Last week I discovered the The Big Board and after first review mentioned that most posts were not in-depth. Kevin was good enough to comment and suggested I check out his videos for his more detailed commentary. Prolific is the word to describe Kevin’s social media presence and I’d like to share.
Kevin’s Twitter feed is #bigboardgaming and his Facebook page features many photos of games in progress, game commentary and random game related thoughts. I follow Big Board Gaming on Google + which features a lot of links to Kevin’s YouTube videos and this is where one discovers a gold mine of informative videos. I believe he’s been at it since 2011 so, chances are, he’s covered one of your favorite historical board games. So far, all of the videos I’ve seen have great camera work displaying the map board and unit counters. Here’s a sample video on war game magazines, most of them I didn’t know about.
This link is to a series of posts on Compass Games’ Fall Blau, a monster game covering the southern Russian Front in 1942 (from Kursk to Baku). Boardgame Geek estimates this game can take up to 50 hours to play and I don’t doubt it as each hex represents only 10 kilometers and unit counters represent divisions down to the battalion level. I ask Keven about game time below.
Another interesting series of posts is on Angola. Some of the picture links are broken but this game and series on it is too good to pass up. Kevin asks “Why the hell play a war game about a civil war in Angola? Who cares? You do!”. Despite some comments concerning poorly written rules it seems like a good game. Unfortunately, I’m not the Cole mentioned as one of the gamers…..
I had the chance to ask Kevin a few questions:
Scott Cole: I have been by your YouTube page and amazed at the amount of videos. I believe you have been at this since 2011?
Kevin: Yes, like a lot of gamers I drifted off post College and returned to gaming around 2010 time frame. I have a lot of catching up to do, on so many amazing titles published in the intervening years!
SC: It seems you are part of a hard core group of gamers. Are you all playing every weekend and how much time do you dedicate to a game session? I saw one post where one of the group had the game set up before the players arrived so that added at least 90 minutes to the host’s time.
K: Hardcore sounds so serious….I think we are enthusiasts who understand the effort required to make a session happen. It takes a long time to play some of the larger games. So we book a month in advance and typically play on a Friday night and all day Saturday until the eyes bleed. We have some laughs, talk about the design, the game play the errors made all the usual.
We try to meet weekly for casual shorter format war-gaming weekly at one of several gaming cafes in town. This rarely happens for me due to work. In regards to setup Peter a regular host or myself will setup the game as it saves hours and maximizes the smack talk time ;). All of us do a lot of solo gaming as well.
SC: What are you top 5 favorite games of all time?
K: Oh. I don’t know mate. So many eras, and scales I would be hard pressed. Lets see:
Modern tactical perhaps Lock n’ Load i.e. Heroes of the Gap.
Ancients tactical Great Battles of History series.
Operational scale: WWII – OCS [Operational Combat System], Ancients – Ancient World Series…..Platoon scale TCS [Tactical Combat System].
I love nearly all the Vento Nuovo block wargames; Waterloo 200, Blocks in the East. Umm…Anything from Hollanspiele Games. Kevin Zuckers Days Series of Napoleonic games. Panzer, MBT…John Hill titles, John Balkoski titles and of course Mark Herman titles…oops. you said 5. I’ll stop there.
SC: Have you ever played a game by mail?
K: No. I am however active with live VASSAL sessions during the week using skype and appear.in to chat/vid chat.
SC: Recently, I’ve been looking into VASSAL. Please give the reader unfamiliar with this program a quick overview on how you incorporate it into your gaming.
K: VASSAL is merely a digital representation of your board and chits, typically with no AI or intelligence added. The Java based application works on PC’s and Macs if you are one of those types…;). In fact some games are significantly easier to play on VASSAL ( typically those with a lot of admin counters). The modules for each game have a logger that captures comments and moves which can be played back and emailed and shared. Typically we synch live via a server and just take turns as you would F2F (face to face). There is 1 Golden rule: At least one player must own a physical copy of the game. This is typically an honor system imposed by most publishers.
SC: Do you play any computer simulations or just the board games? If not, what are the advantages of playing board games over computer games?
K: Some. Given I’m on a screen most days I avoid PC games. I’m a bit different from most gamers. The opportunity to explore what the game presents not just in terms of history, or even narrative but ‘how’ the counters look when placed on the map is fascinating to me. Capturing that in video or image or even with stop motion video is bloody marvelous!
The interaction with the components, the designer notes, maps, the rulebook all create an immersive quality that flashy graphics cannot compete with on a PC screen. Taking pictures, writing stories, imagining what is going on and how the conflict unfolds is amazing fun and very satisfying.
SC: With late night game sessions followed by an all day session on Saturday I guess you all go light on the beer when playing?
K: The words light and beer….I don’t drink beer you can see through. One of us does not drink alcohol the rest drink as much or as little fits the game. We don’t get silly as we all have to drive etc. Hosting at my house may or may not be a different thing…;)
SC: So what is the official The Big Board beer or beers? What’s a good drop when playing?