Archive For The “Columns” Category
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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?).
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…)
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.