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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alive and, well...

I don't know the effect on you all as readers, but I confess that the recent staple diet of ever thinner Combat Commander battle reports has become uninspiring drudgery to this blogger. Working up the GIMP files I use to create my CC maps has been the part of that labour I've found the most enjoyable and productive. I've now got a bunch of XCF files put together by cutting, copying and pasting elements from PNG's saved from the VASSAL CC mod. I've got some more work to do, but eventually I'll have the template honed to a nicety. Not enough by itself to break this writer's block though.

A serious narrowing of my gaming activities in all sorts of ways has reduced potential content to a trickle. And this at a time when I was struggling to find the voice to make RD/KA! less a 'zine and more a journal. This was troubling for me because I kept a diary as a teenager and that angst-ridden adolescent self expression is a memory best left resting. What practical function might this blog therefore fulfil, beyond reportage and opinionated exposition, so that I could escape this impasse?

Working up those Combat Commander XCF's finally catalysed something. Using GIMP to create those maps is technically simple but still time-consuming. It makes sense therefore to use RD/KA! to help prepare battle report scenarios before they're actually played, so that the relevant files can be created in advance. This would speed up the delivery of the battle reports, making their production feel more worthwhile.

That's just one example of how this blog could be used to facilitate both my gaming, and my blogging thereupon.

Green for go!
Talking of Combat Commander, I took Badger down 3-0 in our last session a couple of weeks ago. We started recording the board positions of our first game each time trigger, with an eye to a more detailed battle report, but Badger's surrender on time 3 with me at 36VP (can't remember exactly whether or not it was voluntary or otherwise) left us with nothing very much to write up, and we didn't record our subsequent 2 games in detail at all.

Still, I can report that I had fun deploying a bunker complex and more wire to such effect with a green US detachment against a German rifle company; that Badger found the Italians a real bitch, even against green Russians; and that it was nice to take down an SS company with, yes, you've guessed it, another green formation- British this time. That last game, by the way, is my 100th play recorded in my BGG database. I know a few early games'll've gone by unlogged, but a veritable landmark all the same.

Another session is imminent. I'm getting more and more in the mood to wangle a revisit to the official scenarios. The Combat Commander RSG is the best scenario generator I've seen. Core virtues are the way it focuses players' attentions on 2 crucial and utterly authentic elements:
  • The battlefield and the possible objectives, through choice of map and orientation.
  • The terms of engagement, through force selection, whereby you try to force or finesse posture.
The mechanics and arithmetic supporting these decisions are light and intuitive so that the agonies you endure are about the tactical problems you face and not the system itself.

All that said, the special rules and OB of crafted scenarios take the game outside the envelope of even the best random generator. Plus, succeeding where others have failed is one of wargaming's essential pleasures it seems to me. ;)
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