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Subject: Geek of the Week #307 - marnaudo rss

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Andrew C
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Thanks to everyone for so many interesting and thought provoking questions! Now I have have the great pleasure to pass the torch to an extremely deserving geek:

Marco Arnaudo
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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"My spoon is too big!"
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In his relatively short time as an active member of BGG, Marco has produced a huge number of video reviews. Unlike most other reviewers, though, Marco focuses on wargames, even though their smaller niche of interested users means they'll recieve somewhat less attention. I also find that Marco's video reviews do a better job than most at not just describing the components and primary mechanics, but also at assessing and clearly communicating a game's strengths and weaknesses.

A geeklist with a list of all 90+ reviews can be found here.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce Marco:

marnaudo wrote:
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
I grew up on a farm on the Alps in North Western Italy. My early life was an idyllic series of activities such as picking apples, making bread, shoveling dung, watering our strawberry plantation at 3am, and inhaling alcoholic vapors from the must fermenting in the basement. So please don’t ever ask me to play Agricola: I have DONE all that already!!

I have no siblings, and when I was a child the only games I could convince my parents to play with me were abstract games like Connect Four and checkers. My dad would always win every game even if he had to cheat to do so. He was trying (quote) to teach me to always be alert and to help me build character (end quote). The only thing this brilliant idea has helped building is the summer vacation house of my psychotherapist of 15 years, but this is another story.

GAMING LIKE IT’S 1992
Fast forward to high school, and you see me acting as Dungeon Master / narrator for at least 4 groups of RPGs, playing Magic, and sinking my teeth in adventure / fantasy / sci-fi Ameritrash type of games. Getting these games in Italy and especially in the small city I was going to school in was hard and expensive, and many of these games were still untranslated. My friends and I struggled through cards, charts and rulebooks written in an English that was way past our language skills, and in many cases we just interpreted creatively (or made up) most of the rules of the games.

In those days I also heard about wargames for the first time. Once the owner of a game store mentioned that a famous lawyer in town played wargames that he received directly from the States (ooooh), that were VERY complicated (aaaaah) and that (he lowered his voice to create more suspense) could even be played… in solitaire!
I don’t think I had ever been more in awe in my entire life! Wargames in my mind became something virtually mythological, like Excalibur and the Holy Grail and the One Ring To Rule Them All wielded by Jean-Claude Van Damme (I mentioned it was 1992 and I was 16, right?). Unfortunately the seeds of that moment of revelation would still take a long time before they could bear fruit.

THE BIG HIATUS
Some years later college happened. By that time I had had enough of my agrestic / idyllic / scenic region, and I decided I wanted to experience another part of Italy. I moved to Pisa because I liked the idea of living in Tuscany and it was cheaper and less chaotic than Florence.

During my college years I partied so hard that I can barely remember anything but a vague blur of alcohol, loud music and naked girls.
In my mind!
Because in reality I figured out soon after starting college that I wanted to become a university professor. I realized that this path would require a lot of dedication and many sacrifices, but somehow I overestimated / romanticized how much work it would take. I could have probably worked less compulsively, alternating academic efforts with hobbies and social life, and still get where I am now, maybe just a little later.

But, nope. For 10 years I was unhealthily obsessed with the idea of becoming an academic ASAP. I locked myself up in an artificial world of obscure books to study, cerebral papers and dissertations to write, gianormous exams to pass. With predictable consequences: caffeine as the main source of nourishment, insufficient personal hygiene (yeeew!), lack of sleep, tendency to use expressions like “Snow White et al.” rather than “Snow White and the seven dwarves”. Sad, I know.

BLOOMING IN BLOOMINGTON
One morning I woke up and it was 2006 already. I was 30, I had two PhDs from two prestigious universities, and a tenure track position in Italian literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. Oh, yes, and I was in the US. Along the way I had somehow managed to learn some English, I had started collecting comic books again, and I was dating a beautiful Brazilian psychiatrist. Things were looking good and I realized it was time to change some habits and slow down with work.

In the following years I managed to get tenure from IU, but in the meanwhile I also restarted playing games and finally entered the world of wargaming I had been vaguely dreaming of in the previous decades. The time was ripe: now I could understand the rulebooks in English, I had more income to spend on games, and I was starting to feel less guilty about pursuing hobbies instead of furthering my career 24/7. I met wonderful young gamers while I was serving as non-resident tutor for one of the dorms at IU, and together we founded the Strategy Gaming Club at IU, which in the past years has been constantly growing and thriving.

Last year a colleague at IU asked me if I wanted to inherit a board game website. You bet, I said. The site had been created by a student of his who was moving out of town and out of the game business. The site was (and is) www.2D6.org. I picked it up, formed a team of reviewers, and started messing around with a camcorder filming my own video reviews for the site. It turned out I am an awful ‘boss’. A meek and gentle type by nature, I would not press the reviewers of 2D6 to deliver the content they had promised, and I would let them run away with the free review copies I had obtained from the publishers. As a result I ended up buying new copies of the same games and reviewing them myself not to lose face with the publishers.

Luckily enough stoic Kevin Wenzel stepped it, took the reins of the project in his hands, reshaped the team, and managed to get the site going. In the meanwhile I had found out how much I enjoy videoreviewing, and that became a big part of my gaming hobby. Videoreviewing and the feedback I received about it also pushed me to finally stop being a geek-in-the-closet as I had been for years (coming to BGG stealthily to read content without even setting up an account), and I became a more active member of this wonderful community.

TODAY AND ALL OUR TOMORROWS
What else? I am now married with the Brazilian psychiatrist I mentioned above, we have a beautiful daughter who turns 1 year this July 31st, I have more friends than ever before thanks to the gaming milieu in Bloomington and to BGG, I learned how to divide my energies between work and hobbies, I game for about 2-3 hours a day every day, I am approaching my 100th video review, I have become a card in Omen: A Reign of War, and now I am the Geek of the Week.

Can things get any better?



And now for the two truths and a lie:

Poll
Which one is the lie?
When I was 19 I decided to become a sci-fi and fantasy writer, so that year I wrote two 300-page novels and some twenty short stories. None was ever published and I ended up destroying them all.
When I was 20 I briefly joined the Italian Communist Party solely because I had a desperate crush on one of the local party activists. When she started dating my roommate all my dreams of proletarian revolution died forever.
Among other places I worked in a tire factory, a printing and book binding factory, a university archive and an orphanage.
      333 answers
Poll created by Cleitus the Black


Marco, I'll start off with a couple of questions:

d10-1 What is your area of expertise and what subjects do you teach?
d10-2 What is your favorite wargame and why?
d10-3 What will be your next wargame purchase?
d10-4 Do you have any games that you own, and really want to play, but just haven't had a chance to yet?
d10-5 How much of your gameplay is face-to-face versus solo?
d10-6 Do you frequently solo play two player games?
d10-7 How many times do you play a game before reviewing it?
d10-8 Will you review a two (or more) player wargame based only on solo plays?
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Robert Wesley
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GRATZ! and: "I 'gotta' ROCK! ROCK! R-O-C-K in the USA!" whistle
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Brian Cooksey
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Hi! Congratulations!

1 What languages do you speak (or read/write)?

2 Is there a specific side (country, etc.) you prefer to play in historical wargames?

3 What is the last tabletop RPG you played?


Thanks for all the great reviews. Enjoy your week!

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Lucius Cornelius
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Congratulations, Marnaudo!
Love your video reviews!
Keep up the good work and enjoy your week!
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Sim Guy
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Hat tip to Cleitus for the pick. thumbsup

A thousand CONGRATULATIONS to Marco for reaching the pinnacle of Geekdom! laugh

Uh, here goes:
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS
CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS ...

Well, you get the idea.

CHEERS!
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Congatulations! Well chosen.

What is your favourite wargame in which you like to play the Italians?

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Steve Herron
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Congratulations to a real great guy, I have really enjoyed your reviews.
Do you have any special Italian dishes that have been passed down in your family?
What is your favorite GMT game?
Have you ever been to Tennessee?
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Mark Christopher
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Nice pick! Congrats, Marco! Always nice to see another Bitter Films fan!
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Quote:
: caffeine as the main source of nourishment, insufficient personal hygiene (yeeew!), lack of sleep


I got lost in here: were you talking about studying or gaming?
I played a lot in my youth... I never got my PhD zombie

Thanks Andrew for an excelent pick thumbsup
And Marco for the great life story
Congrats on your well deserved recognition
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Chris B
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Congratulations! Its been a great run for the wargamers!

Enjoy your week!
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micah qs
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What was the first wargame you played after romanticizing them in your head? Did it live up to your expectations?
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Bob Hansen
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Well deserved! I have enjoyed your videos and in many cases it was the deciding factor in purchasing a game; especially Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division.

So, my questions.

1) What is your favorite period of history to recreate through gaming?

2) Tactical or Strategic?

3) Your favorite video not done by you?
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Marco Arnaudo
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Cleitus the Black wrote:


d10-1 What is your area of expertise and what subjects do you teach?
d10-2 What is your favorite wargame and why?
d10-3 What will be your next wargame purchase?
d10-4 Do you have any games that you own, and really want to play, but just haven't had a chance to yet?
d10-5 How much of your gameplay is face-to-face versus solo?
d10-6 Do you frequently solo play two player games?
d10-7 How many times do you play a game before reviewing it?
d10-8 Will you review a two (or more) player wargame based only on solo plays?


Thank you Andrew for passing the scepter and crown to me, this is truly a great honor for me.

All right, let's get down to business!

d10-1 The years of hiatus have been spent studying obscure 17th-century Italian literature. I teach classes about all periods of Italian literature, but 17th-century (the Baroque age) is the area I like the most, and the one in which I published most of my works. On the subject I have a book about literature and art in that period, a modern edition of a Baroque comedy, and now accepted for publication is a volume about a religious poet of that time.
I also like to investigate American and English popular culture though, and comic books in particular. Last year I published a book about superhero comics. The book is in Italian but is being translated in English as we speak, and will be published next year by Johns Hopkins UP.

d10-2 Rommel in the Desert, no doubt. To explain why it would take me the entire week, and probably I would still fail to convey the sense of fulfillment that game gives me. The main reason I would say is that without an overbearing system of rules it conveys the spirit and the psychology of the North African campaign. If you play Rommel, you MUST think like Rommel. I am not kidding, when I play the game and find myself in trouble I DO ask myself "What would Rommel do?", and following Rommel's example usually helps. To me this is evidence that the game works.

d10-3 honestly I have no idea. Some games I receive as review copies, some I get through trades, some I play from the still unplayed ones, some I have pre-ordered, so I am not even sure when I will actually buy a game next. I got charged recently for the pre-order of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan but haven't received the game yet. Does that count?

d10-4 yes, most noticeably Napoleon's Triumph. I don't know why it didn't happen or why it is not happening now, but here we are, me and the game, practically strangers to one another.

d10-5 I'd say solo twice as much as ftf, considering the learning games, the 2-player games played solo, and of course the solitaire games, of which I am quite fond.

d10-6 see above, but I'd say yes. I do have the controlled schizophrenia that it takes to do that, we are pretty good at it.

d10-7 it depends on a lot of factors, but the idea is until I 'get' the game, whatever that means. Shorter games I play more times, longer games less times because a long time spent playing a long game still gets you immersed in the system for quite a while. Crusader: Battle for Tobruk has a straightforward, clear story and a simple system, I played it twice before I felt I had 'got it'. The Lash of the Turk, Men of Iron and Infidel have 4 to 6 battles, and I played all at battles least once. Of Black Cross/Blue Sky I played 9 of the 10 scenarios. Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations I played endless times because I got totally addicted. So as you can see it can vary greatly.

d10-8 yes, I have and I will. Again, clearly this can be done only for some games, meaning the ones that players would enjoying playing solo anyway. Soloing 2-player games is such a common practice among wargamers that I feel it is 'legitimate' to base a review on this approach.
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James Fehr
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Congratulations Marco!

Here are my questions for you:
- What do you think are the top 3 overrated wargames here on Boardgamegeek? And which are the top 3 underrated wargames in your opinion?
- What video review did you enjoy making the most, and why?
- I see that you don't rate any games on this site. Was that a deliberate decision? Do you think you'll ever start putting ratings on any games?
- If you could only play one wargame for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?

I hope you really enjoy this week.
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Marco Arnaudo
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Vaklam wrote:
Hi! Congratulations!

1 What languages do you speak (or read/write)?

2 Is there a specific side (country, etc.) you prefer to play in historical wargames?

3 What is the last tabletop RPG you played?


Thanks for all the great reviews. Enjoy your week!



1 Fluently: Italian, English, French, Portuguese, Latin [read and write only though, still looking for an ancient Roman to speak it with] and Piedmontese, the crazy dialect of my Italian region. Ancient Greek I used to be able to read, but that is long gone. Spanish I can read with ease, and I understand 60% of what is said. I tried to learn Chinese 3 times in my life, including an intensive Summer course in Beijing in 2005, but to no avail whatsoever.

2 Russians in Eastern Front games, and anyone who can bash the Italians in games that feature them. No, really, but it is mainly to make my non-Italian opponents feel comfortable. If I play the Italians then the opponent may hold back for fear to offend me or something like that. This way I can unleash as much violence as I want and still be P.C.

3 D&D, probably in 1994 or 1995. It was the first and the last one. I played many others too, but no one ever attracted me nearly as much.
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Marco Arnaudo
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GeneSteeler wrote:
Congatulations! Well chosen.

What is your favourite wargame in which you like to play the Italians?



Beda Fomm, second edition. They get bashed, and bashed, and bashed, and bashed, as it makes sense. But then after long suffering they may be able to do something effective and, if played well, they can make life very hard for the opponent. I like that type of challenge.
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David
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Congratulations. Well deserved.
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Arthur Switalski
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Congrats Marco! Love the reviews
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j clowdus
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Here's what Marco looks like as a Greek warrior (if you're curious): http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1049403/omen-a-reign-of-war-s...


Congrats on GotW, Marco!
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Tom Russell
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If I could give this a thousand thumbs, I would: a most-excellent choice for Geek of the Week. Marco, your video reviews are concise, clear, informative, insightful, and very entertaining-- your jokes are genuinely funny (without overpowering the review, as it does with some folks) and your passion for wargaming comes through every time.

One thing wargames are notorious for (often wrongly, sometimes rightly) are dense and fiddly rules with thousands of exceptions. And so, my question is, what is the fiddliest game you've ever played?
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Marco Arnaudo
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sherron wrote:
Congratulations to a real great guy, I have really enjoyed your reviews.
Do you have any special Italian dishes that have been passed down in your family?


my family has always been good at making a regional dish that is based on ground raw meat, a sort of tartar steak. Every time I go to visit there I eat buckets of it!

sherron wrote:
What is your favorite GMT game?


as of now probably Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division, but there so many good ones! And No Retreat 2 may get pretty close to the top once it's out.

sherron wrote:
Have you ever been to Tennessee?


not yet, but I'd like to. Every time I've been to the South I've had a great time!
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Marco - congratulations. Your video reviews, and the torrid pace which you crank them out, are inspiring. I've enjoyed all the ones I've watched to date, and envy you playing 2-3 hours a day.

Enjoy your week and welcome to my geekbuddy list!
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Marco Arnaudo
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quietstorm wrote:
What was the first wargame you played after romanticizing them in your head? Did it live up to your expectations?


Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815... and man, what a blast! Its combination of tactical and operational allowed me to experience different aspects of wargaming, and I got immediately started with the block system which still is one of my favs.
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Joel Eddy
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Awesome! Congratulations on your "Week" Marco.

I think you are responsible for introducing me to more games that I would have normally stayed far away from because of your video reviews, more specifically DVG, VPG, and GMT games.

However, I can no longer categorize games with any sense of certainty, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing!
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TS S. Fulk
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Congrats! You deserve it! Enjoy your week in fame.
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