Who hasn`t had nightmares about GW`s dreaded Orcs? Great Guitar Lessons: January 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's All in the Die Roll

Pictured: The Lewis and Clark boardgame

by Pastor Alexander Ashton

Anybody looking for a game with perfect play balance where victory is completely dependant on the skill of the individual
should steer away from Historical Simulation Gaming (HSG) because history teaches us that whilst skill and comparative strengths do influence results it is the unseen hand of providence that seems to determine victory.

On the 9th of April, 1241 and the 11th of April, 1241, at the battles of Liegnitz and Mohi respectively, the Mongol armies crushed
two European armies bringing all of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Danube under the Mongol leader Sabutai's control. It is
doubtful whether the disunited feudal armies of Western Europe could have withstood the shock of a Mongol invasion, since they
were inferior in the fields of command and control, organization, training, equipment, discipline, communications, deception,
intelligence and above all strategic perception. However, in 1242 the "hand of fate" stepped in with the death of Ogati Khan.
Obedient to the law of his father Genghis Khan, the horde returned to Mongolia to elect a successor, never to penetrate so far West

My point is this: Western Europe was not saved by superior forces or greater skill, but by the unseen hand of providence. Any game
that doesn't cater to such unexpected eventualities ignores the evidence presented by history itself and where everything is determined
by the players we have a game more akin to chess than a simulation of history.
So whatever the game system, the simulation needs to incorporate the hand of providence and this usually presents itself through the
use of combat results tables, weather tables, morale checks and random event tables. The one thing all these charts and tables have in
common is that they are all determined by a die roll.

Another example closer to home would be the battle of Midway, possibly the most significant victory of the Pacific Theatre during
the Second World War. On the 4th of June, 1942, Admiral Nagumo was in position to strike at the island of Midway. At dawn
Japanese bombers were sent to reduce the defences of Midway, however Nagumo kept his best pilots back from this attack and began
preparing a second wave against enemy ships. The only reason he could have had for doing this was intuition as all available Japanese
intelligence suggested the USN carrier fleet was in or near Pearl Harbour. He sent search aircraft out to the North East knowing that
if any USN carriers were present that is where they would be. However, one of the "Petes" was thirty minutes late taking off and
another returned shortly with engine trouble. This latter would have over flown the USN fleet! This was the crucial point in the
battle. Until this point, Nagumo had done well. He had inflicted serious damage upon Midway, he was ranging a strike against a foe
who should not even be there and sent out a search to correctly locate him. But for a mechanical failure in one minor float plane
"history" could have been considerably different.

Further to this having received the reports of his search planes that there were no enemy planes, Nagumo decided that his primary
objective should be to reduce the still operational runways of Midway Island. Re-arming had been in progress for some time when the
late plane made its position and reported 10 enemy ships, however the plane's report was inaccurate stating 5 heavy cruisers and 5
destroyers. It was not until 8:30AM that the report was corrected to include a sighting of a fleet carrier. By which time it was too late
for Nagumo and the rest is history.

What I`m saying is--any simulation must include elements that ensure that either player is not so completely in control that victory is
inevitable. Even the best laid plans can come to naught by seemingly the most irrelevant of circumstances. Consider Nagumo's float
plane. History is full of examples of such "bad luck" so rolling a poor result on the dreaded combat results table can be as much
a historical simulation as any particular game system.
The "Napoleon's Health" rule of "The Battles of Waterloo" game from GMT, eloquently embraces a, blame it on the die roll
system. In the game, the command point rating of the overall commanders (Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher) is essential for
gaining and keeping the initiative and determining the number of "leader initiative markers" available in the LIM selection segment.

What the health rule does is it varies Napoleon's command point rating from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 5; and as a consequence, the French player's ability to seize the initiative and control the flow of the game is dependant on Napoleon's health.
The designer should be applauded for not only introducing factors that are totally out of the control of the player but doing it in such a
way that provides an accurate simulation of the historical consequences of Napoleon's health. If issue was to be taken with the games
designer over this rule, it iw that he made it an optional rule when in my opinion it should be made compulsory for all those seeking to
increase the historicity of the simulation.

The weather has played havoc with the most well laid plans throughout time and history could be very different if it was not for its
ability to do the unexpected. The German High Command expected Operation Barbarossa to take blitzkrieg warfare to new heights and
force a Soviet surrender within 3 months. They had however not taken into account two major factors: 1) The tenacity of the Russian
people in defence of their homeland, and 2) the weather. The Germans had not prepared for a winter war and the winter of 1941-42
proved to be the worst in more than a generation--grinding the German war machine to a halt within sights of the gates of Moscow.

Every Russian front game I have come across has simulated the unpredictability of the weather with a die roll and a weather table.
There is no point grumbling about it as all it is doing is simulating history.
Bad die rolls on such a table may be bad luck, but consider the luck of the Mongols; it seems only the hand of God could stop them
in their day, when they attempted to invade Japan. In June 1281 the largest fleet ever assembled, appeared off the coast of Kyushu.
Four thousand vessels carried two hundred thousand men, most of whom were seasoned veterans. Weeks of desparate fighting
between the opposing combatants eventually saw the Japanese being slowly forced back before the Mongol onslaught. Then on
August 15th, a typhoon hit Kyushu and destroyed the Mongolian fleet. Cut off from their supplies and their line of retreat the survivors
were overcome by the Japanese. Imagine rolling a kamikaze (divine wind) on the weather table and on checking the result finding out
that the game was OVER! That's not fair I hear you cry. You are right there but just be thankful that you were not one of the 200,000
Mongolians who rolled a kamikaze and it was ALL over for all but 3 of them! These three were spared incidentally, to spread the news
of the great disaster to the Khan himself in Peking. West End Games produced a diplomacy variant called "Kamakura" which incorp-
orates this type of natural disaster. If your army is in a province hit by a typhoon or earthquake, it is immediately removed from the
game. This certainly is an unkind way to lose a game but it is historical.

I have briefly pointed to just a few of those instances in history that have an element of providence within them, where it didn't go
according to the form book because of unexpected mitigating factors. There are many more examples, but I think my point comes
across with the instances I have illustrated here. The moral of this article then is: the next time you are cursing an unlucky die roll,
pause and consider that what you are doing is simulation history and seeing the wrath of the Gods dooming your campaign to

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Sudoku - Mind Games At Their Best?

Pictured: Subbuteo Table Soccer

by Gabriel Adams

Sudoku is a logic based puzzle, somewhat similar to a crossword puzzle, except it uses digits instead of words. The name Sudoku is an abbreviation of a Japanese phrase which means "the digits must remain single". It is also sometimes called Number Place or Nampure.

The history of Sudoku

You can find predecessors of Sudoku as early as 1895, when an early version or variant of Sudoku appeared in a French newspaper.

The game now known as Sudoku was not invented until 1979, however, and was actually invented in Indianapolis, not Japan. Sudoku became widely popular in 1986, when the Japanese puzzle publisher Nikoli found and published the puzzle.

The game of Sudoku

Sudoku is based on a graph of squares, nine squares by nine squares. This graph is sub-divided into 9 3x3 squares or regions. The board looks much like 9 tic tac toe games all together.

The game is played by placing digits (1-9) in the squares on the game. Easy enough. The tough part is that each region (3x3 square, each diagonal row, each horizontal row, and each vertical row of squares must contain one of each of the nine digits, but may not have duplicates.

Each Sudoku game has some of the fields pre populated with numerals, called givens or clues. The difficulty is not necessarily related to how many fields are populated, though.


Sudoku is a very simple game in it's construction, but it can require some serious brain effort and skill to solve. Publishers often rank games according to difficulty, using 4-5 levels to organize games by their difficulty.


Sudoku puzzles are published in many newspapers and magazines around the world. They are also available in print form, and as computer games. Probably the easiest way to get them, though, is from a website that features free Sudoku puzzles. Many websites can also generate custom puzzles for free.
About the Author

Visit http://www.sudoku-puzzles.net for free sudoku puzzles and more.

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Hosting A Family Game Night

Pictured: Some typical family games

by: Kadence Buchanan

More and more, families are finding that their connections with each other are not as strong as they should be. With the rush-rush attitude of today and TV and the internet taking up more and more of our individual time, we often take our families for granted. To that end, many families have begun creating ‘game nights' as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones while having a great time. With the business of modern day life, scheduling a game night once a week or even once a month can provide a much-needed break from the stressful aspects of life. When we play games, we allow ourselves to have fun and let the wild side of our personality come out. You can learn a lot about your family members when you take them on in a board game challenge!

Having a good time with their parents is one of the greatest opportunities that you can give your child. Society often tells us that to be good parents, we need to take our children to various activities, signing them up for sports and hobbies and letting them learn things on their own. Game nights provide a way for children to interact positively with their parents and siblings, helping them to develop a stronger sense of family than most children.

If your children are hesitant about the idea of participating in a weekly game night, one method to get their children excited that some parents partake in is a points system. When you play games, assign points to everybody playing the game when the end comes. You can assign a prize for the person with the most points in a week, month, or whatever amount of time you choose. If you're working on a tight budget, you can make simple rewards for game night winners such as a week without chores.

Relaxation is often neglected by those in today's world. Just taking a night out of your schedule to relax, kick back, and enjoy games and fun with your family can offer an enormous payoff on your psyche. Everyone deserves a break, and game night can provide exactly that.

About The Author
Kadence Buchanan writes articles for http://familyinformationsource.com/ - In addition, Kadence also writes articles for http://kidsandteenscentral.com/ and http://forsocietiessake.com/.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kevin`s War Store--Close Out Sale!!!

Until April 1st, all stock in Kevin`s War Store will be sold at
20% off the regular price: http://www.KevinsWarStore.com

The Kevin`s got to be more than a tad crazy Close Out Sale!!!

This applies to items in stock at time of order. We do not
guarantee that all items will be in stock.

Go to the online store, click on the items you want, but pay
20% less for the item. The discount does not cover shipping.


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Playing Strategy Games

by: Jake Jenkins

A strategy game is one in which the deliberation abilities of the player and his decision-making talents combine to influence the outcome. Strategy games are a board, computer or video game. Recently, one can find and play online strategy games. Most games involve some tactics of some sort, however, those classified as strategy games tend to use the understanding of the player to determine the outcome. The word strategy evokes martial language, meaning military deliberation and tactics used to achieve results. This is in contrast to games in which players can rely to a large extent on probability to win.

Strategy games can differ a great deal and is usually found with different themes. Some of the genres include abstract strategy, war games, real time tactics or strategy games, simulation, building of cities and God games. In war games for instance, there is usually an extensive simulation of past military battles involving great leaders such as Alexander the Great, some Roman Emperors and even world wars I and II. The player is usually required to take on the role of an important military person such as a general or commander or even an ordinary soldier who literally has an "impossible" mission to save rescue his comarades and save the day. Traditionally, strategy games are played with wooden miniatures or on a board. With the advent of the internet, however, one can find many online strategy games to play or for those who prefer, they can download strategy games.

In addition, there are also real time strategy games and real time tactics strategy games. The former apply to some computer games, such as NukeZone, Blizzards Warcraft and Starcraft, where the player has to make smart decisions and take fast action as the games state change constantly. The latter however, concentrates more on control and operational aspects of a war. Examples include the Close Combat and Total War series.

Simulation strategy games attempt real life situations as themes. Thus the player's choices and actions result in consequences as it would be in real life. Abstract strategy games, on the other hand do not necessarily use real life themes. The player must in-depth knowledge to win the game. This includes games such as Go, Chess, Checkers. Many free online strategy games can be played on the internet as well.

Economic strategy games usually simulate real life business and require the player to win in a business or economic situation. Some examples are Monopoly, Transport Tycoon, Supreme Ruler 2010, Capitalism and Railroad Tycoon. City building strategy games also allow the player to build and manage a city. There are arguments as to whether games such SimCity and City Building Games series employ the player's analytical skills at all. Nevertheless, they are considered as strategy games. There are also the turn based strategy games (TBS) which forces the user to think about the game first before committing to play. They are different from the real time counterparts in that sense.

Just like many other things, the advancement of the internet has changed the face of gaming. Most people especially kids and teens prefer to play games online, whether it is strategy or puzzle or from any other category. To meet these demands, there are a number of quality websites offering quality free online strategy games. There is no need to download anything, nor is there any need for plug-ins. Literally, playing online multiplayer strategy games is just a mouse click away.

As time rolls on, we are likely to see many more free strategy games available for game lovers to choose from. Certainly this is a good sign.

About The Author
By Jake Jenkins, Free Games Fan
Play Free games at Gamerevolt.com

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A Game of Thrones

Fantasy Flight Games URL: www.fantasyflightgames.com

by Kevin Burns
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HisSimSouthKanagawa JIGG Kanagawa

Licensed games often fail in more ways than one. The quality is poor as it has been rushed out the door to take advantage of some new fad, or because of the theme the designer hasn`t been able to capture the flavour of the game or worse, has relied
on the game`s theme to sell the game. Instead of making a great game.

A Game of Thrones is different! It is a great game and comes with a very beautiful board. Based on George R. R. Martin`s, "A Song of Ice and Fire," novel series and published by Fantasy Flight Games, it is very, very good. Just how good? Well my
friends and I repeatedly play it, that`s how good.

Each player takes the role of one of five great houses of the Kingdom of Westeros, shortly after King Robert's death. The ultimate goal is to conquer the kingdom and take the Iron Throne.

Similar to Diplomacy, the game is diceless, with random elements introduced by card draws.

"Players decide their strategies by placing order tokens on their units or provinces, face down, so other players have to guess at what's next. A full, five-player game can take up to three hours. Game balance for three and five players is good, although four players may find the game easily tilted unless they agree to leave House Lannister out of the mix."--ExtremeTech.com

A few expansions are now available for this great game. Indeed the game reminds me of
Diplomacy with a beautiful board and more chrome. Highly recommended especially if you enjoy the novels.

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