Archive For The “Columns” Category

Cyrano’s Pulpit: A Defense of My Formative Years Against the Imprecations of Professor Marco Arnaudo, et al.

Cyrano’s Pulpit: A Defense of My Formative Years Against the Imprecations of Professor Marco Arnaudo, et al.

Jim Owczarski, 23 August 2019

I would like to get a few things out of the way before I become rant-y.

Ooh, that’s a rant.  It’s very rant-y. — Depending on the day, either my editor or Pikachu.

I like Professor Marco Arnaudo both as a game reviewer and as a voice within the wargame community.  I am a subscriber to his channel, a listener whenever he reviews wargames, and my family will tell you I have filled many hours between Origins and my home with extended listening sessions.  My son does a passable impression of his delightful diction and inflection.

Moreover, his tastes and mine often align and he has championed not just good games but good topics for games.  I have even gone so far as to adopt his definition of what is and is not a “wargame”, but that is another discussion.

Moving on, I want to be very clear that I am a fan and friend of David Thompson, game designer and all around good fellow.  In other circumstances full disclosure would have required me to mention that I was a playtester on his Undaunted when it had a different name and was in a different set of hands.  He has been a guest of the Armchair Dragoons at Origins and puts a great deal of effort and thought into his designs.  Nothing I write here should be taken as diminishing that.

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Battle Lab: Do We Really Need Another ____ Game?!

Battle Lab: Do We Really Need Another ____ Game?!

Brant Guillory, 2 July 2019

There’s an interesting thread / discussion over at BoardGameGeek about an oft-tread topic of “how many ____ games do we really need?”

This question is invariably muttered under the breath whenever a new Stalingrad, Gettysburg, D-Day, Waterloo, or Bulge game is released, we’re rapidly approaching those saturation points for Sicily, Jena/Auerstedt, Battle of Britain, Shiloh, Midway, Leipzig, strategic-level AWI games, and Kursk.

Great, another game about the same old battles, in the same old places, with the same old contestants, resulting in many of the same old results and lessons learned. The fact that no one even needs to reference a map or any further details when discussion the Peach Orchard, or Hougoumont, or Sainte-Mère-Église, or the Tractor Factory tells you how well we’ve over-gamed these topics.  Or have we? (more…)

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Battle Lab: Wargaming the Soft Factors

Battle Lab: Wargaming the Soft Factors

What aren’t we training, and why not? ~

Brant, 23 May 2019

The US military has a wargaming problem.  Well, honestly, they’ve got a bunch, but we’re only going to focus on one specific problem in this column.  And I have no idea if other militaries suffer from a similar problem, so I’ll let our international readers (both of you!) chime in with your thoughts if you’ve got some inside information.TR-sim-map

The core of the issue is this:  US military games don’t account for soft factors, like morale, training, esprit de corps, technical competence of the commander, or simple soldier skills, among literally dozens of others.

Look, we know that not all units are created equal and that not all leaders are equally competent.  But there’s never a platoon of morons in a JANUS exercise, and at BCBST, you’re never allowed to stick C CO in the rear of the march column because if they were out front they’d be the most likely to get lost en route.  Well, you’re allowed to stick them in the rear, but if the evaluators ask you why, you’d better not give that answer, because how dare you accurately assess a weakness of a subordinate unit and then develop a plan to minimize the exposure to that weakness (and isn’t that a real piece of risk management?).

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Battle Lab: Recon & Intel in Wargaming, Deep Dive on COA Development

Battle Lab: Recon & Intel in Wargaming, Deep Dive on COA Development

Brant Guillory, 14 May 2019

originally published at GrogNews.com

Note that this is a companion piece to the original column on recon & intel in tabletop wargaming.

In the tactical world, we have several different tools we use to ensure that we get the right data at the right time.

One of the key methods involves the use of map graphics. We use transparent overlays on standard-size military maps (1:50k) and use graphics to indicate enemy actions: locations of units, routes for movement, places we expect them to attack or defend, etc. (more…)

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Battle Lab: Command Post Exercises at Origins, The Interview

Battle Lab: Command Post Exercises at Origins, The Interview

Brant Guillory, 7 May 2019

Brant Guillory: The “Sterrett Games” at the Origins War College seem to keep growing in popularity.  Aside from the nomenclature, what can you tell us about the origins of these ‘exercises’?
Dr James Sterrett:  I struggled to figure out how to present a paper at the Origins War College that would explain how CGSC uses games for military education.  No approach worked well until I realized that the key was to stop talking about how the exercises worked – and instead to run an exercise.

BG: If I’m a new participant to this entire process, what should I expect when I walk in the door for one of these games?
JS:  You’ll get a job!  Well, at any rate, a job on a staff for the duration of the event.  Jobs include roles such as the commander, the operations officer, and the intel officer.  We’ll teach you the basics of that job, and then provide an overview of the US Army’s planning process.  Then you start to do your job: you and the others on your staff use the planning process to create a plan for the battle.  Once the plan is complete, or time runs short for planning, we transition to fighting the battle.  At the end, we run a short After Action Review, in which we try to point out things that were done well (or poorly), and to discuss some of the learning points that might have been brought out if this were run at CGSC.

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Conflicts Around the Table & GMT Gets To Publish Whatever They Want

Conflicts Around the Table & GMT Gets To Publish Whatever They Want

Brant Guillory, 9 April 2019

Hooboy…

I mean, 25 years ago, this wouldn’t have made any ripples in the gaming world, so thanks, social media.  That said, maybe this was a ripple that needed to be made.

For those of you that missed the kerfuffle, GMT Games elected to remove their upcoming Scramble for Africa game from their p500 list.

Depending on who is screaming loudest in your ear at any given moment, this is alternately (deep breath) the end of GMT, a well-reasoned decision about a difficult topic, whitewashing history, covering up and buying time for a failed design, a travesty of SJWs run amok, the dangers of GMT coloring outside the wargaming lines, walking back from something that never should’ve made it to p500, Marxist censorship, and/or rebooting the game under a different ‘skin’. Of course, which of those reasons you choose to believe is, like many other things, significantly influence by where you stand on most political issues these days.

I don’t know much about the design, other than what I’ve seen reported.  I didn’t play an advance copy of it. I haven’t seen any advance materials on it. I missed the BGG forum meltdown over it, but there are others. But there’s been more than enough to dissect in the reaction to pulling the game, and I think there’s some discussion needed here.

 

First, let’s get this as out-of-the-way as we can:
GMT Games gets to publish whatever the hell the damn well please because it’s their company and they’ve been pretty successful over the past quarter-century making decisions for their business.

Everybody caught up so far?

 

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