Tag Archives: DVG

Warfighter Wave 2 – A Written Review



Warfighter wave two kicked off with the fantastic Foot Locker expansion that I’ve endorsed.  The rest of wave two is all about additional cards and expanding of gameplay.  More weapons, missions, and targets is always a great thing.  Let’s dive right in and take a look at what each of these three magazine-sized expansions brings to the table.

Expansion five kicks things off with a claymore sized bang.  It appears somewhat bland at first, offering additional copies of equipment we’ve already seen to help us fill out larger squads, but don’t overlook the dozens of new equipment options.  One of my favorite options is the new Ghillie Suit which lets you blend into the environment and remain hidden, avoiding hostile fire.  We also have new armor options with the IOTV vest and the Mich Helmet, bolstering protection and adding new tactical facets.

I’m also a huge fan of the first taste of the new SITREP cards.  These are effects you may select when building your team that alter the rules of the mission.  Double Time for instance allows you to move the objective one location closer but costs you a heavy seven resource points.  These SITREP cards are sprinkled throughout the other expansions and included in the Footlocker.  They’re a fantastic modification that doesn’t increase the overhead or difficulty a great deal but allows you to give a subtle nudge that does modify the feel enough to spice variety.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the new Mission and Objective set that comes in this small box.  The most notable is the “Intercept Drug Shipment” jungle Objective that lets you pretend like you’re hunting Pablo Escobar while blasting 80’s music in the background.  The Middle Eastern “Kill The VIP” Objective is also very interesting as it requires you kill a special target but you must do so from a range of two, requiring a sniper be brought along.  One simple rule and we have an entirely new narrative structure and finale baked into this evocative ruleset.

Expansion six is all about the United Kingdom.  We have 60 cards themed primarily around this new set of protagonists, which buff up our free world forces immensely.  As you’d expect there’s troops of all three types found in the system – Squad, NPC, and standard.  These new troop options form almost half of the included content.

One huge benefit of the U.K. not appearing until wave two is that these soldiers can take advantage of a more refined system.  The Warfighter core is an exceptional product but some growing needed to occur as the system matured.  One particular minor issue previously was that some of the more costly soldiers weren’t worth the cost to field.  Wave two and the Footlocker have made strides in improving this and you can see that awareness and more sophisticated touch applied to these overseas warriors.




Along with these British warfighters comes an all new selection of gear.  We have unit specific weaponry including the Enfield bullpup assault rifle, the L7A2 MG, and the mighty MBT LAW.  We’re also gifted utility gear that may be utilized by all of your existing troops as well.  This includes the hilarious Sunglasses that allow you to add one movement but can only be equipped if you have purchased three skill cards.

This expansion all gives some appreciated love to shotguns, featuring a side saddle free reload item, a shotgun forward grip, and the fantastic Shot and Awe skill that inflicts multiple kills on a target.  These will be finding their way into my American shotgun wielders immediately.

 The final element of note is the inclusion of additional mission variety through a new SITREP card, as well as both a Middle East and Jungle mission/objective set.  These fill out options and help to keep setups from becoming stale.  The best of the bunch here is the EVAC Truck objective which is an escape mission where the mission card continually moves closer.  This represents the soldiers making their way out of hell in a vehicle as enemies pursue.  A simple twist and my narrative lightbulb is on fire.

Expansion number seven is all about introducing Russian protagonists.  This functions very similarly to the U.K. expansion in that we’re given a bevy of troops along with supporting gear.  I have to admit that it is very entertaining utilizing a team of specialists wielding AK-47’s and an RPK.  Even the venerable RPG makes an appearance, letting you dish some pain back on the enemy.

I also really dig the Objective, Mission, and new Location cards in this little pack.  The two new locations feature a Jungle and Middle Eastern weapon cache, allowing you to supply mid-mission.  Coming across an insurgent cache of arms and stocking up on grenades and new toys in the middle of a brawl is just plain fun.  Perhaps my favorite Objective is also found in this set as you have to reinforce an outpost that’s under attack.  This requires you head to the objective and then keep it clear for three turns, which can be daunting if you get into a hairy situation.

From my perspective, the best aspect of this expansion is the ability to re-enact the Soviet-Afghani conflict from the 80’s.  Historical perspective offers more impactful gameplay and context that can help color play, for better or for worse.  I find this particularly fascinating and have played whole missions selecting appropriate gear for that time period.

The final extension is the most interesting as it adds an entirely new front of enemies to the game.  The Eastern European adds a robust set of Missions, Objectives, Enemies, and Events.  Like the other Wave two additions, nothing here is done half-way and it feels like a full offering that really alters the feel and atmosphere.

Besides allowing you to partake in some interesting what if scenarios, we’re given some really difficult challenges to overcome.  You can go toe-to-toe with a BMP, HIND, or even a T-72.  Yes, when you run into a T-72 with a defeat cover roll of 11(!) you’ll be crying and hitting the dirt.  We’re also nailed with Security Detachments, RPG teams, Infiltrators, and Patrols.  The soldiers tend to be better equipped and more deadly than their Middle Eastern counterparts.




The locations are the best part of this diverse expansion as we see many new and interesting effects.  We have a Roadblock that adds its location number (position) to its hostile value, Crowded Streets that restrict explosive and automatic fire, and Busy Highways that have large reinforcement values.  It all ties into that dense narrative the game supplies and really paints an altogether distinct vision than those jungle missions taking down Narcos.

Wave two of Warfighter is successful because of the attention to detail.  Everything is intelligently tied to the strong base mechanisms and nothing is forced or jammed into the design.  If someone wanted a limited recommendation or prioritization of Wave two, I’d definitely suggest the Eastern European Adversaries first.  They add a third vector to your mission environments and will take your stories to new places.  The U.K. and Russian forces are great inclusions but likely more of a personal preference if you desire variety or have an affinity for these countries or their equipment.  Regardless of your choice, you can’t really go wrong as DVG again have hit the ground running and produced a solid line of products.

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Warfighter Expansion #9: The Footlocker



If Warfighter the card game is a huge monumental force of a design, then the Footlocker is the physical manifestation of that empowerment. This is an enormously tall and deep package that cuts out enough open space for about six more waves – eight waves into Warfighter the game will be all about endurance as we struggle to outfit our soldiers with the hundreds of equipment and skill options.  And by god, this box will hold it all.

Seriously though, this entire package is impressive. The box itself is linen finish with excellent artwork and reminds me of the sturdiness and feel of a Fantasy Flight Box.  While DVG games tend to contain solid boxes that no one would complain about, this is certainly the Rolls Royce of their lineup.  I’m impressed by the thought in organization found inside as the three rows for cards are of appropriate width to even hold sleeved little suckers.  It also has the best dividers I’ve ever seen as these large plastic beauties feature graphics from the game and easily standout to help you setup as quickly as possible.

For early adopters there are a number of inclusions here that will bring your game into alignment with current developments. Many weapon cards have been updated with keywords such as “Rifle” and “SMG” which were not present in the first printing, and you’re given a slew of updated versions here.  Additionally locations now feature an enormous extra-large size of loadout allotment for really big games, so all of the updated location cards are included.  The first edition rulebook which unfairly drew a lot of flak has been given an overhaul and tossed into the footlocker as well.

Every board game enthusiast has been hit with the early adopter plague and found their copy of a game quickly relegated to inferior status and it was extremely nice to see DVG take care in supporting their customers here.

There are two huge reasons to pick up this expansion beyond the updated material and visually impactful box. The first is the stunning new mounted board that acts as a replacement for the paper mat found in the base game.  The base game version is not a horrible inclusion but there are a couple of deficiencies that don’t aid in the flow of play.  The orientation of location cards sideways along with inefficient use of space made many gamers toss it out or keep it in the box.




This new mounted board is just what the doctor ordered as it’s both gorgeous and highly functional. The use of space is quite economical and everything seems to fit with a great deal of room afforded to the large number of militants that will be swarming your brothers in arms.  I can’t imagine anyone choosing to play without it as the feature is just too damn good to pass up.

The second selling point is the most fantastic inclusion in this release and it’s one I haven’t seen discussed much. In addition to the re-printed rulebook there’s this sleek little unassuming manual called the Scenario book.  You’ll quickly set this to aside when pawing through the cards and running your fingers across the linen box, but that solid pamphlet is what you will come back to again and again.

This manual features a large number of both standalone and campaign missions. Yes “Operations” feature narratively linked missions that form a greater whole.  Beyond this genius is the sheer fact that with just a few short paragraphs a mission can seriously alter the feel of core setup.  These missions require no new components and make use of existing structure, merely adding a special rule or two to add nuance and vary gameplay.

One of my first post-Footlocker outings was taking on the drug cartel in South American jungle. This mission featured me running a special op with a Stinger surface-to-air missile and taking down a drug runner plane after it had already taken off.  By simply extending the length afforded by the end objective and tweaking some of the vehicle’s stats it had a different atmosphere and impact from your typical play.  When I escaped a group of ambushers and narrowly nailed the airborne target as it was cutting through the air, I couldn’t help but smile and release my firm grip on the edge of my seat.

Among these new missions you will also run into the new rules for fighting at night. Along with a selection of new equipment, you’re thrown against hostile forces that you can’t clearly target.  There’s this ingenious mechanism where enemies remain face down and have strong stats until you can properly identify them, in which case they are flipped over to reveal the actual threat.  This adds drama and intrigue in an organic and thematic way that the mechanics fully support.  I can’t stress how excellent this little addition is to the Warfighter experience.

With a large storage expansion such as this it’s usually a mixed bag. Most of the time it’s an easy pass as you’d rather throw money into actual gameplay content and meaningful additions.  The Footlocker manages to both be an excellent practical solution as well as packing in a great deal of unique gameplay.  As a whole this is a fantastic extension of an already exceptional product line that first blew me away in 2014.  Warfighter remains one of my favorite narrative card-driven experiences and it won’t be leaving my collection anytime soon.  Although I may need to upgrade to a sturdier shelf to house this gorgeous beast.


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Warfighter – Expansions 1-3




Designer:            Dan Verssen

Publisher:           DVG Games (2014)


Warfighter is an exceptional game packed full of interesting content that will keep you busy for a long while.  The base game will dig its hooks in deep and keep you coming back for more and the delicious taste of the expansion content will validate your decision as you will soon wonder how you could ever patrol the Insurgent packed streets without your Barrett .50-Cal or Auto shotgun.  We’re a society of consumption and these three small expansion packs are the cure for what’s ailing you.




One of the best decisions DVG has ever made was packaging these in tuckboxes to look like ammo magazines.  They are a perfect match for size and feel solid in your hands.  Caught up in the excitement I repeatedly tried to slam them into the receiver of my buddy’s AR-15 to no avail.  The worst part was opening them and having to toss the boxes as I wish there could have been a practical way to use them for storage.

Reloading is the moniker given to the first expansion and is apt.  It focuses on a general sense of more is better, offering variety and additional options to nearly every aspect of the game.  It has a high toy factor as it includes some iconic weapons of modern warfare which you will not want to be without.  The SAW light machinegun makes a key appearance and is a powerful weapon capable of laying down large swathes of automatic fire and even lacks a semi mode.  The AA-12 Shotgun allows you to deal out 12 gauge in rapid fashion, rolling 3 dice if you desire.  The classic LAW and M2 explosive munition also both are heavily appreciated in structure or vehicle missions where explosives are required.




Another interesting aspect of Reloading is first inclusion of new Soldiers that begin the game with XP.  This is a solid option that can help you get off the ground running and trigger some powerful effects in the early game, sort of greasing the wheels for continued success.  They do come at a cost though as their points value is relatively steep.  The feel of the game is slightly altered with the inclusion of these veterans and it’s definitely worth giving them a shot.

Expansion number two is all about Stealth.  Stealth was one of the interesting elements of the base game that didn’t get a whole lot of love in the core cards.  Stealth is slightly underrated in this game as it provides one of the best benefits you can acquire – allowing you to automatically defeat Cover on your first attack.  Warfighter provides many ways to overcome difficult attack numbers but the Cover roll is reliant on a single D6 and can hose up your entire attack no matter how many bullets you’re spraying.




Now Stealth is a viable overall strategy and something you can actually plan around instead of just sprinkling in.  There are new weapons, equipment, and most importantly skills which combo with the Stealth ability and bring out new and interesting tactics.  The new action card Flanking Attack is one of my favorites allowing a soldier to move and fire for free.  Camouflage is also great as it lets you attack a screened target, bypassing the grunts in front of it.  You’ll also want to tinker with whole squads possessing the new Ghost skill that allows you to discard hostiles placed into your area for a cost.  You will really feel like you are executing an in-and-out mission focused on keeping the element of surprise and the associated upper-hand.

The final expansion is just as sweet as the rest and bulks out the Support element of the game.  More utility and versatility arises as you’re able to bring along the expensive but wicked MQ-9 Reaper drone which delivers wholesale destruction.  We also see stuff like the fantastic Speedball action card that resupplies you mid-mission, allowing you to fill out additional gear choices and mix-up your strategy.  I’m also a huge fan of Overwatch which lets you fire off a shot prior to the hostiles activating.




I wouldn’t quite say these expansions are mandatory to the Warfighter experience but I would go as far as to say you are missing out if you don’t pick them up.  Opening each pack brings back nostalgic warmth from opening CCG boosters as an adolescent and finding a new set of cardboard toys inside.  The fact that each expansion comes with additional soldier miniatures and bullet dice is just icing on the cake to add to the potency of the magic found within.  If you are breathing and have a soul you like Warfighter and if you like Warfighter then you need to stop hesitating and pick up the expansions immediately.

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Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game




Designer:            Dan Verssen

Publisher:           Dan Verssen Games (2014)


“The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” -Chris Hedges


I can’t tell you about war, but I can tell you that Warfighter is absolutely one of the most addictive substances you will find in the market.  This unassuming Kickstarter wargame from Dan Verssen Games exploded onto the scene last month and has quickly become one of their best-selling titles.  This is a marquee release that in time will come to be known as the best thing the company has ever published.  Hornet Leader and Thunderbolt Apache Leader are great games, but they’re no Warfighter.

In Warfighter you take control of a contemporary fireteam of roughly 1-5 Special Forces operatives, outfit them with many gear options, and then tackle one of several missions as you maneuver your highly skilled force through the suffocating jungle or claustrophobic Middle Eastern streets.  This is a card game that features hand management and dice rolling with linear progression through locations as you approach your objective and eliminate hostiles along the way.  It’s visceral and tense in a way that evokes its subject matter masterfully.

The mechanisms used come across as an amalgam of influences including elements borrowed from Up Front, Space Hulk: Death Angel, and the previously released titles in DVG’s Leader series.  You start off by selecting your Mission/Objective cards which give you a set number of Operation points to spend.  You use these points to purchase Soldiers, equipment, and skills.  This is very similar to Hornet Leader/Thunderbolt Apache Leader mechanically but there’s some clever differences here in tone and color that are substantial.  Instead of outfitting face-less Aircraft, you’re fielding soldiers with personality and real-world names.  You’re not selecting a generic Mk.II bomb or a Sidewinder Missile but an M4 with underslung M203 grenade launcher, or a Benelli shotgun, even smoke grenades, optics and many other options.  This weaponry and equipment is more strongly engrained in the contemporary zeitgeist of film and video games and hits closer to home in terms of realization.  It’s more satisfying and feels almost like a Roleplaying game as you outfit your warriors and even assign skills to boost their performance.  This provides for a more satisfying and colorful interaction than that of its predecessors.



Hart has been outfitted with a weapon, some equipment, and a powerful skill. Ready for duty.


Each Soldier is accompanied with a hand of Action cards which provide a myriad of options.  Your hand size is limited to the health of the soldier and there’s a nice tension in evaluating the right moment to best utilize your options.  Playing Action Cards is typically free, as your troops will spend their limited actions moving to new Locations, firing their weapons, or reloading a dry mag.  New Location cards arise in the Action deck and you must play them from your hand in order to build a linear path for your fireteam to move towards the objective that is a set distance from your starting point.  This is similar to the card based location system of Space Hulk: Death Angel but it feels more alive and fluid as the locations form a visual path on the table in front of you like a series of scenes from an exceptional war film.  You’re also able to move back and forth or fire between locations unlike Death Angel.  This provides for a less claustrophobic feel and a greater sense of strategy and evaluation.

This was designed as a Cooperative game and works exceptionally well in that regard.  One element of possible worry was that the Coop play was tacked on to a solo game at heart, and that’s just not the case.  Each player will have a separate and distinct soldier, their own hand of cards, and will need to keep open lines of communication between him and his teammates if they want to survive.  A vast majority of the Action cards can be played on other players so there’s a give and take and constant pressure to maximize your resources.  Soldiers also accumulate experience from taking out hostiles and they may spend this XP to boost the effects on many cards.  The catch is that anyone can cough up the experience, not just the player actually throwing down the card.  This is another nod to cooperation and brings about that sense of relying on others to help get the job done.

Despite the fact that this is a proper Coop, Warfighter plays astoundingly well solo.  This is accomplished through a clever use of Non-Player Soldiers and Squad soldiers.  It can be difficult managing multiple regular Soldiers solo as each has their own hand of cards and you can get overwhelmed quickly if playing with a larger fireteam.  To alleviate this you can spend Operation points on NPS or Squaddies when building your team.  Non-Player Soldiers function similar to your regular soldiers but come with pre-assigned equipment and don’t possess a hand of Action cards.  Squad soldiers are similar but their gear and equipment are abstracted away and they simply possess a set attack value based on their health.  Both of these options sound perhaps kind of kludgy but they blend seamlessly into the design and offer more freedom and choice to draw the perfect Warfighter experience for your needs.



The Action cards drive much of the excitement and contribute to the scope of tactical decision points.


The most surprising and unexpectedly satisfying aspect of this design is the unbelievably rich narrative.  As you play through a mission and build the path to your location a hearty and enthralling story will arise organically from the experience.  Your soldiers will trudge through a muddy river where you’re ambushed by Drug Runners, Giacomelli will suffer a nasty wound and your squad will have to high tail it into the village where they’re vulnerable to ambush and are set upon by an RPG team.  As they line up their rocket you’ll hit ’em with suppressive fire while Rowe sneaks up to their position and tosses a frag grenade taking them out.  In just a few minutes with a handful of cards you’re experiencing a very memorable and bright narrative that easily alights your imagination and brings a hearty smile to your face.

Building narrative in a natural and unobtrusive way is quite difficult.  There’s a delicate balance between abstraction and detail and many games with strong story prose suffer from being bogged down in overwrought mechanics.  Warfighter gets the mix just right as necessary components such as reloading, taking cover, and opening up with full automatic fire are given just enough detail to ignite your imagination but never obtrude on the overall structure or flow.  It’s rare that a game nails it quite as sharply as Warfighter has and it’s the single most brilliant aspect of the game.



Jungle hostiles inbound!


One enormous aspect this game has going in its favor is the setting.  There’s such a wealth of film covering similar topics that most of us will still have scenes from Blackhawk Down, Hurt Locker, or Generation Kill imprinted in our brain just waiting to be teased out.  Warfighter can’t help but lean on these influences hard and to great effect.  In addition to the distinct location and hostile choices, we’re given a gentle narrative prod with the clever choice of events that crop up in the hostile deck.  While the bulk of obstacles are enemies with AKs and SMGs, you will run into stuff like your team getting lost or getting mired in rough terrain.  It’s a small touch, one that many people may overlook but these events are paramount to supporting and fleshing out the story you’re building at the table.  All of these elements in unison combine to make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts akin to Lion Force Voltron assembling to form their namesake.

This is a game that has snuck its way into 2014 and in a just world would stealth its way onto a bevy of top 10 of the year lists.  If you value narrative, tense action, and quick yet satisfying tactical decision points you need this game.  Warfighter is cardboard heroin of the most potent variety and you will be hanging your head in shame if you box out the peer pressure on this one.

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Phantom Leader Deluxe Review

Phantom Leader Deluxe

Phantom Leader – Solitaire

What’s New in the Deluxe Edition?
We have expanded and updated the original Phantom Leader game to the high standard set by our Hornet Leader game.

Increase the cards from 165 to 330
– All pilots get all 6 experience levels
– Add new aircraft: Air Force F-5, Air Force A-7, Navy A-5
– Add more pilots for all aircraft types
– Add more Target cards
– Add more Special Event cards
– Revise the 6 original Campaigns to include the new Targets and Aircraft

Add Air Force and Navy Campaigns for the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Upgrade to a mounted 11″x17″ Tactical Display

Phantom Leader places you in command of a US Air Force or US Navy Tactical Fighter squadron in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972. You must not only destroy the targets but you must also balance the delicate political repercussions of your attacks. If you strike too hard, your air offensive might be put on hold, strike to light, and you’ll be blamed for losing the war.

Welcome to the Vietnam Air War!

Each of the campaigns can be played with either an Air Force or Navy squadron. The targets assigned to each service are different and change the complexion of the campaigns. Each campaign can be played with three different durations of: Skirmish, Conflict, or War.

Each mission takes roughly 30 minutes to set-up, plan, and resolve.

Each of your pilots has their own skills. Selecting the right pilots and weapons for a mission is vital to its success. As you fly missions, your pilots will gain experience and fatigue. With experience, their skills improve, but as their fatigue increases, their skills decrease and they might not be able to fly for several missions.

For those of you familiar with our modern era Hornet Leader series of games, you might be wondering what’s different about Phantom Leader…

The freedom of being able to select the best mission based on military objectives is something that is commonplace for today’s military. Back in Vietnam, the military was responsible for carrying out their orders, while at the same time being extremely limited in the weapons and tactics they were allowed to use to complete those orders. In many cases, the specific weapons, approach paths, and bombing altitudes were generated target-by-target at the White House. The mission specifics were then sent down the chain of command to the individual pilots flying the mission. As you can imagine, this was not the best way to run an air campaign.

Every target has a Political value. If you destroy it, you move the Political counter to the right a number of spaces equal to its value. As the counter gets moved to the right, your future target choices are reduced to those that are less politically sensitive. Which target you choose not to attack is also important. You get to move the Political counter to the left a number of spaces equal its Political value.

This means that while you might like to flatten a big enemy target and rack up the victory points, it might be better for you to choose a pointless target and move the Political counter in your favor instead.

Another difference is in combat power. For the last couple decades, the US Air Force and Navy have enjoyed air superiority due to training and technology. Such was not the case in the skies over Vietnam. The enemy had different, but just as capable, equipment. They also had the training and will to use it to its utmost.

They soon became aware of the limitations placed on the US forces by the politicians, and used those limitations to their advantage.

For example, at times, US pilots were not permitted to fire on enemy aircraft until they were visually identified. This negated any range advantage conveyed by the radar-homing AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. It was also a common limitation that enemy aircraft could only be attacked in the air. US pilots were not allowed to attack enemy airbases. US aircraft were also limited to flying predictable flight paths, at set times. This made setting up ambushes much easier for the enemy.

So, while you might be a Hornet Leader ace, Vietnam is a whole different ballgame!

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