Thursday, January 31, 2008

My favorite Sutler of the week

Not exactly a sutler in this blog's usual definition, but close enough to win some spotlight as a vendor. Battlesim.com is more a service provider, hosting events for historically oriented airsoft groups, particularly in the WW2 and Vietnam eras.

The site gives a nice succinct description of Battlesim.com:

BattleSim.com LLC is a company that services gaming communities and gaming players with a primary focus on "war" or "battle" simulations. These simulations range from airsoft events to PC gaming.

It's an interesting concept that combines reenacting vendor (they also sell stuff) and host roles into a service company. The site is worth looking at, if to get a feel for what Battlesim.com does. The forums are an especially interesting stop.

Trying out the Squad Battles series

Since Combat Mission: Shock Force is being a bit of a bear, I've decided to try out Vietnam from the Squad Battles series from HPS Simulations. They're the ones who publish the Civil War series I've played in the past. Both the Civil War and Squad Battles series are John Tiller creations, so I'm expecting a fine traditional wargaming experience. As a matter of fact, the Squad Battles graphic interface is very reminiscent to that of an old Avalon Hill game I used to own, Firepower.

Christmas present gaming

I got Combat Mission: Shock Force for Christmas, but I've only had the time and inclination to install (again) and play it last night. My impressions are a mixed bag of interest and disappointment.

As with all Christmas gifts, I gleefully opened this game and hoped to have it installed and played in a few minutes. After an hour of trying to get it to play, I gave up. Then last night I tried again, and having done a little troubleshooting research, installed it successfully. I was impressed with the interface and sound effects. But when it came to playing the game, things changed a bit. Unlike the other Combat Mission games, this one wasn't as gamer friendly - the map navigation is more cumbersome and there's a ton of unit information to track. Adding to the problems, my computer didn't have the "oomph!" to run the program optimally, so it seemed to putter through the games.

I'll mess with it more and see if I can get used to the interface and game play and hopefully, I'll become impressed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where in the world?

Admittedly, I've been a bad blogger these past few months, but with good reasons. Work, holidays and life have all conspired to keep me away from blogging. I still have the last post to finish!

I can't make any guarantees when I'll start regularly blogging, but I hope it's soon when my time opens back up and my mind can get focused on the fun things again. Until then, I'll at least get something up every week.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gore or not to Gore?

Happy New Year 2008!

OK, got that out of the way, now to some interesting posting!

I recently caught a reply to a post I left this spring on an article covering the Civil War reenacting scene in California. The article mentioned the use of staged blood and gore, which seems to have virtually vanished from the East Coast events. I whipped out a comment that inspired me to write a little more about my feelings on the subject.

We all reenact for different reasons, and with differing viewpoints of how an event would be best pulled off. Some of us are into the look of the forces moving about, others like the use of period tactics, and still others are into the look and feel of the event itself. This where the use of props makes an entrance.

One kind of prop in particular seems to have a controversial reputation in the hobby - stage blood and gore. Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about its use in a surgeon's demo, but rather, on the reenacting battlefield. Although I've been the field off and on many years, I haven't seen too much of it to formulate a passionate opinion one way or the other.

I have heard of some interesting stories about using props that were pretty humorus though. When I was doing WW1 reenacting, a couple fellows that I rode with told me a story that either had to be a reenacting urban legend or it was squarely a rippin' true reenactor tale. It concerns the SPAM dummy.

The SPAM dummy was a prop that a devious mind with artistic ability, money and a sadistic bent came up with. The dummy was a life size representation of a fallen German soldier that was in the later stages of decay. To "accentuate" the experience, the dummy had small washable areas that SPAM could be dabbed into. Then the dummy was thrown into a shell hole and left to ripen in the sun. On Saturday and Sunday, the SPAM dummy was doing it's job of adding a little extra realism when a hapless Allied or German soldier slid into the hole for cover and had to take a whiff of putredness. Afterwards, some clean up and a tolerant nose would get it back home. But the real story was when the SPAM dummy's handler was going home...

Apparently, the SPAM dummy was pretty realistic too. Being that it was life-size and had to fit into a small car with reenacting gear, so the SPAM dummy was buckled into the front seat on one trip. Needless to the say, the trip was interesting. After many stares, and a look of horror on a little girls face as her car passed the SPAM dummy, someone took it on themselves to alert the local authories of a man transporting a dead body on the interstate. Minutes later, SPAM dummy handler was pulled over explaining to the police about his "friend".

As for props, my advice is: don't let them get the best of you. :-)