Welcome back to Part II of our Recon Report 2019! Today, we’re looking at games from publishers in alphabetical order from G through M. There were a lot of great publishers that looked like they had some very interesting titles in here. Unfortunately, many smaller publishers don’t make it easy to find information about their upcoming games even when they might be listed on their website! As a result, you may not see some of your favorite small publishers listed here. That does NOT mean they don’t have great games coming in 2019!
I had to limit my excitement to just handful of games in 2019 for each publisher. This was especially difficult with GMT Games, but after much consideration here are my top picks in 2019!
The Dark Sands
Yes, this did come out in 2018. It came out about a week before the end of the year, so I’m calling it a 2019 game. Ted Racier follows up on his The Dark Valley eastern front game by taking us to North Africa this time. The game, if it’s anything like The Dark Valley will feature some fantastic mechanics related to maneuver warfare.
The focus on all out warfare is appealing here. No supply or logistical worries, just digging down into the tactics of Rommel vs. Monty. Also of note, the three map section configuration features a center map with a different scale than the other two. Again, a choice made in service of focusing on combat. The chit pull system is back and that includes reinforcements making for some desperate pleas to the wargaming gods to grab that reinforcement chit early on in the turn. This should be a very fun one.
Fields of Fire Volume II: With the Old Breed
I love the original Fields of Fire. I have long maintained that it is the most innovative solitaire tactical design ever conceived. Further, I believe that Fields of Fire plays like a great tactical historical account reads. Players are making choices that are both meaningful and often with incredibly limited information. The game is tense, difficult, frustrating, and glorious.
Fields of Fire II will bring a few different things to the mix. The first is a WWII pacific theater focus because we’re looking at the Marines this time around. We also get urban combat. The 2nd Edition rules provided for that, but the first volume didn’t dive into urban combat. With combat around Hue for the Vietnam campaign this time, we’ll get to experience what the system has to offer for urban combat. This is an exciting development.
I am disappointed that this continues to slip down the list every single year, It’s been over it’s P500 number for 2 years at this point and every time a publishing schedule get released this game slips further and further down the list. I’m sincerely hopeful that we will get this game in late 2019.
Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987
Downtown is not dead. The last time we saw an adaptation of this system was the Bloody April World War I game. I love that we’ll have seen Vietnam, Arab-Israeli Conflict, World War I, and now a hypothetical World War III game.
What’s exciting about this game, as with the rest of the series, is the operational approach to air warfare. Red Storm promises to go a little deeper with actions like airborne drops, helicopter assaults, and a greater variety of ground force concentrations. This is a welcome addition to the game system and I think we’re in for perhaps the best of the series with Red Storm!
Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision, 1240-1242
If I were to tell you that I know nothing about this historical era, I would be lying. I don’t know enough to know I know nothing about it. As a result, I’m excited for Nevsky in a way that I haven’t been excited in ages. There’s something fantastic about exploring a new historical era with a game from a great designer. With Volko at the helm here, this is a can’t miss title for 2019.
As someone who was certified to teach history to high school students, I can tell you that anything from the medieval era is pretty much not covered. There’s a little bit about Charlemagne and the Norman invasion of England. There’s some talk about the fall of the Roman empire. It is NOT, however, sufficient to convey the rich cultures and world of medieval Europe. It wasn’t until college that I even encountered subdivisions of “medieval” into things like Early, High or Late periods which are uniquely weird.
Nevsky, pits Danish and German landholders against the Russian elite around Novgorod. It is, notably, the first game in the Levy & Campaign Series from GMT Games which will cover other pre-industrial conflicts. The last time Volko was involved in starting a new series…it went pretty well.
Since the game is largely about campaigning, the forces are based around levies and lords who call them up. Forces are tracked off-board and critically must be provided for while campaigning. I love this approach and its something I’ve often considered missing in pre-industrial games. A lot is taken for granted about sustaining an army that is always under threat of needing to return home for harvest or other reasons. Volko’s approach here seems very thoughtful and well executed. I like the idea of a “mini-game” keeping forces in the field.
High Flying Dice Games
This is a good example of a small publisher missing out on marketing their games well. The development page lists a lot of interesting titles, but that’s all we get. There is no designer, description, or marketing copy. Just a title and a topic. As a result, I’m picking these solely based on my interest in the topic alone.
In Harm’s Way
Naval Battles in the Ducth East Indies Sunda Strait-Java Sea-Balikpapan-Java Strait 1942. This one sounds interesting based on this description!
Thunder Upon the Water
The Battle of Albermarle Sound May 5, 1864. I live in North Carolina, so this one has me greatly interested based on geography alone.
Souls of Waste
The Battle of An Bao May 5, 1968. I’m always on the lookout for quality Vietnam games and it looks like High Flying Dice has 3 or 4 in development.
I have it on good authority a full preview is coming from them shortly, so here are just a FEW of the titles this year that I was able to get glean from Tom….
Aurelian: Restorer of the World
This is the same system as Charlemagne and will put you in the shoes of the Roman Emperor Aurelian who stabilized much of the splintered Roman empire through military and political prowess. This should be a REALLY fun one because it’s not just one challenge that Aurelian faces, it’s ALL the challenges. You have a civil war, invasion by emboldened tribes, and followed a period of a bunch of assassinations that led to widespread chaos in the 3rd Century.
That Others May Live
This is another solo game from Brad Smith, who did NATO Air Commander. Here you’re working in Vietnam as medevac helicopters to find and rescue soldiers before the enemy can reach them.
The game is played on a grid of cards with mechanics that allow for hidden enemies and limited information as the “AI” searches for the soldiers as well. It’s not all that often we get a wargame about SAVING people, so I think this is one that highlights some incredibly brave and inventive folks from the Vietnam conflict.
That’s all I’ll spoil from Hollandspiele at this point…but keep an eye on their blog.
Last Stand Games
Beyond Leipzig: Conflict of Nations, The 1813 Campaign
This one is PROBABLY not coming out in 2019. Now that Stalingrad: Verdun on the Volga is out the door though, it seems like Donald Johnson is able to get back in the saddle with this game. Again, that’s also somewhat up in the air given his commitments with Compass Games as well.
However, the early playtest work that began in 2013 on this game looks fantastic, so I’ll leave my optimism here alongside this image:
Dien Bien Phu – The Final Gamble
Kim Kanger is updating this to be more than just a reprint with included errata. This is what he’s dubbing a 2.5 edition. As a result, Kanger has reinterpreted the battle. Here are some selections of what he’s had to say recently on BoardGameGeek.com about it.
DBP was definitely NOT hurried-along design when it was printed. I don’t recall it to be considered broken.
But new info trickles in during the years, especially a recent published book by Kevin Boylan and Luc Olivier (who spent years and years reading archives and interviewing veterans). Changes also stems from the simple fact that I wish to try a new take on things. There was nothing wrong with my first grip on the battle. I just have an urge to take a slightly new and different grip on it, and not just do s simple straight-on reprint (because that is boring). So my advice is that you enjoy the copy that you have, download the living rules 2.4 to make it even sharper. Then, if you like the game and think it is worth the money, you can (and are most welcome to) invest in the 2nd edition, which is simply my new interpretation of the battle, based on the existing DBP-system.
I’m just amazed that many assume there must be something wrong with a game if the designer wish to do a second edition five years later. It would definitely have been easier for me if I would have done a simple reprint, and I would not have been subject to suspicions that my previous effort was a failure.
The combat system, with a few minor adjustments, stays the same. But the VM artillery is changed in how it is done. French artillery will probably be changed in scale, all the numbers are updated, the map is updated. There are some new features also.https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2115307/why-i-wish-make-2nd-editon-dbp
Definitely check this one out as it’s in my top 5 games to watch for in 2019!
Waning Crescent, Shattered Cross: The Siege of Malta 1565
This is a card supported game with graphics in a similar vein to Toulon 1783 from Legion. Waning Crescent has been in development for years and went up 2 years ago for CPO with Legion.
The game covers the Siege of Malta by the Ottomans in 1565. The Christian defenders have a tricky job of holding two forts separated by water and a narrow land bridge. For those who have read Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley this is a chance to take the siege out of the book and put it on the table. The daring raids, Christians swimming between forts, and Turks quickly sinking all their resources into the battle.
This is a desperate siege and based on playtester comments, should be a nail biter.
Both sides are balancing the push of their luck against the need to get things done – but what are the priorities? what of my dwindling resources (supply and troops) to use for each activity? The Christians can sortie if given a chance, they have four differently separated areas to control and do not know a main goal of the Ottoman, where should they reinforce? what might they abandon? Is that an Ottoman feint?Jonathan Townsend – Playtester
A Glorious Chance – The Naval Struggle for Lake Ontario during the War of 1812
I loved the GMT Games release of Mr. Madison’s War. It gave me a whole new lens through which to view the War of 1812. The struggle and tactics around Lake Ontario in particular were fascinating. It seemed, from the game, to be an endless swirl of maneuver and counter maneuver around the lake.
Well, Legion Wargames is bringing a solitaire game about this struggle for Lake Ontario to gamers in 2019. Designer Gina Willis is putting players in charge of either a British or American squadron on the lake. I love that you can play either side a la RAF.
If you want to read a great interview with Gina, check out The Player’s Aid article here.
The AI is card driven and will counter your raids, amphibious landings, and missions with their own. As a result, you must make calculated risks about how far to push you squadron because players are only afforded 4 months to achieve dominance of the lake!
Lock n Load Games
World at War ’85 – Storming the Gap
I will be the first to admit that this list is heavy on World War III. This is no mistake. It seems like every publisher is doing some kind of hypothetical conflict game this year or in 2018.
What sets this game apart?
I own everything there is for the original World at War series. I was a fun dice-chucking low-complexity tactical hex & counter affair. The game featured tons of nations, great geomorphic maps, and some pretty engaging scenarios to boot. Unfortunately, it also suffered from some HORRIBLE graphic design flaws.
Here’s a video from Big Board Gaming that previews it.
This time around, we’re treated to a re-imaging of the series from the new Lock ‘N Load team. This team has been successful with revamping the Lock ‘N Load Tactical series as well so I have high hopes even though there are different people involved. Publishers tend to provide a guiding hand across all their games.
While I’m not thrilled about rebuying this series, I think it will be WELL worth the investment if the fun comes close to what I had with the original.
Space Infantry Resurgence
YES! A sci-fi game is on the list. This is a solo (and now co-op) tactical game played across a series of set missions. The game was a pretty solid hit during it’s original release and I always seemed to miss the window to buy it.
Resurgence will come with everything that’s been released to date and incorporate all the extra rules and chrome that have been added over time. As a result, this is one I’m watching VERY closely in 2019!
If you’re an ASL fan this one has been on your radar for a LONG time. Red Factories is the culmination of epic Historical ASL (HASL) journey that began almost 30 years ago. Red Barricades has been one of the most played historical ASL games ever since.
Fans received Valor of the Guards in 2008, which tackled another area of Stalingrad that included Red Square. It also introduced a number of new terrain types.
Now fans are getting the deluxe treatment. Red Factories. This package includes TWO games. Red October a new look at the Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) developed by longtime ASL renaissance man Gary Fortenberry. This new game centers around the Red October industrial complex.
The other game is a reworked Red Barricades. This update includes map corrections, errata inclusion, and clarifications gleaned from 30 years of near constant play.
What makes the package so attractive is that the games can be combined in two all new MASSIVE ASL campaign games. It doesn’t get any more monster than this package for ASL fans. Now…we just need a way to link in Valor of the Guards to these two and a few campaign games that will drain the blood for even diehard ASL’ers!
To Take Washington
My “Best of” list for 2018 included no less than THREE American Civil War Games. So far, this listing only includes 3 and we’ve covered over 20 games between the two articles released so far. It’s time to add another to the list…
To Take Washington is the anticipated Line of Battle Series addition that examines actions around Fort Monocacy. Jubal Early squared off against a vastly (2:1) outnumbered Lew Wallace and managed to fight to a bit of stalemate that bought the Union sufficient time to save Washington. This was the first a few battles (Fort Stevens being the other) in a failed bid by the Confederacy to take Washington…hence the awesome name.
The package conveniently adds maps for both battles and the unit density is much less than the other two games in the series which covered Antietam (None But Heroes) and Gettysburg (Last Chance for Victory). I am a huge fan of the Line of Battle series and have been waiting for a game that will make this complex system more intuitive. If you’ve not checked out Line of Battle yet…this could be your entree to a great system.
Another series game here from MMP who seems to make their name on series lately! Brazen Chariots is the third game in the Battalion Combat Series (BCS) from The Gamers. This formation activation chit-pull system has been used in Wacht Am Rhein (Last Blitzkrieg) and most recently Kasserine (Baptism by Fire).
This time we’re back in North Africa and the battles around Tobruk. 2019 is shaping up to be a return to North Africa for a number of game companies who are taking the year to explore beyond Europe if they’re covering World War II. That’s a welcome departure!
Four scenarios and a campaign game will require all three maps in this game. Refreshingly, however, five scenarios only require one map. The game is billed, like To Take Washington, as an introduction to the series.
This one is particularly interesting to me because it features wide-open terrain. That’s something somewhat new to the series that will be refreshing because it will showcase the activation and orders system well without bogging down players in the details of terrain effects every few hexes. I like a calculated game…but sometimes I want to put the pedal to the metal and move!
Where do you stand?
Let me know in the comments below which games from these publishers YOU most want to see as a part of YOUR Recon Report 2019!