Monday, June 27, 2011

General Update on my gaming and the blog

I am still working 80 to 100+ hours a week, so even though I am posting entries on my blog, I am still considering myself to be on a long hiatus since I am not able to do any gaming or working on my gaming projects. Plus, it may take me a week or even a month to type up another blog entry.

Besides the book reviews and my article on getting organized, I am still trying to do some research on the Platte City, MO, shootout with Bonnie & Clyde to create a skirmish scenario for that shootout. I just don’t have much time to do any Google-Fu on more information about the armored car and armored shields used during the shootout. I also have to play around on coming up with more information on the individual policemen involved. If nothing else, I hope to have it finalized and up on my blog by July 19th, for the 78th anniversary of the shootout.

My current gaming projects are (if I ever get the time):
10mm 2nd Indochina War (US involvement in South Vietnam): Most of this project is finished and I have played a few games with the figures in the past few years as you may have seen from my previously blog entries on After Action Reviews of the games, which are now located on my Vietnam gaming website (https://sites.google.com/site/sapperjoesvietnamwargames/ ). I had previously used “Cold War Commander” (CWC) rules for my Vietnam games, but I plan to use “Charlie Don’t Surf” (CDS), by Too Fat Lardies, for future Vietnam games. I do want to get a game off some time this year, but everything is up in the air with my work load and working out of town. Plus, the days of having a game shop to run it at are pretty much over in St. Louis, so I have to clean out my basement for gaming or do some backyard gaming.

One of the first things that I need to do with the switching of rules is make some more “Big Men”, or leaders in Lardies’ talk, for the US side and possibly the VC side. I already have enough command stands that will work for the minimum required number of US “Big Men”, but now I need to get some more for the possible extra “Big Men” that the US might get. I will also need to increase the number of VC stands that I have. Other than that, I still have my unfinished “Snoopy” gun truck, M48’s, trucks, artillery, and other odds and ends for the US, but those are support units and what is required for the basic force. Since these are scenario specific items, I will work on them off and on.

The next thing that I need to do is start buying more terrain, like rice paddies, roads, hills, etc. I got some stuff, but I just need to get enough to do this right. I plan to start buying a bunch of stuff over the next few weekends for terrain.

I do plan to rebase my US troops to 40mm x 20mm bases for the infantry and vehicles instead of their current 50mm hex / circle base (yes, oddly enough that means actually basing them off of the CWC basing sizes instead of my original hex bases!) The reason for this is three things: 1) Reduce the size of their ‘footprint’ for less foliage and other terrain on be mounted on the base; 2) I plan to repaint some of the figures and replace some of my ANZAC miniatures that were posing as US troops with maybe some head swapping, and; 3) by reducing the base size, I should take up less room in my storage trays allowing me to carrying less boxes. I will not rebase the VC stands, as those were done by Steve H. Steve did such a wonderful job on the bases, that I cannot bring myself to rebase them.

Finally, my US force is a mix of the ANZAC and US figures from Pendraken to give more different poses. I still have several ANZAC figures left over, so I am also going to make an ANZAC forces as well (hmm…do you think reading about Long Tan has something to do with this!) I just ordered the figures with the SLR’s and that should be everything for a company of ANZACs for CDS. I am also planning to do a NVA force in their green uniforms for Long Tan and the later war. I am not sure if I really want to try to do an ARVN force. Not because I don’t want them, but in 10mm, I am not sure if they would really stand out vs. US figures, so I just might use my US figures as imposters for ARVN. I will probably still pick up a few vehicles and paint them up as ARVN though.
15mm WWI, Turkish Front skirmish and tactical: I have already bought some Minifigs Turks and British to start working on this project. I actually got about 17 Turks finish! I just got to do some minor details, flocking, and a sealer. That will be my first battalion for “If the Lord Spares Us” (ITLSU) by Too Fat Lardies. I am using an individual figure to equal one platoon for ITLSU, so that by having figures mounted separately, I can then also use them to equal one man for Too Fat Lardies’, “Through the Mud & the Blood”, (M&B). I did this so I can either fight brigade size battles with ITLSU or a platoon or weak company size skirmish with M&B. This is a low priority project that I am doing so I have something other than green uniforms to paint, plus I have been interested in WWI in the Middle East lately.

20mm ’Anarchy in the UK’ skirmish: This is the second highest priority for projects with me right now. Originally this was project was going to cover the low intensity warfare in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ for the period of the 1970’s and early 1980’s when the British Army were still using SLR and not the bullpup SA80’s rifles. After seeing the blogs, “Winter of ‘79” and “England Prevails…”, plus many emails with Mark & Math from “Winter of ‘79”, I decided that the route that I am going to follow instead of games on Operation Banner. Basically, I am pretty much going to parallel the “Winter of ‘79” blogs’ events of the breakdown of the UK in the 1970’s & early ‘80’s leading into a civil war. I am not going to worry too much about a back story, I just want to players to be at a little bit more at ease about the games with fictional Welsh Nationalist militants fighting off the conservative military coup forces from Salisbury, instead of PIRA and SAS trying to ambush each other. This will be an expanding project as the buildings, vehicles, and miniatures will be doing double duty for other future projects, like London zombies, ‘Red Dawn’ in Cornwall, and ‘Mad Max’ in Somerset. But right now, I just don’t have the time to be building my cardboard buildings for the project, but hope to start up again soon.

20mm Falklands skirmish: This is the project that has the highest priority. I sent off miniatures to be painted for most of a platoon of Brits and Argentines. I have gotten them back in the first week of June, but they are at home and I am working away from home and have not seen them yet. I probably will not get back to look at them for a while still. I also have some British figures that I painted up as well are on this blog. The British forces will double duty for the ‘Anarchy in the UK’ project, so there is more happiness there! I plan to do platoon size actions and some small section patrols. I need to get cracking on terrain and some buildings…and penguins! I plan to start buying some large hills over the next few weeks.

I made some orders during the month of June that are game related. First I made an order to Liberation miniatures for some more 1970’s/Falklands UK figures that I need (like a Milan team and SAS) and more squaddies with helmets to create a second platoon for Falklands or a rebel platoon for the UK meltdown. I also have some British vehicles, armed civilians, and ANZAC SAS (Vietnam line) for ragged militia types for the UK meltdown. Plus, I have some US figures with ranger caps and M1 steel helmets, along with a Ford MUTT for the US intervention forces for the UK meltdown and for shooting zombies along with my Hotspurs’ 1970’s SWAT team in 1978 Philadelphia.

I then order a few packs of 10mm ANZACs for Vietnam from Pendraken, so that should complete what I need there for an ANZAC company.

Next, I order some used books on the Falklands and on the 1920’s from Amazon. The Falklands books are: “No Picnic: 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands” by Gen. Julian Thompson (the commander of 3 Commando Bde); “Above All, Courage: Personal Stories from the Falklands War” by Max Arthur; and a DVD from the History Channel, “The Greatest Raids from the Falklands Campaign”. The books covering the 1920’s are: “Alcohol, Boat Chases, and Shootouts!: How the US Coast Guard and the Customs Fought Rum Smugglers and Pirates, Part I: 1919-1924” by James Morrison; and “When Miners March – The Battle of Blair Mountain” (audio book, including 16 musical tracks) by William Blizzard.

To go along with the book on the USCG during the Rum War, I found an interesting download that is free on the internet, Intelligence In The Rum War At Sea: 1920-1933, by LT Eric S Ensign, USCG. I have not read it yet, but sounds like a very interesting topic. (www.ndic.edu/press/pdf/38038.pdf)
I plan to order some more used books in July which will cover more on the Falklands and some more books on the Rum War. In addition, I will start picking up terrain for the 10mm Vietnam and hills for the Falklands.

Anyway, that is basically what is going on in my life besides working my life away for the “The Man” as my youth fads away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“Gamers of the world, organize!”

“To horse, Proletariat!”
 
Err…sorry, I was getting carried away this blog entry’s title. As you might have guess, this blog entry has something to do with getting organized...not against “The Man”, but organizing your gaming paints and materials instead. I am going to discuss some things that I have done in the attempt to get organize for gaming. While everything in this write up is available in the USA, the equivalent should also be available in other countries.

Organizing your paints

I mainly use Vallejo and Reaper paints, which both come in a similar size dropper bottle. Over the years, I had to continuously move from job to job, which also meant that I moved from city to city. So I had to make my painting cases easy to transport and keep some type of order so I could find the various colors without dumping out everything out to find one bottle of paint. I played around with different boxes until I finally found the best box to keep everything organized. I use the Plano’s extra deep tackle tray box which can be bought just about in any fishing & hunting store or department. The depth of the box is the right height to hold the paint dropper bottles up right. With the semi-clear plastic, you can see the bottles tops and even read the labels on the bottles that are along the outer edges. I can easily get over 100 dropper paint bottles in one box. Also as an added bonus is that since it is a fishing tackle box, that means that there are various carrying cases designed to carry more than one box from Plano if you got hundreds of paints – like me.


T: Paint Storage Box 
B: Paint Bottles with paint blob and ID number

What I did next is to place a drop of paint on the top of the bottle’s cap which has a little depression that allows the paint sample to have some protection from being rubbed off. This allows me to quickly identify where my different colors are located in the box. Next I take a permanent marker and mark on the cap the paint manufacturer’s product code so it can be reference to a manufacturer’s color chart or listing to see if I have a bottle of that paint, especially when someone provides a list of what color paints that they use to match a specific uniform, etc. 

The Gamers’ Box

I have played around on various methods of organizing stuff for gamers, like dice, markers, reference sheets, etc, so when I run games (unfortunately, which is not often enough), the player has everything that they would need for a game. I use to keep everything in one or two banker boxes. Then when I showed up at a game, especially if I would run something at a convention, I would have to dig everything out and separate it which takes away from the time limited time available, especially at conventions. 

Over this Memorial Day weekend, I had a vision on how I could speed up the process and keep things more prepared than before this. I created “The Gamers’ Box”. I am using boxes from the ‘Really Useful Boxes’ manufacturer, which are available at most of the major office supply stores in the US, and being an UK company, I would assume also in Europe. These boxes are molded in several colors, clear, black, blue, red, green, etc. But my local office supply store doesn’t have everything available, but has enough that I can make it color coded for three different players or sides: Red (Aggressors), Blue (Defenders), Green (3rd Force – for a three-way scenario). I will use a similar idea to create a “Game Master’s Box” using either black or clear boxes, but more on that later.


T: The "Gamers' Box" unopened
B: Inside the "Gamers' Box"

The premise is that at the beginning of a game, I will give each side one of these ‘Gamers’ Boxes”, which will contain everything that the player(s) will need for the game for their side (Aggressor, Defender, or 3rd Party.) As the boxes are color coded, I can make sure that any scenario sensitive information is in the right box before the game and not have to hunt for it later or worry that the opposing player might have the information for the other side in their box.


The Clipboard for Reference sheets & other papers
 
The main box to hold everything is the 4 Liter box which will work for both the US 8-1/2”x11” page size and the UK A4 paper size material. At the top of the box will be a clipboard of that side’s color for the player to keep track of any paper work that would be need for the game, like reference sheets, unit organizations, maps, scenario outline and victory conditions, etc. I will create a cover sheet that will cover the top of the paperwork for privacy that will probably be the game systems cover page, like in the example photograph below for Too Fat Lardies’ “Terrible Sharpe Sword”. Since the clipboards will be the color of one of the sides, that side will be able to keep track of their clipboard and not grab the wrong one. But if they don’t care to keep track of it, then the other side can use their lack of “security measures” and break their enemies’ “code” and gather intelligence!


Inside the 4L box

Also inside the 4L box will be a flexible 12” ruler in the proper sides’ color laying loose for measuring movements and shooting, but I will properly pick up another flexible ruler so that there will be two available for multiple players sides. I am going to see if I can find a 36” cloth tape measure or a clothing size tape to add for any measurements requiring distances over 12”. I don’t want any tape measures or rulers made of metal in my boxes as they have a possibility of damaging paint jobs on miniatures when accidentally used carelessly. While I did not put them in the box for the photographs, I also use special ‘Blinds’ markers to identify hidden troops and dummy markers for the various games, especially for the Too Fat Lardies games. These “blinds” will also go in the various boxes.


0.2L, 0.35L, and 0.55L Boxes in the 4L Box

Besides the rulers, clipboard, and other loose items like blind markers, the 4L box will also have at the minimum a 0,55L pencil box and at least one dice box of one of two sizes, 0.2L or 0.35L. There might more boxes depending on the game system or additional items that I might want to add, like status counters, blast templates, or smoke markers. For now, let’s just discuss these three smaller boxes from the biggest to smallest and how they will be used with the ‘Gamers’ Box.’


0.55L Box 
  
The 0.55L box, unlike the other boxes, has a double duty. First it is a pencil box that will contain a couple of mechanical pencils, an eraser, and a 6” ruler for keeping notes and updating a scenario map if there is one. I will pick up some grease pencils to add to the box for drawing on a scenario map, if one is needed. I will probably also add a small note pad for passing notes or making notes to oneself. The box’s next duty is to be used to roll dice in so they don’t go bouncing all over the table and possibly damage miniatures or knock over miniatures. As you can see from the pictures, one can easily roll up to 10 dice within the box and not have them bouncing out. Again the box is the same color as the side so it can easily be identified which side the box’s dice rolls are for when needing to make comparison rolls (like in the rules ‘Force on Force’). A second 0.55L box could be added to the 4L box if there is a desire to have a second dice rolling box for multi-player sided games, but if that is the case, you might want to consider using the 2nd 0.55L box for carrying your dice instead of one of the next two sizes that are discussed below, due to the limited size of the of the 4L box.


0.35L Box

The next size box in my ‘Gamers’ Box’ is the 0.35L box. This is a great box for a large number of different size dice. In the picture, in the box I have ten dice of each of the following sizes: d6, d8, d10, and d12. I still have enough room for probably another 10 x d4’s and 10x d20’s. What you might have noticed in the picture is that each die type is a specific color. That is because in games like ‘Force on Force’ where the two opposing players roll off and then compare the dice to beat the opposing player’s individual dice, it is a lot easier to tell one player to roll their red dice and the other to roll their blue dice as the only d8’s in your game are the red and blue dice! So this should help to prevent the accidental rolling of a d12 with the d8 because all of the dice are different colors. I have not created a separate pool of dice for my Green box yet, but I don’t plan to do many three-way games. So I can take my time getting those dice.



0.2L Box

Finally, the 0.2L box is the smallest that I have for my ‘Gamers’ Box’, but they do make smaller boxes. The 0.2L box can hold up to 48 ‘Flames of War’ size dice or a deck of normal size playing cards (Poker deck size). While I don’t like “Flames of War”, personally, I do like the themed dice and use them for various games that are d6 based, like the Too Fat Lardies systems and the Blitzkrieg Commander system. In this photo, you can see the FOW Soviet dice which I use for any Communist forces, like Soviets, Viet Cong, etc.
 

Game Masters’ Box 

I did not have time to really start working on this box yet, but this will be the box that I will carry everything that I will need as a Game Master, minus miniatures and terrain (unless I have room). Currently, I am thinking that the 9L box might work, but some of the rules that I have are in 3-ring blinders from PDF files, and the 3-ring binders might not fit in that size box. So I might have to look into getting a different size box, but I will have to follow up on that on a different date. But, here is what I am planning to be packed in it.

  • Clipboard for paperwork
  • 0.55L box for pencils and dice rolling box
  • 0.2L box for a deck of playing cards or a 0.3L box that can hold two playing card decks (some games of the Too Fat Lardies games, like ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’, has enough cards for two decks when all of the optional cards are added in to the count.)
  • 0.2L box for some dice that might be needed for the GM
  • Note pad for taking and passing notes if needed
  • Boxes for spare counters, markers, and templates
  • Copy of the rules and scenario notes/maps/etc
  • Some cheap name tag stickers for convention games, if they don’t have name tags
  • For conventions, a display stand with the different game segments (i.e., Player A moves, Player B shoots) that can be seen by everyone so everyone knows what turn is on in the game. It should help in keeping the game moving and not missing any steps, especially when having a bunch of new players.
  • A display stand for convention games so a sheet can be put in it giving the scenario’s name, the game system used, a brief description of the game, the GM(s) name(s), Club name, and website or blog site address for passer-by and the players – especially if you have a website or blog since you spend all of that time to have on, announce it!
  • Players’ awards or manufacturer’s support if available at conventions – Consider if nothing else, a simple paper award for the “Most Humorous Moment”, “Most Heroic Action”, “The Best Kill” etc, can go a long way to make your game more remembered to the players and encourages future return gamers at conventions
  • Possible additional books or collection of photos to allow the players to look at regards to an actual battle the game is based off, or even other game books for the same game system. Sometimes a simple game might spark an interest in a new period with players, so encourage it!
  • Camera, spare batteries and film/memory cards for memories and blogs

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: “The Battle of Long Tan: The Legend of ANZAC Upheld” by Lex MacAulay

Book Review: “The Battle of Long Tan: The Legend of ANZAC Upheld” by Lex MacAulay

General Description

I got the paperback version, so the page count is 184. It is broken down into 11 chapters and 6 appendices. There is a 14 page section of 50+ B&W photographs. There are an additional 8 maps scattered in the different chapters. The book covers the Australian side of the battle of Long Tan during the 2nd Indochina War on August 18, 1966.

The Good

This is a good book of the Australian side of the battle of Long Tan. The author did a very good job interweaving individual accounts about the battle in the different chapters. As the author did not have access to the Vietnamese side of the battle, the author includes a paragraph every now and then of what the Vietnamese side probably was doing based on their standard operations and what they did do later in the battle. While I have read several books on the 2nd Indochina War, all were accounts on US Army troops, except one which was about the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. So, this was the first book that I read about the ANZAC forces. While the battle barely lasted a day through a rain storm, it involved an infantry company of 108 men supported by artillery holding off an estimated force of 2000 NVA regulars and VC locals until they were relieved by a squadron of M113 APC’s and another company and a half of infantry. After the battle, the official Australian count was 245 Vietnamese were killed for a loss of 18 Australians killed. There is something to say about the professionalism and courage on both sides to continue to fight under these conditions.

The Bad

Really, I don’t have anything bad to say about this book. The only thing that I wish to be better was the lack of the Vietnamese accounts of the battle. But the author was hampered by the fact at the time of his research and writing of this book, the open communications with Vietnam was not available. The author does a good try to show what the Vietnamese forces probably did experience, so I have to give him credit for that, instead of totally ignoring their story.

Wargaming “Long Tan”

As in many battles where the odds are heavily on one side, it is hard to recreate the battle. Instead of trying writing up a scenario for Long Tan, I will mention that there articles for Long Tan in “Miniature Wargames” in #39 and #114. There might be more articles in other gaming magazines, but I am currently only aware of the two from “Miniature Wargames”. That would be the best route for starting to game this battle. But basically you have a company of ANZAC infantry spread out a little in platoon formations in a rubber plantation which would be a fairly clear of underbrush and good firing lanes. The ANZAC’s has a superior Forward Observer Officer and good artillery support and almost no air support, with the exception of some ANZAC Huey slicks flying in ammunitions, supplies, and evacuating the wounded. 

I would next encourage that “Charlie Don’t Surf” by Too Fat Lardies to be the rule set of choice. I think that would make the best system to reflect the ANZAC’s support and rigidness of the NVA command. Under “Charlie Don’t Surf”, the NVA must go for a military victory in destroying D/6 RAR, instead of a political victory.

A couple of painting notes should be that D/6 RAR worn black and green camouflage floppy hats that were specially obtained by the company commander. According to the personal accounts, most of the NVA were wearing their green uniforms.

Miniatures should not be hard find in any scale, accept maybe the ANZAC’s M113s. From the description of the book, the M113’s where pretty much split between having a gun shield for the 0.50 cal HMG and not having a gun shield. The picture in the book shows a gun shield like that on a M113 ACAV, but without the armored bucket. Later, the ANZAC’s M113s had a machine gun turret which is totally different than the ACAVs. It looks like that machine gun turrets came after Long Tan. If that is the case, the M113s should be available in any scale. But if any of them had the turret, I am only aware of Britannia’s 20mm M113’s with the turrets, but Britannia is no more with the pasting of the owner, David Howitt in Jan., 2011. Grubby Tanks is supposed to have the rights to the Britannia lines, but we will have to see if they are released. Liberation Miniatures list parts to make the turret for the JB Models, 1/76th M113.

Personally, I have two scales for the 2nd Indochina War: 10mm and 20mm. My 10mm is designed to be for larger battles where a company or battalion is on the board, so that is what I will eventually use for Long Tan (but I might disguise it by using an American company). My 20mm are ANZAC’s from Britannia and is a platoon size strength force. I can use them to do the action of the 11 Platoon as they fought off wave after wave of NVA troops.

Next Book Review

Well, it is back to the USA during its darkest of moments…Prohibition! The next book will be, “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” by Daniel Okrent. This book is suppose to become a Ken Burn’s documentary for PBS, so I am really looking forward to it as I have enjoyed Ken Burn’s work.

Book Review: “Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z” by Col. Percy Fawcett

Book Review: “Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z” by Col. Percy Fawcett.

General Description

This book was published in 1953, years after Col. Percy Fawcett disappeared in the Brazilian jungle with his oldest son and a friend of his son’s in 1925. His youngest son, Brian Fawcett, finally published his father’s journals of his earlier explorations in South America in this book, plus he added two additional chapters about his father’s final exploration as well as some of Brian Fawcett’s personal accounts on dealing with the mystery of his father’s and brother’s disappearance. The book is just over 300 pages long, of which 274 pages (22 chapters) are from Col. Fawcett and the remainder are by Brian Fawcett. There is a nice map at the beginning of the book with the various explorations routes (with a note to what chapter covers what part of the routes) done by Col. Fawcett, including a general idea where he was headed when his exploration party disappeared. At the beginning of each chapter is a period (pre-1925) cartoonish (like an editorial cartoon instead of a funny comic) style drawing of an event that occurs in that chapter. There are also 43 B&W photos into two different sections which were mostly taken by Col. Fawcett.

The Good

I have always been amazed by exploration stories since reading “Kon-Tiki” by Thor Heyerdahl so many years ago. I found this book to be a smashing yarn about the dangers and hardships of exploring South America. About the first third of the book is about Col. Fawcett’s first two explorations for the Royal Geographical Society in 1906 and 1907 in Peru, Bolivar, and Brazil to determine national borders the jungle area known as “The Acre” as an independent third party. He writes of the slavery and abuse by the rubber plantations of the Indians, as well as the corruption of government officials once he gets past the civilized cities and towns.

It is not until after 2/3rds of the way through the book that he starts really talking about the Lost City of Z, but he does discuss about lost tribes, cities, mines, and treasures earlier in the book. According to Col. Fawcett, he knew Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it is his tales of his expeditions is what lead to the Sir Doyle to pen, “The Lost Worlds”.

One of the stranger parts of the books is the ghost stories about haunted buildings and such; including one that Col. Fawcett slept in and experienced the ghosts. I personally do not believe in spirits or ghosts, so I have to take these bits with a grain of salt, but they are entertaining anyway.

I highly encourage anyone reading this book, to read “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” by David Grann afterwards. I actually read it shortly after it came out, so I will not be doing a review of it. But it is a great book that covers more of the Col. Fawcett’s final exploration in the Amazon and about the author’s personal exploration into the Amazon to seek any traces of Col. Fawcett.

Also, while they are not about the Lost City of Z, two other books which are very good about Amazon explorations in the early 20th Century are Theodore Roosevelt’s, “Through the Brazilian Wilderness” and Candice Millard, “The River of Doubt”, both which are about the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition of 1910 up one of the Amazon’s tributary rivers. Roosevelt’s expedition is mention once or twice in this book.

The Bad

Even though Col. Fawcett speaks highly of native Indians and several noble South Americans, there is still a very strong “Anglo-Saxon” class superiority feel about the South Americans (including the Indians), and the Europeans that decided to go ‘native’ that he meets. Pretty much everyone is drunk, stupid, etc., except for most of upper society or the ‘wild’ Indians. This might turn off some people with his anti-PC view of South Americans. But, I remind anyone that first realize that he grew up in Victorian England from the middle classes and was a high ranking officer in the British Army. The day and age that he wrote this was not very PC to our modern day standards. I am sure that there is some truth to his tales about some of the unsavory lots that he writes of, but it probably was not as bad as he describes it. Because I have a strong interest in the 1920’s & ‘30’s, I have read several period novels and books and have grown to understand this, so it does not turn me off from his work.

Wargaming “Exploration Fawcett”

Wargaming expeditions in South America? Yes, it can be done and there are several rule sets and miniatures out there that cover this type of gaming already. With the rise of “Pulp” miniature gaming, a bunch of manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon with miniatures and rules. Even Copplestone Castings makes miniatures specifically for South American Indian tribes! However, most of rules that are out there are geared towards gaming in Africa or China. With a slight re-wording of the rules/scenarios, they can easily be changed over to cover South America. If one can get a hold of the old Avalon Hill’s, “Source of the Nile” boardgame or New Breed’s RPG, “Dark Continent” (both are sadly out of print and both are extremely good games), they have a great mechanics for a campaign system to include mapping and outfitting a exploration. Even a slightly seasoned game-master can easily change them to be about South America.

Why South America? Why not! But really, with the rise of the “Dark Africa” gaming several years back and the China’s “Back of Beyond” in more recent times, several gaming magazines have published articles about the explorers, tribes, etc. so that some of the “mystery” has been taken out of the game by the players knowing too much about different tribes or geography of the areas, if they read them. But, not much is written on the South American explorers and tribes of the early 20th Century in gaming magazines or games, so the “mystery” can still be there. Plus, you can make-up some things and most gamers would not have a clue to if it is correct or not, as you will have far less experts (or think they are an expert) on the tribes of the upper Amazon then you will ever have on the French Old Guard’s uniform buttons.

One interesting twist for gaming about South American exploration was most of the South American and European governments took measures to protect the tribal Indians from the capitalistic rubber plantation owners and slavers. A perfect example of this can be seen with the commander of the Brazil’s Indian Protection Bureau in the early 20th Century, Col. Cândido Rondon. Col. Rondon had a well known standing order for his soldiers when dealing with the Amazon tribes, “Die if you must, but do not kill!” In other words, he expected his soldiers to do everything possible to make friends and protect the Indians, including not defending themselves from an attack! The soldiers were instead to sacrifice themselves rather than allow harm to the Indians. So shooting the Indians will actually cause negative renown from the South American and European governments for the explorers. That should put a wrinkle in your players’ trigger happiness.

In Col. Fawcett’s book, he talks about the various tribes (including cannibals and Neanderthals) that he ran into and trying to make friendly contact with them; legends of lost cities and treasures; and even the ghost stories can be food for a great RPG campaign or miniature game with a bit of role-playing elements.

Next Book Review

From the jungles and rubber plantations of South America to the rubber plantations of Southeast Asia, is where I am heading next with “The Battle of Long Tan: The Legend of ANZAC Upheld” by Lex MacAulay.