District Commander Kandahar: quick look by Maurice Fitzpatrick

Moe’s Game Table has a look at District Commander: Kandahar, the Afghanistan 2009/10 module of the series. He likes what he sees.

Thank you Moe!

Civil Power: preview video!

Ray Weiss has gotten a proof copy of Civil Power! Here he spends a few minutes talking about the game, its mechanics, options and scenarios, and shows off the very nice components.

Sales should start Real Soon Now.

BTR Games available through Wargame Vault

I am making my whole line of “BTR Games” products available for PnP on Wargame Vault.

To produce these games, I would go to the copy shop to have small batches of counter sticker sheets, maps etc. made up. But I’ve been working from home since March 2020 and can’t get near any copy shops, and it is not worth trying to print all this at home, so I have run out of components for most titles. I can’t print 11×17″ maps at home anyway. This also saves any delay in my having to organize a trip to the post office (which was also proving occasionally difficult).

The real value, though, from the customer’s point of view is that they can order Brian Train products drunk at 3 am, as most online purchases are made, and get them right away.

https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/18373/BTR-Games

When things begin to stabilize and I return to my office, I do plan to have physical versions of the games available again for people who do not want to go the PnP route.

Hollandspiele Holiday Sale

“From now until December 6, every game in the Hollandspiele catalogue is $5 off. Buy at least two games, get Reign of Witches for free. Spend at least $100, and we’ll automatically deduct another 10% from your total. And we’ve got canvas maps for fifteen of our titles.”

– Tom Russell

Reign of Witches is Tom’s annual small-card-based-game-dealio, on the political conflict between John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.

Unfortunately, there are no canvas maps in production for any of my Hollandspiele titles (illustrated above), but don’t let that stop you.

These are good people. They produce nicely made games from quality designers. Do everyone a favour and pick something out!

The Zenobia Award

Mentor.

Signal boost for a worthy cause: the Zenobia Award.

Rex Brynen is a better writer, speaker and when it comes down to it thinker than I am so I will quote from his announcement:

“Historical board games are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, but their designers are predominately white men. The Zenobia Award hopes to change this by encouraging game submissions by people from marginalized groups. The Zenobia Award is not an ordinary design award. Promising applicants will receive mentorship on their designs from established industry designers, and the winners will receive help navigating the game publication process in addition to a cash prize.”

Daniel Thurot at Space-Biff! is also far more eloquent than I, at his post at https://spacebiff.com/2020/11/22/zenobia/

More details are all here: https://zenobiaaward.org so go and have a look.

I write a lot about my game designs on this blog, less often on politics, and only occasionally on the state of the hobby. But anyone who’s been in it for long soon susses out that just as there are definitely more “outputs” (published games) on certain topics than others, there are also more “inputs” (designers of published games) of a certain category than others – white, male, and older.

This is an observation, and hardly a profound one at that.

I don’t see anything nefarious about this situation. It was well known, Back In The Day, that this was a hobby that was generally indulged in by white, educated males… the Great Dunnigan remarked on this, particularly the gender imbalance, in the pages of SPI-era Strategy and Tactics many times, and often referred to the whole shootin’ match as “the hobby of the overeducated” – which back then largely also meant white and male.

I also don’t see anything particularly praiseworthy about this situation. It is also well known, Now, that many cylinders of this hobby’s engine have run on nostalgia fumes for a very long time, and many players and designers from Back In The Day are still with us, just older. That’s expected – time does march on – but society has marched on too and the audiences, actual and potential, for tabletop games are far different in gender, ethnicity, nationality and cultural outlook from 40 years ago.

I think it’s pretty simple: if you want to see the hobby continue to function, to encourage new ideas and explore different topics, to invite new people and their experiences into the fold, either help to spread the word yourself or consider contributing, either as a member of an underrepresented group or part of a team that includes such. It’s not about the prize (personally, I don’t see why money has to be be involved at all), it’s about the offer of help, advice and mentorship to people who want to become involved… which is something I have tried to extend to everyone who has approached me, as a designer (and in my day job).

If these things are not important to you, or you think they will happen by themselves, or you think that historical board games are not inherently political objects, then carry on as you have – this initiative doesn’t require anything of you, and I am sure you can find someone who will agree with you elsewhere. But I have never had time for self-appointed gatekeepers.

Melodice: playlist for your favourite games

Now here’s a clever thing!

Melodice.org will assemble a Youtube playlist of favourite musical pieces based on player submissions. Let this play while you are playing, to set the mood.

You can search for different games, so here are two I found for A Distant Plain and Colonial Twilight, and two I made for Nights of Fire and District Commander Kandahar:

https://melodice.org/playlist/a-distant-plain-2013/

https://melodice.org/playlist/colonial-twilight-the-french-algerian-war-1954-62-2017/

https://melodice.org/playlist/nights-of-fire-battle-for-budapest-2019/

https://melodice.org/playlist/district-commander-kandahar-2020/

Article on professional wargaming from VICE France

Polish, not French officers and NCOs.

Seen today: an article that originally appeared in VICE France that includes an interview with Antoine Bourguilleau, historian and researcher at the Institute of War and Peace Studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Bourgilleau talks about the use of wargames to train professional soldiers.

Games cited or illustrated (other than the obligatory introductory reference to Risk, of course) include:

  • Kriegsspiel
  • the 1930s US Naval War College games
  • the WATU anti-submarine games
  • the Fletcher Pratt naval wargame
  • Phantom Fury by Laurent Closier
  • FITNA by Pierre Razoux
  • Matrix games get a brief description too.

Have a look!

https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7gpwb/how

Jouer la guerre
https://passes-composes.com/book/264

Bourgilleau has written a book on the subject, difficult to tell whether it is more than the usual historical survey of the subject.

History Chat Podcast: Days of Ire/ Nights of Fire

Jason Perez and Liz Davidson (who posted a review of Nights of Fire some time ago on Beyond Solitaire, here: Nights of Fire: video review) have a long discussion on the games Days of Ire and Nights of Fire for the first 25 minutes, then spend another 25 minutes discussing the broader historical context and background of the Hungarian Revolution.

Jason puts in a good word for the Red Army expansion kit, which besides miniatures includes material for a campaign game that links the two – so the end state of the first game sets up some conditions for the second, and characters may or may not survive to do things in the sequel.

This is a really great exchange to examine both game and history! Go and have a listen.

Brief Border Wars: unboxing video by The Fortinbras Effect

Having digested Colonial Twilight, Andrei Achim of The Fortinbras Effect reappears with his unboxing video of Brief Border Wars.

Thanks Andrei!

Fearsome knife!

District Commander Kandahar: unboxing by Armchair Dragoons, shrink-rip by Big Board Gaming

Armchair Dragoons does a decloaking of District Commander: Kandahar. You can get a pretty good look at the components.   

They were sent a copy to review, and review it they shall… later.  

Also, Kevin Sharp rips the shrink on his review copy of the game!