Saturday, September 9, 2017

Closing down


I'm going to be closing down this blog, in an attempt to consolidate my blogging in one place.  I realized that given the amount of blogging I actually do (not much!) it makes a lot more sense for me to just focus in one place, and just work on keeping it up to date.

Therefore, I hope to have all of the actually useful content transferred over to my Boisterous Exuberance blog soon.  As I play more card games, I'll put stuff up on there!

My hope is only having one place to talk about what gaming I'm doing will make me more eager to write- so let's hope that ends up being true!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Did you guys back the Up Front Kickstarter?

Obviously, this is about 2 weeks too late, but still, it's worth noting the success of the Up Front Kickstarter, which easily hit 10x its funding goal, and had a ton of great stretch rewards.

First, regarding Up Front- I've only played it twice at a friend's house, but man, I had a great time.  Couple that with all the options you got from even a fairly basic bid- how could you not hop on the bandwagon and pick this up?  This game gives you a lot of tactical choices, and on top of that, it's really fun.  I'm pretty excited to just have this available again.

Perhaps more importantly is the success of Kickstarter in funding these out of print wargames, or even wargames in general.  Now, without talking about miniature games, there doesn't seem to be a lot of wargame ideas on Kickstarter these days.  Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 Map Expansion was a successful campaign, and certainly is a wargame.  Battle Tank: Escape from Giant Robot Island certainly wasn't something historically driven, but seemed like a wargame... but wasn't doing very well before it was cancelled.

Now, several big publishers (GMT and MMP for instance) take a very similar approach to this when getting funding for upcoming games, by taking preorders, and charging when the game gets close to production, but I'm really surprised more small designers/companies aren't using Kickstater, given that good looking games really should have no problem making their funding.

Personally, I would love to see a reprint of AH's Gunslinger or Breakout: Normandy.  Heck, there are tons of AH games I'd love to see.  What about Magic Realm? 

The point is, I really hope that the success of Up Front gives wargame designers, especially ones that aren't being published by one of the big companies, the chance to use Kickstarter to see their creations come true.  We want to see them come out as much as you do, in most cases.

If anyone hears about some other wargame related campaigns, please- let me know!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Played a wargame!

This past Sunday, while I was working my part time job, I actually took a wargame to work, read the rules, and played it.

The game was Red Winter, from GMT Games, covering the Battle of Tolvajarvi during the Winter War.  Finnish troops versus Soviet troops is always something I'm interested in, and I was (and still am) really looking forward to getting into this game.

I didn't take any pictures (not allowed to bring anything like that to work), but I did take a few notes, so although I won't bore you with a full battle report, I'll jot down a few things.

I played the tutorial scenario, First Folly, which is just an introduction to the mechanics of moving and attacking, with 9 Soviet units attacking the Finnish town of Hirvasvaara, defended by a total of 6 units, 5 of which are reduced.

In playing the scenario, I decided to basically throw the Soviets at the Finnish position, trusting their strength of numbers to carry the day.  They couldn't quite get there on the first turn, but would start the attacking on the second turn.  With Finns, I tried to spread out from the town, hoping to at least slow the Soviets down a turn (the scenario ends after 3 turns, or when one side loses two units).

Upon arriving, the Russians launched a strong attack against the first reduced infantry unit, which was hampered a little by the Finnish Off-board artillery (which gets a bonus firing into any hex where multiple units are stacked), but then the Finnish couldn't really accomplish anything on their own turn, and were easily swept aside (a 6:1 attack on the town sealed the fate).

Really, this is just an intro game, so I'm not too concerned about optimizing my play for either side for this particular case, but I did learn a lot of things that should help me in future games.

First, I tried early on to have the Finnish units roll for Recovery.  On a '6', they regain a step.  At times, I'm sure I'll make good use of this, but it seems like I may be better served Digging In when I need to defend somewhere, and using the favorable column shift to either keep me in place, or have me retreat less (losses may generally be taken as either step losses, or hexes retreated, for those who don't know).

Second, as the Finns, I really need to use their additional mobility to assault.  I may be finding myself outgunned quite a bit in game, and the favorable column shift on assaults (due to Finnish SMGs) might be vital.

Third, I forgot a lot of rules, but the big one is the double Combat Strength for certain units on defense.  Throwing that Finnish MG in the town would have really helped, since its Combat Strength goes to 8, creating a fairly decent defensive position.

Fourth, and finally, I really have to think how I'm going to use my off-board artillery and ranged attacks (for both sides).  The only real clear lines of sight are over the giant frozen lake(s), so the direct ranged attack learning can wait until then, but the artillery is very important (as the Russians), and occasional worth using (as the Finnish).  You only have limited ammo for each side, so you can't really just waste the shots (although in this scenario, the Russian can just fire every chance), and as the Finnish, their guns are so weak, they may only be useful for trying to blunt an attack (by dropping a Suppression marker on the target).  I'll need quite a few games to get the hang of this.

I'm quite eager to put this back on the table, and maybe try my hand at the first 'real' scenario, where the Night rules are used- an important part of the battle, from what I gather.

Friday, November 9, 2012

GMT Posts List of Best Sellers

GMT games has put up a list of it's all-time 15 best selling games.  It's pretty interesting!

One thing to notice is that 3 non-war games (Battle Line, Formula Motor Racing, and Ivanhoe) made the list (I've not tried any of them, unfortunately).  Also, one expansion is on there: C&C Ancients Expansion #1 (also, never tried it).

Despite the fact I love wargames, I have played VERY few of these.  Twilight Struggle I've played, and love.  Combat Commander: Europe is something I've also played and enjoyed (some battle reports are posted on this blog, even).  SPQR and Great Battles of Alexander are games I own, and would love to play, but haven't had the opportunity.

Sadly, that's all.  Despite GMT's popularity, there are so many of their most popular games I've not even tried, nor own.  It's a shame, really.  Something to work on fixing over the upcoming years, no doubt.

There's also a list of their best sellers for the current year.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Various gaming 4/7/2012

Well, I'm not posting a lot, but since I played a few wargames recently, I wanted to at least put SOME post up :).

I spent this past Saturday over at Rob's place, playing a few boardgames, and although I didn't take any detailed reports (or many pictures), here's a few details of what I did.

To start off, we played Close Action, by Clash of Arms games.  Since Rob had never played before, we chose to play one of the more basic scenarios- 'Dont Give Up the Ship: Chesapeake vs. Shannon'.  This is a fairly well known engagement from the War of 1812 that historically resulted in the USS Chesapeake being captured by the British.  I was playing the Chesapeake in this battle, but to keep things even for us, we played with the optional rule giving the US ships a Crew Quality of A3 (vs B4), making it a little more effective, and turning this into a fairly even matchup.

As mentioned, I didn't take copious notes of the battle, but I managed to hit Rob's ship hard on turns 7-10 (raking him from the front on 10), nearly knocking out 2 whole hull sections, and taking significant rigging losses in return.  On turn 14, I managed to rake him from the front again, bringing him close to striking, and we called it. 

I imagine this will be a far more interesting picture when we actually play a game with more ships, haha.

Really, I don't think I tremendously outplayed Rob, although I did outguess him once or twice (and got outguessed once).  Rob had to tack on Turn 7 to keep me somewhat engaged, and I think that probably hurt him a bit more than it felt like at the time (keep in mind the damage I did on the subsequent turns, which was relatively light in return). 

We followed this up by playing Warriors of God, from MMP.  We chose the scenario 'Lion in Winter', covering the period from 1135-1258 AD.  I played as the English.  The end result of this game was that I basically had two very successful turns, ending with Rob moving in a large army to clear out the English from Normandy, thinking I would let him siege me, but instead engaging him in combat, and crushing his army badly.  With much of his army destroyed, no ability to get his guys out of Wales/Scotland to support the mainland quickly, and the fact I was unopposed on over half the map for a few turns, we called it in my favor, and went to play some non-wargames for a bit.

This is a picture from the turn after I destroyed his main army.  For now, the big thing to see is that there isn't a whole lot of blue on the table:

So yeah, a few games, but we had a great time, and the best news is that I've finally been getting wargames on the table :).

Till next time!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yeah, yeah, busy busy busy.

Obviously, I've been really busy, but I swear I'm not done blogging yet!  I won't get into all the various things that are keeping me away from the computer here (you can look on my other blog for that, it's not very interesting though, I promise).

The important thing is that I'm going to try to blog more.

I don't know if I'll ever get my various battle reports up from PrezCon, mainly because it's been so long now that my memory faded.  We ended up leaving from it early, but still got a few other games in that I haven't posted about: Imperium and Triumph of Chaos come to mind immediately.  Man, Triumph of Chaos has potential to be a fantastic game, but it's going to have to be one I'll need to own to play it effectively.  I need to actually study a few of the parts of the game to see why I would want to do certain things, or to see the penalties from playing certain cards, etc.  One day.

Upon coming home from PrezCon, I broke out (at the time) ATO's newest issue: The Lash of the Turk.  Played one of the scenarios solo.  I really like the overall flow and rules of the game, but it needed some errata (for instance, the setup was completely screwy).  Also, the siege rules are bit peculiar.  It's one of those eras of history that doesn't seem to get enough games covering though, so I'm definitely going to give it some slack.  Again, maybe someday I'll post pictures and a report of that game.  More likely, however, is that when I play it again, I'll post THAT.

Rob and I have been playing occasional games of Combat Commander.  We've been eyeing the Stalingrad campaign game, so maybe in another few weeks we'll do that.  Combat Commander is a blast, but I swear that has to be the most complicated game in existence.

I still do my ASL playtesting when I have time to.  I won't say I'm decent yet, but I'm certainly getting better at playing.  Every time I play it, I'm just reminded how great a game it is.  I have dreams of playing a lot of the scenarios solo (and even grander dreams of running some of those massive Valor of the Guards scenarios *drool), but it won't be for a bit.

Regardless, I'm sure I wasn't missed much, but I'll be coming back with some new posts, I promise.  I've been trying to tackle Fields of Fire lately, so I suspect there will be some posts on that coming up soon.

See you guys soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy (Book Review)

David Stevenson's Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy may be the best coverage of the First World War ever written. This terse, detail filled tome covers, in incredible detail, the political, financial, logistical, and strategic decisions and challenges faced by all of the belligerents.

When I was in middle school, our coverage of World War I started with a class exercise. We broke into groups, were given a written description of our groups’ thoughts (basically- ‘You have an agreement with so and so group to fight a war if they join one, but here’s why you might not want to’), and a group was told that one of their leaders was assassinated. Soon, the entire class was at war. The goal was to show that politicians weren’t so much in control of this war- events just spiraled out of their control, and the result was a conflict resulting in millions of deaths and effects which are still felt today.

Cataclysm challenges that view- it shows, in great detail that politicians deliberately made choices to both initiate the war, and continue it despite appalling casualties. Most importantly, it presents this case in an unbiased fashion as possible- you won’t find much in the way of assigning blame to one country or group in here.

The book is broken into four major parts, and I feel it’s probably handy to at least mention them for and understanding of this book’s value.

In Part One, Outbreak, Stevenson examines the causes of the war- from the decisions taken by politicians after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife to the various diplomatic factors faced by Germany and Austria prior to this event, to the tensions caused by the Balkan Wars, to a bunch of other things. I feel this is probably one of the strongest sections of the book- the causes of World War I are one of the most studied topics in history because there are SO MANY factors that went into it. This book does a fantastic job covering them all. The central theme is, of course, that World War I was a controlled event- the politicians from BOTH sides knew (at least partially) what their actions would cause, and chose them anyway. The first part ends with coverage of the initial attacks in the first year, and the difficulties faced on the Eastern and Western fronts- including why the front lines didn’t advance on West for 4 years, and the ones in the East didn’t move very far to start. It also describes why the Germans chose to keep their fleets at port, instead of going out to attack the various British troopships when they were vulnerable (since the British fleets at Scapa Flow probably couldn’t have arrived in time). The desire to not risk the fleet, keeping it as a ‘political instrument’ would of course present the Germans with problems later- Stevenson shows us early on the decisions made by the Central Powers that ended up hurting them.

Part Two, Escalation, nominally covers the middle of the war- from spring of 1915 to spring of 1917. As we know, there were several major battles during this period- Verdun, Somme, and Cambrai, for instance are all well known. Despite this, the advancements of defensive warfare meant that no advances were made, so in the long run, there isn’t a lot of historical interest that happened (‘escalation and stalemate, both sides applying rising levels of violence yet failing to terminate the impasse’ according to the book). However, instead of boring the reader with page after page of inaction, Stevenson chooses to examine the issues that kept the war going as well as examining, by country, the various issues facing them, from manpower shortages, to morale, to economics, and into new logistical, tactical, and technological advances. He does a great job blending the information in- although the information is fairly terse at times, the information is presented in a way that shows, at each step, how it influenced the course of the war. One thing to note about this section is that coverage of the war is only briefly chronological- much of the section is devoted to discussions about the various topics and how they influenced later parts of the war- not so much when they happened during it.

Also covered in this section are the war aims of the various countries. The people of a country won’t support a war without knowing why they’re fighting, after all. Some of the works towards finding a peace (or in the case of Germany, trying to use peace feelers as a way to split their enemies) are covered here.

Part Three, Outcome, covers the Russian Revolution, the American entrance into the war, the final push of the Central Powers and the collapse of their armies, and their eventual ceasefire and surrender. The causes, progress, and results of the Russian Revolution, are perfectly blended into Stevenson’s coverage of World War I, and the same great amount of detail is put into it as the war itself.

The reasons behind the American involvement in the war, from the various political reasons to the Zimmerman Telegram are covered, but once in the war, the actual fighting the Americans were involved with was very briefly stated, although their presence was ‘indispensable’ to the Allies’ victory.

Also, the various tactical/operational improvements are discussed, especially prior to the Central Powers’ 1918 offensive, which met with early success but eventually drained the German manpower too much to allow them to continue the offensives, or even effectively defend themselves during the renewed Allied attacks. Also discussed is the role of Ludendorff’s mental breakdown in the eventual fall of Germany.

The final part of the book is titled Legacy. Given the grand scope of the war, and its influence to later world history, it’s an apt title. A few different issues are discussed here. First, the Treaty of Versailles, reparations, and the League of Nations are all briefly discussed. The eventual bitterness towards the treaty certainly contributed to the rise of nationalist groups in Germany after the war, so you couldn’t talk about World War I without discussing them. Much of this section, however, is concerned with covering the breakdown of the cohesion of the Allied powers, their reasons for their laxity in enforcing the treaty, and indeed the eventual rise of the Third Reich (although Stevenson makes a point to show that the events of the 1930s and later were not inevitable, but they were more difficult to defuse because of earlier choices). One of the primary reasons mentioned for the breakdown of peace is the lack of American or Russian involvement in post-war security.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in World War I- unless you’re only interest is in the individual battles occurring during the war. Although the book covers the overall strategic decisions made by the powers fighting, comparatively little is written about individual battles. The Battle of Verdun gets about 3 pages of coverage, and some battles (for instance, the Second Battle of the Marne) get only passing mention. There are plenty of resources for readers interested in that. Cataclysm contains a 21 page bibliography- I’m almost certain you could find a perfect book for any topic you’d want listed in there.

If you’re interested in the politics behind war, and the various processes a country has to undertake to keep a war running, as well as the strategy and flow of World War I, I don’t think you’ll find a better book than Cataclysm. My only warning is that this is NOT an easy read- it’s going to take you a month to get through this, but it’s well worth it.