Last night was game night, and we played two fairly abstracted wargames. So here's my review:
Lego: Battle of Hoth
Like all Lego boardgames, this is short and sweet with a very elegant set of rules. There are four different troop types, each of whom can attack in a different direction for different ranges. In practice, you can't go far wrong if you regard it as chess on a strange shaped board. It's a lovely little starter game, taking about 10 minutes to play with fabulous little pieces. It also affords the possibility of a guy on a tauntaun taking on an AT-AT and I don't care where you're from, that's entertainment.
All of the bits are of a high quality as you'd expect from Lego and there are enough rules variations to ensure that the game has replayability. As long as you don't expect much tactical depth and you're happy with a large amount of random chance you'll enjoy it.
Firstly, as a boardgamer, you have to respect a game that puts this many toys on the table. Like Merchants and Marauders and other 'ameritrash' games (a term which isn't perjorative to me, I love big sprawling monsters as much as I love delicate, elegant eurogames) your table is soon full of cards, infantry, armour and terrain. It's like having a proper wargame but all in one box.
The basic game refights the Operation Overlord campaign from the parachute drops on the 5th June through to the liberation of Paris. The key engagements are represented by scenarios. These scenarios are historically accurate within a given level of abstraction and are often asymmetrical to the point of being one-sided which leads to one of the game's master strokes; you play each scenario twice, with players swapping sides each time. This keeps the 'game' side of things fair and also immediately doubles the playing life of the game.
Myself and m'learned colleague, by the way, are three sessions into the game campaign so we've experienced most of the rules.
The basic game system is, I believe, adapted from command and colours. You have a certain number of cards which allow you to give orders to certain units. I'm a big fan of friction in game systems; real life us never mechanistic, so rules systems that allow for difficulties in getting units to do what you want are fine by me. Combat is by dice, so we have two elements of random chance - the cards you've drawn and your rolls on the dice.
This game is honestly excellent. Anyone interested in WW2 or wargaming should own a copy. My only big caveat is this: it is entirely possible to have an appalling run of luck due to the two chance systems running together. I had that experience when playing as the Allies trying to take Pegasus bridge. I didn't have the cards I needed and when I did get a decent card, the dice were against me. Needless to say, D Day needed to be called off.