Great (Big) War at Sea – A Board Gaming Life Series Review

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 by Paul Comben

There is an issue with naval board wargames that really does not apply to many other areas of the hobby. You can have some big beast of a Gettysburg game, or of Waterloo, or of Borodino; you can advance through the steppes of 1941 Russia with dozens of divisions; return to Cannae or Gaugamela with arms stretching to reach the extremities of your paper battlefield, but you might still have less administrative hassle, drag on gameplay, and threat of that precious weekend coming to a close far too quickly, than if you embark on grey seas to fight battles with the floating custodians of great matter and moment.

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Battleships Do Not Themselves a Battle Make – A Study of Naval Warfare in the Great War Era

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by Paul Comben

In the heady and desperately deluded days of August 1914, the doubts of the few were readily drowned out by the confident assertions of the many – “Home Before the Leaves Fall”; “Back by Christmas”; “On to Paris!”; “Forward to Berlin!”; and within the various casts of naval nonsense, “Der Tag” (the day of reckoning) for the Germans, and “A Second Trafalgar” (sink everything in sight) for the British.

Needless to say, none of it ever occurred.

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Several Ways with The Hundred Days

 

By Paul Comben

This is a simply a light look at all the Waterloo campaign games I have owned and played over the years. I have tried to include just about anything with at least some campaign element to it, but pure recreations of the climatic battle are not present – so no Wellington’s Victory or The Thin Red Line etc.

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Furthermore, I am not going into any deep detail as to how the qualifying games are played. What I am looking at (chattily) is how these games reflected (or failed to reflect) the issues in my Waterloo as an Utter Waste of Time article – that is, operational manoeuvre room, the issue of time, the weather, and command and control.

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Waterloo – An Utter Waste of Time

by Paul Comben

 

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According to Helmuth von Moltke, no military plan ever survived first contact with the enemy. According to the Duke of Wellington, his plans were to be best thought of as tatty old bits of harness which could be knotted and pieced back together whenever anything snapped or fell off. For Napoleon, perhaps the single most important factor in a campaign’s success was to be found in one of his favourite maxims: “activité, activité, vitesse, vitesse.” This is best translated by recalling Stonewall’s words about surprising and mystifying your enemy – or in other words, acting quicker than they did and generally getting a move on.

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Iron and Oak – A Boardgaming Life Review

Game Design by James M. Day

GMT Games LLC

Review by Mitchell Freedman

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The box cover says Iron and Oak is a game of “ship-to ship combat during the American Civil War. “

The cover is far too modest. Its really a whole lot more.

Iron and Oak is a game of naval combat, with several  scenarios in the “brown water” rivers and bays where navigation can become a problem. So can the enemy forts that go on the edge of the map and can use plunging fire on the ships below.

Players might run into shoals and have to get their ship re-floated, or they could encounter mines or other obstructions, or powerful currents which can carry their ships where they don’t want to go. There are damage control parties, tables of critical hits, and – perhaps most important – die rolls which determine not only the results of combat, but whether a captain can move his ship at all.

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Founding Fathers: Review

A Preliminary Review of Founding Fathers

by Mark D.

Founding Fathers - Board Game Review


Overview

You’re John Adams, President of the United States and Conservative Party leader in the fledgling American republic. George Washington has retired from public life, leaving massive shoes for you to fill. The nation is growing in leaps and bounds and the issues you must contend with grow more complicated and inflammatory each day. Are you up to the task?
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Le Vol de L’Aigle – A Board Gaming Life After Action Report

 

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By Harvey Mossman

 

Last year, our wargaming group in Long Island decided to play Le Vol de l’Aigle via email with myself as umpire.  It was an extremely fascinating experience.  We chose the 1806 Prussian campaign that culminated in the famous dual battles of Jena- Auerstadt because the armies were fairly evenly matched in numbers and opposing forces were not so distant from each other that enemy contact would be unduly delayed.

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How War Works: A BoardgamingLife Review of Playford Games’ Moral Conflict Series

by Paul Comben

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Introduction

In the increasingly fractious relationship between Adolf Hitler and his senior commanders, it was the Fuhrer’s repeated complaint that his generals knew nothing about the economic aspects of warfare. They retorted, often just between themselves until the war was safely over, that the Austrian corporal knew nothing about proper operational planning. In March 1945, Hitler launched an offensive to secure the Hungarian oilfields with forces Guderian was clamouring to have on the Oder front.  Alongside the Fuhrer’s refusal to countenance giving up a yard of ground to free up forces, his clinging on to “fortresses” which existed in name only, and his obsession with waving his “mission” in the face of inexorable realities, this offensive by the 6th SS Panzer Army is often presented as yet another of Hitler’s meanderings into the realms of grotesque fantasy. Continue reading

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Breaking the Chains – A Boardgaming Life Review

By Harvey Mossman

Publisher Compass Games Designer: John Gorkowski

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The next military conflict will likely involve naval and air assets of the United States as it continues to play its role as protector of freedom of the seas yet, there is a dearth of recently designed modern Air/Naval combat games. Breaking the Chains by Compass Games tries to fill this gap as it examines contemporary events in the South China Sea as China asserts, what it believes is its destiny, to be a rising empire in the Pacific. It is not a complex game and, where it can, strives for simplicity in an otherwise complex conflict environment. Continue reading

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Sauron – A BoardgamingLife Review and Essay

By Mitch Freedman
cover

Simulations Publications, Inc. 1977
Designer – Rob Mosca

Long before the modern Hobbit craze, long before Peter Jackson, there were some books written by J.R.R. Tolkien, books in which he created his own mythology, dealt with universal problems of good and evil, and looked into the private motives and public actions of the powerful and the meek, the wise and the foolish.

Those actions and motives were really aspects of every human being, of course, and Tolkien did his work so well that the story of the Hobbit grew and grew beloved. His exercise in putting the essence of humanity down on paper – this was long before the films – required him to add dwarfs and elves and even orcs, brightening and polishing the parts of being human which needed a special mirror to see clearly.

For those who were never English majors, think of Spock or Data on Star Trek. Not human, certainly, but more human than most of the rest of the crew.

At least, that’s how I see it.

So, what does this all have to do with war gaming?  Let’s take a look at Sauron and ask some questions. I won’t give you the answer to the final question – is Sauron really a war game – because you should have the fun of figuring it out yourself or, at least, fighting over the answer.

For those who don’t know the game of Sauron – and I suspect that is a lot of people – it travels the same path that more recent War of the Rings games follow, with a full complement of Elves and Dwarfs fighting off Goblins and Orcs and trying to defeat powerful foes outside the gates of Mordor. There are no plastic figures, and no cards to turn over, just some cardboard counters and some dice and a simple map to create the most important battle in the history of Middle Earth.

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