43 episodes

Mark Johnson's irregular podcast about small wargames.

Wargames To Go Mark Johnson

    • Leisure
    • 4.5 • 40 Ratings

Mark Johnson's irregular podcast about small wargames.

    Wargames To Go 25.3 Wars of Scotland (Conclusion, part 1)

    Wargames To Go 25.3 Wars of Scotland (Conclusion, part 1)

    Come join the new Wargames To Go (and Boardgames To Go) discord server https://discord.gg/vxEG9bMPdx

    As always happens, a subject that attracts me for wargaming and this podcast proves to be deeper and richer than expected. Once I knew I would get a chance to visit Scotland on vacation last summer/fall, it was my opportunity to dive into "wars of Scotland" in a general sense. What did I think that was? From Braveheart and Hammer the Scots I knew about the first War of Scottish Independence, at least a bit. I'd heard of the Jacobite Rebellion and The '45. And I figured there was some Roman history somehow, what with Hadrian's Wall up there.

    Of course, there's much more. Not only did I confirm the Roman-Caledonian history and learn more about Robert the Bruce or Bonnie Prince Charlie, I naturally uncovered a lot more detail in those conflicts...plus many others that fill the centuries between the parts I knew. Not all of them are depicted extensively in wargaming, but often at least a scenario in Ancient Battles Deluxe, as well as informative YouTube animations.

    In this episode I give some general impressions & observations about some of the game systems I played, notably Men of Iron, Ancients/Ancient Battles Deluxe, Commands & Colors, plus a standalone game about Bannockburn/Stirling/Falkirk. There are movies worth mentioning, and a few more games or scenarios to try.

    This is all expected to wrap up fairly quickly. Later this week I'm going to GMT's Weekend at the Warehouse, and there I'll get in a game or two to be discussed on the next podcast...along with a general report on the GMT event.



    • 1 hr 14 min
    Wargames To Go 25.2 - SDHistCon 2023

    Wargames To Go 25.2 - SDHistCon 2023

    Come join the new Wargames To Go (and Boardgames To Go) discord server https://discord.gg/vxEG9bMPdx

    One week ago I was at my first SDHistCon. I had a good time, would like to share that experience via this audio convention report...and still there manages to be a slender but worthwhile connection to my Wars of Scotland subject.

    For anyone who only found me for the convention report, I start with a brief overview of me & my podcast(s). Then I get into the convention itself, some of the great people I chatted with, and the remainder of the episode is a rundown of all the games I played. I'm covering them in roughly descending order of their wargame bona fides. So the first ones are the most traditionally wargame-y, followed by more & more titles that go from consims to general history games, ultimately finishing with a few light euro-style boardgames.

    The first game discussed happens to the one that connects to my current exploration on this podcast, the Wars of Scotland. Border Reivers is a game I could only experience at a convention, so I seized the opportunity. The next Wargames To Go podcast should have a lot more Scotland in it, some of those films I mentioned, and is expected to wrap up this topic. Then it will be time to look ahead to the next one. I've got some ideas.

    Thanks to the entire SDHist board that makes this event happen. Harold Buchanon may be the visible face of the organization, but I know he'd want to point out over a dozen board members, plus other advisors, that make it all work.

    Harold & I are getting a demo of Night Witches from designers Liz Davidson and David Thompson

    My new favorite Canadian, podcaster Grant Linneberg from Pushing Cardboard

    Another demo, this of Molly House. I'm there with Dan Thurot, Drew Wehrle, Alex Knight, Dan Bulloch, and Meeple Lady


    • 1 hr 23 min
    Wargames To Go 25.1 - Wars of Scotland (Intro)

    Wargames To Go 25.1 - Wars of Scotland (Intro)

    Episode geeklist

    Come join the new Wargames To Go (and Boardgames To Go) discord server https://discord.gg/vxEG9bMPdx

    Guess what? This little podcast is now ten years old. I'd been doing my other one about euro boardgames even longer, and in 2013 I decided to branch off this other show about wargaming. I'd started in this hobby as a kid wargamer in 1979. I never completely left it, but my hobby in the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s shifted more to roleplaying, Magic: the Gathering, and then euro boardgaming. It wasn't until around 2010 or so that I finally realized what countless wargamers before me did--that I could enjoy wargaming as a (mostly) solitaire hobby, getting more games to the table. I started acquiring more titles, especially magazine games, and became interested in specific topics to explore via multiple game treatments. Then I added my love of travel and movies to make my own contribution to wargame podcasts, Wargames To Go. Thanks for listening!

    I had plans to go see Scotland back in 2016, but those had to be cancelled. Then it was put off for a few years, a worldwide pandemic happened, yadda-yadda-yadda...and finally I got to visit this country in 2023. My wife & I enjoyed two weeks there--the first in the cities of Ediburgh & Glasgow, followed by a second week in the countryside (Strathspey and up to Orkneys). There was much to see & enjoy, from stone age settlements to whisky distilleries.

    And there were sites of military history. I really enjoy visiting battlefields to get a feel for the location. Sometimes the accompanying museums are good--other times not. Best of all is when there is a good guide available. Even if not, though, these days it's easy to read so much information online, to watch battlefield animation videos, and more to get a fuller sense of the historic event. On this trip we visited the sites of Bannockburn, Culloden, and from Stirling Castle I could look out over the Stirling Bridge area. I don't think anyone really knows where the Roman battle of Mons Graupius took place, but I probably drove near it.

    As you can tell, the topics here are not limited to one battle, one war, or even one era. I decided to dabble in all areas of Scottish military history that I could, at least as far as wars actually in Scotland. The big three eras are Roman contact, the Wars of Scottish Independence (Wallace/Bruce/Longshanks), and the Jacobite Uprising. Other periods such as the Battle of Flodden Field or the Border Reiver period are mentioned, but we'll see if I get to any of those games.

    This episode is a intentionally shorter than some previous ones. I'd rather post a couple smaller episodes that wait longer for a gargantuan one. I figure it's easier for listeners to follow along this way, too. As a result, I haven't yet seen all of the films nor played all of the games that I intend to. It's an introduction to the topic, and I'll return later with a conclusion.

    • Braveheart
    • Culloden
    • Rob Roy
    • Outlaw King

    • A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain, by Marc Morris


    P.S. I'll be at SDHistCon in just a few days. Look me up and say hi if you enjoy the podcast, thanks!

    • 51 min
    Wargames To Go 24 - Operation Market Garden

    Wargames To Go 24 - Operation Market Garden

    Episode geeklist

    Come join the new Wargames To Go (and Boardgames To Go) discord server https://discord.gg/vxEG9bMPdx

    Times are approximate
    Introduction (0:30)
    Operation Market Garden overview (12:00)
    Nils Johansson transcribed/read interview (16:30)
    David Thompson & Michael Tiller interview (37:00)
    Mark's travels, movies, books, games about Market Garden (1:29:00)

    I'd been saving the famous battles of Operation Market Garden for when I expected to live nearby in the Netherlands. When those plans fell through, I was disappointed for some time, but eventually put that behind me and looked at the stack of Market Garden games I'd been saving. Then I lucked into a business trip into that corner of the world, and I determined to visit Hell's Highway and cover this topic. That was last December. I played a few games back then, and a few more over the subsequent months. Plus, of course, the usual books & movies. All to be discussed in this episode.

    Michael Tiller

    Patron Badge for 2010, 2013 through 2016, 2018 through 2022

    Nils Johansson

    Patron Badge for 2010 through 2018, 2020 through 2022

    David Thompson

    Patron Badge for 2012 through 2013, 2015 through 2022


    However, something surprising happened when I was just starting this effort. Designers Nils Johansson and David Thompson publicly released a postcard game about Market Garden. Now, I say I'm interested in smaller wargames (it's in my podcast intro), but postcard games are REALLY small. I was interested in this new entry as a game, but I was especially interested in it for what it says about Minimalist Wargame Design. Not only in component count and number of rules, but with Nils' as a co-designer it would have a fascinating graphic design behind it. That absolutely interested me. Then add in the fact that the two of them utilized Michael Tiller as a volunteer helper to do some mathematical modeling (coding) of the simulation...it all added up to a fascinating glimpse into wargame design in the fullest sense, even though it was about a minimalist wargame. Oh, and it just happened to be about Market Garden!

    Take a look at the graphic wargame designs of Nils Johansson
    Even better on his Instagram page

    In the episode after my general intro, I launch into interviews of these creators. Nils contributed a written response, which I decided to simply read aloud on the podcast. Then I get David & Michael on the microphone to talk through their points of view about the design & development.

    • A Bridge too Far
    • Band of Brothers (episode 4, "Replacements")
    • Theirs Is The Glory
    • The Forgotten Battle

    • Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944, by Antony Beevor
    • Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin: The Glider Pilots of World War II, by Scott McGaugh
    • Strategy & Tactics no. 77, "Paratroop"



    P.S. I haven't been very reliable or accurate in my plans for upcoming episodes, but this time I think I'm pretty certain. I've got my first ever vacation to Scotland coming up, so I'd like to explore a few games featuring that famous country. Think Hammer of the Scots, Bannockburn, Culloden...

    • 2 hr 23 min
    Wargames To Go 23.2 - Spanish-American War (part 2, with Jason Perez)

    Wargames To Go 23.2 - Spanish-American War (part 2, with Jason Perez)

    Come join the new Wargames To Go (and Boardgames To Go) discord server https://discord.io/BoardgamesToGo

    For a couple reasons, this episode has been my white whale, almost taking me down. I would certainly understand if any of my listeners gave up on me along the way, thinking the podcast had faded away entirely, or that I wasn't interested in wargaming any more. Not true! Listeners of my other podcast--the longstanding BoardgamesToGo about family strategy boardgames--know that I've still been active. I've even kept the flame of wargaming alive, playing a title here & there, reading history, watching films, and dabbling in online communities like Twitter and Discord. I even spent a weekend with wargame designer David Thompson where he beat me in a hex & counter wargame (not normally his thing, but mine!), showed me the brand-new Resist! game, and I also visited the nearby National Museum of the USAF.

    So what was it? What has kept me from closing out this wargame topic for so many months? The first is the topic itself. What started out as a little exploration of a lesser-known, short war with Teddy Roosevelt and his charge up San Juan Hill ballooned into a wider study of America's pivot to overseas colonialism and empire. It involves US national policy, ethical debates over the nature of democracy, a technological leap in naval power, islands in multiple oceans, and millions of other peoples who were fighting for their own American-style independence from foreign empires. That's a BIG topic, and it was the inspiration for my featured interview contained in this episode.

    The second reason was simply personal. I've spent most of the last year thinking I was going to be making a big change in my life, relocating overseas to Europe. I put a lot of things "on hold" while I worked on that, but it has ultimately not panned out. Ok, time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Except that it's not really "starting all over," because I've still got my good family, home, job...and wargame podcast.

    To a large extent, I simply need to get this episode behind me, which will close out this topic and let me move on to the next. The nature and history of American imperialism is such an enormous topic that I'll never do it justice. It has been fascinating and important for me to learn more about this subject--one of the great joys of my wargaming hobby is how it repeatedly opens up new understandings of history. I'm just going to do the best I can to wrap this up and then get energized all over again by the next topic.

    • The War Lovers, by Evan Thomas
    • The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century, by Clay Risen
    • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, by Stephen Kinzer
    • How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, by Daniel Immerwahr

    • Rough Riders
    • Heneral Luna
    • Crucible of Empire: The Spanish American War

    Jason Perez

    In addition to my closing comments about the games, books, and films I encountered for this episode, I was motivated to reach out to Jason "Shelf Stories" Perez for a featured interview. Over the summer, as I was thinking about the breadth of this topic, Jason popped onto my radar screen for his work with the thoughtful retheming of the classic eurogame Puerto Rico for its 20th anniversary into Puerto Rico 1897, which keeps the award-winning gameplay but fixes the cultural ignorance of the original. Though obviously not a wargame, it IS more aware of this history into which it is set, something eurogames have not usually done well. Picking the year 1897 reveals a significance to the Sp-Am War that was just around the corner, too. Then I noticed Jason had posted some other interesting videos about the cultural awareness (or not) of wargames. I knew I wanted to interview him for t

    • 2 hr 2 min
    Wargames To Go 23.1 - Spanish American War (part 1, with Joe Schmidt)

    Wargames To Go 23.1 - Spanish American War (part 1, with Joe Schmidt)

    Episode geeklist

    Joe Schmidt

    Now I've gone back to my usual format where I explore a single topic in games, books, films, and whatever else I can find. The Spanish-American War is similar to a lot of topics I've dived into--it's something I felt like I knew something about, but not too much. Also matching the pattern, it's been a subject I thought would be rather small and self-contained...only to find out it has larger implications and resonances to today's world. I swear, that just keeps on happening.

    Probably like a lot of people, when I think of the SAW I think of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, "Remember the Maine," San Juan Hill, and Cuba. Other topics might come to me if I concentrated on it, but not as readily: the Philippines, American imperialism, Yellow Journalism, Puerto Rico, and the US Navy. I think Cuba's much longer internal struggle for independence was largely unknown to me.

    In this Part 1 episode, I close by giving a quick rundown of the games in my geeklist on the subject, many of which I have played or will play by the time I record Part 2 to conclude the topic. However, the beginning of this podcast features a full interview with designer Joe Schmidt. Joe caught my attention when his little game Kettle Hill was about the Rough Riders' and Buffalo Soldiers' famous assault that was part of the Santiago campaign in the SAW. What's more, Joe won the Charles S Roberts award for the Amateur/Print-and-Play category. As you'll hear, Joe designed Kettle Hill as a PNP title during the coronavirus pandemic as a way of doing something for the hobby. I'm glad the hobby recognized him in return.

    Joe has a few games with a distinct aesthetic, both in small footprint and graphic design. He's also got several other projects in various stages of completion, such as his collaboration with other designers for the French Resistance game In The Shadows, which has already made the cut with GMT's P500 system. There's another title that will be of special interest to fans of the Levy & Campaign series that started with Nevsky. I didn't even realize it until after I switched off the recorder, but Joe was giving me a scoop for his new game in that series! Just like when Volko gave me a scoop for Nevsky back in episode 14.2! Wow, I'm a journalist!


    • 1 hr 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

Par3sR Bad ,

Lots of good information

I've really enjoyed these podcasts. The discussion of little known facts, films, books, and exhaustive list of games on the topics has been valuable.
If you're a historical boardgamer, I really believe you'll enjoy this podcast.

Mike Sundborg ,

Go to Wargame podcast

Mark’s commentary on Wargame subjects is infectious…..Truly a honest and refreshing podcast about our hobby.

PolyDoob ,

Wonderful wargame podcast

I love your work, please keep it going!

Top Podcasts In Leisure

Critical Role
Critical Role
Duck Call Room
Si Robertson & Justin Martin
ClutterBug - Organize, Clean and Transform your Home
Tales from the Stinky Dragon
Rooster Teeth
House Rules with Myquillyn Smith, The Nester
Myquillyn Smith

You Might Also Like

Pushing Cardboard
Grant Linneberg
History on the Table
History on the Table
Advance After Combat
Advance After Combat
Harold on Games
Harold on Games
"Mentioned In Dispatches" with the Armchair Dragoons
Armchair Dragoons
GMT Talk
GMT Games