Also, it's like 350 bucks on eBay
September 20, 2017 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Want to spend a few hours on a wargame? Well, you definitely do not want to unroll the 10-foot board that comes with The Campaign for North Africa, because not only will you need to find nine friends, but y'all are likely to spend upwards of 1500 hours playing what Richard Berg, the game's designer, called "wretched excess... but it was designed specifically as such."

Want an example of just how persnickety this game is? Even old-school wargamers who never saw a copy of The Campaign for North Africa have heard of Rule 52.6: The Italian Pasta Rule.
One of the biggest mistakes the Italians made during the entire Desert Campaign was to provide their troops with a diet which was composed, in large part, of spaghetti and macaroni. Aside from providing insufficient protein (this wasn't Buitoni Brand) pasta has one serious drawback in the desert: you need water to cook it! Therefore, each Italian battalion, when it receives its Stores, must receive an additional 1 point of water when stores are distributed. Any battalion-sized unit that does not receive their Pasta Point (one water point) may not voluntarily exceed their CPA that turn. Furthermore, Italian battalions not receiving their Pasta Point that have a Cohesion Level of -10 or worse immediately become Disorganized,as if they had reached -26. As soon as such units get their Pasta Point, they regain the original cohesion level (i.e., the level they had before they disintegrated.)
Note: Berg admits that, while WWII-era Italian rations did include pasta, soldati cooked it in the tomato sauce that was also in the ration kits.

It is not known whether anyone has actually completed a full play of the game, ever. A redesign is underway by Decision Games, with an eye on having it ready for playtesting in 2018.
posted by Etrigan (43 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
not only will you need to find nine friends, but y'all are likely to spend upwards of 1500 hours

As my circle of gamers gets older, it gets harder and harder to line up sufficient people for a game of anything. Finding four or five people who have the same four-hour slot available for, say Dead of Winter, is challenging enough.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:10 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


Desert Bus the board game.
posted by bondcliff at 12:12 PM on September 20 [22 favorites]


Why limit yourself to one WWII campaign? Design a game for the entire war and make it a lifelong journey!
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:13 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


That would be Third Reich, unless editions since 2002 have made the game much simpler.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:23 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


"Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I BRIEFLY SKIMMED YOUR QUICKSTART RULES!"
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:24 PM on September 20 [33 favorites]


At one point, some of my friends and I had the idea of Arkham Horror: The Series.

It would be multiple games of Arkham Horror, with the idea that it would be the same cast, facing multiple elder gods (each game was one 'season' of the series).
Although the characters therefore carried over spells and skills and artifacts, they also suffered degradation every time they wound up in a hospital or asylum. A character that lost all of their health or sanity through multiple hospitalizations died or was considered permanently insane.
When a character was permanently incapacitated, you grabbed a new character.

The result was a board game that took on aspects of a role playing campaign. However, my board gamer friends got tired of the idea after three sessions.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:35 PM on September 20 [5 favorites]


However, my board gamer friends got tired of the idea after three sessions.

Tweren't gamers nor friends. Complete playthrough be the Innsmouth Way. Me gills be tickling for some open evenings in Dagon's Gaming Pub.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:40 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


At Origins one year, I saw a room full of people playing Fire In The East. The whole thing. In shifts. Around the clock. For the entire convention.

Some of the players who were off duty were sacked out under the tables. There are some games I like a lot, but none that I like enough to sleep fitfully among the Dorito crumbs and spilled Jolt during breaks from it during a nearly week-long session of it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:40 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


> 1500 hours

The really great thing is that you only have to play it 7 times to fully master it.
posted by ardgedee at 12:40 PM on September 20 [22 favorites]


At one point, some of my friends and I had the idea of Arkham Horror: The Series.
posted by LeRoienJaune


E̯̪ͬ̔P̨̟ͧͪ̆͂O̼͉̜̖̫̙͝N̰̣̗̟͖̪̪͋͒̓͜Y̸̬̣̝̒͆ͦͤ̿Ṡ͇ͭ͘Ṭ̝͉̣ͫ̿ͮ̚E̵̫̤͍̲̋Ṛ̸͙͒̂̐ͅI̸̯̞͓̰̫̘͒̾ͅC̶̙ͣ̈́ͭ̂̾A̱̠̦͇͙̩̐̐͟L̬̔
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:41 PM on September 20 [9 favorites]


I think it was a standing joke in the 70s and 80s that Campaign for North Africa had one great virtue: it made GDW's Eastern Front monster Drang Nach Osten! look reasonable playable by comparison.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:42 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


1500 hours

Only about 6% of the time it took to wage the actual Campaign for North Africa.
posted by Iridic at 12:42 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


Ah, and I see someone's referred to DNO's updated version, Fire in the East. When I was a student in the late 1980s our university wargaming club commandeered a room over the summer break and played it out over a week. I poked my head around the door one day just to gawp at the map.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:44 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


At one point, some of my friends and I had the idea of Arkham Horror: The Series.

The 2010s have seen the rise of "Legacy" games, of which Risk was the first big one.
posted by Etrigan at 12:55 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Way back in the day, as a kid, I remember seeing the box for Campaign for North Africa on my first ever visit to a game shop*... it was impressively massive. Even then I knew its reputation (and the pasta rule).

(*The original Games Workshop in Hammersmith when they still sold other people's games)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:03 PM on September 20


OMG, CNA! I wanted this *so* much when I was in uni! We'd already played War in Europe (SPI) and it seemed like the logical next step...
posted by Mogur at 1:08 PM on September 20


And I thought I was hardcore for playing World in Flames back in the day...
posted by Harald74 at 1:18 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Does the game include a free magnifying glass for each player?

: )
posted by Beholder at 2:03 PM on September 20


If you and your group meets for three hours at a time, twice a month, you’d wrap up the campaign in about 20 years.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:14 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


The 2010s have seen the rise of "Legacy" games, of which Risk was the first big one.

I really want to find a group to do Pandemic: Legacy with; I honestly wish there was a computer version of it as that might make it possible. Myself and a neighbour friend are also trying to see if we can find some other neighbours to play D&D with and it's slow going; people are interested, no one has time. I feel like the renaissance of tabletop gaming is no country for middle aged men.
posted by nubs at 3:46 PM on September 20


Oh, I remember hearing stories about this game when I was a grognard. It was the ultimate detail-crazed monster game. I dimly recall seeing it set up at a con.
posted by doctornemo at 3:54 PM on September 20


Does the game include a free magnifying glass for each player?

No but I think there's at least one monocle in the box.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:17 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


LeRoienJaune: At one point, some of my friends and I had the idea of Arkham Horror: The Series.

Me and some friends* did that for a few months. We met every Sunday for brunch and played a session of Arkham Horror, retaining characters, keeping inventory, that whole thing. What we found out is that in effect it broke the game. We had become too good, both the characters and also how coordinated we became as a group. By the end of our run we were winning so easily it became a bit boring so we moved onto other games.


All but one were MeFites, those being GenjiandProust, The Great Big Mulp and likeatoaster.
posted by Kattullus at 4:24 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


Any board game that takes more than an hour feels like this to me but I am a broken human being and want to be better.
posted by mumblelard at 4:45 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I feel like the renaissance of tabletop gaming is no country for middle aged men.

The patrons may skew a bit Comic Book Guy, but your local gaming store might be a place to look. All of my locals have bulletin boards festooned with people looking for groups and vice-versa.
posted by Etrigan at 5:27 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


In 1976 we did a three week vacation that included touring Gettysburg and Yorktown. Trenchlines at Yorktown were still visible. Dad was knowledgeable and well read. Mom bought me a special Gettysburg edition Civil War Times and sent in the subscription card and got me my first two Avalon Hill games, 1776 and Gettysburg. Nobody I knew in Chicago was interested so I played them solitaire. Then we moved to DC the next summer and I met a kid who was into SPI and we started with Global War but the game had been mispacked with extra counters when there were supposed to be limits and it never worked as intended that way.

So I had a work permit and Mark had an allowance and we went in on the whole War in the West/War in the East thing and took over our basement. I think that was almost a hundred bucks even back then. We both had serious mental problems because of bullying at school and found it meditative. Fear all the time. We didn't get really competitive. It was more like co-presiding over the game. Too many things to consider at once put us into a zone. We also liked volleyball with girls and not because their breasts moved when they jumped but because they were into co-operation. We were team girl and we won most of the time.

Junior year a bunch of idiots started throwing fries at him in the lunch room and he wouldn't do anything about it. Thick glasses, bad haircut. I'm friends with Ghandi and that was it. Asked them if they had a problem. Hadn't seen the movie yet.

"Do I have a problem!" he screams. Obviously. Focus is all on me now for speaking up. Vice principal is moving towards us and backs off when they do. One of the top ten high schools in the nation. I know they are going to get us in the hall. Seven of them.

Our lockers are on the empty second floor and we need to switch books. We take the exit by the smokers court. Mark doesn't want to because smokers are bad but I know they will help us with jocks. General melee results and we get upstairs and pull the Co2 fire extinguisher on them.

We'd lost touch two years later and he went to college and I went army and I'm home for two weeks and Mom says Mark couldn't take college and is home staying in his room and it would really be good of me to go by so I do.

His parents are excited when I ring the bell. I'm getting promoted quick and getting pushed towards OCS largely because I can deal with other people's psychological traumas and make them better soldiers which is so not the same thing as now.

So I went up to his room and knocked. He's not hungry. I didn't bring food. Jim? Yup. Opens door and he's got the furniture pushed and upended to make room and it's all set up and we play. He's not talking much at first but the game makes you think and it starts and we forget whose turn it is. I blow most of my leave playing a stupid engrossing game with a broken human being. His parents are thrilled.

Our game could save your life.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:27 PM on September 20 [26 favorites]


No one plays this, or ever played this.

Just sayin'
posted by Windopaene at 5:48 PM on September 20


As they are about to begin play, Burgess Meredith accidentally drops the instruction book into a nearby puddle, and the ink immediately runs rendering it unreadable.

That's not fair! That's not fair at all! There was time now!
posted by ckape at 6:07 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


nubs

I feel like the renaissance of tabletop gaming is no country for middle aged men.


I'm not sure what you're getting at. Whether it be video games, table top role playing games, or board games, all the various corners of the hobby become increasingly difficult to enjoy as you get older. Hand eye coordination, quick thinking, hearing, eyesight, all start to decline at middle age (or sooner) and gaming, as notoriously nonathletic as it is, actually favors youth just as much as physical sports.

Board games are especially difficult for anyone who has poor eyesight. I wasn't joking about a magnifying glass. Even with prescription glasses, good luck playing any of the "tiny chit" classics without some way to zoom in on the almost microscopic lettering on the hundreds of pieces that one of the games can require, almost always stacked up like pancakes small enough for an action figure to eat.
posted by Beholder at 6:49 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Myself and a neighbour friend are also trying to see if we can find some other neighbours to play D&D with and it's slow going; people are interested, no one has time. I feel like the renaissance of tabletop gaming is no country for middle aged men.

The teens that first started playing D&D in 1975 will be retiring in 2025.
From 2025 to 2035 we could see a huge resurgence in D&D.
We'll need large-print Monster Manuals and oversized 20-sided dice, of course...
posted by LEGO Damashii at 7:19 PM on September 20 [9 favorites]


We met every Sunday for brunch and played a session of Arkham Horror

I think I have played significantly more games of "set up Arkham Horror" than I have actual games of Arkham Horror.
posted by jedicus at 8:58 PM on September 20 [13 favorites]


LeRoienJaune: "The result was a board game that took on aspects of a role playing campaign."

Etrigan: "The 2010s have seen the rise of "Legacy" games, of which Risk was the first big one."

There are lots of games out now that are in the middle between reset every session and Legacy games. The games have campaigns that you play the characters through but the campaigns are composed of 1-3 hour play sessions that are stand alone games themselves.
posted by Mitheral at 9:11 PM on September 20


If you complete an entire game of this, BoardGameGeek should change the blond dude in the logo to your face. Because you basically are the Board Game Geek at that point.

It will never be me because the people I play with would likely veto anything more complex than, like, Mysterium.
posted by ProtectoroftheSmall at 11:01 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


> From 2025 to 2035 we could see a huge resurgence in D&D.

I think we're already at peak D&D in a way. Nearly everybody who wants to play a sword-and-sorcery themed role playing game in some form already is; they're not all Dungeons and Dragons specifically and probably most of them are single-player and multiplayer RPGs. Some of them might start playing paper and dice games when they retire, but I suspect most of the people playing these games electronically prefer them that way.

(My other suspicion, also backed by no demographics info of any kind, is that there are already considerably more people playing paper-and-dice D&D now than ever were in the 70s and 80s. So the fraction of people who played in the 1970s and are waiting to retire before they play it again might bump their age-specific demographic but won't increase the total number of regular players much.)
posted by ardgedee at 2:30 AM on September 21


From 2025 to 2035 we could see a huge resurgence in D&D.

Listening the the Ken and Robin podcast and they said there's been a doubling of the RPG market in the last five years... so the kids are already there. Kickstarter and online stores are basically evening out the previous boom and busts of the industry.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:50 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


Also note for modern method-actor-type gamers:
Italian Combat Ration Alcohol - Two of the seven Italian ration modules (B and F) contain an item called “Cordiale/bevanda alcolica”, or Cordial/alcoholic beverage. This is a 3 cl “shot” of a brandy-like liquor in a plastic bottle. The specification for this particular ration item say it must be no less than 70 proof (40°) alcohol and “Its appearance should be clear, pale yellow amber, with a pleasing smell and taste.”
(This may effect individual players' cohesion or disorganization during longer gaming sessions once the inevitable hoarding, bartering, and binging of the cordial ration takes place. )
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:30 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


The teens that first started playing D&D in 1975 will be retiring in 2025.

No. We are going to politely ask to search your bags at Walmart and check your receipt against the contents and pilfer what we need. Shop well. You will comply.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:39 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you're getting at. Whether it be video games, table top role playing games, or board games, all the various corners of the hobby become increasingly difficult to enjoy as you get older.

What I was trying to get at with a poor jokey statement was that as much as I and some of my friends who enjoyed tabletop/board/video gaming in our past and would love to still be doing it are finding it challenging to find the time with all the pressures of being middle aged; family, work, etc, don't leave the time to sit and enjoy games that sometimes take hours to play; I'm currently playing some D&D with my kids & the neighbour & his kids, which is good, but the kids are only really good for an hour or so, which just feels like the warm-up to me - but I also don't have much more than that hour either.

The rest of your points are well taken and I have to admit the Player's Handbook got a lot easier to deal with once I got progressive lenses, and I do think that we will see some changes in the publishing of games to be more accommodating for an aging population that still wants to play. But really, my complaint was based on FOMO - that the hobbies I loved as a teen/young adult are having a golden age that I feel I can't be part of as deeply as I want.
posted by nubs at 8:21 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


jedicus: I think I have played significantly more games of "set up Arkham Horror" than I have actual games of Arkham Horror.

It's a lot easier to move onto the actual playing part once you're two beers and four flapjacks into your Sunday.
posted by Kattullus at 8:42 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


You pair pancakes with beer?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:52 AM on September 21


You pair pancakes with beer?

I'm not going to speak for pancakes, but I have a waffle batter recipe that calls for beer.

Roll for deliciousness.
posted by nubs at 9:13 AM on September 21


Clearly the beer is post pancakes and during the setup. If nothing else, syrupy fingers will do havoc to any boardgame.
posted by Kattullus at 6:08 PM on September 21


You pair pancakes with beer?
Pfft. I make pancakes with beer.
posted by xedrik at 7:10 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]


« Older Lillian Ross 1918-2017   |   Planes, Trains and Elephants: David Shepherd... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments