Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Brian Train’s Ukrainian Crisis, Asymetrical Information Woes, and Missing Flanking Bonuses

Conventions (Pulsipher Game Design) PrezCon 2014 — “PrezCon is a relatively small friendly board and card game convention in Charlottesville Virginia at a Doubletree Hotel. There are no RPGs, no miniatures to speak of, no CCGs, no video games. Most of the players are gray-haired Baby Boomers, although there is a smattering of younger players as well. It uses the same format as the World Boardgaming Championships, you pay a single fee and play it in as many tournaments as you can squeeze in. There are not quite as many tournaments as at WBC, and they are generally smaller because the attendance is about 3/8 of WBC attendance (for example 15 in the Britannia tournament in a good year compared to 40 at WBC). But there’s lots of competition. There’s also an auction, an auction store (where I bought a 2008 copy of Risk for four dollars for the peculiar arrow pieces), and a large open gaming area. Where WBC offers half a dozen or more talks, there is only one at PrezCon (that I give, and that gets about half a dozen in attendance). ”

Gandalf is Here! (RPG Snob) Riffing on: GURPS Threshold Limited Magic — “This process is daunting, but for those first ten points does not incur any rolls on the consequence table. The in-game impact of this is that a rift is made between the two planes, a wound on the wall between realities. For every two points this tally rises, the more obvious this becomes to those with the power to see it and any attempt to search for the caster on the Astral Plane, or any attempt to use magic to locate the caster, gains a +1 bonus. Also, range penalties for spells cast against this individual are reduced by the same margin.”

Vietnam (Wall Street Journal) Bui Tin Interview — “We tested Ford’s resolve by attacking Phuoc Long in January 1975. When Ford kept American B-52’s in their hangers, our leadership decided on a big offensive against South Vietnam.”

Harry Chapin Nailed It (Dreams in the Lich House) Never Send to Know For Whom the Bell Tolls — “This is a different experience than gamer ADD; it’s more like a flash of carpe diem.  In a few years, the kids are going to be bumming the car keys, attending prom, getting jobs, looking for colleges, and if I want them to do the same things I did when growing up, I better get on it.  Time is not on my side.  Before I realize it, it will be March all over again.”

Science Fiction (According to Hoyt) My Name Is Inigo Montoya! — “Ginny – I could never call her that while she was alive, though she asked me to. Respect forced me to call her Mrs. Heinlein – told me that was exactly what she meant. Just like the Greeks thought that they’d successfully put Hector down and that no one would survive to avenge him, so the establishment thought it had successfully put Heinlein down and no one would survive to avenge him.”

Everybody Gets a Trophy (Hack & Slash) On Advancement Mechanics, Experience — “If I’m given points for attendance, then there’s no behavior I can engage in to increase my rate of advancement to achieve my goals faster. If I’m hoop-jumping to figure out what you’re handing experience points out [for], then I’m perusing your idea of what my goals should be, and I already have a day job, thank you very much.”

Ancients (Board Game Geek) Re: Maneuverability of Light Infantry — “The later Romans were more homogeneous, leaving the mercenary part of the army to cavalry, but the Carthaginian and Greek armies gave a lot of importance to the lights. During the Pelopponesian War, for example, light Athenian troops were able to harass and defeat heavier Spartan ones several times. And in Xenophon’s Anabasis, he describes how the 10,000 Greeks had to transform part of their hoplites into lights and cavalry in order to survive their way back to Greece across Persia, as only hoplites would have all died on their way.”

Eight Bit (Anorak) When Home Computers Caused Raptures of Transcendental Ecstasy — “Behold the Answer to All Our Prayers.  It’s reminiscent of the apes surrounding the 2001: A Space Odyssey obelisk.  And notice the Holy Aura surrounding this gift from the Heavens.  Never mind the fact that they haven’t figured out yet that it’s facing the wrong way.  No matter.  Timmy’s college fund was well spent.”

Gaming Theory (2 Warps to Neptune) This Book of Homemade D&D Modules Is Better Than Anything Anyone Has Ever Built on Minecraft — “What you made with your own mind and hands from scratch and for the love of the game when you were 12 years old is better than whatever Wizards of the Coast is putting out next, and more awesome than anything anyone has ever built on Second Life or Minecraft.”

Ancients (Board Game Geek) Re: Elephants as a first weapon — “Elephants in CCA have one major weakness: their low block count. Cavalry is extra-weak against elephants, so attacking them with cavalry is not the best option…. Attacking with infantry has the potential to be more harmful than beneficial since the elephants re-roll/ignore swords. The best way to attack elephants, in my opinion at least, is with ranged fire. Light infantry/cavalry can evade when the elephants attack, and even if they don’t, the elephants roll a paltry two dice against them. Ranged attack against elephants is thus almost risk-free.  Attacking with elephants from the get-go is this not true best option. Rather, they are best for cleaning up the wreckage later, when the light infantry has faded and the heavies are weaker. At that point, the elephants start going wild in a good way.”

Tolerance (The Escapist) Apple Rejects War Game For Depicting Germans, Russians As Enemies — “We found that your app contains content or features that include people from a specific race, culture, government, corporation, or other real entity as the enemies in the context of the game, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.”

WWII (Board Game Geek) Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles –“The implication of this is that while charging gung-ho through the open towards a full-strength, unsuppressed unit is generally suicide (as I quickly learned in Scenario 1), smartly suppressing, surrounding, and then close assaulting a unit works brilliantly, just as it did in World War II–and all of this without a tome of rules and very few exceptions. While learning this game, these tactics simply naturally emerge from the players without their being forced upon you. It’s really something.”

Newsworthy (The Economist) War games — “One reason why board games are useful is that you can constantly tweak the rules to take account of new insights, says Timothy Wilkie of the National Defence University in Washington, DC. With computer games, this is much harder.”

Rather to be Chosen (The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms) Low Expectations — “There have been a couple famous cases in the OSR where products have failed to be delivered on time or at all, because Real Life dealt the creator a crushing blow. I can’t really blame them for that, but I guess I’m much more pessimistic and wary about making promises I am not absolutely, positively 100% certain I can keep.”

Ancients (Board Game Geek) Re: Any bonus for flanking enemy hexes/units? — “From the earliest days of CCA, this has been an ‘issue,’ with newcomers, simply because they ‘expect’ to find obvious ‘flank bonuses’ like they see in other games…. I made it to the point of rabid-reaction when I would see posts like, ‘Just got CCA. Love the game. Almost finished reading the rules. HERE ARE MY CHANGES TO INCLUDE FLANK BONUSES.'”

Fire in the Lake (Board Game Geek) Re: Any asymetrical information? — “Methodically creating a defendable, winning position is very hard…. When learning the system, I think it’s easy to mistake the very challenges and puzzles the COIN Series provides for a deficiency or problem that doesn’t actually exist. If players put in the time and effort, they’ll be rewarded.”

Ogre Tactics (Civil War History) Stonewall Jackson — “Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.”

Ancients (Board Game Geek) Re: Any bonus for flanking enemy hexes/units? — “The more one plays, the more one appreciates the importance of forcing a retreat. For in CCA, unless you’re dealing with ranged combat, every unit that survives an attack gets to battle back. It is not uncommon by the attacking unit to be destroyed this way. HOWEVER, a unit that retreats may not battle back. Thus, not only might an attacker inflict some damage, but by forcing a retreat, the attacker is protected from receiving damage to itself. On top of this, forcing a retreat mucks up your enemy’s battle formation. It oftentimes isolates the retreating unit, and exposes yet another enemy unit to flank attack.

Role Playing Games (The Ongoing Campaign) Top 10 Gaming Products — “There is more implied adventure in any one area of the setting map than some settings have in their entire worlds.”

Counterinsurgency (Wikipedia) Butler’s General Order No. 28 — “As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.”

Classic Adventures (Topless Robot) The 10 Greatest Dungeons & Dragons End Bosses — “The Against the Giants modules (G1-3) were some of the most dangerous — and well-loved — modules in the AD&D canon, mainly because they’re a good stress test for any given party. If you can survive these three gauntlets of violence, you’re good to go. Graduating from the Hill Giants (the unfortunately named Nosnra) to the Frost Giants (Jarl) to the Fire Giants (Snurre) is a schooling that most adventurers gladly took.”

New Train Game (PAXSims) Gaming the crisis in the Ukraine — “Traffic on my website is back to near-normal now. I think that most people went there, saw that a) it was a paper game and b) they would have to print it out and make it themselves, and then clicked away. I think perhaps seven or eight people might have made up the game. Revisions to the design continue, but I hope it was clear that that was how I offered it.”

Game Design (Google+) S. John Ross — “I very nearly wrote a game-design theory article. I blame the NyQuil, which dumbs me down something fierce.”

Game Blogging (Roles, Rules, and Rolls) RPG Blog Dodge — “Actually, for each of these topics what would be useful is a final stake in the heart, a scholarly treatment that links to examples of all the arguments…. Or use that scholarly topic to come up with some completely new take on it. But don’t post up your opinions and then watch the comments section fill up with more opinions and these opinions repeat all opinions for 20 years on the subject.”

Actual Play (Tenkar’s Tavern) Peter V. Dell’Orto comments — “A notionally pure sandbox isn’t one of the things I’ve gotten going. Rails are better, and a small bounded sandbox works great too. It should go without saying that we’re really enjoying [Tenkar’s] Friday night games. It’s solid fun from beginning to end, and part of it is because we get to just start at the adventure and not have to go looking around for it.”

Cult of the Old (Board Game Geek) CARCASSHWACKED — “I grew tired of the Cult of the New years ago, much preferring the Cult of the Old and ‘depth gaming’. We should, all of us, be so lucky as to ‘wear a game out’ and actually become something like an expert at it; to do so with an entire group of likeminded souls is something most gamers will never get to experience.”

Note: You can download a print-and-play version of Brian Train’s Ukrainian Crisis here.

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2 responses to “Blog Watch: Brian Train’s Ukrainian Crisis, Asymetrical Information Woes, and Missing Flanking Bonuses

  1. brtrain March 21, 2014 at 10:50 am

    “Brian Train’s Ukrainian Crisis” – you make it sound like I ate too many cabbage rolls, hah!
    Thanks for the notice!

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