Local vet 'playing around' with history
by Ed Wendell
Feb 09, 2016 | 5003 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Woodhaven's Dr. Paul Fish shows off his board game.
Woodhaven's Dr. Paul Fish shows off his board game.
A closer look at  Black Eagles Over Belgium
A closer look at Black Eagles Over Belgium
Dr. Paul Fish has been tending to the pets of Woodhaven and surrounding communities at his Animal Clinic at 76-23 Jamaica Avenue for 33 years. If you have any pets, it is likely that you know Dr. Fish, but what you might not know is that he has an interesting hobby on the side developing historical board games.

After countless hours of research and over two years of development, Black Eagles Over Belgium is now at the pre-order stage, meaning that once it receives a certain number of orders, production of Dr. Fish’s board game will begin. You can reserve a copy and help it get published through Legion War Games (legionwargames.com).

Dr. Fish says that board games are a terrific way for young people to learn about history.

“Games are great for teachers to use in the classroom,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a historical event that hasn’t been made into a game.”

Black Eagles Over Belgium deals with a famous historical event from a different angle, allowing players to strategically work their way through the three separate and crucial battles that led up to Napoleon’s crushing defeat at the hands of the British at Waterloo.

“Everyone knows that Wellington and the British defeated him at Waterloo,” Dr. Fish says. “But most people don’t know that he couldn’t have done it without the help of the Prussian army under General Blücher.

“The game I’ve developed is based on the battles between Blücher and Napoleon’s forces, two days before and on the day of Waterloo,” he added. “It’s three battles combined into one game with one set of rules.”

The game uses dice to determine the strategic moves opponents directing the French and Prussian armies can make. One extremely crucial battle takes place at the Belgian village of Plancenoit.

“The Battle of Waterloo was a victory for the British, but that was largely because a third of Napoleon’s army was busy fighting at Plancenoit,” Dr. Fish explains. “There was heavy fighting in the village. The Prussians were attacking and the French defending and as the game progresses you need to draw more and more French away from Waterloo.”

Dr. Fish’s love for strategic board games goes back to his days in college.

“A friend in my fraternity bought a war game called PanzerBlitz,” he said. “It was the Germans against the Russians, World War II, and I was hooked. I said ‘This is great!’“

All during veterinary school, Dr. Fish sought out more games and students to play with, and he discovered that it was a big hobby with many enthusiastic participants.

After graduation he kept in touch with friends who shared his passion for board games and they would get together and play, a tradition he’s kept up.

“We get together three times a year,” Dr. Fish said. “We start at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, we have breakfast, and then we play a game, usually something based in the middle ages.

“One player would be Martin Luther, another the pope, another Henry the 8th of England, and so on,” he continued. “You interact with the other players, you make deals and secret alliances. We play sometimes for up to 12 hours.”

About seven years ago, one of his friends began developing games and he asked Dr. Fish to become a game-tester. He would sit and play the game and give his friend feedback on what wasn’t working and how it could be improved.

This insight into the development process fueled his desire to design a game of his own, and so he designed a game based on the Battle of Dunkirk, which was an important battle in France during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany.

“It went to a publisher and it sold over 300 copies and got some really good reviews,” Dr. Fish says.

After Dunkirk, Dr. Fish began reading up on the fall of Napoleon, and was fascinated by the idea of exploring the crucial battles that took place right before Waterloo. In addition to Plancenoit, Dr. Fish’s new game also covers the equally important battles of Ligny and Wavre.

With the action spanning several game boards, Black Eagles Over Belgium is a fascinating look back at one of the world’s most famous battles, and a real interesting way to learn about history.

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