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Category Archives: Books & Movies

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 14: Pets Pets Pets

The Zombie Apocalypse Series returns! ~

Jonathan Glazer, 21 April 2017

Having pets happens to be a big feature of American culture. Whether we are talking about dogs, cats, birds, fish, chinchilla, ferrets or llamas, keeping and caring for other life forms is extremely common and quite engraved in the American way. This does not mean it is something peculiar to The United States. Many countries have a strong tradition of pet ownership. I was in Argentina recently and I was struck by the number of dog walkers with large packs of canines wandering the many scenic parts in Buenos Aires. However, there are counties without a strong tradition of pet ownership. China is an example. Dogs and cats are viewed somewhat differently there. This brings us to my disclaimer. While most of the columns in this series are less than pleasant, this one in particular is sure to offend some. If you cannot discuss unpleasant things happening to animals intellectually without having an overwhelming emotional response, stop reading now and wait for the next installment. I will try to be sensitive, but this is still going to be a difficult topic.

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 13: Love and the Undead

The Zombie Apocalypse Series returns! ~

Jonathan Glazer, 21 April 2017

The dead have risen with a taste for our yummy flesh. Beyond feeding ourselves gathering other supplies and killing zombies, what is our next priority? Well, if you believe most TV shows and movies about this topic, you would probably say finding a hot hookup ranks at the top of the list. Romance seems to be a big thing among apocalyptic survivors in the minds of screenwriters. Will the dystopian future be a great time for grabbing a little something-something? I hate to be the burster of bubbles, but losing our technology and societal support infrastructure will probably have the opposite effect. The reasons for this are many. Chief among them would be our focus on just plain trying to stay alive. Leisure time will be a real luxury as most of the day will be spent doing the things required to feed us, quench our thirst, find us shelter and protect us from fetid snapping undead jaws (not to mention our fellow survivors who will have long cast the Boy Scout’s oath aside). Listen to any mother/wife in our present world and you will hear that the daily grind of food preparation, child care, laundry and other assorted chores leave them with a nightly desire for action hovering around the zero level. And that is without the stress of being attacked by rotten ghouls jonesing for our innards. Add in the collapse of civilization and most survivors, male, female or other will have little leftover energy for boom boom.

GrogHeads Reviews Appendix N

Review of “Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons and Dragons” from Jeffro Johnson ~

Avery Abernethy, 12 April 2017

Appendix N is the list of books in the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide that Gary Gygax referenced as primary influences on the development of Dungeons and Dragons. Jeffro Johnson secured these books and read them. Mr. Johnson had two goals for Appendix N. First, identifying how each novel inspired specific aspects of D&D and other early role playing games. Second, Jeffro’s observations on how each specific novel inspired an aspect of D&D and the enjoyment that a modern reader would have with these books which were published from the 1910s to the 1970s.

Gaming Nostalgia – Combat Command Books

#TBT at GrogHeads!

nostalgia-combatcommand

Choose-your-own-adventure in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers universe?!  Holy cow!


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GrogHeads Reviews Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

What if the monsters were real?  And who said they weren’t?! ~

Avery Abernethy, 25 August 2016

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge is in the Monster Hunter International universe. In the Monster Hunter universe monsters are real. Teddy Roosevelt ran into monsters in the Cuba invasion with the Rough Riders. When he became MHMG-coverPresident he put Federal bounties on dangerous monsters. Bring in evidence of killing a deadly monster, get paid a bounty. More dangerous monsters yield bigger bounties. But monster hunting has a high casualty rate. And high bounty monsters are especially deadly.

Monsters want to eat us. Monsters are not boyfriend material for lonely high school girls or strong independent women. Vampires suck your blood and eat your soul. Vampires and other monsters are enemies of humanity and deserve killing. Monster Hunter International is the premier private monster killing outfit in the world.

This is a collaboration between Larry Correia and John Ringo. Correia is a former gun store owner and competitive shooter. Ringo is a vet of the 82nd Airborne. Both are among the best active writers of military science fiction. Both know guns, explosives and how to write a great combat scene. Many wargame players are interested in weapons and the idea of killing evil monsters and collecting large bounties is something which appeals to gamers from D&D, to Call of Cthulhu, to Warhammer.

GrogHeads Reviews Tidal Effects from Andrew Heller

Airboy reviews Heller’s follow-up to Gray Tide in the East ~

Avery Abernethy, 03 August 2016

Tidal Effects is the sequel to Gray Tide in the East. In the previous book the Kaiser orders the German Army in 1914 to respect Belgium’s neutrality after Imperial Russia and France declare war on Germany. The British Empire never enters World War 1. Germany and Austria-Hungary crush Russia and annex large portions of European Russia including all of Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltics. France is bled white trying to attack in unfavorable terrain. Germany gives France favorable peace terms taking several relatively useless colonies including Martinique in the Caribbean Sea. At the end of Gray Tide in the East Germany is the dominant land power in Europe.

Tidal Effects contains two novelettes: High Tide and Rip Tide. In High Tide several members of the Imperial German Foreign Service and a high ranking Naval officer manage to start building a substantial naval base in Martinique. tide-mapSubstantial progress on this naval base is accomplished without the knowledge of the Kaiser and the rest of the Imperial Cabinet. The USA learns of the base and must decide if they want to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. Tidal Effects includes basics of naval espionage, isolationist politics of the USA early in the 20th century and foreign policy. The central conflict centers on the ability of the US President to get enough political support to keep the hugely powerful Germany from getting a foothold in North America without starting a major naval war. The Kaiser is maddened that his subordinates put him in this position but also wants to maximize the political and military gains possible from this situation.   The entire story is plausible given the military, economic, political and foreign policy situation in this alternate history.

GrogHeads Fiction: Just When I Thought I Was Out

An adventure for your weekend ~

Jonathan S. Pembroke, 28 May 2016

I straightened my back and looked out over the churned earth and fresh-plowed rows of the field. I leaned on my hoe, wiped the sweat from my brow, and savored my accomplishment as the sun slid towards the horizon. I’ve always derived deep satisfaction from the labor of an honest day’s work and there are some things you want to do with your own two hands.fic-Pembroke-headshot

A slight breeze ruffled my hair, reminding me that the early spring evenings tended towards the cool side. I gave the field one last look and returned to my porch.

The top step squeaked but I barely heard it; in truth, I’d ignored the loose nail for so long it felt wrong to fix it. As I stepped up, Trio raised his head. His tail thumped a greeting against the boards. I stooped, scratched his ears, and sought my rickety rocking chair. My pipe lay in the seat. I stuck the tip between my teeth and focused my eyes on the bowl. A brief spark flickered and a stream of smoke rose from the tobacco. I inhaled, relishing the warmth as the sweet smoke filled my lungs. The breeze blew again, mixing with soft sounds of clucking chickens as they sought their roosts for the night.

Trio sat up, ears erect. A soft growl escaped his lips. “Easy, boy,” I said. He fell silent but continued to gaze into the trees. I shrugged; whatever was out there would show itself soon enough.

A horse neighed in the distance. A moment later, a party of riders emerged from the tree line beyond my fallow field. I counted nine. It was a large enough party to travel safely through the valley and enough to challenge me, had they caught me by surprise.

The band trotted up to my house without hesitation. The foremost wore the standard of a snarling white tiger on a field of green. He was a middle-aged man and rode with confidence. The group stopped and the leader dismounted.

Trio stood at his approach and growled again. Several of the man’s companions reached for their weapons but he waved them down. He stopped short of the porch and said, “Do I have the honor of addressing the Royal Mage Vetterex?”

GrogHeads Reviews Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming

The new “big book of wargaming” goes under the GrogHeads microscope ~

Brant Guillory, 15 May 2016

Zones of Control is the book that wargaming has been waiting for.  Seriously.  And that’s a pretty grandiose statement, but the truth is, it’s a long-needed book from a hard-to-ignore-and-harder-to-impugn publisher that tries to comprehensively examine the breadth and depth of wargaming under one cover.  ZOC-CoverWhere previous ‘seminal’ works of wargaming – Simulating War or  The Art of Wargaming or The Complete Wargames Handbook – were concerned with specific facets of wargaming (academic explorations, professional uses, or hobbyists, for example), Zones of Control brings them all into one giant melting pot, and then sprinkles in the occasional dose of aesthetics, role-playing, and digital design.

“Wargame”

Interestingly, Zones of Control is able to swing such a wide arc precisely by avoiding the overly-pedantic and never-solved argument about “what is a wargame?”  It is conspicuously absent throughout the book, and there isn’t even a cursory attempt at it.  Avoiding that discussion allows the editors a wide range of latitude to include discussions of Twilight Struggle, Tunnels & Trolls, and battlefield re-enactors.  And truthfully, the book is much richer for it.

It is that very breadth that can make Zones of Control a challenge to review, however.  To what are we comparing it?  It’s scope alone puts the book in its own category among the wargaming literature.  There’s no comparable volume in the pop music world, whose attempts at a broad-scope literary volume end up more an inventory of artists than an exploration of types of music.  One might compare this book to something like a collected academic volume like the Communication Technology Update, but with technology and its markets moving as they do, that textbook is updated every 2 years. The collected essays of Zones of Control are almost “the greatest hits” of a year or two of erudite magazine articles from a flagship wargaming analysis journal, if such a thing ever existed.  Spread over 5 years of quarterly issues, rather than collected into a consolidated volume, the essays of Zones of Control might have have become the catalyzing agent around which a comprehensive cross-domain association of wargaming might have coalesced – a worthy literary companion to the Connections wargaming conference.  But to deconstruct the book and instead attempt to feature the writers over the span of several years would have cost the critical momentum needed to even publish the book at all.  Instead, we’re forced to hope that someone picks up the baton and starts a recurring publication as a companion to this volume.  But that’s putting the cart at least a mile or two before the horse that Kirschenbaum & Harrigan have saddled for us.