July 1863

Ahead of the 158th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, I have been indulging in the heady mix of gaming and reading that brings history to life.

On the games table:

This game, part of the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series, includes three campaigns:

  • Here Come the Rebels – 1862 Antietam Campaign
  • Roads to Gettysburg – 1863 Gettysburg Campaign
  • Rebels in the White House – Early’s 1864 Raid on Washington

Each has several basic game scenarios and one or more advanced game scenarios. I am playing the basic game of the 1863 set which runs from June 30 to July 3, allowing me to see the situation before the great battle and how it developed.

To help put everything into context, I have been reading this alongside my game playing:

It’s well written and quick thorough, but – so far – avoiding putting too much detail before the reader so as to blur the overall picture.

Although I am fairly well read about the battle, there are always fresh perspectives; there’s always something new to learn. In addition, it’s fun and educational to compare a serious historical narrative with how the situation is expressed in the game.

For example, in the real campaign, each side only had the roughest idea about the location of the main enemy forces. The battle happened almost by accident, starting as a small encounter that mushroomed. Because the game doesn’t give you that lack of knowledge, it has to use other techniques to try and recreate the situation. For now, let’s say that they work, and although the game that arises is enjoyable, there’s a sliver of a sensation that an umpired version of the game with full fog of war is what we need. Till then, gaming and reading are pretty damn good as they are.

Glad That’s Over

We have a new government, finally. Yes, they are strange bedfellows. Yes, they do not have the strongest backing. Yes, the odds are stacked against them. But they do have much in common. And if they can focus on the key issues that are for the benefit of the whole country and make progress bit by bit, who knows how far they might get.

It will be good to have a government that tries to pass a budget and tries to govern instead of trying to hang on to power so as to free Bibi from the troublesome nuisance of three criminal trials.

I confess to being entertained by the haredi parties screaming about the end of Judaism in Israel. Losing power (and money) was never going to come easy to them. Bibi’s criticism about Bennett’s (alleged) inability is unsurprising. But Bibi forgets he too had to start somewhere and he too was grossly underestimated.

I confess to being particularly happy for Yair Lapid. He has gone from strength to strength displaying qualities of perseverance, endeavor, honesty, self-sacrifice, and leadership. If he does become Prime Minister, he will deserve it more than anyone else in the current Knesset.

As for Bennett, I wish him luck. I want him to succeed, to make a difference and show what we can achieve if we work together, to be inclusive for the benefit of all instead of exclusive for the good of the few.

Sixth Fleet

Just got this off my table.

I played through all the basic scenarios to get the rules sorted, then one of the intermediate scenarios.

The strategic air allocation is the most challenging part for the solo player, but that apart it’s a breeze.

It was fun. I’d forgotten how much fun.

And now the other Fleet Series games are calling to me.

Doomsday

This is part of the Operational System Series designed by Adam Starkweather and published by Compass. The particular game is about hypothetical Cold War going hot in the 1980s.

The game comes with three standard sized maps and one small add-on for Berlin, a mountain of play-aid cards, over a thousand 9/16″ glorious counters, as well as a rule book and scenario book.

There’s a lot to like here. Continue reading

The rockets with no owners

This, from who else but the Guardian, is another example of their drip, drip, drip bias and demonization of Israel.

The rocket fire screwed up the hopes of a ceasefire all on its own! Nobody fired them. They were autonomous rockets…

Oh, come on Guardian. There was room for “by Hamas” in that title. But you deliberately chose not to blame your terrorist friends. Shame on you.

(An informed reader might know it was Hamas. But I wonder how many uninformed or lazy readers will read that headline and subconsciously at least blame Israel.)

The Guardian Doing What It Does Best

This article is classic Guardian propaganda. It’s a puff peace for terrorists that demonizes Israel.

Click the image to view the article

For example, only once is there mention of Hamas rockets. It’s hidden well down the content (23rd paragraph out of 26!) and – surprise, surprise – is couched in terms that suggest Israel is the aggressor:

“Among those who have raised urgent concerns has been the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has called on both sides to respect the urgent medical requirements of the people of Gaza. “In the past seven days in Gaza, we’ve seen extensive air strikes and also rockets going out from Gaza to Israel,” a spokesperson inside the coastal enclave told the Guardian.”

It’s almost an afterthought: “…and also rockets going out from Gaza to Israel.”

Not once does it say why Israel is attacking Gaza. Indeed, the ONLY actual mention of Hamas uses language that is so understated and lacking any import of violence, it is almost laughable.

“While Israel has accused Hamas in the past of using medical facilities as a cover for its activities…”

Activities? The Guardian makes it sound like an after-school club! Obscene.

How about this from a ‘spokesman for the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza’:

“There has been a depletion of resources over the course of the year of the corona pandemic, and now this aggression has drained our limited health capacities significantly. We will be in a dangerous situation as a health system within days if this continues.”

It’s fair comment that Gaza’s medical resources are not in a good state. However, the Guardian doesn’t take the time to point out that it’s strange that the health resources have diminished while Hamas still has plenty of resources for war. You could do pretty well buying medical kit with the money that, for example, 2,000 plus rockets consumed.

Try this for size:

“Also among the facilities damaged on Sunday was a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which also said that a clinic that provided trauma and burn treatment had been hit by an Israeli missile in Gaza City.

 

Even before that strike, the MSF medical coordinator, Dr Natalie Thurtle, had warned of the danger facing Gaza’s already depleted health system. “The 14-year Israeli blockade on Gaza means that the health system here lacks many of the things it needs to treat people even during normal times,” said Thurtle last week.”

I have no idea about the strike. I am certain that Israel won’t have deliberately targeted the place, just as I am certain that MSF cannot be trusted. They have form in hating Israel. But put that tragic inevitability of war aside and concentrate on the blockade part. As any fool knows, including Thurtle, there is no ban on medical equipment. It’s an out and out lie. If there is a shortage of medical equipment, it’s because Hamas prioritizes military equipment. But does the article mention that? Not a bit.

Then try out this intellectual exercise. Assume for the purposes of discussion that there were a blockade against medical equipment even though there isn’t. We know that Hamas have managed to smuggle in Kornet anti-tank weapons. If they can smuggle in anti-tank weapons, for sure they can smuggle in medical equipment. They choose not to, in the same way they choose to spend money on instruments of war rather than medical instruments. The Guardian knows this, but they don’t – and won’t say it. Because to do so would remove some of the buffy shine that Hamas has accumulated thanks to years of propaganda and incitement against Israel by the Guardian and their ilk.

To be clear, I don’t want innocent civilians to die or suffer. But that’s what happens in war. If you don’t want dead people, don’t fire rockets at Israel. Simple really.

Make no mistake. The Guardian is at least partly responsible for every rocket fired at Israel. Reporting – and that’s a joke term – like this pours oil on troubled waters. The Guardian’s moral compass is not so much broken as shattered beyond repair.

 

 

 

A bissel of bias

The Guardian doesn’t have space to mention Hamas rockets.


The BBC makes it sound as if Israel is the aggressor. Of course.

Just a bissel of bias that these poisonous parties pretend is journalism. Instead, it’s campaigning for a cause and that cause is nothing to do with the wellbeing, security, or safety of Israel.

Under Fire – Again

During the last major Gaza conflagration, I was working in Yehud (near Ben Gurion Airport). On the single day that the missiles hit Yehud, I was working at home. Everyone wanted to know who my Hamas contact was.

Fast forward to the latest mini-war, and as the rockets rained down on Ra’anana and associated central belt cities, I was on a short break up north. It was quiet and there were neither missiles nor trouble. I have just returned from the north and I see the peace loving neighbors of Hizbullah have started firing rockets there. Quite a coincidence.

As you will have gathered, it’s important to maintain a sense of humor.

I did think about composing a long serious blog post putting right all the utter garbage most of the western media is putting out, but there seems little point. People will believe what they want to believe, sadly. Few will actually question the drivel on offer.

The fact the media lie, lie, and lie again – and I can point you to examples should you wish – is only part of the issue. They also mislead. And by doing so, alongside the arsonists disguised as human rights organizations, they fan the flames of war, of hatred, and of a bloodthirsty need to see more dead Jews. It’s almost as if they don’t like to be reminded of the long European tradition of Jew hatred. It’s almost as if it never went away. It’s almost as if the mask has slipped for good.

Finishing the Pocket

A few weeks back I finished an extended session of play with Jaws of Victory. Here are my likes and dislikes.

What I liked

  • The maps are gorgeous.
  • The counters are equally nicely done.
  • The rule book, scenario book, and play aids are also of high quality.
  • Game play is immersive. (There’s a downside to this which I’ll cover in the dislikes.) While you can just push the counters around, to be successful you must come up with a plan and then execute it. For example, when and how to use artillery. As another example, which troops to commit first and which to be reserves.
  • The supply rules are a lovely balance of playability and realism. You cannot simply attack everywhere all the time. So, naturally, there are lulls as supplies are built up before the next offensive.
  • The air support rules are another wonderful creation. You can call for support but you are never sure if you will get any. It’s easy to play and adds to the suspense. (And reflects real-life doubts.)
  • The tank and anti-tank interaction is superb. It’s easy to use and delivers believable results.
  • Similar to the last point, the terrain effects and different unit types give a real sense of the limitation the actual forces faced. This is not a game where you get your powerful tank units up front and they sweep all foes away. Oh no. You need infantry, engineers, and artillery. And you need replacements to fill the ranks.
  • There are plenty of one map scenarios.
  • Achieving historical results is challenging. That’s the way it should be. The result is not scripted. I know that I only scratched the surface of the game play and I am much happier knowing that the Soviets, for example, cannot simply just attack away and succeed. I’m also pretty certain that watching an expert play this game would be highly entertaining and instructive.

What I didn’t like

  • It’s slow to play if you are doing things properly. There are three sources for this. First, most hexes have more than one unit in them, so there’s a stack with one visible and one or more hidden. Second, only infantry units with 3 steps or more project a Zone of Control. (ZOC). So, you often need to disturb a stack to see if a ZOC is in effect. Third, there are rules for armor interception. So, you may need to check to see if a stack has a potential interceptor. This is the price you pay for the level of detail on display.
  • There are lots of special rules setting up the historical restrictions on when units, for example, may be activated and where they may go in early turns of the scenario. You get the history, but it’s not for free. No, I don’t know a way around this. (Yes, I am trying to have my cake and eat it.)
  • That’s it…

In summary, this game has been one of my best buys. I spent hours playing it and enjoying it. And if I can ever get back to a convention, this will be high on my ‘to-be-played’ list because I very much want to see how the campaign goes.