Sunday Summary – Catching up on @kickstarter & playtest commitments #wargame #boardgame @Academy_Games @stuarttonge @DracoIdeas @fortcircle @Bublublock @FoundationDietz @Worth2004 @hexsides

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.

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!

Full Foodie

Recently visited the Seattle area and found The Waffler, a most excellent breakfast restaurant!

Breakfast Waffle Sandwich with Home Fries. Yes, it’s as big as it looks!

Sunday Summary – Stellaris Infinite Legacy from @Academy_Games and shoutouts to @fortcircle, @compassgamesllc, @gmtgames

Boardgame/Kickstarter

I love Academy Games. I particularly love the the tactical World War II combat series Conflict of Heroes and the lite family wargames of the Birth of America/Europe series. I don’t play enough of the 3D deconstructive superhero Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon nor the team worker placement One Small Step. I am a backer on the 3D racing game Reality Shift. So I was very excited to see Academy Games bring the 4X boardgame Stellaris Infinite Legacy to the tabletop.

Then I saw the price.

For a mere $110 you can back Stellaris Infinite Legacy and get the Standard Edition. That is the 2-4 player version but includes NO stretch goals. If you want the stretch goals you must back the Deluxe Edition at $170 which should deliver the Standard Edition PLUS expansions for the 5-6 player version as well as any stretch goals.

Sorry, that’s just too much me. For either edition. Granted, it looks like I am on the wrong side of the decision matrix here as there are already nearly 12,000 people who backed this project driving it to over $2 million in pledges.

My non-backing decision is not an easy one. I am very drawn to short (few hours) game time and the promised ability to “drop-in/drop-out” of the game. This could suit my family gaming style well. As I’ve mentioned before, this is also not a “woo is me during COVID I’m strapped for cash” kinda thing, this is more a current appraisal of my gaming condition. In my mind I have a very loose “cost to gaming” equation and the gut-check here says Stellaris Infinite Legacy does not work. YMMV.

Regardless of my feelings on cost, I wish Academy Games the best of luck here. I hope that once they get Stellaris Infinite Legacy out the door they can get back to Conflict of Heroes – First Men In Normandy 1944 and Conflict of Heroes – Blitzkrieg France and the Lowlands 1940 for my future gaming table.

Speaking of Kickstarter, Root: The Marauder Expansion (Leder Games) closes around 48 hours from the time of this posting. The funding campaign is successful (who expected otherwise?) with nearly 20,000 backers and ~$1.75 million raised.

Wargames

I was very fortunate to get a Play Tester Kit for Halls of Montezuma by designer Kevin Bertram at Fort Circle Games. Very fortunate since the game kit itself physically is a highly professional looking product. I kinda feel embarrassed because this looks and feels like a $45 game already but he sent these out for free AND paid the shipping to boot. I gotta figure out if he has a PayPal or something to throw some money his way just out of appreciation. Now I just HAVE to do a good scrub of the product to give Kevin (hopefully) valuable feedback since he has already invested so much in ME.

Last week I wondered what happened to South China Sea: Indian Ocean Region (Compass Games) that was scheduled for an early March delivery. Well…according to the developer the counters for the second edition of South China Sea were somehow delayed and they want to push back the release of both Indian Ocean Region AND South China Sea so they can be released closer together. The latest update to the production schedule on the Compass Games homepage shows April for IOR and May for SCS. Honestly, since Indian Ocean Region is a stand-alone game, I don’t agree with this reasoning. Not my decision, but not my happiness either. I guess I should be getting used to these delays as even customers of flagship publisher GMT Games (like me) are suffering delays.

Books

Stepped away from non-fiction this week to take a bit of some fictional downtime. Went back to some old sci-fi standbys, especially a few titles that I love for role-playing game inspiration.

#SundaySummary – Jan 03, 2021

Wargames

Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games, 2020) arrived just before the new year. That made it eligible for (and the winner of) my 2020 Wargame of the Year. Really, I can’t extol the virtues of this game enough. Really a great first-outing for new designer Kevin Betram and his Fort Circle Games label.

C3i Magazine Nr 34 is inbound. Thanks to USPS it will arrive sometime in this new year.

Likewise the Kickstarter fulfillment of Buffalo Wings 2 – The Deluxe Reprint is shipping and my copy is somewhere between the publisher (Against the Odds in Philadelphia, PA) and me.

Boardgames

Been playing only very casual, short games with Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and the Boys. Santorini (Roxley Games, 2016) and Crab Stack (Blue Orange Games, 2015) have landed multiple times mostly as we prepare for next semester of Mrs. RMN’s tutoring.

Roleplaying Games

I worked on more than a few posts for the coming year. I am starting a series on ground combat in the Traveller RPG universe. Keep an eye out.

I also dug deep into The Expanse Roleplaying Game. My plan is for an overview impressions post and then a short narrative replay of sorts. I also see that the Bundle of Holding has an offering; very tempted!

#RockyReads

I’m going to try to track more of my reading this year. To that end I started a new hashtag/segment of my blog I’m calling RockyReads. The first one covering Alfred Price’s Instruments of Darkness is already posted.


Feature image: A gull is perched amid the reflection of the Capitol on Dec. 4. (Miki Jourdan/Flickr) via Washington Post

My 2020 #Wargame of the Year (Hint – @MultiManPub vs @fortcircle)

It’s the end of the year so it’s that time for the inevitable “of the Year” lists. Although I play boardgames and wargames, I am a wargamer at heart. Since Christmas 1979 when I got my first wargame, the holidays and wargaming have been forever linked in my heart.

To be eligible for this category, the item must be a wargame as I define it. It must also have been released in the 2020 calendar year AND IN MY POSSESSION as of Dec 31, 2020. I know for a fact that at least one wargame I have on pre-order has a 2020 publication date but, since I don’t have it in hand it’s not eligible for this list. For a near-complete listing of all the wargames I acquired in 2020 (including many titles not eligible for this annual list) please see my GeekList 2020 RockyMountainNavy Gaming Acquisitions and look for entries labeled “WARGAME”

Candidates (in alphabetical order):

Drumroll please…

I am happy that I took in a very strong slate of games this year. Each of them have something going for them that makes them a worthy candidate.

Amerika Bomber is the only dedicated solo game on the list. I usually shy away from solitaire games as they often are “too procedural” but the theme of Amerika Bomber keeps this title enjoyable.

The Battle of Rhode Island is another strong entry in the Battles of the American Revolution series from GMT. I like the war engine in this series and enjoy the heck out of the scenarios.

Brief Border Wars brings back the classic “quad” packaging with four games using the same basic war engine but with each having its own identity.

Dawn of Empire : The Spanish American Naval War in the Atlantic, 1898 shows the classic War at Sea/Victory in the Pacific war engine can still be leveraged and new challenges created.

French & Indian War 1757-1759 is a very pleasurable block wargame that is simple to learn and thematic enough to keep it interesting yet playable in a short evening.

Fury at Midway is a bit of a hidden gem testing several competing theories of what actually happened at Midway. Hint: It doesn’t end well for the Americans as often as one would expect given “history.”

Harpoon V is the return of the “serious” wargame.

Iron Curtain: Central Europe, 1945-1989 is a ‘managable monster’ with lots of replay potential in a relatively small package.

Philadelphia 1777 is another block game using Worthington’s proven war engine but this time depicting a kind of “tower defense” campaign.

The Shores of Tripoli is the Kickstarter remake of a solid game now given a very professional look.

Undaunted: North Africa shows once again that wargames can use non-traditional mechanics; who woulda thunk that Deck Building can make a good wargame?

Waterloo Campaign, 1815 shows that you don’t need a monster game to depict one of histories greatest battles.

White Eagle Defiant takes the Brave Little Belgium war engine to the next level yet still is easy to learn and fairly quick to play.

…and the winner is…

With such a strong field of contenders I actually picked a Runner-Up and a Winner.

My runner-up Wargame of the Year for 2020 is Iron Curtain: Central Europe 1945-1989 from Multi-Man Publishing. This game might be the most ‘old school’ or the closest to a classic hex & counter game of all the candidates this year but that is actually a major reason why it places so high. It’s not that I dislike the ‘new age’ mechanics in some of the new games; rather, Iron Curtain, an entry in the Standard Combat Series, showed me the joy of a ‘manageable monster’ wargame. Iron Curtain is multiple games in one with different eras and options for the Soviets or NATO to be that attacker. Add to that the Run Up to War pre-game and you have package that is easy to learn (uses the Standard Combat System) yet it will never serve up the same game twice no matter how often its played. I also really appreciate that it is fits on a moderate-sized table and yet it still can be both set up and played in just a few hours.

Iron Curtain from Multi-Man Publishing

However, as somebody once said, “There can be only one.” My Wargame of the Year for 2020 is The Shores of Tripoli from Fort Circle Games. Yes, I know it is the professional publication of a print-‘n-play title that predates 2020 but designer Kevin Bertram’s attention to detail and hard work has taken this little gem of a game to another level. From the moment you look at the box (awesome) to laying out all the components on the table (luxurious) you can see his attention to detail. Gameplay has, dare I say, improved over the original PnP with the benefit of more development and playtesting. The Shores of Tripoli is almost as polar opposite of a wargame design from my runner-up, Iron Curtain: Central Europe 1945-1989 by MMP that you can get. That is a great part of it’s strength in my mind; The Shores of Tripoli is an excellent example of the “new wave” of designers and wargames titles that aren’t afraid to break from “convention” and assemble a set of mechanics into an interesting, challenging, and dare I say very “playable” wargame.

The Shores of Tripoli by Fort Circle Games

#Boardgame Playtest – The Shores of Tripoli from @fortcircle

Thanks to Alexander and Grant over at theplayersaid.com, designer Kevin Bertram (keviny on BoardGameGeek) of Fort Circle Games (@fortcircle or fortcircle.com) came onto my radar with his game The Shores of Tripoli which is in playtest. According to the BGG entry:

The Shores of Tripoli is a card-driven war game that plays in forty-five to sixty minutes. One side takes the Americans, who try to stop the Barbary pirates and perhaps even send the Marines in to take Tripoli. The other side takes the Barbary pirates and capture as many merchant ships as possible or even take on the frigates on the American navy.

As a naval guy at heart, a game about the Barbary Wars deeply appeals to me. What appealed to me even more is the fact Kevin is offering a print-n-play playtest kit to anyone who asks. I took Kevin up on his offer and have been messing around with the game.

I have a love-hate relationship with playtesting. I love to do it, but I hate that I always seem to never have enough time to provide feedback to the designer. I try to do what I can but it never seems enough given the generosity of a designer to share their design with me before it goes primetime. Thus, I was actually a bit hesitant reaching out to Kevin for a playtest kit.

But I am glad I did.

The Shores of Tripoli is not ready for primetime, yet; but the core of what could be a very good game is there. The Fort Circle motto is, “Creating fun, easy to learn, historical board games.” What I have played so far is fun. With some rule book polish it could be easy to learn. The game looks to be a fun exploration of the lesser-known history of the period.

I owe Kevin some feedback. I have a commented version of the rules ready and I am going to send it to him. Not that my feedback is anything special. I am not a technical editor nor a game designer by training or education. But Kevin is putting his heart out there in this game and from what I have seen it’s worth my time to try and help him get this game going.

If the topic of The Shores of Tripoli appeals to you and you want to help a fellow gamer then reach out to Kevin and help him get this game out there. The topic and approach is a good fit and soon enough you may have a fun, easy to learn, historical board game on your table.