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: unboxing and overview videos

Rob of “Rob’s Tabletop World” gives a really kind and enthusiastic overview of Brief Border Wars and talks about the graphics and some of the game subsystems.

 

Maurice Fitzgerald posts a short unboxing video for Brief Border Wars. First look I’ve had at how everything printed out!

On Youtube: Heavy Cardboard plays Colonial Twilight

On the Tube of You, Edward from “Heavy Cardboard” (on the 6th anniversary of his show!) plays a COIN system game for the first time: Colonial Twilight. He does something a little different: he plays the short scenario and takes the role of Government, introducing and teaching the game as he goes, while the Peanut Gallery (everyone watching: including Volko Ruhnke himself for a while!) discusses and suggests the FLN moves. What a great idea to learn the game collectively!

He didn’t promise to play the game well, and you know what, I don’t play games particularly well either; never have. But the play and the learning of it is the thing, for me.

Thanks Edward! I appreciate it.

(note: the stream goes for about 7 hours since it’s his first COIN game, and he introduces everything about the game first… so feel free to skip ahead to the game itself. The main commenter in the Peanut Galley, Laura Guy, very ably played the FLN!)

Interview with Compass Games, 5 June 2020

Coming to an Orthicon Tube near you: John Kranz of Compass Games does a live online interview with me!

Mostly we will be talking about the Brief Border Wars Quad, coming out Real Soon Now from Compass, but maybe other things if John lets Unca’ Gran’pa’s mind and mouth wander….

Friday, June 5, 2020: 1700 Pacific, 2000 Eastern

Click on the above or below to set a reminder!

Tune in, maggots!

Colonial Twilight: unboxing video

Featuring Andrei Achim and his enormous knife!

 

 

District Commander Maracas: unboxing video, en espanol

 

Spanish-language unboxing video. I think he liked it!

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!

COIN series games: how it’s done

Volko Ruhnke recently did an online lecture for the Georgetown University Wargame Society on “How to design a COIN series game”. It’s available on Youtube.

Volko is an excellent teacher and speaker; I recommend it to you if you are interested in how these things are put together. If you are interested in making your own design, this will also give you an idea of just how much work one of these things involves, or should involve; good games rarely come easy.

 

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:

District Commander Binh Dinh: unboxing video

 

Over on the Tube-of-You, Maurice of Moe’s Game Table opens up his new copy of District Commander Binh Dinh for us!

I haven’t seen any physical copies of the game yet; this is a really sharp production, as Hollandspiele usually produces. And if you look closely you can see the covers of the next two modules in the series, District Commander ZNO and District Commander Kandahar.

Thanks for the look inside!