First, Konstantin, many thanks for having agreed to answer our questions. Let us begin with a quick autobiography. Can you tell us something about yourself?
I live in Murmansk, an ice-free port in the north of Russia. I am 41 years old, married, with a 13-year-old daughter. I was educated at Murmansk Technical University as an engineer and navigator. My first employment was in a design bureau as a programmer, creating software for navigational equipment. The political changes in Russia beginning in the early 1990's forced me to look for new areas in which I could apply my knowledge and abilities. So, for the past 12 years I have worked as a programmer in the banking industry, producing software for economic statistics, accounting, etc.
What is your rank and unit affiliation in the NWC?
I am a General-Lieutenant in the Russian Army, commanding the 8th Infantry Corps. The 8th Corps brings together the Russian-speaking members of the NWC Russian Army; there are 14 of us at the moment.
When did you begin playing Napoleonic computer wargames?
Wargames and military history have been a great intest of mine since childhood, but my first exposure to computer wargaming of the Napoleonic era was Talonsoft's Napoleon in Russia. I acquired it in 1997.
How did you get into PBEM gaming?
For the first 3 years, I played against the computer, and sometimes played against my friends, hot-seat on the same computer. Then, when I gained unrestricted access to the Internet (in the year 2000), I found Jean-Marie Barbier's website, "NIR Project". This was a great discovery for me. I found I have many colleagues sharing the same hobby. Some of them have gone on to become not only opponents for gaming, but good companions and friends. Juan Pablo de Cruz invited me to join the NWC. I have been a member of the NWC since 2000.
You have done a lot to develop interest in Tiller's wargames in Russia. How did that happen?
When I joined in 2000, there were only 2 members from Russia in the NWC Russian Army, myself and Dennis Sirochenko. Another 2, Ildar Hacimov and Vladimir Repnin, joined later. In 2002, Ruben Lopez, the comander of the NWC Russian Army, allowed me to create the 2nd Grenadier Division, which would include all the Russian-speaking officers. That was the first big step.
To tell the truth, I had never seen a legal original Tiller game for sale in Russia. My first copy of Napoleon in Russia was a pirate copy on a CD with a dozen different games. There are many people in Russia with a strong interest in the Napoleonic era. Unfortunately, it is still very difficult to find serious computer wargames, like the Talonsoft or HPS Simulations games, in Russia. My copies of BGW, PTW, NRC, Eckmuhl, and Wagram were sent to me by friends in other countries.
I asked myself, "What can I do to find and bring together wargamers from all the towns and cities of Russia?" Of course: a website! I created a Russian-language website for the 2nd Grenadier Division, which has now developed into the website of the 8th Infantry Corps, http://www.komikor.narod.ru. I publicized my site on many different gamers' and history forums. The result: we have gained 10 new members for the NWC Russian Army and 1 for the Austrian Army from Russia and the Ukraine in the past year. Some others have contacted me, without yet joining the NWC. Of course, I and the other officers of the 8th Infantry Corps help people in Russia to get copies of Tiller's games (without taking a profit for ourselves).
Do you prefer the Battleground system or the HPS system? Why?
I prefer the HPS system. The battleground system is too predictable. You can never win in Battleground against an opponent with forces twice as strong as your own. A superiority of strength of 10-20% gives a predictable victory between players of equal skill. So, Battleground strikes me as more like Chess than a wargame. The HPS system is more dynamic. Leaders and supply wagons are more important. The HPS system has more parameters that are not automatic, so for this reason, each player has to polish more facets of his skill.
What advice would you give to new players?
Remember, all the main rules of the Art of War in the real world work in our games. Learn how the game system handles all the parameters of your units (strength, weapon types, morale, fatigue, movement) and the effects of all types of terrain. Sum up those factors to get the maximum possible positive modifiers.
What three games (of any type) would you take with you to the proverbial desert island? What three books?
Did we leave out any question you would like to address? What is important to you in gaming?
Of course, I like the process of the games, but building a circle of new friends is also very important. I am always very glad to speak with my opponents about other things, not just the game. Mutual good-fellowship and neighborliness.
Any final words of omniscient wisdom for the NWC membership?
Let's remember: the game is only a game, and it is not worth it to win at any cost whatsoever.
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