Friday, July 25, 2014

ASL Action Pack #10 is up for pre-order!

Action Pack #10 features two new 8" x 22" maps (board 69 and board 70) of largely open countryside with a small village, and 8 scenarios which use them.
  • Best Think Again (Russians vs Germans, June 1941, Saudinikai, Russia)
  • Show Of Force (Germans vs Russians, March 1943, Graiworon, Ukraine)
  • Operation Kutuzov (Russians vs Germans, July 1943, Otrada, Russia)
  • Food Fight (Russian Partisans vs Ukrainian Partisans, April 1944, Hrabivka, Ukraine)
  • Strike Up The Band (Germans vs Americans, August 1944, Lesquern, France)
  • Last Laurels (Russians vs Germans, October 1944, Mihaly, Hungary)
  • Bare Foot Beating (Chinese vs Japanese, November 1944, Momauk, Burma)
  • Coal In Their Stockings (Americans vs Germans, December 1944, Foy-Notre-Dame, Belgium)
Action Pack #10 is not a complete product and assumes the buyer owns the core Advanced Squad Leader game system.

$20.00 but you can pre-order it for $15.00

I pre-ordered mine today how about you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Companion Guide to Hexes And Soldiers Wargame Podcast Episode 32.0

Napoleon's march into Russia in 1812 had always been considered a fox and hound chase between the frothing Grand Armee and the skidish Russian Army.   If only the Russians would have turned and fought  then Napoleon would have been able to crush his enemy once and for all.  Well truth be told, Napoleon had a couple of opportunities (other than Borodino) to rid himself of the Russian army but each time he seemingly, voluntarily let them slip away.  So goes the theory of author Philip Langer who's book "Command Failure In War" has a chapter entitled, "Napoleon In Russia, 1812."  Here, the author proposes a theory that is counter to the traditional view of Napoleon's desire to catch and annihilate the Russian army.  Basing his thesis on  psychologist Kurt Lewin's field theory, the author essentially creates the argument that Napoleon wasn't actually interested in conquering the Russian army but rather acquiring a vast geographical space the crown jewel of which was Moscow.  This in part may explain Napoleon's confusion and indecision at pivotal key moments throughout the campaign.  Right from the start, Napoleon had no real, clear, long term goal but was rather completely near sighted in relation to his objectives.  If he had remained focused on the destruction of the Russian army as opposed to location grabbing, history may have turned out quite differently.  Granted, this is only one author's theory and he is completely silent in regards to anything related to the Russian army's stamina and ability to learn and improve much like the Russian army of World War 2.  Nonetheless, it is an entertaining theory and one that goes against the grain when it comes to Napoleon in Russia.

What to play:

There are a couple of options such as Kutuzov,  as well as a scenario in War and Peace and  and you may as well throw in La Bataille de la Moscowa, but as far as the overall picture, and as a close historical simulation with enough depth to swim but not drown,  your going to want Highway To The Kremlin.

What to watch:
A little tricky here but if you're dedicated, you can catch some great Napoleonic/Russia battle scenes in  Bondarchuck's film, War and Peace.


 Kutuzov, "I'd rather be playing Highway to the Kremlin!"

Rags mentioned in the cast...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Remeber those choose your own adventure books?

Remember those choose your own adventure books you may have read as a kid?  You know, the ones in which you could explore a dungeon and then at the end of the chapter a number of decisions are offered up?  Pick one and turn to page such and such?  Well it seems John F. Antal remembers those days and it's a good thing he does.  Thanks to him we have a kind of choose your own adventure for wargamers.  Actually, the books were meant to assist enlisted men such that they might learn how to implement better strategic decision making, but it works for wargamers too. 

During the 1960's, programmed instruction was voguish in commercial and institutional as well as educational circles. Antal, a major in the US Army, makes a martial equivalent of this technique the centerpiece of a gimmicky text that's as much manual as novel. Following detailed briefings on the Abrams tank and allied matters, the author introduces young Second Lieutenant Sam Jaeger. Posted to the Middle East, where America is engaged in desert warfare with an unidentified foe, Jaeger is given command of an armor platoon that's a key element in a battalion opposed by a motorized rifle division. In due course, our hero's outfit is assigned to attack hostile forces whose position is uncertain, and Jaeger must draft operational orders for his troops. At this point, Antal's narrative begins to fragment, taking on the character of a decision tree. At various stages, readers must exercise one of the several options open to the rookie officer and proceed to the sections disclosing the outcomes of their joint decision. Those who pick the correct passages through the author's tactical thicket are rewarded by the intelligence that their choices as proxies helped Jaeger win the day and earn a battlefield promotion to captain, plus a Silver Star. By contrast, failure to show initiative and to heed a superior's intent results not only in suppositious death or capture but also an invitation to try again. As Antal makes abundantly clear in his twisty, hard-boiled plotlines, armed conflict can prove terribly unforgiving of mistakes. 

Sound interesting?  It doesn't stop here.,204,203,200_.jpg

 In this one, you play the part of a 2nd Lieutenant, recently graduated from a Military Academy. Your commanding your first Platoon and  face the same challenges that all small unit leaders face. At the end of each chapter, not unlike the previous book,  it gives you several choices to make and you go to the chapter that matches your choice. The choices are not always easy or clear cut and in some chapters you actually roll dice too decide what course of action to follow.

He also has one called Combat Team.  

So if your needing a break from wargaming but still want to "wargame", or you just wanna relive the old choose your own adventure days albeit with a grown up bent, then test drive one of these books!

Thank for reading.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Napoleonic Game Design Update

What was once a board game is slowly turning into a set of table top miniatures rules. Yea, i know... I close my eyes and see infantry, cavalry, artillery.  As the days go by, I wonder if this project will ever see the finish line.  After compiling 30 pages of still incomplete handwritten rules and turning 24 of those 30 into typewritten pages, after changing the entire physiognomy of the game, after inundating myself with countless comparisons to other rules systems, after spending countless nights counting napoleonic sheep,  it's become rather easy to lose sight of the whole endeavor. There is still plenty of playtesting to do, rules to tweak, changes to implement, problems to solve, decisions to make...  Not to sound self referential but more and more, I've come to realize one fundamental truth about myself, i freely invite misery.  The only difference here being, paradoxically, it is from this very misery that i'm able to mine happiness.  I wonder if Napoleon would have been able to simulate his own career with blocks and rules and dice and charts and tables and...ok, breathe...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Check out the Hexes and Soldiers Facebook page!

So i've recently added a Facebook page with links and other goodies.  Feel free to stop by and like it if you like it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Episode 32.0 Preview: The eagle turns east

1812, Napoleon invades Russia.  

Just why did Napoleon head east and what was his ultimate goal? The traditional view that portrays a Grande Armee at break neck speed in an attempt to catch and annihilate an elusive Russian army may in fact not be the case.  

Don't worry Anthony, i've got one final Napoleonic episode up my sleeve and that will be Waterloo.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Companion Guide to Epsidoe 31.0


[shoh-guhn, -guhn] 
noun Japanese History .
the title applied to the chief military commanders from about the 8th century a.d. to the end of the 12th century, then applied to the hereditary officials who governed Japan, with the emperor as nominal ruler, until 1868, when the shogunate was terminated and the ruling power was returned to the emperor.



noun, plural dai·myo, dai·myos. Japanese History .
one of the great feudal lords who were vassals of the shogun.

Battle of Sekigahara

  •   Tokugawa Ieyasu(80,000) vs.Ishida Mitsunari (80,000)
    • Date: 21 October, 1600
    • Location:Mino province 35° 22' N / 136° 28' E
    • Altitude: 429 feet / 130 meters
    • KIA:Otani Yoshitsugu, Shima Sakon (died of wounds),Shimazu Toyohisa; (Tokugawa) Li Naomasa (died of wounds)


This battle saw the culmination of the Sekigahara Campaign and the complete defeat of the ‘Western Army’. The battle was fought around a small village called Sekigahara that sat astride a crossroads under the heights of Mt.'s Sasao, Matsuo, and Nangu. In retrospect a strategically important point, the choice of the field of battle had been inadvertant. Ishida Mitsunari had hoped to meet Ieyasu somewhere further east; Ieyasu's primary objective had been Sawayama castle. Ieyasu's hasty march west forced Mitsunari to offer Ieyasu a fight the latter was more then willing to accept. At the same time, the ground favored Mitsunari to a degree. Western army troops occupied the heights around Mt. Nangu and Matsuo, with Ishida himself positioned somewhat northwest of Sekigahara and flanked by Mt. Sasao. Ieyasu's men were deployed along the Nakesendo, with the vanguard facing Mitsunari, and were exposed to an attack in the flanks, especially by the western troops on Mt. Matsuo. Luckily for Ieyasu, those men were under the command of Kobayakawa Hideaki - who had already decided to betray his western compatriots. The fighting began in a rainy dawn, and the issue was initially very much in doubt. The forward Tokugawa units attacked and became heavily engaged with contingents under Ukita Hideie, Otani Yoshitsugu, and Konishi Yukinaga. No real advantage was being gained until the defection of Kobayakawa Hideaki around noon. Hideaki, who commanded one of the strongest Western contingents present, turned the tide in Ieyasu’s favor. Meanwhile, the 25,000 or so western troops arrayed on the slopes of Mt. Nangu under the Mori and Chosokabe were largely idle.Kikkawa Tsunie, commanding the vanguard, had himself decided not to fight Ieyasu, and his immobility forced those to his rear to do the same. Finally, the western forces began to break and a general rout ensued. By the end of the day's killing, Ishida Mistunari’s forces had scattered and as many as 60,000 heads would be taken. Tokugawa’s victory was owed in large part to Kobayakawa’s defection and the inactivity of the Mori contingents present. Ishida and Konishi Yukinaga were later captured and executed.

What to read:

What to play:

For the Ronin:

For the Daimyo:

For the Shogun:

What to watch:


Directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa.  Hidetora Ichimonji is an aging Sengoku--era warlord who decides to abdicate as ruler in favor of his three sons. The story is based on legends of the daimyo Mori Motonari, as well as on the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear.

Coming Soon, Episode 31.0

The time: 1600
The place: Japan

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Game of Games

A stroll down memory lane:

The shine of Panzer Blitz and its sister game Panzer Leader had barely worn off when in 1977 a new game hit the shelves.  Squad Leader would eventually change the face of an entire hobby and prove that wargaming innovation was far from dead.  In fact, to reflect the game's importance, I hereby propose that a dating system be implemented:  BSL (before Squad Leader) and ASL (after Squad Leader).

If the game's semi-simultanous movement system, coupled with inter-connecting geomporphic map boards wasn't enough to grab ya, then perhaps the concept of squads "breaking" and "rallying" might.  No longer was elimination, step loss, or retreat the only option.

More than meets the eye:

Perhaps most misleading is the term game, which is often used in reference to this puppy.  The most readily accessible connotation of the word no doubt leads to an idea of "One and done", or rather, a singular, limited experience.  Not so!  The inclusion of multiple scenarios and  numerous terrain variation/configuration ensured that this thing would be better served by the plural, "games."  And whether intended or not, this game/s was simultaneously a system which ensured a longevity that would make other games wretch with envy. 

In December of 1977, a writer for Moves magazine stated:
Squad Leader (John Hill for Avalon Hill - no relation) I would like to say more about this at a later date (my men are still stuck in the Tractor Works' sewer system), but suffice to say that AH will have a big winner with this. It's a lot of fun, if rather clumsily written and a bit overwrought in places. It is also unusual to see squads hit by fire and, as a result, lose all their money. (The word on the counter should be "Broken," not "Broke"!) And there is a lot of die rolling, but that is the nature of tactical games. John always does a good job in terms of playability and sheer gaming, and AH has backed it with some of their better graphic work. The only thing the gnaws at the back of the mind is the question of "realism" (whatever that is). You could argue forever on that, however.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) The author's final comment doesn't ring any less true today.

Programmed instruction:

Another interesting aspect of this game involved the learning process itself.  You didn't risk choking on a rule book.  One needed only read a few pages and then he could jump right in, learning more in an incremental fashion.  Comprehension came by way of sips not chugs.

So what?

So what? So...Squad Leader was delving into issues not previously delved into by other games. Namely:

Incorporating separate leaders into the system which worked in symphonic fashion with squads.  Machine guns were given there do as well, allowing a realistic multi-hex penetration and multiple firing opportunities per phase.  A tradition of aesthetic that has oft been copied but never paralleled.  From the mapboards to the counters themselves, this stuff struck a perfect balance between functionality and "looks."  Line of sight no longer served a supporting role but was crucial to game play.  Each scenario card presented a historical situation and interesting, real world victory conditions.

Then what?

Once the game's potential was realized, expansions were born: Cross Of Iron in 1979,   Crescendo of Doom in 1980, and G.I. Anvil of Victory in 1983.  During Squad Leader's expansion teething, historical detail was becoming more and more prevalent.  Armor rules were being fine tuned and Experience Level Ratings introduced.  It was interesting to watch the introduction of various nationalities and compare their stats with other countries.   By 1983, numerous versions of the rules were floating around.  It seemed that this growing Monster would have to be tamed.

Enter Greenwood 

In 1985, Don Greenwood had taken this monster and streamlined the rules into a single, coherent beast that would befriend players instead of alienate them (or so he intended.) The actual result, was a number of changes to the original rules as well as the need to sell everything you had and buy the new stuff (brilliant marketing scheme?)  For some, the monster had stopped growing too late.  No longer was it possible to read a few pages and play, now you were required to read a few chapters.  For those that did stick around, they will tell you themselves, the reward was well worth the effort.

And Now...

"Now-a-days", we have starter kits and here the Squad Leader system seems to be biting its own tail but don't misunderstand, this is a good thing.  For many, that phone book of rules has all too often kept curiosity at bay and has mistakenly shrouded the game in a kind of elite status.  Now that the veil has been lifted, the game can once again do what it did best from the very start, embrace the newcomer as openly as he will come to embrace this game er games er system...ok you know what i mean.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy the holiday and let the rockets take flight!

I've been enjoying the great weather here in St. Louis, hope to bring some of it back with me to New Orleans.  It's also been nice taking a short break from the show.  As far as gaming goes, I've made great use of the pool table in the basement (the ideal wargaming table) while staying here.  

The topic for the next show is up in the air and so i'm not quite sure when episode 31.0 will be posted (sometime mid to late next week?) but I will let you know as soon as that information becomes available.  Meanwhile, spend the day with family and friends and get your brats in line and column so they can do battle on the grill!