Monthly Archives: May 2016

GrogHeads Fiction: Just When I Thought I Was Out

An adventure for your weekend ~

Jonathan S. Pembroke, 28 May 2016

I straightened my back and looked out over the churned earth and fresh-plowed rows of the field. I leaned on my hoe, wiped the sweat from my brow, and savored my accomplishment as the sun slid towards the horizon. I’ve always derived deep satisfaction from the labor of an honest day’s work and there are some things you want to do with your own two hands.fic-Pembroke-headshot

A slight breeze ruffled my hair, reminding me that the early spring evenings tended towards the cool side. I gave the field one last look and returned to my porch.

The top step squeaked but I barely heard it; in truth, I’d ignored the loose nail for so long it felt wrong to fix it. As I stepped up, Trio raised his head. His tail thumped a greeting against the boards. I stooped, scratched his ears, and sought my rickety rocking chair. My pipe lay in the seat. I stuck the tip between my teeth and focused my eyes on the bowl. A brief spark flickered and a stream of smoke rose from the tobacco. I inhaled, relishing the warmth as the sweet smoke filled my lungs. The breeze blew again, mixing with soft sounds of clucking chickens as they sought their roosts for the night.

Trio sat up, ears erect. A soft growl escaped his lips. “Easy, boy,” I said. He fell silent but continued to gaze into the trees. I shrugged; whatever was out there would show itself soon enough.

A horse neighed in the distance. A moment later, a party of riders emerged from the tree line beyond my fallow field. I counted nine. It was a large enough party to travel safely through the valley and enough to challenge me, had they caught me by surprise.

The band trotted up to my house without hesitation. The foremost wore the standard of a snarling white tiger on a field of green. He was a middle-aged man and rode with confidence. The group stopped and the leader dismounted.

Trio stood at his approach and growled again. Several of the man’s companions reached for their weapons but he waved them down. He stopped short of the porch and said, “Do I have the honor of addressing the Royal Mage Vetterex?”

Gaming Nostalgia – Shiloh

#TBT at GrogHeads!

Big ads - in color! - were usually reserved for covers, since interiors were back and white.

Big ads – in color! – were usually reserved for covers, since interiors were back and white.

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Tracer Rounds: Wargaming the Soft Factors

What aren’t we training, and why not? ~

Brant, 23 May 2016

The US military has a wargaming problem.  Well, honestly, they’ve got a bunch, but we’re only going to focus on one specific problem in this column.  And I have no idea if other militaries suffer from a similar problem, so I’ll let our international readers (both of you!) chime in with your thoughts if you’ve got some inside information.TR-sim-map

The core of the issue is this:  US military games don’t account for soft factors, like morale, training, esprit de corps, technical competence of the commander, or simple soldier skills, among literally dozens of others.

Look, we know that not all units are created equal and that not all leaders are equally competent.  But there’s never a platoon of morons in a JANUS exercise, and at BCBST, you’re never allowed to stick C CO in the rear of the march column because if they were out front they’d be the most likely to get lost en route.  Well, you’re allowed to stick them in the rear, but if the evaluators ask you why, you’d better not give that answer, because how dare you accurately assess a weakness of a subordinate unit and then develop a plan to minimize the exposure to that weakness (and isn’t that a real piece of risk management?).

The Battle of Waterloo: A Comparative Exercise, Part 2

Our resident Napoleonicist continues to compare all things Waterloo side-by-side, and ratcheting up the difficulty level on the games ~

Jim Owczarski, 21 May 2016

The nice part about doing a series is one can leave aside the preliminary pleasantries and leap to the business at hand.  For those who missed the first journey into the world of wargaming Waterloo (I may need to trademark alliteration that strong), it’s here.

For those already up to speed, what follows is a discussion of some of the medium-weight games to take up this greatest of battles.

It may surprise some that I do not find Richard Borg’s Command and Colors: Napoleonics to be a light wargame.  It is, after all, the direct descendant of Memoir ’44, likely the greatest gateway wargame ever made.  It borrows its predecessor’s left-center-right battlefield construction; units, though blocks and not little plastic man, are still formed of a few markers each; a hand of cards drawn from a common deck that shares many similarities with Memoir drives the action; and combat is resolved with dice that have symbols rather than pips.

They were on sale.  How could I say no?

They were on sale.  How could I say no?

GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #93

After a short hiatus, GARPA is back! ~

GrogHeads Staff, 20 May 2016

Polyversal Miniatures Game (Collins Epic Games)
$24k of $30k, ends 9 June 2016

We let Byron chime in on this one in an earlier interview.  After scaling back from an overly-ambitious earlier Kickstarter campaign, Polyversal has relaunched with a leaner, meaner, and slimmer campaign that’s focused on the game and the minis, and less on the terrain.  You still get the same great 6mm minis game with an innovative command system that visually represents command relationships with the layout of the unit cards.  Oh yeah, some of the minis are just wicked cool.  Rumble over to the campaign page at Kickstarter and see what you find!