Falling Behind on the Blog

A quick thank you to all of my recent blog subscribers. I am very humbled by the growth here. It has been many weeks since my last update and this is just an update to say updates are coming. Successful GMT West demos, a new Vassal Mod by Joel Toppen and crossing the 400 order mark on the P500 are headliners for posts to come.

Hopefully the holidays provide some catch up time. In the interim, here is a peak behind the scenes at a spreadsheet I use to help ensure play balance throughout the development process.

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Strategicon Report with Photos

Just back from a successful Strategicon with some photos to share.

Friday Aaron was at the table and ready to play before I was even set up. We set up quickly and began play with Aaron taking the Central Powers. Not long into the game, one of the guys I drove down from Bakersfield with comes over exclaims,”Hey, it’s Aaron!” Turns out AAron and I live in the same town. Score! You can never have too many local playtesters.

_dev Aaron 1

Not long into our game the German army went headlong into the BEF. Aaron’s rolls were ridiculous. So good that he took a picture. So good that someone else came across the room to look and also took a picture. Yikes.

_dev dice photo

_dev Aaron

After turn one, Steve Carey and Mark Kaczmarek came over to take over the Allies. If you attend Strategicon, you’ll recognize Mark as the man behind the GMT booth. A quick overview and Steve and Mark shared duties with Steve moving blocks while Mark manged the air and artillery assets.

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Embolden by his early success against the BEF, Aaron played a defensive strategy in the Alsace/Lorraine stopping his blocks near Strasbourg. This gave the French Mulhouse and Colmar while allowing him a stronger wheeling move towards Paris. Steven and Mark took the easy Plan XVII objectives while moving much of their force in front of the German steamroller.

I wish I’d taken more notes/photos of their game. All 3 had other events (or the booth) to tend to so the game wasn’t quite completed. Feedback was very positive with emphasis on the “accessibility” of the game and “elegance” of the economic system. Steve said he was concerned from afar that all the charts on the economic board and map might lead to convoluted sub systems but was surprised by how well they worked together.

Sunday Nick and Fred played a pick up game. I wasn’t at the table for most of it so I can’t offer commentary. Nick posted his thoughts here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1228498/just-playtested-few-quick-thoughts-game

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Pimping the Prototype

Artscow just ran a great special on drawstring bags which are used to hide resources allocated to naval warfare and the Eastern Front. I made these tonight. I hope they get here before Strategicon.

Eastern Front

Draw Bag EF

Naval Warfare

Draw Bag NW

The special is good for a few more days. Use the code “3LITTLEBAGS” at checkout. It was a $40 savings for me!

100th Anniversary of the Attack on Liege

Here is the blog post I wrote for GMT’s blog. A link is included below for the full post including Gene Billingsley’s introduction.

http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=161

I haven’t haven’t had any time of late to dedicate to blogging but I’m hopeful that is about to change. For now I give you the attack on Liege…
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Today, August 5th, marks the 100th anniversary of the German attack into Belgium. What better day to give you a little peak at where we are with development as it relates to the opening moves of the war?
When playing the 1914 Mobile War or Grand Campaign of Fields of Despair, your first order of business is to plan the attack into Belgium. In your way is the fortress city of Liege just as it was 100 years ago. Below is a photo of the scenario set-up and my awesome hand-drawn arrows to illustrate the German war plans.

w Liege SP

One guiding design goal is present you the player with the historical start and let you take over within a system that makes historical out comes probable but by no means a guarantee should you opt for extreme strategies. The 1914 scenarios afford the German army an opening move to which the French and British cannot reach. It’s critical to make the most of it if you hope to get within sight of Paris.
So just for fun, here are a few of the invasion of Belgium strategies I have observed over the past 3 years of play. The first is illustrated above. Players familiar with the First World War opt for it in some variation striking first at Liege before swinging down into the next fortress city of Namur and on to Antwerp.
Then there’s the aggressive player that gets a little greedy and goes for broke right out of the gate (Is this you? I’ve been guilty). Liege and Namur are attacked at the same time while other units rush around towards Antwerp. It’s great when it works, disaster when it doesn’t.

w Liege Greedy 2

Finally, there’s the player who prefers overkill as seen below. The importance of taking Liege is obviously not lost on you but at what cost? Will the German army advance far enough? You’ll certainly have some ground to make up in the coming turns.

w Liege Overkill 2

Regardless of what strategy you use, once arriving at Liege, you’ll be able to unleash the might of the “Big Bertha” howitzer the same way the Germans did in 1914. It doesn’t come cheap. Bertha was so massive, that in August of 1914 it was delivered to Liege in parts an assembled by a 1,000 man crew. If you want to fire Big Bertha you have to spend one of your precious “Logistic Points.” Logistic Points allow you take unique actions throughout the game not otherwise allowed by the rules. More about them in a future post, but let’s just say you want to be careful and deliberate when using them.

w Logistic Point no flare

Big-Bertha---web
I have watched players agonize over this decision. The learning curve is, admittedly, much steeper with the German army. If you follow history and bring in Big Bertha, you most likely capture Liege in the opening move of the war sacrificing some flexibility and options in later turns.

The siege of Liege is so important that the development team has played out every possible attack, made adjustments, and attacked again. It has been the catalyst for many of the rules related to fortress hexes and for the design of an Introductory Scenario that begins after the capture of both Liege and Namur. I think first time players will enjoy cutting their teeth on a scenario that gets right to the meat of the mobile war. Experienced players, they will start this day in history August 5, 1914.

The Schlieffen Plan as Originally Planned

The original Schlieffen Plan called for 48.5 corps. The German army in August of 1914 simply wasn’t that big.

It is now.

I have designed a what-if scenario that balloons the German army up the size the Schlieffen Plan required. The French and British stay their historical sizes.

The name of the game is see how long the French survive.

Planning turn 1

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The Germans roll over the Old Contemptibles and into the fields of France

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The end of turn one the Score is high at 6 to 6. The Germans let the French have Alscace/Lorraine.

In return the Germans contested every hex on the Marne and Paris. On turn one!!!

In good news Antwerp is holding. And I have to admit. This is a ton of fun.

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