Addition by Subtraction: Creating the 2-Player Bonus Variant for Triumph and Tragedy

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Triumph and Tragedy was designed from the bottom up as a three-sided game, taking the viewpoint that the democratic/capitalist West, the fascist Axis and the communist Soviet Union were at bottom irreconcilable rivals for European (and possibly world) hegemony. A corollary is that the historical West-Soviet alliance was not inevitable, but arose from necessity (Axis aggression) rather than by preference or design. Other alignments were not unthinkable: an Axis-USSR alliance was a reality at one point and an Axis-West alliance was proposed at another.

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Sample Command Cards

Next War Series Design Notes

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This article started as an attempt at some design notes for Next War: Taiwan (NWT), but it quickly also became somewhat of an essay on my general take on game design with the bits of how it affected the Next War games woven in. It’s long and a little rambling at times. Hopefully, you get your money’s worth…

Comanchería: Designing For Feel

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One of the challenges of designing a game that depicts the vast sweep of Comanche history was how to model the phases of their history without a host of special rules and exceptions. In short: how do you put the player into a position from which he or she can get a reasonably realistic perspective on the challenges that faced the Comanche people without forcing certain behavior upon the player? Or put it this way: How do you enable the player to feel the history without destroying that feel with the rules?

As it turns out, one solution I’ve set upon happens to also be something I wish I had thought of when I was designing Navajo Wars. If there’s one mechanic about Navajo Wars that I’m not really happy with it is the Victory Check Procedure. When I began designing Comanchería, I wanted something that would be much more streamlined and easier for the player to look at-a-glance to see if he or she was winning or losing. The solution is to use cards in Comanchería in a different way than I did with Navajo Wars.

A GMT Weekend at the Warehouse with Örjan Ariander (April 2015)

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The GMT Weekend at the Warehouse offers gamers an opportunity to play their favorite games amongst the shelves of thousands of GMT games.  For me, the best part is the opportunity to meet designers and other notables that created and love the games.  Now that I am designing Liberty or Death it gives me the rare opportunity to meet face to face with those working with me.  COIN Series Developer Mike Bertucelli and I enjoyed playing head to head, trading smack talk like we have known each other for years, all the while working the kinks out of the game.   Gene Billingsley is the master facilitator, and in fifteen minutes with him I complete 6 things on my to-do list.  This year was a rare treat with Mark Simonitch and Tony Curtis in attendance.  Mark and I talked about the Republic of Texas and he gave me advice (and a deadline) on working with the artists engaged in Liberty or Death’s production: Terry Leeds and Charlie Kibler.  Tony helped me nail down piece types and colors – the final production version is going to be fantastic! But, I must say the highlight was spending time with the Bot Master – Örjan Ariander visiting from Stockholm, Sweden!

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Some of the GMT/COIN Brain Trust – Series Developer Mike Bertucelli, GMT President Gene Billingsley, Bot-Master Örjan Ariander and Liberty or Death Designer Harold Buchanan

Anatomy of a New Map for Silver Bayonet

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When I decided to do a 25th Anniversary Edition of Silver Bayonet, I knew that I had to commit to doing a MAJOR revision of the game map. There are artistic reasons to want a new map because the maps that Mark and Charlie are capable of creating today dwarf what we were able to create in the pre-digital-game-map days of 1990. But as a designer, the biggest reason I wanted a new map is because I was a little embarrassed by that original Silver Bayonet map. I knew that the original map was my “best attempt,” based on very limited map resources back then, but frankly, it wasn’t a very good representation of the operational area southwest of Pleiku in the Republic of Vietnam. I knew that we could now get access  at least to 1:250,000 Topo maps of the region (most were still Classified back in 1990), which should get us a much better base game map than the one that was in the original game.

At left is the 1990 map. To the right is a cobbled-together shrunk-down version of nine 1:50,000 base maps i was using to test size and scale

At left is the 1990 map. To the right is a cobbled-together shrunk-down version of nine 1:50,000 base maps I was using to test size and scale. (I ended up using only those top six; that’s the Chu Pong Massif – which defines the bottom left of our game map – at the bottom of the middle map on the left.)

Next War: Korea – Scenario – Modified Tactical Surprise

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Dan Stueber has been a long time proofreader, playtester, and supporter of the Next War series. He has completed and posted several solitaire game session reports on Boardgamegeek including one for the scenario he’s designed for Next War: Korea which is presented for your use below. Hope you enjoy! – Mitch

This scenario postulates a slow buildup of DPRK forces through the use of war games, training, and other deception means. Assume the North Koreans, with the PRC assisting, conduct massive training and war games over a six to eight week period. Each time the training is completed a few units don’t make it back to their home areas. A tank battalion or two has some “maintenance problems” and has to stay in their forward deployed areas. An infantry division disappears into some tunnel complexes. A forward deployed artillery unit does not fire off all of its live ammunition. A local emergency requires an infantry division (or three) to help out the population. Now, the Allies are not blind to what is going on, so over the eight weeks or so that this is occurring they constantly call up their troops and ready their aircraft and then nothing happens. This occurs so many times over the eight (or maybe longer) weeks that some politicians and military leaders begin to think the North Koreans are just blustering as usual. Soon some Allied units become complacent to what is happening across the border. When the balloon does finally go up the ROK troops are caught somewhat by surprise, thus they are slow off the mark in deploying. The good news is the ROK replacement system is up and running and their air force is ready to go. The bad news is any forward troops are going get hurt by the tunnels and infiltration, and they will probably be destroyed. The PRC is assumed to want to solve the South Korean problem before taking care of Taiwan. To do so they commit a large portion of their air force, with most of their new hi-tech units, in this battle. The forward PRC air units that were taking part in the “training exercises” are used to help maintain air superiority over Korea until additional air units can be shifted into the theater. The Chinese mobilize several Group Armies and all of their marine and airborne troops for commitment to the battlefield. At Daegu Airbase the Captain of the Watch is stunned when the airbase is hit by several SCUD missiles. He hits the warning klaxon just as the door is kicked open by a North Korean Special Operations commando…