Rear Guard Action

Where games and (military) history come together: reviews, events, musings, updates, images, rants... This is a mirror of my blogging at http://jurrga.blogspot.nl/

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First Impressions and Final Thoughts on Spiel 2014

Jur dj
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There was some stuff that I hardly saw but quickly formed an opinion about:



Good impression: Historia was very much enjoyed by my friends. It offers a two-axis take on civilization with room for conflict.



Undecided:
Battle of the Five Armies: looks great as ever (but many of the miniatures are the same), and similar to Battles of Middle Earth. But maybe we should play those more before buying this one.
Greenland: the premise is great, but it’s three players.



Quartermaster General: this could still be Axis&Allies with less combat
Raid & Trade: didn’t see it played or explained but looked as if it had a lot of numbers on counters and the board. Excellent minis and artwork though.



Lord of the Ice Garden looked great, but the unpainted miniatures expansion adds €40 to €55 for the basic game.



Bad impression: Athlas, Empire Engine (cube producing micro game), Swedish Parliament (although the policy axes were nice), The Walled City (looked like Carcassonne the City and ignored the contentious history of Londonderry), 8 Minute Empire expansion (there is something contradictory to a micro game expansion)

Missed: Night of the Grand Octopus (but it will be in stores at some point), €uro Crisis, Airborne Commander, Fantastiqa, Fief: France 1429, Luchador, Nothing Personal, Pamietne Historie, Patchistory, Pocket Imperium, Samuari Spirit, Shinobi Clans, Stimmvieh, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Wir Sind Das Volk, Battle at Kemble’s Cascade

It seems like I’ll need to play less to see more. I did that the last few years but I think I prefer playing to running around.


So how did I feel about this Spiel?

Even though I’m no longer excited by this year’s euro offering (Arler Erde looks too much like Agricola and Panamax might be another multiplayer solo hit) and Sci Fi and Fantasy have become mainstream (almost everybody has by now jumped on the zombie bandwagon) there is still room for excitement and surprise.



The Polish publishers have blossomed by adopting euro mechanisms but they keep applying them to historical theme. Now Greek, Romanian, Spanish and even Indonesian publishers are following in their wake. There is still so much unused and unique theme around one might despair of the next generic fantasy game. Wallace still produces interesting games, even if they are occasionally flawed. And there are still publishers wanting to take risks.


It’s been a good year.
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Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:43 am
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Mythotopia and Spiel 2014 shopping

Jur dj
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Saturday's 'one more for the road' game was Mythotopia, Martin Wallace's new offering. It's a bit of a cop out, really, to apply a mechanism to a fantasy (or sci fi) theme, but it works out well enough. As in A Few Acres of Snow the deck building mechanism is subordinated to the map manouever. You build the deck from 4 basic cards and 6 area cards, which gives every player a unique set of resources (grain, gold, bricks and military goods). You can add to your hand by conquering new areas and buying cards from the market for gold. What cards are for sales changes from game to game.



Another familiar feature of Wallace games is that you can take two actions, chosen from a wide variety of options. Some of the cards in your hand provide extra options (instead of playing them for resources). Most actions require playing resource cards from your hand. When you invade an area, the war is only resolved by a player ending it as the first action of her turn. This can protract wars as players keep adding resources to an area and tipping the balance.

There are challenges to your hand management once your deck grows, but the game offers the opportunity to place cards in a 'reserve' so you can use them for permanent effects or to save them for a better opportunity. But placing cards into the reserve counts as an action. There are also a few cards that help you draw extra cards or search your discard pile. Let's see about killer combo's...



You score victory points for the number of areas you hold and a range of achievements, the standard three being castles, cities and roads, and possible other special conditions: areas conquered, successful defense or dragons killed. However, for every type of achievement, there is a limited amount of times they can be claimed.

Victory is determined by a player claiming victory as the first action of his turn. Any running wars are resolved then, but you can only claim victory if you end up with the most points after resolution. We ended up very close to each other which made it impossible to clinch victory in the end. So we decided on a four way tie. I hope this is a one off bug, and not a feature. Despite the ending a good finish to the gaming side of the weekend! With the varying selection of cards available on the market and the changing set of victory conditions ensures a fair amount of replayability.


So what did I buy?

My buying strategy this year was focused on games I was pretty sure would make it to the table. I think I’ve managed that well. I’ve shied away from the overly complicated, and 2 and 3 player games, leaving micro games and multiplayer. Lost Legacy: Starship, Unicum, Auge um Auge, Mat Goceng and Verone have all been dealt with in the previous posts.



Lost Legacy: Flying Garden looks very much like the Starship game, but with another ending. The cards of Flying Garden and Starship can be mixed for variation.

I was torn between First to Fight and Race to the Rhine. The latter is a game that is very close in design to what I had in mind myself about the breakout from Normandy to the Rhine in autumn 1944, as a logistic struggle between three allied players, rather than two player campaign. It also looks good, but I didn’t take time to see how it plays because there were always people playing the demo.

First to Fight has all the players controlling Polish forces over the course of WWII. Because the Polish forces were few and widely scattered, I felt it is a great challenge to get all that into one game in a coherent way. In the end the decision was based on Race to the Rhine being three players which made it unlikely to hit the table regularly.



Marchia Orientalis and 15 Dias are both games with a strong historical theme, which I like. Maybe they end up being forgettable additions to the genre of tile laying respectively influence building games, but I’m eager to find out.
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Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:00 am
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Just another day at Spiel 2014

Jur dj
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After our pretty successful first day in Essen, we returned still burning with curiosity and enthusiasm.



Our first stroke on Friday was to try out Fire in the Lake at the UGG stand. We were quickly into the game as we’ve already played Cuba Libre. But while the mechanics are familiar, FitL is much more complex. There’s more units, more areas and possibly longer scenario’s. So we did a couple of enjoyable rounds, but not really knowing what would be a good strategy for each faction.



We then split up as two of us had arranged to play a prototype of Mahardika. This game about the Indonesian independence struggle has the feel of Pandemic, with a similar engine running ‘the Enemy’ (ie the Dutch colonial state and its allies) as the outbreaks. The main interest is how it ties in the history into the objective cards. You either solve two series of objectives, or you get defeated by the Enemy. It is hopeful to see this game coming from Indonesia.

Mahardika will not be published until later this year, but the publisher had Mat Goceng available, a simple card game where you duel your opponents with hidden identity and hidden objectives as the catch. I hope to play it soon.



We then reconvened to play Euphoria, a worker placement game that owes most of its appeal to the brilliant application of the theme to the board and game pieces. Brilliant green and orange, suitably dystopic locations such as the Incinerator of Historical Accuracy (it sounds even better in German).. It is also neat that the workers are dice and you roll for their value every time they are taken off the board. Some of mechanisms neatly tied into the theme such as the risk of too much knowledge leading to workers escaping, but the layer of theme remains thin overall. So if you like worker placement games, this might actually be one of the more fun to have around.

Then Tragedy Looper. One that has good reviews from folks at Fortress Ameritrash so I wanted to try it out. I was cast as the MasterMind, ie the bad guy/gm. I think it is a wise move that Z-Man have included a introductory guide for the Mastermind in the first game because it really is tough to play it straight off the bat. I still made a clumsy mistake on the second day of the second loop which cost me the game. The players did well in deducting several of the character roles but not all.



As a treat we got to play the prototype of Conan Hyborian Quests, which will Kickstarter in January. The mechanism seem fine for a skirmish game, with the players spending energy and deciding whether they recover fast or slow. As all the scenarios have a time limit these are important decisions. The Bad Guy/Mastermind has a similar mechanic, and he uses energy to activate units or to roll emergency defense.



The evening was started with a quick game of Lost Legacy: Starship. It is strongly modeled on Love Letters with a slightly different ending (players having the opportunity to guess who has the ‘starship’). Nice, but I’m not sure that it will be worth it having several of these.

The main feature was Onward to Venus, a solid Martin Wallace steam punk fiction design. Ranging between Venus and the Kuiper Belt, the great European nations of the early 20th century take to the exploitation of these planets’ mineral resources, and some occasional big game hunting. The joy is in the possible crises on the planets (eg Martian attacks) and the bonus cards. After a tight finale we retired to bed well satisfied with another long and hard day’s work.
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Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:00 am
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First to Play at Spiel 2014

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I went to Essen with a rather long list of games I looked out for but it always proves hard to check everything you want and luckily you also run into happy accidents



Hyperborea was a great start to the show. It allows for different strategies, offers some interesting events and sets up for conflict. It’s rightly been likened to Eclipse. We went through a few rounds and then decided it was a winner.



Run, Fight or Die is the umptiest zombie game and I realized I was suffering from zombie fatigue after a decade of exposure. And although there is some kind of a challenge in there, it is mostly multiplayer solo.



Spartacus is one of the first games by Gale Force Nine and although it probably isn’t the edgiest design, the intrigue is fun. Trash talk flows naturally and you find yourself booing gladiators that don’t try hard enough.



Theme and the fact that it is published by a Greek company drew me to Gothic Invasion. How can you not get excited for the war that inflicted one of the heaviest defeats on the Roman Empire and saw the death of an Emperor? The designer gave us an overview. Play is card driven with 2 or 3 options per card. Forces and objectives are asymmetric, so there is a lot of maneuver on the map. You can see there is a lot of promise in there. Although it can be played with more than two, there is no rivalry or separate objective. It just didn’t do it for my friends so I was faced with buying a game that wouldn’t get played.



Time Masters tries a new approach to deck building by making time the key unit. It works, because the game speeds up and slows down. But I didn’t feel like I was achieving anything worthwhile by building the deck. Somehow I couldn't find a way to hold the cards due to the horizontal design. And who asks €35 for a card game these days? [edit: apparently I was misinformed at the booth or I misunderstood the price, see Nicholas' comment at the bottom}



The evening in the bar and restaurant was spent with Unicum, Verone/Council of Verona and Auge um Auge. All three are excellent for beer and pretzels. Unicum offers a small box for a short game with a neat betting war hidden in it. This is fun, but I just wish the ‘uniqueness’ argument mattered a bit more. If you can get into the spirit of bogus arguments that helps.



I think that Verone is a truly great microgame, with all trying to influence the outcome of the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. It is worthwhile getting the French edition because I like the art better (and it automatically includes the Poison expansion, which is a neat addition). Pic above is the English version.



I’m not sure about Auge um Auge though. It is mostly a dice rolling fest with an alliance system. There are some abilities that help you create series, which you need to inflict black eyes on your opponents. But the alliance system is what makes the game interesting, because ganging up and keeping the front runner out of fist fights is the key. It may be a bit long for the amount of fun it holds. Art work nice, as always with Sphinx games.
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Wed Oct 22, 2014 3:03 pm
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Tannenberg, a no hope battle for the Russians

Jur dj
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On my visit to London last year I was privileged to play with a group of veteran wargamers. I got to play in a combination of a map campaign/miniatures tabletop battle devised by Ian Drury, who had interposed the scenario of the battle of Tannenberg in September 1914 over a set of early WWI miniature rules designed by Richard Brooks.

Some of you might be familiar with the (2nd) battle of Tannenberg in 1914. The 1st battle of Tannenberg was an ignominous defeat of the Teutonic Order at the hands of the Polish and Lithuanian nobility in 1410. In 1914 the Germans beat an invading Russian army in the same general area, but the mention of Tannenberg therefor had a much wider cultural significance for them. They had defeated the barbarian invaders.

As all corps were some distance apart at the outset and their positions not exactly known, we played the first few turns on the strategic map. When enemy troops were spotted, the action moved to the tables.


A Russian strategic map, 2 km to each square.
The white flags are corps HQs, green: infantry brigades
yellow and red: artillery, blue: spotted enemy formations


One of the excellent elements of the scenario was the flawless connection between map game and tabletop. Since the grids on the map were the same as on the table, there was no discussion about off map movement rates and appearances on table. This is certainly something I will remember for future map games.

The map game was played with OP14, an abstracted miniatures rule set, designed by Richard Brooks. Command was based on army corps, with brigades as the smallest units. A brigade effectively had four formation options, akin to Volley & Bayonet: march, deployed, defensive and basic field works. Basic field works had a chance of transforming into primitive trenches overnight.

Turns consituted one and a half ours of times and squares a square km. With a movement rate of 1 square per turn for deployed brigades and 2 squares for march formations. Units in deployed formation had an added chance of delay.



Our corps moving into a defensive position on day 1.
Germans already dug in north of Tannenberg



This was a tricky bit. Corps initiative was determined by a deck of cards. Low number had higher initiative, but the colour was important as well. All Russian corps were immobilised on spades, while brigades outside command radius were immobilised on diamonds. Any troops in rough terrain or crossing obstacles were delayed on clubs.

You can imagine the hardships Russian troops would suffer outside command range and in rough terrain. I never dared to try.

In combat the formation determined the amount of dice rolled by defenders, while the to hit level was determined by the amount of figures (4 per brigade, 2 or more for artillery). To make things interesting, troop quality determined what kind of dice you rolled, with elite troops rolling D6 and Landwehr rolling D10.

The abstractions worked really well at this level of command. There might even have been less, because matters of flanks in this historical period and tactical level might be ignored.



Now the Tannenberg scenario is obviously heavily skewed to the Germans. Not only do they have the knowledge of the terrain with added intelligence from airplanes and dirigibles, they also held the initiative and choice of the Schwerpunkt against a scattered opposition. Add to this the Russian immobilisation and lack of centralised command and the Russians were up for a serious thrashing.

Only thanks to hindsight the Russian commanders were able to limit the scale of disaster. Because we knew what was coming, we didn't attack deeper into the trap like the Russians did historically.



Alan and me had joint command of a Russian corps near the village of Tannenberg, with Alan doing communications and overall control and me doing the map dispositions. By the end of day one we had managed to put ourselves in a strong position, with dug in infantry supported by artillery and flanks based upon natural obstacles.

But there is a psychological difficulty to the defense that we could not surmount. As the Germans advanced on us on the second day, Alan decided that we should pull back in the light of overwhelming forces. While I agreed on the latter point, I was more worried about being outflanked, because I felt we could do a lot of damage in our defensive positions.


Our corps by the end of day 2, having got away from the Landwehr


This proved correct in hindsight as we were able to beat of a lot of German attacks when we pulled back from our position (there was a small amount of luck involved as well, but Napoleon nailed the point about lucky generals). Nevertheless we lost about half our command due to delayed movement and bottlenecks. Staying put might have ruined our corps, but done much more damage to our opponents.

Anyway, falling back is a very difficult manoeuvre, especially when you have delays at crucial moments and rescuing half our corps was better than I had expected.


Overview of the battlefield by the end of day 2


There was also a nice system for combat exhaustion of corps. Once a unit received 25% losses, it drew a card from the deck. Any losses afterward required the draw of another card. If the value of this card was higher than those already drawn, the corps would be exhausted and unfit for offensive actions.

What I especially liked was to play two days of action in an afternoon with a good strategic feel. The only problem with the limited information was that as soon as units were put on the table, the were visible also for units far away. It might be advisable to have each corps fight its own battle on its own table, oblivious of what happened elsewhere.


Ian explaining afterwards what had happened off map. More bad news


Many thanks to Ian for putting this game on and to Richard for the ruleset. Ian's exlanation of what happened off map was very good in reminding us that even had we beaten off the Germans on our flank, other troops would have gotten into our rear and our fate was pretty much sealed. Made me feel much better about my crappy handling of the troops.
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Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:46 am
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South of the DMZ - Vietnam Megagame Lost Youth

Jur dj
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Last Year I took part in Lost Youth, the megagame on the Vietnam War designed by Jim Wallman. It was a small episode set during the early deployment of US troops, somewhere close to the DMZ, and as such it challenged many of the perceptions about this war. Our ideas of the drug ridden, gung ho US army are mostly based upon the later war and this turned out different.


The ground: open close to the DMZ, jungle to the south


The opposing forces

On the US-allied side there were four teams, an American and an Vietnamese army batallion, an American regimental command team and a press team. Their challenge was to coordinate their action while showing success towards the press and hiding the nastier side of war. They succeeded almost up to the end of the game.

The National Liberation Front consisted of three batallion teams led by a brigade HQ and a number of local cadres. These had their own, slightly lonely game in setting up booby traps and ammunition depots and maintaining local morale in the face of US activity.

Much fun was had on the NLF side during the two self criticism sessions, which didn't turn into with hunts but actually improved the planning and created a sense of united purpose. Umpires rewarded proper ideological composure and terminology.

As it happened

The scenario was a US batallion sized sweep through a a number of hamlets, which attracted a response by a Viet Cong regiment to hurt the Americans or at least take the heat of their local cadres. The US-allied forces used the main highway at the eastern edge of the map and of course helicopters to enter the map. The NLF entered from the southwest.

The US commander took a methodical approach, sweeping through open country near the DMZ while the VC decided on an attempt to draw them into an ambush in the wooded area. However, this was based on the false assumption that the US troops would drop all else to go on some kind of search and destroy mission. That didn't happen.


There's the batallion drawn up to attack the village


One of the Viet Cong batallions threatened the ARVN batalion in the southeastern corner of the map, guarding the highway, but drew no response. In a desperate attempt to force a reaction, the VC unit attacked, but by then the ARVN was well prepared and the attacked floundered unceremoniously.

By then the US troops had 'cleared' most of the open country (devastating one village under bombardment). As they prepared to move into the jungle, the VC hastily retreated.

The experience on the ground

As an operational staff officer in the VC batallion that got into the thick of it, I had an active, but straightforward day. We were first on the map and last to be off. If I say so myself I managed the approach march to the eastern edge of the map and the defensive deployment well. However, we had no orders to attack and we lost an oppportunity to attack on the first night as the ARVN were not yet dug in but this was also because of lack of preparation. Hasty attacks were not the NLF preferred option.


And that´s us after hurrying back to safety



By the end of the game we were set for a sharp rearguard action, covering the retreat of the other batallions, but given the presence of the ARVN batallion, this might not have ended at happily as we'd wish. The interesting picture is of course from the umpire map, showing the location of both sides and our supply status (yellow and white discs).


The umpire map shows the ARVN batallion following up... oops!



So how did it feel?

Feedback to the game was generally positive. Most players enjoyed the operational challenge and the ideological side of the game, even if for two VC batallions the day was a bit uneventfull. The local NLF cadres had difficulty in imposing themselves on the game and there was a tendency for the batallion players to focus on the military side at the expense of the local cadres.

Jim's idea is to do a number of follow up games set later in the war so players can develop some experience with asyymmetrical warfare, which is different from the set piece operational games we do more regularly.

There's a wealth of possibilities for scenarios, but maybe these are not all in the same time and ground scale. We now played on a very small battlefield (7x7 km) for three days of game time.


The umpire map: not many VC left on the map at the end
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Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:00 am
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Vietnam, a war the US Army didn't want to win

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Quote:
"I'll be damned if I permit the United States Army, its institutions, its doctrine, and its traditions to be destroyed just to win this lousy war"


I thought Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare by Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian would be a good way to get a long term perspective on counterinsurgency warfare for megagame Lost Youth. Sadly, there was no time to read the whole book, so I focused on the short introduction and the chapter on Vietnam.



In the introduction the authors give a skeleton overview of the literature on the subject, as it moved from the colonial experience (think Caldwell's Small Wars) to decolonisation and Cold War. Three authors from the 1960s were formative in present thinking: Galula, Thompson and Kitson.

Galula was a French officer who worked on his experiences in Algeria. His 1964 book focussed on the political nature of the conflict and the necessity to protect/separate the population from the insurgents.

Thompson, a British officer, wrote in 1966 about the necessity for a government to clearly define it's aims, plan for the long term and operate within the law, so as to keep the population on it's side. Kitson, like Thompson a British officer with ample experience in 'low intensity' warfare, further stressed the importance of intelligence gathering. His book appeared in 1971.

From these three books Marston and Malkasian draw as the primary conclusion that insurgency is first and foremost a political conflict. Further more the have a list of general guidelines for counterinsurgency warfare:
-aim for political compromise
-adapt to local circumstances and be aware of ethnic and social sensibilities.
-protect the population
-know your enemy
-organisational culture, home support and good cooperation between military and civil institutions are vital to successful execution.


Then I moved on to the chapter 'Counterinsurgency in Vietnam. American Organizational Culture and Learning' by John Nagl. This is based on his book Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgence Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.

Nagl's main claim is that the US Army as an institution refused to accept that the nature of the conflict in Vietnam was primarily political. Therefor they worked towards the conventional military solutions that mirrored the conflict they had fought in WWII and Korea, and which they expected to encounter elsewhere.

This was apparent in US Army doctrine, which was founded on overwhelming firepower. But this doctrine was also taught to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) from the first advisors in 1950 till the fall of Saigon in 1975. Apart from the question whether this type of army was best suited to the mission of maintaining South Vietnam as an independent state, this doctrine was unsustainable economically.

What is interesting is that the three books mentioned earlier were all published when the Vietnam war was already escalating and thus were essentialy too late to influence the discussion. As said, the official US doctrine was formulated in 1962. However, there was a wealth of experience from the 1940s and 1950s available, and of course from Vietnam itself, even if not always congested in a clear theory.

It is clear that those lessons were being learned by some Americans. Nagl shows a number of attempts to change doctrine or experiments with alternative methods to face the nature of counterinsurgency. A presidential committee in 1959, Kennedy in 1961, CIA civilian irregular defense groups, the combined action platoons of the Marines and the PROVN study in 1965/6.

At best these attempts were paid lip service by the army. A section on counterinsurgency warfare was added to the Field Manual in 1962. But in practice the Army stuck to its guns. The CIA and USMC initiatives were terminated by the Army to make way for their own, more aggressive tactics. Even general Abrams, who had been part of some of these initiatives, couldn't effect a change when he replaced Westmoreland in 1968.

The organisational culture of the US Army was thus highly resistant to change. It refused to accept that to beat the insurgency, the political struggle was the most important, rather than an 'other war'. It stubbornly continued to wage the war the way it wanted to fight. Nagl refers to a 1981 book by Summers that even argued that Vietnam was lost because too much focus was put on counterinsurgency at the expense of the big unit war.

From this perspective, the claim that the US Army won the war but was let down by the home front is thus pathetic and wrong. The US army maybe achieved the objectives it set itself, but the North Vietnamese won the real war for control of Vietnam. It is difficult to see how more US troops and firepower could have changed that outcome.

Of course in the end this was foremost a failure by successive US administrations to take control of the effort in South East Asia. By subordinating the civilian effort to that of the military, counterproductive methods like carpet bombing, burning villages, defoliants etc could continue at the expensive of protecting the population and removing the support for the insurgents. If anything, Vietnam showed that war is too important to leave to the military.
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Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:00 am
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Why do we buy when we know we won't play?

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I was reading The Promise of Play by Matt Thrower at Fortress Ameritrash, who puts the finger on the sore spot: we gamers keep buying even if we know the chances of the game actually getting played are slim. Maybe this post helps explaining why we get into conundrums like "project Essen 2011" at all.



I'm not sure I agree that there's a collecting instinct behind this urge to buy. I think it rather connects to the idea of the anti-library, first coined by Umberto Eco, and brought to my attention by my friend and librarian Nick. The anti-library is all the unread books on your shelves, the collection of knowledge or experience that we still aspire to.

It is as much the anticipation as the real urge to know. A world of possibilities opening up as you stroke the pages, browse through the table of contents and scan the tables and illustrations.

It easily translates to the unpainted miniatures and the unplayed games in your closets. In our minds they are already marching across the fields towards the enemy and our friends are already crouched over the board after a long night's gaming, watching as the dice slow down to reveal the verdict of fate.

The purchase is part of an illusionary experience. Probably even better than the real thing, because the figures never turn out as beautiful as we imagine, nor do we add as many laurels to our triumphant parade.

So, in the knowledge of the emptiness and hopelessness of our endeavour, we pursue regardless.

Always hoping, always dreaming.
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Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:00 am
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He said/she said: a Dixit shill

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Normally, I would run and hide from a Spiel des Jahres. But in this case that would have robbed me of a great experience.



Dixit is deceptively simple in rules, and there isn't really a lot of strategy to it. But that is not the point. The point is that you relate on a totally different level to the other players than in almost any other board game.

It all centers about the wonderful cards, that allow multiple interpretations and associations. They are slightly quirky in style, and sometimes disconcerting.

Even though there's points to be scored, and generally it pays to be specific (or nobody guesses that your card is the right one), but not too specific (or everybody guesses that your card is the right one), the game is not about the points.

It's about understanding why someone looked at a card and thought "the more things change, the more they stay the same", and trying to come up with a card that comes close to that description. It actively engages your creativity and your sense of association and it allows you to share in the creativity and association of others. It really works at that level and it is refreshing and fun.

There's an obvious comparison to Fabula, also designed by Jean-Louis Roubira, and published by Asmodée. However, while easily holding it's own in the quality of the artwork, Fabula loses when it comes to gameplay.

To fit your part in the bigger story is hard, and the subjectivity of the awards by the storyteller make it easy for the game to break down. The handbook doesn't really help to give you an idea of how to evaluate the stories of the players, and we saw the game bog down.

Competitive storytelling just doesn't work, except in Aye, Dark Overlord, when it's so obviously over the top that it doesn't matter what you say.

In Dixit the competition is not in who is best in tying in an object into a story or roleplaying, but in the intersubjectivity of the group. It doesn't result in sulking, or frustration for those that lack in storytelling skills, but generates discussion on the choice of cards. How hard it was to pick the right card, or why on earth somebody chose *that* card to relate to "when I awoke this morning, I knew this was going to be my day".

I am quite taken to this game. I think it can work in many different groups and spark conversation and interaction. It has the power to bring people together and it has changed the way I think about games, although I don't know yet where it is going.

It might do the same for you.
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Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:00 am
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Uniform of the Carabinieri Genovese

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The Carabinieri Genovese were formed in 1851 as a rifle association.

The club was heavily influenced by the desire for Italian unity and many members were involved in the failed 1857 plot in Milan, Garibaldi's Cacciatory delle Alpi in 1859 and the Mille that set sail for Sicily with Garibaldi in 1860.

The uniform is on display in the Risorgimento museum in Genova, Italy.
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Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:00 am
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