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The Unconventional Wargamer

I just started wargaming about 5 years ago, and not "classicaly" trained as most of you guys are but this hobby really got me into history. Yea and I got it bad. So as I play these games I typically dont play like an old school gamer and I screw up a lot, but sometimes it's pretty funny how my crazy ideas work. I roll the worst dice you have ever seen, but I can always blame it on my leaders :)

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Im going backwards!

Tanks Alot
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Well my son came home from college this summer, and so I promised myself I was gonna step down the rules in the games I play a bit and go for a little bit lighter stuff after he told me "Dad, I really like the games we play but I always have a headache afterwards" These types of games dont have to be complicated. So my friend and I were looking through his old collection of games from his childhood, and we played a few of the old Milton Bradley games. They really were quick, awesome and fun. I was totally having such a good time and the rules were so daggone easy we basically played after reading the rules for 10 minutes.
So we played Broadside at first. The trapping mechanic was as tough as checkers lol, but I really did like setting up traps and waiting for my opponent to move into them. There are real and fake cannons. and real and fake buoys that explode... and just the fun excitement of waiting to find out if you got hit or not. I lost horribly as the british, but we knocked out a game in maybe an hour.. but I swear it felt like 10 minutes.
Then we played Battlecry... not the one by Richard Borg. In this one you line up units for attack and form columns with more point values then the enemy. Seemed sort of silly at first, but after we started playing it started being a lot of fun. It had railroad movement, artillery support, and cavalry jumping rules.
So here is the kicker. I picked up Battlecry for $5 at Historicon Flea Market and Broadside for $16 on ebay. I guy even gave me a free copy of Chopper Strike for free!
I am really looking forward to these games with my son. I do love a good game of Combat Commander, but its not a game you can slap on the table for someone who isn't used to gaming. Games like these are great ways to help people get into the hobby.
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Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:24 pm
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What to do when I cant game...

Tanks Alot
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Well lately, my latest obsession is Itunes U. I got an Iphone t, and I have always enjoyed a few podcasts, but lately I have discovered Itunes U and Kahn Academy. Unfortunately I am a terrible reader, and have a terrible memory. Which is a bad combination in wargaming haha. So lately I have been cruising around Itunes U and Itunes podcasts. I can listen to these while I drive, walk at the park, or even at work. The only problem is it even gets me more excited to game than ever.
One of my favorites is History According to Bob. He has covered everything from Ancients to the Civil War, and does nice 15 minute or so explanations of different battles which is absolutely great to listen to when setting up a game. He also has CD's you can order online that are organized by era. Problem is I always want them all.
Kahn Academy is another excellent place to watch videos, especially on the French Revolution.
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/history/1600s-1800s
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Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:02 pm
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Holding back the enthusiam (A letter to myself)

Tanks Alot
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Sometimes its tough, when someone says to me "Those wargames you play look really interesting". It's hard to not jump up and down at the prospect of a potential opponent and break out a heavier game and say "Oh my gosh this is a crazy game, you have to do this and you have to that, and you really have to watch out for that". Or you end up showing them a different wargame everytime you see them. It's a great hobby, but for a new player it can be an intimidating experience. I remember my first wargames, and I was very lucky to have opponents who only had one game.
One of my favorite games to play with new players is columbia block games. They are amazingly strategic and fun even if you are new to the game. The fog of war is exciting, and the victory objectives are easy to understand. But there is some really cool stuff you can do when these games are well played. One of my favorites is Julius Caesar. Be forewarned though that some of them not as easy, but do your homework. I would recommend for beginners in order Quebec, War of 1812, and Julius Caesar. All excellent games. One of the best block games I have ever played is Hammer of the Scots. I thought this game was simple, until I played someone who knew whet they were doing... all of a sudden I saw the depth of this game, and immediately sold it, because I knew I would never be able to achieve a high level of mastery in this game.
Another great game system is Memoir 44... to me it is the game that hooks players into history. Not a heavy strategic game but all the players I show this game fall in love and that's all they wanna play. Which is tough for me because I have played so many games of this I just want more depth. The campaign system is a great compliment to this system as well. Sometimes I consider introducing Commands and Colors Ancients, but I'm just afraid the era, and the complexity will scare them off.
I love games that have base game rules, and can get more complex as you go. This was one of my favorite features of Hold the line and a House Divided. Hold the line has has rules than an 8 year old can understand. It's a wonderfully easy to understand tactical system that has some fun advanced rules that have a great feel. A house divided is an amazing lesson on the civil war. Its like "For the People" lite edition. Another great game that starts simple, and gets more and more complex as you learn the mechanics of the system.
So as the Holidays approach, and your friends and family consider playing a game with you, take a look at a system you can grow with and they can have a good time. Take time and let them adjust to the mechanics of a game so they can start having fun. And when they start having fun, you will have a wargaming partner for a long time


Happy Holidays
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Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:55 pm
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Back to the Future

Tanks Alot
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Is wargaming a dying art? It just seems so many great games come out these days, but few are designed with the new player in mind. I started in the hobby at 44 years old, and I feel I was lucky I started with Memoir 44. Not a "wargame" per se, but enough to spark the interest and want to learn more. So what are the games that made wargaming so successful back in the 70's and 80's?
About a year ago I had a friend teach me SPI's austerlitz. I was amazed how simple the game was, but how much you can learn from the tactics used. It's basic math and probabilities... and I wonder why schools don't use more board games to teach basic problem solving. I wished I had exposure to something like this when I was younger. My local group has started playing Wooden ships and Iron men, and while we play there is a certain excitement of never knowing whats gonna happen next.
It's an amazing hobby, I just want to share with so many people. One of the difficulties I have though is the rulebooks. Its not always easy (for me at least) to pick up a rulebook and make sense out of a game. I guess thats why I do so many tutorial videos to get people used to the idea of how a turn works. I have to give kudos to GMT games for their video demonstrations that they do, or game designers like Collins Epic Wargames who spent a lot of time making a QR code rulebook that links to videos. What a great idea.
All in all, I have had so much fun with this hobby I just want to share with as many people as I can, and I am always looking for a way to make it more exciting. I hope that designers of current games look back to the old games, and even with tough rules, were able to make games that inspired so many people. So what do we need? Simple rules that tie in to advanced gameplay. Better video samples of how to play. Better player aides.

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Mon Oct 8, 2012 3:15 pm
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Back to PC gaming for a bit....

Tanks Alot
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Its been so busy lately, I havent had anytime to board game. One of the things I miss about PC gaming is the quick pickup game, play for a few, pause, resume, play and save and quit. I started board gaming when I got tired of kids cussing on xbox. I thought it would be fun to play face to face games with people and have a good time. I didnt realize how much time is the enemy. And I didnt realize how many board games there were. It truly is mesmerizing. And the rules...
So with all the activities going on at the house my boardgaming has been zero. Thank goodness for Conflict of Heroes PC game which gives me a quick fix of a game I was sort of getting board with on the table. They have done a good job of adding fog of war, and changing the game a bit to make it fun. Last night I downloaded the old quake and played it for a a few hours. Then I remembered the hard part of PC gaming, knowing when to stop. About 1am I finally pushed the keyboard away. Quake is the game that made me interested in going into IT. I learned so much about computers from that game.
This is the last of the busy weeks for a while.. so hopefully next week I can get back on track with some gaming. Hopefully find some Lock n Load to throw on the table somewhere.
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Thu May 31, 2012 1:52 pm
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Enjoying the hobby....and relaxing

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Lately I have really started enjoying the hobby. I have slowed down quite a bit. For the first 5 years everything was amazing to me. I would see a new game and have to have it, spend hours researching and trying to learn game systems, and beg people to play this game you "gotta see". I sort of started realizing that not everyone could see what I saw in games. Some people just dont get it.
I have cut down my subscriptions on BGG. For lent I gave up buying games (yes it was getting bad), and I dedicated more time to playing games I owned. I started feeling more relaxed about the hobby.
Thanks to vassal and facebook, I am able to keep a pretty good run of games going. I would say I get to play about 2 to 3 games a week, or at least a partial game and I am really enjoying the pace now. I think one thing that happens to wargamers is the deeper you get into the hobby, the harder it is to find opponents. There are so many flavors and complexities, and the harder the games get, the less likely it seems to find an player who has similar interest. I've also come to realize how many gamers just wanna play their games, including myself.
I want to spend more time making videos helping people to learn these games. It makes me pretty happy when I see someone comment how one of my videos helped them get started. For a newbie, some of these rules really are hardcore. Combat Commander is an excellent example. Super games, tight rules, but it's a terrible feeling to open a box and read rules like that for me. I know many people must face the same feeling. One day board game designers will start including video DVD with games with basic turn play and instructions. Getting past that 1st turn is all most people need.
So for those of you who have noticed my slow down in the hobby lately, just know I am having fun. Ive been sort of sticking to one game system for about 2 months and having a blast. Playing with others and even some solo, which is very odd for me.
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Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:34 pm
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Simple games that got me started

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When I started wargaming, all I wanted to do was play ww2. I loved Memoir 44 and all the expansion packs. I liked how it connected the history for me in a fun light way. I never realized how big ww2 was until I played this game. I tried games like Tide of Iron and it was fun, but I never got the big picture with that one. Memoir covered from the beginning to the end, and in an abstract way depicts the different advantages/disadvantages of each army/geographic fighting area. It truly was an eye opening experience.

Then I found a game called Hold the Line which was recommended by Seth Owen. He and I had similar taste in games, and I was looking for a game without cards (my son hated the cards in memoir 44 at first, now he loves the game). So hold the line ended up opening a new era in gaming for me. I remember studying the Am Rev War in school and thinking it was pretty dry and boring. Then you play this game and you really start to understand the struggles. I spent about a year on this game and moved up to a few like 1776, Washingtons War, Liberty. Each game brought a new perspective into how things connected. The game also made me realize how tough it must have been to be just a regular guy facing a British bayonet.

Hold the line also had an expansion pack, Hold the Line: French and Indian War Expansion Set and I am embarrassed to say I really didn't know much about this war. And I was particularly excited to learn about Roger's Rangers. This led me to the war of 1812.
So a friend of mine who is a school teacher, said to me "What was the War of 1812, I never understood that war". Then something odd happened. It finally clicked all the things going on through that period of time. I had always looked at these wars as separate parts of history and never seen how it all connected together.

I love a game that teaches me, and inspires me to learn more. Here are a few games I have really enjoyed besides the ones I mentioned above.

Nightfighter- This game opened my eyes to how important, and the race for technology was in the war. Most games depict a moment in time so its hard to see the advancement of technology but this one blew me away. I tried the first scenario, and it was IMPOSSIBLE. I thought what a horrible game. I complained on BGG and someone said "Its supposed to be hard to show you how hard it is without radar". Light bulb! So I play the next scenario, and I learn about the early development of radar, and how bad it was.

The Kaiser's Pirates in its base form a simple card game with a lot of theme, but I never knew about the history of the germans converting steamliners and sailboats into hidden attack ships and raiding the high seas. This game was more fun to research the history behind it, than the game itself (and the game is fun dont get me wrong)

Jena 20 It's light, its fast, and easy to learn. Has a great feel to it and you can play a game in an hour. It has a great feel to the game, and introduces morale and how important it is.

Lastly Commands & Colors: Ancients This game really opened up my eyes on land warfare. The art of tactic, and surrounding your enemy and dealing with heavy retreat problems if you don't plan correctly. Heavy units moving slow, light but weaker units moving fast. It's an amazing spiderweb of planning and controlling, and understanding your units. It truly has an amazing feel in the game, once you understand whats going on. I have played 30 games or so, and still learning every time I play.

There are many games, and many complexity levels, but games like these are where it starts. The inspiration to learn more grows with these types of games.



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Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:38 pm
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When a game comes alive...

Tanks Alot
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Mild mannered network engineer by day, british bombardier by night. What did I do before this hobby came along. All those years wasted watching TV or playing Call of Duty were just wasted board game time. I just feel lucky to be able to play them now, and be connected to so many people through facebook, BGG, and vassal that share similar interests or I would have never been able to play.
The big difference to me in a history game and a other strategy games is that when I play some history games, my mind is racing for hours.. researching, studying, and planning the next game night. My latest obsession is Nightfighter by GMT Games. Its just so cool to think about the war of electronic warfare. The game isnt necessarily about combat, which I love, but the battle to build the better technology. Slowly as the game progresses you get better equipment, and advanced technologies. This is pretty cool stuff! If you get a chance to read the designer notes on GMT games website.

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-233-nightfighter.aspx
or watch a couple of these videos I linked on BGG
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/8723865#8723865


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Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:44 pm
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Every time we play, we remember

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When I was younger I don't think I understood the sacrifice involved in offering your life, your family, and pretty much everything that means anything to serve to protect others. But today I was doing a post online and I said "every time we play we remember", and it's really true. When we study these games, it really makes you feel humbled. There is an interesting thing that happens when you study history as you begin to understand the challenges faced by each side.

There is a phrase that those who don't study history are condemned to repeat it, and man we could all learn a lesson or two from seeing how simple mistakes can escalate into all out war. One of my favorite historical films, although poorly acted was the "Missiles of October" which showed the steps of the Cuban missile crisis and the delicate balance of political influence on preventing war.

Happy Veteran's Day to all you vets out there, and thank you for your sacrifice.
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Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:06 pm
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What I like about Victory point games

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There is something about Victory Point Games that I really like. Its almost like a class on wargaming. Most of the games they produce are pretty simple but can have a lot of replayability. One of my favorites was actually Battle for Moscow. What I liked about this game is it simply explained the story of how hard it was to take Moscow. I played this game via email about 6 times and tried all sorts of strategies, and had some really good strategy whooped up on me, but it was nice to play a game without a lot of complexity that still felt deep. I think there are 4 pages of rules.
Another game I liked was Ancient Battles Deluxe. What surprised me about this game was combat rules, and how flanking was critical. Now this one looked like a simple game til combat happened. There were a lot of things to consider when calculating combat, so much it was almost overwhelming. Once I figured it out I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see if I could use that "tactical approach vector"
The Napoleonic 20 (Jena 20, Waterloo 20 , Austerlitz 20) series is an amazing concept of using 20 pieces or less to represent a battle. There is a little bit of historical accuracy lost in the way both sides have objectives in the game but there is also a lot to be learned here about how to use your better units, the terrain, and tactics. Plus the event cards really can change the game for you. I really like this series.
I have to confess I hate solo games, but I had to try Levy en Masse. When I first bought it I was hoping to learn more about the campaigns of Napoleon, but I actually found myself learning about the french revolution. So much I began spending hours studying it. It's a truly frustrating game, yet light enough to where even a non solo player had fun.
Paul Koenig's DDay beach and Operation Market garden are more tactical games, with chit draws driving the game. Very small ruleset but nice demonstrations of the history involved.

In my opinion Victory Point games is doing something more than just creating games here but inspiring history at a level that is often overlooked. Games that are wargamish, and approachable by non wargamers that teach and inspire. I do hope that the rulebooks will be streamlined a little more for younger players or possibly better player aide's to get younger players and non wargamers into the game. Sometimes the cross referencing between a rule book and exclusive rules seems to be a bit much for people new to the game.
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Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:29 pm
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