Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tale of Two Trays

There are two readily-available counter tray vendors. The dimensions given are the top of each compartments; the bottoms of each compartment are slightly smaller.

- Chessex makes trays with 16 compartments each with dimensions approximately 2.5" x 1.5". This tray is hinged. It will lay flat with some bending, but you might want to consider cutting the hinge apart. The overall dimensions are 7.75" by just under 11". There is room for two 5/8" side by side. I'd suggest using Chessex trays with 5/8" counters; about 6 will fit per layer at the bottom of each compartment.

- GMT makes trays with 20 compartments each with dimensions approximately 1 3/8" x 2.25". The entire tray is 8.5"x11". This tray has no hinge. There is room for two 1/2" counters side by side, but not enough for two 5/8" counters. (The bottom of the trays are just over 1" wide, so two 5/8" counters don't fit.) The GMT tray is also a great solution for the 1" counters from Conflict of Heroes--two 1" counters fit longways.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Boring Wargames Tasks

Is I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of Avalanche Press's World War II game, Panzer Grenadier. At the time of this writing, I own 7 of their full-sized games: Battle of the Bulge, Beyond Normandy, Afrika Korps, Desert Rats, Elsenborn Ridge, Road to Berlin, and East Front Deluxe.

Now to the boring part: rather than storing the games in an endless series of boxes, I'm attempting to combine them all. So, far, I've been able to store all the maps, rules, and scenarios in one large box, and I'm working on storing the counters in another large box. For counter storage, I'm using Chessex's 16 compartment counter trays. For some days now, I've been sorting through all my PG counters and combining them into trays by nationality.

I still have some more to do, but eventually, I should have a well organized PG set which is easy to carry and set up. See, told you it was boring...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Talk to Gio (Games That Is)

For those of you interested in lighter wargames, I want to point you to a source that you may not have heard of: Gio Games in Italy. They currently offer three games, all of which I'd categorize as Euro/Wargame hybrids in the style of Memoir '44 or BattleCry:

- War to Axis, a WWII in Normandy game. Units are infantry battalions, and armor and support companies. If you're looking for a game similar in difficulty to Memoir '44 but a little more realistic, this game may be for you.
- Yankees & Rebels, an American Civil War game. Units are divisions. Gettysburg is the primary battle covered, but they provide units and terrain tiles to do other battles. Only 2 pages of rules.
- Vive l'Empereur, a Napoleonic game. Just recently back in print. Only 4 pages of rules.

The rules, in either Italian or English, are online at the Gio Games web site, so you can check them out and see if they suit.

In the past, I've bought my Gio Games from Boulder Games online store. However, they recently told me that they weren't going to be stocking the newly reissued Vive l'Empereur. However, Noble Knight Games is stocking it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Benefit from RPGNow

RPGNow is holding a "Gamers Help Haiti" fund drive, giving money to the Doctors Without Borders organization to help with earthquake relief efforts. As a thank you gift for a $20 donation, they let you download about $1500 worth of RPG PDFs. There is a mix of things in the bundle: full RPG's (including the Serenity RPG), modules, character development supplements, world settings, the works. Even if you don't play RPGs, there are some "dungeon crawl" and starship deckplans which could be used for skirmish RPG systems. All together, the files add up to just under 3 GB of size! That's a lot for $20 and it goes to a good cause.

Note: as you might expect, there's been a tremendous response to this appeal. The rpgnow servers are straining under the load at times. So, if you donate, please be patient downloading your stuff.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where are the Vikings? and Samurai?

I play a lot of Commands & Colors: Ancients. It's very addicting: games are fast, and the gameplay is very tense as you decide what cards to play. However, the game needs to progress out of the classical era; C&CA Expansion 4 was about Imperial Rome, giving us a third Roman army. I personally think the two we already had (Grey and Red) were fine; a third one in Purple was completely unnecessary. But maybe GMT will at last get Rome out of their system.

I recently posted a poll on BoardGameGeek on what era people would like to see next in the CCA series (not that I have any control over what Richard Borg and GMT do). Some of the most popular periods in this poll were Vikings and Samurai. Now, how many grand-tactical games do you know of in these periods? For Vikings, almost none that I can think of. There are a couple of battles in the Ancient Battles Deluxe series from Victory Point games, e.g., Ashdown, and of course, there's the old SPI PRESTAGS game Viking, but that's about it. The same with Samurai. Besides the Great Battles of History games Samurai and Ran, there aren't very many battle level games available in this era either. There are a few magazine games covering Samurai battles that are long out of print, but again, there's a big shortage in what should be a popular period.

But, there's a new kid on the block: Kawanakajima 1561 from Hexasim games, the first game in their "Sengoku Jidai" series, covering the epic battle on the Kawanakajima plains between the Uesugi and Takeda clans. I've resisted buying game up to now because there was no US distributor and Hexasim wanted 24 Euros for it. Now, GMT has started importing it; they're selling it for $25 US. So, I immediately snatched up a copy.

The game looks really interesting. Counter density is small (each clan is only a couple of counters), and it looks like you could play the game in 2-3 hours. The rules are online at the Hexasim website. They actually attempt to implement the various exotic Samurai battle plans like "Birds in Flight", "Keyhole", "Arrowhead", etc. Basically, the general can invest some of his command points attempting to activate his battle plan. When activated, he gains additional capabilities for his army. The combat system is very odd: many games have CRTs with column shifts for benefits and penalties, but this game has both columns and lines each with their own modifiers and random rolls. Eventually, I may do a review of the game for BGG.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Panzer Grenadier Project

Panzer Grenadier is currently my favorite WWII game. As opposed to Squad Leader, the rules are only 16 pages in length and each counter is a platoon rather than a squad, which makes the game less fiddly. Still, I find the longer scenarios (24 turns or so) to drag on a bit. My wargame buddy Craig and I have been testing out the Laskas Rock-n-Roll variant, which speeds the game up a lot by reducing the number of rolls. So far, the thing I like best about this variant is that it halves the number of game turns and doubles unit movement, and does away with the intermediate "demoralized" unit state.

I think the game models leadership very well. A unit can't advance into "harm's way" without being activated by a leader, and in addition, each activation is limited to a single hex, or a leader and all adjacent hexes. If the adjacent hexes contain a subordinate leader, that leader and his adjacent units can also activate. So, you can do assaults, but you really have to set them up.

Anyway, there is a project underway called PG-HQ which attempts to enter into a database all the scenarios in all the modules: how many counters, how many turns, what units, what maps, etc. I volunteered to help out. I've been assigned the West Wall and Siegfried Line "print and play" modules. I've managed to finish 4 of the West Wall scenarios. We'll see how long it takes me to get the rest done.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Putting on my editing hat

A few years ago, I did some editing for the miniature wargaming system (Division Commander). I recently got asked to proofread the new edition of Arcane Warfare Excel, a set of big-battle ancient/medieval period rules from "Jerboa" in Portugal. I sent him one set of edits already, and he's just today sent a new version for me to check out. Seize the Red Pen.

My first experience with Jerboa's games was Ancient Battle Composer, a set of miniatures rules which I'd label "rationalized DBA"--that is, De Bellis Antiquitatis but with lots of examples of play and much easier to read rules. For those who don't follow miniature wargaming, the author Phil Barker is known for terse sentences that are often referred to as "Barkerese". I remember some tournament players decades ago who were literally arguing over the placement of a comma in his 7th Edition ancients warfare rules and how that affected the situation. Sigh.

Here's a quote from Jerboa's website. How's this for a quote from a casual wargamer:

"We seek for fast play,
We seek for historical verisimilitude,
We seek for technical perfection,
That's Arcane Warfare."