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Tag Archives: Ancient

The Tuesday Interview – Bob Smith of Oriental Empires

Bob Smith pays GrogHeads a visit~

Lloyd Sabin (and Boggit!), 3 January 2017

You clearly have a long, proud history in historical PC gaming, which younger readers may not know about. Games like ‘Arnhem,’ ‘Desert Rats,’ and ‘Operation Vulcan’ are remembered very fondly. What is your favorite game of yours from that era and why?

Of the wargames, probably Desert Rats, because I like big sweeping games. Of all the games I did in my first stint as an independent developer, my favorite is probably Armada 2525, because I had so much fun playing it with my friends (who usually used to beat me).

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What were some of the difficulties you faced in the 1980s when producing those early games?

The machines were very limited, you had to think about every byte of RAM. I remember being up at 3am trying to find 3 bytes of memory to finish Desert Rats, with a bike coming at 7 to take the master tape to the duplicators. The development environments were very limited too. I used to write everything out on paper, because the editors were so bad, and once your program got too big to fit into RAM with the assembler, it could take as much as an hour to make a new version.

GrogHeads Holiday Buying Guide 2016

Folks have no idea what to do for the Grog on their lists? Here we come to save the day! ~

GrogHeads Staff, 04 December 2016


This year, we’re leading off with the games, and there’s some excellent ones to choose from this year.  Leading off, we’ve got Mark Walker’s ’65 Squad-Level Combat in Vietnam, a gorgeous card-driven game with the biggest counters this side of…  well, of Night of Man, another FPG offering.  Refight the Vietnam War, one firefight at a time, and if you grab it now, it’s over $20 off!


Mare Nostrum Empires (Academy Games) – First Look!

Picked up over the summer at Origins ~

Brant Guillory, 30 August 2016

Following a massively successful Kickstarter, and some shipping delays as the manufacture of components needed some tweaking, Academy’s reprint of Mare Nostrum, along with the expansions, finally started to get delivered.  Folks who attended Origins were able to pick them up there.  Hot damn!


This gallery includes both the base game Empires (on the right) and the Atlas expansion (left)

GrogHeads Reviews ONUS!

Ancients battling across your tabletop, with minimal prep! ~

Jim Owczarski, 12 March 2016

There are two types of miniatures wargamers. The first is into the assembling, painting, and basing of miniatures for the mad fun of it all.  Actually subjecting their lead, or more recently, plastic, hordes to mere rules in a game can seem secondary; just about everyone who has ever “played” Warhammer 40k leaps to mind.

The other is the sort that loves the aesthetic of so many little men, but, even if he finds the process enjoyable enough, knows that he’ll likely never have the time, space, and resources to play in one of those really big games that show up in rulebooks and convention floors.

Enter Onus! (I will hereafter forgo the exclamation point) by Spanish publisher Draco Ideas.  Originally published in 2014 in a Spanish-language edition, Onus recently emerged from a successful Kickstarter that will, among other things, produce an English-language edition.  What follows is a review of the original version.

The concept behind Onus is simple enough. Most wargames involving miniatures require players to stick their figures onto squares or rectangles to facilitate movement.  Onus skips the bit about miniatures and gives us the bases, made of playing card stock decorated with pictures of the soldiers and bids us have at.  This allows the game to come in a very small package.

Mighty armies, itty-bitty living space

Mighty armies, itty-bitty living space

GrogHeads Reviews 7 Wonders: Duel

Scaled down; still awesome ~

Brant Guillory, 2 March 2016

Folks who pay any attention to my gaming discussion know that I’m crazy about 7 Wonders, the city-building card game from Repos Productions.  It’s a game I could play all day, every day and never get sick of playing.  For all it’s grandeur, however, it had a fatal flaw (and no, not the “Leaders” expansion) – the two-player version sucked.  I mean Aquaman-of-the-70s-level sucked.  Microsoft-Clippy-level sucked.  Panthers-in-the-Fog-review-level…  well, you get the idea.

7 Wonders Duel - COVER7 Wonders scales incredibly well up to 7 players, but is dependent on at least 3 of them being around to play.  The two-player version forced players to alternate playing as a proxy for a third ‘free city’ that affected both players as though a third were sitting there.  It was clunky, and ultimately made for a very poor game.

Some things are clearly kept in the game: cards are color-coded to the type of building in your city (civic, military, science, etc); ‘building chains’ that grant ‘free’ buildings for having earlier ones built; resources needed for construction; and a game played in 3 ages. But to create a two-player version of 7 Wonders that retained the core tension of each turn – do I play this card or let it go and give my opponent a shot at it? – required a significant change in the mechanics.  You couldn’t just hand cards back and forth, because you know what’s coming, and you know what your opponent is going to do with it.  Additionally, with only two players, you only get two wonders.  A game about building the wonders clearly needs more.

7 Wonders Duel solves both problems, and with an elegance that’s almost annoying in how selfish the designers are in hogging two great ideas for one product line.