FaTDoG

Harvey Mossman will once again be hosting the annual Friday After Thanksgiving Day of Gaming (FATDoG) historical board gaming convention on November 28 in Plainview, NY on Long Island. It is a one day Con that has been growing tremendously over the past few years and draws hardcore historical board gamers, historical miniature players, and some Euro gamers.

In addition to offering great game play, FaTDoG has always been about promoting the hobby and spotlighting the game manufactures that make the hobby possible.  Each year they pick one game publisher to feature and this year GMT got the nod. So they are promoting GMT at FaTDoG, and also cross-promoting GMT on Grognard.com and TheBoardGamingLife.com.

Among the expected 125 – 150 attendees this year, there will be several GMT designers showing off their new  designs, including:

For more information and to register for the event, go to the FaTDoG Event Website

Date: November 28, 2014
Event: Friday After Thanksgiving Day of Gaming (FaTDoG)
Sponsor: Harvey Mossman
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
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Series Replay – Next War: India-Pakistan, part 2

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“Kashmir”, Game Turn 2

GT2 is another Initiative turn for the Pakistan/Chinese side in this scenario. GT3 is a Contested turn by SSR, and the Indians will have the initiative in GT4 by SSR, so the Paks/Chinese really need to push.   During initiative movement, the Paks move up more full-strength divisions into Baramula in an effort to attack south over the river line (in 4410). They bring up more units to surround the elite Indian mountain brigade in Bandipora (4610, another VP hex). However, due to hot Air Defense Fire dice rolls (there are air defense rolls against Airborne and Airmobile Movement representing SAMs, AAA, and aircraft) by the Indian side, three out of four Chinese airborne brigades get aborted back to Islamabad! That is a lot of combat power not in play. Here is the situation at the end of GT2 Initiative Movement Segment:

NWIP2-1

Creating World War 2.0: The Genesis of Cataclysm: A Second World War

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We’re excited to be adding Cataclysm to our P500 list this coming week. This is the first of several planned articles by William and Scott to give you guys insight into what this game is all about. Enjoy! – Gene

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In the wargaming hobby, every war has to fit into a box. When it comes to World War II, the challenge can be a bit problematic. You can make the war fit, but only by leaving parts of it out. Or you can make a bigger game and put it in a bigger box.

Cataclysm takes neither approach. This game is unlike any World War II game you have played before. It is about grand strategy. You have to worry about politics, diplomacy and economics as well as air, naval and land warfare. And you will not have the benefit of hindsight.

The game begins in 1933, not 1939. France stands ten feet tall. Germany can barely stand. No player has vast armies and fleets at their command. They don’t exist yet. So how do you recreate the history of World War II? The answer is, “You might, but you might not.” A global war is possible, not definite. It can start in Poland, or elsewhere. It can happen earlier—or later—than 1939. It might not even involve the United States.

France1940

Series Replay – Next War: India-Pakistan

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I’d like to add just a bit here to the background. But first, I’ll have Doug introduce himself:

DougBushBioPictureI have been a gamer since the mid-1980s, when I started with Squad Leader, which of course led to a long obsession with Advanced Squad Leader.  In college I was also a Harpoon fanatic, including gaming basically every naval combat from the Tom Clancy book Red Storm Rising.  However, my true gaming passion has always been modern ground combat games such as the GDW Assault and Third World War series, and detailed modern air simulations like GMT’s Downtown and Elusive Victory.  As a former US Army armor officer, I love games that model operational level maneuver and logistics.  Development of Next War: India-Pakistan is my first time doing the research and design work for a full game.  I live in Arlington, Virginia and work as a weapon program analyst for Congress.

 

Doug’s obvious passion for this particular patch of mud is obvious in the hard work he’s put into this project. He’s going to explain a little bit about how this project started, and, below, when says “run with the project”,  he really means “Doug did most of the work.” He has tirelessly labored to ensure that the map and Orders of Battle are as accurate as they can be, and, while we have certainly collaborated in order to ensure that any new rules or systems such as High Mountains, Mountain Units, and Nuclear Weapons work seamlessly within the overall framework of the series, this game is as much Doug’s as it is mine. I’m very pleased with the outcome, excited about getting this one to print, and I hope you enjoy Part 1 of this Series Replay covering the first game turn of the introductory scenario. – Mitch


Game Background

Next War: India Pakistan (NWIP) is the next game in development for the Next War series, following Next War: Korea (NWK) and Next War: Taiwan (NWT). In late 2013 I contacted Mitchell about the potential for a game in the series featuring a new India-Pakistan conflict. After looking at possible one-map configurations, we settled on a game that focuses on the “traditional” area of India-Pakistan conflict: the Indian states of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. We assume potential intervention by China (allied with Pakistan), the United States (allied with India), and Russia (allied with India). We thought it was a good fit for the Next War series since both sides have very large, mechanized ground forces and modern air forces. And, in our view, a potential conflict between India and Pakistan is one of the more likely large-scale conventional conflicts in the future. Since Mitchell was focused on finishing NWT, he told me to run with the project to get things going. In a year’s time we have a near final map and counters, along with a solid draft of the Game Specific Rules (GSR). NWIP features six scenarios (three using the standard rules and three for the advanced rules). For this “series replay” we decided to test drive the introductory standard rules scenario: “Kashmir”. I will play the “non-Allied” attacking side with Pakistan and China while Mitch takes the defending “Allied” side with the Indian forces.

Scenario Introduction

“Kashmir” features a little bit of all the major features of the system, and is designed to help players get the feel for the Next War series in this theater. A glance at the map shows just how difficult the terrain is in this part of the world. The Kashmir valley is tucked in between towering mountain ranges to the north and south. These mountains are so high we added a new terrain type called “High Mountains” to the series (the white mountain hexes). Movement into those hexes, which represent ranges at/above 15,000 feet in most cases, is significantly restricted. Helicopters also can’t operate in those hexes. Then, inside the valley the terrain is still a challenge. There is a minor river, a large lake, and even some rice paddy hexes showing areas of intense agriculture. Basically, whatever one thinks “tank country” might be, this isn’t it.

The scenario depicts a Pakistani offensive into the Kashmir Valley, with significant Chinese support in the air and on the ground.   Players earn VP for enemy casualties during the game and at game end for possession of five victory hexes: (4409 (Baramula), 4610 (Bandipora), 4412 (Srinagar), 4214 (Anantnag), and the 4511 mountain hex). Here, Mitch and I agree to play without the optional supply rules for the standard game. A close-up of the terrain shows just how difficult it is (I added the red stars just to show the VP hexes, everything else is playtest map art):

NWIP1

Interview with Developer Ralph Shelton

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Ludography

Operation Dauntless – Developer – P500

Pax Romana 2nd Edition – Developer – P500

Infidel – Developer

Blood & Roses – Developer

Red Winter – Rules Proofreader/Editor

Desert Falcons (GDW) – Playtester

Pax Romana 1st Edition – Playtester

Prussia’s Glory II – Playtester

Ralph, tell me a little about yourself?

I’m a data base architect for a consulting company.  It pays the bills and gives me the option to game.  I grew up in New Mexico and that’s where I met my wife Robin.  We moved to Seattle 15 years ago.

Ralph Shelton and wife Robin.

Ralph Shelton and wife Robin.

I’ve been gaming since I was around 12 so, back in 1980 or 1981.  I used to play a lot of Starfleet Battles with my buddies.  We played that and a lot of multi player games.

Enemy Coast Ahead: Evoking the Story

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Jerry White has been attending our GMT Weekends at the Warehouse for many years now. A few years back, as I greeted him at one of the events, he mentioned that he had a game design that he wanted to show me. This happens a lot at GMT Weekends, and it’s kind of “hit and miss” as to whether the design is both  a) a good fit for GMT and b) in good enough shape to be ready for development. I had my doubts about whether a game covering a single historical mission would be something we could get enough orders for on P500. On the plus side, it was a solitaire game, which always helps sales, and Jerry is a very detail-oriented guy, so I went into that demo “wary but hopeful.”

What I found was a game featuring systems designed by an engineer that somehow worked together to quickly immerse the player in a tense, ever-evolving story. I kept looking for things I didn’t like (because that’s what we DO! 🙂 ), but I couldn’t really find any. I started to say “Wow, it’s pretty much ready for P500 now,” but before I could, Jerry said that he was still working on making the game better and would have something to show me in six months, at the next Weekend at the Warehouse event. So, I smiled, thought “I really like this guy,” and immediately put Enemy Coast Ahead into my “Future P500 Games” tracking spreadsheet. It was a beginning.

Six months later, the game WAS better, and it soon made its way to our P500 list, steadily rising and Making the Cut. Jerry supported the game online and proved to be excellent at handling customer questions and providing interesting historical perspectives and examples of play. Now, as the P500 process is coming to a close, I STILL “really like this guy!” Components for Enemy Coast Ahead are arriving in our warehouse now and over the coming week, and it should ship to our P500 customers right around the end of the month. So, to give you a sense of what this game is all about, here’s Jerry’s first post for InsideGMT. Like his game, this article displays the fingerprints of its creator: the “engineer with the heart of a storyteller.” I hope you like it! – Gene

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ecacoverJohn Steinbeck began the novel Cannery Row by explaining that flat worms are so delicate “that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle.” That advice for writers, penned in 1945 just as the war was ending, applies well to game design. Enemy Coast Ahead (ECA) attempts to tell a story, just one of thousands, that could be told about the war.

I wish I could boast that as a designer I have done what Steinbeck advised: “to open the page and to let the stories crawl in by themselves.” But a game is not a novel, and yet, it manages to tell stories nonetheless. A good historical simulation has the potential to evoke the time that it depicts, as well as the events that took place. ECA is intended to evoke the RAF raid on Germany’s dams in May of 1943, and it does so not by a linear narration of events but with a decision tree.

Games inherently allow stories to happen. They unfurl before a player, but that player is not a passive audience. He moves the story along by engaging with it. Perhaps it is this engagement, unique in these type of games, that allows the story to “be set down alive,” to borrow again from Steinbeck.  A game can tell a story in ways no other medium can match.

Triumph and Tragedy: Outside the Box

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I guess it’s been six or seven years now since I got a call from Rick Young asking me if we’d be interested in publishing games from a proven block game designer. I was a little hesitant, as we didn’t have many block games in the line back then, although Rick and Jesse had done a great job with Europe Engulfed and Asia Engulfed, both block games that were very successful for us. But when I learned the name of the designer who was asking, my own interest skyrocketed. Although he’d never done a game for us, I certainly knew the design work of Craig Besinque. In my mind, he was the “king of block game design.” My response was of course really reserved, something along the lines of “Craig has a game for us? Heck yeah!!!” So let’s just say I was “pretty excited” to get an opportunity to work with him.

Even though Craig was “new” to GMT, a bunch of our insiders knew him and some had worked with him before, so the working relationship was pretty smooth from the beginning. And then he and Joel Toppen gave us this beautiful re-creation of the Peloponnesian War that was elegant in its simplicity, yet dripping with historical flavor, game tension, and replayability. Hellenes is a game I REALLY like, so I couldn’t wait to see what Craig wanted to do next, but then again I didn’t really care that much which topic he chose. I knew we’d get a thoughtful, insightful, and elegant game.

I was a little surprised that he chose a 3-player WWII game, as I kinda thought we had plenty of WWII games in the hobby. But then I looked closer and saw that it’s a REALLY different take on the WWII period, and in some ways you wouldn’t even call it a WWII game. But I was right about the “thoughtful, insightful, and elegant” part. Triumph and Tragedy is that, in spades.

I hope you guys share in my excitement that we have Craig Besinque designing games for GMT, and that you’ll join me in welcoming him to the blog, as this is his first design post to InsideGMT. And I hope you enjoy this inside look at Triumph and Tragedy. Here’s Craig! – Gene

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I find GMT’s embrace of “different” games like Leaping Lemmings, Mr. President and Thunder Alley an exciting development. While innovative new designs on more well-covered themes are also introducing creative new ideas, I for one am glad to see a broadening of game topics.

Triumph and Tragedy (TnT) was conceived as a different look at the most well-covered wargame topic of all: World War 2.  Basically, it is a block game with cards and an area map.

Fall 1945

Hitler’s Reich: A First Look Inside The “War” Deck

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Hitler's Reich Banner 3

Conflict in Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game, henceforth referred to as Hitler’s Reich,  is resolved much like the classic card game “War” – but with dice and event cards added in.    The principal deck has four suits, but instead of Spades, Clubs, Diamonds and Hearts, the suits are Iron Crosses, Fasces, Soviet Russian Red Stars and American/British etc. White Stars.    The first two suits plus a Double Agent (the “Joker”) make up the Axis deck.  The other two suits plus a Double Agent make up the Allied deck.  The cards range in value from 1 (the “Ace”) to 13 (the “King”).   Players are dealt a number of cards from their deck equal to their economic power – which is referred to as “Hand Size.”   The Axis begin the game with Eight Cards, the Allies with Six. In addition, the Axis initial draw is “seeded” with more of the higher ranking cards to show their initial advantage at the start of the game – which begins during the Spring of 1941, just before the Axis invaded the Balkans and Rommel went to North Africa.

Telling the Story of Another People

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Comanche_Osage_fight

When I set out to design Navajo Wars, I had a couple goals in mind. First, I wanted to tell the story of the Diné (“the people”) in a way that was faithful to the historical record, honorable, and from the perspective of the Diné. When I was finishing up Navajo Wars, I knew already that I wanted to design a follow-on game which told the story of a different people. My research into the Navajo had led me to read quite a bit about the Comanche, one of the implacable enemies of the Navajo. And so it was that before Navajo Wars had even hit the shelves, the work on Comanchería had already begun.

In many ways the Comanche game has proven far more difficult to design than Navajo Wars was. There are a number of reasons for this: First, I don’t know any Comanche personally. Never doubt the tremendous value of person-to-person contact when researching a people! With Navajo Wars, I had only to pick up the phone and talk to one of several friends who were fluent in the language and culture of the Diné. Not so with the Comanche! The second challenge has been that the Comanche are so very different from the Navajo. Their culture, their religion and taboos, their style of warfare all differ considerably from the Navajo!

And Now For Something Completely Different ……

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HS Article 1 - Cover

…. Hammerin’ Sickles, a regimental-scale Gettysburg game!

What? You say you already own a dozen Gettysburg games? And you currently have a multitude of games with all sorts of different tactical American Civil War systems? I suspect that a lot of gamers think this idea is ridiculous – why would a designer waste his time spitting out another game on probably the most-gamed battle ever? But in all honesty, we feel Hammerin’ Sickles is a truly different breed of Gettysburg game and a different species of wargaming animal.

I’m well aware that almost all designers claim they have a unique take on things, and for the most part I think they are all absolutely right. There are many fine Gettysburg designs out there – most unique in their own right and darn fun to play. But what makes Hammerin’ Sickles a singular experience is its focused subject matter (Longstreet’s attack on the second day of the battle) and the way we’ve incorporated tactical ACW combat, command control issues and “fog-of-war” into one fairly easy system. How did we do all that? Well, I’m glad you asked!