Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tuesday Screenshot – War of the Vikings Beta


These oak-hearted warriors
Lured me to this land
With promise of choice drinks
Now I could curse this country!
For I, the helmet-wearer,
Must now grovel at a spring
And wield a water pail
No wine has touched my lips.

– Eirik’s Saga

Life is not easy for a Viking. Even as we face the Saxons life is a struggle. They do not want us on their lands and the fighting is tough. We only ask to keep what we can take, but the taking is difficult from foe-men as these.

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Interview with COL(R) Eric Walters, USMC

This month, we have a fantastic interview with retired USMC Colonel Eric Walters.  Well-known in professional wargaming circles as a supporter for great integration of wargames into training, COL(R) Walters graciously gave us a few minutes of his week to answer some questions and tell some war stories.

Interview by Brant Guillory, 9 November 2013


Can you give us a little bit of your military background in the Marines? And don’t be afraid to get technical – our audience is pretty savvy on organizational details!

I first joined as a tank officer and served as both a tank platoon and an amphibious tractor platoon commander, subsequently serving as a company commander in a maintenance battalion.  I switched my Military Occupational Specialty to serve as a Marine Air Group Task Force Intelligence Officer and I did that job the last 25 years of my career.  In that job I was lucky enough to serve in a wide variety of positions at that tactical , joint task force, subunified and unified command, and national levels.  Most recently I served as the Director of Intelligence for the largest humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operation in the world—the aftermath of the 26 Dec 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—and as the senior intelligence officer for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  One of my bosses at 3d MAW, Charlie Bolden, is presently serving as the Director of NASA, while my wartime commander, Jim “Tamer” Amos, is now Commandant of the Marine Corps.  I guess they somehow succeeded in spite of me!

I did two “wargaming” tours in the military.  One was as the intelligence officer for the II MEF Wargaming Center, basically designing Command Post eXercises (CPX) using computer wargames, manual wargames, and Tactical Exercises Without Troops (TEWTs) where only command posts went to the field to practice combat decisionmaking.  The second was as the intelligence planner for the world’s largest CPX in Korea, ULCHI-FOCUS LENS; my job was writing the exercise scenario, designing the simulation-intelligence system interfaces, and executing intelligence control during the conduct of the exercise.


How did you pick up wargaming as hobby and how did you start to integrate wargaming into your assignments within the Marines?

In 1973 or so I was a young teenage model ship builder and went to a hobby store to purchase yet another 1:700 waterline series plastic kit of a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier when I spied a copy of Avalon Hill’s MIDWAY game.  I bought that instead of the model kit and subsequently became obsessed with wargaming, never building another plastic model ship again.  I used wargaming as a junior officer to teach Marines tactics and was lucky that the institution had its own manual games it employed in training.  In the late 1980s we used a military miniatures game played on molded plastic terrain boards, TACWAR, to teach tactics from company to battalion level.  We had a board game system called STEEL THRUST to exercise regimental and division staffs, played on paper maps.  It took a lot of training and practice to use these wargame-based training devices well.  Far more popular was the computer-assisted CPX supported by the Tactical Warfare Simulation Evaluation and Analysis System (TWSEAS) since it didn’t take a lot of customer unit familiarization training and overhead to use.

COL Walters deep in thought, commanding the Brits at PrezCon 2007

COL Walters deep in thought, commanding the British and Hessians at the Battle of Brandywine at PrezCon 2007

GARPA 31 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

Authors: Lloyd Sabin and Jim Zabek

Next Monday, November 10th, will mark the 38th anniversary of the date the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank. What does that have to do with this latest installment of GARPA? Not much, as best I can figure, other than that the gales of November seem to have come early again this year. At least around these parts, it’s colder, windier, and wetter than usual and Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics were ringing in my ears as I sat down to start to pen this edition of GARPA on a Tuesday night. Rest assured we’ll be checking the various crowd-funded sites up until the last hours that we publish – but on a cold fall day it seemed like a good time to start my search for the next column.


Tide of Iron core set & Stalingrad expansion by 1A Games LLC

$9,088 pledged of $22,000 ending November 26th

GARPA-31-Tide-of-Iron-RelaunchBack in 2006 Fantasy Flight Games launched Tide of Iron. Set during the Second World War, it was a wargamer’s dream: big maps, lots of minis, and a fun rule system. Now out of print, 1A Games is attempting to bottle some of the magic, but in a smaller box.

Their relaunch of Tide of Iron doesn’t attempt to change the game, but rather enhance it. They are offering tutorial scenarios in a smaller size to help ease players into the game in a more streamlined fashion.

In addition, 1A already has an expansion to Tide of Iron on the way in the form of a Stalingrad game. However, to generate some extra excitement 1A is offering some Kickstarter-exclusive items for the Stalingrad expansion. These include Special Operations cards, Initiative cards, and even exclusive minis such as the sIG 33B. Stretch goals have already been established in case they get overfunded.

With the original Tide of Iron out of print 1A is hoping to sell copies of its game to folks who missed getting in on the action of the original. And players who own the original will have the ability to buy some of the cool new items on an a la cart basis for a modest pledge level. If any of this sounds tempting head over to 1A’s Kickstarter page and check it out.

 WARFIGHTER – The Tactical Special Forces Card Game by Dan Verssen Games

$12,841 of $7,000 ending November 27th

GARPA-31-WarfighterDan Vessen has found a sweetspot on Kickstarter. His Cards of Cthulhu was well overfunded, and that wasn’t his first success. Warfighter launched this week and within three days it was already fully-funded and kicking in the doors of a number of stretch goals with nothing but good stuff to come.

A card-driven game of modern warfare it can be played either solo or with up to six players. It is a cooperative game where players work together to attempt to accomplish missions. Players equip each soldier with a variety of loadouts. Players select a mission randomly which assigns the number of resource points the squad can use. If this sounds familiar to Dan Verssen Games it’s because it is. The technique has been used in other games including Thunderbolt Apache Leader. In Warfighter the player(s) select soldiers and the soldier skills, weapons, and equipment they’ll take with them. Each selection costs a number of resource points to keep the game challenging – you can take everything you want so you have to choose wisely to bring what you need.

The stretch goals have already unlocked campaign rules and bullet-shaped dice. Further goals are hoped to include miniature figures, so players should keep an eye on Warfighter to see what other goodies may be on offer.

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm – Part 5 of 5

Scenario: 11 Bravo

Author: Al Sandrik

During Part 4 the battle for Michelbach turned into a raging fight. Some badly needed reinforcements arrived in the form of Cobra attack helicopters. Meanwhile my American forces blasted the Soviet attack from three sides. Just as I had identified the position of the Soviet HQ and started to bombard it with artillery the Soviets began to withdraw and the game’s rules kicked in ending the scenario despite the fact that there were still eight hours on the clock.

Turn 8, 09:50-Conclusion: Well my instincts with respect to the Soviet position were good and after a few more rounds flew the Soviet point units began pulling back and the following message was received in Comms (figure 25).

Figure 25

Figure 25

So now that the battle is over how did I do?  A review of the Tactical Operations Center (TOC, Figure 26) indicates my defense achieved a 73 percent rating for a “Decisive Success.”

Figure 26

Figure 26

As you could expect  the Soviet TOC results (Figure 27) were as lopsided as the American’s with the Soviets suffering a Decisive Loss and loosing  5 Recce, 18 Helo, 78 Tank, 98 APC, 65 Inf, 5 SP AT, 24 HQ, 12 AD and 11 SP Arty enemy subunits.

Figure 27

Figure 27

A finial look at the battlefield before the Soviet began to pull back to more defensive positions (Figure 28)

Figure 28

Figure 28


Conclusions: It is my hope that I was able to both illustrate both the rich detail in the game and the amount of planning that one can (should) conduct to (successfully) play the game. Like I said, FPC:RS is an easy game to get into but there is a wealth of detail to master. I have found the more thoroughly I plan and analyze the battlefield situation, just as my real world counterparts must, the greater my chances of victory (whether I play as NATO or the Soviets).  I would say I personally spend anywhere between one half hour to an hour analyzing the tactical situation and OB/OOB before I even begin to deploy my units. Personally, I enjoy that type of analysis and I hope you enjoy playing FPC:RS as much as I have enjoyed play testing it!

Good luck, Commander!

Al Sandrik

Tuesday Screenshot – Skyrim

click to enlarge


Is there a game that makes you feel like more of a badass than Skyrim? If so I would like to meet it. Look at that shot…it makes me feel Zod-like. Is there anyone within Skyrim to even challenge me?

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