Sunday, July 9, 2017

ARE WE IN PARIS YET?

     I've been wanting to play On to Paris! since December, but it seemed like I always had something better to do. Too many games, too little time. A lot of us are in that boat. But do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake. Whatever you do, MAKE TIME for ON TO PARIS!


     I'm usually leery of making snap judgements, but I feel pretty safe with this one, even though I have yet to complete a full turn. Laugh if you want, but I've been playing for a number of hours now and these have been some of the most rewarding hours I've spent wargaming. Granted I've done pretty poorly for the Prussians. I'm definitely not blowing the French out of the water as I expected. Maybe it'll turn out that the Prussians can't win or something or the game is fatally flawed in some other area, but for now I can say that this is the best operational level wargame I've ever played -- and that goes for WWII games, too.

As you can see, I'm not exactly steamrolling the French.
     I think it is more likely that it means you're going to have to apply some brainpower to win this one. I find myself thinking about it in my downtime.
     It uses a Movement-Reaction mechanism that is both engaging, innovative and fun. I know, I know...It borrows from Victory Games' The Civil War. But that was 30 years ago, folks. Let's move on, shall we?
     I still love Alice Cooper, but I know nostalgic tender feelings when I see them. I had The Civil War back in the day, too. And guess what? I found it just okay. In fact, I didn't play it much. The way people talk, you'd think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. If it had been produced by -- oh, I dunno -- West End Games, people'd be saying The Civil What Now? Admit it! (Sheeple! But I don't mean that in a bad way...)

I originally had a problem with the size of the printing. But I turned the map upside-down, putting me closer to the action and I find that helps a lot. Every other complaint was just picking nits. I'm ashamed, actually. It's a beautifully produced game overall.
Sorry about the light, but I wanted you to see the whole picture. The manual suggests cutting out the Army Cards and placing them wherever is convenient. Those are what you see on the map (3 of them, a couple more on the side). I photocopied them first, though.
The Strength Points that make up the Corps are kept track of on each side's Corps Cards. Convenient and easy, better than stacks of SP counters on the map.
The piece de resistance (I use the French because I don't speak Prussian. All right, I don't really speak French, either.) The 10-step combat sequence. For gamers like me, this is Valhalla. My first battle took me an hour to go through. My last one, more like a half-hour. 
     Most readers know me by now. I like complex, process-heavy games with strong period ambience and meticulous historical veracity. This game has all of this in spades. This is really a Franco-Prussian War game, and not some generic exercise dressed up in pointy helmets.
     I feel a bit like a schmuck in carrying on like this, but I actually get butterflies thinking about this game. I think I'm in love!

 WHY DID WASHINGTON CROSS THE RIVER?

     To kick Rall's ass. 
     I'm taking some time off work this week. My goal is to learn On to Paris! and Washington's Crossing, another game that I just never seem to have time for. This one is from Revolution Games. This is another innovative system borrowing from a decades-old system by a decades-old designer I've never heard of. Look, good designers borrow; great designers steal. Okay? Lots of hand-wringing guilt out there. Just make your games and quit worrying about it!
     
Washington's Crossing has one of the best maps I've ever seen. Just beautiful!
     
The game emphasizes leadership and has a cool river-crossing mechanism. The game feels complex. It feels like something you can really sink your teeth into. Nice period feel. But a sort of skimpy production outside of the map and counters. On to Paris! includes nicely-produced army histories and leader bios. Washington's Crossing could use something like that.






BOOKS TO GAME BY

     I know more about Franco-Armerican Spaghetti-Os than I do about the Franco-Prussian War. But that is changing rapidly thanks to H.M. Hozier's 2-volume account of the war, The Franco-Prussian War. (Who names these things?)

     I got both volumes from Amazon for my Kindle for $1 each. Both are something like 600 pages. The actual war doesn't start until about page 400 of Volume 1. This is a comprehensive account, brother! An excellent read, too.



      Washington's Crossing is simply an outstanding book. Even if you're not playing the game, read this book. Just do it. Hey, are you still reading this? Go get the book!

MORE, MORE, MORE!

     Inspired by what I've been playing lately, I've just ordered a couple more, one from Compass and one from Legion. What I'm looking for is new blood. I absolutely believe that some of the designers who've been around a while have become a little jaded. (No! You think?) Well, they lasted a lot longer than I ever would have. It's a shitty business, even for big guys. It's even shittier for the small fries. Just sayin'. It's hard to put up with people like me. 

A solitaire game. Boer War.
     I forgot to mention....Another thing I'm attracted to are obscure topics. That's what made me look at this Boer War game from Legion. War is a dirty business. But even the Boer War is better than having to constantly choose between Nazis and Commies -- even though the Brits can be pretty nasty. You guys are awesome now, though (<<cough-cough>>not really<<cough-cough>>).
     Washington's Crossing has put me in a  revolutionary frame of mind, so....

     I'm supporting the little guys, the new guys. I'm giving them a chance. New wine in old wine skins and all that. Time for some fresh blood. (Don't tell anybody, but I'm actually thinking about giving End of Empire another shot -- AmRev style this time.)

     I love the passion of these new guys. Milan Becvar (of On to Paris!) and now these guys. Look at this video they produced. You have to support people like this!

     Until next time, happy gaming !

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