Regardless of what Trump does, he just cannot seem to do anything right. From short-term record low unemployment (and a record low for black unemployment), to tax breaks, to wanting U.S. allies and foreign trade partners to level the scales on the trading tariffs, Trump is always the one to blame.
The post election chaos was telegraphed months ahead of time. Aside from the War Gaming, Hillary was telling Joe not to concede for any reason, Trump said the Mail in Ballots would be a disaster, and any number of talking heads were saying it would take days to count the votes, so don't expect an answer on Election Night. Please complete the quick form below in order to register your MiniWarGaming User Account. All fields below are required. Only one account may be registered per Email Address, and your Username must be unique.
Sure, unemployment is not everything as was discussed in Unemployment Nearing 50 Year Low and the tax breaks are likely too little too late in terms of economic bolstering and “wage growth.” Yet, letting countries charge 100 to 200 percent on U.S. exports while the U.S. charges nowhere near the same in response is far from just bad economic and diplomatic policy, it is ludicrous. In fact, the United States charges more on imported clothing than anything else! 
So what is the latest thing Trump is being blamed for that is “all wrong”? Well, his agreement and talks with North Korea, of course!
Talks between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump took place on June 12, 2018. The meeting marked the first time a President of the United States actually sat down with a dictator from North Korea making the event truly historic.
The most important takeaway from the meeting is that both countries seek peace. After months of growing hostility that could have easily led to nuclear war between the two countries, tensions loosen as both Un and Trump come together to resolve their differences. At the conclusion of their meeting during a press conference, Trump said, “We’re prepared to start a new history, and we’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations.” 
Territory War Gaming Potatoes Au
The White House released a statement outlining the details which establish the U.S.-DPRK (aka North Korea) relations which will “contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.”  The joint-statement and agreement terms are summed up in four brief points:
- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
The statement goes on to say, “Having acknowledged that the U.S.–DPRK summit—the first in history—was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.”
The world will be looking forward to the follow-up negotiations and seeing that these stipulations are carried out. For completeness sake, what do each of the stipulations indicate? While Vox and CNN recount the stipulations as vague, weak, and giving into appeasement, what would truly make them happy?
Not only was this a first in history – not only for the U.S. but for the world – that a meeting with Kim Jong Un was held, but the fact that both sides received something while setting the stage for future discussions is tantalizing. What is not to like?
Dinesh d’Souza likened the meeting between Un and Trump to the meeting of Regan and Gorbachev. History is being made and Trump simply jumped and seized the moment instead of leading from behind.
The United States and North Korea will communicate their needs and desires with each other. This sets the stage for future talks and the establishment of step-by-step process in which actions can deduce how the situation is developing. As North Koreans perform actions in accordance with the stipulations, the United States can monitor, verify, and adjust based on those steps taken.
As future talks between the United States and Korea are held, each country can give concessions to appease one another. North Korea is intimidated and wants security. They do not want the United States to continue war-gaming and enforcing sanctions which suffocate the North Korean’s ability to trade. Furthermore, the United States does not want North Korea to hold nuclear missile technology and other weapons of mass destruction.
Many tout that Trump is weak and is appeasing Kim Jong Un as he stated that the United States would provide security to Un as well as halt war-game exercises in conjunction with South Korea . While this makes North Korea happy, it is a gesture of good-faith and a concession to hopefully motivate and show Kim that the United States is serious and is not bluffing.
Why Does Kim Need Security?
Trump declared that he was “committed to provide security guarantees” to Kim Jong Un and North Korea in an effort to thwart any kind of regime change. It has been noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are to meet with North Korean officials to work out further details of this arrangement. 
This is again a sign of good-faith that the Americans are not playing games. The U.S. did not hold this meeting to simply throw out Kim Jong Un and strip the DPRK out from underneath.
No More War-Games?
The U.S.-South Korea joint exercises are war-games which have been taking place for over 40 years. The Foal Eagle/Team Spirit/Key Resolve exercises are performed bi-annually (two times per year) as a series of “joint and combined ground, air, naval, and special operations field exercises, adding that it is designed in the spirit of the U.S.-South Korean mutual defense treaty of 1953,” that last nearly 2-months.  These ‘war game’ exercises are the largest and longest war games in the world.
Each of these exercises is a costly show of force demonstration to the North Korean leadership. Thousands of U.S. troops, along with machinery, are shipped into South Korea to join the 28,000 or so troops already there. These troops exercise alongside nearly 290,000 South Korean troops to don chemical-gear, execute potential war-game scenarios, and polish routines and training. This show of force demonstrates to the North Koreans that both the United States and South Koreans take the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities serious and are unperturbed by their presence.
Many have claimed that Trump made this decision all in the name of saving money and without actually getting anything in return.  For one, the exercises are heavily costly. One can only imagine the cost of importing troops and machinery to constantly operate for 2 months straight, two times per year. Furthermore, many military critics yearn for troops to be brought back home and for the military to lighten its load; yet, when the military decides to do so, they get criticized for it.
Keep in mind, not only is this a carrot for the North Korean horse to accept, it again demonstrates that the United States is serious about denuclearization. The caveat is that the exercises are halted; it is not like Trump is bringing home all of the troops from South Korea. This means the war gaming can just as easily continue should North Korean break rank with the United States and back-step on the required stipulations. It is far from pulling all of the troops out of an area, leaving a vacuum to be filled, fostering a hotbed of resentment, and leaving allies on the hook akin to Obama’s Arab Spring which created ISIS.
Agree to disagree, but Trump simply turned off a water faucet which could just as easily be turned back on and he could even add heat to that water if Kim Jong Un desired to be burned. So sure, let some money be saved to help decrease the U.S. $20+ trillion dollar debt and bolster relations with a new found “enemy-turned-friend” while they give up their most prized possession.
Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula
This is the meat and potatoes of the entire meeting with North Korea. This is what the United States wants more than anything. Is providing security to North Korea and Kim Jong Un and halting military exercises worth North Korea giving up their most prized and deadliest of possessions for? Absolutely. While the agreement did not spell out exactly when the denuclearization of North Korea would occur, it does indicate that it is on the table and can be had. One must take small steps when entering uncharted territory.
Trump conceding a few simple concessions to not only demonstrate the U.S. commitment and seriousness in the matter but to establish a pipeline for future steps and actions to be taken which ultimately will attain a lasting peace and denuclearization which has never been done is paramount. While many can preach that Trump is not the deal-maker he claims to be and makes the U.S. look weak, he is in fact winning. However, if North Korea backtracks and resumes their previous ways, then yes, it makes Trump look a fool and likely weak. But until that happens, a historic shot at peace on the optimistic side while giving up very little in terms of real power, speaks volumes.
While not much has been said about this, the agreement to allow the United States to retrieve POW/MIA remains is a huge win for the people and families of America. According to the National Committee on North America, several U.S. military personnel missions have been attempted from 1993 to 2005 to recover the POW/MIA remains.
These attempts were halted due to safety concerns and unscientific collection of the deceased.  It is estimated there is 7,697 American personnel who are unaccounted for.  The ability to recover these remains not only indicates that North Koreans have a heart and are also appeasing the United States, it will likely provide closure for nearly 7,697 families throughout the United States. It is hard to put a price-tag on piece of mind (at least for those families).
Despite what many pundits and criticizers say about the President, it is hard to argue with what he claimed to be a “very successful” meeting. Not only was the meeting unprecedented where two enemies came together as potential future “friends,” gains and pipelines were established to nourish the new “friendship” towards peace and prosperity.
While the U.S. granted security to the North Koreans as well as claimed to halt full-scale war-gaming exercises, the U.S. saved quite a bit of cash and will likely reclaim many of their fallen so the families can finally lay them to rest. In weighing the two sides’ actions, one could easily conclude that the meeting was not only civil but fair. Both sides conceded to each other and a link was created to procure future talks. Checks and balances are being established to ensure both sides adhere to the stipulations agreed upon. As the future is looked to, one can finally hope for peace and prosperity to finally settle over the Korean Peninsula.
Love him or hate him, but as of this moment Trump is breaking barriers and he is doing it right. Time will tell if it truly is meant to be or if it was all in vain. Let’s give optimism a shot.
 Desilver, Drew. U.S. tariffs vary a lot, but the highest duties tend to be on imported clothing. Fact Tank: Pew Research Center. March 28, 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/28/u-s-tariffs-vary-a-lot-but-the-highest-duties-tend-to-be-on-imported-clothing/
 Trump, Donald J. President Trump News Conference on U.S.-North Korea Summit. CSPAN. June 12, 2018. https://www.c-span.org/video/?446895-1/president-trump-holds-post-summit-news-conference-singapore
 White House. Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. White House Press: Foreign Policy. June 12, 2018. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-donald-j-trump-united-states-america-chairman-kim-jong-un-democratic-peoples-republic-korea-singapore-summit/
 Cronk, Terri Moon. U.S., South Korea Launch Annual Foal Eagle Exercise. U.S. Department of Defense. March 3, 2017. https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1102331/us-south-korea-launch-annual-foal-eagle-exercise/
 Aleem, Zeeshan. Trump just struck a shockingly weak deal with North Korea. Vox. June 12, 2018. https://www.vox.com/world/2018/6/12/17452616/trump-kim-jong-un-north-korea-summit
 Korean War POW/MIAs. The National Committee on North Korea. October 2015. https://www.ncnk.org/resources/briefing-papers/all-briefing-papers/korean-war-powmias#footnote3_f89kswt
 Progress on Korean War Personnel Accounting. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. June 12, 2018. http://www.dpaa.mil/Resources/Fact-Sheets/Article-View/Article/569610/progress-on-korean-war-personnel-accounting/
Berserk Games, creators of TableTop Simulator, have a pretty succinct description of what the platform is and is intended to do:
Create your own original games, import custom assets, automate games with scripting, set up complete RPG dungeons, manipulate the physics, create hinges & joints, and of course flip the table when you are losing the game. All with an easy to use system integrated with Steam Workshop. You can do anything you want in Tabletop Simulator. The possibilities are endless!
What it gives you is the power to have your own table, your own chits, your own terrain, your own models, all digital, all multiplayer, and available all day every day, in VR if you swing that way. If you’re fond of complex wargames, the kind that you need to leave on the table all weekend while you and your friends bang away at the front lines – this will keep the cat from disrupting your defensive forces. If you’re looking to play some solo wargaming titles, this will be your best friend as you can pull it out whenever you have time to sit down and play and it’ll be there when you come back after your next shift.
Berserk Games have been no chumps when it comes to updates. They’ve gone out aggressively over the past few years and has become significantly more optimized. Some sort of update, often involving the announcement of some new DLC as well as core engine improvements, has been rolling out every couple of weeks. The developers continue to be keen on making the product best of class.
What’s In the Basket?
When I say there is a wide array of content available for TTS, I’m not kidding. As of the writing of this article in mid April 2019, there are 37 pieces of paid DLC available (and that's not counting the excellent free stuff), each one of them representing a full game within TTS, with all the supporting art, a fully designed table, and some mechanical support.
Lock ‘N Load Starter Kit Tabletop Edition
An easy first example: Do you love Lock’n Load hex-based wargames? There is an official but lightly supported module which provides all the tools that you might need to play your favorite LNL game right inside TS.
Twilight Imperium IV
If you’re willing to step off of the domain of the officially licensed, you can play Twilight Imperium 4th Edition with the errata in a virtual space.
Is it sanctioned? No. Is it available? Oh yes. And frankly I can’t think of a better gateway drug to playing complex space wargames on the tabletop than actually getting to play TI4 with other people in a shared space. Plus, you don’t have to shell out all that money for the physical box.
Advanced Squad Leader
Nothing beats the classics – and when we talk about classic tabletop wargames, we absolutely have to talk about what gave rise to Vassal in the first place: The granddaddy of complicated tabletop wargaming, Advanced Squad Leader.
Dice, maps, introductory scenarios – you have everything in the first Starter Kit, and in the description they give a link to where you can buy the actual ASL rules and expansions for yourself.
It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.
Speaking of tactical hex-based battle with some pretty significant crunch, Scythe brings both of them together at high speed with what I consider to be some of the best art available in official TTS DLC. The fact that you get to use giant stompy mechs in 1920s Europe is just gravy.
The designers say that you can play a game of Scythe in 115 minutes – and that might be true if you have all of the relatively complex mechanics committed to memory and your group likes to use chess timers. For the rest of us, gameplay is going to take a bit longer but on the positive side you are going to enjoy it even as you're frustrated by the actions of other players.
This is another one of those games which is playable solo. If you’re curious about this kind of tabletop tactical/4X game, it’s definitely worth picking up and getting into.
Warfighter is a card game for 1 to 6 players. You play cooperatively with your friends against the system to complete present day squad-level combat missions. At the start of each mission, you each select a soldier, equip him/her with skills, weapons, and combat gear within the mission’s Resource limit.
You then fight your way through hostile territory, engaging hostiles, as you attempt to reach and complete your mission objective. Every mission is a stand-alone game. You build your Soldiers, select your Gear, and then run your mission. Within 30 to 60 minutes you will have succeeded or failed.
Warfighter uses a new combat system that takes into account the fire mode you select for your weapon, range, running out of ammo, suppression, and cover - all in the same dice roll! This system creates an incredibly deep narrative with every attack.
It just wouldn’t do to round this off without talking about some kind of modern combat, and luckily TTS doesn’t leave us hanging. One of the things that the system does extremely well, far better than actual physical games, it is deal with decks of cards. If a game uses a lot of different cards, it can be very difficult to manage them in a box, keep them separated, and clean them up when you’re done.
Not so here.
Warfighter gives you the base game and nine expansions for well under $20 US. Only the host needs to have a copy of the game, so playing with your friends is no great burden; it’s just like buying a new game to play with them. It’s another game that has a solo combat mode, so on those days you can’t get together with them, you can still play.
Fans of games like 5150 and Nuts! will find this sort of thing definitely playing to their particular tastes. Actually getting to play this in VR through TTS would be amazing. Gameplay is extremely complex and while the instructions are right there on the table, they are literally right there on the table modeled as books so reading and referencing while figuring out exactly what you need to do can be a little challenging.
This is probably one of miniature gaming’s great successes, looking at the penetration of the market well beyond the usual grognard tabletop crew. For good reason; X-Wing is a mechanically light, fast-moving game design with an IP that nearly everyone knows.
Being able to throw a game together in short order online is impressive. The models that this DLC comes with are likewise.
Renegade Legion: Interceptor
One of the great things about digital versions of games is that it doesn’t matter if the original game has gone the way of the dodo, as long as someone loves it enough to make the playing pieces available, the game can be played. Old-school tabletop spacemen undoubtedly remember Interceptor as “that game with the weird damage system,” and they are absolutely correct.
Renegade Legion may be a game series which doesn’t have the following it once did, but there’s no reason it couldn’t see a flourishing Renaissance should its community embrace digital play.
Bits and Bobs
But what if there’s nothing out right now for your favourite wargame? What if all you really want to do is throw some terrain on a table, whip out some dice, and play whatever game that you want with your friends, old-school?
You don’t need mechanical support, you don’t need integration, you just want to play a game. Well…
Because the engine provides the ability for you to upload and use your own terrain, your own models, your own maps, you have effectively infinite options for putting your wargaming table together.
You can’t play most games without a good set of dice. Again, the ability to upload your own models means that you (and everybody else) are limited only by your imagination.
Need a 30 sided die with one through three replaced with pictures of giant flaming eyeballs? No problem. There are even tools which will help you create those images and get them onto the model for play.
What does it look like in motion?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been burned by tools in the past. Lots of things have excellent descriptions but when you sit down to use them, they just don’t work, or they work in a way that isn’t comfortable for you or they simply don’t live up to the hype. It happens all the time.
We don’t recommend you buy anything without having seen someone else actually playing it or actually using the tool. You want to know TS works, how it feels, and how it can be part of the experience for wargaming on the digital tabletop.
Luckily, YouTube is surprisingly busy with TS content.
Warhammer 40k - Kill Team
While writing this article, I took a few moments to simply go search the Tube to see what people were playing and streaming, and immediately was struck by a live demo of the new Warhammer 40k — Kill Team skirmish game, and it served as both a demo of TS and exposure to Games Workshop’s new product. That’s a solid win no matter which side of that you’re interested in.
5150: Hammer & Anvil
Video isn’t the only way to see how TS can be used, because we don’t always play wargames with friends. Sometimes the solo experience is really what you want. In those situations, it can be just as helpful or useful to see the digital tabletop used for illustrative purposes as well as the game platform that you use to play the game.
If you’ve ever wanted to blog about your favorite tabletop wargame and really kind of fretted about how you can make the illustrations look good for the audience you’re trying to reach, TS can help you out. It’s easy to make your own tokens and chits, terrain is available everywhere, you can draw your own maps, and if you’re a blogger who’s writing about tabletop wargames a tool that can make it easier to present turn by turn gaming is absolutely invaluable.
Some people have been using an online platform called VASSAL for years to play board and card-based games with their friends online. Using it, you can play both live and via email and it’s both free and open source. You can probably run it on a potato if you gently push the potato downstairs.
However, it is limited by being programmed in a very old style of Java with a user interface to match. It doesn’t do 3D visualization and any terrain that you might put on the table is simply top-down imagery.
TTS is fully 3D with a limited physics engine and playable both on the desktop and via VR. It has models, textures, animation, and a certain level of available scripting (in Lua). While it is necessary that you pay for the core, it’s frequently on sale at significant discounts. You can’t quite run it on a potato but you could probably run it on two potatoes strapped together as long as one pretended to be a graphics card.
Hot or Not
Territory War Gaming Potatoes Skins
If you’re looking for a game platform that you can play games you already own and don’t mind doing a little work to get the assets in, TTS is your huckleberry. If you’re looking for a platform with a lot of already created games that you don’t have to do any work to start playing, look through the pile of available DLC for TTS and make your decision on that basis. The available game content is great, but the possibility of bringing your own game into the space and inviting other people to play with you is as important if not more so.
Whether you want to play board games, tactical wargames, or even grand strategy games like Twilight Imperium, TTS can provide a shared space for you and your friends to come together around the table and play.
Do you have a favourite game you play on TableTop Simulator with your friends? Tell us about it down below!