Friday, January 19, 2007

Thoughts on Tide of Iron

It seems as if Fantasy Flight Games' new mega-box game, Tide of Iron, is about to hit store shelves. Despite the fact that I've practically had their games on auto-buy for the past year, I have been a bit on the fence with this one. I already own Lock 'N Load and Combat Commander: Europe. Do I really need another tactical infantry wargame?

As I was pondering this dilemma, I was quite pleased this evening to see FFG had posted a promotional video for the game. I honestly cannot remember ever seeing an actual board game video commercial other than by Hasbro. If this is a side effect of FFG's recent foray into the movie business, I'm very pleased. I hope this trend continues. Wouldn't it be great if every game included a video tutorial on how to set up and play? Anyway, even if you're not interested in the game, its worth watching the video to see just how well produced the video actually is. I'm very impressed!

One thing Tide of Iron has going for it are the miniatures. The modular infantry bases look like a great concept that will (of course) have a ton of potential for expansion. Customizing squads looks like fun. I don't know if the high unit density shown on the map is reflective of an actual scenario in the game, but if so it looks like there would be lots of hot plastic death dealt out on the tabletop. I did see a fist-full of dice at one point in the video as well! I also think how FFG has adopted the Doom/Descent system of ordering units will work very well with the WW2 battlefield theme. I was pleased to learn they're also already planning North Africa, Eastern Front, and Pacific expansions... Sound familiar?

From what I can tell this is a product aimed at the rather fertile territory between the low complexity and sometimes blandness of Memoir '44 and the realism at the expense-of playability zone occupied by ASL. Recent games aimed at the same niche, Lock 'N Load and Combat Commander, are spiritual descendants of the Squad Leader family of games, retaining a fair amount of charts and jargon, but significantly simplifying the system in an effort to increase the fun factor. I think both succeed very well. Tide of Iron seems to take a step closer to Memoir '44 in complexity level, but its unclear if this will take away too much of the deep, rich flavor tactical combat can have.

Anyway, the game looks like its beautifully produced and has a high potential to be fun. What does everyone else think?



At 11:01 PM, January 19, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

I'll pass because of the same reason...already own LnL and CC. Don't need yet another WWII-squad level game. Plus I like the complexity of the latter... don't want it any simpler.

At 11:03 PM, January 19, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Plus, I'm iffy about FFG coming out with a 'true wargame'. It's like Mayfair or Rio Grande coming out with Descent.

At 2:54 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Schifani said...

Hi, I'm Steve, thanks for allowing me to post. I've always been a miniatures wargamer, but I've found that the most enjoyable games for me are ones that do away with the hassles of measuring. I've already happily converted one of my favorite ancients/medievals miniatures games to a grid, and I really like both Commands and Colors: Ancients and Battlelore. The CnC games all work perfectly as written on hexmats with figures. I guess that makes me a guy who likes to combine sensibly clear boardgame mechanics with as high a visual payoff as I can achieve within reason.

Anyway, this game looks strong in both of those categories, so I'll be getting one (sigh). I look forward to meeting many of you, and I'll watch for opportunities to play Battlelore, among other new things.

At 3:39 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Simon said...

I'm interested...

I, for one, can't get enough of the tactical squad stuff.

At 8:30 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Welcome, Steve! I'm pleased to learn there's another C&C fan joining the group. I'm very interested in playing a lot more Ancients and BattleLore, so I hope we can meet soon and do so.

I've watched the video 3 times, and I'm now sufficiently brainwashed. I'll be getting a copy.

At 9:44 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Hey, a new guy! Welcome to the fold, Steve. I'm looking to play BattleLore and also Battle Cry (especially using these
optional rules

My problem w/ ToI has nothing to do with the game itself. Minis can add a lot of flavor and feeling, and chucking lots-o-dice has a great viceral feeling. No doubt it'll be a great game.

The price tag is getting a little up there, IMO, one of the downsides of minis. Sometimes I fear that minis overshadow the gameplay. I'd rather have a great game w/ poor production values than vice versa.

My problem is I'm feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of new games coming my way.

The niche that ToI seeks to occupy is among my favorites, but I won't be buying anytime soon because that space is already occupied for me. For me it's all just "light wargames," although I realize it's a bit unfair to lump ToI into the same space w/ War of 1812 and BattleLore.

I think one of my resolutions will be that I'm not buying new wargames until I can get two games in my current collection to the nickel mark. I figure that at 5 plays a game has basically justified itself.

At 9:58 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Schifani said...

Thanks! Your point is well taken, if it looks great but plays poorly, it'll sit on the shelf. But I hope it's good enough to encourage similar endeavors.

I wonder if WWII has been hit too often lately? There are certainly other periods that seem fresher, but maybe WWII is the safe choice.

And one thing that sold me was the dark/light colors for both armies so that 4 players can play. 2 player games are great, but sometimes multiple generals on a side really adds to the fun.

At 10:47 AM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

Hi Steve.

WWII gets lots of titles because its one of the classic "Good" wars, we won, plenty of variety (infantry, armor, paratroopers, naval warfare, field battles) and we have lots of media on it.

Heavy wargames cover more genres, but for 'introductory' stuff, it's a good choice.

I'm passing, at least initially, due to Combat Commander. And I always have Memoir '44.

[BTW, the Optional Rules to BattleCry that you posted Ted have a huge change. I prefer just playing with the 'updated' cards. Probes let you draw 2/keep 1, all special cards say "Or activate the unit of your choice if you don't have any"]. [I do also modify the "All out assualt" to just activate your command rating in units, instead of everything.] I've probably played BattleCry 25 times; I'd play more but the box is so damn big. I have a few photocopied special scenarios done by the designer for tournaments, if you are interested...

At 1:16 PM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

It's true the updated rules to Battle Cry are a big change, and in fact at least one of the included scenarios becomes effectively broken w/ the new rules.

Honestly, I haven't played enough either way to have a strong preference, but I was strongly impressed by the author of the new rules. He argues the game doesn't provide the flavor of American Civil War maneuver and movement. The #1 change in this regard is reducing the fire range of infantry. Suddenly infantry *must* charge or you literally can't do anything.

The major downside of those rules changes is that the game takes longer. C&C works partially because the games are fast. If the games start stretching out too much you might as well play something with more teeth like CC:E

Still, I like the idea of having more Civil War feel.

At 11:50 PM, January 20, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Ben, I have to say that I have been curious about Tide of Iron ever since I saw it on FFG website. When I first got into gaming back in the 1970s, WWII games were pretty much all I did with the classic AH and SPI games. I guess that I got tired of them and tried to expand my gaming, so I have not done to much WWII in quite some time. As a result, I have yet to try Memoir '44 or any of the newer A&A games.

However, Tide does look interesting and I thought the promo vidio was well made. I'll be watching with great interest and if someone in the group wants to get a game running I would do my best to be there. Perhaps this will enjoy a success similar to Battle Lore and re-spark my interet in WWII games. Thanks for pointing out the vidio.

At 12:35 AM, January 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Sorry... the margarita was clouding my vision. I just feel like I have plenty of WWII games now. 2007 will be year of increasing my selectivity.

....Sure, I say that, and I just recently ordered Vegas Showdown, Nexus Ops and Rocketville for $28 with shipping on Tanga.

Seriously though, 6-12 months ago, I would have preordered WK 2nd ed already, and even this. Now I just don't have that drive to get everything. out there.

At 12:35 AM, January 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Sorry... the margarita was clouding my vision. I just feel like I have plenty of WWII games now. 2007 will be year of increasing my selectivity.

....Sure, I say that, and I just recently ordered Vegas Showdown, Nexus Ops and Rocketville for $28 with shipping on Tanga.

Seriously though, 6-12 months ago, I would have preordered WK 2nd ed already, and even this. Now I just don't have that drive to get everything. out there.

At 9:16 AM, January 21, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

A drunken double posting. Niiiice!

At 11:47 PM, January 21, 2007, Blogger Rob said... did that happen? how did that happen?

gripes aside, the video is freaking sweet.

At 10:26 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

The 48-page ToI rulebook has been posted. Thank goodness I have a long airplane ride on Monday....

At 11:33 PM, January 25, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Looks really good. I just took a very quick look at it. I wonder how much this will be like to old Panzer Blitz and Panzer Leader from Avalon Hill?


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