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Posted on Jan 26, 2022 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

If You Want Cyber Peace, Prepare for Cyberwar. Book Review.

If You Want Cyber Peace, Prepare for Cyberwar. Book Review.

Cyberspace in Peace and War.  Author: Martin C. Libicki. Publisher: Naval Institute Press. 512 pages. Price $ 60.00 The headlines are dominated with the risk of cyberattacks against corporate and national entities. Is there a cyberwar looming over the horizon? Are you ready for cyberwar? How do you respond to a cyberattack? But hold on a moment – what exactly *is* a cyberattack? It clearly involves computers – but what is it and how does it fit into broader tactical and strategic operations? Would you like to know more? You can turn to Martin C. Libicki’s recent book Cyberspace in Peace and War (2021, Naval Institute Press).  Dr. Libicki’s tackles the subject of cyberwar with an eye towards educating the reader as to the various types of cyber activities and how they fit into modern concept of conflict. It’s a well-organized book that starts with a brief history of cyber-attacks. You get a good summation of the broad types of attacks along with numerous real-world examples that might jog...

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Posted on Jan 22, 2022 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

The Straight Shooter of Savo Island – The Life of Vice Admiral Willis Lee Jr. Book Review.

The Straight Shooter of Savo Island – The Life of Vice Admiral Willis Lee Jr. Book Review.

Battleship Commander: The Life of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr.  Author: Paul Stillwell. Publisher: Naval Institute Press Price $ 37.95 The battle of Midway rightfully gets a lot of attention, but the Guadalcanal campaign marked the shift in momentum in the Pacific War. No longer just blocking Japanese attacks, at Guadalcanal the Allies began the series of offensives that would lead to victory in the Pacific. But Guadalcanal was far from a certain outcome and the series of naval battles in the waters of the Solomon Islands were pivotal in securing the island. In this environment, Vice Admiral Willis A Lee, Jr played a key role commanding United States Navy ships in action against the Japanese in November of 1942. He’d remain in command of elements of the fast battleship force until June, 1945. Against the plethora of well-known naval leaders like Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, and Burke, Vice Admiral Lee blended into background, focused on accomplishing his assigned mission. Willis “Ching” Lee’s life has never been documented in...

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Posted on Jan 10, 2022 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Documenting Black Jack Pershing’s War. Book Review

Documenting Black Jack Pershing’s War. Book Review

John J. Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, 1917-1919, Volume 1: April 1917 – September 30, 1917.Author: John T. Greenwood (editor). Publisher: University of Kentucky Press. Price: $ 65.00 I’ll admit my knowledge regarding the United States military in the First World War is not a deep river. But you can argue that the Allied Powers may not have won the war without the declaration of war by the United States of America in April, 1917. The outbreak of war found the United States Army having to pivot from its recent ‘punitive’ campaign against Pancho Villa in Mexico to recruiting, training, equipping and transporting an entire army across the Atlantic into action in Europe. Fortunately, the country had a capable officer available for the task – John J. Pershing. General Pershing was faced with the intimidating task of transforming the US Army from a force engaged in counter-insurgency operations into a large standing force capable of waging modern war on a foreign battlefield. How General...

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Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Best Games of 2021!

The Best Games of 2021!

2021 was a challenging year for most of us but at least some great games were released to help ease the pain.   Enjoy this list of Armchair General’s Tope Games of 2021!   Corvette Command Designer: Alan Eagle. Corvette Command creates a narrative of events in a way similar to the classic board game “B-17 Queen of the Skies”. Your escort vessel is tied to supporting the convoy (barring some random events) and moves across the sea zones. In each zone, you check for a number of events and try to repair damage. With a little luck, you’ll avoid the U-boats and make it to your destination. The game covers events for the two-year period from May 1941 through May 1943. This is a free print and play game that can be played in a small footprint with optional advanced rules that enable you to play a quick set up one-off game or a two-player game and introduce greater level of detail. There’s even a VASSAL module available (thank you Lee...

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Posted on Dec 28, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Tank Duel takes to the Desert – Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa and Tank Pack 1 –   Board Game  Review

Tank Duel takes to the Desert – Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa and Tank Pack 1 – Board Game Review

Tank Duel Expansion 1 North Africa Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT Games   Designer:  Mike Bertucelli  Price $70 and  Tank Pack 1 $38 Passed Inspection:  beautiful components, new rules for the North African environment, new rules for infantry and anti-tank guns, night combat, open topped vehicles, recon units, multi-gun tanks, updated solo rules Failed Basic: nothing at all Box Art  The crew of the Marder II worked like a finely oiled machine as the driver put the tank hunter in to a hull down position near a depression in the desert.  The commander spotted a Crusader moving at cruising speed in the distance.  “Probably on a scouting mission or maybe it got separated from its unit after the sandstorm cleared,” thought the commander.  He and his crew were green but were trusted enough by his unit to put his Marder on an over watch mission. “Load AP.”  he said.  “AP loaded answered the loader”.  “Target  Mk II Crusader.  900 meters.  Fire when ready” he ordered.  His gunner fired but the...

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Posted on Dec 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

It’s Epic High Fantasy in a Tiny Box!  Mini Rogue  Board Game  Review

It’s Epic High Fantasy in a Tiny Box! Mini Rogue Board Game Review

Mini Rogue Board Game Review.  Publisher: Nuts! Expert   Designer:  Paolo Di Stefano and Gabriel Gendron  Price $25.00 Passed Inspection:  full solo or two player adventure in a small box; fun artwork; high quality components; tons of replay value for the money; great optional rules; campaign included Failed Basic: when playing the wizard, it’s a little unclear as to how you can get your spells back after you use them; some of the icons need a little more explanation When I was a 12 year old child I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons at a candy store owned by a dentist (he was probably investing in making sure he had future work as a dentist) in Dayton, Ohio.  At one corner of the candy store was a section which included Dungeons and Dragon Basic Sets and the hard cover Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books – Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual.  He also had Ral Partha miniatures made out of real lead and tons of dice as...

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Posted on Nov 28, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Jutland: The Latest Salvo. Book Review

Jutland: The Latest Salvo. Book Review

Clash of Capital Ships: From the Yorkshire Raid to Jutland Author: Eric Dorn Brose. Publisher: Naval Institute Press.  Price $ 49.95 There’s been a lot of ink spilled on Battle of Jutland, so much so that it is reminiscent of the Battle of Gettysburg, and rightly so. While a common perception of Jutland is that it revealed defects with the British battlecruisers, it’s best known as a decisive moment where the Royal Navy could have lost the war in a single afternoon. Eric Dorn Brose wades into this clash of historical narrative with his book Clash of the Capital Ships: From the Yorkshire Raid to Jutland published in 2021 by Naval Institute Press. Cover of Clash of the Capital Ships Dr. Brose has crafted a narrative that synthesizes the work of prior historians into an engaging and informative narrative of the battle. Dr. Brose charts a course through British and German naval strategy from the beginning of the war through the Battle of Jutland. The story explores how the...

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Posted on Oct 31, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

From the Sea…To the Blue Water Beyond.  Book Review.

From the Sea…To the Blue Water Beyond. Book Review.

Strategy Shelved: The Collapse of Cold War Naval Strategic Planning.  Author: Steven T. Wills. Publisher: United States Naval Institute.  Price $ 44.95 A common assumption is that since the end of the Second World War, the United States Navy has ruled to world’s seas throughout the Cold War and onward into the 21st Century. The assumption is not without merit. At the end of the Second World War, the United States Navy was the preeminent maritime strike force in the world. Counted separately, US naval aviation was the second largest air force in the world, only behind the U.S. Army Air Force. It was a state of affairs that scaled up the old phrase ‘send a gunboat’ into the more formidable action of sending a carrier battlegroup. And while ships did sail into harm’s way, the American public could assume that the sun never set on the ships of America’s Navy. Steven T. Wills explores how Cold War naval strategy was developed, evolved and implemented in his book Strategy...

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Posted on Oct 27, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“My revenge has just begun. It is spread over centuries.” Count Dracula― Fury of Dracula   Board Game  Review

“My revenge has just begun. It is spread over centuries.” Count Dracula― Fury of Dracula Board Game Review

Fury of Dracula Board Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Stephen Hand, Kevin Wilson and Frank Brooks Price $199.00 Passed Inspection: tense game play, beautiful components, easy to learn and fast to play, Board Game Geek has a great solo play rule set Failed Basic large footprint, Fantasy Flight should have included solo rules, why is the price so freaken’ high?!? I am a huge fan of all things vampire. As a little kid back in 1970, I cut my teeth (fangs?) on Dark Shadows during its initial run and became of fan of its guilt haunted vampire, Barnabas Collins. I grew up on both the Universal Dracula played by the immortal Bela Lugosi and in later films by John Carradine and Hammer’s Dracula series starring Christopher Lee (the only actor who I was nervous with when I met him).  In the late 1970s, I received an interesting Christmas gift – Steve Jackson Game’s Undead. In that Micogame, you either play Dracula or the vampire hunters stalking him...

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Posted on Oct 16, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Begun, these Clone Wars have.” Jedi Master Yoda -Star Wars Armada Clone Wars Table Top Game

“Star Wars Armada Clone Wars”  Table Top Game Review.  Publisher: Fantasy Flight  Games   Designer:  Michael Gernes and Brooks Flugaur-Leavitt Price $99.00 (Starter Sets) and $25 Fighter Booster Packs Passed Inspection:   perfectly captures the Star Wars feel, great looking miniatures and components, easy to learn, fast playing Failed Basic star fighter stands come apart during play, very expensive, no built in solo system, boxes don’t hold up as storage for the game, rules reference is not included and must be downloaded and printed The two Hardcell transports took up positions in the asteroid field as Count Dooku paced the bridge on one of the armed transports.  “Captain, when will we be in position to launch the prototype Tri Fighters?” he asked exasperated.  The human commander nervously turned from speaking with the comm officer and looked at the Count.  “We are a ready  to launch now, my lord.  But we just received a parameter alert.  Two Republic Consular cruisers just jumped in to the system.  Passive scans seem to indicate that...

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Posted on Oct 9, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features, Games PR

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

A Pictorial Review of Origins 2021

Or, “What I Did On My Post-Summer Vacation” Origins 2021 was held September 30, 2021 through October 3rd, 2021. It was a unique event, but then these are unique times, eh? I was able to attend on Friday and Sunday. Over the course of my time, I snapped some shots of things that might be of interest to our tabletop gaming audience. If I missed, you, your event or your booth, my apologies, it was a bit of a whirlwind experience. The convention center is a large facility with huge halls. You could park an airliner of two inside these spaces! The new parking garage on the north end of the facility added a lot of much needed parking! The registration desk space was well organized and running efficiently. Across the room was the pre-registration check in stations. This was fast and easy with a staff member on hand to assist with any issues. I arrived very early on Friday morning with vendors completing their set up. Origins 2021...

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Posted on Sep 25, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

On the Origins of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. Book Review.

On the Origins of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. Book Review.

“They pay me to be an Admiral, not to think!” This quote attributed to Berkley Milne sums up an era of change that transformed the organization of the Royal Navy at the dawn of the Twentieth Century.  Author Christopher M. Buckey explores this transformation in his recent book Genesis of the Grand Fleet: The Admiralty, Germany and the Home Fleet, 1896-1914. Buckley examines the factors and personalities that led to the creation of the mighty armada that was a foundational element in the Entente’s victory in the First World War. Buckey spotlights the truism that while technological superiority is definitely important in naval warfare, it means little if not paired with an effective tactical plan that in turn rests on a solid foundation of strategy. Buckey explores the intersection of geography, politics and personality and how these factors shaped the formation of the Royal Navy in the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War.  The book serves as an effective proof that geography matters. The...

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Posted on Sep 2, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons.”― Herodotus 300 Earth & Water Board Game Review

“300 Earth & Water”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: Nuts Publishing and Bonsai Games   Distributed by Ares Games  Designer:  Yasushi Nakaguro and Antonio Stappaerts   Price $29.99 Passed Inspection:     Very easy to learn; beautiful box and artwork; small footprint; perfect game to take on a trip; great fun Failed Basic: typo on “Tribute to Earth and Water” card; a few alternative scenarios or advanced rules would add some variations to replays; in this Age of Covid solo rules would be a nice addition 300 Earth & Water is a new game which covers the 50 year war between Greece and Persia between 499 BC and 449 BC.  The game is designed to be easy to learn and fast to play.  An entire 5 campaign game can be played in 30 to 45 minutes.  It uses blocks and disks plus dice and cards to drive the game play. The game comes in a beautifully designed compact box of approximately 9” x 6 ½” x 1 ¼” (22.86 x 16.51 x 3.18 centimeters). ...

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Posted on Aug 22, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.” The Battle of the Atlantic comes to the game table. An Interview with Alan Eagle, Designer of “Corvette Command”

“This is a story of the Battle of the Atlantic, the story of the ocean, two ships, and a handful of men. The men are the heroes; the heroines the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea that man has made more cruel….” The opening lines of the 1953 movie “The Cruel Sea” captures the feel of Alan Eagle’s recent solitaire game “Corvette Command”. In the game, the player takes on the role of the commander of an Flower class corvette (These were mostly Canadian and Royal Navy vessels). The player is tasked with escorting convoys of merchant ships back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between the United Kingdom and North America. Corvette Command creates a narrative of events in a way similar to the classic board game “B-17 Queen of the Skies”. Your escort vessel is tied to supporting the convoy (barring some random events) and moves across the sea zones. In each zone, you check for a number of events and try to...

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Posted on Aug 20, 2021 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Combat makes the pilot’s will to win stronger. With every fight they become much stronger. I got stronger with each victory. ”― Lieutenant Saburo Sakai, Ace Zero Pilot –  Zero Leader   Board Game  Review

“Combat makes the pilot’s will to win stronger. With every fight they become much stronger. I got stronger with each victory. ”― Lieutenant Saburo Sakai, Ace Zero Pilot –  Zero Leader   Board Game  Review

“Zero Leader”  Board Game Review.  Publisher: DVG Games   Designer:  Chuck Seegert   Price $99.99 Passed Inspection:     perfectly captures the atmosphere and challenges of being a pilot for the Empire of Japan during WW2; fun to play; easy to learn; great AI; beautiful components and artwork; a nearly perfect game; years of replayability Failed Basic:      the Pearl Harbor campaign needs a tweak; the box needs to be deeper to hold all the goodies Full Disclosure – Rick Martin has designed Tiger Leader and Sherman Leader and is currently designing T34 Leader for DVG Games In 2018, I reviewed a game called Corsair Leader. It was a solo World War II aviation game in which you fly for the US Navy or Marines in the Pacific Theater.  It was one of my favorite games that year and a game I continue to play over and over again.  Now DVG Games has put out a companion game to Corsair Leader called Zero Leader.  Zero Leader tells the tale of Japanese Army and Naval...

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Posted on Aug 7, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Resentment, Rebellion and Retribution: The Second Anglo-Sikh War 1848-1849. Book Review

Resentment, Rebellion and Retribution: The Second Anglo-Sikh War 1848-1849. Book Review

The Second Anglo-Sikh War.  Author: Amarpal Singh. Publisher: Amberley Publishing.  Price $ 25.00 In the later half of the 1840’s the Sikh state founded by Ranjit Singh found itself in competition with the expanding British Empire’s East India Company. A short conflict in 1845-46 had led to concessions by the Sikhs, with those concessions fostering resentments which sparked a second war in 1848. Amarpal Singh’s book The Second Anglo-Sikh War provides a comprehensive overview of the war, it’s causes and the aftermath. The book is divided between an extensive portrait of the personalities and events that led to the second war and the campaign and battles that resulted in the defeat of the Sikh armies and the annexation of the Sikh territory into the British Empire. Starting from the final events of the First Anglo-Sikh War, Amarpal Singh provides a detailed narrative that delves into the personalities of the coming war. The reader is introduced to the feudal nobility of the Sikh leaders and the families. You’ll gain insights...

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Posted on Jul 24, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Take a Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea with The Bathyscape Trieste. Book Review.

Take a Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea with The Bathyscape Trieste. Book Review.

Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. 2021.  Authors: Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mathers. Naval Institute Press. 304 pages. Price: $44.95 ISBN: 978-1-6824-7591-1 The United States Navy submarine branch has long carried the nickname as the “Silent Service”. During the Cold War that phrase referred to both how quiet the boats were as well as the often-clandestine nature of their work. While not as glamourous as the attack boats and boomers, research submersibles like the Trieste, Alvin and the NR-1 performed critical missions and often operated under the cloak of deep waters. Now, Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mather bring the origins of the deep submersible operations to the surface in their recent book Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. The Trieste was one of the earliest of the submersibles designed from the pressure hull outward as a way for a human crew to explore the deep ocean and ultimately, to explore the very bottom of the sea. Trieste, and her crew of Jacques Piccard and...

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Posted on Jul 12, 2021 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

The Flutist of Arnhem covers “A Bridge Too Far”.

The Flutist of Arnhem covers “A Bridge Too Far”.

The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden. Author: Antonio Gil. Publisher: Dead Reckoning. 152 pages. Price $ 24.95 ISBN: 9781682474631 I first encountered the defense of Arnhem bridge in Cornelius Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far”. Later came the movie with a cast of thousands and a number board games covering aspects of the operation. Antonio Gil revisits the events of this battle with his recent graphic novel “The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden”. Gil weaves a good overview of General Montgomery’s big push to end the war with a fictional tale of an SOE agent trying to deliver important documents to the Allied High Command. The two separate story lines intersect during the events of Operation Market Garden – the combined air assault and ground offensive designed to push the Allies over the Rhine and into Germany. The book retells the story Operation Market Garden with enough detail to understand the events, without getting bogged down within individual combat actions. While the...

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Posted on Jul 9, 2021 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

An Amazing Virtual CCG Experience KARDS Computer Card Game Review

An Amazing Virtual CCG Experience KARDS Computer Card Game Review

KARDS –   Computer Game Preview.  Publisher: 1939 Games   Lead Game Designer: Gudmundur Kristjansson  Price: The base game is free but expansion packs can be purchased starting at $2.99. Way back in 2018, Armchair General did a preview of the World War 2 themed virtual collectable card game KARDS.  Well now its 2021 and the game is going strong.  Here is our much anticipated full review of KARDS!  In order to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I have used some material from my original preview in this full review. World War 2 themed card games have been few and far between.  Two standouts that I played almost all the time many years ago are the fantastic Echelons of Fury and The Last Crusade.  During this decade, DVG Games’ Warfighter has breathed new life in to the genre and is considered a classic by many. Now, a company out of Reykjavik, Iceland called 1939 Games is developing a World War II themed CCG (Collectable Card Game) with a twist – the...

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