Winter Thunder: a new old game on the Battle of the Bulge

Takes up less table space than this. No cool miniatures, though.

I’d been keeping this quiet, but since a reference has been made to it on the publisher’s blog ( I’d like to announce that Tiny Battles Publishing, a new small-game publisher started by Mark H. Walker, will soon add to their lineup Winter Thunder, a game by me on the Battle of the Bulge.

Winter Thunder is a substantial revision of Autumn Mist, an earlier design of mine on the Bulge that I did in 2003, in the waning days of the Microgame Design Group, and which was picked up later by Fiery Dragon Productions. Among the many changes are: a newly researched order of battle, with revised counter values and reinforcement schedule; cleaned-up rules including a solitaire play system; and a drastically revised map with a different ground scale and treatment of terrain. Nicely die-cut counters and a 17 x 22″ map make it look really spiffy!

We changed the title to reflect these changes and to relate it to Summer Lightning, a game on the 1939 invasion of Poland that Mark Walker cajoled me into designing and publishing with Lock n’ Load in 2011. The two games share most systems, and in my view nicely bookend the beginning and end of the era of German “blitzkrieg” offensives.

The system has two main “hooks” to it: an interactive Operations Phase where formation HQs are randomly activated one by one, and take nearby combat units under command to move and fight; and a near-diceless combat resolution system (a d10 is used to check if a particular unit takes casualties, but whether a check is required arises only after comparing attack and defense missions chosen by the players).

No art to show just yet as I’m still in the middle of approving intermediate versions, but it’s looking good. Also happy to work with Mary Russell, partner of Tom Russell who is editing Yaah! magazine. No dramas + adequate consultation + good communication = respect for the work. Nice.

Currently titles in the Tiny Battles lineup:

  • Gaines’ Mill (Civil War battle by Tom Russell)
  • Invaders from Dimension X! (chaotic sf game by Hermann Luttmann)
  • Neuschwabenland (Nazi Gebirgsjager fight acid-spitting Alien Worms to defend their colony in Antarctica; features the Haunebu experimental flying saucer, Alien Tripods and tubes of Pervitin. I am chagrined to see that I am not going to be the first game designer with a “chrome” rule to recognize the tactical value of methamphetamine. Chilly madness by Christian Sperling.)
  • Sticks and Stones (tactical WW IV fighting, by Mark Walker)
  • We Happy Few (Agincourt by Tom Russell)

Price $19.99 each right now, shipping extra – though a digital Print and Play version is yours for only $9.99.

Edited to add: Here is the official announcement! Go there, and you can see the very nice map and counter artwork.

MORS Workshop on Professional Gaming, 28 September – 1 October

Hopefully not as illustrated.

Week after next I am heading out for a few days in Fairfax, Virginia, to co-facilitate a working group at the Military Operations Research Society’s (MORS) Workshop on Professional Gaming.

Wargames used for analytic purposes have been around almost as long as operations research, maybe even longer if you are flexible about the word “analysis”. Many of the members of MORS are military, or civilians working for the military, with backgrounds in math, computer science or engineering so the games they produce and use tend to be quite technical and numbers-based, with results to a specific question validated by data. But there are also others in the organization, often with social science backgrounds, who struggle with the more qualitative side of contemporary problems and questions. More and different methods of looking at these problems through games are being used, and I think that’s where my contribution to this workshop will lie… games for analysis are a bit out of my line of country, but they still have to work as games, which in this case are a particular kind of model I have some experience building. It’s all in how you frame the problem, right….

The workshop will have eight working groups, and I will be working in the “Quick-Turnaround Game Development” one – plan is to take the participants from idea to (at least partially) playtested design, on a topic of their choice, within 36 hours. The inestimable Rex Brynen of Paxsims will be there too!

We’ll also have a chance to show and demonstrate some new game designs. I will be bringing demo copies of

  • Algeria (140-counter rework of first design on Algeria, for OSS Games’ Folio line)
  • Binh Dinh 69 (Vietnam 1969, for OSS Games as well)
  • Caudillo
  • Colonial Twilight
  • District Commander Kandahar
  • Guerrilla Checkers (free copies to give away)
  • Third Lebanon War
  • Ukrainian Crisis (have made some changes to the design recently, will post later)

I hope there’ll be room for all that lot, and clothes too… otherwise I’ll have to bring some binder clips, and use the hotel sheets and blankets instead.

Also, Rex will be demonstrating his very clever humanitarian aid/ disaster relief game Aftershock, and possibly ISIS Crisis as well, to introduce people to the idea of matrix games.

Will be a busy but fun week!

Talkin’ podcast on Three Moves Ahead

Last week Bruce Geryk kindly undertook to listen to my nasal pedantic voice for far too long, while I rattled on and on about my game designs, mostly about my COIN system games and the family of “four-box ops” irregular warfare designs (Tupamaro, Shining  Path, Algeria, Andartes, Kandahar, EOKA, etc.) .

Have a listen!