Archive For The “Columns” Category

Battle Lab: Uses for (Professional) Wargaming

Battle Lab: Uses for (Professional) Wargaming

Seeing a new way to do things ~

Brant, 31 March 2020

The professionals talk about wargaming in very different terms than the casual hobbyists do. Don’t get me wrong, the professionals know the difference between a hobby or game and their jobs. Most of them also wargame for fun, and have a huge knowledge of the hobby. But for casual wargamers the professional uses of wargames mainly seem like two cases, and an occasional third.

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The Decade of Gaming in Review

The Decade of Gaming in Review

Armchair Dragoons PAO, 30 December 2019

2019 was a ‘building’ year for us here at the Armchair Dragoons.

With the regiment established the year before, we focused on the core idea we wanted to build around: helping strategy gamers get the most out of their games. We spent the bulk of our time on our live broadcasts, continuing our podcast, and articles that make you want to read & discuss gaming. While the forums are a key piece of our community, they are not the only focal point, and the slow-and-steady-growth of that part of the Dragoons has been fun to watch, even if we haven’t over-emphasized “everyone come register!”

So while 2019 wasn’t quite as momentous as 2018 – the year we founded the regiment – it was still a solid year of getting ourselves grounded for more adventures to come, and we appreciate everyone whose joined us on the march.

2019, though, also gives us an endpoint at which multiple numbers roll over on the calendar. So while the most pedantic among us (you know who you are) will argue the decade doesn’t end until 2021, we’re taking this opportunity to look back on the decade in gaming, and we’ve asked a few friends to chime in, too.

“What’s been the biggest story in the gaming world over the past 10 years?”

And wow, we got responses all over the map. Some were short, and some were paragraphs. Some were unexpected, and others were predictable (especially given who they were from). (more…)

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Classic Articles: Revisiting Mystara and the BECMI D&D Game

Classic Articles: Revisiting Mystara and the BECMI D&D Game

Brant Guillory, 14 November 2019

On #TBT, we bring you the occasional classic article – an older review or analysis piece we wanted to rescue

This started as a set of pics for a personal inventory of the RPG collection.  It turned into about half of the collection – this isn’t even all the TSR stuff! – but I wanted to at least get a some of the collection archived.  Once I had the pics, though, I figured it was time to share some pics and commentary on the Mystara collection.

As an aside, for folks who are really interested in Mystara, you should check out the Bruce Heard episode of the podcast we recorded at a previous site, wherein we ask about his background with Mystara, and get a few good inside stories from the glory days of TSR.

Mystara, for those that don’t know, was the expansion of the game world that was first introduced in the X1 module that accompanied the expert-level set of the original no-prefix D&D, starting around 1981.  As the rules grew from basic to expert to companion and beyond, the rules series became known as the BECMI series.

Mystara-X1

How many of us started our adventures here?

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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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