Board wargaming is something of a niche market to begin with: even the largest game companies, like GMT and MMP, have print runs measured in the mid to low four figures, and except for some evergreen series games, once a game has sold through its print run, it’s gone, available only on the secondary market. Smaller game publishers have even smaller print runs, leading to a general sense amongst wargamers that you buy when the games are available or your forfeit your right to complain when you spend five times the retail price at auction. At the bottom of the wargame production hierarchy (in terms of production quantity), you have the boutique producers, usually a single person with a single game that has been lovingly crafted and produced, for little to no personal profit beyond seeing the game in print. For boutique games especially, you have to strike immediately or risk never getting a copy—and for many gamers, that’s simply a fate not worth considering.
Thus, I now own a copy of Volume Two, The Continuation War, of Mikugames’ The Finnish Trilogy, focusing on Finland during the Second World War. Produced over a ten year span by Mikael Grönroos, The Finnish Trilogy is a series of massive operational level wargames, very much old school in concept, with thousands of counters and a large map. Monster games like this just don’t get produced any more, particularly not on semi-obscure fronts. The rules are not old school, though, with lovely bits of chrome (ice breakers, echelon combat, flanking bonuses, and airbases built on the ice) and a modern sensibility. There are even custom dice for the combat resolution system and small map sections for individual scenarios.
Beyond the evident care in the rules and orders of battle, though, the production quality of the game itself rivals that of the big publishers (and quite exceeds it in the maps and player aids). Lavish yet (mostly) sensible use of color abounds, and the game promises to be a visual treat when set up as well as an intriguing game situation. The mounted, die-cut counters (eleven big sheets of 1/2″ counters in Volume 2) strike me as slightly thinner than most “professional” wargames, but not so thin as to be in danger of shifting around on plexiglass when playing. The counter artwork does fill the entirety of the counters, so I’ll have to be quite careful with my prized counter corner rounder to not remove vital information.
I’m not entirely convinced by the decision to use Cyrillic for the Soviet headquarters and aircraft designations—anything that can interfere with a player picking up on the situation at a glance should be scrapped for better playability—and some of the Soviet color choices are difficult to read (brown unit icons with red lettering inside).
Still, it’s a handsome game and a real gem in my collection. So much so, of course, that I have Volume One, The Winter War, and Volume Three, The Lapland War, on the way as well now. With very few of Volumes One and Two remaining (and Volume Three sold out), it seemed the prudent course of action. Sometimes the game does go to the swiftest.