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

Wargames

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

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

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

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

Boardgames

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

Social Media

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

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

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


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

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

#FamilyFriday #Boardgame with Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Game (@Zmangames_, 2022)

It’s no secret I love some “heavier” wargames, and its no secret that the RockyMountainNavy Family has also played some heavier boardgames. That said, both the RMN Boys and myself like some lighter games, especially to use as “fillers” on weeknights. For my birthday the RMN Boys gifted me a copy of Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Game (Z-Man Games, 2022). This week, looking for a quick game we could play while we all were home in the evening together for once, it got pulled out. The resulting play was most excellent!

Courtesy Z-Man Games

I introduced the RMN Boy to Love Letter way back in 2012 with an English edition blisterpack. At first the RMN Boys were hesitant to play this “love” game, but the easy rules and quick gameplay won them over. A few short years later the youngest RMN Boy took Letters to Santa (2012) to school and it was a big hit at indoor recess. The oldest boy even has a copy of Love Letter: Batman (2015). Yet, while new versions are appreciated, we never stopped playing the original.

Our first play of Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace was a bit of a journey of discovery. The game now comes with four different “agendas”—win conditions.—to choose from. We went with the very straightforward “Exalted One” as it is the most similar to standard Love Letter (high card in hand at end of round wins round). What we hadn’t experienced before was the two factions, in this case Rebels and Scum, and how that changes up the cards and their interactions. Suffice it to say we really, really enjoyed the new twist on play!

Courtesy Z-Man Games

With a short window of time to play we changed the winner to the first to three tokens. Sure enough, after six rounds were were tied 2-2-2. By now the RMN Boys were getting the hang of the cards. After eliminating me early (seems my lot in life) the two boys faced off against one another. With Luke Skywalker (Rank 7) already showing on the table, RMN Jr. smugly laid down the Rancor (Rank 6) and read the card: “All players with the lowest number in hand (except 0) are out. Count up out loud from 1 to find the lowest.”

“One”. His grin was so wide at this point it was sickening. RMN T was absolutely stone-faced.

“Two.”

“Three.”

“Four”

“Five!” Said with a hint of glee…but RMN T never flinched.

“Six?” Some doubt in the voice.

“Seven?” Genuine confusion now.

“Eight.” Again RMN didn’t flinch. Very confused, RMN Jr. lays his card, Jabba (Rank 8), on the table.

RMN T now had a wide smile on his face as he laid his card on the table. Han Solo. Rank…0.

For the first time in the evening Mrs. RMN came to the table to see what had happened. Maybe it was RMN Jr. pushing back from the table and loudly muttering while walking around in disbelief. Maybe it was my side-splitting laughter. It wasn’t RMN T who said nothing but was wearing a grin a country-mile wide.

Yes, Jabba’s Palace has definitely entered the filler game rotation!


Feature image courtesy Z-Man Games

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

Sending in a winner with Letters to Santa (@Alderac, 2014) #boardgames #cardgames

Although the RockyMountainNavy home is usually a wargame house, we do occasionally play other hobby boardgames. This week a holiday favorite, Letters to Santa (Alderac Entertainment Group, 2014)** came back out and reminded us how family gaming can deliver the greatest pleasures.

As I’ve mentioned before, Mrs. RockyMountainNavy tutors children at our home. One of her newest students is a sixth-grade girl, Ms. A. Ms. A is artistically gifted (her drawings are incredible) but she lacks a strong desire to learn. She has an older sister (high school senior) who is drowning under a schedule with five AP classes. Consequently, the older sister is very mean and doesn’t encourage younger Ms. A. Indeed, her sister’s meanness actually discourages Ms. A from wanting to learn.

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Courtesy Blue Orange Games

The first time Ms. A came over she was rightly skeptical. After all, she was being pushed by her Korean Tiger Mom! That day we finished up her lessons with a four-player game of Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2017). She caught onto the game immediately and quickly went on to win (I think all that spatial awareness she has in her art helps her immensely). She also genuinely enjoyed playing in the larger group. It is obvious she enjoys the social aspects of boardgaming. Mrs. RMN likes to use games to help teach kids as they learn so much more about working with others and discovering how games work. It’s all good for learning!

This week, in keeping with the holiday spirit, we pulled Letters to Santa out for the after-lesson game. She absolutely enjoyed the game, often going after RockyMountainNavy Jr. (whom she really likes in an older brother way). She caught onto the cards right away but was missing some of the strategy. That changed when RockyMountainNavy T played Gingerbread Man (Compare hands; lower hand is out) against me and lost with Mrs. Claus (7).  Ms. A then had her chance and played Krampus (Guess a player’s hand) and correctly guessed that I had Santa Claus (8) in my hand thus giving her the win. The look of pure joy on her face as she put it all together and won was priceless.

May all your holidays be filled with that much joy. Merry Christmas!


** In 2018 Z-Man Games acquired the rights to the Love Letter license from AEG. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Letters to Santa version also conveyed as I cannot find a copy anywhere these days!

#FamilyFriday – 2019 Golden Geek & Origins Awards #Boardgame Challenge – Love Letter (@alderac, 2012)

IN A HOUSE FULL OF BOYS, IT IS A BIT AMAZING THAT ONE of the more popular filler games on our shelf is all about romance.

Not really.

Love Letter (AEG, 2012) is thematically about delivering letters to a princess and wooing her; the reality is this game makes Game of Thrones look like a children’s nursery. Back-stabbing and double-crossing others is the norm. The game is not about love, it’s about using your power nakedly to eliminate opponents and win the prize.

It’s delicious.

The simple 16-card game of Love Letter won the 2013 Golden Geek Award for Best Family Game / Best Party Game / Best Card Game/ Most Innovative Game. I certainly agree with the last two categories. Love Letter was the first 16-card game we played and the innovative nature astounded us. I will agree that it is a good party game…with adults. I am not so sure about the family game aspects because it is very easy for the game to devolve into a bloody power contest. Some younger players may not fully understand what is happening and get hurt.

I also appreciate that Love Letter has been rethemed. RockyMountainNavy Jr. always takes Letters to Santa to school during the holidays for a quick play around the lunch table; it’s so much fun even high schoolers can get into the game. Indeed, for my challenge I actually played a game of Love Letter: Batman with Middle RMN Boy. It’s the same mechanics of Love Letter, except with villains.

Even love can be evil…and so much fun!


Feature image courtesy AEG via BoardGameGeek

My @BoardGameGeek Challenge for 2019 – Golden Geek Edition

This is the time of the year that many in the boardgame community start their “challenges” for the coming year. The classic is the 10 x 10 – pick 10 different games and play each ten times during the year.

But I want something a bit different.

The other night I was messing around with the Advanced Search function of BoardGameGeek and sorting my collection in different ways. As I was browsing and sorting, I noticed that some of the games I own were winners the BoardGameGeek Golden Geek Award.

I have written before about the award and my mixed feelings towards it. However, after looking at my collection, I see that I own 15 Golden Geek winners. Sounds like a good challenge; play each Golden Geek winner at least once in 2019.

Thus, my 2019 Golden Geek Challenge games are:

  1. Commands & Colors: Ancients – 2007 Best 2-Player (tie)
  2. BattleLore – 2007 Best 2-Player (tie)
  3. Zooloretto – 2007 Best Family Game / Best Children’s Game
  4. Pandemic – 2009 Best Family Game
  5. Washington’s War – 2010 Best 2-Player / Best Wargame
  6. Forbidden Island – 2010 Best Children’s Game
  7. King of Tokyo – 2012 Best Family Game / Best Party Game /  Best Children’s Game
  8. Love Letter – 2013 Best Family Game / Best party Game / Best Card Game / Most Innovative Game
  9. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures – 2013 Best 2-Player
  10. 1775: Rebellion – 2013 Best Wargame (PLAYED Sat 05 Jan)
  11. Patchwork – 2014 Best Abstract Game
  12. Codenames – 2015 Best Family Game / Best Party Game
  13. Tiny Epic Galaxies – 2015 Best Solo Game
  14. Scythe – 2016 Game of the Year / Best Strategy Game / Best Thematic / Best Artwork/Presentation / Best Solo Game
  15. 878: Vikings – Invasions of England – 2017 Best Wargame

I will keep this blog and a GeekList over on BoardGameGeek updated with my progress throughout the year.

I am running this challenge in parallel to my 2019 CSR Awards Wargame Challenge. Between the 20 games there and the 15 here I should have a fun year. Not to mention all the new games I’m sure to get this year….

So, what’s your 2019 Boardgame Challenge? 


Feature image courtesy BoardGameGeek

Holiday Cheer with #LetterstoSanta (Alderac Entertainment Group – AEG, 2015)

Although Saturday nights are usually the RockMountainNavy Game Night, this weekend I dialed it back a bit as I am starting an extended holiday vacation. In anticipation of getting gaming in with the RMN Boys over the next week, we decided to take it easy on the regular game night. Since the Boys wanted to watch a new series on Netflix, we went with a (very) short game.

letterstosanta_cards
Courtesy AEG

Letters to Santa is the holiday version of Love Letter.  This is a simple 16-card micro game. Thematically, the players are trying to be the last player left and for winning they get to deliver their letter to Santa. The first player to deliver enough letters wins.

We decided the first player to four letters delivered would be the winner. I got trounced 4-2-1. I forgot that both Boys regularly play Love Letter against each other. I forgot that the Youngest RMN Boy likes taking this game to school during the holiday season to play at lunch with friends. I forgot to watch the board state (played cards) closer than I did.

Even after forgetting so much, I was reminded about what makes Letters to Santa a great game. As we played we were all smiles. As we played their was great friendly banter across the table. As we played we felt the holiday cheer.

Although it was a short game, Letters to Santa delivered one of the greatest presents a game brings – happy family time.

#FamilyGameFriday – Patchwork (Mayfair Games, 2014)

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Courtesy BGG.com

Earlier this year I picked up Patchwork from Mayfair Games. I think this was after I listened to the Heavy Cardboard podcast As I write this post, the game is the #1 Abstract, the #2 Family Game, and the #44 overall on BoardGameGeek. For a game that is so popular, I am a bit late to the party. However, I have joined the party and the family is glad I have.

At first glance, Patchwork does not look like a game this old grognard or a house full of boys would like. I mean, it’s quilting for gosh sakes! Ah, hidden under that theme is a Tetris-like puzzler with resource management ( time and money) that makes for a quick and interesting game.

The RockyMountainNavy Boys and I played the game several times over the Memorial Day weekend. The youngest RMN Boy even went so far as to declare Patchwork his newest “most favorite” boardgame. Even Mrs. RMN was surprised by how much the boys took to the game. Not that I should be surprised; the RMN Boys have demonstrated an ability to look past theme and enjoy good gameplay like they have for Love Letter[As as aside, the boys pulled out Love Letter at a multi-family dinner over the weekend. Fun was had by all.]

Patchwork has rightly earned itself a prominent spot on our family gaming shelf. The game demonstrates that if one is willing to look past theme there is often a good game to be played – and enjoyed – by many.