Last Laurels at Limanowa

I forgot how good this system is. But within minutes of getting Last Laurels at Limanowa on the table, I was in action and having a blast. It had obviously been a while since I played the Ypres game, but the rules quickly came back and I rattled through the scenarios. Sure I made mistakes, but it was still great fun. (No, I did not crack how to win the scenarios for each side. I was in too much of a rush to get to the campaigns.) So now I am playing the first campaign, and it’s all good.

By way of a refresher, this is a game about tactical combat in World War One. Units are companies and hexes are 200 yards across. The game is played in turns of alternating couplets (mini-turns) the length of which is randomly determined.

Combat can be deadly. It’s all too easy to recreate the slaughter of the real thing, especially in the initial stages as you come to terms with the limitations of your troops, and the frighteningly narrow range of tactical options. Oh, and you also get to see how much of a king of the battlefield artillery was.

This title in the series is about the December 1914 encounter between Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empire forces, before trench warfare had taken hold, in Limanowa, southern Poland.

What do I like about the system?

The rules are not complex. They take – in the main – a mix of tried and tested mechanisms, and blend them into something that is smooth, coherent, consistent, and challenging to master. The chaos of war is laid bare for you to experience. Yet, despite the simplicity (or lack of unnecessary chrome) you are faced with tough decisions. There’s no such thing as a perfect plan because you don’t know how long you have each turn. (And that’s before your opponent plays merry hell with your intentions.)

It helps that the atmosphere the game creates seems authentic at the level of action it attempts to portray. It also helps that these are – at least to me – fresh battles, with new history to soak up, and much to learn.

It also helps that the maps are gorgeous, the counters are a lesson in clean design, and the rules are very good. (Although I do have some queries which I posted at Consimworld.)

In short, this is one fun game.

So, a big round of applause to John Gorkowski and Compass Games for this game. The series is one I intend to follow, and I am hoping for and looking forward to future releases.

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Ypres

ypres

On the table, Red Poppies Campaigns: The battles for Ypres by John Gorkowski, and published by Compass Games. It’s World War 1 combat at the tactical scale – units are companies, and hexes are 200 yards across. There are four scenarios – really learning material – with the meat in the campaigns covering 3-6 days of battle in campaigns of 1914, 1915, and 1917 around Ypres.

One standout for now is that there are three maps, all covering the same area, but each representing the changes – trench lines, for example – for each of these three years.

The system uses a mix of mechanics – with a heavy emphasis on mode (formed or dispersed) and cohesion checks (roll too high and die) – to seem to give an authentic feel for the period, and the challenges of such warfare.

I hope to post more after I have spend some serious time playing the game, but first impressions are very favorable.

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