Brief Border Wars: recensione del gioco, in italiano





Second Lebanon War

In San Marino, there lives a genial fellow named Gian Carlo Ceccoli who has run the “Associazione Sammarinese Giochi Storici” (San Marino Historical Games Association) for the last 22 years.

He has written a very kind review of Brief Border Wars (at least Google Translate told me it was kind – I do not speak Italian at all, though perhaps I should). Have a look!

http://asgs.sm/mensile/867-ottobre-2020-brief-border-wars

Winter Thunder: video review and playthrough

Over at The Diagonal Move, Neil Bunker introduces Winter Thunder’s components and mechanisms, and plays through some of the game to illustrate.

Nice!

Brief Border Wars: video reviews and play by TheGimpyGamer

A set of FIVE (!) videos of Brief Border Wars by TheGimpyGamer, who really likes the overall idea of four small games in one box and the core + exclusive rules approach. Component show-and-tell, description of play mechanisms, comments, and then he plays through a full game of The Football War.

Nice!

Brief Border Wars: reviews at Moe’s Game Table

Over at Moe’s Game Table, Maurice Fitzpatrick gives his impressions of Brief Border Wars, both the system and each of the four games in the volume. He likes it!

And a few days later, he puts up a complete and mostly positive review, using a partial playthrough of the Football War game.

Thanks Moe!

I put here my notes to his review:
 
You are right, this game does a few things differently and it is not for everyone. I’ll also say that many of the questions I’ve answered on BGG are from long-time players and are in the nature of “rules say X, can you confirm you really mean X”. This often happens when I try to do something a little different; as I go on designing games (more than 25 years now) I encounter more and more players who mentally port over rules and assumptions from other games they have played. 
 
Map legend missing is an unfortunate slip. My original maps that I sent in to Compass had separate tree, hill and urban icons that were obvious; Mark Mahaffey came up with the little roundel device and I thought it was clever – the woods and mountain icons are obvious enough and that’s two of the three terrain types down. Many people figured out on their own that a black top semicircle meant an urban area but that’s not a good excuse: yes, a map legend would have made it simple. If there is a Volume II quad I will address this point, of course, as well as adding a long combat example so fewer grognards will be thrown by the options added to what is otherwise a simple bucket of dice combat system.
 
Speaking of combat, I agree reformatting the combat results explanations in the rules as a table would have worked, except space demands and layout would have broken the table in two parts across columns. The Sequence of Play aid that comes with each game presents the combat results as a more compact bullet list, which is part way there.
 
Cards and chaos: Each side has the same number of potential moves and/or combats in its deck, the randomness is in how and when they come out. Moe remarks accurately that the armies in these games are bad, disorganized, second or third-string forces in impromptu conflicts and this game mechanic underlines that. Players are overall commanders and they are in the role of chaos managers, in a way that most wargames don’t ask them to be. Sometimes chaos gives you the shaft, and sometimes the other guy gets it (and if you’re playing solo, you always get it!). But, as noted, this gives the game a lot of replayability.
 
Certainly not all players react the same way to chaos in their games, this may be too much for some (and I know full well there are players out there who dislike even having random event tables in a game), so I can suggest a not-random way for them to play:
 

Take out the 2 Random Event Cards and each player starts the game with their allotted 20 Action Cards and 6 special Actions. Each turn a player plays a total of up to 3 cards of their choice from their deck, alternately, beginning with the scenario-designated tie-winning player. Some cards will be left over as you play up to 21 of 26 cards of your choice in the course of a 7 turn game. A workable way to play, rather dull, not respectful of chaos and not the point I wanted to make in these designs at all. But it works. And no random events. Eh.
 
Order of play of the 4 games: I didn’t have a set order in mind, all situations are rather different from each other and each has examples of special units or rules that give flavour to each conflict. No getting around that.
 
Stripes on the random event cards: that was a printing slip and not deliberate. As you noted, the random event card is resolved before the action cards are played so you go with the ones you have in hand at the start of the phase.

One more comment about the randomness of the Action Cards appearances: people are willing to blame their defeats on the cards, but their victories are always due to their clever planning and skill with dice!

I never did test the no-random-cards method suggested above, again it seemed to me to be missing the point but people are welcome to try it. I suppose it has a root in the playing card variant for Ukrainian Crisis.

Brief Border Wars: review by RMN

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/feature/armchair-dragoons-reviews-brief-border-wars-from-compass-games/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=armchair-dragoons-reviews-brief-border-wars-from-compass-games

RockyMountainNavy guy has a very nice review of Brief Border Wars over on Armchair Dragoons.

For some reason I cannot leave a comment on that site without it being denounced as spam or a duplicate comment, so here are my comments (because I know he is one of my Faithful Readers here):

Thanks, I am very glad you liked this!

Cover art: yes, I did badger Mark Mahaffey into giving it the old SPI Quad look.

Rules reference # on counter: Mark suggested that, and I suppose if we hadn’t put it in someone would have complained that there’s nothing on the counter to indicate it’s a special case. Can’t win.

Air rules: bingo.

Optional rules: probably best to avoid using all these until you’ve played the game once or twice. 9.14 is a potent handicap for one or both sides – the systemic predecessor game, The Little War, had this in effect for both sides. Feel free to spot the handicapped player something nice like one level of victory, or a beer…

Historical notes: no room for these but anyone who wants details and background can start with Wikipedia entries and go from there.

 

 

Nights of Fire: review by Table for One

repairmanjackNOFminis

A very nice review by Fredrik Schulz at the Table for One site (dedicated to solo gaming), on Nights of Fire and its solo “Konev” system.

https://tableforone.me/blog/review-nights-of-fire-battle-for-budapest-mighty-boards

Nights of Fire: video review by The Players Aid

https://theplayersaid.com/2020/04/12/video-review-nights-of-fire-battle-for-budapest-from-mighty-boards

Grant Kleinheinz reviews Nights of Fire, particularly how you work the “Konev” deck of cards which makes a very interesting Artificial Intelligence for a solo game.

Grant did a long interview with me a couple of years ago with much more about the game itself:

https://theplayersaid.com/2018/02/19/interview-with-brian-train-co-designer-of-nights-of-fire-battle-for-budapest-from-mighty-boards-coming-to-kickstarter-soon/

Thanks Grant!

Summer Lightning and Winter Thunder: video reviews by Marco Arnaudo

Marco must be a shut-in these days too!

He has posted a nice balanced review of Winter Thunder.

Marco has previous experience of this chit-pull system, from his nice review of Summer Lightning from 2011:

Nights of Fire: video review

Liz Davidson of “Beyond Solitaire” does a short review of Nights of Fire.

She really liked the theme and the challenging nature of the desperate situation, but would have liked a closer connection to the events relating to the physical locations on the board and thought the final turns of the game (as the Insurgent’s options and numbers dwindle) dragged a bit. Fair enough. But on balance, she liked it!

Obligatory end-of-year review, 2019

headthames

Well, another year has zipped by. A busy year too, though day job stuff dominated my busy:

Game publishing

Game design work and future publication

Work and or testing continued throughout the year on some of the following:

  • China’s War: testing testing, and hoping to get into development in early 2020. Almost 900 pre-orders now.
  • Strongman, an extensive rework of Caudillo that may be a while coming, and publisher not completely confirmed. Really need to spend some time on this but it needs multiple people to play it.
  • Brief Border Wars Quad, from Compass Games – up for pre-order and probably will come out in the first half of 2020: not sure what conditions they apply to pull the trigger.
  • District Commander series, from Hollandspiele – Maracas is out, Binh Dinh is coming next; maybe Kandahar might be out in 2020, or maybe not. Meanwhile, the Algeria module is available for free PnP.
  • Semi-abstract urban counterinsurgency games: I have been working on two of these for some time now, can’t get time to finish them off. Will likely put them up for free PnP as few people seem interested in this kind of thing.
  • Civil Power: This was one of the first games I ever designed (1991-92) and revising it after 25 years is proving almost as much work as doing a new one. Like the original version, this will have a lot of new scenarios based on contemporary headlines: Hong Kong 2019, duelling mobs in Caracas, Violent Demo USA, etc..

Conferences and conventions

Not so busy year on this front:

  • February: I attended Connections North for the first time, at McGill University. It was a great but short event: I made a presentation, met some nice folks, role-played CDS John Vance in the megagame about a zombie outbreak, and spent some quality time talking with Jim Wallman! Into the White
  • April: I went to Marine Corps University at MCB Quantico April 2-5 for a special MORS event on urban warfare. I presented on the different games I had worked on to cover urban conflict at the operational level. There were some really imaginative analyses but it seems to me that the professional military is still consumed by the likely problems of standing armies fighting “peer” forces in an urban environment, not the far more likely and nastier irregular warfare. Studies in Concrete
  • June: Consimworld Expo at Tempe, AZ. High point was meeting and spending time with Nick Karp and Mark Herman, two Gods of Design, and a long, fun interview with Harold Buchanan for his podcast! Back from Consimworld Expo 2019
  • July-August-September: no Connections conferences for me, in any flavour, as Day Job kept me too busy. I intend to attend as many as I can in 2020.
  • November: BottosCon was fun as it usually is, though I got there rather late. Still, got some testing of China’s War and Kashmir Crisis in, and picked up a couple of nice games in the flea market. BottosCon pictures  .

Writing

  • Not a productive year, as far as writing about war and games. Nothing formally published, just the usual torrent of wise-guy stuff on blogs, sites and social media.
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Near-meaningless digest of site statistics:

  • I seem to be cruising still at just below 2,000 views per month, but about 3,000 fewer than 2018. About 8,000 visitors. The five most curious countries were: US (by a very wide margin), UK, Canada, Italy and Australia. One guy clicked in from Ghana! Don’t know what to make of that.
  • Besides the then-current post, popular pages or posts included the BTR Games, Free Games and Scenarios and Variants pages. No surprises there.
  • The most clicked-on and/or downloaded documents (WordPress started measuring downloads in July 2019) were the files for the free games District Commander,  Ukrainian Crisis, Third Lebanon War and Battle of Seattle.