Dark Sands – Compass Scenario AAR, Part 4 (and final)

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Click on the following to read the three previous installments of this article: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Chit 7 British Reinforcements.

The British Turn 4 Reinforcements include 3 brigades as normal arrivals. And the 6th Australian Div as an exchange for the 4th Indian Division. Indicated by the black box around both the arriving and withdrawing units.

The 3 arriving brigades may land at any port, up to stacking limits. They choose to land at Bardia where they may stack with the Garrison. Number 1.

Units that are arriving as part of an exchange may directly replace any units of the division they are being exchanged for. In this case the three brigades of the 6th Australian change places with the 3 brigades of the 4th Indian brigade. Number 2.

The 4th Indian are withdrawing, indicated by the red box around their image on the Reinforcement Track. They are placed on the Reinforcement track on the next turn where their image appears. Follow the blue arrow from Number 2. The green box around the image indicates that this is (or will be) a returning unit. If there is no future turn to place them on, place them on the red-boxed images on the current turn to indicate that they were withdrawn and will not be returning.

Note that two of the 4th Indian Brigades was reduced, but the arriving unit was full strength. Arriving units always arrive at full strength, regardless of their state when withdrawn. Moral of the story, always lead with units that about to be withdrawn. When they return, they will be a full strength.

Figure 19 British Reinforcements

Figure 19 British Reinforcements

Solitaire System for Fields of Despair, Part III

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Here are links to the first two articles in this series: Part I   Part II

Welcome back to the overview of the solitaire system for Fields of Despair: France 1914-1918.  A huge thank you goes out to everyone who has helped us get across the 500 order mark.  The development team and I are thrilled and humbled at the same time.  Now on to the game…

This article focuses solely on how the game’s AI plays the Central Powers against you.  As is custom, I should note that all of the components, art, etc you’ll see are play test and a work in progress.  Below is a prime example.  The Central Powers side of the Solitaire Play Aid walks you through the Central Powers action phase.  I’ll refer back to it as I go.

1 Player-Aid-Central-Side

Central Powers Solitaire Play Aid

Churchill Strategy and Tactics Tips

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mark-herman1The ship has arrived in Oakland and WBC is just around the corner, so 1200+ Churchill games will soon be arriving at front doors around the world. I just completed my next Clio’s corner #6 for c3i magazine that covers many aspects of design theory through the lens of Churchill. Unfortunately, the magazine will not hit the market until after your games have arrived, so I thought it would be useful to write a short strategy primer to improve everyone’s first experience with the game.

First here are a few important tactical tips. If someone appears to have come up with an unstoppable strategy, take a deep breath and consider the following:

1. Take their stuff away: Each player has a limited amount of production, and each player has a Directed offensive issue plus inCHL-US-22-nf the case of the US and UK production issues. For example, if the UK were to have the other two players control their Directed offensive and production issue, the British would have one production marker out of four that they could control. The same is true for the other two sides. So, if any player seems to be driving the game and looks unstoppable, the other two players need to get these issues on the table and neuter whatever the third player is doing by taking their stuff.

2. Playing order matters: Each side has a national characteristic. The British capability is the Imperial Staff that adds one to the value of its staff card played during the Agenda segment. This means that if Churchill always plays a five card they will go last in the conference. This will seem to be an overpowered capability unless you know how to deal with it.

Stonewall’s Sword: Revolution Games

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Although this blog is generally focused on GMT Games’ designers and our products, I do occasionally make an exception, especially for our designers who have game designs produced with other companies. In this instance, designer Hermann Luttmann, who has both Hammerin’ Sickles and At Any Cost on our P500 list – both the beginning of series’ that we’re very excited about, produced a Civil War game on the Battle of Cedar Mountain with Revolution games. That game, Stonewall’s Sword,  uses essentially the same system as that used in both of our upcoming games/series’.

I had also met Roger, who runs Revolution Games, at a GMT Weekend at the Warehouse a couple years back, and was impressed with his vision for what they are doing at Revolution as well as his attention to detail. So, given their release of a game using a system that will be used in our two upcoming titles, that I would really like to help both Hermann and Roger sell their game,  and that Stonewall’s Sword offers you guys a very inexpensive way to try out the system to help you decide whether Hammerin’ Sickles and At Any Cost will be your cup of tea, I thought this might be an appropriate time and place to give Roger and Stonewall’s Sword an introduction to our customers. I hope you like Roger’s article, and his description of the game system. If so, I’d encourage you to support these guys by going over to the Revolution Games website and picking up a copy of Stonewall’s Sword. – Gene


SS IMG_0052

Empire of the Sun Solitaire Game Tutorial

by Mark Herman

Several of you have asked me if we could include some links here to the more popular and useful videos on our GMT Games YouTube channel. WordPress allows us to do this, so I’ll do my best to include some video links in InsideGMT from time to time.

For you Empire of the Sun players, the new 2.0 version released this summer comes with a built-in solitaire opponent. In this video, designer Mark Herman gives you a walkthrough of the Solitaire opponent. Enjoy!


EotS 2 Cover

Dark Sands – Compass Scenario AAR, Part 3

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Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of this article.

Turn 2

The British have the initiative and need to select their initiative chit. Not an easy decision with the Italians still perched on the coast road east of Helfaya Pass.

Only the two 7th Armored Tank Brigades are in range to move and attack, so the OConner chit is not a good option.

If the Italians were not holding the coast road at Halfaya Pass, a HalfMove would be sufficient to get everyone in range to Move and Attack on the next chit. But, they are holding the coast road. They could take a FullMove, and hope the British do not disrupt sprinting through the desert. Mindful that the turn has just started.

The British play it safe and take the HalfMove to better position themselves.

Solitaire System for Fields of Despair, Part II

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You can view Part I of this article here.


With air recon complete it’s time to move any/all of your blocks into position for the attack!  Block movement remains the same as in the 2-player game. 


The solitaire combat sequence has a small departure from the 2-player game where artillery is committed and resolved before you send your boys “Over the Top!”  Solitaire combat requires you, the player, to commit to all of your attacks and add any artillery to those attacks before checking to see how the AI responds.  The combined value of your blocks and artillery equal the strength of your attack.  Attacks are resolved in order from your strongest to weakest.  This prevents “gaming” of the system with little attacks away from the real objectives.  The AI is far more likely to match strength for strength but it is by no means a certainty.  Much like a human player might.

Mr. President: A Month in the Life

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Last week, I let you guys know in our monthly update that I’ve been working on a solitaire game called Mr. President. Some of you read last year’s teaser article about the game, but virtually everyone is still in the dark about how this game plays. Well, it IS still in the design and alpha testing phase, but it’s starting to come together, so I decided to put together a sneak peek to give you a sense of how the game plays. So I’m going to let you guys virtually share in a round (one month) of game play – to look over my shoulder as I play – so you can get a sense of the flow of Mr. President and some of the things you have to think about as you play. I’m not going to teach you how to play the game in this article – that comes later – but I do hope to give you a sense of how you feel – and some of the things you think about – as you play.

One thing that I’d like you to pick up here is that I am not intending this to be a “beer and pretzels” surface level game. If that’s what you are looking for, RUN AWAY! 🙂 What I want is a game that is deep and immersive, one that will both frustrate and delight the solitaire player, an experience that will beckon you back to the game table after each round, turn, or completed game. I don’t think it’s quite “there” yet, but it’s well on the way.


As we pick up the action, we are six months into the game, my first playtest ever of the Moderate Complexity level in the game (we did all the initial alpha tests with the Easy Complexity level, and now I’m wanting to see how well the next level of challenge plays).

So in the first six months (Turn 1), chaos ruled, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia. Thus foreign policy took a big portion of my time and effort. The Moderate level At Start situation (I may have to tweak this) is pretty intense – Unstable Governments, Terror Groups, and Festering Crises are seemingly everywhere. I did get a little progress made on my two legislative programs (Homeland Security Improvements and Energy Independence) thanks to a couple of advisors who are quite skilled in the legislative process, but most of the action was overseas. I spent a few months tracking down the leadership of a huge (level 4 is highest in the game) Middle East Terror Group, and finally got actionable intel on their locations near the end of turn 1.  I gave the go ahead for a large SoF Raid in spite of the fact that the target location was deep in Indian country. Unfortunately, things did not go well; the terrorists somehow got wind of our intentions and the raid failed with heavy US casualties and the Terror leadership cell scattered. Public opinion took a big hit, and the ensuing scandal gave me no real choice but to replace my Secretary of Defense (one of the better Sec Defs available in the game). On top of it all, I lost a Legacy Point! Ouch! (Rolling 10’s is a bad thing in this game!) That was an ugly way to end turn 1, but it’s good to know that the game has some teeth and that the solitaire player can’t just Raid with impunity to solve the Terror problems.

Welcome to Centerville

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Behind the Curtain

So, you’ve read the description of the game or looked at the pictures of some playtest graphics, and you want to know more. Well, come on over here, mind your step around the 4-sided dice on the floor there and please ignore the man behind that curtain. That’s just Chad – hard at work on a game.

What is he doing? Probably writing the rules to Welcome to Centerville. No, I’m not kidding. It’s always the last thing to get done and the game just lives in his head until he is forced, through deadlines, to finally put it all down on paper. There’s no point in doing it any earlier in the process as things change so quickly – sometimes a small tweak, sometimes a drastic overhaul – and he would waste time writing and re-writing.

And before we go any further, let me state that all graphics used here are PLAYTEST GRAPHICS ONLY! We need something to print out so we can push around the pieces for playtesting. Once we get far enough along in the production queue, we’ll get the final art in place – but we’re not there yet.