The Bully Pulpit

Issue 66 (WINTER 2009/SPRING 2010)


by Jim Werbaneth

I'll address the big issue here, why this issue took longer than I wanted to see the light of day. Over the winter I thought I could throw something together, a new review perhaps and a bunch of articles from the strategic reserve of projects, all done and ready to go. That ran aground on a rather prominent rock, namely my own perfectionism. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to just throw some articles together and call it Line of Departure. It would have been very easy, not in my mind right.

So I went back and started writing more projects that I expected to put into the magazine. My standard methodology has been to try to write a little more than necessary for each issue, actually keeping my eye on the next two issues. That way there should be enough material for each magazine, with something left over. In theory too, when it comes time to work in an issue, some of the articles are in place for it already. Then I can work on it, and the next edition, so that it's a constant, rolling process.

Along the way too, there will be articles that, for reasons of space, don't make it into Line of Departure as planned. They go into a "strategic reserve" to fill out issues where needed, and where they fit content-wise. My ideal is that every time that an article leaves the strategic reserve to see print, another should take its place. That doesn't hap-pen every time, but it's definitely what I prefer.

Some stay in there for extended periods. I've published articles that were on the bench, as it were, for up-wards of five years. Again, there was nothing wrong with any of them, they were just waiting for the right place in the magazine. It can just take a while.

For Issue 65, I decided to follow this process, recommitting to it even. It's worked well so far, and I believe has helped keep up the quality.

All the while, time became tight for a while. Some-times the only thing more demanding of time than going to college is being the guy at the front of the classroom. I had a daytime constitutional law class, a Wednesday night introduction to political science class, and a "fast track" constitutional law class, consisting of four weekends of Friday night classes and all day in the classroom on Saturdays. On top of that, there were four online American government classes at any one time, on a rotating basis, and two less accelerated online classes in comparative government and American history since 1939.

As Bob Hoskins, playing Nikita Khrushchev in the movie Enemy at the Gates said: Caviar is a luxury that we have. Vodka is a luxury that we have. Time is a luxury that we do not have.

So my day (and often night) job became a major time hog. Again.

On top of that, as though there was a need for more, I started graduate school in April. Right now I'm only taking one class, which was about all I could handle with that workload. I'm taking advantage of the educational benefit offered by American Military University to its staff, and I'm working on a Masters degree in military history, with a concentration on World War II. It's a long term project, one taking several years. In the end too, I view it as a natural fit with my wargaming work, and the work for my Masters will probably help both my wargame design and development work, and Line of Departure.

A second Masters probably isn't a bad career move either.

The features in this issue are chosen and not drafted. The review of Ici, C'est la France! was intended all along for the lead position. There are relatively few titles on revolutionary warfare, and fewer that handle it really well. So I was deeply interested in profiling Kim Kanger's game on the Algerian War of Independence.

The article on France 1940 is not included as an in-stance of sustained French-bashing. Rather, this is an early addition to the very small game library I had in the early seventies, and one that, for all of its issues of balance and erratic simulation value, a wargame from which I learned a great deal.

Besides, this month marks the seventieth anniversary of Case Yellow, so it seems appropriate.

The analysis of Athens & Sparta marks something that I had wanted to do for a long time. For years, I wanted to cover the block games published by Columbia Games. They are a major subcategory of wargaming, and maintain a highly enthusiastic fan base. I addressed Command & Colors: Ancients last year, so games with blocks have got-ten the Line of Departure treatment, but this issue is the first one to cover a game that relies on wooden blocks as a necessary, defining characteristic.

Finally, my friend Robert Smith continues his contributions to Line of Departure, with a review of the deluxe edition of Twilight Struggle.

Enjoy the issue, and before long the next one too.