Book + Game = Awesome
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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Hello everyone! I know I'm not alone in having a large (primary in my case) interest in history and literature, which in turn drives my gaming habits.

One of the things I love about gaming is that it allows you to explore, "hands on," many historical/academic topics.

Following is a list of books I have read recently, and the associated games that they have inspired me to play, as well as a few brief thoughts on both. As you can tell, I tend to stick with Ancient and Medieval military history, but I try to be open to other things...

Please feel free to add your own book + game combination!

PS I know this has been done before, but it's an ongoing process, right?

Good Gaming~! Mick
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1. Board Game: Men of Iron [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2652]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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I have just finished B. Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror." I found it both informative and well written, in Barbara's usual style. The specific battle that I gamed using R. Berg's "Men of Iron" system was Poitier. In this case, history repeated itself, and the repeated French charges against the entrenched English bowman and men at arms resulted in catastrophe for the French. I did use the historical rules, which encourage this type of behavior...

Verdict: Men of Iron - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup. A Distant Mirror - Thumbs Upthumbsup

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2. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:100]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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Another great book is "The Ghosts of Cannae," by Robert O'Connell. This is more of an overall history of the Second Punic War, but O'Connell makes sure to continuously revisit both the battle and the veterans of Cannae throughout his work. Even though the surviving Roman commanders from Cannae were celebrated back in Rome, the surviving legionaries were disgraced, and exiled to Sicilia for years. Scipio Africanus, starved of resources for his planned invasion of Africa, turned to these "ghosts" of Cannae, and with them built the nucleus of the army which would finally defeat Hannibal at Zama.

I chose "Commands and Colors: Ancients" for this battle because it is just more approachable than "Deluxe SPQR" in my current schedule (the SPQR version of Cannae is really an all day affair). Cannae is a really weird battle, especially considering how often it is referenced in the last two thousand years. A system has to pull quite a few "special rules" for a gamer to replicate Hannibal's results. C&CA allowed a narrow win for Hannibal's Punic forces once more, which is a result of the poor Roman command (and excellent Carthaginian).

Verdict: C&CA - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup Ghosts of Cannae - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup

 
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3. Board Game: Agincourt [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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A few months ago I picked up "The Face of Battle" by John Keegan. I found his "down and dirty" approach interesting and refreshing. As a person who enjoys facts, details, and raw data, I really like Keegan examining (or at least contemplating) some of the more mundane aspects of battle, and seeing how they would have unavoidably affected the overall situation. I think Delbruck does a great job of this as well (see below).

As far as the game, this is basically a scenario using the Men of Iron system, and it's rather lop sided (as it should be). The French get shafted slogging towards the dug in English long bowmen. I plan on using this to introduce new people to the system, so I have to give it props.

Verdict: Agincourt - Thumbs Upthumbsup The Face of Battle - Thumbs Upthumbsup

 
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4. Board Game: SPQR (Deluxe Edition) [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:1389]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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I'm kind of a nut about the First Punic War. For many years I have had a fascination with it, and am always looking for new books and games which cover this conflict. In this case J. Lazenby's "The First Punic War" is one of the very few English language works entirely devoted to the First Punic War (normally it gets a chapter in books covering the second). Lazenby does a good job analyzing what little hard data we have, and of course relies on Polybius, Livy, and a few other ancient sources.

The game is the most excellent Deluxe SPQR, the gold standard of Republican Roman war gaming. This is a great system if you enjoy detail (which I do!). I've always enjoyed the battle of Bagradas Plains, where the Roman consul Regulus gets defeated by the Carthaginian forces commanded by the Spartan general Xanthippus. Regulus' story is quite engrossing (well, the myth that later surrounded him at least...). This is a tough battle for the Romans to win. The elephants, better Punic command, and the Triari doctrine all conspire against Rome. It is doable though...

Verdict: Deluxe SPQR - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup The First Punic War - Thumbs Upthumbsup

 
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5. Board Game: The Great Battles of Alexander: Deluxe Edition [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:1377]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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If nothing else, JFC Fuller was an interesting person. Overall I enjoyed his work "The Generalship of Alexander the Great." He doesn't do too much hero worship that Alex sometimes gets (or the reverse), and tends to stick to the (perceived) realities at hand. In many ways this work felt a bit incomplete, as Fuller did not brooch some subjects which he felt had inadequate documentation, and yet he engages in quite a bit of speculation regarding some of the more eastern actions of Alexander's later career. All in all enjoyable, and written in a very approachable fashion.

Gamewise, we have another GBOH title with "The Great Battles of Alexander the Great." This is a wonderful game for those who are interested in the subject. Like SPQR, it allows you to pit very different orders of battle and command systems against each other. The variety of units is really quite remarkable, and it's a testament to Alex that he was successful against so many opponents in such a wide variety of tactical (and strategic) situations. From Hoplites to island sieges, to Elephants, to guerrilla mountain warfare... the list goes on.

One of my favorite battles in this package (which is getting a super deluxe reprint- check out GMT's P500) is the battle of Chaeronea. I'm not sure why, but I really enjoy this Macedonian vs. Greek conflict. It's one of the shorter scenarios, and doesn't employ any complex rules exceptions (barring double depth phalanxes and the old hoplite shift...), so it's very approachable. I like the variant where you can include the Spartan contingent. Even then, this is tough one for the Greeks.

Verdict: GBOA - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup The Generalship of Alexander - Thumbs Upthumbsup

 
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6. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #1 – Greece & Eastern Kingdoms [Average Rating:8.24 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.24 Unranked]
Mick Weitz
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
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As noted above, I really like Hans Delbruck. If you enjoy the minutia of ancient battles, and crotchety scholarly rivalry, Delbruck's "Warfare in Antiquity" is a must. This work is ca. one hundred years old, and is still a cornerstone of the genre. Delbruck is in my wheelhouse, as he tries to analyze the basic "physics" of the ancient military situation. When one hears about the Persian invasion of Greece, and the astronomical numbers presented by the likes of Herodotus, who do you believe? Well, Delbruck figures out how long the army would have to be in marching order with accompanying pack animals and baggage train, through the typical terrain, and reality comes calling! Honestly, this is a must have reference for those interested in ancient warfare (and his not too subtle jabs at some rival scholars are hilarious!).

For the game, we're back to C&CA. What can I say, this system is just so approachable that it's hard not to love. There are many who argue how "realistic" its depiction of ancient warfare is vis a vis GBOH or other complex systems. I say it's unknowable, relative, and contingent upon what you are wanting out of the game (how's that for a cop out!).
Anyway, using this expansion you can game all kinds of Greek on Persian action, whether it be City State or Macedonian. I believe it to be the most useful of the C&CA expansions, which is saying a lot!

Verdict: C&CA Exp.1 - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup Warfare in Antiquity - Thumbs Way Upthumbsupthumbsup

 
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7. Board Game: The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:1344]
Kris Van Beurden
Belgium
Leuven
Vlaams-Brabant
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Game: The Napoleonic Wars 2nd Edition (1813 scenario)

Book: Adam Zamoysky: The Fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna (one of the many gifts my girlfriend gave me for our 2 years together - together with his 1812 book, the 1835 printing of a book on 1812 written by the Comte de Ségur, one of the participants, and a tauntaun sleeping bag. Yeah, she is amazing)

Both the book & the game : way thumbs up
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8. Board Game: Nemo's War [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:3083]
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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Game: Nemo's War

A top-notch solitaire game, IMHO. Nice game engine, with a variety of strategies to experiment with. I've played three times so far, found it very challenging, and lost badly every time. But I'm up for more. I did a little better in my third game, and that's encouraging.

Book: Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules Verne.

I checked the book out of the library and read it while waiting for the game to arrive in the mail. I vaguely recall enjoying a children's version of it many years ago, but this is the first time I read the whole novel. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed, as I explain in this thread.

Great game, so-so book.
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9. Board Game: Founding Fathers [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1073]
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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A little Constitutional Convention action! Decision in Philadelphia offers an issue by issue description of the convention rather than going in a chronological sequence. The book does a nice job of laying out the issues and shows how the different factions formed and realigned depending on the issue.


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