Re-fight the Day of Days, June 6th, 1944, with the Sergeants Miniature Game!
Sergeants Miniature Game Starter Set and Booster Packs Game Review. Publisher: Lost Battalion Games Designer: Jeff Billings Prices: Starter: $79.95 Expansions: between $29.95 and $49.95 Soldier Packs: $9.95 to $29.95 with 10 man packs at $99.95
Passed Inspection: Fantastically detailed hand painted miniatures, comprehensive well written rules, tons of scenarios, dynamic and original game play, well balanced, unlimited replayability, an all cardboard version is thoughtfully available at a lower price
Failed Basic: High cost of the miniatures may alienate some gamers but an all cardboard version is thoughtfully available at a lower price!
Back in 2011, I reviewed the original Sergeants game and its first expansion from Lost Battalion Games. These games were set on the Eastern Front and were very detailed while not being overly complex. Both the original games used traditional cardboard counters for the units. Only a few months later, Lost Battalion Games announced their release of a miniatures version of Sergeants and Armchair General covered the news.
Jump ahead 6 years. Armchair General is now covering the fully mature Sergeants Miniature Game and oh, what a game it is!
The starter set is called “Day of Days” and focuses on tactical firefights during D Day in Normandy. The starter box includes 10 beautifully hand painted miniatures along with their bases and cards for each person, plus a rule book, quick help guide, a scenario book with six scenarios covering that day of days – June 6th, 1944, status counters, story cards, player placemats, two sighting sticks and 16 double sided, modular terrain tiles. As Nancy from Lost Battalion told me “All the components are made in the USA” and the quality is top flight. Not only are the counters sufficiently wide so that “seasoned” gamers can handle them but the cards, rule and scenario book covers and the terrain modules are all durable and resilient in the face of the inevitable drink spills.
The miniatures are 20mm and, as stated before, are all fully hand painted. Each pewter mini comes with a base which shows the front arc of the man as well as his name and “dog tag” number. The “dog tag” number isn’t just for show – they can come in to play to break initiative ties or show who is affected in certain specific situations. Each mini comes with a dab of a plastic adhesive which allows each mini to be mounted on the base. When I was mounting the dozens of minis that the company was kind enough to send for the review, I did notice that three didn’t come with the adhesive. In that case, a dab of super glue sufficed.
Each soldier comes with a data card which provides info as to the soldier’s abilities. The leader soldiers come with multiple data cards which show how the soldier’s abilities change as he becomes more experienced.
Each soldier is rated in the following: Look ability (for spotting enemy units), Hide and Rally ability, Shooting Skills, strength of his ability to toss a grenade, Movement speed (for walking and climbing) and his ability to engage in melee combat. Each soldier also has a name and the main weapon he is armed with. Also each soldier is rated for their victory point total which is also their point cost if the players are creating their own scenario or battle. Items can be added which have their own victory point cost. Items include binoculars, rifle scopes, grenades, rifle mounted grenade launchers, panzerfausts and much more. This system of using victory points to balance the teams makes it very easy to create your own scenarios.
Characters are soldiers who are affected by special events cards based upon their “story”. While each starter box and booster box has random soldiers, the starter boxes all contain the same characters. As you can tell, Sergeants is more than just a “shoot ‘em up game”. Using the story cards and the characters, each game tells a different story either from the American, British or German sides. That is one of the things which makes this game so unique and exciting.
Specialist soldiers are also included. They have skills in scouting, sniping, combat engineering, calling in air or artillery strikes and battlefield medicine.
The map tiles include two types of double sided terrain tiles – 5” x 5” map squares and 10” x 10” landmarks such as cross-roads. On each tile is a rating table for how the terrain affects line of site, hiding, shooting and moving. A tile with many trees can provide great hiding opportunities for the defenders but really bad shooting issues for the attackers. Buildings are also included as are roads, marshes, etc.
Play is unique and dynamic.
To set up the game, pick a scenario or create a “on the spot” scenario by balancing out the victory points as described above. Set up the terrain tiles either at random or by setting them up pursuant to the scenarios.
The players take all the action cards for their soldiers and shuffle them up to form a hand. The action cards do various things. Each card will say either “Move”, “Shoot”, “Look” or “Hide”. In addition there will be text that says something like “up to 3 soldiers shoot”. Also each card will have the identifier with the dog tag of the soldier whose box the cards came from. Also each card may have a text box saying that the soldier whose box that card came from may perform a special action. A text box near the right top gives combat results – either hit or miss for various ranges and types of attack such as grenades. At the right bottom of the card is text in an bubble which says things like “pin” or “wound” or “kill” or “zip”.
Three cards from the Story Deck are placed near the game play area. These serve two purposes; they control the flow of the action by dictating what actions the soldiers can take each phase. If the colored event conditions at the bottom of the card match at least two of the same color, they create a random event which occurs during the 3 phase turn.
The text which controls the flow of the game says something like “Move then Shoot”. Each of the three cards played from the Story Deck have text like that.
For each phase of the turn, the players have cards in their hand which gives commands for their soldiers. If the current Story Card says “Move then Shoot”, the players can either pass or play a card which says “Move” or “Shoot”. Based upon the order of the actions on the Story Card, players who play a “Move” card move up to the number of soldiers listed on their card. Then, after the soldiers move, the player who played the “Shoot” card can have a number of his soldiers shoot. If a soldier is shot at, the person doing the shooting measures the range and then draws a card from their action deck. The text on the right front gives either hits or misses based upon the range. If some weapons such as machine guns hit, they may be able to be used again in the phase to attack the same or a different target. Weapons which have “blast” affects can hurt or kill soldiers up to a given radius from the blast point. The player whose soldier is being shot at then draws a specific number of his action cards depending on how many times his soldier was hit and reads the text on the lower right side. If a “wound” result occurs, the soldier hit is flipped over and his new “wounded stats” take effect. If a “kill” result happens or if a “wounded” soldier is “wounded” again, that soldier is dead. A “zip” means the bullet whizzed past your soldier. A “pin” result means your soldier hits the dirt and suffers penalties until rallied.
If two soldiers are in base to base combat, they begin viscous and deadly melee attacks. A soldier who attacks another from the flank or rear, attacks with an advantage.
If two events of the same color are adjacent in the Story Deck, an event occurs. In the last game I played, the event could have been particularly dangerous as an artillery strike landed near the crossroads that the German army and the American paratroopers were supposed to capture or control. (Luckily no one was hurt or killed.)
This is the incredible essence of the game. I have played many World War II tactical combat games but I have never played a World War II tactical game which captures the flow, dynamism and drama of real combat as the Sergeants Miniature Game does. The players can use real life tactics in their attempt to lead their troops to victory. While games such as the Squad Leader series have nearly the same feel, Sergeants doesn’t take months to learn as you absorb 200 pages of rules. Lost Battalion Games has covered both the basic and advanced game in 36 well written and organized pages. It is possible to have a new payer up and running in 5 minutes and with 16 double sided tiles and 10 minis in the base game, the players won’t be running out of scenarios anytime soon.
In addition, without too much difficulty, the game can be played solo since the other side’s actions will depend on card draws. The tension is just as nail biting!
Lost Battalion Games has a great business plan in that while the Sergeants Miniature Game is rather costly with each soldier mini averaging roughly $10 per soldier, they have also released a cardboard version of the game called the Sergeants Board Game in which the soldiers average roughly $2 per soldier. Now the gaming audience has two different versions of the same game with two different price points based upon what they can afford. Brilliant!
Extra soldier packs can be purchased which include troops armed with BARs, bazookas, panzerfausts, Mg 34s, 30 cal. Machine guns, etc. In addition, extra buildings and terrain are available as are 3 D buildings which are to scale with the minis!
The first expansion pack is the Road to Carentan which includes 16 more double sided terrain tiles, templates for rockets (such as bazookas) and artillery strikes, cards for items to add to your soldiers plus 20 more scenarios!
A new expansion adds vehicles such as tanks and halftracks to the game. Look for a review soon.
For tactical World War II action, you can’t beat the Sergeants Miniature Game system or the Sergeants Board Game. It has become my game of choice for this type of simulation – a true classic!
For more information, check out: http://www.lostbattaliongames.com/”
Coming in the next few weeks will be an interview with the designer of this fine game.
Armchair General Rating: 99 %
Solitaire Rating: 4
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!