Tide of Iron


Available from Fantasy Flight Games

Tide of Iron is a tactical level simulation of combat on the Western front during World War II, between the American forces and the forces of Nazi Germany.

The components of Tide of Iron are figures, trucks and tanks for both sides.  Both armies are made up of regular infantry, elite infantry, along with officers, machine guns and mortar crews.  Since the game is aimed at two to four players, squad bases come in two shades of gray or green.  Scenarios also divide the forces into two divisions, so that each player has a number of squads to move and fight. If playing with only two players, each player controls all the squads for your nation. The game comes with twelve double-sided maps on ¼ inch cardboard stock, these maps can be arranged in a myriad of different configurations.  In addition, overlay pieces are available with a number of terrain features printed on them, adding more variety to the layout of the terrain to be fought over.

Tide of Iron is a scenario driven game.  Each scenario lists the forces available to each side; additionally it specifies which strategy decks are in use by either side for the scenario.  Strategy decks change for each scenario with each side usually getting two of the eight available strategy decks.  Some scenarios, in addition to the Strategy Decks, call out operations cards.  Operations cards contain additional rules or modify existing rules during the course of play.  There are six scenarios provided with the Basic game, other scenarios are available on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

First operation is to select a scenario.  Next, is to set-up the map section to be used in the scenario picked, as called out in the scenario summary.  After the map and any overlays are set-up, the forces are amassed from the categories noted above and put together in squads. Strategy cards are selected from the decks provided in the scenario, and any Operational cards are dealt out, as called for in the scenario set-up.  These cards contain special rules that override the normal rules of play.  After your squads are constructed, any specialization tokens called for may be assigned to your squads.  Specializations may not be assigned to squads containing machine guns or mortar crews. The four types of specialization are Medics, Anti-Tank, Engineers and Flamethrowers.  Medics are able to heal squads in the same hex as themselves at the cost of an action.  Anti-tank units have increased firepower against armor units. Flamethrowers have increased firepower against squads in adjacent hexes.  Engineers have the ability to dig entrenchments.

The game round consists of three phases: the Action Phase, the Command Phase and the Status Phase.  The Action Phase consists of a number of Action Turns specified in the scenario instructions.  The Action Turn usually consists of between two to four actions. An action may consist of movement, firing, activating of a Strategy Card, opportunity fire or an assault. After a squad or vehicle has completed an action it becomes fatigued. Firing may take the form of normal unit firing at a target, combined firing of multiple units on a single target or opportunity fire when an enemy unit moves into line of sight and range.  These Action Turns are repeated alternatively until all squads or vehicles have become fatigued.  Fire combat is resolved when a unit or units are in range and line of sight of the target unit.  The phasing player then rolls the number of black dice equal to the firepower aimed at the target and the number of red dice equal to the cover factor of the target hex, or the armor factor of the vehicle attacked.  At normal range hits are recorded with a roll of 5 or 6 on the black dice, minus the number of red dice rolling 5 or 6.  Each squad hit removes one figure from the stand.

The next phase of the round is the Command Phase.  During the Command Phase control of objectives is determined; by placing a Command Control marker on the objective after moving one of your units into the hex designates this. Each side tallies up Command and Victory points, Command Strategy cards are played and command points are spent to influence the determination of initiative for the next round.

The last phase of the round is the Status Phase.  In this phase additional Strategy Cards are drawn, fatigued and pinned markers are removed and units are placed in Opportunity Fire mode, squad transfers are made evening out your forces. When a Strategy card is drawn during this phase, if there is a plus sign in the lower left hand corner of the card, the player draws an additional card, this occurs only on the first card.  If the second drawn card also has a plus sign, then no more cards are drawn this turn.  Any reinforcements and events called for in the scenario are brought into play and the round marker is advanced in preparation for the next Action Phase. Winning of the game is decided on the satisfaction of the victory conditions specified in the scenario being played.

The manual and scenario booklet are fully illustrated with examples of play, line of sight, range determination, movement, squad transfer and so on.  The scenario booklet shows a picture of the map to be used in the accompanying scenario.  This picture, details which map sections are to be used and in what position they are to be placed.

This simulation is highly recommended.  The components are of top quality, the graphics are excellent and the game play is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Tide of Iron gives hours of pleasure and little repetition of results.