Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Road to Minsk


I decided recently to start to tackle Gary Grigsby’s War in the East. So after playing the short tutorial I moved on to the first of a series of scenarios titled “The Road to …”. This first one is very short, requiring you to achieve your objectives in 3 turns.

Below is a map of the situation at the beginning of the game.


The objectives are to capture Minsk, and a set of points along the eastern border of the map. It doesn’t really leave you time to try and encircle the bulge of Soviet forces in the center of the line. Below I have included a map showing where the objectives are located (Red are Soviet, Blue are German).


My plan was for two main thrusts. One from the south, attacking through Brest-Litvosk, then skirting along the northern edge of the Pripyat marshes and heading for the Berezina river. In the north, there would be an attack along the Kaunas – Vilnuis axis, then a move towards Minsk with a secondary force heading for Vitebsk. Other forces, consisting mainly of slower infantry units, would try to pocket and shatter as many troops in the Soviet bulge on the main line as possible.


In the end I achieved a victory. I’m not sure I utilized my air power as well as I could have. My armor units did a great job keeping to the timetable needed to accomplish the scenario objectives, and I was able to keep them supported as they made their way to the eastern border and their objectives.


I didn’t move some of the units involved in shattering the bulge, or some units that were to push on to Minsk in the last turn since Minsk was already captured, and the scenario was ending.

Overall a fun game. They really have seemed to make it easy to play. I know there is a lot of stuff still to learn about air power, and force structure management, but they have made moving and attacking really easy to do in this game, and it was relatively quick to play through the scenario.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gaming Update for the Fall

The fall has brought a lot of fun new games out. I haven't had much time to play, but here are some games I have spent time with recently:

  • Crusader Kings II - I picked this up in a Steam sale. It is a fairly complex game simulating dynastic geopolitics of the middle ages. In my initial attempt while reading through an LP on somethingawful I quickly found myself in trouble. A region in my command soon revolted, and I had gone on the warpath against a neighbor that I didn't have the ability to defeat. You have to handle things with your family, managing the marriage of people, placing them into posts, dealing with threats from family members, and threats from outside your realm. Despite my disastrous initial attempt, this looks like it will be a game that will be entertaining for a long time.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Firaxis did a superb job in their remake of this classic game. It is fun and the missions are short enough that you can pop in and do a quick one if you don't have a lot of time. My initial game is probably up in the air at this point, as I didn't get a good grasp on the strategic part of the game soon enough, but it is still fun to see how far I can go, and then I will try again. My team has suffered pretty high attrition the past couple of months, with a lot of veterans being lost. We have started to get some tech improvements though which should help, but we are also facing much tougher opposition now.
  • Torchlight 2 - I have had some fun playing Torchlight 2 as well. It is a very nice ARPG, and runic has done a fine job with their sequel to their initial game. I have seen comments elsewhere that this is the true sequel to Diablo. I have never played the earlier Diablo games so I have no authority to comment on the veracity of that statement.
  • The Operational Art of War - I have been spending time with Norm Koger's classic wargame lately as I have been in my military history mood. This is the Matrix edition that came out in 2006.
  • Squad Battles: Falklands - A John Tiller title covering small unit actions in the Falklands campaign.

Reading update for the Fall

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, so here is an update of the books I have finished in the past couple of months.

  • Tank Farm Dynamo - A sf short story by David Brin.
  • Mind of War - A biography of John Boyd. This was a great book that covered a lot of what Col. Boyd had accomplished in his life, from setting up the AF fighter tactics school, designing the F-15 and F-16, and being a proponent of maneuver warfare and the OODA cycle.
  • Cybermancy - Book #2 in Kelly McCullough's Webmage series.
  • The Bitter Woods - John Eisenhower's wonderful operational history of the Ardennes campaign.
  • Sherman Invades Georgia - Part history of Sherman's Atlanta campaign, and part workbook on the modern military decision making process and its use in the study of historical campaigns.
  • Vortex - Larry Bond book about an attempt to turn back the clock as apartheid appears to be ending in South Africa. Larry Bond was a big part of Tom Clancy's early success and after the collaboration on Red Storm Rising he started to work on his own books.
  • Red Phoenix - Another Larry Bond book, this one focusing on a 2nd war in Korea late in the Cold War.
  • A Mathematician's Apology
  • Guide to the Literature of Mathematics and Physics - a book I read about on the physicsforums site. The beginning of it talks about how to go about reading these books and self study, and then the bulk of it details good books on a variety of subjects as of the year 1958.
  • Prime Obsession - John Derbyshire's book on the history of the Riemann Hypothesis.

I'm also at various stages of reading the following books:

  • The Art of Wargaming - Peter Perla's book on the history of wargaming.
  • Forward into Battle - Paddy Griffith's book on the evolution of battle from Napoleonic times to the 80s.
  • The Generals - Tom Ricks' book on American Generalship from WWII to present day, and how changes over time in the policy of removing officers has impacted the military.
  • The Signal and The Noise - Nate Silver's book pop sci book on statistical analysis.