Publisher: 1A Games
Game Designer: John Goodenough, Corey Konieczka, Christian T. Petersen
Artwork: Michael Komarck, Kurt Miller, Scott Nicely, Brian Schomburg
Ages: 12 & up
Playing Time: 120 minutes
Game Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Hex-and-Counter, Modular Board, Partnerships, Time Track
Contents: 216 plastic figures, 40 squad bases, 12 double-sided map boards, 24 map overlay pieces, 20 dice, 110 cards, 377 assorted tokens, 2 player reference sheets, Rule book, Tools of War book, Quick-Start scenario pamphlet
Suggested Retail Price: $89.99
Parental Advisory: Safe for children over 12
Awards: 2007 Golden Geek Best 2-Player Board Game Nominee, 2007 Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork/Presentation Nominee, 2007 Golden Geek Best Wargame Nominee, 2008 Golden Geek Best 2-Player Board Game Nominee, 2008 Golden Geek Best Wargame Nominee
If you’re a fan of small unit tactical WWII combat then you are likely familiar with a game that has been well known for years in the genre, Tide of Iron. If you’re not familiar with it or regret never picking up the now out of print game, you’re in luck because 1A Games has picked up the license and intends to not only continue the series but to grow it even further.
The game was originally released in 2006 followed by three expansions all published by Fantasy Flight Games over the years, but other commitments began to overshadow the game and support for it dwindled. The game suffered from lesser attention than FFG would like to give it, attention that it deserved.
In 2013 1A Games stepped in, signing a long-term licensing deal to continue supporting and growing the Tide of Iron series. They got to work immediately, releasing the games fourth expansion Stalingrad and then launched a Kickstarter project late that year to fund the reissue of the updated core game which they dubbed Tide of Iron: Next Wave. Further expansions and reprints are planned with the first being the highly popular and also out of print, Days of the Fox and in the future, the Pacific theater.
Summary of Content
1A Games took over the series to not only reprint the game but to enhance it and make it even better. This new, updated version is much more accessible for new players thanks to the polished and improved rule book layout and tutorial system that will have new players up and running in no time and reinvigorate veteran players to revisit this title, enjoying the updates and additions with a renewed excitement for this classic wargame.
The first change is the noticeably smaller box, it makes for a snug fit but everything does have its place in the sturdy 12” x 12” x 4” box, the same dimensions as the expansions, allowing for much easier and attractive storage on your shelf. It weighs in at a hefty nine pounds but nothing here is ballast, it’s all solid gameplay material.
While staying compatible to the original release, there are some changes but each is for the better. Last summer Bill Jaffe from 1A Games wrote an excellent article discussing each of the changes and the reasons behind them, so I’ll just give you a quick summation here. I recommend reading the original article on the 1A site for further details.
There are 216 plastic miniatures in the game but after close study by Bill it was noted that only 60-75% of the miniatures were ever used in most of the official scenarios. This allowed for some tweaking to add more value to the game and the changes are definitely for the better.
The US now has 2 less each of mortar and MG crews, M4A1 Sherman tanks, half-tracks and GMC trucks. Next Wave offers 4 additional regular infantry, 2 elite infantry and brand new to the core game, 4 M-10 tank destroyers! There are also 20 bases in light green and dark green as opposed to 24 from the original core set. This gives you two platoons of M4A1 tanks and two batteries of tank destroyers, a very flexible armor force.
Looking at the German forces, we see similar changes. The Germans still have 24 bases in light and dark grey but there are now 6 fewer regular infantry which is offset by 6 added elite infantry. The other retractions were 2 less mortar crews, Tiger 1 Tanks and Opel Blitz trucks but the German player will now have more Panzer IV’s and 4 new StuG III assault guns! The StuG’s are added as a counter to the American M-10’s, balancing both armies nicely.
The twelve double-sided geomorphic map boards are beautifully illustrated, thick and heavy with corresponding map overlays for further map customization. All of the original tokens are included with some extras added in from other expansions. I highly recommend a plano box for easy storage and retrieval of the tokens during play, this will pay dividends in time saving when you bring this game to the table.
The cards are good quality, thick enough to withstand many plays and not be worn down. The Kickstarter introduced a couple of interesting new ones to the mix, the “Patched Up” and the “Supply Depot” cards. Patched Up allows you to bring back wounded soldiers to the front and Supply Depot gives you two extra command points. Both are optional to use and have different art and are slightly larger than the standard decks to more easily differentiate them.
Analysis and Evaluation
You can see why this game has earned the nickname, Tide of Plastic. There are a LOT of pieces in this game and each is top quality but all this chrome doesn’t matter if the game isn’t easy to learn or fun to play now does it?
If you already know TOI you can jump in and play immediately, aside from the new models added this is still the same game you know and love with some rule clarifications and updates along with one major change. The biggest change overall is in the presentation, 1A Games has done an outstanding job of reorganizing the old rulebook into two separate books, the Rules of Play and the Tools of War.
The Rules of Play explains the rules in detail, applying all of the existing FAQ’s and errata to offer the most concise compilation of the rules ever. No more hunting through extra documentation to find the latest rules, they’re now all in one spot. The one major rule change is removing the ability for a unit to gain concealment when on an objective; this was a potential game breaking rule that has now been fixed. The op fire and assault rules have also been reworked for clarity, making both now much easier to understand.
The Tools of War manual explains all of the chrome. The tokens, cards, terrain, off board artillery and units are explained along with examples of how they are used. The nine scenarios provided with the game are also in here, giving you 50% more scenarios than were in the original game along with a re-balanced Crossroads scenario.
Assisting newcomers are the five excellent tutorials included in Tide of Iron: Next Wave. These tutorials use simple scenarios to walk you through the base rules with each building on the other, presenting the concepts of the game in an easily digestible manner. This is a wonderful tool that will make the game far less intimidating to new gamers who may otherwise write the game off as being too complex. Once you’ve played through the five scenarios, you will see that the game is not complex and you will be ready to take on any of the scenarios with confidence.
The beauty of Tide of Iron: Next Wave has always been its customization and sandbox capabilities. You can build your squads however you want to, from the organization list provided in each scenario. You’re not hamstrung with pre-built units but can construct them to fit whatever strategy you want to employ. The sandbox aspect comes from having all of these awesome units, maps and tokens at your disposal, allowing your imagination or historical research to come up with any number of scenarios to play with your friends.
The nine included scenarios offer an interesting variety of situations to play through and the 150+ scenarios created through the years provide a ton of gameplay to be had with Tide of Iron: Next Wave.
One of the biggest sticking points (pun intended) for owners of the original game were the problems with pinning individual units to the bases and 1A Games has addressed this. Models now snap in and out of the bases with ease in Next Wave; eliminating what was before a big time sink, speeding setup, take-down and gameplay adjustments on the fly, another welcome improvement in this release.
Game play has already been covered in great detail through other reviews in years past so I didn’t want to rehash the same minutiae but will discuss it briefly. Suffice it to say that I find the gameplay to be a lot of fun, so much so that I went and bought every one of the expansions.
It’s a middle weight wargame that puts you right in the middle of the action with enough depth and strategic decisions to keep you thinking but never feeling overwhelmed. This game has already been providing entertainment for nearly a decade so that should tell you something and Tide of Iron: Next Wave will continue to provide this for newcomers and veterans alike, far into the future.
I really enjoy the flow of the game and how there is not a lot of downtime between your moves and your opponents in the action phase, the heart of the three game phases. In the action phase you each get a certain amount of action turns, so they activate a few units and then you do the same and repeat until the phase is complete. You do not have to wait for your opponent to complete their entire turn as you may be familiar with in the IGOUGO system.
The many specialized units give unique abilities to keep things very interesting and challenging. Units like flamethrowers and medics for example who give bonuses to attack or defense, making assaults a terrifying experience. Fighting is dynamic as you can fire and move, use concentrated fire and interrupt enemy units during their move by using opportunity fire.
You’ll become quite familiar with the four F’s of combat; find, fix, flank and finish. Each unit can fire for damage to take out opposing units or ‘fix’ them by pinning, as the game mechanic works. Once pinned, you can move units in to finish them with assaults or direct concentrated fire.
You’ll learn why the allies feared the deadly Tiger tank, when you see one on the board it will give you chills because it’s a tough beast to slay. All of this adds a lot of flavor to a game which is already heavily thematic and intense.
Some grognard’s may bemoan the lack of expanded, hardcore rules covering every individual situation and action in-depth but that’s not what Tide is about. This is a board game that offers a wargame experience for everyone. Much of the battling is abstract and simple making it easy enough to learn but with layers of tactical options and action so tense that you’ll keep coming back for more. Don’t get hung up on the details, there are other games for that if you prefer the hyper realism. The bottom line is fun and Tide of Iron: Next Wave provides this in spades!
Tide of Iron: Next Wave is an excellent step up for those who are looking for more involvement than what you get in games like Memoir 44. Tide has a similar feel on tactical WWII combat but is not a CDG, putting it squarely in the hands of the gamer, giving you a much more engrossing and satisfying experience overall. Cards have their place in this game but do not dictate whether you can move or how you play, instead they enhance the game by offering unique traits, bonuses, weather, reinforcements or off-board strikes.
One thing missing is a feeling of uniqueness to the units. They’re all generic making them feel as abstract as some of the rules and I wish that 1A Games had thought to address that with including some stats for some historical units to not only add flavor but a nice historical touch. This isn’t a game killer by any stretch but a personal preference; just like having a campaign system I feel would have been another great value-add to the game. I know this is available in the Normandy expansion but I would have loved to have seen some form of campaign system added to the reissue. Another welcome addition would have been more dice since opposed die rolls are the key combat mechanic and in several instances you’re going to need a fistful of dice, even more than what is provided by the game. That’s not a major problem since most every gamer has a collection of d6, but I really like the ease of using these smaller dice and more would most certainly be better. Perhaps 1A Games may offer these as a separate purchase in the future.
Setup time can be a little long depending on the scenario, to expedite this you should invest in a good storage and sorting solution like a plano box to help speed things along. This isn’t a game you simply throw on the table and start playing, unless you’re using a small scenario, sometimes that can be a drawback.
Now while I’ve listed the time commitment for setup as a con, it’s also quite positive. The reason for this is simple, between all of the bits and bobs, expansions and scenarios available, this game has so much to offer! A huge number of scenarios have already been created by everyone from big game designers to people like you and me and 1A Games is also now publishing even more on their website regularly.
The four expansions add even more map boards, tokens, terrain pieces, troops, vehicles and equipment extending the life of the game considerably while showing off the variability of the differing rules and theaters portrayed. This is a game very much worth the purchase price. If you’ve thought about getting into this game or are looking to get back into it, I recommend you take the first step in what will be a long and exciting journey and purchase Tide of Iron: Next Wave. Now that 1A Games has taken the helm, the future is looking very bright indeed for Tide of Iron.
Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):
Rules Book: 8.5
Component Quality: 9
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 8.5
I’m giving Tide of Iron: Next Wave 8.5 out of 10 stars because 1A Games has done an amazing job in keeping the quality of the original game while elevating its value in this reissue. They weren’t content with just simply re-popping the base game but have instead revamped, retooled and improved the original rule book and provided a very smooth learning curve for new players while balancing the existing scenarios and adding even more units to play with.
If you’re a newcomer or a longtime fan of this game who doesn’t have their original core set anymore, I highly recommend you pick up Tide of Iron: Next Wave.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
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