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Tag Archives: Zabek

GARPA 34 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

Authors: Brant Guillory & Jim Zabek

As Santa’s elves are banging out the last of their projects to be delivered next week there have been a number of game developers who’ve been making similar plans but with the help of crowd-sourced funding. Those of us in the US have even enjoyed a reprieve in the weather, with temperatures around LongBladia managing to briefly climb above freezing. The levels of snow we’ve received could be characterized as harassing fire – enough to cover the lawn and roads but not enough to make the kids happy with a day of school closure. Not to fear, temps are expected to come crashing down soon, but you know what that means: spring can’t be far behind.

Tabletop Games

Castles – A Strategic Card Game by AAIIEEE! GAMES

$7,339 pledged of $2,500 goal ending January 2nd

GARPA-34-Castles-Card-GameIf Castles looks familiar to you, it did to me, too, and for good reason.

Way back in November AAIIEEE GAMES (their capitalization, not mine. Really.) launched Castles as a “Strategic Card Game For Two Players” and set their funding goal at $6000. It failed to come anywhere near that goal, gaining a modest 2,787. Undeterred, the developers have reworked their math and decided that they could make do with backers supplying a more modest goal of $2500 and removing the word “strategic” from their game’s name.

They must be evil geniuses because this time the public got solidly behind them, easily meeting the $2500 goal and – surprisingly – have more than four times the number of original backers have coughed up $7300 worth of support, an amount that would have surely satisfied their first attempt at funding.

Crowd-sourced games can be strange in that way. In any case, if you’re looking for strategic card game for two players, with mild elements of fantasy and some attractive artwork, Castles may be the game for you.


MegaMat Gaming Mat by Frontline Gaming and TABLEWAR

$73,374 pledged of $15,000 goal ending December 22nd

GARPA-34-Megamat-ImageMiniatures gamers are constantly on the prowl for a better mousetrap. Anything which gives their gaming experience an edge is carefully considered for addition to what is likely to already be a well-stocked inventory of gaming accessories. The limits of discretionary income are often the greatest impediment to buying wholesale swathes of accessories for our tables and it is well that we should have limits lest we have no room to store our accumulated treasures.

So it is that I am well aware how tempting it will be to many readers when I place these gaming mats here for your consideration. The creators of the MegaMat have already reached a successful level of funding. Their offering is simple: 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 6’ gaming mats that provide a color base on which to game. So far it appears as though three backgrounds are available: grassy plains and blast zone were the first two mats promised if the minimum fundraising goal was met, with additional plans for more mats to be unlocked as fundraising levels were achieved. Planned stretch goal maps will include urban combat, alpine, and barren wasteland.

The mats have been created by professional game artists and the printed resolution is promised to be at 300 dpi (current test images are said to have been at 150, which already looks quite good).

The material the maps are printed on is similar to that of a mousepad, which provides a flexible material for ease of storage that is also crease resistant, and has a rubber back to help secure it to whatever surface it is placed upon. The mats are also coated with a water-resistant material to help resist stains and keep it clean. If any of these mats needs to be on your gaming table you’d better hurry as the fundraising window is closing rapidly.

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm AAR Part 4

Author: Jim Zabek

At the end of Part 3 I had successfully managed to hold off the initial advance of the Soviets and I was considering advancing the hard core of my defense, a company of Abrams tanks, to catch either the Soviet HQ undefended or a southern thrust on its flank. Let’s see how that plan survives contact with the AI…

Turn 8 – 28 minutes elapsed

Now I get busy with orders. First I call in some mines to be dropped in front of the tanks in the north that are heading south. If I’m lucky the tanks will walk into the hex before I drop the mines – a favorite tactic.

Next I order a barrage on the suspected recce/HQ unit in the woods near my own recce unit. They didn’t seem inclined to move much so I’m hoping to catch them even if I can’t see them. Then I order my mechanized units in the south to start moving around. All are ordered east, in a push to recapture lost VPs. The 1000 point VP east of Rodgau is a favorite hide of a Soviet HQ unit. In the past they’ve protected that guy with some serious artillery which directly supports it, so when those units start moving (it’ll probably be a turn or two) I’ll want to hit it with artillery as soon as I’m able.

Mechanized units in the south start to move east.

Mechanized units in the south start to move east.

The last piece of the puzzle is the MLRS. I have several targets to choose from. Finally I decide to use saturation fire on the units to the northeast of Dudenhofen. It’s just a hunch but they look like they’re moving and my sense is I can do some serious harm right here and now.

I hit start to watch the action unfold.

The recce units’ luck runs out. Several Soviet artillery barrages catch them and blast them something good. It hurts.

Soviet Artillery rain on my engineers to the north but fortunately it does no lasting harm.

Then my MLRS arrives and multiple blasts across multiple hexes confirms that I made a good decision.

The MLRS delivers another round of pain.

The MLRS delivers another round of pain.

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm AAR Part 3

Author: Jim Zabek

When we left off at the end of Turn 4 (and Part 2 for those of you keeping track) the Soviets were just beginning to show up in force. I decided to take a chance and drop some saturation fire on a suspected stack of Soviet units and the results were satisfying, if not spectacular. There were some sharp exchanges between my units and the lead Soviet units but I know that in this scenario we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. As Turn 5 unfolds the action is about to get even hotter…

Turn 5 – 25 minutes elapsed

Once again the action gets crazy. All kinds of shooting opens up around the center and the south. My feisty recce team spots some mechanized units moving north and takes them under fire, then scoots away.

My recce units fire on some Soviets advancing to the north.

My recce units fire on some Soviets advancing to the north.

What’s important to note now is that so far the Soviets have barely fired back. They’ve done zero damage to me so far. But that’s about to change. Their artillery will be arriving soon and we’re going to see things get messy.


My M1s light up advancing Soviets.

Tuesday Screenshot – Horus Heresy Unboxing


The Horus Heresy, mine at last. Long have I craved to defend Holy Terra from the traitorous Horus and now, with my faithful companion, Brother Librarian Boudreaux, we shall turn back history and defeat Horus, saving the Empire and driving the forces of Chaos back into the Void where they belong.

Share your own unboxing photos here >>


Grogheads Buying Guide – Holiday 2013

Grogheads Buying Guide – Holiday 2013

 Authors: Brant Guillory and Jim Zabek

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Once again we, or our loved ones, will be faced with attempting to find something for at least one person who either has everything, or is so eclectic that they’re difficult to buy for. What to do? At Grogheads we have a tradition of suggesting a few things that you may not have seen at the mall. Conversely, if your loved ones are struggling to find you something and you are a regular at Grogheads, you’re probably not too interested in most of the things at the mall. Game stores can be intimidating to those not used to frequenting them. So we’ve done some recon on your behalf. We hope you’ll find at least a few things that will save time or be something for that someone who isn’t easy to buy for.


Hardcore boardgamers can be notoriously difficult to shop for. Unless you game with them you’re probably at a loss as to where to start. Here are some great games which, if they don’t have them, they probably should.

Dan Verssen Games Thunderbolt Apache Leader

Thunderbolt Apache Leader was designed from the ground up to be a solo game. A solid wargame about close air support on the modern battlefield, it is perfect for a boardgamer to break when other gamers can’t make it through the snow. Multiple scenarios and campaigns make this highly replayable, and there are even some miniatures that can be purchased to further up the immersion.

Counter Cutters


Some folks like neat, clean lines on their boardgame counters. If they’ve been using nail clippers to get cleaner counters maybe it’s time to get them something actually built for the job. Here are some counter clippers, both large and small sizes, to help expedite their quest for order.

First Strike ‘62

Perfect for the Cold Warrior, First Strike ’62 simulates the Cold War going hot with wings of bombers flying over the poles to deliver their payloads. Here is where the strategic might of the air forces come into their own. ICBMs and bombers will cross the sky in a race to see who might “win” the unthinkable struggle of nuclear war.

GARPA 33 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

Author: Jim Zabek

Winter isn’t coming, it has arrived. The Landgrave of LongBladia is expecting tonight’s temperatures to fall into the low teens. Bitterly cold? I’m thinking we’re getting there.

To warm your hearts, if not your hearths, we’ve selected a few crowd-funded games to please the forward-looking gamer seeking to invest in a project with the hope of a grand return. Whether you consider this goal modest or grandiose, that is our mission the each GARPA column and we hope we live up to your expectation.

Digital Games

Approaching Infinity by Bob Saunders

$6,089 pledged of $5,000 goal ending December 11th

Approaching Infinity Garpa 33“Roguelike” is a term that often gets batted about. It’s a genre well-loved and much aspired to by gamers and developers alike. Approaching Infinity is a Roguelike 2D retro game of space exploration. With procedurally generated environments the universe is infinitely scalable, which means that it literally has no end. As the player increases is power and reaches further into the virtual universe, the game scales with him – without end.

The funding goal has been met which means that the developer is now working on code for the Mac platform. The PC code is already a given, and a demo can be found here: http://ibol17.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/approaching-infinity-v0-0-6-is-live/. If you’re looking for a retro 2D space exploration game that can go on forever, Approaching Infinity is approaching the end of its funding time, so check it out before it ends. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/181428952/approaching-infinity-a-space-adventure-roguelike

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm AAR Part 2

Last week our TANKSgiving AAR was Part 1 of my Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm game. In Part 1 I discussed the scenario, how I’d played it before, what I expected and what I expected to be surprised by, and we got as far as the first turn, where unsurprisingly, not much happened besides the rain lifting earlier than expected.

Part 2 promises to be more interesting. Let’s pick up the game as Turn 2 unfolds and see what happens.

Turn 2 – 26 minutes elapsed

The Soviets trip more mines. Good. I detect mines going off in the north but am blind as to what kinds of forces might be scouting around there. Time will tell.

16 minutes into the turn I can tell several of my minefields have been cleared – even as others continue to slow the Soviet advance and inflict casualties. I’m not sure if this is a feature or a bug (knowing that the fields have been cleared). It doesn’t have a bearing on my game, but is interesting to know.


The yellow hexes indicate cleared minefields.

The turn ends. I know they’re coming. The suspense builds.

Turn 3 – 25 minutes elapsed

Note that my decision cycle has decreased from 26 minutes to 25. It’s a small change, but it’s going in the right direction.

I check the LOS of my recce platoon. We’ve got a nice bead on the road. This is excellent. I’m going to assign one of my M109A2 to direct support them, that way they can (hopefully) call in some thunder on the unsuspecting Soviet units. And with that I start the turn.

Checking the LOS. With the rain lifting early this gives me an advantage.

Checking the LOS. With the rain lifting early this gives me an advantage.

Drat! Just a couple of minutes into the game the Soviets take the 800 point VP south of my recce units. They should have been able to see those units. That means despite their enhanced scouting abilities they’re too far out to do anything. I still believe they’re in the right spot to cause some havoc, but clearly it won’t be this turn.

Suddenly a scout unit appears out of the woods on the approach to Weiskirchen. My mechanized units immediately fire on it. This is one of the great things I enjoy about Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm – the action unfolds almost like a movie. I issue orders but I don’t fire each shot. The game resolves each turn like a video and I get to sit back and await the results. The probing unit weathers several rocket shots but then an M1 takes it into its sights and it is blown away.


The loss of an 800 VP hex in the south and the appearance of a scouting unit in the north tell me the Soviets have arrived.

But now there’s some trouble just slightly further north. 21 mechanized units approach and threaten the other 800 point VP. I can’t worry about the VP right now – the pressing concern is to crush that unit before more of its friends show up.

That's a lot of Soviet armor up north. Could be a recon-in-force or the main thrust of the Soviet line of advance.

That’s a lot of Soviet armor up north. Could be a recon-in-force or the main thrust of the Soviet line of advance.

Now things start to get interesting. A FIST starts firing on the mechanized unit to the north, dropping it from 21 vehicles to 12; I think – a second unit shows up and it’s difficult to follow exactly which unit is taking what damage. A second unit appears and now there are 12 in one stack and 19 in another. The game has some built-in ambiguity so variations in the reported size and composition of the opfor is rarely certain this early in the game.

More Soviets up north.

More Soviets up north.

But that’s not all. 16 units have appeared in the south. A mouseover indicates there are some tanks but also a number of HQ units. If that’s true, it’s too good to pass up. I think I know where my MLRS is going to introduce itself.

But wait! There's more!

But wait! There’s more!

Even more interesting – five tanks appeared near my recce team, which immediately fire on them. That’s bad, as I would rather have had them scouting than revealing themselves. The good news is that after firing they immediately start to withdraw. Unfortunately they are withdrawing to a location that can be spotted by the southern unit. Hopefully they won’t be seen.

In any case, I’m going to bring the rain. The MLRS is ordered to saturation fire on the units to the south. If those really are HQ units, I need to take them out, or at least degrade them severely. Probably the sighting is spurious, but it’s the best I have for now, so I let ‘er rip. I also order on of my artillery units to use neutralizing fire to drop on the tanks in the middle. In all likelihood that’s also an HQ unit and I’d rather give them a bad day if possible, too. If I’m correct and these are HQ units I should see a change for the worse in their decision cycle, which is estimated to be 34 minutes.

Hey kids, can you spell MLRS?

Hey kids, can you spell MLRS?

Well, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Let’s see how this goes. I start up the next turn.

Turn 4 – 25 minutes elapsed

The stack of 17 units in the middle takes a hard right and disappears heading to the north. They’re about to have a bad day.

To the south the recce guys aren’t concerned with stealth – they start firing on the unit that’s about to get some saturation fire. I’m of a mixed mind there. On one hand it’s good to just get some shooting going. Hopefully they’ll draw some other units closer who may get wrapped up with the saturation fire. On the other hand, I’m afraid that recce team is about to pay for their ferocity. The only assets they have right now are artillery. That may not be enough to save them.

A feisty recce company announces that they're ready to play.

A feisty recce company announces that they’re ready to play.

Next I see the 12 units turn right and head north. This is bad. My engineers are not likely to survive that kind of pounding. I may need to send some units up there to bail them out – assuming that I don’t have my hands full next turn.

Then the artillery starts to fall. The four unit of tanks in the middle takes no damage. They appear to have moved. That reinforces my suspicion that they’re an HQ. Down south we have a bit more luck. There are several explosions on the 800 VP hex as well as some damage to the stacks I can see. Excellent. Next turn I have to wait for the MLRS to move (they’ll automatically shift position after firing unless I interrupt them with an order). Then I’ll order them to resupply so we can rock some more worlds. This will take a couple of turns but will be well worth it.


When the artillery is called, Mr. MLRS is not anyone’s friend.

Then a double stacked unit appears in the center. I can see 21 units. I can’t see beneath it, but it’s clear that I’ve got some action going on in the center. Then three recce units appear on the southern road in the middle. That’s a juicy target, too, but we’ll see how the guys on the ground prioritize their fire. I sit back and watch the fireworks.

Juicy recce units in the middle.

Juicy recce units in the middle.

From the north suddenly some units appear. It looks like they decided to take me head on. I can’t be sure that is all the units I saw moving north but I’d rather they bunched up as they are now. (image 34)

Then the fireworks break out. The action is too busy to call every shot. There is a ton of fire in the center and it appears as part of the process the recce team is taking out. Down south I see lots of movement and the loss of another VP as the Soviets move west. That’s fine – I have a warm reception committee waiting for them. Another piece of good news – my recce team is doing an excellent job of shoot-and-scoot. They fire, then bug out so they don’t get trapped by any ground units taking them under fire or by artillery. This is perfect. Looks like they’ll survive a few more turns.


The reception committee down south.

With the round over it’s far too early to take stock of what’s going on. My own artillery has shifted positions. Now I’m going to order the MLRS to resupply. At the end of the turn I don’t have any enemy units in sight, but I know there are a number of them around the middle objective. Figure 37 shows the number of crosses on the map designating destroyed enemy units. There are a lot, but we’re nowhere near finished.

I start the next turn – but you’ll have to tune in next week to see how it unfolds…

Discuss this AAR in our forums >>

Tuesday Screenshot – Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm


I don’t know where this bridge is. It is a long way from my humble cobbler’s shop on the outskirts of Ruzayevka. We have seized another nameless bridge, crossed another blood-cloggingly cold river, and are trying to drive the Germans out of our land so that we can go back worthless Five Year Plans, endless speeches from Stalin, and bottomless bottles of vodka. All I seek after a long day of fixing soles on shoes that have never stepped in a pool of blood is some hot sausage and kraut, a stiff drink, and a big bosomed woman willing to share my creaky bed. God I hate this war.