Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for July, 2009

I Opened The Door and Was Warmly Greeted

Posted by sodaklady on July 17, 2009

I was beginning to despair that I’d ever have any more game related stuff to write about and would be left with only the mundane news, which I’m sure you would find… mundane. Do you care that I’ve been having an enormous amount of fun with InFamous on my PS3? Or that we had baby blue jays in our hedge?

O.k., you would probably be interested in the fact that Mike finally brought Goa over for the second time since he got it, probably in 2004 or 2005 when it was new. We enjoyed it a lot more this time (I suspect it’s because we’re much more familiar with Eurogames now) and I won by ONE point. We also played Elfenland, which I got for trade but hadn’t played yet. We liked it well enough but with three there was little competition so probably didn’t live up to its full potential.

You might even be interested in the fact that I decided to buy the new version of Formula De (called Formula D, for crying out loud) even though Mike has the original and probably all of the additional tracks. The production is excellent and I really like the dashboards compared to pencil and paper to keep track of your stats.

The lack of gaming and accompanying posts isn’t totally the fault of my family’s lackluster gaming attitude; I, too, have been less than enthusiastic about the games in my collection. Don’t misunderstand — I have some wonderful games and I wouldn’t get rid of most of them unless I absolutely had to. But my attention has been diverted to a sub-genre: war games.

It all started with Memoir ’44 which I got at the end of 2004. It was simple, easy to teach and fun. I’ve always liked the games with confrontation in them and war is the ultimate confrontation. This led to Commands & Colors: Ancients which is the same gaming system but with additional rules to cover the time period better. And it’s brilliant. So brilliant that I added the first three expansions to my game library.

I started looking for other light, fun war games to add to my collection. I found myself reading GeekLists about war games and posts in the wargame forum, I’ve downloaded and read a dozen set of rules, bought a couple more games to feed my need, pre-ordered Sekigahara from GMT, and even made one that’s free to download.  That’s when I took the next step, the one that led me through that door.

I had seen To The Last Man! mentioned in a GeekList or forum post which praised it as innovative so I downloaded the rules. After reading them, I thought it sounded fairly simple in rules but with plenty of depth. The innovative part is that some of the chits are not just units but armies; the units that make up that army are shown off-board and can be kept secret for a fog of war effect.

After spending a day and a half creating this game, I set it up using the 1915 scenario which is recommended, then sat staring at it with no idea of what to do with it. Sure I knew the rules but I was lost as far as coming up with a tactical move; or any move at all actually. It sat on the gaming table for 3 or 4 days taunting me. In desperation, and feeling kinda stupid, I wrote a post in the wargame forum hoping for a little advice on how to learn tactical thinking.

A suggestion or two would have been helpful; I was surprised by the number of responses I received. As usual, the gaming community at the Geek was helpful, understanding, and supportive. They didn’t act like my post was stupid at all. Besides advice, there are several links to books/articles, and puck4604 (Hilary Hartman) is sending me two magazines.

As if that weren’t enough, I received a GeekMail from RaffertyA (aka Tim) offering to teach me a game through emails. We have started with Napoleon at Waterloo, a print and play game that has a simple rule set, small chit count, teaches many of the standard war game mechanics while still offering a challenging game.

I don’t know if Tim has done this before but he’s an excellent teacher of what I’m calling War Gaming For Dummies. The first emails covered the most obvious things and yet I still found a thing or two that I didn’t know or hadn’t really thought about. I’ve made the first moves, we talked about it and changed a few things, and pressed on. This is the way I like to learn something new. It’s been fun and exciting; I love learning something new and challenging.

This whole experience has felt like I’ve left the (virtual) main room and wondered over to a closed side door. You can hear voices on the other side of the door but most people just walk by without noticing. Curiosity prompts me to open the door and I find a room full of people, talking and laughing. They beckon: come in, please, and join us. You’re going to have a great time in here.

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