#SundaySummary – Stepping into Combat Commander: Pacific (@GMTGames), a throw back to the Falklands (admiraltytrilogy.com), red alert kudos for No Motherland Without (@compassgamesllc) and Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition (@StrongholdGames) #wargame #boardgame

Wargames

I was able to pull off an excellent local trade to land a copy of Chad Jensen’s Combat Commander: Pacific from GMT Games this week. It only cost me my 1984 copy of Ranger from Omega Games. This is my first foray into the Combat Commander series of tactical infantry games from GMT. As there were several snow days in my local area I had the opportunity to do a sort of “deep dive” into the game and get multiple plays in. My major discovery is that Combat Commander: Pacific may be built on many “new-age” mechanics but it is thematically highly realistic. Those thoughts will be the subject of a later posting.

In 1982, the Falklands War occurred at an important time in my wargaming career. I was in high school so “aware” enough to follow the geopolitics and I had friends with common wargame interests for playing game like Harpoon II (Adventure Games, 1983). So it was very interesting this week to read The Falklands Wargame which is an unclassified, publicly released study prepared in 1986 for the Strategy, Concepts, and Plans Directorate of the US Army Concepts Analysis Agency. What really caught my attention is the study lead was none other than CAPT Wayne P. Hughes, USN (Ret.) who wrote the foundational naval text Fleet Tactics and was greatly admired by the designers of the Harpoon series of naval wargames available these days from Admiralty Trilogy Group. It’s a very interesting document which has made me think of many of my Falklands wargames, especially those using the Harpoon series of rules. So of course, more thoughts to follow!

Boardgames

Got No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War (Compass Games, 2021) to the gaming table several times this week. I played the solitaire module provided in the rules. Mechanically it works fine, though the hard part for me is now trying to get those mechanics to do what I need them to do. Component wise, well, this title is a bit of a miss. The red game board is good looking but all the red counters and markers get lost on it making it very hard to see the game state. More detailed thoughts are coming in the future.

<soapbox on> A shout out to Compass Games is also in order. There was a minor production issue with my copy of No Motherland Without but it was quickly resolved by Compass Games. Awesome customer service. And no, I didn’t mention it before because I was giving John and company a fair chance to resolve the issue which they did to my utmost satisfaction so I will commend, not condemn Compass publicly and share with you a positive story not an undeserved negative one. </soapbox off>

Kickstarter

After lamenting a few weeks back on my reluctance to back any Kickstarters I succumbed to the pressure – to back Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition (Stronghold Games via Kickstarter). My hope is that this can be a Family Game Night title. Speaking of which, we have sadly fallen off the Weekly Game Night bandwagon. Time to get back up….

The Pratzen, Austerlitz 1805 by Peter Perla from Canvas Temple Publishing will fund later today. As this posts I have less than 20 hours to resist temptation. Yeah, Napoleonics is not my thing but I absolutely respect Dr. Perla, love CTP productions, & would need a bigger gaming table.

Books

With the arrival of new games and my “Falklands Excursion” this week the reading for My Kursk Kampaign was put on hold this week. As I resume my reading I am through the events of July 12, 1943 and the Battle of Prokharovka so now turn to the aftermath and follow-on actions – which means The Battle for Kursk: The Tigers are Burning, by Trevor Bender from RBM Studios should land on the gaming table again.

My 2020 #Boardgame of the Year

It’s the end of the year so it’s that time for the inevitable “of the Year” lists. In this year of COVID, boardgames formed an important part of the “coping” mechanism in the RockyMountainNavy family. As you will see, the boardgame hobby brought ALL of us closer together. So without further ado, here is my 2020 Boardgame of the Year.

To be eligible for this category, the item must be a boardgame (not a wargame). It must also have been released in the 2020 calendar year. For a near-complete listing of all the boardgames I acquired in 2020 (including many items not eligible for this list) please see my GeekList 2020 RockyMountainNavy Gaming Acquisitions and look for entries labeled “BOARDGAME”

Candidates (in alphabetical order):

*Very unfair since i picked this one up the day before this post. It’s legally a contender but I have not actually evaluated it yet. That said, I don’t think it’s going to knock out my winner so it stays on the list with this little asterisk.

The Best of 2020…in a moment

Before we get to my 2020 Boardgame winner, I’d like to take a few moments and tell you about the favorite boardgames I acquired this year from the perspective of the Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and the RockyMountainNavy Boys.

This year had a watershed moment for the boardgame hobby within the RockyMountainNavy home. Mrs. RMN has long tolerated my gaming hobby and never discouraged me to bring the RMN Boys into gaming; indeed, she always encourages our Saturday Night Game Nights. She even used games to teach her students. But even after all that she was ‘reluctant’ to play against myself or the boys. I think it’s because she sees herself as a slow gamer prone to analysis paralysis. I personally don’t think she is a slow gamer, just a careful one. This year, however, we took in two games that changed her outlook on gaming:

  • NMBR 9 (AbbucusSpiele, 2017) – I knew she liked Tetris-like games but she had tried (and afterwards avoided) Patchwork. For some reason, NMBR 9 resonates with her and is a real hit that she will play against the boys or me. She even plays solo at times!
  • Layers (Happy Baobab, 2018) – I bought this one on a Black Friday fire sale because I thought it was good for her students. I was right but didn’t expect that she would be so taken by the game. She often sits at the table doing the puzzles solo. She is still not the fastest but she gets great joy out of it every time she plays.
Mrs RMN’s Game of the Year

If the RockyMountainNavy Boys had a vote, they would tell you that Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020) as their Game of the Year. I backed the Kickstarter on a sort of whim and I’m glad I did. The RMN Boys enjoy the card play and art. They enjoy sharing this game with their friends. It is the most-played game in the RMN family collection this year by far.

Here to Slay (Unstable Unicorns, 2020)

But my 2020 winner is…

Four Gardens from Korea Boardgame company. I love how the game looks on the table. I love the simple, yet deep gameplay. I love that I can use this title as a ‘second game’ when introducing others to the hobby. When Four Gardens reaches wider distribution I am sure it will be a real hit.

Four Gardens from Korea Boardgame Company

My 2020 #Boardgame #Wargame Expansion of the Year

It’s the end of the year so it’s that time for the inevitable “of the Year” lists. Here is my 2020 Gaming Expansion of the Year.

To be eligible for this category, the item must be an expansion to an existing boardgame or wargame that is unplayable without the base game. It must also have been released in the 2020 calendar year. For a near-complete listing of all game expansions I acquired in 2020 (including some items not eligible for this list) please see my GeekList 2020 RockyMountainNavy Gaming Acquisitions and look for entries labeled “EXPANSION”

Candidates (in alphabetical order):

…and the winner is…

Wing Leader: Origins 1936-42 from GMT Games. It continues to amaze me how the abstract model used by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood for his Wing Leader series shows the relative capabilities of different aircraft. The system really shines with early World War II aircraft. This made every play of Origins a ‘flight of discovery’ because although the reputation of many of these aircraft was poor (to put it charitably), when placed into the Wing Leader system those same poor capabilities became challenges to be dealt with. The play absolutely enhanced my understanding of aerial combat at the start of WW2 and showed the rapid advancements in aircraft performance.

Wing Leader: Origins from GMT Games

My 2020 #Boardgame #Wargame Year in Review – By the Numbers!

I’m not a data scientist, but in this year of COVID we all have (hopefully) become a bit more savvy when it comes to numbers and statistics. So here is my look at my 2020 gaming year “by the numbers.”

Important note as you read below; although I consider Root (Leder Games, 2018) a wargame, for the purposes of this post it is counted as a boardgame.

Can you find Root, the wargame?

2020 Gaming Acquisitions

Total Gaming Items Acquired in 2020 – 82

  • Accessory – 8 (5 Boardgame, 3 Wargame)
  • Boardgames – 38 (Includes 30 base games & 8 expansions)
  • Wargames – 36 (Includes 31 base games & 5 expansions)

Comment: Did I really buy more boardgames this year than wargames? This is a major blow to my wargaming cred!

Part of the wargame collection

Wargames

  • Total Wargame Items – 39 (48% of total)
  • Base Games – 31 (79% of all wargame items)
  • Expansions – 5 (13% of all wargame items)
  • Accessory – 3 (8% of all wargame items)
  • Published in 2020 – 17 (44% of wargames)

Comment: A good mix of old and new with a fair amount of expansions thrown in too.

Wargame Items by Era

  • Pre World War II Era – 9
  • 20th Century 1925-1945 (World War II Era) – 18*
  • Modern Era (1945 to Near Future) – 9
  • Future or Sci-Fi – 1
  • Multi-Era – 2

* Includes Amerika Bomber: Evil Queen of the Skies (Compass Games, 2020) since it is really an alternate-ending WWII game.

Comment: Shows that World War II remains far and away my most popular era although Modern Era games are also strong. Whatever happened to sci-fi? (Answer – They went to boardgames).

Wargame Items by Publisher (Base Game-Expansion-Accessory)

  • Admiralty Trilogy Games – 3 (1-0-2)
  • Command Magazine – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Compass Games – 3 (3-0-0)
  • Counterfact Magazine – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Fort Circle Games – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Game Crafters – 1 (0-0-1)
  • GDW – 2 (2-0-0)
  • GMT Games – 5 (3-0-2)
  • Hollandspiele – 3 (2-1-0)
  • Lock ‘n Load Publishing – 4 (2-2-0)
  • Multi-Man Publishing – 4 (4-0-0)
  • PSC – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Osprey Publishing – 1 (1-0-0)
  • RBM Studio (C3i Ops Magazine) – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Revolution Games – 4 (4-0-0)
  • US Naval War College (via History of Wargaming Project) – 2 (2-0-0)
  • Worthington Publishing – 2 (2-0-0)

Comment: I’m pleased with the diversity of publishers that I purchased from this year. Although I bought more individual items from GMT, I actually bought more base games from two other publishers (Multi-Man Publishing & Revolution Games).

Boardgames, good boardgames

Boardgames

  • Total Boardgame Items – 43 (52% of total)
  • Base Games – 30 (66% of all boardgame items)
  • Expansions – 8 (20% of all boardgame items)
  • Accessory – 5 (12% of all boardgame items)
  • Published in 2020 – 18 (42% of boardgames)

Comment: Seeing how 42% of all boardgame items were published in 2020 should I be looking for a Cult of the New (CotN) or Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) vaccine? Not really; 10 of the 17 items were accessories or expansions leaving ‘only’ 7 new games from 2020 – 16% of all boardgames.

Boardgames by Domain* – Base Games Only

  • Abstract – 5
  • Card – 3
  • Children’s – 6.5
  • Family – 4.5
  • Strategy – 6
  • Thematic – 5

*Using the BoardGameGeek classification where able.

Comment: Was a bit surprised that Children’s games were at the top here. Then again, I should not be surprised as Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and myself made a concerted effort to buy new children’s games this year for her to use in teaching.

Four Gardens from Korea Boardgame Company

Board Game Stats (Plays)

  • Total Game Plays – 257 (223 in 2019 = Up just over 15%)
  • Different Games Played – 123 (119 in 2019 = Up ~3%)
  • Percentage of Game Collection Played in 2020 = 14%
  • Players – 27 [Mr. Solo – 30%, RMN T & RMN Jr. 22% each]
  • Locations – 3 (Up 50% over 2019)
  • Days of the Week – Sun 22%, Mon 10%, Tue 7%, Wed 9%, Thu 10%, Fri 20%, Sat 22%
  • H-Factor =6 (Six games played at least 6 times)
  • Game Quarters (at least 25 Plays) = 0
  • Game Dimes (at least 10 Plays) = 1
  • Game Nickels (at least 5 plays) = 10

Most Played Games

  • Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020) = 10
  • Brief Border Wars (Compass Games, 2020) = 9
  • Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020) = 8
  • Iron Curtain: Central Front 1945-1989 (Multi Man Publishing, 2020) = 7
  • Tri Pack: Battles of the American Revolution – Guilford, Saratoga, Brandywine (GMT Games, 2017) = 7
  • Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987 (GMT Games, 2019) = 6
  • Elena of Avalor: Flight of the Jaquins (Wonder Forge, 2017) = 5
  • Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid (GMT Games, 2017) = 5
  • Fury at Midway (Revolution Games, 2020) = 5
  • Lonato (GMT Games, 2002) = 5
  • NMBR 9 (ABACUSSPIELE, 2017) = 5

Comment: Roughly same number of games played this year but more plays of those games. Reflects the fact that because of COVID I got a slightly larger gaming table which allowed me to keep games setup longer. This resulted in multiple plays of more games.

Incoming Games…Someday (Pre-Orders & Kickstarter)

Living GeekList is here.

As of Dec 27, 2020

Comment: Hmm. Average age (or time on list) is a bit over 11 months. And that’s i the year of COVID which slowed down manufacturing. If this time shrinks appreciably in 2021, could it be a barometer of recovery?

The 2021 RockyMountainNavy Game Collection

According to my BGG Profile

  • Boardgames Owned (Boardgames + Wargames): 782
  • Expansions Owned: 247
  • Accessories Owned: 7 (Obviously this is not correct as I acquired eight this year)
  • Average BGG Boardgames Rating: 6.55
  • Average BGG Expansions Rating: 6.71
  • Top Rated Game: 9.25 Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel, Kursk – 1943 3rd Edition (Academy Games, 2019)

It’s the most wonderful #boardgame #wargame #books #models time of the year thanks to the RMN Family, @Ardwulf, and @fortcircle

Christmas 2020. The year the Grinch brought COVID to the world. In the RockyMountainNavy home we actually had a good year in great part because our family bonds are strong (and stayed strong regardless of how much the Governor of Virginia tried to keep us down). Gaming played an important part in keeping the RockyMountainNavy family going this year as you will see in a series of posts coming before the end of the year. Christmas 2020 also brought several “new” games and other hobby items to my collection.

From the RMN Boys

Iron Curtain: A Cold War Card Game (Jolly Roger Games, 2017). The RMN Boys went to the FLGS just after Thanksgiving and dived into the 70% off sales tables. This is one of the items they found for me.

Car Wars: The Card Game (Steve Jackson Games, 2015 edition). Another 70% off sale item. The BGG ratings are kinda low but hey, who doesn’t like a little mayhem and destruction?

FLGS 70% Off Sale? Don’t Matter!

The RMN Boys also surprised me with a plastic model this year. Their “excuse” is that they know I prefer to build 1/144th scale these days so this one will “fit” with my collection. I love my Boys!

Bandai Millenium Falcon 1/144th scale

From @Ardwulf

Well, not really a gift from him but purchased off of him. Kudos to the USPS for “only” taking 14 days to ship this 3-5 days delivery.

Victory at Midway (Command Magazine, 1992). Supposedly similar to Seven Seas to Victory (XTR, 1992) by the same designer which I already own. The copy is showing age with yellowed edges but I’ll store it in a ziplock magazine bag to slow down further aging. That is, when I’m not playing it! Will be interesting to compare this to this year’s Revolution Games release of Fury at Midway.

Victory at Midway (Command Magazine, 1992)

Harpoon: Captain’s Edition (GDW, 1990). I have played Harpoon since the 1983 Adventure Games edition of Harpoon II. I remember passing up this version in the 1990’s because it “looked too simplistic.” I have long regretted that decision so I jumped at the chance to add this title to my Harpoon collection. The box is a “players copy” on the outside but (near) pristine on the inside.

Harpoon: Captain’s Edition (1990)

Harpoon III (GDW) / Harpoon 4 (Clash of Arms). Included also was a copy of Harpoon III with more than a few sourcebooks as well as Harpoon 4 with the 1997 Harpoon Naval Review and two other modules. I already own these but having secondary copies on hand is not a bad thing. The counters alone are worth it.

Second copies for my Harpoon collection….

From Fort Circle Games

The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games, 2020). Again, not a true gift but still a nice present to get this Kickstarter fulfillment before the end of 2020. I have the original PnP version and like it so much that backing the Kickstarter campaign for a “professional” copy was a real no-brainer.

The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games, 2020)

From Me

OK, a bit of a cheat here. I took advantage of a US Naval Institute book sale to get two new books to read. I really am looking forward to digging into The Craft of Wargaming for, ah, “professional” reasons.

Some “professional” reading

A Tiny Mayday -or- My #Boardgame Weekend Taking on the Galaxy in Tiny Epic Galaxies (@Gamelyn_Games, 2015) and Traveller: The Customizable Card Game (@TravellerCCG, 2017)

This weekends gaming selection at the RockyMountainNavy home was out of this world as two galactic titles landed on the gaming table. As far out as the game subjects were, they both did their job of making home an enjoyable place to be.

Tiny Epic Galaxies (Courtesy Gamelyn Games)

The RockyMountainNavy Boys wanted to play our traditional Saturday night boardgame but asked for something a bit shorter. So Tiny Epic Galaxies (Gamelyn Games, 2015) landed on the table. We had not played this game in nearly a year TWO YEARS (!) so it took a round to relearn the rules. That’s didn’t stop the RMN Boys; they both ended the game on the same turn with the needed 21 points. It fell to RMN Jr’s Secret Mission – Trader to give him two bonus points and the win. Awesome first play of 2020!

Traveller: The Customizable Card Game (Photo by RMN)

Afterwards, I pulled out my recently acquired Traveller: The Customizable Card Game Two-Player Starter Set (Horizon Games, 2017) and turned the rest of the evening into a learning session for myself. Generally speaking, over the decades I have stayed away from the collectible or living or customizable card genre of hobby gaming. Long ago the RMN Boys collected Pokemon cards, and RMN T still collects Magic: The Gathering cards, but we don’t play the games. So for myself, learning how to play a card game like Traveller: CCG is a whole new challenge.

Traveller: CCG also comes with a solo play mode. After stepping thru the rule book I set up a solo game and played it out. I took the classic Beowulf Free Trader and tried to make my way in the galaxy. The first contract I took, Bulk Hauling, ended up with a Buccaneer hazard attached. The call-back to the original Little Black Books of the Traveller RPG that I first got during Christmas 1979 with the iconic, “Mayday. Mayday” on the cover of the boxes set made me so giddy with joy I actually giggled out loud.

The original Traveller RPG Little Black Books box

I ended my first game of Traveller: CCG bankrupt (i.e. I lost), but gained much gameplay experience. Most importantly, I immediately wanted to play again.

Learning game…out in the black and in the red (Photo by RMN)

Much to my surprise, the Traveller: CCG feels incredibly thematic. I was just a little tramp freighter trying to make my way in the big galaxy, reaching for a job here and there, always living on the edge of losing it all. It was fun. I want to play it again. I want to get the expansion sets (I don’t think I’ll go for the play mats but instead use my Star Wars: X-Wing play mat).

My Star Wars: X-Wing Play Mat – At 3’x3′ it’s perfect for playing Traveller: CCG solo or with a second player (Photo by RMN)

It seems you can teach an old Grognard new tricks.


Feature image courtesy pexels

#ShelfieSaturday – My #wargame #boardgame collection (2020 Edition)

It’s not the best organized but it is MY collection. Here are a few ‘shelfie’ photos of my wargame / boardgame collection. As a general rule I do not ‘display’ games on the main levels of the house. This is a condition I set for myself; I don’t want to take space away from Mrs. RMN and her cherished displays (her china cabinet is very nice) or displace family pictures or the like. We also moved our library to the main floor so the books are prominently displayed.

I keep games in four locations; basement, family room, loft, and storage. You will be able to tell that games have to share space with our family’s plastic model hobby as well as toy storage; although my boys area older Mrs. RMN tutors younger students so we keep the toys on hand to encourage creative play for them.

Like many gamers I have too many games I am challenged for storage. As you will quickly see, I need to double-stack many games to get them onto my allotted shelf space.

Let’s start with the WARGAMES!

Wargame Shelf 1 Top – Arranged alphabetical by publisher then publication/stock #
Wargame Shelf 1 Middle 1
Wargame Shelf 1 Middle 2
Wargame Shelf 1 Bottom – Longer boxes and folio games
Wargame Shelf 2 Top – Includes several series collections (Yes, Root is a WARGAME)

At this point the collection starts to transition from wargames into boardgames….

Wargame / Boardgame Shelf 2 Middle & Bottom – ‘My’ boardgames
Family Boardgame Shelf

Although most games are kept in the basement we do keep some upstairs. Most of these titles are used by Mrs. RMN and her students. We also keep one or two ‘hot’ family titles on hand here too.

Living Room 1 – Mrs. RMN’s newest games for students
Living Room 2 – More student / family games and logic puzzles (hidden behind)
Loft 1 – Larger student / family boardgames, card games, and logic puzzles

Not shown is the medium cube box full of my Star Fleet Battles / Federation & Empire collection. Also not shown are several bookshelves of RPG’s and wargaming periodicals (from back when that was a thing).

A comment on the order of games; over the years I tried several different variations but finally settled on a scheme for my wargames of alphabetical by publisher then in order by stock number. I previously used a ‘by timeperiod’ arrangement but found it lacking. The order I have keeps the various publisher titles together (I find it easier to find a game that way) and then the stock number order shows a form of ‘history’ of my hobby. My boardgames are arranged in a somewhat random manner with Mrs. RMN’s student games earning a further set-aside so she (or her student) can quickly pick one when it’s needed.

The obligatory question that usually comes at this point is, “Are you going to get rid of anything/” Well, I have a few items noted as ‘For Trade’ in my BGG collection. This year I tried to use the BG Stats app to better track my plays across my entire collection. Maybe I will do some data analysis at the end of the year to try to make some ‘data driven’ decisions.

Sep/Oct #Wargame #Boardgame Acquisitions featuring @gmtgames @hollandspiele @worth2004 @MultiManPub @LnLPub @Academy_Games @FFGames @UnstbleUnicrns @MoonrakersGame

In early September I wrote about how many games might be arriving into the RockyMountainNavy gaming collection given the reawakening of the publishing industry as they struggle to recover from COVID-19.

Boy, did I underestimate myself.

Turns out that between September 1 and October 15 I took delivery of 16 (!) items into my gaming collection. This includes:

  • 8 wargames (+3 expansions)
  • 3 boardgames (+1 expansion)
  • 1 accessory

I also diversified my acquisition chain. In addition to Kickstarter and publisher pre-order systems, I also used a local flea market, online digital, BGG trading, publisher direct sales, and (gasp) my FLGS!

Wargames

Washington’s Crossing (Revolution Games, 2012) – A not-so-complex look at the Trenton Campaign of 1776. My more detailed thoughts are here.

Flying Colors 3rd Edition Update Kit (GMT Games, 2020)(Expansion) So many Age of Sail games take a super-tactical view of ships that playing them can become unwieldy. Flying Colors takes a more ‘fleet commander” point of view; here you can be Nelson at Trafalgar, not Captain Hardy. The 3rd Edition Update Kit brings my older v1.5 up to date with the latest counters and rules, allowing me to set sail for new games in the future.

White Eagle Defiant: Poland 1939 (Hollandspiele, 2020) – The follow-on to the gateway wargame Brave Little Belgium (Hollandspiele, 2019). Don’t let the low complexity of the rules fool you; the game is full of impactful decisions. I have more thoughts here.

French and Indian War 1757-1759 (Worthington Games, 2020) – Another entry in my collection of Worthington block wargames. Simple rules but deep decisions. It’s been a long-time since I labeled a wargame a “waro” but this one crosses over between the wargame and boardgame crowds.

Harpoon V: Modern Tactical Naval Combat 1955-2020 (Admiralty Trilogy Group, 2020) – More a simulation model than a game. I’ve played and owned Harpoon titles since the early 1980’s. Can’t help myself; I love it.

Iron Curtain: Central Europe, 1945-1989 (Multi-Man Publishing, 2020) – Another entry in the Standard Combat Series from MMP. I like the multiple eras of play and the ‘Road to War’ rules that deliver replayability in a (relatively) small package.

Konigsberg: The Soviet Attack in East Prussia, 1945 (Revolution Games, 2018)Acquired via trade. I like chit-pull games as they are good for solo play. I am also interested in this title because of the time period; I have played Operation Barbarossa to death and am interested in a late war perspective when the Soviets were on the offensive and it was the Germans rocked back on their heels.

Corps Command: Dawn’s Early Light (Lock ‘n Load Publishing, 2010)Acquired via trade. Got through a trade more on a whim than with any real thought. First look is a very simple ‘Cold War Gone Hot’ wargame. Realistically it has only seven pages of rules!

Nations at War: White Star Rising (Lock ‘n Load Publishing, 2010) – I don’t really need another World War II tactical game system; I’m very happy with my Conflict of Heroes series from Academy Games. Acquired through trade with no real big expectations. First impression is this platoon-level game is reminiscent of PanzerBlitz (Avalon Hill, 1970) but with chit-pull activation and command rules (both of which I really like). Maybe some interesting potential here, will have to see…. (Acquired at same time were two expansions: Nations at War: White Star Rising – Operation Cobra and Nations at War: White Star Rising – Airborne)

Boardgames

One Small Step (Academy Games, 2020) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; worker placement games is not really my thing. However, I really do like One Small Step. Not only does the theme engage me but the team play version of worker placement makes it a good game night title for the RMN household.

Star Wars: Rebellion (Fantasy Flight Games, 2016) Acquired via flea market. I jumped at an opportunity to get this game via a local flea market at an excellent price. Thematically excellent but I still have doubts concerning gameplay. It does create a very good narrative though….

Here to Slay: Warrior and Druid Expansion (Unstable Games, 2020) (Expansion) Here to Slay is the #1 played game in the RMN home. The RMN Boys (and their friends) love it. The game is far from perfect; like many others I don’t feel it is anything like an RPG as it proclaims and it’s too easy to win with “six classes in your party” versus slaying three monsters. Maybe this new expansion will change that with a bit more focus on the warrior class. Maybe….

Moonrakers (IV Games, 2020)Fresh arrival. Bought because I keep looking for a decent Traveller RPG-type of boardgame or something that captures the same vibe as Firefly: The Game (Gale Force Nine, 2013). My other attempts to find these types of games, Scorpius Freighter (AEG, 2018) and Star Wars: Outer Rim (Fantasy Flight Games, 2019) were less-than-successful. This title just screams OPA in The Expanse. Playing it will have to wait as there is a backlog of games in front of it in the to-play queue (obvious from the above).

Accessories

Sirius Dice: Spades (Sirius Dice) – I picked these up sorta on a whim. They look and feel good. If I ever get back to playing RPGs they may come in handy.

#Boardgame Education – 2020 #COVID Back to (Virtual) School Special Edition featuring @BlueOrangeGames, @FlyingMeeple, @playrooment, @Academy_Games, @SJGames

The local school district here chose online (virtual) school for this year. I’m not going to go into the absolute disaster the superintendent and school board have wrought upon our youth, but instead try to find something positive to say using boardgames and wargames. I will try my best to keep political rants out of here but, oh boy, things here are so screwed up it’s hard!

Mrs. RockyMountainNavy, who is an Early Childhood educator, strongly believes that learning comes from doing. Unfortunately, as we observe our own high schooler (11th Grade), a friends middle schooler (6th Grade), and another friends elementary schooler (1st Grade) in their online classrooms we are disappointed in the amount of actual learning taking place. In response, we have looked for games to support learning.

Mrs. RMN and I strongly believe that games help educate in many different ways. First, there is the social aspect. I am proud to say that my kids actually look at your face when they talk to you not down at a phone screen. In great part we believe this is because we always push the most important social aspect of gaming; playing with others. Just the other day, Miss A, the 1st grader, lost a game of Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020). She immediately declared she didn’t like the game AT ALL. We reminded her that she actually won the previous three games, and asked her to remember those. She sheepishly smiled and challenged us to another game (which she won).

Mrs. RMN believes that when learning is made tangible it means so much more. We are fortunate to live in the Washington D.C. area so we take advantage of the many museums and historical sites to help teach. In these COVID times and online schooling, finding the tangible is so much harder. We see the younger grades losing the most as they are unable to really learn from passively watching a checkerboard of faces on a small screen for hours on end. To learn they need more than listen; learning from an interactive experience is often the strongest way to imprint something in the brain.

With the first grader suffering the most, we try to find games that challenge her to think logically. She is an emergent reader right now and pretty good at math, but ‘putting it all together’ is a bit harder. Recently, we introduced her to Dragomino (already mentioned) and Dig Dog Dig (Flying Meeples, 2019). She likes both, but Mrs. RMN wanted to gift her a copy of Dig Dog Dig because it is one of the rare games that really engages a 5 or 6 year old child. When the game arrived, we sat down to teach her mother how to play so they could play at home. We need’t have worried because Miss A quickly took control and taught the game to her mother! Sure, her teach was not perfect but she got all the gross mechanics correct. This was all the more impressive given she had played the game with us maybe a half-dozen times. Most importantly, it showed she engaged with the game and internalized it. She ‘learned’ how to learn, and teach, the game.

Dig Dog Dig (Flying Meeples, 2019)

The sixth grader is much more challenging. Miss C came to us because she was falling far behind in math. RockyMountainNavy Jr. actually tutored her as his summer job since she had so many negative experiences with older tutors that she was rebelling. With a focus on math we tried some math games we had around, like Math Dice (ThinkFun, 2003), but it is too ‘school-like’ and she refused it. Digging deeper into the drawers of the gaming collection, we found a copy of Top Dogs (Playroom Entertainment, 2005). When we first brought the game out, she was immediately taken by the cute artwork. For us, the fact you need to do three-factor multiplication meant it hit exactly at a weakpoint of her learning. When we played the game she enjoyed it, even though she was a bit slower at calculating than others. Unlike Math Dice, she continued to play Top Dogs because she saw it more as a game and less as a lesson.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pic448118.jpg
Top Dogs (Playroom Entertainment, 2005)

More recently, we discovered that Miss C actually is very weak at quickly adding and subtracting numbers. We tried increasing her speed by using flash cards but, again, she rebelled because that feels too much like school. Digging through our shelves (again) I came across Sumoku (Blue Orange Games, 2010). This game hit several needs for Miss C; she needs to know factors of certain numbers and she needs to add groups of numbers. More importantly, she likes to play the game, especially against RockyMountainNavy Jr. (I admit there is a certain degree of ‘puppy love’ in play here too).

Sumoko (Blue Orange Games, 2010)

Speaking of RockyMountainNavy Jr., boardgames and wargames fully support his learning environment. He first real learning of American geography came from Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder, 2004) to Air Force (Battleline, 1976) where he learned the very basic of flight. This school year his US/Virginia history class started with an online quiz of the 13 colonies. The teacher challenged the class to beat his time of 14 seconds. RockyMountainNavy T quickly clocked times of 13 and 12 seconds. He also freely admitted that the reason he knows his colonies so well is the many times we played 1775: Rebellion (Academy Games, 2013).

1775: Rebellion (Academy Games, 2013)

Just the other night RockyMountainNavy Jr. was talking to me about learning vectors in his Physics class. Not only was he learning about vectors in Physics, but Miss C had asked him a question about her science homework earlier in the day (the question concerned movement is space). As he talked to me, I calmly walked to the game shelves and returned with a copy of Triplanetary: The Classic Game of Space Combat – Third Edition (Steve Jackson Games, 2018). I proceeded to pull out the contents and we sketched a few vectors about. He instantly grasped the basics of 2d vectors (and asked that we add Triplanetary to the Saturday Game Night rotation).

Triplanetary – Third Edition (Steve Jackson Games, 2018)

As much as we play games for learning, we also play games for relaxation. With great number of hours the kids are spending online during the day it becomes important for them to have offscreen activities. Here is where boardgames and wargames really shine. We are of course a gaming family, but we have also brought games to others (especially younger families) and are always on the lookout to share good games for families. Recent hits in the RockyMountainNavy home include Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020) and Fort (Leder Games, 2020).

In several ways COVID has ruined dreams plans I had for introducing boardgames into history classes at RockyMountainNavy Jr’s high school. Last year, right as the plandemic pandemic hit I was in contact with Jr’s history teacher about introducing 1775: Rebellion into the classroom. In particular, we were looking at some sort of implementation of the based on the Teaching the American Revolution through Play – 1775 Teacher’s Manual available through Academy Games.

1775: Rebellion Teachers Manual

In these COVID times boardgames and wargames serve as a very helpful coping mechanism not only for the immediate RockyMountainNavy family but also for our ‘extended’ family of students and friends. I don’t see that ever stopping.


Feature image Plan Orange: Pacific War 1930-1032 (C3iMagazine Nr. 29, 2016) and related reading.

September #Wargame #Boardgame Forecast – It’s Raining Games!

In late June I made a bold forecast that as any as nine (9) of 27 games I had on preorder or Kickstarter could deliver by the end of July. Alas, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

August looked much better. Let’s see what happened this month and look a bit ahead to September….

Delivered

  1. Undaunted: North Africa (Osprey Games, 2020)Preorder Waro. DELIVERED. Good game slightly marred by the printing errors….
  2. Fort (Leder Games, 2020): Publisher-direct Preorder. DELIVERED. Who are your friends? Only the ones you play with!
  3. Quartermaster General: The Cold War (PSC Games, 2018)Online Retailer Purchase. Strategy Wargame? – DELIVERED. BGG lists this as a wargame. Not so fast….
  4. Scythe Complete Rulebook (Stonemaier Games, 2020): Publisher-direct Preorder. DELIVERED. Having recently started replaying Scythe and nearing completion of our The Rise of Fenris campaign its good to get all the rules in one organized place. Email Update 28 Aug“To-date we have not found a single instance of a rules error impacting gameplay in the 136-page document. Except in one section. The Automa rules need some work. I apologize for this and we take full responsibility. We believe these errors are large enough to justify a reprint. The good news is that many of you don’t play using the Automa (solo mode), and may never reference this section of the rulebook. But if you use the Automa or plan to in the future, we will send you a new spiralbound Scythe Complete Rulebook for free.” Here’s what we’ll do. Simply fill out this form and we’ll send you another Scythe Complete Rulebook when it’s reprinted in a few months using the mailing address from your previous order.”
  5. Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020): Bonus Purchase – DELIVERED. Billed as “My First Kingdomino” I was a bit dubious as to how they could accomplish this. After all, Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2017) is already a very simple game. Ordered as part of the Gen Con Online specials. SO HAPPY! Mrs. RMN introduced this game to all her students; all love it. Even RMN Jr (Mr. Kingdomino in the RMN House) likes to play!
  6. Dig Dog Dig (Flying Meeple, 2019): Bonus Purchase – DELIVERED. Another game bought to support the younger students of Mrs. RMN. This title is criminally under-appreciated. At heart a memory game, the toy factor and play makes this perfect for the early reader or younger gamers in your family.

Still Waiting

  1. One Small Step (Academy Games, 2020)Kickstarter Boardgame. UPDATE from August 7– “The container ship Seaspan Raptor is currently off the coast of Mexico and will arrive at the Panama Canal today. It is expect it to arrive in Florida August 10th! Your games will be shipped to you by Quartermaster Logistics, located in Orlando, FL hopefully by the end of next week.” NOTHING SEEN/HEARD SINCE.
  2. The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games, 2020)Kickstarter Waro. August 10 Update: “I also have some bad news. The shipping date from China has been pushed back further – to September 7. Just as you all have shown patience with me, I know I have to show patience with the folks manufacturing the game. But it is still extremely frustrating. And, unfortunately, airmailing the games here is truly cost-prohibitive – sink the company, never to be seen again level of cost-prohibitive. So this means it won’t be in anyone’s hands until October.”
  3. French & Indian War 1757-1759 (Worthington Publishing): Kickstarter Wargame. From a July 29 Update “The ship carrying both CRUSADER KINGDOMS and FRENCH & INDIAN WAR will hit the port in New York August 13.  We should expect for us to receive the games within 2 weeks of that barring a customs snag. Thats means it is possible we may be shipping the last week of August, and if not then the first week of September!!!”
  4. Flying Colors 3rd Edition Update Kit (GMT Games): P500. Charged 05 August. To ship shortly thereafter. Enroute!

New Orders

  1. Empire of the Sun, 4th Edition (GMT Games, 202?): New to the P500 this month. Could. Not. Resist.
  2. Supercharged (The Dietz Foundation, 2021?): Kickstarter. Looks like a good racing game. As the husband of a mother that uses boardgames to teach I also like what the Dietz Foundation stands for. Here he talks about how to use racing games (like Supercharged) for learning. At the time of this post, it sits just under 80% funded with about 20 days to go. HEY, RACING FANS! LEt’s get behind this!