DGS Games

RIP Dr James Cobb (April 6, 1950 – January 18, 2018)

A prolific and renowned voice has left the wargaming world ~

Brant Guillory, 16 February 2018

It is rare that the chroniclers of an industry transcend the creators to make a name for themselves, becoming a ‘brand’ on par with the best talent in their field.  The best comparison might be Roger Ebert, who is as famous for his critiques of the movie industry as any filmmakers except the single-named ones (Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, etc).

Dr James Cobb was that man for the strategy gaming world.

In his decades of writing about the wargaming world, with reviews, after-action reports, strategy guides, and even advice on using games for teaching, Dr Cobb’s meticulous detail, coupled with an accessible voice, informed and guided (tens of) thousands of purchases for strategy gamers of all stripes.

Equally adept at reviewing traditional tabletop games, miniatures wargames, and digital games – including mobile ones – each new article from his desk was greeted by fans as a must-read for their level of detail and sophistication, while also being hailed just downright enjoyable to read.  His years of experience as a player shone through in the easy way in which he was able to highlight the strengths of a game, accurately describe its shortcomings, and (most importantly) pinpoint the type of gamer most likely to enjoy a particular title, even if he personally did not.

James Cobb was a prolific writer who graced the pages of print magazines like Computer Gaming World, websites like GrogHeads.com, and outlets that planted feet in both worlds like Armchair General.  It is a testament to his work that he elevated the quality of every outlet for which he wrote, and also a mark of his nose for an intelligent and receptive audience that while churning out articles at a prodigious rate, he focused their distribution through the best outlets that strategy gaming had to offer (and yes, cue the inevitable joke about slumming it with us!).

He understood how battles could shape history and why it was important to learn their lessons.

James Zabek, Dr Cobb’s editor at several of his online outlets, noted that “James was a grognard’s grog. He believed that wargames should inform, and should do so with fidelity to history. He had a brilliant mind which was brimming with with a rare concoction that only fellow wargamers can appreciate: history, war, and the written word. He understood how battles could shape history and why it was important to learn their lessons. As his editor for many years I was privileged to see first-hand not only how well he understood history, but also how well he was able to communicate it. The reviews he turned in were focused like a laser on how well a game held up as an instrument for learning, and his writing was a joy to read and edit. Editors commonly have a few tweaks and corrections for any article. James wrote in the rarefied air of writers who were able to turn in articles that required no changes.”

Dr Cobb was born in April of 1950, within days of his beloved wife.  He was educated both in the US and in Germany, graduating from the university in Marburg, to go with his PhD in German Literature earned stateside.  It would come as no surprise that his line forum monikers bore a distinct Prussian flavor – Bismarck here at GrogHeads and other outlets, but Moltke on some as well.  Dr Cobb was hospitalized with a severe case of the flu in mid-January, and passed away shortly later.  His wife Angela tragically followed him to the afterlife within the week.

As word of Dr Cobb’s passing spread, several online threads sprang up at some of the larger strategy gaming sites to share their thoughts and condolences, including here at GrogHeads.  It should be clear from outpouring of both shock and support that no one saw this coming, and Dr Cobb’s contributions to the strategy gaming community will be sorely missed.

Godspeed, James, and one day we’ll share a drink on Fiddler’s Green.


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Gaming Nostalgia – Sci-Fi from SPI

#TBT at GrogHeads!

SPI did more than just hex-and-counter classics, but a variety of fantasy and sci-fi games, too

Which of these have you played?


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What’s Gus Playing? Total War: Warhammer I

Our speed-bump-sized sovereign of steel speaks of swords and spells ~

Lloyd Sabin, 12 February 2018

The Norsca are close to a Viking type faction in real history, they inhabit the freezing cold northern wastes of the Warhammer Old World, they are evil, and they can align with Chaos in the end game, if the player survives. I can dig them.

Those who know me from the forums have a decent idea of my resolve (or lack thereof) in purchasing games. With most releases, I try to hold out as long as I can for a sale. And then there are games whose mere announcement drives me to pre-order…which I frown upon in general, try to minimize most of the time, and occasionally fail at doing. Some pre-orders are still made…I’ve pre-ordered Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Thrones of Britannia (A Total War Saga), and Vampyr….all of which will find their way in to this column eventually. OK…so maybe my pre-order resolve needs some work. But it does lead to more interesting and varied games for me to feature here!

Total War: Warhammer I was a rare case for me. I am only a casual Warhammer fan – I have never painted any of the minis and the books I find depressing in larger doses. I am just about finished with Dan Abnett’s Thunder & Steel omnibus and although I have liked some WH40K books by Abnett, I found Thunder & Steel to be quite the slog most of the time.

So with that in mind I actually held off on buying Total War: Warhammer I. Even after initial glowing professional and user reviews, the game just struck me as too fantastical, too wacky/fruity. That is, until the Norsca were announced.

Gaming Nostalgia – This Hallowed Ground

#TBT at GrogHeads!

Civil War classics from The Gamers, with Rick Barber artwork.  ‘Cuz we needed one more Gettysburg game!


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GrogHeads Reviews In The Trenches: Base Set II Doughboys

TBP promises to pack big fun into small packages.  How does their WWI series measure up? ~

Designed by John Gorkowski and published by Tiny Battles Publishing ~

Robert Ellis, 7 February 2018

In The Trenches is a series of games that depict platoon level tactical combat during WW1, and offers a good selection of scenarios and forces from many of the involved protagonists.

Each hex represents 100 yards and each turn 5 minutes.

The series so far consists of two base games (this being one of them) and four expansions, all of which require one of the base games to play.

‘Doughboys’, as you might expect from the title, is about US Army actions set in 1918, and has three scenarios that feature a mixture of US infantry and light tanks in both defensive and offensive battles.