#SundaySummary – Taking Flight with atomagazine.com, Loading Up with @UltraProIntl, Going Solo with @GMTGames, and Going Bananas with @bananagrams (Shout out to @playersaidblog) #wargame #boardgame

Wargames & Boardgames

This week I got Buffalo Wings 2 – The Deluxe Reprint, a 2020 Kickstarter campaign by Against the Odds, to the gaming table multiple times. Although this is one of the more “simulationist” titles in my wargame collection it really works as a game once you get past some initial rules learning. Bottom Line: I love it! Look for a more detailed discussion in a future blog post.

…and he’s dead! Buffalo Wings 2 training scenario in progress (Photo by RMN)

After seeing a Tweet by Alexander of The Players’ Aid I ordered two Ultra PRO Top Loader sheet protectors. I got two, an 18″x24″ and a 24″x34.” I used the larger one this week for some of my Buffalo Wings 2 games. There is a bit more glare than I expected but it does do a nice job of protecting the mapsheet. I also like it better than a plexiglass overlay because the mapsheet, being inside the protector, moves with it. No longer do I risk jostling the plexi and losing all the alignment. Yes, I taped the edges with Painters Tape but it sometimes was not enough.

Buffalo Wings 2 with map in an Ultra PRO Top Loader. Here the glare is not bad at all…. (Photo by RMN)

This week saw the January delivery of the GMT Games update. Included were their new P500 releases. I was very happy to see that Stuka Joe’s Card Driven Game (CDG) Solo System is going to get a formal publication. As a matter of fact, apparently over 700 wargamers to date were just as happy because we all pre-ordered it giving it “Made the Cut” status in about 18 hours. I own four of the six games that will be custom-supported out-of-the-box so my P500 investment of $14 should be well worth it!

This past week Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and I were in Target and checked the boardgame aisle. She found My First Bananagrams which comes in a green banana pouch because it, of course, still needs to ripen! We purchased it for her students to use as a word game to supplement their classes. The game is aimed squarely at the early reading crowd with a better tile distribution of letters and even some real neat combo-letter tiles.

Books

I’m still reading through the huge The Secret Horsepower Race: Western Front Fighter Engine Development by Calum Douglas. However, I also started Antony Beever’s Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 (Penguin USA, 1999). This made me realize I don’t actually have a Stalingrad wargame outside of Pavlov’s House (DVG, 2018). Hmm….

#SundaySummary – Some new #wargame arrivals to play thanks to www.atomagazine.com, @RBMStudio1, & @Hollandspiele

Wargames & Boardgames

FINALLY, after waiting several weeks in some cases, the last of my 2020 shipments arrived. Buffalo Wings 2 – The Deluxe Reprint, a 2020 Kickstarter campaign by Against the Odds Magazine, arrived. It’s beautiful! Then C3i Magazine Nr. 34 from RBM Studios arrived with the feature game Battle for Kursk. Both these games were unboxed and rules deeply explored though the first true playthru’s are still pending.

As much as I keep talking about the feature game in C3i Magazine, it’s always good to remember that there is other gaming goodness in every issue. The latest issue is no exception as a solo folio game, Firebase Vietnam by Pascal Toupy is included and also needs to be explored.

Firebase Vietnam from RBM Studios

Of course, we all know that we don’t just get C3i Magazine “just for the game,” we read it too, right? The latest edition has the first of a new column by Harold Buchanan (Liberty or Death, Campaigns of 1777) called “Harold Buchanan’s Snakes and Ladders.” In this column he discusses wargamer archetypes. I have problems with his taxonomy and since he invited comments I am working on just a few. Look for them in the coming weeks!

My first “true” wargame of 2021 also arrived this week. Empire at Sunrise is a new Hollandspiele title designed by John Gorkowski. This look at the early days of World War I in the Pacific features three “nested” maps and telescoping scales. I enjoyed several of Mr. Gorkowski’s previous designs, especially South China Sea (Compass Games, 2017) and even The Lost Provinces: The Thai Blitzkrieg in French Indo-China, Janauary 10-28, 1941, another Hollandspiele title of his published in 2018. I always enjoy the “experimentation” I get when playing Hollandspiele games and Empire at Sunrise looks to keep that fine tradition going.

Empire at Sunrise from Hollandspeile

Boardgaming this week was very slow as wargames dominated my gaming time. I did get to play a fun game of Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020) with young Miss A. She’s 6 years old; almost 7, and sometimes is too anxious to see the best connections. A gentle “Are you sure?” comment near the beginning of the game is usually enough to get her to stop, relook at her tableau, and grin as she realizes she needs to slow down a bit and think to get a better score.

Books

While I keep plowing through the huge The Secret Horsepower Race: Western Front Fighter Engine Development by Calum Douglas I also took the time this week to revisit some of my older US Constitutional Law texts from college because of recent national events. Along the way I stumbled upon “The Case of the Smuggled Bombers” in Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution (Harper Row, First Perennial Library Edition, 1987) which discusses U.S. v. Curtis Wright Export Corp, et al., 299 US 304. In this Supreme Court case, the Curtis Wright Corporation in the 1930’s was selling warplanes to various South American countries (sometimes even to BOTH sides of the same conflict!). The US Government wanted to stop these arms sales but Curtis tried an end-around and was caught violating the Chaco Arms Embargo. Being a wargamer who thoroughly enjoys Wing Leader: Origins 1936-1942 from GMT Games (2020) the topic really interested me. Plus, I learned a bit more about some 1930’s aircraft!

A little #wargame post(al) – 3 postcard wargames from atomagazine.com

I was digging around a box in the basement last week and stumbled onto three little postcards. Three postcard wargames, to be exact. All three games were published by Against the Odds. I seem to remember at least one included in Buffalo Wings (ATO/LPS, 2010) but I am not really that sure. Regardless of how I acquired them, this weekend I played these little micro-games – and really enjoyed the experience!

All three games were designed by Paul Rohrbaugh. They are part of the Pocket Battle Game series each printed front & back on a postcard. Usually the front is the game map and the back is the rules. Counters are along two edges and are supposed to be cut out. The games use a deck of standard playing cards (Joker included) or a d6 to resolve combat. These components are not provided, but every good gamer should have these around, right?

The first game is Morgan’s A’Comin’! (Pocket Battle #4, 2009). Here rebel cavalry raid locations in the Ohio River Valley in July 1863. The map is point-to point. A deck of cards is used for activation (Red = Rebel, Black = Union), combat, as as a game timer. The Rebels get VP for ‘raiding’ spaces. If the Rebels score 12+ VP before the last turn (sixth reshuffle of the deck) they win; any other result is a Union victory.

I was very dubious at first about the use of the deck as a timer. At the beginning of the turn the deck (52 cards + Joker) is fully shuffled. A turn ends when the Joker is drawn. As cards are drawn for activation and combat, a turn may be few cards or many. I was worried that with a 1 in 53 chance of getting the Joker turns would go long. In play I found some really short turns and a few long ones, but nothing seemingly unbalanced. Here is an example of ‘random goodness!’

The second game is Paying the Peiper (Pocket Battle #6, 2010) depicts part of the Battle of Bulge, specifically the US defense against Kampfgruppe Peiper. It uses a standard hexmap to play on. Apparently this is one of four pocket battles that can be combined into a larger game, The Peiper Dream, although I don’t have the other three games. Like Morgan’s A’Comin’!, Paying the Peiper uses a standard playing card deck + Joker for activation and combat resolution. Format-wise, this game was a little harder to play as a Terrain Effects Table was on the back side meaning one has to make a photocopy for reference since one cannot simply move all the counters and flip the map when the table must be consulted.

Operation Cerebus: The Channel Dash (Pocket Battle #12, 2011) depicts the Channel Dash of February 1942.  This one uses an area movement map. Unlike the other pocket battle games, Operation Cerebus doesn’t use playing cards and instead calls for a single d6. All charts necessary for play are on the map, even printed opposite ways so players see their charts oriented to their side of the board. Of all the three games, this is the only one that immediately cried out for some home rules (Why are ‘Shore Batteries’ marked for the British near Dover in Area 4 if there are no rules for them?).

Each of these games is rated at about 30 minutes of play time. For the deck-driven games the play time could be a bit longer dependent on your card luck. All three of my games took closer to an hour but that was because I was doing some ‘arts ‘n crafts’ by scanning the map and blowing it up to a standard page before cutting out copied counters for play. My eyes are not as sharp as they used to be!

Overall, playing all three games was a very enjoyable morning. By using a somewhat common game mechanic it was easy to jump from one game to another. The battle situations were just interesting enough that they kept my attention for the (short) game time. These days titles like these would make good print-n-play games. I often hesitate to buy a PnP unless I have some familiarity with the designer. Gotta wonder if my bias is making me miss some great titles.