Tiring to back at home, I always wanted to pull out something about wargames from the closet and read. It is hard for me to keep concentrated on the reading of indulgence as my wife keeps calling me for something.

I am now into the system of ASLSK, WW2 tactical level wargame beginning in the '80s. I was not rich enough to pay for the hundreds of dollars on Squad Leader and its numerous modules at that time. Thus I paid those some crappy 3W wargames in S&Ts. When the "bible" of Advanced Squad Leader came, I was even more horrified with the amount of details to learn to just play a game.

I played 5 SK games already, including one using ASL map and counters. Now I enjoyed reading the ASLSK2 scenarios. There are Allied and Axis minors coming in. Many actions are featured in the island of Sicily and in the early war of Greece. I am suprised that there is not a single scenario on the eastern front as I believe guns were extensively deployed there. Italian Alpini army, American Parachute and German Fallschirmjager units are the main cast here. A scenario caught my eye especially as it features French Foreign Legion 1st Bataillon in Italy in a chasing breakthrough to the north of Rome, while they vowed "Legion is our homeland!"

Last night before I went to bed, I flipped through my old but yet unread Paper War issue #57 (back in 2005). It has many good articles in it, featuring Age of Napoleon (my top Napoleonic grand strategy game) and a discussion on the ATS series. The excitment about wargaming instantly surges in my brain again.

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Comment by Lawrence Hung on May 15, 2018 at 10:05pm

Judd Vance says: "Great One once used a quote I committed to memory about good games: they don't reveal all their secrets in one play."

The Great One he refers to is Mark Herman.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on May 11, 2018 at 2:25am

One thing I am dissatisfied with GMT games is that they publish "sanitized" version of the conflicts. As an internal auditor by trade, I can see the points argued always on both sides, both angles. But one thing is more important - the truth. Nobody would ever believe you have already balanced both sides' views. They just won't believe it and keep arguing. In the end, this is just a commercial product. That's why Robert can't get the game published under GMT banner (or he doesn't even want to). The voices have been heard and respected. Someone gotta make a decision, folks!

Comment by Lawrence Hung on May 2, 2018 at 8:25pm

On combat system in wargames, I prefer dice and charts always to deterministic model of wargame. Let me call the first one as "uncertainty" model. I believe there is no certainty in winning a battle just because you manage to achieve certain odds, say 3:1. I remember when I played the first ever Hong Kong "modern" wargame back in 1987, the battle model uses "tactics" card to determine combat results. Each player plays a tactics card and the result is determined by comparison of the two in a table. Soon, players know what best card is to use at certain odds. Variations there were but small enough to feel repetitive after several game plays.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 7, 2018 at 8:58am

Sometimes I feel I am baking the rules of the game into the world and try to manipulate things to fit in...

Comment by Lawrence Hung on December 19, 2017 at 8:03pm

I was talking about rulebook on BGG the other day.  Constructing a rulebook by the game designer is not easy and it might often be more of a work by the developer.  The rules should be carefully constructed and shouldn't expect the players to find them out by implications. One of the joy in wargaming is reading rulebook and finding every questions have been answered by the rulebook itself and need no further clarifications from the game designer.

What was your last rulebook reading that gave you joy and always answered your questions during gameplay without reverting to internet?

Comment by Lawrence Hung on May 3, 2017 at 8:09am
A busy month of April:
On the virtual table:

Falling Sky - a delicate balance between all four factions. Aedui should help Caesar but to how far? Should Caesar deal with Arverni or Belgae first? Where Arverni should attack? And what Belgae should do with their German cousins? I have three active game right now, 2 as Roman and 1 as Aedui.

Richard III - the campaign game began since October last year. The Yorkists refused to bow their hands to the Lancasterians despite they had the upper hand. Other than the occasional ambiguity in rules reading, e.g. the regrouping rules, mathematically-laden Usurpation rules and some mis-steps in identifying the locations of the home shields for the nobles, the game flows smoothly.

Hands in the Sea - two games under my belt. The basic engine of the game is simple: each player choose the options in two rounds of a game turn, playing the cards available from a hand of five. The options range from colonization of Sicily or Sardinia-Corsica islands, taxing the people to pay for legions or mercenaries who fought the war, trading with merchants to pile up the treasury, or to go after the opponent's settlements or developed cities. Random events are dealt with during the Campaign Sequence turn, which happens when Carthage runs out of the play deck. The game is awesome from the perspective of its elegance.

Victory in Europe - I have no problem with the game's "sandbox" mode that troubles some others. So my opponent has a successful Operation Sealion campaign to the northern England and I have a Soviet occupation of East Prussia. Both are fine with me. I skipped the kickstarter campaign only to buy it one directly from Columbia web store later after playing a face-to-face game. I was hooked by its simplicity and yet plausibility. The game design is economic enough that a strategic level wargame on the entire theatre of operations in Europe, WWII is amazing.

Here I Stand - In commemoration of 500th year of the event of 95 Theses, I started a multiplayer PBeM 3-turn tournament game with five others. This proves to be a dreaded exercise as the play is slow like snail during Diplomacy Phase. I am thinking of the way to speed up the game but right now, the efforts are still lost. I hope the Action Phase can become faster with a rigid impulse order but given the players spreading across five continents, it looks like that I am going to play this game all throughout 2017!

Fire in the Lake - Vietnam War at strategic level. In one game I am Viet Cong and in another ARVN. The games are developing as of this moment. But I think Fire in the Sky shines the brightest among the COIN system games.

On the physical table:

Second World War at Sea: Leyte Gulf - Mr. TW Li, a veteran wargamer promoted this system in the club, claiming that the base system modeled the naval warfare diligently. Despite many dice-rolling during the game, engine that moves the game along quite nicely include sea-plotting movement, task force management, Combat Air Patrol, primary-secondary-tertiary gunnery, tick-off of vessel infrastructure, etc. I found the game a bit grinding to my taste with such a large scale naval actions in the Philipinne Sea. Maybe Midway would be more manageable. But then, we were proud to play the game with so many naval and air assets.

We must tell the Emperor! - Many buzz around this game and I am surprised that it garners such a high price in the inner-circle. The game is comprehensive and quick-to-complete in a single session for the entire Pacific theater to be sure. However, the State-of-Siege system ages not quite well with rolling dices vs. a number on everything. I enjoy the game and there is a high replayability here. But these days I prefer some more meaty games and system too. Maybe I should dig out Empire of the Sun soon.

Sola Fide - I played four games in a row in April and I am impressed positively. The tug-of-war card mechanics is done with a purpose and situation-driven. The Catholics (Nobles) are strong to attack in waves while the Protestant (Commoners) are strong with special cards. The objective is to claim the ten Imperial Circle of the German regions as many as possible. They come with different Victory Points for tally at the end of the game though.

Advanced Squad Leader - scenario "A Real Barn Burner" in which the French should touch base with their fellows inside a village. Some deaths happened in the bush as the French pushed on the right, while on the left they overwhelmed the Germans with double time. A well-balanced scenario and it is always fun to enjoy the game with a veteran nearby. Thanks Andrew for teaching me the game and let me rolling the dices! I learned two more things that were not available in the SK edition: concealment and bypass movement with halved the MP. It's always satisfying to learn something new in a game and the French fought much better than I thought about them!

Air Force - a great classic air wargame back in 1980. Our group of four pulled it out for a go. One game each player controlled a plane in Me-109 vs. Spitfire, and in another controlled two planes in FW-190 vs. P-47. The Spitfire won the first. The second could not be completed as they were chasing each other off. Some time has to be spent well off to complete this game, which is rather an oldie to the new type of Euroish wargamers nowadays.
Comment by Lawrence Hung on October 6, 2016 at 5:24am

I am a totally converted Vassal nerd now as I play many games at the same time with different distant opponents now via PBeM. The great thing is that you can get a lot more time to think through the next moves and browse through the rules before committing them. Actually I learn a lot more about the complex wargames this way than face-to-face session, which is often time limited to an afternoon or so, while flipping rulebook consumes most of the time instead of playing.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on October 6, 2016 at 5:24am

Out of wrapper for the game Moscow' 41 from VentoNuovo Games in Italy. Although the components are nice, a huge disappointment to find none of the stretch goals of the Kickstarter campaign that are supposed to be in the game. Perhaps it is because they rush to deliver the games out of the door - one of the very few Kickstarter campaign that delivers before its estimated delivery and not delay. It's happy to receive the game but it's annoying that you have to follow up the matter with the company, which takes time with an Italian. The problem compounds when I am the only backer of the Club Bundle which has four games. That means I have to chase down four sets of stretch goals for my fellow wargamers!

Comment by Lawrence Hung on September 4, 2016 at 8:40pm

Waterloo 1815: Fallen Eagles by Hexasim is definitely my current favorite as I am engaged in a total of four PBeM Vassal games with it. The simple command, movement, fire and melee combat systems are integrated well in a semi-ASL like sequence of play in which offensive fire happens before movement, while opportunity and defensive fire are performed before melee. The quality factor check of the lead unit in a stack speak of the nature of Napoleonic warfare. On the surface there are a lot of details but ultimately they are smoothed up for just about right complexity level for a Napoleonic operational level wargame. I just love to play it.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on August 30, 2016 at 10:58am

I have completed the game of the new magazine edition World War I quite some time ago via Vassal. One thing I am pretty darn sure: this updated version of World War I game is much better and far more like what was happening in the War than Avalon Hill classic "Guns of August". Maybe it is because the War is treated at different scale. But I prefer this magazine edition game as my best experience with strategic level WWI wargame for WWI, perhaps not better than Clash of Empires but at least on par in terms of game design. There are quite a bunch of strategic choices available to you as Supreme Commander and the bricks cement well as a whole. Of awesomeness is the fact that the map covers all theatres in one go. Although I have some hard time fighting with the rules still but I suspect a good opponent would bring out the best of time with the game. I am grateful to have that opponent Anthony as I played both games with him.

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