So, I have this problem with ASL. I keep losing. And yet, there’s another problem. I somehow lose the will to write up the games. They are intense, and at the end of each one I am mentally frazzled – buzzing with the adrenaline of the game, but worn out from such a session of sharp focus. (Not too sharp, as I keep making mistakes, but that is another story.) Anyway, I finally made it to the keyboard after a game, and it’s time to catch up a wee bit.
I have played three of the scenarios of the excellent Hatten in Flames. I lost two and tied one. And one of the losses went down to the wire, so not too bad.
I have just finished Canicatti, scenario J51, featuring my Germans defending a mountainous position against josh’s advancing Americans in Sicily 1943. That one also went down to the wire. On the last turn, to win I needed to pass a morale check: seven or less I win, eight or more I lose. I rolled eight. Cue gnashing of teeth.
That last game featured Josh’s American forces spending three or four turns on the rampage. He completely ran through me. Then, out of nowhere, just as I was about to give up, up popped one of my two hidden anti-tank guns, and it nearly won the game on its own, felling two tanks. A melee killed off another USA tank, and I only needed to kill one more, or to have a surviving unit on the hill at the end. I failed with both, but it was close, and great fun. Six hours of gaming goodness. It does not get better than this. OK, that last bit is a lie. A win would be better…
This is the first of the novels about con-man turned lawyer Eddie Flynn. (You can see my review of the fourth, here.) There is a novella (The Cross) which I have not read.
Be warned: the plot is far fetched. A mobster has kidnapped Eddie’s daughter and is forcing him to wear a bomb while he defends said mobster. The aim is to blow up the chief prosecution witness. It doesn’t help that this trail is somewhat in the public eye, and the FBI have more than a passing interest.
Eddie uses his full range of tricks to try and get out of the mess and save his daughter. The author delivers a tense, seat of your pants adventure. If you can suppress your disbelief in the fanciful plot, you will have a great time.
The writing and Eddie’s solid characterization puts this at a level above the usual airport disposable novel.
Here’s the Guardian engaging in outright demonization.
See how far you have to read in the article before finding out the facts.
Japan spends more on lobbying. Articles by the Guardian on that – none.
Korea spends more on lobbying. Articles by the Guardian on that – none.
The Securities and Investment lobby spends more than seven times the amount spent on pro Israel lobbying. Articles by the Guardian on that – none.
The Real Estate industry lobby spends almost four times as the amount spent on pro Israel lobbying. Articles by the Guardian on that – none.
Oh, and I have seen it suggested that the ‘pro-Israel’ amount quoted includes J-Street. Two issues with that. First, it’s by far the biggest contributor. Second, it’s pro-Israel the same way that Abbas is pro peace. In your dreams, pal.
So this hit piece turns an antisemitic tweet into an exercise in bashing Israel.
It ignores the undoubted antisemitism. No excuses. (That bigot didn’t spot antisemitism according to Guardian. She ignited a controversy!) Just ignores it. Then, it leaps out in a not so brave new direction of propaganda spite.
Or, to put it another way, it picks out and unfairly discriminates against the Jewish state.
Guardians of anti-Israel hate.
Guardians of antisemitism.
Guardians of a world view that abhors the existence of the Jewish state.
The death of Ori Ansbacher is a terrible, shocking event.
Away from the clamor of calls for the restoration of the death penalty, or the stormy, noisy row over whether to deduct payments from the PA, there is another area where her murder has been met with a deadly silence.
As of now, her death has been ignored by the BBC, the Guardian, and the Independent. Not one word. (Funnily enough, all have covered the latest casualties in the Gaza riots.)
That silence is a killing silence.
That silence ensures that the media consumed by the western world is unbalanced and unfair.
That silence is part of the demonization of Israel. Minimizing Palestinian terror reinforces the (false) narrative from the media that Israel is to blame for everything, and the Palestinians are innocent, oppressed, and deserved of sympathy.
I do not seek to minimize the deaths of Palestinians. Whatever the Gaza rioters were doing, all deaths are to be regretted. But the silence about poor Ori’s murder – while covering every Palestinian casualty – is as hateful, as poisonous, as evil as any piece of antisemitic bilge from so called pro-Palestinian supporters. Arguably, it’s worse because the reach of these media platforms is so wide, so extensive, and so insidiously persuasive.
To put it another way, had Ori been a Palestinian, her death would have been front page, worldwide news. But the death of a Jewish girl at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist? That’s not news.
That silence is a killing silence. It kills the prospects for peace and reconciliation. It kills the chances of even handed treatment in the eyes of the world. It kills by piling further pain on the family who see their daughter’s life rendered as of no value, as insignificant. It kills because it empowers extremists on both sides. It kills the lie that such media is honest and impartial. It kills the belief that liberal media have good principles and moral standards. It kills the belief that western liberals have good principles and moral standards – I mean, where’s the outrage, guys? That silence is a killing silence.
I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, preferably in novel form. All too often, the short story form neither excites nor interests me. There have been some exceptions, but generally I keep away from short stories.
As you may have guessed, Zion’s Fiction – a collection of Israeli fantasy and science fiction short stories – was an exception. It wasn’t only that I wanted to support this venture, but also that I knew almost nothing about the local fantasy and SF scene, and this was a perfect opportunity to start learning about it.
The Foreword (by Robert Silverberg) is fine.
The Introduction (by editors Sheldon Teitelbaum and Emmanuel Lottem) is informative, but a real slog. It’s a touch too much of the high brow, and also seems focused on squeezing every last one of the editors’ pals and acquaintances in. The worst part is that it did not engage me. The writing seemed limp and lifeless, with an absence of humor. I’m sure some others will love it.
Most of the stories were OK, but truly no more than that. There wasn’t one that made me think ‘Wow, I’m really glad I read that.’ Unfortunately, there were a couple that made me think ‘Wow, I’m really sorry I wasted my time reading that.‘ In short, a big disappointment.
The best of the stories, to my mind, is Keren Landsman‘s Burn Alexandria. (I believe Keren, who writes in Hebrew, has a novel coming out in English this year from publishers Angry Robot. ) Perhaps this seemed better because it’s one of the longer pieces and had time to develop more fully. The end, however, was exactly as I anticipated, and left me somewhat underwhelmed.
Probably the best known author of the lot is Lavie Tidhar. His The Smell of Orange Groves reminded me of work by China Mieville. That’s not a good thing. The story did not work for me. It came across as half an idea, half a dream, and wholly missing the entertainment point. Not for me, old boy.
The Afterword by Aharon Hauptman is spot on: short, snappy, and to the point. Well done that man!
I am sure – he said, entering optimist mode – that there are many great pieces of Israeli science fiction and fantasy out there. But none of them are in this book. At least I bloody well hope not.
Avi Katz‘s illustrations are OK, and the cover is clever.
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.
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…
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.