26 February 2010

ECW thoughts

One of the replies I received to my recent request for playtesters was a question about when would we be doing an English Civil War game.  Tomorrow, if I had my way.  It is one of my favorite periods, and I would dearly love to see my miniatures make their appearance using the Battleline-series rules.  Push of pike, forlorn hopes, and all that goes with it.  I have to bring the current rules-editing to a close first.

24 February 2010


I would love to have more playtest results than I have now, especially for Battlelines.  Waiting for the gamers to play, record their comments, and then go through them can be frustrating.  I want those playtest comments and AAR's as soon as possible, so we can move forward with publishing the new versions.  But I wait, and hope there are some forthcoming.  Urk!

23 February 2010

Artillery and other unwanted effects

Artillery was a potent force in WWII, supposedly the #1 source of casualties.  I have never been able to track down the source of that statistic, but it is repeated so often it has become commonly accepted knowledge.  In wargames, however, no one really wants fire from the sky in anything like historical terms.  Looking at historical OoB's, AT guns, mortars, and artillery assets were very common.  Why is it then that players so resent mortars and off-board artillery in their games.  Maybe because it is out of the player's control as they maneuver their infantry and armor around the board.  For the U.S. forces it makes up for untrained infantry and deficient armor.  One U.S. army officer in Europe said once that he moved about five to ten miles each bound.  Then he would call down the artillery on the enemy position, and advance another five to ten miles.  So you can see playing without the artillery for any of the western Allies hamstrings them unfairly.

The new playtest rules have significant changes to the artillery, which make it quite a force to be reckoned with.

Convoy and General Quarters III

I have just received my copy of Clash of Arms's latest, Convoy, a game of submarine warfare in the Atlantic.  Designed by Mal Wright, a naval gamer extraordinare, it is actually two games.  One is the set of fast play naval rules, Convoy.  The other is the operational game that provides the battles to be fought using the tactical rules, Deadly Waters.  It is the usual attractive package from Clash of Arms, made even more so by their use of color throughout — I believe a first for them.  It also contains a CD with ship forms and a copy of the map, useful for those who want to print additional forms, and have another map that they can blow up to a larger size than the one provided, should someone want to do that at a copy shop. Knowing Mal as I do, he no doubt poured his heart and soul into this project, so even though it is from another game company, I whole-heartedly recommend it, despite what some of the online forums have said.  Anyone wishing to procure additional material should visit the Yahoo egroup, WWIIConvoy.  Mal and the developers have been busily putting up errata, play aids, and new material in their files section.  And of course you can use General Quarters to resolve the combat.  Amendment 1 has all the necessary U-boat logs, and the Royal Navy Ship logs Database has all the ships.

In fact, most of the playtesting was done using General Quarters rules, as can be seen in one of the photographs in the book.  Nice to get some advertising.

16 February 2010

Strategicon event — Orccon

This past weekend I attended the local thrice annual Strategicon convention, Orccon. Along with the founding member of Miracle Mile Gamers (MMG), Sacha, we ran a Mein Panzer event on Sunday morning and afternoon. The scenario was largish, and we scaled it down to allow for fewer players than originally intended. The overall result was a German victory, as the Canadians bashed their heads against the defense by elite Fallschirmjaegers.  A lot of casualties on the Canadian side, but few on the German.  Chalked up as a learning exercise by the San Diego group for whom we presented the scenario. Notably, only friends played in this scenario, so it was not a success from the standpoint of introducing new players to the game.

Saturday, I played in my usual Guns at Gettysburg game, and had a good time losing my entire brigade in near record fashion, due to some spectacularly bad die rolling.  Then off to hear a lecture by Lonnie Gill, designer of General Quarters III, on pre-WWII naval and aviation subjects.

As usual, dinner Saturday night was at the Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles, that serves a lot of food, heavy with garlic, inexpensively.  Chowed down on a great pork roast dinner.  Spent Saturday night observing a Fear God & Dreadnought game, run by the San Diego crew.  Still cannot bring myself to again play the Command at Sea-system, on which I cut my teeth as a naval gamer some twelve or thirteen years ago, when it was first released.  It is a worthy system, which is well-supported by its publisher, Clash of Arms games.  Just not my cup o' tea.

Also was introduced to the Glory-series of board games from GMT.  Jury still out on these.  Relatively simple to play, but at a level that I do not particularly like, i.e., brigades.  I prefer their regimental games in the Great Battles of the ACW series.  But will play the game again.

The dealer room was a bit sparse this time round.  Nothing and no one really new.

Overall, Strategicon is what you make of it.  Have to bring your own game in order to have a good time.  There were other historical games, including a General Quarters III game, which is at least some smattering of continued interest in the non-fantasy end of the hobby.

15 February 2010

ACW 10mm

Here is an excellent 10mm ACW photo album.  It is my chosen scale.

12 February 2010

Mein Panzer at LAX Radisson

There will be a game of Mein Panzer at the LAX airport Radisson Strategicon this Sunday.  The scenario is about a Canadian attack on the town of Torre Muchia in Italy along the Adriatic.  We have played this once before, with the Germans in a set piece defense and the Canadians attacking.  We will see how the scenario plays out this time.  The first version was done incorrectly (major rules misinterpretation!) so there has not been a fair playing of the scenario.  I think either side can win, depending on management of resources.

The Strategicon staff has been trying to promote historical miniatures at the thrice-annual conventions they run.  It has been an uphill battle the whole way.  There just does not seem to be enough interest by local miniatures gamers to make the con worthwhile.  HMGS/PSW has been trying to change that, but with little success so far.  By the looks of things, there is not a strong presence of miniatures gamers in southern California.  Most of what there is devotes its time to "Warhammer"-type games.  Hard-core historicals are supported by at least two groups in San Diego, and two that I know of in Los Angeles, one of which is the notorious Miracle Mile Gamers, struggling along with four members.  In the hopes of advertising our presence, we are doing our part and running a game.  I will report back on the turnout.

10 February 2010

Building fortifications

Here is a wonderful site with many pictures and info on fortifications.

08 February 2010

Japanese aircraft site

This site has a wonderful assortment of pictures and drawings of Japanese aircraft and aircraft carriers, such as Kaga, at right.


I am involved in a campaign revolving around the crassly named town of Buttdorf, somewhere in the Alsace in October '44.  The Germans have mounted an attack to slow the progress of US armored divisions, and have already taken Buttdorf, much to my chagrin.  It was accomplished a little too easily, and without sufficient cost to the attacking force.  The Germans then attacked three miles south of the town, at the 'Y' road junction of the Krakstrasser (the puns only get worse) road junction between Bastenburg and Nixdorf, not far from the farm and orchards of Zackie BauernhofGiven our limited resources, my partner and I are deciding upon our next point of contact with the advancing Germans.  We have reserves at Phat Bauernhof (aka Phat Farm), where we will likely make another stand.  Ultimately, we cannot give up the bridge at Nixdorf, and need to retake the bridge in Buttdorf.  More to follow as we decide our next move.

07 February 2010

General Quarters III Amendments

There has been some discussion — more like an accusation — that Amendment 1 was required to fix a problem with the original rules.  This is incorrect.  The rules work fine in the basic game, and no changes are required to play the game as written.  There was a coterie of gamers that felt that one of the battles of the Solomons allowed penetration of a certain level of armor, and that should be recreated.  There is debate about whether the battleship armor in question was actually penetrated by cruiser fire.  But a new 3000yd range band was created to allow gamers to pursue this close action between ships with greater fidelity.  As with all our rules changes and new material, it was made available to all owners of the game.  This is standard ODGW policy, and represent a business model that does not allow us to charge for new editions of a game, unlike other publishers.  Buy the game once, and enjoy every revision, clarification, and new edition for free via web access.

We stand by our position, and will not start charging for any new material, but continue to make it available through our web site.

04 February 2010

Beta test results are in — Ouch!

The first beta test results for our planned GQIII module has arrived, and it is rather tough on us.  Some of the basic premises have been questioned, and there is concern over play balance.  The first game was a failure, due to some last minute changes I introduced as suggestions from local players.  Turns out they had implications well beyond what I originally foresaw, proof positive of the law of unintended consequences.  Fortunately, the system is sound enough that the problem could be fixed easily.  Now the group can get on with take two of trying out the intricate system we have designed.  We like to think it is simple, but complex in operation.  Lots of decision points for the players in this campaign.