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About MikeO

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  1. Kim, I stand corrected! I have Brian's game, but have not played it yet, just read over the rules. I really like the added flavor, or chrome, in Ici, which adds quite a bit to the feeling of historical narrative.
  2. Thanks for this, Bruce. I especially appreciate your getting into a sort of 'designer's notes' nuts and bolts discussion of Kim's games. I thought it was perceptive to mention the narrative quality of these games. Part of it is probably due to the 'romantic' locations of the settings, but Ici c'est la France, Tonkin, and Dien Bien Phu have some of the strongest narrative qualities I have found in hex and counter wargames. Tonkin, in particular, just oozes theme to me. I also can't imagine a design on the subject with more illusion of realism than Tonkin. I have sat and pondered the map and units for long periods of time while playing, and I believe the game has deepened my understanding of the time and place. Dien Bien Phu and Ici, like Tonkin, almost feel to me like half book/ half game. It's a bit mysterious to me why that is, but it may have something to do with the great books that have been written on these subjects (A Savage War of Peace, The Last Valley, Hell in a Very Small Place, Street Without Joy, etc). Whatever the reasons, Kanger has designed three of my favorite recent games, two of which I think are highly original. (I also think Ici is quite original, but I'm guessing it was influenced a fair bit by Brian Train's Algeria game) I really enjoyed the interview, and I look forward to your next video on Kanger's Dien Bien Phu game. I would advise anyone interested in the subject to pick it up - as Bruce said, it is quite beautiful, and it is a unique take on the battle.
  3. Besides All Quiet and Guns of August, I would recommend "A World Undone" by G. J. Meyer, a terrific single volume history of WW1. It is extremely readable, and I promise you, you will understand the causes and effects of the Great War after reading this book. There are quite a few WWI boardgames, but I have not played many of them. There have been a lot released just in the last few years. Computer treatments are slim pickings.
  4. Episode 299: Earliest Access

    Enjoyed this discussion, and if Soren is reading this, I have listened to all of your podcasts, which are fascinating. So nice to listen to such in depth discussion about game design, especially when conducted by another designer/ programmer, and someone who has played/ appreciated these games. Your time as TMA intern has served you well! You are a terrific host.
  5. I didn't expect to enjoy this episode much, since I don't much care for ASL. I played SL since '77, and I'm absolutely certain it (and the 'gamettes') was my most played game from '77-'84, when I went to college, and drifted away from wargaming for a while. I did get the ASL rulebook and Beyond Valor in '85, but hardly played it. The one thing that really struck me when I first opened the ASL rules binder was, from the inside binder flap on, the almost unbelievable level of acronym hell. Even as someone who had played the system all the way through GI: Anvil of Victory, it was a huge turnoff. That, along with the fact that I was getting more into D&D and computer games at the time made it easy to leave it on the shelf. I actually pulled out the ASL rulebook a couple of years ago, thinking I might want to give it a try after so long, but after another skim, decided I really didn't want to deal with it. But I can say I did enjoy the episode, and I thought your guests were great. I enjoyed it so much that I went ahead and ordered ASL Starter Kit 1. I imagine I will probably even like the starter kit. I do doubt though that I ever get into full ASL. A lot of the chrome they decided to go with really annoys me, and internalizing the rules well enough to play is a fairly big commitment. Still, one never knows. And RIP John Hill, one of the greats.
  6. Episode 290: Odds and Ends

    I know it wasn't really the point of your topic for this episode, but thanks so much for bringing up Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Star. This game is fantastic, and I don't think I would have bought it if you hadn't talked about it and mentioned that it was $30 right now. (qualifies as ultra cheap for Matrix) It's similar in some respects to the Panther Games sims, but seems much more engaging to me.
  7. You guys spurred me to play this one again. I'm not a fan of RTS games, although I have played all the good ones. This was by far my favorite. (followed by Kohan) I'd forgotten how good the tutorials are for this. It may have had had the best tutorial for an RTS at the time it was released. "You can play on your lunch hour"...I agree, that is true, and it is a strength, but also a bit of a liability -- the ages fly by, sometimes so fast that you almost miss them. But perhaps this is just a personal thing. I am going to try playing with the game speed a little slower. I am terrible at RTS games, and I will always be terrible, but games like RoN and Air Land Battle make me wish I was good at them. I'd love to play RoN in a comp stomp. Great episode, thanks for reminding me how good this game is. Edit: And, boy, would I love to see Brian Reynolds on the show (again) to talk about this game.
  8. Episode 271: The Last Express

    This was one of your best episodes, guys. I remembered The Last Express from when it was first released, but I had never played it. Downloaded on iPad and have been playing the last couple of days, and it really is a unique game. (game, or whatever you want to call it) No doubt I will eventually reach some fail state, and will have to resort to walkthroughs, but I am really enjoying the ride so far. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again.
  9. Bruce, it's a bit of an overlap with your Vietnam interviews, but I'd love to see a series on counterinsurgency games. I've really been fascinated with the topic lately. I don't know if you have played any of Kim Kanger's games, but he is a terrific interview. He has a new game on Dien Bien Phu coming out soon, and he has designed very interesting games on the French/ Vietminh conflict in Tonkin, and the French/ Algerian war. Of course, Brian Train is another good candidate, co-designer of A Distant Plain, and he has a game on the Algerian conflict of his own. (Along with other counterinsurgent designs)
  10. John is a wise man. I would love to play his game, but I didn't kickstarter it, and haven't found it available yet. Soon, I hope. Thanks for this excellent interview about the game and the war as a whole, Bruce.
  11. Episode 250: More Than a Box

    I felt the same way. Once I knew what the idea was, I loved it. As a listener from day one, I want to say that the shows under Rob have been absolutely fantastic. Even when a game is discussed which probably does not interest me, I still listen and relish each podcast. All the best to Michael Hermes, too, who has made TMA always an enjoyable listen. Michael is a great guest, too. All the best to you guys.
  12. Episode 248: The Dredge Report

    I finished this last night. Rob, after playing the entire game, I can say that the tactical map clutter was really only super annoying in maybe three battles -- most of them were perfectly manageable. I had two extremely cluttered examples early on, which got me off on the wrong foot. All in all, well worth playing despite a few annoyances. I get Troy's comparison to King of Dragon Pass, although KoDP is more of a strategy game (as I'm sure Troy realizes)....they both have a lot of terminology that is unique to their own world. (and both feature good world building in general) I too loved the map -- I think it's the best implementation of this kind of map that I've ever seen. As Troy, and, I think, Rob, said, this is really worth checking out, even if it may not seem to be the kind of thing you usually play.
  13. Episode 248: The Dredge Report

    I think this game is really well done, but I have to say, the tactical combat UI drives me bonkers. I need some way to rotate the map, or zoom, or change perspective, or something. I'm sure the art design makes this problematic, but I can hardly see anything when a bunch of guys are all clumped up together - I can barely see (or often not at all) the HPs etc of units I am selecting or attacking. Also, the details of special abilities are nebulous. Art design, sound design, story, all seem top notch. If they can somehow improve the battle UI, this is a really great game.
  14. Episode 247: Korsun Pocket

    I love Stahel's books (he also has a great book on Barbarossa to the end of the Smolensk campaign, basically, and the Kiev campaign in '41). Quite refreshing when compared to all the Wermacht general "Lost Cause" books that dominated the narrative in the decades following WW2. He uses the contemporary German records to put the lie to their own myths.
  15. You do a really nice job on this type of show, Rob (i.e., interviews with developers), and so they are some of my favorite episodes. It was interesting to hear that they think Science might be a little too slow, because it's seemed that way to me, and I do notice since Science victory is one I am commonly going for. But I have never been a Civ min-maxer, in any version of the game. Regardless of whatever problems Civ V may have after BNW, I have been playing it a LOT, so they obviously have done something right.