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Tag Archives: Age of Gunpowder

The Tuesday Interview – Bloody Monday with Ventonuovo

Cyrano pulls up his Napoleonic britches for a chat about Borodino ~

Jim Owczarski, 4 April 2017

Vento Nuovo made no small statement when it blew into wargaming back in 2012 with Blocks in the East.  A big, colorful map; hundreds of wooden blocks and other pieces; and an area-movement system that felt just friendly enough while at the same time satisfying wanna-be von Brauchitsch’s everywhere; marked it as a strong new-comer.  Now seven games on, the Blocks in… system covers the whole of the ETO, it’s released Gortex game maps big enough to sleep under, and it even found time to release a game about the greatest battle of all time, Waterloo 200. (Author’s Note:  Favorably reviewed here)

For his second run into the 19th Century, designer Emanuele Santandrea has chosen to have a go at Borodino, the climactic struggle between Napoleon and the Emperor of Russia that in many ways ended the First Empire.  The game, Bloody Monday, Napoleon at the Gates of Moscow, has already hit its funding goal, so it was particularly nice of him to answer a few questions about his design philosophy, why Borodino, and the difference between Goretex and Magnatex.

The KickStarter, by the by, is here:  Bloody Monday, Napoleon at the Gates of Moscow

Vento Nuovo has had quite a few recent successes on KickStarter and has become well known, certainly in wargame circles.  Who, though, is on the team behind Bloody Monday?

Well, the list is so long I’m sure I will forget somebody. I can name Luca Preda, Jim O’Neill, Flip Labarque, Paul Comben, and Kevin Duke. But that’s just a part.

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Commands & Colors: Napoleonics – EPIC!

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.

GrogHeads Reviews High Treason!

See you in court! ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 February 2017

Function before form!

Function before form!

My love of the Napoleonic era is high, wide, and deep, but I’ve always taken the age of empire to be my second true love, if such a thing can be countenanced.  Much of my early study of the era came from Jan Morris’ Pax Britannica trilogy, particularly the first volume, Heaven’s Command.  Far from an academic exercise, it’s an evocative series of sketches of the men and women who peopled the British empire, giving more weight, it has always seemed to me, to the interesting as opposed to the more objectively significant, although one can certainly be both.

Modern-Day Napoleonic Battles & Travels, Part the Second

Cyrano’s next entry to the travelogue ~

Jim Owczarski, 05 November 2016

One of the great joys of travel is discovering something you never thought to find.  This is particularly true for me if it’s something that runs the risk of being lost to time or cultural preference.  A good example is the small memorial sign atop the Stare Vinohrady (Old Vineyard) at Austerlitz.  For all the effort that went into making the battlefield ready for the 200th anniversary back in 2005, it seems no one bothered to put up something more permanent than a simple metal sign, painted white-on-blue, and mounted on two stakes at the site of one of the greatest cavalry charges in history.

Admittedly, depending on how one gets up there, the route to the top of the Stare Vinohrady can be quite the hike and, based on the fair number of beer bottles and cigarette butts in evidence, it seems a popular location for late night fire pits and drink-a-thons.  Still, not long after I laid eyes on the sign — and worked my way through a rough translation of its Czech inscription — I was determined at least to leave it standing and its restoration, however brief, is something I will always remember.

There, better!

There, better!

GrogHeads Reviews 1775: Rebellion, Digital Version

Ardwulf makes a guest appearance with his review of HexWar’s new adaptation of Academy Games’ 1775: Rebellion.  How does the boardgame translate to the computer? ~

Gary Mengle, 28 October 2016

1775: Rebellion, from boardgame publisher Academy Games and PC developer HexWar and now available through Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux, sits uncomfortably between the kindred worlds of board and PC strategy gaming. An adaptation of Academy’s well-regarded Euro-style board game on the American Revolution, it translates the source material very faithfully but will leave PC-focused strategy gamers unsatisfied.

1775 tells the story of America’s revolution against the British Empire. There are seats for two teams of four players each, but the game can just as easily accommodate two players taking both sides of their team. French and Hessian units can enter play on the sides of the Americans and British, respectively, while Native American units can enter play or become controlled by one or both sides.

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Classic Reviews: Cactus Throne

Against the Odds Magazine

Against the Odds Magazine

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

INTRODUCTION

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.

GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #96

GARPA comes back with a couple of new pre-order offerings for you ~

GrogHeads Staff, 16 September 2016

 

HOLDFAST: ATLANTIC and HOLDFAST: PACIFIC (Worthington Games)
$33500 of $10k, ends 24 SEP 2016

Worthington takes their popular block-based Holdfast series from big land wars (Korea, Russia) and heads to sea, as WWII comes back to life on your tabletop with this new pair of games.  The influence of the classics War at Sea and Victory in the Pacific is obvious, but with the fog of war that block games can give you.  Big region-based maps, and low-complexity gameplay get gamers into the action as fast as possible, and let armchair admirals focus on the war and not the rulebook.  Steam over to their pledge page and fire your salvo at their Kickstarter campaign.

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Modern-Day Napoleonic Battles & Travels, Part the First

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.