Iron & Oak

edited February 2016 in Board Game Reviews
GMT publishes a lot of wargames. It's what they do and they are pretty successful in doing so. One of their recent games (2013) was Iron and Oak, a tactical game about Civil War naval combat. This found the table at a recent wargame night. The game feature a lot of die rolling with different dice. 10-, 8-, 6- and 4-sided dice are called for at various times for different game functions. An odd twist is that each die roll is "opposed" by a second die roll, also of varying die type. For any function to succeed, the active die roll must beat the reacting die roll. There are a lot of dice rolled in a typical I&O game.

It was the first time playing for both of us. We played the first two scenarios. I can't speak for Mark, but I came away decidedly unimpressed with the game. The combat systems seem to work pretty well even with all the die rolling. What I found odd was the movement system. Rolling to move and then being denied that movement initially seemed kind of interesting but after awhile, it just seemed tedious and far too random.

Another thing that struck me as odd was the map with its large grid, organized into rectangular boxes. Not that unusual by itself, but when it came to the granularity of movement and relative positions, it got a little weird. Relative positions on the map were very general until positions became close (crossing the T and ramming, etc.). Then the physical positioning of the close units became critical and the rules overhead for these close in units expanded greatly. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but it just struck me as a little odd.

Mark was able to get his Confederate raider off the map in the first scenario unscathed for the win, but in the second, my Monitor was able to set both the Virginia and the Patrick Henry ablaze. In both cases, I didn't feel it was any superior decision making for either of us. It just seemed like first his luck with the dice and then mine was better.

I am disappointed as I really wanted to like this game. I now regret selling off my copy of Shot & Shell. It too was a flawed game, but one with better simulation and less abstraction in what I felt were key areas.

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