User Profile for mcszarka
Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
Dear Santa Grogs:

I know my wish list is rather thin, I've been buying most of what I want lately.

I understand you feel I should perhaps consider some reading material. This is a very good idea of course. Some books that have been on my radar are:

The Most Dangerous Enemy: An Illustrated History of the Battle of Britain by Stephen Bungay

One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada's Tragedy at Dieppe by David O'Keefe

1812 War with America by John Latimer

Don't Give Up the Ship: Myths of the War of 1812 by Donald R. Hickey

Hope that helps Santa!


I have been playing wargames since about 1970. I also enjoy other strategy games and even party games, but wargames are my true love. A lot of my gaming friends are Eurogamers as well as wargamers. Although I haven't tried that many, I generally don't connect to heavy Euros. For the amount of effort involved I would rather play a wargame with a stronger narrative. I do enjoy lighter Euro games for quick weeknight games over beer and snacks. But the heavy ones often seem to be a mathematical exercise with everyone counting victory points all the time to wiggle ahead. I am also more of a linear thinker and so the "many ways to win" in a lot of Euros leaves me disconnected from the narrative. In wargames you have clarity of purpose - dominate your opponent with force of arms. Plus in good wargames you are playing out a historical reality that could have happened, and that makes it way more interesting.

My brother and I had a "lifetime subscription" to Strategy & Tactics magazine which as I recall we purchased for the princely sum of $200 in the early 70s. It eventually ran out when SPI changed ownership but it was a pretty good deal. We purchased many games from SPI, AH, VG and GDW in that era, before university when gaming was sidelined for both of us (majors in chemistry and physics do not allow for much free time). I later had a subscription to Command Magazine which had great games and I enjoyed them a lot, especially as I was a grad student and $30-$50 on a boxed game at the time seemed incredibly extravagant. For a while in the 90s I was a game reviewer for a few mags including Fire and Movement and Zone of Control if I recall correctly.

I was preoccupied with other things besides games for a long time but in the past ten years or so have made time for gaming again, and I have updated my collection through BGG math trades and eBay. Much of my wargaming used to be solo but thanks to BGG and local game cons I have met some wargamers close by so I am finally getting some FTF action again. But more than that I have discovered VASSAL and this has completely changed my gaming focus, to the point where I don't play solo much any more except to learn new games. I have a few local friends who play both euros and wargames, and game night is usually one of the highlights of my week.

My wife and I play games regularly, our favourites being Pandemic and gin rummy. Co-op games are great when it's just the two of us for a whole bunch of reasons! With friends it tends to be card games (mostly euchre) or party games (PitchCar has become a favourite to pull out).

Professionally I am a physical chemist and have worked for most of the last 20 years in "technology transfer" which is the attempt to take new discoveries from academic research and turn them into new products or processes, as well as to promote research partnerships with industry. Along the way I have become skilled in such areas as assessing new technologies, patent law, licensing, negotiating and raising capital for new ventures. Almost all of my adult life has been spent studying at or working for universities; I didn't finish my last degree until I was in my early 30s, and only worked for two years in a consulting firm before returning to work in research administration and technology management. I knew the first day of my first year of university that I had found my "tribe" and the place where I feel most comfortable. As one might expect for a pointy-head academic type, my personal philosophies are generally left-wing (I believe selfishness is the scourge of humanity) and uber-rationalist (I believe science and scientific investigation to be the highest achievements of humanity and the only worthwhile basis for any belief). Humanity's greatest threats are, beyond a doubt, climate change and depletion of natural resources. My current professional position is as director of corporate research partnerships at the University of Waterloo, which generates around $50 million in research funding every year. The challenge of the job is to promote these research partnerships and make them valuable both for the companies and the professors and students without "selling our soul" or taking undue risk.

Besides wargaming my other main hobby is playing bagpipes; I played at the highest level of pipe band competition (Grade 1) competing three times in Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland, placing in the top ten bands in the world on one occasion. Now I play in a less demanding competitive grade to make time for other things.

I am happily married with two daughters, and most of our summers are spent camping in our tent trailer. Living in Ontario there are beautiful places close by in every direction. And I have a few games that fit on the little table in our trailer.
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User Details for mcszarka
Registration Date: 2008-02-01
Last Profile Update: 2015-11-11
Last Login: 2016-02-09
Country: flag Canada
State: Ontario
Town/City: Waterloo
GeekMail: mail Send Private Message to mcszarka
Collection Summary for mcszarka
Board Game
Owned   498
Previously Owned   188
For Trade   28
Want In Trade   39
Want To Buy   0
Want To Play   153
Preordered   3
Wishlist   17
Commented   243
Has Parts   0
Want Parts   0
All   955
Board Game Expansion
Owned   53
Previously Owned   10
For Trade   0
Want In Trade   6
Want To Buy   0
Want To Play   2
Preordered   0
Wishlist   1
Commented   12
Has Parts   0
Want Parts   0
All   106
Board Game Accessory
Owned   0
Previously Owned   0
For Trade   0
Want In Trade   0
Want To Buy   0
Want To Play   0
Preordered   0
Wishlist   0
Commented   0
Has Parts   0
Want Parts   0
All   1
Board Game 5
Board Game Implementation 1
For Sale 1
Sold 6
Rating 16
Board Game Plays 420 Total | By Month | Last 30 Days | Chronological
Board Game Expansion Plays 7 Total | By Month | Last 30 Days | Chronological
Trade Rating (82) Propose A Trade With This User
Board Game Ratings 321
Average Rating 6.61
10 5   (1.6%)
9 21   (6.5%)
8 44   (13.7%)
7 144   (44.9%)
6 63   (19.6%)
5 28   (8.7%)
4 14   (4.4%)
3 2   (0.6%)
2 0   (0.0%)
1 0   (0.0%)
Board Game Expansion Ratings 18
Average Rating 6.98
10 1   (5.6%)
9 1   (5.6%)
8 4   (22.2%)
7 9   (50.0%)
6 1   (5.6%)
5 1   (5.6%)
4 0   (0.0%)
3 1   (5.6%)
2 0   (0.0%)
1 0   (0.0%)
Board Game Accessory Ratings 0
Average Rating 0.00
10 0   (0.0%)
9 0   (0.0%)
8 0   (0.0%)
7 0   (0.0%)
6 0   (0.0%)
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Top 10
#1: Amateurs to Arms!
#2: Combat Commander: Europe
#3: Triumph & Tragedy
#4: World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin
#5: Up Front
#6: Mr. Madison's War: The Incredible War of 1812
#7: Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975
#8: No Retreat! The Russian Front
#9: Pandemic
#10: Gin Rummy
Hot 10
#1: Combat Commander: Europe
#2: Amateurs to Arms!
#3: World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin
#4: Mr. Madison's War: The Incredible War of 1812
#5: No Retreat! The Russian Front
#6: Wilderness War
#7: Pandemic
#8: Triumph & Tragedy
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