Category Archives: Research
3 April 2015
We want to know what you think about us.
We’ve got a quick-and-easy 10-item feedback survey here, on a few different pages. We want to know what you think about us, and a little about your game-playing and -buying habits, to help us align some of our coverage to better match our audience. Take 5 minutes and give us some feedback, please. Thanks!
Discuss this survey below, or in our forums >>
Who took home the coveted Readers Choice titles for games released in 2014? Charge on and see!
Our Readers’ Choice Awards process isn’t hard to figure out – it’s all up to you! All year long we take your nominations in the forum threads we keep open for the whole year, and any game that’s nominated (and that was released within that calendar year) gets included. Our editorial team helps group some of the categories together, but if you nominated it, it’s here somewhere – we only edit out the games that don’t qualify based on their release dates.
This year, we saw some excellent games nominated, and some excellent games not nominated (looking at you, Divinity!), but overall, the readership seems to have conferred the coveted “Readers Choice” titles on some outstanding games
Our bread-and-butter, the Tabletop Strategy / Historical Game, didn’t see a ton of nominations. But to be fair it was a down year overall for tabletop wargame releases. GMT’s Unconditional Surrender handily won with 40% of the vote. For the second year in a row, a COIN system game finished second, as Fire in the Lake had a strong showing. Third and fourth place were both DVG games, with Fleet Commander Nimitz claiming the final spot in this category.
The Tabletop Sci-Fi / Fantasy Game of the Year voting would have been a runaway in any other year, with Dead of Winter taking over half the vote. Xia: Legends of a Drift System finished second, and Run, Fight or Die tied with Mars Attacks for third.
Nineteenth Century Military War Games: Charles Totten’s Strategos-The Advanced Game
Robert Mosher, 24 January 2014
Click images to enlarge
This is the third article in our series examining 19th Century war games designed and published primarily but not exclusively for the use of professional armies. The previous articles (here and here) discussed von Reisswitz’ Prussian Kriegsspiel (1824) and W.R. Livermore’s American Kriegsspiel (1882), respectively. This time, we look at Charles Totten’s Strategos, a contemporary design to Livermore’s game.
In 1880 D. Appleton and Company of New York and then-First Lieutenant Charles A. Totten, (Fourth Artillery, United States Army), published STRATEGOS: A Series of American Games of War Based Upon Military Principles and Designed for the Assistance Both of Beginners and Advanced Students in Prosecuting the Whole Study of Tactics, Grand Tactics, Strategy, Military History, and The Various Operations of War. Strategos presented a layered set of games that addressed tactics, grand tactics, and strategy, supplemented by material for the study of military history, with an appendix that included statistical studies relating to the conduct of war.
Like his rival Walter Livermore (Class of 1865), Charles A. Lewis Totten graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point (Class of 1873). His father was Brigadier General James Totten (Class of 1841) and his uncle was Joseph Gilbert Totten (Class of 1805). Charles Totten ranked among the top ten cadets of his graduating class. His first posting, as a Second Lieutenant, was to the 4th Artillery and the garrison at Alcatraz Island, California, one of the forts protecting America’s Pacific Coast. His subsequent career included similar posts such as Fort Monroe, Virginia and the Artillery School there, and the Presidio in San Francisco. Other assignments were as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) and later at Yale University, and as an instructor at West Point. Totten is still remembered in Massachusetts for his contributions as a founder of the fencing program while he was at Massachusetts Agricultural College. His field service included the Bannock Campaign (1878) and the Chiricahua Campaign (1880-1881).
During his military career he also published “Compensating Powder for Heavy Artillery” (1877), “Text Books and Tables”, and “Instructions in Guard Duty” (1887). His military lectures at Yale, including “Military Economy and the Policy of America” and “Organization, Dis-organization, Re-organization, and Mobilization” are available in a bound collection held in the Yale University Library.
ed note: After the shutdown of Twiigs.com, our polls disappeared, so you’ll see a lot of headers, but no polls, on older Readers Choice posts. We’re using someone new now, so perhaps the older polls will still be visible.
All year long we asked for your input and your nominations for the best in gaming throughout 2014. These polls are your polls, and let our readers vote on their own nominations. Think we missed something? Well, we’re already looking for nominations for 2015’s best in strategy gaming.
Polls are open now, and close on 28 January, so you’ve got 2-1/2 weeks to make your voice heard. If you nominated ’em, we’ve got ’em in a poll somewhere. All we did was weed out the non-2014 releases and then sort them into categories.
Historical / Strategy Game
Sci-Fi / Fantasy Game
Continuing our research series on the history of Kriegspiel and its offshoots
This series of articles examines several 19th Century war games designed primarily for the use of professional armies. The first article reviewed von Reisswitz’ Prussian Kriegsspiel of 1824, considered by many to be the first modern wargame. This article looks at William Roscoe Livermore’s American Kriegsspiel: A Game for Practicing the Art of War Upon a Topographical Map, copyrighted in 1879 and published in 1882 and in 1898. Captain Livermore’s game is based upon the Prussian original, modified over the years to reflect technical and tactical changes, but he had limited success selling it to the War Department. An 1865 graduate of West Point (sixth in his class), Captain Livermore was introduced to the Prussian wargame that year by fellow engineer William Popp, a former Bavarian Army officer. Livermore conducted topographical surveys in the Great Lakes and Texas, surveyed and supervised work on fortifications on both coasts, was Army Attaché in Denmark (observing Prussian military exercises), and served as a senior engineering officer with the VII Corps of Major General Fitzhugh Lee during the Spanish-American War. That Corps trained in Jacksonville, Florida and its low levels of illness compared to the rest of that army might reflect Livermore’s care in setting up its camps.
A look at the history of wargaming. From the beginning. Yes, Kriegspiel.
Research article by Robert Mosher, 9 February 2014
as always, click images to enlarge
The First War Game
Mock battles and games reflecting a contemporary understanding of warfare have been a part of human culture throughout history. Chess is of course the most famous survivor of these games, though not the oldest. The game’s simplified depiction of warfare lacked realism, but did promote military virtues like foresight and calm consideration when confronting an opponent.
The first modern wargame is generally considered to be Kriegsspiel, published in Prussia in 1824 by First Lieutenant Georg Heinrich Leopold Freiherrn von Reisswitz. His game was based upon his father’s (Baron Georg Heinrich Rudolf Johann von Reisswitz) work, which itself had reportedly attracted the attention of the Prussian royal family.
The younger Reisswitz introduced a number of innovations that resulted in a newer game, resulting in a more militarily realistic and useful experience. He discussed some of these innovations in the foreword to his published rules. Reisswitz credited his father with the move away from the “most unnatural geometric shapes and straight lines” imposed on terrain and movement in earlier wargames that reflected their roots in chess.
Much of what we know today about Kriegsspiel is the result of the efforts of Bill Leeson who translated the original 1824 rules from German into English and published them in 1983, along with a lot of supporting material and some ideas from later versions of Kriegsspiel to ease its use by modern players. Subsequent works on wargames including those by Peter Perla, Thomas Allen, and most recently C. G. Lewin have also done much to spread the story and the details of the rules and their history.
Wrapping up the last of our 2013 year-end coverage, we have the results of our annual Readers’ Choice Awards voting.
Our Readers’ Choice Awards are a pretty simple concept – it’s all up to you! We take nominations all year long in our forum threads, and any game that’s nominated that was released within that calendar year gets included. Our editorial team helps group some of the categories together, but if you nominated it, it’s here somewhere.
We divide our categories into tabletop and digital games, with miniatures normally included with the tabletop games. This year, however, we had no nominations for any miniatures games or products. Within each of the digital / tabletop branches, we break out some separate categories, but we always include an “overall” category for each, pitting every nomination against each other.
Without further ado, here are your winners of the GrogHeads 2013 Readers Choice Awards:
The tabletop world saw nominations into several categories, include Wargames, Strategy Games, Magazine games and scenarios, Expansions, Reprints, and the ever-coveted Overall category.
Consim Press’ The Hunters hammered the competition for the Tabletop Wargame of the Year, with only A Distant Plain, even garnering double digits as A Distant Second. The Ogre Designer Edition brought up the third place tail.
Competition in the Tabletop Strategy Game of the Year was a little more heated, with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game narrowly edging out the much-anticipated Firefly Board Game to take the title. Eldritch Horror nailed down third place.