Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

File - the_Katana.html

Expand Messages
  • JIGG@yahoogroups.com
    The Katana The Katana The Journal of Japan`s International Gamers` Guild � JIGG Vol. 2 � Links JIGG � Back to the Homepage � The Making of a Historical
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 1, 2004
      The Katana
      The Katana

      The Journal of Japan`s International Gamers` Guild  
      JIGG

      Vol. 2  Links
      JIGG

       Back to the Homepage
       

      The Making of a Historical Simulation Gamer

      While most of the simulation gamers I know, are in general nice people to play and deal with, all of them in some way and I include myself in this--are rather firey,competitive individuals. Often they occupy positions of power or influence over others. Myself, I own my own small chain of English schools. Some work as editors, managers or in some other professional capacity, typically. I will state confidentlythat most gamers are type "A" people as opposed to type "B." Type A people are hard driving, competitive, tend to worry andsuffer more heart attacks than type B.Economically type A tend to be more successful then type B people, who areusually more relaxed and perhaps because of this, less competitive. Being less competitive, they don't become gamers as often as type A individuals. My wife jokes that gamers are, "childish," but I prefer childlike. We are all children when we game, and some of the disputes which takeplace while gaming are not dissimilar to those you find on the playground. Gamers tend to make great Dads!!! We can relate to our children as we are just bigkids ourselves. As a group we are more
      creative than the average person as well. Again our jobs often reflect this. Gamers are firey in that they often have a
      beef about something. They tend to be more intelligent than most people, and perhaps can see more about the world than many. They tend to see things with acritical eye, be it to do with environmentalism, politics, or the state of the gaming hobby itself. This fire can start on the tennis court, while gaming, or when someone is taking up too much space on the train. We tend to be somewhat negative in outlook, but you can also call this viewing the world with a critical eye.

      Gamers see the world more clearly than many with a more positive, but too rosy outlook on life.

      Indeed gamers have a love of history, and it was often their favourite subject in school. They also have a fascination with war and war stories. Perhaps this is due to an older mentor influencing them. My impression is that often people directly involved in war, do not want to play games about it, but others for whom war is somewhat understood, but not directlyexperienced, for them, games about war hold a fascination. My father who fought in Europe during WW2 will play chess with me, but nother more directly associated with war than that. I will playanything, having grown up in relatively peaceful times, and never having been in the military.

      Perhaps the Walter Mitty fantasy of being a leader is what gamers want. I know I get a thrill when I lead "my country" to victory. We can try on different hats whenwe game. I can be the Prime Minister ofBritain during her finest hour. I can run forPresident. I can lead a regiment. I can feel to some extent the loss which native North

      Americans feel when I play "Geronimo."I can understand a bit more, and have more of a context when we talk about history than merely reading a book, orattending a lecture.

      We love getting together with others, although many of us are, or were shy at one time. We love the comradery of gaming together. I would love to game with a group more often if possible. I love beating players whom I think are better than I am. I get such a bang out of the kind of competition that playing games gives me. In Japan, gaming has allowed me to meet many different people from many different countries, and kill them; on the board that is. Indeed war is a terrible thing, and the closest I ever want to get to it is to play chess or other historical simulation games. People who play HS games tend to be the most peaceful people you'd ever want to meet.

      I hope I can instill my love of gaming in my boys and if possible my wife. She has played with me, and even beat me once! About your sons, the ticket to getting them involved in gaming is using miniatures, either on a board as in the game, "Axis and Allies," or playing with miniatures rules. The lack of miniatures is one reason Avalon Hill is no more, and companies like Milton Bradley are still producing games. As Jeff Lewis said to me, "Who remembers the original Axis andAllies game without figures?" Good,simple games, with figures my children can hold onto, coupled with a love of history, and male sexuality will help to create a new historical simulation gamer.Little girls don't tend to like "little soldiers" as my son Jonah calls them. And maybe that is just as well.

      Kevin  Burns

      What's in a Name? Why the Title of Wargames is Helping to Kill Our Hobby

      This site is dedicated to the playing of historical simulation games, also known as wargames. It can be argued that "wargames" is a misnomer, in that rolling dice is not very war-like. Moreover, many of the games are more about negotiation, politics and economics, than war. Examples of these include: Diplomacy, Pax Britannica, Canadian Civil War, and Republic of Rome. Furthermore, the use of the term wargames, over historical simulation games, turns off many potential gamers. Many people don't mind playing chess or a historical simulation game, but shy away if you ask them to play a "wargame." Most people don't realize that chess really is a game about war.

        To attract more people to the hobby, I suggest we use the term "historical simulation games", rather than wargames. Historical simulation is really what they are about after all. History involves many things, only oneof which is war. Why emphasize it, when what we do is really rather passive? "Wargamers" are the most polite,dove-like people I know, why give the public the wrong impression of what we do, and alienate many potential new players? Admittedly, the subject matter of the games "Third Reich" and "War and Peace" amongst others, are the Second World War and the Napoleonic Wars respectively, and people who play these games will find this out soon enough. My point with this diatribe isn't to argue that we don't play games about war, but rather, why do we need to artificially emphasize this with the name, and deter people who might otherwise game with us, when many of the games we play aren't truly wargames. Just as I wouldn't call what we play dice games,(even though many of us blame them for our losses), I won't call them wargames either. Indeed, they are historical games, and that is what I hope to learn about, when I sit opposite you, and roll the dice.

      by Kevin  Burns

       
       
       
       
       
       
       


      It's All in the Die Roll



        Anybody looking for a game with perfect play balance where victory is completely dependant on the skill of the individual
      should steer away from Historical Simulation Gaming (HSG) because history teaches us that whilst skill and comparative strengths do influence results it is the unseen hand of providence that seems to determine victory.
        On the 9th of April, 1241 and the 11th of April, 1241, at the battles of Liegnitz and Mohi respectively, the Mongol armies crushed
      two European armies bringing all of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Danube under the Mongol leader Sabutai's contrl. It is
      doubtful whether the disunited feudal armies of Western Europe could have withstood the shock of a Mongol invasion, since they
      were inferior in the fields of command and control, organization, training, equipment, discipline, communications, deception,
      intelligence and above all strategic perception. However, in 1242 the "hand of fate" stepped in with the death of Ogati Khan.
      Obedient to the law of his father Genghis Khan, the horde returned to Mongolia to elect a successor, never to penetrate so far West
      again.
        My point is this: Western Europe was not saved by superior forces or greater skill, but by the unseen hand of providence. Any game
      that doesn't cater to such unexpected eventualities ignores the evidence presented by history itself and where everything is determined
      by the players we have a game more akin to chess than a simulation of history.
        So whatever the game system, the simulation needs to incorporate the hand of providence and this usually presents itself through the
      use of combat results tables, weather tables, morale checks and random event tables.  The one thing all these charts and tables have in
      common is that they are all determined by a die roll.
        Another example closer to home would be the battle of Midway, possibly the most significant victory of the Pacific Theatre during
      the Second World War.  On the 4th of June, 1942, Admiral Nagumo was in position to strike at the island of Midway. At dawn
      Japanese bombers were sent to reduce the defences of Midway, however Nagumo kept his best pilots back from this attack and began
      preparing a second wave against enemy ships. The only reason he could have had for doing this was intuition as all available Japanese
      intelligence suggested the USN carrier fleet was in or near Pearl Harbour.  He sent search aircraft out to the North East knowing that
      if any USN carriers were present that is where they would be.  However, one of the "Petes" was thirty minutes late taking off and
      another returned shortly with engine trouble. This latter would have over flown the USN fleet!  This was the crucial point in the
      battle.  Until this point, Nagumo had done well.  He had inflicted serious damage upon Midway, he was ranging a strike against a foe
      who should not even be there and sent out a search to correctly locate him. But for a mechanical failure in one minor float plane
      "history" could have been considerably different.
        Further to this having received the reports of his search planes that there were no enemy planes, Nagumo decided that his primary
      objective should be to reduce the still operational runways of Midway Island. Re-arming had been in progress for some time when the
      late plane made its position and reported 10 enemy ships, however the plane's report was inaccurate stating 5 heavy cruisers and 5
      destroyers. It was not until 8:30AM that the report was corrected to include a sighting of a fleet carrier. By which time it was too late
      for Nagumo and the rest is history.
        My point is this--any simulation must include elements that ensure that either player is not so completely in control that victory is
      inevitable. Even the best laid plans can come to naught by seemingly the most irrelevant of circumstances. Consider Nagumo's float
      plane.  History is full of examples of such "bad luck" so rolling a poor result on the dreaded combat results table can be as much
      a historical simulation as any particular game system.
        The "Napoleon's Health" rule of "The Battles of Waterloo" game from GMT, eloquently embraces a, blame it on the die roll
      system. In the game, the command point rating of the overall commanders (Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher) is essential for
      gaining and keeping the initiative and determining the number of "leader initiative markers" available in the LIM selection segment.
      What the health rule does is it varies Napoleon's command point rating from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 5; and as a consequence, the French player's ability to seize the initiative and control the flow of the game is dependant on Napoleon's health.
      The designer should be applauded for not only introducing factors that are totally out of the control of the player but doing it in such a
      way that provides an accurate simulation of the historical consequences of Napoleon's health. If issue was to be taken with the games
      designer over this rule, it iw that he made it an optional rule when in my opinion it should be made compulsory for all those seeking to
      increase the historicity of the simulation.
        The weather has played havoc with the most well laid plans throughout time and history could be very different if it was not for its
      ability to do the unexpected. The German High Command expected Operation Barbarossa to take blitzkrieg warfare to new heights and
      force a Soviet surrender within 3 months. They had however not taken into account two major factors: 1) The tenacity of the Russian
      people in defence of their homeland, and 2) the weather. The Germans had not prepared for a winter war and the winter of 1941-42
      proved to be the worst in more than a generation--grinding the German war machine to a halt within sights of the gates of Moscow.
      Every Russian front game I have come across has simulated the unpredictability of the weather with a die roll and a weather table.
      There is no point grumbling about it as all it is doing is simulating history.
         Bad die rolls on such a table may be bad luck, but consider the luck of the Mongols; it seems only the hand of God could stop them
      in their day, when they attempted to invade Japan. In June 1281 the largest fleet ever assembled, appeared off the coast of Kyushu.
      Four thousand vessels carried two hundred thousand men, most of whom were seasoned veterans. Weeks of desparate fighting
      between the opposing combatants eventually saw the Japanese being slowly forced back before the Mongol onslaught. Then on
      August 15th, a typhoon hit Kyushu and destroyed the Mongolian fleet. Cut off from their supplies and their line of retreat the survivors
      were overcome by the Japanese. Imagine rolling a kamikaze (divine wind) on the weather table and on checking the result finding out
      that the game was OVER! That's not fair I hear you cry. You are right there but just be thankful that you were not one of the 200,000
      Mongolians who rolled a kamikaze and it was ALL over for all but 3 of them!  These three were spared incidentally, to spread the news
      of the great disaster to the Khan himself in Peking. West End Games produced a diplomacy variant called "Kamakura" which incorp-
      orates this type of natural disaster. If your army is in a province hit by a typhoon or earthquake, it is immediately removed from the
      game. This certainly is an unkind way to lose a game but it is historical.
        I have briefly pointed to just a few of those instances in history that have an element of providence within them, where it didn't go
      according to the form book because of unexpected mitigating factors. There are many more examples, but I think my point comes
      across with the instances I have illustrated here.  The moral of this article then is: the next time you are cursing an unlucky die roll,
      pause and consider that what you are doing is simulation history and seeing the wrath of the Gods dooming your campaign to
      failure.

      Pastor Alexander Ashton

       
       
       


      Milton Bradley's Gamemaster Series
      A Review of a Great Series

      The Gamemaster series of games put out by Milton Bradley in the mid '80's
      are some of the most often played games on my shelf.  The most successful
      and well known game of this series is of course, Axis & Allies. But there
      were four other games in the series, each of which focused on some period
      of history and in one case a (very) speculative future.  In all the games
      save one, the scope is epic; the choices you make affect the future of the
      world. Very cool!

      Axis & Allies covers WWII. Conquest of the Empire covers the Roman Empire
      in the 2nd Century. Samurai Swords (aka Shogun) deals with 16th century
      Japan. Broadsides and Boarding Parties takes on the 17th Century as well.
      Finally Fortress America looks at the "early 21st Century".

      All of the games came in big gorgeous boxes, covered with equally beautiful
      artwork. Each game had really big colorful gameboards and 3D components,
      easy to read rules, and best of all, bags just full of bits! These games
      all came with 200+ pieces on average. As a miniatures freak I really
      appreciated this, and the visual appeal of these games is part of the
      reason why I and my friends continue to play these games.

      Axis & Allies is still in print. Samurai Swords was re-released a few years
      ago and is now OOP again.  The other games are not likely to ever be
      resurrected. A shame really; this series had a lot of potential.  A
      questionnaire I found in one of the boxes asked what other topics players
      would like to see a Gamemaster game done on.  Choices included the U.S.
      Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, Medieval period, fantasy, and sci-fi. If
      only....

      Capsule reviews and comments on each game follow. Art/Presentation covers
      first, the box art, then the map board, game pieces, and other components.

      Axis & Allies
      Subject: WW2
      Players: 2 - 5
      Gameplay: 4
      Art/Presentation: 4/4
      Availability: Good
      Comments: Just type in Axis & Allies on your search engine and you will see
      just how popular this game is. Wargame enthusiasts may decry its
      "simplified" take on WW2 (even as they set it up to play it) but if you
      consider A&A a "wargame" then it is easily one of the best selling wargames
      of all time.  Axis & Allies is interesting in that the "sides" are uneven,
      that is, three players (the Allies) vs. two (the Axis).  The cooperation
      necessary to win the game for either side is what makes this game so
      interesting.  Russia cannot hold if the UK doesn't draw off German
      resources; the Allies need the US player to correctly time and direct its
      forces to wallop the fascists; Germany and Japan both need each other to
      squeeze the Russians out as soon as possible.  The game does seem to follow
      a certain pattern after a while, with each nation making certain
      "no-brainer" moves. But by this time, the players are already experimenting
      with the multitude of variants that are available for the game.  Axis &
      Allies has stood the test of time and is a great addition to your gaming
      library.

      Samurai Swords (Shogun)
      Subject: 16th Century Japan
      Players: 2 - 5
      Gameplay: 4
      Art/Presentation: 5/5
      Availability: Good (but out-of-print since last year)
      Comments: Not only does Samurai Swords have perhaps the most stunning art
      of the Gamemaster series, it is an excellent game.  Each player controls a
      host of samurai, bowmen, spearmen, and gunners in a bid to become Shogun,
      the military ruler of Japan.  Unlike A&A, this game is every samurai for
      himself.  Deals are only good as long as they are politically necessary and
      only the strong will survive.  The figures for this game are astounding, as
      are the other components; foam trays shaped like castles, castle
      pieces,plastic swords, coins, even a ninja figure!  Fortunes can change
      quickly as last turn's power broker becomes this turn's goat. Players bid
      money for turn order and for hiring the ninja, as well as the usual buildup
      of forces.  Although not a very hard game to learn the depth of the game is
      excellent.  Players have to think several turns ahead to get on top and
      stay there, and until the competition is taken down a few notches, it's
      anyone's game.  The battles have a very unique feel to them that captures
      some of the essence of the game's setting very nicely. Games can take a
      long time to finish however, but the fast-play rules help somewhat.  This
      one is a winner, no doubt.

      Fortress America
      Subject: USA Invaded!
      Players: 2 - 4
      Gameplay: 5
      Art/Presentation: 3/4  Early editions of the game actually have Saddam
      Hussein on the cover! Later editions have Hussein disguised with a beard,
      moustache, and sunglasses!
      Availability: Rare; occasionally seen on the used games shelf; often sold
      on Ebay
      Comments: I like this game for its sheer anachronism; the US is invaded by
      a coalition of nations; the Eastern invaders (presumably all of Europe, led
      by the Soviet Union), the Western Invaders (a vaguely defined horde of one
      would assume are Asian nations), and the Southern Invader (an equally
      ambiguous army of  Latin American nations). It was printed at the height of
      the Cold War (in 1984) so you can see where the politics of the time
      informed the game world.  But, goofy premise aside, this is a really good
      game. This one is three against one; the foreign hordes against a lone
      American defender.  The system starts the US player off relatively weak,
      but able to grow in strength each turn.  Conversely, the invaders are
      strong to begin with but attrition will do them in if they don't win a
      swift victory. Initially, everyone thinks the invaders can't lose, but when
      the US tactics are figured out it goes the other way. Then both sides have
      their tactics down and Fortress America becomes a contest where even late
      in the game, no one is sure who is going to win.  It takes a while to reach
      this level of understanding in the game and so, unfortunately, many stop
      playing before they really get into it.

      Conquest of the Empire
      Subject: 2nd Century AD Roman Empire
      Players: 2 - 6
      Gameplay: 3
      Art/Presentation: 3/3
      Availability: Rare; often sold on Ebay
      Comments:  The large number of players, winner takes all victory
      conditions, and offense oriented game system make Conquest of the Empire
      one of the series most volatile titles.  The players must quickly make a
      few important alliances and then set about conquering everyone else (until
      it's time to break those alliances of course).  The game's big weakness is
      the catapults, which act somewhat like Punic panzer tanks. House rules can
      balance them out however. The game also features a unique and interesting
      mechanic; inflation.  As the game progresses and the players get richer,
      the price of combat units (legions, cavalry, and catapults) and other
      improvements (cities, walls) goes up.  Once certain thresh-holds are
      broken, things double and later triple in price.  Roads allow fast movement
      between provinces and are a mark of civilization (if you can spare the
      money to build a city to connect them to...) Another thing you can do, if
      the enemy hordes are threatening to capture one of your cities, is to burn
      it down to deny it to the enemy before you are destroyed. A definitely
      Pyrrhic victory.

      Broadsides & Boarding Parties
      Subject: Pirates of the Carribean!
      Players: 2
      Gameplay: 2
      Art/ Presentation: 3/4
      Availability: Very rare, even on Ebay (and expensive)
      Comments: Broadsides & Boarding Parties is easily the most visceral and at
      the same time simplest of the Gamemaster series.  While the other games in
      the series are strategic in nature, B&B is decidedly tactical. It's
      basically a ship to ship battle between a pirate ship and a Spanish
      Galleon.  Players start off by maneuvering smaller ships into gunnery range
      (Broadsides) on the battle board. Should the two ships collide
      (intentionally or not) the ship-to-ship boarding action begins (Boarding
      Parties).  The centerpiece(s) of the game are the two magnificent ship
      models, complete with masts, cannon, crew, and a captain (too bad there's
      no little plastic parrot).  The ships are over a foot long and very nicely
      detailed, as are the other figures.  On the down side the game system moves
      the ships around with a very simple card driven system, and the gunnery and
      boarding action is really a die-rolling contest. The game can get
      repetitive pretty quickly.  House rules for wind and other factors can
      really improve game play.  If you are lucky enough to have two sets you can
      even try multi-ship battles!

      Michael Montesa
       


      What Has the Great Battles of History Series Added to the Hobby?
      by Rodger B. MacGowan, Art Director of GMT Games


        Alex, [Ashton] you kindly said that my "...six years of work...have produced the most visually beautiful series (you) have come
      across in our hobby..." Thank you, for saying that, I deeply appreciate it.  As Art Director at GMT Games, I have worked very hard
      on the GBoH series.  I had a feeling many years ago that this series would prove to be important. Over the years, on this series, I've
      read many books, spent many hours in the dusty stacks of the UCLA Research Library, poured through all the visual sources I could
      find (there are not many, I might add), and tried to create a look, a style that would be recognizable as the GBoH Series.  It seemed to
      me that over the roughly 50 years of this hobby, since Avalon Hill created "Tactics" and "Gettysburg" in the 1950's, we have not seen much attention paid to the Classical time period.  Ancient Greece and Rome had received very little coverage, and there was almost
      nothing on 16th Century Japan or the 30 YearsWar.  As a player in the 1960's and 70's most of us were playing WWII era games
      and most of the games produced were on WWII.  When I became a "professional" in the hobby in the mid-70's, I founded and
      created a professional hobby review magazine Fire and Movement and thus had an opportunity to get an even wider overview of the
      hobby and what was being produced.  There was no question about it, WWII era games dominated, from Midway to The Russian
      Campaign to the Squad Leader Series and on and on.  There were so few games on the ancient period, you could count them all on
      one hand, and you would still have fingers left over.
        I remember hearing often, over the years, when someone was considering designing or producing an ancients game--"No one will
      buy it, you'll go bust, and lose your shirt on it..." The risk factor of producing an ancient era game seemed very high.  In fact, when
      we at GMT Games first considered producing the Great Battles of Alexander in the early 90's we heard the same refrain--"It's a big
      mistake, don't do it, now will buy it, you'll go broke producing it..."  Well, needless to say, we did it, and the rest is wargame
      history.
        I think the most important thing our GBoH series of games has done is open the eyes of many gamers to periods of history they
      were not aware of before.  They have come to appreciate the tactics of the Greek Phalanx and the Roman Legion and so much
      more.  They have come to know some of the great Captains of history like Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar, pyrrhus and Takeda Shingen--leaders they knew very little about or maybe never heard of before.  They have come to see details of combat in that period.
      I believe that of all the games in our GBoH series, the one that "sold out" the fastest was "Samurai"--that was the most pleasant
      surprise.
        So, we don't hear anyone telling us today that games on the ancient period won't sell.  We have turned that conventional wisdom
      upon its ear.  They were wrong, we were correct.  What we hear, most often now, is when is the next GBoH series game coming
      out?  Most of the credit for this belongs to the game designers Mark Herman and Richard Berg, and to GMT President Gene
      Billingsley for deciding to design and produce this series even in light of all the critics who said it couldn't be done.  As the Art
      Director of the GBoH series, what I have tried to do is create the most visually interesting series of games I could.  I hope I have
      achieved this.

       


      The Yellow Submarine Store (Map above)
      Shinjuku Station (South Exit) This is where you can buy games in Tokyo.  Know your prices though! Some of their stuff is reasonable and some of it is exhorbitant--especially if you like wargames.   This map was courtesy of Yuji Takamiya.

      Back to JIGG 



    • JIGG@yahoogroups.com
      The Katana The Katana The Journal of Japan`s International Gamers` Guild � JIGG Vol. 2 � Links JIGG � Back to the Homepage � The Making of a Historical
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 1, 2004
        The Katana
        The Katana

        The Journal of Japan`s International Gamers` Guild  
        JIGG

        Vol. 2  Links
        JIGG

         Back to the Homepage
         

        The Making of a Historical Simulation Gamer

        While most of the simulation gamers I know, are in general nice people to play and deal with, all of them in some way and I include myself in this--are rather firey,competitive individuals. Often they occupy positions of power or influence over others. Myself, I own my own small chain of English schools. Some work as editors, managers or in some other professional capacity, typically. I will state confidentlythat most gamers are type "A" people as opposed to type "B." Type A people are hard driving, competitive, tend to worry andsuffer more heart attacks than type B.Economically type A tend to be more successful then type B people, who areusually more relaxed and perhaps because of this, less competitive. Being less competitive, they don't become gamers as often as type A individuals. My wife jokes that gamers are, "childish," but I prefer childlike. We are all children when we game, and some of the disputes which takeplace while gaming are not dissimilar to those you find on the playground. Gamers tend to make great Dads!!! We can relate to our children as we are just bigkids ourselves. As a group we are more
        creative than the average person as well. Again our jobs often reflect this. Gamers are firey in that they often have a
        beef about something. They tend to be more intelligent than most people, and perhaps can see more about the world than many. They tend to see things with acritical eye, be it to do with environmentalism, politics, or the state of the gaming hobby itself. This fire can start on the tennis court, while gaming, or when someone is taking up too much space on the train. We tend to be somewhat negative in outlook, but you can also call this viewing the world with a critical eye.

        Gamers see the world more clearly than many with a more positive, but too rosy outlook on life.

        Indeed gamers have a love of history, and it was often their favourite subject in school. They also have a fascination with war and war stories. Perhaps this is due to an older mentor influencing them. My impression is that often people directly involved in war, do not want to play games about it, but others for whom war is somewhat understood, but not directlyexperienced, for them, games about war hold a fascination. My father who fought in Europe during WW2 will play chess with me, but nother more directly associated with war than that. I will playanything, having grown up in relatively peaceful times, and never having been in the military.

        Perhaps the Walter Mitty fantasy of being a leader is what gamers want. I know I get a thrill when I lead "my country" to victory. We can try on different hats whenwe game. I can be the Prime Minister ofBritain during her finest hour. I can run forPresident. I can lead a regiment. I can feel to some extent the loss which native North

        Americans feel when I play "Geronimo."I can understand a bit more, and have more of a context when we talk about history than merely reading a book, orattending a lecture.

        We love getting together with others, although many of us are, or were shy at one time. We love the comradery of gaming together. I would love to game with a group more often if possible. I love beating players whom I think are better than I am. I get such a bang out of the kind of competition that playing games gives me. In Japan, gaming has allowed me to meet many different people from many different countries, and kill them; on the board that is. Indeed war is a terrible thing, and the closest I ever want to get to it is to play chess or other historical simulation games. People who play HS games tend to be the most peaceful people you'd ever want to meet.

        I hope I can instill my love of gaming in my boys and if possible my wife. She has played with me, and even beat me once! About your sons, the ticket to getting them involved in gaming is using miniatures, either on a board as in the game, "Axis and Allies," or playing with miniatures rules. The lack of miniatures is one reason Avalon Hill is no more, and companies like Milton Bradley are still producing games. As Jeff Lewis said to me, "Who remembers the original Axis andAllies game without figures?" Good,simple games, with figures my children can hold onto, coupled with a love of history, and male sexuality will help to create a new historical simulation gamer.Little girls don't tend to like "little soldiers" as my son Jonah calls them. And maybe that is just as well.

        Kevin  Burns

        What's in a Name? Why the Title of Wargames is Helping to Kill Our Hobby

        This site is dedicated to the playing of historical simulation games, also known as wargames. It can be argued that "wargames" is a misnomer, in that rolling dice is not very war-like. Moreover, many of the games are more about negotiation, politics and economics, than war. Examples of these include: Diplomacy, Pax Britannica, Canadian Civil War, and Republic of Rome. Furthermore, the use of the term wargames, over historical simulation games, turns off many potential gamers. Many people don't mind playing chess or a historical simulation game, but shy away if you ask them to play a "wargame." Most people don't realize that chess really is a game about war.

          To attract more people to the hobby, I suggest we use the term "historical simulation games", rather than wargames. Historical simulation is really what they are about after all. History involves many things, only oneof which is war. Why emphasize it, when what we do is really rather passive? "Wargamers" are the most polite,dove-like people I know, why give the public the wrong impression of what we do, and alienate many potential new players? Admittedly, the subject matter of the games "Third Reich" and "War and Peace" amongst others, are the Second World War and the Napoleonic Wars respectively, and people who play these games will find this out soon enough. My point with this diatribe isn't to argue that we don't play games about war, but rather, why do we need to artificially emphasize this with the name, and deter people who might otherwise game with us, when many of the games we play aren't truly wargames. Just as I wouldn't call what we play dice games,(even though many of us blame them for our losses), I won't call them wargames either. Indeed, they are historical games, and that is what I hope to learn about, when I sit opposite you, and roll the dice.

        by Kevin  Burns

         
         
         
         
         
         
         


        It's All in the Die Roll



          Anybody looking for a game with perfect play balance where victory is completely dependant on the skill of the individual
        should steer away from Historical Simulation Gaming (HSG) because history teaches us that whilst skill and comparative strengths do influence results it is the unseen hand of providence that seems to determine victory.
          On the 9th of April, 1241 and the 11th of April, 1241, at the battles of Liegnitz and Mohi respectively, the Mongol armies crushed
        two European armies bringing all of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Danube under the Mongol leader Sabutai's contrl. It is
        doubtful whether the disunited feudal armies of Western Europe could have withstood the shock of a Mongol invasion, since they
        were inferior in the fields of command and control, organization, training, equipment, discipline, communications, deception,
        intelligence and above all strategic perception. However, in 1242 the "hand of fate" stepped in with the death of Ogati Khan.
        Obedient to the law of his father Genghis Khan, the horde returned to Mongolia to elect a successor, never to penetrate so far West
        again.
          My point is this: Western Europe was not saved by superior forces or greater skill, but by the unseen hand of providence. Any game
        that doesn't cater to such unexpected eventualities ignores the evidence presented by history itself and where everything is determined
        by the players we have a game more akin to chess than a simulation of history.
          So whatever the game system, the simulation needs to incorporate the hand of providence and this usually presents itself through the
        use of combat results tables, weather tables, morale checks and random event tables.  The one thing all these charts and tables have in
        common is that they are all determined by a die roll.
          Another example closer to home would be the battle of Midway, possibly the most significant victory of the Pacific Theatre during
        the Second World War.  On the 4th of June, 1942, Admiral Nagumo was in position to strike at the island of Midway. At dawn
        Japanese bombers were sent to reduce the defences of Midway, however Nagumo kept his best pilots back from this attack and began
        preparing a second wave against enemy ships. The only reason he could have had for doing this was intuition as all available Japanese
        intelligence suggested the USN carrier fleet was in or near Pearl Harbour.  He sent search aircraft out to the North East knowing that
        if any USN carriers were present that is where they would be.  However, one of the "Petes" was thirty minutes late taking off and
        another returned shortly with engine trouble. This latter would have over flown the USN fleet!  This was the crucial point in the
        battle.  Until this point, Nagumo had done well.  He had inflicted serious damage upon Midway, he was ranging a strike against a foe
        who should not even be there and sent out a search to correctly locate him. But for a mechanical failure in one minor float plane
        "history" could have been considerably different.
          Further to this having received the reports of his search planes that there were no enemy planes, Nagumo decided that his primary
        objective should be to reduce the still operational runways of Midway Island. Re-arming had been in progress for some time when the
        late plane made its position and reported 10 enemy ships, however the plane's report was inaccurate stating 5 heavy cruisers and 5
        destroyers. It was not until 8:30AM that the report was corrected to include a sighting of a fleet carrier. By which time it was too late
        for Nagumo and the rest is history.
          My point is this--any simulation must include elements that ensure that either player is not so completely in control that victory is
        inevitable. Even the best laid plans can come to naught by seemingly the most irrelevant of circumstances. Consider Nagumo's float
        plane.  History is full of examples of such "bad luck" so rolling a poor result on the dreaded combat results table can be as much
        a historical simulation as any particular game system.
          The "Napoleon's Health" rule of "The Battles of Waterloo" game from GMT, eloquently embraces a, blame it on the die roll
        system. In the game, the command point rating of the overall commanders (Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher) is essential for
        gaining and keeping the initiative and determining the number of "leader initiative markers" available in the LIM selection segment.
        What the health rule does is it varies Napoleon's command point rating from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 5; and as a consequence, the French player's ability to seize the initiative and control the flow of the game is dependant on Napoleon's health.
        The designer should be applauded for not only introducing factors that are totally out of the control of the player but doing it in such a
        way that provides an accurate simulation of the historical consequences of Napoleon's health. If issue was to be taken with the games
        designer over this rule, it iw that he made it an optional rule when in my opinion it should be made compulsory for all those seeking to
        increase the historicity of the simulation.
          The weather has played havoc with the most well laid plans throughout time and history could be very different if it was not for its
        ability to do the unexpected. The German High Command expected Operation Barbarossa to take blitzkrieg warfare to new heights and
        force a Soviet surrender within 3 months. They had however not taken into account two major factors: 1) The tenacity of the Russian
        people in defence of their homeland, and 2) the weather. The Germans had not prepared for a winter war and the winter of 1941-42
        proved to be the worst in more than a generation--grinding the German war machine to a halt within sights of the gates of Moscow.
        Every Russian front game I have come across has simulated the unpredictability of the weather with a die roll and a weather table.
        There is no point grumbling about it as all it is doing is simulating history.
           Bad die rolls on such a table may be bad luck, but consider the luck of the Mongols; it seems only the hand of God could stop them
        in their day, when they attempted to invade Japan. In June 1281 the largest fleet ever assembled, appeared off the coast of Kyushu.
        Four thousand vessels carried two hundred thousand men, most of whom were seasoned veterans. Weeks of desparate fighting
        between the opposing combatants eventually saw the Japanese being slowly forced back before the Mongol onslaught. Then on
        August 15th, a typhoon hit Kyushu and destroyed the Mongolian fleet. Cut off from their supplies and their line of retreat the survivors
        were overcome by the Japanese. Imagine rolling a kamikaze (divine wind) on the weather table and on checking the result finding out
        that the game was OVER! That's not fair I hear you cry. You are right there but just be thankful that you were not one of the 200,000
        Mongolians who rolled a kamikaze and it was ALL over for all but 3 of them!  These three were spared incidentally, to spread the news
        of the great disaster to the Khan himself in Peking. West End Games produced a diplomacy variant called "Kamakura" which incorp-
        orates this type of natural disaster. If your army is in a province hit by a typhoon or earthquake, it is immediately removed from the
        game. This certainly is an unkind way to lose a game but it is historical.
          I have briefly pointed to just a few of those instances in history that have an element of providence within them, where it didn't go
        according to the form book because of unexpected mitigating factors. There are many more examples, but I think my point comes
        across with the instances I have illustrated here.  The moral of this article then is: the next time you are cursing an unlucky die roll,
        pause and consider that what you are doing is simulation history and seeing the wrath of the Gods dooming your campaign to
        failure.

        Pastor Alexander Ashton

         
         
         


        Milton Bradley's Gamemaster Series
        A Review of a Great Series

        The Gamemaster series of games put out by Milton Bradley in the mid '80's
        are some of the most often played games on my shelf.  The most successful
        and well known game of this series is of course, Axis & Allies. But there
        were four other games in the series, each of which focused on some period
        of history and in one case a (very) speculative future.  In all the games
        save one, the scope is epic; the choices you make affect the future of the
        world. Very cool!

        Axis & Allies covers WWII. Conquest of the Empire covers the Roman Empire
        in the 2nd Century. Samurai Swords (aka Shogun) deals with 16th century
        Japan. Broadsides and Boarding Parties takes on the 17th Century as well.
        Finally Fortress America looks at the "early 21st Century".

        All of the games came in big gorgeous boxes, covered with equally beautiful
        artwork. Each game had really big colorful gameboards and 3D components,
        easy to read rules, and best of all, bags just full of bits! These games
        all came with 200+ pieces on average. As a miniatures freak I really
        appreciated this, and the visual appeal of these games is part of the
        reason why I and my friends continue to play these games.

        Axis & Allies is still in print. Samurai Swords was re-released a few years
        ago and is now OOP again.  The other games are not likely to ever be
        resurrected. A shame really; this series had a lot of potential.  A
        questionnaire I found in one of the boxes asked what other topics players
        would like to see a Gamemaster game done on.  Choices included the U.S.
        Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, Medieval period, fantasy, and sci-fi. If
        only....

        Capsule reviews and comments on each game follow. Art/Presentation covers
        first, the box art, then the map board, game pieces, and other components.

        Axis & Allies
        Subject: WW2
        Players: 2 - 5
        Gameplay: 4
        Art/Presentation: 4/4
        Availability: Good
        Comments: Just type in Axis & Allies on your search engine and you will see
        just how popular this game is. Wargame enthusiasts may decry its
        "simplified" take on WW2 (even as they set it up to play it) but if you
        consider A&A a "wargame" then it is easily one of the best selling wargames
        of all time.  Axis & Allies is interesting in that the "sides" are uneven,
        that is, three players (the Allies) vs. two (the Axis).  The cooperation
        necessary to win the game for either side is what makes this game so
        interesting.  Russia cannot hold if the UK doesn't draw off German
        resources; the Allies need the US player to correctly time and direct its
        forces to wallop the fascists; Germany and Japan both need each other to
        squeeze the Russians out as soon as possible.  The game does seem to follow
        a certain pattern after a while, with each nation making certain
        "no-brainer" moves. But by this time, the players are already experimenting
        with the multitude of variants that are available for the game.  Axis &
        Allies has stood the test of time and is a great addition to your gaming
        library.

        Samurai Swords (Shogun)
        Subject: 16th Century Japan
        Players: 2 - 5
        Gameplay: 4
        Art/Presentation: 5/5
        Availability: Good (but out-of-print since last year)
        Comments: Not only does Samurai Swords have perhaps the most stunning art
        of the Gamemaster series, it is an excellent game.  Each player controls a
        host of samurai, bowmen, spearmen, and gunners in a bid to become Shogun,
        the military ruler of Japan.  Unlike A&A, this game is every samurai for
        himself.  Deals are only good as long as they are politically necessary and
        only the strong will survive.  The figures for this game are astounding, as
        are the other components; foam trays shaped like castles, castle
        pieces,plastic swords, coins, even a ninja figure!  Fortunes can change
        quickly as last turn's power broker becomes this turn's goat. Players bid
        money for turn order and for hiring the ninja, as well as the usual buildup
        of forces.  Although not a very hard game to learn the depth of the game is
        excellent.  Players have to think several turns ahead to get on top and
        stay there, and until the competition is taken down a few notches, it's
        anyone's game.  The battles have a very unique feel to them that captures
        some of the essence of the game's setting very nicely. Games can take a
        long time to finish however, but the fast-play rules help somewhat.  This
        one is a winner, no doubt.

        Fortress America
        Subject: USA Invaded!
        Players: 2 - 4
        Gameplay: 5
        Art/Presentation: 3/4  Early editions of the game actually have Saddam
        Hussein on the cover! Later editions have Hussein disguised with a beard,
        moustache, and sunglasses!
        Availability: Rare; occasionally seen on the used games shelf; often sold
        on Ebay
        Comments: I like this game for its sheer anachronism; the US is invaded by
        a coalition of nations; the Eastern invaders (presumably all of Europe, led
        by the Soviet Union), the Western Invaders (a vaguely defined horde of one
        would assume are Asian nations), and the Southern Invader (an equally
        ambiguous army of  Latin American nations). It was printed at the height of
        the Cold War (in 1984) so you can see where the politics of the time
        informed the game world.  But, goofy premise aside, this is a really good
        game. This one is three against one; the foreign hordes against a lone
        American defender.  The system starts the US player off relatively weak,
        but able to grow in strength each turn.  Conversely, the invaders are
        strong to begin with but attrition will do them in if they don't win a
        swift victory. Initially, everyone thinks the invaders can't lose, but when
        the US tactics are figured out it goes the other way. Then both sides have
        their tactics down and Fortress America becomes a contest where even late
        in the game, no one is sure who is going to win.  It takes a while to reach
        this level of understanding in the game and so, unfortunately, many stop
        playing before they really get into it.

        Conquest of the Empire
        Subject: 2nd Century AD Roman Empire
        Players: 2 - 6
        Gameplay: 3
        Art/Presentation: 3/3
        Availability: Rare; often sold on Ebay
        Comments:  The large number of players, winner takes all victory
        conditions, and offense oriented game system make Conquest of the Empire
        one of the series most volatile titles.  The players must quickly make a
        few important alliances and then set about conquering everyone else (until
        it's time to break those alliances of course).  The game's big weakness is
        the catapults, which act somewhat like Punic panzer tanks. House rules can
        balance them out however. The game also features a unique and interesting
        mechanic; inflation.  As the game progresses and the players get richer,
        the price of combat units (legions, cavalry, and catapults) and other
        improvements (cities, walls) goes up.  Once certain thresh-holds are
        broken, things double and later triple in price.  Roads allow fast movement
        between provinces and are a mark of civilization (if you can spare the
        money to build a city to connect them to...) Another thing you can do, if
        the enemy hordes are threatening to capture one of your cities, is to burn
        it down to deny it to the enemy before you are destroyed. A definitely
        Pyrrhic victory.

        Broadsides & Boarding Parties
        Subject: Pirates of the Carribean!
        Players: 2
        Gameplay: 2
        Art/ Presentation: 3/4
        Availability: Very rare, even on Ebay (and expensive)
        Comments: Broadsides & Boarding Parties is easily the most visceral and at
        the same time simplest of the Gamemaster series.  While the other games in
        the series are strategic in nature, B&B is decidedly tactical. It's
        basically a ship to ship battle between a pirate ship and a Spanish
        Galleon.  Players start off by maneuvering smaller ships into gunnery range
        (Broadsides) on the battle board. Should the two ships collide
        (intentionally or not) the ship-to-ship boarding action begins (Boarding
        Parties).  The centerpiece(s) of the game are the two magnificent ship
        models, complete with masts, cannon, crew, and a captain (too bad there's
        no little plastic parrot).  The ships are over a foot long and very nicely
        detailed, as are the other figures.  On the down side the game system moves
        the ships around with a very simple card driven system, and the gunnery and
        boarding action is really a die-rolling contest. The game can get
        repetitive pretty quickly.  House rules for wind and other factors can
        really improve game play.  If you are lucky enough to have two sets you can
        even try multi-ship battles!

        Michael Montesa
         


        What Has the Great Battles of History Series Added to the Hobby?
        by Rodger B. MacGowan, Art Director of GMT Games


          Alex, [Ashton] you kindly said that my "...six years of work...have produced the most visually beautiful series (you) have come
        across in our hobby..." Thank you, for saying that, I deeply appreciate it.  As Art Director at GMT Games, I have worked very hard
        on the GBoH series.  I had a feeling many years ago that this series would prove to be important. Over the years, on this series, I've
        read many books, spent many hours in the dusty stacks of the UCLA Research Library, poured through all the visual sources I could
        find (there are not many, I might add), and tried to create a look, a style that would be recognizable as the GBoH Series.  It seemed to
        me that over the roughly 50 years of this hobby, since Avalon Hill created "Tactics" and "Gettysburg" in the 1950's, we have not seen much attention paid to the Classical time period.  Ancient Greece and Rome had received very little coverage, and there was almost
        nothing on 16th Century Japan or the 30 YearsWar.  As a player in the 1960's and 70's most of us were playing WWII era games
        and most of the games produced were on WWII.  When I became a "professional" in the hobby in the mid-70's, I founded and
        created a professional hobby review magazine Fire and Movement and thus had an opportunity to get an even wider overview of the
        hobby and what was being produced.  There was no question about it, WWII era games dominated, from Midway to The Russian
        Campaign to the Squad Leader Series and on and on.  There were so few games on the ancient period, you could count them all on
        one hand, and you would still have fingers left over.
          I remember hearing often, over the years, when someone was considering designing or producing an ancients game--"No one will
        buy it, you'll go bust, and lose your shirt on it..." The risk factor of producing an ancient era game seemed very high.  In fact, when
        we at GMT Games first considered producing the Great Battles of Alexander in the early 90's we heard the same refrain--"It's a big
        mistake, don't do it, now will buy it, you'll go broke producing it..."  Well, needless to say, we did it, and the rest is wargame
        history.
          I think the most important thing our GBoH series of games has done is open the eyes of many gamers to periods of history they
        were not aware of before.  They have come to appreciate the tactics of the Greek Phalanx and the Roman Legion and so much
        more.  They have come to know some of the great Captains of history like Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar, pyrrhus and Takeda Shingen--leaders they knew very little about or maybe never heard of before.  They have come to see details of combat in that period.
        I believe that of all the games in our GBoH series, the one that "sold out" the fastest was "Samurai"--that was the most pleasant
        surprise.
          So, we don't hear anyone telling us today that games on the ancient period won't sell.  We have turned that conventional wisdom
        upon its ear.  They were wrong, we were correct.  What we hear, most often now, is when is the next GBoH series game coming
        out?  Most of the credit for this belongs to the game designers Mark Herman and Richard Berg, and to GMT President Gene
        Billingsley for deciding to design and produce this series even in light of all the critics who said it couldn't be done.  As the Art
        Director of the GBoH series, what I have tried to do is create the most visually interesting series of games I could.  I hope I have
        achieved this.

         


        The Yellow Submarine Store (Map above)
        Shinjuku Station (South Exit) This is where you can buy games in Tokyo.  Know your prices though! Some of their stuff is reasonable and some of it is exhorbitant--especially if you like wargames.   This map was courtesy of Yuji Takamiya.

        Back to JIGG 



      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.