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thegiantbrain
January 26, 2021
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January 25, 2021
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Klask

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January 22, 2021
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January 21, 2021
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Star Trek Adventures

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boardgameinquisition
January 21, 2021
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January 20, 2021
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January 20, 2021
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January 19, 2021
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January 19, 2021
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January 18, 2021
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January 15, 2021
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Tinderblox Review

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Dying Stylishly
January 15, 2021
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January 14, 2021
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Osprey Games Announces Undaunted: North Africa

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17 Dec 2019 20:15 - 17 Dec 2019 20:16 #305212 by Sagrilarus
Lord Licorice is a jackass. It's out.
Last edit: 17 Dec 2019 20:16 by Sagrilarus.
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18 Dec 2019 17:35 - 19 Dec 2019 01:55 #305237 by ModelVillain

Michael Barnes wrote: I’m going to write an article about this subject but at a high level, this is a situation much like Lovecraft- it’s a personal decision and I don’t judge anyone politically for choosing to play WWII games, but maybe with the current rise of nationalism and extreme right politics it’s time to rethink the value of playing as the Wehrmacht.

Thing is, there is absolutely zero historical or educational value in playing most games where you can be the Nazis and historical verisimilitude I could give a fuck about. The lingering popularity of WWII as a game subject has more to do with boomer white men gaming and fantasizing about being Nazis and trainspotting Panzers in the 1970s and 1980s than it does any actual attempt at analyzing or evaluating the more interesting and culturally relevant aspects of WWII.

I -love- Undaunted. But I sit down to play it with my son, he asks why he’s fighting the Germans, I explain it to him at the very highest level, and he looks at me and says “why would you want to play as the Nazis”? That’s not the kind of conversation I want to have playing games- I am all for games taking on challenging and difficult subject matter, but after years and years of hand-waving the notion of refighting WWII and representing Nazis...I’m done with it.


Interesting.

Warhammer 40k: "Purge the Unclean!"
Galactic Empire: "Set Target for Alderaan"
Khorne: Kill 'em All
Ancient Rome: Slavery & Genocide
Klingons: "Wo’ batlhvaD !"
Mordor: Because Dark Lords...

Who'd want to play them?

I get that for some, certain settings or themes are a turn off.

But this does come off as an oddly selective rationalization in attempting to justify the socio-political or ethical undercurrent of one game setting. But it applies to any setting where ostensibly good is pitted against evil.

But hey, I guess there's always pushing around meeples in service to his innocuous, sour-faced lordship in pursuit of ducats and prestige, in a contest of glorious multiplayer solitaire.

Nothing in my view is as fun-killing as the idea that stepping into the magic circle of a game as the villain, as being some kind of ethical failure. We play the villain not as moral advocate, but as antagonist and agent of resistance in whatever conflict or narrative the game presents.
Last edit: 19 Dec 2019 01:55 by ModelVillain. Reason: typo / grammar
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18 Dec 2019 17:40 #305238 by ModelVillain
As a footnote, I still have immediate family that survived the war in Europe.

It's a chilling thought, that our youngest generation have absolutely no idea who/what the Wehrmacht was. Not addressing this subject risks the same kind of topical self-censorship that would make holocaust deniers ecstatic.

Here is a case study in true evil, perpetrated by otherwise "good people" in pursuit of what they saw as positive purpose.

Knowing some survivors stories, I can't imagine anything more terrifying than it all falling out of our collective memory

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18 Dec 2019 17:59 - 18 Dec 2019 18:03 #305240 by Frohike
@ModelVillain & @marcnelsonjr, I just wonder why you or anyone would care about this decision, to be honest.

The usual response I see is an ample list of fantasy or science fiction settings that are supposed to hold up some sort of damning mirror in the face of this decision and the intended point is usually that the thematic setting is so agnostic to the modeled atrocity that it shouldn't matter.

And yet... people seem to get really miffed about this decision when it comes to models of WW conflict and I find that equally puzzling... and frankly quite telling. You obviously care that this decision is being made in the context of this specific genre, which sort of deflates the "it's all just genre fantasy & roleplay, grow a pair" attitude. So, the setting either has potency in the context of what actually historically happened or it doesn't. Which one is it? In answering this, could you perhaps perceive a situation where someone would be uneasy with inhabiting such a model because of this potency and, in some situations, perhaps a reinforcement of ideological noise that some people just really don't need in their lives at this point in our socio-political reality?
Last edit: 18 Dec 2019 18:03 by Frohike.
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18 Dec 2019 18:42 #305241 by Josh Look
Yeah, I don’t see why there’s a need to go on the offensive or throw insults towards someone who does not like to be faced with having to play the role of real world monsters in their preferred outlet for escapism. I’m entirely aware that setting the same conflict in a fictitious arena doesn’t actually make it any more agreeable, but for me personally, it does give me enough of a separation to better enjoy the game itself. It may strike you as hypocritical, but I am more comfortable playing as the Galactic Empire than I am the Nazis. In that case I am sitting there thinking about my love of Star Wars and not distressed over the rise and visibility of actual-honest-to-goodness-I’m-not-just-calling-them-this-because-I-disagree-with-them-fascists-I-mean-it-ACTUAL-FASCISTS. This is the choice that I’ve made, I can typically just avoid games that handle the subject (historical-melting-pot Civilization style games also fall into the same category), but I played this one and it’s a game I REALLY enjoy. I’m still going to be bummed that I have to sit there and try to get my Nazi troops to win because I’m sure as fuck not going to have my Jewish friend and opponent for this game be forced to play as them.
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18 Dec 2019 18:56 - 19 Dec 2019 01:53 #305242 by ModelVillain

Frohike wrote: @ModelVillain & @marcnelsonjr, I just wonder why you or anyone would care about this decision, to be honest.

The usual response I see is an ample list of fantasy or science fiction settings that are supposed to hold up some sort of damning mirror in the face of this decision and the intended point is usually that the thematic setting is so agnostic to the modeled atrocity that it shouldn't matter.

And yet... people seem to get really miffed about this decision when it comes to models of WW conflict and I find that equally puzzling... and frankly quite telling. You obviously care that this decision is being made in the context of this specific genre, which sort of deflates the "it's all just genre fantasy & roleplay, grow a pair" attitude. So, the setting either has potency in the context of what actually historically happened or it doesn't. Which one is it? In answering this, could you perhaps perceive a situation where someone would be uneasy with inhabiting such a model because of this potency and, in some situations, perhaps a reinforcement of ideological noise that some people just really don't need in their lives at this point in our socio-political reality?


I'm not entirely sure what your question is, but I will attempt to clarify my comments.

The first, more academic point was that: I reject outright the notation that playing a faction in any game, is some form advocacy or virtue signaling in support of that faction, for better or for worse. I think it's an unfortunate and ultimately absurd road to go down, especially extended into the context of many popular media, or story "worlds"

The second, more subjective and directed point re: WW2 was: I feel strongly that it's a setting worth visiting, exactly because of the rise of European nationalism, et. al, largely because of my connection to family that fought and/or survived the war as soldiers, prisoners, and civilians prior to immigration to the US. This was a conflict that saw, within human lifetimes, what we consider today to be modern, "civilized" democracies killing each other to the tune of 85 million dead.

Everyone knows their various likes and dislikes, and that's fine. Nobody is obligated to any level of interest in something they find unappealing. But I reject the notion that the topic is inappropriate or due to some kind of unhealthy fixation, as was explicitly suggested. And in fact I feel that keeping the setting alive and useful as an opportunity for learning in an era of resurgent fascism, is in fact something to be supported.
Last edit: 19 Dec 2019 01:53 by ModelVillain. Reason: fixed typos / grammar edit
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18 Dec 2019 19:23 - 18 Dec 2019 19:35 #305243 by Sagrilarus
A few years back I was invited into the house that my great great great grandfather built in Canada, by its current owner. My family stopped by just to peek, he and his wife invited us in for lunch. 90 years old, really a great guy.

His war photos were on the wall, a portrait in a German Navy officer uniform and a couple of shots of he and his buddies on a German u-boat. If you want to call him a Nazi or a patsy for the Nazis so be it, but he sure seemed to me like a regular Joe. He retired from Chrysler Motors 35 years after the war with a full pension.

The guys on the German pieces of Undaunted came to America and Canada after the war and their children live among you. They were just guys, misled and lied to by their leaders just like conscripted soldiers in every other country in history.

If you don't want to play the game that's fine and I'll admit WW2 isn't a personal favorite either. But I play Germans and Italians and Japanese, Confederates, Romans, British, French, Macedonians, Russians, Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc.

Students of history need to stand in other people's shoes regardless of their odor.
Last edit: 18 Dec 2019 19:35 by Sagrilarus.
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18 Dec 2019 19:49 - 19 Dec 2019 03:40 #305244 by Frohike
@ModelVillain, thanks for clarifying, and I think I get where you're coming from, but I also think you're coming in hot about a representational topic that, while certainly "worth visiting", some may feel to be better served in... frankly less facile and simplified game portrayals. I'm not personally bothered by this stance because history hits us from so many other vectors in our personal lives that it can be an acceptable loss to sometimes pass on a particular approach in a board game that doesn't sit well with us.

Looking into a crunchy war game and refusing to play an Axis force would be a bit more inscrutable for me. But bowing out of a medium-light deckbuilder because the trope just may not fit that particular niche in someone's gaming habits seems very far from hypocritical to me. And it certainly doesn't come attached to a whole set of assumptions you seem to be making about someone refusing to process historical reality.

There are other places to process it, certainly, and deeper more effective ways of doing so. Should we feel obligated to inhabit a normalized version of it in a light game in the same facile, tropey way that say... "cowboys & Indians" would be (I mean do we need, say, a Flick' em Up: Normandy. Does this really add anything substantial to our historical awareness)? What does that abstraction contribute to anyone's understanding of anything significant beyond some modeled tactical maneuvers & that so-and-so was the enemy of so-and-so, at best? I have my doubts.

On the topic of "unhealthy fixation," I'll broach an uncomfortable statement here: there does indeed seem to be a fixation, in games specifically, on tactical, technological, and combat prowess when it comes to Nazism, seemingly at the expense of everything else that surrounded that phenomenon.

These martial facets have been captured in obsessive modeling in war games, admittedly out of convenience & genre conventions, but maybe its time for games to actually model some of the more difficult and unsettling (& uncomfortably resonant) things that fueled Nazism and fascism. This War of Mine went into that experiential territory & opened up a space for more exploration of this approach. But that war was fictional, resonant at a remove. Is there space for something like a Kristallnacht game, rather than yet another grid for military maneuvers? Maybe something closer to home in the vein of Papers, Please that would deal with some of the unflattering realities of US immigration policy in the 30’s. I mean if we want to really inhabit some shoes & explore "decision spaces" & do more than spectate from above a battlefield, let's do it.

I understand that tactical games can be and have been framed as acts of respect for sacrifices made & the horrors of the battlefield, but at a certain point it seems this respect extends merely to the stage of battle and fails to engage any of the other contexts and theaters that would, as you say, give us some vantage to process the current resurgence of fascism.

Sometimes this boundary seems a little conspicuous and convenient to me, like fantasy wrapped in historical stats, draping itself in an "awareness" that's very specific and confined to the point of avoidance. So we may be keeping the setting "alive" in some ways, but I have misgivings about how "useful" the continued laser focus of some of these portrayals & obsessions really are when so much else seems to be left on the table.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, & thanks again for your respectful & well stated response. This vein of discussion about history & player identification in games always interests me.
Last edit: 19 Dec 2019 03:40 by Frohike.
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19 Dec 2019 00:04 #305261 by marcnelsonjr
@Frohike I care because the mob rules these days.

I want to play games about WWII and the Crusades and Afghanistan, and any number of conflicts involving people murdering other people. And I don't want those games shut down by people who aren't capable of separating games from reality, who think that picking up a piece of cardboard makes you a Nazi or a Talib.
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19 Dec 2019 01:12 - 19 Dec 2019 01:14 #305263 by Gary Sax
I think everyone in the thread who has any issues has pretty much expressed that they have personal lines and aren't trying to "shut down" your games, even Michael's more forceful take in which he talks about what he finds uncomfortable about it.

On a personal note, after a number of years I finally sent away Labyrinth last week because the content in it was feeling like I had a piece of pro-war propaganda on my shelf, particularly since it had the first expansion in it. I've talked about that stuff at great length (and mostly to myself) in the old thread on Labyrinth here on the forums. For me, the Washington Post expose on Afghanistan brought up a lot of those issues again and I decided I didn't want it around.
Last edit: 19 Dec 2019 01:14 by Gary Sax.
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19 Dec 2019 15:17 #305293 by southernman

Michael Barnes wrote: ... The lingering popularity of WWII as a game subject has more to do with boomer white men gaming and fantasizing about being Nazis ...


Really ?? Anyone on this site that you regard as a wannabe Nazi because they enjoy WW2 wargames ?
:dry:

Frohike wrote: …
On the topic of "unhealthy fixation," I'll broach an uncomfortable statement here: there does indeed seem to be a fixation, in games specifically, on tactical, technological, and combat prowess when it comes to Nazism, seemingly at the expense of everything else that surrounded that phenomenon. .


What is so strange about gamers, especially guys, being attached to the technology of weapons of war over the reasons behind the war and why should WW2 be an exception to any other period for a wargame ?

If people have a moral issue or think maybe they have some guilt for whatever reason then they absolutely have the right to follow their own path (without needing permission or acknowledgments from others) but where does presenting it in a manner to suggest others are doing something wrong come from, that's the type of passive-aggressive shit I'm used to seeing on other websites ?
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20 Dec 2019 10:21 #305333 by marcnelsonjr
@GarySax You think the mob will tolerate games that are made for wannabe Nazis?

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20 Dec 2019 11:45 #305341 by Gary Sax
marcnelsonjr, please stop trying to troll this thread. It has remained informative and reasonably civil so far while addressing exactly the topic you appear to feel strongly about and interested in. You already posted a mildly fatphobic aside for no real reason which I gave you the benefit of the doubt on. If you have an issue with Barnes's comments, raise them, don't refer to a "mob" trying to "shut down" your games that no one has referenced in this thread so far other than talking about issues they have or issues they see with the subject/topic.
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20 Dec 2019 13:11 #305359 by ubarose
BTW, Undaunted: Normandy made both Michael Barnes' & Matt Thrower's Best of 2019 Lists:

Barnes Best 2019

Play Matt: Top of 2019

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20 Dec 2019 13:24 - 20 Dec 2019 13:24 #305361 by marcnelsonjr
@Gary Sax "boomer white men... fantasizing about being Nazis" is OK, but responding to it is trolling?
Last edit: 20 Dec 2019 13:24 by marcnelsonjr.

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