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Winterfest: Wargaming’s Mini-Mecca

Pull out of the winter doldrums with a heavy dose of hex-and-counter happiness ~

Gary Mengle, 28 February 2018

A small gathering of wargamers has met in Sandusky, Ohio for the last 21 years. While the Cedar Point amusment park sits frozen just up the road and Sandusky sleeps through its winters, the February weather is ideal for wargaming. The centerpiece is a small handful of monster wargames, with smaller titles played on the side and a variety of pickup games in the evenings, or throughout the day as folks shake loose from their bigger games.

This year the featured monsters were a playtest of OCS Third Winter and a combined La Battaille game of Ligny and Quatre Bras. The venerable Stonewall Jackson’s Way was also played throughout the event, as well as twin games of Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg. Smaller but nevertheless multi-day games included TCS Omaha, OCS Sicily: Triumph & Tragedy, OCS Tunisia II and a double-blind game of Flat Top. Short-format actions included Amateurs to Arms, The Napoleonic Wars, Close Action and Star Fleet Battles. It would be impossible to categorize the sole miniatures game of Teutoburger Wald as “small” but it only took a few hours in each of two playthroughs.

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As you can see from the above list, titles from The Gamers and Multi-Man Publishing were very well-represented, but stuff from GMT, Avalon Hill, Clash of Arms and even ADB got busted out and played. Plans for next year’s games are already afoot. This was my first year in attendance – it won’t be the last. As one of the new guys I was made to feel very welcome, and there was always something available that I wanted to play. Even with an event-long attendance of less than 30, Winterfest is a great little event that you should take a look at if you’re in or near the Midwest or can’t make the annual pilgrimage to Tempe.

More Info:
Winterfest Wargaming
Ardwulf’s Lair


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Monsters of War: Learning Complex Games

How do you eat an elephant? ~

Gary Mengle, 31 July 2017

Many wargamers can hear the quiet siren’s call of the complex monster, the game with a thousand counters and 50+ pages of rules… or more. For those of us who desire simulation over competitive gameplay the song can be particularly strong. Sure, that game of For the People is enjoyable for a long afternoon, but we still thirst for the big, deep, epic, massive game that takes weeks or months and hundreds of hours to play.

 

Even so, most of us have only so much mental space to be taken up with complex rules for multiple games, which I figure is why a lot of ASL players seldom touch other games with similar depth. “Complex” doesn’t equate to “monster,” of course — and ASL is again a great example of that — but in recent years many monsters have also been complex.

Advanced Squad Leader

So how do you approach a game like that? Having learned and forgotten a number of complicated games over the years, here are some time that might help you learn the great beasts of wargaming. These won’t guarantee mastery… but learn the rules and then play, and mastery will come.