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Combat Commander: RSG radio variant reprised

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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This is just not on chaps
I wrote back in December 2008 about my frustration with the way that Combat Commander: Mediterrean’s updated Random Scenario Generator allows only the attacker to start with a radio. This just didn’t work for me at a basic level of historical authenticity. My general reading has taught me that the German army used their company and battalion 81mm mortars as immediate on-call defensive artillery fire. And George R. Blackburn’s monumental The Guns of War is chock full of examples of British and Commonwealth forces in Europe in 1944-45 using artillery directed by an attached Forward Observation Officer to break up attacks in progress. So I just can’t go along with the idea that defenders can only get access to radios via the Reinforcement event, which has a mere 3% chance even with the Americans for whom it is most likely.

All that said I could see that the essential issue was simple enough: while it was plain that either the attacker or the defender starting with a radio worked well enough, making radios available to both sides risks turning the game into a rather uninteresting exchange of big guns: the choice being mutually available, escalation would be very tempting because why not, after all? The idea that the points cost alone of selecting a radio would be sufficient disincentive just didn’t add up for me. More important perhaps is the fact that most of the ‘Artillery Request’ cards are also prime ‘Defender Only’ actions; eg. 6/9 in the American deck, including the 2 ‘Hidden Wire’ actions. On the other hand though, 6/9 ‘Artillery Request’ cards in the American deck are ‘Dig In’ or ‘Hidden Entrenchment’ actions. It is easy to imagine how keen a defender with a radio would be to use these for the artillery strikes. So the alternative uses of the defender’s ‘Artillery Request’ cards strike me as little more of disincentive for artillery escalation than does the points cost.
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Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:22 am
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Hacking through the endless jungle

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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In full retreat
So, Badger was round last Friday for our regular Combat Commander session, which we had carefully planned to make sure we’d have time for 2 games. Committed as we are to playing all the official GMT scenarios at least once, we turned again to Battle Pack #4: New Guinea for Scenario M4. Templeton’s Crossing. This is a time and place we've visited before: Scenario G. Bitter Creek from Combat Commander: Pacific is similarly set around Eora Creek in October 1942, when the Japanese were fighting to withdraw their overstretched expeditionary forces back up the Kokoda Trail.



The Japanese advance down the Kokoda Trail

The battles of October and November 1942 in Papua New Guinea were the last phase of a campaign which had begun in July of that year when the Japanese landed on the north coast of the southern end of the island of Papua. Their objective was Port Moresby on the coast some 150km to the southwest, from where they planned to launch an invasion of Australia. To reach Port Moresby the Japanese had to cross the Owen Stanley Range, which rises to over 3000m. The Kokoda Trail was essentially the only route suitable for military forces and the Japanese troops spent 2 months struggling through jungle and across ravines as the Australians fought a series of delaying actions to save Port Moresby. Eventually the Japanese fell foul of the perennial problem of over-extended supply lines and were then forced on the defensive as their strategic position in the Pacific was undermined by the Americans’ early gains on Guadalcanal.
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Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:40 pm
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In the eye of the storm: June gaming roundup

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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More games than you can shake a stick at
June saw a glut of games after the recent months’ paltry pickings I noted a few weeks ago- a total of 21 games played in 15 sessions. The Saturday crew turned up again for the first time in several months, and Przemek made a return appearance too. But it was 13 games of Combat Commander which turned regular hearty fare into a veritable whirlwind of boardgaming, thanks largely to the enthusiasm with which Gav and Liam took to the game after I’d managed to persuade them to give it a go: fully 10 of those games were games of CC against Gav and Liam.

Alien wars and other inhumanities
Eclipse: new gaming horizons in the penumbra

I picked up a copy of this hot new 4X multiplayer game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) early in 2012. It was an instant hit with my players and has seen play matched in recent years only by Battlestar Galactica and Cosmic Encounter, a fact that is all the more noteworthy when you consider that Eclipse is a pretty intense game which can take as long as 4 hours or more when you’re not familiar with it. This familiarity has to be hard-won by repeated play and the Saturday crew have proved willing to play often enough to achieve that. So when we got together for our first Saturday games group in some 6 months, everyone was keen for another adventure in space, and I was primed to introduce the new material from the game’s first boxed expansion- Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients.Read more »
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Fri Jul 5, 2013 1:26 pm
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Analogue gamer finally grokks digital? #2. In which, getting neither rules nor manual, I am confounded

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Analogue and digital: opposing skill sets?
Fundamental property or fleeting perception?

Far from original, my closing remarks last time echo truisms familiar from many online discussions of, eg. how to get more younger people to play wargames (a common enough theme on the BGG Wargames subforum). Once this notion rears its head in any thread it won’t be long before someone observes that the ‘plug-and-play’ nature of computer games’ has ‘spoiled’ younger people when it comes to reading rules for a game, especially those more-or-less complex ones you’ll find in ‘heavy duty’ wargames. And these are games like, eg. the 32 pages of detailed case point of Unhappy king Charles or the similar 28 pages of Twilight Struggle — ie. average complexity medium-sized wargames with clear and concise rules — not ASL’s legendary monumental tome or some such monstrosity.

The basic disconnect

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Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:21 pm
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Analogue gamer finally grokks digital? #1. In which I neither got nor 'get' computer games

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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My sorry excuse for a computer game collection…
Give me the damn instruction manual!

I noted the paucity of my digital gaming experience last September in my review of Death Ray Manta. Getting a bit more precise: as far as I can remember I’ve only ever owned 5 or 6 computer games, and only 5 which I can remember for sure:-
- Quake 2: played a few times but abandoned in frustration when I couldn’t get past the first level (I ended up running around banging on the walls hoping to find the secrets I knew I hadn’t uncovered).
- Abe’s Oddysee: this charmed me but otherwise ditto because I couldn’t solve the problems of the more difficult screens- running around in endless frustrated circles was no fun, however cute.
- Close Combat III: The Russian Front: my most-played computer game and my favourite, naturally enough- abandoned after I'd played the scenarios when I couldn’t fathom the campaign game.
- Panzer General 3D Assault: played once or twice- meh, I'd rather'd've had a rulebook, and probably a map, counters and a FtF opponent to boot.
- Combat Mission: Shock Force: out of the shrink, but otherwise the CD-ROM hasn’t even been inserted into the computer.
Of all of these I still own the wargames.
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Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:53 pm
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Confessions of a one-time would-be career gamer

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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“He’s not dead yet!”
Emerging later than usual from the incommunicado of the long darkness of my annual slough of despond, I found myself drawn back into social networking via BoardGameGeek, as is my wont. One thread which attracted my attention was Deep or Wide: What kind of wargamer are you?, to which I added my tuppenceworth, you can be sure (deep, as we shall see). Before I knew where I was I’d been prompted to make an unexpected return to the keyboard for the benefit of my readers here at RD/KA!.









Never mind the depth, feel the width?
‘Deep’ play- ie. playing a game many times to experience the full breadth of its content and to master its nuances, has been a strong characteristic of my gaming geek since I was a young adult. A quick survey of my 10 most played games shows how strong. Look at my 5 all-time favourite wargames:
- Up Front.
- Space Hulk.
- Combat Commander.
- SL/ASL.
- C&C.

What these games all have in common is that they are as much systems as they are games, and that they are driven by scenarios which gives them great replay value. This makes them ideal for deep play even if they might be simple by comparison to a multimap monster game, eg. the infamous Case Blue (10 maps with a total area of 49 square feet, 3640 counters and 288 pages of rules and scenarios).
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Fri Jun 7, 2013 3:52 am
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Infiltration: the game that almost got away

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Feel the hype, sigh
The social media advertising for Infiltration passed before my eyes registered but ignored, a disinterest no doubt prompted by its being set in FFG’s Android universe: Android — “a board game of murder and conspiracy set in a dystopian future” about which the consensus is that its attempt to marry narrative to a competitive boardgame failed because of the clunky complexities of Kevin Wilson’s design methods (as seen in, eg. Arkham Horror or Descent, whose heavy status-tracking and bean-counting mechanics are exactly what would suck all the fun out of playing a co-op against a pseudo-narrative solitaire engine) — was one of a handful of later FFG releases enjoying certain novel features sparking an initial interest which quickly waned when I realised what I’d be buying. That is to say: a big box of toys and other shiny stuff thrown together into the interminable clunk of too, too many cards and counters presided over by a rulebook both poorly organised and frustratingly vague.
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Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:03 pm
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September games round-up: not writing, gaming!

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Getting back on track
Write-ups of gaming sessions have been a staple here at RD/KA! since the earliest days (the first use of the ‘got game’ label dates to my 5th post back in August 2005, and the label itself is second only to ‘boardgames’ as the most used label). As well as being satisfying to write, these posts have also driven the development of my use of graphics on the blog, which in turn means that they have been the engine of my learning how to use the GIMP. These posts don’t come without their problems:
- They’ve taken ever longer to prepare the more graphic-intensive they’ve become.
- Writing them is very much ‘of the moment’; ie. they have to be written very soon after the gaming session, when my memory is fresh.
- Taking notes during a game- for the sake of adding detail to a session write-up, can be more than just distracting: it can also disrupt my enjoyment of a game and my attention to the flow of the game- at the expense of my decision-making.
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Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:17 am
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To tweak perfection?

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Old news is good news
Word broke on the internet some weeks ago of news that at first sight seemed almost too good to be true: Valley Games have acquired the rights to Up Front and are working with designer Courtney Allen on a new edition, to be funded via Kickstarter later this year for a planned publication date in 2013. The initial excitement felt by fans of this all-time classic will have been quickly tempered by healthy scepticism upon all-too-immediate recall of the vapourware that was MMP’s ill-fated Up Front 2000. The lapse- in March 2011, of MMP’s licence with Hasbro was nothing less than a mercy killing. No one really believed anymore that MMP were going to bring this one home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ultimately relieved that some of MMP’s more esoteric suggestions for their new edition of Up Front (first announced in an ad in ASL Journal #2) didn’t see the light of day.
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Tue Oct 9, 2012 5:07 pm
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Celebrations and felicitations!

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Edinburgh Games Hub: so hot it’s cool- it’s Official!
My enthusiastic response to my first visit to the Edinburgh Games Hub means that readers should be unsurprised to hear that I kept my promise and turned out for the EGH’s official Grand Opening on August 31st. Gav joined me on the bus ride to Edinburgh for the day and we arrived around lunchtime to find the cafe already thronged and buzzing. Needing to relax a bit after our journey, we promptly plonked ourself down at the nearest convenient table- which just happened to be the one upon which Zia (Shaz, the proprietor’s mum, remember?) had laid out all the special munchies she’d prepared for the day. Soon enough we got to talking with the guy already sitting there, who was there with his young son.
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Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:46 pm
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