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FRAG! April, 2010

Charles Rector's Weblog; Jul. 1, 2010; By Charles Rector
Type: News


Issue 105, April 2010 "The good news is that, according to the Obama administration, the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that, according to the Obama administration, you're rich."   ~ P. J. O'Rourke

  1. The April Editorial Introduction
  2. News Direct from the Frontlines of Shrapnel Games
  3. Trivia Time: The Rise And Fall Of The Condor
  4. Meet The Star Legacy Development Team
  5. Recent Patches: winSPMBT and winSPWW2
  6. The Dice Of War: Incursion
  7. Sizzling Sellers and Those Special Offers
  8. Link O' The Month
  9. The Crystal Ball

FRAG! is Edited by Scott Krol

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With no power comes no responsibility.

Recently wargaming has been in the mainstream news not once, but twice in the span of just as many weeks. And if you're thinking this means a return to the popularity once enjoyed by the hobby you obviously don't know our media very well.

The first article that cropped up tried to link wargaming roots to the leader of the so-called anti-government Michigan militia. Without really going into any types of specifics the piece attempts to say that whatever the plans this group was supposedly hatching they may have been born out of the wargaming the leader did as a youth. What type of wargaming? Like I said, no real specifics so we have no clue as to whether the author even knows what wargaming is (I've seen enough people in gaming call games like Starcraft a wargame, so the ignorance of the definition is pretty widespread) but that doesn't matter as a blanket statement is just as damaging to the hobby.

"Wargaming, even at its most popular, has always been somewhat mysterious to most people."

The next article regarded a group of Native Americans who were ticked off that there was going to be an upcoming wargame called King Philip's War from MMP. The subject matter is about an Indian revolt against colonists during the 17th century; not exactly a known conflict or one in which most wargamers have an interest. The protestors tick off the usual talking points when someone is dismayed at historical gaming: biased view, not cool to make a bloody conflict fun.

When we announced The Falklands War: 1982 from ProSIM we received quite a bit of flak from folks in both Great Britain and Argentina, but most notably from a particular veterans group from that conflict. Now, if you have any experience with ProSIM titles you know that they don't make games that feature high body counts rendered in graphical detail like some sort of bloody first person shooter. These are simulations of the highest order, so high that they are used by real world agencies for training purposes! Yet none of that mattered because all these folks could focus on was the fact that it was a "game" being published by a game company, and therefore it must be something juvenile and insulting to the memories of

those who fought. Essentially there were simply ignorant.

And that's the crux of all this: ignorance. Wargaming, even at its most popular, has always been somewhat mysterious to most people. Unless you're actually into the hobby all you may know about it is that the games involve lots of pieces and appear to be very complex when compared to the usual parlor games being played.

But it's more than just ignorance of the type of games themselves, it's ignorance of the fact that the word game can be applied to products other than Candyland. The anti-wargame crowd always has this as an underlining theme to their arguments when they decry the idea of making a conflict fun. They assume that games are something that you outgrow and find it odd that adults would actually create these games, market these games, and finally actually play these games.

This is so absolutely insulting to gamers and not just wargamers. Wargames help educate the players on history, showcasing events in a way far superior to simply reading a dry article on the subject. They promote math skills, non-linear thinking, and geography. I remember reading something about how a majority of US high school students can't even find the United States on a world map yet most wargamers can probably find scores of obscure East European villages on a map. To say that games are solely for kids and that you need to outgrow them is ridiculous.

While it's a shame that after years of non-mention wargaming has been the subject of such insulting articles in the press hopefully something good will come out of them. Maybe someone will read these and question exactly what all the hubbub is about and will try out a wargame or two to make their own judgement. And once they realize that the authors and protestors are idiots maybe they'll then turn their friends onto the hobby. I wouldn't count on a Counter Revolution to sweep the nation, but if new gamers discover the hobby that is always a good thing.

Welcome to the April edition of Frag!, the newsletter that always rocks the casbah with the safety dance. Hopefully everyone has been enjoying gaming and staying out of trouble. Or at least not getting caught for any said trouble.

Since we last spoke Digital Eel has released a full length album (sorry, it's not an actual LP but one of those newfangled digital download albums) of music based on many of their games. Containing nearly a hour worth of music, VooDoo Interface from the Nightmare Band (consisting of Rich Carlson, William "Phosphorous" Sears, and session musicians not of this world) includes the following tracks:

Dr. Blob's Organism
Brainpipe I: Smetlov's Locus
Brainpipe II: Trippocampus
Brainpipe III: Cognitive Cascade
Big Box of Blox
Weird Worlds I: Jaunt Venture
Weird Worlds II: Incident
Weird Worlds III: Grand Tour
Void Probe
I was a Teenage Haircut

The songs can be downloaded individually at absolutely no cost to you. For a small donation of at least five dollars you can download the whole shebang at once but that's not all. You'll also get four bonus tracks not available anywhere else, hi-res cover art from the Digital Eel's resident artist arcane himself, Phosphorous, and more bonus goodies. The donation goes directly to Digital Eel so if you're a fan of their work this is a great way to show your appreciation.

Check out VooDoo Interface here.

Of course don't just listen to the music, play the games that inspired the music. All games are available from Shrapnel Games, many are free.

You can download for free Plasmaworm, Big Box of Blox, Dr. Blob's Organism, Soup du Jour, and Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. These are all available at our page of free games. Be sure to check out all the other offerings while over there!

Shrapnel Games' Free Games Page

For the award-winning titles Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space and BRAINPIPE: A Plunge to Unhumanity, check out their individual product pages for free demos, patches, and links to purchase. Both games are available for Windows and Mac.

Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space

BRAINPIPE: A Plunge to Unhumanity

 

In other news Camo Workshop, the gents behind winSPWW2 and winSPMBT, have released patches for both games. winSPWW2 was the recipient of a mini-upgrade whereas winSPMBT received the full treatment.

winSPWW2 was upgraded to version 4.25. This was done primarily to address one particular issue with PBEM play in the interim between full upgrade patches. Rather than just provide the one fix though Camo Workshop was nice enough to toss in several other additions which were originally slated to be held until the next major patch.

winSPMBT's upgrade brings the game to version 5.0. This is a full upgrade patch, positively overflowing with new content.

You'll find details of both patches later in the newsletter including direct links to download them.

Speaking of winSPWW2 and winSPMBT did you know that it's possible to play both on Linux and Mac systems? That's right, PC users don't have to be the only ones having all the fun with the greatest turn-based tactical wargaming on their computers.

Running both games on a non-PC system is NOT officially supported so we cannot provide technical support but enough users have reported success with both Linux and Mac that we feel it's definitely worthwhile making people aware. Since the core games are both available as free downloads one can simply download them to try out before taking the plunge and upgrading to the Enhanced Editions. Details on running the games on Linux and Mac can be found in the forums.

Pat Proctor of the ProSIM Company (maker of such fine simulations as the recent Air Assault Task Force and Battle Group Commander: Episode One) is currently in Iraq and has been posting a slew of photos of his deployment on his Facebook page.

Check them out here.

We're also on Facebook so be sure to stop on by our spot, too. Just don't spam us with Farmville requests.

And that's the way it was in April. Be sure to tune in your email next month for another episode of Frag!, the official Shrapnel Games newsletter.

During the Second World War Winston Churchill called the Focke-Wulf 200 Condor "the scourge of the Atlantic." Yet while the Condor did strike fear in merchant shipping in the early period of the Battle of the Atlantic the Condor's successes did not last long and by 1943 the scourge was more like an annoyance.

The Condor began life as a civilian aircraft, which can explain most of the problems encountered during combat operations. Designed by fame aircraft engineer Kurt Tank the first prototype flew on July 27th, 1937. Meant to be a long distance airliner for Lufthansa the Condor had an impressive range with the ability to fly non-stop from Berlin to New York. This was accomplished on August 10th-11th, 1938 when a Condor covered the 4000+ miles in a little over twenty-four hours.

The Luftwaffe was originally not interested in the Condor, as they were never really interested in the concept of long distance/strategic aircraft. Instead the Luftwaffe was entirely focused on tactical bombers to support the lightning war doctrine. As such it was not until when war broke out in 1939 the Luftwaffe finally saw the need for aircraft which could be used to travel long distances and attack shipping. In September they ordered 20 FW 200s and in October the first Condor squadron was formed, 1./KG 40, although it would not be until February of 1940 that the first FW 200 was received.

Initially the Condor was ordered to perform mostly recon work, though attacks on ships were made. During eight weeks of combat operations the Condor was responsible for sinking about 11,000 tons of shipping while in the same period U-boats sunk 500,000 tons. Due to this the British were not overtly concerned with the Condor as an anti-shipping weapon, nor were the Germans who still regarded the Condor as useful for spotting ships but not attacking them.

On October 26th, 1940 the Condor finally became recognized as a viable player in the Battle of the Atlantic when a single Condor attacked the British ocean liner Empress of Britain. The Condor damaged the vessel heavily enough that it had to be towed into port, which it never reached due to being sunk by a U-boat two days after the initial Condor attack. The difference between this attack and the earlier attacks was the tactics used. By coming in low the Condor was able to avoid most flak, and the low level attack also allowed the aircraft to drop its bombs on a very low trajectory. While not quite skip-bombing like the US did in the Pacific the idea was close enough. Successful attacks usually meant the bombs would hit near the waterline, and even if the ship itself was not hit the blast would damage the hull.

The use of low-level attacks actually came out of the fact that the early Condors did not have an accurate bombsight. It would not be until later in the war that the Condor was effectively equipped to make medium to high altitude bombing runs, and by then it was too late.

Once it was shown that Condors could do more than shadow convoys and report their locations to nearby

U-boats the British began to work on effective countermeasures. Merchant ships began to be armed with a variety of AA guns, although most were throw away small caliber weapons such as Lewis and Hotchkiss machine-guns. The most effective weapon to destroy aircraft is always another aircraft.

"The use of low-level attacks actually came out of the fact that the early Condors did not have an accurate bombsight."

The British came up with the idea of launching older Hurricane fighters by rocket off of ships in late 1940, and began work on Catapult Armed Merchant (CAM) ships. A CAM ship would have two Hurricane fighters on board mounted on catapults. The catapults used rockets to launch the fighter into the air without the need of an actual flight deck. How did the fighters then land? They didn't. After combat the pilot would simply ditch his aircraft and wait for pick up by the convoy.

CAM ships proved to be quite effective, especially since the Condor in the early period was not expecting to be attacked by a Hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic! While a good stop gap measure disposable fighters were definitely not the answer but the British had no escort carriers at the time. This would soon change, with the first escort carrier being a converted captured German cargo ship, the Hanover. The Hanover became the HMS Audacity, which while not a true escort carrier (it had no below deck and all aircraft were stored on the flight deck at all times, thus exposing them to the elements) it did the job. Carrying Grumman Martlets (US Wildcats), the HMS Audacity was responsible for downing four Condors while making the Gibraltar convoy run.

When the war widened to include the US more escort carriers became available. Additionally, believe it or not the B-24 Liberator became a worthy opponent. Able to take more punishment than the Condor, and both faster and better armed, the lumbering bomber did quite well in a dogfight against the FW 200.

It was the rise of air cover that eventually forced the FW 200s to be mostly taken out of the fight for the Atlantic. Since the Condor began life as a civilian airliner converted to military use there were various problems with the aircraft. It had a weak airframe, which while great for long distance flying, made it a poor dogfighting candidate. The fuselage would crack and sometimes break in a number of combat situations; getting shot, evasive maneuvering, hard landings. There was hardly any armor and the Condor was high vulnerable to head on attacks. Worse, to give the aircraft patrol endurance the interior had several fuel tanks added to it. These were not armored and could be easily set alight by tracers. Furthermore, unlike dedicated military aircraft that used redundant systems in case of damage the FW 200 Condor did not, turning even minor damage into a major issue.

By 1944 production of the FW 200 Condor ceased. Amazingly, throughout the war not only was Focke-Wulf making Condors for the Luftwaffe they were still selling Condors to Lufthansa for civilian flight!

Star Legacy is the recently announced sci-fi 4X game that will be the last word in epic science fiction gaming. Currently in development with a ETA of late 2011 we here at Shrapnel wanted to introduce everyone to the development team behind the game. Longtime veterans of the mod scene, particularly with the Space Empires series, we asked the global team to answer the following three questions:

  1. Please introduce yourself and tell everyone a little bit about your role with the Star Legacy Development Group.
  2. In your area of expertise what do you envision for Star Legacy?
  3. What are your favorite games in the genre? Are there any games that provide inspiration or influence in your upcoming design work?

And here are there responses. Enjoy!

Project Lead - Kenneth Musante

  1. I'm Kenneth Musante, also known as Urendi Maleldil on the forum. My background is primarily writing and game design. I have been working for the past four years as a journalist, and now a web site producer. I made my first game in junior high school (early-1990s), which was a pen and paper RPG that went fast enough to be played one on one with a friend on the bus ride home. I later created a roguelike game using QBASIC, and went on to create a card game in high school. Those were all hobbies, of course. I discovered Space Empires 2 in 1995 and became hooked on the series. Some time between Space Empires 3 and Space Empires IV, I discovered Stars!, and began playing that, however I was always frustrated by the lack of customization compared to Space Empires.
  2. I'd like Star Legacy to be a truly epic experience for players, a game that can simulate star empire building on a galactic scale, but which is also approachable so that anyone--even if they haven't seen a 4x game before--can play. In 4x games war is good, but I also hope we will be able to evoke a sense of discovery from players. I would love to hear stories of people playing our game and saying "wow, I've never experienced that before." We're also trying to make Star Legacy a modder's playground - a platform that any player can build on and create something that springs directly from their imagination.
  3. I loved Space Empires 3, even though Space Empires IV was a more in-depth game and provided more customizability. Since I didn't come from a wargaming background I never cared for hex-based movement. I also really likes the linear movement system from Stars! As for other games, I really admire games that can evoke an emotional effect from players, which for me includes Halo and Half-life. I'm also a fan of the old Sierra and LucasArts adventure games, and 'd like to introduce elements of wonder and exploration into Star Legacy. Lately I've been playing a lot of Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox, and I really admire the way that Turn 10 Studios has made something that's really nerdy and technical accessible through the use of in-game assists. I hope we can do the same with the complexity of 4x games.

Lead Artist - Gergely Sinkó

  1. My name is Gergely Sinkó (a.k.a. Kwayne), I bring into this project whatever self-taught graphical knowledge I have, fulfilling the "Lead Artist" position in the team.
  2. Star Legacy in my head is a game that brings back the artistic style and feel of the '90s space adventures and 4X games while the style of its graphical content can be easily reproduced by anyone.
  3. I like player-friendly abstractions in Master of Orion, the openness to modification in Space Empires, but my main sources of inspiration are space adventure games like Star Control 2-3, Project Nomad and Starflight.

Auxiliary Programmer - Ivan Beccaro

  1. Ivan Beccaro aka LennyNero, long time Space Empires player, worked even as VB/C/SQL programmer, designed some web sites (some years ago now) the previous http://www.star-europe.com/ was mine (not the current one even if the site icon may still be the one I did), I joined the team as auxiliary programmer or at least tester.
  2. Hopefully a radiant future, with a wide and active community of players, becoming the main Shrapnel title on the market, someway rewriting the 4x standards that IMO Space Empires series now is in charge of. (Editor's note: hey now, let's not forget Dominions 3!)
  3. I played a lot the Space Empires series (III/IV/V), and some other games like Civilization and Master of Orion/Master of Orion 3 (this one less), moving from the ancient Star Control, Panzer General series, Master of Magic, Shogun and even earlier a quite unknown Commodore Amiga game named UMS (Universal Military Simulator). Also the Ancient Elite and Wing Commander series and lots of others mainly fantasy RPGs/Strategic (Battle for Wesnoth needs to be cited). Lately (but not so lately) I got caught with Vampire the Masquerade but that's totally another matter. Played other 4x such as Imperium Galactica and Galactic Civilizations but none of them have been able to keep me glued to the keyboard like Space Empires did.

Lead Programmer - Thomas Kosel

  1. I am 27 years old and have coding experience from my childhood. I am working in a worldwide operating company developing their web based tasks. I live in the west end of Germany, next to Netherlands. For Star Legacy I lead the developing team. My most experiences are surrounding the topics program design, gui and databases.
  2. Star Legacy is doing some unusual things, the question this game has to answer is, whether the things are appealing to people or not. Hopefully this will attract much players and modders, the high aim is to reach popularity of "Master of Orion". This game should be unique by some concepts what players will be able to do, but it also introduces many things people already know and are used to.
  3. Master of Orion, Space Empires (IV and V)), UFO Enemy Unknown, X3, Mass Effect, Elite, Civilization. What influences my work? Nearly any game I played, whether I liked them or disliked them will have an effect, as I will try to analyze what was good / bad. Avoiding old mistakes.

Programmer - Ed Kolis

  1. Hi, I'm Ed Kolis! While this is my first time working on a commercial game project I have worked on personal game projects (such as roguelikes) and non-game contract work projects (including a performance management application for corporate HR departments), and I studied software development at the University of Cincinnati. My primary role on the Star Legacy team is that of developing the scripting and modding interface, though I do also help out with the GUI and game physics as needed.
  2. I'm using IronPython as the scripting language for Star Legacy; this gives me the freedom to focus on things beyond "writing a script parser" because that part's already done! (Not to mention that there's plenty of documentation out there for the language already so modders will be able to jump right in without having to pick my brain!) So one of the features I've already included which I really think you'll enjoy is a "script console" much like in some FPS games - you press the PAUSE key on the main game screen, and up pops a greenish overlay where you can type script commands to query or manipulate objects in the game - very handy for modders trying to debug what went wrong with their scripts! Another vision is that of a "mod editor" app - I've started on one, and I hope it gets finished, because that would make modding so much simpler for many people! But at the very least, our mods are going to be in XML, and we should be including XML schemas, so with a decent XML editor, you should be able to run validation on them without firing up the game just to see that you left some field or other out!
  3. My favorite 4X games would have to include the Space Empires series, Sword of the Stars, Stars!, and Master of Orion II. I'd have to say that Space Empire V definitely provides a lot of influence - I want to go for the ease of modding of Space Empires V, but learn from Space Empire V''s mistakes, such as the myriad abilities which are mysteriously nonfunctional when placed on the wrong type of object, or the arcane scripting language that I swear must be half QBASIC and half Pascal! Not that I want to knock Space Empires V or anything, I just think we can learn a lot from both its successes and failures!

Programmer - Luke Hazlett

  1. My name is Luke Hazlett, known more commonly in the Shrapnel Games community as Captain Kwok. I've previously beta tested for Shrapnel published titles Space Empires: Star Fury and Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space, and most recently Space Empires V with another publisher. I've been an active modder for the Space Empires series, of which Space Empires V's Balance Mod is my most significant work. For Star Legacy, I'm responsible for the developing the game's data files and scripts, which includes the AI.
  2. For Star Legacy, I'm aiming for a well-balanced standard game that presents players with a multitude of pathways to victory and a focus on AI opponents that are adaptive, personable, and challenging. As a team, we're creating a game that is very friendly to modification, so the game's data file format and scripting support will allow enterprising modders to incorporate their own ideas and visions into almost every aspect of Star Legacy.
  3. I've enjoyed a number of games in the 4X space strategy genre, but my favorite has always been the Space Empires series. While I've never programmed my own space strategy game, Space Empires allowed me to feel like I did by opening up many areas of the game to modification. With Star Legacy, we're building on this feeling with not only the game's mod-friendliness, but also with the game's out-of-the-box play, capturing players' imaginations by providing multiple playstyles and role-playing opportunities.

Thanks, guys! As the game develops we'll be checking back with the team and letting our newsletter readers in on the progress before anyone else.

If you're interested in asking questions to the developers or just saying a hearty hello please drop by the Star Legacy forum.

Do you heart Camo Workshop? You should because how many other developers are still updating their games ten years later? The fact that winSPWW2 and winSPMBT are still evolving, with brand new content being added on a regular basis, says a helluva lot.

Each game received a patch recently. winSPMBT was brought up to version 5.0 with a full featured patch while winSPWW2 is now version 4.25 with a intermediary mini-patch between full upgrades.

Before we delve into the contents of each patch a couple of friendly reminders. Patches must be applied in numerical order, so if you've missed out on a previous patch be sure to install it before installing the latest patch. Also, secure PBEM games currently being played will fail if patched so either wait until your game is over to patch or quit the game and restart it after both players patch.

Let's begin with what is to be found in the version 5.0 upgrade to winSPMBT:

19 brand new scenarios
53 updated existing scenarios
130 new photos
159 new and revised icons
92 updated OOB files
19 new and revised graphic files
19 new and revised text files
2 new and 1 revised sound file
11 brand new maps
Complete picklist update
Upgraded Cost Calculator, MOBHack, ScenHack
ArmourCalc and APCalc programs added (see below for more info)

  • A new explosives class has been added to the game, allowing for self-detonated and command detonated explosives.
  • MOBHack will now retain the nation when "Paste as target nation" box is selected when copying formations from one nation to another.
  • Passengers dismounting into a minefield hex (including helicopters landing to dismount passengers) will now be tested to see if the minefield is set off.
  • A bug allowed players to change from regular HE to cluster while a barrage was on the way or in progress. This has been corrected and it is no longer possible.
  • Erroneous weapon list entries have been eliminated and all weapons of one type now have the same stats in every OOB in which they appear.
  • Scout vehicles now provide protected carry to passengers if the front steel armor is greater than zero.
  • A new battle location has been added when playing China versus India that is hilly or mountainous with snow between October and March.
  • No longer can one buy air strikes in campaign cores.
  • One can no longer move, look around, then undo when playing against the AI. The undo function still works but only if you do not look around to check LOS.
  • New code cuts down on the number of fires that start when flame weapons are used. Along the same line new code has been added to lower the number of "999" penetrations for flame weapons, and new animation code and graphics have been added for flame weapons.
  • Many OOB corrections and additions. In fact, the completed "to do" list would print out to over 110 pages. The OOBs are a constant work in progress so as new information on the world's TO&E's are uncovered or future weapon system dates are changed or cancelled expect to see the OOBs change with them.
  • Two development programs have been added: ArmourCalc and APCalc. ArmourCalc allows users to enter armor thickness and angle and get the calculation from that. APCalc reads the weapon data in an OOB and displays potential armor penetration at multiple range increments by ammo type.
  • There are other changes to be found in the 5.0 upgrade, please check your electronic manual for the game that is found under its program group for a complete list of all changes found in the patch once it is applied.

The version 4.25 upgrade for winSPWW2 does not feature as much content as the upgrade for winSPMBT. Originally the content was intended to be included with the next full upgrade but the PBEM correction is important enough to be released immediately, and thus everyone gets not only that but also everything else that has been worked on.

4 revised scenarios and 2 revised scenario text files
10 new or revised photos
1 new icon
36 updated OOB fles
2 revised graphic files

  • Reworked code to correct erroneous error messages appearing when playing basic security PBEM. This was the primary raison d'être for the patch, the rest is gravy.
  • Various OOB corrections that include:

    - Nimbus MC added to the Blue OOB.
    - M24 Chafee front turret armor set to 4 in all OOBs.
    - Russian 152mm artillery reorganized with corrected photos, stats.
    - Boyes AT rifles range increased to 13 to give them more correct penetrations at various ranges.
    - Bazooka and panzerschreck accuracy reduced to 4 and now match accuracy values in winSPMBT and better reflect their actual performance.

  • Further corrections to ensure all units and weapons of the same type have the same ratings from OOB to OOB.
  • New infantry flame graphics added.

Download the winSPMBT 5.0 upgrade patch here.

Download the winSPWW2 4.25 upgrade patch here.

Both patches apply to all versions of the game (Enhanced and the free download). If you have any questions about the patches or game be sure to stop by the forums.

Incursion (Grindhouse Games)

To me the mark of a good strategy game is one that presents the players with enough variety in play that after you finish playing you can't help but think of all the different ways it could have unfolded if you had only made this choice or that choice. Incursion from Grindhouse Games is just such a game, a beer-and-pretzels skirmish level game that is easy to learn, quick to set-up, and a blast to play.

Set in the world of Secrets of the Third Reich, a Weird War II miniature system also from Grindhouse Games, Incursion's theme revolves around Allied forces retaking the fallen fortress of Gibraltar from the evil Nazis. On the Allied side are troopers of the US Lucky 7th (and as this is being written the British will soon be available for play with the MI-13 troops) against the German SWD. The US are somewhat standard troops, other than the fact that they are encased in heavy body armor that resembles a '40s style suit of Space Marine armor. They use machine guns, grenades, flamethrowers and the occasional spiked baseball bat. The SWD are more creative, with zombies, werewolves, dominatrix, and a harpoon wielding brute that appears to be a fan of Bioshock.

The game takes place on a double-sided map of a section of the fortress complex. It's a shame that unlike Space Hulk, which the game obviously takes some inspiration from, you have to play on a set map as opposed to the create-your-own-map of Space Hulk. Unit pieces are standup cardboard counters, though since it comes from a miniature company you can purchase replacement miniatures. Not only can you pick up all the figures but Grindhouse also sells three-dimensional door sets and objective markers. On the forums you can even find folks going one step further and replacing the traditional board with a fully crafted homebrew three-dimensional set up.

Incursion can be played using individual scenarios or by linking them all together to form a campaign. Since most scenarios can be played fairly quickly by experienced players it's possible to do a campaign in a single day.

For most scenarios players are free to create their own order of battle from picking units by points. The Axis player usually has to devote a portion of his points to zombies. A few scenarios also have specific allocation requirements. The Allied side tends to have an easier time because of the "traditional" types of troops while the Axis side requires a little bit more thought. Does speed matter? Then you'll want to take a blitzhund or two, the speedy werewolves that are also brutal in close combat. Want more effective zombies? Choose a hero unit that can provide better control.

At its core Incursion's game system is fairly standard tactical fare. Each unit has a set number of action

points which can be spent on moving, firing, tossing grenades, et cetera. Units that end their action with no line of sight to enemy units automatically go into op-fire mode. In addition to the action point system Incursion uses both cards and Command Points (CP), the number of both are determined per scenario based on the point value of the forces involved.

Cards act either to attach to individual units, providing bonuses or hindrance depending on which side they are played on, or as global events that affect the environment. Each card also has a "kill" value which is the number of CP that a player can spend to eliminate a card from play. This can be done either as soon as the card comes out or later.

Besides the above mentioned use of CP to discard cards CP can also be used to provide bonus action points to units on a one to one basis, or to help win initiative. Before each round players enter a bid of CP with the highest bid earning initiative for the turn. These CP are considered spent so players must balance the need of having those CP during the turn with how badly they want to go first. Unlike some tactical games in which play alternates from opponent to opponent on a per unit basis in Incursion one side completes ALL actions before the other side may move. Even hand-to-hand combat isn't simultaneous, so there is a definite advantage to going first.

It's the combination of CP and cards that really makes Incursion shine. CP don't carry over turn to turn and a player's typical hand size is quite small so deciding when to play CP and cards can be a sticky wicket. Do you spend all your CP in your turn or wait to see if you need to kill cards your opponent will play? Do you buff your units or hurt your opponent?

Combat is fast and brutal. The attacker rolls a number of d6 based on the weapon and scores a hit for each die that is equal to or greater than the defending unit's fortitude. US units, being fully encased in armor, are really tough to kill while zombies tend to go pop quite easily. Unfortunately the German player has a constant stream of zombies throughout a scenario...

Overall Incursion is a very solid game. The only really ding to it is that some of the cards could be a little bit more clear in terms of how they actually are implemented. As an example during an early session my opponent used a card to enhance one of his units that could be taken to provide a cumulative bonus when in fact it was a one-time bonus. Experienced gamers should be able to deduce the true meaning of any ambiguously worded cards and novices will find that the official forums are quite helpful.

Incursion is a great tactical game that offers a lot. It's easy to learn, sets up and plays quick, and gives players many options. Scenarios are varied and interesting, and with the choices of what units to purchase, how CP should be used, and the randomness of the cards playing the same scenario multiple times will yield multiple tactics and possibilities. All in all another worthwhile addition to your game library that will see years of play.

Dominions 3: The Awakening as a top seller? But of course. The top three sellers over at our e-store, the Gamers Front, for the month of March should be familiar to our fine readers with Weird Worlds and winSPWW2 Enhanced joining Dominions 3.

All three titles are available as both physical products and as downloads. The Enhanced version of winSPWW2 was added as a download last year while the often requested Dominions 3: The Awakening was just made a download recently. If you're downloading the games be sure to read up on the extended download service and decide whether it's for you.

The strategy game of strategy games, Dominions 3: The Awakening.

Keep on trekkin' with Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.

Master the art of war with winSPWW2 Enhanced.

The Gamers Front special of the month can be found here.

April's special includes savings on The Falklands War: 1982 (physical version) and The Star and the Crescent (download version). Both Window-only titles normally retail for $44.95 but are now only $39.95 until the end of the month.

From the masters of modern land warfare simulations, ProSIM Company, The Falklands War: 1982 and The Star and the Crescent explore two very different battlefields in precise detail. In The Falklands War: 1982 players will command mostly infantry against other infantry in a clash near the bottom of the world, while The Star and the Crescent is a Middle East armor slugfest.

The focus of the two games may be different but both share the same qualities all ProSIM titles feature which include, but are not limited to, the following: real-world digital terrain maps, extensive weapon platform databases, highly detailed combat models, multiple layers of command, realistic AI plans, the ability to play against the computer or other players, and the chance to edit your own scenarios.

ProSIM titles are real-time (or as they call it, command-time) but are unlike any real-time strategy game you've played before. These are serious, in-depth simulations. Yes, there is a learning curve but once learned players will find it easy to go from one title to another in their catalog. In fact, ProSIM specifically makes their titles compatible with each other, allowing their newer games to upgrade their older games to match the latest and greatest aspects of their engine. No other developer that we can think of goes to such great lengths to ensure that their players never feel that their older titles have become obsolete because of newer releases.

The Gamers Front is all new! Check out our new look, easier shopping experience, and all the cool features!

 

For years George Nafziger was a well-known individual amongst wargamers due to his exhaustive research into orders of battles which he collected and sold. Recently he decided to donate his entire collection to the Combined Arms Research Library at Fort Leavenworth. The entire collection is now free and available online.

The CARL description of what the Nafziger collection sums it up quite well. From their website:

"The Nafziger Collection contains a compilation of orders of battle from 1600 to 1945 with over 7000 individual pdf files. It began with the author's interest in Napoleonic Wars, and steadily grew to other areas because of the gaming public's interest in these highly detailed historical orders of battle. Sources range from published works to actual archival documents, which represent the largest single source. Nearly all orders of battle break down to the regimental level. The availability of strength figures and artillery equipment varies from period to period."

A great source for wargame designers and players alike.

Visit the site at:

http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/nafziger.htm

All American: The 82nd Airborne In Normandy: 2010

Eat Electric Death! (Board game): Production Pending

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