Forgotten Heroes: Anzac Attack – Unboxing and Components

Well, it seems that the post office is considerably faster than I expected and some superhero managed to send through my copy of Anzac Attack in record time. I pre-ordered this one a while back and I’ve been looking forward to playing it for a long time.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve got in the box:

Lock ‘n Load’s Forgotten Heroes Anzac Attack Expansion:  I wouldn’t want to mess with the dude on the cover.

The cover art looks great and I knew the photo was the right choice because my wife immediately said it was scary.  We’ve got the standard Lock ‘n Load cover art here with the photograph up top and the counters at the bottom.  The box is pretty sturdy and it’s just the right size to fit all the components inside.  Well done.

Two new maps included with Anzac Attack

The two maps included in the box look nice.  They are a bit less reflective than the Forgotten Heroes II maps, which I personally like because that means less lens flare when I take photos of my games.

Closer look at map 8

Map 8 has tons of heavy jungle on it along with a hill beside a road.  Looks like a beautiful map for a deadly ambush scenario.

Map 9 lookin’ spiffy.

Map 9 offers some nice terrain in it.  Note the slight change in kunai grass from the original FHII.  It still looks good though.

Anzac Attack Scenario Book

Next is the scenario book, which looks beautiful.  It’s all in full color and the photos used for each scenario are relevant to theme and interesting to look at.  There are 13 scenarios here of varying size and scope, from one-map slugfests to four-map all-out battles.  Australians are featured in the bulk of the scenarios but there are several other forces here too – fear not, the beloved USMC makes another appearance in two scenarios!  Peter Bogdasarian, James Luck, and Mark H. Walker designed the scenarios and they look pretty good.  I’ve enjoyed Peter Bogdasarian’s work in the past with the Corps Command series and I really liked his Ambush (Relief Attempt during Operation Attleboro) scenario so I’m looking forward to trying all these.  It’s a bit sad to see that they got rid of the designer’s notes for the scenarios but their absence doesn’t take much away from the game.

The double-sided player aid card looks great here and it’s in full color.  It’s especially nice to see that a turn track was provided since these are not printed with each scenario in the book (nor should they be).  It’s kind of amazing to compare this with the player aid card provided with earlier LnLP products like “Day of Heroes”.  Look at how far we’ve come!

Finally, we’ve got a single sheet of counters (170 of them to be exact). The gang’s all here with VC, NVA, US, New Zealand, and Australians represented.  David Julien, Nicolas Eskubi and Pete Abrams were involved with various aspects of the artwork and it all looks terrific* (a huge sorry to any misunderstandings caused before the edit and sorry if I missed any other artists who worked on the game).

I was really happy to see aircraft counters in this expansion.  I really liked how airstrikes were incorporated into Heroes of the Gap and it’s nice to see them back again here.  I can’t wait to get this bad boy on the table.  Acquisition markers are also provided – something that was missing from the reprint of FHII.  Thank you for putting them in the expansion!

There are also several new vehicles in the expansion.  The T-55 kicks up the NVA arsenal a notch and gives the enemy forces something to think about.  There are also Mk V tanks and much more. One notable change to the counters includes the presence of women on VC counters.  We had Arnat in FHII, which was a nice change of pace and a nod to the reality of female combatants in Vietnam.  It’s nice to see a woman represented on a hero counter and on a squad counter.

Into The Breach: Unboxing

As per tradition in my household, we opened one Christmas gift on Christmas Eve and I was very happy to unwrap a new copy of “Into the Breach”, an expansion for World at War module, “The Untold Stories”.  ITB has been out for a while now but that’s never stopped me from doing unboxings before.

The box cover is pretty cool and has some very nice artwork by Marc Von Martial.  Into The Breach basically includes lots of American units and the cover reflects that nicely enough as a pair of Abrams tanks creep through the dark woods.  This cover is a pretty substantial departure from the previous WaW module cover art.  The old use of white space and banners is gone, there are no photos on the front of the box, and the art appears hand drawn.  It’s a nice change of pace from the old covers and I like it.

After opening it up, we find the counters.  There’s one sheet with 176 counters on it, depicting 2 German formations (41 Panzergrenadiers and the 44 Panzergrenadiers), along with several American formations.  There are Apaches, M1 tanks, Bradleys, mortar carriers, and even some old fragile Sheridan tanks with a very brittle 1-5 save roll for their armor.

On the Soviet side, we get lots and lots of tanks.  The 13th Guards Tank, 65th Tank, 143rd Tank, are all here with assortments of T-80, T-80BV, and T-64 tanks.  We’ve also got an impressive number of infantry courtesy of the 68th Motorized Rifle, which makes the old 33rd look tiny in comparison.

After that, we find 2 geomorphic mounted 11″ x 17″ maps, featuring the towns of Ono, Snyder, Metz, Schulte, and Lohse.  The map boards are a bit thicker than the “Untold Stories” maps, with a mixture of interesting terrain configurations.  The east side of map board F is a massive forest  while we get a nice combination of both large cities (Schulte and Lohse) and small towns (Metz) to fight over.

Under all that, there’s a player aid in full color with stats on moving fire and advanced imaging stats for all the various moving-fire capable vehicles in ITB and UTS, thankfully.  Of course, the battlefield chaos table from UTS is duplicated here as well as terrain, etc.  And finally, we get a scenario book with 12 scenarios designed by Matt Lohse, Jeff Schulte, and Ralph Ferrari.  These guys have written some of my favorite scenarios in the past, so I’m looking forward to trying these ones out.  
The book is pretty standard quality in terms of paper stock and although it’s not in color, it’s really not a big deal as the scenarios are the real stars here.  All of the scenario information is nicely printed and the layout is very good.  Overall, this looks like a very nice effort judging from the contents of the box and I’m looking forward to getting it on the table.
Finally, you’ll notice in the credits a little line that says “Initial War Concept:  General Sir John Hackett”.  Check out this interview with the general from about 30 years ago for some interesting insights into what exactly this line means in the context of World at War.  Pretty interesting!

Mystery Package Has Arrived!

Well, something arrived on my doorstep today…

Whatever it was, it came from Kyoto…

and was wrapped up in the sports section of Kyoto’s daily paper.

Aha!  The long awaited Avalon Hill game “Firepower” released in 1984.  What a nice colorful box cover.  I’m excited already!

This game was the “modern day warfare” follow-up to AH’s man-to-man squad tactics game of WW2.   It covers real and potential conflicts from 1945 to 1990.

Inside the box, we have the original 10-sided die included in the game from 1984.  The counters were cut, which is fine by me.  Japanese gamers are pretty meticulous in terms of cutting and storing these games properly.  There was very little wear and tear on it considering the game is almost 30 years old.

The counters don’t exactly approach the beauty of LnL’s counters but they’re a functional product of their time.

The game’s rules are quite detailed and include rules on where exactly your soldiers are sitting when in a vehicle, which side of a tree they are taking cover on, etc.

There are charts for dozens of weapons, vehicles, diagrams of explosive blasts, and just about every conceivable thing you would need to figure out for a game on this scale.

It has a strong resemblance to a role-playing game or other games like the Ambush! series with characteristics for each member of your squad.

Building layouts are included as well for when you need to storm the pantry!

Finally, we have colorful pastel geomorphic maps with a five yards per hex scale.

The Firepower game system tried to extensively cover weapons, troop quality, and squad composition of many armies around the world.  The scenarios include NATO vs. Warsaw Pact, Indians vs. Pakistanis, Egyptians vs. Israelis, and there are lists of squads and equipment from about 45 different countries so you can make your own scenarios.  Should be interesting to put this one on the table.

Forgotten Heroes Vietnam: Unboxing

So I just got my copy of Forgotten Heroes Vietnam today and I’m pretty stoked about it so let’s open it up and see what we’ve got here:

Nice box art with good use of color and photographs.  Reminds me of the Heroes of the Gap box art with the use of counters in the middle and bottom of the box.  It’s a surprisingly heavy box too.  Although I don’t have a shot of the back, it seems a lot less “cluttered” in terms of text and art, which is a nice change from the “Band of Heroes” days.

Inside the box, we are greeted with the module rules, which has a nice color cover.  The rules themselves are your standard LnL series rules with black and white photos, etc.  What’s great to see is that the rulebook now uses photos and examples from newer games like Heroes of the Gap and rules changes are now in italics.

The Module rules are of thick stock (which is a departure from the usual standard paper format) and presented in a “fold out” fashion with large font and features an introduction from Mark H. Walker as well as the standard national characteristics and module-specific rules.

Underneath those 2 books, we’ve got 5 geomorphic maps, two six-sided dice, the skill cards and other goodies.  It’s a tightly packed affair so you’ll probably have to keep your counters in a separate box after you punch them out.

The Skill Cards look great and appear to be of standard playing card thickness, which seems to be a little thicker than the Heroes of the Gap skill cards.  The illustrations on the cards are excellent and relate well to the card description.  My favorite card happens to be “Lucky Man” which is a really imaginative and funny way to make the photo work with the card description.

Interestingly, the skill cards also contain a couple of cards that advertise other LnL games, Heroes of the Gap and White Star Rising.  I’ve never seen that before in an LnL product so I wonder if this will be standard now.  I’m not sure what to do with these advertisement cards…

The map boards look great and have the usual attention to detail. Of course, the terrain layout is the same as the first edition of the game but the art is updated and the halos have been removed from around the hexes.  It really looks like you’ve got a God’s eye view of the battle, peering down on some remote village in Vietnam that hasn’t changed for a thousand years.

The Player Aid Card is pretty much the same high quality stock and layout as the “Heroes of the Gap” aid card.  This time, there’s a pretty sweet image of a Huey at the bottom of the first page.  The terrain chart is inside and fire modifiers are on the back.  It’s well organized and easy to read.  The thicker stock and lamination means that it will probably withstand a minor beverage spill or two, which is a big plus for a clumsy guy like me.  

The scenario cards are a real step up from previous efforts with lots of use of color and well-organized information.  I liked Heroes of the Gap but often found the color and background of the scenario cards seemed to make it harder to read the info at times.  That problem has been corrected here.  We also have the return of the turn counters on the card, which was sorely missed in Heroes of the Gap where the turn counter was literally right on top of the map (even on top of the terrain itself).  I think this is a nice mixture of using the information organization from the older games (like Band of Heroes) on the cards along with the higher quality of presentation from HotG.  Using both sides of the scenario card for one scenario works so much better than cramming all that stuff on one side of a card.

Lastly, there are two sheets of counters in the box.  Here we have the NVA, ARVN, Marines and US Army  forces represented along with your standard administrative markers.  The counter art seems to be improved in a lot of ways.  The weapons are a bit bigger and seem to take up more of the counter size.

The leader illustrations seem a bit more lifelike and distinct than in Heroes of the Gap.  I really couldn’t distinguish Cpt. Boone from Sgt. York in terms of facial features but here in FH: Vietnam, each leader is very distinct and you can almost make out their personality from the picture.  Well done.

I also loved the “in action” shots on the helicopter counters with the rocket flying out of the Huey.  I hope LnL does more of this in the future as it looks pretty cool and adds a movie-scene sense to what’s happening on the board.

Conclusion:  I think LnL Publishing got it right this time, especially in regards to the design of the scenario cards and the images for the leader counters.  I can see that LnL is trying to find ways to advertise their existing products to  casual buyers (through the admittedly cool-looking HotG and WSR “skill cards” as well as the ad for “Paris is Burning” on the back of the rulebook) and I think what might work much better is to just slip in a pamphlet that is separate and distinct from the game components. That being said, anything that helps to sell games to keep the company healthy is alright by me.

It’s also apparent that LnLP is committed to continually improving the overall quality of their product through tweaks here and there while still putting out distinct products that belong to the same LnL series.  It’s a tough balancing act in many ways because players of the series have come to expect a certain amount of consistency among the various LnL games and components while at the same time demanding new products that are unique from other games in the series.

I’m looking forward to Anzac Attack, the expansion for Forgotten Heroes, which includes Aussie and New Zealand forces in Vietnam.  Line of Fire 12 has provided several excellent new scenarios for Forgotten Heroes as well, even incorporating the Vietnam maps as substitutes for Nicaragua in the Heroes of the Gap universe.  So it seems that FH:Vietnam is well supported by LnL Publishing and we can expect lots of shiny new add-ons to the game in the future.

Update:  After giving the game a quick spin and looking closer at the components, I have to say that my favorite bit is the fact that Mark has written some notes on the scenarios, which is terrific.  I enjoy reading how some scenarios were tweaked or re-worked to add balance or flavor.  It adds a lot to the game for me.