More stuff from the Grab Bag

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Real Life (TM) seems to take up much of my time lately.  I finally have enough steam to write and plenty on my mind so here it goes.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Panzer Army Africa by James Lucas.  I have read as far as Operation Crusader and getting ready to start the section on Gazala but have formed some opinions.  I think Mr. Lucas does well when he lays out the details.  His writing style, while a bit dry at times, is to the point and easy enough to read.  I am enjoying the book so far.  I do have some quibbles.  The author tends to spin some of the facts to show the British in a bad light with regard to  equipment (especially tanks) and leadership.  For instance, the chapter on Crusader is called Rommel Deflects Crusader.  Honestly, Rommel did not “deflect” anything.  He was beaten and driven back to his early 1941 start line.  The author states that the 2-lbr anti-tank gun was “useless” which is also not true.  It was quite capable of knocking out German tanks in the desert at 500 yards.  These guns were quite useful though they did have their flaws – the lack of a high explosive shell and the relatively short range for instance.    If you can ignore the author’s opinions, the book does a nice job of telling the story of the North African campaign from the German perspective.

I’ve been eyeing up a game called “Table Battles” by Hollandspiele for sometime now.  I finally took a chance and bought the Wargame Vault PDF version.  I’ve not played yet but am very much looking forward to some games with my son.  It is a static and abstract game that allows you to play out any battle in history on a small table.  There are cards that represent the various formations or wings in a battle line.  You use dice to “power” the various attack abilities on the cards.  One card might need 4’s while another card might need doubles or even a small straight.  One review joked that it had elements of Yatzee.  Why, yes.  Yes it does.  The PDF does require that you assemble the cards and you do need to provide some match sticks and cubes as well as 12 dice, 6 per side.  The match sticks are to be painted in red or blue (one color per army) and you will need about 40 per side.  The cube can be painted a neutral color or just left natural wood.  I have the cards printed but not cut out yet.  I also have the cubes and blue army painted.  My red craft paint dried out so I will be making a trip to the craft store for another bottle.  I probably won’t get a battle in before I leave on vacation.

I have started collecting some old/new folio games from Decision Games (Think SPI).  I’ve picked up Marengo, Carentan and Zama so far.  They are three distinct game systems that deal with the era they portray.  DG has settled on a differential for their combat resolution and have added some twists to the old systems to help differentiate the various units without overcomplicating things.  For instance, in Carentan, Armor may move through a zone of control by spending half its move allowance plus the cost to enter the hex.  Infantry can do something similar but it spends its entire move allowance to get to the next hex in a ZOC. Artillery and aircraft are treated as off board assets to be used per turn to influence combats.   Leaders in Marengo, as another example,  can add to the moral move and or combat of a unit but doing so puts them at risk of being hit.

I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood kick lately.  I watched BBC’s Robin Hood (2006) from start to finish.  It was generally good with a sort of Robin Hood meets Hercules/Xena vibe.  If nothing, it was pretty entertaining.  I am on to the 1980s BBC version called Robin of Sherwood.  The costumes are much better in this version.  It does play the legend out better than the newer version.  It is, however, a product of the times.  Robin looks a bit more like a rock star than a bandit.  Curiously, there is also a good bit of mysticism injected into the story.  Hurn the Hunter appears frequently and there was a sorcerer.  Still more medieval goodness with a bit of fantasy thrown in.  I am getting ready to watch season 2 soon.

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