Behind the Lines
In This Issue
August is a Bloody Month
We all know (well, we should…) that The Great War (a.k.a. World
War One, although we’ve always felt that the earlier title better
conveys the shock and horror of the event’s impact on previously
complacent European societies) began in August, 1914. But if you scan
any standard Chronology of Military History, you’ll see that an
inordinate number of significant battles and campaigns occurred in or
at least started during that month.
Coincidence? We don’t think so. The reasons are probably the same
as the ones that caused Imperial Germany to launch its “Schlieffen
Plan” Offensive in August: good weather, dry terrain, and a decent
window of time in which to reach a decision before the mud of late autumn
glued the contending forces in place.
At any rate, we decided it would be a bit too much to list all
the significant Battles of August in a single newsletter since our preliminary
list of battles was 14 pages... single spaced. If anyone wants to take
a gander at our massive list (some items even have a brief historical
sidebar about the battle) feel free to let us know and we'll happily send
what we have on through to you.
At any rate, welcome back to the Matrix Games newsletter!
Enjoy the newsletter,
The Newsletter Team
Comments? Questions? We'd love to hear from you through our general
feedback contact form.
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This Week's Historical Short: A Gallery of Rogues
and Heroes - Louis Napoleon
The Historical Short section is designed to provide a brief snapshot
of an interesting historical event or trivia that is a little off the
beaten path of regular historical discourse.
A Gallery Of Rogues And Heroes With Biographical Sketches And Thumbnail Accounts Of The Deeds And Misdeeds
nephew of the great Emperor, Napoleon III was nobody’s fool even
if History seems to have judged him a consummate mediocrity. He was not
by nature a vacillating or weak-willed man, but he was susceptible to
the highly visible, and often deeply ironic, changes-in-agenda that are
so often a corollary to the changed perspective that comes over almost
every man who suddenly finds himself elevated from the middle levels of
his profession to the very apex of power. The view from the very top is
so different, so without precedent to anyone who suddenly finds himself
on the summit, that one’s priorities almost always undergo a shift
commensurate with one’s elevation in rank and status.
When Louis Napoleon took office as the new emperor of France, his foremost
priority was to find a face-saving way to extricate his nation from the
bloody and apparently intractable stalemate in Algeria. Yet, virtually
overnight, when Louis Napoleon ascended to supreme power and actually
had the authority and the moral/political leverage to seek such a settlement,
his thinking underwent a reversal as profound as it was sudden. He swiftly
became a convert to the creed of the most two-fisted, iron-willed advocates
of naked imperialism. Rather than seek an honorable accommodation with
the indigenous rebels, he became firmly resolved to “pacify”
the entire region, with a massive, open-ended infusion of sheer military
force. Searching the globe to find other “primitive” regions
where France might gain the same kind of dubious prestige as Great Britain
then enjoyed throughout the Indian subcontinent. This obsession with colonial
aggrandizement led him to begin maneuvering to achieve the annexation
of southern Indo-China, a region that would eventually prove at least
as troublesome and unprofitable to France as most of India was to Great
Britain – and ultimately, would lead to the worst French military
humiliation since Rommel surged across the Meuse River in 1940: the apocalyptic
debacle of Dien-Bien-Phu.
Having become a full-blown victim of Imperialist delusions, Louis Napoleon
also wasted five years and a vast amount of treasure by blundering around
aimlessly in the barren landscape and snake-pit politics of Mexico, a
geographic region about as useless to France as a colony founded in Antarctica.
Napoleon’s aims there were murky, his political and military direction
was spasmodic and unfocused, the leaders he supported were corrupt and
despised by the masses, and at the end of this costly and blood-soaked
adventure, about the only thing France brought back from Mexico was the
legend of a glorious defeat, the Battle of Cameron, which created the
grim mystique of the Foreign Legion. That organization, comprising “the
salt and scum of the Earth”, would at least serve France well and
faithfully on many a far-flung battlefield.
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The Historical Perspective section is intended to give readers the
"history behind the game." This month, Will Trotter gives us the fourth
part of a series about the evolution of military technology before during
and after the American Civil War.
Crucible of Blood - The American Civil War And the Evolution
of Modern Military Technology
Part 5 - The Rise of the Ironclad
William R. Trotter
There was nothing new about the idea of armoring wooden warships: dampened
hides had been draped along the thwarts of Greek and Roman galleys to
afford a reasonable measure of protection against flaming arrows and catapult
projectiles. But the real impetus for developing armored warships came
when the first crude shell-firing guns began to appear on ships in the
16th Century. The first recorded example of a “proto-ironclad”
appeared when the citizens of Antwerp were hastily beefing up the defenses
of the Scheldt Estuary against the impending attack of the Duke of Parma
and his formidable Spanish legions. It was a curious-looking vessel named
The Belgian Lion (De Leone Belgico (see illustration 1), an unusually
large, flat-bottomed coast defense craft with a castle-like superstructure
whose slanted walls provided additional protection, augmenting the iron
plates affixed to its sides. The rectangular structure amidships was loop-holed
on each side for four large cannon and it bristled with small swivel-guns
and musketeer positions, making it a formidable ship to carry by a boarding
attack. History does not record, unfortunately, what active role, if any,
the picturesque but rather top-heavy Belgian Lion played in the defense
of Antwerp, so one may infer that its performance was less puissant that
Change must have been in the air, and globally too, for in 1592, the
highly respected Korean admiral Yi Sung Sin conceived and constructed
a number of “tortoise ships” as a deterrent to Chinese naval
aggression. These were low, rounded, oar-powered craft well-protected
by overlapping iron plates, which were in turn studded with sharp iron
spikes to discourage boarding attacks. They also carried a long iron-tipped
prow for close-in ramming attacks, although considering their weight and
lack of streamlining, the rams were either a sign of excessive optimism
on Admiral Sin’s part, or a testament to the brawny physiques of
his Korean oarsmen. Details are frustratingly vague and contradictory,
but since the Koreans are known to have won a number of naval engagements
against larger but less agile and more vulnerable Chinese ships, we may
presume that the Tortoise Ships proved to be effective in battle.
Obviously influenced by their progressive Korean neighbors, the Japanese
also got into the act, at least in a limited way. An English traveler
named William Adam described a big, ungainly, Noah’s-Ark type vessel
he’d seen in Osaka harbor, ponderous-looking but well-armored and
displacing an estimated 1000 tons. This ship, his Japanese hosts explained,
was kept on station in case the Shogun needed heavy firepower to suppress
insurrections on any of the many outlying islands that made up a restive
part of his realm.
here to continue part 5 of Crucible of Blood - The American Civil War
And the Evolution of Modern Military Technology.
|Enjoying the article
so far? Why not check out these great titles that focus on the
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Game Spotlight: Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition
- Piping Hot Review Scores
of Glory: Emperor's Edition, a Napoleonic-era strategy game, is the
sequel to Western Civilization's acclaimed Crown
Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition has been making some strong
impressions on reviewers who have had a chance to take a look the game.
Anyone who was on the fence about this sequel and wanted to see what other
people thought before buying should take a look at these three reviews.
There are more reviews on the way as well so be sure to check back to
and Awards List in the forum.
It should also be noted for any owners of the original Crown of Glory
that you get a $10 discount off of the sequel. And now, without further
adieu, the reviews:
Napoleon Series - "CoG:EE is not an example of the real-time
strategy graphics-fest games posing as strategy war games which have
become more and more common on the gaming market. CoG:EE is a balanced,
intriguing, subtle, artistically-satisfying, historically-accurate-enough,
challenging, easy-to-learn/hard-to-master game: in short, a work of
art. In contrast to some larger game companies which seem to strive
for maximum market penetration among younger gamers who are less interested
in strategy and more interested in beguiling graphics, WCS is not a
producer of flash-in-the-pan sequels that show all the signs of massive
capital backing, but limited vision, integration, realism and coherency.
CoG:EE is a product of inspiration, hard work, team work, vision, and
dedication. So if you are a Napoleon era fan or expert and you have
a little time, even if you've never played a computer strategy game,
check out CoG:EE, it is one of the best in its genre and you are likely
to have a lot of fun!
General – 79% - "Players
who enjoy methodical game play that allows them to get intimate with
all details from shaping their economy to determining the best strategy
for their army and navy will find themselves so absorbed in Napoleonic
Europe it will be difficult to turn the game off.
(magazine) - 8/10 - "Crown of Glory: Emperor’s
Edition is simply the best grand strategy game for this period since...
the first Crown of Glory. Rare are games as complete, deep and fascinating
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Game Spotlight: Advanced Tactics - The Space Combat Game??
Tactics is an award winning strategy game from VR Designs.
Although the Advanced Tactics's subtitle is "World War II,"
the game boasts some impressive modability - not to mention a very powerful
editor. A recent mod and AAR by an avid community member details some
amazing mod work which converted Advanced Tactics into a
space combat game!
As you can see from the screenshots, Advanced Tactics not only
gets the job done as a World War II game, but it can also house limitless
possibilities for expansion, conversion, mods and more. Gamers interested
in creating their own flavor of strategy or just looking for a fun, versatile
game system to test their strategic meddle with should give Advanced Tactics
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Game Spotlight: Operation Barbarossa - Screenshot Feature
Barbarossa - The Struggle for Russia is a recently
announced World War II strategy game from Binary
Evolution Studios. Operation Barbarossa is slated for release in the
next few weeks.
About Operation Barbarossa - The Struggle for Russia:
On June 22, 1941 an avalanche of 153 German divisions crash into the
Soviet Union and the largest military operation in history is begun: Operation
Barbarossa. In this elegant turn-based strategy game, compelling gameplay
combines with gripping history to create an addictive mix.
Aimed at all levels, from those who have never played a wargame before
to those who know the history of World War II in detail, this is an entertaining
and mentally challenging game of combined arms strategy. Your armor, infantry,
artillery and air units will follow you through the most crucial battles
of the Eastern Front. You will be able to choose from 47 different upgrades
and improvements for your units as well as add new forces based on your
success in the campaign.
Take command in two German and one Soviet campaign as well as individual
scenarios and determine the fate of the Eastern Front. When you’ve
played through all the campaigns and scenarios, try your hand at the editor
to create new scenarios for yourself or to share with others!
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In this section we provide a rundown of the latest updates from Matrix
Games, just in case you missed a press release or two.
- Matrix Games Announces Operation Barbarossa - The Struggle for Russia! - The Fate of the Eastern Front is in your hands!
the WW2: Time of Wrath Giveaway Contest! - You could win
a free copy of WW2: Time of Wrath just by answering a few trivia
- Matrix Games Releases a WW2: Time of Wrath Demo - Try your hand at battling for supremacy over Europe in this new playable demo!
in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition Now Available! Announcing the
Victory at Sea Sale - The long-awaited sequel to the legendary WWII
Pacific monster strategy game is now available and it comes along with
a three month sale on other 2by3 Games Pacific wargames!
War One: La Grande Guerre Is Updated - A new update heads out
of the trenches and into action!
Time of Wrath Now Available for Purchase! - A vastly improved
sequel now available for purchase - and it’s a FREE upgrade for WW2:
Road to Victory owners!
War II: General Commander Now Available from Matrix Games!
- Command massive armies over vast battlefields all with thrilling real
Games Announces Gary Grigsby’s War in the East! - The veteran
game developers Gary Grigsby, Joel Billings and Keith Brors are working
hard to bring gamers WWII on the Eastern Front.
and Musket: Volume I Now Available! - Muster the troops and
prepare to march, this anticipated turn-based strategy game is now ready
Baseball Now Available for Free! - Get this award-winning baseball
management sim absolutely free of charge
of Glory: Emperor’s Edition Gets a Major Update - Great new
documentation and dozens of fixes and improvements come with the first
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This has been an action-packed summer here at Matrix. War in the
Pacific: Admiral's Edition is positively lighting up our forums
as gamers enjoy the mammoth expansion to the legendary Pacific-theater
naval warfare game. Since the game's release, approximately 20,000 posts
have been logged ranging from calls for PBEM games to in-depth AARs and
from cries for help to cries of victory. And this is all in just a few
Despite the impressive salvo of quality titles from Matrix in the prior
months, don't expect us to let up the barrage any time soon. We have plenty
of new titles on the way in addition to a few highly anticipated classics
that will no doubt make veteran wargamers and people new to the genre
very excited. (War
in the East anybody?)
And as always, anyone who would like to drop us a line and give us some
feedback, complaints, etc., please don't hesitate to do so through our
feedback contact form.
Thanks for reading and happy holidays!
The Newsletter Team
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