Issue 84 (Spring 2022)


Conquest of California: A Review of Bear Flag Republic
by Jim Werbaneth

Miniatures Corner: Who Do You Serve?  A Tool for Generating Nations for Miniatures Militaries
by Jason Guard

Campaign for the Basque Country: A Forgotten Spanish Civil War Campaign, in Bizkaya 1937 
by Earl Emory Toops

Blue and Gray, Block by Block: Fighting the Overland Campaign in Grant’s Gamble
by Jim Werbaneth

Wrath of the Norsemen: Solitaire Adventuring in Vikings
by Jim Werbaneth


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The Bully Pulpit

by Jim Werbaneth

Here it is, I present to you the thirtieth anniversary issue of Line of Departure. It took some time to get out the door, with the longest interval between issues ever. In fact, 2021 was the first year since 1991 in which there was no issue produced.

Of course, there was the general ennui of the era of COVID. It wasn’t obvious at first, but it was hard to stay motivated and focused. It could be hard enough to maintain that on work. I probably got through COVID better than many people, as I was already working from home, and I didn’t lose any pay. I didn’t get the Wuhan flu either, not that I knew of. Life went on, pretty much as normal. How-ever, I was among the many whose mental health didn’t get any favors from COVID, or government policies that seemed increasingly divorced from reality. One of the principles of policy is that it is evaluated on the basis of cost-effectiveness, and COVID policy in the United States and my own state of Pennsylvania apparently was not. There is that old story of the Marine officer in Vietnam who said that they had to destroy a city in order to save it. Well, upon review, COVID policies destroyed economies, and lives, in order to save us all from a manageable disease. This was not always my viewpoint; when it all started, like many others, I braced for the Second Coming of the Black Death, or at least the 1918 Influenza. What happened was something far less severe, and in fact was less damaging than the response.

Further, while at the start I was supportive of business and school closures and mask mandates, and those in gov-ernment who ordered them, that did not last more than a few months. By the end of 2020, my opinions there had changed one hundred and eighty degrees. Whereas Anthony Fauci was a valuable national asset in early 2019, today I have no idea of where Tony Fugazzi is, and I don’t care, at least until someone reports a foul odor.

I followed the science and adjusted my conclusions accordingly.

As a political science professor, and a military historian, I study the two worst things ever invented by mankind, war and politics. But COVID policy shocked and disgusted even me, as petty dictators showed their true natures. Even what were billed as science-based medical decisions, such as the discouragement and outright prohibition of Ivermectin as a treatment option. Upon further review, that appears inde-fensible, and it should have been at least combined with vaccines in a comprehensive strategy.

One of the aspects of COVID policy that I do not think ever got sufficient attention, was how it affected mental health. I know that it was not good for mine.

My own situation is going better now though. I’m even able to think about Line of Departure again, and spend more than a few minutes at a time writing for it. That was beyond me for about a year and a half. I am indeed writing again and, in December and January, updated the Line of Departure Online Features web site for the first time in several years. The next step was to publish this issue of the magazine.

At the same time, my time and attention were taken up by something more positive than government stupidity. I had a chance to take on a third job, doing educational con-sulting for a company in India with whom I’d worked periodically since I started teaching. This amounted to a full-time job, on top of my usual full-time gig at American Public University System, and my part-one at University of Arizona Global Campus. Those were time-consuming enough, without adding a third position to the mix. However, it was an amazing opportunity, promising to pay more in a few months, than Line of Departure had in all of its years of existence. It would have been insane to take a pass on that, and I wasn’t that crazy yet.

I ended up doing more than one all-nighter for the con-sulting job, and in any case there was not a whole lot of spare time left in my schedule. Also, while it did not yield quite as much cash as expected, as the job was big enough that the consulting company had to bring in other subject matter experts to complete it in a timely manner, it did not pay quite as much as expected, either by me or my Indian friends. Nonetheless, I ended 2021 with a substantially enhanced financial situation, and it was definitely worth the commitment in time and attention. And yes, it did pay more than all thirty years of Line of Departure.

It is possible that I’ll get another job in 2022, as a political science or history subject matter expert, for the same company. It would be just as irrational to walk away from such an opportunity, as it was last year, and I have no plans to say no thank you. This time though, I am certain that my state of mind will be better, as COVID and government policy recede in my rear view mirror. Now we have Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the possibility that it will flare up into World War Last, but maybe I, and others, have reached my limit of stress from the outside world. Also, due to my profession and background, I have a greater under-standing of the history and military considerations of the Ukraine war than I do of virology.

As a positive measure, I’m cutting way back on my involvement on social media. I am no longer a daily presence on Facebook, and I am extremely disillusioned with the platform. The factchecking, if one can call it that, is more like enforcement of approved opinions, and I am a hardened veteran of Facebook Jail. The last time, it was for posting a link to an article from the Wall Street Journal, about the probability that COVID-19 escaped from the virology lab in Wuhan, due to poor practices and weak security. The basis for all the evidence was a series of declassified cables from the United States Department of State. The bat was innocent. The powers that be at Facebook branded this as dan-gerous misinformation, and I got a three-day suspension, the same as the previous times when I made fun of Nazis, real Nazis that is, and the KKK. This time though, the suspen-sion was lifted after two days. Still, Facebook’s initial reaction to the lab leak theory was indicative of their own bad practices and shoddy work, and not the first example either. Plus, while it has been a good business tool, and a great way to keep in touch with old friends and family, it is a terrible time-waster.

I have been on MeWe as well, for about two years, and have not spent a huge amount of time there. It is better when it comes to censorship, and there are good people there, in-cluding Facebook friends, who are as tired as I am of cen-sorship and bias against anyone not of the left. However, there are also lunatics there, who seem to wish that they had the powers to censor held by the independent factcheckers at Facebook. I am also sort of the odd man out there, as I do not think that Vladimir Putin is a force for good, as he and Russia stand against globalism, money laundering, adrenochrome, chemtrails, the Biden crime family, the Clin-ton crime family, Nancy Pelosi’s source of vodka, human trafficking, child molestation, reptilian aliens, Satan wor-shipers, the Rothchilds, Freemasons, those other Freemasons, and the Khazarian mafia, the newest codeword for Jews. Sorry folks, I cannot see the KGB thug in the Kremlin, with the well-thumbed Adolf Hitler playbook, as one of the good guys.

Therefore I’m cutting my time on both platforms. I’ll check in everyone once in a while, and perhaps post pictures of the dog, or some cruel meme mocking a politician, and maybe not even an American one. Justin Trudeau is just asking for it. I’m not alone in this, but I am sure that social media is not good for my state of mind. It is a great venue for getting stressed out and depressed, and not just in times of crisis.

So, they’ll be less time spent interacting with idiots. That will leave more time for gaming, for writing, and for work. My main social media will be classroom forums, which are social media for purposes; for students it’s to learn and earn college credit, and for, teaching said students, and earning a living. Additionally, my online classrooms are generally idiot-free zones, until maybe when I show up. Still, this is a better use of online time than arguing with politicians’ fan clubs, and waiting for some independent factchecker to suspend me yet again.

It’s a win win for me, and Line of Departure’s faithful readers. I have more time and more opportunity to play wargames and write about them, and you are pretty sure to get another Line of Departure some time before too long.

In the meantime too, my collection of wargames contin-ues to grow. It is not just with preorders from GMT and Compass Games, or magazine games from Decision; those are among the most prolific publishers, but not the only ones putting out wargames. Plus, there are the older ones to be covered; from the start Line of Departure has been about older and classic titles as well at least as much as the new ones. Look for both the old and the new, games from the usual suspects and the seldom-seen producers, in the post-COVID Line of Departure.

Also, I’d like to thank Emory Toops and Jason Guard for their contributions to this issue. Even in the best of times, it’s hard to be out there all by my lonesome, working on Line of Departure. In fact, Jason’s Miniatures Corner promises to be a recurring feature of the magazine, expanding its scope, in a way that is beyond my own expertise.

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