Issue 83 (Summer 2020)

Napoleon’s End Game: A Review of The Day of Waterloo
by Jim Werbaneth

Admiral Togo’s War: A Review of Jack Greene’s Togo
by Jim Werbaneth

First Steps Toward the Marne: A Review of Brave Little Belgium
by Jim Werbaneth

Spreading the Faith: The Why and How of Getting into Miniatures Wargaming
by Jason Guard

Wargaming’s Problematic Giant: Richard H. Berg (1943-2019)
by Jim Werbaneth

Delaying Action on the Monocacy: Jubal Early v. Lew Wallace, in SPI’s Drive on Washington
by Jim Werbaneth


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The Bully Pulpit

by Jim Werbaneth

It has been way too long getting Line of Departure going again, as life didn’t just intervene, it kicked down the door, and sprayed the room with bullets. This was even before COVID-19 and these extraordi-nary/unprecedented/challenging, pick a word based on the last TV commercial that you saw, times.

It really started right after the previous issue was sent out, and I went to visit my mom in Raleigh. Apparently I didn’t give the impression of health, as I later found out that a major topic of family discussion was just how sick Uncle Jim looked. Trust me, you don’t want to be such a subject; I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a pool going on when I was going to shed this mortal coil.

I thought that I felt pretty good, despite being tired an awful lot. However, things can creep up on you, and they were doing so to me.

Toward the end of August, I had another series of epi-sodes in which I lost consciousness, after a break of almost two years. Definitely, I did not feel pretty good, or any other kind of good. The last one came when I was sitting outside with two high school friends whom I hadn’t seen in forty years; I felt cold, then a little numb. When I next opened my eyes, I was hanging out of the right side of a chair, while they stared at me, and one asked, “What the hell just happened?” Ironically, the three of us had just been discussing various heart problems, and I provided the fright of the night.

The following Monday, I got in touch with my cardiologist and made an appointment. Fortunately, I had had a loop recorder implanted in my chest twenty months earlier, and the technicians in the office were able to get a reading on what had happened. Previously, my heart would race and get out of rhythm, then pump nothing, until the blood could flow back into one of the chambers. This time, and the previous four, were different. This time my heart just stopped. The last time, on my friend’s deck, lasted twenty-six seconds.

It was all quite serious. The first thing was that I had to stop driving, at least until the problem could be fixed. The surgeon who and implanted loop recorder recommended that I get a pacemaker. This is actually an understatement; he had such a sense of urgency that he asked if I’d eaten breakfast yet. When I said yes, he answered that it was too bad, be-cause if I’d had an empty stomach, he would have admitted me through an emergency room, and had done the operation that day.

As it was, I had my procedure on September 10, 2019, at Butler Memorial Hospital, in Butler, Pennsylvania. It all went well, as shown by the fact that I’m around to write this. About a month later too, I was cleared to drive, without the clear and present danger of fading to black. It was still about four months before I could work out again.

I think I made one mistake though, and that was only taking one day off work. It wasn’t the day in which I got the pacemaker, but the day after, when I came home from the hospital. Then it was right back to my online education jobs. Looking back, I should taken a little longer to get back to work; it wasn’t major surgery on a level with bypass, but it was still worth more than a single day away from the grind. Maybe too I might have gotten my energy level back to the point that I could consistently work on Line of Departure and other wargame projects.

Mind you, this was all before the onset of coronavirus, demonstrations against police brutality, and maybe most disturbing of all, the Antifa/anarchist insurgency. And yes, that is exactly how I see it, an uprising by a radical minority against American values, symbolism and institutions, unchecked and barely resisted by those charged with protecting them. It is certainly a bad time to be an American, or an historian, part of this insurrection is directed against history itself. In fact, I wonder when this hybrid of the Paris Commune and the Great Cultural Revolution is going to come for wargaming. If Washington and Jefferson are not safe from the mob, then why should we and our games fare any better?

Issue 83 of Line of Departure, here at long last, includes not one, not two, but three reviews. For the first time in way too long, these will cover games on the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. Also, this issue’s lead review, on The Day of Waterloo, might be about one of the marquee battles of all time, but it sets itself off from the other Napoleonic articles in the magazine so far is that the game is designed by Ed Wimble, of Clash of Arms fame. The others covered in Line of Departure have tended to be designed by Kevin Zucker, arguably the most prolific and important designer of wargames on the era. It is as hard to deal with Napoleonic games without Kevin Zucker, as would be to cover the Battle of the Bulge without Danny Parker.

World War I returns with a review of Brave Little Belgium, the first title from Hollandspiele to be reviewed here. The third review is of Togo, Jack Greene’s tactical naval game on Tsushima, and other battles of the Russo-Japanese War, from his own Quarterdeck International. Also, there is an analysis of the Drive on Washington, the SPI game on the Battle of Monocacy Junction, using the first incarnation of the Great Battles of the American Civil War system. Strangely, and through no design of my own, Civil War games have been missing from the magazine’s pages for a while. Here, they turn, and will be addressed more in the coming editions.

Jason Guard returns with another article on miniatures gaming; it won’t be the last either. It demonstrates too that Line of Departure will be addressing a wider range of games and game types, while remaining firmly rooted in historical board wargming.

Finally, there is my short feature on the legacy of the late Richard Berg. He was a Famous Game Designer, but… Well, you’ll have to read the article to find out.

Also, I would like to thank all of the subscribers for your patience through these extraordinary/unprecedented/challenging times, starting with my own 2019 from hell; at least it prepared me for everyone’s 2020 from hell’s hidden subbasement. I’m not going to just say thanks though. As Issue 83 goes out the door, I will be extending the subscriptions of every existing subscriber, at that point by one issue. A lot of times customers will ask me what is their last issue. This time around at least, the answer is not right now. Of course I’ll accept renewals, it would be stupid not to. However, your reception of Issue 84 will not be dependent on that.

Consider that extra issue to be my gift to the subscribers, for their patience.

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