Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection and the Event Cards (Part 1)

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LOD Components2 for HB

The depth of the history around the American Revolution is captured in the Liberty or Death Event Cards.  Below is a sample of the Patriot Faction first Event cards with a brief discussion of the history.

Card Number 4. The Penobscot Expedition

LoD4The largest American naval expedition of the war, a flotilla of 19 warships mounted by the Provincial Congress of the Province of Massachusetts Bay sailed from Boston in July of 1779 for the upper Penobscot Bay in the District of Maine (then a part of Massachusetts colony.) The flotilla also included a ground force of more than 1,000 colonial troops as well as a 100-man artillery detachment under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. The goal was to reclaim control of what is now mid-coast Maine from the British who had seized it a month earlier, renaming it New Ireland. The Patriots paid a heavy price in the fighting over three weeks in July and August of 1779. As the British were reinforced the Patriot fleet was destroyed as it fled up the Penobscot River. It was one of Britain’s greatest victories of the war. The Expedition was also the United States’ worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later in 1941.

Wing Leader Scenario V24 Replay – Part 1

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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s newest design, Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942, has been one of several big hits for us this summer. For you guys who don’t own or haven’t yet had a chance to play the game, we’re presenting here  (in several parts) Brett Dedrick’s terrific set of After Action Reports for a couple of the free scenarios that Lee has made available online. We hope you enjoy this detailed look inside the the game! – Gene



The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble – “The First World War”, 1756-1762 – Part 2

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Here’s a link to Part 1 of this article.

1758 7YW:FG Turn Two: Beginning 1758, the strategic initiative still lay with the Prussians and their superb hard marching professional infantry. With the victory at Rossbach, the appreciative for Prussian support British felt that continuing the fight in Hanover was now feasible. Imagine how a British Player would react to such aid from their Coalition Camp Partner in a game of 7YW:FG  since complete enemy capture of all four Hanover’s Keys at the end of a year will automatically end the game.   


Liberty or Death – Addressing Open Questions

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As a historical boardgamer, my greatest hope in trying out a new game is that it will reveal to me something about some other time or place that I did not already understand.  Harold Buchanan’s Liberty or Death does that for me, even on the should-be familiar topic of the American Revolution.  Let me tell you how so…

A Puzzle

In 1994, my wife and I took a wonderful driving vacation through the Empire State—wonderful for me, at least, as we endeavored to visit all New York’s colonial-era historical exhibits that we could reach.  Our last stop before the drive back south to Virginia was Newtown Battlefield.

LoD 1

Churchill Strategy Primer #3: Asymmetric Staff Abilities

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Here are links to my first two strategy primers for InsideGMT:

Churchill Strategy and Tactics Tips

Churchill Strategy Primer #2: Defeating the Axis

mark-herman1My topic for this strategy discussion is to focus on the asymmetric staff abilities of each side and highlight strategy themes that I have not seen yet in the general discussions on BGG.

First here is a general analysis of the each sides asymmetric capabilities. The decks were constructed to align each sides capabilities with my view of how they operated during the conferences. If you were to do an analysis of the staff with values and attributes assumed to always be played on the proper attribute you would find that the total strength of the decks lays out as follows:

US: 99
USSR: 83**

**=Nyet national characteristic situationally adds 1 to Soviet staff cards.

In each case I assigned the CoS as a 1 value plus their attribute, so there is some variation based on the strength die roll. Clearly this is not exactly how it would ever play out, but it demonstrates each staff’s strength if played efficiently to maximize a cards value.

Now on the surface you would think that the Soviets are way outclassed, so I will begin my analysis with Stalin.

The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble – “The First World War”, 1756-1762 – Part 1

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Readers interested in learning more detail about the play of 7YW:FG should read the our earlier article, The 7 Years War: Frederick’s Gamble – Playtest Report.


Designer Greg Ticer’s hand-drawn 7YW:FG playtest map.

Theaters of Operation and General Introductory Overview

The fighting depicted in The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble game (7YW: FG) can in historical terms be divided into distinct theaters of operation. The naval conflict, abstracted in the game, was chiefly between the British and the French, as were the conflicts in India, North America, the Caribbean and elsewhere which, when including the broader European stage, result in many deeming this conflict “The First World War”. 

Fredericks Gamble NA Theatre copyMINI-MAP NORTH AMERICA: On the North American frontier, the British suffered early defeats because their army was not effectively trained nor equipped for wilderness fighting. By 1758 these deficits had been remedied and the tide turned in favor of the British. During 1759, known to history as the “Anno Mirabilis” (Year of Miracles), the British launched a three-pronged offensive against the last French controlled territory and, by end of that year, achieved their aim of destroying France’s North American colonial presence.  In 7YW:FG  terms, that colonial theater of operations would be considered “Dominated” and the British enabled to annually transfer troops, e.g. strength points (SP’s), out of North America.

Sneak Peeks at the Twilight Struggle Collector’s Edition

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Hi everyone!

We are now under a month away from shipping the Twilight Struggle Collector’s Edition to our Kickstarter backers.  I had an advance copy of the CE sent to me so I could take some pictures to give you guys a peek at it in advance.

My daughter Rachel and I spent this morning sleeving cards and stickering the reminder blocks, then she took a bunch of pictures which we put into a couple of collages for you guys to enjoy! Hopefully, for you KS backers, this will give you a taste of what you’ll be getting when we ship the Collector’s Editions next month.

For those of you who didn’t back the Kickstarter CE but want a copy, we’ll be making an announcement late this month (once we have them in the warehouse and know exactly how many we have left to sell) with the details of when we will make any additional Collector’s Editions we have (after shipping the Kickstarter rewards) available for sale.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these sneak peeks!


TS CE Pic1

TS CE Pic2

Post-Publication Musings on Churchill

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mark-herman1Well, Churchill has finally hit the market and I am very pleased with the production values and the initial reception. Only time will tell if this one becomes a cross-over design, but I could not be happier with how it came out.

I was at the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) in its farewell to Lancaster PA, and I never saw less than four ongoing games of Churchill being played in open gaming. A new phenomena for me was in most cases there were at least one if not two females playing in each session (three person game). This is the one game that I have done out of over sixty that my wife will play, so it hopefully will be a more accessible game to the most important part of the human race.

For those who have not followed my earlier blog posts, I wanted folks to experience a different narrative of World War II. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for Third Reich and the multitude of big picture strategy games on the war, but I have “been there, done that” and I have over 50 games in that category. Churchill’s genesis was based on his World War II memoirs and his big picture perspective. I wanted to sit in the big chair and win a global war, not drive tank divisions across Europe.

Churchill Map

Churchill Strategy Primer #2: Defeating the Axis

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Now that the game has begun to get into people’s hands and is getting some initial plays,  I thought I would continue my series of Churchill strategy primers. My goal is to accelerate our collective understanding of the art of the possible in Churchill, although I continue to discover new tactics as I continue to play with friends and family.

In case you missed it here is a link to my first strategy primer in InsideGMT.

Churchill Strategy & Tactics Tips

The main theme of this strategy post is the intersection of victory conditions and forcing Axis surrender.

Illusions of Glory: A Play Balance Challenge

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Genesis of a First-Time Game Designer:

My interest in wargame design began when I was a playtester at SPI’s legendary “Skonkworks” in Manhattan.  Perhaps I’m dating myself, but I recall those days with great nostalgia.  I was bitten by the designer bug there, and wanted to create my own game.

Career, marriage, and raising a family caused me to shelve that desire (although it was never forgotten).  I was then approached by my good friend and neighbor, Brad Stock, who designed the well-received CDG “Pursuit of Glory” with his son Brian. Brad had proposed a WW1 Eastern Front game to GMT based on the “Paths of Glory” and ”Pursuit of Glory” systems.  However, he accepted a full-time college teaching job and was no longer able to design this game.  Brian was also unavailable.  They asked me, with GMT’s permission, to get it done.