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  1. #1
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    Post Em's Blog - Just a Diceslinger!

    I believe that maintaining a journal, or log, is an amazing way to not only chronicle your endeavors, hopes, and dreams, but to also gain some insight into your deeper self. What makes you tick! Feel free to come along for the ride!

    To start off — my personal wargaming history!

    I have many interests and hobbies, and chief among them is a deep admiration and zeal for wargaming. Hey.... why else would I start this forum in the first place!!!

    I've always loved boardgames in general, in all shapes and forms. The competitiveness of it; the fun; even the learning experiences gained in honing concentration, thought, and discipline. This could be brought to a broader spectrum of all games (e.g., cards, dice, etc.), but boardgames in particular hold a special place in my personal history and future.

    Thinking on this a little, I come to realize that if I ask myself the question: 'When did I become an actual Wargamer?' ....the answer to that would be in the mid 1980's. That's when I discovered such Kings of Wargaming, such as 'Panzer Leader' and 'Panzer Blitz'. Those, in fact, qualify in my mind as the first ones.

    My first game was against a player who was a seasoned Wargamer, and I was brash enough to think I stood a fair chance against him. I still remember quite vividly, the game we played! ....a Panzer Blitz scenario. I threw some Infantry on the front line and moved my armor behind a hill. I think my opponent thought I was playing hesitant and perhaps overwhelmed in confusion on game mechanics (which isn't far from the truth on the latter!); but what I in fact did was, move all that armor up on the hill, in LOS and range of his guns, and PLASTERED the heck out of him! I recollect his confusion over the tactic, in which I would so willingly put my troops in such a position to incur such devastating fire from him, and then scratch his head at the maneuver. We would debate the played games afterwards, and I'd gotten the distinct feeling that he thought that battle was the result of someone not knowing enough of the finer mechanics of the system to therefore resort to Beserker-type tactics. Thinking back now, on other types of games I played about that time, I think it was just one of many styles of tactics I would employ. The point was... I won and I would have been just as happy in a loss! I was hooked.

    Thinking a little deeper on this, it strikes me that the scenario just mentioned probably best chronicles my penchant for being somewhat of a Loose Cannon at times. I can play the Monty game well....slow, measured, well thought out and cautious; but I can also just as likely go all Patton and swing into your faces like a mad man! I don't say that in boast, but rather a realization that even I never know what to expect from myself!

    So that was the mid-80's. Before that? Well, I can recall many games that were military in nature, so there was obviously a theme there: The American Heritage games series most especially, and in particular, 'Dogfight'. That was probably my first experience with miniatures, though in a boardgame format. But this is where it gets interesting, because to me, they weren't true wargames. To a large extent...and this has been debated one way or the other ad infinitum... Chess could also be in that pseudo range. I have a distinct view on what qualifies as a wargame, but that too differs among gamers.

    A little sidebar, here:

    Chess is an interesting story in itself! My best friend learned the game from his father, who was a fantastic player. My friend somewhat gloated over his ability to play such a *grown up* game and it annoyed the crap out of me!

    One day, I was following my mom through the grocery store, and we wheeled down the cereal isle. There upon the shelf before my very eyes, was a box of Lucky Charms; and to my amazement, a chess board and pieces pictured on the back, and the moves written on the side of the box. Eureka!!!! After pestering my mom to buy it, I returned home and immediately cut up the box! Studying the move sequence, and trying it out with moving the small chess pieces upon the cardboard playing surface, I learned enough to be dangerous (a recurring theme in my life!!!). At his next taunting, I declared proudly to my friend, that I was ready when he was to play a game!!! In short order, I whooped his butt! In hindsight, this told me two things:

    1. He sucked as a chess player; and...
    2. I had the ability to learn a game on my own in advance and then go forward against opponents!

    So to digress back to wargaming, and the Mid-80's, I played the aforementioned Avalon Hill games (PL and PB), and quickly found myself buying other *book shelf* games from Avalon Hill, Victory Games, etc. I still own the majority of these great games, though their guns have long fallen silent... my tastes moved on to newer systems as the industry has grown.

    And then there's the other side of the coin.... miniatures.

    I guess miniature boardgames were the proverbial chicken to the diorama-based miniature egg (or is it egg to chicken?). Axis & Allies, Conquest of the Empire, Memoir '44, Tide of Iron, DUST...all great examples. That's all late 80's to today. Little did I know at the time that it was ushering in a whole new era of Wargaming for me!

    But then along came Axis & Allies Miniatures! That was a tad over a decade ago now, back in 2005. That was my first, official miniatures game exposure. Again...I was hooked! Though played on a serie of paper maps, it quickly morphed over to a diorama for a game I GMed at the World War II Zone forum.

    I amassed an enormous OOB of A&AM miniatures. And then came Flames of War, Old Glory, WarGods of Aegyptus, and other miniatures. I quickly failed to learn Flames of War... but grew a deep love for Fire & Fury's, Battlefront:WWII. Command Decision followed on its' heels somewhat, but I've constantly returned to Battlefront:WWII as my favorite miniatures system. DUST Warfare is sitting in the wings

    In miniatures, I discovered a similar, but on it's whole completely different feel of Wargaming. These days, I am now just as much a miniatures gamer as a board wargamer.

    Then came Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Wars X-Wing... all dabbled in, to one degree or another. SG1 and BSG are my own designs, and my entry into writing my own rulesets, but that's for day to ponder!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  2. #2
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    Whiterook's Log

    Back at the old site, this had been more free-thought journaling as well as game specific. I started this new one here as more of a Blog.

    So for wargaming, I've spent a good deal of time with the big game on my plate ... Advanced Squad Leader (ASL).

    Originally of the venerable, yet now defunct Avalon Hill game company; and now manned by Multiman Publishing (MMP), it is, in my humble opinion, the Mother of All WWII Wargames. A true, life-long gaming system; so named because it takes a lifetime to master, and even then, 'ya probably ain't gonna make it!

    Truly.... Anyone who knows the system realizes how true a statement that is!!!!

    My fascination with this system goes back to what I was talking about in my very first post: Playing Avalon Hill's Panzer Leader; leading me into the world of 'book shelf wargames' (let me know if that term baffles you). It didn't take very long for me to find my way to AH's Squad Leader (the predecessor of ASL).
    OMG!!!!!

    What a glorious, even if screwed up system it was! Screwed up, because, as it expanded into what became a 4-module system, it grew into a rules-clusterfuck (pardon my French... I'm French, so I'm allowed!). By the time we got to the Anvil of Victory module, the ruleset was just a hot mess. Things were not jiving with one another within the system. Wikipedia goes into this pretty well, so I won't belabor the point. But it was this mess that in fact, precipitated *Advanced* Squad Leader, and it's 3' binder of rules!

    After playing Squad Leader, I was at that crossroads many of us SL-fans find themselves inevitably ensconced within: Do I jump into the ASL Pool?

    I did.

    Buying the First Edition ASL rulebook off of EBay; and then the bulk of the modules thereafter. the problem then became: I made it a quarter way through the Chapter A (Infantry) and came to a screeching halt (...of utter befuddlement and overwhelmed shock). Truly. My brain just could wrap around the sheer scope of what I was trying to pursue.

    That's a common reaction, by the way.

    What resulted from that is: A shelf full of ASL modules, most still in their original shrink wrap for 3-decades!

    Then, came along the Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kits.

    About a year ago, I went on the MMP site and finally pulled the trigger on buying the ASL Starter Kit #1, Infantry; and Starter Kit #3 Armor. I've since added the Starter Kit #3 Artillery, as well as a historical module (Decion at Elst), and the Expansion Pack #1.

    Anyway, To my surprise, the Starter Kits are everything they profess: A simplified, dumbed-down starter into the system, one main element at a time. It harkens back to the old Squad Leader rules' Basic Training concept, which was the first (that I know of) system to provide a Basic Training approach to teaching you a step at a time into the system (...that, later become Chapter K of the ASL Rulebook).

    That's where I am now....

    I've played in two tournaments, but don't let that fool you....I suck. But I'll get there.

    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  3. #3
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    I think it's time to sink my teeth back into Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit #1!

    I'd back away from it for 9-months now ...I've spent so much time working on Lock 'N Load Tactical scenarios, when I did get some wargaming time in; and a couple other systems, including some side work for couple designers that, I lost all momentum with ASLSK. I plan to try and get some play time in with the rulebook by my side, and get my head back in the system.

    I've been lucky with a three different people making themselves available for VASL play, but I'm just not comfortable with that yet. I mean, I am barely above the clueless-level, and that's no exaggeration! (OK...maybe a little.) I am also lucky in that there is a club that plays alternate weekends in my area (one being just 15-minutes or so up the road!), and they've offered to play SK with me, so I'll be taking that offer up over the Winter, most likely.

    I do know that the only way to effectively learn these type games is to play real opponents. Maybe part of this is being intimidated to do that, with a system that intimidates the crap out of me to begin with. But to be fair, a lot of the deviation from play is time...I just don't have a lot of it to spare. That's sad, actually, but there's really not a lot I can do about that for some time to come.

    But I am inspired, and determined. And I'm looking forward to jumping back in.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  4. #4
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    I've got a couple weeks' worth of vacation coming up over Christmas and New Years holiday weeks...and I plan on some serious gaming. The only thing that could ruin it a little (at first) is, I just returned from a business trip, with a cold! Second time that's happened in the last 6-months! But I shall soldier on!

    I'm looking to not only play some ASL Starter Kit, but check out what Santa brought

    I'd planned to do a little organizing in my Man Cave and furnace room, as well (the latter of which is where my model building workshop is).

    I've been working on a series of scenarios for game company, but I need a break from that so, time for strictly *myself* gaming!!!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  5. #5
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    Goodbye 2017!

    Well, this has been an unintended way to close out 2017....recovering from the flu. I'm feeling pretty good, as of the past couple days actually, so, I am looking forward with anticipation and grand hopes to 2018. Chief among the many things I'd like to accomplish...regain and strengthen my health!

    2017 was a year where working in the wargaming industry broke out into open field, and I really pushed the envelope with: Scenario writing, including a few published by a well-known company; map design, including some for a 10-scenario pack dealing with Operation Cobra, the Breakout of Normandy; rulebook writing on my own works, and editing of two companies' rulebooks; and tightening up my Stargate SG-1 miniatures game. I look forward to moving forward with several of these projects, and many new ones.

    2017 rang out with a switch from the old Military Wargaming Forum, to the new Wargaming DropZone. That was a tough transition, actually...a much more robust platform, that requires me to dig even deeper in the programing skills I just am not that great at. It was painful, but worth it! I feel much more in control and at ease with this vBulletin platform. I cannot thank Jim Ohlstein enough for selling me his old license! I miss the old World War Two Zone....but in its' own way, the new Wargaming DropZone tips its hat to that venerable site of old. My hope and desire is to see this wargaming and modeling site grow and flourish in the upcoming year....please spread the word and drag people over here to play!!!

    2017 finished with the acquisition of well over a dozen new wargames! A few for Christmas, and the rest bought with money saved from earlier in the year for a Christmas Blitzen!!! Several are solitaire fare. I'd planned to be playing some of them last week but, that flu had me down for the count. The first week f 2018 should see plenty of gaming!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  6. #6
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    It's odd how, for longer than I can remember, I'd fallen out of miniatures gaming, and had undergone such a massive resurgence into board wargames. Now, the tide has once again turned, and I am rushing headlong back into miniatures. And to my great surprise, Modern warfare!!!

    Team Yankee has my full attention at the moment, but in 6mm, in which I've recently bought a few companies of US and Soviet armor. What a cool scale...and the versatility of using it not only with Team Yankee's 1985 WWIII playground; but also in current day-ish actions, either with the Team Yankee rules or GHQ MicroArmor rules.

    Just previous to that, I'd also picked up same 28mm modern vehicles for my Stargate game. I have a lot of the miniatures assembled and painted for that game, but a lot more waiting in the wings. I want to start working on diorama elements this summer....and then start some playtesting!

    In the wings also, is a fair collection of DUST Tactics/Warfare 28mm minis, that all need assembly and/or painting. Basically, post post-nuclear WWII what-if fighting, including walkers!

    Oh, and lets not forget my Battlestar Galactica stuff, all ready to go but needing to playtest my written rules I'd 98% completed.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  7. #7
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    This is an interesting time for me, wargaming-wise: I've re-entered a focused energy on miniatures again.

    I'd originally moved away from a heavy concentration on boardgames, to miniatures; back to boardgames; and now back to miniatures. I still cross-pollinate, haha, but Derek really ignited a fire with his gentle prodding towards Battlefront's, Team Yankee. That kinda melded with Scott's having influence my out-of-the-blue obsession with Modern War in the 2000's.

    I am currently concentrating on Team Yankee, to be played in 6mm....

    But, Team Yankee was the test-bed of Battlefront for it's old standard, Flames of War (WWII), new 4th Edition rulebook....which greatly streamlines the system from the 3rd Edition. I have the 2nd and 3rd editions, and both really never took off with me. Looking at the Team Yankee mini-rulebook, I really like how the game is formatted, and find it much more approachable. I ordered the Team Yankee hardcover rulebook...my problem at the moment is the Unit and Formation Cards, which only come with Battlefront's boxes of miniatures. I don;t plan on buying those....again, I want to play 6mm. I got some images of the cards from the Internet, but I'd really like to have the cards themselves. Maybe Battlefront will release them in sets, someday.

    So that brings me back to Flames of War.... having liked the new format of Team Yankee, I went and bought the Flames of War 4th Edition Rulebook, Armiees of the Late War Rulebook, and card sets for the US, British, Germans, and Soviets tonight! Worse case scenario, I have a ton of 15mm WWII miniatures! ...but the plan is to play WWII in 6mm, as well.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  8. #8
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    So as a tangent to my getting into Team Yankee, Derek has also hooked me on Battlefront's TANKS, tank skirmish game!

    Having worked up a list of the tanks that come in this series thusfar, I dug out my Axis & Allies Miniatures this weekend (Sunday) and started culling out the units represented in the game. I am now starting to gather the Flames of War and Command Decision miniatures I also have (built and unbuilt). I am honestly, partly nostalgic, as I haven't looked at these little beauties in a long time! It's also a little like Christmas morning!

    The cool thing about this venture is, it also will translate to using them in Flames of War 4th Edition play. Oddly, I am finally getting into the system, long after everyone else has bailed. Figures!
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  9. #9
    Administrator Whiterook's Avatar
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    2019 has started off on the right track... so far, I've been doing more solitaire wargaming with a cool modern war game from Mark Walker's Platoon Commander series... "Sticks & Stones". It's a nice little system, with more of a simplified gaming system, which is what I needed; a game that I could just get into fairly quickly, and fan the flicker of flames in the kindling

    This harkens back to a several years back, when I did a lot more gaming. I'd lost that over the past few years as work has steadily become more complicated, and frankly, exhausting...as you can see clearly from my previous posts! It feels good!!! I don't want to pressure myself but, I want to keep this moving, as well...playing games, and maybe getting back into some of the development stuff I'd started but fell to the wayside.

    I want to see if I can make 2019 a Year of Reinvention: I need to get several areas of my life on a stronger foundation; in some cases, serious course correction. I want to challenge myself for redirection towards a better path in the next few years, as I edge towards retirement.

    It has the potential to be a defining year in my hobbies and my wellbeing.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator josta59's Avatar
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    That's exciting! Hope it goes well.

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