A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved. I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves. It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
My father was a naval aviator, and for whatever reason, whereas the rest of the Navy wore black shoes with their khaki uniforms, aviators always wore brown shoes. This "brown shoe" image has a great deal of history and pride associated with it. Well, today after work, Frank Hodge did well by that tradition in our game of Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill). Unlike so many of our previous games, Frank assumed the role of commander of the U.S. Navy forces, while I took those of the Imperial Japanese Navy with the goal of invading Midway Island.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
My good friend Frank Hodge and I sat down after work for the last scenario in our "Pacific Theatre via Midway" series - the Battle of Guadalcanal - or more correctly perhaps, the Battle Around Guadalcanal (since we didn't worry too much about how the troops in the mud on the island itself fared - with apologies to my brother Pete the Marine). This scenario for the first time presents the U.S. player with the same problem that faces the Japanese player in almost every other scenario - having to land transports on an objective. In this case, both the Japanese and the Americans are trying to land forces on Guadalcanal to reinforce troops already there so as to secure control of the island.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
On Wednesday, Frank Hodge and I returned to fight the battle of Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill). Frank has spent considerable time refining his variable order of battle to the AH classic, and this time we had quite a lot of fun beefing up both fleets to fight the battle in grand style. A significant change that we prefer is that the Japanese invasion force is represented by five AP transports, rather than abstractly handled with the cruiser Atago according the rules. The only other variation we added was the submarine optional rule from Alan R. Moon's "Pacific Theatre via Midway" article. We didn't use B-17's in this game, and we didn't miss them.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
In our "Pacific Theatre via Midway" campaign series, my friend Frank Hodge and I clashed once more in the Coral Sea, this time in the Santa Cruz scenario of Alan R. Moon's expansion to the Avalon Hill classic Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill). Once more, I assumed command of the U.S. Navy forces while Frank controlled the fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Monday, February 4, 2013
About a month ago, my serial Midway opponent Frank H. and I got together for another scenario from the Alan R. Moon variant, "Pacific Theatre via Midway." We returned to the Coral Sea, this time to fight the "Battle of the Eastern Solomons" (Midway designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill).
Thursday, December 6, 2012
My friend and colleague Frank H. and I met again over the game table. Over the last few months we've played three rounds of Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill) with a number of optional rules attached. This time, Frank broke out his copy of the "Coral Sea" expansion, and we set our clocks back to May 1942 to determine the fate of Port Moresby, New Guinea.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
This evening after work, my colleague Frank H. and I met for a reprise of our customary (if infrequent) game of Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill). Last time, we'd introduced a few rules modifications from the Wargamers Guide to Midway, most notably a variable order of battle (OOB) based on a chit draw. Well, apparently that inspired Frank dramatically, because he spent quite a bit of time researching and revising the possible alternate OOBs as well as other optional rules, so that the game we played today was a considerably souped-up version of the Avalon Hill classic.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Wednesday afternoon, my friend and colleague Frank H. and I got together after work for our re-match in Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill). We first clashed over the Pacific in June, when I played the Americans and Frank the Japanese. This time, we switched roles, so that I commanded the forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Frank those of the United States Navy.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
At WBC on Thursday last week, Joel Tamburo hosted his annual seminar on Ethics in Gaming. This was my second opportunity to attend.
I arrived a little late and found myself in the middle of a conversation on the interpretation of rules
ambiguities. Not entirely a matter of ethics, the question on the floor seemed to center around whether an unaddressed action in the rules should be allowed (because the rules don't prevent it) or prohibited (because the rules don't allow it or provide for it). Peter, an attorney, likened the question to that of Constitutional interpretation, whereby some people hold that rulings on Constitutionality ought to depend on the intent of the founders at the time that they wrote it, as best we can determine from other writings at the time. Others hold that interpretation of the Constitution necessarily changes with the times, and so it is with game rules: It doesn't matter how the game designer wanted you to play the game; what matters is how the players want to play. So, then, the question became, does the designer's intent matter?
|Signing of the Constitution of the United States|
U.S. Government. Public domain
Thursday, June 28, 2012
|Image uploaded to|
by Douglas S.
Frank played the Imperial Japanese Navy, and I had the United States Navy. We played the Basic Game with the Tournament Game fighter rule added. We elected not to require the Japanese to reduce Midway before the invasion (because we agreed that it was a complication that made the Japanese position too difficult) and not to have surface combat (because that's just stupid in a carrier battle).
|PBY Catalina - USN photo|
We were able to find each other immediately upon daybreak of 4 June, which turned out to be a bloody morning indeed. He had united the entire Japanese fleet - carriers and invasion force - except for two light cruisers for reconnaissance. Our strike pilots must have waved to one another as they passed above the Pacific, each seeking to deny the other a place to land when the fight was over. We had each split our fighters fairly evenly between Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and fighter escort, so the fighter pilots spent this first sortie jousting with one another but playing nearly no role in defending their respective fleets.
|USS Hornet - USN photo|
My tactical focus for the strike focus was exactly the opposite. I focused all airpower on sinking the Atago, which served as the flagship for the invasion fleet. Part of my thinking was that I had already shot down a lot of Japanese planes, so the carriers were already less effective. But mostly I had my eye drilled on the prize - the protection of Midway Island from IJN troops. As it happened, I heavily damaged Atago and suffered minor losses among my tightly concentrated aircraft, but sank no ships.
Our planes returned, and I decided that I was going to withdraw Hornet from the front line to save her from the brunt of the second Japanese wave. So all fighters landed on Hornet to serve as a CAP home base, and all strike aircraft were divided between Yorktown and Enterprise. Planes were fueled and loaded up, and they went at it again four hours later.
|Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero|
Meanwhile, my strike force on the heavily defended Japanese fleet did not fare so well. Although I succeeded in sinking the Atago, my efforts to divide the Japanese AA defenses and inflict damage on carriers failed remarkably. In retrospect, my tactics were not well thought-out. I exposed a significant portion of the attack wing to AA fire that they might otherwise have avoided in a more concentrated strike (my preferred tactic). I lost a significant number of aircraft while scattering hits among three battleships and the Hiryu. Having lost their racks, seabags, squadron support, and landing strips to the demise of Enterprise and Yorktown, the returning aircraft had to reach the more distant Hornet on the remaining fumes of their tanks plus a generous tail wind. It was necessary to throw about six elements of F4F Wildcats overboard to make room for returning SBD Dauntless dive bombers.
|IJN Yamato |
Government of Japan photo
The morning of 5 June, Hornet had backtracked east to get within staging range of Midway, whose aircraft deployed to the deck of the Hornet to replace all those planes lost in the Hosho strike. Later that morning came one more exchange of air strikes, and it was at that point that we realized that the Hornet and the seven remaining cruisers defending her would never be sunk by the few surviving Val dive bombers in the Japanese strike force. That meant that the Japanese had done all the damage they were going to do for the rest of the game.
|Scouting Squadron VS-8|
SBD3 Dauntless dive bombers
Battle of Midway - USN photo
It was clear at this point that the Japanese were going to get no more points for the rest of the game, whereas the Americans had enough fight left to take out at least one more cruiser. That would suffice for me to pull ahead in victory points and win the game, so Frank graciously conceded and requested a rematch with switched sides at our next opportunity.
Japanese (Frank H.)
10 for sinking Enterprise
10 for sinking Yorktown
4 for sinking New Orleans
2 for sinking Atlanta
Americans (Paul O.)
4 for sinking Hosho
4 for sinking Atago
3 for (presumed) sinking of Mogami or another cruiser
16 for preventing invasion of Midway
It was a very fun game, but this was a narrow, Pyrrhic victory by any measure. Nimitz would not be happy with Spruance if he had returned on Hornet with no other carriers and had meanwhile left the Japanese fleet largely unscathed. But Frank believes, and I'm beginning to agree, that the protection of Atago and therefore the invasion of Midway is extremely difficult - perhaps impossible for the Japanese player. That 16-point deficit therefore makes it necessary for the Japanese to sink at least two and probably all three American carriers to win the game. And if the Americans sink one or two IJN carriers themselves, then the Japanese cause is daunting indeed. As it is, I won a narrow victory despite some serious tactical errors. I'm going to go back and brush up on some of the writing on this topic and think through how I need to attack and defend ships, as well as to revisit the Japanese position and strategy.
Submarines are so much easier to operate.