It has long been known that most games, especially wargames, are played solitaire. This factor explains why traditional players are put off by role-playing and card games, since they usually require one to interact with actual human beings. It also accounts for the popularity of computer ones. After all, monitors rarely make fun of your inept play.
With this in mind, it is somewhat surprising to find over 160 game clubs listed on Web-Grognards. For one thing, a club requires the dreaded human contact. These groups also tend to be small and subject to high member turnover, financial problems, lack of publicity, the dominance of lengthy, complex games, and the always ominous closing of the nearest fast food restaurant. Still, with proper planning, a library of fast-playing German products, and the use of the Internet for publicity, a group has at least a chance to survive.
The Westbank Gamers of New Orleans is typical of these types of clubs. It is small enough (twenty or so members) to minimize location problems (they meet at Greg Schloesserís place), has a healthy obsession with German games, and wages a relentless assault on the Internet from its site. Club maven Schloesser routinely posts updates on his groupís activities on various web organs and thus gives his club an Internet presence far in excess of its size.
The site itself includes about a hundred game reviews, mostly German-style, and club variants for thirty more. Supplementing these are game session reports which also function as reviews, and convention reports. There is also a small news and editorial section, lists of the membersí favorite games, a photo album, links, a game bazaar, and enough member biographical information to give any Internet stalker a decent head start.
Overall, this is a site which accomplishes what it set out to do. It publicizes the club, contributes to hobby discussions, and enshrines some nice memories. Founders of other groups could do worse than to use this site as a model.
Peter L. de Rosa
Note: The original version of this review appeared in Strategist 30 (February 2000):6, under the title "Internet Review: The Westbank Gamers Site." The Strategist is the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society.
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WE SHALL OVERCOME by Peter L. de Rosa
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