Grognard Wargamer Thread!


Fair enough. FWIW, I am sympathetic to the idea of making game mechanisms that encourage or result in organic historical results. In many ways this is the Holy Grail of a certain type of game design. The problem with that is two-fold: 1. There are only a certain number of mechanics you can include in a game, and 2. If you want a high-level game that works this way, you’re going to have build on a lot to get to the top.

When I’m playing an engaging face-to-face three-player game, my primary concern is the flow of play and how much it engages me with the history. My main complaint about games like A&A is that they don’t really have any historical connection. T&T, while it doesn’t stay within historical boundaries very well, at least has a definite feel, and puts forward constraints and incentives that “feel” right to me. The Germans can’t turtle, the Soviets can’t sit back, the Allies gotta, well, figure it out. The diplomatic game is tense, as it should be. The Allies may DoW the Russians. Super. I would have, too!

It’s always possible to “Mark Herman” an explanation for the combat system, by which I mean you can just decide certain things represent some arbitrary interpretation that you came up with to stay consistent with history. Some would call it “hand-waving.” So you could say that the “attritional combat” in France '40 T&T isn’t really attritional, but a representation of investment in German operational skill. More dice equal more mobility. Or whatever. I know that’s super-lame. But to expect everything to have some sort of organic reproduction of historical conditions is asking a lot of a game that I can get three people to get together to play. I can’t do that with A World at War or World in Flames.

I also think it’s important to distinguish between games that are “light” because they have simplish rules and don’t, and games that are “light” because there is nothing to them. Hitler’s Reich is an example of the latter. T&T is a game that requires serious planning, agonizing decisions, skillful situation management, and some luck. You can play it drunk, but you’ll lose.

I will never be able to replace a game like T&T with HOI4, because when I spend 5 hours playing T&T at a table with friends, I feel satisfied and refreshed, whereas when I spend 5 hours in front of a computer playing HOI4 I feel like I should’ve done something else, and all I got was a headache. But that’s just my problem, which is an unwillingness to sit very long in front of a computer anymore. So I’m looking for boardgame experiences that engage me, and T&T did quite a bit.


Things got a little rough over turns 11 and 12:

Turn Eleven, 1976

The Rhodesia Herald Phase

  1. The Portuguese government collapses in a military coup. The troops in Mozambique are pulled back to restore order at home, and Portugal abandons Africa. Renamo, the Rhodesian and South African supported Mozambican National Resistance," organizes to combat Mozambique’s Marxist government. Terror level increases by one.

  2. Tanzania constructs the Chinese-funded Tanzania-Zambia railway, which gives Zambia a path the sea that avoids Rhodesia, and ends my ability to pressure Zambia’s government to fight Terrs.

  3. Subversive Communist activity in Africa increases the terror level by one.

  4. Rhodesia receives a $4 gift from the John Birch society in order to fight Communism. Thanks guys!

I knew Portugal would fall eventually. At least there are no ZANU units there at the moment to make my life difficult. I should have plenty of cash this turn, which I need to spend on RF popularity, deploying RENAMO units, and shoring up my defenses in Eastern Rhodesia.

The Politics Phase

  1. No elections this turn.

Commercial Phase

  1. Rhodesia goes back to the full $16, thanks to the gift earlier this turn, global trade, and the support of the US, UK, and South African governments.

  2. There is no one to bribe this turn, as all the potential collaborators are being held in Rhodesian prison.

  3. I will pay $1 to refuel the Rhodesian Air Force.

  4. I will spend $4 to improve RF popularity. I roll a 5, which is good enough to push it back up to +5.

Policy Review Phase

  1. Up for debate this year is Integration, which will eliminate Rhodesia’s segregation policies. If I reject the policy, the remaining two handshakes turn to fists. If I want to pass the policy, I have to overcome a party split, meaning I’ll need to roll a 2 or better. If it passes, I get to roll for each fist marker, and on a 5 or 6, flip it to a handshake.

  2. The policy passes on a 6, so now I roll for Matabeleland, Mashonaland, and the Midlands. I roll two 4s and a six, and the Midlands get flipped from a fist to a handshake.

  3. I’ll also get another VP at the end of the game for this (+6 event VPs total, I need 26 for a decisive victory).

Chimurenga Phase

  1. I need to redeploy all of my Rhodesian forces, as they are now in fist territories, which costs me $7. I also need to deploy the two Renamo units, which costs me another 2. I deploy 5 factors to Matabeleland, 5 factors to Mashonaland, 4 factors to Manicaland, and 4 factors to Victoria. The Renamo units deploy to Tete and Mozambique.

  2. The terror level is now at 3, so I roll 3 dice. I roll a 1, 3, and 4, which places a ZAPU terr in Zambia and two ZANU terrs in Mozambique.

  3. The ZAPU terr moves to Matabeleland, and the ZANU terrs attempt to move to Manicaland and Victora.

  4. The Renamo unit engages the ZANU terr headed towards Victoria. The Renamo unit fails to stop the ZANU terr and is eliminated.

  5. The handshake marker in Manicaland kills off the ZANU terr headed there before a fight occurs, but the ZANU terr moving into Victoria rolls a 1, which flips the marker to a fist. My units in Manicaland engage, supported by the Rhodesian Air Force. The ZANU unit is annihilated in heavy fighting. The ZAPU unit fights the 5 factors in Matabeleland. The ZAPU unit retreats to Zambia.

Cosmopolitics Phase

  1. The United States has the 1976 presidential election, which pits Jimmy Carter against Ronald Reagan. Carter manages to win, which (1) flips the US marker to democrats, increasing the terror level by one, and (2) puts strict sanctions on Rhodesia, eliminating all foreign trade income. This is a major blow to Rhodesia’s chances.

The state of the board at the end of turn eleven:

Turn eleven did not go well, with the terror level increasing to 4 and major losses to income ($9 total: $2 from Portugal, $1 from the collapse of the ALCORA alliance, $2 from the US elections, and $4 from the end of global trade. I may have been overconfident predicting a victory last turn.

Turn Twelve, 1977

The Rhodesia Herald Phase

  1. A drought hits Rhodesia, and that, paired with the hostile countryside, convinces 3 population to flee Rhodesia.

  2. ZANU plots attacks against Air Rhodesia, which are successful. This results in substantial white flight from Rhodesia, reducing population by 3.

  3. Zambian factions continue their internal strife, which results in the elimination of the ZAPU terr in Zambia.

  4. The Rhodesian Government cracks down on liberal Christian and Catholic activists, who are seen as undermining security. This is unpopular, and reduces RF popularity by one.

Another bad event phase, as 6 population flees, which further reduces my income.

The Politics Phase

  1. The hits just keep coming, as South Africa’s Verlichte takes power, and the government shifts against Rhodesia. That increases the terror level to 5, and takes another $2 from my income.

Commercial Phase

  1. This turn is rough. Income received is only $7, which puts the coffers at $9.

  2. There is no one to bribe this turn, as all the potential collaborators are being held in Rhodesian prison. Plus, I don’t have the money.

  3. I will pay $1 to refuel the Rhodesian Air Force.

  4. I will not spend on popularity, as I need to keep the cash to pay my army.

Policy Review Phase

  1. Up for debate this year is Pfumo re Vanhu, which will, if passed, raise two antiterrorist units from the black population. If I reject the policy, I gain 1d6 population, but also have to increase the terror level by 2 (to 7!). I don’t want to increase the terror level, so I have to suffer a 1d6 RF popularity hit. On the plus side, I get to add two units to the map.

  2. The bill passes automatically, thanks to my liberal constitution bonus. RF popularity declines by 3, to +1, and I deploy the two units to Manicaland, so that I don’t need to pay to redeploy them in the next phase.

Chimurenga Phase

  1. I need to pay to deploy $7 worth of Rhodesian and Portuguese forces. I do, keeping the same deployment as last turn.

  2. The terror level is now at 5! I roll 5 dice. I roll a 1, 1, 3, 3, and 5, which places a ZAPU terr in Zambia and Botswana, two ZANU terrs in Mozambique, and one in Tete.

  3. The ZAPU terr in Botswana moves into Matabeleland, and the one in Zambia moves to Mashonaland. The Renamo forces in Tete and Mozambique each eliminate one ZANU terr, and the remaining ZANU terr moves into Manicaland, where it needs to make an infiltration check. Loyalists in Manicaland are able to identify the ZANU terr crossing the border, resulting in its elimination. Yay!

  4. The ZAPU terr is Mashonaland is up against 5 factors. It is eliminated in heavy fighting. I will deploy the Air Force to assist the five factors in Matabeleland. A concerted bombing effort blows the last ZANU terr off the board, clearing the board of terrorists this turn!

Cosmopolitics Phase

  1. The Cosmopolitics phase is uneventful.

The state of the board at the end of turn twelve:

Turn twelve continued to put the squeeze on Rhodesian income, which will be difficult as I need to both defend the country and boost popularity before the Quenet Commission (which establishes black majority rule, and starts the endgame). It is going to be extremely challenging to pick up enough points to win at this rate, but I am definitely going to try.


Thanks very much for the write up Bruce, I appreciate it very much.

You touch on a crucial point: every wargame has to find a compromise to achieve its ends - in T&T I think those are being light but not silly, playable in an afternoon and creating that elating (agonising) sense when you realise you (mis)played the (wrong)right “trump” card. It seems that T&T is successful in that. And this answer has probably sold me on to trying the game as a good introductory game that you can play with people who usually don’t do wargames.

I do still enjoy sitting in front of a computer, but HOI4 also gave me a headache. In my case, I think it was cognitive dissonance and overload. Their decision to kill their 2D counter representation for those little men and tanks means that you have your screen “teeming” with moving stuff… which is actually doing nothing, as they are just indicating that there’s combat going on, or that they’re on their way to somewhere.

Yet I think that HOI4 can have a lot going for it if you play it with two other friends (or three, if anybody fancies taking Italy) online. Against the AI alone HOI4 goes so off the rails that it is as silly as that meme-y images used by Paradox to promote their streams of the game, with German shepherds driving tanks.


I found too very funny that mention of Usenet flame wars over card driven games. I think I took part in one of those, a long time ago :)


Got my White Tribe today. What’s that stank?!


Blue Panther print-on-demand.


Turn Thirteen, 1978

The Rhodesia Herald Phase

  1. Chitepo, who had been collaborating, arranges the kidnapping of black children to discredit the regime. The terror level increases by one, and Chitepo is kicked out of the collaborator box. This is a tough blow for efforts to unify Rhodesia.

  2. Communist suberversion increases the terror level again, pushing it to the maximum (+7).

  3. The local tribal governments in Victoria and Matabeleland reopen negotiations with the Rhodesian government, after being the target of Chitepo and the Mashona tribes predations.

Terror level to 7 is hard, but now I have 4 of 5 regions in handshake mode. That at least gives me a chance.

The Politics Phase

  1. No events.

Commercial Phase

  1. Funding is still tight. Income this turn remains at $7, which puts the coffers back to $9. I will need to pay $2 to redeploy units in Mashonaland and $1 for the airforce, leaving me with $6 to spend.

  2. I can attempt to bribe Chitepo, but I need to try and pass the Quenet commission this turn, and I’ll need to spend on popularity to make sure my government survives.

  3. I will pay $1 to refuel the Rhodesian Airforce.

  4. I will spend $4 on popularity leaving me with $4. I roll well enough to put me up to +5.

Policy Review Phase

  1. Up for debate this year is the Quenet Commission, which allows me to attempt to form Zimbabwe Rhodesia, a precondition to winning the game. To enact the policy, I need to roll a 2 (due to an RF party split), and then call an immediate election…

  2. I roll a one, which results in new elections. I get a net +10 on new elections, but I decline to spend to support the government, which reduces the total to a +6 (I now need a 3 or higher to pass the bill). I also lose 1 RF popularity.

  3. The Quenet Commission passes the second time. The snap election results in a 9, which is a landslide victory for the RF. It increases RF popularity back to +5. I will pay the $2 to keep the result, leaving me with $2.

Chimurenga Phase

  1. I need to pay to deploy $2 worth of Rhodesian and Portuguese forces. I do, keeping the same deployment as last turn.

  2. The terror level is now at 7! I roll 7 dice. It results in 3 ZANU each in Mozambique and Tete, and 1 ZAPU in Botswana.

  3. The two Renamo units attempt to stop a terr in Mozambique and Tete. Both Renamo units are eliminated.

  4. The ZAPU Terr attempts to move to Matabeleland, but is repulsed by the local collaborators.

  5. The three ZANU terrs in Tete move to Mashonaland. The ZANU in Mozambique move to Mashonaland, flip the handshake in Victoria, and are repulsed from Manica land.

  6. The Victoria battle (4 factors vs. one terr) results in retreat to Mozambique for the ZANU Terr.

  7. There are two battles in Mashona land, at 3 factors and 2 factors. The 3 factor unit is eliminated, and the 2 factor unit forces a retreat (to Tete). There are 3 terrs left in Mashonaland.

  8. I will do a fireforce raid, which allows me to designate a unit in Rhodeis and move it, wiht the airforce unit, to a single surviving terr. I will move the 3 strength unit in Matabeleland to Mashonaland and hit one of the ZANU terrs with 5 factors total. That blows up one of the ZANU terrorists, leaving 2 remaining.

Cosmopolitics Phase

  1. US midterm elections bring some good news, as Jimmy Carter loses support in Congress. The terror level goes down by one, and I get +$2 more in resources next turn.

  2. Unfortunately, the terror level goes back up because, for the first time, there are terrs in Rhodesia at the end of the year.

Zimbabwe Rhodesia Phase

  1. I now attempt to establish Zimbabwe Rhodesia. I roll 1d6, and add the number of collaborators (1 now). If I get a 5 or better, Zimbabwe Rhodesia is formed. I roll a 5 (total of 6), so ZR is established. Unfortunately, apathetic voters mean that the government is not well respected at home or abroad. The US congress turns against the new state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, flipping the marker back to Democratic and increasing the terror level by one. That puts it past 7, which generates a new terr. I roll a ZANU terr in Tete, so there are now two there.

The state of the board at the end of turn thirteen:

Turn Thirteen was a mixed bag. If the game ends at the beginning of next turn (if I roll a 4+ on the event die roll), I will be at 19VPs. I get to roll a d6 to add to that, with a high roll giving me a victory and a low roll bringing me defeat. We will see how it goes!

Turn Fourteen, 1979

The Rhodesia Herald Phase

I roll the 4, which triggers the Lancaster House Peace Talks. My VPs are as follows: +3 for Handshake Markers, +5 for RF Popularity, -2 for falling population, +2 for “Green Bar” political units on the map (Tories and Kaunda), +6 for the ZR election result, +3 for Liberal Constitution, +2 for Land Tenure Amendment, +1 for Integration, +1 for collaborators, and -2 for terrorists in Rhodesia. That totals to 19VP. I roll a d6 and get a 6, which results in a total of 25 VP.

The Lancaster House conference went as well as could be expected for Prime Minister Kane. With international opinion against him, he could not maintain power for himself or the Rhodesian Front, and was forced to call for new elections. His best hope was for a victory by the moderate United African National Council. A win by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU, or a ZANU-ZAPU coalition, would likely prove disaterous for Rhodesia. Mugabe was a tyrant in the making, who threatened pogroms against minority tribal groups like the Ndebele.

Three factions fielded candidates: ZANU, fielding Robert Mugabe, ZAPU, fielding Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, and the United African National Council, fielding Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa. Muzorewa ran an excellent campaign, appealing to the more moderate votesrs in Matabeleland, Manicaland, and the Midlands, while ZANU and ZAPU split voters in the dissident strongholds of Mashonaland and Victoria.

When the new parliament convened in the Assembly House, Bishop Muzorewa held a slim majority over the ZANU/ZAPU Marxist coalition. Under Muzorewa, Zimbabwe Rhodesia had a chance at a bright future.

Substantial Victory

This game came right down to the wire. While some would say that victory or defeat came down to a die roll at the end, things would not have been that close had I not focused on passing important liberal policies and holding the RF together. A small stumble could have resulted in a sitaution where no kind of victory was attainable.

If you can’t tell from this playthrough, I highly recommend The White Tribe. There is a real feeling of tension, which is often missing from solitaire games. Every die roll feels like a dramatic moment. The game’s political simulation forces the player to balance short term benefits of conservative policies (and inaction on liberal policies), which can keep the RF government alive, with the short term losses of liberal policies, which pay off if you can survive to the end game.

Thanks for following along with the AAR. I liked the White Tribe so much that I ordered some of Ben Madison’s other designs for White Dog Games. Hopefully my copy of his British Wars trilogy will arrive this week. I will probably play one of those and post an AAR as well, if there is any interest. I’ll probably play chronologically, starting with Don’t Tread on Me, covering the American Revolution.


I loved your AAR, and look forward to others. The only “problem” with Ben’s British Wars trilogy, which is not a problem but just makes those games somewhat less thematic than White Tribe, is that they are all based on Dave Kershaw’s outstanding Vietnam Solitaire, and thus have similar mechanical frameworks. My favorite is Mrs. Thatcher’s War as the separate tactical land map treats a complicated subject better than I have seen anywhere else.


I’m looking forward to playing Mrs. Thatcher’s War as a companion to Where there is Discord. It looks like Mrs. Thatcher’s War is faster playing, with a greater focus on the ground combat portion. WTID is good, but it takes a long time and a lot of space (which is at a premium in my office/game room at the moment).


That was a great read, @CF_Kane. Thanks!


Thanks for the AAR @CF_Kane!


Hey friends, anyone have an opinion on Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa? The RPG/political elements look FASCINATING to me. Thanks!


The politics part is really good. But there is still a very groggy wargame underneath. It’s a division level game about Barbarossa so there are a lot of units to move every turn. The UI doesn’t make it much easier.


My opinion is here:

TL;DL: play it


Ohhhhhhhh thanks, I’ll give that a listen!


It’s 100% on my list to play and do an AAR of for that RPG layer. The game underneath is a bit depressingly standard, I think. Haven’t dived into it yet because of the 300-page manual.


Welp, great episode, I think I’m sold.

One reason to buy it, in my opinion. Love a good, deep manual.


It’s a shame DC: Barbarossa didn’t sell well enough for Vic to keep that series going.


Well, the RPG layer was the only thing that attracted me to it, and it was apparently the work of Cameron the designer, I guess, and he wasn’t planning on doing another one anyway, so.


Anybody has any opinion on this?

Seems beer and pretzely, but meaty enough, and it looks like good value for the amount of content in offer.