Like MacArthur…

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Doing reviews for Gaming Trend has been fun, but it’s certainly taken away from my ability to post here. So I’m trying to establish a routine to where I can do both. I love writing reviews for them, but war games are few and far between while football games are absent altogether. I miss just writing for writing’s sake, so here I am!

I’ve played several games lately I’d like to do some reviews here on. This requires a bit of a rewrite on my part if it’s a game I’ve reviewed for Gaming Trend as I prefer my style here to the style I need to write for them. I also have some reviews of games you won’t find on their site that I have played and would like to discuss.

That said, gaming wise I spent most of the spring playing my mega league in Statis Pro Basketball, but I’ve gotten some 1973 Second Season Replays in. Here’s some recaps:

 

Falcons Blast Inept Saints

If there’s ever a bad side to playing football simulations, it’s when you play a game between two teams with painful to watch offenses. This was the case for much of the game, as Atlanta clung to a 13-3 lead heading into the final quarter. Then, the flood gates opened. Dave Hampton scored from seven yards out, and after a botched kickoff, Ken Mitchell tackled the returner in the end zone for a safety. Set up by a deep Bobby Lee pass to Tom Geredine, Hampton rumbled in from five yards out and within three minutes the Falcons had blown open a 29-3 lead. The misery continued to pile on for the Saints as Archie Manning’s deep pass to Jubilee Dunbar was intercepted by Ray Brown and returned 64 yards for a score. A tipped Manning pass fell into the hands of Jess Phillips for a 42 yard score and slowed the bleeding some, but Manning was sacked in the end zone on the next drive by Tommy Nobis and Mike Lewis, ending the scoring at 36-10. In all, New Orleans managed just 188 yards of offense and Manning ended the game with a disappointing state line, 8 for 22, 136 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Manning was also sacked four times. Atlanta should feel fortunate to come away with such a resounding victory considering they gained only 281 yards themselves.

 

 

 

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Don’t Tread on Me

Overview

Don’t Tread on Me is the quintessential under the radar title. White Dog Games’ American Revolution solitaire game has garnered some attention, most notably from being featured on one of Dice Tower’s HAMTAG war game videos. The solo experience has its player take the role of King George III’s forces as they attempt to crush the rebel uprising. The unique point of view translates into a tremendous gaming experience.

Components 

White Dog Games is not the war game behemoth in the ilk of GMT Games or MMP, so don’t expect the same quality of components. That’s not to say the game is inferior. The counters are reminiscent of ones produced by Victory Point Games: thick and colorful with simple, easy to read information. Some of the colony and congress counters are too compressed to see the detail of the seals, but it’s nothing distracting. The rule book is no frills, but does a fine job of intermixing logically sequenced procedures along with some historical references. The game map is printed on thin stock. Boxes cover the map representing different regions of colonies with sea zones connecting to them. While the boxes are all functional, the background map of the 13 colonies and Atlantic seaboard is a nondescript glob of green and blue. The map serves no function in the game, but aesthetically it’s lacking. Luckily, those willing to upgrade can print a nicer map from BGG that adds to the historical feel of the game.

Score: 7

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The heart of the rebellion, New England, along with New York, each split into four counties that represent fighting areas.

Gameplay

The game is played in turns, each of which includes several phases. Turns split years up into early and late segments, starting with early 1775 to late 1782. At the beginning of each phase, the British collect their money and look at the turn’s “news” which are set events that happen. These reflect events from the actual war: the American struggle with enlistments early, the French arrival after Saratoga, and the eventual drain on British manpower as the British turn their attention to protecting other assets. As the war drags on, British willingness to fight diminishes, and the game does a great job of simulating that. The British have a relatively easy go of it early only to scrape and claw as the years roll along. Nothing makes this clearer than the pounds the British have to spend each turn. They peak in late 1777 and dwindle to nearly half that amount by the war’s last stages.

Once the news has been decided, the British take most of their actions. First comes the naval phase, where smugglers are placed, and the British react. Smugglers represent the French support being brought in to the colonies to help the rebel cause. After all, the British are the big bullies in the world in the late 18th century, and the French would love nothing more than see the American rabble knock the Brits down a few pegs. The British then react to the smugglers. This is vital because smugglers translate into American forces. British naval reaction can help reduce the forces the redcoats and their Hessian allies will have to face. Attacking smugglers costs pounds, but spending it here can save money later on. This is a great way to reflect British naval superiority during the war.

The British then buy their troops, conduct their moves, and the first battle phase commences. There are nearly a dozen things that affect the battle phase. If in the war, the French army and/or fleet may intervene. Both sides might have militia show up to join the fight. The presence of Congress, Vermont loyalty, and even Thomas Jefferson might cause a shift in the odds table. The sum of all these minor shifts and force additions is important, but the most important aspect of the battle is its location. All three numbers on a force counter represent that unit’s strength in a different location: wilderness, farm, or a town/fort. Some units excel at fighting in the open (farms) while others do better in more rugged terrain (wilderness). Once all strength points and adjustments are made, combat is resolved. Units can be eliminated or retreat. In another great historical addition, American and British forces do not retreat the same way. American forces retreat toward the interior and may eventually leave the board and return to the force pool to live to fight another day. The British retreat toward the sea and the safety of their mighty navy, though French intervention can cause the British units to disappear permanently (a la Yorktown).

The next phases turn the tables. American forces are placed, and the rebels go on the offensive. Battle strengths and results are done again. This split movement between British and then American forces really forces you to think strategically from the outset of each turn. Each turn you have to balance your objectives with preparing for possible American offensives. In most cases, you can anticipate this since you know where the smugglers are at, but continentals can show up in a target state as well. Each turn a target state is listed that is the focus of the fighting. COS (Committees of Safety) can also show up in any area. What looks like a pretty pro-British map after the first battle phase could be teeming with rebels by the end of the second battle phase. Planning, and a little luck, are key.

Finally, the logistic and liberty phases happen. The logistics phases allows the British player another shot at effecting state loyalty. Loyalty affects militia strengths, the higher the loyalty to the British the less minutemen show up to join the fight. The British can affect loyalty by winning battles or by pumping money into the state during the logistics phase. After this, the liberty phase is where the game is won or lost. Each turn, the British are trying to have sole control of at least 3 of the states, including the target state. As long as they do that, the liberty marker doesn’t move. Otherwise, the liberty marker increases by one (and it could increase again if the British lose control of Quebec at any given time). Keep it at three or less, and the British have squashed the rebellion, but a score of eight or higher is a resounding British defeat.

I love solitaire games, but I do tend to think they can be scripted. After some plays, you can generally anticipate how a solo game will play out (your luck in dice rolling not withstanding). It may seem that this game is incredibly scripted with so many phases and procedures to work through, but it’s actually the opposite. There’s so many things to plan for and think about that the game generally feels like a game and not an exercise in beating a system. For that, it’s a refreshing solitaire experience.
Score: 10

Replay Ability

As mentioned, there’s a lot going on in this game. Even with target state order remaining stagnant, the placement of COS and smugglers can change the game each and every time. With all this, you are more unlikely to feel like you’ve figured out a tried and true method unlike most solo games. This doesn’t count the immense historical flavor the game has.

Score: 9

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Game setup, with the Americans and British meeting for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Balance

Balance in a solo game is different from balance in a game with two or more players. In a solo game, great balance comes from a system that gives you an opportunity to win while providing a solid challenge. Don’t Tread on Me certainly does that. Sure, I’ve played this to resounding victories because my fleets could do no wrong, but I’ve also watched as my hold on the colonies slowly melted away under the onslaught of Americans materializing all over the map while those pesky French would appear at the least opportune times. Luck will always play a factor in the dice game, but the game gives you a good challenge with varied unit placement and offensive decisions.

Score: 9

Overall: 9

This little known gem should be in the collection of anyone with an interesting in solitaire gaming or the American Revolution. The game does take a bit of a commitment till you feel comfortable with the aspects of each phase of a turn. However, despite the multiple moving parts, the game has a great flow to it. It’s quite intense to deploy your units to vie for control of each region and then hope your units can withstand the wave of rebels in the upcoming turn. You’ll relish the might of the British navy and scorn the intervention of the rival French. It’s a superbly detailed system that doesn’t feel systematic.

Churchill

Overview

If you have any interest in war games at all, you’ve most likely heard of GMT Games latest, Churchill. In the game, you take the roll of one of the big three Allied leaders of the war, Churchill, Roosevelt, or Stalin. The designer states that Churchill is not a war game, yet it revolves around the competition of wills of these leaders as they struggle to set their agendas and help their countries not only win the war but shape the post-war world as well. It’s connection to the war gaming genre is undeniable, just don’t call it a war game!

Components 

Churchill comes with a mounted map board that is split into two areas. One shows the European and Asian theaters with placement tracks to reflect the different fronts on each theater. The other shows the agenda board where the big three will debate agenda topics. Everything is laid out clearly with useful charts and procedures even listed on the board. Those that aren’t are covered in nice charts to flow pretty smoothly. A few blocks are included to represent the combined Allied fronts while smaller cubes depict the Axis military. Wooden markers are also used to show overall command in both theaters as well as political alignment markers. Basically all placed markers are wooden except the clandestine markers, which are thin little plastic discs. It would have been nice if these were wood as well as these can be difficult to pick up, but I imagine it’s a cost and/or weight issue as there are a lot of them. Each country also comes with a deck of cards. These have pictures of various political leaders for each country, an OPs value, and a special modifier for particular agenda items. Each country has its own D6s but only one D10 is included in the box. Since die rolls determine advancements on different fronts, it would have been nice if three D10s were included. Still, this is a minor gripe. Overall, the production value is top notch.

Score: 9

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It’s a long, hard road from the steppes of Russia to the streets of Berlin.

Gameplay

Once the game is set up, each player deals themselves a hand of seven cards with their leader card available to them at all times. A conference card sets special agenda items as well as makes note of any restrictions or bonuses players may get this turn. Then, players use their cards to bid (using the OPs number) to see who sets the opening conference issue. From there, everyone can put different issues on the table to be debated on. These can include direct offensive and production markers where the winner of the issue gets to determine how these items will be used in the upcoming war phase. Players can also place issues dealing with political alignment and clandestine markers which allow you to influence other countries (think political alignment for after the war), atomic research, opening second fronts, or leadership in the two theaters. Players then take turns deciding which issue they want to play a card toward.

The OPs value of the card determines how far up that country’s track the issue goes. The higher up the track, the more likely that country will win that issue with a seven locking the issue in. However, each other player, in turn, has the option to debate an issue which could move it back towards them. Say the British player wants European Theater control and plays an OPs four card on it. The issue would move from the neutral center to four on their track. The U.S. may not want to lose control, though, and decides to play a five card as a debate. The issue then goes back five towards the American track resulting in a net plus one toward the U.S. for that issue. It’s a surprisingly easy system that makes for some interesting decisions. Each player has seven cards, no more. Debating an issue means you’ll be down one when it comes your turn to select (you can pass). Also, different cards give different bonuses to certain issues. The Russians, for example, have plenty of cards that give bonuses when played with direct offensives, which could change a two OPs card to a four.  There’s some neat balancing mechanics when playing the cards. Churchill has advantages when deciding the opening issue. Stalin’s bonus comes in debating, while Roosevelt breaks any and all ties. It’s a neat way to give some flavor to each country while not letting any feel overpowering.

Action then switches to the theater side of the board where players use their production and any possible direct offenses to decide which fronts should get the supplies needed to, hopefully, advance. Players may also place clandestine markers (spy networks) and political alignment markers or even advance the atomic research track. Progress in any of these will result in victory points at the end of the game. If the Russians make it into Berlin before the West, they get victory points. The Americans, and by association the British, must complete Atomic research to gain victory points. Everyone can earn points from how many clandestine/political markers are on the board. It’s through the scoring the game gets interesting.

There is some sense of cooperation that comes in. The Russians need the West to open a second European front. The Americans need to push in the Pacific to put pressure on Japan and it helps when Russia opens up the Manchurian front. Since you would assume the goal is to win the war, you need to help each other out to meet that end. However, you may also need to help a reluctant ally out by helping them on a front. Why? Because of the way scoring in the game works. There’s no doubt that this is a little controversial. First, you may have noticed I said you would assume your goal is to win the war. That’s because if you don’t beat the Axis by the end of the 10th conference, you don’t lose. I understand the premise. The end is inevitable, the Axis will lose eventually, though it does feel a little wrong not to beat the Axis. Also, the game has a way to discourage someone rushing out in front. Should the game end with someone more than 15 points ahead of the last player, then the second place player actually has a chance to win. In fact, should the leader be more than 21 points ahead, the second player is guaranteed to win. It seems a bit absurd, but it does make sense. A country that rushes too far ahead would face the combined alliance of the other powers in a post-war world. I’ve heard the arguments that the Russians are hard to impossible to play while the game should make you win the war to win. First, I think the Russians are very playable. I’ve lost by a single point as the Russians and realize how I could have easily won. Secondly, I do prefer to play with the Allies needing to win the war, but know that this is to discourage someone from tanking. Honestly, that’s a horrible strategy. In one of my games, the American player was woefully behind until the final conference then suddenly made a stirring comeback to come within two points of victory. I think this game is far more balanced than people realize.
Score: 10

Replay Ability

Included in the game are three sets of conference cards. Players can play with the historical order or play with another set. You can even mix up the three sets for a random game. There’s also different strategies to explore with each player. There’s no set “you must do this” route to victory, which is refreshing.

Score: 8

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British influencing Western Europe while the Iron Curtain takes shape.

Balance

As I mentioned above, the controversial scoring actually provides a way to ensure game balance. The goal is to cooperate with each other to defeat the Axis while prepare for the void left from the defeated powers. Getting too far ahead is a disadvantage. The game also provides opportunities for the game to sway quickly in each conference. You may think you are losing only to find yourself back in the thick of it after a solid conference.

Score: 8

Overall: 9

I’ll admit this game is like nothing I’ve played before, and that’s fine because I thought this game was terrific. The game has tremendous historical appeal. The issues and debates are extremely engaging and provide a really strategically deep experience. Is the game broken? No. The scoring system reflects the cooperative nature of the game. Each country has a solid chance of winning. Perhaps this is a game that you get out of what you are willing to put into it, but a lot of games are like this. I can’t play this game enough, and I think those that go into it ready to immerse themselves in the experience will find themselves rewarded.

1973 Replay: Anderson Dissects Broncos in 26-21 Bengal Victory

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Ken Anderson would not let the Cincinnati Bengals lose despite his team’s best efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Anderson was masterful against a strong Denver Broncos defense. He ended the game a stellar 23 for 28 with 292 yards and a touchdown, a five yard pass to Issac Curtis that gave the Bengals a lead they would never relinquish.

But it almost wasn’t to be. It was Denver starting off hot, confusing the Bengals between Floyd Little’s running and Charley Johnson’s smart passing. Little’s five yard scamper gave Denver an early 7-0 lead. After the Bengals’ Essex Johnson tied the game, the Broncos again marched effortlessly down the field scoring on a 14 yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Joe Dawkins.

But then Anderson went to work. First the Bengals closed the gap to 10-14 on a 43 yard Horst Muhlmann field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Cincinnati scored a safety when Otis Armstrong was tackled in the end zone after having to run back to retrieve a fumble. Anderson would hit Curtis on that five yard throw with just 20 seconds left in the half. Within five minutes, the Broncos’ stunned crowd saw the home team go from leading 14-7 to trailing 19-14 at halftime.

The Bengals kept the pressure up with Anderson driving the Bengals to start the second half before handing off to Johnson for his second touchdown run of the day. Down 26-14, the Broncos finally woke up thanks in art to the Bengals defense. Three times the Bengals defense extended a late Broncos drive due to penalties. In fact, the Bengals were their own worst enemies on the day, drawing 10 penalties to just one against Denver. Denver capped off the penalty plagued drive with another Johnson to Dawkins touchdown pass. With four minutes left, the Broncos kicked off. The Broncos managed to force the Bengals into a third and long only to commit their one penalty at the worst time. This allowed the Bengals to drain more clock. By the time the Broncos got the ball back, only seconds remained and a pressured Johnson’s dump off to Dawkins came up well short of the end zone.

Stats:

Passing:

BENGALS: K. Anderson 23-28 292 1-0; BRONCOS: C. Johnson 15-27192 2-0.

Rushing:

BENGALS: E. Johnson 18-74-2, B. Clark 14-17, L. Elliott 3-16; BRONCOS: Little 11-32-1, J. Dawkins 4-21, O. Ross 2-11, O. Armstrong 1-0, C. Johnson 1-(-1).

Receiving:

BENGALS: I. Curtis 7-101-1, C. Joiner 5-78, B. Clark 5-42, B. Trumpy 4-57, E. Johnson 2-14; BRONCOS: H. Moses 4-41, J. Dawkins 4-37-2, F. Little 3-41, R. Odoms 2-43, J. Simmons 1-17, G. Washington 1-13.

Defense:

BENGALS: Sacks: B. Bergey, R. Berry. Safety: K. Avery

BRONCOS: Sacks: L. Alzado

Hundred Days 20

Overview

Hundred Days 20 is the latest release from Victory Point Games in their Napoleonic 20 series. The 20 represents the maximum number of counters on the field. This is no Great War in Europe. Hundred Days 20 is meant to be played in a single sitting. This game features two battles: Waterloo and Tolentino.

Components 

I have no idea how Victory Point makes their counters, but they remain one of my favorites from any company. They are really thick and have great color. The game does include one of the most unique additions to a war game, a napkin. That’s because the counters do have some soot that will wear off them. The counters don’t seem to be effected by this, but the first play through may get some soot on your fingers. As for those counters, they are well illustrated and simplistic. Each unit has just two ratings: strength and movement. The maps are in two sections, but they take up very little table space. Yet, the hexes themselves are pretty good size. This is nice because the game doesn’t feel cluttered when battle fronts start forming. The rulebook is one of the best I’ve read. It’s full of examples and illustrations. It took me just one play through to feel comfortable with this system. Nearly everything you’ll need for the game is included either on the battle map or the chart. The game also comes with a sturdy set of event cards and various counters. Overall, it’s a pretty impressive package.

Score: 9

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The Iron Duke is ready to be a thorn in Napoleon’s side again.

Gameplay

Like most war games, Hundred Days is played in alternating turns. In the Waterloo campaign, Napoleon must race across the map to capture Wavre and Waterloo by the end of June 18. Standing in his way is a maze of rivers and forests that hinder his armies ability to move or give bonuses to the defenders. Add in the armies of Wellington and Blocher, and Napoleon’s task is daunting to say the least. The Little Emperor has a lot to think about as the French make their push. Units that come into the enemy’s zone of control must fight. Even if that unit is touching three enemies, he must fight each of them simultaneously. Attacking with more units allows you to disperse the attack. This means you really have to set your battle lines and attack in masse. It also will require you to make some interesting decisions. Instead of fighting two battles at 1:1, do you sacrifice one confrontation at 1:2 odds to gain 3:1 somewhere else on the line? Event cards add to the tension at the beginning of each player’s turn. Event cards can be a double edged sword, giving bonuses or causing attack penalties. Nothing ruins an offensive more than pulling the card that requires you to roll two dice and take the worst result, but it’s a neat feature that helps simulate some of the problems the French had in this campaign.

The meat of the game centers around morale. You may find the game ending before Napoleon meets his Waterloo because the game ends immediately if either side hits zero morale. Morale can be gained during night’s rest of by routing the enemy (or lost by the opponent in the same battle!). However, morale is also used to boost the effectiveness of a unit in battle, gain die roll modifiers when rallying troops, or force march units to the front line. I really like this as it adds to the anxiety of whether to use your waning morale to make that last push into a key objective. Tolentino uses morale equally effectively as the Neapolitan player has to contend with wavering troops.

Once the basic game is mastered (which won’t be long), there are some great optional rules that can be implemented. The leaders are optional, but add a command radius to the game. Units out of range suffer attack penalties. Fatigue markers can be used to show the wear of troops as the battle progresses. Finally, weather can also play a part in the game if you wish. Players can use the historical weather chart on the map or roll for random weather. My only true gripe of the game is that the weather chart wasn’t included with the other charts.

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Blocher’s slowing of Napoleon at Ligny helped the Coalition when my first play through.
Score: 10

Replay Ability

Unlike previous editions of Waterloo, this 3rd edition starts on June 15, allowing players to play the entire campaign. Maybe you want Napoleon to cut north to help Ney capture Quatre-Bras. Maybe the Coalition meets up earlier in an effort to counter the French advance. I like games where you can play out some “what-ifs’ and this game does that. Tolentino also has some similar options.

Score: 8

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Wellington’s rout of Ney pushed French morale to zero. Napoleon never made it to 100 days.

Balance

There’s no denying that the aggressors (France in Waterloo, Napoli in Tolentino) are on an uphill climb, but there loss is hardly preordained. The earlier starts and ability of the French to pull in the guards allow a French victory to be plausible. His brother-in-law has a massive force that could also end victorious if their resolve is not broken.

Score: 9

Overall: 9

This is my first game in any 20 series, and I must admit I’m quite impressed. The system is easy to learn, plays smoothly, and provides a nice tactical challenge. The quality components and fantastic rulebook just add to the value. There’s no shortage of Napoleonic games out there, but this is one that’s worth a spot on your shelf.

1973 Replay: Washington Survives San Diego Scare 40-36

San Diego Chargers 36 at Washington Redskins 40

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Billy Kilmer’s fourth and final touchdown pass helped the Redskins overcome a fourth quarter deficit to the upstart Chargers, allowing Washington to escape with wild 40-36 victory. The day started off well enough for Washington. They marched down the field on their opening drive before Kilmer capped it with a 34 yard strike to Roy Jefferson, but the the extra point snap was bobbled. The quirky play would be a foreshadowing of the day’s events. The Chargers rookie passer, Dan Fouts, answered very quickly. His first ever NFL pass went 79 yards and led to a Jerry LeVias touchdown and a surprise 7-6 lead. After a Redskin field goal, the Chargers were forced to punt, and it looked as if the Redskins could start creating separation. However, Coy Bacon tackled Kilmer in the end zone, tying the game at 9. Again, the Redskins shot out in front, with Kilmer hitting Charlie Taylor from 13 yards out. Fouts responded by tossing a 43 yard touchdown to Willie McGee.

“Everything we did, they had an answer for,” Washington’s George Allen told reporters.

The trend continued till halftime. The shockingly pass-happy Redskins scored again off Kilmer’s arm only to see the Chargers run a trick play and score from 65 yards out on a LeVias option to Gary Garrison. Redskins 18 yard field goal from Curt Knight as time expired gave Washington a 26-22 halftime lead.

The Chargers had to wait through the intermission to answer this time, but did they ever. Ron Smith caught the second half kickoff from his own five and raced 95 yards for a touchdown giving the Chargers their first lead. Kilmer’s lone mistake, a costly interception at the Washington 30, set up another Charger score. Cid Edwards’ 5 yard run gave the Chargers a 36-26 with just a few minutes left in the third. The upset was in the hand, but the Chargers suddenly crashed back down to Earth.

“We have a lot of new players on this team, and it’s going to take time to meld it altogether,” an upbeat Harland Svare said after the game. “You hate to see one slip away, but we will learn from that. We did a lot of good things out there today.”

The Chargers suffered from a lack of consistency. Their three offensive touchdowns resulted in 58% of their yardage. Needing to milk the clock, the Chargers managed a paltry 58 yards on just 20 carries for the afternoon.

Costly turnovers didn’t help. The first was the result of an overthrown screen pass from Fouts. Dave Robinson snagged it and ran 14 yards for a touchdown cutting the San Diego lead to 3. Just three plays later, Cid Edwards fumble ended a promising San Diego drive. This time, the Redskins couldn’t capitalize and were forced to punt. The Redskins dominated play, running 82 plays to the Chargers’ 49, but seven Washington drives ended in punts. After scoring 26 first half points, Washington managed just seven in the first 25 minutes of the second half.

But Kilmer wasn’t done. He lead a late drive using his arm to save the drive on three third down attempts before finally hitting Charlie Taylor again, this time from 21 yards out with just over five minutes left.

The Chargers twice had a chance to take the lead but both drives were stymied at midfield. In the end, it was Kilmer, the day’s hero, kneeling to seal the win.

Stats:

Passing:

WASH: Kilmer 22-34 279 4-1 SD: Fouts 11-29 266 2-3.

Rushing

WASH: Brown 25-65; Harroway 10-33; Thomas 2-9; Kilmer 1-(-1). SD: Edwards 12-41-1; Garrett 8-17.

Receiving:

WASH: Jefferson 7-126-1; Taylor 4-57-2; Brown 5-43; Harroway 2-6; Hancock 1-14; Reed 1-14; Grant 1-12; Smith 1-7. SD: Garrison 4-111-1; LeVias 2-87-1; Garrett 2-23; McGee 1-43-1; Holmes 1-4; Norman 1-4; Holliday 1-(-6).

Defense:

WASH: Interceptions: Robinson (TD), Bass, Fischer. Sacks: Sistrunk. Fumble Recoveries: Hanburgers, McLinton

SD: Interceptions: Smith. Sacks: Bacon.

Victory in Europe

Victory in Europe Review

Overview

Victory in the Europe is the latest offering from Columbia Games. Released early in 2015 after a successful Kickstarter, Victory in Europe is a strategic level block war game covering the European theater of World War II. It’s touted as playable in 4-6 hours, quick fast for something covering the entire European war.

Components 

As the norm with Columbia Games, the blocks are top notch and the stickers detach from the sheet easily and fit well on the blocks. Once stickered, the game is a joy to look at. The Kickstarter allowed for each major player to have its own colored blocks. Stickers for the blocks are also country specific. The cards have great illustrations that reflect the special ability of each card. The map is bright and colorful. My only gripe here is the map feels a bit flimsy and is small when the fighting is around Germany early or late in the war. The rule book is short and sweet. The errata from the rule book was quickly addressed and updated rules are already available.

Score: 8

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By 1940, the Germans had easily blitzed through the Low Countries and France.

Gameplay

Both the Axis and Allies get their own deck of cards. Within the deck, there are cards for each year of the war. Players draw part of this deck to determine their hand for each year. It’s a neat way of giving some flavor to each year of the war. The Germans are understandably strong early, but the Allies have overpowering cards in the war’s later years. Each card has an operations number. This number determines how many attacks or strategic movements are allowed. A player can always make standard moves for all their units. Both sides have something to think about during their turn. Cards are color coded. The Axis have black (German) and green (Italian) colors. The Allies have red (Russia) and blue (Western Allies). If your card has an even number, you must split your operations up evenly between both major groups. So playing a 4 means both the Russians and Western Allies can make 2 attacks. But if a card has an even number, then the extra attack goes to the color that corresponds to that group. A blue 5 would mean the Western Allies get 3 attacks and the Russians 2. The cards really add a lot of strategy to the game, forcing you to prioritize your attacks.  Once you make your attacks, the game plays like any Columbia block game. Letters on the blocks determine the order or battle and hits rotate the block until the unit is eliminated. Players also have the option each turn (until the US joins the war) to influence neutral countries. This is done by a dice roll. There are advantages to your roll if you own territory next to the neutral but beware. If you miss, your opponent now has bonuses on a roll on the same country. It may not be completely historical, but it adds some neat playability to the game.
Score: 9

Replay Ability

Ok, so it’s a World War 2 game. Germany romps early, and the Allies romp late. Rinse and repeat, right? Not exactly. The card deck can add a lot to the game. I’ve played the game three times, all with Germany, and have managed one victory. The Germans can either win outright by capturing certain objectives or by simply holding on to Berlin by the end of 1945. In a three player game, the Allies don’t have to win as a team. The winner is who reaches Berlin first, making the Russian-Western alliance as tentative as it was in real life. Throw in the random influence chances, and there are a ton of replay possibilities. For a World War 2 game, it’s refreshing. It also helps that the quick game play means it’ll make it to the table much more often.

Score: 9

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By end of 1944, the Allies had capitulated. At one point the Germans owned Cairo and Moscow.

Balance

Again, balance in a World War 2 game is relative. Germany should roll over Poland, the Low Countries, and France. The German war machine will slow down some. The Allies should win most games, but the game is winnable for Germany as I’ve seen. That’s good balance for a World War 2 game.

Score: 9

Overall: 9

I’ve played many Columbia Games, and this is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. It’s got a simple rule set, good components, and lots of replay ability. Years ago I enjoyed a simpler World War 2 game called Hitler’s War. Victory in Europe is like a much better version of that game. It can be played in a relative short amount of time and provides a great strategic experience. Now, if they would just make that map a bit bigger…