New Georgia – Scenario 8 Order of Battle WW2 US Navy Campaign

If you have the resource points the New Georgia strategy I’ve developed after a dozen playthroughs can usually obtain a low cost win with about 20 turns left to spare. The primary objective is capturing three victory positions. Two are on one end of the island holding the majority of the defenders with the other on the opposite end of the island. Secondary objectives are clearing Rendova Island granting some limited use, AI controlled long-range artillery and capturing Munda airfield in 45 turns granting a captured Jap aircraft.

1 - Scenario Objectives

Understanding the victory positions and the difficult terrain are the key to an easy New Georgia win. New Georgia is huge. Your start points and the easily captured initial airstrip are on the far Eastern part of the island. An early beachhead easily captures one victory position. The other two victory positions are in the far West with heavy defenses. 2 - 2 Primary VPS3 -3rd Primary VP

New Georgia has multiple rivers, several high hills, and a lot of jungle. Supply points are limited and there are only two airfields. US Army troops lose organization in rough terrain and become combat ineffective. Thus, your ground troops should be 90% plus Marines. The initial ground troops should be 100% Marines. Late in the battle when the Marines grind through the layered Jap defenses in the Far West I added two heavy artillery and one light tank units. Only Marines remain combat effective moving through the jungle covering the island.

Next, I use four landing groups. Two initial beachheads are hit by multiple Marine Units. A third group consisting of three Marine regiments and two PT boat squadrons attack Rendova Island. Last, two Marine regiments stay in landing craft to more quickly seize two small ports in the middle of the island. My naval mobility is used to capture distant points while the bulk of my combat forces catch up.

Last, the Northern third of the island has terrible terrain (high hills and jungle) and no victory positions. Furthermore, the Northern third can be isolated by defending a couple of choke points. My plan is to isolate the North, guard the approaches, and massacre infiltrators while suffering minimal casualties.

My strategy is complex and can be visually seen on the screenshot below.   4 - Terrain strategy and starting positions

Turn 3 – The first beachhead was established against light opposition. An airfield is immediately available. This represents one of the most effective special forces operations of WW2. US infiltrators on New Georgia managed to build a primitive airstrip with native assistance on a Japanese occupied island. I had enough resource points to upgrade my dive bomber squadrons. One unit of Japanese defenders was destroyed by shore bombardment and strafing before second set of landings.   5 - Turn 3 First beachhead6 - turn 3 airstrip

Turn 4 – Second Beachhead Established – Second beachhead was seized under fire. After a sharp initial battle, only two damaged infantry units remain close to the second beachhead. Troops from the first beachhead are pushing inland without pausing to reorganize. The overview map shows both beachheads and the other two embarked Marine attack forces.   7 - 2nd Beachhead turn 48 - Turn 4 big picture

Turn 5 & 6 – Second Beachhead Opposition Destroyed – Massive air support and Marine attacks eliminated all opposition on Beachhead 2. Troops moving inland from the first beachhead have only encountered a weak AA group which will be quickly destroyed. Success on turn 5 brings reinforcements on turn 6. Two marine regiments are embarked in landing boats with an accompanying supply ship. The US also gets an additional 16 land command points (sufficient for 5 Marine regiments). The troops in landing crafts will be landed at the small pier on Beachhead 2. The sixteen land command points will not be used yet. I’ll take reinforcement and supply points closer to the last two primary victory objectives before applying the additional command points.   9 - Turn 5 Jap Opposition Destroyed10 - Turn 6 reinforcements

Marines run into the first Jap inland defenders as they move inland. Devastating air strikes and ground attacks almost destroy both groups of Jap infantry. 11 - Turn 6 Jap Defenders almost destroyed

Big picture, Marines are sweeping North to capture the Eastern part of New Georgia. Two marine regiments in landing craft move towards the next two small ports heading Westward. Two destroyers and a PT Boat squadron will provide firepower and supply. Marines are approaching the landing zones at Rendova Island. Two PT boat squadrons are raking the Jap defenders on the beach with their .50 caliber machine guns. After the beach is cleared, the PT Boats supply the landed Marines until the ports are organized for supply. 12 - Turn 6 big picture

 

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Holding a Sign for your Wife

Aubie Bobbleheads

My wife has a doll obsession.  She has thousands of dolls.  They are everywhere in our home excepting the master bedroom and my office.  She loves dolls, but bobbleheads hold a special place.

Everyone loves Aubie – Auburn’s Mascot.  He is in the Mascot Hall of Fame (yes it exists) and has won more College Mascot of the Year than anyone.  Aubie does not have a “big head” and the suit is very flexible.  Past Aubies could walk on their hands, do backflips, and really, really dance. IMG_0100Aubie

We have had many, many sets of season sports tickets at Auburn for 31 years.  They sometimes have special giveaways.  T-shirts are common giveaways.  Many other items have been distributed over the years.  Bobbles have been done before for baseball players (Tim Hudson), multiple basketball players (Barkley, Chuck Person) and coaches (including Bruce Pearl).  But this Spring they had the ultimate bobblehead – Aubie.

Five Aubie bobbleheads were given out at five different Auburn games: 3 baseball and 2 softball.  The Aubies all wear a different team uniform (football, basketball, baseball, softball and an Auburn t-shirt).  Get all 5 and they spell “Aubie.”  Unfortunately for us, they only gave away 500 of each bobblehead and they started the giveaways at games where we were in Minneapolis for the Final 4.

A good friend of mine secured the first bobble.  I thought they were all at baseball, but the 2nd was at a Softball game which was played when we were gone.  I contacted all buddies with softball season tickets – no bobble.  We tried Amazon, Craigslist, Ebay, etc…… but no “U” bobblehead was for sale.

So I got a standing room only ticket to an Auburn softball game where the “I” was given away.  Got there when the gates opened to get my “I.”  While there, I stood on my feet for an hour and a half holding a sign which read “Need “U” Aubie Bobblehead” with many big “$s” on the sign.  I offered people who asked that I would pay $40 for the first “U” I got and gave away my name and phone number to 8 people.  I got the bobble for $40.

We all do things for our spouses.  Sometimes we do uncomfortable things.  Auburn is a  small town, plenty of people I know spoke to me when holding the sign with big smiles on their faces.  But every married male knew, in their heart, that it could be them holding the sign.  In fact, holding the sign while standing on my feet for an hour and a half was pretty small potatoes for almost 35 years of marriage.

Explaining the sign made many people smile.  I don’t suffer from a lack of confidence, public shame, or a fear of being the object of kidding.  I’m the youngest of three boys (my father was the worst at needling), taught sales for years, and am unafraid of public speaking.

So enjoy this story and think about the last time you “Held the Sign.”

Retirement Party

In January, 2019 I retired after 31 years as a Professor of Marketing at Auburn University.  We had a retirement party at our home on March 30.  The weather was beautiful and the azaleas were in full bloom. Azelias in the yardIMG_9806

A pig raised by my buddy Brian Anderson was purchased.  It was roasted by the Auburn Meats Lab.  Brian is the one with the hat. The noble pigGuest of HonorBrian Anderson (hat) and Ed Lowenstein

Many friends attended including several of my co-authors: Astrid Keel from California, Jim Gray from Florida, Danny Butler, Dan Padgett, and Bill Lett from the AU faculty and George Franke from UA.   I took the pictures and then set the camera down to enjoy time with our guests.Jim GrayAstrid & Shirley GilmoreAndy McClellan & Marlin Jensen

Great pig, good beer and good friends.

Grilled Zucchini Recipe

Zucchini is cheap in season and just a couple of plants in your garden may provide a bounty.  This is a recipe Lynn & I came up with that we enjoy.

Your ingredients are fresh zucchini, olive oil and Grill Mates roasted garlic and herb seasoning.  I also highly recommend this seasoning for grilled meats. IMG_9853

Next you slice the zucchini thinly.  Place it on a plate with a single paper towel between the layers.

Zucchini has such a high water content that it should be drained before grilling.  I recommend letting it drain at least 2 hours before grilling.  The zucchini can be sliced up in the morning before you go to work and left out on the counter.    It will not go bad in 8-10 hours, will drain better on the counter than in the fridge, and grills better at room temp.  The heat from the grill will kill anything harmful (assuming that would even happen).

Start your grill.  Put the drained zucchini on a flat baking sheet.  Lightly brush a coating of olive oil on one side of the zucchini.  After a baking sheet’s worth of sliced squash has been oiled, liberally shake on the grill mates seasoning.  By the time you finish your grill should be hot.

I put the zucchini on the grill with the herb side up.  You have to watch this carefully.  Your slices are unlikely to be completely even so grilling time varies.  Turn the zuchinni once and grill the other side.  Then remove.  If you are using a timer, do not set it for more than 2 minutes per side – but given how the slices are probably not of even thickness it is better to watch it.

Remove and eat.  The zucchini reheats in the microwave very well.  I’ll make this and we will sometimes eat on it for the next five days as a side dish.

I’ve served this to numerous guests when hosting poker.  Everyone who likes squash enjoys this recipe.

Miskatonic University Library: The Restricted Collection Unboxing

1- outside box

I backed Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection on Kickstarterat the $25 level (plus shipping). My copy arrived on March 16th – later than the backers promised but not as late as many Kickstarter games. Screenshots of prototypes of the game parts were promptly posted lending creditability to claims that delays were due to production and shipping complications from China.

Although the actual rules are only 10 (very small) pages, I have not studied or played the game yet. The rule book is thicker because each of the two rule books provides the rules in two different languages. The game is ready to go for four major world languages: English, Spanish, German and French. The game cards use symbols, so from a design perspective the game is user friendly for multiple languages.4 - Open book

I’ve got at least two tabletop games higher on my priority list, (Mansions of Madness and Lords of Waterdeep) so a review or after-action report may be a ways down the road. But I’ve got the game so we can take a look at it.  I’ve signed up to play Lords of Waterdeep at Origins which is nice.  Easier to learn a game after you have played it with others who understand the game.

The game concept is Dr. Henry Armitage the Head Librarian at Miskatonic University’s Orne Library convened a meeting of senior university faculty to determine who gets to Chair the Library Committee which grants access to the most secret books held by Miskatonic. During the meeting a monster emerges from the stacks, spits out the remains of a student, and slithers off. Dr. Armitage locks the entrance to the restricted collection with a quickly drawn ward. You are charged to enter the stacks, search for lore fragments, and return with them. The faculty member collecting the most lore while retaining the most sanity becomes Head of the Library Committee.

As a retired academic, I did my best to avoid committees and worked even harder to avoid being named Committee Chair. Sometimes it was unavoidable, but committees were a time suck which yielded little in the way of decisions or useful work output. I have a coffee mug from despair.com stating: “Meetings: None of Us are as Dumb as All of Us.” When teaching Sales Management I required students to calculate both direct and opportunity costs of sales meetings under the title “Meetings are the Devil.”

The game has five rounds. After that the sanity and lore scores are toted up and the faculty member with the highest total wins. At least I think that is premise of the game having read the intro page of the rules and scanned the rest.

The game is compact and is shaped like an old book. All of the sides excepting the title spine have artwork depicting book pages. The spine is rounded. When you open up the cover, there are magnets holding the cover closed to the rest of the “book.” This is very pretty as well as functional. The game takes little shelf room and looks much more attractive than most game boxes.2 - side box

The game has a five player maximum and each player has a decorated play marker to organize the cards collected during the five rounds of play. These player desk boards are sturdy and attractive, but have minor functionality issues from an aesthetic perspective.5 - Max 5 players

The play boards are designed to organize three sets of cards: Grimoire Fragments; Graduate Students; and Sigil Pieces. But the product design is a little off and none of these cards fit tightly as shown by the photographs. The Sigil Pieces should put together to form an elder sign – but the lines don’t match up when the cards are placed in the holder.

The cards are sturdy with high production values and should hold up to any normal play unless they get wet. But spilled drinks at game sessions are the bane of almost all game cards in every genre.

The Grimore Fragments look great. The defense cards, sanity cards, and lore cards all fit. But the graduate student cards are irritating. There are only two illustrations of insane graduate students out of 16 graduate student cards. This is unacceptable. If you have sixteen insane graduate students who can be sacrificed for the greater good of the Professor (just like real life academics), then each of those cards should illustrate a different insane graduate student. Somebody cheaped out on paying for adequate insane graduate student artwork and it shows.

Other than the lack of graduate student diversity (OMG – I sound just like a lefty academic) and imprecisely designed player boards – the game looks wonderful and the card illustrations clearly indicate what each card stands for.

Gameplay and fun are the most important aspects of any game and I don’t have them for you now. But the game is pretty, seems functional, and the rules are short.

[This unboxing article first appeared at Armchairdragoons.com] https://www.armchairdragoons.com/feature/unboxing-miskatonic-university-the-restricted-collection/

Mace West

1- Mace Sign

Mace West was held on a cold, rainy March 1-3 in Asheville, NC at a Hilton hotel very close to the entrance of Biltmore House. Mace West is a small tabletop and RPG convention. Other than a small number of dealers scattered in hallways and in one small room, it was all gaming.

A room was devoted to Pathfinder Society, another room dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers Society, and the rest of the space to other tabletop board games, miniatures, and RPGs. Like most MACE events, there were a large number of Savage Worlds games across a dozen different settings.

Unlike previous MACE events, this one had a few wargames. One large group played Diplomacy. Another group played General Quarters, a rules light surface naval combat game being sold by one of the dealers. Like most game conventions, there was an assortment of play to win games and a large game library of tabletop games available for checkout.

Mace to me is a quiet gaming con. People play a host of games, most in 4 hour blocks so you can get in three game sessions on Saturday and two on Friday and Sunday if you max your schedule and all of the games make. I played all RPGs: Savage Worlds Supers, Dungeon Crawl Classics (both ran a session and played in a session), Mutant Crawl Classics and Paranoia.

Mace is also quiet in terms of chaos and controversy. The registration system is well run. The tables were very well labeled. There was plenty of water, tables, bathrooms, etc…. to make the game rooms work effectively. No drunken louts, loud parties, or other distractions were encountered. Everyone seemed very happy, unless their dice were running really badly. Nice, fun, quiet weekend devoted to gaming.

Mace West had excellent attendance on Saturday but weak attendance on Friday and Sunday. Many games did not make on Friday and Sunday. Attendance was so weak for the last Sunday session that I could not find a game to play. There were more GMs with scheduled games on Friday and Sunday than there were players. I took advantage of this by not running my Call of Cthulhu scenario I had run three times the previous weekend and joining a short-handed Savage Worlds Supers game that was a lot of fun.

I ran Dungeon Crawl Classics for the first time using a home brew scenario. The players had a blast. They killed a Giant Snake I thought they would avoid after the snake killed a pack mule and was dragging it into the deep woods. The Snake almost ate a party member. They combined parlay, lies about the party’s strength, and some excellent creative bribes (beyond just money) to roughly double their combat power.

An advance scout spotted “four huge (8 -9 feet tall) black furred bipeds with large bat ears carrying huge maces or spiked clubs plus a shield. One of the creatures was wounded. All four of the bipeds were arguing with each other as they moved down a wilderness trail in an unknown language.” The scouts moved fast, reunited with the party, and then engaged in some very creative negotiation. [Dungeon Crawl Classics stresses the need for mystery – hence my description of the Bugbears instead of just calling them Bugbears].

First, the spokesperson bragged about their fighting prowess demonstrated by their destruction of the giant snake. The 4 huge creatures were very impressed when they wee shown the head of Mighty Sssssss-Ha! – as the party discovered what the snake was called by the locals. The parlay discovered the creatures were Bugbears, that they had been overthrown by a group of Hobgoblins led by some sort of Hobgoblin spell caster, and they were both scared of the Hobgoblin spell caster and mad their comfortable life lording it over the Goblins had ended.

The spokesperson offered a very creative bribe, we will help you overthrow the Hobgoblins, save as many Goblins as possible to repopulate your minions, plus a favorable treasure split. After some dickering over treasure, the Bugbears joined the group. Then the party used excellent tactics on a scouted Hobgoblin led ambush and did not attempt to have the Bugbears bear the brunt of the fighting. Plus, most of the Goblins were spared to be “protected by friend Bugbears.” Then a second, far better prepared ambush was slapped down. Now the Bugbears thought the party was not going to screw them and became quite enthusiastic.

The party plus the bug-bears crushed the Hobgoblins, their Goblin minions, and a very dangerous Hobgoblin Cleric with ease. The party recaptured the critical hard coal and iron ingots needed for the metal working industry of their town and returned in triumph. The group even laid the seeds of a negotiation for the Bugbears to provide “protection services” for the annual metals and coal shipment down the river from the Dwarf stronghold.

If you want a relaxed, small game convention Mace West is a good one. Plus, if your spouse is not interested in gaming Asheville has Biltmore House, a lot of hippy-dippy craft and art places, a pretty good Pinball hall, and multiple excellent brew pubs. My wife speaks highly of the artsy-fartsy shops, we both endorse the brew pubs, and the “pinball museum” is a fun place for pinball aficionados.

[Appeared earlier at Armchair Dragoons: https://www.armchairdragoons.com/feature/mace-west-2019-a-convention-report/

Dark Adventure Radio Theater’s Masks of Nyarlathotep – A Review

MONcoverMP3_grande

Masks of Nyarlathotep is one of the best scenarios for a role-playing game ever written. First released in 1984, Masks has been revised and rereleased multiple times. Masks is so well known there is a published 763-page supplement (Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion) to the 251page original campaign. Recently Dark Adventure Radio Theater released a dramatization of the Masks of Nyarlathotep RPG Campaign.

Masks of Nyarlathotep begins with the murder of occult book writer Justin Elias in New York City. The investigators unravel a complicated plot with action potentially taking place in six major locations across five continents. I don’t want to spoil the Masks RPG supplement or the radio dramatization which necessitates a cautious review. Masks is broken up into six episodes each being approximately an hour and ten minutes long. Total program length is approximately seven hours.

The Dramatization uses a cliff hanger approach. Tension builds, something very bad is about to happen, and they break for a very short “commercial.” There are commercials for multiple, fictitious brands all with subtle comedy. No commercials are repeated. Let me provide two examples. The first is a tag line: “Bubble-Pep – the delicious beverage which improves mental health. The “L” stands for Lithium.” A second ad warned listeners of danger that your child’s toy caught fire and burned the tyke. The solution? A teddy bear made of soft asbestos, the miracle mineral that keeps your child’s toys safe from fire! Dark Adventure Radio Theater’s use of the commercials improves the “cliff hanger” feel of the production, and all commercial interruptions are brief.

Initially, all Masks Investigators have some connection to Justin Elias. As the investigation progresses some of the original characters die or go insane. New companions are recruited and some of them die or go insane – or go insane and then die. Nyarlathotep is a tough opponent. The story line is complex with a host of characters. Because every character has their own voice actor it is far easier to follow the story compared to audio productions where a single narrator or a small cast voices multiple characters.

Dark Adventure Radio Theater is a true dramatization. There is a huge cast of voice actors. High quality sound effects accompany the script. There is even an original musical score. Masks would favorably compare to the highest quality radio dramatizations from the Golden Age of Radio in the 1920s – 1950s. If you have ever listened to H.G. Wells War of the Worlds broadcast, Masks is a step up in voice acting and production quality.

I’ve listened to Masks of Nyarlahotep twice. My first listen was in the car and working out at the gym. The second listen was on two long car trips with my wife. I’ve read multiple versions of Masks of Nyarlathotep and have also read the companion volume. I’ve GMed Call of Cthulhu many times and have written multiple scenarios. My wife played Call of Cthulhu a couple of times decades ago, has never read Masks, and has never designed a scenario. Both of us enjoyed this production. My wife was followed and enjoyed the complex story line with no background knowledge of Masks and little knowledge of the Call of Cthulhu game.

Masks of Nyarlathotep has reasonable interpretations of the RPG scenario. Many blanks had to be filled in. Things were added and some things from the scenario were omitted. As someone with an extraordinary knowledge of the scenario, only one change bugged me. The way Bast was handled in Cairo made no sense and that part either should have edited out or further elaborated. Still, that was at most seven minutes of story in a 75-minute program segment.

Dark Adventure Radio Theater’s production of Masks of Nyarlathotep extends their dramatizations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft. They have previously released dramatizations of multiple H.P. Lovecraft short stories and novellas from the Cthulhu Mythos. All are styled after classic 1930s radio dramas. Most of their work is available on Audible. The dramatizations can be purchased on CD or as digital downloads.
Masks can also be purchased with a large variety of props from the story at a substantially higher price. The props are not needed to enjoy the audio production.

Honestly, the props are only helpful if you are game mastering Masks of Nyarlathotep as a Call of Cthulhu game for a group of players. It is the longest Call of Cthulhu segment out there and it takes a huge time commitment by both GM and players to finish. I would only purchase the props if: a] you have a group committed to playing Masks, b] you as GM are committed to running Masks, and c] you think that the props add enough value to your game experience to merit the hefty cost. If this is true, by all means purchase the deluxe package. But most interested in listening to Masks of Nyarlathotep will not benefit much from the prop package.

I’m a huge consumer of audio books and own at least a hundred. I’ve regularly listened to audiobooks for decades. Originally, I listened to audiobooks when I had to make occasional long drives or as background when doing something mind numbing – like painting walls. Then my wife gave me an Audible membership to encourage me to stop listening to the news on my car radio when I had a very stressful job. Today, I listen to audiobooks most of the time in my car, even on short trips. I also listen to audiobooks when I’m at the gym by myself. I complete an audio book about every two weeks.

Masks of Nyarlathotep is an excellent, but somewhat short (seven hour) audiobook experience. It is fabulous if you are familiar with the RPG scenario and the Call of Cthulhu game. If you understand the Cthulhu mythos but have no familiarity with the RPG scenario, Masks is also an excellent listen (according to my wife). It is a little pricey at $35 compared to other audio books. But the price will probably fall somewhat as the years pass. I do not recommend buying the prop package version which runs $70 unless you have a strong commitment to running Masks as an RPG.

If you want a prop set to run Masks, the $129 prop package also sold by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society is much better. The props with the CD pale in comparison to that prop package.  If you have a group committed to playing Masks and you want to GM it – this will probably take six months or more of game sessions for people who work for a living. The prop package is a reasonable purchase if you spend that amount of time. A good unboxing video of all of the props can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=480&v=WEjxwI3nWzw

Purchase information and product details are found at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society http://www.hplhs.org/ on their store page. Masks is not currently available at Audible, but Audible sells most other Dark Adventure Radio Theater productions.