Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Remembering Axis & Allies Miniatures

 Success lasts only three seconds. After that, you’re the same as you were before you had it.”

Robert Shaw

My recent missive on print magazines — particularly my efforts to clip the most relevant articles from years of WWII History — reminded me how much I liked Avalon Hill’s Axis & Allies Miniatures game years ago. (Mark Painter’s nose-art-inspired advertising artwork also reminded me how much I enjoyed the game.) I bought into it when it released in 2005 and purchased occasional booster packs for the original and subsequent sets. Using the point system to create forces consumed most of my time, as I imagine it would for any collectible game where one builds a deck or combat unit. I mostly engaged in solitaire play, commanding each side in turn. I don’t recall much about the mechanics, but I remember I liked numerous aspects of the game; though ultimately the randomized booster packs necessary to maintain the collectible aspect became untenable. Like many games, it’s come and gone, forgotten after the initial buzz and now difficult to find, either in the original starter sets and booster packs or as single figures with cards on the secondary market.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

“Mind Your Manners”

Always be tactful and well-mannered.... Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.”

General Erwin Rommel

I don’t remember why I was paging through my copy of Panzer Kids Deluxe recently, but among all the tank stats, optional rules, and scenarios I noticed the “Mind Your Manners” page. My Skirmish Kids rules, perpetually nearing imminent completion, also include a similar section. Both offer these guidelines to set a baseline of behavior at the game table. We often expect certain courteous and helpful behaviors when we get together with strangers or friends to play games; unwritten rules to help everyone get along a little more clearly. It reminded me of the important role these concepts play in helping young gamers – and even more adult gamers – navigate the emotions that accompany winning and losing. They’re also good maxims to keep in mind as we interact with each other, strangers and friends, in person and online, in our everyday encounters.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Twilight of Print Magazines

 I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible.”

Isaac Asimov

I’m rearranging some shelves in the office — a periodic activity, given the volume of books I have and continue adding to my collection — and I’ve come across some racks with old copies of WWII History magazine. I decided to peruse them one more time, extract any articles that interest me to arrange in a binder, and recycle the rest. The process reminded me why I like (and miss) magazines along with a few other observations.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The Peaceful Protester Scenario

 There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Elie Wiesel

Once again I’m distraught seeing militarized police using brutal force against peaceful, unarmed protesters. Certainly my sensitive imagination and unfettered anxiety makes it easier to empathize with those speaking out against oppression (as if I ever had the immense courage to do so). I recognize the gross injustice deploying such heavily armed forces against those peacefully protesting for liberal and humanitarian causes while police sit back and tolerate right-wing fascist demonstrators equipped for potential violence (however unrealistically). Maybe it’s because I come from a field that values freedom of expression, free speech, and civil discussion to address the problems we collectively face. Perhaps I’m discouraged that I’ve seen forces of the militarized state used against otherwise peaceful or powerless populations before, both in my time and in barbarous episodes of our history. When I process these events, deal with the emotions and hopelessness they evoke, I often turn to games...usually as an escape, but in this case to reflect on the issue through the lens of gaming.