Aftershocking, hardly.

O0pg

Screenshot of Despair by Lloyd Burchill, ca. 1997.

Okay, I am sorry but I couldn’t do better at a punny title… puns are the lowest form of humour anyway, though Joe Miranda differs with me on that.

Points the main:

  • In 2015 Rex Brynen, great educator and friend of the blog, published Aftershock, a serious board game on the difficulties and processes of HADR (Humanitarian Action and Disaster Relief). The game grew out some ideas floated at a “game lab” session held at Connections-US 2012.
  • Since its publication, this game has been used (with or without Rex’s facilitation) by large numbers of humanitarian aid workers, medical students, UN peacekeepers, and military personnel. Rex also uses sales of the game as a non-profit fundraiser for frontline UN humanitarian agencies who respond to actual earthquakes and other humanitarian emergencies.
  • Here’s a link to my review of it: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1467592/review-aftershock-humanitarian-crisis-game
  • Recently Stronghold Games launched a Kickstarter for a board game called Aftershock, designed by Alan R. Moon and Bobby West. This game imagines that the San Francisco Bay area has been hit with a mega-earthquake, and focuses on rebuilding the city. Here is the ad copy from BGG.com:

Aftershock is an area control game. Players will spend money to acquire cards, which are used to increase population, build bridges, and determine where aftershocks occur. Negotiate with other players to score areas on the placement board. Spend money wisely to acquire the needed cards that move people back into the demolished areas. Make deals to score points in Aftershock!

So, in this game you are not directly working on saving helping anyone, and in fact plan on the placement of subsequent quakes (whence the title) to drive people around on the board. It reminds me of an old Macintosh game my son liked when he was little called Despair, where you chase little meeples around with different disasters and woe. The image at the top of the post is from that game.

It is apparent that Stronghold just did not bother to search if there were any other games with the title already in print – 15 seconds on BGG.com would have told them all they needed to know.

When Rex informed them politely that the two games were quite close in theme and appearance, he got a “well, that happens, whatcha gonna do” reply… and when he pointed out on Stronghold’s tweet about their game launch that there was a different game with this title, he got blocked by them… and so did everyone else who tweeted about it.

There are at most several hundred copies of Rex’s game out in the world, produced on a non-profit basis. Stronghold, a for-profit company, expects to sell tens of thousands of their game. While it may not be all that likely that people will mistake one for the other and buy something in error, Stronghold’s dismissive and high-handed response does not do them any favours. Comments on this have appeared on the Kickstarter comments page.

More details, and Rex’s very creative response to all this, at https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/aftershocks/

[EDITED TO ADD: 8 February – Rex reports that the issue has been resolved! Stronghold, after cancelling the Kickstarter for reasons other than the name issue, also discussed the situation with Rex… and when they attempt to bring the game to market again (might be crowdfunding, might be straight to retail) it will have some form of name change. Good-oh, and I’m glad cooler heads prevailed, even if it means I’m wrong.]

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/a-happy-aftershocks-ending

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Obligatory end-of-year-review, 2018

FranklinHowe_o

Can you mansplain convincingly while wearing breeches, stockings and buckle shoes?

Well, another year has zipped by. Maybe a bit early for year-end post-mortems, but I have been busy:

Game publishing

  • February: the Kickstarter launch for Nights of Fire. We made the first, most important target in 12 or 13 hours, and ended up with $87,821 pledged over 30 days. Nights of Fire: Kickstarter day at last!
  • February also saw Tupamaro come out, in folio format from One Small Step. Tupamaro is out!
  • March saw the release of Chile ’73 from Tiny Battle Publishing. I was pleased that this came out, but there were a number of unfortunate changes/additions of art, physical components and rules that lessened the “bang” for me. Chile ’73: errata file
  • May, and out came Strike for Berlin in #11 of Yaah! magazine. Very nice art and production, a really great overhaul of Freikorps. I was quite pleased with it, but it doesn’t seem to have garnered a lot of attention on BGG and other places. Strike for Berlin has struck
  • July: I posted District Commander: Maracas, for free print-and-play. This is presented as an example of how the District Commander system works (this and three other modules will be published by Hollandspiele over the next couple of years) and as an introductory essay of mine into operational level urban combat against irregular forces in a large city. New free game: Maracas
  • September: a second edition of Summer Lightning came out, from Lock n Load Games. This is a physically enlarged (one might say engorged) edition, the rules are the same – just all of the components are bigger. Pretty spiffy looking though! Summer Lightning: Second Edition!

Game design work and future publication

Work and or testing continued throughout the year on some of the following, while others have likely publishing dates in 2019 or later:

  • Thunder out of China (now renamed China’s War, at least until an even better title comes along): testing testing, and hoping to have this ready for GMT P500 by Consimworld Expo time.
  • Strongman, an extensive rework of Caudillo that may be a while coming, and publisher not completely confirmed.
  • Brief Border Wars Quad, from Compass Games – I handed this over to the guys at Consimworld Expo and understand that it will be up for pre-order in the next couple of months. Will be published all four in one box.
  • District Commander series, from Hollandspiele – I handed over four modules (Algeria 1959, Vietnam 1969, Afghanistan 2009, and Maracas 2019) to Hollandspiele at Consimworld Expo and they will be publishing these as separate single titles over the next two years.
  • We Are Coming Nineveh: This very clever game on contemporary urban combat (Mosul 2017) was designed by two of Rex Brynen’s students in a trial course he ran in getting students to design games. Rex and I have done a considerable amount of development on it, without changing its basic concepts, and I’m quite pleased at how this came out. Will likely be published in 2019 or early 2020.
  • Nights of Fire: Pretty sure this will be out in March 2019 or so. I think people will be pleased.

Conferences and conventions

Another busy year on this front, a week or more away at each of these events:

Writing

  • Only one formally published piece, the foreword to a book of wargames rules on irregular war situations published by History of Wargaming Project, John Curry’s imprint. New book out – Small Wars

Near-meaningless digest of site statistics:

  • I seem to be cruising still at just below 2,000 views per month, a bit higher than the preceding two years. The five most curious countries were: US (by a very wide margin), UK, Canada, Spain and Italy. One guy clicked in from Venezuela!
  • Besides the then-current post, popular pages or posts included the BTR Games and Free Games pages, and the post containing the corrected Tutorial and errata for Colonial Twilight. Also popular was a new page of Scenarios and Variants I added in July, incorporating material lugged over from my old website as well as some new pieces (e.g. the 4-player variant for Colonial Twilight and the historical scenario for Operation Whirlwind).
  • The most clicked-on documents were the rules, corrected tutorial and playbook for Colonial Twilight, followed by the free PnP files for Ukrainian Crisis, Third Lebanon War and Desert Leader.

Green Beret back in stock at OSS!

FS02GB

One Small Step advises that Green Beret is back in stock.

Getcher copy now, if you’ve been waiting!

If you’ve “alriddy gat wan”, buy one for a friend or trusted enemy!  $22.95!

http://ossgamescart.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20&products_id=49

Summer Lightning: Second Edition!

SumL-BoxTop_small_pp

Lock n’ Load Publishing has come out with a new, second edition of Summer Lightning.

The changes are just to the components, but what changes – the map is now 30×23″ (on four 11×17″ sheets) and the counters are now a robust 3/4″, on three laser-cut sheets of 88 each.

That’s the physical edition in a box, which includes a d10 – you can also buy the physical game in a ziploc for less, or a PDF download for about half price. The physical editions also come with the PDF download.

Very spiffy! Go have a look!

https://store.lnlpublishing.com/series/Board-Games-Non-Series/summer-lightning

Nights of Fire: Kickstarter is done!

 

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The Kickstarter campaign is over. And the final tally is: $87,821 !

Over three times the minimum $25,000 goal required to get this game produced at all… so I am gratified!

Final counts:

  • 167 people bought just Nights of Fire
  • 396 people bought Nights of Fire and the expansion pack (which includes 28 miniatures, two decks of cards for expansion of Nights (scenarios and leaders) and rules for play of the the campaign game)
  • 94 people bought the combined Days of Ire (reprint) and Nights of Fire package
  • 254 people bought the combined package with the expansion pack
  • 8 people bought something else – e.g. large group buy (thanks!)

So that’s about 900 copies at least that will be out in the wild… plus more for the retail trade, no idea of the production numbers.

Really nothing left to do now except review bits and pieces of stretch goals like new art bits for the Insurgent pieces… everything that has anything to do with the actual play of the game has long been written, arted-up and tested. Which is all I wanted to know.

If production goes well some copies will be in people’s hands (or at least for show) at the Essen game fair in October. However, to be sure, they are committing to a delivery date of March 2019 which will cover all exigencies.

If you backed this Kickstarter, good for you and many thanks!

If you didn’t, I hope you get a chance to buy or at least play it when it comes out! I think you will be pleased.

Chile ’73 – Out Now!

c73 banner

image: Tiny Battle Publishing

SURPRISE!

Like a column of trucks and jeeps arriving in the middle of the night, disgorging teams of infantry who fan out and begin arresting Cabinet ministers, my latest game Chile ’73 is upon us!

From Tiny Battle Publishing, in the familiar folio format, comes my latest game (though I had designed it some time ago) on “the other 9/11” … the coup d’etat of September 11, 1973 that overthrew Salvador Allende and established Augusto Pinochet as the leader of the military junta that would rule Chile for a generation.

The ad copy by TBP’s imaginative writers runs thusly:

Coup d’etats are a messy business. Far from carefully orchestrated military precision, when various factions of a populace overthrow a government (especially when they did so before the age of internet), operations are strung together in secrecy, with limited communication between even likeminded factions. Veteran game designer Brian Train’s brand new thriller of a game, Chile ’73, brings the secrecy, the suspense, and then the all-out battle of the coup to your game table. In the first portion of the game, two to four players plot secretly to carry out their own plans to gain or maintain rule of Chile, plotting and scrambling to position their forces to best advantage. Once the coup begins, the entire game shifts to open warfare. Loyalties are revealed, and players battle to the finish.

Civilian and paramilitary units face off against military ground forces, aided by tactical air units and transport aircraft. Do you have what it takes to elevate your cause to supremacy?

Chile ’73 includes:

44 Big, Beautiful, Glossy 1″ Unit Counters
43 Control Chits
18 Action Chits
One Colorful 18″ x 12″ Map
One 12-Page Full-Color Rulebook
One Handy Tactical Plastic Zippered Bag
Game Designer: Brian Train
Game Art: Jose Ramon Faura
Players: Two to Four
Duration: 45 to 90 Minutes
Complexity: Medium-Low

Anyway, here’s the important part: the link to buy!

https://tinybattlepublishing.com/products/chile-73

(physical product, $19.99 – down from $22.99)

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/235664/Chile-73

(Print and Play version, $6.99 – down from $8.99)

[ETA] The game now has a BGG entry, too:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/247195/chile-73

 

c73 mapsnipbig

Close-up of map and counters. image: Tiny Battle Publishing

The map and counter art is by Jose Ramon Faura, who also did the art for my games Ukrainian Crisis and The Little War.  Definitely a cut above what I handed in to TBP.

Also, when I originally submitted the game it had 88 counters, to use half of the 176-counter 5/8″ countersheet die TBP often uses. But when the company people played it they thought it would benefit from their larger 1″ counter die. The way that die is laid out let them add seven extra units to the mix, so the game is playable by an even greater number of players – you really aren’t limited to four, technically there is no upper limit and the more the merrier (but there are still only 43 units to command).

This game uses a drastic revision and redevelopment of the system used in one of my first game designs, Power Play from 1991. I’ve always been interested in coups d’etat as a subject for wargames, and it’s a topic that has been touched on only rarely. See this post I wrote for Rex Brynen’s blog Paxsims on the genre:

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/gaming-military-coups/

My original inspiration for the original game was the 1978 film Power Play, featuring Peter O’Toole, David Hemmings and some familiar faces from Canadian movies and TV as officers plotting a coup in an unnamed country. Donald Pleasence fittingly played the head of the secret police.

Yeah, I should have picked a better title for my original game… but Chile ’73  is the game I said I was planning to design in the final paragraph of that Paxsims  article, featuring multiplayer play, hidden information, and hidden agendas… and now you can have it.

Nights of Fire: Kickstarter day at last!

nofbox

Cover art by Kwanchai Moriya

It’s taken a year and a half but today is the day – the designing is done, the testing is completed, the components are composed – and Nights of Fire is launching on Kickstarter!

Here are two videos to entice you, if you hadn’t made up your mind already… and of course, if you had, these will make you feel good about doing it!

 

Paul Grogan explaining how to play the game. This should answer any questions you may have left about play mechanics, especially after reading the long interview I did with The Players Aid blog recently where I went into the sequence of play.

Nights of Fire: quite long interview at The Players Aid

 

 

And here are Grant and Alexander from The Players Aid blog, giving you their impressions after a good play-through. I really appreciate the help and attention these guys have given me and my games over the past year and more. I wonder if we’ll ever meet in person… but if we do, I owe them several beers!

And finally, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: the link to Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyboards/nights-of-fire-a-sequel-to-days-of-ire

Let’s go, man, GO !!!

Edited to add: Sometime during the night we made the first goal! 0900 PST right now, 19 hours after the launch, and we are at over $29,000 US pledged, over the first goal of $25,000 and past the first stretch goal of $28,000, which sees two extra leader cards added. So the world will get this game, after all, and then some.

Twenty-seven days to go in the funding period… let’s see how it goes.

Further edited to add: some people on BGG and on the Kickstarter site have complained that the $35 expansion kit is composed of cards (with short rules for playing the game with added details, and the campaign game that joins the two) and 28 miniatures (which are usable in both games). They would like to have just the cards and not the minis. I will quote the publisher, from the Kickstarter site, who explains the economics of the decision quite well:

With regards to questions regarding the combination of campaign mode and the minis in one product, this is related to economies of scale, and it is actually what makes that product possible.

If we were to separate the two, the mini pack would still need to sell at the current price point due to a high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ), whilst the campaign mode, with the costs of new packaging design and material, additional warehousing and added costs in fulfilment and management of pledges, would need to sell for a separate 15-20$.

Because our game has no miniatures in the base game, and they are an optional add on, for us to be able to create them we need to commit to a very high comparative MOQ (when considering it is an optional add-on). This means that combining the two, and therefore increasing ever so slightly the attach rate, is what makes the product possible at all.

Thanks to this we feel we have achieved quite an aggressive pricing range for our entire Days of Ire line. The game is now cheaper than it was in the original Kickstarter and the Days and Nights pack is the best value Mini-Pack we have ever offered (in comparison, the Vengeance Saboteurs pack went for 45$ for fewer miniatures on KS).

This way, we are able to offer the Expansion for NoF AND the campaign mode, in a product that would essentially still cost the same without them. We feel this is much better way of doing this, as you, the backers are helping us reach that steep MOQ, while we offer you more content at no additional cost.

Furthermore, notice that our first few stretch goals (which we seem to be getting to soon!! :D) are specifically directed to adding value to the Days & Nights pack, with even more content at no extra cost as we reach more economical numbers.

Even more edited to add: It’s just over 24 hours in and total pledges have almost hit the $32,000 mark which is the second stretch goal. There are 423 backers at the moment of writing, distributed as follows:

Support (pledge without a reward): 10 backers
Access to Pledge Manager (choose a reward later): 26 backers
Insurgent (Nights of Fire only): 60 backers
Leader (Nights of Fire plus Days and Nights expansion pack): 213 backers
Combined Insurgent (Nights of Fire plus reprinted Days of Ire): 24 backers
Combined Leader (both games plus expansion pack): 81 backers
Army (“if you want lots of copies, contact us for a good deal!” – this must be for people doing a group buy in a remote city or maybe a dealer): 2 backers

Interesting.

Aw c’mon, just write another post already huh: Publisher Mighty Boards has decided to listen to the complainers above (some of whom had written on BGG that because they didn’t like the way the extras were offered, they were going to pass on the game completely, in any version) and partly decoupled the expansion cards plus miniatures, for early backers only:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyboards/nights-of-fire-a-sequel-to-days-of-ire/posts/2120640

Good for them for responding to customers, albeit a small number of vocal (real and potential) ones… though this does pose a small but real risk for them, because of the Minimum Order Quantity issue discussed in the publisher’s quote above. Hopefully it will not come back to bite them in their fourth point of contact.

And the next day: we are at $37,000, and a new stretch goal has been revealed – if they make it to $45,000 you can read my designer’s notes!