#SundaySummary – A War Chest from Japan to Cambrai to Angola while going Tongues Out with the reading Marines & watching for incoming. @alderac @trevormbenjamin @djackthompson @MultiManPub @ADragoons @BlueOrangeGames @MC_UPress #Wargames #Boardgames #MilitaryBooks

Good week; bad week.

The Good

Wargames

RockyMountainNavy Game Night featured War Chest by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG, 2018). We hadn’t played for a while so we took our time and really enjoyed the trash and tactics table talk. Alas, RockyMountainNavy T continues his win streak against Dad and handed me yet another defeat. Sounds bad but really it was good to play an awesome wargame that makes you think and agonize over almost every move. Also hard to beat the clicking of those hefty coins in your hand…

He’s a mighty young king… (Photo by RMN)

In happier news I took advantage of the Multi-Man Publishing Fall Sale to acquire a few new-to-me games at nice discounts.

Warriors of Japan: A Country Aflame 1333-1339 (regular $48 sale $15) is a low-complexity, high solitaire suitability game. Hmm… Breakthrough: Cambrai (regular $44 sale $15) is a Michael Rinella area-movement, impulse mechanics game. I like similar Rinella games (Patton’s Vanguard: The Battle of Arracourt, 1944 from Revolution Games comes to mind) so I have high hopes for this title. Angola! (regular $83 sale $30) is a four-player game that I may have a hard time finding enough players to get a full game in but as much as I want to play I also just want to tear it apart and see how the game mechanisms work. Regardless, Regimental Commander Brant at Armchair Dragoons pointed out that I have plenty of #Unboxing Day materials for the next few months…

Speaking of the Armchair Dragoons, I am scheduled to record a podcast this coming week on “Accessories.” Look for that episode of Mentioned in Dispatches to be out later this month.

Boardgames

Although my own boys are older, I am always looking out for good children’s games for Mrs. RockyMountainNavy to use with her elementary-age students—or her favorite nephew’s daughter in Korea. Thus, Tongues Out released this year from Blue Orange Games arrived. For some reason I don’t think Brant is looking for an unboxing of this one.

Let loose the dogs of…fun?

Books

If you don’t already know, Marine Corps University Press offers books for free. As their website states, “As a federal government publisher, our works are free of charge, but please help us be good stewards of federal dollars and request only the books or journals you need most.” Admittedly, I already have a few of these in digits but I’m a bit old-fashioned in some ways so picked up dead-tree versions. I find physical books easier to thumb through quickly when I’m looking for a particular section.

From Marine Corps University Press (Photo by RMN)

INCOMING!

After who-knows-how-long Compass Games put Carrier Battle: Philippine Sea by Jon Southard up on Kickstarter which means it is getting close to print. The 2022 Holiday Catalog carried it as “Early 2023” so that may actually be accurate.

Speaking of naval games (and I wouldn’t be RockyMountainNAVY if I didn’t), I also bit the bullet on Task Force – Carrier Battles in the Pacific from VUCA Simulations. This game appears to be a major update of the 1982 edition. The preorder discount is in effect and the publisher reports, “This game is now at the printer and will be shipped in early 2023.”

“At Sea: No arrival date yet” is how GMT Games describes Next War: Supplement #3. As the website states: “Effectively, this supplement is an upgrade kit for Next War: Poland, 1st Edition to the 2nd Edition, but, of course, it also includes goodies such as the additional counters, the ROK OoB, [Next War: Korea] new Cyber Warfare rules, and assorted other optional rules.” My gut feeling is that this game supplement could arrive before Christmas…maybe.

A game that may be closer to arrival is SUM8 by Turnup Games. They updated Kickstarter backers with this positive message on November 01, “We wanted to give you an update on where the SUM8 Classic Edition shipping is at. The boat arrived in port on Friday October 21st. We are now patiently waiting for it to clear customs and be on its way. ARC Global, our Logistics partner is in constant contact with us, and do not believe it should be held much longer. As soon as it is released and moving again we will let you know!”

I also have several books inbound from Helion Publishing on a historical topic that is a personal favorite of mine. The ones I ordered where on enough of a sale that even with shipping from the UK thrown in they were still better priced than going through Amazon. I hope that once they arrive I will have the basis for a “History to Wargame” blog series going into next year.

The Bad

Not really that bad, but…challenging. With the arrival of two sisters-in-law for an extended stay, RockyMountainNavy Jr. coming home for the holidays, and two business trips in the next months, I have for the most part “lost” my gaming space (and lots gaming time) for the next 90 days. When I do get a chance to play if it’s not Game Night then I am forced to use a collapsible 4×5 low table that I can’t keep set up all the time. However, with RMN Jr. back we should get some more family gaming in so that’s not really bad…


Feature image courtesy of self

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

#Wargame Wednesday – An abstract wargame? WAR CHEST by @trevormbenjamin & @djackthompson from @alderac (2018)

Some things should be simple. For a long-time Grognard like myself I think I know a wargame when I see one. This past Christmas, the RockyMountainNavy Boys found a copy of War Chest by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson (AEG, 2018) and purchased it for me. I went to add it to my BGG GeekList of 2021 Acquisitions and quickly discovered that War Chest, despite having the word “war” in the title of this “game,” is not categorized by BGG as a “wargame.” No, BGG say War Chest is an “abstract.” You know, like Go or Chess.

(Photo by Raul Machado on Pexels.com)

Huh?

Fact is, War Chest is a “wargame” and one that Grognards should seriously consider including in their collection.

War Chest certainly fits most classic wargame definitions. The game is a psuedo-historical conflict simulation that involves combat, the board uses hexes, and units are represented by counters (though in this case the “counters” are nice heavy poker chips.). What’s missing is dice. Is that not enough to make War Chest not-a wargame?

It’s a wargame…

Now, I can see how some people—especially non-wargamers (i.e. most of BGG)—might want to declare War Chest an abstract game like Chess given the flavor text introduction:

In this simple chest is everything a leader needs to become a strategist and general. It will be seen as a game by the child but, in truth, is preparation for ruling the land and surviving the tests of battle that will surely come, when it is time to inherit your kingdom.

You hold in your hand a replica of this gift, a game of coins played by Kings, Queens, and Warriors.

War Chest, Inside Box Cover

[I have to wonder, though, if people never heard of Kriegspiel before. Must remember to keep my expectations of BGG in check…]

When it comes to the game mechanisms of War Chest I can see how some people might look at the bag-builder mechanisms as abstracted from real warfare. After all, we all just know that military commanders never have a “bag of tricks,” eh? I prefer to think of the bag as the Commander and their J-Staff. Sometimes you need to pull the J1 Admin to Recruit, or the J3 Ops to Move or Attack, or the J4 Supply to Bolster, or the J5 Plans to Claim Initiative or Deploy. Other times the Commander will take Control or dictate the use of a Tactic or even decide to do nothing and Pass. You even need to be a bit of your own J2 Intelligence and pay attention to what your opponent does to see their strategy, as well as use some deception (coins played face up/down) to execute your own plans.

Of course, a good commander plans ahead and makes sure the “staff work is done”—coins placed in the bag—so that the battle plan can be executed (coins played). That, of course, is the rub. For the more time you spend “planning” (building your bag) in War Chest the more locations your opponent seizes. So you have to plan just enough to keep ahead of your opponent. Sometime you must assume risk and forgo building your forces (bag?) and execute a plan (play coins). Most importantly, you have to understand the asymmetric strengths—and weaknesses—of your units (cards) and use them in a manner to maximize those strengths while minimizing their weaknesses (like…strategy!). Combat, which is simply the removal of a unit (coin) from the board, is abstracted with no need for a die roll compared to a Combat Results Table.

When it comes right down to it, War Chest is not very abstract. Everything you need do, yeah verily, everything you MUST do is right there in front of you and presented in a very direct manner. To win at War Chest is to command as though this game was a real war.

Nothing abstract about that!


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

#Wargame Wednesday – History to Wargame – Undaunted: North Africa (@OspreyGames, 2020)

An aperiodic look at books and wargames that go together. The wargames and books presented here are both drawn from my personal collection and do not necessarily reflect the best of either category…but if I’m showing them to you I feel they are worth your time to consider!

Undaunted: North Africa

“Who Dares, Wins”

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Photo by RockyMountainNavy

It was nearly a week before the German High Command in the Western Desert became aware that the notorious British soldier, whom their radio referred to as “the Phantom Major” because of his persistent night raids behind their lines, had at last fallen into their hands.

It was enough of an event for Field-Marshal Rommel to write in his diary: “During January, a number of our A.A. gunners succeeded in surprising a British column…in Tunisia and captured the commander of the 1st S.A.S. Regiment, Lieut.-Col. David Stirling. Insufficiently guarded, he managed to escape and made his way back to some Arabs, to whom he offered a reward if they would bring him back to the British lines. But his bid must have been too small, for the Arabs, with their usual eye to business, offered him to us for eleven pounds of tea–a bargain which we soon clinched. Thus the British lost the very able and adaptable commander of the desert group which had caused us more damage than any other British unit of equal strength.”¹ (V. Cowles, 1)

Bibliography

Cowles, Virginia, Who Dares, Wins: The Story of the Phantom Major – David Stirling and His Desert Command, New York: Ballantine Books, 1958.

Undaunted: North Africa, designed by David Thompson & Trevor Benjamin, published by Osprey Games, 2020.


¹ Rommel’s account of Stirling’s recapture is not accurate.

Feature image: “‘R’ Patrol Chevrolet WB radio truck; the rod antenna can be seen on the right. The man at the rear is manning a Boys anti-tank rifle.” Courtesy military.wikia.com