Wargames To Go

Joe Schmidt
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Microbadge: 2018 9 Card Nanogame PnP Design Contest participant

Now I've gone back to my usual format where I explore a single topic in games, books, films, and whatever else I can find. The Spanish-American War is similar to a lot of topics I've dived into--it's something I felt like I knew something about, but not too much. Also matching the pattern, it's been a subject I thought would be rather small and self-contained...only to find out it has larger implications and resonances to today's world. I swear, that just keeps on happening.

Probably like a lot of people, when I think of the SAW I think of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, "Remember the Maine," San Juan Hill, and Cuba. Other topics might come to me if I concentrated on it, but not as readily: the Philippines, American imperialism, Yellow Journalism, Puerto Rico, and the US Navy. I think Cuba's much longer internal struggle for independence was largely unknown to me.

Board Game: Kettle Hill
Board Game: Kettle Hill

Board Game Designer: Joe Schmidt

In this Part 1 episode, I close by giving a quick rundown of the games in my geeklist on the subject, many of which I have played or will play by the time I record Part 2 to conclude the topic. However, the beginning of this podcast features a full interview with designer Joe Schmidt. Joe caught my attention when his little game Kettle Hill was about the Rough Riders' and Buffalo Soldiers' famous assault that was part of the Santiago campaign in the SAW. What's more, Joe won the Charles S Roberts award for the Amateur/Print-and-Play category. As you'll hear, Joe designed Kettle Hill as a PNP title during the coronavirus pandemic as a way of doing something for the hobby. I'm glad the hobby recognized him in return.

Joe has a few games with a distinct aesthetic, both in small footprint and graphic design. He's also got several other projects in various stages of completion, such as his collaboration with other designers for the French Resistance game In The Shadows, which has already made the cut with GMT's P500 system. There's another title that will be of special interest to fans of the Levy & Campaign series that started with Nevsky. I didn't even realize it until after I switched off the recorder, but Joe was giving me a scoop for his new game in that series! Just like when Volko gave me a scoop for Nevsky back in episode 14.2! Wow, I'm a journalist!


Direct download: WGTG_23-1_Spanish-American_War_part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm PDT

Board Game: Battle for Kursk: The Tigers Are Burning, 1943
Board Game: Firebase Vietnam
Board Game: Charge of the Light Brigade: A Solitaire Wargame
Board Game: Gunfight at O.K. Corral: October 26, 1881
Board Game: The Fall of Röhm

Isn't it tiresome when a podcaster starts by apologizing it's been so long since their last episode? So I won't do that. Here's the next one.

My plans to spend the summer (now months past!) playing contemporary magazine wargames sort of worked, just more slowly and less completely than I'd originally planned. Whatever--I'm doing this for fun! The truth is, after vaccinations we were able to see some family and do some traveling that had been unavailable during the first year of the pandemic. Wargaming took a bit of a back seat, though I still got some done. Including ON a traveling vacation. (I played two of the three Panzerschreck titles on evenings while visiting Yellowstone National Park!)

This episode features me talking about multiple games in recent issues of C3i and Panzerschreck magazines. The latter is a typically obscure, niche product and series of games that most listeners probably won't know. The former, however, is almost new territory for my podcast: a contemporary release that other people are already excited about, many of them own, and a bunch will have already played. Relevance! What a concept...

I'm not really too concerned about how niche-within-a-niche my hobby is. By now you should realize that about me. Just the same, it was a nice change of pace to be playing and talking about a game, designers, and publisher that others are, too.

Thinking back, I don't know how much I talked about the games themselves. Definitely I don't do a full review. Instead, I talk about my experience and reaction to the game. Especially when I move on to the other titles in this episode, it got me thinking about the nature of these games, what makes some work for me, others not. The final game, most of all, prompts some deep thoughts about what is being simulated in a game, what the role of the player in it, and is it ok? I'm inclined to think almost anything is viable in a simulation game since we are learning more about important history through this medium, but The Fall of Röhm tested the limits of my conviction about that.


Although I'm tying this series off before getting to a couple remaining games mentioned earlier, I still plan to work in Battles Magazine and its Storm over Madrid title sometime in my future. Whenever that happens (no promises about schedule), I'll shove it into whatever my next podcast episode is about, regardless of topic. Because Battles Magazine is really incredible and all wargamers should take notice of it.

You know, there's a good hook between that game and my expected next wargame topic. The "contemporary magazines" topic was fun, but I found that I missed the chance to dig into a single historic topic over multiple games & media, as I've done before. I'm going back to that traditional WGTG format for the next episode, at least. The subject is going to the Spanish-American War, and I've already started a geeklist for it.

Reference Material
Eastern Front of WWII animated: 1943/44 Fantastic animations of the OOB, deployments, and annotated movements of the WW2 eastern front, covering the period and scale very closely matched to the C3i game
Episode 31 of the Our Fake History podcast Great milhist summary of the Charge of the Light Brigade
Charge of the Light Brigade (1968 film) Recommended!
Tombstone (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1956) Three different Hollywood depictions of the famous gunfight


A couple mistakes/omissions when I talked about the Charge of the Light Brigade topic. Embarrassingly, I think I mentioned the Turkey on the opposing side to the Anglo-French allies. That's exactly WRONG and I should've known it. The Anglo-French were there to help Turkey oppose the Russian Empire. Second, I should've pointed out that the 1968 film I enjoyed on this topic featured some inter-scene animations in the style (drawn from?) Punch magazine. So clever!

Direct download: WGTG_22-2_Magazine_Game_Summer_2021_C3i_and_Panzerschreck.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11pm PDT

Board Game: 1914: Fureur à l’Est
Board Game: Steamroller: Tannenberg 1914
Board Game: Battle for Kursk: The Tigers Are Burning, 1943
Board Game: Firebase Vietnam

Board Game: Charge of the Light Brigade: A Solitaire Wargame
Board Game: Gunfight at O.K. Corral: October 26, 1881
Board Game: The Fall of Röhm
Board Game: Storm Over Madrid 1936: "Miracle of November"
Board Game: Angola 1987-1988

As mentioned in my last episode, I've decided to do something different this summer. Breaking from my usual pattern of tackling a single subject with multiple games, movies, books, etc., now I'm giving myself a break. I'm just going to have fun playing some of the recent backlog of magazine wargames. I'm sure I'll read Wikipedia articles and such to give myself some historic education about the subjects, but I'm not going to get so deep. Where there are easy info sources such as podcasts and youtube videos, I'll probably take those in, too. As long as it's all fun and doesn't take too long.

One thing I'm keeping going is a geeklist for this episode. It's got all of the magazine games pictured above, listed in the order I think I'll get to them. As I play them, I tend to post a few photos, as well as a link to short (~1 minute) twitter videos of them on the table.

As of this writing, I've actually recorded some thoughts about the first two games played, both on the WW1 Eastern Front in 1914. I may save those for everything to be rolled up into a single, large podcast episode...or else I may space them out as little "mini-episodes" over the summer.

Reference Material
The Seminal Catastrophe podcast episodes 17-20 are about WW1 Eastern Front, plus the excellent Supplemental episodes

Direct download: WGTG_22-1_Magazine_Game_Summer_1914_East_Front.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm PDT

From gallery of MarkEJohnson

Board Game: A Week In Hell: The Battle of Hue
Board Game: Hue
Board Game: The Battle of Hue!
Board Game: Block by Block: The Battle of Huế, 1968

Turns out Vietnam is just too big of a subject for a pair of podcast episodes. I decided to limit part 2 to just the Battle of Huế, saving more games & history for a future exploration. There are several reasons this battle is so well-represented in wargaming. In some ways it's the Bulge/Waterloo/Gettysburg of Vietnam. By reading Bowden's book on the subject and rewatching Full Metal Jacket, I felt I had a decent understanding of the history as-examined by four smaller games. Then I came across a wonderful "then & now" YouTube doc that also helped bring everything to life. I've never had the opportunity to visit Vietnam myself, but this looks like an amazing city.

As usual, no sooner did I finish recording that I realized a few mistakes and omissions. First of all, I glossed over the fighting that happened within the city of Paris. How could I do that? One of my favorite places in the world? Well, it certainly wasn't leveled or suffered too many horrors of house-to-house fighting, not like other cities in other wars. But there definitely were tanks and soldiers exchanging fire, as described in the book & film, Is Paris Burning?

Next, I neglected to mention a couple more films about Vietnam that I watched. Sort of. I mean, I definitely watched them...they're just 'sort of' about Vietnam. I couldn't bring myself to watch Apocalypse Now again, so I watched the highly respected documentary about its creation, Hearts of Darkness. Honestly, it drove me kind of crazy. I'm a cinephile and enjoy so many challenging & creative films, but the self-importance behind this film & filmmaker gets in my way. Perhaps if it didn't relate to a vital bit of military and national history (of at least two nations), I could forgive its excesses. But I can't.

And then there's The Deer Hunter. Oof, more of that self-importance, combined with even less respect for the historical setting. I know it isn't ABOUT the Vietnam War, but neither is it inconsequential to the story. It's a deliberate falsification to tell an excruciating myth. I really hated this one. This year (2021) I love the films Nomadland and The Sound of Metal, both nominated for Oscar's Best Picture. So I've got no issue with tough stories of human existentialism. But spare me The Deer Hunter, ugh.

One experience that was better was reading The Sympathizer. This is a completely fictional book about the Vietnam War, one that won the Pulitzer just a few years ago. It tells the story of three Vietnamese friends who grew up in that country, one who became an ardent fighter for the South, another who became a devout agent of the Communists, and one in the middle, a mole for the communists operating within the ARVN. The unnamed protagonist and source of the book's title is the third person. The story has a lot to say about America's confusion with this country and period, too. Not military story, but an amazing human lens through which to examine our shared history. Guess it won that literary award for a reason, huh?

Finally, when I talked about the magazine games I was looking forward to tackling next, I thought the Vae Victis game was about Algeria. Nope, it's Angola. Very different setting and conflict. I've got it now. Remember, these French wargame magazines have English translations of the rules, and all of their recent issues have a standardized small format of 108 diecut counters and an A3 (about 11x17") map size. Perfect for me! Lately I've been using Google Translate to read the accompanying historical article for the issue game. That's not necessary, of course--you can do just as well to read a Wikipedia article--but I like the opportunity to learn/struggle-through some French language.


P.S. Here are a couple twitter videos I did for some of the Hue games I played.



Hue 1968
The Sympathizer

Full Metal Jacket
Battle of Huế Then & Now youtube series (there are 6 parts)


Direct download: WGTG_21-2_Vietnam_Battle_of_Hue.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:15pm PDT

From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

My next exploration through smaller wargames is about the Vietnam War. This is something that was almost contemporary when I first started wargaming (1979), so that was too close. I stayed away for years, just as I'm not ready to play simulations about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now. I need some historical distance in order to process & understand what's going on.

Unlike some other topics I've tackled, there are a LOT of books, games, and movies about this subject. Just knowing I'd eventually want to get into it, I acquired a game here, a game there over the years...and it turned into a large list (see link, above).

A Bright Shining Lie
Tet Offensive (S&T Quarterly
Hue 1968
Nam Moi

The Vietnam War (Burns/Novick doc)
A Face of War
Sir! No Sir!
Last Days in Vietnam
Hearts and Minds
We Were Soldiers
Hamburger Hill
The Green Berets
Apocalypse Now
The Deer Hunter
Full Metal Jacket
Da 5 Bloods

This was Part 1, and there will definitely be another part. I need to get to all(?) of those other battle-scale games, especially the ones about the Battle of Hue. Is there someone I should seek out to join me on the podcast? I'm open to suggestions.


Direct download: WGTG_21-1_Vietnam_part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am PDT

From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

It's been a long pandemic, hasn't it? We've got a ways to go, too. During this strange time I've been working from home, wearing a mask outside, and playing some solo wargames. My regular euro-style boardgaming has dried up almost completely, albeit temporarily. Sure, I play some online versions at BoardgameArena, Yucata, special apps, and others, but it's only enough to keep connections going with my friends. I've enjoyed play-by-web and other computerized versions of boardgames for years, but that's when they were a way to get in extra games during the week. Now that they're the only boardgaming I can do, they just remind me of how much I miss sitting across from my friends on a regular game night.

Wargames are different for me. Though once in a while I'll play a 2-player game across a (real) tabletop, normally I enjoy my wargames solo. Purpose-designed solitaire games generally take a backseat to traditional 2-player games where I just play both sides. Which means that there shouldn't be anything slowing me down now for my wargaming during the pandemic.

"Shouldn't be." And yet, it's still been a bit sluggish. Because everything is kind of a drag now, at least for me. To be sure--lots of people have it a whole lot worse that me, so I cannot complain. My job is still going fine via remote work from home, my family is doing ok now, no one is sick... So you'd better believe I'm not seriously whining about my wargaming hobby. I'm not. It's just a little slow, that's all I can muster right now, and I expect that to continue until there's a good vaccine deployment. It'll happen eventually.

One thing I have managed to do during all of this is get my collection a little more organized. That meant going through all of my wargames, sorting the magazines by type, and setting aside a few mini-collections on topics I want to get into. For this episode it was the Strategic Air Command (next time will be Vietnam). As I've mentioned before on my podcast, my dad served in the USAF from 1953-57, during the heady days of the Strategic Air Command. My dad passed in 2018, and though we talked often, now that he's gone I find things I wish we'd talked more about. Like his military service, and that part of his life. I know he was a J47 engine technician for the B-47 Stratojet. He served primarily at March AFB in Riverside, California (not too far from me now--we visited it together), but once deployed to Upper Heyford AFB in the UK.

The most important part for me was that plane, his beloved B-47. Sandwiched between the behemoth B-36 Peacemaker and the famous B-52 Stratofortress/BUFF, I wondered if any wargames would include the B-47. Yes, there are some! I think I've now played most of them. This is an interesting period for wargaming, because it's all alt-hist for a nuclear WW3 that thankfully never happened. I don't normally explore alt-hist, either, but for SAC, the B-47, and Dad I'd happily make an exception.

From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

There are several good movies about this period, too. Probably everyone knows Dr. Strangelove, which I've seen before and was happy to see again. But I found several other good ones, and the aptly named Strategic Air Command movie with Jimmy Stewart even featured the B-47! All in all it's been an enjoyable exploration, for the games, the military history, and a way to reconnect with my dad.

Movies & Video
Strategic Air Command
Dr. Strangelove
Fail Safe
The Arrow
Cold War aviation films (per Wikipedia)

Bomber: The Formation and Early Years of Strategic Air Command , by Phillip Meilinger

If you're not a Twitter user, but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback here or there is always welcome.


From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson
Direct download: WGTG_20_Strategic_Air_Command.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:40pm PDT

Board Game Designer: Carl Paradis
Carl Paradis

Designer Carl Paradis is featured in this episode. Of course I asked him onto the podcast to discuss his landmark Eastern Front game, No Retreat: The Russian Front. Beyond that, Carl has explored this topic in his development of Gary Graber's The Barbarossa Campaign and his own forthcoming Absolute War. That would make him an interesting designer for most wargamers--what makes him special for me is his penchant for small wargames. Even if boxed, with a large map, the counter densities he uses are low, the hexes large, the rules short. Just the sort of gaming I find most interesting, because those designs have to make bold choices & cuts in their simulation modeling.

Now Carl is furthering this design style in his No Retreat Battles series. The first in this new series focuses on five battles from 1942: Velikiye Luki, Stalingrad, Gazala, Guadalcanal, and Dieppe (two of those are solitaire). Small maps, not too many counters...sign me up! (Literally--this game is nearing the cutoff for GMT's P500 preordering system, and one of those preorders is mine.)

From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

Siberian trooper Carl

Think that a big topic like Barbarossa cannot be simulated sufficiently by a low counter density? They might not be for everybody, but take a look at Carl's interesting designs. Within the context of familiar hexmaps, cardboard counters with combat-move factors, and Combat Results Tables, he takes the epic scope of the Russian Front and does clever things with ZOCs and a counterattack system, not to mention multi-use cardplay. YouTube is full of gamers showcasing this title.


If you're not a Twitter user, but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback here or there is always welcome.


Direct download: WGTG_19-2_Barbarossa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43pm PDT

At long last I'm posting my podcast about the Eastern Front in WW2. Except that it's not exactly that, it's Operation Barbarossa. When I started this as a subject, I really didn't know how to parse it, or what my focus would be. Over the past six months I learned to separate Stalingrad, Typhoon, the Soviet counter-invasion, and everything else that is part of so vast a topic. I learned to focus just on Barbarossa. That's a deep enough subject on its own, and I have time in my wargaming future to explore the other aspects.

The centerpiece of this episode is an interview with Bruce Geryk. You know him from his Wild Weasel podcast, and you may also know him from the wargame analyses at his own website, from his Dien Bien Phu video series, or from his other podcast appearances on Three Moves Ahead and Quarter to Three. Bruce is a wargamer from way back, and he thinks deeply about the history and our hobby.

With a subject as monumental as the Russian Front, I particularly wanted Bruce to fill in the blanks of my experience with wargame titles that make up “the canon” for the topic, and especially some of the larger games. As well as being an avid tabletop wargamer, Bruce knows computer wargames as well, and fills us in on that part of the hobby, too.

Movies & Video
ThirEastern Front of WWII animated: 1941
The Great Patriotic War. Operation Barbarossa. Episode 1

Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East, by David Stahel
The First Day on the Eastern Front: Germany Invades the Soviet Union, June 22, 1941, by Craig W.H. Luther
Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up, by Niklas Zetterling
Barbarossa: Germany's Assault on the Soviet Union, 1941-1942, by John Burtt

If you're not a Twitter user (or don't follow me), but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback here or there is always welcome.


Direct download: WGTG_19-1_Barbarossa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:15pm PDT

No episode geeklist this time, just the three games below

I'll be attending Origins Game Fair this year (June 2019) in Columbus. I've been there before, but only in the 80s & 90s, so I'm sure it's substantially different now. I'll be there Thursday-Sunday, including participating on a panel of wargame podcasters/YouTubers/bloggers Sunday morning. That's listed in the program as shown below. I think it's free, and I hope any WGTG listeners still around that morning will stop by. I don't have anything else in particular planned for Origins. Just want to see the thing, play some boardgames, and enjoy some relaxation. Drop me a note on Twitter or
geekmail if you like.

Armchair Dragoons Presents Wargaming Media: State of Play
This panel featuring wargaming media personalities will discuss the current “Golden Age” of board wargaming and what can be done to ensure its survival.
Location: GCCC - Apods - A210
Date: Sunday 6/16/2019 10am (2 hours)

Here's another one-off podcast. I thought last episodes exploration of solitaire games was an exception to my normal wargaming--and it is--but here I am again to discuss three different solo wargames. I swear I'll get to more WW2 East Front explorations sooner or later, but right now I wanted to drop this episode about some other games: Doolittle Raid, Pavlov's House, and Utmost Savagery. The games are all about WW2 topics, and all solitaire systems, but in other respects they're quite different. Their solo rules are completely different, as a matter of fact.

Of course, Pavlov's House, being about a location in the Battle of Stalingrad, relates to my Eastern Front exploration, albeit at a different scale. Last time I had designer David Thompson on the podcast to talk about the process of wargame design. Now I got to see how one of his games actually worked. The Doolittle Raid is different, something I heard my father & grandfather talk about growing up. They both served in the USAF/USAAF and I grew up with stories of America's famous air exploits. My buddy Brian suspected this game was right up my alley after he'd enjoyed it, so at a GMT Weekend at the Warehouse I bought a copy. As for Utmost Savagery, my interest was sparked by reading Eugene Sledge's outstanding WW2 memoir, which was adapted into the HBO series The Pacific. The Battle of Peleliu plays a central role in that narrative. A look through my collection revealed that I already owned a game on that topic, part of a dual-game within Against The Odds magazine.

It all makes for an unusual collection of titles to discuss together, as well as books & films to take in.

Movies & Video
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Destination Tokyo
Pearl Harbor (just the end has Doolittle's Raid)
Enemy at the Gates
The Pacific (HBO) (episodes 5-7 are about Peleliu)
Sands of War (WW2 military short film about the Desert Training Center)

Target Tokyo, by James M. Scott
Enemy At The Gates, by William Craig
With The Old Breed, by Eugene Sledge

My Twitter videos about the games
Doolittle Raid
Pavlov's House
Utmost Savagery

Geeklist of Award-Winning Magazine Games

Next I'm really going to start playing more WW2 East Front games. Besides Pavlov, I've already played Battle for Moscow and No Retreat. I have many more titles to explore which are listed on a geeklist.

If you're not a Twitter user (or don't follow me), but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback here or there is always welcome.


Direct download: WGTG_18_Doolittle_Pavlov_and_Sledgehammer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:16pm PDT

Here's something I haven't done in a while: a one-off podcast. In other words, this isn't the start of a multi-episode, multi-month exploration of one battle/war. Instead, this is a single episode about (mostly) a single topic, WW2's Long Range Desert Group. I vaguely remembered hearing something about history, then earlier this year the French wargaming magazine Vae Victis featured the LRDG in their issue game. It was a small, solitaire design, and I tweeted about how I was intrigued. A friend recommended a book to read about it, and soon I discovered another solitaire game on it. That was enough for me--it sounded like the makings of a podcast episode.

This episode also features an interview with wargame designer David Thompson. He created Pavlov's House and has Castle Itter coming up next, both published by DVG. As you'll hear, he's got some other games on the way from other publishers, too. In fact, his interview is primarily about what it's like to get a wargame published, particularly the part about pitching a project to a publisher. He's researching the LRDG himself for a project, so the interview was perfect timing.

Movies & Video
Sea of Sand
Lost in Libya: In Search of the LRDG
Battlestorm Lite - LRDG (3 parts including Moore's March)

Sand , Wind, and War, by Ralph Alger Bagnold
Incident at Jebel Sherif, by Kuno Gross, Roberto Chiarvetto, Brendan O'Carroll
Killing Rommel, by Steven Pressfield

Long Range Desert Group versus aircraft

Next I'm going to start playing some WW2 East Front games. It's an enormous topic, one of the centerpieces of our hobby. My knowledge about it is fairly limited, but I'm learning a bunch already. Also, I've naturally got quite a number of wargames on the topic already. With a subject this large, there are several smaller options out there, just like I prefer. I'm starting with Frank Chadwick's introductory classic, Battle for Moscow. I've started a geeklist about with these games, too.

If you're not a Twitter user (or don't follow me), but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback here or there is always welcome.

Direct download: WGTG_17_Long_Range_Desert_Group_with_David_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm PDT

At long last, the interview with author and game designer, Joe Balkoski. He's been on my podcast before, when we talked about The Korean War. At that time we made plans for his return when I dove into D-Day games. Besides designing some notable games on the subject, Joe has had an entire second career (his main career, really) of writing books on the subject. It's no exaggeration to say he is the definitive expert on US 29th Infantry Division and it's actions on Omaha Beach and beyond into Normandy, the rest of France, and Europe.

I had the opportunity to interview Joe, and this time it wasn't at the end of a Skype line. This time I was able to meet him at his workplace, the home of the Maryland National Guard at Baltimore's Fifth Regiment Armory. It's right there on 29th Division Street in downtown Baltimore, and you'll hear what a fortuitous role it played in Joe's life.

With this episode, I'm wrapping up my drawn-out series on D-Day. After the Balkoski interview I talk about some battle games played that were "beyond the beachhead," covering the Battle of Mortain. As well as a few titles that don't have anything to do with D-Day at all: they're in here because my trip to Maryland/Virginia included some local sightseeing and inspired the play of these other games. I've had a little more time to think about what makes or breaks a good, short, small wargame. I'll share my thoughts, and would especially welcome any discussion on that subject.

I think in my previous episode I toyed with the idea of stopping my podcasts. I no longer think I'm going to do that. Although future Wargames To Go episodes may no longer follow the multi-episode format for a "quarter" (or so) per topic, I'll still do something. I'm still figuring out what. Right now I know I want to play a couple different Long Range Desert Group games I've acquired. Both are solitaire titles. Then it's high time I learned some basics about the Eastern Front, and what better time to try that than in winter. Maybe I want to squeeze a Bulge game in around Christmas, too. Hmmm...



If you're not a Twitter user (or don't follow me), but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo. Feedback is always welcome.

Direct download: WGTG_16-3_D-Day_Conclusion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13pm PDT

A solo episode this time. That interview with author and designer Joe Balkoski is still coming, but not quite yet. He's got the little matter of his own retirement and a well-deserved vacation to deal with first. Ok, no problem, I just recorded this episode to record more thoughts about a variety of D-Day games I've played. Then I get to share my own travelogue from my visit to Normandy in 2014.

Playing those games, it got me thinking about smaller wargames, in general. Every so often there's a discussion posted online (here on BGG, perhaps in the wargaming twitterspace, or something else) where a gamer asks if there are any good, shorter wargames out there. YES! There are LOTS of them. These are the games I seek out. However, they often are less well known, because for many years the hobby has focused on the beefier end of the spectrum when it comes to wargames. It's easier to find monster wargames (see? they even have a term for it) than shorter ones.

Yet the shorter ones are out there. New wargamers tiptoeing into the hobby may ask for them, but just as often it's an experienced wargamer who still wants to enjoy the hobby but cannot host weekend-long setups any longer. Weeknight Wargames is what I tried to call them. Ones you can play in 1-3 hours. Whatever they're called, they can be found. One of these days I need to make my own geeklist with suggestions. When I do, I'll link to it here.

If you're not a Twitter user (or don't follow me), but still want to see my photos and short videos about some wargames, just go to http://www.twitter.com/WargamesToGo.



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

Direct download: WGTG_16-2_D-Day_Continued.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:20pm PDT

At long last I’m getting to the D-Day episodes. It may seem long to you because I skipped last month (April). But it’s a lot longer than that. I visited the Normandy beaches on vacation back in 2014. I figured I’d record a podcast about that and play some related games soon after. Then when I went to live in France from 2016-2017, I brought a number of Normandy games with me, again thinking I’d get to them. In both cases, other things took their place, and my D-Day podcast was pushed back & back. Now, though, I’m getting to do it, and synced up with the anniversary of the battle. (I always prefer to play wargames around the anniversary of their battles, because the weather outside fits the action on the map a little closer.)

In this episode I briefly mention the books & movies listed below, talk about my recent time at GMT’s Weekend at the Warehouse, then dive into the extensive geeklist of games I aspire to tackle on this subject. I never get to ALL of them, but already I’ve made more of a dent than I’d hoped. It helps that there are SO many D-Day/Normandy games to choose from. That includes some famous biggies, but also quite a number of smaller wargames, as I prefer.

There’s no historical intro to the subject this time—-I’d feel silly doing that, and assume all wargamers geeky enough to seek out my podcast already know plenty about this famous battle. I did, too, but have been very pleased to learn a lot more details that previously escaped me. Especially about the fighting in Normandy to expand the beachhead and create the breakout. Operations Goodwood, Spring, and Cobra are exciting parts of the story I knew less about before this podcast.



Saving Private Ryan
The Longest Day
Band of Brothers (episodes Day of Days and Carentan)
Storming Juno

D-Day, by Anthony Beevor
Parachute Infantry, by David Kenyon Webster
Six Armies in Normandy, by John Keegan
Beyond the Beachhead, by Joe Balkoski

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

Direct download: WGTG_16-1_D-Day_Introduction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm PDT

To wrap up my series on the Korean War, I've got a shorter episode featuring just me talking about the games I played. I never get to as many as I'd like--my geeklists are aspirational and for reference rather than predictive!--and the same is true of movies. Nonetheless, my exploration of this subject has been a satisfying one. I went into it not knowing much about the conflict that inaugurated the Cold War, and the defining historical event of my father's generation. Between games, books, movies, magazines, and other podcasts, I now understand considerably more.

What I enjoy most of all is that I feel like I "get" the overall narrative arc of this piece of history. There's the war itself, with its milestone events (invasion, retreat, Pusan perimeter defense, amphibious invasion to the rear at Inchon, reversal of the invasion, Chinese intervention, retreat from the Yalu and escape from Chosin...). There's also the political machinations going on from the end of WW2 to this episode.

Once again, I'm struck by how much I enjoy the old/traditional style of wargaming, with its hexmaps, ZOCs, OOBs, and reinforcement schedules. Even plain, old IGO-UGO rules systems. I recognize those systems have their limitations, but they really help me learn more about a subject. In a related way, I confirmed for myself that I don't really care for tactical systems. When they include the things that are necessary at that scale (LOS, opportunity fire, etc.), I just find that the game rules get in the way of my appreciation of the game and its depictions.





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

And if you want to anticipate my next podcast series on D-Day, check out its own geeklist.

Direct download: WGTG_15-3_Korean_War_Conclusion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm PDT

This quarter I finally get to tackle a subject that's been on my to-do list for years: the Korean War. I wanted to this topic because of a connection to my father, and because I previously knew so little about it. Several years ago, when I was just getting back into wargaming after a long hiatus, the military history book club run by Hungadunga here on BGG read The Coldest Winter, by David Halberstam. I was blown away by the story. As the nickname goes, the Korean War was kind of The Forgotten War for me. Except that I'd never really learned much about it in the beginning to forget. Thanks to the book and discussion here at BGG, I learned a great deal.

My dad passed away one month ago, as of the date I'm writing this blog. He didn't share my love of wargames, but he DID instill my interest in military history. We watched many PBS and History Channel programs together, as well as war movies. We talked about history and politics. The Korean War was from his era, when he served as jet engine mechanic for B-47 Stratojets in the USAF. No, those jets didn't fly in that war. They came just after. They were the United States first strategic jet bomber. The momentous first year of the Korean War coincided with my dad's senior year in high school. I'm sure he & his buddies were thinking about their futures as they heard and watched news stories about the retreat, advances, more retreats, and bitter winter fighting for the Army and Marines. A separate USAF was itself only three years old when the Korean War broke out. He went to college for a couple years, then enlisted in that new Air Force. My dad went through basic training during the war's final months, and the armistice was signed shortly after. That makes him a veteran of the Korean War era, rather than the war itself. Instead, he & his generation were the first "cold warriors" of General Curtis LeMay's Strategic Air Command.


My dad, Dale Johnson (1933-2018). Served in USAF 1953-57.[/center]
Consequently, besides a long list of games that cover the ground and air war in Korea, I'll also be exploring a couple titles that include the B-47. It was never deployed in combat--good thing since it had been designed for a nuclear WW3--yet there are some alt-hist games that include it. Doing that is a nice way to still include my dad in my hobby, and even share him a little with my listeners. Many of you have probably gone through something like this. In our case, we are fortunate in that it was a peaceful passing, and we had many good years together. I sure miss him, though.

The Korean War is hardly forgotten when it comes to wargames and movies, I'm finding. Although there are far fewer games on it than WW2, Napoleonics, or the ACW, there are still many great choices for me to investigate. Besides big games that I won't get to, there are smaller games covering the entire conflict, or individual battles. There are others about the air war overhead. Of course, there are several treatments of MacArthur's brilliant Inchon invasion, as well as his misjudged provocation of Communist Chinese forces. As for movies...well, this is one subject where I cannot even watch all of the choices. There are too many!

At the end of February, I plan to feature an interview with designer Joe Balkoski. I'm also starting to think about who I might get for the final Korean War episode in March. Suggestions are welcome.




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

Direct download: WGTG_15-2_Korean_War_Balkoski_interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am PDT

Intro show about the latest topic for WGTG - the Korean War

Direct download: WGTG_15-1_Korean_War_Introduction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am PDT

This month's episode brings my French & Indian War topic to a close. As always, it's been very rewarding to dig a bit deeper into a piece of history I thought I knew something about...only to find more layers and connections to the past & present. Even though my time living in Paris is six months behind me, I knew that picking this topic would be a great transition from my somewhat deliberate French-focused outlook of 2016-2017 into the broader world again. That's exactly how it worked. In learning about the F&I War, I chose to focus on the New France part of that story, particular the two centuries of history that came before the Fall of Quebec. I guess you could say I was focusing the "F" in the F&I War. I only scratched the surface of the "I" part. Not surprisingly, the political and cultural history of the native peoples in this region--and their ever-adapting interaction with the arriving Europeans--is a topic all unto itself. Frankly, that's the sort of story that can sometimes be told better by a sophisticated euro, since it involves so much more than military subjects. As far as I know, there isn't a game on that topic, though Mound Builders may be the closest. I own that, and look forward to playing it sometime.

The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon by Henry Alexander Ogden
(images from Wikipedia)

As for the military history, though, there are many good games on the topic. Typically, I played only a fraction of what I considered when I constructed this episode's geeklist. That's ok--I enjoyed the ones I got to, and will have future opportunities to play some that I missed. (I still wish there was a playably short version of the Battle of Quiberon Bay, though.)

The Battle of Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759 by Dominic Serres
(images from Wikipedia)

A feature of this episode is my interview with designer Martin Wallace. Probably best known for Age of Steam, Brass, and London, you can tell right there that he's not your average eurogame designer. He's his own thing. Martin's games have always had a heavy dose of history, often political and economic history. It should be no surprise that his designer's eye looks over topics of military history, too. He's now designed a fair number of wargames, all of them innovative and worth a look. His designs don't come from a hex & counter system, a COIN system, or indeed any established system at all. A few of them share common rule systems, but most are unique. Though it's a problematic term (because no one knows exactly what it means), they are often euro-wargame hybrids. Which is right up my alley. When Martin's A Few Acres of Snow was released in 2011, it took a new game design mechanism called deckbuilding and applied to a very specific subject, the French & Indian War. For me, it was love at first sight, and I've never looked back. What a thrill to be able to talk to Martin about it, as well as his general thoughts about wargaming.

Sculptures of James Wolfe and Marquis de Montcalm by Louis-Philippe Hébert in front of Parliament Building (Quebec)
(images from Wikipedia)

Since this is the final episode in the series, I wrap up by talking about the F&I War games I actually played, books, podcasts, and movies. Then it's time to move on to the subject for the next quarter, and planned three monthly episodes: the Korean War.



• Last of the Mohicans (1992)
• Last of the Mohicans (1920) silent
• Northwest Passage more about Robert's Rangers than the passage

• George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775, by James Thomas Flexner 
• THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA: Volume II - The Rise of New France, edited by George M. Wrong, H. H. Langton
• Montcalm and Wolfe by Francis Parkman
• Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

• Iroquois History and Legends Podcast
• Thread: Why did New France have so few settlers?
• Thread: Montcalm's early successes

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

And if you want to anticipate my next podcast series on the Korean War, check out its own geeklist.

Direct download: WGTG_14-3_French__Indian_War_Martin_Wallace_interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am PDT

Two months in and I'm really liking this new schedule of a quarter per topic. Those 90 days feel like enough time to dig into a subject, but also to keep moving so that I get to explore several throughout the year. I'll stick with this for the foreseeable future, and in this episode I share what some of my future topics will likely be.

Plan of Fort Carillon in 1758

The main feature of this episode is another interview with designer Volko Ruhnke. I say "another" because he was on my podcast a year ago to talk about Alesia, while this time he's on to talk about the French & Indian War. Though he's probably best known now as the originator of the COIN system, Volko's first published design was a CDG, Wilderness War. We get to talk about that, as well as an entirely new game system he's working on. I don't know if this is a "scoop" or what because I had not heard of this before, and cannot find anything else about it online. Enjoy! Volko tells about this new system in the context of describing the time he had playtesting games at San Diego's wargaming convention, SDHistCon. I missed going this year...maybe I should make it a priority in 2018?

Wargaming at BGG.con

One of the reasons I didn't make it was that I went to another gaming convention in November, Boardgamegeek's BGGcon. This was my fourth time, having been to the very first (2005), and then three of the past few years (just missed when I lived in France--2016). Although primarily a eurogame event, I'd say perhaps 10% of the gaming is wargaming. Since BGGcon is such a large event (2500+ people over 4+ days), even 10% is quite a bit of wargaming. I did some of that this time, too.

A plan of Fort William Henry, published in 1765

I've got one more designer interview planned for the final F&I War episode, next month in December. At that time I'll also recap the games & movies I've enjoyed. Then we'll put a bow on 2017 and look forward to the new year.


Fort Oswego


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

Direct download: WGTG_14-2_French__Indian_War_Volko_Ruhnke_interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18pm PDT

In the final quarter of 2017 I'm concentrating on the French & Indian War. This first episode is an introduction, giving me a chance to take my listeners along for this ride in history. Perhaps you'll jump onboard and experience some of these games or movies with me.

Hand-drawn map by George Washington, accompanying a printing of the journal he kept of his 1753 expedition into the Ohio Country.

I realize that what I'm calling the French & Indian War is really the North American theater of the Seven Years War (sometimes nicknamed World War Zero), when France and England battled for global dominance throughout the newly expanding colonial world. There were conflicts in mainland Europe, too. I'm not exploring those--I'm just looking at the conflicts of Quebec, Fort William Henry, the forks of the Ohio, the siege of Louisbourg, and so on. However, my reading about the French & Indian WAR (singular) has quickly reminded me that this conflict from 1754-1763 was preceded by a few other wars between roughly the same sides: English colonies versus the French & Indian-allied forces. I have a suspicion I'll be looking into those, too.

One thing that jumped out at me when I created this subject's geeklist is how many good light/short/hybrid wargames there are on it. From Quebec 1759 (Columbia's first block wargame in 1972!) to A Few Acres of Snow or 1754 Conquest (published in 2011 & 2017, respectively), there are a bunch of great choices for wargamers like me that prefer the lighter end of our hobby. I'm still curious about larger hexmap wargames, and the famous CDG on this topic, too.

Map of Louisbourg and its artillery batteries in 1751.

In the podcast I get to talk about the games I saw & played at the recent GMT Weekend at the Warehouse event, too. This is practically in my back yard (a 3-hour drive), so I hope to continue to go to this event once or twice per year. Next month I'll also be going to BGGcon in Dallas, where I'll be playing both wargames and euros. Hope to see you there! Say hi and ask for a podcast button to display proudly!


This 1797 engraving is based on a sketch made by Hervey Smyth, General Wolfe's aide-de-camp during the siege of Quebec. A view of the taking of Quebec, 13th September 1759.

Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Last of the Mohicans (1920) silent
Northwest Passage more about Robert's Rangers than the passage
Fort Ti I think this is on YouTube
Barry Lyndon I know this is European Seven Year War, but it's also Kubrick


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

Direct download: WGTG_14-1_French__Indian_War_Intro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03pm PDT

It's been an interesting couple months, delving into the Franco-Prussian War, including the events the led to it, and the after effects. It definitely feels like a historical pivot that transformed the Europe of Napoleon's time into the European political landscape that we still know today...and one that had such tragedy awaiting it in the 20th century. However, it wasn't a World War. It wasn't even a war that engulfed most of Europe as the Napoleonic ones had. This was contained, with neutrality and borders respected.

I have the pleasure to interview Charles Vasey again for this episode. He designed a game about one of the war's most famous battles--but one that's tricky to treat with traditional wargame design & play thinking. Although now it's easy to find his game in issue #24 of Against The Odds magazine, in the 1990s it was a DTP/PNP title, back when those took more work to find, acquire, and enjoy. Before its time! It was a great opportunity to speak with Charles about his game, and more generally about innovation in wargame design.

As usual, my ambitions to play many games on a topic exceeded my available time. That's ok. Some I played all the way through, others I set up and studied the rules, and some others I merely purchased (or already had)! I remind myself that this is my hobby, not my job. While it would be fun to keep exploring this topic, there are so many wargaming subjects I've yet to explore that I have to move on.

Charles mentioned that there didn't used to be very much literature about the FP War in the English language, but this has changed in the past twenty years. That has enabled a flowering of good games on the subject, too. As for the film, though, the pickings are still slim. On the other hand, that obscurity led me to find different films & formats that were interesting discoveries in themselves.

I think you'll hear in this episode how I'm coming to embrace the fact that the games themselves are a jumping-off point for me for a topic. It was where I started, and the hobby remains the core of my historical interest. However, as I've gotten back into wargaming for the past several years, I'm realizing that I'm energized by learning and thinking about these topics for a few months, exploring them through various "media" (wargames, movies), considering their impact on world history, and then moving on to another subject. Very rewarding.


P.S. The first weekend in October I'll be at GMT's Weekend at the Warehouse event in Hanford, California. Later in November I'm returning to BGGcon in Dallas, Texas. If any listeners go to either of these events, too, please track me down and let me know. I'd love to hear what you think. (I may be part of a podcaster panel discussion at BGGcon, too. Details are still being worked out.) I'll have buttons/badges for both of my podcasts that you can pin to your shirt, game bag, or whatever.

Movies (as listed before, plus...)
Bismarck (also on YouTube)

A Day of Battle by David Ascoli


Jump onto my geeklist/discussion) for the next subject of my podcast, the French & Indian War. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.

Direct download: WGTG_13-2_Franco-Prussian_War_Conclusion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:33pm PDT

Now that I'm back for good and getting a handle on things, I want to try returning to an earlier "format" I had for the podcast. That is, a small series of shorter episodes on each topic while I'm exploring it. That way, I don't excite my listeners about a topic just as I'm leaving it behind (the way it happens with those longer, mega-episodes). I did this a few times before, and I'm trying it again. I'd appreciate feedback on this approach.

My one "leftover" topic from my time living in France is the Franco-Prussian War. Twelve months ago I took several games on this topic with me overseas, but I didn't get to them until I moved back home. That's not to say that I didn't see a few sites that relate to the war in some way, or didn't think about it while I was there. I did. However, the games I'm just getting to.

The FP War is one of those topics I only had the slimmest of notions about before I became a historical wargamer. I knew the approximate time period, that it led to German taking the territory, and that this also led to the hostilities of World War One. I supposed I'd heard of the Paris Commune, but its connection to the FP War was very fuzzy in my mind. Well, as I always love about this hobby & podcast project, I'm now learning a lot more. Peeling back another layer of the onion of history, since there are always so many connections to events before & after.

The games I'm just getting to, and there are several good ones (large & small) that you may want to explore with me. Books, magazines, podcasts are well underway. Movies...well that's a tough one. In my podcast I forgot to mention Fall of Eagles, a BBC miniseries(?) from the 1970s that includes some of the important diplomatic events. But films that actually cover the war are proving nearly impossible to identify and locate. If you've got suggestions, please let me know.


Fall of Eagles (also on YouTube!)
La Commune (Paris, 1871)
1864 not even FP War, but the Second Schleswig War between Prussia & Denmark is pretty close
1871 just discovered this is on Amazon Prime
New Babylon silent from from Soviet Union, available on YouTube
Last Cartridges A historical artifact in itself! An 1897 one-minute silent from from Georges Méliès
Field of Honour

I'm also still looking for more films associated the FP War and Paris Commune as identified on Wikipedia.

The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne

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

Direct download: WGTG_13-1_Franco-Prussian_War_Introduction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39pm PDT

While living & working in France I tried to do a couple things with this podcast. One was to focus on topics that were most relevant to my new surroundings. The other was to post smaller shows every month. Well, I succeeded at one of those goals. This episode is long overdue, but it's most assuredly about a French topic: the Hundred Years War fought across much of the country against the Kingdom of England during the years 1337-1453.

Over two months ago my assignment in France came to an end, and my wife & I returned to our home in Southern California. It was a wonderful, fantastic experience & opportunity to live over there. I had a day job, sure (one that got pretty intense near the end, which is part of why this episode is late). I had almost all weekends off, though, and we made the most of them. We went on lots of day-trips and a few overnight trips. Lots of them naturally radiated out from Paris where we lived, and that happened to correspond to the "northern theater" for the Hundred Years War. Joan of Arc is a historic figure whose path we crossed more than once. What a perfect topic for an episode! I knew very little about the topic before this exploration, and you know how drawn I am to that aspect of our hobby: learning history through wargames.

As always, the episode is a medley of discussions about the historic period, games I played about, books & movies, and famous sites visited. When another expat wargamer coincidentally tweeted that he was also playing the obscure(?) Against The Odds magazine game about the naval battle that opened the war...the same one I had on my table...I asked him to be my interview subject. Casey Nedry is an American wargamer living in another country, too, only his country is on the opposite side of the world--Japan.

Learning my lesson from the previous episode, I begin this one with a quick summary about the historic event. (In fact, I may later go back to my Spanish Civil War episode and record its own historic intro/overview.) To be honest, I'd feel a little foolish & inadequate doing this about something as well known as the Battle of the Bulge, but perhaps I should try anyway. It's good practice to boil down all of my reading & other research into a few paragraphs, and it helps to catch all of us up to the same understanding. Of course, if you think I've missed something in my overview, please let me know in the comments.

The Hundred Years War was a big deal for western civilization. It took place during (perhaps caused) a societal transformation from warlord-like feudal states and limited warfare into the earliest forms of nationalism and professional armies since the Roman era. It's part of what made England England, and it's definitely what made France France!

Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc) is a fascinating historic figure all by herself. I admit to having only a vague notion of her before this topic. I think I understood that she was a real person with real facts about her life, not so legendary as...say...Robin Hood. But I didn't really get how much of the exploits in her brief life were definitely documented. That was an eye-opener. At times it felt like our times in 2016-2017 France were crisscrossing those "The Maid of Orléans" nearly six hundred years earlier. Amazing.


P.S. If you want to get started on my next topic, it will be the Franco-Prussian War.

Henry V (1944) with Laurence Olivier
Henry V (1989) with Kenneth Branaugh
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Joan of Arc (1999)
Joan of Arc (1948) with Ingrid Bergman
The Messenger (1999)
Timeline (2003)
Black Death (2010)
Wounded (2011)

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman
The Hundred Years' War 1337-1453 by Anne Curry
The Hundred Years War by Robin Neillands

A History of Europe, Key Battles

Discussion Threads
Longbow "technology"
Political-military strategy of the chevauchée in 100YW


Remember to follow along & chime in on my geeklist/discussion) for all of my 100YW explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.
Direct download: WGTG_12_-_Hundred_Years_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58am PDT


Javier Romero
David Gómez Relloso

I've been trying to get these episodes out every month, knowing that it's a bit too much for me. Finally the dam burst in January, making this episode a bit late. I'm still going to keep pushing, in order to fit in as many topics as I can while temporarily living in France. But this may happen again.

Originally the topic for January was going to be something else, a location I thought I'd visit around the Christmas holidays. That fell through, which was disappointing. Then my son in his twenties started talking to me about Homage To Catalonia, and the light bulb went on. By shifting my topic to the Spanish Civil War, I could learn about another important European event in world history, as well as have some great conversations with my son about that amazing book's observations. A win-win! The only downside is that my current schedule hasn't allowed me to go visit any of the battlefields or other locations of this period in Spanish history. Perhaps someday.

As usual, my ambition for the project outstripped my available time. I've since decided that these monthly topics are going to focus on one film, one book, and one game. I will hopefully go beyond that in most months, but this is a more realistic goal for me. I'll still identify more games on the geeklist, because listeners may wish to hear about other titles. Even better, you may tell me about your experiences playing the ones I;m unable to get to.

Most of all, I want to keep up the pattern of featuring an interview in each podcast. I find these really fascinating, and I bet they make for better listening than my voice alone the entire time. Plus, I'm usually able to hear from wargamers who are much more knowledgeable about the current topic. I already knew I had some Spanish followers on Twitter, and in record time they set me up with a joint interview of two Spanish wargame designers--Javier Romero & David Gómez Relloso--with written input from a third (Niko Eskubi, who I promise to have on a future episode, too).

You'll hear in the episode that my own explorations of the topic were complicated. I'll avoid the hyperbole of saying that my own country is veering toward fascism now. I don't actually believe that. However, it IS true that recent events have given me more cause to study this subject than ever before. Regardless of our political differences, I'm certain that all Americans want to avoid authoritarianism. We pride ourselves as a country that benefited from a clean slate from which Enlightenment thinkers were able to craft a government. Part & parcel of that Enlightenment founding is an informed population--one that reads, debates, and thinks independently. For my own part, I've felt the need to study the roots of fascism and authoritarianism, to understand why something that ends up so universally abhorred can start slowly and attract followers who simply want more order and a growing economy...but fall victim to false promises and scapegoating.

It's been an important topic, as well as one I'm happy to take a break from. I suspect I will return to it later in life.


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

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
The Good Fight (1984)
There Be Dragons (2011)

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell


Remember to follow along & chime in on my geeklist/discussion) for all of my SCW explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.
Direct download: WGTG_11_-_Spanish_Civil_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50am PDT

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.


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)

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.


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 PDT

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.


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.


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)

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.


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 PDT

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.)

Dunkirk (1958)
Week-End à Zuydcoote

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.


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

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...

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.



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

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

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.


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


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 PDT

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.



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

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.



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

Even though this podcast series is covering ALL the offensives Imperial Japan launched in December 1941, most of first think of the raid on Pearl Harbor. It was the impetus for me to start learning about all of these other offensives, too. In this "chapter" episode, I'll cover my own visit to Pearl Harbor, books & films that relate to the infamous event, and a few games, too. 

Direct download: WGTG_6-3_A_Month_of_Infamy_Pearl_Harbor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29pm PDT

Continuing with my new idea of releasing incremental episodes of my podcast that all deal with the same subject, here's the second one about the events of December 1941 in the Pacific. The main feature is my interview with game designer Mark Herman. At the end I decided to record my reply to the recent Bonding with Board Games/HAMTAG episode "Top 5 Wargames That Made Me the Grog I Am Today."


Air Force

Up Front

Strategy & Tactics magazine

Panzerschreck magazine

Remember to follow along & chime in on my discussion thread (and geeklist) for all of my Month of Infamy/December 41 thoughts & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo) and Facebook. Feedback is always welcome.


Direct download: WGTG_6-2_-_2015-11-08_-_A_Month_of_Infamy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47pm PDT

Here's that new idea I was talking about--the first of smaller episodes that get released as I go on my exploration of a topic. Not much in the way of links & notes, as you can find those in the discussion thread and geeklist, above. I'm still figuring out how, exactly, I want to do this new format. Feedback is always welcome.


Direct download: WGTG_6-1_-_2015-10-07_-_A_Month_of_Infamy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm PDT


Timestamps (approximate)

12:09 - Andrew Hobley interview (Bicentennial Waterloo gaming)
38:25 - Pete Belli interview (One-Minute Waterloo)
1:02:45 - Books & Films
1:19:45 - Paul Comben interview (Waterloo wargaming)
1:59:30 - Games I played

Maybe now I'm getting the hang of this, not biting off more than I can chew for the the next episode. Might be fewer films & games discussed here, though then again maybe that's not true. Regardless, this episode didn't swamp me as much as other "recent" ones have. Getting one of those episodes out every few months would work well with me, because that's about the pace that I want to explore new topics in military history.

This time I'm digging into another historical anniversary--the bicentennial of Waterloo. That happened earlier this summer, on June 18. I'd played a few Waterloo titles already, and more came after that date. I saw some films/docs, and found others. I listened to a couple audiobooks, read magazine & Wikipedia articles, and flipped through some library books.

I also interviewed some gamers. Three of them, in fact, and I think you'll enjoy their stories. I've participated in some wargame anniversaries before, but this one was different. It seemed to me there was more participation by wargamers around the world. Very fun to be a part of that! It was through reading interesting reports & opinions from other anniversary wargamers that led to these interviews. Andrew Hobley played a BUNCH of Napoleonic wargames on their bicentennials, so Waterloo was the culmination of his experience. You may have seen his fantastic session reports here on BGG. Pete Belli is an active hobbyist that a lot of people know. He's been playing for a long while, and has worked on many of his own designs, too, including One-Minute Waterloo. That's no joke--one minute. The design goal & process is interesting. Finally, Paul Comben has posted detailed analyses of several Waterloo titles over on The Boardgaming Way and The Boardgaming Life (two similar-sounding sites that are actually distinct). He shares some of his observations.

The Waterloo battlefield is another I've been fortunate to visit. This was back in 2012, part of the same trip mentioned previously that took in other sites along the Franco-German-Low Countries border. Here I am doing my impression of Sous-Lieutenant Legros, only where he had an ax I had an iPhone. (Plus, I took this photo at the wrong gate!)


P.S. Here's what's coming up next on Wargames To Go: games, films, and books about the events of December, 1941 in the Pacific! That means Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Wake Island, and Force Z. Check out my geeklist for notes.


Wargames To Go 5 - Waterloo notes Geeklist

Andrew Hobley's Bicentennial replay
Pete Belli's One-Minute Waterloo
Paul Comben's articles on The Boardgaming Way, and The Boardgaming Life

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts
Waterloo: The True Story of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles, by Bernard Cornwell
Wikipedia (Battle of Waterloo)

Films & Docs
Napoleon (1955)
Sean Bean on Waterloo
The Duellists



Mark Johnson's irregular podcast about small wargames
Direct download: WGTG_5_-_2015-09-10_-_Waterloo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm PDT

Timestamps (approximate)

   8:37 - Ted Raicer interview

  59:18 - Books & Films

1:12:30 - Games

1:32:11 - Visiting the battlefields


I sort of did it to myself again, aspiring to play more games and learn more about the subject matter of this episode. I swear I'm getting calibrated on myself, though, and have big plans to think smaller next time.


Historic anniversaries in wargaming are appealing to me, because the occasion often leads to the some of hobby community focusing on the same topic. It gets discussed online, good games are suggested, and sometimes there are even new books & documentaries that become available. That was certainly true for 2014's centennial of the start of World War 1. I jumped in, finally reading Barbara Tuchman's famous Guns of August (well, it was an unabridged audiobook), listening to podcasts, watching several dramatic films & documentaries, and playing several wargames. Plus, I was lucky enough to visit some of these battlegrounds on a vacation last summer, which I discuss at the end.

When wargamers think of WW1, they probably think of designer Ted Raicer and his many games on the subject. Although Ted's games are typically much larger than the small ones I prefer personally, I still had to try at least one of Ted's games. Even better, Ted was willing to be interviewed for my podcast! We talk about the hobby, but what I really wanted from him was his insight as a historian about The Great War. 

I can't speak highly enough about The Guns of August. It's a Pulitzer-winning classic of history and literature for a reason. It's that good. I certainly thought so, anyway. It taught me a lot about this period in history. So did Joe Miranda's companion magazine article  in Strategy & Tactics to his game, Reinforce the Right! I really appreciate the connection between wargame and history that is most exemplified in our hobby's magazine articles.

Returning to something I first planned for this podcast, I tried to see a number of films that relate to the subject. Unlike with the games I played, here I was a bit looser about the particular period of the war depicted. Though my gaming focus was just on the western front in 1914, in films I took in the entire war, the "over the top" hellscapes of 1916-17, and even some theaters away from France. Some of these films are well-known, others less so. I was helped by a foreign film series put on by my local community college. I'm so glad that introduced me to La Grande Illusion, for example. (Less thrilled with Oh! What a Lovely War.)

Besides the dramatic films, there were three outstanding documentaries I viewed, as well. The Guns of August was a doc I never knew existed as a companion to the book. The other two were outstanding works from BBC. 

As for the games I played, they're mostly smaller offerings. That's always my preference, and was easy to find more than enough games to choose from. Too many, in fact. Before and during my "research phase" I used a geeklist to list & comment on the games I played, or why I wasn't getting to some others.

The games I played were Paths of Glory, 1914: Opening Moves, We Shall Fight on the Marne, La fleur au fusil, août 1914, Reinforce the Right!, France 1914, and Over the Top! Mons. Some of these games are lighter (some of them quite light/small), but not all of them. This is another aspect of the podcast I'm starting to figure out--just focusing on the games that are best for me. But how could I have skipped Paths of Glory?! I couldn't. (I forgot to discuss one more tiny wargame I tried, ATO's postcard game Fateful Days. It was too minimalist, even for me.)

Finally I wrap up with some description of the WW1 sites I've been fortunate enough to visit. In 2012 I went to Verdun and the surrounding area, while in 2014 I went to the Marne and saw different sites. Both visits were very moving. Here are a few photos. (By the way, on the podcast I say that the best preserved/restored WW1 trenches are in Ypres, but I misspoke--they're at Vimy Ridge.)


Direct download: WGTG_4_-_2015-06-04_-_Western_Front_1914.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:23pm PDT

This is a long episode. If you want to skip ahead, here are some approximate timestamps within the recording you can jump to:

0:00 - My intro, poll results, BGG.con attendance, etc.
0:15 - Vasey interview pt 1 (background, his games)
0:51 - Vasey interview pt 1 (ECW)
1:51 - Cruel Necessity report
1:58 - Unhappy King Charles report
2:06 - Winceby report
2:13 - Langport & Naseby report (TCS series)
2:28 - Cromwell's Victory report
2:33 - Roberto Chiavini interview
2:49 - Other wargaming recaps (Monitor v Merrimack, Salvo, Caesar XL, Gettysburg [Wallace])
2:58 - Flowers of the Forest report
3:03 - Vasey interview pt 2 (Flowers of the Forest)

Ok, I bit off more than I can chew. whistle

I've been doing my other podcast for nearly a decade, and those listeners know I've occasionally had a long hiatus between episodes while life intervened (work, kids, whatever). That's true about the gap between WGTG 2 and this new episode, but there's something else, too. I'd turned the episode into a giant project for myself. It felt like I was writing a term paper. That's because the subject of wargaming is so deep, so worthy of study & analysis. However, I also want to get the episodes out in a more timely manner (quarterly, let's say), so I need to set my sights a little lower. I'm learning.

As long promised, this is my episode focusing on battles of the English Civil War(s). I was motivated to jump into this topic for two main reasons: 

1. I didn't really know anything about it, so stood to learn a great deal
2. The history podcast Revolutions, by Mike "History of Rome podcast" Duncan covered this subject in its first series

"Charles Vasey"

Roberto Chiavini

Although I initially thought I didn't own any games on this subject, I did have a couple on the shelf, acquired several more, and played another via VASSAL. That took some time, but is what I wanted to do in order to learn. I also did some reading, but that was primarily Wikipedia & skimming a library book. I watched the dramatic film Cromwell, and several documentaries available on YouTube (see Links, below). Best of all, I managed to score two interviews with game designers on these (& other) topics. This episode includes a written interview with Roberto Chiavini, and an extended audio interview with Charles Vasey. The latter is the wonderful centerpiece of this episode. Plus, I always want to include some brief comments about my earlier poll, the other (non-ECW) wargames I've played, and upcoming plans.

So, you see? I managed to stuff a WHOLE LOT into this episode. Too much, probably. But as I say, I'm getting the hang of what I want to do with WGTG. Episode 4 will be smaller in scope, and quicker to publication, a promise I'm making to you & me both!

The games I played were Unhappy King Charles! WincebyFairfax's Revenge: the battle of Langport 1645Naseby: The End of a ReignCromwell's Victory: The Battle of Marston Moor, and Cruel Necessity. So you see that I have two strategic level games and three battle games (grand tactical level, I suppose). Along the way, that touches five game systems (CDGs, Markham's Royalists & Roundheads, Roberto Chiovani's TCS, SPI's 30YQ Quad, and States of Siege). Even at that, I'm obviously missing a major series of games on this topic, Ben Hull/GMT's Musket & Pike game, This Accursed Civil War.

Under the circumstances, I thought it best to get into the Vasey interview right away, since that's the centerpiece of this episode. Charles Vasey is someone I've observed with quite a bit of interest for a long while. His game design paradigm is notably different from most designers, and from most of the games I play, frankly. If you haven't read any of Charles' writings about chaos in (war)gaming, you absolutely should. Fascinating. Of course I wanted to interview Charles about his card-driven strategic level English Civil War game, Unhappy King Charles! . However, we also spoke about the history more generally, as well as Charles' other games such as The King's WarChariot LordsThe 2010 Election, and Tsushima. Plus The Flowers of the Forest, one of his earlier games that was recently given a nice, new edition in Battles magazine.

Since it took me so long to get this episode out, a few other wargames NOT related to the ECW worked their way onto my table during this same time. There's Vasey's The Flowers of the Forest, but also Martin Wallace's euro-wargame hybrid Gettysburg (not much of a euro, as I'll discuss), Monitor vs Merrimack: Battle of Hampton Roads, 1862Caesar XL,and Salvo!.

Direct download: WGTG_3_-_2014-10-06_-_English_Civil_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:52am PDT

Well, shoot, that was a longer interval than I'd planned. But here, finally, is the second episode of my wargame podcast. As before, the episode features me talking about broader topics in the first half, then transitioning to discussion about individual titles in the second. In between I've got an interview with wargame designer Darin Leviloff, too.

The focus of the episode are the [url=http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/3245/victory-point-games-states-of-siege-series]States of Siege[/url] family of solitaire games published by [company=8007]Victory Point Games[/company]. In all of these the player is assaulted from multiple sides, and can't really maneuver. Instead, you fight off the attackers as long as possible. The system has been used for subjects ranging from Imperial Japan in WW2 to a zombie horde to the French Revolution. Though they are simple and abstract (some would argue whether they're wargames at all--I say they are), the card-driven play presents a narrative that is fantastic for learning about the subject. I'm eagerly looking forward to another in this series about the English Civil War.

Speaking of the ECW, that will probably be the focus of my next episode. I'm very interested in the topic right now, having my imagination fired by Mike Duncan's excellent podcast [url=http://www.revolutionspodcast.com/]Revolutions[/url]. Along those lines, I also describe other subjects I'm considering for upcoming podcasts. I welcome your feedback.

And speaking of feedback, I received some good emails that I share on this episode. That's something I've done from time to time on my other podcast, [url=http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/1215]Boardgames To Go[/url]. I think of it as the "letters" column you'd often find in a wargame magazine or newsletter. Since some of the feedback asks a question, you can hear my answer and suggest something else to the person who wrote in.

Direct download: WGTG_2_-_2014-01-29_-_States_of_Siege.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am PDT

The first episode of my first podcast about smaller wargames, I spend some time introducing myself and my wargame interests, then proceed to cover three different games about the battle of Gettysburg.

Direct download: WGTG_1_-_2013-07-16_-_Intro__Gettysburg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm PDT