Archive For The “Articles” Category

Classic Reviews: Aliens versus Predator 2 – Primal Hunt

Michael Eckenfels, 23 May 2019

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

Once More Into the Breach

Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt continues the grand tradition of first-person-shooting one’s way through dark, nightmarish corridors populated by ghastly creatures. Insofar as the movie genre is concerned, Aliens vs. Predator 2 is a knockout of a game; as a first-person shooter it is adequate

The location: LV-1201, a planet not much different from LV-426 (the location from the first two movies). The sun never shines, and terrain inspired by a Lovecraftian nightmare mixed with a Dr. Seuss bender adds an impossibly brilliant aspect to the game. The terrain is as deadly serious as the game itself, with three species vying for survival and ultimate possession of a unique and powerful object merely known as “The Artifact.”


So this is what all the fuss is about? The Aliens sure don’t like it, so it’s important to all three species.


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Armchair Dragoons Reviews Dungeons & Dragons Lords of Waterdeep (PC Version)

Armchair Dragoons Reviews Dungeons & Dragons Lords of Waterdeep (PC Version)

Avery Abernethy, 22 May 2019

D&D Lords of Waterdeep was launched in 2012 as a tabletop boardgame.  It is a worker allocation game in the fantasy Dungeon and Dragons City of Waterdeep.  The game was very well-received, winning the 2013 Origins Best Board Game Award.  Lords of Waterdeep has been a very popular board game.  A whopping 47,000+ people claim to own it on BoardGameGeek making it one of the more popular board games among aficionados.

In Lords of Waterdeep you take the role of a “secret Lord of Waterdeep.”  You get agents every round who can be used to recruit minions of four specialties (fighter, thief, priest and wizard) to solve quests. There are five quest types: warfare, skullduggery, commerce, piety, and arcana.  Your agents recruit minions who are (often) combined with gold to solve quests.  You send agents to get the quests, minions, and gold to complete missions. As you would expect, the quests themselves yield rewards which can be used to solve more quests.

starting game board


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SPACECORP 2025-2300 AD – The AAR, XI

SPACECORP 2025-2300 AD – The AAR, XI

Michael Eckenfels, 20 May 2019

It strikes me as funny that we’re only about a third of the way through the Planeteers era, at least insofar as my card deck is concerned. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the Competitor’s cards, and aren’t anywhere near in danger of claiming six Contracts, so I hope you’re enjoying this era because it might take a bit to get through! With that in mind, I’m going to try to write longer chapters moving forward so that it doesn’t take ten years to get all of this posted!



Well, they’re extending their reach. Again.


They’re going to land a team on Charon, Pluto’s moon. (more…)

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Classic Reviews: Small General Mobile (VR Designs)

Brant Guillory, 16 May 2019

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

Looking for a grognard-quality game in a light, on-the-go package? Walk, don’t run, to your Android phone and grab this little gem.

sg30Is That A Battle In Your Pocket…?

Small General is a light wargame for the Android OS that has a generic-but-roughly-WWII-era theme that offers some interesting tactical challenges in a package that plays quickly, but still offers a robust grog-friendly experience. The “beta” is available as a free download, and includes about 5 scenarios of varying size/challenge. The paid version unlocks significantly more content. Moreover, the AI in the paid version seems to cheat less, but maybe it’s just me!

Small General is played on a hex grid with basic terrain: woods, cities, hills, marshes, etc. Units are presented as counters with attack/defend values, which are updated based on current damage status. Counters may be stacked, and the stacks examined. Additionally, attackers can pick and choose their targets from within an enemy stack. Movement is also rather simple, with a basic touch-screen drag-and-drop interface to move units around. The same motions are used to specify an attack.


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Armchair Dragoons Reviews Aggressors Ancient Rome (Matrix Games)

Armchair Dragoons Reviews Aggressors Ancient Rome (Matrix Games)

Avery Abernethy, 15 May 2019

Aggressors Ancient Rome is a 4x (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) strategy game from Kubat Software distributed by Slitherine/Matrix games.

Many 4x games have been released over the years across multiple genres including the development of man from ancient times to the space age (Civilization), development of space faring civilizations (Master of Orion, Space Empires) and Fantasy settings (Warlock; Age of Wonders; Fallen Enchantress). Aggressors enters a crowded 4x field containing both old school favorites and recent releases.

My review is based on more than a hundred and ten hours of play and a cover-to-cover reading of the 225 page manual.  Aggressors has two complete games under the hood, an “everyone starts at the beginning” scramble game and a game starting in the Mediterranean in 282 BC with twenty unequal opponents ranging from highly advanced civilizations (Carthage, Ptolemaic Empire, Rome, Athens) to barbarian tribes.  Both the scramble start game and the 20 opponent 282 BC game were played to completion.   The game is stable and I experienced only one crash playing on a on a one year old Falcon Northwest Talon.  I was given a review copy of the game.

1 Two Games in One

Two games in one


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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

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.

For every operation we draw at least two sets of these graphics. The first is the most likely course of action (COA), based on our knowledge of how the enemy fights. That knowledge may come from doctrine, observed behavior, or (best of all) an inside source. The second course of action is usually what we call the “most dangerous” and is based on what we think the enemy would do if they had perfect knowledge of us and our plans.

For these examples, we’re using a hex-grid version of the central corridor at Fort Irwin, the US Army’s National Training Center.

Enemy COA 1


Enemy COA 2


as always, click to enlarge the images

Once we have two sets of graphics drawn out, we take the two overlays and lay them one on top of the other. This lets us visualize where the differences/similarities are between the courses of action. Where the COAs diverge are areas that we need to target with some form of observation, to try and identify which course of action the enemy is pursuing.

In a time-constrained environment, these graphics will often become the basis of our own plan, where the divergent points become the focus of recon efforts, and the similarities become target reference points or engagement areas, since we expect the enemy to appear there regardless of COA.

NAIs – Where to look for differences


Targeting/Engagement Areas – Where you expect to find the enemy


as always, click to enlarge the images

Once we’ve identified where we need to look, the next step is to identify when we need to look there, since some information is time-specific. When I say “look” I don’t just mean literally “a guy on a hillside with binoculars and a radio.” It can be a variety of sensors: ground surveillance radar, JSTARS, UAVs, counter-battery radars, or other sensors. We determine when we need to have what type of coverage based on (a) what we are looking for, and (b) how easy we can get the appropriate sensors in place. Sometimes the best we get is a satellite overflight from the NRO, but we have to take what we can get.

Those NAIs are important because they give us clues to the enemy’s expected course of action.  If we identify the airborne units in the mountain passes on the north side of the battlefield, then we would expect the enemy to commit to something similar to COA1.  If we find them closer to town, then we’re looking to confirm the enemy following COA2.

In the end, we have our list of Named Areas of Interest (NAIs) and what indicators we are looking for there. Then we assign at least 2 sets of sensors to each. Some may be duplicative; some may only be backup measures. The commander may also give us some guidance on his priorities, and require that we have three or even four sets of eyes on certain things, if they’re deemed critical. Based on what we find in each of the NAIs, the commander may trigger certain actions among our forces to react to the new info.

Depending on the amount of time available to (a) plan and (b) execute, we may develop more than two COAs, but we virtually always develop at least 2. We may also alter the amount of analysis we do during the mission of before the mission. NAIs are often based on analysis conducted before the mission, where we project certain indicators and the meaning of those indicators. If the indicators are triggered, then that adds to the overall picture we can confirm/deny.

This is pretty specialized, I know. But it’s also pretty important, and we practice/refine/rehearse this a lot.

Here’s some random annoying guy explaining all of this, using graphics that look awfully similar to what’s up above.


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