2013 Year to Date Gaming..Gut check

As I prepare my head for the next few months of the year and start looking at 2014, with all the unknowns a few things strike me.

I have had a mostly satisfying year of gaming, yet I feel like I have wasted a lot of time. In general, just time being pissed away. Having a older friend die suddenly this year, really brought this home to me. It is easy to fritter life away. Which has led me to look at what I am playing, why and to what end. In short I need to step it up overall, STEP up on LIFE.

I enjoy the process of learning about history, unpacking  a game physically and mentally, experiencing it and capturing the narrative, the personal experience and aha moments. That will not change, the energy placed however needs a kickstart!

Compared to last year where I played 125+ sessions of games that year the count so far is way down. The number of different titles is higher (excluding counting multiple modules of the same system, i.e. TCS,LNL,OCS).

This experimentation with new titles was great! The experience was interesting, however it meant that in the Ancients Period we dropped off on plays of GBoH. Finding nothing that was suitable to allow us to ‘create’ that campaign feel, Field Commander Alexander, Hannibal V Rome and of course A Most Dangerous Time were all desultory affairs.

WWII featured heavily this year, as one might expect with the series writing. Napoleonics was figuring larger also with 2 OSG titles played.

The game play experiences overall this year were superb however! New systems to me such as Air & Armor & AVD were a delight, old classics such as WInter War and PanzerGruppe Guderian shone their timeless light. Newer games like the formidable Musket & Pike and COIN pre cursor Labyrinth showed me that design innovation is alive and well. Being exposed to systems such as Europa, and the reboot of Panzer shed more light on some key elements of gaming that I hold even more dearly.

Some of those things held dear include:

The ability for a designer to use abstraction cleverly in such a way as to deepen and enrich without bogging down a system.

Systems, mechanics, rules that generate hard choices are rare and not always obvious.

The innovation possible in art for map and counters is evolving still, and is amazing to see.

More detail is not always better and does NOT generate more narrative.

System based games can be richly rewarding at the right level of detail but ultimately flawed if used as a cheap or frivolous franchise brand.

Some rule books are just never going to be digested by me.

Games that focus on simple play over theme and period generally leave me cold.

Solo systems so far have been a meaningless grind.

Certainly more here but these are the top of mind.

What I’m playing needs to be an experience that is edifying, enjoyable and ultimately worthwhile. The listing and counting is a means to allow some reflection about that, not a way to keep self score.

2014 has a lot of unknowns in store for me. Work related items, gaming time, lifestyle adjustments are all up in the air. Plus the inevitable growing list of family related items that require attention. Right now as I look forward to the end of the year I have a desire to do the following at a bare minimum:

  1. Play at least 2 East Front titles to satisfy my desire to complete 1930-1940 of the Chronological Walk thru of WWII. At this point they will be Blitzkreig ’41 and Hitler Turns East (ATO). (10-30 hours)
  2. Assess what is next in the Noob Study of the Operational Art of War (3 hours).
  3. Ideally generate a Side by Side comparison of those 2 East Front titles (5 hours).
  4. Finish the majority of TBL with Bill Lawson via VASSAL (turn a week).
  5. Finish a campaign of Red Winter with Steve Arthur (4-6 sessions).
  6. Begin playing Hellenes to see if we can generate some GBOH scenarios! (6-12 hours)
  7. Play at least one bulge scenario or game. (8-12 hours)
  8. Sticker and play Blocks in the West. (2 hours stickering, 3 hours play)
  9. Organize Case Blue & GBII to be setup for a campaign play in early 2014 (once family leave town first two weeks of Jan 2014)……(ugh hours).
  10. Plan on playing LNL modules of Modern combat end to end and doing some nifty video/narrative starting in December and rolling into 2014. (5 hours in  2013)

Lots. So this list can be our goal! Something to aim for for the balance of the year.

As a result of this less than 100% effort, I’ve not been very happy with the writing that comes from the Chronlogical walk thru either. The writing after Case White went kid of soft. Part of it is the titles themselves. Strike North just left me flat, Marita was interesting but had enough issues to make the history a bit murky.  I hope that this will improve as we move on.

Each title played will have some form of minor back ground data culled from somewhere and chewed by me prior to sharing. I’m going to assume most folks have a basic grasp of WWII history (most of you know way more than I do for sure), so I can avoid writing reams on that and focus on what we see happen in title.

Over the next 2 weeks an AAR for Winter War, Strike North and Marita Merkur will drop, then a video commentary the 7 Days of 1809. Please take the time to read them for me!! Offer some feed back to help me improve the AARs. I really appreciate the feedback.

Played Games from 1 Jan through 15 Oct 2013

2013-10-06 Players Location
played via vassal, intro scenario
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double entry…grrr.
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RAN

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RAF

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2013-01-18 Players Location
2013-01-04 Players Location

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