#SundaySummary – #WarChest Winter #Wargame Classic continues while more games “present” themselves @trevormbenjamin @djackthompson @Alderac @FreeLeaguePub @gmtgames @LnLPub #boardgame #ttrpg

War Chest Winter Classic

The RockyMountainNavy War Chest Winter Wargaming Series continued another for weekend with me facing off against RockyMountainNavy T twice. War Chest is designed by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson and published by AEG (2018). We use the Draft System which sees eight unit cards randomly drawn and then players take turns drafting four units each (1-2-2-2-1 draft order) with the second drafter starting the game with the Initiative. The ever-changing draft picks means you have to try to find synergies “on the fly” with the units you draft and then campaign with.

Game 1

  • RMN T – Ensign, Royal Guard, Warrior Priests, Swordsmen
  • RMN – Knights, Archers, Cavalry, Scout

RMNT T loves the Marshall and Ensign as they both allow orders to other units at range. Even with that advantage I won this game 6-5 thanks in large part to the special ability of the Cavalry which can Move then Attack.

Game 2

  • RMN T – Knights, Crossbowman, Light Cavalry, Scouts
  • RMN – Berserkers, Footman, Cavalry, Mercenary

RMT pulled off the win 6-4 thanks to the speed of the Light Cavalry (Move two spaces) which allowed the unit to “end around” my right flank and get to a controlled area in my rear that I was unable to fall back on to protect fast enough.

Overall, RMN T remains slightly ahead of me so far this winter with his three (3) wins stacking up against my two (2).

Wargames/Boardgames/RPGs New Arrivals

  • Blade Runner: The Roleplaying Game (Free League Publishing, 2022)
  • FAB: Golan ’73 (GMT Games, 2016)
  • Wings Over the Motherland (Clash of Arms, 2019)
  • World at War ’85: Storming the Gap (Lock n’ Load Publishing, 2019)

At this point it appears that at least one and possibly as many as four wargames and a single boardgame could arrive before the end of the year. This does not account for any unknown-to-me game presents that may be stashed beneath the Christmas tree…

I also started working on my end-of-year postings to include by “By the Numbers” accounts and “of the Year” thoughts.


Feature image by self

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#SundaySummary – A War Chest from Japan to Cambrai to Angola while going Tongues Out with the reading Marines & watching for incoming. @alderac @trevormbenjamin @djackthompson @MultiManPub @ADragoons @BlueOrangeGames @MC_UPress #Wargames #Boardgames #MilitaryBooks

Good week; bad week.

The Good

Wargames

RockyMountainNavy Game Night featured War Chest by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG, 2018). We hadn’t played for a while so we took our time and really enjoyed the trash and tactics table talk. Alas, RockyMountainNavy T continues his win streak against Dad and handed me yet another defeat. Sounds bad but really it was good to play an awesome wargame that makes you think and agonize over almost every move. Also hard to beat the clicking of those hefty coins in your hand…

He’s a mighty young king… (Photo by RMN)

In happier news I took advantage of the Multi-Man Publishing Fall Sale to acquire a few new-to-me games at nice discounts.

Warriors of Japan: A Country Aflame 1333-1339 (regular $48 sale $15) is a low-complexity, high solitaire suitability game. Hmm… Breakthrough: Cambrai (regular $44 sale $15) is a Michael Rinella area-movement, impulse mechanics game. I like similar Rinella games (Patton’s Vanguard: The Battle of Arracourt, 1944 from Revolution Games comes to mind) so I have high hopes for this title. Angola! (regular $83 sale $30) is a four-player game that I may have a hard time finding enough players to get a full game in but as much as I want to play I also just want to tear it apart and see how the game mechanisms work. Regardless, Regimental Commander Brant at Armchair Dragoons pointed out that I have plenty of #Unboxing Day materials for the next few months…

Speaking of the Armchair Dragoons, I am scheduled to record a podcast this coming week on “Accessories.” Look for that episode of Mentioned in Dispatches to be out later this month.

Boardgames

Although my own boys are older, I am always looking out for good children’s games for Mrs. RockyMountainNavy to use with her elementary-age students—or her favorite nephew’s daughter in Korea. Thus, Tongues Out released this year from Blue Orange Games arrived. For some reason I don’t think Brant is looking for an unboxing of this one.

Let loose the dogs of…fun?

Books

If you don’t already know, Marine Corps University Press offers books for free. As their website states, “As a federal government publisher, our works are free of charge, but please help us be good stewards of federal dollars and request only the books or journals you need most.” Admittedly, I already have a few of these in digits but I’m a bit old-fashioned in some ways so picked up dead-tree versions. I find physical books easier to thumb through quickly when I’m looking for a particular section.

From Marine Corps University Press (Photo by RMN)

INCOMING!

After who-knows-how-long Compass Games put Carrier Battle: Philippine Sea by Jon Southard up on Kickstarter which means it is getting close to print. The 2022 Holiday Catalog carried it as “Early 2023” so that may actually be accurate.

Speaking of naval games (and I wouldn’t be RockyMountainNAVY if I didn’t), I also bit the bullet on Task Force – Carrier Battles in the Pacific from VUCA Simulations. This game appears to be a major update of the 1982 edition. The preorder discount is in effect and the publisher reports, “This game is now at the printer and will be shipped in early 2023.”

“At Sea: No arrival date yet” is how GMT Games describes Next War: Supplement #3. As the website states: “Effectively, this supplement is an upgrade kit for Next War: Poland, 1st Edition to the 2nd Edition, but, of course, it also includes goodies such as the additional counters, the ROK OoB, [Next War: Korea] new Cyber Warfare rules, and assorted other optional rules.” My gut feeling is that this game supplement could arrive before Christmas…maybe.

A game that may be closer to arrival is SUM8 by Turnup Games. They updated Kickstarter backers with this positive message on November 01, “We wanted to give you an update on where the SUM8 Classic Edition shipping is at. The boat arrived in port on Friday October 21st. We are now patiently waiting for it to clear customs and be on its way. ARC Global, our Logistics partner is in constant contact with us, and do not believe it should be held much longer. As soon as it is released and moving again we will let you know!”

I also have several books inbound from Helion Publishing on a historical topic that is a personal favorite of mine. The ones I ordered where on enough of a sale that even with shipping from the UK thrown in they were still better priced than going through Amazon. I hope that once they arrive I will have the basis for a “History to Wargame” blog series going into next year.

The Bad

Not really that bad, but…challenging. With the arrival of two sisters-in-law for an extended stay, RockyMountainNavy Jr. coming home for the holidays, and two business trips in the next months, I have for the most part “lost” my gaming space (and lots gaming time) for the next 90 days. When I do get a chance to play if it’s not Game Night then I am forced to use a collapsible 4×5 low table that I can’t keep set up all the time. However, with RMN Jr. back we should get some more family gaming in so that’s not really bad…


Feature image courtesy of self

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#SundaySummary – From Clone Wars to Barbarossa with @Zmangames_ and lombardystudios.com

Wargame/Boardgame

Got several sessions of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – A Pandemic System Game by Alexander Ortloff from Z-Man Games to the table this weekend. This is an excellent variation of the Pandemic System originally designed by Matt Leacock. Not only is the theme well-executed, the cooperative game play is exciting. I don’t hear much buzz about this Adventure Wargame which saddens me as it is excellent!

“Begun, the Clone War has…” (Photo by RMN)

Books

My Kickstarter campaign from Lombardy Studios delivered Black Cross Red Star: Air War Over The Eastern Front – Volume 1 Operation Barbarossa and Stalingrad: New Perspectives on an Epic Battle – Volume 1 The Doomed City both by Christer Bergstrom this week. I look forward to these new views of the war on the Eastern Front, especially the air campaigns.

New Books on the Eastern Front… (Photo by RMN)

Feature image courtesy RMN

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

(Quick) #SundaySummary #Wargame #Boardgame Travel Update

Sorry, was on the road for professional reasons the past week and was unable to get any posts ready before I went. Here is a short weekly update and a bit of a look ahead.

New Arrivals

  • Old School Tactical Volume 3: Pacific 1941-45, designer Shayne Logan, Flying Pig Games, 2019
  • The Hill of Death: Champion Hill – A Shattered Union Series Game, designer Hermann Luttmann, Tiny Battle Publishing, 2022

OST looks like another highly playable tactical wargame in the vein of the Academy Games Conflict of Heroes series with large mounted boards and chunky counters. The Hill of Death is supposed to be a very playable American Civil War design.

Wargame Practitioner

Thanks to the awesome support of an unnamed (for now) professional wargaming practitioner, I was able to take three micro-games along for my “business trip.” I owe the young designers some valuable feedback, but suffice it to say that their games did (and will) have a tangible impact on important issues.

Boardgames in the Wild

As I was transiting through an airport in Europe I was taken in by the display at a bookstore on the concourse. It had a quite large selection of children’s games including boardgames, card games, and puzzles. There were even gaming accessories on sale. That’s doing gaming right!


Feature image courtesy self.

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#ThreatTuesday: South China Sea #wargame danger zone – Will the PLAN wield a trident with ASBMs and carriers?

I play wargames to learn. Wargames, or what some call “historical conflict simulations” have taught me alot of history. But I also believe wargames can provide insights into the future. While think tanks use wargames to inform or influence decision and policymakers, hobby wargamers can explore similar issues using commercial titles.

I recently read the article “Analysis of the Relations between Chinese Aircraft Carriers and the Maritime Order of the South China Sea” in The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis (Vol. 34, No. 3, September 2022, 433-452). What caught my attention in particular about this article was the authors; Xingxing Wang and Jiyong Zheng, are from the Shanghai International Studies University; Fudan University; People’s Republic of China. Articles about sea power and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are a dime-a-dozen these days, but to read an article written by “the opposition” is not as often encountered. Wang and Zheng’s article is intended more to inform than to propagandize, but it does fit into a series of studies around the maritime aspects of the U.S.-People’s Republic of China (PRC) competition that relates several articles and books together. Along the way, we also have an opportunity to look at what wargames can help us better explore these issues.

Aircraft Carriers

As Wang and Zheng explain:

“China has gradually shifted its geopolitical focus from land-based control to sea-based developments out of both security and economic considerations. Marked by the official launch of its aircraft carriers a decade ago, China has dedicated resources to building up its navy as a blue water force rather than the offshore defensive force that it had primarily been until that point. Meanwhile, by serving as the pillar of sea power, these aircraft carriers will play more important roles in China’s naval development, ultimately reshaping the global strategic picture of sea power. This article aims to explore the influence of Chinese aircraft carriers to maritime order of the South China Sea and strategic pattern of global sea power by analyzing the Chinese aircraft carrier fleet’s operational design and reconstruction of China’s naval strategy. The presence of Chinese aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and their inherent combat capabilities has inevitably cased a subversive light on the region and brought the attention of the United States’ and other regional actors’ own activities and strategies for the region. This research has great significance for understanding China’s grand strategic conception and practice on the South China Sea issue as well as construction of a new maritime order in the context of China-U.S. competition.” (Wang & Zheng, 433)

If you are a wargame player like me, then you might of gamed out a confrontation between a PLAN Carrier Task Force and a U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG) using a game like South China Sea: Modern Naval Conflict in the South Pacific (Compass Games, 2017) or Harpoon V (Admiralty Trilogy Group, 2020). Playing such scenarios may lead to the assumption that a PLAN Carrier Task Force is not a true match for a CSG. While that conclusion may have some basis, it ignores the impact of the PRC’s “carrier killer.”

Carrier Push Back

Gerry Doyle and Blake Herzinger are co-authors of the book Carrier Killer: China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century (Asia@War No. 29, Warwick: Helion & Company Ltd., 2022). Doyle and Herzinger frame the issue this way:

“The idea of an anti-ship ballistic missile has taken root in China’s military planning. The country is not only building more of its first version of such a weapon, the DF-21D, but has developed an anti-ship warhead for another such missile, the more-numerous DF-26, billed as having a 2,500-mile-range — more than enough to hit Guam from several hundred miles inland in China. In theory, that puts any naval adversary at risk long before it is in Chinese waters, let alone within striking distance of China’s coastline.

That puts US carrier strike groups — a linchpin of US power projection, able to hit any corner of the world at short notice with overwhelming force — in a situation they have never before faced. For years, US war planners took for granted that American naval power could operate unimpeded anywhere on Earth and deliver strikes with relative impunity. If a missile can sweep that option off the board, it changes the balance of power not just in Asia, but across the Pacific.”(Doyle & Herzinger, book back)

Photo by RMN

Again, wargames like Harpoon V or South China Sea can help game out the impact of these anti-ship ballistic missiles, at least at the tactical levels. While South China Sea provides some insight into the strategic impacts of the ASBM on operations in the South China Sea, the topic is actually underrepresented in wargames. Maybe, just maybe, the arguments advanced by Wang and Zheng regarding the capabilities of a PLAN Carrier Task Force are not that inconceivable if the PRC uses their “carrier killers” to keep the U.S. Navy out of the South China Sea…and beyond. That in turn creates opportunities for the PRC to “wield a trident.”

Trident Strategy

Kohji Kuhara of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force writes in the Spring 2022 edition of the Naval War College Review about China’s ‘Trident” Strategy (Kuhara, Kohji (2022) “Countering China’s “Trident Strategy—Frustrating China’s Aims in the South China Seas and the Indian Ocean,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 75: No. 2, Article 4):

“China is trying to construct a naval strategy to deny U.S. forces freedom of action in the western Pacific Ocean. Looking back to the U.S. Navy’s last major strategic contest, against the Soviet navy during the Cold War, provides comparisons between Soviet and Chinese strategies that yield insights and analogies that can help develop more effective countermeasures against undesirable Chinese initiatives.”

Kuhara reminds us that, unlike the claims of Doyle and Herzinger, the U.S. Navy has indeed faced before a situation in which access to the worlds oceans was contested. In the Cold War, the Soviet Union challenged the United States for supremacy on the high seas. Wargamers can play out this confrontation in many games, ranging from Victory Games’ Fleet series (Victory Games, 1985-1990) for operational campaigns to the strategic Blue Water Navy: The War at Sea (Compass Games, 2019) or Seapower and the State (Simulation Canada, 1982). Alas, there are very few “modern” equivalent game showing the confrontation between the U.S. Navy and PLAN, and certainly none at the strategic level. Quite simply, there is no good wargame to help fully navigate “the danger zone.”

Danger Zone

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley write in Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2022) that:

“China is at a perilous moment: strong enough to violently challenge the existing order, yet losing confidence that time is on its side. Numerous examples from antiquity to the present show that rising powers become more aggressive when their fortunes fade, their difficulties multiply, and they realize they must achieve their ambitions now or miss the chance to do so forever. China has already started down this path. Witness its aggression toward Taiwan, its record-breaking military buildup, and its efforts to dominate the critical technologies that will shape the world’s future.” (Danger Zone dust jacket)

Photo by RMN

Finding a wargame, or in this case maybe more properly a strategy game that looks beyond kinetic military confrontation, of the U.S.-PRC competition is nearly impossible. I had some hope earlier this year with the release of Flashpoint: South China Sea from GMT Games which advertised itself as thus:

Flashpoint: South China Sea is a two-player strategy game that simulates the complex geopolitical contest currently taking place between the United States and China in a disputed region of the South China Sea. The game is driven by a card deck that captures developments ripped straight from today’s headlines, bolstered by cards with a context-setting reading of recent history, and a set of speculative cards capturing a diverse range of potential future events. 

The Chinese player works to influence other countries in the region, establish territorial claims and regional hegemony, and improve its world standing. The U.S. player works to maintain influence with allied countries in the region, secure freedom of navigation, and keep China in check. Success for both players hinges on the support and allegiance of non-player countries in the region. The game stops short of dealing with a potential full-scale military conflict. Rather, it requires the nuanced exercise of political, economic, and military resources, in a form of prima facie diplomacy – on the waters, in the air, and ultimately in the minds of the people – to achieve victory.”

Photo by RMN

Alas, for all the theme in the ad copy, Flashpoint: South China Sea is more “Euro” than “wargame;” it’s a mechanically well-executed game with the thinnest of themes layered over. Consequently, its ability to explore the “danger zone” is limited at best.

Building from the Brands & Beckley book, we can see how the “Trident Strategy” is but one part of the danger zone, and the PLA’s “carrier killer” anti-ship missiles are one of those technologies that change maritime strategy. Does our perceptions of what a PLAN aircraft carrier is intended to do change?

Wargaming the South China Sea

Wargames seem very popular in the think tanks of Washington, DC. A recent article from War on the Rocks by Robert Haddick titled “Defeat China’s Navy, Defeat China’s War Plan” talks about what wargames are “teaching” decision and policymakers:

“Washington has already lost the war for Taiwan — at least according to the most recent wargames organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The think tank’s simulation of a conflict between the United States and China saw several U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups sunk, hundreds of U.S. combat aircraft destroyed, and thousands of U.S. military personnel lost in the war’s opening days.

These games, planned long before the most recent Taiwan crisis and set in 2026, add to decades of analyses of the Taiwan scenario conducted at war colleges and think tanks on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Scheduled to be written up later this year, the games have reinforced at least one previously well-known conclusion: should the United States attempt to fight the battle for Taiwan relying mainly on military forces located west of Guam, U.S. losses will be severe. The United States and its allies might stalemate the People’s Liberation Army. But the cost could very well be too high for U.S. society to sustain. And if China’s leaders believe this, even wrongly, deterrence will collapse, and the risk of war will rise.”

Via YouTube

With an online moniker of “RockyMountainNavy” it should be obvious where my loyalties lie between navalists and (ch)air force advocates. This makes it a bit hard to accept Haddick’s advocacy of using U.S. Air Force bombers to defeat the PLAN:

“Destroying China’s maritime power would end China’s capacity for conquest in the western Pacific. Yet the Chinese navy is not an Air Force priority, despite its vulnerability to U.S. bombers. As Taiwan-focused wargames show, the shortage of U.S. anti-ship munitions represents a missed opportunity that will come with high costs. 

Civilian policymakers should make China’s maritime forces a top targeting priority for the U.S. bomber force. First, they should require Air Force officials to explain how their munitions strategy supports deterrence by denial against Chinese forces. Following that, they could demand the Air Force fund the rapid development of Mark Gunzinger’s affordable mid-range munition and acquire, say, 2,000 long-range anti-ship missiles, even if this means acquiring fewer joint air-to-surface standoff missiles. Policymakers could also demand the Air Force repair and return to service some of the 17 B-1B bombers that were recently sent to the boneyard despite each being able to carry 24 long-range anti-ship missiles. These relatively minor expenses would quickly add substantial striking power against the Chinese Navy.

More broadly, policymakers should recognize that the sensor-missile military-technical revolution has transformed the Indo-Pacific into a military theater where long-range aerospace power dominates. America’s aerospace power is an enduring competitive advantage that matches up well against several Chinese vulnerabilities, starting with its navy. Exploiting this competitive advantage is the most direct way to strengthen U.S. deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Regardless of my service biases, even I recognize that Haddick’s proposal is probably worthy of exploration with a wargame. This seems like a good scenario to explore at the tactical level using Harpoon V or at the operational level using South China Sea.

What does the wargame tell you?

Which brings us back to our original inquiry: Wang and Zheng talk almost exclusively about the “defensive” power of a PLAN aircraft carrier. What if the PLAN wants to operate those carriers out to the limit of, or beyond, the coverage of their ASBMs? Will the pointy end of the trident be sharp or dull? Does that change the nature of the danger zone? What are the alternative strategies that armchair commanders can wargame at home? More broadly, how can we use hobby wargames to explore this strategic situation?


Feature Photo: Simon Yang, CC-BY SA 2.0

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#SundaySummary – Brute-al Wargaming by Myself with No Theme Simulated in Fulda (mentions @Modiphius @TheKrulakCenter @BarrickTim @SebastianBae @FoundationDietz @ADragoons @RexBrynen)

Wargames

The Krulak Center BruteCast video/podcast called out Tim Barrick’s Operational Wargame System (OWS) and Sebastian Bae’s Littoral Commander (civilian version available for pre-order from The Dietz Foundation). You get to see lots of how both games work.

Two weeks before Russia began its current invasion of Ukraine, we offered a #BruteCast panel on “Rapid Wargame Prototyping for Crises.” When the invasion actually occurred, #TeamKrulak staff started looking in real time at how to apply rapid prototyping concepts to the wargame platforms already offered to the Marine Corps University and wider national security communities. The goal was to provide “living” wargame layers and mechanics to allow these communities to learn and test battlefield developments as they were observed, in order to provide campaign analysis and inform future decisions. Mr. Tim Barrick, director of wargaming at Marine Corps University, and Maj Ian Brown, operations officer at the Krulak Center, discuss the prototyping and designs processes applied to the Operational Wargame System and Fleet Marine Force/Littoral Commander wargame systems as the war in Ukraine unfolded.

#BruteCast S5 E5–Tim Barrick & Ian Brown, “Wargaming and the Russo-Ukraine War”
Showing off OWS and Littoral Commander…

New ArrivalFive Parsecs from Home – Third Edition: Solo Adventure Wargaming (Modiphius, 2021). Five Parsecs from Home is a set of rules for miniatures wargaming. Specifically, it is a set of solo “campaign” and combat rules. The feel is very Classic Traveller RPG-like. Look for a future #Wargame Wednesday feature.

Boardgames

Well, a card game actually. Picked up a replacement copy of Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Game (Z-Man Games, 2022). My original copy was a birthday present but I gave it up to RockyMountainNavy Jr. as he packed for college.

Social Media

I “appeared” on the Season 9 premier of “Mentioned in Dispatches”, the official podcast of The Armchair Dragoons. Our topic was supposed to be “I know what you did last summer” but we meandered through many topics. Final edited version coming in the next few weeks.

Armchair Dragoons Regimental Commander Brant was gracious enough to publish my article, “Thematic? A look at Flashpoint Series Volume 1 from GMT Games” (29 Aug 2022). The article in turn kicked off a wide-ranging (and reaching) Twitter discussion of “game” vs. “simulation.” Listen for more on that topic in the near-future!

I’m also giving a shout out to Rex Brynen at PAXSIMS who mentioned my Armchair Dragoons article “Wargame History – An anti-nuclear wargame in Fulda Gap”  in his recent “Simulation & gaming miscellany, 3 September 2022” posting. If you are a wargamer and not a follower of Rex and his PAXSIMS site you are doing yourself a great disservice.


Feature image “OWS tutorial with the Marine Corps War College Advanced Studies Program. Doing the Battle Royale naval domain scenario focused purely on teaching game mechanics.” Courtesy @BarrickTim on Twitter.

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#FamilyFriday – Collecting fishy ‘shrooms in Kingdomino Origins (@BlueOrangeGames, 2021) #Boardgame #GameNight

RockyMountainNavy T and myself had another Saturday Boardgame Night featuring Kingdomino Origins (Designer Bruno Cathala from Blue Orange Games, 2021). Whereas last week we used gameplay mode 1. Discovery Mode, this week we stepped it up to gameplay mode 2. Totem Mode. Once again, the genius design of Kingdomino Origins showed itself and contributed to another very thinky-but-enjoyable play.

In Totem Mode there are resources added to the game of Kingdomino Origins. Grasslands get Mammoths, Lakes have Fish, Jungles hide Mushrooms, and Quarries yield Flint. If a Volcano erupts and throws fire into a territory with a resource, that resource is destroyed. A very interesting game mechanism is that at the end of every turn, the player with the most of each resource gains the Totem for that item. The most Mammoths is worth 3 points, most Fish is 4 points, most Mushrooms 5 points, and most Flint is 6 points. This Totem can pass back and forth every round. At the end of the game, the player holding the Totem gains that many bonus points.

All-in-all the rules for resources in Kingdomino Origins are very simple, but once again that “simple” set of rules adds another layer of challenge into the game. Do I sacrifice a resource for that Fire? Do I try to have the most Flint? This “simple” extra layer is on top of the demand for a centered homeland in a 7×7 territory (normally 5×5 but 7×7 in a two-player game).

Compared to the last time we played Kingdomino Origins, at least this time I completed a perfect 7×7 territory. Last time that was the margin of my loss. This game I thought I was doing well with plenty of Fish and Mushrooms. When the final score was tallied, I was flabbergasted by RMN T’s score…43 points ahead of me! How did he get that many more resources?

Alas, while I had been concentrating on trying to maximize resources, RMN T never lost sight of the basic scoring mechanism in Kingdomino Origins. While I worked to collect the most Fish and Mushrooms, RMN T used very cleverly placed Fires and built a territory with two huge scoring lands at 55 and 49 points each. That focus on the basics, coupled with just enough resource competition, gave him that run away win.

Once again, Kingdomino Origins has shown that the game we are very familiar with can present a new and more challenging version without onerous additional rules. I have the feeling that Kingdomino Origins will become our two-player, go-to Kingdomino title to play. RMN T and myself already agreed that next week we will try gameplay mode 3. Tribe Mode that adds Cave People to play.


Feature image courtesy RMN

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#SundaySummary – #Wargame data and multi-domain, #Boardgame fun, #militarybooks art of command & historical analysis, and rockets with Tsiolkovsky

Wargames

This week saw several Harpoon 5 (Admiralty Trilogy Group) data annex purchases:

  • America’s Navy (Admiralty Trilogy Group, last updated Oct 2021). From the publisher – “America’s Navy lists all the US Navy warships in service between 1955 and the present day, as well as some US Coast Guard ships and other vessels. It is designed as a sourcebook for Harpoon, fifth edition, but it can also be used as a general reference. Organized as a collection of annexes, Annex A provides statistics on ships as built, and  any modifications and refits over time, sometimes many times. Annexes C and on give detailed weapons and sensors characteristics, including guns, missiles, ASW weapons, radars, sonars, with all the information needed to use them in a Harpoon scenario. A new feature of this edition is information on air groups used by aviation ships. Annex R, by Andy Doty, is the most complete list available anywhere, and provides data on units, aircraft types, and number of aircraft for each deployment.”
  • America’s Aircraft (Admiralty Trilogy Group, last updated Oct 2021). From the publisher – “America’s Aircraft lists the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and US Air Force aircraft in service between 1955 and the present day….In addition to real-world platforms, many canceled or proposed aircraft and their systems are also described.”
  • China’s Navy (Admiralty Trilogy Group, last updated Oct 2021). From the publisher – “China’s Navy lists the ships and aircraft used by the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force and Chinese Coast Guard, in service between 1955 and the present day…The book also provides information on land-based surface-to-air missiles and coastal defense missiles and their battery organization. Supplemental annexes list ship classifications and factors used to convert weapons and sensor information into game data.”

If you are a fan of the Next War series by designer Mitchel Land from GMT Games, you definitely need to check out the Multi-Domain rules offered by Ian Sullivan on the Inside GMT Blog. His “Making ‘Next War’ More Multi-Domain: Some Alternative Rules for the ‘Next War’ Series” are easy-to-incorporate rules but go far to bring the game “up to date.”

Boardgames

The Saturday Game Night title was Kingdomino Origins (Blue Orange Games, 2021) using gameplay mode 2. Totem Mode. This gameplay mode adds resources as a bonus; you gain points for each resource in your territory at end game and also score additional points if you have the majority-share of each resource between players.

Stuart Tonge’s “strategic historical game,” 2 Minutes to Midnight (Plague Island Games, 2022) got a deep rules review this week. I last saw a prototype review copy just before the Kickstarter campaign started and am quite happy with the finished product. Not sure if this will get to the gaming table in a two-player or solo version first…

Role Playing Games

Can you believe it? I actually picked up some new tabletop RPG material!

  • Flight of the Phaeton- A Ship for Cepheus Engine (Thunderegg Productions, last updated July 2022). From the publisher – “Although most of its components are TL 9, this lowly ship houses a powerful heart of antimatter. Its TL 20 power plant is based on alien technology. This plant runs not only the revolutionary Alcubierre drive, but also a devastatingly powerful antimatter weapon. Can humanity, in the infancy of its space travel, handle the incredible responsibility of such power? As the captain, it’s up to you to find out!” This is my first Thunderegg Production product so something of an experiment.
  • Playing Solo: Classic Traveller (Zozer Games, last updated Apr 2022). From the publisher – “The aim is to create a roadmap for solo play; rolling dice, creating and recording with a purpose. With an added table or two, this can involve running a group of characters through some daring heist or fighting with alien pirates over a lost treasure long sought, and is an incredibly enjoyable, imagination-stimulating pastime. Of course whatever is created also provides a ready-made setting with adventure hooks for a group of Traveller players at the table top.”

Reading

Working my way through Mastering the Art of Command: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Victory in the Pacific by Trent Hone (Naval Institute Press, 2022). Taking my time to savor this one. Hone’s approach, focusing on Nimitz as the leader of a complex, adaptive system, is very interesting…

The new article of the week is, “What We Have Learned from Doing Historical Analysis” by Christopher Lawrence of the Dupuy Institute. Historical analysis is not operations research and it’s more than just history. Wargaming is actually intimately connected to historical analysis although many players don’t know (or maybe want to acknowledge) the fact. His article is the “Last Word” in the Summer 2022 edition of PHALANX, the quarterly journal of the Military Operations Research Society (MORS). See Lawrence, Christopher A., “What We Have Learned from Doing Historical Analysis,” PHALANX (Summer 2022), Vol. 55: No. 2, 50-52.

It’s Not Rocket Science…Until It Is

Finally, not sure if this fits reading, boardgames, or wargames. Ken Burnside of Ad Astra Games offers several books on how to make space combat games more realistic. His latest offering is Tabletop Tsiolkovsky (Ad Asdtra Games, last updated Aug 2022). Ken describes the book as:

While the very first space combat game (Triplanetary) had fuel on the rockets, most space combat systems don’t use fuel at all. With the popularity of television series like The Expanse and Babylon 5, audiences are more interested than ever a touch of realism in their space combat games.

The most effective way to add accuracy is to acknowledge the Tyranny of the Rocket Equation.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was one of several people to derive the equations of rockets in the early 20th Century, and his is the name most commonly associated with it. If you’ve ever heard the term “delta-V” (Δv), that’s “total change in velocity,” and it comes from his work.

This product provides a small amount of background on the Rocket Equation, and describes use cases. The bulk of the product are simple to use lookup tables: Cross reference the percentage of your ship’s mass devoted to fuel with the tech level of your engine, and you get the total number of fuel points in “thrust units per turn”, which map to whatever game scale your game uses.  There are three tables covering three different possible settings, and it will work with any game with a ship construction system.

Wargame Vault

Hah! I like how Triplanetary is hailed as a more “realistic” boardgame, and The Expanse and Babylon 5 franchises are singled out as more hard sci-fi. This is gong to make all the $tar War$ and $tar Trek(le$$) fans upset, eh?


Feature image courtesy USNI News – “Chinese frigate Weifang leaves the Black Sea on May 14, 2015. Photo by Yörük Işık

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#FamilyFriday – Fossilized in #Boardgame #GameNight by Neolithic #Kingdomino Origins fm @BlueOrangeGames (2021)

Kingdomino, designed by Bruno Cathala and published by Blue Orange Games in 2016 is a RockyMountainNavy family favorite. We use it as a gateway game to introduce others to hobby boardgaming. We have gifted it maybe a dozen times. Over the years we acquired several different versions; Queendomino (2017), Kingdomino, Age of Giants (Expansion, 2018), Dragomino (2020) and Kingdomino Origins (2021). So popular is the game that when RockyMountainNavy Jr. packed for college he took the family copy (not to worry, we have several extra on the gifting shelf).

With RMN Jr. off to college, RockyMountainNavy T and I now face off against each other on Saturday Game Nights. This last week we decided to bring out Kingdomino Origins and play a two-player game. We set up the game, and I took a quick glance at the rules for the first of the three gameplay modes in the box—Discovery Mode. There, in the very first lines of the rules, was something that I had totally missed before; “2 player game rules specifications can be found at the end of this booklet.”

Hey…I’ve got this!

Two player Kingdomino is very straightforward. Each player has two Kings and you remove 24 of the 48 tiles before play. When making a domino selection, you can choose any of the remaining tiles. Simple.

As I read, I discovered Kingdomino Origins uses, “Special two player rules – Neolithic.” There are two subtle rules changes that made a big difference in our play:

  • Use all 48 dominos to make a 7×7 territory (this is called the Mighty Duel variant in Kingdomino)
  • When choosing tiles at start, the Chief that goes first gets to choose tiles 1 and 3 OR tiles 2 and 4.

We rarely play Kingdomino with two-players (Kahuna by Gunter Cornett from Kosmos in 1998 being the usual 2-player go-to quick boardgame). The few times we played 2-player we usually don’t play the Mighty Duel variant. We also have never seen the alternate starting order as laid out in the Kingdomino Origins Neolithic gameplay mode. It was enough of a change to make this play far more challenging.

It has been years (and I mean years) since I have not completed a perfect 5×5 or 7×7 territory (called Homo Hablis in Kingdomino Origins or Harmony in Kingdomino). I picked wrong one round (!) and ended up with an unusable tile, thus missing my perfect 7×7. The five points missed was enough to give RMN T a 2-point win.

Disappointment hasn’t felt this good in a while.

We both haven’t played a brain-burner game of Kingdomino in years. The game is usually more a fun pastime than a serious thinking challenge. Not tonight. We both wracked our brains on a simple 7×7. It was glorious.

Welcome back, Game Night. You’re off to a great start!


Feature image by self

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0