and air bombardment. Among the approximate 30,000 defenders were four infantry divisions, a panzer division, fortification troops and large numbers of Volkssturm and Hitler Youth. As ineffective as the Volkssturm was almost everywhere else, they put in one of their best performances of the war to defend their homes in East Prussia. As usual, the Hitler Youth proved fanatical and added another degree of ferocity to the combat. The German Navy also made itself felt providing effective artillery support from heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer and a number of other smaller ships. The Soviets employed some 12 rifle divisions at the start of the battle and eventually were forced to throw in four armies by the end supported by huge amounts of artillery, including some of the heaviest employed during the entire war, and an extremely heavy concentration of air forces including large numbers of heavy bombers.

Teutonic Nightmare by designer Mark Stille uses the same game system as his Hungarian Nightmare (in ATO #31) game to portray the entire approximate 75-day battle. Hungarian Nightmare covered the bitter siege of Budapest and focused on the uncertainty and brutality of urban conflict. In Teutonic Nightmare, the German player not only has to hold festung Königsberg against an ever-increasing weight of attack, but he also must keep a corridor open to the port of Pillau on the Baltic coast to allow the evacuation of refugees. Originally, Königsberg held out from 25 January until 10 April and the corridor was open from 18 February until a few days before the city’s capture. The German player can win by bettering the historical result. The Soviet player is challenged to better the historical capture date of the city against fanatical resistance and probably the heaviest fortifications encountered during the war. Even with some of the heaviest concentration of firepower used by the Soviets during the entire war, this will be a fight to the bitter end.

The Heron in Flight: The Approach to Stalingrad Aug-Sep 1942

(132 votes)

The Heron in Flight explores the German operation, “Fischreiher” (Heron) to take Stalingrad off the march during the period of mid-August up until mid-September 1942. Failure to encircle Soviet forces west of Stalingrad ensures that an urban brawl for the city will ensue. Both sides are challenged to meet different objectives.

The Germans must utilize their Sixth Army to destroy the three Soviet armies in the landbridge between the Don and the Volga before they can fall back into Stalingrad. Historically, this attack was coordinated with operations by the Fourth Panzer Army that attacked from the southwest and which was to form the southern arm of a gigantic pincer. Supporting the attack are aircraft of the Fourth Air Fleet which ruled the air.

The Soviet player must not only ensure sufficient forces escape the intended German encirclement, but maintain constant pressure on the overextended Sixth Army with a series of counterattacks from north of Stalingrad to relieve pressure on the defenders of the city. The Soviets are also tasked to retain bridgeheads on the Don which will be their key for future operations.

Designed by Mark Stille, The Heron in Flight includes 1 ½ maps with 420 counters. Units are at the division/brigade level for the Soviets while German and Axis Allied forces are depicted from battalion to division. Each turn is two days. The game system is based on his earlier Wintergewitter design and emphasizes the effect of air power and a command and control system which makes players plan ahead to conduct operations and carefully weigh where their offensive efforts will be expended.

La Bataille de Kulm

(138 votes)

General of Division Dominique-Joseph-René Vandamme, Count of Unsebourg, missed most of the horrible Russian campaign, having been forced to leave the Grande Armée during the summer of 1812 due to his constant squabbles with the French Emperor’s younger brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia. However, by the spring of 1813, Napoleon was happy to round up any general he could and Vandamme found himself back in favor commanding a corps on the lower Elbe River. There he successfully worked under Marshal Davout to retake Hamburg, which fell to the French on 30th May.

Summoned to the Grande Armée during the summer armistice, Vandamme was given the I Corps to command. By the 25th of August Napoleon, convinced that Dresden was in imminent danger of being captured by the Allied Army of Bohemia, marched there straight away himself. He did send fresh (but fuzzy) orders to Vandamme to capture and occupy the town of Pirna on the River Elbe. This town lay below Dresden and thus was between the Allies and the Erzgebirge Mountain passes to their base of safety in Bohemia. Napoleon no doubt considered that Vandamme could trap the Allies if they retreated south from Dresden.

Pushing boldly ahead, Vandamme crossed the Elbe, captured Pirna, then judging the situation afresh, turned south and boldly advanced over the mountains himself to confront Allied rearguards in a two day battle at Kulm (Aug 29th-30th). To his surprise, the Russians there fought extremely well (many of their Guards units were present), and then the next day supposedly shattered Allies from Dresden appeared, taking him in his own rear! The trapper had become the trapped, and most of the I Corps was lost with Vandamme captured….

La Bataille de Kulm covers this great against the odds situation at the tactical level using the La Bataille game system found in our own La Bataille de Vauchamps game. The game comes with a full color 22" x 34" map board, close to 500 colorful, die-cut counters, plus rules, charts and everything else you need. And with the gracious permission of Clash of Arms Games, special link rules will be included to play this game in conjunction with their own recently published La Bataille de Dresde game.