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IronOakTesterComments

When we test a game, we ask our playtesters to give us honest and detailed feedback. Here are a few of their comments thus far in the development process. We've also included a couple notes from testers who posted on public boards encouraging others to pre-order the game (so shoot us, we like the game and we want to sell it! :-) )We hope their feedback to us and their insights into the game will help you get a feel for why Iron & Oak is going to be really fun to play.

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We played nearly six straight hours last Saturday and I have to say, I could have kept on playing. The game is very fun and moves quickly.

This lengthy session included smaller scenarios where ships are running blockades up to the sequential scenarios in which the Union fleet runs the fort gauntlet on the way to Mobile Bay!

Each game, even of the same scenario is a unique experience. The dice and the cards make for a completely different game each time and therefore make the game quite replayable. The quick playing time means that the games do not grow tedious and even if you get a wild result, you can just set it up and go again.

I should point out that for all the games we've played, the results have seemed to even out a bit. Still, exciting things can happen. The fact is, penetrating a monitor's armor and causing carnage within is fun. No, it doesn't happen often, but it does happen. As Jim pointed out, the game does not give an absolutely historical result for every scenario, but allows possible outcomes.

Multiplayer. Another feature that makes the game very good is the ability for many players to participate without bogging the game down very much. We've had up to six at one point, each with their own ship. This makes Iron & Oak a good choice when the size of your group varies.

It's really a great game and you ought to preorder if you haven't!

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We've recently playtested a five battle campaign game.

Like one of my other favorites, Combat Commander, Iron & Oak has three cool ways to play:

  • Historical scenarios
  • "Roll your own" battles 
  • A campaign game linking several battles along with management/repair/commitment of your naval forces.

If you're on the fence about I&O, fall on the ORDER side right now! It's a fast playing, well researched game that is lots of fun.

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Been playtesting this about 4 weeks now. There's one thing that's standing out to me and that's how realistic the results we're getting in terms of damage compared to the damaged suffered historically in these battles. These battles were often like prize fights going the full 12 rounds. It's not just one blow that wins the fight but the continual pounding that literally rattled these ships apart until something gave in. Occasionally you'd get a lucky shot (which is covered in the rules) but most of the time a ship lost simply because of overall damage from the repeated heavy blows. An example of this in the game is the mechanic where a section of your armor can be damaged which realistically represents when the supports behind the armor literally start to buckle from the continual pounding. So as in reality after a while your ship just starts getting to the point that you are forced to withdraw the ship rather than risk it sinking.

This is especially realistic in a campaign where you don't want to completely lose that ship but get it repaired for future action. That also is another plus in this game. The campaigns are fairly painless to do and add to the realism of the battles. There's no "well I'm going to lose so who cares if I lose this ship". Suiciding ships is not a way to win in this game.

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We played scenario (Vicksburg Blockade) on Wednesday. Don and Scott were the Union (Carondelet, Tyler and Queen of the West), while I had the Confederate ship (Arkansas).

The Union tried to close the range as quickly as possible, with the Carondelet the only ship failing to move at first. The Tyler was able to get some early damage on the Arkansas, while the Arkansas was able to damage the Queen of the West in a similar manner. The Arkansas did not have the ability to widen the range once the Union ships closed, which created some problems. The scenario was over by turn 10, with the Arkansas going under.

We played another scenario (Wassaw Sound) on Friday, with Bill T. as the Confederate and me as the Union. Bill aggressively moved the Atlanta to close with the Nahant. The Nahant moved too far towards the bank, leaving what in retrospect would have been the relative safety of the 1 shoal depth band for the 3 shoal depth band. Bill just moved to a non-adjacent space right into the space containing the Nahant and pounded on it (+3 compared to the Nahant’s +2) until he got a hit, then kept pounding until the Nahant was heavily damaged. The Weehawken appeared one turn after the first big hit on the Nahant, and was unable to score any damage on the Atlanta before the Atlanta was able to exit.

Had I maneuvered the Nahant correctly into the 1 depth band, the scenario would probably have turned out better for the Union fleet. We had two ramming attempts, both of which failed.

This scenario did demonstrate that the key is to keep pounding away at the enemy.

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The game does a good job of showing the attritional nature of these battles. It takes a lot of shots to actually damage a ship, and long range fire is definitely problematic.

I am looking forward to running the guns at Mobile Bay - the combination of the long range (dictated by the hulks/mines) and the plunging fire from the batteries should be quite interesting.

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Did our first play test last night and we did Hampton Roads. I have to say Jim's comment rings extremely true. I had a horrible time getting that little runt Monitor off my backside.

I'm a civil war buff and have read a great deal on the naval aspect of the conflict. I was surprised at how well the combat system in this game recreates the naval battles. There are also a ton of ships in the game. So many that you can easily recreate most battles from the civil war without much difficulty.

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Iron & Oak is everything the designer claims it to be: a fast-playing game of Civil War naval combat using ships with historical stats and capabilities and cards to enhance play without driving it directly.

I think a good comparison in terms of complexity, realism, pace and fun factor is Manoeuvre. The point of comparison is that the game plays quickly and does not have overly complex rules. Obviously, Manoeuvre is not a naval game but the handfuls of different sided dice and the somewhat abstracted nature of movement and maneuver make me draw the comparison.

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I took part in some of the playtesting and truth is this game plays with surprising historical depth. As a simulation it's actually rather good.

I solo played the Battle of Mobile and was impressed when my game results very much mirrored the historical event including the Tecumseh sinking to a torpedo. In the games I played a magazine explosion never happened although I did have a number of critical hits which I think effected the battles in realistic ways.

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I must say that the best parts of the game are the fast and furious combat, and the simple and yet elegant means of determining the effects of combat. There is a minimum of complicated sets of combat tables, so that in the space of half a dozen games we had most of the pertinent tables nearly memorized.

My son and I have been playing Ironclads, by Excalibur Games, which models combat and movement much more accurately, but is vastly more complicated and would certainly be tough to play in a large fleet action. So I say, you want dead-on accuracy, take Ironclads, tweak it and add some house rules and make your own ship sheets and really wallow in minutia. If you want to just enjoy playing a good game where the historical accuracy is sufficient to let you put yourself in the situation, a game which is quick enough that you can play a scenario two or three times in an afternoon if you please, and where lots of fun things happen, this game is it.

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