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

Saturday, April 14, 2007

KevCon Gold: April 29th & 30th, 2007 in Kanagawa

Everyone welcome!
Sunday April 29th and Monday,
April 30th--national holiday!
Come whenever you want but if you want to come early...
Meeting time: 11AM-Noonish start on 29th.
Where: Kevin`s House
Address: Iizawa 242-23 Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa
Email: greatpowers@yahoo.com
What to bring? Your shoes, games, beer to bribe Kevin (optional)
We have the house to ourselves for most of the day so we can
get a lot of game playing in and say four letter words eh! I love
4 letter words like: four.

How to Get There from:
Tokyo, Fujisawa, Atsugi, Machida, Yokohama or Sakhalin:
Take the Odakyu Line to Odawara and be sure to get into one of the
first four train cars as the train splits. Take a Kyuko (express
train) it has red kanji on the side usually next to the door up top.
It takes about
90 minutes.

Get off at Odawara Station and transfer to the Daiyuzan Line. Get off
at Daiyuzan Station, it takes 24 minutes from Odawara. Take the only
exit, walk straight out to the main street out in front and head left
down that street through the traffic lights (under the covered
pedestrian overpass). Over the bridge and you will see our green
roofed house with "Kevin`s English School" signs plastered all over
the place.

How to Get There:
From Shizuoka, Nagoya and other points South: Take the
Tokaido line or the Shinkansen and get off at Odawara. Transfer to
the Daiyuzan line and follow the directions above (for Tokyo).

**The Shinkansen also stops at Odawara. You take a Kodama Super
Express. It takes about 40 minutes from Tokyo. Costs a little over
3,000 Yen one way.

Take a break from the city and see some mountain views and breathe
some fresh air.

Email me if you`d like to come: greatpowers@yahoo.com

Feel free to pass this on to interested people. Games of all kinds
welcome. Bring whatever you would like to play, chances are, others
will want to play it too. We have three guest beds and some futons.
Bring a sleeping bag if you`d like. It is a nice area as well.
A great break from wherever you live with a great bunch of people!

Kevin Burns

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to Make the Gamers` Gatherings Bigger and Better

Screenshot from one of the computer games we play sometimes.

by Bruce McBain

Editors Note: The Gamers` Gatherings take place at Camp Zama in
Kanagawa Prefecture. They are always
announced at Warhammer 40K Japan. James Keller runs them and donates
his time to make them a fun
experience for all. You can find James teaching newbies how to make
terrain or how to storm a ruin in Mordheim.

Regarding starter games: Trinity, Silent Death, Mordheim, 40K, etc are big
investments and a lot of inertia has to be overcome before someone new
get started. Rules to buy (the easy part) and learn (the hard part),
figures to buy (easy) and paint (hard), and finding people to play with,
are some of what it takes to get someone to the table. Set up a few
figures or ships to give people a feel for the system.

James is the man with the training and experience of running ³demo²
games, designed to entice people to spend their hard-earned money and
valuable time on a great hobby.
Here are some tips from a rank amateur like myself:

³You want some of this, big boy?² for example. If you see some people
standing around, grab them and coerce them into a quickie.

Take a dive:
The second rule of demo gaming is ³Let `em win.² What? Yes, let the
13-year old and his mom hand your forces a humiliating defeat. If that
brings him to the next GG armed with a freshly-painted Eldar army- then,
you can kick his little behind around the table. BUT you have to get them
hooked first, and that is to let them win. If you can¹t arrange for them
to win, then play up the parts where they did well and emphasize that you
were lucky this time. Yes, become a game-whore!

Don¹t underestimate the value of scorning someone¹s forces to incite
to try to thrash your army/fleet/warband to within an inch of it¹s life.
All in fun, of course, light-hearted mocking can make a game more
interesting and rivalry between established players or groups
heightens the
drama and intensity.

Getting vocal:
We all enjoy it when our bed-partner is shrieking out with pleasure so get
excited and let the room know that you have just destroyed (or have had
destroyed) the big warship/troll/Warwalker.

Making simple hills and structures is a quick way to make your game at
least twice as interesting. Two forces fighting over a blank table is as
exciting as Saturday night bingo. You may have noticed the Mechwarrior
table loaded with industrial buildings, ruins, and foliage and 4 kids and
two adults shouting about blowing things up. Further rant to follow.

Yeah, baby, yeah! Talk to people about what they plan to do at the
next GG
and warm them up to the idea of playing whatever you are hungering to
Some choice phrases and veiled threats may be just the thing to
instigate a

Reduce `down time¹.
Most games have a turn-based sequence so one player sits on his butt
waiting for the other person to finish their move. By explaining and
commenting on what you are doing in your turn you keep them involved. Ask
them questions about why they think you are moving your rangers into those
woods. Keep their interest up and focused on the game.

Some games are too complex to take in at one time so don¹t hesitate to
out some of the more difficult ideas, I left the special abilities out of
the Mechwarrior game until the players had a good handle on the basic

Hog the front table.
Set up your game on a table directly in front of the main entrance so that
is the first thing people see when they come in. Grab the people and
corral them into a quick game by handing them the dice and saying ³Okay,
you need a 3 or better to nail that fool looking out the window.²

What hooks people? Think of what has attracted you to a game.
The miniatures? The rules? The presentation? The art and images? Play up
the features that got you onto a certain game and emphasize them.

Not everyone is a good game presenter or can explain rules in an
understandable way. Everyone has their own strengths and you can
concentrate on those. Maybe you are good at putting prospective players
in the place of the characters of the game, or can give a battlefield
overview that brings the still figures to life. Team up with someone who
can do other things well and you are set.

Ideas for improving the facilities. What else do we Oneed¹? Bulk
from Burger King? I don¹t use those buy 5 value meals, get one free
certificates so the next time I go, I will ask anyone if they have one.
That way, their certificate gets another meal towards them getting a free
one, and I get a warm feeling inside by helping needy gamers get the food
energy they need to make that last die roll. Deal!

Music requests? Can we bring our own music and punish lesser mortals with
our choice of toe-tapping tunes?

I will get off my soap box for now and let you get back to slaying the
beasts on the 12th level of whatever game you are playing on the PS2.

Bruce McBain is a manager by profession. He and his Japanese wife
have one
great son. He has lived in Japan for manyyears. He originally hails
from perhaps
the coldest city on earth, Winnipeg.

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Why Study History? Why Play Historical Simulation Games?

Pictured: Epic 40K game by Games Workshop, photo courtesy of Bruce McBain and Mike Montesa

by Brad Martin

I have often been asked why I am so interested in military history and wargames, or for that matter, history at all. Many people regard playing
boardgames of any kind as childish, and say that the past is "dead" and of no consequence to them. To the first part I quickly point out the popularity of computer games with all age groups and explain that boardgames came first and share the same principles. I also mention that many people are obsessed with gambling, share-market speculation, horseracing, football, etc., and that these are also games.
On history, I tend to become a bit agitated, for this has been my life-long passion. To me the fashionable focus on the "now," the desire
for personal 'esperience' and the craving for immediate self-gratification, are all manifestations of a greedy, materialistic society.
The deprecation of history merely demonstrates the individual's shallowness and ignorance.
In a recent lecture, British historian David Cannadine described history as a discipline that, "makes plain the complexity and contingency of human affairs,
and the range and variety of human experience, which teaches proportion, perspective, reflectiveness, breath of view, tolerance of differing opinions and thus
greater sense of self knowledge." In this way, "...it provides the best antidote to the temporal parochialism which assumes that the only time is now, and the
geographical parochialism which assumes that the only place is here."
Another very well known British historian Jeremy Black, supplies a further argument against ignorance: "Military history is the most obvious field in which it is
dangerous to adopt the perspective of hindsight. War-gamers devote their time to an entirely reasonable pastime, asking whether battles, campaigns and
conflicts could have had different results. War is not always won by the big battalions and the determinist economic account that would explain success in
international relations in terms of the economic strength of particular states...is open to serious question." He goes on to say: "The past, and therefore the
present, can never be understood if the options facing individuals in the past are ignored. It is wrong to assume not only the path of history is preordained and
obvious, but that the past belongs to the victors and that they should also own the present and the future. This is especially true of military history."
We, our societies, and our states have all been fashioned by history, and for us to ignore this is to aquiesce to the agendas set by the controlling elites and
corporates. By understanding history we can help to shape our own destiny.

Brad Martin

Brad Martin produces the best Play by Mail historical simulation gaming zine you will find. If you are interested his address is:
Western Front, 15 Turo Close, Western Australia, 6155 Australia. Western Front

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What Has the Great Battles of History Series Added to the Hobby?

by Rodger B. MacGowan, Art Director of GMT Games

Alex, [Ashton] you kindly said that my "...six years of work...have produced the most visually beautiful series (you) have come
across in our hobby..." Thank you, for saying that, I deeply appreciate it. As Art Director at GMT Games, I have worked very hard
on the GBoH series. I had a feeling many years ago that this series would prove to be important. Over the years, on this series, I've
read many books, spent many hours in the dusty stacks of the UCLA Research Library, poured through all the visual sources I could
find (there are not many, I might add), and tried to create a look, a style that would be recognizable as the GBoH Series.

It seemed to me that over the roughly 50 years of this hobby, since Avalon Hill created "Tactics" and "Gettysburg" in the 1950's, we have not seen much attention paid to the Classical time period. Ancient Greece and Rome had received very little coverage, and there was almost
nothing on 16th Century Japan or the 30 Years War. As a player in the 1960's and 70's most of us were playing WWII era games
and most of the games produced were on WWII. When I became a "professional" in the hobby in the mid-70's, I founded and
created a professional hobby review magazine Fire and Movement and thus had an opportunity to get an even wider overview of the
hobby and what was being produced. There was no question about it, WWII era games dominated, from Midway to The Russian
Campaign to the Squad Leader Series and on and on. There were so few games on the ancient period, you could count them all on
one hand, and you would still have fingers left over.

I remember hearing often, over the years, when someone was considering designing or producing an ancients game--"No one will
buy it, you'll go bust, and lose your shirt on it..." The risk factor of producing an ancient era game seemed very high. In fact, when
we at GMT Games first considered producing the Great Battles of Alexander in the early 90's we heard the same refrain--"It's a big
mistake, don't do it, now will buy it, you'll go broke producing it..." Well, needless to say, we did it, and the rest is wargame

I think the most important thing our GBoH series of games has done is open the eyes of many gamers to periods of history they
were not aware of before. They have come to appreciate the tactics of the Greek Phalanx and the Roman Legion and so much
more. They have come to know some of the great Captains of history like Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar, pyrrhus and Takeda Shingen--leaders they knew very little about or maybe never heard of before. They have come to see details of combat in that period.

I believe that of all the games in our GBoH series, the one that "sold out" the fastest was "Samurai"--that was the most pleasant

So, we don't hear anyone telling us today that games on the ancient period won't sell. We have turned that conventional wisdom
upon its ear. They were wrong, we were correct. What we hear, most often now, is when is the next GBoH series game coming

Most of the credit for this belongs to the game designers Mark Herman and Richard Berg, and to GMT President Gene
Billingsley for deciding to design and produce this series even in light of all the critics who said it couldn't be done. As the Art
Director of the GBoH series, what I have tried to do is create the most visually interesting series of games I could. I hope I have
achieved this.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

After Inebriation Report: Axis & Allies

Pictured: Halftrack model, courtesy of Chris Zanella

Jeff I think everyone would agree, was the overall champion. He
performed well with Germany. Russia was rather distracted, as he was
also playing another game on the computer. Not to detract from Jeff`s
performance however. Jonah the Russian leader was heard to complain:
"Well....you guys are always talking."

Japan and America played kind of a cautious stalking game in the the
South Pacific. I think that both the American and British leaders
suffered from too much alcohol and not enough concentration. Some
historians feel that it was a Japanese plot to supply unlimited
amounts of Kirin Lager to the allies. Only the underaged Soviet
leader Joe, the underaged plotter Senahito, and the sober Kaiser, did
not partake of the enemy suds.

It should be noted that Kaiser Jeff survived many gas attacks and was
still able to take over a lot of Soviet and African territory. There
is no excuse for unsportmanlike conduct like that. Gas attacks were
outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Whatever that heck that is?
Is that like a Shriners Convention? I love those funny hats!

Thanks to Chris for teaching us many interesting medical terms, we
would never have had the guts to look up for ourselves. He was even
willing to supply photos on his laptop, but the generals sat behind
their pencil-pushing desks and declined to see.

As British leader I can safely say, "I didn`t know what the hell I was

I seemed to have forgotten how to play Britain, with her limited
resources and options.

Coming up at the end of April, KevCon! Hope everyone can come!

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