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An exciting new game on the War of 1812

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on June 12, 2017

Cross-posted on Frontier Battles.

I was recently contacted about a new two-player strategy game that deals with the War of 1812 that will be launching on Kickstarter later this week. Created by Hand2Hand Entertainment, Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812 looks to be an interesting and tantalizing game that employs a mechanic similar to the game Commands & Colors: Napoleonics, though with some differences. You can view a video they have created below.

I recently reached out to them for a Q & A via email with Eric, one of the creators and wanted to share it with you all to let you know about this game.

How long has your company been in existence?

Our founder started working on Sabres and Smoke: War of 1812 in July of 2016. Sabres and Smoke is our first game.

What is your company’s overall mission?

We want to create a game that has a high level of historical accuracy but is also fun and not to complicated to learn. We hope that this get people interested in the War of 1812 and want to learn more about it.

How did you come to choose the War of 1812 as the conflict you would design a game around, and, what interested you about this particular conflict?

We chose the War of 1812 because there are very few other board games that focus on the War of 1812. There are lots of games that focus on other wars but we thought a game featuring the War of 1812 would be really unique.

How did you decide on the style of game to create, and, did you consider other types (miniatures, point to point map, etc.)?

We considered elements from different games that we really like and how we could bring those elements together to create something different that we could call our own.

How long was the design process from conceptualization to prototype?

The design process took a very long time. We started making rough drafts of the Battles in August of 2016 and had finished our final prototype of the Game by April 2017.

What has been the biggest struggle during the design and play testing process?

The Biggest struggle was finding different people to play test our game. We played the game ourselves a lot but had difficulty finding other people to play it in the early stages. Since then we were able to have multiple board game bloggers publish reviews of Sabres and Smoke and give us some really valuable feedback. We also play tested it with some 12 year olds to make sure that kids enjoy the game as well.

This question is for those interested in designing their own game. How did you go about designing the components and where did you source them?

We actually did all of the illustration and prototype design ourselves. Creating the prototype copies was very labour intensive for us, it involved a lot of printing and cutting on our end. The only part of the prototype games that we did not make ourselves were the plastic stands and the dice, which we used from sample orders we received from our suppliers.

Why do a Kickstarter campaign?

We decided very early on that a Kickstarter campaign was right for us because it would allow us to raise the money for Sabres and Smoke before it goes into production. This helps reduce a lot of the financial risk that comes along with producing board games on a large scale. Also, a Kickstarter launch is a great way to get people excited about our game.

What are your favorite elements of the game?

My favourite part of Sabres and Smoke is the way units are ordered. A lot of other games like like this have rules that make it difficult for players to carry out their battle strategies. In Sabres and Smoke, the only thing stooping a player from executing their strategy exactly how they planned it is the other player. This adds depth to the game and forces players to think more strategically than they might when they play other games.

Did any interesting situations arise as you play tested the game that potential players should be aware of, or that you realized needed editing?

Not really. There were a few minor things like typos in the rule book and certain battles needing to be more balanced, but there were no major changes that we needed to make to the game.

Do you have plans for expansions of Sabres and Smoke, or creating similar games around other historical conflicts?

We have some extra battles that we are using as stretch goals for our Kickstarter campaign and maybe for an expansion pack to be released later this year. We are not sure what type of game we will create next or if we will create further expansion packs for Sabres and Smoke: The War of 1812, we have been focused lately on making this upcoming Kickstarter a success.

What is the best way to reach out to you regarding the game itself, and/or looking to get involved with your company?

The best way to contact us is by email, you can reach us at hand2handentertainment1812@gmail.com. People can also reach out to us by sending us a message through our website and can receive more information and updates about our game by joining our mailing list. This can be done through our website https://www.hand2handgames.com.

I would like to thank Eric for his time and will be following this project in the coming weeks and am seriously considering backing this, if my finances permit it.

Posted in American Military History, Game Review, General, US Army, US military | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review of Redeye Fulda Cold by Bill Fortin

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on December 29, 2015

Bill Fortin, Redeye Fulda Cold: A Rick Fontain Novel. Cold War Publications, 2015. Maps, Illustrations, Photographs. $16.15. 422pp.

Readers of this blog who are interested in the Cold War, intelligence, technology, and historical fiction will likely enjoy a novel that covers the European Theater of the great game between East and West.  Bill Fortin, a US Army veteran from 1968-1970, who served in West Germany, wrote a novel based around his experiences in the 3rd Armored Division that provides a unique story into an obscure area of Cold War operations.

RedEye Fulda Cold examines the conflict from the eyes of soldier Rick Fontain. Fontain, a draftee from Maryland, enters the Army in April 1968, when most were sent to Vietnam. Based on his test scores, Fontain is offered a slot at OCS, having some college under his belt, but chooses another path that leads him to Fort Bliss, Texas for training on the Redeye shoulder-fired missile system and station in West Germany. He serves about a year and a half at Coleman Kaserne as a member of 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, coordinating the implementation of Redeye into the area as part of the defense against Warsaw Pact forces.

During his time in service, Fontain meets Bill Douglas, who goes by several aliases and works for the CIA as part of their efforts to wage the Cold War around the globe. The encounter connects Fontain with important individuals connected with the intelligence game in Europe, while also shielding his career along the way. With his abilities and personality, Rick successfully implements Redeye into his unit, becoming a leading non-commissioned officer (NCO) overseeing the deployment of the system as part of the larger defense strategy in the area against a potential Soviet invasion through the Fulda Gap. In addition, Fontain’s expertise and his connection to Douglas allow him to interact with high-level personnel in the Army and CIA communities. During his time in West Germany, Rick finds time to socialize with the locals, including finding a love interest. Eventually, after several unique adventures, Fontain’s time in Germany ends, but this is only the beginning of his role in the Cold War.

Fortin presents Rick Fontain as an honorable character and capable leader, who looks out for those around him and finds a camaraderie in the Army that is attractive to him in many ways. Further, the men and women he encounters along the way are as interesting, making you want to know more about them as well. The story itself is quite good, with lots of interesting happenings and side stories. While initially expecting a different trajectory, leading to a “Cold War gone hot” situation, I was overall pleased with how the story turned out. Basing the story and characters on his own real-life service, Fortin did an outstanding job of writing a convincing novel on the Cold War that read more like a memoir than a work of fiction. That said, Fortin should strongly consider writing his memoirs of his real service in West Germany, as they would be quite useful to scholars of Cold War history.

Those interested in technology in the Cold War will not be disappointed, as the complexities of the Redeye system are detailed, as are vehicles, aircraft, and early work with remotely piloted aircraft. In addition, those who enjoy spy novels and intelligence/espionage type stories will get something from this book, as while not a work like Ian Flemming’s or Tom Clancy’s, there is sufficient political and intelligence intrigue that should whet the appetite of this audience. Finally, those into military historical fiction will enjoy it simply as a novelization of one common soldier’s service in Western Europe during an often overshadowed time and place in Cold War history.

My only two major issues revolve around stylistic choices. Fortin’s organization of the book somewhat detracts from the typical styling of a novel, as he breaks up chapters into several sections based on a particular time and place, which breaks up the flow of the story a bit. However, it is only a minor issue that helps readers discern where Rick Fontain is. The reason it is a slight issue is that it causes the book to read as a memoir, which it is not meant to be. The other criticism is Fortin’s use of footnotes that explain military slang and abbreviations, as well as certain biographies of important real-world individuals associated with the real happenings of the story arc and technical information. While these make the work accessible to a wider audience, they are also distracting, as they break up the flow of the story. Further, given that this book is going to have a core audience that will likely know what the terms mean, they come across as a bit redundant.

Overall, the book is a solid story of Cold War historical fiction with compelling characters and good prose. It will appeal to a wide and diverse audience and will leave readers wanting to pick up Fortin’s next novel in the Rick Fontain saga, which Fortin will hopefully produce. If looking for a good winter read that has history, technology, and the Cold War, go grab Redeye Fulda Cold.

Posted in American Military History, Book Reviews, Cold War, US Army | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hagel cancels new drone medal | Nation & World | The Seattle Times

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on April 15, 2013

Author’s Note:  This is an update based on the story posted here. Despite disagreeing with Mr. Hagel on several positions, I applaud this decision.

Hagel cancels new drone medal | Nation & World | The Seattle Times.

WASHINGTON — The special medal for the Pentagon’s drone operators and cyberwarriors didn’t last long.

Two months after the military rolled out the Distinguished Warfare Medal for troops who don’t set foot on the battlefield, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has concluded it was a bad idea. Some veterans and some lawmakers spoke out against the award, arguing that it was unfair to make the medal a higher honor than some issued for valor on the battlefield.

The controversy echoed a broader debate over defense policy, irking those who feel uneasy about the extent to which remote-controlled aircraft have become the tip of America’s spear in the war against extremists abroad.

After ordering a review of a policy that was one of his predecessor’s last official moves, Hagel said Monday that he concluded no such medal was needed. Instead, he said, a “device” will be affixed to existing medals to recognize those who fly and operate drones, whom he described as “critical to our military’s mission of safeguarding the nation.”

Devices are used by the Pentagon to add a specific form of additional recognition when troops are lauded for exceptional performance.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the groups that had been critical of the medal, praised Hagel for promptly taking on the issue.

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the award on Feb. 13, one of his last days in office, saying that the evolution of combat warranted a new inclusion for men and women who perform game-changing acts remotely.

The Pentagon said no service members had been nominated for the new medal.

Posted in 21st Century Military History, American Military History, Conflict, US military | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Book Review of Shadow Flights: America’s Secret Air War against the Soviet Union

Posted by William Young on March 22, 2013

Fascinating study of early Cold War spy flights.

International History

Curtis Peebles. Shadow Flights: America’s Secret Air War against the Soviet Union. Novato, California: Presidio Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-891-41700-2. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. Pp. vi, 322.

PeeblesSlowly but surely information has been coming forward about United States and American-sponsored reconnaissance missions against the Soviet Union and China during the early years of the Cold War.  In this study, Curtis Peebles, a freelance aerospace historian, examines the American reconnaissance effort from the late 1940s to Operation Grand Slam in 1960.  The author is well-known for his studies including The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance Balloons over Russia (1991), The Corona Project: America’s First Spy Satellites (1997), and Twilight Warriors: Covert Air Operations against the USSR (2005).

RB-45C aircraft at RAF Sculthorpe, England (1952)Peebles depicts the rise of Cold War reconnaissance from the first U.S. Far East Air Forces RF-80 covert overflight of the Soviet Far East during the Berlin Crisis (1948-1949) to the Soviet shootdown of a Central Intelligence Agency U-2 mission in…

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Posted in Book Reviews, Cold War, US Air Force, US Navy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

DOD creates controversy with new Distinguished Warfare Medal

Posted by Daniel Sauerwein on February 14, 2013

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119290>
Panetta Announces Distinguished Warfare Medal
.

This new award is causing quite a stir among veterans (see here and here), as it is set to outrank the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the order of precedence. It is meant to reflect the changes to modern warfare, including the use of drones and cyber warfare. This leads me to raise the question in the poll below.

Posted in 21st Century Military History, American Military History, Global War on Terror, US military | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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