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Friday Game Night: Fire in the Lake and other revelations

Being an author/historian/gamer, I have a wide range of interests when it comes to what is going to hit the gaming table on Friday nights. I will be the first to admit many of my choices of boardgames are not the most enjoyable for everyone else.

For example, I tend to gravitate toward epic games with an equally epic game length. I think I first discovered this from my Uncle Ken. My cousins and I spent many an hour at the gaming table with him. The gaming enjoyment has only grown over the years, but life has a way of carving away potential gaming opponents--especially with a ridiculous gaming session time.

Side note: I once had a bookcase game called Vietnam by a company named Victory Games. Any hardcore/old school gamers will be familiar with this company. The campaign game for this title was listed as taking a hundred hours (or more). How could I ever find someone who would be willing to play this game with me?

Yeah, I never played it and eventually sold it to a delighted customer on eBay who had been searching for this old game. I was so pleased it found a home after sitting on my bookshelf for years and surviving several moves.

Over the past two decades, however, I started seeing more and more solitaire or cooperative games with much shorter game times. When I saw a company (GMT) published a Vietnam game called "Fire in the Lake" or FITL, I was interested but never planned on playing it.

And then I saw it was solitaire.

My copy arrived shortly after.

Combining the solitaire feature with Vassal had to be done.

If you don't know what Vassal is, I am probably dangerously on the geeky edge of losing you. Vassal is a way for gamers like me to find other opponents/companions who are willing to play a board game but can't find ready opponents near them. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can play via Vassal.

Still with me? (Thank you!)

For a solitaire version of FITL, I needed to have the game out for probably weeks at a time (my gaming availability is limited, to say the least). But with Vassal, my table could always be available!

I don't get to play often, but when I do, I am thoroughly enjoying this ability to recreate a very complicated and costly conflict from the 20th Century. Gaming always recharges my batteries and fills up the creative well, enabling me to write more each week.

Or, perhaps, I'm just a happy, geeky gamer.

If you have questions about Vassal or want to chat about gaming, let me know at

Copyright 2021

Published by Shadow Max Publishing.