On Victory Conditions and Playing the French in Liberty or Death

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61 - Minister Comte de Vergennes

How could the French or Indians win the American Revolution? If you define winning the game as controlling North America in some way – they can’t. But the question for me is a broader question: How can these Factions, each important to the outcome of the conflict, win their situation? With that question the answer to “How can the French win?” becomes more clear. Each Faction comes to the conflict with different goals, expectations and capabilities. Capturing this asymmetry is one of the strengths of the COIN system.

The French interests were much broader than the British Colonies in North America. Coming off the Seven Years War and the competition with the British around the world, the French view was this Insurrection in America can be an opportunity to pull British resources away from other more important areas, like West Indies and Europe itself. This leads to the Secondary Victory condition between the French and British: pieces eliminated. Make the other Faction pay a high price for involvement and pull pressure off other critical theaters (outside the game.)

MBT – Helicopters in Action

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MBT-P500-TabWe’re thrilled that MBT (along with a reprint of the sold-out Panzer) is now in our production queue for late 2015/early 2016. Clearly, a lot of you play and like Panzer, and the MBT P500 numbers have been very good, as well. As we near getting this game into our final art and production stages, we want to get you guys some examples of how this game plays and especially, “what’s new” in MBT that you didn’t see in Panzer (the two series’ do share the same basic system engine). So today Jim is giving us an example of how helicopters work in MBT – something you clearly didn’t get to play with in Panzer.

I hope you can see from the example what I think is one of the great strengths of the system that Jim has created and streamlined over time: the game provides rich detail without massive complexity. Jim has managed to encapsulate very complex battlefield physics into the data cards and look-up charts, so players can focus on tactics, with quick look-ups to handle the complexities of combat resolution. In my experience, there aren’t a lot of games/series that can deliver that, and when you find one, it’s usually a gem. I believe that is the case with the Panzer/MBT series, and hope you guys who are new to the games can get a sense of that from this example. Enjoy! – Gene


Helicopters are a very versatile combat option available to modern forces. They carry a heavy load of weapons and may quickly transport troops to the battle area. Their speed andPic 1 maneuverability make them quick strike weapons. Helicopters are armed with vehicle-type weapons, including machineguns, heavy machineguns, cannons, rockets, and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), their primary anti-armor weapon. The mix and availability of these weapons varies from helicopter-to-helicopter.

Depending on their altitude, low or Nap-of-the-Earth (NOE), helicopters function as a cross between vehicles and fixed-wing aircraft.Pic 2

For the most part, they spot, move and engage in combat in a similar manner to vehicles. They resolve combat and movement during both of MBT’s two Aircraft Phases, whereas fixed-wing aircraft activate in just one of the two Air Phases.

The Art of Wing Leader

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tab_01Flame wars, don’cha love ‘em? Gets the blood up. Keeps me alive and truckin’. This post begins with one of those online feuds in which grown men rhetorically whack each other round the head with saucepans until one side is exhausted or goes completely loopy and starts chewing the walls. In this fight my opponent’s parting shot was to wish me well with my Wing Leader ‘art project’. It was snide diminution of my game and I could cheerfully have lobbed a brick back. But like the best barbs it had hooks of truth. Wing Leader IS an art project. A damned big one. I told myself I might as well own the idea.


The benefit of being an artist-designer is that you can make a game look exactly like you want. There’s no other vision mediating the final experience. But there’s another benefit: the art and the design are intertwined. Sometimes the design is driven by the visual/tactile game experience. Art can inspire the design.

It’s true of my earlier games but it is especially true of Wing Leader.

Comparing Labyrinth II with Twilight Struggle

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Labyrinth-II-TabMany consider Labyrinth a transition game from Twilight Struggle to the COIN series that followed.  In several ways, the Labyrinth II: The Awakening 2010-? expansion takes us back to its Twilight Struggle roots.  This article will highlight the similarities between the Labyrinth II expansion and TS.

When I first introduced the idea of designing an Arab Spring simulation based on his Labyrinth game, Volko and I both agreed that there needed to be markers that would represent the peoples of the various Muslim countries as they “took to the streets” so to speak to demand better governance, and we needed to represent the various reactionary elements to these movements.  The concept that came from this conversation was to have event cards place Awakening and Reaction makers into the country holding boxes.  The Awakening markers would grant a positive die roll modifier to War of Idea rolls and a contradictory modifier to Jihad rolls.  Reaction modifiers would do just the opposite, with the net effect that one marker of each type in a country would cancel out each other’s modifiers, but would not cause either marker to be removed, as their presence there could influence other events.

This dynamic is similar to the way influence markers are played in Twilight Struggle, though in that game the influence makers are numerical markers showing the current value, while in Labyrinth II they are stacked on top of each showing relative strengths in sort of a “bar chart” fashion.  The picture below shows the US play of the Tahrir Square event in Egypt to capitalize on a single Awakening marker it already had there, followed up with the expansion of that initial play with a Popular Support card.  Both card plays show spillover into Libya, which previously did not have any markers.

labII pic 1

At this moment, the US players has a net +3 modifier for WOI and Jihad rolls in Egypt, and a +2 in Libya…a very strong position!

(Re) Designing the User Interface for Digital Dominant Species

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DominantSpecies(RBM)Most of you probably know the back story of our long journey to create an updated version of our Dominant Species for iPad game. We haven’t talked about it much of late, mostly because we didn’t have much to tell you except “we’re working on it.” But in the background, after two successive developers had bowed out of the project and basically left us unable to update or support the game, we had begun working with a new (to us) company, GameTheory, to create a brand new version of the app.  First, though, to try them out on a simpler project, and to give us both time to figure out if we liked working with each other (that’s working out pretty well!), they developed Leaping Lemmings for iPad, a game that we released last Fall. We were very happy with both the quality and timeliness of their work on Leaping Lemmings, which gave us great hope that just maybe we’d found the right team to tackle Dominant Species.

A few months later, we are now doing alpha testing on an entirely new Dominant Species app. We think you guys are going to really like it. The UI and AI are much better than the original version, the feature set is improved (Undo, tutorial, etc), and gameplay is much smoother. We’ve finished two of four milestones at this point, so there’s still some work to do (adding multi-player over Game Center is next), but already this version plays better than the original. As a reminder to you guys who own the original version, you’re going to get this as a free upgrade when it’s ready.

Now I’d like to introduce you all to Marguerite Dibble, the CEO at GameTheory. Marguerite is going to share a little “show and tell” with us today, focusing on how the GT folks put together the User Interface for the new Dominant Species for iPad. We hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes at the development process for the game. – Gene


At GameTheory we often find ourselves faced with some pretty fascinating UI (User Interface) / UX (User Experience) challenges, but I can honestly say that none has been quite as challenging, and fascinating as wrangling the Dominant Species board into a clear concise tablet-scale experience.

When we started to look at adapting the game into a tablet version, it was clear right away that there was a lot to consider. The rules are very unique, and the two stage process of the game makes the board intricate and complex, with a planning phase, many reference points for food chain, land value, etc., not to mention player pieces and the actual play space. When we finally played through the game enough to think we’d gotten a hang of it, we began to tackle the UI piece by piece.

First and foremost, we always want to make any user experience as clean and clear as possible. We want to minimize the objects on the screen, only presenting the user with what they need to know when they need to know it. Of course with strategy games that can be open to debate, but it’s a good goal to at least attempt to stick with. We knew right away that a nice UI could handle a lot of the aspects of the game that became a little tedious, like the calculation of dominance on tiles, and automatically adding and removing pieces. We also knew that we could simplify many things that didn’t need interaction in the same way a game board does, so the next challenge was to consider what could be optimized, where to clean up the space, and present all the detail of the game as simply as possible.

Random Event Cards for the 2nd Edition of Conquest of Paradise

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CqParadiseCVWe’ve been listening to those of you who’ve been telling us that you want and need to see more specific information about the content of the games on our P500 Reprint list. What has changed? Why is it better? Can I get an upgrade kit? And so on…. So this year we’re making a concerted effort over time to give you guys lots more info about the reprints so that you can make more informed decisions about your purchases. We intend to both update information or links on each game’s P500 page as well as give you more detailed information here in InsideGMT. Your feedback to our recent article on Mark Simonitch’s Normandy ’44 has been terrific, and we’ve had quite a number of new orders placed already, so we’re hopeful that we’re on the right track here and that you guys find this information helpful.

In this article, designer Kevin McPartland is giving you a detailed look into the “new cards and counters” aspect of the 2nd Edition of Conquest of Paradise. We’ve already told you guys that it’ll include a mounted map, but we realized there just wasn’t a lot ELSE out there about the new edition. We hope Kevin’s article will help to fill that void. Enjoy! – Gene


Note that all card and counter art below is playtest art.


Aloha! The upgraded 2nd Edition of Conquest of Paradise, now on GMT’s P-500 list, will have many improvements from the first edition, most notably including a mounted map. Of the many improvements, this article will focus on just one: the Random Event cards.

These cards were included in C3i #22, as a set of three cardstock inserts with nine event cards on each sheet, for a total of 27 Random Events. The cards had to be carefully cut out, and placed in card sleeves (unless you were really carful cutting them out). In the new edition of Conquest of Paradise, these cards will be included in the game (as an optional Advanced rule) and printed as regular playing cards, with the full GMT-quality treatment!

When we first published the Random Events for CoP in C3i, we thought we’d use a chit pull for the events; this later changed to cards. What’s even better? Cards and chits, like the reprint will have! There will be 14 new markers in the game, dedicated to specific Random Event cards. For the C3i cards, we had to use markers that were already in the game, like placing an Improved Agriculture marker at a 45° angle to mark Invasive Weeds. Now we will have a dedicated marker for Invasive Weeds!

InvasiveWeedsCardWeeds Marker








Changes and Updates to Normandy ’44

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Normandy44CoverNormandy ’44 is one of two Mark Simonitch designs (Ukraine ’43 is the other) that we are reprinting this spring. Mark’s games are known among wargamers as gamer-friendly labors of love, a result of his passion and committment to combining historical accuracy with elegant game systems. Mark has taken the opportunity afforded by the reprint to enhance his original design to better reflect history and to tweak play-balance. For you guys who are wondering whether it’s worthwhile to purchase the new reprint edition, Mark has created a comprehensive list of changes to help you decide. We hope you find this information useful. Enjoy the games! – Gene

Here is a comprehensive list of the changes and updates we’ve made in the 2015 Reprint Edition of Normandy ’44, shipping within a month or so.


  • Flooded Hexes better defined.
  • A few roads moved off the hex spine for clarity purposes.
  • A few typos fixed.
  • A reminder added to the TRT that no SM or Truck Movement
    on Turn 1.
  • Some cosmetic changes to the terrain that have no effect on

19mm long

Silent Victory: The Hunters goes to the Pacific

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cp-logo-badgeSilent Victory TabSilent Victory: U.S. Submarines in the Pacific, 1941–45, is the upcoming release from Consim Press, and is currently available for preorder (approaching the 1,100 preorder mark — thank you!). This game marks the continuation of The Hunters, which has been well received and is now available in its Second Printing. In this blog post, we share what changes are in store for Silent Victory, for those already familiar with The Hunters.

The designer, Gregory M. Smith, is committed to ensure fans of The Hunters feel like they are putting on a comfortable pair of slippers when playing Silent Victory, but with appropriate changes for the Pacific. The core of the game engine is identical. A sign of laziness from the designer? No, because the game system is solid and it works well as a chassis for modeling the Pacific.

Now let’s see what changes are in store for Silent Victory.