RockyMountainNavy, 18 August 2022 ~ #UnboxingDay Remember the Lightcycle scene from the original TRON movie? If you loved that scene you should be all-in to play the new… 366 more words#UnboxingDay ~ Reality Shift from Apollo Games/Academy Games — Armchair Dragoons
Next wargame arrival (this week?) should be Harold Buchanan’s Flashpoint: South China Sea from GMT Games. I expect this one to be an “office-al” lunchtime game. I also ordered from The Gamecrafter the “Baltic Approached Aircraft & Mini-Cards” for Red Storm: Baltic Approaches also published by GMT Games.
Speaking of markers, designer Dan Bullock offered a set of after-market markers for his game No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War (Compass Games, 2021) which should make the game look so much nicer on the table.
The Kickstarter fulfillment for Reality Shift from Academy Games is supposedly “ready to ship.” Funded in December 2020 with an original projected delivery of May 2021, it’s only running about a year late. Sadly, of the nearly 20 items in my Kickstarter/Preorder GeekList this one is smack dab in the middle of the pack, doing much better than the oldest P500 from October 2019 that still languishes…
The Spring 2022 edition of Naval War College Review has an article by Jonathan Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword. The new article, “What WAS Nimitz Thinking?” looks at the Admiral’s battleplan for Midway. One part I really enjoy in this Parshall analysis is the comparison of “Bad Hornet” and “Good Hornet” with regards to that carriers initial strike. Of great potential interest to wargamers, Parshall actually looks at some of the alternative battle situations by using an Operations Research approach through the work of Aneli Bongers and Jose L Torres and their article “Revisiting the Battle of Midway” published in a 2020 issue of Military Operations Research. Hmm…
- Parshall, Jonathan B (2022) “What WAS Nimitz Thinking?,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 75: No. 2, Article 8
- Bongers, Aneli and Jose L. Torres, “Revisiting the Battle of Midway,” Military Operations Research: Vol. 25, No. 2 (2020), pp 49-68, https://doi.org/10.5711/1082598325249 via JSTOR.
Feature image courtesy navsource.org. The accompanying text reads: “On Thursday, 4 June 1942, during operations near Midway Island, an F4F-4 Wildcat, # 3-F-24, from VF-3—USS Yorktown (CV-5)—, piloted by Ensign Daniel Sheedy, accidentally fired its .50-cal machine guns while landing on USS Hornet (CV-8). ENS Sheedy had been wounded during the battle and the controls to safe the guns had been shot out, according to eye-witness accounts. Five Hornet crewmembers were killed (one of them LT Royal R. Ingersoll II, son of ADM Royal E. Ingersoll and grandson of RADM Royal R. Ingersoll) and 20 others wounded in this accident.”
Summer Slow Down
Now comes the time of the year that the days are longer and outdoor chores call, which means there is less time for gaming which in turn means a bit of a seasonal slow-down in this blog too. That said, in the coming weeks look for:
- A new Wargame Library series
- Some American Independence Day wargaming
- A return of my 2022 #TTRPG Character Generation (CharGen) Challenge
- A return of family boardgame/wargame weekends
- A new long-piece on a next Korean War for The Armchair Dragoons
- New arrivals (more on that below)
Mrs. RockyMountainNavy’s favorite student had her birthday this last month. We gifted her with Coconuts (Korea Boardgames Co., 2013). Coconuts is ranked #8 on the BoardGameGeek Children’s category and deservedly so. This is a fun dexterity game with an awesome toy factor. Miss A loved the game and we all had fun playing it with her.
We also gifted Miss A Smart Farmer (Smart Games) which is a one-player puzzle game. Now I get it; one-player puzzle games are considered “Outside the Scope of BGG”. Doesn’t mean these are not “games” and more importantly aren’t fun. Mrs. RMN has long favored Rush Hour (Think Fun) as the go-to puzzle game for youngsters, but admittedly getting girls to play with cars is sometimes “challenging.” In Smart Farmer you have to use the fences to separate the animals. What makes this game so appealing (yet again) is the toy factor; the animals are cute to look at and have some heft and a slightly rubberized texture when handled. So not only does the game look great, it feels great. Little Miss A is already working though the 60 challenges. Truth be told, we also learned that Miss A’s mother is working to keep up with her daughter as they are “racing” each other to see who can solve more puzzles in a day.
For what it’s worth, Youngest RMN played Police Escape Blockade (now available as SmartGames RoadBlock…but apparently only in Europe) when he came home after school in his early elementary years. While his older siblings worked on their homework, he would work on the next one or two puzzle challenges. When he finished all of them he just went back to the beginning and started all over again. This game was instrumental in helping him learn life-long skills like concentration, logical thinking, spatial awareness, and problem-solving. Yeah, we played many other boardgames but puzzle games like Police Escape Blockade were very useful as after school fillers for the young ones.
Fire Mission; Grid 20….
After a long (postal) drought, it looks like some wargames and boardgame pre-orders are finally nearing delivery!
To date in 2022, I have taken delivery of just a mere two pre-order/Kickstarter fulfillments; that being AuZtralia: Revenge of the Old Ones and AuZtralia: TaZmania from Schimil Games in mid-March. and (just this week) 2 Minutes to Midnight by Stuart Tonge from Plague Island Games. Now a few more games are getting closer to gracing the shelves of Casa de Rocky:
- Root: The Marauder Expansion / Root: The Clockwork Expansion 2 (Leder Games) – Fulfillment in progress; to be complete by end of June
- Reality Shift (Academy Games) – Ship due in New York June 5, to fulfillment center OOA June 14
- Red Storm: Baltic Approaches (Douglas Bush, GMT Games) – Shipped/Enroute to Hacienda de Rocky
- CDG Solo System (Stuka Joe, GMT Games) – Shipped/Enroute to Hacienda de Rocky
This week I also ordered another Ben Madison product from his White Dog Games studio. The Mission: Early Christianity from the Crucifixion to the Crusades will be arriving soon.
Feature image Virginia Beach in the morning, taken by self
I made an (audio) appearance on Mentioned in Dispatches Season 8 Episode 12 “Crowdfunding” with Regimental Commander Brant and Napoleonic colorguard Jim. Please take a listen and leave your thoughts either at the Armchair Dragoons forums or here.
In the podcast I mentioned that I have 20 items either in Kickstarter, on GMT Games P500, or on preorder (mostly with Compass Games). Already in the short time since we recorded (just days before posting) there has been movement on more than a few items:
- Red Storm: Baltic Approaches (GMT Games) – P500 since April 2020 (24 months); per April 19, 2022 newsletter, “At Sea – No Arrival Date Yet”
- Reality Shift (Academy Games) – Kickstarter December 2020 with estimated delivery May 2021 (11 months delay); per April 21, 2022 update the games are on ship expected to arrive New York on May 17, 2022 with fulfillment to start immediately thereafter
- Stuka Joe’s CDG Solo System(GMT Games) – P500 since January 2021 (15 months); per April 19, 2022 newsletter, “At Sea – No Arrival Date Yet”
- Root: The Marauder Expansion / Root: The Clockwork Expansion 2 (Leder Games) – Kickstarter March 2021 with estimated Delivery January 2022 (3 month delay); per March 28, 2022 update on shipping, “Updated start date: first week of April / Updated end date: mid to late June” NO SHIPPING NOTICE RECEIVED TO DATE…
- 2 Minutes to Midnight (Plague Island Games) – Kickstarter July 2021 with estimated delivery December 2021 (4 month delay); per April 22, 2022 update from designer Stuart Tonge:
- “OK… US & Canadian backers – unfortunately, there is a delay. I only found out yesterday night so this is fresh news but shipping is likely to be 6 weeks late. That would be early May for the games to ship, with an additional 2-3 weeks for Canadian deliveries on top of this. I will not make excuses for the responsible company – they’ve let me down. But I also won’t reveal them, as that would serve no purpose. Please accept my apologies for the delay.”
In the podcast I repeatedly mentioned that communications is the key to my happiness with a crowdfunding or pre-order campaign. Jim Dietz of The Dietz Foundation ran a most excellent Kickstarter campaign for Supercharged and 1979 Revolution in Iran. The major reason I am happy is that he always communicated—good or bad!
While I am an anxious to get 2 Minutes to Midnight into my hands, Stuart Tonge’s explanation is perfectly acceptable and very welcome. It also shows that a bit of humility and honesty are extremely valuable in a relationship. While I wait for my game, I do so with great respect for the efforts Stuart is making.
Feature image courtesy pexels free photos
The Earth is Weeping
In his 2016 book The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, author Peter Cozzens delivers a narrative history of the American Indian Wars that tries to reset the record. As he explains in his Prologue:
No epoch in American history, in fact, is more deeply steeped in myth than the era of the Indian Wars of the American West. For 125 years, much of both popular and academic history, film, and fiction has depicted the period as an absolute struggle between good and evil, reversing the roles of heroes and villains as necessary to accommodate the changing national conscious.The Earth is Weeping, p. 7
The Earth is Weeping is a book that tries to bring balance to the historical record of the American Indian Wars. Following the tragedy/massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, most Americas for the next 80 years viewed brave Indian fighters (cavalry) and courageous settlers as heroic. But in the 1970s that view changed as people began seeing whites as villainous conquerors, and the Indians as victims—thanks in no small part to Dee Brown’s influential book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Cozzen contends Brown’s book made no attempt at historical balance. Peter Cozzens book The Earth is Weeping does not ignore injustices done to the Indians, but he insists we not ignore the white perspective, either.
In a similar manner to The Earth is Weeping, John Poniske’s game Plains Indian Wars (GMT Games, 2022) attempts to deliver a balanced view of the American Indian Wars. This balance comes in two flavors; game balance and historical balance. For the former the game excels but for the later it maybe shies away from the hard parts of history a bit too much, but maybe for the right reasons.
Long ago (and I mean LONG ago) GMT Games put Plains Indian Wars up on the P500. At the time I thought ordering it didn’t pull the trigger. The topic is not really of interest to me so I didn’t even pay attention to the publicity around it. That is, until I heard that the game system is a loose relative of Academy Games’ Birth of America-series. The Birth of America-series games (1754: Conquest, 1775: Rebellion, 1812: Invasion of Canada) and the closely related 878 Vikings are the favorite lite, family wargames in the RockyMountainNavy house. Yes, even more popular than Commands & Colors, Hold the Line, or even Enemies of Rome. Once I discovered Plains Indian Wars shared some of that lineage, I HAD to have it.
[In a March 16 post on BGG, John Poniske states that, “[Plains Indian Wars] was originally designed for Academy – they turned it down.” That’s…sad for Academy Games.]
Part of what makes the Birth of America-series of games so appealing to me is game balance. In every game, you have asymmetric factions working together to deliver victory. Victory is usually based on area control. Admittedly, the combat part of the history in many Birth of America games is glossed over because casualties don’t really matter—the only judge of victory is who controls a particular area.
Factions On the Plains
In Plains Indian Wars there are seven “factions.” The Major Indian Factions are the Northern Plains Tribes (NPT) and the Southern Plains Tribes (SPT). The Major US Factions are the Cavalry and Settlers. The three “minor factions”—all controlled by the US player(s), are the Enemies of the NPT/SPT, Wagon Trains, and the Transcontinental Railroad. Every major faction has a deck of 15 cards (larger in size than those found in a Birth of America game), custom faction dice, and color-coded cubes. Minor factions have cubes but no cards, and only the Enemies faction has custom dice. The 34″x22″ mounted game board is a stylized map of the area (i.e. not totally geographically accurate) but well laid out and easy to use in the game.
Each turn of Plains Indian Wars consists of a series of random draws of a faction disk from a bag. This game mechanism, lifted directly from the Birth of America-series, is in great part what makes every game so engaging; you simply don’t know in what order the different factions will operate. Major Factions use their cards in a turn to take different actions. Some cards are Migration, Engagement, War Party, or an Event.
Another asymmetrical game mechanism carried over from the Birth of America-series in Plains Indian Wars is the custom faction dice. Dice come with one of three faces; Blank (retreat), Treaty (end of combat), and Weapon (hit). Each factions dice are not the same; the US Cavalry has 3x Weapon, 1x Treaty, and 2x Blank making it deadly in combat. The NPT/SPT/Enemies dice are 3x Blank, 1x Treaty, and 2x Weapon making them rather balanced. Settlers, on the other hand, have 4x Blank, 1x Treaty, and only a single Weapon making them disadvantaged in combat.
The end result of the asymmetric factions in Plains Indian Wars is actually a very mechanically balanced game. The key to victory for each player is to use their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. Although Plains Indian Wars is categorized as a “wargame” on BoardGameGeek, the real “war” in the game is for territory. The US Player(s) gain points for completing the Railroad, exiting Wagon Trains across the board, and for controlling NPT/SPT areas. The Indian Player(s) gain points for stopping the joining of the Railroad, eliminating George Armstrong Custer on the turn he enters, eliminating Wagon Train cubes, eliminating Cavalry cubes, and controlling NPT/SPT and Enemies regions. They also lose points if the US Player controls more Enemies regions than they do. All of which in play means the US Player is constantly trying to expand the areas they control while the Indian Player is trying push back the Settlers and impede the flow of Wagon Trains.
Similar to how the different factions in Plains Indian Wars are mechanically balanced in play, the game strives to depict a similar historical balance. There is no “absolute struggle between good and evil” as neither side is necessarily “good” or obviously “evil.” Event cards in particular call-out some situations that are significant and not necessarily to be crowed about. Game play tends to emphasize the broad strategy of the day (the ends) but it also tends to gloss over how that was done (the means) which in many cases carried intense racial undertones. In several discussion threads about Plains Indian Wars on BoardGameGeek, designer John Poniske has mentioned some design decisions that are ahistorical but were made in the name of game balance. Which is to say that even the designer recognizes that Plains Indian Wars is an imperfect view of the American Indian Wars.
This brings me back to Academy Games’ decision to not publish Plains Indian Wars. I don’t know why that decision was made and hope it was for financial reasons vice any “commentary” on the historical aspects of this game. One criticism of the Birth of America-series is that the Native American factions don’t have much agency and tend to be used as pawns of major factions (not rue in 1812, but I can see the argument in 1775). In Plains Indian Wars the Northern Plains Tribes and Southern Plains Tribes are elevated to major factions and certainly have “agency” in the game. Plains Indian Wars could of brought “balance” to the Academy Games catalog, but I digress.
Does that really matter? A part of me says Plains Indian Wars is fine the way it is. The game presents those broad strokes of history in a very friendly, lite-wargame manner. On the other hand, the historian in me cringes a bit because there is so much to be said…
…and maybe that’s why the game is the way it is.
If one digs deep into the myths and misconceptions of the American Indian Wars they will quickly enter into a highly controversial discussion. Plains Indian Wars is a “top-level” view of that discussion, perhaps best used not to learn the details of the most controversial issues, but to trigger a desire to further explore those outside of the game. The game does not attempt to explain the many myths of history, but instead “exposes” them for the players. This is far from a condemnation of Plains Indian Wars for like the Birth of America-series before it there is only so much that can (should?) be communicated in a historical family-lite wargame. The historical balance in Plains Indian Wars is not simply a balance between factions, but a balance in the presentation of history.
Plains Indian Wars can be played by one, two, three, or even four players. Personally, I think the game shines best as a two-player game where your “thinking” opponent presents the greatest challenge. The solo variants are useful for exploring the various factions, and the three-or four player versions are in some ways even more family friendly. But to me, the best balance between game play and historical flavor is found in the two-player version.
Plains Indian Wars is a welcome addition to the shelf of “family” wargames. Not only is Plains Indian Wars a good game, it also “teaches without preaches” and challenges your mind to explore further.
With 2021 “in the books” I surveyed my outstanding preorders and Kickstarter list. At one point in 2021 this list reached maybe close to 30 titles; today it stands at 20. That’s not so much a testimony to late deliveries but more an accounting of how I cancelled out of more than a few.
GMT Games is the top publisher in the wargame space. Last year I “acquired” 14 GMT Games products, almost as many as the next three publishers combined. Every month Gene sends his GMT Update with the status of the business. The monthly newsletter often (always?) includes at least one—often more—new games for the P500. For a while there I jumped in on whatever caught my fancy. After all, it’s “pledge now, pay later” so it don’t matter, right?
One of the products I acquired this past year was Panzer Expansion #1: The Shape of Battle – The Eastern Front, 2nd Printing. I pledged for this product sometime back in 2017, meaning it took nearly 4 years to fulfill, and then only because somebody decided that the entire Panzer line deserved a reprint regardless of the P500 pledge numbers (which Expansion Nr. 1 never had enough of to “Make the Cut”).
When the reprinting was announced I looked hard at what I had on order and that was when I started making cuts. The entire issue forced me to reconsider my entire approach to P500, preorders, and Kickstarter.
I recently paid close attention to the December 2021 GMT Games P500 GeekList on BGG. What shocked me is how long so many games have been on the list. Like five (5) years in some cases! There is actually one expansion that has been listed for almost 10 YEARS. Hey look, I love that P500 helps gets game published but the timeline is getting ridiculous.
Now, before all the rabid GMT Games fanboys get uppity (Harold, I’m watching YOU!) I realize it is not always GMT’s fault. For example, designer Brian Train of China’ War, 1937-1941 admitted in his end-of-the-year roundup:
China’s War 1937-41: Development screeched to a halt when I lost my gaming space to renos in summer 2020. In the fall of 2021 I developed a 1938 scenario for the game. I recently heard from the GMT developer who also got sidetracked on things, and work will begin again in early 2022. We hope to finish testing and development by the end of summer. Over 1,500 pre-orders now.https://brtrain.wordpress.com
Of my 20 games on P500/Preorder/Kickstarter eight (8) are P500. Two might deliver in early 2022 and maybe one or two more by year’s end but all seven? No chance…
- China’s War, 1937-1941 – My P500 since October 2019. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
- Next War Supplement #3 – My P500 since February 2020. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
- Red Storm: Baltic Approaches – My P500 since April 2020. At the Printer
- Red Dust Rebellion – My P500 since October 2020. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
- Stuka Joe’s CDG Solo – My P500 since January 2021. At the Printer
- Next War: Taiwan – My P500 since February 2021. Not There Yet
- Panzer North Africa – My P500 since July 2021. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
- Flashpoint: South China Sea – Had been on my P500 when first announced how many years ago? Put back on in Dec 2021 but if something needs to fall off this is the best candidate.
Now, I get the “desire” of GMT and the P500—Gene and company (and don’t forget, it is a COMPANY) are looking at where to invest their capital. My disappointment is that the P500 has become the “preorder fanboy cult” as many new games are quick to “make the cut” followed by no real commitment as to follow-on timelines.
I presently have five (5) games on preorder all with Compass Games. Four of the five supposedly have a chance at releasing in 2022:
- Blue Water Navy: World War III – The Pacific. Since September 2020. Now “late 2022”
- Carrier Battles: Philippine Sea – Since September 2020. Now “mid -2022”
- Eastern Front: Operational Battles – Since February 2021. No date scheduled
- 2040: American Insurgency – Since February 2021. Now “late 2022”
- Air & Armor: Operational Armored Warfare in Europe – Designer’s Signature Edition – Since February 2021. Now “late 2022”
Like GMT’s P500, Compass Games use preorders to measure interest. I (stupidly) hit the wrong button on a few and preordered—not pre-pledged—which means my money is paid. Now Compass has my money and I wait for my “interest” to be paid back in the form a game. Maybe Compass is better off going the Kickstarter route and taking my money just before production. Speaking for myself I certainly feel my money is being used better that way.
There appears to be some major churn over just what Kickstarter’s NFT-related announcement really means. I can’t tell you because I can’t make sense out of it. The best explanations I have heard talk about a using blockchain not for monetary transactions but as some sort of new IT backbone. Practically speaking, I already feel I have too much Kickstarter exposure and am reluctant to back new projects. Exceptions will likely be with known publishers that use Kickstarter as their preorder mechanism (like Worthington Games and increasingly more Compass Games).
- Reality Shift (Academy Games) – Funded December 2020 with a projected May 2021 delivery. Maybe mid-February 2022 according to Nov 2021 update…
- Root: The Marauder Expansion + Root: The Clockwork Expansion 2 (Leder Games)- Funded March 2021 with a projected January 2022 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Right now there are a number of scenarios with delivery dates ranging from late Q1 to mid Q2. We won’t have more specific guesses for at least another month.”
- AuZtralia: TaZmania + AuZtralia: Revenge of the Old Ones (SchilMil Games) – Funded April 2021 with a projected November 2021 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Shipments have not yet been booked/confirmed, so I am waiting to hear an expected ETA for port arrivals”.
- 2 Minutes to Midnight (Plague Island Games) – Funded July 2021 with a projected December 2021 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Currently the game is in the production queue.”
- Imperial Campaigns Series 1: The Boer War (Canvas Temple Publishing) – Funded September 2021 with a projected August 2022 delivery. Per November 2021 update Jon Compton has urgent family issues he must handle and will return to production as soon as possible.
That last update is important; family first. Yes, I want my game and, yes, it can’t get here soon enough but, yes, FAMILY FIRST.
While my summer gaming has been languishing lots of work from Kickstarter campaigns continues. Some of the news is better than others and all seem to be feeling the effects of the shipping industry challenges.
- Reality Shift from Academy Games (Estimated Delivery MAY 2021; Last Update July 2): Cubes modified but no update to shipping.
- 2 Minutes to Midnight by Stuart Tonge from Plague Island Games (Estimated Delivery Dec 2021; Last Update July 8): To leave the factory OOA September. Stuart is working with Draco Ideas so I “think” this gives him some good support for his first independent publication.
- The Shores of Tripoli by Kevin Bertram from Fort Circle Games (Last Update July 20): A nice update on some of the accolades and uses the game is receiving. Also a reminder that I owe Kevin another look at the playtest kit for Halls of Montezuma he graciously provided me.
- 1979: Revolution in Iran by Dan Bullock from Dietz Foundation (Estimated Delivery Sep 2021; Last Update July 28): Production of the games is finishing and not for the shipping. Maybe an early October arrival?
- AuZtralia: Revenge of the Old Ones and TaZmania from SchiMil Games (Estimated Delivery Nov 2021; Last Update July 31): Production progressing but printing not likely completed until late October. Almost certain to miss November target date.
- Hold the Line: Excaliber, the Battles of King Arthur from Worthington Games (Backed Aug 1; Estimated Delivery Apr 2022): Newly backed by me this week. My middle boy and I really enjoy Hold the Line: American Civil War which is our go-to head-to-head wargame choice. I think this new title will be a great addition to our “order of battle.
Speaking of playtesting, I am overdue in getting the playtest kit for Warsaw Pact by Brad Smith to the table after he also graciously provided it to me. Looks like I have some printing, cutting, and taping in the (overdue) near future!
Recently visited the Seattle area and found The Waffler, a most excellent breakfast restaurant!
Game of the Week
My Game of the Week was Commands and Colors Napoleonics (GMT Games, 2019). I really enjoyed the game this week as I got to play both the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo on their anniversary week. Look for my extended comments on the game forthcoming in the week ahead.
2 Minutes to Midnight
Stuart Tonge’s kickstarter for 2 Minutes to Midnight (Plague Island Games, forthcoming) launched this week and quickly funded. The game has already passed through several stretch goals and is still going. I was one of the previewers of this game and really like it. It’s not too late for you to check it out!
Sigh. Reality Shift from Academy Games is now mid-August delivery, several months removed from the planned May date. On the plus side, 1979: Revolution in Iran by Dan Bullock from The Dietz Foundation is moving along nicely but shipping problems may add some delay. Patrick Leder of Leder Games tweeted about that this week:
I am very happy to see Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020) win the children’s Game of the Year Kinderspiel des Jahres 2021 award. This game is a favorite of Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and her student, Miss A. I am also very pleased that after a recent play of Dragomino, Mrs. RMN asked me to teach her Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2017) which was the 2017 Spiel de Jahres (Game of the Year) winner. It was a pleasant game though Mrs. RMN wracked her brain (over)thinking all the different combinations. Her Verdict—She liked it!
I was pleased with the (small) reception my Rocky Reads for Wargame post on Meade at Gettysburg: A Study in Command by Kent Masterson Brown received. I hope to do more of that style of book to wargame (maybe even boardgame or even roleplaying game) comparisons.
Alas, it looks like my exploration of the Battle of Gettysburg is not finished yet. Father’s Day also saw the arrival of Longstreet at Gettysburg: A Critical Reassessment by Cory M. Pharr (Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2019). So now to look at a study of command on the Confederate side….
Countdown to Midnight
A reminder that the Kickstarter campaign for 2 Minutes to Midnight by Stuart Tonge and his new company Plague Island Games starts tomorrow! Read my comments here and then please look at the campaign. I’ve said it before that “cubes as influence” games are not really my thing but I really enjoyed the thematic elements of 2 Minutes to Midnight—it’s good enough to overcome my bias. I think many of you will find the game interesting and worth the investment!
Several GMT Games P500 preorders arrived this week. Going into the “To Play” pile is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s Wing Leader: Legends 1937-1945 (Wing Leader Expansion Nr 4). Also arriving is Ted Raicer’s The Dark Summer: Normandy, 1944.
I am very interested in getting Wing Leader: Legends to the table as it includes the “Decision Over Kursk” campaign system. Some readers may recall several “My Kursk Kampaign” postings from earlier this spring where I dove in-depth into that battle. At the time I wanted to explore the air war more:
As I start this exploration, my copy of Wing Leader: Legends 1937-1945 (GMT Games, forthcoming in 2021) is “At the Printer” meaning it may deliver sometime in mid-2021. If it delivers in time I would certainly like to play the campaign system which focuses on the air battles supporting the Battle of Kursk. I really want to explore a point Glantz makes on page 63 in his book; “Red aircraft might be inferior to their German counterparts, but they were certainly sufficient in numbers to deny the Luftwaffe undisputed command of the air.”
History to #Wargame – My Kursk Kampaign – Part 1 Introduction
Although you can’t see it in the photo of The Dark Summer, I am, frankly, a bit surprised the game shipped in a 1.5″ deep box. One can interpret this as a sign that the game is smaller, and with a single 22″x34″ map and two countersheets that appears true. I guess I thought a Normandy campaign game just “has to be” big but this one-mapper is already challenging my preconceptions.
Game of the Week
Now that I’m back to a pretty regular work schedule (office is basically 100% reconstituted) I need to work on getting back to a “regular” gaming schedule. Thus, I will be starting a “Game of the Week” approach to play. Basically, the Game of the Week approach gives me seven days to unbox, learn, play, and consider a game. I have a rough idea of how a week might progress:
- Sunday – Unbox new game, start rules learning/review
- Monday – Rules learning/review, set up first play
- Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday – Play
- Friday – (Skip Day)
- Saturday – Considerations/Clean up (Family Game Night?)
I have a backlog of games on the “To Play” shelf that I need to get to over the next few weeks of summer before getting to Wing Leader: Legends and The Dark Summer: I’m trying to play games in the order of their arrival:
- Richard Borg’s Commands & Colors Napoloenics (Third Edition, 4th Printing, GMT Games, 2019) – This should work out very nicely since the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo falls in the week when this title is up for play!
- John Gorkowski’s Indian Ocean Region: South China Sea Vol. II (Compass Games, 2021)
- Mark Simonitch’s Stalingrad ’42: Southern Russia, June-December 1942 (GMT Games, 2019)
- Jim Krohn’s Space Empires 4x (Third Edition, GMT Games, 2017) – Will also likely get the tactical spaceship combat companion game, Talon (GMT Games, 2016) to the table this same week.
Looking (Further) Ahead
I need to work off some of the excess in the “To Play” group because more games are scheduled to arrive over the summer. If all goes well, I’ll be adding Panzer Expansion Nr 1 (which will complete my collection), Tank Duel (Expansion #1: North Africa and Tank Pack #1), and Wing Leader: Supremacy (Second Edition Upgrade Kit), all from GMT Games, in the next 60 days or so. There is also a (theoretical) chance that Reality Shift from Academy Games might arrive but Uwe and Gunter making a delivery date is rare.
While playing games I also am also committed to reading more. When possible, I like to mix a book with the Game of the Week but that’s not always possible as I have other books on the “To Read” pile. I finished up Meade at Gettysburg: A Study in Command by Kent Masterson Brown (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2021) and it will be the subject of this coming week’s “Rocky Reads for Wargame” column. I am pretty sure that 2034: A Novel of the Next War by Eliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis will likely be read in conjunction with Indian Ocean Region when it is up for Game of the Week.
One of my favorite online sources for plastic models closed due to bankruptcy late in 2020. Thanks to a new owner, www. squadron.com is back. The reopening has not been the smoothest, but they are trying to work out the kinks. Given how few good plastic model retailers there are online I hope they make it!
The RockyMountainNavy family tried a new-to-us restaurant this week. The Capital Burger bills itself as purveyors of “luxe” burgers. They use a proprietary blend of beef to make their burgers; I never imagined it could make a difference—but it does. Their Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts are my new favorite and a great replacement for french fries. Oh yeah, it all pairs well with a good ale….
Not only is the heat arriving in waves, but so are the games!
- Indian Ocean Region (South China Sea Vol. II) (John Gorkowski, Compass Games, 2021) – See my #Unboxing Day entry at Armchair Dragoons.
- Stalingrad ’42: Southern Russia, June-December 1942 (Mark Simonitch, GMT Games, 2019) – My second ZoC Bond series game joining Holland ’44: Operation Market Garden (GMT Games, 2017) in the collection.
- The Naval SITREP Issue #60 (Admiralty Trilogy Group) – More goodness for the Admiralty Trilogy
simulationswargames; can’t wait for China’s Navy to drop.
- Allegedly shipping (though I have not seen a shipping notice yet) from GMT Games is Ted Raicer’s The Dark Summer: Normandy 1944 and Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s Wing Leader: Legends 1937-1945.
2 Minutes to Midnight: Fight the Cold War. USA vs Soviet Union – 1949-1991. A Strategic Historical Game (Preview Copy) (Stuart Tonge, Plague Island Games, 2021) – Stuart was kind enough to send me a preview copy. Plan is to share thought s around the kickoff of the Kickstarter campaign in mid-late June! Stay tuned!
Am reading Most Secret and Confidential: Intelligence in the Age of Nelson by Steven E. Maffeo (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000) and sitting down with the wargame 1805: Sea of Glory (Phil Fry, GMT Games, 2009). I am working to make this a “#Wargame to History” (or is it “History to #Wargame?”) or “Rocky Reads for #Wargame” entry.
No, not puzzles, but actual jigsaw puzzles. As I type this I just got my shipping notice for my Academy Games historical puzzles. More relaxing summer fun!