As many of you have read in my most recent monthly customer updates, I’ve been back working on the new version of Mr. President weekly, and sometimes daily, over the past couple of months. The updated, streamlined design is falling into place, and we’re a little over a month away from handing the game off to Mike Bertucelli for final development and testing. In this article and those that follow, I want to give you a sense of how it feels to play the current version of Mr. President. With the able assistance of my son Luke and daughter Rachel, whose most recent plays of the game have netted two auto-losses, we’ll take you along with us as we begin a new administration. I hope you enjoy the article! – Gene
One of the aspects making the Downtown series great is its intense fog-of-war. The combination of dummy flights, hidden AAA/SAMs, generic flights, and unconfirmed bombing results add up to a lot of uncertainty for both players in most scenarios, a situation that is both realistic and fun, since neither player knows the full picture.
As cool as the system is, the extensive fog-of-war adds a lot of rules, an issue for some players with limited time, while also making the game less appealing as a solo experience. To address both issues, early in the development of Red Storm, Gene gave me the task of working in some solo rules. I examined as many different solo systems I could find, while also reviewing some draft solo rules that Lee Brimmicombe-Wood and Antonio Peña worked on for Downtown but never published formally. After that research and some tinkering with various options, I settled on a “two tier” system of solo rules for Red Storm.
In designing scenarios for Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987, I’m trying to provide a wide range of scenarios in terms of size, complexity, and “standard” versus “unusual” situations. Regarding size, the variance is based on three main factors: the amount of the map in play, the number of flights on each side, and the density of ground defenses (SAMs and AAA). Complexity varies based on who is doing what. One side bombing? Both sides? Good or bad weather? Lots of Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and electronic jamming aircraft? The final aspect is standard vs. unusual. Here, “standard” would be daylight missions with one or both sides bombing targets and one or both sides trying to intercept the other. Order of Battle tables determine the exact flights and available munitions. An “unusual” scenario would include specific pre-designated units with special rules (like a cruise missile attack, paradrop or helicopter assault). At this point in testing, we are working on a total of 29 scenarios. I’m not sure if all of those will make the cut, but I figure it’s good to have too many at this point instead of too few. Any that don’t get into Red Storm will likely be future C3i magazine scenarios or be offered through some other venue.
In the old days, to be a vassal meant that you would agree to submit to a king in exchange for their protection against other kings and lords. We’ve moved past those days; today in the gaming field it means to submit your board game to someone for creating a Vassal module. Since most of the folks who follow this field don’t have much free time (the exception being our fortunate retired chaps), creating online play kits are important to playing. In game development though, this becomes pivotal since you can design an entire virtual game (including graphics) and do all the development work without ever creating any real playtest kits. Once you create a Vassal module, you have unlimited playtest kits.
My introduction to the online gaming world began in 2005 when I had to play Triumph of Chaos and really wanted to do it virtually. At the time, I had only a faint idea what that entailed. After many months of playing around on Cyberboard, in addition to learning a wide range of graphics editing tools, I somehow managed to finish the playkit. Fortunately, I had a good friend on hand to get me going on Photoshop and I developed a skill set for making all the pieces needed for a virtual game. Fast forward 10ish years and 12+ playkits later, Cyberboard is no longer the king – that honor now belongs to Vassal.
Greetings from just south of Baltimore, MD. My name is Barry Setser and I am the developer for GMT’s upcoming game – Bayonets & Tomahawks. Many of you know the name from numerous conventions and gatherings over the years, but there’s a larger contingent that have no idea who I am. I would like to take this bi-weekly occasion to introduce myself, let you know a bit about my gaming credentials, and then top things off with a development update on B&T.
It’s been awhile since the last InsideGMT article concerning The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble, henceforth referred to as 7YW:FG. This piece is an update of the game’s development progress as well as solicitation of InsideGMT readers of whether the game is on the right track in considering certain content.
Developing the second volume of Wing Leader was supposed to be so simple. I would assemble some new aircraft data cards, throw together some scenarios, kick it out the door, then. . . profit!
It all went wrong when people started to LIKE the first volume, Wing Leader: Victories. The problem when people like your game is that they play it. They play it a lot. They push the system and ask awkward questions. (What bastards!) Next thing you know, you’re responding to the feedback, tweaking rules, nerfing some values while buffing others. The game evolves!
On Wednesday, Rob Beggs, one of the play testers for Last Hundred Yards (LHY), and I had the opportunity to play Mission #2: Flushing Quail. In this mission, the Americans are charged with driving a German outpost from a hill. This outpost consists of (2) Infantry squads broken down into (4) sections and a Forward Observer (FO) for a 80mm mortar section that has been harassing the American Battalion HQ. The American force consisted of a two Infantry platoons led by Lts. Cherry and Murphy and a MG section.
The following is Rob’s account of the action:
I think that I’ve mentioned this before, but I was a little surprised by just how quickly Next War: Poland (NWP) vaulted up the P500 ladder. I had a rough Operational Map and a Strategic Display, and I had made a start on the Game Specific Rules. Based on the performance of the prior games in the Next War Series, GMT put the game on the list while I was still in the middle of working on Silver Bayonet. Now that the latter game is off to the printer, I’ve had some time to focus on NWP, and I thought I’d give a quick update on where we’re at.
Here is a long overdue update for Silver Bayonet. As you are all, no doubt, well aware, we didn’t hit our desired date for Oct-Nov last year. I decided to push production out because, quite simply, the game wasn’t ready yet.
The team has been working hard to test all of the scenarios to ensure that all of the rules changes have been thoroughly vetted. In the case of the Standard Game scenarios, this is a relatively quick process as they are range anywhere from half a turn to eight turns long using only a portion of the map, and they are easily playable in an evening. In the case of the Campaign Game scenarios, this is proving a little more involved as they range from eight to 39 turns using larger areas or the entire map, and they are far more involved in terms of additional rules such as Patrols, Hidden Movement, Helicopters, etc. We are working hard to make sure that this game exceeds expectations in all categories.