Last Laurels at Limanowa

I forgot how good this system is. But within minutes of getting Last Laurels at Limanowa on the table, I was in action and having a blast. It had obviously been a while since I played the Ypres game, but the rules quickly came back and I rattled through the scenarios. Sure I made mistakes, but it was still great fun. (No, I did not crack how to win the scenarios for each side. I was in too much of a rush to get to the campaigns.) So now I am playing the first campaign, and it’s all good.

By way of a refresher, this is a game about tactical combat in World War One. Units are companies and hexes are 200 yards across. The game is played in turns of alternating couplets (mini-turns) the length of which is randomly determined.

Combat can be deadly. It’s all too easy to recreate the slaughter of the real thing, especially in the initial stages as you come to terms with the limitations of your troops, and the frighteningly narrow range of tactical options. Oh, and you also get to see how much of a king of the battlefield artillery was.

This title in the series is about the December 1914 encounter between Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empire forces, before trench warfare had taken hold, in Limanowa, southern Poland.

What do I like about the system?

The rules are not complex. They take – in the main – a mix of tried and tested mechanisms, and blend them into something that is smooth, coherent, consistent, and challenging to master. The chaos of war is laid bare for you to experience. Yet, despite the simplicity (or lack of unnecessary chrome) you are faced with tough decisions. There’s no such thing as a perfect plan because you don’t know how long you have each turn. (And that’s before your opponent plays merry hell with your intentions.)

It helps that the atmosphere the game creates seems authentic at the level of action it attempts to portray. It also helps that these are – at least to me – fresh battles, with new history to soak up, and much to learn.

It also helps that the maps are gorgeous, the counters are a lesson in clean design, and the rules are very good. (Although I do have some queries which I posted at Consimworld.)

In short, this is one fun game.

So, a big round of applause to John Gorkowski and Compass Games for this game. The series is one I intend to follow, and I am hoping for and looking forward to future releases.

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Truth in Marketing? (Updated)

Here’s a picture of an advert (from Friday’s Jerusalem Post) for a development by Rothstein in Kfar Yona,

Looks like a cracking view. Nice place to buy a penthouse?

It looks good, doesn’t it?

But would you like to live in a penthouse that is pleasing to the eye, but deceptive? What do I mean? Check out the text:

Er, hello? Anyone got a dictionary?

Oh dear. Another case of inadvertent truth in marketing? Or did nobody bother to actually check the text? Tut, tut Rothstein. Tut, tut Jerusalem Post. You both should be ashamed.

Update: Aaron Silverman points out (correctly) that the text at the top – “multiple breath taking views” should be “multiple breathtaking views”. I suppose they felt it necessary to, er, pause for a breath…

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Returning to Holland

Well, I finally got to play Holland ’44. (This well illustrates my challenge: too many games, not enough time.)

It’s worth noting that I put this on the table after a debate came to life on ConsimWorld, driven by queries from David Hughes for an article he was researching. That set off a burst of book reading by me, and then I got out the game and played it through.

I only played it once, and the Allies got thumped. But it was fun. It was cool to see how Mark Simonitch handled various aspects of the battle, and how the narrative developed.

I had no problems with the rules. The components were, as usual, gorgeous, and the system is one I find to be playable and immersive.

The potential criticisms raised in the online debate included suggesting that units in the game can cover greater amounts of territory than they could in real life. While I think that’s true, there are several responses.

First, it’s a common ‘failing’ of many wargames, because designers are so wedded to the concept of zones of control.

Second, in the game it doesn’t seem to materially interfere with the historicity of the overall flow. In other words, it doesn’t matter.

Third, it’s easy to apply some house rules and see the impact. For example, I set up a mini scenario that applied a no ZOC rule. Wow, that was wild and very different. But it opened up some possibilities.

So, another good game from Mark and GMT. That won’t stop me listening to the ongoing debate, and waiting for David’s article.

 

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A Day of ASL

Earlier this month, I was joined by Daniel, David, Josh, and Ran for a whole day of ASL.

David and Josh played the scenario Death’s Head Debut (SP 267).

As Josh puts it:

“Note that it is only 5.5 turns. It’s also classified as a “long-round” in Denmark, to be played Friday morning, until around 6 p.m. [Denmark hosts an ASL competition next month.]

Five and-a-half turns, no problem, right? David and I started at 10 a.m. and we called it at 8:30 p.m., with me surrendering. After three turns! And although I was badly losing, I still had a chance, but time constraints caused me to surrender. (Basically, I kicked David off the mountain, as required by the victory conditions. But I had to capture a second building and David’s tanks were roaming freely. He destroyed all my tanks and this demoralized me.)

They seemed to be having fun…

Meantime, Daniel, Ran and I played two scenarios, with Ran and I teaming up in both. We won one and lost one. It was so enthralling that I simply forgot to note what we were playing.

Too many games, not enough time!

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Antisemitism as a Joke

This cartoon appears in the December 14 issue (number 1485) of Private Eye.

I don’t find it funny.

Is that because:

  1. It’s not funny.
  2. Antisemitism is never funny.
  3. I’m sensitive about antisemitism, so cannot see the humor.
  4. It’s antisemitic.

I recognize that I may not have the most neutral perspective, so this post is as much a form of enquiry as it is a comment. Do you think it’s funny?

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Next Prime Minister of Israel?

Yair Lapid, the next Prime Minister of Israel?

Last night, Susan and I went to a Yesh Atid (There is a Future) meeting (Anglo Division) in Tel Aviv to hear the party leader, Yair Lapid. He was introduced as the next Prime Minister of Israel which is – to put it mildly – somewhat optimistic. However, let there be no doubt, he is by far my preferred candidate. Why? Partly because I like the man, but mainly because I like how Yesh Atid handled itself the last time it was in power – sticking largely to its policy promises – and also, no less, because of the party’s policies. Their intentions for the country address all the key areas in the right way, so to speak. I was particularly pleased to hear Yair promise that one early law, were he successful, would be to limit the number of times one person could be the Prime Minister to twice. (Hello Bibi!)

Underpinning a lot of Yesh Atid’s policies is an honest streak that seems to be missing from the other parties. For example, when in power, Yesh Atid refused to take the money that all the other coalition parties took from the State, just for being in power. Shocking. For another example, within minutes of the election being called, the coalition parties robbed the welfare and education budgets to fund their own political expenditure. Also shocking. Another almost unbelievable story was the reminder that Bibi ordered a personal – OK, a Prime Ministerial – plane at a cost of hundreds of millions of shekels, for no good reason. (The theory is that Bibi felt envious at Air Force One…) A funny story was told about the ministerial vote on work programs. Only two ministers voted against it. Guess which two ministers were appointed to be in charge of the work programs? Welcome to Israel…

Before Yair could start, he was interrupted by a protester – demonstrating against weapons sales to Sudan – who had to be removed by the security team. It’s unclear why the protester targeted Yair Lapid, as the offending matters were not of his creation. Anyway, Yair spoke for about 45 minutes – in reasonably good English – and then took questions.

The questions ranged from aliyah to illegal immigrants to non-orthodoxy to gay rights to educations, pensions, and so on. His answers were OK, but the poor guy has clearly been running around with far too much to do. I say this because his English in the answers was not as sharp or polished as it can be. He had not had enough time to prepare fully, I suspect.  In this arena, he is not as good a performer as Bibi. But, he will improve, and it’s one area that – despite declarations to the contrary – matters least in the Israeli elections. In other words, the Anglos will not have a material effect on the result. That having been said, I was impressed and cheered by the very young profile of the audience. Very heartening. Anyway, for election success, it’s more important how he comes across in the Hebrew media. And there he is very much equal to the Bibi challenge.

What are his chances? In the past elections, Yesh Atid has typically done less well in the polls until the closing stages. That appears to be the case this time around, too. But it needs to do much better this time to break the Likud stranglehold, and so far there’s been no hint of such a change. Instead, the opposition keeps getting split by new parties popping up. So, when it does come to the election, Lapid as Prime Minister is unlikely. But, then again, in the world of Israeli politics, almost anything is possible. After all, this is a country where a new politician could be ranked as getting 20% plus of the vote before making a single speech or uttering a single word on policy or beliefs. So, unlikely, but not impossible.

I’m resigned to another Bibi/Likud victory, but let’s see what actually happens.

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Deceit of the Guardian

“In France and Britain, gilets jaunes have mutated into symbols of anger against anything from austerity to Islam”

Click the image to view the complete article

The Guardian are so deceitful. Guess which group targeted by the ‘gilet jaunes’ is not mentioned by the Guardian? Why didn’t the article mention antisemitism? Because it might taint the purity of the French protesters they empathize with and support? Or, because antisemitism means nothing to them? Or because the Guardian has sold out its journalistic roots?

In the scheme of things, it’s like a drop in the ocean. But to mix metaphors, it’s the drip, drip, drip effect of approaches as in this article that minimizes antisemitism and fosters a world view that is, put simply, wrong.

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Code Pink – Completely Potty

Another in the ‘you could not make it up’ department of true stories:

The people who are so upset over Israel’s supposed crime of “pinkwashing” LGBTQs by treating them well is now on a tour of Iran…

Click the image to read the Elder of Ziyon’s incredible story.

The extent of the ability of so called liberal or leftist proponents of human rights to turn a blind eye to almost anyone’s crimes – so long as they are anti Israel – is shocking. Why should anyone believe a word these people say? Why should anyone believe they have any morality left? They are enablers of hate.

As the Elder says:

It is difficult to imagine a more hypocritical organization than CodePink.

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Gaming Break

Roy and I had an opportunity for a short gaming session. We started off with Commands and Colors Napoleonics, then moved on to Keyforge.

This was a first outing for Roy with the Napoleonics version of Richard Borg’s hugely successful series. However, he had played the Ancients version, and was highly experienced with Memoir 44 (WW2) so had no trouble pitching in and playing away.

We played the Vimiero scenario, the August 1808 encounter between British and French forces (with a few Portuguese on the British side). I played the French, who were on the attack, with Roy manning the defense lines.

The scenario began with probes by the French forces which were bloodily repulsed. The victory goal was six banners (victory points). Roy had run up a two-nil lead before I even got close to a first banner.

My cards were awful, but then things changed when I drew the cavalry charge card. This allowed me to utilize my cavalry advantage – four units to two – and well and truly pile into the British lines. The killer was another wonderful card – supply lines or similar? – which allowed me to banish a key British artillery unit back to the baseline. In combination, this just was too much for the British. Although they fought hard, and did some damage, I surged ahead to a lead that was slowly converted into a win.

Next up, Keyforge. This is a game from the designer of Magic, the original collectible card game. Much of the core is similar – generate monsters and magic items, do damage, and win – by this is a very different game.

First, there is no collectible element. Every single deck in the world is unique.

Second, there is no deck building.

Third, the play doesn’t involve resources, but Houses. Each deck has cards from three Houses. Each turn, in essence, you can only use one your Houses. So, there are some tricky decisions to be made.

Fourth, you win not by eliminating the other guy, but by using the games currency – aember – to build three keys before your opponent.

Roy got off to a good start and set up a monster line of monsters. I slowly managed to get some of my team out, but Roy was soaring ahead in aember collection. He kept his lead and ran out an easy winner by three to one.

I like the accessibility of Keyforge. It’s easy and fast to play. But without the deck building, where is the skill? It will be interesting to see how this one fares, and whether there are further Keyforge type games.

 

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Israel Post Strikes Again!

I have a subscription to Private Eye. Today, I arrived home from work to find that Israel Post had excelled themselves: they had managed to deliver two issues at once. How efficient!

Except, as you will see from the above, their performance was anything but efficient. It’s taken at least four weeks for number 1485 to be delivered. Delivery of number 1486 has only taken three weeks. If only there were a realistic prospect of that improvement continuing…

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