Back from Consimworld Expo *kaff* 2015

Me and Ian Weir at table, playing a few cards of Colonial Twilight (photo: Cisco Serret)

Me and Ian Weir at table, playing a few cards of Colonial Twilight (photo: Cisco Serret)

So, it was a good week, marred only by my catching a cold from the hotel air conditioning, which usually happens after I spend 3 or 4 days in a hotel. It was 110 – 115 degrees outside for much of the week, and all the work/game stuff was inside, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Felt nasty yesterday but I’ll be all right in a couple of days.

Anyway, yes, a good week. I showed Denouement to Gene Billingsley, who liked what he saw and lo, the game is going up for P500 orders Very Soon Now.

However, the working title did not survive and the game is now called Colonial Twilight, which is OK with me – still an evocative title and nicked from the title of an excellent article on the French-Algerian War written by John Prados back in Campaign/Panzerfaust magazine (does anyone remember that?), issue #73, May-June 1976.

Talked to many many other people over the course of the week, it’s great to be able to see these folks, even if it is only once a year, and talk about technique or common histories/anecdotes. I even got in a game of Quartermaster General, which had some interesting choices in it but isn’t much more than filler (but it’s fun filler).

I brought a lot of new stuff with me but did not get to show much of it besides the two COIN games, which caught a lot of attention. GMT staff seemed interested in Thunder Out Of China which was also on display, but there are at least 8 or 9 teams working on COIN system games now so it would be years before this one saw production.

Contemplated setup for 1937 scenario (photo: Cisco Serret)

Contemplated setup for 1937 scenario (photo: Cisco Serret) (Santa did not fall off the map, he was like that when I got there)

So, back to work… until next year. But meanwhile there is BottosCon, November 6-8!

About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

15 Responses to Back from Consimworld Expo *kaff* 2015

  1. Roger Beatson says:

    Hi Brian

    Given that it could be years before ‘Thunder out of China’ saw production as you stated, would you consider making a DTP version available through your own BTR Games. It certainly looks like an interesting game and I don’t think I’ve seen a treatment of that particular conflict anywhere else. Completely understand if you would rather go down the professional publishing path. And glad to see Colonial Twilight heading up the P500 list. I have a DTP copy of your earlier Algeria game and think it’s an excellent sim. Be interested to see how Colonial Twilight plays out.


    PS: any update on Eoka.

  2. Roger Beatson says:

    (I’ll add in my own edit to the above here)

    Well 30 seconds worth of research later and I’ve already managed to find a few other games on the Chinese Civil War including your own ‘Battle for China’ – now I want a copy of that as well !!!!


    • brtrain says:

      Hello Roger,

      I don’t know what GMT’s attitude is toward people using the COIN system, or something like it, in games of their own design and publishing them.
      I think they don’t want the “COIN” to be tarnished as they are very good about quality control in games they publish.
      On the other hand, a game system may or may not be copyrightable (I don’t know, I don’t even know if “copyrightable” is a word but I suspect not) and therefore may or may not be open.
      Take a look at all the 3rd-party games out there that use the Axis and Allies system (a Hasbro TM), most of them are crappily written, graphically crude and untested or unbalanced.
      But they use a recognized system so I suppose they must sell a few; for a more sophisticated or at least more obsessive example, look at the market for 3rd party scenarios and modules for Advanced Squad Leader (it’s not a game, it’s a lifestyle).

      Anyway, it was my impatience with the pace of publishing that led me to start BTR Games, so if such a thing is permissible or at least not objected to, and once the game is ready, I would consider doing such a thing.
      GMT people looked at Thunder out of China and they are interested, but as I said there’s a lot in the pipeline and that would become an issue iff enough people signed up for the P500 (and it’s entirely possible they wouldn’t).

      Yes, Battle for China came out (in DTP form!) in 1999 (just in time for the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic, not that any of them noticed) and even at that late date it was one of very few games on the 1937-41 period of the war, and the only one to give emphasis to international and political issues.
      As soon as I was done the first, I came out with the expansion kit, which covers the 1946-49 Civil War.
      Are you on BGG? I can sell or trade you a copy of the magazine edition, I think I have one left. You can go to the BGG entry ( to download and print out the expansion kit for free, and replace the little-man iconic counters in the game with proper NATO symbol counters.

      Colonial Twilight plays pretty well IMO, we are about to start formal small-group playtesting and the pre-order count is up to 351 this morning!

      A revision and re-issue of my first Algeria game is coming next year from OSS Games (folio format). I’ll say more about it later but it has nicer graphics, 140 backprinted counters), streamlined rules and a rationalized force mix and some scenarios, based on research I wasn’t able to do back in 1999.

      EOKA – cover art is done by J. Kula, need to spiff up the counters and take one last waltz through before putting it out.
      It is a more intricate variant of the Algeria/Shining Path etc. system, more moving parts but not the same emphases as in Kandahar.
      Been busy with other things right now as you might expect.

      Thanks for your interest and support!


      • alsandor says:

        “On the other hand, a game system may or may not be copyrightable (I don’t know, I don’t even know if “copyrightable” is a word but I suspect not) and therefore may or may not be open.”

        Copyrighted. Maybe also copywritten, copywrote? 🙂

        Unless the game system itself has been copyrighted, it would fall under the same category as a recipe. From the YouEss Copyright Office:

        “Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.

        “Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.”

        So given this, portions of the COIN system are not protected by copyright (the use of dice, cubes and hexagons, maps with point to point movement, tables, scenarios, etc.) but the original work of authorship is. If one were to publish a similar game elsewhere, it would behoove them to write it in their own words and not copy.

        This also holds for reproductions of graphic components for online gaming with Vassal or Cyberboard. The specific graphics the company produced are protected by copyright BUT there is nothing preventing someone from creating a completely original map and counter set using the same information. And that’s only if you plan to release it publicly. You can always make a module from scans of the original for your own personal use. Nowadays, almost all companies have relented on that stranglehold and indeed encourage the production of Vassal modules by providing the full graphics for higher quality components to an appointed vassaler (as in shrubber ;-))..

        Companies that oppose this say that their property will be stolen. However, requiring all players of a game to own a copy is silly as you don’t require that for people to play FTF and besides, how are you going to police that?

      • brtrain says:

        Michel, I would still feel better about asking GMT nicely first. I think they’ll be reasonable about it. (But then again, I believe I’m a reasonable guy so perhaps it’s just projection…)

  3. bottosconadmin says:

    Brian, while Thunder out of China may be further back in GMT’s queue, having a playable copy to test out at BottosCon could help generate some buzz, much like that copy of Falling Skies that Ralph was demoing, and if you get enough buzz, who knows, things could get pushed up in the queue.

    • brtrain says:

      Oh, I intend to bring one such to BottosCon if the game is far enough along. I have the mechanics and asymmetries worked out, but filling out the Event Deck takes the largest amount of work and time… and I gotta lot of other things to do right now!

  4. haleybeatson says:

    Hi Brian

    Thank you for your response. I can certainly appreciate your position and to be honest I hadn’t even considered the whole copyright issue. Either way I’d be in for a copy and if it’s still some time off I can understand that.
    Yes I am on BGG although I’ve never purchased or traded anything via the website. I am certainly going to purchase a few of your other titles on your BTR site. At present I am in the throes of shifting house so thought I would wait until that has been sorted out before placing another order. What I had intended to do was to place another bulk order of a few titles to try and cut down on postage costs (I live way down under in New Zealand – you were gracious enough to autograph the copies of the games I had previously ordered from you). If you still have the copy of Battle for China available at that stage then I would include it in a future purchase if that’s okay with you. Having said that please feel free to sell/trade Battle for China to any other gamer who may want to purchase it before then.

    And thanks for the update on EOKA – definitely looking forward to that one.


    • brtrain says:

      Hi Roger,

      It’s not so much a copyright issue (as Michel (alsandor) notes above) but an issue of goodwill and acknowledgement of intellectual debt. I’d like to think that the originator of the system (Volko Ruhnke) knows about what I am going to do and likes the idea, even if he doesn’t have to have anything further to do with it. I would ask no less of anyone using one of my systems: I appreciate a name-check and I give them myself. Credit where credit is due, I say.

      Shifting houses, I don’t envy you. When the dust settles (do you have dust in New Zealand?Up here we are led to believe that you live in the perfect English Shire thanks to those hobbit movies) we’ll work something out. Pretty sure there will be a Battle for China available for you.

      EOKA – well, that’s two people who want to see it – so I ought to finish it off!


  5. Roger Beatson says:

    Totally agree with you with regard to giving credit where it’s due, especially when it comes to game designers and their games.

    Funnily enough the property we are moving to is rural and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine it as being in an English shire. I’ll definitely get back to you once we’re done shifting.

    Had meant to ask about Colonial Twilight – does it use the same mechanics/game engine as the other GMT COIN titles or is this something new. My understanding (and correct me if I’m wrong here) was that the GMT COIN games are primarily a 4 faction system. As Colonial Twilight is a 1 – 2 player game then that would certainly open up a whole new range of possible conflicts which could be covered. Can you play as either side in the solo variant of Colonial Twilight ?


    • brtrain says:

      Well, all designers steal so much from each other that I think it’s only polite to acknowledge your debts, and hope that others will return the favour when they steal from you.

      The biggest change between CT and the other COIN system games is the 2-player problem, which I solved by not really solving it. There is 1st and 2nd Eligible and who’s first shifts back and forth between players during the game depending on what they do. Pretty simple solution. This does open up the COIN system to a lot of other conflicts which wouldn’t make convincing 4-body problems (which is why I made this one for 2, obviously there were many players within the war but none of them were consistently large or active enough to make convincing 3rd and 4th factions). My concern is that this will just become another way to do standard 2-player conflicts and the asymmetry will be leached out of the system.

      The solo systems haven’t been written yet but I believe they are planning two ‘bots.

  6. alsandor says:

    “EOKA – well, that’s two people who want to see it – so I ought to finish it off!”


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