JUST ASK PHORMIO (or “how to teach Pericles”)

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Back when I was young and I could count the number of games I owned on one hand with fingers left over, we all read the rules on how to play our games. However, times have changed. I now own a ridiculous number of games, and when I get together with friends it seems we are almost always playing a game that only one person has played before. As such, teaching games has become a more important skill than I believe it was in the past.

Although the game has thankfully received many kind words from players and reviewers, a few of the ambivalent reviews of Pericles have made two points. First, that the game is more complex than the average Euro-gamer can tolerate. Second, that it requires a dedicated group to become proficient at the game, and unless you are willing to put in the time, beware. With all due respect to these respected reviewers, I believe that they have lost the forest for the trees.

What I am going to do in this short article is offer a very simple method for teaching Pericles. Using this method, you can play Pericles often or sporadically and still play well. I have been playing wargames for over half a century, so I think I have earned my stripes enough to know a mechanically simple game with complex strategy from a complex game with complex strategy. Pericles is the former, so mechanically it is fairly straightforward, but understanding what to do is where the fun lies. For a reviewer who plays a game once, though, the game’s deep strategies are the source of their view of complexity.

B&T Warpath Chronicles Volume #8: Custom Battle Dice – How They Came to Be, Evolution, and Test Under Fire

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I started wargaming in the 1980s with the first edition of Jim Day’s Panzer. Convincing battle modeling has always been crucial for me. For a long time, I found the “to hit” process and also odds based combat result tables to be the ne plus ultra — along with 10-sided dice (I confess my love of exotic dice sprung from my D&D past!).

Then in the early 2000, my interest shifted to the bucket of dice approach. My experience is that when it is well conceived, its simplicity (1 piece : 1 die) frees the brain, allowing us to focus more on the narrative of the game.

From the very start, I wanted Bayonets & Tomahawks to be devoid of calculations. But I aimed for a battle system that could replicate each and every historical battle outcome of the French and Indian War. Dedicated research and perpetual evolution/streamlining (with many good ideas contributed by expert players) led to a custom dice system that is fun to use and delivers realistic results for that conflict.

Here’s the story of its development.

Frederick the Great Debuts in The Valley of the Sun: The First Arizona Playtest of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble

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Introduction:  A new career opportunity has returned me to the Phoenix area from back east.  This provided an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the wonderful and friendly community of gamers here in “The Valley of the Sun”.  This article is a high level After Action Report of our first experience playing The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble (7YW:FG).

Please reference 7YW:FG material within GMT’s site, as well as within the InsideGMT BLOG, to gain a better context, understanding, and appreciation of this fine Greg Ticer design.  Referencing this background will complement this article’s descriptions.  

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 4)

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We now continue with Round 3 of Mark’s AAR of Fort Sumter. If you missed the first three articles in this series, click on the following links to read them first: Part 1    Part 2  Part 3.

Domestic Tranquility (or not!) in Mr. President

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I’ve had several requests of late for more information about the domestic side of Mr. President. In the recent replay articles I’ve shared, we downplayed the domestic choices and events because, frankly, that piece of the redesign wasn’t quite finished yet. Now I have all the main domestic redesign pieces in place, so I wanted to give you guys a look at what they are and how they work together. I hope this peek under the hood gives you a sense of the domestic opportunities and challenges you’ll find in the game, and introduces you to some of the tools you’ll have at your disposal to become an amazing President – loved by at least 51% of the people! I hope you enjoy the article! – Gene

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 3)

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We now continue with Round 2 of Mark’s AAR of Fort Sumter. If you missed the first two articles in this series, click on the following links to read them first: Part 1    Part 2.

Round 2: Lame Duck Buchanan

Round2 Unionist hand and objectives. They choose Washington as the Objective.

Because the score is still tied, the Unionist will still go first. We now see for the first time a 3 card whose event is available to both sides (Seizing Federal Armories). The Unionist decides to choose the Objective card Washington, where they already have one token.

Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – July Development Update

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Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea’s development is moving ahead very rapidly.  This is a rare game that can be played either as a wargame or a non-militaristic competitive game of civilization building, or a combination of both, it’s really up to the players.

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 2)

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As promised in Part 1 of this article last week, what follows next is my Twitter game of July 1st, with accompanying photos and my original text. The only edits were to take the necessary abbreviations that Twitter’s 140 characters impose and write them out in full. This is an instructional game, so the strategy is solid, but there might have been superior moves at times. I will supplement each photo and tweet with a short dialog on what is going on so you can follow the action while learning the game.

Caveat: I exceeded my multitasking abilities, as this experiment occurred prior to a family BBQ. One of my nephews hit the map, a neighbor’s cat decided to see what was going on, and my wife appropriately insisted that anything she wanted me to do had immediate priority. As a consequence, errors were made when reconstructing the situation and are indicated where appropriate in the text. Everyone participating in this experiment was a professional; do not try this at home.

At Any Cost: Metz 1870 After Action Report – Battle of Mars-la-Tour (The Finale)

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Tom Thornsen (Prussia) and Bob Demaio (French) re-enact the Battle of Mars-la-Tour with the Full Battle Scenario “A Day of Battle”. To read Part 1 follow this link, and to read Part 2 follow this link.