Tag Archives: Operational
Jim descends further into his Napoleonic madness with massive-scale gaming ~
Jim Owczarski, 18 March 2017
I have been waiting for this one for a long time.
It’s almost unreal to me that Battle Cry, the first of Richard Borg’s “Commands and Colors” series, was released in 2000. I like the American Civil War well enough, but, from the beginning, I hoped that the simple, elegant system evident in the game could be elaborated into the best of all periods, Napoleonics.
In the years since, I’ve bought and happily played Memoir ’44 (2004), Commands and Colors: Ancients (2006), Battlelore (also 2006), not to mention the remarkable array of expansions, special editions, and the like for all these systems. I gave Zvezda’s Samurai Battles a miss if only because it’s the only era covered that doesn’t appeal to me.
True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep.
And then it came out. In 2010, GMT Games gave the waiting world Commands and Colors: Napoleonics. Sure, it was wooden blocks not lovely figures. Yes, it was the British, Spanish, and Portuguese versus the French. And, yes, for reasons known only to the grim gods of game production, the Prussians were excluded from the included Waterloo scenario. But it was Napoleonics and that, at first, was enough.
This was no longer the simplified rule set found in Battle Cry. There was the forming of square; different grades of horse, foot, and guns; and even elegant rules to differentiate leaders and national troop characteristics. In the latter case, French troops, and their famous columns, fight better in melee, while the British lines do real damage with ranged fire, &c.
After much fun was had, though, it was ultimately not enough. True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep. It is this that leads us to do really, really dumb things like this: Historicon 2010 Part V Wagram (Shako II) and Outro
For the record this is my shaky-cam — I’ve become better — but this game had run 14 hours before I had to leave with it far from finished.
Another throwback to the classic review days of years gone by under another moniker ~
Brant Guillory, 03 January 2017
Warrior Knights is a board game of diplomacy, commerce, and, of course, warfare, in the Middle Ages. It is published by Fantasy Flight Games and available now. The game covers a hypothetical kingdom in Europe, with real-world territories along the edge of the map, such as Ceylon, Alexandria, and Syracuse.
The knights and barons involved are also hypothetical, but have names evocative of the kingdoms of the Middle Ages: Baron Raoul d’Emerande is Spanish, Baron Mieczyslaw Niebieski is Polish (or perhaps Czech). In all, there are 6 Barons, each with 4 subordinate nobles. Although the names are aligned by nationality, there is no real attempt to have them reflect any real personalities from history.
The original Warrior Knights was designed by Derek Carver and published in the mid-1980s by GDW. The current version is described by Fantasy Flight Games as being reinvented for a new generation while paying homage to the original. It does not appear that Mr. Carver was involved in the design of the current incarnation.
Michael Eckenfels, 26 November 2016
The Conflict-Series of games on the Android device are great little hex- and turn-based wargames that cover a wide variety of battles from World War II. The developer of these games, Joni Nuutinen, is a solo programmer that creates these games in his free time, and he heavily supports them as well by constantly updating them and listing detailed reports of what he’s done to improve his games.
At 3.99 USD per game, they’re inexpensive and terrific time wasters. To date, I own 19 of them (yes, nineteen), which I’ve purchased here and there over a year and a half or so. As you can tell, I’m fairly addicted to them, and even went so far as to ask Joni several questions and create a Q&A article, which I am currently working on.
Check out his “Conflict-Series” in the Google Play store if you’re interested.
In the spirit of TANKSgiving, I decided to take a deep dive into the Conflict-Series title, Kursk: The Biggest Tank Battle. Can I lead the Germans to victory where they failed historically? Or will I get the German armies shredded even worse?
This game isn’t easy, but admittedly, I’ve played through it more than a few times. I’ve won only one time out of multiple attempts; the Soviets are damned difficult to defeat, especially as they have a lot of tank reserves. Since I control the German forces (and there’s no option to play the Soviet side; in every Conflict-Series game, you play one side only, though Joni has developed more than a few titles that look at a battle from both sides), I have several tough Panzer divisions at my disposal, but not nearly as many as I’d like.
You can find a plethora of information on the Battle of Kursk online, or in hundreds of books available out there. If you’re reading this site, chances are you’re already passingly familiar with the battle and what happened.
(This map was found at EmersonKent.com, which credits the United States Military Academy Department of History.)
An early game from Against The Odds Magazine that looks at what was going on while we were recovering from the US Civil War / War Between The States / War of Northern Aggression / “The Wahr” ~
Brant Guillory, 5 October 2016
Cactus Throne is an operational/strategic-level game that covers the war in Mexico between the Republican Mexican government forces, and the Imperial forces of France, Britain, Spain, Austria, and their Mexican allies. The war was originally fought between 1862-1867.
Although there were significant political machinations that affected the campaign, especially in Europe, the game focuses on the allocation of forces within Mexico, and control of the important areas of country.
Some of the political events are included as random events. Additionally, there are events that could have happened, but did not, such as the appearance of both Union and Confederate forces from the American Civil War. Cactus Throne does include some elements of seapower, but only to the extent that it affected the land battles. Ship-to-ship combat is not simulated.
Cyrano delves deep into the world of Napoleonic battlefields in preparation for an eventual visit, and more ~
Jim Owczarski, 08 September 2016
Most images click to enlarge
People are incessantly telling me I’m missing the point. (ed note – he frequently is, but usually about other things)
They wonder how someone can visit Paris and prefer the Army Museum to the Louvre — pace those areas given over to David — or would rather spend time crawling over an Old Vineyard in Bohemia rather than sitting in a coffee house in Vienna two hours to the south.
They even have a word for what I love to do, viz., “dark tourism”. I suspect it’s not intended as a compliment.
But I, and I am assuredly not alone, am obsessed with Napoleonic battlefields. I read about them, watch movies about them, play as many games about them as I can lay my hands on, and, far less frequently than I would like, visit them. I’ve been to Waterloo twice, Austerlitz once, and, having spent this Summer taking my son to middle-American water parks, am determined that next Summer will bring a visit to Jena-Austerstadt. The management has asked me to share my own journey to Jena as well as talk about those conflict simulations that take up the campaign and its battles.
In the finale of our Waterloo comparisons, our resident Napoleonicist continues his side-by-side comparisons with the groggiest of the grog games ~
Jim Owczarski, 23 July 2016
The 201st anniversary of the Great Battle has passed, Spring has turned to the heat of Summer, and, for those who have come this far, it’s time to explore the rarefied air breathed by the more complex simulations of the Battle of Waterloo. (ed note, links to read part 1 and part 2)
I begin with a game to which I react much like that famous speech from the end of so many relationships, viz.: “it’s not you, it’s me.” Martin Wallace is one of the great Euro-game designers of our time and there’s much conceptually to admire in his “Waterloo”, but, despite my best efforts, I’ve never been able to bring myself to love it the way some do.
What happens when our resident Napoleonicist compares all things Waterloo side-by-side(-by-side-by-side-by-side)? ~
Jim Owczarski, 23 April 2016
With respect to E.S. Creasy, lists of “greatest” or “most significant” battles are best left as the stuff of coffee shop debate or oversized, remaindered tomes available at your local discount book store. There’s just too much that goes into defining sprawling words like “greatest” that prevents the conversation from being useful much less dispositive.
That said, Waterloo is the greatest battle ever. Ever. I will not subject this to further debate.
Let us instead, at the request of the editorial staff hereabouts, visit some of the many consims to take up the battle, and, along the way, talk about how approaches to the battle have changed over the years. This is not a complete list and it is a subjective one, but I hope it gives you a small window into the world of Waterloo gaming — a place where I have spent an awful lot of time. Lest the tyro turn away at first glance, let the story begin with the simpler games that offer to take the player back to mid-June 1815.
I must here confess that I don’t think over-much of the Avalon Hill classic “Waterloo”. It’s not that both the board and the counters are, putting the matter generously, merely serviceable.
A hefty dose of groggy tabletop goodness from guys that are not the biggest publishers out there ~
GrogHeads Staff, 08 April 2016
Moscow ’41. Wargaming on the Eastern Front (Ventonuovo Games)
$15k of $5600, ends 1 May 2016
Scaling down from the theater-wide Blocks in the East, Ventonuovo’s latest offering focuses on the initial German campaign down Moscow. A block-unit and area-movement game, M’41 lets players re-fight the vital campaign that Hitler was sure would knock the Soviets out of the war. The graphics on the block stickers are fantastic, and the colors pop against the gorgeous map. The Germans are trying to seize Moscow as quickly as possible, while the Soviets are patching their lines with a mixture of remnant units and full-strength, but untested ones, leading a tense sequence of probing, responding, and exploiting on the battlefield. Rumble over to their Kickstarter page and help them get to their stretch goals.