Sunday, 12 June 2011

Tide of Iron review

After weeks of planning, phonecalls and emails it finally happened; I got three friends together for a full day and we sat down to play a game.  The three friends were Paul, Neil and Andy… and the game was Tide of Iron.

Tide of Iron is a World War 2 boardgame, focussing on tactical level combat in pre-set scenarios. It is designed for two players, but rules are included for four-player games (two per side). The game is complete in the box, with hundreds of plastic miniatures and cards, 12 double sided map tiles, loads of counters, a rulebook (also downloadable from the Fantasy Flight website) and a scenario book with a variety of missions. 



The game features a variety of units; standard infantry, elite troops, officers, mortars, machine guns, trucks, transports and tanks; each with their own specific rules, and very nice models. The scenario determines what troops you receive (which you then form into squads of your own choosing), the map tiles and card decks used and the victory conditions.On your turn you have a range of options for each of your troops: Move, Fire, Concentrated Fire, Opportunity Fire, Assault or Special Action (activating one of your Strategy Cards), alternating actions until every unit has moved.   It is the card decks which provide the best variety in the game, the scenario determines which deck each player gets (Reinforcements, Air Support, Morale, etc) and these give specific bonuses during the game. Cards are activated by using Command tokens, earned by occupying specific tactical locations on the board. For example, in the scenario that we played, there was a hill with a sandbagged emplacement at the top; the side that held it earned two command points every turn, which allowed us to purchase from our respective command decks, to represent the tactical advantage of holding such a position.

Combat is via opposed dice rolls (attack vs defence) and is generally bloody. The only exception is mortars which can choose to give suppressing fire which doesn’t destroy your opponents troops, but pins or disrupts them for a turn or two.

(Even if you don’t fancy the game, check out the video below, it features some remarkable head/facial hair combos...)


Paul, Neil and Andy are friends of mine who I’ve been introducing to modern boardgames over the past few years, so have played games of varying complexity. Tide of Iron is by no means the most complicated game out there, but it does require a bit of thought and there was frequent checking of the rulebook to make sure we played certain situations right, but overall the guys picked up the rules pretty quick. I went over the main points as we set up and then we talked through the riles on the first turn before the game got into full swing.

In our game Neil and I took the side of the Germans and Paul and Andy assumed the role of the Americans. The Germans were in a strong defensive position and it was up to the yanks to prise us out. Neil and I made great use of our cards (from the ‘Morale’ and ‘Reinforcements’ decks - mainly the latter!) and managed to hold the Americans at bay until the end of the game. There were a few hairy moments, and we only just got away with it at the end, so a good time was had by all. Our game took about six hours to play, but that was at a relaxed pace with plenty of chatting and discussion. The next time that we play, I can’t see it lasting more than four hours, even allowing time for name calling and trading of insults in a variety of comedy accents.

The rules provide a great balance of depth and ease of play that will suit most gamers, and provide a rich, deep gaming experience that all can enjoy.

As always I must ask one single question: Is it Frugal? Well, it’s £55 (or crazy foreign equivalent), it’s fantastic quality, it’s great fun and it’ll provide you hours and hours of gaming. I can’t think of many other gaming products that will give you a complete system with such potential for the same price. Go and buy it now!

P.S. You may know that when I review a product I give away my review copy if I received one. As this is my own personal (paid for) copy of Tide of Iron I’ve sent Fantasy Flight Games an email asking for a copy to give away to one lucky reader.  I’ve not had an answer yet...

4 comments:

Monty said...

I have been interested in this game for a long time and have actually picked it up in numerous shops intending to purchase it. But alas, I have held back in the knowledge I have no one to share my enthusiasm and so, no opponents - bah! No good relying on my kids or missus - boo hoo! And so, I have withdrawn to Company of Heroes and Combat Mission on the PC...

Frugal Dave said...

I feel your pain... The one thing that stops me buying a lot of games (apart from cost, time and storage space) is 'Who can I get to play this with me?'

I'm trying to train up the kids, with marginal success ;)

Jonathan said...

Looks interesting, but bloody hell, someone tell the yanks that it wasn't just them vs the Germans... there were other countries fighting ;)

Jonathan said...

Ooops, should have finished watching the video before commenting... but I'm sure the British also fought in Europe (as did New Zealand!) not just North Africa...