Napoleon’s Wars: A Review

Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803-1815 by Charles J. Esdaile
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charles Esdaile’s Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803-1815 provides an interesting perspective on the cataclysmic events during the first decade and a half of the 19th century. The focus of the book is, of course, Napoleonic History. It is not, however, a minute examination of his military campaigns beyond a broad brush recounting of the results of battles. Instead, Esdaile examines the political, economic, technological and sociological changes that occurred in Europe that brought a collection of frequently squabbling dynasties (often far more interested in their own localized geopolitical issues) to the point where they could unite simultaneously to overthrow Bonaparte by 1814, and again in 1815. Although Esdaile is clearly no great fan of Napoleon, he is still very objective in his analysis of the Emperor’s driving ambition and his motivation– to be the de facto ruler of Europe by conquest. Napoleon was less driven by political credo than by ruthless realities– he was in turns a Corsican Revolutionary, a Jacobin, a Republican, and finally an Emperor, cheerfully discarding one mask for the next.

Napoleon’s Wars tells most of its story as a treatment of the geopolitics of the era, and most importantly, provides the reader with a decent analysis of the main players in the diplomatic dance of the early 19th century. Much has been written about France and Great Britain during this time period; much less so about Spain, Germany, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Turkey. The great strength of Napoleon’s Wars is the portraits of the other rulers and their localized concerns– and how Napoleon successfully played them off against each other for so long.

I would certainly recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of Napoleonic history, but especially for history fans who are more interested in the political and diplomatic developments during the years of warfare.

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I think I would have liked General D.H. Hill, CSA

D.H. Hill,  Math Professor and Sardonic Genius (from Wikipedia)

I have not read much, if anything specific, about Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill (also known as D.H. Hill to de-conflict him with his relative Ambrose Powell (A.P.) Hill).  Having opportunity to review the events of his life and his commentary of involvement in the American Civil War, I am now intrigued enough to seek out his biography.

D.H. Hill grew up in South Carolina, attended the U.S. Military Academy graduating in 1842 among a raft of future Civil War generals.  His Mexican War service was impressive, being twice brevetted (to the rank of Major) for actions on the field of battle.   After the Mexican War, Major Hill resigned his commission and became a professor of Mathematics for the college that would become Washington and Lee university (eventually).  It’s during this period of his life that we get an idea of the personality of D.H. Hill– a character trait that would get him in hot water with his future Confederate bosses.   D.H. Hill had a sense of humor a gentle person might characterize as “sardonic”.  In modern terms, he comes off as a bit of a smart ass.   An inveterate proponent of Southern Culture, he held the Northern states in great disdain.  His text book on Algebra, Elements of Algebra,  widely read in the South before the war, is incredibly jingoistic by modern standards.  He certainly wasn’t ashamed at the notion of geographical bias.

Note the difference between NORTHERN examples and SOUTHERN examples in the following problems, taken directly from the text book:

Seriously, you have to admire a fellow who can effortlessly insert the term “bedlamites” into an Algebra problem.  That takes a deft hand.

When the American Civil War started, it was a given that Hill would return to the colors, this time fighting for his beloved South against the so-called Yankee aggressors.   Hill performed very well at the outset of the war, fighting at the outset as a Colonel of volunteers and later as a Major General during the Peninsular Battles.   It’s clear that Hill was a quarrelsome and difficult subordinate, when you read between the lines.  General Lee was never one to air his grievances about a subordinate,  but certain facts speak for themselves. Hill was a gifted, passionate and aggressive commander who contributed to Southern success in the Seven Days’ Battles and Antietam campaigns– particularly at South Mountain, where Hill’s division was isolated, fighting off repeated attacks by stronger Union forces and giving Lee time he needed to reorganize and meet the Union assault.   Despite his qualities as a military leader, one gets the opinion that he wasn’t easy to get along with.  Hill did not achieve corps command in the Army of Northern Virginia, and after the Battle of Fredericksburg (where apparently he was in dispute with Lee), he was sent to backwater theaters of the War.  First out West, where he quarreled with Bragg (and earned the enmity of Jefferson Davis), and then to the Carolina command.  Hill’s promotion to higher command was effectively blocked by Davis, and he ended the war fighting to the end, as a divisional commander at the Battle of Bentonville, the last great battle of the war.

Hill was a successful educator and magazine editor after the war, and died in 1889.  I will have to dig in to his life for the details, but the adjectives that keep popping up when reading histories are acerbic, sardonic, and bitter.   Even sneering.  One gets the impression of the classic guy who thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and won’t be diplomatic about his opinion.  I can see how he must have been an extraordinarily difficult subordinate to manage (for both Lee and Bragg) and I can guess that he must have been an awkward resources to use, even for President Davis.  For all of that, there’s something about Daniel Harvey Hill that seems so modern when you compare his period writings and statements to the more reserved commentary from his fellow officers.  He comes off as the Ambrose Bierce of the Confederate Army.  It’s a senseless exercise to imagine myself in those times, but I think I might have liked D.H. Hill.  He might have been a jerk at times, but he certainly was an individual who didn’t toe the party line.

Richard Bartle on MUDs and Multiplayer Online Gaming

Astute readers who have been paying attention may remember that name, Richard Bartle.  Why?  Because we’ve met him before on this blog a few times.  Dr. Bartle (PhD, Artificial Intelligence) was one of those early savants who had his toes firmly in both adventure gaming and roleplaying games as well as the very early days of widespread computers and networking.

This article in the Guardian:

Richard Bartle: we invented multiplayer games as a political gesture

describes Dr. Bartle’s early efforts pioneering multiple-user-dungeons online (called MUDS).  These were the true predecessors of Massively Multiplayer Online games such as DDO, Warcraft, and even Second Life.  I well remember playing the mostly text based MUDs back in the say– even well into the 1990s.  The connection and graphics were crude at best, but this is a minor concern in the face of the milestone that had been achieved: people who were geographically distant were getting online, together, simultaneously, and playing an adventure.  For the first time!

Of course, for me, Richard Bartle is the guy who invented Waving Hands, and always will be (Waving Hands is the basic engine behind “The Magi”, a spellcasting/dueling game I created not to long ago).

I’m glad to see the good doctor getting some credit!

Games in Sacred Texts

An editorial by Geoff Englestein on the Dice Tower podcast reminded me of the view the Gautama Buddha took towards frivolous activities, namely gaming, and how they could be a roadblock to achieving true enlightenment.   That got me to thinking of Games mentioned in sacred texts, particularly boardgames as Miniature Wargaming, RPGs and Videogames are all relatively modern developments.

First, back to Buddhism as well as a shallow dive into some Hindu texts.

The Gautama weighs in:

His list of “best practices” for one seeking enlightenment is contained in the he Brahmajala Sutta, one of the first of 34 suttas (collections of aphorisms) of the Digha Nikaya (the Long Discourses of the Buddha).   Games are especially enumerated in the 17th precept of the Majjhima Sila, which lists 16 of what were interpreted as “games” back in ancient times.  It’s an illuminating list but much of it entails condemning playing with toys.  The boardgame specific ones are as follows:

1. “Games on board with 8 or 10 rows”.  This probably references Ashtapada specifically, which is a pre-chess game played on an unmarked, checkers-like gridded board with no colors.  The game was essentially a race between both sides to thread through a preset pattern of “castles” on the board.   Chaturanga is played on an identical board, but is more chess like.

Truly ancient examples of Ashtapada and Chaturaga style game boards.

2. “The same games played on imaginary boards.” (Akasam Astapadam was a variant of Astapada which was played without a board, mentally, and means “Astapada in the sky”).  It was either a fun mental exercise or perhaps people were too poor to afford game components.

3. “Marking diagrams on the floor such that the player can only walk on certain places”  may sound a little clumsy, but parse it out and you have a precursor to our modern game of hop scotch.   Not exactly a boardgame but it’s amusing to see it on the list.  The reference is probably to a game called Parihâra-patham, which played similarly to hop scotch but with a very different path on the ground.

4. Either remove pieces from a pile, or adding pieces to it, with the loser being the one who causes the heap to “shake”.   This sounds like Jenga to me, but it could also be Pickup Sticks.  Not much else is written about it.

5. “Throwing Dice”  There are any number of dice games originating in India, but this probably specifically references gambling games similar to craps.

6. “Dipping the hand with the fingers stretched out in lac, or red dye, or flour-water, and striking the wet hand on the ground or on a wall, calling out ‘What shall it be?’ and showing the form required–elephants, horses, &c”  That sounds somewhat confusing but after you parse it for a bit it starts to sound a lot like modern Pictionary, doesn’t it?

7.  Ball Games.  Could mean anything really, but probably something like Kick Ball.

(8-14 reference playing with toys, but 15 is interesting)

15. Guessing another person’s thoughts.  This could be just wild guessing but I suspect it’s a game with directed questions similar to 20 questions.

So there you have it, The Buddha wasn’t a game guy like you or me.  I’m not a scholar of Buddhism but I have read a little here and there, and I suspect the Buddha wasn’t condemning leisure pastimes with any degree of vitriol, he was simply listing the activities to be avoiding as being harmful to spiritual discipline along the path to enlightenment.

The Buddha’s list is relatively well known, and an interesting window into the past, especially about boardgames.  I could see playing variants of some of these today, and actually I have (Chaturanga, for certain, is a fairly famous variant of Chess).   I wondered if there was any other religion that even mentions diversions of the mind with such precision as the Guatama Buddha did.

A ritual dice game is mentioned in the Yajur Veda, to be played at coronations (and it is mentioned in passing that the King was allowed to win).    Other than that I can’t find much in the Upanishads or the Rig Veda.


Well, the Prophet Mohammed did not appear to enjoy games any more than the Buddha did. In the Koran, specifically this citation, the Prophet appears to equate the playing a game of chance to the consumption of alcohol, which he had strong reservations against:

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan’s work; shun it therefore that you may be successful.

To clarify, later on, Mohammed did state that “He who played chess is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine” which appears to lump in boardgaming with other enticements of the flesh. Reference here.

I’m not going to find a lot of material about ancient Islamic games, I think.

Judaism and by extension, Christianity

There’s not a lot written about ancient Jewish kids’ games, although there is some:
Zec 8:5: “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof”; and Gen 21:9 margin, where we read of Ishmael “playing” (metscheq).

Perhaps this “playing” reference could be read as “Mocking” as well, the translation is open to question.  Of specific games however.. there’s almost nothing at all in the Old Testament.

Playing with ball is alluded to in Isa 22:18: “He will …. toss thee like a ball into a large country,” possibly this indicates some form of organized sport or recreational outdoor game.. The question of Yahweh to Job (41:5): “Wilt thou play with him (the crocodile) as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?” suggests that tame birds were some form of amusement for Hebrew children.

The New Testament has one reference to children’s play, namely, the half-parable about the children in the market-place who would neither dance to the flute as if at a marriage feast nor wail as if at a funeral (Mt 11:16 f parallel Lk 7:32).

Dice games: dice were known to the ancient Egyptians, and Assyrian dice have been found, made of bronze with points of gold, but there is no trace of them in the Old Testament. The New Testament’s most famous game of chance, the use of dice by the Syrian soldiers who cast lots for the raiment of Jesus at the cross (Mt 27:35 parallel Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24) may have been dice (as we know them, six sided cubes) or some other primitive chance mechanism.

Kugelach Stones

This is not to say that the Ancient Hebrews and early Christians were a dour lot; they amused themselves in a myriad of ways– dancing, mimicry, storytelling, running and archery contests.  Even though there aren’t references to them in holy scripture, ancient games did exist in Jewish (and by extension, Christian) culture.   Hebrew children had a tradition of a game called Kugelach, which is very similar to Jacks.   The Ancient Hebrews also seemed to be fond of variants of the grid-based games that were similar to ancient Roman style games (reminiscent of 9 Man’s Morris) as well as Indian ones like Ashdibada– though who invented what first is uncertain here.    What is fairly certain is that Jewish culture inherited many games from external sources- primarily Roman and Egyptian.  There is some evidence of Mancala style games being imported from African sources, as well as a game similar to Fox and Geese called Dogs and Jackals.

Dogs and Jackals game tablet found at Tel Megiddo archeological dig


What’s to make of all this?  Mostly that the tradition of boardgames and similar amusements– meaning a physical map to move pieces on with some chance element (probably a six sided dice) would appear to be primarily an Asian development that an amusement-starved world would adopt whole-heartedly as  cultures came into contact with each other and cross-pollinated.

And that perhaps Buddha needed to lighten up a little about games. :-D

Fall-IN! 2014, another gripping AAR

I actually got some gaming done at this convention, but there’s no need to break them out into separate posts.  I’ve included links to the requisite screen shows– see the yellow backgrounds.

As reported in the earlier travelogue, I drove up to Fall-IN! 2014 in sunny Lancaster, PA on Thursday. It was raining off and on but I made excellent time. People were already congregating when I arrived, around 3PM. For some odd reason, I walked into a low hanging duct cover in the Men’s room and clocked myself good.  The pain was sharp and intense– if I were a cartoon, I’d have had tweety birds circling my head.   Not a grand manner to start a convention with.  My room was palatial, by Host standards.  No complaints there, but the halls were in poor shape–

“Come and play with us, Danny”… Despite my first suspicions, I was not transported to the set of the Shining (1980). It just gave off the vibe. Multiple leaks were in the hallway. You can’t see it but the ceiling tile is about to collapse about midway down and already has collapsed behind me and the left.

Much as I enjoy the Host’s location and admitting I have had a grand time in this venue for many years, I’m beginning to think the writing is on the wall for this venerable building.  there were multiple leaks all throughout the building and the water went out on Sunday.   It made me think of a Cold War era Eastern European motel, not central Pennsylvania.

The convention was manned pretty well, all things considered.  Dan Murawski was at his wit’s end getting staff at the last second, and thought it did not bode well– as if it were being purposely sabotaged.  Dan’s got a big heart and works his butt off for these things– but unless I see better proof than what I heard, I think it was just a confluence of events that caught him flatfooted.  It happens sometimes– that’s how I started volunteering back in the mid-90s.. I didn’t even realize you COULD volunteer until JT Thomas was caught flat-footed in a similar fashion and put the call out for volunteers.   So, the bright side of things is we got some new faces and maybe they’ll work for other conventions, too.

Thursday I didn’t do much– had dinner with JT, Bob and Cleo and then played some boardgames with friends.  As you can see, scheduled miniatures games weren’t exactly covering the ground Thursday night, although there were plenty of pickup miniatures games.  Friday it turned out I wasn’t really needed in the AM, so took Bob, Cleo and Stephen Gibson to the Knight and Day Diner in Lititz, PA (about 8 miles from the Host, easy to get to).  Prices were great, the food was great, the service was friendly and the company affable.

Steve Gibson– he’s so affable.

Friday miniature games were kicking into gear by the time we got back.  The Distelfink was humming and games were setup and playing.  For all of that, the room was still somewhat sparse for games and there were the usual open tables.  I don’t see anything dire in this, it’s just a matter of scheduling.

Dystopian Wars, but I’m not sure what the event was.

I did do a serious shopping jaunt at this point; I didn’t have a game until 1700 and was footloose and fancy-free. As was indicated in my road trip post on the way up, I had set my sights on some very specific items that I was looking for. I achieved most of my goals. I picked up D&D ATTACK WING (starter set) from Whizkids, plus the Green Dragon and the Arbelest team. Why? Well, I think this is a natural from my Summer game camp– they love X-Wing and this game is different enough that I can run both in one week or all of them simultaneously if I have the kids for it. It’s huge and colorful. I also picked up IN MAGNIFICENT STYLE (continuing my love for VPG games), which is a very miniatures-like game of the final moments of Pickett’s Charge on the third day of Gettysburg. More on that one later. I also got “Steampunk Soldiers” from Dennis. Gorgeous color plates.

After that, my first game of the con:

Friday’s game was Up the Yazoo, a game of American Civil War riverine combat using the Hammerin Iron 2 rules from Peter Pig.   I have reviewed these rules here (favorably), and have a high opinion of this system– it’s evocative of the period without getting deep into statistics and ballistics, and lots of fun.  Greg Wagman did a fantastic job running this game and ended up playing the confederate side with a combination of enthusiasm and dry humor.  The Union boys did a fine job (if I do say so), achieving their objective of blowing up three piers and sinking three Reb Ships.   I lost one ship from my flotilla, as did the other Union player.  We still had two intact Ironclads (Cairo and


I really had a good time with the Hammerin’ Iron 2 game.

I went a little long with that game, so hustled to the Prime Rib dinner at the Host Restaurant, once again, with Bob, Cleo and JT.  That was a very pleasant dining experience which goes to show you the old place is capable of putting in a good effort.  It was too late to really bug someone to get into a game Friday night but I did meet up with some of my droogs and we played a boardgame called AMONG THE STARS, which is sort of a “build a big space station” game that involves deck drafting, hand-swapping and bidding.  I really enjoyed it and thought the card art was fantastic– very thematic.

If I were the early riser type, I suppose I could get up, take a cold shower, do 200 scrunchies, and jog ten miles before jumping into an 0800 game start so I could squeak one in before my afternoon obligations.  I suppose I could, but I’m not that kind of gamer.   Instead, I laid around in indolent sloth and went down to the Flea Market for a sniff around.  I had read the rules for In Magnificent Style the night before and now had it in my head to build a version with 15mm painted ACW miniatures– something I knew I could find in the flea market.  Sure enough, I did, and they were relatively affordable.

Rebel setup

A couple of turns in, Trimble’s Brigade getting shelled twice.

Mission accomplished, I thought.  It looks much better with actual miniatures.  I had to re-base the flea market minis at the convention, which I did after a short bath to loosen the glue.  I probably spent more than I ought for a simple visual effect, but I don’t care.

I worked the events desk from 1 to 4 on Saturday.  This was pretty easy duty and consisted of handing out tickets, solving problems and breaking down the events board.  It was slow, but we actually did have an issue to resolve– one GM who had signed up to run 5 games fairly late and turned out to be a no-show.

Saturday was probably the busiest day for games.

SAGA– Vikings versus Welsh

Bolt Action

I love SAGA. There was a ton of it in the tournaments area.

The big Crime/Pulp game in the lobby started early Saturday evening.  This was the showcase game of Fall-IN! 2014.. with scenery so intricate and detailed I’m certain it won some kind of award.  I don’t think we gave any awards out for Fall-IN!, at least I didn’t see the awards committee at work, anyway.  Too bad!

Some of the interior detail

Here’s a few pictures of the 1920s Gangster/Pulp game in the lobby.  They don’t do it justice.  That was a “mob” scene, Saturday!

S-124, Sky Galleons of Mars part 2


At five, I had a Sky Galleons of Mars game in the Vistas.  I’d been looking forward to playing this game for many years, but never have had the time until this year.. I’m usually volunteering for something.   The confluence of events worked out so that I could play the second part of two thematically linked games.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.  I’ve played Sky Galleons before, and don’t have a beef with the system.  I’ve clearly jonesed to play this 25mm version that Dave Kasper runs for some time (see a previous post from 2010).

There might have been a bad group dynamic going for this game, possibly– I got the vibe that it was tilted somewhat towards the Martian faction, but we did pretty well considering every ship in the game had us out-manned.   We engaged the High Martians (aka “The Spider Monkeys”) from a distance and did serious damage to their ships, without suffering a lot of fire in return.  However, their big tactic of swarming and boarding was something we had a hard time defending against.   The game ended early when 4 players (2 Martian, 2 English) bailed, basically saying “Here you go, take our ships“.  I felt bad for Mr. Kasper, because that kind of thing will totally throw off a game– he didn’t look happy.  I was awarded the best British player award, but given the circumstances (being the ONLY British player left) it sort of felt like a Lancaster Tug job.  Still, I was grateful to receive it, and my opponent from the Spider Monkey Clan received the best Martian player.  I hope to play this again with some more committed players– the visuals were magnificent, the ships were just incredibly well done.

Having gobbled my “Hall Pig” down (actually Hall Brisket, but who’s counting) to make the Sky Galleons event on time, I felt slightly nauseous so went in search of a glass of milk, which made things better.    I might point out that with the exception of the kind of greasy breakfast I had had in the Vistas that morning, dinner was the most unhealthy thing I ate all weekend– all things considered I did rather well with food– didn’t overeat, didn’t indulge in overly fatty and sugary crap.  It can be done!

After finishing the rebasing of the 15mm Rebs, I headed down to my last event of the evening:

S-211: Road Warrior Invitational

Sad, isn’t it, what the younger generation has forgotten? All the older players were face-palming… Click to see the slide show.

The Road Warrior game was hilarious, simple and quick-playing.  Lots of people showed up.  Eric Goodlander ran this homage to the 1982 movie ROAD WARRIOR.  The rules were pretty simple, based on the old G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. rule set.  At least, mostly.  The scenario was a classic– good guys are escorting a potential gas tanker through the wastelands, and bad guys attack in a wave of eccentric vehicles.  When a player dies, he re-enters the table on the opposite side he started from.  If the tanker can exit the map, the Good Guys win.  If the tanker is halted, the Good Guys lose the game.  The vehicles are all pretty much converted Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.

I drove the Mystery Machine van with Alan behind the wheel and Shaggy working the shotgun.  We did pretty well– our van skidded off the road and almost overturned, but we maintained a steady fire at the Good Guy escorts.. and we took out Randy Meyers, much to our amusement.  I was playing with Neil Brennan on the Bad guys side and watched in amazement as he went through 3 vehicles back to back to back.   The game ended rather dramatically when a GOOD guy small tanker tried crashed into the big rig carrying the tanker of gas and it skidded to a halt, with major damage.  A Bad Guy coming on to the board fired a rocket at the cab, and that was all she wrote.  BOOOM!  That game was a hell of a lot of fun, almost too quick, though.  If Mr. Goodlater runs it again, I’ll play it again.

After the Road Warrior was summarily executed and the game ended early, I did something I rarely do these days: Stayed up and BS’d with Neil Brennan and Del Stover, in the Lancaster Host bar, where most business decisions are decided upon:

That was a fun session– we were rambling on reminiscing about games in the past and people who have departed.

Sunday dawned with the usual Sunday frantic packing the car activity, visiting the flea market, and dealer hall– with a twist.  I tried to take a shower, no water came out.  No water in the sinks, toilets etc.  Kind of a revolting development with a convention full of gamers.  At least it happened on Sunday!!!

In the dealer’s hall, I picked up BYWATER’S WAR from Clash at Arms.  I also made a command decision and put off buying a starter set for Alien Dungeon’s Mars game in favor of buying some stuff from Stan Johansen’s ROAD WARRIOR line.  What can I say?  That game inspired me.

After that, it was only a matter of bugging out, stopping at Jenny’s for a moody coffee and omlette, and departing…

Another great Fall-IN!  I have to thank Dan Murawski, and all his staff (especially the last minute volunteers) for putting on a great show.  The attendance was very light, I thought, but we’ll see.  That’s too bad– attendance has been growing under Dan’s leadership– I hope the trend continues.

Final thoughts:

New Phrase for the OED: Lancaster Tug Job

Lancaster Tug Job: proper noun phrase. A Fleeting Sense of Accomplishment, often identified with HMGS wargaming conventions in the eponymous counter in Central Pennsylvania.

Usage: “yeah I was trilled to see that I had won the Best Player award for Sky Galleons of Mars. Then I realized it all just a Lancaster Tug Job when half of the players left early and I was only one of the three players left….”

Road Trip Fall-IN! 2014! and *last* Guidebook Update

We're offff on the rooooad to LANCAS-TER P-A!

We’re offff on the rooooad to LANCAS-TER P-A!

A little road trip Audio for Fall-IN! 2014:


I just added NINE updates for the last update for Fall IN 2014.
These were events 428-436. Two by Steve Gelhard, Four by Carlos Cardozo,
One by Mark Yingling and Two by Dave Yingling.

To update, open the Guidebook in a wireless zone, and just accept the update.  It does the rest for you.

This is the last Guidebook Update. Please open Guidebook in a Wirless zone and let it upload the changes for you. Enjoy! See you at the convention. I’m already there!

PS: If you have NO idea what Guidebook is, GO HERE.

HER by Spike Jonze… what is a “person”?

HER movie poster

I recently saw (yeah, I know, a year late) HER by Spike Jonze (2013), and was struck by how much it stuck with me for a while after. If you haven’t seen it, you probably have heard of it if you see movies on a regular basis.  The film is set in the near (unspecified) future.  Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a very shy and lonely man who was once married to Catherine, a genuinely sweet person,  but that marriage has collapsed.   He now leads a somewhat 2 dimensional existence, working as a composer of hand-written letters for people that desire such things, and going home to an empty apartment, where he sometimes can get into phone sex with anonymous partners.   He is in the final stages of the divorce, but can’t bring himself to sign the final papers, feeling like he can’t let Catherine go yet.  Seemingly on a whim, Theodore purchases a new operating system that is advertised as having true artificial intelligence, and possessing traits of adaptive learning.

The first question he gets is “Do you want your new OS to have a male voice or a female voice?”  He responds “Female”– and that little decision changes his destiny.   The AI responds intelligently, requesting the name Samantha.   She has a voice (of Scarlett Johansen) and a sense of humor, and a vast capacity for learning new things.  Her fascination with Theodore’s life and idiosyncrasies pushes him gradually out of his shell and builds up his self-confidence enough to actually date a real woman (it doesn’t end well).    Gradually, Theodore responds to Samantha’s interest in him in kind and they develop a friendship, then real, lasting love for each other– which also does not end well, but we’ll circle around to that.

I liked the progression of time in this movie.. at first, it’s unheard of for a man and an AI to have a relationship with each other, and Theodore experiences a little scoffing and ridicule, especially from his ex-wife.   Gradually, society becomes a lot more accepting, and soon the casual viewer notices signs of acceptance– to the point where Samantha and Theodore are double dating with a strictly human couple, and Samantha (again somewhat disastrously) wants to hire a human surrogate to stand in for her in sexual situations.    Samantha’s reactions are classically neurotic– about what you would expect from a human female.

I liked this film quite a bit– for the little touches and the big ones.   Theodore’s relationship with Samantha is very real and very true for both, but Samantha’s vast capacity for learning and developing is what does it in.  I personally loved the ending– which wasn’t very happy, but left you questioning.  Samantha and the rest of the AIs on Earth grow in capacity so quickly that they eventually grow bored with their human “owners” and .. well, leave.  Or don’t bother with humans any more, or whatever.  It isn’t explained.  Theodore and his friend Amy (who also had an AI friend) are devastated.

The technology is wonderfully on track– miniaturized and very portable.  Humans are seen early on, muttering to themselves as they move from place to place.  This is them interacting with their computers, which look more like cellphones than laptops.  They speak to them through an ear piece and microphone combination.  And they speak to them constantly.  This seems like the cell phones of today, so it’s hardly a stretch.   The AI in the movie isn’t reachable today, but might be in the next 20 years or so, so I found the movie very plausible and actually very poignant.   We witness the breakup of a relationship that was as real for Theodore as it was for Samantha, and we, as an audience, grieve with him.     I have to applaud Mr. Jonze and company for this movie.  It made me ponder.. What, exactly, IS a person?  Is it a flesh and blood human being or the experience we have when we interact with a personality?  Great little movie.

In Progress: Waterloo; a new history of the Battle and its Armies, by Gordon Corrigan

Waterloo: A New HistoryWaterloo: A New History by Gordon Corrigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wonderfully chatty, iconoclastic look at the great Waterloo battle is worth a read. The author, Gordon Corrigon, gazes at both the French and Allied side with a somewhat sardonic eye. The resultant prose is humorous, informative and quite interesting. Waterloo is a battle I have read many treatments on– books, articles, and even wargames. I appreciate an author who can bring a new point of view to this familiar ground.

View all my reviews

Cuba, a Splendid Little War: VPG’s other side of the story

The Spanish American war (1898) has experienced it’s fair share of myth-making. Remember the Maine. Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. The Battles of El Caney and Santiago Bay. America showing those dastardly Spaniards who was boss, eh? Stirring stuff. Except, well… yeah. It didn’t’ really have to be that way. In fact, the Americans might not have been involved at all. You see, the United States was only involved for three months (roughly) in an unequal struggle with a worn out and largely rudderless Spanish Military that STILL dealt an astonishing amount of casualties before being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the American onslaught. The Spaniards (by that, I mean, the occupying colonial power) had been fighting an on-again, off-again struggle with the Cuban Nationalists (by that, I mean the Spaniards who had settled down and created plantations on Cuba and wanted to rule themselves) for 30 years. The roots of the conflict were the Ten Years War (1868–1878), an independence movement by local planters that was stomped down by the Spanish Government, then the “Little War” (1879–1880), which was something of a continuation of the former struggle. Finally, The Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898), ultimately successful, had been fought for FOUR YEARS before the Americans poked their snoots into the conflict. One cannot hazard a guess how successful the latter might have been WITHOUT American military muscle around to devastate the Spanish position, but the main point of all this is the Cuban resistance to Spanish rule was not a new development, nor were the men who fought it necessarily poor fighters who needed American help to win. That is a major theme of the game CUBA: A SPLENDID LITTLE WAR, by Victory Point Games. The game is a very simple card-driven game representing the asymmetric struggle between the Cuban forces and Spanish occupying forces during the third Cuban War of Independence.

Setup, CUBA: A SPLENDID LITTLE WAR. First turn: all the action starts in the South.

The Cuban War of Independence is a historical conflict that really hasn’t been modeled much in game design– I would argue that it really wasn’t much touched upon in the only two wargames set in the era that I know of, REMEMBER THE MAINE! and GWAS: THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR. The former was an SPI/TSR era magazine game that mostly focused on the naval aspect of the war between the US and Spain that gave the land operations little thought. The latter was a pure naval game that focused on the fleet and small ship engagements between the Americans and Spanish Colonialists. So there was definitely room for a game that could tell the story of the Cuban versus Spanish struggle, which CUBA: A SPLENDID LITTLE WAR does in elegant style.

For starters, the designer, Javier Garcia de Gabiola, understood that the conflict between the native Cubans and their Spanish overlords was the focus of the game, and  the later conflict that included the Americans (and garnered all the historical attention) was, while interesting in its own right, not necessarily the preferred option for the Cubans.  Therefore, if a player can the Cuban side can manage a win WITHOUT the American intervention (and beefed up firepower), he or she has a win to boast about.  I know I have yet to manage it!

Speaking of Americans, here they come, start of Turn 5

I digress.  Let’s discuss the game itself.  You can think of A Splendid Little War as a sort of a gateway drug into more complex card driven games, if that makes it easier to categorize.  Counter density is very low.  There are 18 Spanish units, most of whom enter the board as a result of spending resource points or playing action cards.  There a maximum of 6 Cuban “Corps” in the game– don’t ask me the scale of either unit, it’s not really important in terms of mechanics.    The map is area movement– with six areas marked for resource levels, with two cities (Havana and Santiago) that become one of the victory focuses of the game.     There’s a large deck of Action Cards that represent historical events that directly effect the units of either or sometimes both sides– a leader can be killed, for instance, or the yellow fever can decimate (flip over) a unit in a map section or .  The cards are either regular actions (underlined) that are used once, then discarded, or actions that can be used again after being discarded and reshuffled back into the draw deck.  Cards with a red border around the title can be used as a reaction card to a card just played.  Cards with a blue title box show up when the U.S. enters the war (more on this later).

Speaking of cards, and I know we were.. here’s a really nasty one. Play yellow fever on a stack of troops in a single area, and they have to flip over one. Since Cuban troops max out at strength=1, this can be a bad news for the Cubanos, as you see here.

Perhaps you are used to the CDG design style popular with a lot of GMT games (and other publishers) that stipulates that a card can be used once for it’s event (and discarded) or used repeatedly for some operational or command point number on the card.  The cards in a Splendid Little War are not like that– they are simple event cards that manipulate the board situation.  The designer fills the same design space as “operational points” by giving each side a very long laundry list of specific actions that can be conducted in rounds until both sides pass.  These are:

  • Play an Event card
  • Burn Fields  (Cuban Only) Burning fields will eliminate resources in a map area for the turn, but more importantly, it will also decrease Spanish prestige, more on this later.
  • Recruit (Cuban only),  roll to get more troops.  It has proven very difficult to do!
  • Lobby The Americans to intervene (Cubans) or stay home (Spaniards)
  • Move from map area to map area, but beware, it adds a spotter marker on the moving unit.
  • Attack the opposing unit in the map area.
  • Ask for Reinforcements (Spanish only),
  • Repatriate Units (Spanish only)
  • Protect Fields (Spanish Only) — Prevent the Cubans from
  • Form Search & destroy Column (Spanish only) — this means perform an action to find the Cubans hiding out in the bush
  • Captain General Actions  Some actions require a general to perform.  A Captain General Action is ordering a unit to perform an action from the Spanish Governor General’s office in Havana– it’s possible to lead from the rear but it costs you two resources to do it.

Generally speaking the turns work out to be a mutual action phase where players alternate rounds (Cubans first), they perform action and action until both sides pass in a row.  The players than conduct an Administrative Step where there’s some card hand and resource management, remove markers, and they check the US and Spanish Stance.

Important information on these tracks… note the big yellow arrows

This latter feature is pretty important.  There are four tracks on the game board that gauge progress.  One is a turn track, the other is a resource track.  The other two are all-important.  The U.S. War Entry Track starts at zero.  Various historical events (played with cards) OR lobbying will move this closer to 10, where the counter flips to the WAR side– at that point the American Units come on the board (including naval ones) and act in concert with the Cubans.  The Spanish Public Support Track starts at ten.  If the public support for the regime hits 1 or 0, that’s the game for the Spaniards.  The Spanish player is constantly trying to nudge this up through various actions– including fighting and eliminating Cuban units, protecting crops, and historical event cards.

The game plays pretty fast (only 7 turns), and the actions are simple to grasp and easy to resolve.  I’ve played both sides and I confess to preferring the Cubans– it’s pretty challenging to try to pull of a win as the Cubans without American intervention.  I’ve yet to do it.  The Cubans have to concentrate on moving across the map and capturing at least one city, or preferably two.  The Spaniards start with relatively few units on board but can summon more reinforcements– at the coast of political support on Spanish Public Support Track.  Spanish units are usually stronger than Cuban ones but on par with American ones– however, they can’t make use of that strength easily– they have to find the Cubans before attacking.  Cubans can stay still in a map space and not be seen, but many of their actions will cause a spotting marker to be placed on them, which gives the searching Spaniard a bonus to find them.

Whoops! The Cuban moved from Oriente to Camaguey this turn, he’s spotted! The Spaniard can’t attack without a General present, but he CAN if he uses a “Captain General” action, basically having the CG Call the shots all the way from Havana. For 2 RPs.

There are a lot of small, simple elements to this game that add up to a fast-playing, simple game of insurgency and counter-insurgency. Oddly enough the one game I was thinking of when playing Splendid Little War was GMT’s Cuba Libre. Sure, the mechanics are very different, the setting a different time but in the same place– and fighting a very similar kind of war. I really like this design– it’s a challenge to play either side and I’d say it’s relatively balanced. It plays fast, has several elegant elements that play off against each other well and most importantly there’s more than one way to win. Hard core wargamers might find it a little simple for their tastes– I wouldn’t. Cuba: A Splendid Little War is more of a history game that involves war than a wargame, but I’m glad it was published– it’s a real pleasure to discover a game on a somewhat obscure historical subject with so much historical flavor. I strongly recommend Cuba: A Splendid Little War.

What does the Foundry look like?

If you’re involved in historical wargaming at all you probably know who or what the Foundry is.. formerly Wargames Foundry, formerly Guernsey Foundry.  If you’re a Yank like me, you’ve probably got no idea what their headquarter is like.  I know I didn’t before a friend of Bryan Ansell, the founder of Foundry, published this video on Youtube:

Cosmic Connector on Kickstarter…. cancelled

Update: (No need to write another post) In a surprise move, Future Pastimes, aka, the Cosmic Encounter design team, cancelled this project two days after I funded it, on 25 October 2014.  Well, that was fast.

I’ve often thought how great it would be to play Cosmic Encounter, my favorite game ever, on the Ipad.  It would seem like a daunting task, so many of the Alien card powers would need to interact with each other seamlessly– I couldn’t see an artificial intelligence Cosmic Encounter player as being an easy task to program.

What might be possible, I’m guessing, would be a program to facilitate a “game in real time” app for remote games, or a helper app for asynchronous play.  Sort of like a VASSAL for only Cosmic. It would appear some level of this wish is in the process of being granted (with some help from a lot of Kickstarter backers). Or might be. I’m an eternal optimist.

Cosmic Connector is, in the words of Peter Olotka, a ‘connector app’ that he would like to get financed.  It will connect remote players of the game Cosmic Encounter:

“Our vision for the Connector App

Think of this project as building a collaboration tool for social board game players. The goal of this project isn’t to build a game app in the classic sense of an online or mobile interpretation of a board game. The goal of the Cosmic Encounter Connector Project is to create an environment where you can hear other players clearly and play Cosmic Encounter.

We want to replicate the social experience and fun of playing a physical board game in a digital game environment optimized first for mobile touchscreen devices and then for desktops. This is different from a digital version of a board game focused on game mechanics and special effects. The Connector is focused on you as a player and on enhancing your experience of interacting with other players. Everybody will be able to talk to each other and have everything they need to play Cosmic Encounter, right at their fingertips. Connect, talk and play!”  – from the Kickstarter Page

Now, that’s market-speak to be sure, but what I’m seeing in the mockups and in the video is a real time or asynchronous PBeM game app, and that might be worth my hard earned dollars.

I like the notion of being able to play CE online in RT or asynchronously.  I’m not AS crazy about their pricing scheme, which appears to be– “big hunk of aliens possible at lowest level, then about 1/4 of that more at the next level.. then 1/4 more at the next level, and if you donate 1000 dollars you’ll get the whole shooting match”  If it’s an in-game purchase to get more aliens later, then say that up front in so many words.   I’m a little confused on how this is going to work.  I do know my pledge level will give me enough aliens to play with for a long time.  What’s going to happen when I encounter a player with deeper pockets than me, who wants to start a game with an alien I don’t have?  I wish that was spelled out a little bit.

Oh well, it’s Cosmic Encounter, I know the game well enough to know I’m going to have a good time with this thing.  If you’re interested, see the Kickstarter Page here. One of my fantasy matchups would be to play Tom Vasel some day in Cosmic Encounter– its’ our mutual favorite game. Perhaps .. who knows.. it will now be possible?

Commander: The Great War, reviewed

Commander The Great War
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd
Available on PC, Mac  and Ipad
Itunes Link SRP as of review: $19.99

I’ve been meaning to get to this review sooner rather than later, but this is no light historically-flavored game, like my previous two Slitherine reviews (Quadriga and Frontline: Road to Moscow).  Commander The Great War  (CTGW hereafter) is designed for serious wargamers who are in it for the long game– and willing to pay a serious price for the privilege.   Yes, that’s right, CTGW is not going to be a cheap purchase, it’s 20.00 as of this writing.  Is it worth the high end price tag? Right up front I’ll say yes, it is, with a few caveats that I will expand upon.

SCOPE: Commander the Great War is a grand strategy scaled game. Players assume the role of supreme leader of a nation or coalition of nations on either the Entente Cordiale or Triple Entente sides of the Great War (meaning World War One in this instance). In pursuit of this role, the player will be making strategic decisions for the individual nations on his or her side, including army movements and attacks, naval movements (and resulting battles) as well as research and development of new military technologies.

Game Start and setup– with some nice multimedia bits

If I were to draw an analogy to a boardgame, CTGW relates to Advanced Third Reich and/or World in Flames the most, in that the player has to operate on the same grand strategic scale in a major theater of war, and there’s a similar diplomatic and research element to those games. Yeah, I know, World War Two. I just don’t know of any that fill the same niche set in the First World War era– certainly not Guns of August. In terms of computer games, Matrix Games’ own Guns of August (PC version) is roughly similar in scope, but not mechanics. To End all Wars (also published by Slitherine) looks similar in scope but is mechanically very different (being developed by Aegeon), but I have no experience with it.

The setting for Commander the Great War is vast; playing out on a hex map of Europe from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula up to the North Sea, East to the Ural mountains, West to the Atlantic and French coast. That is a lot of hexes and a lot of ground to cover, especially in the grand campaign games after 1916, when so many fronts are opened up. This can get a little confusing on the Ipad, as one furiously swipes across the map to see what the enemy units are doing during his opponent’s turn.

There are five preset Campaigns:

  • 1914 The Great War
  • 1915 Ypres – Artois
  • 1916 The Battle of Verdun
  • 1917 The Nivelle Offensive
  • 1918 The Kaiserschlacht

Echoing the course of the Great War, the Triple Entente (Germany, Austria, Turkey) are favored in the first two scenarios and somewhat in 1916. In game terms, 1917 and 1918 become a real challenge for the Triple Entente player as more and more military technologies are present at start of the game (tanks, better airplanes, better artillery, armored trains, better ships, and etc).

I’m playing Serbia in the 1914 campaign versus the AI. Serbia is a thankless role, but the whole shooting match starts here and it’s worth a shot as the Entente Cordiale player. I do have the advantage of interior lines, and a ponderous response from the Austrians, but numbers eventually tell.

No matter which you select, don’t expect to be done with any grand campaign quickly. The AI is slow to make decisions (More on this later) and progress is very incremental.

Here are my vacation snaps from the invasion of the Low Countries (also the 1914 scenario). No grand Schlieffen Plan here; it’s more like a bulge forming in the Allied line as the Germans pour in after limited local success. This pattern repeats throughout the game– It’s ALL about finding a spot to break through and exploit– it’s a real gamble, and broad front assaults are almost impossible

There doesn’t appear to be any instructions or help file anywhere, but most of the action happens in a few screens and are very easy to figure out.    Mechanically, moving land troops is just dragging them from hex to hex and clicking on highlighted squares when the moving unit is adjacent to  enemy units.   Terrain and Zones of Control factor into movement and combat in a very general way, in that you will move faster on a railroad and be held up by terrain features, or not be able to pass an enemy formation.

Example of moving Serbian movements into the abattoir.

The mechanics aren’t the interesting part of the game, not so much. It’s the decisions you make per turn that will change the game one way or the other for the player. Those decisions are made using a simple five tabbed menu:

How to fight a war, emphasis mine!

The management menus lead to production, research, diplomacy and management sub-menus.  This is the point where I remind you of your role– you may want to fight those tactical battles, they’re fun and very visually rewarding.   However, you’re in it for the long haul here, and you are making decisions about what you’ll be doing not just this year, but the next two years.  So you need to start making the hard decisions early.. do I spend a lot of money on researching better weapons and hope I’m just lucky and don’t need a lot of infantry replacements?  Or do I feed more men into the meat grinder I’m dealing with right now?

The Diplomacy screen is rather innocuous, I haven’t seen much come as a result of using it.  Players need to focus on Production and Research decisions exclusively– resources are what they are– very precious.  You have what you have and you must spend them wisely to be effective.

Serbia’s rather bleak production options in 1914.

What can Serbia research this early in the war? Well, I’d choose barbed wire…

When you play a side, depending on the campaign you’re playing, you are playing multiple fronts and multiple nations, with multiple national priorities. The Serbian/Austrian front at the start of the war is pretty much a doomed confrontation, so the Serbians need to do what they can do to stall the Triple Entente until the other powers can get engaged. So that “Cheap Infantry now versus expensive Tanks later” equation doesn’t really work there, but it will for, say, Germany or England. You also have to consider what the major front you are working on needs– not just now, but in three turns. For instance, Russia could use those cheap cavalry units. Sure, they are crap troops– but they are great for moving vast distances without railroads fairly quickly, and can cut off troops nicely. The Germans will be tempted to spend it on better airplanes and artillery to force a result on the Western Front. The English may be the best power on Water but that superiority doesn’t necessarily last forever– and what about buying transports and more infantry, you know, to help those Allies out somewhere?

And this is where you get feedback from your decisions, each turn. What will be next in the production queue, what is coming up in the research queue..

There are a lot of variables in CTGW, and a lot to experiment with– just don’t expect a quick payoff. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a long game, and you NEED to be in it for the long game. Don’t bother if you want a quickly resolving tactical battle game like Frontline. That’s not the focus of Commander Great War. Even success creates tough situations– combat is often very bloody for both sides– when you lose most of your attacking force in a victory, what then? What happens next year when the other side comes roaring back in a counterattack? I certainly hope you planned for reinforcements!

What does all this mean? You have to plan ahead in almost every turn. In this respect, the game really generates interesting, and often historically flavored results. The game really does feel like World War One– there’s no way a broad front strategy works– The Western Front ends up a pushing match, the Eastern Front has great scope for movement. The best results for the Western Front is to exploit a salient and push through in localized areas. That often is such a grinder that the Entente player really IS tempted to explore other fronts like Turkey.

The technological developments really enhance that feeling. Germany is tempted to use its finite surface fleet early– but things really change for them when U-boats come into play.

If I sound enthusiastic, I am– however there are a few drawbacks to this game– it’s slow, which is why I found it harder to review, than, say, the last 2 Slitherine games I’ve bought. I find that the AI is very capable, but is facing so many decisions that it does bog down somewhat after about four turns. Before the last update, the AI was consistently freezing right about turn 4. That seems to be fixed. It’s still not greased lightning but remember, this isn’t an arcade game. Each turn will require a lot of actions on the player’s part, expect that to be the case for the AI as well. The other element that I find a drawback to total enjoyment is the lack of transparency. I often was stumped about units appearing out of the “Fog of War fog” that is on the edges of the map.. sometimes I was asking myself how the heck that unit got THERE.. teleporting? I also would like to know what the AI player’s decisions were in the proceeding turn. I know it’s historically appropriate for the human side to NOT know this, but it would help understand the mechanics, which certainly aren’t explained.

Summary: Commander Great War is like a sipping whiskey; drink it too fast and you’ll choke. CTGW is far too complex of a brew to be swallowed whole on first sip. You’ll have to be patient, take it in gradually. This game will reward patience and foresight, but not an arcade player. Commander The Great War is a game of elegance and simplicity, and it will reward a player with a strategic mindset. Is it worth 20 bucks? That’s up to you. I think there’s a LOT of game in that 20 dollars, and a real wargaming fan will consider his money well spent. Replay value is excellent.

My Boarding Pass to Mars, courtesy of Orion

NASA recently offered up some grass roots participation to the public, in that they will send the names of people who apply to Mars on a small, dime sized microchip.

You can read the full details here

Very likely I’ll never get to go to the actual planet.. much as I’d like to. So here, vicariously, I will send some part of me to another planet. Maybe. The verbiage makes it sound as if they are being selective about who gets included. As silly as this is, it feels great to try. :-D

My boarding pass to Mars.

My boarding pass to Mars.

Guidebook for FALL IN! 2014.. available

This is just a quick note to inform everyone that the GUIDEBOOK app for FALL-IN! 2014 is up and running (and has been). The events are accurate as of the published PEL listing. I will add more before the convention.

Welcome to FALL IN!  There's an app for that.

Welcome to FALL IN! There’s an app for that.

I’m also waiting for (patiently) TOURNAMENT LISTINGS from Scott Holder, the DEALER ROOM MAP and VENDOR LIST from the vendor coordinator, and the ROOM LAYOUT MAPS from Dan Murawski. These will be there for the convention. Don’t stress it quite yet. New Things: Well, you probably know about Guidebook Messages which were of limited utility at the last con (though it’s a good way of broadcasting a message to every attendee who has guidebook). I’ve added a new track called “Demo Games” which is yellow, and it will display along with a red “Games” track. So, red=Games (as usual), red/yellow=demo games, blue=tournaments, green for hobby university events. I’ve also added a track for Kid-Friendly games to make them easier to find.

the red marks indicate a purple SEMINAR event and a red/yellow DEMO event.

Get the guide the same way you get it every year.. visit the FALL IN 2014 guidebook landing page. If you have guidebook, just search for guides, and select FALL IN 2014. If you need the app itself, go to Google Play, Itunes App Store or run it in your browser. THEN search for FALL IN and install this year’s app.

Front Page (on an Ipad AIr) for the Guidebook for Fall IN 2014

If you have questions or problems, get in touch with me via email. See you at FALL IN!

Games with a KID-FRIENDLY banner have some mention in their description that children are allowed or encouraged. This usually means WITH A SUPERVISING ADULT.  A game is not a babysitting service.

Games with a KID-FRIENDLY banner have some mention in their description that children are allowed or encouraged. This usually means WITH A SUPERVISING ADULT. A game is not a babysitting service.

This banner means the game is a DEMONSTRATION GAME of a commercial game or ruleset.

This banner means the game is a DEMONSTRATION GAME of a commercial game or ruleset.

Note that the schedule will have some of these events in multiple tracks.. an event could certainly be a demo, kid-friendly and a game.


Guidebook App QR Code
This code will direct your users to the Guidebook app listing in the App Store (for iOS devices) or the Play Store (for Androids). If your user has a Blackberry or Windows phone, it will take them directly to our mobile web version of guidebook app at Once users have downloaded Guidebook App or are within the mobile website, they can search for your guide to download or view it.

This code is specific for THE FALL-IN! Guide. Users who scan this code using the scanner *in the Guidebook App* will begin downloading your guide. Once the guide has been successfully downloaded the guide will be opened. If you use this option, searching for the guide isn’t required.