Monthly Archives: January 2014

GARPA 37 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

This week’s GARPA?  A few nifty KickStarter projects, and the pre-order of a reprint that’s kicking butt.


Ares Magazine (One Small Step)
$18,200 of $25,000, Ends 3 February 2014

Remember Ares Magazine?  The guys over at One Small Step sure do, and they’re bringing it back.  They’ve got a KickStarter project to, well, kickstart the printing and distributing of the new magazine.  They promise to include a game in each issue, and the first issue is a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion of London.  You can also pick up the fiction-only version of the magazine, if you’re interested in saving a few bucks and skipping the game.  But hurry – time’s running out on the campaign, and they need some help to get over the final hump!  Head over to KickStarter and get your pledge in now >>


Board Games

G37-HunterThe Hunters – 2d Printing (Consim Press and GMT)
278 Orders on p500 – Not there yet

This well-honored game from Consim Press – it ran away with two categories in our Readers Choice Awards – sold out the first printing rather quickly, and demand for a second printing has been building.  Take command of a U-boat and patrol your way to glory through the dangerous waters of WWII.  It’s a solitaire game, so you always have an opponent, and take its inspiration from the venerable B17 Queen of the Skies game for the feel of the game the designers were after.  It’s on p500, and with a successful print run already under its belt, it’s unlikely to need 500 orders to make the cut, but it cold still use some nudging from y’all to move it along, so hit the p500 page and make your pledge today >>

Prosciutto – Hamming it up with the di Parmas… Part Two-Zero

Kicking off our second “decade” of the long-running Crusader Kings II AAR that you know you love to read.

as always, click images to enlarge

In Part 19 we saw Oberto defeat the pitiful armies of the Duchess of Amalfi, watched the Duchies of Capua and Genoa go up for grabs, and witnessed the King of Sicily lose to the Muslims, thus weakening his realm. In Part 20 Oberto employs the most efficient Chancellor in the Kingdom – ever, gets told off by the Emperor, and realises the errors of his kindness.


Its official, Oberto gets to don the Golden band of Power in all his state photos. Death to the Count, long live the Duke (we get a fancy new flag too)


Oberto considers stripping Carla of her title, but too many vassals will get grumpy, and having just adopted them, now is not the time

The GrogHeads Call for Research (again!)

GrogHeads Staff, 29 January 2014

Hobby games and gamers – especially in the strategy gaming and wargaming world – have rarely been the subjects of much serious published research inquiry. And yet, some of us know from personal experience that such research is, in fact, being conducted in graduate schools and academic institutions all over.  Distinct from marketing analyses in that they are not focused on improving commercial performance, these studies are frequently conceptualized and executed by members of the broader gaming community who are seeking to fuse their love for the hobby with an academic pursuit in the social sciences or humanities.

Although there are a few academic outlets for such research – the journal Simulation & Gaming springs to mind – not every paper was written with the intention of journal or conference submission. Nevertheless, the research is still interesting and useful, and for GrogHeads everywhere it is certainly relevant. Papers shared may inspire better research by later investigators, and the ideas discussed may help designers and developers craft better games.

A Review of GMT’s A Distant Plain

Brant tackles GMT’s latest COIN series game, A Distant Plain, and reports from the front.

GrogHeads has covered A Distant Plain with an interview with the designers, and the photos of the unboxing.  All well and good, of course, but how does it play?

There are several reasons why A Distant Plain can be tough to review.  That said, they are all the same reasons that make it a compelling game.  How many multiplayer wargames have you played where the players are not simply extensions of a team, but rather working at cross purposes as often as not?  How many wargames have you played with an elastic time scale?  How many wargames eschew anything resembling unit factors or quantified values?  And now take all those tweaks and roll them into a single game, and drop into an ongoing conflict whose outcomes are not yet truly determined.


The Story

There are four players: The Coalition, The Government, The Taliban, and the Warlords.  Of these, the Taliban are the only one for whom you can draw a reasonably straight line directly from the real life organization in Afghanistan directly to a game role.  The Government essentially represents the Karzai administration, but there are game effects that seem to clearly outstrip the existing government’s capabilities.  The Coalition is a mix of ISAF, the US, some NGO capabilities, and other external actors attempting to influence actions in Afghanistan.  Finally, the greatest amalgam – the Warlords – are the ultimate ‘floater’ faction representing a collection of decidedly non-aligned ‘real’ actors who nevertheless represent a unified set of goals within the mechanics of the game.

The varying scenarios allow you start the war in 2002, 2005, or 2009, but all tend to end around 2013 or so.  Obviously, the 2009 scenario is the quickest of them, but any of them will take most of an afternoon, if not more.


The setup for the “surge” scenario, starting in 2009.


Opening the Box

We’ve covered the unboxing before, but to save you jumping to the link, here’s what you get: a solid, 8-panel, mounted, folding map with a ton of useful marginal tracks, boxes, and record-keeping tools; a single sheet of mounted, die-cut counters that are virtually all administrative in nature; a bag of Euro-game-ish markers for the players, representing bases and forces; some dice and pawns; a bunch of plastic bags; the deck of cards used to drive the game along; and a ton of very clear, useful, and well-designed player cards that clearly lay out what players can do on any given turn.

World at War: Blood and Bridges and Operation Garbo – First Impressions!

Michael Eckenfels takes a look at two of Lock’n’Load’s key expansions to the World at War universe

Lock ‘N Load’s World at War series is a huge compendium of NATO vs. Warsaw Pack wargaming goodness, with several titles detailing that hypothetical conflict. In this First Impressions article, we’re taking a look at both Blood and Bridges and Operation Garbo as they are unboxed.

Click images to enlarge.  A lot.


Blood and Bridges has what I’d think of as a ‘standard’ size wargame box, with Garbo being a bit smaller in both height and width. That’s a little annoying to someone as anal as I am when it comes to storing and displaying games (as well as books, actually), but that’s about the only bad thing I can say (and it’s not even THAT bad). The artwork, done by veteran artist Marc von Martial, is his usual high standard of excellence.