Decision Games Folio Series versus Victory Point Games: The Chase Is On!

They're back--the venerable and more beloved titles from the old Simulations Publications Incorporated (SPI) folio game list, updated and reissued by Decision Games. Oh, and there are handful of new titles added to the mix. Check out the list at the DG website here.

The good news is that those old "dog" titles from the various old SPI Quadrigames don't seem to present in the mix. For example, while ARNHEM and BASTOGNE are updated and republished, missing are HURTGEN and REMAGEN. More good news is that even our old favorites have been refined--CHICKAMAUGA is a good bit different in the DC incarnation than in the original. There's also the new titles, like AACHEN: FIRST TO FALL, and STONES RIVER. Perhaps best of all, there are only three systems used in these games--Battles of the Ancient World (CHALONS is the only Folio that uses this right now), Musket and Saber (Napoleonic and Civil War), and Fire and Movement (WWII, post WWII, and contemporary).

For gamers pressed for time to play, this is a good thing, as well as those of us who have fond memories of the better Folios and would like to get new players/gamers interested in them. The success of Victory Point Games--specializing in fast-playing but thought-provoking and competitive titles--no doubt inspired the Decision Games leadership to press forward with these small games. Time will tell whether the Folio series will prove to be a success. When I was in the Compleat Strategist game store in Falls Church some weeks ago, they told me they were flying off the shelves.

Most controversial are the support fire rules in the Fire and Movement series. Given the differential-style CRT, designer Eric Harvey decided to use this in lieu of indirect fire pieces many of us remember from the original games in the ISLAND WAR, NORTH AFRICA, WESTWALL and MODERN BATTLES I and II quadrigames (hard to believe it, but those titles are 35 years or so old!). It does achieve its stated purpose which is to add more uncertainty to combat factor calculations and allow single-unit versus single-unit engagements for other purposes than the typical sacrificial "soak-off." Because of this, low counter densities, no stacking, and a bloody CRT, this also can cause some "gamey" situations. Support Fire assets can never be captured or destroyed or put out of supply--ever.

There are those who would also question using the same series for both Napoleonic and Civil War battles--it's worth checking out the extensive designer notes that explain this on the Decision Games website. Click on "Musket & Saber Expanded Design Notes" on the Folio Series E-rules series here (plus you can download the rules for all three systems the folio series uses.

Which games from either Victory Point Games or the new DG Folio Series do you like? Which ones don't you like? Do you think there will be "head-to-head" competition for quick playing but engrossing titles? More worryingly (for some), will commercial success of these two efforts drain away game company interest (and effort) in the "meatier" titles and subjects? Tell us what you think!

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Comment by Peter Burger on December 21, 2010 at 2:03pm

I think that these folios and VP Games products are really aimed at different segments of the market.  Chalons, for example, has 100 counters; compare that to, say, Waterloo 20 - it's a whole different tier of complexity.   Not better or worse, but different.


Put another way:  I can see someone who is uncertain whether they want to get into wargames to try a Victory Point game before the DG Folios.


Comment by Eric Walters on November 28, 2010 at 9:26am
John, it's not just the Americans with somewhat weird unit sizes and stacking--it's the Japanese too. Yeah, the "moving zone of fortifications" around the Japanese engineer battalions is stretching "design for effect" beyond all rationality. Haven't played this one, though. I've got both Legion's and Grognard's SAIPAN...maybe I need to do a review someday of all three titles!
Comment by John Buck on November 27, 2010 at 9:13pm
Bill Ramsay and I played the new Saipan folio and that has some problems. The marines are shown as battalions and the army as regiments, yet they stack the same? The marines were three times as big as the army's men? The Japanese engineers can exert a moving zone of fortifications? Go with the Legion Saipan it’s a little more work but a much better game.
Comment by Anthony Hicks on November 27, 2010 at 6:07pm
Shiloh looks great at the beginning for the Confederate player but he gets slowed down terribly by the terrain.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 27, 2010 at 1:35pm
Anthony, DG has republished SHILOH, but with the major changes the Musket and Saber system makes compared to the old Blue and Gray system, it's a different kind of game. Plus the map is a lot better. CEMETERY HILL (Gettysburg) hasn't been redone yet, but we can guess it will be and as one of the "larger" folio series games, like LEIPZIG is. I too have fond memories of the old SHILOH game, but never had much love for CEMETERY HILL. Am hoping these are much improved.
Comment by Anthony Hicks on November 27, 2010 at 12:17pm
I've played Gettysburg and Shiloh of the old quad-games and they were very playable...and fun.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 27, 2010 at 12:07pm
I haven't played the newest DG version of LENINGRAD but did get it--the original was a terrific introduction to the PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN system as well as wargaming in general. The newest DG version is a graphic facelift from even its older remake of the original but appears at first blush to be essentially the same game. You can't go wrong with this one.
Comment by brian s. b. on November 26, 2010 at 8:36pm
thanks eric! ive only seen the "original" folio's from what little i've seen on hexwar-the leipzig gm looks interesting as well. i heard the original leningradgm was a real gem so i may take a look at that as well. so maybe the ? is will the hobby "split" with these affordable gms and the something like tomb for an empireorthe russian campaign ed 7 in 3D- preorder price just $599-finance programs available for qualifying customers....
Comment by Eric Walters on November 26, 2010 at 8:13pm
Regarding the graphic "updating"--some of it seems more on the aesthetic side (such as ARNHEM: THE FARTHEST BRIDGE), but in a number of the titles, the map has significantly changed from the original in substantive ways.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 26, 2010 at 8:10pm
Brian, PATTON'S 1ST VICTORY--as well as the LENINGRAD "makover"--are not truly considered (nor packaged) as games in the Folio Series but they do look good. Neither of these games are in the Fire and Movement system. Victory Point Games' NO RETREAT is being offered by GMT as a P500 game--see the ad for it here.

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