Latest from the front Posted on 01 Nov 10:48 , 1 comment
Here is a different perspective of the war as seen from Chanel Stevens-san, a completely unbiased, objective and honest account of the horrors of war (the non-drinking bits).
Here is a different perspective of the war as seen from Chanel Stevens-san, a completely unbiased, objective and honest account of the horrors of war (the non-drinking bits).
Day 10 - Dateline: Hofgeismar
So at last, Euro WiFcon 2016 is over. After hours upon hours of dice rolling, strategising, plotting and cursing the enemy, it is time for The Last Supper.
I must admit to being relieved to find all the gamers still alive and relatively healthy. WiFcons in Hofgeismar have a habit of casting strange spells on the players to ensure they never leave, doomed for eternity to rolling dice in hope of that elusive 20.
So as we file into the last supper, the Creator takes his place at the head of the table. Looking at him, it's hard to ascertain whether he is a benevolent Creator, or an Old Testament wrath and fury type. What do you all think? Comments please.
Or maybe not?
What I do know for sure about him though, is that he speaks in a peculiar war gamers dialect. We had visited Prague together before arriving at Hofgeismar, and when I asked him how far to the German border, he replied "One and a half hexes". Ok, glad we sorted that out...
Now it's time for a shout out to the guys who've been at WiFcon from the beginning, which is now 20 years ago. Let's start with Harold.
Harold is responsible for starting the original EuroWiFcon 19 years ago this week (this being the 20th convention). Initially it was only because he was being bugged by a bunch of Vikings who wanted to play this (sort of) new game World in Flames. So he hired a scout hall where they ate, played, drank and and slept WiF for a week. Harold thought that was it.How wrong he was, 20 years later and he's been to every convention since.
Harold is a big wig at Daimler/Mercedes, and as he reminded us at the Last Supper, these days drives a beautiful big Mercedes Benz. He is also now married to Vera and they have a 1 year old son Henry.
Vera is another long suffering wargame widow who along with Harold and Henry visited us in Australia. She has won the Eurowifcon award for the woman who came back 3 years running! That shows true grit.
Some years ago Harold passed the baton to Marcus S who is now the convention's main man. As well as doing a prodigious amount of work bringing the convention together each year, Marcus is one of those laid back guys who never lets a bad roll faze him, well for no more than half an hour anyway. And no matter how bad things get he will ensure that no counters are ever harmed needlessly (hurling them at the enemy of course excepting). He too has come to every convention since its inception.
Another Marcus, Marcus G has come to (almost) every WiFcon since the beginning as well.
He had to miss two when on holidays with his wife Anthea, and one when on a police training exercise (I spose that's a good enough excuse Marcus). He loves the social aspect and reckons WiF is the most interesting and best game in the world. He grew up close to Hofgeismar, is a cop with a big laugh and a laid back attitude. He helps Marcus S in the organising and was instrumental in the printing of the very limited edition (11 copies total worldwide) convention only collector's edition maps.
All 3 of you deserve our thanks for doing so much over the years for the game and the community.The last supper is going well by the way.
All this focussing on people has taken me away from my food, and if I'm to even make a dent in it, I'd better get eating. I ordered fish, which comes with vegetables and potatoes. Like - a whole bowl of potatoes. Ten potatoes in fact. What the hell? TEN POTATOES. I promise I'm not making it up - here's a photo to prove it.
So I share a few round with the guys who are hungry from all their fighting at the front, while they wait for their Schnitzels. For at the last supper, let me tell you, Schnitzels abound. Of all different varieties - Schnitzel with onion, Schnitzel with Mushroom, Schnitzel with Schinken, Schnitzel with Cheese, and finally, Schnitzel with Schnitzel. The order for our table of 30, was in fact, 29 Schnitzels and one fish (with ten potatoes). My fish was such an oddity of an order amongst all these Schnitzels, that they wrapped it up like a bon-bon for me. Sweet of them don't you reckon?
Now I know I touched upon fashion in the last blog, specifically footwear, so I won't go into it again here. But I will mention that everyone looked very smart for their Last Supper, and there were a few impressive t-shirts on display.
Now even though he didn't actually play at this WiFcon, he was there as the mascot, and no conference would be complete without the lovely Rudiger.
Ruediger taking a short break from his Schnitzel.
Ruediger is the last of the quartet who has been to every eurowifcon since the first and is also the only player who has been to every day to every convention, except for a couple of days when he sacrificed his perfect record to drive Harry to Spiel 2010.
Ruediger has been a wonderful supporter of WiF over the years, distributing the game throughout Europe, running German Design Group and producing German language versions of the rules. He designs his own games these days including the Master edition of World in Flames and Caribbean Colonial Conquest.
This convention he was playing some strange game with his mate Marc in the smoking hall all week. I'm not sure how Marc survived it but he seemed to take it all in good spirits or at least his laryngitis meant he gave no complaints.
Finally, there were some awards handed out and we will append them to the blog when we manage to collate them all. Furthermore the images of the past week have been so memorable that I will also sync them into a slide show and pop it up when its finished. Stay tuned...
Well after 10 days of fun, frolic and war for the whole family, I must reluctantly bring my blog to an end. But like all wars, this is merely an armistace and not peace and I am already in training for next year's extravaganza.
Bye for now
Room with a view
Day 9 - and the tension level increases by the hour. Dice are being rolled FURIOUSLY, heavy breathing and sighs are punctuated by angry cursing and slamming of dice cups.
You can tell we are getting close to the climax of the war. And like in any war, it seems to me that different countries and different generals play by different rules. And because the Collector's Edition rule book is 80 + pages of 9 point font - there are inevitably differences of opinion. Which makes everything very bloody interesting indeed, particularly at this point in the week.
One compelling character I've met this week is Frederik.
Standing at least 6.5 feet tall, Frederik is certainly not lacking in confidence. He's playing the USA in this game, and thinks he has it wrapped up. He's entered the war much earlier than normal for the USA, which has allowed his production to explode. He's using 98% of this production against the Japanese, so watch out Chanel!!! He also admits he's been very lucky so far; the dice have been kind to him. We'll check back in with final results in the next instalment.
The USA looms large over the game
Well the dice gods have been smiling on Frederik, but unfortunately not on Torsten. Torsten has had a very tough game - he was playing Russia and I couldn't really follow exactly why things went wrong, but I know they did. Which was a bummer, since he had taken the week away from his high powered job managing a large Real Estate association, and his wife and kids. But he'll be back and better luck next time Torsten!!
There were also another couple of guys who left early, so I missed getting their mug shots and fingerprints on file. Aachim and Rupert, who by all accounts played well under trying circumstances. Rupert hales from Monaco and had to get back to running his own business so could only take time off to war for a few days.
Aachim on the other hand had plenty of time, too much as it turned out and found himself in the unfortunate position of channelling Josef Stalin while Hitler was swanning around Casablanca (playing it again Sam) doing his best to ignore Josef until late 1943 leaving Uncle Joe many nights nursing his vodka in his Moscow Dacha.
And hang on - here's another few guys I've never seen before - did they just parachute in?
Benjamin and Thomas brought along one of Australian Design Group's latest offerings, World in Flames Blitz, designed by David LeLacheur and produced by Compass Games in partnership with ADG. Advertised as WiF in less than a lifetime, this fast-paced version of World in Flames allowed them to just pop in for a day or two and catch everyone else up.
And Dirk. Exactly who is Dirk? I must confess Dirk's role seemed very shadowy. Is he a spy, an agent provocateur or possibly even a honey trap?
Now - let's focus on a couple of things close to my heart - fashion and food. First up - WiFcon fashion. Specifically footwear. Imelda Marcos eat your heart out. Check out these stylish trends.
Now these days we're all increasingly aware of the importance of health food, and here at the Schutzen hall it's no exception. I'm gonna let the images tell the story :
Got the picture? And check out these yummy lollies too :
And as the day pans to a close, I reflect on these gamers I've met - they are all very lovely, gentle, intelligent and welcoming.
So why the hell do they have so many disturbing and creepy surgical implements everywhere? Answer me that...
Anyhow, back with the final blog tomorrow, sweet dreams all,
Philippe in a moment of repose
Day 8 - It's been fascinating watching these guys in the war room over the past few days. They might not be able to clean a kitchen (with the notable exception of Chanel, who when complimented on his housekeeping skills protested "oh don't worry I don't do it for the team, I do it to stay alive!") but their intellects are undeniable.
Philippe is smart, young and attractive. He's a neuroscientist from Berlin. He's really pleased to have met other WIFfers from Berlin because he loves the social aspect of board games and looks forward to challenging them to a rematch in the coming months. Just goes to show how great boardgames are in forging friendships.
Tom comes from Michigan US, and is a lawyer with a heart who provides pro bono help to the disadvantaged in his community. His son's about to finish his PhD in physics so there is no shortage of grey matter in this family. This is his 5th EuroWiFcon (he is so dedicated he's also supported USWifcons as well) and we look forward to seeing him at the 6th).
Another gamer from across the Atlantic is Eric, ADG's main man. He and his wife Kandice brilliantly handle all the international distribution of World in Flames, 7 Ages and all the other plethora of ADG games usually from his prairie lair of Wichita Kansas. However he has had a fantastic opportunity with a worldwide company (other than ADG) to spend a few years working in the moors of Wales. He has 2 young kids but like many modern partners these days his very understanding wife has given him leave to bring out his inner Deutcsh for 10 days (hopefully the company is equally understanding).
Oystein is a charming guy from Oslo, with a big grin and an easy going manner. He's been playing since the mid 90's, and he's been to about 6 conventions. His wife Sisel doesn't mind him coming for the week, as long as he brings her a gift home. Let's hope it's not a copy of WIF for her.
Stefan's another guy with a big grin, he's from Munich and a more jovial face you are rarely going to find. He's playing on the best table with the auteur (no doubt up to 4 other tables may disagree) and although his Japanese navy is being pounded mercilessly by Karsten's USN, he takes it all in good spirit and even returns the favour sinking 5 Essex class carriers...so far.
Thomas is from Poland which goes to show how wide ranging our warriors hale from. Thomas is the quiet assassin. Although he often keeps his own counsel you underestimate him at your peril. With a flick of the rules or a roll of the die he'll have your panzers fleeing for the hills while you wonder what on earth happened to them.
Klaus is from Munich, and he's been sharing some of the play at this WiFcon with Harold, as he's had work commitments. He's playing Japan, and he likes that because lived there for several years when he was younger. He loves knowing the cities he's defending and fighting for. He loves learning new stuff at each conference through playing new players and watching their strategies.
Well thats it for today war-game widow sisters. Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment tomorrow...
Well, back to the trenches for another day of combat. The guys are all deep in concentration, bent over their tables with the intense focus of a true war gamer. As I introduce myself to more of the punters, it becomes apparent that one of the pre - requisites of coming to this conference is to be called Karsten/Carsten (depending on country).
So I start chatting to ... you guessed it, Karsten. Let's call this guy Karsten the 1st of Hanover.
Now don't be fooled by the friendly easy going smile on Karsten 1's face, because behind that facade lies the shrewd and ruthless mind of the US Commander in Chief.
Karsten 1 of Hanover is by all accounts an extremely good player, and in his spare time he manages to hold down a job as a maths, science and technology teacher, as well as being a family man, married to Ilona and with four beautiful children.
Next, I move on to talk to Carsten. Let's call this one Carsten 2, of Denmark, who currently lives in exile in Sweden.
Carsten 2 tells me that has been playing the game for the last 23 years. (I think to myself he must have started when he was a toddler - surely this guy can't be older than about 25). He loves board games, but WiF is his favourite. He likes it because it has so many strategic and tactical decisions, there's so much planning, fiddling with numbers, and history involved. He's playing Germany, and it's a close game - which is good. He's probably played around 150 games in his life, and reckons he's won around 60 % of them (I'm sure he's modestly rounding down). Favourite drink at the conference - Dunkel Beer.
Moving right along to the next Carsten, this time Carsten 3 of Copenhagen.
Carsten 3 from Copenhagen is playing the Commonwealth, and it's going well for him so far, although he claims the Russians are not doing well, and have left the building. This is his fifth Euro WIFcon, and he usually plays each Sunday at home, on Vassal.
The next Carsten I speak to is from Stockholm, and he claims his name is actually Johan (but I have my doubts). This is his 13th WIFcon, so he knows all the guys
pretty well. He doesn't play regularly at home, because he can't find enough players in Stockholm. So all you guys reading this in Stockholm, please contact Carsten (aka Johan) and start up a group. I ask why he doesn't play on Vassal, and he explains that he prefers the real deal - the counters, maps and dice. I understand that; the game is so impressive all laid out that I'd prefer it this way too.
All this chatting to Carsten's has made me thirsty, so I venture into the kitchen to grab a drink.
Hmm, not so easy to find a clean glass here, maybe I'll leave it for a bit and go find another Carsten to talk to.
Now this is one cool dude. Probably the coolest looking character here, he introduces himself as Christophe from Belgium. No beer swilling from a can for this guy, instead, he's holding an elegant long stemmed glass and sipping fine red wine. This is his 17th WIFcon, and he's playing the US. At this stage he's feeling confident (and he certainly looks it - as he drags on his Cuban cigar). One thing he loves about WIF is that you get to be in a war without killing anyone. Good point, thanks Christophe.
I'm not having much luck finding other Carsten's to talk to for the moment, so I have a peep around at some of the tables
and I admire the beautifully laid out counters on the maps. So neat, clean and precise. A slight contrast to the kitchen ... but never mind, these guys clearly have more important things to concentrate on.
Next up is Björn from Berlin. As well as apparently being an excellent player, Bjorn is a bit of a philosopher. He explains to me how playing WIF has helped to shape his world view.
"In this game you have to make decisions with uncertain outcomes. Therefore I have to think about the possibilities and the risks and then make a decision with the best knowledge I have. Now, afterwards, with a dice roll, that can either turn out to be a good or a bad decision, but I have to accept it because I made it with the best knowledge I had at the time. So I've learned from the game not to blame myself when I make a bad decision in my life, I've learned to accept my decisions more, and gain more self acceptance. And a lot of people feel that they can't make choices in their lives, but we all have choices and I know I can change things in my life, I just have to think about the possible outcomes of my decisions. I just have to take my life into my own hands and say what do I want to do, what are the possibilities? And WIF has helped me to understand this. This is why it's also a great game for young people".
Well said Björn.
Over and out from the front,
Dateline: Hofgeismar, Germany, 11 October 2016
Well this trip to Europe has been full of firsts for me. It was my first time in Portugal (which I loved), first time in Barcelona (which I loved), first time in Prague (which I loved), and now, the first time ever at a WIF conference. (Which I ... - hmmm let me think about it. Maybe love isn't the right word here). But it certainly is an eye opener.
So I arrive at the conference which is held - not at a conference centre (as one might expect), but at the local shooting range. So that whilst the WIF gamers are deep in thought and strategising their next brilliant manoeuvre, there is the soothing background noise of rifles going off. OK...
Inside the hall, there are 5 tables set up with the huge WIF maps.
And thousands of pretty little coloured counters which almost look like you could eat them.
I wonder what would happen if I tried, but I decide not to, as I suspect the gamers would object. I'm struck by how neatly they're stacked in little piles, sorted into various sections of numerous plastic boxes, lovingly tended to like precious jewels.
The next thing I notice is a lot of beer bottles. And wine bottles. Most of them empty. These guys are obviously having a good time!
So it's time to meet these chaps and see what makes them tick. First up, I speak to Terry.
Terry lives in Somerset, UK, and in this game he's playing as Germany. He's played WIF hundreds of times, but considering the scale of the game, this means only around 20 complete games. He's won around three of them. He loves the scale of WIF, and the size. So size really DOES matter, I think to myself. He then adds, "Harry's genius is that in a game of this scale it could turn out to be plodding, but this is a bit counter intuitive which makes it more fun. His wife Sue, (happily back home in England) has two views on the game - the first is that she is happy it makes him happy, and the second, well, let's just say she thinks it's basically a whole heap of guys sitting around playing with each other!! I think I'd like to meet this Sue.
Terry has a final comment about WIF before I move on - that the funny thing about it is that someone inevitably makes a terrible mistake at some point in the game - and it's oddly always in their favour!!!
Next I talk to Holger, who allegedly built his entire house around his enormous train set.
Holger is from Berlin, and is playing the Commonwealth in this game. He's completed around 50 WIF games, and although I've heard he is a very good player, he claims the number he has won is not so great, because many of his games have been against the world's best player, Kai. He is less of a beer drinker than most of the other punters and is probably the best dressed person in the room.
Now I move onto Michael, who lives in Hanover and works in banking.
He is also playing the Commonwealth in this game.. He loves WIF and enjoys the element of luck involved with the dice roll, and the way you must use your head to play (like soccer I wonder?) and the logistics involved. "You must always build for the next four or five turns. Although there must be skill - luck is definitely a factor". Favourite drink at the conference - you guessed it - beer!
Chanel lives in Bristol UK ,and claims his wife Caroline is happy for him to come to WIF conferences.
She feigns interest while he explains his strategies, and let's face it, who can blame her? And also, what trouble can he really get up to here in a shooting hall with a whole heap of men in track suits playing board games? He likes the fact that WIF will keep Alzheimers at bay, and that it takes him into an alternate reality, keeps him totally focussed and out of trouble. He loves playing Italy, because you have very few units, so you have to maximise your cusps of decision. This is his first time at a Euro WIFcon, and hopefully not the last.
Tobias is from Sweden, and has been playing WIF for around 16 years.
He loves he size of WIF, and the way that you get to have fun playing whether or not you win or lose. He's also playing the Commonwealth at his table. He loves coming to the conference and playing on the large tables - at home he plays only by Vassal. Favourite conference drink - beer!!! He's anticipating either a win or stalemate in this game.
Well there's heaps more to say from the front, but since it's been a heavy day in the trenches for me, it's time to say Guten Nacht - and I'll be back with more tomorrow.
Update to the Update 25 Sep 2016: Due to the large amount of changes we have made to the rules, counters and maps, and to ensure that all the new elements are properly tested and as this is the very last version of World in Flames ever, the release date is now April 2017. I apologise for the delay but believe when you finally receive your copy, it will be the most tested historical game on the market.
As you may know, since 2007 a team of us have been beavering away to make the definitive version of World in Flames, our international award winning grand strategic game of WWII. We thought we did it with the Final edition but we were wrong. Now after 9 years on this edition and 31 years in total (over 5 million person hours of total playtest experience) we are at last getting close to getting it right.
First off we won't be reprinting any of the WiF games except World in Flames itself but here there are extensive changes including all 5 standard maps, new rules and charts including several new campaigns and printing 24 countersheets totalling 4800 counters.
We also won't be reprinting any of the annuals and the kits for all these annuals are still current except for any WiF combat units included in these kits which are now all included in the reprinted countersheets.
One of our key objectives in the Collector's edition is to clarify, simplify and streamline all aspects of the game. First in line is to bring all the units or marker of a type into the one kit. Thus if you want divisions, you only need Divisions in Flames as every Collector's edition division is included in this kit and no division outside this kit is now part of the game.
Furthermore instead of a plethora of kits each counting aircraft, ships and land units, each combat kit only includes one of these types of units and there are only 4 kits that will include all the standard combat counters included in the game, 1 air kit (Planes in Flames) 1 naval kit (Ships in Flames that will include Cruisers in Flames, Convoys in Flames and Carrier Planes in Flames) and 2 land kits (Divisions in Flames and Territories in Flames)..
Thus what will be included in the collector's edition print is
1) World in Flames Classic game: 5 maps (4 large maps of Europe, Asia and the pacific and an American minimap), 1600 counters (CS1-6, 24 & 46), full-colour rulebook, B&W scenarios book and full-colour charts
2) Planes in Flames expansion*: 600 counters (CS 7-9) and charts
3) Ships in Flames expansion*: 1800 counters (CS 18-22, 36 & 51-53) and a task force display) incorporating CliF, CoiF and CVPiF
4) Divisions in Flames expansion*: 400 counters (CS 49-50) and charts; adds all divisions included in the game
5) Territories in Flames expansion*: 400 counters (CS 47-48) and charts; all territorials, city based volunteers, Warlords, Siberians, Ukrainians, forts, roads, rails, factories, oil, build point and other economic markers to round out the land elements of World in Flames.
*~not complete games, require any World in Flames game (Days of Decision, World in Flames, America in Flames or Patton in Flames) in order to be played.
Note that Africa Aflame and Asia Aflame will be retired subsumed by Territories in Flames and Divisions in Flames respectively.
(Check out the Collector's edition in the News section for the full description of each new game and kit)
At the moment we are aiming to a release late in 2016 or early 2017 and may end up splitting it in two tranches (WiF Classic, DiF and TiF first, followed by SiF and PiF a few months later).
One reason its taken longer than expected is I'm also doing all the business and correspondence as well as the design and development so things like this new website naturally eat into the time needed to get WiF finished.
But one of the great things of the new web site is you get to comment so please feel free to comment to this blog with any queries or suggestions you may have. Please check out our downloads section as we already have a fair bit of stuff you can download including the new rules and charts which may well help with any disputes you have with WiF7 (the current version). One of the many great things about the Collector's edition is that even though it has been a massive overhaul, most of the fundamental systems will be second nature to all current WiF players and thus the learning curve for the Collector's edition should be relatively easy. I shall add to the downloads over the next few months so you get a good idea exactly what you are getting.
One of the many things I need to do prior to release is to write up the strategy notes for each of the campaigns. Happy to do that for the global war campaign but if you are a bit of an expert WiFFer and want to impart your wisdom to all the rest of us poor long-suffering duffers, please drop me a line via our contact form with the campaign(s) that you have the drop dead best strategies for.
Needless to say being a poor struggling artist living in a metaphorical garret, I can't offer anything so sordid as money, but you will get your name in the credits and a free copy of the WiF Classic collector's edition (perhaps even Deluxe if you do a few strategy articles), not to mention immortality in print, or at least until the wargame museum closes down, whichever comes first.
So thanks for your patience and hopefully it won't be too much longer before we finally get to play World in Flames: the collector's edition. Remember that this is the LAST edition ever and I want to get it right, or as close to right as I can.
Yours in WiFFing,
Pls note that this post has been edited several times due to my driftiness and obsessive compulsion to read my own posts. Please accept my apologies.
USWiFcon kicks off again tomorrow, good luck to all competitors.
I believe they will be playing with the Collector's edition maps. To show what a challenge that will be first time up, check out the downloads section, I have added the draft collector's edition maps. They are only at 5% resolution but are good enough to show all the massive changes since WiF7, most particularly the middle east, Africa, Russia, Turkey, Siberia and the pacific (pretty much everywhere really).
If any of the competitors have any battle sitreps they would like to report please go ahead. particularly interested to see how the Russian and Pacific campaigns pan out.