Monday, May 25, 2015

Companion guide to Hexes and Soldiers Episode 40

They say not to judge a book by its cover but lets face it, first impressions can mean a heck of a lot.  Whether we like it or not, wargame box art can make or break a game and yet so often we take these images for granted.  Yes the goodies inside the box are the end to the means but if the means look like lil johnny's coloring book then i worry greatly about the end.

Thus, episode 40.  I never meant for this show to be so long and yet it could have easily been even longer.  So many covers, so little time.  I had wanted to do a tribute to wargame box art for some time and well i finally did it.  

We've come a long way from the early days of Single Palate Image aka SPI's color of the week but the fact of the matter is the art that graces the boxes of these things is, to use a word that has nearly become devoid of all meaning, art.    

That's not to say all is good in the world of conflict rendering.  There are some real clunkers out there and it makes me wonder, who was it that had the final say on Monty's Gamble?  I know, i wouldn't step forward either.

So if i can't judge a book by its cover, i'll just judge a cover by its book, err, you get the point.

Here are just a couple designs from the timeless to the innovative:

Friday, May 22, 2015

To Avalanche Press or Not To Avalanche Press?

Where once my wargaming years were long, they are now longer.  In all that time, i purposely avoided any off ramp with the sign Avalanche Press.  Don't get me wrong, their title "Eastern Front" has caused a raised eyebrow more than once but at the end of the day it was "out of sight out of mind".  Something didn't seem right about those Panzer Grenadier games.  Maybe their were too many of them to be a good thing, maybe i was too easily persuaded by other's opinions which were more often than not, less than good.  Of late, i find my eyebrow raising again.  More on that in a second.  Of all the titles i own, only one deals directly with the battle of Monte Cassino and is perhaps the only one worth owning.  Thunder at Cassino is an area movement game which is one of a series that Avalon Hill put out and its a dandy.  I thought i could (or might have to) live without anything else.  Then i began noticing Cassino '44, what appears to be the only other game worth looking into on the subject.  I've "noticed" this thing off an on for a while now but never fully committed.  Yes its from Avalanche Press and yes you may have heard negative things about it but there are also some good things.  The map is truly a work of art and more than faithfully replicates the terrain.   Then there is the Panzer Grenadier system itself.  The platoon level game system has its share of fans but it also has its share of "haters."  Personally, i've been on the fence.
So i thought, maybe this should be my first official AP/PG game.  Or worse, maybe this will be my AP/PG gateway game?  Doubtful, but what helped turn that maybe into an OK can be attributed to a couple of things besides a map that would make any cartographophile salivate.  These games can go for a "pretty penny" as they say and its disheartening when you consider not all of us have an adequate amount of disposable income to throw around on cardboard.  That said, i was fortunate to find or should i say, "steal" a copy at a heck of a price.  Finally, perhaps the other factor which helped me decide was from a certain individual who wrote a thorough review of the game (thanks simguy).  So, after much hemming and hawing, the game is on its way to what feels like its rightful home and I eagerly await my foray into a whole new system that addresses what is for me, one of the most interesting battles of WWII.
Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

Official site:
BGG site:
The review that pushed me over the edge: