Tide of Iron: Next Wave is a game designed by John Goodenough, Christian T. Petersen and Corey Konieczka, published by 1A Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take control of either the American or German forces in Northern Europe during World War II. Each game is set up in a specific scenario that re-creates one of the many different conflicts that took place. There are many different scenarios included with the game. Each scenario has a different win condition. The player that can accomplish this task first will be declared the winner.
The best way to play the game and truly learn how to play it is to begin with the quick start scenarios in the first rule book. After playing the first scenario, you’re instructed to play it again but this time to incorporate new game elements. Following the suggested guide for scenarios, you will gradually learn more each time you play a new scenario. This way you’re not overwhelmed with too much information at one time. In this review, I will simply outline the basics of the game and how it’s played. Just be aware that there is a wealth of information inside the 3 books that come with the game.
To begin the starting scenario, you will need to lay out the appropriate boards and arrange them according to the scenario’s illustration as indicated by the rules. You will begin with only 3 boards in the first scenario but later games will use many more. Next, you will take the appropriate units and place them on the map as indicated. Later scenarios will allow you to customize your starting units. Finally you’ll need the round track, round marker, initiative token, dice, activation tokens and damage tokens. There’s actually a lot more pieces, boards and tokens included with the game that will be used in later scenarios. For now, this is all that will be used. Player’s choose which side that would like to play as and play now begins.
The game is played over a series of rounds. The number of rounds is different for each scenario. In this case, there are only 4 rounds with players being allowed 2 actions per turn. The German player will begin. Each round is divided into 3 phases; action phase, command phase and status phase. In the beginning scenario you will not use the command phase.
The first phase is the action phase. This is where the majority of the game play happens. Each player takes their allowed number of actions and then the opposing player takes their actions. The actions available are advance, concentrated fire, fire and movement, prepare op fire, activate strategy card, assault, fatigue unit and special action. Only the first 3 are used in the opening scenario. Advancing is basically your movement action. Doing this allows you to move a unit one hex at a time by spending the movement cost for the the terrain that they enter. Each unit has a different number of movement points that they can spend. Concentrated fire is where your units don’t move but instead use their full firepower against an enemy unit in range and that is in the unit’s line of sight. Range is measured by counting the number of hexes from the firing unit to the target. Line of Sight is determined by tracing an imaginary line from the center of the hex the attacker is in to the center of the target’s hex. As long is there is no blocking terrain between the two, the line of sight is established. Once used, the units are fatigued and a fatigue marker is placed next to them. They may not perform any more actions that round. Fire and movement allows the player to move and make an attack at half power. They can either fire and then move or move and then fire. The units movement points are reduced by 2 to accomplish this action.
Attacking is a major part of the action phase. To attack, the player rolls a number of dice equal to their firepower. Depending on the range, the attack hits on different results. A roll of 4, 5 or 6 at close range hits. This is when the target is in an adjacent hex. Normal range is whatever the listed range for the unit is. A roll of 5 or 6 hits in this range. Long range is when the target is within twice the listed range but farther than normal range. Only a roll of 6 hits in this case. After the attack roll, the defender then is allowed to roll. They will roll dice equal to their defending unit’s armor value. If the defender rolls a 5 or 6, they cancel one hit from the attacker. Different units have different amounts of hit points. Players will place damage tokens beside any unit that is hit with an attack.
The next phase is the command phase. This phase is where the real strategy of the scenario takes place. This phase has 4 steps that are taken in order; determine control over objectives, receive command and victory points, spend command and determine initiative. Since this phase isn’t part of the starting scenario, I won’t go into detail about it here. If you want to learn more about it, you can get that information from the link below or you can check the rulebook.
The final phase is the status phase. This phase is mainly clean up phase that readies the game for the next round of play. The steps of this phase are draw strategy cards, remove tokens, place units in op fire mode, squad transfers, scenario reinforcements and events and advance the round marker. In the starting scenario, only the remove tokens and advance round marker steps are used. Removing tokens is simply that. Each player takes the fatigue markers off of their units. The round marker is then advanced and the initiative token is passed to the other player. The game continues through each round until one player is able to complete the objective. If after the last round is completed and neither side has completed the objective, the game ends in a tie.
This game is huge. I mean it. It has a ton of stuff in a very heavy box. There are hundreds of plastic figures and models that you will be using in the different scenarios. These are very finely detailed and look absolutely gorgeous. There are thick and very strong map boards that are double-sided. There’s enough maps for all the scenarios included with the game as well as making up your own. There are lots of strategy cards for those later scenarios. They look great and have some really nice looking artwork on them. They’re really well made too and are easily shuffled. There are markers, tokens and all other various little cardboard bits for keeping track of everything from damage to round tracking. These are well done and thick cardboard. They have some neat iconography and artwork on them as well. There’s just so many different pieces that make this a massive box of stuff. I really like all the interchangeable soldier units. It’s really interesting to be able to swap up your different soldiers to make new fighting units. I’m just blown away by how amazingly cool everything looks.
10 out of 10
With a game of this size, you have to believe that there’s going to be a massive rulebook. Well the fact is that this game has 3 rulebooks. The first book is an introduction to the game and walks you through your first few scenarios and helps you understand the basics of the game. The second book is the meat and potatoes of the game. It’s got pretty much everything you need to know about everything. The third book is mainly a scenario book. It gives you lots of different scenarios to play after you finish with the first book. Everything is really well detailed and thorough. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the books. It’s gonna take some time to read, but you can read through the first book and get going into your first game within about 10 minutes. I like that there’s so much customization and variation to your game that you can pretty much keep learning new ways to play. Even with all those options, you can start off playing really quickly and have lots of fun even with just the first scenario. It’s really cool.
9 out of 10
This game, as I stated earlier, is huge! It feels like there’s no end to what you will learn and add to your game through the customization and scenarios. I’m not one that gets all misty eyed when I play a war game, but this game has so many different options and things that you can do that it leaves me in awe. I really like the gradual way that the game introduces new levels of gameplay to you by increasing what you will be playing with every time you play a new scenario. You start with the basics and keep adding new stuff. There’s so many things to learn and so many scenarios included with the game, that you’ll be playing this one for awhile. That’s fine with me. The learning curve is a little bit tough for the younger players but at least the first couple of scenarios aren’t too difficult for them to play through. It will take you some time to play though, especially those later scenarios.
9 out of 10
Tide of Iron: Next Wave is a medium to heavy weight war game of epic proportions. There are lots of components and each one looks amazing. It has a ton of stuff wrapped up in a nice neat package. The game takes awhile to play especially with the later scenarios. War game fans as well as anyone with a love of history, especially World War II will love this game. It is expandable and customizable. You can make up your own scenarios or you can download one of the many custom made ones online. The wealth of gameplay that you get from just this core set is unbelievable. As a bit of a history buff myself, WWII is my favorite war to research and read about. This game completely appealed to that part of me. There’s so much replayability with this game. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out 1A Games at their site.