#Wargame Commentary – @littlewarstv asks “Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out?” Not in my house!

So the gentlemen at Little Wars TV seem to have stirred up a bit of controversy with their provocatively-titled episode “Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out?”

Little Wars TV

In a word – “No.”

OK, it all depends. First one is your definition of a wargame. A later Little Wars TV episode narrows their definition to “historical minatures wargames.” Using that definition the “tabletop hobby boardgame wargame” sector of the hobby is excluded. For me, I am a tabletop hobby boardgame wargamer first with very few miniatures. Coming at the problem from that perspective, I can confidently say that in my little corner of the world, and especially in the RockyMountainNavy house, “wargaming” is far from dying.

For myself, I am a huge wargamer first, boardgamer second, and roleplaying game player third. I am fortunate to be able to pass my love of gaming to the RockyMountainNavy Boys who play games with me. For the future of the hobby I rest my hopes on the youngest RMN Gamer who this year has taken to evangelizing games to his friends. I am also fortunate that Mrs. RMN believes in the power of games (although she is more boardgamer than wargamer-focused).

Further, I support the hobby through the purse – I am a large consumer of wargames. So far in 2020 I have purchased taken delivery of 53 hobby boardgaming related items, of which 23 are wargames and a further three (3) are wargame expansions. This compares to 2019 where I purchased 56 items, of which 21 were wargames, seven (7) were “waros” (hybrid wargames with strong Eurogame mechanics) and a further seven (7) expansions. I am doing my part to support the hobby by not only playing games, but by financing the industry.

(See my 2019 Wargame of the Year post here.)

The RockyMountainNavy Boys support the hobby through play. My middle boy, RockyMountainNavy T, is my usual 2-player wargame partner. The youngest RMN Gamer, now 16, started playing boardgames at age 4 and played his first “wargame” – Memoir ’44, around age 8. He actually has his own wargames – Wings of Glory (Ares Games, 2012) and Team Yankee: Hammerfall (Battlefront Miniatures, 2017).

Little Wars TV focused on historical miniature wargaming. As you can see from RMN Jr’s list, both are historical. According to BoardGameGeek I have 71 ‘miniatures’ games in my collection. Of those 71 games, 32 are historical or modern and 39 are science fiction/fantasy. Although there are more than a few good historical miniatures games, I will also say the science fiction/fantasy crowd is very good too. I see the schism in the miniatures wargames crowd between historical and sci-fi but feel it is unnecessary at best, and damaging to the hobby at worse.

To me, the two most important actions the hobby can take to keep it from ‘dying out’ is to 1) encourage ‘gateway’ or ‘foundation’ wargames and 2) control costs. Games like the Commands & Colors series, especially Memoir ’44 with a high ‘toy factor’ are both easy to learn and look good on the table yet are rich in decision space. As an added bonus, there are so many different Commands & Colors games that finding one that covers a period that appeals to potential gamers should be easy. In fact, there is even a space ship battles version!

The major drawback to wargaming is cost. Wargaming, and for that matter hobby boardgaming as a whole, are not inexpensive hobbies. Most of the wargames I bought (new) recently were in excess of $50 retail, and could reach into the low $100 range easily. That, of course, is for a single game – let’s not talk about buying expansions and the like. This cost can quickly make wargaming prohibitively expensive. For instance, RMN Jr. started out loving Wings of Glory and Team Yankee when he got their respective Starter Kits. He loved the potential – and bought a few more items. That was when he realized the price of the hobby. As a high school kid he does not have the financial wherewithal to afford the hobby. Sure, he often uses his ‘Amca’ (Short for Amma Card – or Mom’s card) and he is making his own money at work but still, miniatures wargaming takes lots of money.

Back to the original question: Is wargaming dying? No, but there are some structural challenges in the hobby that could make it difficult to remain strong into the future. On the plus side there are many potential ‘gateway’ games and, generally speaking, I think there are fewer barriers to entry as even the hardcore, SPI hex & counter grognards are more accepting of ‘alternative’ designs. That said, if the cost of the hobby continues the way it is going, then even if right games are published they may not be affordable to play. Indeed, if the cost of “pay to play” gets out of hand nothing else matters.


Feature image courtesy militarymortgagecenter.com

Monday #Memoir44 – First impressions of New Flight Plan Expansion (@days_of_wonder, 2019) #wargame #boardgame

Boardgame publisher Days of Wonder released this month a new expansion for their lite wargame Memoir ’44. The New Flight Plan Expansion brings aircraft into the mix for Memoir ’44. The original Air Pack Expansion (now long out of print) actually won the Dice Tower Awards in 2007 for Best Game Expansion. I never owned or played it so New Flight Plan is our first foray into air warfare for the Memoir ’44 series of games. My initial reaction to New Flight Plan is that of cognitive dissonance; I like the introduction of aircraft into Memoir ’44 but find some of the abstractions very jarring.

The first abstraction that jarred me is the model colors – or lack thereof. Although I looked at the ad copy several times, when I first opened the box I was confused by all the aircraft being the same molded color. I had not seen this in a DoW game since Battlelore 1st Edition. Granted, production cost is probably driving DoW to this decision; nonetheless it was jarring seeing all the aircraft in the same, neutral, off white. The model details are acceptable but even the aircraft recognition nerd in me has some issues immediately recognizing which plane is which on the battlefield. The aircraft stands have a place for a Nation Marker but honestly, the lack of color variation was unexpected and diminishes the play experience.

The second abstraction that jarred me was the choice of aircraft. In New Flight Plan, each nation gets a bomber, a fighter-bomber, and a fighter. For example, the Americans get a B-17 bomber, a P-47 fighter-bomber, and two fighters (P-51 for European Theater and F4U Corsair for the Pacific Theater). When I saw the selection of aircraft, I asked myself, “what about the other aircraft” quickly followed by a rueful comment about a new DoW money-grab with different models. However, after reading the rules I discovered that the actual models are purely representational; all bombers have the same qualities, just like all fighter-bombers or all fighters. At first, this coarse level of abstraction jarred me until I got my head wrapped around the concept of gaming for effect. Thus, the choice of air unit models is not indicative of the capability of that particular aircraft, but a very broad-brush abstraction of that class of aircraft.

That’s not a B-17 or IL-2 or Bf-109 but just an American bomber, a Soviet fighter-bomber, and a German fighter

The next jarring abstraction that hit me was in the rules. Specifically, air units blocking line of sight and other interactions with ground units. Amongst the rules that I found challenging:

  • “…an air unit occupies the hex it is on and will therefore block line of sight.”
  • “An air unit may move through a hex with an enemy or friendly ground unit. It cannot end its move on the same hex as another unit though.”
  • “An air unit may not move through a hex with an enemy air unit.”
  • “A ground unit may move through a hex with a friendly air unit. However, it may not move through a hex with an enemy air unit (this is called ground interdiction).

Although it makes no sense to me that an aircraft blocks line of sight, I have to remind myself that the effect of the air unit can be practically translated as blocked line of sight even when the strict reality is otherwise. As far as the other rules, I have to constantly remind myself that Memoir ’44 has a very loose definition of scale, both in distance and time. Like the abstraction of models, I have to remind myself that it is more important to game the effect of air units, not to strictly simulate them.

It will probably not be until later this month that the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself get New Flight Plan to the gaming table. When we do I believe I will enjoy it, but I will also have to prepare the Boys (like myself) to set aside preconceptions. Yes, that model is a P-47. Yes, that plane could, and could not do, some things better than others. But the model does not represent a P-47, it signifies the (broadly defined) capabilities of a fighter-bomber are available to the player. Abstractions are not automatically negative; but some need to be understood to avoid overthinking a game.

New Air Plan Expansion for Memoir ’44

Ancient Lore – or – Why 2007 was a very good #wargame & #boardgame year

THE GOLDEN GEEK AWARDS FROM 2007 are very interesting to me, although it has taken 12 years for me to figure out why. Recall that I challenged myself this year to play all the Golden Geek Award winners in my collection. To date I have concentrated on the Charles S Roberts (CSR) winners in my collection and am a bit behind on the the Golden Geek. This weekend I pledged to make up for it. In the process I pleasantly discovered a very interesting crossover between the wargame and hobby boardgame communities.

In 2007 there was a tie in the category Best 2-Player Game. The co-honorees were Commands & Colors: Ancients (GMT Games, 2006) and Battlelore (Days of Wonder, 2006). Battlelore also won Best Artwork/Presentation (more on that in a bit).

At first glance these winners appear to be very different. After all, one is a wargame (gasp!) and the other a strategy boardgame (although not a Euro, tsk tsk). At first I was going to play both and write up two blogs about my experiences with each.

Box backs – even the form factor shows wargame vs boardgame

But then I remembered that Commands & Colors: Ancients (hereafter CCA) and Battlelore (BL) are essentially the same game!

Externally, both CCA and BL they certainly look very different. CCA is a hex-n-block wargame with cards. The presentation is, if anything, a bit bland. Really now; who puts stickers on dice! BL, on the other hand, is colorful with a richly illustrated rulebook and plastic minis (and custom inked dice…although the early sets rubbed off). It’s really no wonder BL won the award for Best Artwork/Presentation.

Under the hood, though, the two games are very closely related; more so than even kissing-cousins. To begin with they both use the same Commands & Colors game engine. Not surprising given that both credit Creation & Development to the venerable Richard Borg. Both also had Pat Kurivial for Development. There is even overlap in the playtesters for each game.

Rule Book – Commands & Colors: Ancients

That is not to say the games are identical (outside of theme, of course). The most obvious difference is magic in Battlelore. Both games are also different in how they approach components. It’s more than just the blocks vs minis. The big usability difference that jumps out at me is the use of a wargame-like Player Aid Card in CCA versus boardgame “hint” cards in BL.

Rule Book – Battlelore

Of the two, I personally like the wargame~ish Commands & Colors approach better. Then again, I am a dyed-in-the-wool grognard and am more comfortable in a wargame setting. Thus, you probably would understand my love for Compass Games’ Commands & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution (2017). The RockyMountainNavy Boys went the other way and fully embraced Memoir ’44 (Days of Wonder, 2006) the WWII version published along at the same time a Battlelore.

Although I have my preference I will not pass on a game of M’44 or Commands & Colors with the RMN Boys. The fact that the games are so similar means the relearning-curve before a game is small; one just needs to refresh on special rules for that “setting” vice relearning an entire game system. This helps all these games get to the table more often.

At the end of the day, isn’t that the real reason to play games? Gather round a table and immerse yourself into a game. Whether your reason is to escape the grind of the week or learn a bit about history the most important part of the game is the social exchange amongst family or friends.

I doff my cap to the 2007 Golden Geek jury which showed courage by awarding a “wargame” the honor of a win outside of that category. I also respect them for giving a dual award and showing the hobby gaming community that wargames and strategy games might look different, but at heart can be very closely related. Doing so reminds us that although many might try to wall off your niche, the truth is that we are more alike then we are different. The 2007 Golden Geek jury embraced that message.

So should you.

April #Wargame #Boardgame Drought?

What do they say? “April showers bring spring May flowers?” Well, my gaming April was a drought.

IMG_0237April was also a very busy month outside of gaming. For the first time in a few years we took a family Spring Break vacation. Sorry friends, spending a week at DisneyWorld, even when not playing games, is quite the mental health break the family needed.

Not that the month was a total loss. I got three very exciting plays of Harold Buchanan’s excellent Campaigns of 1777 (Decision Games/Strategy & Tactics 316). After playing the full campaign first I went back and played the shorter scenarios. I strongly recommend that one play the shorter scenarios first and then jump into the campaign; the locations and strategy decisions come easier and make more sense leading to a deeper game experience.

I was also very pleasantly surprised by WW2 Deluxe: The European Theater (Canvas Temple Publishing, 2018). What looks to be a too-simple game is actually a very neat classical hex & counter wargame with enough fresh innovation to keep it from appearing stale. WW2 Deluxe exceeded my expectations!

The RockyMountainNavy Boys continue their fascination with Quarriors! (WizKids, 2012). This month they dug into their own pockets and bought two expansions for the game.

I have been a bad Kickstarter boy this month. First it was Terraforming Mars: Turmoil that ended a very abbreviated campaign with over $13 MILLION(!!) raised with over 26,000 backers. Here’s hoping the game delivers on the hype. I also caved and pledged for the Traveller 5.10 roleplaying game campaign. Hey Marc! Don’t fail me, please!

After two years of waiting (at least for me) it appears that the new edition of Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 (Academy Games) is getting real close (finally).  According to a May 01 production update:

Production for ‘Conflict of Heroes – Storms of Steel 3rd Ed’ and ‘Conflict of Heroes – Awakening the Bear 3rd Ed’ is nearing completion! The Map Boards printed by Ludofact in Germany have arrived on the coast in Norfolk, VA and are working their way through customs. Once cleared, they will be shipped on to Ludofact USA to await the arrival of the rest of ‘Conflict of Heroes’ components being produced in China for final assembly.

The Chinese printer has completed production on the three (3!) individual Game Trayz that will be included in each game, dice, and cards. We just received final proofs for the unit counters, rule books, track sheets, etc. and have given approval for final production. We are implementing final tweaks to the SoS3 Mission book.

Our printer knows how important it is that we receive these games for early June release, so they are working diligently to get everything shipped soon. We are estimating they will be finished printing within the next two weeks for shipment to Ludofact USA for final assembly with the map boards. We are currently estimating we will receive the games for fulfillment by mid-June.

We had a lot of fun showing off the new maps and game system at Little Wars last weekend. Thanks for all of your great comments and those of you who kept coming back to play even more of the 3rd Ed Missions!

We want to thank everyone for their support, great suggestions, and feedback on the 3rd Ed Conflict of Heroes system.

If all goes well, it looks like May/June/July could be a busy month for the postman it’s possible to see delivery of not only Storms of Steel but (maybe) Agents of Mayhem (Academy Games), Hold the Line: The American Civil War (Worthington), Tranquility Base/Soviet Moon (History in Action Games), Castle Itter (with Pavlov’s House) (DVG), Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest (Might Boards), and Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan (Days of Wonder). Hopefully it makes my summer gaming interesting!

 

March 2019 #Wargame #Boardgame #Kickstarter & Pre-Order Update – or – The Root problem of Defiantly losing control to Memoir-able games!

Coming out of the holidays in 2018, Mrs. RockyMountainNavy asked that I try to “control” my spending budget for boardgames and wargames in a bit of a more reasonable manner. She asks not because she dislikes my gaming hobby (on the contrary, she heartily endorses it) but because I was a bit too frivolous with my spending. I promised to do better.

To that end I have tried to control my “acquisitions” so far this year. One change in strategy I adopted is to go ahead and look at Print-n-Play modules a bit more. I also took a hard look at my GMT Games P500 and other pre-orders to try and “trim the fat.” I also committed to looking alot harder at what Kickstarter campaigns I would pledge to support. As tempting as they were, I passed on several new P500 and Kickstarter campaigns. I was doing pretty well until this month. Since the last days of February and into March, I have fallen off the wagon a bit and pre-ordered or pledged for three games.

 

I backed a new Kickstarter campaign in March. This one is really a no-brainer for me as it expands my 2018 Game of the Year. Leder Games Kickstarted Root: The Underworld Expansion. As I write this post the campaign already has over 10,000 backers and nearly $850,000 pledged – with over 2 weeks remaining.

I really am looking forward to this expansion with two new factions and two new maps. I realize that my $50 pledge will grow by at least $20 more for add-ons. Of that money, paying $5 for corrected Faction Boards is an easy choice. Paying $15 for the Better Bot Project may seem pricy, but given that it includes Bot Boards for all the factions it will make the game not only more solo friendly but able to play larger faction counts with fewer players. But given my love of the game it is so worth it.

poland-defiant-coverI also pre-ordered Poland Defiant from Revolution Games. Having picked up Counter-Attack 1940: The Battle of Arras (Take Aim Designs/Revolution Games, 2019) and Panzer Expansion #4: France 1940 (GMT Games, 2019) earlier this year I am on something of an early-years World War II kick. The period is coming to fascinate me as the various nations tried to figure out what the new age of warfare would look like. I really enjoy playing Counter-Attack 1940: The Battle of Arras and positively enjoy seeing Youngest RMN Boy discover more history through Panzer Expansion #4. I also look forward to the chit-pull mechanic as I have come to appreciate the power of that mechanic and its useful application for solo gaming.

pic4610324Another game I pre-ordered is Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan (Days of Wonder, coming May 2019?). I expect this new module to get heavy use as the RockyMountainNavy Boys often play Memoir ’44 without me. That said, these days I enjoy the simplicity of Richard Borg’s Commands & Colors-series and its various implementations in Memoir ’44 or Battlelore. Don’t get me wrong; simplicity is not lesser enjoyment. Games like Commands & Colors: Tricorne – The American Revolution (Compass Games, 2018) are awesome for teaching and learning more about the time period.

What about you? What games are you (im)patiently waiting for?


Feature image Leder Games

RockyMountainNavy #Boardgame #Wargame Expansion of the Year for 2018

This is the third in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one covers boardgame & wargame expansions, the first looked at boardgames, the second was wargames, and the last is my Game of the Year. Candidate expansions are taken from those published and which I acquired in 2018.

My candidates for the RockyMountainNavy Boardgame/Wargame Expansion of the Year in 2018 are:

…and the winner is…

prelude_boxfront-old-logo-1-740x1024
Courtesy Stronghold Games

I absolutely cannot imagine ever playing Terraforming Mars without the Prelude expansion. The Prelude Cards jumpstart your corporate engine and gets the game going faster in the early turns. It doesn’t really shorten the game, but it does make it alot more fun!

Other Games

Several of the other expansions are also great but for each the base game can be enjoyed without them, unlike Prelude which has made itself an essential part of the game. That said, The French and More! is more like a bonus box then an expansion and is practically inseparable from the base game. Both MBT: BAOR and MBT:FRG add new “factions” and optional rules that make the overall game more interesting but can easily be ignored if desired.

Kingdomino: Age of Giants occupies an interesting spot in my game collection. Although ostensibly an expansion for Kingdomino, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself feel that it doesn’t really fit that game because it adds a bit too much of a “take that” element that spoils the feeling. On the other hand, adding it to Queendomino, which has more “take that” mechanics than Kingdomino, feels much more organic.

#WargameWednesday – #Memoir44TheBattlesofKhalkinGol #Overlord version

After losing out on a few weekend game night chances in November the RockyMountainNavy house jumped into a Overlord-version of Memoir ’44: The Battles of Khalkin-Gol. The Overlord version uses a large six-section map and a different Command Deck. It is well suited for multiple players.

The RockyMountainNavy Boys took the Soviets and I was the Imperial Japanese. We played the first Overlord scenario, the Encirclement at Khalkin-Gol.

I did not realize until we started that the Boys, though huge Memoir ’44 players, had never played an Overlord scenario before. So we started out a bit slow as we learned the system.

The Boys were playing a (slightly) bastardized-version of the Command-in-Chief rules with only the two of them. They both jointly acted as C-in-C and each was also a Field General with half of the game board. There was a bit of analysis paralysis as the Boys dealt with the Soviet Commissar rule that forces the Soviet player to select Command Cards for the next turn.

The battle itself developed slowly, especially since the Boys tried to balance their Orders between the two sides of the battlefield. Eventually, the battle focused on the Japanese right flank and center.

We called the game after 2 1/2 hours. The Soviets were ahead 12 Medals to 11 Medals. Actual units destroyed were fairly even, and of the three Temporary Victory Medals (hilltops) the Soviets had taken one, another was unoccupied but contested, and the third remained in Japanese hands. Though the battle was seemingly even to this point, I am confident that it was not going to end well for the Japanese (i.e., me). I had pretty much lost my artillery to barrages and counter-battery fire and there were many Soviet tanks still coming. After using my Anti-tank Guns to good effect, the Boys had gotten smart and killed them off using artillery before bringing their tanks into lethal range.

Playing the Overlord-version of Memoir ’44 for the first time was enjoyable. The scope and breadth of the battles feel more sweeping and less myopically-focused like a regular Memoir ’44 scenario. It certainly takes longer to play, if for no other reason than the number of units and the Victory Conditions. Not to mention the Command rules.

#WargameWednesday – A Conventional Revolution #AmericanRevolutionTriPack (GMT Games, 2017) #FirstImpressions

As much as I am an Old Grognard, I missed out on more than a few games over the past 38 years. After moving to the East Coast of the US, I took an interest in the American Revolution. So last year when I saw that GMT Games was going to publish the American Revolution Tri Pack with the battles of Saratoga, Brandywine, and Guilford I jumped on the P500. It recently delivered and I have started playing the games. My first impression of the game series is that it is a welcome conventional hex-‘n-counter wargame that is simple and fast playing.

The American Revolution Tri Pack (TriPack) is actually four battles. It updates Saratoga (first published 1998), Brandywine (first published 2000), and Guilford (first published 2002) that includes the bonus Battle of Eutaw Springs. TriPack has two 22″x34″ double-sided mounted mapboards for the four battlefields with each battle getting one counter sheet (176 chits). There is a Series rulebook and each battle gets an Exclusive rulebook and player aid card. This really is four games in one box! First impressions are important, and out-of-the-box TriPack is impressive; the high quality of the components is ready apparent.

The heart of TriPack is a good ol’fashion hex-‘n-counter wargame. Initiative, morale, movement, and fire combat mechanics will be very familiar to many veteran warmers. The Series rulebook is easy to follow and understandable. It incorporates nearly 20 years of errata making the game mechanics pretty tight. Tight, but relatively uncomplicated. GMT rates TriPack as “Medium” complexity in exactly the middle of their scale. For the Series rules alone, I would rate it a bit below center as the game mechanics are logical and very straight forward. Where it may creep up a bit in the complexity scale is the many die roll modifiers (DRM) in various combat actions, but the player aid cards have them all captured making it easy to step thru combat resolution. If anything, TriPack suffers from the lack of a Series player aid card; each battle gets a card but some of the Series-generic rules (like combat effects) are only found in the rulebook. Battlecards add tactical flavor and are a welcome additional mechanic that is layered in without harsh rules overhead.

The Exclusive rules for each battle add nice flavor, but without major rules overhead. I look forward to playing the Brandywine Intelligence rules (“Muddying the Waters of Brandywine Creek”) and I really enjoyed the Looting rules in Eutaw Springs. These battle-specific rules really bring out the distinct character of each battle. It also doesn’t hurt that each Exclusive rulebook has very good historical notes making reading about the battle more than half the fun.

At first I was worried that the mapboards were too large for the battles. For each countersheet only about 1/2 are actual combatants, split amongst the two sides (Guilford/Eutaw Springs use only a half-sheet for each game or 88 counters). Thus, each player “gets” really no more than ~20-40 units each. Even in larger battles, with up to 80 units on the board, stacking rules will allow some to occupy the same hex. For each battle, the major area of combat seemed confined to about a third of the board. I was worried that the games would devolve into a long, boring approach battle with a major action confined to a small space. Fortunately, in play I found the balance between scale of units, distance, and time work out well and the approach battle goes quickly (and interestingly) with the major battle not always where one expects it.

IMG_0231
Battle of Eutaw Springs

The smaller counter density enables faster playing games. I played the Battle of Eutaw Springs for my first solo/rules exploration experience partially because the counter density looked to be the smallest. From set-up to finish was less than 2.5 hours. The simple rules and handy player aid cards made stepping through turns quick and efficient. In the RockyMountainNavy household, table space is a bit limited so getting a game down, played, and put away in an afternoon (or evening) is most welcome. TriPack meets this desired requirement quite well.

Although I consider the RockyMountainNavy Boys to be gamers, I am shy to play the more “grognard” games in my collection. They are quite happy with “light” wargames like Memoir ’44 or 1775 – Rebellion. We do play Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) but it is a medium-complexity wargame using many “modern” game mechanics making it a less-than-conventional hex-‘n-counter wargame.  TriPack, with its easy rules, lower counter density, and handy player aids may just be the hex-‘n-counter “gateway” game to move them towards the more grognard part of my collection.

 

#WargameWednesday My 2016 Wargame Revival

I have been a grognard wargamer longer than I have played roleplaying games or family boardgames. However, in recent years I have fallen off in buying new wargames, partially because of the prices (generally expensive) and partially because I have spent more time and money on RPGs and family boardgames. With the rise of the online publishing industry, RPG games and supplements are way more affordable, and my family boardgames included game series like Star Wars X-Wing, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Memoir ’44, and more recently Tanks: Panther vs Sherman. These “light wargames” favor playability over complexity/realism, and in the case of X-Wing or Tanks are more akin to manual video games. These games sorta scratched my wargaming itch, mostly because I used them to introduce the RMN Boys to the hobby.

But although I was scratching the itch, I was not making it go away.

So in 2016 I made a concerted effort to return to true grognard wargaming. Looking back, my modest effort appears to have paid off.

pic1559499_mdBreaking the Chains: War in the South China Sea (Compass Games) [Naval Combat/Modern-era/Operational-level]. My effort to explore modern naval combat. Moderately successful; the game is a bit too simplified for my taste. Looking forward to the next (upgraded?) version the refines the combat system.

pic3090467_mdDawn of the Battleship (Admiralty Trilogy Group) [Naval Combat/Pre-WWI-era/Tactical-level]. A continuation of the Admiralty Trilogy-series and the first published after the break-up with Clash of Arms.

pic3163917_mdEagle of Lille (GMT Games) [Aerial Combat/WWI-era/Operational-level]. Expansion for Bloody April, 1917: Air War over Arras, France. I personally love operational-level air combat games but the prior planning and time needed to play is immense.

pic2958247_mdMBT Second Edition (GMT Games) [Ground Combat/Modern-era/Tactical-level] Jim Day‘s  Panzer (1979 Yaquinto Press) was my first-ever wargame. Love this implementation of his armor combat system to fight the Cold War.

pic2999397_mdPacific Fury: Guadalcanal 1942 (Revolution Games) [Naval Combat/WWII-era/Operational-level]. A unique game that got to my interest in WWII naval combat.

pic2838345_mdPlan Orange: Pacific War 1930-1935 (RBM Studio) [Strategic Pre-WWII-era]. Aligns with my interest in alternative naval war in the Pacific. Great use of the card-driven game (CDG) mechanic.

pic3236903_mdWing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 (GMT Games) [Aerial Combat/WWII-era/Large-scale Tactical-level]. A different, and very interesting, look at air combat. A nice mix of tactical and operational-levels of aerial combat.

Breaking it down, of the seven wargames purchased this year:

  • Plurality are Naval Combat (3 of 7)
  • Majority are Operational-level (if one counts the large-scale tactical of Wing Leader as “operational” (4 of 7)
  • Plurality are are WWII-era (3 of 7)

Interestingly, I bought no space/science-fiction games this year. That is, unless one counts my pledged

1b962e1f266d2623a8c0fd88a12c0ccb_original
Courtesy Ad Astra Games

Kickstarter for Squadron Strike:Traveller (Ad Astra Games) that was to deliver in July but I am still waiting on.

I have to say though that my biggest wargaming achievement of 2016 was introducing Little I to miniature-style naval combat using my old copy of pic253396_mdBattleship Captain (Minden Games, 2007). This is the game that really started Little I on the path to grognardia. He had played, and enjoyed, Memoir’44 but with Battleship Captain he started seriously studying the history behind the game. This Christmas season, his attention has been seized by  the Gale Force 9 Tanks game and he is seriously studying WWII armored combat now.

Here’s to hoping 2017 is a year of many more wargame experiences.

All images courtesy BoardGameGeek except where noted.

Christmas Gaming 2016

Here is my gaming haul for the 2016 Christmas season:

pic3236903_mdWing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 (GMT Games)Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s innovative “side-scroll” air combat game for the later half of World War II. Like its predecessor Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 this again made air combat games fun and interesting for me. The box is HUGE and very heavy – a welcome change from so many “light” games with a “heavy” price.

pic2999397_mdPacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942 by Revolution Games. Originally published in Japanese and now translated into English. Emphasizes planning by using a very different system of assigning units to Task Forces and then resolving combat in sequence. Suffers from some production issues (very DTP-publishing feel) but nonetheless an interesting exploration of naval combat in and around Iron Bottom Sound.

pic3238660_mdThe Space Patrol (by Richard Hazelwood, published by Stellagama Publishing). A 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi/Cepheus Engine RPG book for playing Space Patrol characters. Includes a very detailed discussion of legal terms and interstellar law. An interesting look at yet another career option. I try to support the Cepheus Engine system as much as possible since I disapprove of the direction Mongoose Publishing has taken the Traveller RPG rules.

pic3293444_mdShips of the Clement Sector 16: Rucker Class Merchant from Gypsy Knights Games. Another in a great line of outstanding ship sourcebooks. Includes multiple variants highlighting the “odd job” characteristics of the ship. Topped off by evocative fiction this book will be very useful in the Clement Sector setting or any 2D6 Sci-Fi/Cepheus Engine setting.

We wouldn’t be the RockyMountainNavy family without the kids getting games for Christmas too:

pic132447_mdRMN A got Command & Colors: Ancients (GMT Games). This is technically A’s first wargame that he “owns.” He is studying history and very interested in the period. Looking forward to facing off across the battlefield from him (but first he needs to put all those stickers on)!

pic3239100_mdRMN T got Endless Vigil: A Sourcebook for Sentinels for the Force & Destiny segment of Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG line. Looking forward to exploring the Star Wars RPG universe of urban settings and encounters for the Force.

pic2933710_mdRMN Little I got Tanks: Panther vs Sherman (Gale Force 9). This starter-set game plays to two of his interests; WW2 armor and models. The price entry point is very low ($19.99) but he will surely be spending a good deal of his earnings over the next year on the expansions (i.e. models). He already has several 1/100th scale Zvezda armor – look for him to make his own stat cards soon!

pic3105185_mdAlmost forgot – RMN T also got King of New York: Power Up! (iello). This is an expansion for King of New York OR King of Tokyo (which we own). Beware Mega Shark!

pic691901_mdRMN Little I also got Memoir ’44: Breakthrough (Days of Wonder). Just remember, the battle always takes place at the junction of two maps! Between Memoir ’44 and C&C looks like the younger gamers are fully-involved in Richard Borg war games.

(All images courtesy BoardGameGeek/RPGGeek)

Merry Christmas and Happy Gaming to all!