Red Storm – Baltic Approaches

Planning a Mission

I am currently playtesting the Baltic Approaches expansion to the amazing Red Storm game, designed by Douglas Bush, and published by GMT Games. The game is truly a masterpiece, and one of the best parts is the planning that takes place before the players ever sit down across the table from each other.

As an exercise for myself and hopefully as enlightenment for the reader, I thought it would be fun to document the planning process.

Step one is picking a scenario and picking sides. I am playing NATO in scenario BA12: Nothing’s Going to Stop Us. The situation is that the Warsaw Pact is sending in four amphibious assault naval task forces toward the Danish coast. I have two naval strike raids tasked with turning them back.

The first problem that I have is that there are four amphibious assault naval task forces, but there are 10 total naval task forces on the map. I don’t know which four are my targets.

Part of my raid package is reconnaissance planes, so they will need to identify the correct targets before the bombers can come in and do their work. Additionally, the enemy fleet will have air cover and SAMs so I will want to attempt to deal with that ahead of time as well.

But first, I need to know which planes I actually have available to me. The scenario instructions tell me what my Order of Battle will be, by rolling on a specified OOB table a number of times. For this scenario, I get to roll twice on the D3 table (Naval Strike Raid). Each Naval Strike Raid will give me 4 Combat Air Patrols, 2 Naval Recon flights, and 4 Bombing flights. I am sending a lot of planes this time.

Now that I have rolled on the table (twice) and started my flight log with the planes that I am sending into battle, I have two major tasks remaining – determine the loadouts on my planes (particularly the bombers) and plot my flight paths. Not all missions need flight paths, but the bombers definitely do. Since I need to plot flight paths before I know the targets, I need to plan release points with some flexibility.

This leads to the question of loadouts. Red Storm has a ton of different types of bombs and missiles, and Baltic Approaches adds to the list. Since I am attacking Naval Task Forces, I am looking at Air to Surface Missiles. ASMs have attack ranges from 6-22 hexes, so as long as I have properly identified my targets, they should all be in range of my release points. Different aircraft can carry different weapons, so you need to check the Aircraft Data Chart to see what your planes are allowed to carry.

Now that I know what I am bringing to the party, it is time to check my intel reports – back to the scenario setup rules. I know that my opponent has significant air defense units, but since he has to roll just like I do, I don’t know exactly what I am looking at. Over the land it is a little more predictable. Looking over his naval SAMs, I think an attack range of 3-4 is to be expected. I have to keep that in mind. He will have an advantage if I am at low altitude, and I will have an advantage at high altitude. I think the ASMs have to be launched from the deck, but the recon guys should stay high.

That is the big picture. Now I need to plan routes. I’ll post those later.

Here I Stand

Here I Stand was the game that started stlwargamers and it is one of my all-time favorite games. It takes a while to play, especially when half of the players are learning the game, but I can only remember one player that I have ever seen play the game and not have fun.

We played HIS on Saturday 4/20/19 for the monthly game day, and we completed 4 turns in just about 6 hours. We were close enough to an actual victory that we all agreed to call it a night, and I don’t think anyone felt cheated out of any entertainment. The more we play, the more we learn about the game, and the more we enjoy it. I would like to give Virgin Queen (HIS’s sister) a chance some time, but it is hard to play anything else if HIS is an option.

I only get to play it a couple of times a year on the actual table, but I play it several times in Vassal as well. I can’t get enough.

The Hapsburgs on the verge of victory

Hitler’s Reich by GMT

On our last monthly gaming day, I had a chance to play Hitler’s Reich by GMT. It is the first of a new system of games called the Card Conquest System. It is a light wargame that covers the European Theater of WWII from 1941 to 1945.

I have played the game three times now (two and a half, really) and I wanted to give my thoughts.


  • The setup time is amazing. Starting from when you take the box off the shelf, you can be playing in less than 5 minutes. The map is basically pre-marked with the 1941 setup and you only need to prepare a few cards to get going.
  • The mounted board is well made and there are rule references in many places on the board itself. This also contributes to the ease of setup and play.
  • The basic combat mechanic is simple and consistent – 3d6 plus the value of the card that you play. There are modifications, but most combat is just that.
  • The game is fun and keeps its promise of being WWII in two hours.


  • The rule book is not good. Seriously. Even GMT has admitted this to be so. If you want to play, get the fan made rule book from BGG.
  • This is definitely not a simulation. Not necessarily a con, but you should know what you are getting into. This is a beer and pretzels game. In the three games I have played, North Africa has never come into play at all. There is very little reason to do so, despite it being on the map.
  • If you hate dice games, you will at times get frustrated by this one. There are plenty of ways to modify die rolls, but they can still betray you.

Overall, I like the game. The quick setup and low complexity will help it get to the table more. It is a solid 7/10.

In my last game, the Allies squeezed out a notional victory. We never took Berlin, but we crippled the Axis production power.

Twilight Imperium 4

I seem to have found a new obsession. So much so, that I have a new 2nd favorite game. I like Twilight Imperium 4 even more than I like Scythe. Advanced Squad Leader still holds the top position.


Twilight Imperium 4 is “An epic board game of conquest, politics, and trade.” That comes straight off the side of the box, and it sums it up pretty well. The game takes around 8 hours to play, and it is worth every minute. There are 17 factions in the box and I want to play them all. The goal of the game is simple: get 10 points. As soon as one player gets to 10, the game instantly ends. How you get to 10 is by scoring objectives, both public and private. Combat is a good part of the game, but if all you do is pick fights, you will never get to 10. Just like the box says, conquest, politics, and trade are all important. The galaxy looks huge when you start the game but before you know it all of the planets are accounted for, and that is where the fun really takes off.

I have a couple different groups that are playing the game now, which points to its appeal. Any time you can get 6 people together to play a game for 8 hours, you know it is a good one. We are playing this for our monthly game day on June 30. I will let you know how it went.

Chile 73

For our April gaming day, we wanted to try a new Brian Train game called Chile ’73, published by Tiny Battles Publishing. Chile ’73 is a 2-4 played game set in – you guessed it – Chile 1973 in the time leading up to the disposition of Allende. The players each play a faction that is vying for power once the revolution begins. You accumulate forces – military, paramilitary, and civilian – that you can use to seize power once someone starts the coup.

There are some things about this game that I really like. I like the secret acquisition of forces, and I like the secret allegiances that are written down before the game begins. I like the public declaration of allegiance once the coup begins. There is a lot to like about this game, but there are some problems, too.

There are a few physical problems with the game, such as areas of the map that are misleading or hard to understand. There are problems with the counters. There are a couple oddities with the rules.

The thing that bothered me the most was that I felt like the entire game came down to one die roll after the coup. Once the coup hits, you roll one die to determine who goes first, then proceed clockwise. Because I went 3rd after the coup, my forces were all but destroyed before I got to take a single turn. It felt as if the entire pre-coup phase (which was 80-90% of the game) was for nothing.

I want to play this game again, because I think that there is a good game in there, but overall, we were pretty disappointed.

Learning to Paint

My 8 year old and I have been teaching ourselves to paint the Star Wars Imperial Assault miniatures. I am looking forward to Star Wars Legion coming out next month, and I want to be able to put a properly painted army on the table. We are following Sorastros’s YouTube videos. He is a great teacher and the process is actually easier than I thought it would be, but it is still humbling. It is also very enjoyable. We have worked through the first four videos, and I think that we are starting to see some progress.




Some of my favorite games

Everyone has a different opinion on what makes a wargame. I am a fan of historical strategy games whether they involve actual violent conflict or not. I think that a game that is both fun to play and also gets you interested in the historical context is a good game.

Since the group has only played Here I Stand so far, and since I am the one putting up the website, I get to put up a list of my favorite games. It’s good to be the king!

Falling Sky

My all time favorite game. Fun solo and more fun with others. This is the game that, more than any other, I want to play more. All four factions play very differently and all four are fun to play. This is the game that caused me to fall in love with COIN.


Advanced Squad Leader

This game is just about perfect. I feel like I have been looking for this game my whole life. Saint Louis has a great ASL community and there are always games to be found on Vassal (VASL). I love the back and forth. I love the tactical movement. I love attacking and I love defending. If you ever want to learn to play ASL, let me know and I will have the starter kit ready to go. Someday I would love to play a campaign as well. If full ASL is too much to bite off, the starter kit is just as fun.


Sentinels of the Multiverse

Not a wargame, but insanely fun. I play on my iPad all the time. My friend Chad got me into this game. He is friends with the designer and owns everything ever made for Sentinels. I would even like to try the RPG sometime. One of these days I may even beat Citizen Dawn.

Colonial Twilight

The first 2 player COIN game, The bot is more complicated, but playing against only one makes solo play so much more satisfying. I love the tension in this game. Most of the time, both players feel like they are losing. I also like that it introduced me to a historical conflict that I knew nothing about.

Fire in the Lake

I love the team aspect of this game. Playing as 2 2-player teams (team North and team South) adds a fascinating dimension. There are not too many wargames out there that work well as teams, but this one nails it.


Why stop at 5? This game fascinates me, and it has the best solo experience of any game that I own. I love the minis and I love the gameplay. I have never played this with more than 3, so I would love to see this with 4+ and really fill up the map with workers and mechs.