A distant Plain: review at Player Elimination

https://playerelimination.com/2021/09/28/adp

A perceptive and heartfelt review of A Distant Plain by Charlie Theel at his blog Player Elimination. 

Review: Zones of Control

ZOC book cover

It’s been a while since it came out, but here is a new review of the Zones of Control anthology:

https://thetidesofhistory.com/2021/08/22/book-review-zones-of-control-edited-by-pat-harrigan-matthew-kirschenbaum

Nice review – the writer liked the collection generally, including the chapter on gaming insurgencies that Volko Ruhnke and I wrote.

He did note:

Examining the short blurbs at the end of each essay, I noticed that the vast majority of the authors had Master’s and/or Doctorate levels of education. Only one or two authors had anything lower and they were Bachelor’s degrees at the very minimum.

Guilty!!

It appears that I and co-editor Pat Harrigan are the two bringing up the academic rear….

Punched, punched

Out today, the second number of Punched, a free online zine on wargames edited by James Buckley of Cardboard Emperors!

https://www.cardboardemperors.co.uk/punched-2#coin

This one is a special issue with lots of content on COIN everything:

  • James Buckley discusses the four keys to the success of the COIN engine
  • Jason Carr talks about COIN’s success, discusses some mechanics, and considers the future of the series
  • Volko Ruhnke discusses how insurgencies are modelled in the COIN series, and what Control and Oppose/Support mean
  • Fred Serval writes about the seething mass of fan-made COIN games churning around on the GMT COIN Discord server; it’s frightening to poke your head in there. Of special interest is an upcoming quad of short games by Stephen Ranganzas using cut-down COIN system mechanics to explore “the British Way” of counterinsurgency: Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus.
  • Also, a really nice review of Brief Border Wars!

It’s free, it’s there, it’s waiting for you at the above link!

Oh, and would I ever love to attend this con in July – Camden is so neat (setting aside the tourist-trappy stuff). But maybe next year.

Camden

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!