Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Sunday, September 09, 2007

BGTG 70 - Sep 9, 2007 - Light Wargames

Did ya miss me?

Sorry it's been so long! Doug Garrett smoked me out recently, interviewing me for his podcast, and giving me the little encouragement/kick to get podcasting again. I've got at least two more podcasts recorded from some time ago, but I wanted to record a fresh one tonight to lead-in with an explanation of where I've been for half a year.

As it happens, besides playing all of my usual eurogames and more games with my kids, I also managed to play several light wargames in the past month. That's worth a podcast. In this one I talk about We The People, Axis & Allies: Bulge, Quebec 1759, and Lightning: D-Day. In those four I get to talk about the original CDG (card-driven game, like Twilight Struggle), a plastic figure + hexmap semi-traditional wargame, the original block wargame (like Hammer of the Scots), and a very quick, almost euro-ized card game about a WW2 battle.



Blogger Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Of course we missed you... me especially, as I really like the way you've put your podcast together.

Now, to actually find time to listen to this one. :-)

10:35 PM  
Blogger Mark Wilder said...

You're still one of the best podcasts out there, infrequent though you may be...

I had Jenseits von Theben on my watch-list for a long long long time after hearing about it on your show a couple of years ago... I bought the reprint as soon as I could and I love it. I can't think of another game with such definately Euro-style mechanics that is so rich in theme.

I'd be interested in knowing what you think of Thebes and the differences between the two! It might make for a good "All About" episode (hint hint).

Keep up the good work,
Mark in Chicago (joeyhemlock on BGG)

(are only people named Mark allowed to post/comment here?)

1:56 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Thanks, Mark. As a matter of fact I've played Thebes a couple times now, including last Friday. I've had some talks about it with Dave Arnott, and even while he points out its flaws (and I agree), I still enjoy the game a whole bunch. Now I'm about to order my own, and I really hope it will prove to be a good one to play 2-player with my wife.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT's ALIVE... Welcome back Mark. You were missed.

How well do you think Thebes would play with kids? I have a 13 and 8 year old and I was wondering if either of them might enjoy the game.

6:17 AM  
Blogger littlewoodencubist said...

Ah, nicely done, ya.
It's great to have you back... I think you're the reason most of us are podcasting as well, which could be viewed a disservice.
Still, it's nice to hear you go on about axis & allies, a game I can't STAND in it's original form, but am now interested in for the Bulge. As to Lightning, I ordered it five minutes after listening.
How's THAT for impact?
Thanks again,

8:11 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Daniel, I think Thebes would play well with game-playing children, particularly older ones who could appreciate the theme. Make sure they watch Indiana Jones movies first. :-)

Charlie, I think the A&A game on D-Day is better than the Bulge one.


8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the light war game podcast. It might be your best. I too am interested in war games that take 3 hours or less. Please do more podcasts on war games!

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Six months?!?

Far too long, my friend. Especially for gaming thoughts as interesting as yours. Just dense enough, yet delivered in an easy, concise style.

Of course, I'm the guy who lost We the People to you on Turn One... that you let back up a move so we could actually play the game more out. So I'm probably bias :)

The cool part about this podcast for me is this: though I'd heard about Block wargames a few times over the years, it wasn't until listening to this show that the penny finally dropped.

I played a block wargame as a kid! It was called Stratego.

Slightly simplified, sure, but if any of those wargamers over the years had simply made that analogy/comparision for me, I'd have gotten it a lot sooner :)

(and that predates Quebec by 25 years, unless you don't count it as "inventing" the block system)

2:49 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

That's a good observation, Dave--one I wish I'd made on the podcast. :-) Stratego certainly has the most important aspect of a block wargame going for it: the standup counters that effortlessly hide information from the opponent. So in that sense, yeah, it predates Quebec 1759. In fact, I'm sure the Gamma Two/Columbia designers played Stratego as kids, and it was an inspiration for their later designs.

The gameplay and subject matter are completely different, and this is where Stratego is just barely a wargame. It's got direct conflict and military terminology for the pieces--even some basic terrain with those lake obstacles (did anyone ever make an alternate map/board?). But the "combat system" makes no attempt to model reality. No more than chess does, which I think is Stratego's own inspiration.

8:17 AM  
Blogger daw65 said...

I, too, would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Jenseits von Theben vs. Thebes. I own the former, and haven't played the latter, so don't feel too qualified to comment, but that won't stop me. :-)

It sounds like Thebes's bag works out better than the card decks in JvT. Not surprising. The contents could be customized either way, but digging through the bag probably feels more like "archeology". I must say, though, that I'm concerned about how the exhibitions were changed. Just from what I've read, I suspect I'd prefer JvT's treatment, but I'd like to hear the thoughts of someone who has played both.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

I've been listening to your show for a long time, and I'm glad to hear you back on the air. I thought this was one of your best shows -- I listened to it on the way to work and I could really visualize the games even thought I've never seen any of them.

I grew up on Axis and Allies and have a master's degree in history, so the subject matter was great. Now I want to check with my friend who owns over 600 board games to see if he has he Quebec or We the People games you discussed.


4:56 PM  

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