Thursday, February 28, 2013

Charlotte Sampler and Beer Barrel Blunder

This past weekend, Meredith's mom was in town so we had a rare opportunity to hit the town. Our initial plan was to check out TEN Park Lanes, but when we arrived we found ourselves at the back end of a 3 hour wait. Apparently, the "in" thing these days is to go bowling. Who knew?! Certainly not a couple of home bound parents of a now 10-month old.

So we went across the street to grab a bite to eat and then settled in to a tap house called Duckworth's. With over 60 beers on tap, they're known to have a great selection of craft beers.

A discussion with one of my co-workers earlier that week (the topic: Charlotte Breweries) led me to put together a Charlotte Sampler (4 beer samples) of the local micro brews that have popped up around town in recent years.

Charlotte beer sampler from Left to Right:
Four Friends Uptown Brown (3)[t3]
Triple C Imperial Smoke Amber (2)[t3]
Birdsong Free Will Pale Ale (1)[1]
NoDa Coco Loco (4)[2]

The numbers in parenthesis (#) and brackets [#] were our rankings. Mine in parenthesis and Mere's in brackets. We both favored the Birdsong Free Will Pale Ale.

After trying a bit of the local flavor, I wanted to give one of their bourbon barrels a go. I saw a Heavy Seas in their Bargin Bin section of the menu and thought - ooh, bourbon barrel bargain! So, we ordered a "Heavy Seas Bourbon BA Below Decks". Well, the bottle arrived and we poured a glass and took a sip and wow... not bourbon barrel! It turns out that the Heavy Seas Below Decks is actually a Cabernet Barrel.

Cabernet barrel you say? Well, maybe you say barley wine. In either case, we said "no thanks!"

Mere's words: "That's what it tastes like when I would throw up (after drinking wine)"
Personally, I feel beer and wine should not be mixed. But, hey, to each their own. Our waiter was a fan of it and other barley wine brews. So clearly there is a market.

He took the Cabernet barrel bottle away and brought us a bourbon barrel. An Olde Hickory Seven Devils to be exact. Now, this wasn't as good as the bourbon barrel I think I recall having in Dallas, but it may have just been the after effect of the Cabernet barrel. So, I'd say it's worth another try.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anti-NATO no more

When I first started playing wargames, only a few years ago as of this post, the modern made wargames that were available included beautiful, graphical depictions - silhouettes or top view - of armor, infantry, etc. A game which depicted only NATO symbols for these units was not very appealing to me. They appeared outdated and unnecessarily complex. This was mostly because I did not understand the symbolism.

Originally posted by Carl Paradis on
I've played Carl Paradis' No Retreat! The Russian Front (the GMT deluxe version) which introduced alternate armor counters (with graphics) and enjoyed this to some extent. At that time, I still did not comprehend the NATO symbols but there were limited differences in these counters. The game primarily used infantry and mechanized infantry in addition to the armor with some fortified units thrown in here and there. To the left is an image of the counter sheet with alternate counters for armor.

Lock n Load: A Day of Heroes (LNLP)
I haven't played No Retreat! in some time but it is one that I would like to get to the table again soon. Recently, I have been playing Lock n Load Publishing's Lock n Load series which is a squad based platform covering multiple theaters. The counter images are silhouettes and profiles (leaders) and the artwork looks great. This of course is a squad based game and as such lends itself well to using silhouettes. Personally, this game would be lacking if all of these counters were marked with an APP-6 Infantry.svg or APP-6 Special Forces.svg (Special Forces).

Heores & Generals by Reto-Moto

In the PC realm, I've recently been enjoying a game currently in Beta called Heroes & Generals by Reto-Moto. It's an interesting concept of combining a FPS with a grand strategy campaign focus around WWII. As you gain experience and credits fighting as a rifleman (FPS), you will then be able to buy Assault Teams to launch your own attacks to take resources and territory or to stop enemy advances. Even your Assault Teams can be upgraded - from Infantry to Motorized Infantry to Mechanized, etc. Well, it is in this game, which uses NATO symbols in the campaign mode, that my distaste for NATO symbols suddenly ceased to exist. I can't explain it; it just happened. Thank you Heroes & Generals!

Heores & Generals - Campaign map with NATO symbols

Mark Walker's Nations at War: White Star Rising (LNLP)
Today, I just wrapped up my first play of Mark Walker's Nations at War: White Star Rising (LNLP). This is a platoon level combat WWII game that uses a chit-pull system rather than the typical "I-go-you-go" gameplay found in most wargames. The added bonus here is that the game looks great as well (as seen to the right) - even with the NATO symbols. In fact, I personally think this blend of NATO and silhouette adds visually to the game. Better yet, it also has a function in the game to help determine which units are "hard" targets and which units are "soft" targets. All NATO symbol units are "soft" targets, they have no armor value. Whereas all units with silhouettes are "hard" targets and their armor value (and "Save number") can be found in the upper right of the counter.

Below I've included some common NATO symbols that you might come across as you are playing wargames. Hopefully, this will help to not deter you from enjoying these games. This partial list was taken from the Wiki page for NATO Military Symbols, found here.

Unit symbolUnit type

APP-6 Anti Tank.svgAnti-tank
APP-6 Armored.svgArmour (Stylized tank treads)
APP-6 Air Force.svgAviation (fixed wing)
APP-6 Engineer.svgEngineer (stylised bridge or other structure)
APP-6 HQ Support.svgHQ
APP-6 Infantry.svgInfantry (evocative of the crossed bandoliers of Napoleonic infantry and the crossed rifles of the U.S. Army's infantryinsignia)
APP-6 Maintenance.svgMaintenance (stylised crescent wrench)
APP-6 Medical.svgMedical (evocative of the Red Cross symbol)
APP-6 Mortar.svgMortar
APP-6 Navy.svgNavy
APP-6 Ordnance.svgOrdnance (excludes maintenance units of the US Army Ordnance Corps; see maintenance, above)
APP-6 Reconnaissance.svgReconnaissance (or cavalry; inspired by the cavalry's sabre strap)
APP-6 Combat Supply.svgSupply

Modifier symbolMeaning
APP-6 Air-transportable.svgAirborne (including Air Assault and Paratrooper forces)
APP-6 Parachute.svgParatrooper
APP-6 Airmobile Mod.svgAirmobile
APP-6 Airmobile.svgAirmobile with organic lift
APP-6 Amphibious.svgAmphibious
APP-6 Motorised.svgMotorized
APP-6 Mountain.svgMountain
APP-6 Rocket.svgRocket
APP-6 Wheeled.svgWheeled

Modifier symbolMeaning
APP-6 Mountain Infantry.svgMountain Infantry examples: Italy's Alpini, Germany's Gebirgsjäger, France's Chasseurs Alpins, Poland's Podhale Rifles
APP-6 Parachute Infantry.svgParachute Infantry example: 82nd Airborne Division (United States), Division Spezielle Operationen (Germany), United Kingdom's Parachute Regiment3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Australia)
APP-6 Airmobile Infantry.svgAirmobile Infantry example: 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)Jägerregiment 1
APP-6 Mechanized Infantry.svgMechanized Infantry example: US 3rd Infantry Division (equipment example: M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle),
APP-6 Combined Arms.svgCombined Arms (new symbol for the Maneuver Elements of the US Heavy Brigade Combat Teams) example: US 1st Armored Division
APP-6 Infantry Mechanized IFV.svgMechanized Infantry equipped with Infantry Fighting Vehicles equipment examples: M2 BradleyBMP-3Dardo IFV
APP-6 Amphibious Mechanized Infantry.svgAmphibious Mechanized Infantry example: 1st Marine Regiment (United States) when Amphibious Assault Vehicleunits are attached.
APP-6 Wheeled Mechanized Infantry.svgMechanized Infantry (wheeled-"medium") equipment examples: 3rd Brigade (US 2nd Infantry Division), StrykerPatria AMVMowag PiranhaBTR-80Freccia (with machine gun turrets)
APP-6 Infantry Wheeled Mechanized IFV.svgMechanized Infantry (wheeled-"medium") equipped with wheeled Infantry Fighting Vehicles equipment examples:StrykerPatria AMVMowag PiranhaBTR-90Freccia (with autocannon turrets)
APP-6 Wheeled Tank.svgTank Destroyer equipment examples: B1 CentauroAMX 10 RC
APP-6 Armored Engineer.svgArmoured Engineers equipment examples: M60A1 AVLBBergepanzer BPz3. Also engineers mounted in IFVs such as Bradley or Warrior.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yeah okay, but what's a Growler

So in my first post I explained what a grognard was and how the slang for wargamers came about. It's been brought to my attention however that not everyone may know what a growler is.

In short, a growler is a half-gallon jug to transport fresh beer from your local brewery, brewpub, or even grocer to your home. They can be simple or extravagant (see the Stone Brewing growler far below). When you purchase your (first) growler of beer, you typically will also pay for the growler itself (in the form of a deposit). Most purveyors will credit this to you upon return or simply charge a refill price on your subsequent visits in lieu of the original price.

Below are a couple growlers from local breweries - Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (Charlotte, NC) and Cottonwood Brewery which is owned by Carolina Beer Company (Mooresville, NC).

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is a Grognard you ask...

Grognard is a French word used to describe the experienced soldiers of Napoleon's "Old Guard". It is synonymous with the French word grognon which translates to moaner. You could see how the latter could be misconstrued. Although, among wargamers, like any walk of life, there are plenty that fit the bill.

However, in the early 1970s, John Young, an employee of wargame publisher SPI, coined the phrase grognard as it applies to veteran wargamers. Alan Emrich tells the story on his web page, found here.

So, who's a Grognard?

Undoubtedly, this guy...

...and this guy.

And yeah, these guys too!
For the beer fans, those are Highland Gaelic Ales (Highland Brew Company - Asheville, NC) on the port and starboard. We're playing S. Craig Taylor's Wooden Ships & Iron Men (Avalon Hill) here... hence the port and starboard.

So, if you've stumbled across this blog by searching for grognards, then stick around, as you may find some of the posts interesting.