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Category Archives: Classic Reviews

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE PRESENTATION

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.

A Look Back at System 7 Napoleonics & Dragon Magazine

A stroll down memory lane to the days when wargaming and RPGs more comfortably co-existed ~

Jim Owczarski, 13 May 2017

I would have thought that after all these years the editors around this joint would have taken a liking to me.  I mean, come on, I’ve written reviews, previews, interviews, and even a travel journal or two, and have yet to get them sued for libel.  This is no small matter in our litigious day and age.

So why, then, does one of them torment me with this:

Classic Reviews – Revisiting “Secret of the Silver Blades”

Back to a classic Forgotten Realms setting ~

Avery Abernethy, 17 April 2017

Secret of the Silver Blades is the SSI Gold Box follow up to Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I enjoyed replaying Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. Both had an interesting overall plot line that engaged me and kept me going through the long series of battles and leveling up my characters. Regretfully, Secret of the Silver Blades has such a poor plot that I could never really engage with it.

In Silver Blades your party (either imported from Azure Bonds or newly rolled-up) teleports naked to village. The village made a sacrifice to a teleporter and your group is hopefully the answer to the prayers of the village. The small town gives your group some pretty nifty equipment. They also heal, identify your magic goodies, and provide basic equipment for free every time you come back to town.

Classic Reviews – Revisiting of Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds in 2017

Checking in on the original digital D&D classics ~

Avery Abernethy, 08 February 2017

The first computer adaptation of the Dungeons and Dragons game was Pool of Radiance released in 1988. The success of Pool of Radiance led SSI to release a series of D&D games often referred to as the “Gold Box” games. Almost thirty years has passed since their release, but they are still sold by www.gog.com in a package containing an additional six titles for $9.99. But are these games worth playing today on a modern computer?

Both Pool of Radiance (Pool) and Curse of the Azure Bonds (Curse) use the first edition D&D rules. These have some confusing conventions for gamers unfamiliar with the system. Armor class starts at 10 for someone with average dexterity wearing normal clothing. Plate Mail and Shield will get most characters to Armor Class 2. But add in magic items and your characters can have negative armor classes, up to -10. When you toss a fireball in this game you need to be able to assess the radius of effect, there is no convenient shadowed outline of the blast radius. Make a mistake and your front line fighters get singed. This will take a bit of refresher reading for someone who played D&D back in the 1980s. Players who never played tabletop D&D or the computer games based off that system will have to study the manual.

Car Wars – A Trip Down The Memory Fast Lane, Part 8

The Car Wars retrospective is back! ~

Michael Eckenfels, 3 February 2016

click most images to enlarge

UNCLE ALBERT’S AUTO STOP & GUNNERY SHOP
2035 CATALOG

UA001

Ah, good ol’ Uncle Albert and his catalogs ‘o death. If the ‘basic’ Car Wars rules just didn’t have enough creative ways to destroy, maim, and otherwise disassemble, the Uncle Albert catalogs certainly helped pad those needs, and then some.

Classic Reviews – Warrior Knights 2nd Ed.

Another throwback to the classic review days of years gone by under another moniker ~

Brant Guillory, 03 January 2017

INTRODUCTION

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.

 

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