Category Archives: wargame

Major Guidebook Update for HISTORICON 2015


Hey HMGS Convention Attendees, we have a MAJOR Guidebook Update for you.

Hey Historicon! There’s an app for that!

First of all, I tried floating events early without room numbers.  That was a bad idea, as updating them (later) WITH the numbers nuked most of what I had done before, causing me to reenter data for tournaments and seminars!  Woo hoo! I love entering data twice.

So I’m making a business decision– we don’t post events (that is, regular games) until the events guy irons out what the table numbers are and where they are at.. it’s too painful to bounce back if the earlier input crashes on you.  If that means we post Guidebook a little closer to the event, so be it.

So, what do we have?

  • TOURNAMENTS (again)
  • SEMINARS (again)
  • HOBBY UNIVERSITY (first time)
  • GAMES (again)
  • Maps!

What am I missing?  The map of the Exhibitor Hall and Exhibitor List.

And then we will be done, unless we get new games between now and the convention itself.

How to get it

Go to the Guidebook Landing Page which is HERE and follow directions.

To Preview the Guide

Go to the Preview Page which is here

Historicals versus Non-Historical Count

New feature: I thought I’d do an actual count by period.  The reality of Non-Historical versus Historical by counting the actual numbers, not by hand waving*:


Source: Events Spreadsheet extracted on 6/18/2015, Historicon 2015

So the reality is 20% non-historical games at Historicon.  And I’m grouping in anything that could remotely be considered fantasy and SF together.  There are the numbers.

Events by Rules mentioned in PEL


You may have to click to see original size. There were a lot of rule sets.

This was all over the map.. there were a lot of rule sets being used.  Where it was possible I combined version and flavors and variants into the parent.

In any event, there’s the true facts, and a big, big, big guidebook update.  See you at HISTORICON 2015.

* Note on the period count above– it excludes all tournaments, which probably should be entered under fantasy in some respects.  Did I say that out loud?  I’m trying not to snark…

Some Road Warrior/White Line Fever Edits, ver. 2.65 out now, plus Veh. Sheets


rwrulescover

Sorry to keep doing this to anyone who is interested, but I got some feedback to from a guy who ran these rules recently and he had some handy suggestions.  Out of this came the recent Trifold handout (which I revised the main text in the Epub to match in v. 2.5) and also the new Vehicle Sheets which are attached*.

Version 2.65 revision expands the vehicle statistics (what do these MEAN?) and shows an example of a filled in Vehicle Sheet.   I don’t forsee any other major changes before Historicon.  I might have some changes in the wake of a large multi-player game at a convention, but nothing to worry about until then.

Thanks to Shane Metzger for both his feedback and contributing vehicle sheets to this design.   Contributions like his only make a game better.

* The Vehicle Sheet sample linked to this post is in the PowerPoint 2013 format.

Post-Apocalyptic Scooby Gang, in Color!


Creating a post-apocalyptic car combat game has its whimsical moments.  I present “The Scooby Gang”, alongside the Mystery Machine:

L to R: Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy. Mystery Machine (up armored) in background. Scooby is in foreground.

 Figures were Elhiem, the Van is Hot Wheels with some Stan Johansen flourishes..

Same lineup as before, another angle

“1970’s Style Teen/twentys Pesky Kids and Great Dane”

and another new car…

The Grease Palace! He drops oil slicks and junk parts behind him…

Yes, it’s fun living in a blasted Apocalypse, devoid of all hope!

Post-Apoc 20mm Pedestrians..2


Just a quick look at Post-Apocalypse 20mm pedestrians, for use with a variety of games but mostly Road Warrior/White Line Fever.  These come from a variety of sources, notably East Riding and Stan Johansen Miniatures.

Assorted Pedestrians with guns. Click to enlarge

The various groups are:

The Bugeyes: a group of hardcore survivalists with decent weapons and NBC gear, giving them their trademark “look”.  Somewhat paranoid about radiation/chemical poisoning.  They are out scavenging.

Street Punks: Some of the local armed gangs, armed mostly with lower tech rifles and crossbows or melee weapons, as bullets are getting rare.  They will shoot first and ask questions later.

Dirty Texans: Remnant of a Texas Ranger group.  They wear trademark dusters to keep the worst of the hard rain off.   They will defend themselves vigorously.

Low Rent Paramilitary: This is a group of survivalist, paramilitary types from an old private security company.  Armed with National Guard castoffs and flak jacket, they are using older weaponry which still works just fine.

In painting, but not done: The Big Hair Boys (old Citadel Mohawk wearing punks, way taller than the ones above, closer to 25mm) and Cultists of the Circle (Stan Johansen figures which will match the above)

Let’s flail that dead horse– more car conversions


With the appearance of a postal truck I had been expecting, I’m done with car conversions for a while.  I couldn’t resist getting just a  few new art deco styled classic cars when I saw them hanging on the rack at Safeway of all places, for less than a buck a piece!  Also, I’ve been experimenting with adding crews to the cars with exposed cockpits and fighting areas, and I thought I’d display a few of the better attempts.

HW 49 Merc convertible


Click me for larger view

Part of the 2009 Hot Wheel Treasure hunt series.  I took this lovely bright and shiny Detroit Iron, originally brown with gold highlights and a cheerful tan and brown interior, and totally filthed it all up.  The interior went dull black.    I didn’t want to lose the original paint job, because that’s just lovely, but I did dull it down with 3 coats of flat matte varnish, and then a filth wash of blotches of tan paint.  The crew are both from Stan Johansen.  The .30 cal is from ERM miniatures, and the flame thrower up front is from Stan.

MB Postal Van, modern

Going Postal. Click to enlarge

A pretty old and hard to find diecast, actually, the Matchbox Postal Vehicle (circa 2000) is a design that is still in use today.  Like many of these recognizable “service” vehicles, I wanted to retain the look and feel of the original, just with a lot of wear and tear (and armor) on it.  So I added plastic styrene “plate armor” on either door, plus a piece to represent a hatch cut into the roof.   There’s cage armor on the front (I’m going to need to repaint this) and an air cooled .30 cal machine gun bolted to the roof (from Stan Johansen).  I will likely have a figure up there as well eventually.   I’m thinking of some graffiti as well.. perhaps DISGRUNTLED or GOING POSTAL.

MB Checker Cab, circa 1958


Click to enlarge

I had to pay homage to the old 1993 Windows 3.1 game Hellcab, of course.  This is a Checker Cab from Matchbox which is kind of difficult to find with the original Checker logo.  The more modern and generic “Taxi” markings of later Matchbox cab models seemed kind of cheap and inaccurate so I held off until I could find a decent original model.    I wanted to keep the original paint job of bright yellow, especially the decals.  So I matte varnished it repeatedly, added an autocannon up front, added side cage armor and a half slab of styrene “armor” over the windshield to protect the autocannon gunner, then added generous rust and a thin coat of sepia wash on top of it all.  The result is one grimey hellcab for cuties.

HW Custom 55 Chevy

Click me to enlarge

This is also part of the 2009 Treasure Hunt series from Hot Wheels.  I ended up getting a two tone Chevy with a somewhat annoying bright metal flake paint job that was hard to dull down.  Still, I love the two tones.   I used the same approach I take to any car where I wish to retain the base paint scheme, dull it down and add some filth.  I reeled in the “extra armor” I usually add on this one and built a small Heavy Rocket mount box from plastic card.  This car will have two heavy “Fire and Forget” Rockets (painted standard rocket red), then the driver is down to a pistol.

MW Volkswagen Transporter Van

I did mention this vehicle in passing in the last post on the “Hell truck” but I wanted to show a closer look.  This isn’t exactly Detroit iron here, but I felt we should have one of these in the game to represent the 1960s.  The original is a two tone, bright colored blue VW Van with a skylight, lots of clear plastic windows and tons of chairs for passengers.  Nice, but it wouldn’t do for combat purposes.  I added an interior platform for gunners to stand on, painted the interior all black and the windows all grey.   I’m including this picture in the post to show that I’ve been painting up crew and militia figures for the game, and plan on adding some as crew permanently.   The weapon up front is a four shot flame thrower, angled down somewhat– envisioned as being operated by the crewman standing on the firing platform.

Lastly,

Two small pickups with Harpoon Teams, Datsun and Volkswagen pickups

For some reason I’m tickled pink about harpoon guns. Click to enlarge.

I think these are both Hot Wheels.  You’ve seen them in the background of a few pictures so far but I wanted to post them with pictures of crew on board.  Crew is all Stan Johansen, so are the weapons.   I see them as equivalent of technicals, but with harpoon guns designed to ensnare and roll vehicles of roughly the same mass.

I love the visual effect of adding crew to some of these vehicles.  It wouldn’t be practical (or possible) to crew every car with an open cockpit, but I can do enough to add that action element to the game.

Road Warrior / White Line Fever 1.2 Revision


rwrulescover

A quick note– I’ve revised WHITE LINE FEVER (the expanded version of Eric Goodlater’s ROAD WARRIOR rules).  The Fire Combat Table was lacking to hit numbers after the range numbers.. that’s fixed  I also added some ideas for Mortars and Recoiless Rifles, and redid the damage table to include them.

You can find it on the DIGITAL RULES page  See the tab above.  It’s rather prominent.

Expanded Road Warrior Rules now as an EPUB in Digital Rules section


As part of the WHITE LINE FEVER project, which entails producing a post-apocalyptic Road Battle game in the spirit of ROAD WARRIOR and the upcoming FURY ROAD movies, I am using a set of rules written by Eric Goodlater that I have played at a few HMGS conventions (Fall IN! 14 and Cold Wars 15).   I liked the ease, and more importantly the SPEED with which they depict the finale of ROAD WARRIOR.  Eric was happy to share the rules with me, which showed up as a word file and a scan of a chart done in pencil.  ROAD WARRIOR is a pretty simple rule set heavily influenced by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. skirmish rules.  Being a tinkerer kind of guy, I tinkered with it, and created an epub out of the results, which you can see here.  You can get it from the Digital Rules page. 

Jon Southard’s CARRIER (VG) for IoS project of Mr. Cyril Jarnot


Carrier Box

Cover

Jon Southard’s CARRIER game was published by Victory Games in 1990.   Victory Games was a subsidiary group of the venerable Avalon Hill Game Company, comprised of ex SPI Staffers that were on the beach when SPI folded.  From the start, Victory Games were designed and marketed to the serious gamer crowd; their games were known for lengthy rule books chock full of detail, and games that took a lot of thought and time to commit to.  I owned several of them in my day, notably VIETNAM, AMBUSH, HELL’S HIGHWAY, 1809 and a couple of the Fleet series games.  One game I did NOT own was the subject of this post, CARRIER, a solitaire design by Jon Southard, an industry veteran.  Given how high this game is priced in the secondary and tertiary boardgame market, it’s unlikely I’ll acquire it at this juncture, which is regrettable.  I love good solitaire designs– and Carrier is definitely a game that fits that category.

Carrier is a solitaire simulation of both historical and hypothetical carrier battles in the Southwest Pacific Theater during 1942 and 1943.  The player plays the U.S. commander, maneuvering recon flights and task forces to located and destroy the enemy before he can locate and destroy the player’s forces.  Game mechanics governing the movement of the Japanese are not all that difficult to grasp.  One of the aspects of the simulation I like is the ability for the game to surprise you.  You will not know the Japanese are on top of you until they are flying bombing runs on your airfields.  Carrier, like a lot of older wargames, is also a tough, slow playing game with a lot of charts and detail.  Or so I thought.

Splash/Front Menu

Mr. Cyril Jarnot, an IoS developer of no small talents from France, has been slowly working on a conversion of the game from a series of charts and counters onto an Ipad virtual map.  I had opportunity to try out this conversion in playtesting phase and so am able to relay a few impressions.    Note Bene, all pictures reflect a playtest version, not far from final release but not final at time of their capture.

To begin with, all the chart-checking to simulate the movement of Japanese forces is still taking place, only the computer (Ipad) is now being doing all the dice rolling behind the scenes, which make the Japanese movements far more mysterious.

They could be any number of things… from a tuna boat to a task force.. but they are definitely Japanese contacts.

and closer up… details reveal themselves after you send reconnaissance planes out to check what’s under those counters…

Oh ho, see what lays in wait to bomb my airfield, eh?

When you DO bump into the Japanese, combat can be multi-stepped and sequential.  To commit planes to combat, the US Player has to move them to various ready areas on his display to simulate where they are in the process of confronting the Japanese over a combat area.

The sequence you follow to commit planes to combat… and there is a LOT of air combat in this game.

You can’t just “commit  everything I got to CAP and hope for the best”– you have to move groups to the ready state, in a sequence, as you see here (above).  Once combat does occur (The Japanese come to you, or you search out and find a Task Force or incoming flight of planes), you will see this sequence:

If there is a CAP force over the target, it would engage the incoming planes first. If not, then they attack the ships (or shore) immediately., subtracting losses for AA Defensive fire.

The game is quite challenging on the Ipod, I was very pleased at how aggressive and uncompromising the AI is.  For one thing, you are outnumbered in this time and place in the war, and that always works against you.

oh.. THAT Japanese Task force.. as opposed to those OTHER Japanese Task Forces…

The game teaches itself at a nice programmed pace, similar to the old SQUAD LEADER “programmed instruction” approach from Avalon Hill. This is just as well– the game (in paper version) is pretty complex and that’s a lot of meat to chew on in one bite. Mr. Jarnot has taken the approach of cutting your meat up for you and feeding it to you in delicate little bites, a bite at a time. So keep in mind (as of this writing) you will have to go through ALL of the tutorial modules before “free play” can happen with CARRIER for the IoS. This decision is in spirit of the old Victory Game rules and Jon Southard, apparently, approves.

Now, is it a straight port? Is it replicating every nuance of the old paper map and counters version published in 1990? I am not educated enough to say for sure. I never owned Carrier. It certainly plays in the spirit of the old VG games I played back then; lots of complexity under the surface, and thankfully (for playing time) it keeps a lot of the chart checking behind the scenes. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have no idea what Mr. Jarnot’s plans are for this game or how to get a legal copy for yourself; I will steer you towards the CARRIER forums on Boardgamegeek, where he is easy to find. Direct any questions to him there. I sincerely hope the IOS app I helped test becomes a commercial product, I would gladly pay for the final version, and support Mr. Jarnot’s efforts.

SLIDE SHOW OF CARRIER on the IOS PICTURES

White Line Fever car conversions, Preamble


Slideshow of all Road Warrior photos: HERE I have been playing Eric Goodlater’s ROAD WARRIOR rules at the last few conventions.  It’s the kind of game that you play at night with a lot of beer and pretzels nearby, and loud talking.    After the third game I decided I could probably run something like this and started purchasing Hot Wheels and Matchbox.  They are surprisingly cheap and there are manufacturers out there that will gladly sell you armor and weapon add-ons to make your bland kiddie cars turn into highway death machines.  I’ve bought, I think, maybe four bundles of Hot Wheels and some select matchbox packs, and they cost 4 bucks -ish each.  This yielded an amazing amount of useful cars for a Road Warrior style romp in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Hot Wheels, in particular, makes some pretty bizarre cars these days, all decked out in neon orange and green colors– and maybe just a tad too fanciful.  However, once you begrime them and turn the bright colors into muddy dusty earth tones, they look very appropriate for post-apocalypse and very interesting to boot.

Click to see closeup. Pre-conversion cars, all from a discount store, all sold in packs of five for four dollars and some change.  First challenge is to get rid of the DayGlo Hot Wheels color schemes.  Check out the bright Lime green HMMV and glow in the dark green windshield on the car next to it.  Or the orange engine of the blue car in the first row.  Right.  That has to go!

I’ve started adding conversion kits from Stan Johansen Miniatures, plus plastic pieces (styrene) and pieces of the gridwork from needlepoint grids.

Vehicles in the foreground came from a Matchbox “military vehicles” set and a Hot Wheels “Horror Cars” set. Even the goofy horror cars start looking tribal when you give them a post-apocalyptic paint job. Click to enlarge

And a few more from the military set and a couple of cherry picked vehicles. That’s the same kind of car as in Mad Max just south of the reddish SUV with a turret up top. Had to have one of those. I gave Max a gatling gun, though.
Click to enbiggen

They look dingier, to be sure, but I’m not remotely finished. I’m going to give everything a big patina of rust and dust, so that means a lot of washes and then dry brushing. Also I have to color the windows/cockpits and add a few color highlights here and there.

An expanded look at what’s been done so far and what remains.
Click to enlarge

I’m not done yet with collecting; I’ve just got the easy stuff you can get from Wal Mart and comparable places in the Value-bundles. I have some specific vehicles I want to get in the game– I have a Nash Rambler on the way, and a Tanker Trailer (of course), and a Gyrocopter, which wasnt’ easy to find. I also would like at least two pickup trucks, a couple of vans and a Mystery Machine (from Scooby Doo), but that has eluded me so far. The next post will be about other Vehicles (including the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile), the Tanker and any other vehicles I’ve picked up between now and then. I think a psychotic Lunch truck, a postal vehicle and School bus (in scale) need to be added! I’ll run this at Historicon of sure and definitely for game camp.

Relevant Links:  Stan Johansen Miniatures:

  • ROAD WARRIOR accessories and miniatures can help convert regular Hot Wheels and Matchbox into post apocalyptic Road Warrior style vehicles with weapons, armor and turrets.
  • Aberrant Games WARLANDS is a new series of rules set in post-apocalyptic ravaged highways.  The miniatures are nice– they have a Gyrocopter for the tanker chase, and several small dune buggies and motorcycles.
  • And of course, there’s the grandaddy of them all: Car Wars by SJG.

Wars and Battles: Review


Wars and Battles
Turned Based Strategy, multiple eras
Publisher: Kermorio (France)
SRP (as of writing) 6.99 base, 9.99 per IGC module
website: http://www.warsandbattles.com/

I was given the opportunity to play and review the recent game from the Battle Factory, called “Wars and Battles”.  The core of Wars and Battles is a hex based battle game with an old school look to it, set in a very narrowly defined battlefield in linked campaign.  Battles are launched from a standard interface that should be able to host future campaigns from other eras.

The main screen

Kermorio is gambling on a standard interface approach, somewhat modular with unit icons OR 2D pieces being the default view.  These are played on a standard 22 hex map with variable terrain features whose cumulative effect is usually reduction of movement or influencing combat or line of sight.

In game touch tip and tutorial help is very good, as you can see above.

A Campaign is essentially a linked progression of battle scenarios played out on these 22 hex battle maps.  Campaigns are in game purchases, with the base game being 6.99, and at time of writing, the Normandy Campaign in WW2 is available for additional charge beyond the default basic game.

Having played through the Normandie (sic) campaign, I would recommend this IGP.  Historical material is very well done and it’s clear research went into this game– each unit has a background piece and it’s more than a drag and click interface.  The historical campaign follows Normandy closely and I had no complaints based on what I know about the campaign from a historical viewpoint, which is a decent familiarity.    Campaign missions follow a progression from Easy to Very Hard, and you are debriefed for success or failure at the end of each one.

Mission Debrief, end of every scenario

I’m not sure if the map sizes will expand beyond the 22 hex per screen standard or the approach will be to stay modular.   I can see the benefits of a modular system when

More Normandy Fun

More of the Wars and Battles in tutorial mode

Artificial Intelligence in this game is decent to moderate and the decisions being made were okay, though predictable at times.   I found it to be overly defensive and not as aggressive as it could have been, but if you factor in that Normandy actually is a defensive campaign for the Germans I guess that makes sense.  The campaign structure is logical and sensible.  Players will accrue experience over time and replacement units to fill in for casualties.  In this respect I was reminded, strongly, of several other games I’ve played in the last year that use a similar progressive campaign structure– in particular and variation of Panzer General or its various incarnations over time, or near-knockoffs.  That’s neither here nor there– a campaign really needs some form of structure or it is difficult to execute, and the PG template works as well as anything.

The modular “game engine” approach is somewhat new for wargames on the IOS.  Kermorio has high hopes of porting the same approach to many different battles, including Napoleonic or ACW era battles.  I remain unconvinced the scales of those two eras will work in this engine, but I’d be willing to give them a try.

In Summary, Kermorio has had a very decent first outing with WARS AND BATTLES– which is a mix of old and new ideas that will appeal to hard core wargamers and newcomers alike.  For 6.99 plus a pittance for the IGPs, I certainly think there is plenty of value for the retail price.

Little Lambent Meteors by Jim Wallman (Digital Library)


Hey! I haven’t converted a ruleset to epub lately. Here’s a great candidate right here:

Click on the Cover to go to the DIgital Rules page.

I stumbled upon this quirky little rule set by Jim Wallman recently. It is a simulation (or not, that’s really not the word for it), let’s call it a humorous study of exactly what’s referred to in the subtitle, rioting mobs of the 18th Century. Having played GANGS OF ROME in the not too distant past, I was immediately attracted to the concept of this game– I don’t see it playing in a scale much larger than 6mm myself, but it should be easy to paint!!

Disclaimer: the PDF version of these rules can be found in many places online– this is a simple epub conversion, for private use on your tablet computer, smart phone or e-reader.  There is no charge for this file, but don’t sell it, rename it or republish it.   If Mr. Wallman has an objection to this, I will remove the file immediately with my profuse apologies.

As always, click on the graphic above to go to the digital rules page, where you will find the link to the epub for this file. Thanks.

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.

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly–a Neat New Magazine


misternizz:

I don’t often reblog a post, but Wargame Blogger’s Quarterly is such a neat idea, I’m really taken with it. A big tip of the chapeau to Thomo for finding this and I’ll definitely be investigating it in the future (and who knows, maybe something from here will be on there, but I doubt it!).

Originally posted on Thomo's Hole:

Wargamers_Quarterly It’s big, bold and pretty!

There is a new quarterly wargames magazine available in the Internet called Wargame Bloggers Quarterly. This is, as the title suggests, a quarterly magazine designed to highlight the best looking of games and and reviews.

I have had a quick look through issue one and I am impressed. No fancy tricks, just good solid text and images.

This first issue has chapters on:

  • Bloody Cremona from Simon Miller
  • Trouble Brewing in “Serenity City” by Dave Docherty
  • Whitechapel 1888 by Michael Awdry
  • Lledo “Days Gone Bye” Horse Drawn Carriages from Robert Audin
  • Inside the Mind of Loki – Vallejo Model Colour and Triads from Andrew “Loki” Saunders
  • Iron Mitten Plays “Spot the Royalist”
  • and lastly, a copy of the Official Charter of the Magazine

Well worth having a look – I know what my lunchtime reading is today … and tomorrow!

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Game Camp 2014, Day Three: BDB Quest for the ORB Pt. 2


On Wednesday, we played out the rest of the Orb of Power scenario for Big Danged Boats. It was a very frenetic game, with lots of odd stuff happening that tested BDB’s boundries. Big Danged Boats is a design that’s hard not to tinker with, and I’ve been working on ways to speed it up a little. I like the combination of shooting, boarding, fighting and magic that I’ve developed so far. It’s a good mix, but I designed to build a narrative, a story, and it’s not the most speedy game ever. On the other hand, it’s a lot of laughs. What other universe has Squid Gods, Dead god’s feet, and Armored Cheeses?

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY

The Iron Dwarf player (Spence) came to grief early today. The Plunger took many hits from the tower and eventually was uncrewed. The Damage track also went to critical, and a severe engine failure was the result, requiring two turns of Wrenching to fix.

The guys wanted to run it through to the finish. The idea of allying together against a third party seemed to be an anathema to some and other players took to it. One side of the board was Chaos with ships shooting at each other and backstabbing galore. The other side was like an exercise in barter economy– Reed (playing Battenburg, who had bought a ton of reinforcements) traded off Slingers for Gold, Gnomes for Gold, and generally acted like a capitalist. The Wood Elves, the Karstark Gnomes, and the Little People Brigade all acted in close concert with each other, made deals, made room for each other to pass and navigate around each other. So it all looked like they were on board with the “Fighting Gordon the Enchanter” thing.

The Red Menacer charged to the assistance of the Plunger, and managed to get two Dwarf Marines on board to Wrench on the broken crank propeller. Unfortunately, the Seng were sailing through in an incorporeal state and a traffic jam might have ensued if he were “solid”.

The Seng sailed THROUGH the Dwarf ships in incorporeal state. On the other side, the Augmentation price for the spell ran out and Patrick wasn’t willing to pay any more gold to keep it alive. So the Wizard was going to go up in a nimbus of blue flame, but Patrick booted him out of the ship at the last second. “Nice job, Wiz, SEE YA!” BOOM!

The O.R.C. immolates themselves in revolutionary martyr fashion!

The Orcish Revolutionary Council (O.R.C.) performed in revolutionary martyr spirit. They sailed right at the front door of the Tower, as if to ram. One of the Martyrs tried to ram the front door but got caught up in melee, and pulled the “Stupid” result from the Red Badge of Courage, and so ran around the tower base instead of self-immolating.. The next martyr managed to impale the aquatic mine with his pump charge, and a disastrous explosion took place.

About mid game the tone of the game changed and the knives started to come out. The Little People Brigade boarded the Von Ripper of the Iron Dwarves. Amazingly they didnt’ choose to eat the Holy Mushrooms and transform into Gnogres. And they won! Those are some tough Gnomes!!

The Alliances that were in place at the start of the game started to fall apart. The Karstark Gnomes turned on the Iron Dwarves. The Bone Brigade, which had been shot to pieces in its ill conceived attack of the previous day, scrapped with the Foot of the Dead God and the Primus, starting the day off with a nasty event card on the Cult and exploding their one and only artillery piece, which angered them to no end. Primus fought with the Bone Brigade at a distance, and he retaliated with every missile weapon he has at his disposal, wiping out most of the BB. The Bone Brigade player (Cameron) didn’t understand the impact of talking smack one turn during an ambush, and then begging for an alliance the next. The Seng managed to board and capture the Plunger, and operate it (clumsily) to spar torpedo the Blue Magoo from the Little People Brigade, doing severe damage.

The Seng could only operate the Plunger slowly and clumsily, being man-sized and trying to operate a Dwarf-sized submarine.

The other successful boarding of the day, The Von Ripper, under new Gnome management.

The cult of F’Vah pulled out their big trump card, Summoning the Squid God, and it was hideously effective.

Goodbye, Black Galley! And suddenly, it was no more!

The Bone Brigade was a shambles– shot to pieces by the Rats and Cultists, and missing one ship to the Squid God, but they bounced back playing the Faction card: Surprise, They’re already dead! which brought back 5 skeletons to life, so at least the Deadnought fought its way clear of the mess.

And the Rat Men managed to at land a small lodgment at the bottom of the tower..

And then the allies on the far end, the Rat Men and the Cultists, fell out when the Cultists turned on them like a prison punk in the showers.

The Cultists hit the Rats with the Squid God, and destroyed the Primus…

By the end of the day, the game was left still not resolved, so the fellows requested at least another session in the morning.

Here’s the Slide Show of today’s FUN!

The Union Forever! The Battle of Mobile Bay


Leo Walsh ran a 1:1200 scale game of the Battle of Mobile Bay on Saturday night at HISTORICON.  The rules were AGE OF IRON.    I jumped in and ran a small line of 90 day gunboats and double-ender style ships.

The UNION FOREVER!!

Most people know the Battle of Mobile Bay as the “one where Admiral Farragut said Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead“.. and (perhaps) that’s true.  There was a lot more to Mobile Bay than a few jingoistic slogans, of course.  Mobile Bay was one of the last great sheltered ports of the Confederacy, and as long as it was not thoroughly blockaded, the South could run blockade runners in and out with impunity.  So a Union victory at Mobile Bay would have strategic consequences for both sides.

Admiral Farragut’s plan was to attack Mobile Bay in two lines, with the ironclads closest to the local fort (Fort Morgan) where their armored sides would withstand the heavy siege gun fire, and the Wooden ships lashed together with the weakest ones outside the range of fire. The Confederates also set up a line of aquatic mines (torpedoes) that had the effect of forcing the ships to pass in front of the fort’s guns.  We considered that idea, then went for the idea of FOUR lines.

The miniature terrain, such as it was, followed the historical layout reasonably closely, although the OOB was greatly expanded from the original. In addition there was the CSS Tennessee, one other (ahistorical) casemate that started farther out in the bay and was pretty slow to engage. There were four other medium to small gunboats with sizable ordinance on the other side of the barrier.

Union Forces closer up

Originally our attack plan was going to be three lines, with the ironclads protecting the more valuable screw frigates, like the Hartford and the Richmond. Leo told us that would not keep the frigates from getting hull hits, so we spread the line out over four lines– the ironclads closest to the fort, the screw frigates in two lines, and the lighter 90 day gunboats and double-enders in line farthest from the fort. I offered to take that line over the line of mines (torpedoes) that was funneling ships towards the guns of the fort. My idea was that the lighter ships going over the torpedo line would offer a huge distraction to the Confederate gunboats on the other side of the barrier.

I’m in charge of the rickety ships on the right hand side.

If it worked for Farragut, it might work for me. I managed to slip my first two ships over the barrier with no difficulty. We engaged with 3 gunboats of varying sizes on the far side of the torpedo barrier. We were using Age of Iron, which is a pretty good rule set, providing a mix of history and playability. I’ve played with them before, though not in a long time. The rules certainly address differences in armor, ship sizes and and ship aspect. I had a surprisingly lethal exchange with two Confederate gunboats, one of which was pretty tiny and hard to hit, but as I got more and more ships over the barrier, it became obvious to the Confederate that the was stuck, cut off between a line of pilings that will rip out their hull and my line of gunboats.

Sometimes the “stupid strategy” is stunningly successful

One interesting thing about those supposedly weak 90 day gunboats and double enders: put enough of them in a line, and they throw out a tremendous weight of iron at a single target. When the second Confederate ironclad showed up, my line of gunboats laid into him, ship after ship, and in one turn he suffered from 4 armor hits and 6 hull hits, and was on fire. That’s pretty good for some wooden boats! Contrast that to the line of Screw Frigates that shot past the fort and engaged the Tennessee. We lost two of them, the Brooklyn and the Richmond, due to gunfire exchanges with the Fort and the Tennessee. I lost two ships from my line, the Metacomet (lost to gunfire) and the last ship in my line, the Port Royal, finally hit a mine and sank.

Victory!

Leo’s victory conditions were basically “Sink all Confederate ships”.. and by 1100 PM it looked like we were on the way to doing that. The Tennessee was pretty shot up, and couldn’t turn very quickly, so wouldn’t be able to engage again during the time span of the game. The other (ahistorical) ironclad very likely wouldn’t have survived another turn at the rate it was receiving punishment.

So, a Union naval victory, Huzzah~! Perhaps not as complete as the historical one, but we had more ships engaged, and were facing more Confederates, too. I had a lot of fun with this game and hope to play Age of Iron again very soon.