Binh Dinh ’69 is ready for preorder!

BD02

Coming soon (well, as soon as enough people express an interest with their dollars)!

Nice map by Ania Ziolkowska (who worked on the other ones), counters by Jon Compton.

$18.95 now, $23.95 later.

http://ossgamescart.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=76

Bottoscon 2015

coltwibottoscon

That bald spot of mine appears to be growing year by year.

2015 is nearly over, and another Bottoscon has come and gone (really, where has the time gone?). This was a good one, the best attended yet!

I went over on Friday with Ian Weir (Red Sash Games) and Michael Junkin. After a bite I got set up at two tables that I kept filled with my games all weekend, either being displayed or played.

There were three test games of Colonial Twilight, all played with the short (3 Propaganda Rounds) Tournament Scenario: Friday with Andrew Laws and Stephen Graham (all 3 rounds, Government Victory on final  round), Saturday with Mike Mahoney and Rick Smith (all 3 rounds, FLN closer to victory point than Government on final round), and Sunday with Hjalmar Gerber and Richard Douziech (game had to be packed up after 2nd Prop round but FLN was doing better). Players had varying degrees of prior experience with the COIN system. All agreed this was a significant departure from other COIN system games in terms of playing speed: same amount of actual action per card – two factions get to one thing  each – but with only one adversary to worry about, not three, the tempo of the game gets cranked way up. The Initiative Track, that makes the leader of the dance pass back and forth between the two players, was thought to be a clever idea.

Other games: I helped Ian Weir and Rob Bottos through most of a game of Ukrainian Crisis with the revised rules (will be uploaded shortly to this blog), and Rick Smith helped me a lot with clarity and mechanics of my latest design, The LIttle War – a mini-game on the Slovak-Hungarian border conflict of March 1939 (you mean, you didn’t know about this one?).

Acquisitions:

  • Won as a door prize, a copy of YAAH! Magazine #3, with a very nice interview of Volko Ruhnke and me by Roger Leroux on the COIN system generally, plus another long article by Roger of his impressions of the games in the system.
  • Machine of Death, a curious sort of morbid party game by David Malki!, who was at the Tableflip conference in San Francisco last October.
  • Winter Fury, a small game on two Winter War battles
  • Some back issues of Canadian Wargamers Journal with variants and things in them.
  • Sold a few copies of Andartes and Tupamaro too.

I generally go to only two conventions a year: the big Consimworld Expo in Tempe, and this local con. It’s always great to meet people, walk around and talk to other designers about their work and projects. Rob works so hard to set this con up, and everyone appreciates it.

Thanks also to GMT, One Small Step Games and Tiny Battles Publishing for being so generous with door prizes too!

S&T 296 (Korean War Battles) is here…

st296cover

Korean War Battles is a game I designed in late 2013. It is a game that features three scenarios of battles that took place in 1950: Pusan Perimeter, Second Battle for Seoul, and Changjin (aka Chosin) Reservoir. The game was designed for Strategy and Tactics magazine, published by Decision Games, and uses a variation on the simple “Fire and Movement” rules used in DG’s modern period folio games, of which there are at least two dozen.

Got my subscriber copy (#296) today.

Of the last three games I have published with Decision Games, all three have had major changes made to them, to the point where they ignored, cancelled or even reversed the major points I was trying to make in the original designs… without my input or knowledge.

I turned the files for this game in in January 2014. The last time I heard from DG about it was early March 2014, 19 months ago.

What follows is a description of the changes that have been made between what I turned in and what has been published, with comparisons to what was in the original and the import of these changes. They are entered in the same cases as they are encountered in the rules sections. This would be better presented as a comparative table, but WordPress blogs don’t seem to be able to show these well (if you have some tips about how to do this, I’d like to hear them).

As I have done before with Greek Civil War (https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/greek-civil-war-dux/) and Next War in Lebanon (https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/next-war-in-lebanon-redux/), here are the original rules and charts I turned in, freely available, along with a PDF of the counter sheet. As they have made fundamental changes to the counter mix, you will have to make your own counters. You can still use the maps, once you straighten out the terrain costs which they got wrong on each map, and ignore some terrain features that were not in my submitted version, like the three bridges across the Han and the five hill hexes between “Ascom City” (Taejong-ni, actually) and Yongdungp’o in the Seoul scenario. I’d put my original maps up but they are pretty schematic and have no colour to them.

Korea3 FM ctrs alt1

KWB rules F&M v10

KWB charts F&M

[edited to add: “Ken” from Japan has translated these rules into Japanese;  here they are!]

KWB_rules_v10J

4.0 Mobile Movement Phase: In the original version, US and Commonwealth infantry units were permitted to move again in this Phase, but only on roads/trails and they could not attack in the ensuing Mobile Combat Phase. This was important to show the truckborne mobility of the American troops and how they were able to shift their forces rapidly to meet threats, especially in the Pusan Perimeter scenario. Also, North Korean supply units were permitted to move in this movement phase only, showing how their logistical  tail could only follow advances. The DG version drops all this; both US/CW infantry and NK supply units move once only. This is a major change.

5.1.2 Infiltration: In the original version, only non-divisional leg units were allowed to infiltrate through enemy ZOCs. This was important, especially in the Pusan Perimeter scenario, as the NK player had to break his divisions down to infiltrate the UN lines, and because he could not build back up into divisions later this was a crucial choice for him. The DG version does not have this, and instead allows entire divisions to work their way forward through the UN lines. This is a moderately important change.

5.2 Effects of terrain: The original version had only one terrain effects chart, with terrain types and movement costs that were common to all three scenarios. The DG version has three slightly different sets of terrain, with differing interpretations and costs for each. To make a long story short, they got the terrain types reversed so that clear hexes (of which there are only a small number on the maps because Korea is a very lumpy place) are harder to move through and more defensible than hilly, unroaded hexes (the “default” terrain in that country). This is a major change.

6.0 Zones of Control: In the original version ZOC did not extend into Rough (called Mountain in the published version), or City hexes, or across river hexsides. This was an important consideration as Communist units could infiltrate through closed terrain close to the road-bound UN units. In the DG version ZOC penetrates all, except Mountain, but this is only mentioned in the Terrain Keys printed on the map, not the rules. This is a major change.

7.5 Fortifications: In my last communication with DG, I thought we had agreed not to include Strongpoints in the Chosin scenario. But there they are on the map, but there is no indication whether they are fortifications for purposes of this rule, or what they are for – there are no references to them in the rules at all. So this could be an important addition, maybe not – I never put it in, and argued to have it left out.

8.4 Bombardment Support Fire: In the original version, Communist units could not Bombard an enemy unit unless they had a unit adjacent to it, because they did not have spotter aircraft or radios to direct remote fire. This is dropped in the DG version. Moderate change because of scarcity of their fire support markers but quite ahistorical.

8.4.1 Counter-battery fire: In the original version, the Communist player could not do this for the same reasons as above. This is dropped in the DG version.

10.0 Lines of Supply: In the original version, the Communist units had to trace a 3-hex line back to a supply unit, which had to trace any length back to a supply source hex on the edge of the map. UN units traced a 3-hex line back to a Road/Trail, and from there along roads/trails back to a supply source. This kept the Communists near their supply heads, and showed the road dependency of the UN troops. This is dropped in the DG version; each side just traces a line of any length to supply units or ultimate sources, though the UN is not allowed to run his supply convoys along mountain tops. This is an important change.

10.3 Supply Depot units: These had a number of uses in the original version; besides being normal conduits of supply, they could also be “burned” to feed intensive (“human wave”) attacks or emergency supply or replacements for cut-off Communist units. None of this is in the DG version; instead the Communist support fire marker allotment drops by 1 when a supply unit is eliminated. I had the latter apply to both sides only when an HQ unit was eliminated. Moderate change.

11.0 Breakdown units: Here are some major changes. In the original version, breakdown regiments for the North Korean, Chinese and South Korean divisions were chosen randomly, said regiments being made up on a curve – so NKPA regiments, for example, were valued from 3-2-4 to 4-4-4, but on a curve so most of them were 3-3-4s. I weighted it so the “average” NKPA regiment had an attack factor of 3.3 and a defence of 3.0, a Chinese regiment an attack of 3.75 and a defence of 3.25, and a South Korean regiment an attack of 2.2 and a defence of 2.87. This made the decision to break down divisions one to give the player pause, but emphasized the power vs. dispersion tradeoff.

In the DG version, when divisions break down they are replaced by three regiments of identical strength, depending on the original division factors. The NKPA regiments have been “tuned down” to an average attack of 3.0 and a defence of 2.85, the Chinese regiments are all identical at 3.0 and 3.0, and South Korean regiments are “tuned up” to  an average attack of 2.6 and a defence of 3.4. But the values of the divisions are the same as in the original version, and in fact in the DG version it makes sense to split up, because this increases the defensive strength of the overall unit!

More importantly, the depth of units has been changed. In the original version, all divisions had four steps and all regiments had two. In the DG version, all divisions now only have two steps, all North Korean and Chinese regiments now have only one, and US Marine Corps regiments now have four. So the power and durability of one side in all three scenarios has been halved. This is a huge change, especially in a game system like this with a Combat Results Table that is dominated by “Exchange” results in which both sides are depleted.

…..

You know what?

Life’s too short.

The little word counter in the edit window says I’ve been going on for over 1,300 words here so far, and I am not even halfway through the list of things that have been changed. There are at least 25 more changes that I noted, some more significant than others (such as, it now appears impossible for the UN player to win the Battle for Seoul scenario) but also not counting the many minor changes to the counter mix.

I really have better things to do with my time than this – like making new games.

I’m tired of writing posts like this; this is three for three now, and the pattern of non-communication and basic lack of respect for my work is disappointing and frustrating.

As I said above, if you want to play the game that I originally designed, developed and tested, download the rules, charts and counter sheet PDF. You will have to make your own counters, unlike the Greek Civil War debacle but like the Next War in Lebanon debacle, but as with the other games you can still use the map – once you correct the terrain costs in the Terrain Key and ignore a few added map features.

Or you can play the game that they published. Either way I hope you have fun. Life’s too short for this sort of thing.