Issue 78 ( Spring 2015)

Gunflashes in the Night: A Review of Iron Bottom Sound III
by Jim Werbaneth

Six Days of War: Middle Eastern Conflict in 1967: Sword of Israel
by Jim Werbaneth

High Definition Addiction: The Return of Age of Empires II HD Edition, in All of its Glory
by Jim Werbaneth


Battles of the Bundeswehr 1989: Scenarios for Avalon Hill's Edition of MBT
by Jim Werbaneth

The Political War: The Portrayal of Politics in Victory's Vietnam 1965-1975
by Jim Werbaneth


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The Bully Pulpit


by Jim Werbaneth

I’m writing this as the month of May comes to an end. My all too short academic summer vacation is approaching, and even better, my comprehensive exam for my second Masters. Once I have this degree in military history, I do not see any prospect of pursuing any others. After all, this is the degree that I really wanted from the time I was twelve, and the biggest reason why I pursued degrees in political science in the early eighties was because Duquesne did not have a military history program. I have no real regrets in opting for poli sci, and in the last eight years that has been the center of my career. But to a large extent I have been an historian all along. From the time I started my first graduate course at APUS, I saw it as a process of going from being a political scientist with an interest in history, to becoming an historian with a political science background. Then my hope is to teach more history courses, someplace or other. This is already on deck for my coming semester at La Roche College, when for the first time I’ll be teaching two history courses, with no political science at all, even courses with poli sci cross registration. For those who might be interested, these are going to be the basic Major Issues in Modern US History, taken by many first-year students, and Modern American Diplomatic History. This one is new, at least new to me, but was taught at La Roche years before I was hired in 2008.

All of this means that I should have more time to do wargaming projects, not months in the future, but in a matter of weeks. Six years of graduate work is coming to an end, most probably for good. It will feel a little funny not having any graduate work hanging over me and my schedule. I doubt that I will miss it though. Besides, at this point in my life I seriously doubt that any more degrees will enhance my career, or otherwise be worth the work. On the other hand I am really looking forward to getting more of my wargames off the shelves. I’ve spent the last six years investing in myself, with work if not tuition money. Now it’s time to enjoy the payoff a little bit more.

Wargamers will continue to see projects that I generated for graduate school. Virtually all of the articles posted to Line of Departure Online Features since 2011 have been graduate school papers of some sort. Also, I have several others accepted by CounterFact and Against the Odds, so they will see print on glossy paper. The online articles serve several purposes. The first, and most obvious, is that they are of interest to wargamers, and help promote the magazine. Secondly, I use some for teaching purposes, especially for La Roche’s work with high school Advanced Placement history programs. Then, I share them with college students as examples that they can follow when they write papers for the classes that I teach. The projects obviously meet my standards, as I wrote them, and they all got pretty good grades. Thus while students shouldn’t plagiarize them, of course, and do not have write papers of graduate school length and research, they can show what has been successful for me.

As for those published in print media, they can bring in a little money too. Thus that long-term investment of effort can pay off in some cash.

Now we have the newest Line of Departure. The lead review is of the latest incarnation of Jack Greene’s Iron Bottom Sound tactical naval game. This is a return not just because the Moments in History version, Iron Bottom Sound II, was reviewed in Line of Departure Issue 27 eight years ago, but because it is a Japanese publication. Foreign-published wargames used to be a staple of Line of Departure, then became less prominent. Now, they are back.

Moreover, Online of Departure Support makes a return too. This issue presents alternate log sheets for the game.

This issue also keeps the consistent promise to feature coverage of Avalon Hill products. Whereas the review of Iron Bottom Sound III marks a comeback for a game and foreign-produced titles, and downloadable supplements, the scenarios for MBT are a kind of goodbye. I do not see much of a future in writing new features, including scenarios, for the Avalon Hill version of the game, despite covering it here since 1993. I didn’t develop a sudden dislike of MBT and its Middle East running mate IDF, not by a long shot. Rather it is because GMT is introducing a new version of MBT, with at least two expansions to follow, starting this summer. I already have them all on P500, and fully intend to cover them in Line of Departure. So MBT is not going to disappear, just be supported in a newer edition. Should IDF also come back in a GMT version, it too will probably return to the magazine.

It is not the only modern tactical system to be addressed in this issue either. Avalanche Press’ 1967: Sword of Israel, the debut and so far only title in the Panzer Grenadier (Modern) series, gets the Line of Departure analysis. It is also one of the larger games covered in the magazine so far too. Maybe it doesn’t come in a suitcase-sized box similar to Ogre Deluxe (Steve Jackson Games) or cover multiple full-size maps with over a thousand counters, as does The Next War (SPI) or much of GMT’s Barbarossa series. But it is of imposing size, and probably will not even fit back into the original box once punched. It can be viewed as a dense packed monster.


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