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Category Archives: Classic Reviews

Classic Reviews – Prisoner of War

Got a hankering to conduct your own Great Escape? ~

Michael Eckenfels, 19 December 2017

Developed by Wide Games and Published by Codemasters

Prisoner of War is an evolution, of sorts, of the usual mind-assaulting first-person shooters – or a regression, depending on one’s perception. True adventure games with more puzzle solving and limited or no violence are rare; such a title set in the chaos of World War II makes for an even more interesting game. I tried hard, however, to not like this game; I’m afraid that this perception came from the plethora of lukewarm reviews that have preceded mine into print regarding this title.  Something tugged at me, however, to check this one out; I had a feeling I might not be disappointed.
Besides the Cold War, very little can evoke images of skullduggery or sneaky missions performed behind enemy lines like World War II. OSS agents mixing it up with fedora-donned instruments of the Gestapo and their jack-booted gun-toting guards…it’s a time of intrigue that helps to define modern standards for suspenseful storytelling.

So bring in Prisoner of War. No, it’s not about spying, but the premise is similar: an Allied pilot is shot down behind German lines while running a photoreconnaissance mission. He’s captured and brought to a sort of way-station (which doubles as a truck depot) for prisoners that are eventually shipped off to the official Stalag Luft prisoner-of-war camps. The pilot, one Captain Lewis Stone, resolves immediately and heroically to not stand for such imprisonment, and is off on one minor adventure after another to outwit his German captors and escape to freedom. Along the way, he uncovers a heinous plot that he tries to stop.

Classic Reviews – World War II: Panzer Claws

“…by the start of the day, eight Panzers thundered mightily over the dusty tracks that passed for a road, with several squads of Panzergrenadiers in attendance. By the end of that day, resistance was so fierce that merely two Panzer III’s remained, both damaged, and nary an infantryman was to be seen…”

-From the author’s own After Action report

Michael Eckenfels, 22 November 2017

Developed by Zuxxez and Published by EIDOS Interactive

Panzer 101

Using World War II as its canvas, Panzer Claws paints an RTS strategy game in vivid appearance, clustered with frantic game-play that fits perfectly in the chaotic battles it portrays. Although not realistic – Panzer Claws has a resource-gathering and unit-building system similar to other RTS’s, such as StarCraft – the game is still fun to play.

Soviet heavy armor lined up in the dirty, smoky snow, awaiting orders.

Classic Reviews – Red Dragon Inn

The only thing that’s more fun than drinking, gambling, and rough-housing in a medieval tavern in a laughter-inducing game about drinking, gambling, and rough-housing in a medieval tavern. ~

Brant Guillory, 6 September 2017

With a learning curve that’s somewhere between “simple” and “duh”, and a playing time of 30-60 minutes (published and actual), it’s quick, easy, fun, usually hilarious.  But with only four characters might get stale for as often as you’ll want to play it

So you and your friends either slayed an evil beast, or conquered the local warlord? Both? Well done, you! Time to celebrate, quaffing pints and regaling your friends with tall tales of your exploits over at the Red Dragon Inn. You goal is to be the last one standing among the carousing adventurers at the inn, which is not an easy feat when you’re subsisting on a diet of Dragon Breath Ale.

Each player has a playmat that organizers the cards in play, and tracks both the character’s alcohol level, and fortitude. The goal is to keep the alcohol content low, and the fortitude high; should they meet, the character falls unconscious and the rest of the party splits the loot. Speaking of loot – should you run out of loot, the inn tosses you out on your heels. In either case, you’re out of the game. The last conscious player standing, with cash, is the winner.

Classic Articles: A Different Theory of the Japanese Surrender

Did the Soviet Union’s actions influence Truman’s decision-making? ~

Brant Guillory, 8 August 2017

Today is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which is alternately considered both controversial and essential to ending the war.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to hear a talk at the Mershon Center at Ohio State by Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, discussing the impact of the bomb on Japan’s decision to surrender.


I attend[ed] a weekly seminar series at the Mershon Center for Security Studies and Public Policy here at Ohio State University. On some weeks, the seminar coincides with guest speakers. Last week, Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa came to talk, and this is a summary of his narrative. But first, it may be helpful to introduce Dr. Hasegawa by way of his Mershon Center bio:
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa is professor of Modern Russian and Soviet History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His current research interests include the political and social history of the Russian Revolution, focusing on crime and police in Petrograd during the Revolution, March 1917 – March 1918, as well as Soviet military history, collecting materials on V.K. Bliukher. Hasegawa is also studying Russian/Soviet-Japanese relations, especially the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945, Soviet policy toward the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, and the Soviet-Japanese Normalization Talks, 1955-56. Hasegawa has published widely on the Russian and Soviet history, his most major publications being The Northern Territories Dispute and Russo-Japanese Relations. Vol. 1: Between War and Peace, 1967-1985. Vol.2: Neither War Nor Peace, 1985-1998 (UC Berkeley, 1998), Russia and Japan: An unresolved Dilemma between Distant Neighbors, edited with Jonathan Haslam and Andrew Kuchins (UC Berkeley, 1993), and Roshia kakumeika petorogurado no shiminseikatsu [Everyday Life of Petrograd during the Russian Revolution] (Chuokoronsha, 1989). His most recent publication is titled Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (Belknap, 2005). Dr. Hasegawa received his PhD from Washington University in 1969.


Following the fall of Germany in May of ’45, the Allies turned their attention to the three-year old Pacific War. To avoid continued American causalities and bring World War II to a close, Truman ordered the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Conventional American wisdom is that the atomic bomb brought about the fall of Japan, and few American textbooks challenge this idea. However, a Japanese scholar, Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa of UC-Santa Barbara, has published an new book, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, that re-examines the end of World War II through a new perspective on international diplomacy, and comes to the conclusion that although the atomic bomb was certainly a very important factor in ending World War II, it was not the most important one. In fact, it might have caused the U.S. to prolong the war longer than necessary.

Classic Reviews – Empires of the Shining Sea

Bringing back another review, but if you’ve not read it, it’s new to you! ~

Brant Guillory, 10 May 2017

First Impressions: This is a meaty book… for some that’s good, others not so good. Thumbing through the book you find everything but a currency converter. Just out of curiosity, I went to the index to see if there was one I just missed, and, well, darn if the damn book didn’t have an index either. The maps are standard Forgotten Realms maps. Some people like the style, some people loathe the style. On the plus side, anyone who’s ever looked over a Forgotten Realms map before knows what they’re looking at on the map.