Category: Gaming

Merrill’s Marauders: Commandos in Burma, 1943-1945

Dice not included, ya need some d6s

I ordered Merrill’s Marauders: Commandos in Burma, 1943-1945 on a whim because I needed a few extra dollars added to my Amazon order for free shipping. It’s my first solitaire game and the solo play concept is somewhat interesting.

The game comes in a ziplock bag and includes a small map of Burma, 40 counters, 18 cards, and instructions. The ruleset is the Decision Games Commando series rules shared by their line of mini-games. It uses point-to-point movement powered by Ops points which are set by the scenario and increased or decreased by cards and combat. The OPFOR, in this case, the Imperial Japanese, are run by the deck and their composition and strength determined by blind chit pull.

Ambush at Indaw Airfield


The four scenarios require you to either capture and transport objectives or to build and secure forward operating bases. The location of the objectives is randomly determined by die roll and assigned blind due to some of the objective chits being ambushes.

My first game was pretty exciting, drawing Operation Galahad out of the scenario pile. It started with two elements heading into the jungle. Merrill’s group secured Sumprabum right as they receive news of the Japanese invasion of India losing half of their airbases. Meanwhile, the second group failed to recon Indaw and walked into a Japanese ambush. The battle was ferocious and the Commandos had to summon air support and air resupply but finally secured the objective.

Unfortunately, the group led by Merrill was raided and pinned around Tianzup airfield by a superior force. Air was unable to support or resupply and all elements were KIA.

Finally using Air Reconnisance the final objective was discovered at Mogaung. Commando elements paraglided in and successfully secured it. Unfortunately even with the objectives secured the mission was an overall failure due to the massive loss of American lives.

A ferocious battle where glider Commandos secured Mogaung with the help of Air support.



I played four games this weekend and managed to win none of them. I came within one move in my third but lost due to being out of operation points. The key to the game is observing where the hidden objectives are located and creating a force mix that can complete the mission.

Merril’s Marauders is a pretty fun and after four games I feel like I got my money’s worth out of it. I’m going to keep playing until I beat one of the scenarios then I’m going to try to play them linked together using the campaign rules where Ops points spill over from mission to mission.

The games main fault lies in the ambiguous nature of the rulebook. A lot of game specific rules supersede the Commando base rules and there’s a distinct lack of clarity, specifically surrounding the required KIA points and how to come about that score. My other minor complaint lies with the number of cards in the deck. The game would be much improved with a bit more card variety.


I enjoyed the solitaire wargame experience and I want to try more. I have GMT’s Labyrinth which I didn’t enjoy two-player with my wife but might be better solo, and other, strictly solitaire games like Zulus on the Ramparts or Air Wing games kind of interest me. I’m going to keep an eye out for more.


One of the main thing I enjoy about wargames is the historical aspect. I’m not very familiar with WWII in South East Asia and playing this game makes me want to do some reading on Chindits, Merrill, and the Burma Campaign.


Games with Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately, specifically male friendships. Honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity, male relationships, family, and life past the age of thirty. I came across this article the other day The Legion Lonely by Stephen Thomas and it hit really close to home. With the exception of being married, I’m just like the author, a 34-year-old man without any friends. Even sadder is that with a quick online search I came across other recent articles on the same topic. For example this Boston Globe piece.

The scary thing is that I’m not some maladjusted shy basement dweller. As far back as I can remember I have always been an extroverted outgoing guy. As a matter of fact, I’ve always been at the center of my social circle. A decade ago weekend events with friends were scheduled weeks in advance. Almost every night I would get a call from a friend wanting to hang out, even if it was just to a late night dinner or coffee.

Somewhat solitary hobbies.



So what happened? I got happily married, move away, got a time-consuming career. My friends got happily married, had children, moved away, committed to careers. We all keep in touch, Facebook every now and then, but our relationship is no different than one between any acquaintance on social media. Not enough time. Too much distance. Too much effort.

Now, to be honest I’m perfectly happy. My wife is amazing. We have the best conversation and I love spending time with her. But, I’m also a little bit jealous. She has friends. Girlfriends that she goes hiking with, girlfriends that she goes out of her way to spend time with over lunch. My entire social circle has become her friends and the associated husbands.

It doesn’t help that my hobbies and interests tend to be solitary in nature. It’s hard to make friends when I’m spending hours writing or sitting in a chair reading. Writing fiction in itself is a really strange and lonely endeavor. It requires one to be emotionally extroverted, brave with a hint of narcissism, yet requires hours upon hours of basement dwelling alone time.

The truth is that friendships require effort. I can spend all day making excuses about not having enough time, being tired from work, needing to spend time with the family, on and on, but in the end, I’m in control of the situation. 20170921_174732

So with the above in mind, I’ve decided to make an effort to connect with people and rekindle my interests. I grew up gaming, everything from tabletop RPGs to hex wargames. Right now, being away from my old group, my only game partner is my wife. I gave it some thought and decided that I’m going to make an effort to find others that share my interest or are interested in learning. Interestingly enough last week two different guys at work came up to me and struck up conversations about tabletop games out of the blue.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to wait around for a group to find me. Instead, I’m going to take the lead and set up regular game nights. Invite people that show interest and hopefully create a group of like-minded guys that can share my interest in gaming. When I was young I discovered pen and paper RPGs and became the perpetual DM who always ran games for all my friends, might as well continue to take the lead.

Last week I did just that. I invited a coworker for some gaming and I busted out Sekigahara. I had a great time playing against a new opponent and already other coworkers want to get some gaming on. Sekigahara is a fantastic game but runs a bit long, so I ordered Command & Colors: Napoleonics. A game I can hopefully teach really fast and use as an introduction to tabletop wargaming.

I did a bit of stickering this weekend.


I’m going to make a serious effort to break out of my comfort zone and become more receptive to embracing new hobbies and new opportunities. Becoming a wild-haired, bearded madman recluse isn’t very appealing.


A Nice Surprise

labYesterday I told you guys the disappointing story of my long lost copy of Labyrinth, its two month trip back and forth across the Pacific ocean, and my final decision to move on. Well it made it. So now I have Combat Commander and Labyrinth. I’m going to keep them both of course but need to figure out how to pay Amazon back for floating me the refund credit.

Either way, I’m really excited. If Judy is down I’m going to get in a few games this weekend.