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Elsewhere: COIN Frontiers

"Sir, I protest! I am not one of Vercingetorix's merry men!" —Worf

“Where have you been for the last couple weeks?” you’ve undoubtedly been asking. Wedding, wedding, new baby (not mine), work, school, wedding. That’s where.

Oh, and I’ve also had a few articles published over at Miniature Market’s Review Corner. First up, Michael Barnes and I debated the merits of Cuba Libre as an entry point into the excellent COIN Series, followed by a discussion about our reservations about Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar, and why despite those reservations it has become my favorite volume of the series. Meanwhile, I also reviewed Star Trek: Frontiers. Long story short, it’s Mage Knight in outer space with an extra dose of talking. “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra,” indeed.

The Space-Biff! Space-Cast! Episode #2: Viva Sinatra

There's a minor continuity error in here thanks to the fact that we recorded this episode a full month ago. Space Pennies to those who discover it!

It’s been a very Cuba Libre kind of week. Following on the heels of Dan Thurot and Michael Barnes’ duel of wits over at Miniature Market’s Review Corner, listen as Dan, John Barton, Taylor Webb, and special guest Mark Henderson ponder their most recent attempt to control the destiny of Cuba, the COIN Series in general, and which of them best resembles Fidel Castro.

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COIN Volume IV: Fire in the Lake

At the right angle, I suppose it could be a burning lake.

One of my favorite books on the topic of the Vietnam War is Frances FitzGerald’s Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. In it, FitzGerald posits that the United States didn’t lose the war out of failed military achievement or lack of determination, but rather owing to the incompatibility of American and Vietnamese cultures and values. The Vietnamese had weathered a literal millennium as part of Imperial China before regaining their sovereignty — after that, how long could any power expect to remain in Vietnam?

The board game version of Fire in the Lake, the fourth entry in Volko Ruhnke’s lauded COIN Series, has its own answer: about three to five hours, give or take.

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COIN Volume III: Afghan Altercation

pictured: a distant plain

It should already be apparent that I’m a huge fan of Volko Ruhnke’s COIN Series. It even led to the formation of my gaming group’s “COIN Collecting Club,” which is our way of code-talking that we’re going to play COIN games all Saturday afternoon. See, the real genius lies in the fact that certain people at our regular game night think it’s a club for the collecting of metal currency, when really we’re betraying each other and occasionally getting pissed about it.

To those certain people, who I’m aware read this site: I apologize. It couldn’t be helped. We just really didn’t want to play with you more than once a week.

Anyway, the COIN Series has already taken us on a tour of drug-war ’90s Colombia and Revolutionary Cuba, and today we’re talking about its headiest subject matter yet: the still-ongoing war in Afghanistan.

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COIN Volume II: Clash of Cubans

My favorite is that smiley revolutionary who appears on both sides. Smile on, you crazy starchild.

As you may remember, I’ve been working my way through Volko Ruhnke’s COIN Series (COIN for “counterinsurgency,” though my little group goes by the “Coin Collector Club” to sound barely less nerdy), beginning with the first volume, Andean Abyss. I liked it quite a lot, but felt it was a tricky entry point to a series that’s known for its complex asymmetrical conflicts.

As though on cue, the second volume of the series bursts through the door, dressed in an army jumpsuit, drab olive field cap, and underwear over the top of the pants. It’s Cuba Libre, here to save the day!

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COIN Volume I: Colombian Conflagration

My money's on the guy with the airplane.

Space-Biff! has been quieter than usual over the past couple weeks. Apologies. Couldn’t be helped. After all, I’ve been devoting most of my board gaming attention to figuring out Volko Ruhnke’s formidable COIN Series, which, if you haven’t heard of these behemoths, are all about insurgency and counterinsurgency — guerrilla warfare, hearts and minds, that sort of thing — and they’re endlessly and utterly compelling. The first volume, for instance, is called Andean Abyss, a four-way conflict over the jungles, mountains, and cities of Colombia, and it’s possibly one of the most thrilling, deep, and disheartening board games I’ve ever experienced.

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