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Tag Archives: History

GrogHeads Reviews High Treason!

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See you in court! ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 February 2017

Function before form!

Function before form!

My love of the Napoleonic era is high, wide, and deep, but I’ve always taken the age of empire to be my second true love, if such a thing can be countenanced.  Much of my early study of the era came from Jan Morris’ Pax Britannica trilogy, particularly the first volume, Heaven’s Command.  Far from an academic exercise, it’s an evocative series of sketches of the men and women who peopled the British empire, giving more weight, it has always seemed to me, to the interesting as opposed to the more objectively significant, although one can certainly be both.

The Tuesday Interview – Dr James Sterrett talks Brown Bag Wargaming

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With the recent launch of CGSC’s “Brown Bag” wargaming lunch program, we reached out to the guys at Ft Leavenworth to ask about how hobby wargaming is making its way (back) into the professional ranks ~

Brant Guillory, 07 February 2017

So there was mention of a “brown bag” lunch series of wargames for Army officers to come learn about this crazy hobby of ours, and – we’re assuming – learn how it can all tie into the profession of arms for their future benefit.  Can you tell us a little bit about how the series got started, and what the expectations were for the initial ramp-up of the program?

The idea for the Brown Bag Gaming Program came from our desire to provide a wider array of games that we can fit into our Training with Simulations elective course.  The more we thought about it, the more objectives we realized it might fill.

The core tenet of Brown Bag Gaming is that the development of simulations professionals requires the exploration and discussion of a wide variety of modeling and simulation approaches.  The best means of accomplishing this is to experience the models and simulations in action.  Less formally, that means playing games and thinking about them critically.

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Wow. Just… Wow.

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So what happened 5 years ago today? ~

Brant Guillory, 26 January 2017

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Five years ago, we opened our forums here at GrogHeads.  Our front page followed shortly thereafter, and we’ve been talking games all along.

We wanted GrogHeads to be an independent voice in the strategy gaming world.  We also wanted to make sure we covered strategy gaming across the entire spectrum of gaming – tabletop, digital, team, distributed, multiplayer, whatevs! – and follow the interests of our members.

Do we get it right every time?  Nope.

Does that stop us from trying?  Double nope.
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By the end of February, we had over 100 members in our forums.  Within 2 years, we were running a wargaming program at Origins.  Along the way, we’ve podcasted, reviewed, pontificated, sarcasmed, photo’ed, gamed, AAR’ed, voted, and discussed all manner of strategy games, and more.

We’re on our 4th iteration of our Readers’ Choice awards, planning our 4th GrogHeads Central Command at Origins, and in March we’ll run our 5th college hoops Bracket Challenge (hey, don’t laugh – it’s a big hit every year).  We’re a few dozen months, a few hundred reviews and a few thousand pictures into covering all sorts of games.

So how are you getting involved?  Are you talking games in our forums?  Sharing an AAR with the gang?  Coming to Origins to join us for a weekend-plus of great gaming?  Subscribing to the podcast?  Following us on Twitter?  Hanging with us on FaceBook?  All of the above?

Whatever it is, we hope you have a great time doing it, just like we do.

So from all of us here at GrogHeads, to all of you strategy gamers everywhere, wherever you are and whatever you’re playing – thank you, from the bottom of our dice cup.

Here’s to a many more years to come.


Chat about it below, or in our forums, or hit our FaceBook page >>

TANKSgiving! – The British Tank Museum

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Airboy made a trip to England and all we got were these lousy AWESOME! pictures ~

Avery Abernethy, 23 November 2016

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News! Sad to Report the Passing of Author John Gresham

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Check out the latest from The Admiralty Trilogy Group ~

GrogHeads Newsdesk, 05 July 2016

Renowned military affairs author and speaker John Gresham passed away over the weekend.

more after the jump…

Perspective in Wargames: Who Exactly Are You?

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When you’re “playing” the game, who are you “playing”? ~

Derek Croxton, 07 May 2016

You are Napoleon. You have a chance to remake the map of Europe with your Grande Armée. You are Robert E. Lee, trying to fend off the Union until foreign aid arrives. You are Patton, dashing through France with your Third Army.

These statements are typical of the sort of advertising used to sell wargames, and are indicative of why gamers play: they like assuming the role of an historical figure and get a vicarious thrill out of making the same sort of decisions, only trying to make better ones. pers-6Gaming is thus a form of role-playing, and a lot of the pleasure hinges on what historical figure one plays. Some people would never play the Union in Civil War games, others refuse to play the Confederacy: they are identifying with the historical actors in more than an intellectual sense. There are, of course, games that are entirely or almost entirely abstract, such as chess, which are also fun to play. While they provide the same sort of intellectual challenges, however, they do not provide the same kind of fulfillment as a chance to remake history.

The fun of gaming, then, is in part based on accepting historical limitations. There is always a desire to transcend these limitations – to have Napoleon win at Waterloo, for example – but certain restrictions have to be accepted. If one wants to be Napoleon, one has to accept the fact that France’s navy will probably not be a match for Britain’s and that one will be fighting a whole coalition of forces, just as one will benefit from having a nation in arms and well-disciplined, loyal, and courageous soldiers. History consists of a virtually infinite number of forces, of which an individual – the player – can only control a very few. This is precisely what drives a game: deciding how to act within the constraints of the historical situation. This article investigates the problems of trying to put players in historical roles: first of identifying proper historical figures to simulate, and second of creating the possibilities and limitations that those figures historically faced. I contend that a game is usually more fun and more realistic where a designer has given thought to these issues.

Why I Love Diplomacy

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The venerable classic timelessly soldiers on.

by Brant Guillory

The original Diplomacy board game has a huge following, even among non-wargamers, despite being sold as a wargamer for its thirty-year lifespan. Why?

Well, it’s a wargame that abstracts battlefield prowess to the point that it’s almost irrelevant. Tactical ability is nothing – I repeat, nothing – in this game. It matters not how well you can anticipate the moment for the cavalry charge, plan the artillery bombardment, or outflank your enemy with your panzer corps. In this game, all armies, and generals, are created equal, and numerical superiority is the only relevant statistic.

In fact, the only ability of note is your ability to successfully negotiate your way through the intrigue of the game as the leader of a country. In this respect, Diplomacy has succeeded, and continues to succeed, in a class all it’s own.

Nineteenth Century Military War Games: Charles Totten’s Strategos-The Advanced Game

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Nineteenth Century Military War Games:  Charles Totten’s Strategos-The Advanced Game

Robert Mosher, 24 January 2014

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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.

"Charles Adelle Lewis Totten, 1873." Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

“Charles Adelle Lewis Totten, 1873.” Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

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.