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December 2016
S M T W T F S
     
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25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Syndication




M10 Tank Destroyer
at Bastogne's Mardasson Memorial
John Butterfield

When it comes to this podcast, December means two things: a desire to replay the Bulge, and holiday busy-ness. It happens every year. This time, in 2016, I'm just as busy as ever, but the podcast commitment meant I pushed forward to play some Bulge games. Not as many as I would've liked, but enough for the episode. Besides, you've heard how the real focus of my podcasts nowadays are the interviews. I'm learning that the fast, one-month pace I'm keeping for these episodes always compresses my gaming time, but I can still get the podcast out on-time by relying on the interview. It's working.

Knowing December would probably not allow me to visit a historic location, I also picked Bulge because it's a place I've visited previously. Back in 2012 I went on a father-son trip before my son went to college, and we visited Bastogne, spent the night in Luxembourg, went to a top Bulge museum, and even saw that cheesy movie. At the time I wasn't doing a wargame podcast, but I included a whole lot about that trip in my longstanding eurogame podcast. You might want to check that out, too.

This time, though, I can still talk about another film or two, some light games I've played, and--most of all--feature an interview with designer John Butterfield. In our discussion I had a focus on his famous digital game from Shenandoah/Slitherine called Battle of the Bulge, the one that launched the Crisis in Command series. I've played a ton of it, and have enjoyed jumping back in again. Besides that title, John talks about the Bulge in general, his Enemy Action Ardennes game, and some other stories from his extensive history in the hobby. I know you'll like it.

There are a few books I've read on this venerable topic, notably Antony Beevor's Ardennes 1944. Some of the best material I read came from Strategy & Tactics magazine, along with World at War. I learned about the Premium library subscription offered by Decision Games, which lets me access the entire library of SPI/Decision's magazines (no games). Wow! What a goldmine. Along with the article index, I can quickly find which issues contain articles on Bulge/Ardennes, and read those. Danny Parker's extensive articles from 1978 were fantastic.


 



Movies
The Battle of the Bulge (1965)
Band of Brothers (2001) episodes 6 and 7 focus on the Bulge
Everyman's War (2009)
Battleground (1949)
The Big Red One (1980)
A Midnight Clear (1992)
Saints and Soldiers (2003)


Books
Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor

 

 


The steep review valleys of the Ardennes . . . and a display at Diekirch's National Museum of Military History



Remember to follow along & chime in on my geeklist/discussion) for all of my Bulge explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

-Mark

P.S. If you want to get started on my next topic, it will be the Spanish Civil War.

Direct download: WGTG_10_-_Bulge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm PST

Another month, another podcast! More important, another famous subject of military history. I'm planning to get through one topic per month to maximize my subjects to study & visit during my year in Europe. I have to say, though--this month illustrated that it doesn't me dive in as deeply as I'd like. As with most of you, I don't have a ton of time to get wargames on the table, especially during the week. Even with my focus on the small titles, they still take time. Especially if they require print & play preparations, and you feel the need to round counter corners.

 




Volko Ruhnke

 


Am I supposed to root for the Gauls? As an American of Swedish ancestry, who can say? As an engineer, though, I am in awe of the Roman army.


I picked Alesia for a few reasons. I didn't want to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on WW2 battles while living here. Going all the way back to Ancients is a good cure for that. Sure enough, I quickly found the subject as fascinating as any from WW2. There was a whole lot to learn here, as much about the Gallic society as the Roman army and one particular battle. Some of my reading was about the individual battle, and some was about the entire Gallic War. There's a hot game right now that covers that broader conflict. Though I knew I wouldn't get to it myself just now, I was pleased to interview designer Volko Ruhnke and hear some of the design features and objectives of Falling Sky.

Alesia


Frédéric Bey

also offered me a chance to see the battlefield. At least, where we THINK the battle took place. I got to see the museum there, the reconstructions of Roman fortifications, and take in the view from the hilltop where Vercingetorix may have once stood in the oppidum of Alesia. There are some competing theories among historians for the location, though, so one wargame designer made a second title with the most prominent alternative. That designer is my other interview subject for the podcast, Frédéric Bey.

 





Movies
Ugh, are you sure you want to look at these? I didn't--they look terrible.
The Gaul (2001)
Caesar the Conqueror (1962)
Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999) (Ok, not history, but any Frenchman will remember Asterix if you bring up Alesia)
The Conquerors - Episode 12: Caesar - Conqueror of Gaul (a "History Channel documentary," but a pretty good one)


Books
The Gallic War by Julius Caesar
Alesia 52 BC by Nic Fields
Caesar's Legion by Stephen Dando-Collins

Remember to follow along & chime in on my geeklist/discussion) for all of my Dunkirk & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

-Mark

P.S. If you want to get started on my next topic, it will be The Battle of the Bulge.

Direct download: WGTG_9_-_Alesia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04am PST




Hermann Luttman

 


Mark at Dunkirk


I'm sticking to my guns, getting a single-episode podcast out within a month. No more topics that span multiple months and several episodes, at least not while I'm living in Europe. I very much want to work in MORE topics in my remaining months. As someone once said, quantity has a quality all its own...



Dunkirk is a more limited topic than most or all of my previous episodes. I decided to cover it--despite my desire to get away from WW2--because it was a place I visited recently. On a hot, humid weekend in Paris, my wife & I escaped to the coast. Dunkirk was about as far north as we could get, and it allowed exploration of this other key moment in history. We saw the city, visited the museum, and walked the beach. Later I read a book and some magazines, played a few games, and watched a few movies on the topic.

 



(Of course I'm very interested in Christopher Nolan's upcoming movie, too, but that won't be seen until next summer.)


Movies
Dunkirk (1958)
Atonement
Week-End à Zuydcoote


Books
Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord

Remember to follow along & chime in on my geeklist/discussion) for all of my Dunkirk & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

-Mark

Direct download: WGTG_8_Dunkirk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:17am PST


Lee Brimmicombe-Wood


As much as I've enjoyed diving in deeply to the Battle of Britain as a topic--and I certainly have--I need to wrap it up and move on. This episode closes the series out with a bang, featuring two great interviews and my final thoughts about some games & films. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood is probably the top wargame designer today who focuses on air combat games, and you'd better believe he's thought about the Battle of Britain. We talk about his Burning Blue, Wing Leader, and historical analysis of the battle itself.


James Crate


Later I talk with James Crate, a listener who helpfully contacted me after my first episode in this Battle of Britain series. James is widely read on the topic, and has many book suggestions for us. Much of his career has been as a Naval Flight Officer, operating weapon systems in the back seat of F/A-18 or other aircraft. He brings a special perspective to wargaming air combat. You may be surprised to hear about his favorite title to play.


In addition to these two features, I talk about two final films and four more games (actually six more, if you include the two above that are mentioned in the interviews--if you listen you can hear me looking up Bag The Hun after James suggests it!). I think that's the right number. In truth, this process has taken so long that I'm kind of losing track. For the next episode, I'm going to be trying something different. As long as I'm living in France, I have the opportunity to visit fantastic sites for military history. It's only natural for me to want to explore them in wargames, and talk about that exploration on the podcast. But at my usual pace, I'd get to only one or two more topics during my next nine months over here. That's not enough! Topics like D-Day and Bulge are ones I definitely COULD dive into this deeply again, but for the next several months I'm going to try to aim for more breadth, less depth. A few weeks ago I visited the beach (and museum) at Dunkirk, and that's a great example for next time. I've got two films, one book, and three games on that topic. Manageable, right? We'll see...




Movies
Angles One Five
First Light

Books (special thanks to James Crate for these detailed recommendations)
Battle of Britain: A Day-by-day Chronicle, 10 July - 31 October 1940 by Patrick Bishop – As it says, gives a half page to a few pages on each day depending on activity. But there are numerous sidebars and asides that cover everything from personalities to tactics to underreported events. There is also a fair helping of brief first person accounts and after action reports of the day described. Fun to read one day at a time starting in July to “follow along” with the Battle. Get it in hard back (nicely illustrated in color).
The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain by Stephen Bungay – Comprehensive, opinionated, well researched. If you read the notes, a great deal of the air combat analysis comes from the works of author Mike Spick whose books on air combat tactics are all recommended.
How the Spitfire Won the Battle of Britain by Dilip Sarkar – The author has an excellent understanding of the Spitfire and her pilots. A great deal of technical and tactical detail including a discussion of Luftwaffe bomber tactics which is under covered in other works. Challenges many assumptions about the share of the workload between the Hurricane and Spitfire. Highly recommended and available on Kindle. Beyond the Battle of Britain, all of Mr. Sarkar’s books on the Spitfire and its pilots are highly recommended.
Invasion, 1940: The Truth About the Battle of Britain and What Stopped Hitler by Derek Robinson - Challenges a lot of the assumptions about the invasion threat in 1940. There is a wide range of opinion on this book from revisionist cash grab to insightful reappraisal. If nothing else he is asking good questions and forcing the reader to reconsider or defend previously held beliefs. Available on Kindle and recommended.
Luftwaffe Fighters and Bombers: The Battle of Britain by Chris Goss – First-hand accounts by numerous Luftwaffe fighter and bomber pilots. A lot of detail from “the other side” not available anywhere else.
Spitfire on my Tail by Ulrich Steinhilper – Ulrich describes his missions as a fighter pilot before and during the Battle until being shot down and captured over England in October 1940. Great insight into the inner workings and organization of a Luftwaffe 109 squadron during 1940.

For first person accounts and flat out entertaining reading James recommends all of the following available on Kindle:
- Fighter Pilot by Paul Richey
- Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940 by Patrick Bishop
- Arise To Conquer by Wing Commander Ian Gleed DSO DFC
- Ten Fighter Boys by W/C Athol & S/L Hubert
- Gun Button To Fire by Tom Neil
- First Light: The True Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies above Britain by Geoffrey Wellum

Remember to follow along & chime in on my discussion thread (and geeklist) for all of my Battle of Britain thoughts & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

-Mark

 

Direct download: WGTG_7-3_Battle_of_Britain_The_Hardest_Day.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02am PST

I'm not sure why I called this episode Adlertag. I guess it's to bookend my discussion & exploration of the Battle of Britain. Last time was just the intro, but by now I've started. Hence, the Eagle Day reference. You can bet that episode 7.3 will be The Hardest Day, and that will be that. It took me so long to get to this one because I've been distracted. I played games, read books, watched movies, and recorded two great interviews that you'll hear. (Plus a third interview I'm saving for 7.3.) And then...I found out I'm moving to France. This is a temporary reassignment for work, a very exciting opportunity for my wife & I (kids are in college, staying here), and it's meant that my free time evaporated due to preparations. Those are mostly finished now, and I had a window of opportunity to finish the recording & editing for this podcast. Whew!

Doug Adams
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I'm super excited to interview designer Ben Knight, who may not have been on anyone else's wargame podcast yet. Ben designed a game I discussed in my first Wargames To Go episode, the double-blind game about Across the Potomac. I would've been happy to hear him discuss anything, including that old Command Magazine game, but what I really was after was a talk about his Battle of Britain game, London's Burning. He tells some stories about its development, and I think it provides a window into his approach as a designer. Good stuff. Some day I'll play his Victory at Midway and perhaps I can have him back on the show then.

Besides the designer of London's Burning, I interview another fan of the game, my friend Doug Adams. Doug denies he's a wargamer, but I know otherwise. Doug is someone I've known online for 20 years...but we've never met or even spoken to each other before this interview. He's in Australia, and I'm in California (until I'm in France!).




Remember to follow along & chime in on my discussion thread (and geeklist) for all of my Battle of Britain thoughts & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

 


Movies
Battle of Britain
First of the Few
Mrs. Miniver
The One That Got Away
Reach for the Sky
Piece of Cake



-Mark

P.S. Time to fess up--if my voice sounds funny when I say "Ben Knight," it's because in post-production I kept saying the name of another wargame designer, Ben Hull. Oops! Had to fix that. The recording was made in a variety of settings, some outside, some over dodgy Skype connections. I pieced it all together like Doctor Frankenstein, and I hope the end result is good enough. I thought it was.

Direct download: WGTG_7-2_Battle_of_Britain_Adlertag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm PST

Time for a new series! I've already started into several games, movies, and books about the Battle of Britain, and this intro podcast will catch you up with my plans. It's an audio version of the discussion thread and geeklist detailing the explorations I'm doing with this topic.

Also, up front I wanted to point out that I'll be heading to GMT's warehouse weekend event in a few days. If you'll also be there and listen to my podcast, look me up! At least say high and get yourself a podcast listener button. I'll have them onhand for both of my podcasts. As of this writing, I think I've got games lined up for Wild Blue Yonder, Liberty or Death, War in the Wind, and Fading Glory. I'd love to try Hitler's Reich, and may have already told my friends I'd give Talon a try. Between those plans, and some inevitable fillers, I bet I'm already over-subscribed for the weekend! I'm really looking forward to it.

-Mark

 

Direct download: WGTG_7-1_Battle_of_Britain_Introduction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:29pm PST

With this episode, I'm wrapping up my exploration of the opening of WW2 in the Pacific. What started with Pearl Harbor and a vacation to Hawaii expanded into an education via games, films, and books about the many offensives launched by Imperial Japan on that fateful day.

It opens with my interview of friend & wargame designer/developer, Steve Carey. Steve won the Charles S. Roberts award for We Must Tell The Emperor, his small-format solo game about the entire Pacific war--which I discussed in episode 2. (He won the award a second time for an analysis article in C3i magazine.)

Then I go on to discuss a bunch of games I played on these topics, followed by movies, books, and even some sites visited.

 

-Mark

Direct download: WGTG_6-4_A_Month_of_Infamy_Philippines_Wake_Singapore.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20am PST

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