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Tag Archives: Ancient

The Tuesday Interview – Bob Smith of Oriental Empires

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Bob Smith pays GrogHeads a visit~

Lloyd Sabin (and Boggit!), 3 January 2017

You clearly have a long, proud history in historical PC gaming, which younger readers may not know about. Games like ‘Arnhem,’ ‘Desert Rats,’ and ‘Operation Vulcan’ are remembered very fondly. What is your favorite game of yours from that era and why?

Of the wargames, probably Desert Rats, because I like big sweeping games. Of all the games I did in my first stint as an independent developer, my favorite is probably Armada 2525, because I had so much fun playing it with my friends (who usually used to beat me).

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What were some of the difficulties you faced in the 1980s when producing those early games?

The machines were very limited, you had to think about every byte of RAM. I remember being up at 3am trying to find 3 bytes of memory to finish Desert Rats, with a bike coming at 7 to take the master tape to the duplicators. The development environments were very limited too. I used to write everything out on paper, because the editors were so bad, and once your program got too big to fit into RAM with the assembler, it could take as much as an hour to make a new version.

GrogHeads Holiday Buying Guide 2016

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Folks have no idea what to do for the Grog on their lists? Here we come to save the day! ~

GrogHeads Staff, 04 December 2016

GAMES!

This year, we’re leading off with the games, and there’s some excellent ones to choose from this year.  Leading off, we’ve got Mark Walker’s ’65 Squad-Level Combat in Vietnam, a gorgeous card-driven game with the biggest counters this side of…  well, of Night of Man, another FPG offering.  Refight the Vietnam War, one firefight at a time, and if you grab it now, it’s over $20 off!

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Mare Nostrum Empires (Academy Games) – First Look!

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Picked up over the summer at Origins ~

Brant Guillory, 30 August 2016

Following a massively successful Kickstarter, and some shipping delays as the manufacture of components needed some tweaking, Academy’s reprint of Mare Nostrum, along with the expansions, finally started to get delivered.  Folks who attended Origins were able to pick them up there.  Hot damn!

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This gallery includes both the base game Empires (on the right) and the Atlas expansion (left)

GrogHeads Reviews ONUS!

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Ancients battling across your tabletop, with minimal prep! ~

Jim Owczarski, 12 March 2016

There are two types of miniatures wargamers. The first is into the assembling, painting, and basing of miniatures for the mad fun of it all.  Actually subjecting their lead, or more recently, plastic, hordes to mere rules in a game can seem secondary; just about everyone who has ever “played” Warhammer 40k leaps to mind.

The other is the sort that loves the aesthetic of so many little men, but, even if he finds the process enjoyable enough, knows that he’ll likely never have the time, space, and resources to play in one of those really big games that show up in rulebooks and convention floors.

Enter Onus! (I will hereafter forgo the exclamation point) by Spanish publisher Draco Ideas.  Originally published in 2014 in a Spanish-language edition, Onus recently emerged from a successful Kickstarter that will, among other things, produce an English-language edition.  What follows is a review of the original version.

The concept behind Onus is simple enough. Most wargames involving miniatures require players to stick their figures onto squares or rectangles to facilitate movement.  Onus skips the bit about miniatures and gives us the bases, made of playing card stock decorated with pictures of the soldiers and bids us have at.  This allows the game to come in a very small package.

Mighty armies, itty-bitty living space

Mighty armies, itty-bitty living space

GrogHeads Reviews 7 Wonders: Duel

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Scaled down; still awesome ~

Brant Guillory, 2 March 2016

Folks who pay any attention to my gaming discussion know that I’m crazy about 7 Wonders, the city-building card game from Repos Productions.  It’s a game I could play all day, every day and never get sick of playing.  For all it’s grandeur, however, it had a fatal flaw (and no, not the “Leaders” expansion) – the two-player version sucked.  I mean Aquaman-of-the-70s-level sucked.  Microsoft-Clippy-level sucked.  Panthers-in-the-Fog-review-level…  well, you get the idea.

7 Wonders Duel - COVER7 Wonders scales incredibly well up to 7 players, but is dependent on at least 3 of them being around to play.  The two-player version forced players to alternate playing as a proxy for a third ‘free city’ that affected both players as though a third were sitting there.  It was clunky, and ultimately made for a very poor game.

Some things are clearly kept in the game: cards are color-coded to the type of building in your city (civic, military, science, etc); ‘building chains’ that grant ‘free’ buildings for having earlier ones built; resources needed for construction; and a game played in 3 ages. But to create a two-player version of 7 Wonders that retained the core tension of each turn – do I play this card or let it go and give my opponent a shot at it? – required a significant change in the mechanics.  You couldn’t just hand cards back and forth, because you know what’s coming, and you know what your opponent is going to do with it.  Additionally, with only two players, you only get two wonders.  A game about building the wonders clearly needs more.

7 Wonders Duel solves both problems, and with an elegance that’s almost annoying in how selfish the designers are in hogging two great ideas for one product line.

Attila: Total War – The Last Roman 

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Developed by Creative Assembly and Published by SEGA

By Lloyd Sabin 15 August 2015

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Let’s Be Honest with Each Other

I love Attila: Total War, but I’m not very good at it to be honest. I’ve played campaigns as the Geats, Langobards and the Huns in the standard game and after many, many false starts and immediate ass-whuppings, the best I could come up with so far is ‘not getting slaughtered at the very beginning.’ Even then, my Geat campaign ended in piles of ash where my capital city once stood and I don’t think I made it to 50 turns as the Huns. My Langobard campaign is ongoing…fingers crossed. I suppose that’s not too bad considering the main goal of these campaigns is to simply survive until a certain date but still…not a very stellar performance.

Cue the Last Roman campaign, featuring the Last Roman himself, Belisarius. The campaign is set on a mini-map which is virtually identical to the map that Creative Assembly produced for the Hannibal at the Gates campaign for Rome 2: Total War…it’s just set much later, obviously, in the 6th century AD. Playable factions include the Roman Expedition led by Belisarius (not the Eastern Roman Empire, led by an AI Justinian), the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths and the Franks. I chose to play the Roman Expedition first.

Excellent, I am 'losing decisively!' Wait a minute...

Excellent, I am ‘losing decisively!’ Wait a minute…

 

GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #71

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GARPA goes all over the map for this edition

Freeblades: Creatures of Faelon (DGS Games)
$2800 of $8500, ends 21 July 2015

The guys from DGS Games are back with some new toys for their Freeblades minis collection.  These are wilder creatures that sport all manner of fangs, scales, claws, and… well, bark.  Their last Kickstarter campaign dropped some jaws with their final sculpts, and their fantasy world is high fantasy with nice interesting twists.  Hit their campaign page and drop your coin to get these minis funded.

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GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #68

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Wargames, skipper!  Off the starboard bow!

Trenton 1776 (Worthington Games)
$14,000 of $2500 goal, ends 21 April 2015

The Worthington Gang is back with another battle from the American War of Independence, and this time it’s Washington’s iconic river-crossing-to-surprise-the-drunk-Hessians-on-Christmas campaign.  And let’s face it, the Battle of Trenton was pretty much the high-water-mark for the historical “good things that have happened in New Jersey” list.  It’s part of a series that Worthington kicked off with New York 1776, and expect more to come.  So march on over to their Kickstarter campaign and fire off your pledge to snag one while they’re hot.

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