Monthly Archives: February 2015

GrogHeads Reviews Making History: The Great War

Before they made the sequel, there was the original World War.  Muzzy Lane’s take on World War I was recently released after a lengthy beta period, and our review teams gives it a go.

Jim Owczarski, 28 February 2015

Designing global strategy games in a digital environment  requires a commitment to both craft and art.  It requires an acute sense of what information, which details, can safely be kept hidden from the player — unless he really wants to know — and those which, if hidden, will leave players screaming at their monitors because they can’t figure out how to do something they really need to do.  More, it requires a careful understanding of how to communicate events going on in the world around the player in ways that don’t introduce absurd tedium — I’m looking right at you Europa Universalis III — while simultaneously preventing head-slapping aggravation when the player suddenly realizes that the Sudan sued for peace in its war against the Anglo-Egyptian government 12 turns ago and he never noticed it.

My respect for what Muzzy Lane attempts in its “Making History: The Great War”, then, is great.  I only wish I could say they’d done a better job in the event.

The topic isn’t a surprising one given the centennial observations of World War I and a number of other developers have offered their takes.  If nothing else, Muzzy Lane’s is familiar as it uses the Sandstone engine previously seen in “The Calm and the Storm” and “The War of the World”.  Players are the now-commonplace nigh-omniscient rulers of nations charged with the building of infrastructure, armies, technologies, and economies, and then guiding those they lead into the tempest of Europe in the years after 1912.  Units are typically “division” sized (more on that in a bit) and the game. which one should note up front is turn-based, runs in one-week turns.

“The Great War” (hereafter TGW) does not skimp on the choice of nations to control.  Every strategy guide you read for games of this type tells you that it’s a bad idea to try and learn a system from some remote corner of the globe, but I already know a great deal about this history of the British, French, German, American, &c., empires and definitely fancied the notion of playing out the first half of the 20th Century from the Emirate of Jabal Shammar

Caption:  You thought I was kidding?

Caption:  You thought I was kidding?

GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #65

GARPA IN SPAAAAACE!  OK, not just in space, but there’s a pair of space games for you this week, along with some OCS action and the non-explosive type of RPG.

Falling Stars: War of Empires (LNLP)
$2600 of $10k, ends 26 March 2015

With its new ownership, LNLP is branching out into digital products, too, and they’ve’ got a 4x space game out there for you to check out.  A strategic game that includes a heavy dose of negotiations with its ‘bartering’ mechanics, Falling Stars gives you more than just a ‘chat with people before you kill them’ vibe for its diplomatic channels.  Check out the Kickstarter page, or find them on Steam Greenlight, and stay tuned to GrogHeads for a preview soon.


Tuesday Screenshot: The Big Boom

It’s still Tuesday somewhere…

Boggit, 24 February 2015

click to enlarge


If you’re gonna boom, make it a big boom


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GrogHeads Reviews Gary Grigsby’s War in the West

The epic struggle drags across Europe

Michael Eckenfels, 21 February 2015

Scratching the proverbial wargaming itch is a difficult proposition. Often, that itch is in the most hard-to-reach place, where only the right combinations will relieve it. I’ve found that most 2 by 3 Games’ products are very akin to the perfect backscratcher…at leastfor me. Some sizes may not fit all, and not all 2 by 3 Games’ products will likely be popular with all wargamers. And yet, with Gary Grigsby’s War in the West (hereafter referred to as WitW), they’ve managed to craft a really good wargame back-scratcher.


Covering major campaigns from 1943 on in Western Europe and North Africa, WitW is all about the struggle of the Western Allies versus the Germans and Italians. The earliest scenario, and conveniently the introductory one, is Operation Husky. With a fairly small number of counters, this simulation of the invasion of Sicily is a great way to get introduced to the system without being overwhelmed. However, there is plenty of detail under the hood (and even quite a bit that spills out from under the hood), which makes the frame in which it is presented so much the better.


Hapless Sicily, the eve before the Allied invasion.

Hapless Sicily, the eve before the Allied invasion.

Classic Reviews: B10 Night’s Dark Terror for D&D

Brant Guillory, 20 February 2015

Outstanding “transition” from dungeon-crawl to explorer and a great campaign starter, if you can find it ~ it’s out of print

click images to enlarge

How many of us have ever embarked on a great fantasy epic and the characters were dead in 20 minutes because we were building our new characters and bit off more than we could chew? How often has the DM/GM been forced to tie together a bunch of trite dungeon crawls together just to have enough of a campaign for the 2nd level characters to wander through? Ever wish you could get those low-level characters out of the “cheese maze” and into the world without getting them quashed in the second encounter?

Have I got a deal for you…

You’ll have to search the out-of-print bins, but this one is well worth the quest.

B10 – Night’s Dark Terror, was written for the original D&D line as the “transition” module from the basic rules (levels 1-3) to the expert rules (levels 4-9). You only need the basic rules to play, but most gamers had ’em all anyway.