Talon Tuesday Issue #4: The Talonverse (Part 1)

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #4

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Early in development we realized we were NOT just riffing on Star Fleet Battles, although (and I’m speaking for Jim Krohn, the designer, here) the system started off as a response to SFB.  The Talon game world picked up flavor from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Star Blazers, and other sources too. More importantly, the “Talonverse”, as we came to call it, came into being through our development team. One of our play testers, Robert, has a real talent for writing. Initially, we had him crafting a scenario for us, but the flavor text he wrote was so good we had to tap into that talent.  Over the subsequent two years, we went from backstory flavor text for a few scenarios to an actual story arc with characters…I’ll let Robert introduce this first section of “Patton’s Story,” one of the story arcs within the scripted scenarios that follows the crew of the Terran Cruiser Patton:

Being given the opportunity to write some of the history for the Talonverse was a daunting one, as the only information I had to go from was in drafts of the rulebook.  Because of that, I focused on the point of view of the Terran side.  Initially I only wrote Patton’s Story, to go along with the scenario I wrote.  I was asked to write more, and I tried to weave connections in through the stories to make it less of a series of individual vignettes, and more of a single story.  I’m always conflicted in where I think humanity will end up in the future.  I think the stories I wrote contain some of my belief that for humanity to survive as far into the future as the Talonverse timeline, that we will put aside most of our differences.  But there’s also some pessimism that we will ever completely get past our fear of the ‘other’ and that made its way in too.  I thank Jim Krohn for giving me an opportunity to hopefully bring some texture to his universe, to Bob Seifert for his ideas encouragement, and my wife, Mitra, who I pestered regarding how to write a certain scene involving an older Texan and a young Iranian woman which you can read in the published game.  One last note, other than some minor grammatical editing and some clarifying text which made the stories better, I was only asked to change one word (that appears multiple times in the story in order to make it family friendly).  It’s the second word in the story, and I leave it as an exercise to the reader what word it might have been.

SPOILER ALERT:  The following is a SPOILER for the story of the scenarios covering the First Talon War.

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection and the Event Cards (Part 3)

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The following are a few French Faction first Event cards and the associated history:

60. Comte d’Orvilliers Builds a Fleet at Brest

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In 1777 D’Orvilliers was appointed Lieutenant-General of the Navy and worked to prepare the navy for conflict with the British including the preparation of a fleet in Brest.





Wing Leader Scenario V24 Replay – Part 3

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Here is Part 3 of the Wing Leader Scenario V24 Replay. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, go here and here to read them first.

Turn 7 Setup Phase


Turn 7 Tally Phase

Kittyhawk D will try to Tally SM.79 X which is 1 square away. He needs to roll a 1 or higher. He rolls a 4-2 (Behind Kittyhawk D) = 2. SM.79 X is tallied.

Spitfire P will try to Tally SM.79 X which is 2 squares away. He needs to roll a 2 or higher. He rolls a 5+1 (Veteran) =6. SM.79 X is tallied.

Here is the map after the Tally Phase:


Congratulations! You’re the New American President (Part 1)

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Welcome to another look inside Mr. President!

(Please note that not only is all the art you see below playtest art, it’s playtest art mostly created by me, and I have trouble drawing straight stick figures! It’ll look a lot better when our artists do their magic!)

This time, we’re going to start a new game, and give you a sense of how you populate the game board, choose and prepare your assets, assume your persona, and dive into a new story. First off, let’s introduce YOU, the newly-elected President!

You make a few die rolls and find out that you are a 40-something male (you can have different ages and potentially gender here) who just won the election handily! In game-terms, that means that a) you’re relatively young, and thus less likely to die in office – unless you make someone really, REALLY mad – and b) you get to start on the public Public Opinion Track at 52%. This is the EASY setting for the game, although I’m betting some of you will question my definition of “Easy” as you play (and maybe LOSE!) a few games of Mr. President.

Now let’s find out about your Special Attributes. There are eight Presidential Ability markers in the game  and you get to randomly choose two at game start. You MIGHT get another during game play (gaining experience and expertise), but for now, these are your special talents. 
We draw, and get LIKEABLE and TEAM BUILDER. You were probably hoping for PERSUASIVE SPEAKER – always a good one – but the ones you have are good attributes. We’ll set these two markers in front of you for now and use those abilities in a few minutes.

Talon Tuesday Issue #3 – Example of Play Part 2

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #3

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The following is a continuation of the Example of Play posted for last week’s “Talon Tuesday”.

Now that the Impulse is over, the Change Initiative marker that Sacrifice placed steals the Initiative back from the Terran. Talon goes first in Impulse D.


Both the Service and Justice get Available Power. They each charge a Yellow box for one of their weapon groups.


During movement, Sacrifice must move so she advances 1 hex. Service does not get to move in Impulse D, but chooses to use one of her Afterburners (a special Talon ability) to enable movement. She marks it off then turns and moves forward, placing a Turn Radius marker 1 hex in front of where she moved, corresponding to her Turn Radius of 1. It’s a good thing Service used the Afterburner: now only her full rear and left Shield Arcs face the enemy instead of her damaged shields.

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection and the Event Cards (Part 2)

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The following are a few Indian Faction first Event cards and the associated history:


75. Congress’ Speech to the Six Nations


“We desire you will hear and receive what we have now told you, and that you will open a good ear and listen to what we are now going to say. This is a family quarrel between us and Old England.





83. Guy Carleton and Indians Negotiate


As Patriot forces moved toward Quebec City in 1775, Quebec’s Governor Guy Carleton struggled to raise Militia. Area Indians were willing to fight on the British side and the Crown wanted  them to do so.




84. “ Merciless Indian Savages”


The Declaration of Independence lists “repeated injuries and usurpations” against the colonialists on behalf of King George III of Great Britain. The second paragraph concludes, “To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world,” before 27 sentences listing various transgressions from tax complaints to forced military conscription. The last of these complaints reads: “He has …endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

96. Iroquois Confederacy


A confederation of six Indian tribes across what is currently upper New York state that played a strategic role in the struggle between the French and British for mastery of North America. During the American Revolution, the Oneida and Tuscarora supported the Patriots, while the rest of the league, led by the Seneca and including Chief Joseph Brant’s Mohawks, fought for the British.




Talon Tuesday Issue #2 – Example of Play Part 1

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #2

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If a picture is worth a thousand words an example is worth a thousand rules pages.

While the Talon base rules are really succinct (9 1/2 pages last draft I checked) we still felt, after demo-ing the game to so many gamers (wargamers and non-wargamers alike) that putting a really detailed example of play into the play book was the way to go.  I’m really happy with how the rules have been refined over the development period but one of the best ways to gauge the flow of the game is to see it played.

This extended example of play is (essentially) a really meaty round from a real game Patrick Barley and I played. We tweaked a few roll results to help demonstrate parts of the system and highlight important tactical choices, but overall, this was a real 3 on 3 Heavy Cruiser battle. Our Layout Director, Mark Simonitch, did an outstanding job illustrating and organizing our example of play.


In this extended example of play using the basic rules, we start at the top of Round 3. It is Impulse A and Talon has the initiative in this Heavy Cruiser (CA) battle. His ships will get to spend Available Power, Move and Fire before the Terran player. So far, one of Terran’s CA’s, the Patton, has taken 4 shield damage on her front arc, has both phaser groups charged but does not have any charge boxes marked off for her torpedo. All the Terran ships have their batteries charged. The Talon CA, Service, has taken 5 shield damage on her front arc and only has Red boxes charged for her disruptor groups.

On the Impulse Chart, Impulse A reads “4 5 6” so the Service will receive Available Power and the Sacrifice must move.

First, the Service spends its Available Power to charge one Yellow box on its left disruptor group. No other Talon ships get power in this Impulse.


Invierno Cubano Faction Primer #1: Brigade 2506 and Directorio

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One of the many strengths of the COIN system is its asymmetric gameplay. Hence, maximizing factional asymmetry and introducing novel Operations and Special Activities, while maintaining Cuba Libre’s core game system, has been a top priority while designing Invierno Cubano, In this series of faction primers, we will preview some of the exciting new features that help make Invierno Cubano more than a sequel. As you read through these articles, please keep in mind that some aspects are still under development and may be changed prior to publication.


Faction name: Brigade 2506 and Directorio

Victory Condition(s): Opposition + Leaders eliminated

Pieces: Directorio (DR) Guerrillas, Brigade 2506 Guerrillas, DR Ships

Operations: Deploy, March, Attack, and Terror

Special Activities: Rescue, Influence, Air Strike, and Sabotage

Strength(s): Mobility and a large invasion event

Weakness(es): Unreplenished DR guerrilla ranks that are never underground


Certainly most COIN series fans are familiar with the CIA-backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, one of the most memorable fiascoes of 20th-century US foreign policy. Although the Brigade 2506 invasion force was the largest external outfit of guerrillas assembled during this period, many other militant Cuban exile organizations emerged and were supported by the US government. Much like the Revolutionary Directorate (DR) insurgents of Cuba Libre, these similar yet distinct entities are assembled together here under the Brigade 2506 and Directorio banner. In this article, we present two example plays highlighting some capabilities and vulnerabilities of the Brigade 2506 and Directorio faction and briefly discuss strategies to place them on the path to victory.

The automatic Event card “Bay of Pigs” triggers the addition of all nine Brigade 2506 guerrillas to the province closest to Havana that is without Support and not controlled by La Revolución. The card is shuffled with the second Reform card stack, ensuring its appearance sometime after the first Reform round and before the third. Armed with this knowledge, the Brigade 2506 and Directorio faction can work to secure an invasion space that is both safe and of strategic value.



MacArthur did not return… (Labor Day Churchill Playthrough)

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mark-herman1I just had the best Labor Day weekend with my whole family hanging out, eating, drinking, swimming, and playing Churchill plus a little MechWarrior. My boys and I played a campaign game with my son Grant (Stalin), son-in-law Dan (Roosevelt) and I was Churchill. Grant and Dan were play testers and both of them are very skilled at the game, so I had to play very well or lose. In fact the last time I played two games with them at Monster Con in Arizona they each won one game, to my none, which they have not let me forget. The trash talk indicated that they were confident of a repeat performance.

Conference 1

Now when I play with the boys it always works out in the beginning that they are not going to let the old man have any leverage, so at the end of the first conference I actually won no issues. Stalin won the conference and managed to gain sufficient offensive support to advance against stiff German opposition. During play testing Grant specialized as Stalin and he invented most of the known Soviet strategies. New players and those who have not had success as Uncle Joe need to remember that the Soviets are locked in a titanic struggle on the Eastern front. They need to focus on gaining offensive support in excess of 5 to advance. It is important that they advance at least once during the first two conferences to keep pace with the Western front.

This takes winning Western Allied directed offensives and production. The issue choices based on which cards you are holding determining whether you pick two directed offensive issues or a one of each. Grant’s performance was a primer in how to dominate scoring with the Soviets. As it turned out he was just a little too good at it this time.

Once D-Day has occurred continuing this strategy should result in at least one breakthrough, there were two in this game, giving the Soviets military leverage. With all concerned focused on Europe and the US early focus on political moves there were no advances in the Pacific.

Post Conference 1 situation

Post Conference 1 situation

Talon Tuesday Issue #1 – Dice Tower Convention 2015

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.


Issue #1 – Dice Tower Convention 2015

I had the pleasure of taking Talon to Dice Tower Con 2015 in Orlando, FL this past June. It was my second trip to the convention, having gone in 2014 as well. It’s a fantastic convention and really well run (kudos to Heather Mann and Patrick Havert, the chief organizers). They predominantly have “mainstream” gamers there with only a few traditional war gamers peppered in. This was exactly the reason I’ve brought Talon to the convention for the last two years.


I believe that Talon, like Jim Krohn’s other GMT product “Space Empires: 4x”, has broad appeal. It’s a really accessible, easy to pick up but difficult to master tactical war game.  Demo-ing the game countless times at Dice Tower has proven this to be true.

Patrick Barely, my right-hand man on the development team, and I printed and cut 4 prototype copies of the game.  Our goal at this year’s convention was to hold a tournament.  You would think it would be hard to hold a tournament for a game that has not yet been released, but Talon is very easy to pick up. The Dice Tower folks were kind enough to give us prime real estate in the main gaming room for our booth. This let us teach and demo the game to all passers-by for the first few days of the con. Eight of the people we taught felt confident enough to attend the tournament held on the Friday of the convention.