An excellent game I’ll never have
It’s an excellent game. It has everything the WWII board game should have. It has small miniatures of tanks, small trucks, mortars, and all the other little toy soldiers we love. It has dice and uses a good chunk of them; when your Sherman fires, you take 10 dice in your hands and you throw them on the table.
The rules are simple and yet give so many tactical choices. In your round, you can activate any of your 3 units. With 20+ units on the table, it is pure joy. Use your mortar to slow down tanks. Move out with the Saper unit from the dangerous position. Risk and charge with your Flamethrower team. You need to do everything, but you have only 3 activations, and then your opponent plays.
The map has two types of objectives: the ones that give you Victory Points and the ones that give you Command Points. You need VP to win the game. You need CP to play cards.
Yes, the game has simple yet engaging card play. In each round, you can play cards from your hand, paying with Command Points. And then another choice – there are two decks, the Supply deck and the Morale deck, each with different types of cards. It’s your call from which deck to draw.
And on top of that, you can spend Command Points on cards or the Initiative. The player who spends more CP on the Initiative bid will have the advantage and activates first. Your tanks fire first, or mine?
There is so much good in this game, and I could talk about it for a dozen pages. It makes no sense, though. The game in question is Tide of Iron. FFG released it in 2007, it got 5 expansions and then was shut down and discontinued in 2013. Six years after the release, it was gone. You cannot buy it anymore. This whole review makes absolutely no sense.
It bothers me a lot lately. The Board games industry is brutal for creators and their work. I can easily listen to the 1971’s album Pearl by Janis Joplin. I can easily watch 1995’s brilliant Heat by Michael Mann. I can grab my Kindle and read 1954’s Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
But there is no freakin’ way I can buy and play a board game released in 2007. And yes, I know about Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Catan, and even Neuroshima Hex, I know there are exceptions. But there is no way you can go to a game store and buy Tide of Iron. No way to buy Cry Havoc. No way to buy Knizia’s Samurai, Kramer’s Tikal or Oracz’s Witchcraft. The industry moved on, and you’ll never discover the brilliance of Yshapan, the tension of Cave Troll, or the craziness of Space Dealer. They are freakin’ gone forever.
The production cost of the reprint. Cost of warehousing. Cost of marketing an oldie game. It makes no sense. The industry shows no mercy and respect for old designs, not because it is mean. It shows no mercy due to the brutal laws of the economy. Reprinting and having old games in stock is simply impossible.
So here I am – I visited my friend this weekend. I played Tide of Iron. I absolutely freakin’ loved it. I cannot buy it, and neither can you.
Two things I remember about Tide of Iron:
One, the absolutely enormous box. Was it the first Coffin Box?
Two, if I remember correctly, when it shipped from China they actually shipped some directly to Australia, so we got it a normal time and the copies destined for Australia did not have to cross the Pacific Ocean twice to get here.
The box was way too big though. The game does sound very interesting though.
That’s a great point, Ignacy. It’s unfortunate even fantastic board games have a relatively short shelf life.
The only solution I can think of that still costs money but is easy to store is digitizing the board game, either through print and play files or something like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator. However, that has limitations too.