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Subject: 10 part GBACW training session - Feedback? rss

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Russell Gifford
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I've recently uploaded a ten section training session for the original Great Battles of the American Civil War system. (This is the system created by Eric Lee Smith based on Richard Berg's original Terrible Swift Sword design.)

These sessions are designed to teach the viewer exactly as if they were sitting down with a friend that knows the game. It is not totally comprehensive - for detailed items, it says "read rule XY.Z in the Great Battles basic rules." But it shows you how the GENERAL case rules work, and notes important points in the sub cases.

The training system starts with an overview of the original TSS/GBACW system and the games involved. You can skip that if you want - its a history lession of the system, with lots of talking. The teaching is in the SECOND through the NINTH modules.

PS: They are in modules so you can START ANYWHERE. Go to Command, or to Movement, or where ever YOU want to start.

Note: There is audio on the first 5 modules. The rest have all the pictures and text, but no audio. This is because I am uncertain if the audio adds anything to the process.

So I am looking for feed back - is it worth doing the work for audio on the last 5?

I say this because I tend to 'go on' a bit in the audio, so if you aren't interested, it will drag.

Important Point: Know that you can simply use your right arrow key to skip to the next item rather than listen to me blather on!

So what I need to know:

1. Is it worth going on with the audio? (Is it better to have it?)

2. Do the modules TEACH you the game? Could you put the units on the board and have a clue?

And it appears a good way to do this might be just say 'view' rather than save - it opens in a browser window when you do.

Thanks for your feedback.

---Russ

PS: this was originally on a CD - and thus the Quick Rules Chart, BCE/VP tracker, and the LOS program were on the CD. These are already uploaded at BGG.
 
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pɹɐɥɔᴉɹ
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Many thanks. I have been meaning to get into this system for I while. I have had a quick look through the first couple. They look good. The photo quality is excellent. The text is great. The explanations are first class. I can nearly imagine you in the room - thanks to the photo!

However the shows don't sound well at all. I don't think the audio components made it during the uploads. I think you will find that they are still lurking on your hard drive in the "Russ StuffGBACW trainingNarativeX" folders (X being a number). Generally those sorts of files don't get moved with the presentation and the recipients will have to reassociate them on their own machines. Perhaps you could post them separately? If you do it this way there will be lots of them though... one per slide on which you are speaking. Alternatively, it may be better to do the audio as one big file per slideshow, with prompts to move on in the presentation.

Remember that when you play the show on your machine, all the audio files are in the right place. Get onto another machine or get a friend to check it out and you will (not) hear what I mean.
 
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Russell Gifford
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Thanks Richard!

Actually, as I mentioned above, I did this originally as a CD-ROM, and created it so that all linked materials (including audio) went went with the slides as a piece. (The pack and go feature of PowerPoint made this really smooth!)

I wondered about the audio for the upload to BGG, but what you stated makes perfect sense!

I sent those out for 'blind testing' but since the people I knew were familier with the game and with me, I could not get a 'good read' on if the audio added or detracted from the presentation.

So the only problem I see on the uploaded files is the TIMING is linked to the audio now, so some of these are going to be REALLY long transitions - since sometimes I really talked about some side issues.

I could upload the audio, and a person downloading it to the right place, as you say, would have the links re-established. (Nasty and ugly thought.) The point is, it does not NEED audio - EXCEPT for those people that are audio-oriented in their learning method. So I am not all that bothered by the audio pieces missing online.

So this may have answered my questions on this already.

See, I did this all as a test, since I wanted to do a version of this for ASL, but wanted to start on an 'easier' subject. Do you think audio would help, or hinder your use of these files?

Thanks again Richard!

---Russ
 
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Mark Rivera
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Hi Russ,

From a training point of view, the modules work well.
A few thoughts...
- perhaps the background template should be more evocative of the civil war (b/w photo or sketch drawing

- adding audio will aid the auditory learner

- good use of fonts, arrows and photos for the visual learner

- stepped approach works well

- qizzes work but some of the units referred to are hard to read (upside down or for example, inf and dismounted cav are pretty similar)

Great job overall. I can see this approach being very helpful for ASL. Good luck!

Mark
 
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More information always helps. Multimedia helps. Particularly for gamers new to the mechanics of the game concerned. If the audio is there people can always choose NOT to use it. If it were never there, there would be no choice.

Being new to the game, apart from the basics you have amply provided, I would like to see a "worked example" putting all the aspects together with a small number of units, and some ideas for tactics and how to exploit the mechanics of the game.

On a side note, I eagerly look forward to your ASL version, I hope you do it based on the Starter Kits, as that is where its' worth to new ASL players will be greatest. My comments about a worked example and tactics might apply even more in that game. After that... now where is that long list of old SPI games that I really ought to dig out and give another play?

 
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Russell Gifford
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Mark wrote:
- perhaps the background template should be more evocative of the civil war (b/w photo or sketch drawing


Thanks for the input Mark. I appreciate the thoughts. I will see what I can find for a Civil War background to replace the hills at the bottom of the page. (Luckily, PowerPoint makes it VERY easy to do that - now I just have to find the graphic!)

I will see what I can do on the quizes as well. There is one that is REALLY bad internally under the leadership section. Need to do a new picture on that.

Thanks again for your professional insights.

ASL will be a challenge. Wondering why I can't find the tapes I already did. That would help a lot.


---Russ
 
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Russell Gifford
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Richard wrote:
I would like to see a "worked example" putting all the aspects together with a small number of units, and some ideas for tactics and how to exploit the mechanics of the game.


Funny you mention that. It was ALWAYS my intention to end with that (That's how I did the ASL training years ago, and realized that was the key piece of the training.)

Obviously, I was so exhausted from this I completely spaced it. Thanks for the thought! That's next on my hit list! It DOES need to be there!

Ohhh - NOW I remember what stopped me. Which game? I want to do Cedar Mountain. But it only makes sense to do Terrible Swift Sword 2nd Edition, and the color is SOOOOOO garish that I am not certain how well it will transfer.

I might set up Cedar Mountain about turn 7, and do a turn. Or perhaps a turn of TSS - Maybe the push on Devil's Den. See which one looks better.

Thanks again.

---Russ

 
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Mark Rivera
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Hi Russ,

A quick thought - Worked examples would be good but why not a few turns after action replay - perhaps the fight for little Round Top or the Railroad cut?

Cheers.

Mark

 
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Russell Gifford
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Mark wrote:
A quick thought - Worked examples would be good but why not a few turns after action replay - perhaps the fight for little Round Top or the Railroad cut?


Good plan. I think Little Round Top scenario fits the bill best. It will only be a turn or so - since it really does take a LOT of time and tape to 'talk' your way through a turn! But that should get us there. OK - going digital, so get the video input board into the computer and set up the Studio 8 software. Batteries for the lapel mic? Check. Tripod? Check. Swing-arm lamp? Already in place. Guess its time to get the counters set up. Oh boy!

This is no problem for the CD-ROM based system. Have to see how BGG wants the video. Should be interesting!shake

---Russ

Think anyone would have a cow if I used the original maps and the new counters?

Still looking for a good Civil War era graphic to use at the bottom of the page.
 
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Mark Rivera
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You are certainly dedicated! I wouldn't think it would matter about the maps and counters but I guess you never know.
 
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Russell Gifford
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Mark wrote:
I wouldn't think it would matter about the maps and counters but I guess you never know.


Well - my only concerns are:

1. I used the 'traditional' GBACW maps and counters GBACW 1 to 6 for all the examples.

2. The pinks/mauves colors on the counter strips will tend to bleed on camera.

3. The UGLY 2nd Edition map colors really look ... tacky. IMHO, of course.

But we'll see how it plays out! I want a game that is accessable, so the person could throw it on their own table if they wanted to while we do this. Don't know that Cedar Mountain is that game - though as an S&T game it likely had 40,000 copies out there.

Hmmm. Decisions!

---Russ
 
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Russell Gifford
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And, for the record, the 11th part of the 10 part Instructional series began production this week....

I sent a few CD's out for review. It does seem to work ok. The audio is also linked on the CD, along with the pictures as you get on BGG. On the CD there was room for additional files - the quick Reference chart, the errrata sheets, and the Excel files for BCE. (All those are already available here in the files section.)

New twist - full motion video. We shall see how that all works out. Thanks for the feedback, folks!

---Russ

 
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Lawrence Hung
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Is the CD for sale or what?
 
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Russell Gifford
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That had been in my mind when I started the project, but I decided I'd just upload the stuff here instead. (I mean, who really needs instructions for a 30-year-old game system???) Creating players and interst in the system is enough reward.

Or is this something that could go in the BGG Marketplace? I don't know how that works. I only used 2 or 3 pictures from BGG that I didn't upload, and wrote asking permission to use them. (I removed the one that wrote back to say they didn't want their picture used.)

So is this 'for sale?' No - but if you really want one, send me postage and packaging costs for you from Nebraska, and I'll send it along. (You MUST have Windows 98 Second Edition or higher on your computer to run this.)

And I'll likely see if there isn't a way to link the audio online, too.
That would get around all this.

Thanks for the interest.

---Russ
 
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Don Schoemaker
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/applause

I'd really like to pick up the complete CD. This would be a very nice item to have and I wish GAME COMPANIES would pick up on this. I'll shoot you an e-mail.
 
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Lawrence Hung
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I agree. Russ put in a lot of the efforts into this CD. GMT could make a deal with Russ to put it in the futrue GBACW release.
 
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Christopher Phillips

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Russ -- for someone unfamiliar with Berg's game system, or who haven't been immersed in it for a number of years (the audience you obviously target), I think you've done a great service. I haven't played the games in years, but after doing the training sessions I quickly remembered most of the rules and feel comfortable enough to play any of the games again. Maybe more, it reminded me why I enjoyed them so much and made me want to haul them out. I didn't use the audio and quickly found the down arrow click trick, so I was able to go at my own speed through each of them. For a new audio-visually oriented generation who might be tempted by a type of gaming most consider a dinosaur (and thus not worth their time), I think the audio complements the powerpoint presentation and would recommend you put it in. Overall, well done, captain. Glad I stumbled onto your site.
 
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Russell Gifford
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Thank you for those kind words. The feedback I got from everyone was important. I'd set the stuff aside after finishing the video work. (It was a MAJOR effort to do all those! My eyes were blurry!) But the initial feedback got me to go back, finish the audio, and get it all together.

In the past year, I cleared up a few minor wording issues on the video, thanks to the folks that found typos I should have caught, and also suggesting better words in a few cases!

The audio is on it, thought I should clean that up a few places. I delivered it mostly in a 'one take' mode, so the ones done in the morning are good - those in the late of night, not quite as cogent!

What I think I am most proud of since is the 'scenario cards' for many of the early GBACW games. When you play a lot of these, you'll find you forget the 'special rules' for whichever volume you are playing, and instead pay a HUGE penalty by applying the BCE rules from one of the other versions. With these, the BCE, Rout, Terrain and VCs are at your fingertips.

(The scenarios look really good on cardstock and lamenated, too.)

Thanks again for the feedback. I am glad it made an impact!

---Russ
 
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Russell Gifford
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PS: And for those of you that suggested it - I actually have started the ASL Primer this past week.

I am finishing part three now. Sequence of play and Personnel and SWs are done. The third session on movement is almost finished (what a lot of info!)

Audio is cut on the first two....

I had to come to grips with the fact that it can NOT be as comprehensive as the GBACW CD. My initial statement is "This does NOT replace reading the rule book!" And my goal is to do exactly what I'd do in a 'real' session with a new to ASL gamer - give them enough info to understand the very basics, and then take them into a few turns of a scenario. So, after movement, we have LOS and basic Fire Combat, then a step into a scenario.

(Deciding on a scenario now....)

---Russ
 
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Hi Russ

I downloaded the 10 part series on GBACW. The series is one of my favourites and i really miss this series now that Rich Berg started tinkling with the basic sequence of play. I own and have played Horse Soldiers, Baton Rouge and Red Badge of Courage (GMT); but the original still holds appeal.

I also noticed that your CD Rom was selling on ebay as well ...any takers?

Just a suggestion ...perhaps an inclusion of discussion on the tactics of GBACW will be helpful.

The format that you did for this will certainly be useful for ASL and am looking forward to it. Have also been playing ASL for some time and can hardly find playing partners due to its extremely high complexity.

Just to let you know that your labour of love here is being very much appreciated!!!

-Lam-
 
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Russell Gifford
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Thanks Lam!

Actually, since the CD has the audio, and comes with lots of lamenated charts and cards, it has been VERY popular. I think I've sent out close to (quick tabulation) - hmm, well, over 50, for certain. Everyone that has gotten it sends back glowing reviews and thanks, so it feels pretty good. (And I got over the eyestrain from creating it after about a month!)

And you are right on the tactics. Later sets of the CD now have a three part strategy piece based on the first few moves of Cedar Mountain.
You can see a sample with audio at www.russgifford.net . Lower on the front page is a link to sample the Cedar Mountain tactics. (Give it a minute to load - I did the audio at a better quality than the original 10 part series!)

But I bet the tactics would be more than welcome. Hmmm. Hmmm. What would that take? TSS is not nearly as tactically complex as ASL, so the descriptions would not be too bad, I would think. Hmmm. Hmmm.

(See what you've done????)

---Russ

PS - Thanks again for the kind words!
 
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Russell Gifford
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Lamskiy wrote:
The format that you did for this will certainly be useful for ASL and am looking forward to it.


Well, the beta copy of about half the ASL project, sans audio, is on the www.russgifford.net site, too. (Link is on the left on the main page.)

I'll gladly send a beta copy of the ASL CD with audio if you want to send me shipping costs and agree to let me know what works for you when you watch it. Otherwise, you can wait for the final version.

I have five sections on it so far - Sequence of play, personnel counters, infantry movement, basic LOS, basic Inf. fire combat. Still have plans for adv. Inf. combat, Rout, Rally, Adv and Melee, and perhaps Concealment.

I was going pretty good on the first part, but I put it aside to send it to MMP for feedback. That was over a month ago, and no word, so I guess I'll just go ahead like I had good sense. (!)

---Russ

 
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Russell Gifford
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Thank you for the kind words! I still send out a few CDs every month. From the comments I get back, they seem pretty popular!

Merry Christmas all!

---Russ
 
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Robert Wilson
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The powerpoints are Great!

thanks!
 
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