Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I figure if I start a month early, I've got a much better chance of beating the rush of resolutions and best (and worst) of 2008 blog entries that will overwhelm the 'Net in about three weeks. 

Rather than resolutions, these are some modest goals I've set for myself in 2009 vis a vis gaming. At this time, this is a working list, not a final list, and I'm always interested to see whether or not people think that these projects are a complete waste of time (or not). 

1) Play through every SPQR Deluxe battle using the Simple Great Battles of History rules. This is just the stock SPQR battles (five, I think, including Zama and Cannae), but also the Deluxe scenarios that originally came with the first four expansion modules (War Elephant through Africanus). Note that one of the original War Elephant scenarios, one including Antiochus the Lame and more elephants than you can roll rampage for in a day, was not added to the Deluxe scenarios, instead replaced with Bagradas Plains because the original scenario was much closer to Alexander's era than Hannibal's in terms of weapons systems. I'm planning at least a couple of smaller scenarios, then moving up to running through the rest in historical order. My goal is to play one every month, but get the first two learning games in before the end of this year to get myself refreshed. I will document each of these games on this blog. In case it wasn't clear, my intent is for this to be a solo effort, as most of these battles were blowouts and less than fun for one side or the other. I will not cover scenarios from C3i (other than Bagradas, which was originally from that magazine), nor from any expansions that came afterwards, such as Jurgutha or Barbarian. For now, it's about getting through that one box and that set of scenarios.

2) Play a monster game as part of a team. And by "monster," I don't mean playing the Edge of the World scenario in Case Blue, but a multi-map big game with more counters than a single person should be allowed to control. The candidates for this are a little tricky, as the wargamers in my group like different games for different reasons. OCS we might find four people for, EFS looks like there is a small chance of four, Grand Tactical (Devil's Cauldron) looks like just Jesse and I, and I don't know that I'd ever get enough people interested in 1914: Twilight in the East without traveling south on I-5 to play the designer. I suppose that you could also consider EuroFront as a monster, although like most grand strategic ETO games you have the issue of whoever runs the Western Allies sitting on their tukuses (tuki?) for the first half of the game.  Of course, WBC-West is the best chance for long-term play, and we could almost certainly get four people playing a game for two days straight, which to my mind would qualify so long as it was a really big map. However, I'm not fussy. I'd just like to try out a team game. Note that there is some slight chance I'll do this in late December with Mike and Chuck playing EFS, but with Lylah the imminent grandcritter due at exactly that time, I'm not counting on that.

3) Contribute back to the hobby. I've done this in various ways over the years, from organizing a game group and retreats, to participating in podcasts, to this very blog. Assuming, of course, that you can wade through my political diatribes to get to the gaming parts. ;-) What I'm thinking of specifically this time around is helping people to learn wargames, either through a video (a la Boardgames with Scott) or else through use of Flash animation, or even perhaps through community outreach at Jesse's store. As not only someone who generally does the 'splainin' when our group learns a new game, but someone who has actually been *paid* to both develop and deliver technical material (what fools my evil overlords were), I think that this is a good niche for me, and one that has some chance of success. Of course, if I do a good job there will be pressure to continue to produce learning materials...

4) Try games from companies other than the ones I buy from now. That list is really fairly short, and includes GMT Games, MMP on the top tier, with Columbia, L'n'L Games, DVG, Simmons, Avalanche Press, and Decision on the second tier. Academy Games is a new player with only one title (Conflict of Heroes), but it's definitely on the list. There are game companies I've learned to stay away from, including Critical Hit who had some of the most antagonistic customer support I've ever seen. However, there are tons of other, mostly tiny, wargame publishers out there, including several that do DTP designs such as Khyber Pass Games. This is an area where I could use a lot of help from the great unwashed masses out there, if anyone wanted to suggest a particular game from a publisher not listed above. Unfortunately, since I'm signed up to preorder almost everything coming from GMT and MMP, I may need extra help finding places to *put* all of these games, so I'll be picky for now. I should hurry with this effort, as the economy may kill many of the very companies I'd like to try out before I'm able to pick these games up!

5) Play a full campaign game of anything, preferably something manageable. By "campaign" I mean a game that covers the full history of a particular theater or event that is the longest scenario in the box. An example would be to play the full game of the SCS title Afrika II that runs some 30+ turns. Actually, that's probably the game I'll pick. This would be a game I'd leave set up on a sidetable and I'd play over a long period of time. There is also every possibility that this would be a solitaire specific game such as Fields of Fire, but I'd like for it to be as sweeping as possible and that game may not qualify. Note that this is unlikely to occur with a monster game in 2) above, mostly because while I'd like to play a team monster I don't think I'd be playing, say, the Case Blue game in campaign form, at least not just yet. That's almost certainly more time than I can devote without it becoming a lifestyle choice.

6) Play at least one naval game such as Flying Colors or War Galley. 

7) Play Burning Blue at least once against a live opponent. This may mesh up with 8) below.

8) Play at least two long-term games via VASSAL. Eric and I are starting a Pursuit of Glory game (after an abortive attempt screwed up by some problems with the beta module that we're leaving off after one turn), but I'd like to get one other game in. Generally this is a bad idea because historically I've tended to wake up at 2am thinking about how that Austro-Hungarian unit is out of position and that I should really have moved it somewhere else, but so far our PuG game has not had that problem, mostly because I have no idea what constitutes "out of position" so far. 

9) Get through all of the Conflict of Heroes scenarios. I've played five times, teaching the game every time with the first scenario, and usually as the Russians (which means I have yet to win). Time to get into the other scenarios and find out if this game is really the real deal when the entire system is in use.

10) Attend one out of town con focused on wargaming. That means that the Eugene Games Gala that Lorna puts on doesn't count. Chances are excellent that this will be a GMT Games weekend in April, something I can drive to now that gas is under $2/gal. 

Ten things is more than enough, even if many of them are relatively small goals, achievable with a single event or game. A few of them are more grandiose, such as the SPQR scenarios or the monster game play, and especially the training video idea, which requires me to figure out how best to present information and probably learn at least one new tool. I'll keep you posted as the year progresses as to how I'm doing.

Thanks again for feedback on the list. Suggestions for different goals or changes to the ones I've listed here are welcomed, and I'll post a final list at month's end.


Eric said...

I'm happy to help out with #s 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8.

2: OCS or 1914 would be my first choices, but I'll play EFS if I've got the time to learn it.

3: I'd love to help with this project. Lemme know what you need.

5: Afrika II, or any SCS for that matter would be great. You could even tie it in with #8. I've played Mighty Endeavor remotely and it went very well.

6: I am all over Flying Colors if you want to play. I'd throw Great War at Sea out there as well as a possibility, but I think you'd run away hissing and displaying a cross.

8: Clash of Monarchs when we're done with PuG?

Oh, and we've got more Panzer Grenadier to play, of course.

dave said...

#6 - You can always pencil me in for the next WBC-West. Playing naval games is my first priority!

#7 - This year, I will consider it for WBC-West.

#9 - Again, if you get to WBC-West and you still have unplayed scenarios, I'd love to chug thru a bunch of them in a day (similar to what Mike and I did with M44 last year).

#10 - As I had to miss BGG.CON this year, I should be able to get a pass to go with you (carpool). Of course, the rule is that we cannot play 2p games against each other when we get there. ;>

Your goal may be to hit #6 and #9 in your shorter sessions outside of WBC-West. But if we get that far, it's always an option!

Dug said...

It occurs to me that this might make for a really interesting geeklist, plus it will make for much better interaction and easier to track how things are going. I'll get on this in the very near future.

Mike said...

1. SPQR - Dang, you had me all excited for a minute there, until I read the 'solo' part.

2. Team monster - OCS, EFS, GTS, even T1914. I'd be in for that

3. Demos at Jesse's store - I'm more than interested in doing this, as I've said numerous time

4. Other companies - count me out; I have enough unplayed games on my shelf from MMP/GMT without adding more to the list

5. Full campaign game - Chuck and I finished Afrika II, 20-22 hours all in, great fun; any SCS would be good for this

6. Naval games - sorry, on your own on this one

7. Burning Blue - Name the time and place and I'll be there

8. VASSAL - I'm trying to get enthused about VASSAL, but I still like to play with a warm body across the table; I need to really try it out

9. Conflict of Heroes - Yep, me too, but it's suffering from there being too many games I want to play

10. Wargame con - Thought about a GMT con; let's discuss over the weekend