Although I have a number of projects completely unrelated to wargaming on my plate right now, I thought that I would post a short note to reassure my readers that I haven’t actually died or been arrested. Regrettably, because of family commitments and other issues related to my and my wife’s former business, I just haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like at the keyboard this month. This is not to say that I don’t try to make time to answer those visitor remarks or questions that crop up, from time to time, in the comments sections of my various posts, but only that I have not been able to actually finish any of the several essays and game profiles that are currently parked in my computer’s “Word Document” file. That being said, I hope to be pretty much back to my usual regular (if sporadic) blogging schedule once the month of March is finally behind me.

Closed for Business by Norman Rockwell
 For those visitors who are moderately curious as to what I have been working on (albeit intermittently): I presently have rough drafts of game profiles for both Avalon Hill’s second try at an Ardennes game, BULGE ’81 (1981), and SPI’s treatment of “Lee versus Grant”, THE WIDERNESS CAMPAIGN (1972). I am also, thanks to the comments of one of my readers, presently taking another look at the old SPI folio game, JENA-AUERSTADT (1975). I barely tinkered with this title when it first came out thirty-six years ago, but has now (along with the other titles in the NAPOLEON AT WAR game series) — probably because of the density of the game systems of many of the newer Napoleonic titles that I have been looking at, of late — taken on fresh appeal thanks both to its simplicity and to its relatively short playing time. Some of my future posts are virtually guaranteed. For the die-hard grognards who like the older SPI monster games, for example, I still need to finish the third and final section of my three-part series on experimental rules modifications for WAR IN THE EAST (1974). In addition, I also still have several additional installments left on my extended analysis of Avalon Hill’s much under-appreciated WATERLOO (1962); unfortunately, I have — thus far, at least — been stalled on this project for want of really clear screen shots of the map and counters, but I’m working on it. And, of course, I still have more work to do in order to complete my multi-part survey of S&T magazine games from the “Golden Age of Wargaming”. In the realm of “games that I really don’t want to write about but think that I probably should,” I am also trying to crank up enough ambition to actually start a profile of Rand Game Associates’ THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, II (1974); a science fiction design by Phil Orbanes. I have decided to “suck it up” and to actually write a blog post on this title so that I can at last put it behind me. While I’m at it, I should also mention that I am about ready — once some of these other articles are finally finished and posted — to sit down with Jim Dunnigan’s eccentric but interesting simulation of hypothetical warfare in 1970’s Europe, NATO (1973), with the goal of putting together the “game analysis” piece that — I am embarrassed to admit — I first promised to my readers almost a year ago.

Finally, there is one intriguing topic for “Map and Counters” that has actually been on my mind for quite a long time; that is: the glacially slow pace and astonishingly convoluted path (at least to me) of board wargame development from ancient times up to the present. I have set out, more than once in the last two years, to write an article on exactly this subject but, on every one of these earlier attempts, I ended up chickening out because of the amount of time and work that such an extended essay would require. However, thanks to the encouragement of a couple of my gaming friends, I recently resumed work on a blog post on this subject using the old PBS TV series "Connections" as a model; and this time I hope to plug away until I can at last bring this project to some sort of conclusion. When that will be, I have no idea. Nonetheless, having finally made a reasonably good start, I can say that it already looks like the final version of this essay will probably turn out to be at least as long (if not longer) than my game analysis of the hex-version of SPI’s 1812 (1972), published earlier this year. I only hope that it will be as well-received by my readers as the 1812 piece.

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The Cardboard Wars in Tempe, Arizona are fast approaching: June 6th – June 12th, 2011

John Kranz of Consimworld recently announced that, along with everything else that he already has scheduled, one of the few genuine icons of wargaming, Frank Chadwick (who designed or co-designed DNO/UNT, A HOUSE DIVIDED, AVALANCHE, OPERATION CRUSADER, IMPERIUM, 1815, WHITE DEATH, ROAD TO THE RHINE, as well as many other games), will be speaking at this year’s Consimworld Expo 2011. For those of us who have been in the hobby since the early 1970s, Frank needs no introduction; however, for those enthusiasts who have become involved in wargaming in more recent years, Frank Chadwick — along with Paul (Rich) Banner, Marc W. Miller, and John Astell — was a driving force behind Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) during its more than two decades of operation. Known for its sometimes quirky topics, its minimalist (often obtuse) style of rules writing, its innovative and award-winning game systems, and the gorgeous and elaborately differentiated unit counters that brightened many of its most popular titles, the company he helped found was — along with SPI, TSR, and Avalon Hill — one of the major players in game publishing during the so-called “golden age” of conflict simulations: the period from the early 1970s to the end of the 1980s. The measure of Chadwick’s and his coworkers’ impact on the hobby is that, although GDW closed its doors in 1996, many of its now out-of-print titles still remain extremely popular and highly sought-after, both by collectors and by players, even now.

Frank Chadwick playtests a game prototype.
The “game clock” is rapidly ticking down, and before we know it, one of the most enjoyable and unique wargaming events in the US will be getting under way in sunny Arizona. On June 6th, the first convention arrivals will kick-off the early festivities at what will be — in my view, at least — one of the very few must-attend adventure gaming conventions of the year: Consimworld Expo 2011. For those who are unfamiliar with the Expo’s back story, this year’s convention is the direct descendant of MonsterGame.Con which, thanks largely both to the vision and the hard work of John Kranz, first opened its doors in 2001. Eleven years later, CSW Expo is still going strong and is still being hosted by John Kranz and company; and, just as they have in years past, convention attendees will be meeting in the heart of the Old West at the luxurious Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, in Tempe, Arizona.

For those prospective attendees who are uncertain whether this year’s Consimworld Expo will provide them with a chance to actually sit down and play their favorite titles with other like-minded opponents, it is probably worth noting that this June’s gaming at the Tempe Mission Palms will not be restricted only to traditional “map and counter” conflict simulations. Quite the contrary, dozens and dozens of old and new titles (from CDG, to “block”, to Euro-style) will all be a part of the CSW Expo experience. This means that the convention is both large enough and varied enough to offer players a broad menu of both conflict simulations and multi-player social gaming that — new attendees will quickly discover — should suit virtually any visitor’s taste in games. Nor, I should add, is the convention aimed strictly at long-time (hard-core) participants in the hobby. Instead, players who make the trek to Arizona this coming spring will find that there are abundant opportunities for the young and not-so-young, and for both inexperienced and seasoned players to enjoy their favorite titles in a matchless gaming environment.

The CSW Expo only comes around once a year; so, if you can possibly find a way to get to Tempe during the second week of June, I strongly recommend that you do so. If you enjoy both congenial company and lots of gaming, I don’t think that you will be able to avoid having a great time.

To find out more about CSW Expo 2011/MonsterGame.Con XI, or to register online for this year’s convention, visit the website: expo.consimworld.com
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