26 December 2010

Sudden Storm

It is official, Sudden Storm will not be available until January at the earliest.

16 December 2010

In Memoriam

It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday of the death of one of our ODGW partners, a founding member of the company. J.D. Perry passed away a few days ago, and he will be sorely missed. He loved life and lit up our meetings with his infectious good humor.

09 December 2010

I am awaiting the proof copy of the Sudden storm rules. Once that arrives and both authors have a chance to vet the galley, we will move forward with production. No guarantees about availability date, but first of the year looks promising right now. This game should raise the bar for naval campaigns yet again, as it involves both sea and land forces and combat in an easy to understand format, and one that can be finished in just a few gaming sessions, depending on how much combat is generated. We were able to finish nearly half the game, which is a minimum of eight turns long, in one evening of casual play. And our group is notoriously slow.

26 November 2010

Battle of Santa Cruz recreated

Good video!

23 November 2010

Sudden Storm

Sudden Storm is now in galley and we hope to have a production date soon.  I have posted the timeline for the hypothetical conflict on the front page of our web site, so folks can see just how likely a war could have been.  All of the various events were either actual ones that we moved in time or slightly embellished.  We did thorough research on the inter war period to bring the most fidelity and veracity possible to the projected conflict.

11 November 2010

The Solomons Campaign

One of the reasons I developed and brought to publication The Solomons Campaign is because I personally like to play it.  One of the reasons I am revisiting the game to clarify its rules is because I want it to be the best possible product on the market.  Several years of play have uncovered some areas that could use a bit of nuancing and explanation.  I am not worried too much about reviewing the game too closely, as the basic text and product is solid.  I am going to have the pleasure of running it again in San Diego, within the next few weeks.  if the game goes the way most games do.  It will begin with a massive carrier battle that will eliminate both sides' carrier capability.  I always caution players against doing this right off the bat but usually the USN and Kaigun immediately have a huge carrier war in the first months of the campaign.

05 November 2010

Sudden Storm ad

04 November 2010

01 November 2010

Though it has taken longer than anticipated due to my medical down time, we may have our latest project out by Christmas. First there is the proof copy, but Sudden Storm is in galley now. We will see how it looks when put together by the printer.

31 October 2010

Sudden Storm is lurching towards publication. We have just decided on a printer and the price, so you will see it hopefully soon.

22 October 2010

Mein Panzer MMG-style

My gaming group in Los Angeles is working on making the game simpler and quicker to play. We are taking out a number of the modifiers that exist in the game and simplifying other areas. Although we play pretty quickly, MP is still a complicated system. Look for our version in the registered users section of the Download Library. MMG=Miracle Mile Gamers.
My gaming group in Los Angeles is looking for ways to speed up the play ofMein Panzer, look for the MMG version in the Download Library of the web site, available to registered users of MP. MMG=Miracle Mile Gamers.

17 October 2010

General Quarters

We now have three GQ products in development. Only one Sudden Storm is close enough to publication for discussion. But there are busy people ready to bring out more stuff following that.

15 October 2010

Sudden Storm news

Our first estimate for printing has come in, so we are getting closer to production with each passing day. We will have news soon, I hope. This will be a large scale campaign, combining sea, aerial , and land combat in one package. We are very excited about this new campaign, one which has dominated our playtesting for the past several months. It is very engrossing and has led to some very good and interesting battles.

30 September 2010

France 1940 game
Here is one of MMG's games in photos.

29 September 2010

paper terrain

I am a big fan of paper terrain for 6mm, and there is quite a lot to choose from, much of it on the web for free from industrious individuals who are posting their workgratis. Here is one site I found recently with very good Dutch buildings.

27 September 2010


Why is it that printers are so sloppy about customer service. We have had nought but bad experiences with unreturned phone calls, and emails etc from divers printers. One of which is no longer in business. Now we are going through the same thing again. Very frustrating.

26 September 2010

the worst thing about pre production

We are now getting ready to send off Sudden Storm to the printer. This always takes longer than one wants it to.

22 September 2010

1930's carrier Ops

Good video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyTx1vrDknI&feature=player_profilepage
It is easy to see why a carrier deck is dangerous from this video.

21 September 2010


I have made some good progress recovering from my stroke, and am going home next weekend.  I have been in "facilities" of one kind or another since the car crash resulting from my stroke, on the 4th of July.  I am very excited to be returning to familiar tranquil environs.  I will probably get more work done there, too.

19 September 2010

Sudden Storm

Sudden Storm is winding its way towards publication.  Though we have no date set yet.  Stay tuned for word on this substantial module. It is jam-packed with historical information—OOB's, and politics of the period, the result of several years of research into Japanese and American political history.

17 September 2010

Sudden Storm

Here is the back cover which has a more complete list of what the game will contain.  We are very excited about this module, as playtesting has shown it to be a very involving experience, with lots of different strategies possible.

15 September 2010

new stuff


front cover
Our next project for General Quarters will be a campaign module postulating a war between the U.S. and Japan in 1937.  This is not strictly speaking a War Plan Orange war, but represents a great period for naval wargaming where the surface ship still reigned supreme.  This game contains submarine and nascent carrier warfare, as well as ground combat in and around the south Pacific, notably the Philippines.  Look for details on our website.

28 August 2010

Sorry for the lack of new posts, but I am still recovering from a stroke which happened some seven weeks ago.  It looks like our new General Quarters release will still occur on schedule.  Look for news here and on the ODGW website.

29 June 2010

Historicon prelims

I am much looking forward to Historicon.  It will be a needed break from life here in Los Angeles.  The trip will encompass more than the convention itself, as our group immediately following the con will head to Philadelphia for visits to USS Olympia, a member of the Great White Fleet, then across the river to USS New Jersey.  From there it is on to Gettysburg for two days, and other ACW battlefields following that stop on the way to Richmond, Virginia.  Not even sure where we are going, but I plan to tag along.  I am one of the drivers, after all.

American Battlelines will be on my table at H-con, and I hope to get some feedback on the changes to the rules I have proposed.  Mostly, in fact all, of the reviews from playtesters so far has been positive.  The fiddly bits have been trimmed, and the important decisions left in the game.  Morale is one significant area that was changed.  No longer do you have to roll morale every time you take casualties, but instead once per turn, when the unit is activated.  A significant number of die rolls are eliminated, and it is more realistic, in that a big unit cannot take desultory fire from two units, and then break before its next activation.  Now mods are stacked on the unit for Morale, and it is more like to have adverse consequences as a result.

I look forward to the gaming, the shopping, the camaraderie, and my once-per-year chance to see my partners.  It is the one business meeting I attend in person.

24 June 2010

more Mein Panzer

The Gametowne group from San Diego has been converted to Mein Panzer for their WWII armour skirmish.  They like it, it works, and flows better because people know the rules.  Next up on our schedule is a French scenario from 1940.  Will it be fun?  You bet, and not because I am a great referee, which I am not.  It will be fun because the players make it that way.

Historicon is weeks away.  Am very ready.

18 June 2010

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.19

I was too naive.  The most central change to my version of American Battlelines has been questioned by the person in charge of the project.  It was my great step forward, and instead we are going backwards.  AmBl is easily converted to an element-based system, but nobody could handle the change.  All this despite the fact it is our worst selling title, and gets absolutely no press at all in the miniatures world.  It is due to more than simply not merchandising.  The game needs a serious face lift after all these years.  And as gut-wrenching as these changes seem, they have produced a very playable and realistic game.

16 June 2010

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.18

The ODGW partners went through the revised American Battlelines rules in detail last weekend, and they had much to say.  Much of their commentary was easily answered and was a direct result of me not catching every case of the previous rules.  Some of it was my sloppiness, and some of it were matters of style and substance with which I disagree with the partners.  Overall it was very helpful, and nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  Many of the core concepts went unchallenged, which is heartening.  My goal of simplicity was largely achieved.  Now it would be great if my other playtesters would weigh in on the rules.  That is where the most important work is done.

15 June 2010

new release

ODGW's latest release for General Quarters III is nearing typesetting completion.  It is turning out as a work of art, with absolutely magnificent graphics.  We are very pleased with its layout, yet we are still awaiting blind playtesting results of the game to see if changes need to be made for play balance or perfect strategies.  As a scenario generator, it is quite sophisticated, and we hope that it will reach a broad audience.  More on this title later.

Hobby Day in Anaheim

Attended HMGS/PSW's Hobby Day last Saturday, the 12th July.  I brought one of my favorite Euro-games, Formula D.  Played two races, Long Beach and Buenos Aries, and lost handily at both.  Gave to the two-time winner a reader's copy of a book that a friend had given me as a published paperback.  Am seriously looking to prune out the excess books I have on my shelves.  Cannot fit everything any more, and I do not want to rent a storage unit.  Regarding Hobby Day, I will be back to this Anaheim event, probably to run another game, or to play in the games present.  Good turnout, and friendly people.

Am gearing up for another Mein Panzer event in San Diego.  This one will be French vs Germans in 1940.  Lots of interest in running French tanks.  This will be a trial of the new Bonus shot technique, where if you get more than ten of your To-Hit roll, you get a Bonus shot no matter what your Troop Quality.  Needless to say, there will be a bigger difference between TQ's than with the current edition of the game.  Just a test.

09 June 2010

new convention in La-la land

Actually, it is in Anaheim, California, not L.A.  This new convention, the SoCal Smackdown, is running Labor Day weekend, the same weekend an older con, Strategicon, is running in Los Angeles near the airport.  It threatens to divide what was originally a too thin number of historical miniatures events amongst two venues.  A shame, this.  One will have to choose which nearly empty basket to drop one's eggs.  Due to attendance problems at Strategicon, I will likely try out the new venue, and see if there are a significant number of gamers willing to turn out for an Orange County event.

06 June 2010

Historicon and escapades

Just about four weeks until Historicon and our usual east coast history expedition.  This year, in contrast to previous trips, we are doing the history expeditions following the convention, not before.  Quite an elaborate schedule, that takes us from Philadelphia and ships moored in or nearby — USS Olympia and USS New Jersey — to Gettysburg and then into Virginia, with ACW stops along the way.  Am very much looking forward to visiting Richmond.  This will be a trip to remember, I am sure.

05 June 2010

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.17

Today the latest version of American Battlelines was playtested and the rules gone over thoroughly by the OGDW partners.  Bob Benge got me on the phone, and said that it was "not a slaughter," though he did indicate that there was some head-shaking going on.  Pointed up a number of areas that I did not update from the original to the new edition.  So there were some dropouts.  Also there was some question of my reasons behind some of the changes, and why I had dropped one possible action from the list.  All in all, it was productive, and I hope that the changes are adopted by the folks whose ultimate vote I would need.  I can attest that the new game is less fiddly than the old, and seems to have an intuitive feel.  There are fewer die rolls overall.  I also cleaned up a lot of the areas that were not clear from the original.  Just not all of them.

04 June 2010

VJ Day in Honolulu

Amazing footage of a very special and happy day.

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945 from Richard Sullivan on Vimeo.

03 June 2010

Gaming accessories

The Dial Dude makes great gaming accessories.  I use them for all my American Battlelines games, and will probably adapt them to the Mein Panzer family soon.

Recently, the best maker of paper terrain, Scott Washburn of Paper Terrain, has updated his offerings for 6mm.  That is my WWII scale, so these new bridges along with all his other terrain makes for a very impressive table at a fraction of the cost of resin or metal terrain.

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.16

My good gaming buddy Sacha has designed all of the new covers for Mein Panzer.  He also has a new design for American Battlelines, which would replace the fifty star flag on the cover with a more atmospheric set of pictures.  I can only see this as an improvement.

31 May 2010

KG Stachwitz

Yesterday, the Gametowne boys of San Diego got together at Gametowne to play out a battle from Unternehmen Zitadelle using Mein Panzer rules.  The Germans were outnumbered 2:1, which seemed to make it a fair fight, given the superiority of the Pz VI E's and the Pz V A's [should be the 'D' model], even with their teething problems.  There were a fair amount of Pz IV H's in the fight, as well.  All of these tanks were up against the redoubtable T-34/76, which should have been no match for the tough German tanks.  Well, superior maneuver by the Soviets undid much of that advantage, and the Germans lost when they only managed to trade one for one in tank losses.  I was somewhat at a loss to explain their defeat, but defeat it was, and rather too handily.  I identified some problems with the scenario, and also made the requisite number of refereeing errors.  These tended to wash out for both sides.  Will have to consider what happened the last time the scenario was played, when the Germans thoroughly beat up on the Soviets on their way to a victory.

Saturday, I played in an ongoing campaign with the Anaheim-based Saturday Night Irregulars, revolving around Buttdorf, a fictional battle somewhere on the German border.  We now are facing off against attacking German Pz IV's somewhere in the vicinity of 8-4/8-5 (see map to left).  So far, the Germans have mounted a totally successful attack on an unoccupied hill.  We will see how they do when they find out where the US forces are.

Our next gaming event will be a non-ODGW game, Formula D, a Euro-style Formula One racing game.  It has a nice balance of random elements and tactics that keep the game interesting, as well as numerous Grand Prix race courses from around the world.  Should be a good time, and a welcome change from strict wargaming death and destruction.

27 May 2010


One of the best places to advertise, even better than taking out an ad in the convention program, is to have an event listed in the Historicon PEL.  It gets more scrutiny than any other description of the event.  So new editions and redesigns are well-positioned in games that make the deadline for the online PEL.

Iron-banging fun

Sometimes you just want to bang away with tanks in a WWII game.  There is no better place than Kursk, 1943, for this type of battle, and that is the scenario coming up this Sunday for the San Diego Gametowne group. Hammer and tongs, all the way.  No poor, bloody infantry to get in the way of the mayhem.  We will see how the vile Nazis fare against the despicable Bolsheviks.  No kudos to either side for winning.

23 May 2010

New offering

ODGW is currently in negotiation for a new series that will further enhance its naval complement of games.  More will be revealed as soon as the negotiations are completed.

22 May 2010

Happiness is...

...a new game.  Nothing buoys the spirits like a new game, or module, or book.  It means hours of pleasure tearing into the thing and trying it out.  To go along with this, I have started the process of divesting myself of games that are good, but that I will never play again.  It is time to admit it — there never will be enough time and, quite frankly, interest.  So up the games will go, on ebay, BoardgameGeek, and other places.  Just trying to get the most I can as I sell these items off.  No doubt it will hurt, but that is the way it should be.  Getting rid of the games will free up so much space — space I do not have.

18 May 2010

San Diego gaming

We had a game down in San Diego this weekend, a refight of the First Battle of Savo Island.  One of the problems with this battle is that it is almost impossible without masses of rules to recreate the conditions which led to such a spectacular loss by the Allies.  It has the same problem that strategic WWII games suffer from, i.e., how can France lose so quickly.  In both cases there often are "idiot" rules.  In the ODGW version of the battle, we use it as an optional start for our Solomons Campaign.  Even with strong rules hampering the Allies, it is very lucky if the Kaigun can pull off an historical result.  In Sunday's playing of the battle, the Japanese lost one destroyer to the Allies one destroyer, one or two minesweepers, and two transports off Tulagi.   Not bad at all, considering.  Rated a tactical victory for the IJN.

Next time I am in San Diego I am going to run a straight up armour bashing for the Gametowne guys.  They like Mein Panzer, and have enjoyed the two games played so far.  After that, in two weeks, I go down to run Formula One racing using Formula D, a re-issue of the original Formula Dé.  Should be fun.  With Historicon looming sooner than I think, it will be a quite a spring and summer's worth of gaming.

14 May 2010

WWII & Facebook

This is priceless — WWII on Facebook.  It's a generational thing.

13 May 2010


An offer has been made to us to publish the ongoing chapters of an already existing set of rules.  Whether we will or not is the question of the day.

12 May 2010

Historicon scenario

I am running a playtest version of American Battlelines at Historicon, titled "Diversion at Glass Mill."  It is on Saturday morning at 10a.  Stop by and say hello, or better yet, sign up for the game.  It is a very interesting scenario.

10 May 2010


I now have enough lead for the ACW, ECW, and WWII to put on quite a war all by myself.  The scale for the early periods is 10mm, while I persist in my appreciation of microarmour, 6mm, for WWII.  It just looks so right for the dimensions of the table and the ranges.  15mm is beautiful, but I come unhinged when two tanks with barrels practically touching are 50 or more yards apart.  Just do not have that issue with 6mm.  The MMG have routinely used 6mm for pure infantry battles, one of the arguments for larger scales, and had great success.

I alway wonder why a rules set is indicated as for a specific scale.  For 15-20mm, you can just put more small figures on the stands, and everything looks great.  This is what I intend to do for two other games I want to play, which (gasp!) are not ODGW creations.  The rules I am intrigued by are Battlegroup Panzergrenadier, which I have never played, and Kampfgruppe Commander, which I have played several times.  BgPz uses the squad as the smallest unit, while KGC uses the platoon.  It is nice to mix things up a bit, rather than play the same thing every time.

Merchant ships of WWII

Here is a very useful link for tracing merchant ships, using the scanned Lloyd's Register from 1930-45.

08 May 2010

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.15

I have had several games of the latest rules, and I have come up with a very satisfying way of handling skirmishers, which takes the place of the original rules, which were kludgey at best.  Skirmishers now successfully harass, but can be disposed of with ease by a well-timed bayonet charge.  I am very pleased with the play of the game now.  There are fewer dice rolls than before, and the interaction is smooth, even with the optional Command chapter.  It is now a very viable rules set.

02 May 2010

Little Wars convention

Little Wars has come and gone, and I had an even better time than last year, when it was, by my accounting, pretty good.  Played in four games over a three day con, and enjoyed all the games, even if I had to keep my right hand from going for the green pen, Dr Strangelove-style, on some of the rules sets.  First was Mein Panzer — a Khalkyin Gol scenario of the Russo-Japanese battles of 1939.  Well-designed scenario run by a novice to the system who had never run or played MP with anyone else.  Came to his assistance a few times, and that helped keep the game moving.  Did not even mind that it was in 15mm, which is too big for this 6mm diehard.

Saturday, there were two AWI games from rules sets that I had never heard of.  Both used a modified buckets-of-dice system, with one having more historical accuracy than the other.  Still, neither inspired me to run out and purchase their systems, though I fell prey to the scenario book that one game had published.  Maybe I will spring for their ruleset now.  This latter game was almost spoiled by referee "helpers," i.e., co-authors of the game, who were so interested in moving the game along for each side that they were taking decisions out of the hands of the players.  They let up after a complaint, and we went ahead and made our own horrid errors.  Somehow we muddled through, as the colonists posted their second AWI victory in games I played.

Sunday morning I spent trying out a new WWI – WWII naval game, called Naval Thunder.  There were aspects of it I liked, and others I did not like so much.  My personal reservations about the game did not stop me from having my IJN DD put four torpedoes into Prince of Wales.  Bottoms up!  The Sunday afternoon agenda was the First Army Division museum in Wheaton, IL, for which my buddy and fellow traveller Tim can do a visual narrative from the number of pictures he took.  Good static displays of everything from a M5 Stuart through various AFV incarnations to a M1 Abrams.  Some infantry guns, too.

Did I forget to mention great pizza?  And Hooked on History bookshop? How could I forget keeping from reflexively reaching for my billfold like Tim, who is a candidate for carpo-tunnel syndrome from his continual wallet-grabbing.  Found some gems amongst owner Bruce Herrick's "rubbish" books at Hooked on History, and some of the discounted $10 books.  Nice.

Last gaming-related event was a visit to Games Plus, who took some of my money for an out-of-print Runequest Glorantha book and the inevitable dice.  Good to find blank versions of D12's and D20's.  May have to get some more of their out-of-print Runequest stuff.

All in all, a great break from the mundane and somewhat stale daily events.  Almost sorry to be back, but am looking forward to the next travel squad event for me and the intrepid few to the east coast and Historicon.

04 April 2010

ACW links

Here is a very good one with excellent small arms info.  For maps that give great detail to ACW battles, try out this site from the Civil War Preservation Trust.  Both are useful for designing scenario for American Battlelines.

03 April 2010

Soviet propaganda film with assorted AFV's.

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.14

A recent playtest of a game based on the Chickamauga battle went very well.  A few minor referee errors that the players were unaware of, but the game played smoothly and had believable results.  We used the new Morale rule that each unit only tests once, during its activation if it had taken casualties or had other effects in the turn leading up to its activation.  That made the game go faster and was more equitable.

Found a wonderful site with lots of maps and descriptions of Civil War battles here.  Highly recommended.

27 March 2010

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.13

Our latest playtest went well, save for one hiccup, which I found to be true in Mein Panzer as wellMultiple Morale checks each and every time a unit takes casualties leads to unrealistic results when they are stacked one on the other.  It is better to take one Morale check each turn, and modify it.  That is how the new Morale rules will work.  The current method can be seriously "gamed," and already my playtest group has discovered how.

14 March 2010


Here is what the industrial power of WWII, aka the United States, sent to various countries during the war.

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.12

Next weekend we try out the further simplified rules for our horse & musket game.  One of the things that always confused me was the criticism of Mein Panzer for inadequate infantry rules, but the success of virtually the same concept in Battlelines.  I can tell you that MP gives a great game for infantry.  Better than many rules, in fact.  We have had excellent and tense battles with no tanks on the board.  That is why we are putting out Meine Truppen based on the same core rules system.  It works.

We are set for the ACW playtest next Saturday, so we will see how it runs.  I probably will use a scenario from the excellent new scenario pack, River of Death.  Looking forward to this playtest to iron out any of the values and tweaks needed for the rules.  Hopefully we will have more info in from playtesters to tell us what we may be doing wrong.

libraries and their (space) limits

Almost every gamer I know has storage units.  They simply cannot put all the books, games, and miniatures they own in a reasonably sized apartment or even house.  I have had to contemplate this myself, though I am now deciding to sell the games that I do not realistically intend to play again.  A recent 60% one-day sale by the University of North Carolina Press added about twenty volumes to my collection, on classical music, railroads, ACW, and 20th century Pacific War, these last by H.P. Willmont, one of my favorite authors.  Now, what to do as the shelves groan.  Another bookcase is needed to sort out the mess.  I will buy an inexpensive one, though I am still considering turning it into a wood shop project of my own design.

I keep my ear to the ground for select university presses, e.g., University of Kansas, and have a sharp eye out for sales on Amazon, where prices go up and down frequently.  I picked up a new color ink-jet printer/copier/scanner with wireless capability at 65% off its retail price through close tracking of the item.  And shipping is usually free, and there is no tax.  ODGW bought me Adobe Acrobat for my editing work, and my partner Bob helped me locate a copy at 33% off the cheapest price elsewhere.  My motto — never pay full retail.  Research is fun for me, especially now that I am writing the official history of our latest GQIII release.  Nothing like looking for gems of pertinent info.  The background for our next naval campaign is one of the most thoroughly researched games ODGW has ever produced.  We have high hopes for its acceptance in the wargaming community.

07 March 2010

HBO mini-series

Here is a series that tempts me to buy a television.

04 March 2010

ACW scenario Books

There are two very good sources for the miniature gamer currently available.  First is the latest in Savas Beatie Press's excellent maps series entitled The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 - September 23, 1863.   As with their earlier map books on Civil War battles, this one is designed to bring clarity to the campaign via very detailed and colorful hour by hour accounting.  For the wargamer, there are maps in great detail, along with the history of the movements, allowing anyone to accurately set up their tabletop and game out the numerous skirmishes up to the large battles that ultimately decided the fate of the Rebel and Union armies involved.

Also recommended is a new scenario book on Chickamauga, titled River of Death, available as a .pdf download from the Wargame Vault.  This resource has listings of twelve scenarios fought during the final battles of the campaign.  Importantly, it is designed to be rules-neutral, so it gives figure scales of 20:1 all the way to 100:1.  Likewise, it lists variable turn lengths, total number of men in the regiments, and all the info needed to use in just about any regimental ACW game on the market.  I cannot see why anyone who is even remotely interested in the campaign would not pick up this valuable resource.  I look forward to many games using its scenarios on this largely neglected campaign and battles, which ended up as the second most bloody of all the Civil War battles.  Highly recommended!  Let’s hope the folks at Historic Imagination see fit to publish more scenario books, and not just for ACW.  This type of treatment could benefit any historical era.

03 March 2010

Local conventions

Some of the best gaming conventions are regional events by Historical Miniature Gaming Society chapters.  Little Wars in Chicago, put on by the Great Lakes chapter, is one which I attended last year and am going to this year.  I went to Enfilade by the Northwest chapter about four years ago in Olympia, Washington, and had a wonderful time.  Neither convention rivals Historicon, the HMGS East show, which is really the national convention for North American gamers, or even probably Fall In or Cold Wars, both of which I have not attended.  But that does not mean these smaller chapters do not put on a good show.  Because they are smaller and therefore more local, the gamers know each other and tend to put on games using systems they have already tried.  As long as you are open to new games and rules, you can make the most of the con.

Now, if only HMGS/PSW was so fortunate.  Their mini-cons have suffered in recent years, and for good reasons, which are not worth going into.  Now they have an activist president and vice-president, and they are trying to turn the mini-cons into something worthwhile, while turning the organization around as a whole.  Hopefully this will occur — southern California deserves a vibrant gaming presence.

26 February 2010

ECW thoughts

One of the replies I received to my recent request for playtesters was a question about when would we be doing an English Civil War game.  Tomorrow, if I had my way.  It is one of my favorite periods, and I would dearly love to see my miniatures make their appearance using the Battleline-series rules.  Push of pike, forlorn hopes, and all that goes with it.  I have to bring the current rules-editing to a close first.

24 February 2010


I would love to have more playtest results than I have now, especially for Battlelines.  Waiting for the gamers to play, record their comments, and then go through them can be frustrating.  I want those playtest comments and AAR's as soon as possible, so we can move forward with publishing the new versions.  But I wait, and hope there are some forthcoming.  Urk!

23 February 2010

Artillery and other unwanted effects

Artillery was a potent force in WWII, supposedly the #1 source of casualties.  I have never been able to track down the source of that statistic, but it is repeated so often it has become commonly accepted knowledge.  In wargames, however, no one really wants fire from the sky in anything like historical terms.  Looking at historical OoB's, AT guns, mortars, and artillery assets were very common.  Why is it then that players so resent mortars and off-board artillery in their games.  Maybe because it is out of the player's control as they maneuver their infantry and armor around the board.  For the U.S. forces it makes up for untrained infantry and deficient armor.  One U.S. army officer in Europe said once that he moved about five to ten miles each bound.  Then he would call down the artillery on the enemy position, and advance another five to ten miles.  So you can see playing without the artillery for any of the western Allies hamstrings them unfairly.

The new playtest rules have significant changes to the artillery, which make it quite a force to be reckoned with.

Convoy and General Quarters III

I have just received my copy of Clash of Arms's latest, Convoy, a game of submarine warfare in the Atlantic.  Designed by Mal Wright, a naval gamer extraordinare, it is actually two games.  One is the set of fast play naval rules, Convoy.  The other is the operational game that provides the battles to be fought using the tactical rules, Deadly Waters.  It is the usual attractive package from Clash of Arms, made even more so by their use of color throughout — I believe a first for them.  It also contains a CD with ship forms and a copy of the map, useful for those who want to print additional forms, and have another map that they can blow up to a larger size than the one provided, should someone want to do that at a copy shop. Knowing Mal as I do, he no doubt poured his heart and soul into this project, so even though it is from another game company, I whole-heartedly recommend it, despite what some of the online forums have said.  Anyone wishing to procure additional material should visit the Yahoo egroup, WWIIConvoy.  Mal and the developers have been busily putting up errata, play aids, and new material in their files section.  And of course you can use General Quarters to resolve the combat.  Amendment 1 has all the necessary U-boat logs, and the Royal Navy Ship logs Database has all the ships.

In fact, most of the playtesting was done using General Quarters rules, as can be seen in one of the photographs in the book.  Nice to get some advertising.

16 February 2010

Strategicon event — Orccon

This past weekend I attended the local thrice annual Strategicon convention, Orccon. Along with the founding member of Miracle Mile Gamers (MMG), Sacha, we ran a Mein Panzer event on Sunday morning and afternoon. The scenario was largish, and we scaled it down to allow for fewer players than originally intended. The overall result was a German victory, as the Canadians bashed their heads against the defense by elite Fallschirmjaegers.  A lot of casualties on the Canadian side, but few on the German.  Chalked up as a learning exercise by the San Diego group for whom we presented the scenario. Notably, only friends played in this scenario, so it was not a success from the standpoint of introducing new players to the game.

Saturday, I played in my usual Guns at Gettysburg game, and had a good time losing my entire brigade in near record fashion, due to some spectacularly bad die rolling.  Then off to hear a lecture by Lonnie Gill, designer of General Quarters III, on pre-WWII naval and aviation subjects.

As usual, dinner Saturday night was at the Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles, that serves a lot of food, heavy with garlic, inexpensively.  Chowed down on a great pork roast dinner.  Spent Saturday night observing a Fear God & Dreadnought game, run by the San Diego crew.  Still cannot bring myself to again play the Command at Sea-system, on which I cut my teeth as a naval gamer some twelve or thirteen years ago, when it was first released.  It is a worthy system, which is well-supported by its publisher, Clash of Arms games.  Just not my cup o' tea.

Also was introduced to the Glory-series of board games from GMT.  Jury still out on these.  Relatively simple to play, but at a level that I do not particularly like, i.e., brigades.  I prefer their regimental games in the Great Battles of the ACW series.  But will play the game again.

The dealer room was a bit sparse this time round.  Nothing and no one really new.

Overall, Strategicon is what you make of it.  Have to bring your own game in order to have a good time.  There were other historical games, including a General Quarters III game, which is at least some smattering of continued interest in the non-fantasy end of the hobby.

15 February 2010

ACW 10mm

Here is an excellent 10mm ACW photo album.  It is my chosen scale.

12 February 2010

Mein Panzer at LAX Radisson

There will be a game of Mein Panzer at the LAX airport Radisson Strategicon this Sunday.  The scenario is about a Canadian attack on the town of Torre Muchia in Italy along the Adriatic.  We have played this once before, with the Germans in a set piece defense and the Canadians attacking.  We will see how the scenario plays out this time.  The first version was done incorrectly (major rules misinterpretation!) so there has not been a fair playing of the scenario.  I think either side can win, depending on management of resources.

The Strategicon staff has been trying to promote historical miniatures at the thrice-annual conventions they run.  It has been an uphill battle the whole way.  There just does not seem to be enough interest by local miniatures gamers to make the con worthwhile.  HMGS/PSW has been trying to change that, but with little success so far.  By the looks of things, there is not a strong presence of miniatures gamers in southern California.  Most of what there is devotes its time to "Warhammer"-type games.  Hard-core historicals are supported by at least two groups in San Diego, and two that I know of in Los Angeles, one of which is the notorious Miracle Mile Gamers, struggling along with four members.  In the hopes of advertising our presence, we are doing our part and running a game.  I will report back on the turnout.

10 February 2010

Building fortifications

Here is a wonderful site with many pictures and info on fortifications.

08 February 2010

Japanese aircraft site

This site has a wonderful assortment of pictures and drawings of Japanese aircraft and aircraft carriers, such as Kaga, at right.


I am involved in a campaign revolving around the crassly named town of Buttdorf, somewhere in the Alsace in October '44.  The Germans have mounted an attack to slow the progress of US armored divisions, and have already taken Buttdorf, much to my chagrin.  It was accomplished a little too easily, and without sufficient cost to the attacking force.  The Germans then attacked three miles south of the town, at the 'Y' road junction of the Krakstrasser (the puns only get worse) road junction between Bastenburg and Nixdorf, not far from the farm and orchards of Zackie BauernhofGiven our limited resources, my partner and I are deciding upon our next point of contact with the advancing Germans.  We have reserves at Phat Bauernhof (aka Phat Farm), where we will likely make another stand.  Ultimately, we cannot give up the bridge at Nixdorf, and need to retake the bridge in Buttdorf.  More to follow as we decide our next move.

07 February 2010

General Quarters III Amendments

There has been some discussion — more like an accusation — that Amendment 1 was required to fix a problem with the original rules.  This is incorrect.  The rules work fine in the basic game, and no changes are required to play the game as written.  There was a coterie of gamers that felt that one of the battles of the Solomons allowed penetration of a certain level of armor, and that should be recreated.  There is debate about whether the battleship armor in question was actually penetrated by cruiser fire.  But a new 3000yd range band was created to allow gamers to pursue this close action between ships with greater fidelity.  As with all our rules changes and new material, it was made available to all owners of the game.  This is standard ODGW policy, and represent a business model that does not allow us to charge for new editions of a game, unlike other publishers.  Buy the game once, and enjoy every revision, clarification, and new edition for free via web access.

We stand by our position, and will not start charging for any new material, but continue to make it available through our web site.

04 February 2010

Beta test results are in — Ouch!

The first beta test results for our planned GQIII module has arrived, and it is rather tough on us.  Some of the basic premises have been questioned, and there is concern over play balance.  The first game was a failure, due to some last minute changes I introduced as suggestions from local players.  Turns out they had implications well beyond what I originally foresaw, proof positive of the law of unintended consequences.  Fortunately, the system is sound enough that the problem could be fixed easily.  Now the group can get on with take two of trying out the intricate system we have designed.  We like to think it is simple, but complex in operation.  Lots of decision points for the players in this campaign.

28 January 2010

MMG and Hidden Movement

The most complicated spotting method you are likely to see is the one used by the Miracle Mile Gamers, who value subterfuge over everything.  Even though it slows down the game, they are willing to have the referee make judgment calls over every line of sight and hidden unit than to put dummy and real counters on the board.  I am going to try and overturn this convention when next I run a game for the MMG dudes.  I think there will be howls of protest. But I am looking at anything that will speed up the game, and this most certainly will.

Recommended modules

There are many good scenario books available now.  Four publishers in particular sell useful products.  Treadhead Games pitches their scenarios at exactly the scale of Mein Panzer.  They have two scenario books covering lesser known areas of WWII, that are well worth the effort.  First is White Death, covering the Soviet-Finnish war in 1939.  The second is Balkans on Fire, covering Italians vs Greece, then some Commonwealth vs German scenarios.  Another good source for scenarios is the Rapid Fire modules that can be downloaded from the Wargame Vault. These translate into MP fairly simply, although it takes some getting used to the Rapid Fire method of OoB's.  Too Fat Lardies produces a number of huge scenario campaigns available for download.  Finally, Skirmish Campaigns puts out books that are located at a level that might be better for the forthcoming Meine Truppen, but they can be scaled up to a next larger scale without too much problem.  Just try to keep the same number of pieces on the map as the scenarios call for, and you should do all right.

Our group just recently ran a Soviet-Finnish game out of the Treadhead games book, that the Finnish barely won.  They had to kill a lot of the enemy to do it, though.  And I can now legitimately say that I have won at least once in a Mein Panzer game.

26 January 2010

New General Quarters module

Our latest offering for General Quarters will be a huge module, offering both a naval and land component.  The design team we have compiled has done an amazing job of researching the various parts of the campaign we are presenting.  It promises to be an engrossing look at a little-known era of naval warfare, and should provide phenomenal replay value.  Concurrent with its release will be Amendment 2 for GQIII/FAI, which will bring the rules up-to-date with the previous Amendment 1 and introduce some additional changes and optional rules.  We are very excited about this new project, which is currently in beta testing.  As we progress further along, we will begin keeping everyone posted about its subject matter and how it is developing.

Drum Beats on the Battleline pt.10

I have just recently revised the process- or mechanic-driven system of American Battlelines for an experiment.  I am trying element-based, or stand-based, determination for combat, morale, etc.  The Kill Value number on the table, normally associated with the number of figures on stands, will instead equal the number of stands firing.  No figure counting, which means the number of figures per stand is truly irrelevant.  All infantry stands take four hits to remove, cavalry take three, and artillery take two (two guns per stand).  Artillery is using the newly revised method which has gun factors assigned for each type of artillery gun.  This makes for a much simpler and smoother resolution of combat, with approximately the same effect as before.  It will be interesting to playtest this experimental way of playing the game.

16 January 2010

Skewed views

One has to be careful about where one looks for information.  Long ago a poll was taken on The Miniatures Page about the most popular WWII rules, and Mein Panzer came out on top.  Today, it might barely merit a mention.  Has it stopped being played?  No, not according to our forum and to our sales figures.  We have recently updated it and that has been well-received.  It does mean that newer games have come out and that there are very vocal factions that frequent certain forums, while other gamers do not, or are not as prone to comment.  If you believe what you read on TMP, everyone plays either I Ain't Been Shot Mum, from Too Fat Lardies, or Flames of War from Battlefront Games.  Now I, of course, have my opinions of these games, and I have played them, but they are well-supported by their respective companies and worthy choices for gaming.   However, they are not the only WWII games out there, and many others should be considered that do not enjoy as much press.  Panzertruppe from LMW Works is a little gem of a game that should be better received than it has been.  Schwere Kompanie from Troy Ritter is another fine game few people seem to know about.  Panzer, from StrikeNet Games, is a revision by the original author of the old Yaquinto game of the same name, but now for miniatures without hexes.  The first two are inexpensive and comprehensive, especially SK, and Panzer can be had as a download relatively cheaply.  For battalion level games, where a stand equals a platoon, Kampfgruppe Commander is an excellent choice, though few have chosen it.  There are others I have not mentioned.

Now I am not advocating these over Mein Panzer — that would not be very bright.  I am simply pointing out how the flavor of the moment and where one gets one's information determines how well a rules set does.

15 January 2010

Artillery and the ubiquitous deviation

In almost every WWII game, indirect fire artillery fire deviates randomly.  This is patently incorrect, as spotting rounds that came in were invariably corrected and fire brought on target in almost every case.  There were rare cases of short rounds in the war, and they became so infamous that games endeavor to recreate them in every artillery shoot.  A recent discussion on the Forum at the ODGW web site illustrates the confusion over how artillery worked, and works.  The rules for Mein Panzer and certainly for Meine Truppen will be amended to account for this reality.

For those of you who want a lucid explanation directed at the layman on how artillery works, go here.  It will give you all you really need to know about how artillery works, and how different nations employed this essential arm of combat during the Second World War.

13 January 2010

Macs & Windows

As a confirmed Mac-head, I have always bemoaned the fact that there has not, until recently, been enough interest shown in making applications usable for the Mac. Well, that has changed for several reasons. First, the Mac is now using the Intel chip, which is the same as in PC's.  This means virtual Windows software is much easier and faster running on Macs.  Second, Apple has the benefit of "cool," what with iPods, iPhones, and all sorts of other neat products, like their wafer-thin and light MacBook Air, so more people are buying them.  Finally, the sheer power of the latest Mac's and their own native Boot Camp allows virtual Windows to run on the machines with little drop off in performance.

Even better is not having to purchase Windows in the first place.  Wine, which stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator, was first designed for Linux.  As the the web site says, "Rather than acting as a full emulator, Wine implements a compatibility layer, providing alternative implementations of the DLLs that Windows programs call, and processes to substitute for the Windows NT kernel."  However it works, if you are good at programming, you can implement Wine for free.  However, a company called Codeweavers is compiling a database of Windows programs that will run under the Mac Wine interface, so that Mac owners can use their computers at work without switching.  As a Codeweaver advocate, I try to get my chosen Windows programs to run under CrossOver, the Wine program from Codeweavers.  So far I am batting about .500, which is not too bad.  It is great when a program to which you were denied due to your computer choice suddenly works.

03 January 2010

Real wargaming

Here is how it really should be.

Deuces Wild AAR

Here is another of the Miracle Mile Gamers groups battles.  This time it was much more fair.