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Supremacy Terrain

This is just a graphics test.  We’d like to get some feedback before we continue down this road. 

What do you guys think?  Too busy?  Too cluttered?  Look good?  Love, like, hate?

 

Let us know in comments below. 

We have rules for weather zones as well.  I’m afraid if we super impose weather over the top of this, it would really get confusing.  Any ideas?


By the way, we made some major breakthroughs finally on the Cyber Deck / Unconventional War expansion yesterday.  The rough draft rules should be finished today.  I expect this Expansion will be done and released soon!  

As it turns out, this was also the last piece we needed to make the 80’s Cold War edition work right.  I’m expecting this to be done and released soon as well.  Right now, we are seeing this as an expansion map and scenario.  We think the same deck and pieces will work, so you won’t have to buy a whole new game to get a whole new game.  That’s always nice.  =)

 

 

Wargames with No Victory Conditions

As a game designer, I often loathe victory conditions.  It is fun to research the battle and OB.  Set the map scale and scope to fit the battle.  Develop a system that models and explains the flow and events that took place.  Most of the time, this all comes together easily.  The trouble starts when you have to define who wins.

Kriegsspiel is like a breath of fresh air.  There usually aren’t any Victory Conditions at all.  Who won?  I don’t know.  Discuss it.  If there are any Victory Conditions, they are usually informal guidelines.  This is a sample from our Brandy Station Scenario:


Victory

Though Stuart was able to hold the field at Brandy Station, the Federals inflicted double the losses on the unprepared Confederates. The raid was a Federal success!

On the other hand, part of the Federal goal was to break through and locate Lee’s Army. Longstreet’s Corps was in Culpeper, only 3 miles to the west. On this account, Pleasonton failed but was much closer than he realized.

Consider the historical result to be a moderate Federal victory. Inflicting heavier losses on the Confederates and forcing them to withdrawal would be a Major Federal victory.

Can the Confederates keep the Federal forces contained to the eastern half of the map? Can they fight the Federal cavalry to a stand still without the aid of Rhode’s infantry Division? Can they preserve their force and suffer fewer casualties? These achievements should earn a Confederate victory.

What about a 2nd day? It may be tempting to see how this plays out but this is highly unlikely. Neither side was looking for a big battle. Pleasonton had planned for a 1 day raid and certainly wasn’t looking to take on a whole infantry Division.


 

 

To me, this makes much more sense.  I also find it more ‘realistic’ to true life.  Who won in a real battle?  They don’t earn VPs for hills or cities.  Do I just want to be lazy as a designer?  Probably.  If we made Victory Conditions like this for all of our games, my life would certainly be much easier.  

Would wargamers accept Victory Conditions like this?  What about no Victory Conditions at all?  Just play and then discuss it afterwards.  Imagine playing Germany in the last 6 months of WWII.  You lasted 1 month longer than Hitler did.  Great.  Does that mean you won?  You got conquered 2 months early.  Does that mean you lost?  Comparing your self to the historical benchmark is a guide but what does it really mean?  

I notice that in most of our non Kriegsspiel games we often debate and discuss who won at the end, regardless of what the official Victory Conditions are in the rules.  Many times, we don’t even look them up.  We ‘know’ who won.  In fact, often times we don’t finish wargames.  We play until we ‘know’ it is won.  Then we stop, discuss and move on to the next game.  

Many times we find ourselves at odds with the rules.  “Well, according to the rules, this side won but I really think the other side won because of….”  How many times have you heard that debated after a game?  Analyzing, discussing and debating victory after the game is one of the most enjoyable parts of wargaming to me.  

A question this leads to is:  Why do you play wargames?  Do you play to learn about history?  To learn about a specific battle or campaign?  To learn the tactics and strategies of the times?  To have fun spending time with a friend?  To role play and imagine yourself commanding a force in those times?  To compare and test your self against the historical leaders we read about?  To compete in a challenging game and beat someone?  To prove your superior knowledge and skill in the arts of war?

I guess I play for all these reasons to varying degrees.  Some gaming circles maybe more competitive than others.  Some more interested in the role playing aspects.  Some players find the idea of playing a game with no Victory Conditions absurd.  What is the point of playing?  Why even have a game then?

Good Victory Conditions do serve an important function.  Why do anything in a game?  Why attack that stronghold?  You are going to take massive casualties.  Well, you must.  That is the objective.  Good Victory Conditions give the player motivation.  What are you trying to do?  What are you trying to avoid?  Why should you do it?  Ideally, these should be in line with history.  If written correctly, victory conditions should encourage a player think and behave like their historical counterparts.

A noble pursuit.  It is extremely difficult to pull off.  I find Victory Conditions in almost all games to miss this mark.  They often seem empty, hollow and meaningless.  I guess that is why we still debate who ‘really’ won after the game, regardless of what the rules say.  


How do you feel about Victory Conditions?  Are they relevant and helpful?  What are bad conditions?  What are examples of games with really good Victory Conditions?  Would you play a game with no Victory Conditions at all?  What about Victory Guidelines like the ones above on Brandy Station?  Is this approach better than the traditional approach to wargaming?  

Comment below:

 

Pub Battles 2.0

We have an all new rules update available for Pub Battles now!  This is going to make things much easier going forward.  

The new format is made to fit in a regular 3 ring binder.  We like to slide the Terrain Effects chart into the back cover for easy reference.  This will keep our rules from being curled. 

It also makes it easy to keep all your Scenarios, rules and expansions all in 1 place.  

 

 

We have complete updates for Antietam and Marengo Scenarios.  The rest should be complete soon. 

You can get zip lock pouches for these that are perfect for storing your dice, measuring sticks and chains:

 


Fields of Fire

What has changed in the rules?  Very little.  Mostly just some minor tweaking, re-wording and clarification.  There is one ‘change’.  We don’t consider it a change because it is the way we’ve always played.  Strangely, as a system evolves, sometimes you have to ‘change’ the rules to keep the game the same.  This is one of those cases. 

We have introduced the concept of Fields of Fire.  The sets firm restrictions on how you can maneuver when you get close to the enemy.  The basic idea here is that if you are going to attack, then attack.  If you are going to fall back and avoid the enemy, then fall back.  You can’t do gamey things like disengage but only fall back 1 mm, or you move up to attack the enemy but you don’t attack.  You stay back 1 mm.  

In real life terms, that IS combat.  You are still in close range of heavy musket fire.  We didn’t want to bog the system down with complex rules on assault vs ranged fire attacks.  This simple restriction forces you to maneuver like an Umpire would require you to.  No more trickery.  Fight like gentlemen.  🙂

 

Some of you will immediately think of the different musket ranges.  Yes, there is a difference between smooth bore and rifled.  At this scale, we are only talking the difference between 1/2″ and 1″.   We are still in the same 1/3 move range if you round.  You may want to mark the exact ranges on your sticks and chains if you want to use the real distance.  

However, while testing new Ancient battles between Rome and Carthage, we noted that this rule still mostly holds true even without any muskets at all.  A better term might be:  Proximity to the Enemy.  When the enemy is that close, everybody is kind of on edge.  Either side could rush at any moment.  There isn’t much time to react at that range.  It is very….   uncomfortable.  

In all ages, troops didn’t tend to get real close to each other and then just sit there all day.  You either attack and fight or you pull back and plan.   


How do I Get the New Rules?

If you already have Pub Battles, you can get the new updates for FREE!

Just send us an email.  (we won’t put you on a spam list)  We will send you a pdf of the Rules, Terrain Effects and Scenarios we have now.  You just need to print them out double sided and get a 3 ring binder.  We think black looks best with the clear view pockets.

 

Pub Battles -mini review

Pub Battles.  What is it like?  Is it really good?  Worth the price?  Blah, blah, blah.  I could talk all day about the system.  “Yeah, of course YOU say it’s great.  You’re supposed to say that.  What do other people say?”  It always carries more weight if somebody else says you’re great.    

We get feedback emails like this all the time from people.  I thought it would help to post some online.  This isn’t meant as a formal review.  It is hardly even a mini review.  The important thing is that it is not from us.  I think it does a good job of capturing some key concepts in the game.   

 


 

 

 

There is a fine line between simple enough, and too simple. As far as wargames go, Pub Battles is so simple that many feel the rules are incomplete. And yet to new players it is still intimidating.  

Pub Battles is perfect for me. It gives the feel of commanding an army without all the minutia that is actually required to run an army. 

I like how it mirrors the look of maps of the battles that we see in history books. The long rectangular blocks. It is as if you just blew up the map from a book and placed your blocks on the starting positions. I had always dreamed of doing that, and then Pub Battles! 

I’m also of the opinion that the more detailed the rules, the farther away one gets from an actual simulation. 

It’s like this; you have a mental image of a battle that the game is attempting to simulate. All of the rules are essentially an awkward interface with your mental image. Elegant rules are rules that seem intuitive, the kind you don’t have to keep looking up. Every time you have to stop and check the rules you’re breaking the spell. It’s like the film breaking during a movie. 

Many of my rules misinterpretation with Pub Battles come from never looking at the rules. For months I played Antietam almost daily, yet I never looked at the rules after day one.

I was doing a couple of things wrong, but it didn’t matter. It worked for me and I had fun. None of the grognards that I played it with ever thought anything was wrong either. They played the rules as I explained them and felt they were good rules. 

The biggest adjustment was the non-linear movement. When they would question a block moving out of contact I would just explain that it is simultaneous movement and the enemy wasn’t there when they arrived. If you move second you’ve hoodwinked your opponent. They liked this. 

 

Mike Strand 

Dracula Battle Decisions

Resolving Battles in Dracula is tense and involves a number of interesting decisions.  Deploying your forces to fight can have a big impact on how the battle develops.  Yes, there is luck involved but you can manage much of that with how you develop your forces on the battle field.  Let’s look at an example.

Dracula has attacked into Pitesti.  Dracula has 8 Troops.  The Muslims only have 5.  Dracula can group his army by 4’s.  The Muslims can only group by 2s.   

 

 

Before the opposing armies can actually fight, first they must find each other by Searching.  Each Group rolls 1 die.  They must roll their leaders rating or lower:  Dracula 4, Muslims 2

 

Dracula rolls:  2, 4.  Both Groups made it to the battle!

Muslims roll:  2, 3, 5.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Only the smallest Group succeeds.  The other two are lost this round and can’t fire unless fired upon. 

 

The Dracula player now has some interesting choices to make.  He has to declare which Groups he is firing at.  Dracula can mix up his troops however he wants.  They don’t have to stay in 2 Groups of 4.  Dracula could just fire all 8 at the 1 active defender.  The problem with this is that any excess hits are wasted.  They only apply to the Group he declared.  Out of 8 rolls, he should get 4 hits on average.  So with average luck, Dracula will kill the 1 defender and then waste 3 good hits. 

 

A better deployment for Dracula would be something like this:

 

 

3 Troops fire at the 1 Muslim.  This should be enough to kill him.  The remaining 5 Troops attack one of the lost Muslim Groups. 

Let’s say those first 3 Troops score 3 hits on the 1 Muslim defender.  The first 1 kills the Muslim piece, the other 2 are wasted.  You can’t apply them to other defenders.   

Next, let’s say the Group of 5 score 4 hits.  The first 2 hits kill the defenders, the other 2 are wasted.

This arrangement was better but still liable to generate wasted hits.  Ok, then the best thing to do is ensure that no hits are wasted?  Not necessarily.  If you push too hard, you could get yourself into trouble.  Check out this is a risky attack:

 

 

Here we have 2 Troops attacking the 1 Muslim Group.  On average, they ‘should’ kill the defender.  No guarantees.  Next we have 2 Groups of 3 attacking both lost Muslim Groups.  If Dracula gets a little lucky, this could be devastating.  The Muslims could be virtually wiped out in 1 round of combat with no chance to return fire.

 

It could also go very badly for Dracula.  Let’s say the 2 vs 1 both score 1 hit.  The middle Dracula group misses.  The third only scores 1 hit.  Then the ‘lost’ Muslims return fire with 3 hits.  Then Dracula would be going into a second round of combat for the battle looking like this:

 

 

Now it’s pretty much an even up fight.  This is a total disaster for Dracula.  Starting the game outnumbered 6:1, Dracula can’t afford to fight even up battles like this. 


Just to clarify, what if ALL groups on both sides passed their search rolls and were active to fight on round 1?  

That is just a straight up fight.  There are no decisions to make.  Dracula would roll 8 dice, the Muslims roll 5, you count hits and remove losses.  

The decisions on declaring attacks come up when the enemy has Groups that are lost:  failed their search roll and are Inactive.   

Real War vs Wargames

What is the difference between wargames and what really happens in war?  While working on our new Battle of the Bulge design, I can’t help but notice the impact of unit boundary lines.

 


Well it’s another cold snowy Sunday.  Too miserable to go out.  The perfect day to work on our Battle of the Bulge design.  Lol…  Is that a common wargamer thing or am I just a nut?  Do you guys do that too?  Play games like Battle of Moscow, Bulge and Austerlitz in the winter?  Then Vietnam, Pacific, North Africa in the heat of summer?  We need to make a Normandy Pub Battle that you can play at the beach!

 

I digress.  So we are working on our new Bulge game.  For a starting map, we just printed off a real military map of the battle.  We’ve come up with an OB and made a set of Kriegsspiel blocks set to scale for Divisions. 

 

 

In the opening turns, 5th Panzer Army in the center, did well and broken open the front easily.  6th Panzer to the north got stalled and bogged down. 

 

 

As a wargamer, I figured no problem.  Next turn, I’ll just reinforce success.  I’ll peel all the armor off of 6th Panzer and shift them south.  Leave the infantry there to keep slugging away.  I don’t want to hold up progress.  It is critical to drive as deep and fast as possible in the opening of the operation. 

 

That is all true but there is a huge problem with this in the real world:  the unit boundary line.  You can’t just randomly send units willy-nilly all over the map on a whim.  All of those free SS Panzer Divisions can’t move there.  That is out of there area of deployment and chain of command.  They are in the 6th Panzer Army.  All the openings are in 5th Panzer’s area of operation. 

 

But 5th Panzer doesn’t have enough free units to exploit this opening.  I know!!  The technical military term for this is:  SNAFU,  Situation Normal, All F*#%ed Up. 

 

I suppose you could make a shift like this but it would take time.  Meetings, order changes, reassignments, etc.  By the time you go through all of that, it’s too late.  The open door has been shut. 

 

Here is another issue.  Look at the German 7th Army down here in the south:

 

 

5th Panzer in the center has broken out.  They are spread pretty thin and dangerously stretched out.  7th Army is all bottled up.  All those units sitting there with nothing to do.  Why?  Unit boundary line.  In fact, look at the unit boundary line drawn for 7th Army.  It is the long skinny one drawn at the bottom of the map:

 

By the way, that is Patton’s 2 Corps sitting off the edge of the map waiting to come in as reinforcements later.

 

How is 7th Army even supposed to do that?  They are supposed to drive long and deep.  Fine along what MSR (main supply route)?  Look at the terrain.  Up and down hills, over rivers, through woods, no we’re not going to grandma’s house.  Not a single road to advance along.  Luckily most of the Army is infantry.  They only have 1 armored division and 1 mech division for support. 

 

Also, look to the south of 7th Army.  Clear open sailing!  Instead of trying to slog along west, I really wanted to break out south into Luxembourg.  Guess what?  Can’t.  It’s beyond the objective boundary.  Sigh. 

 

Who in the world drew this boundary line anyways?  Imagine being the 7th Army commander here.  I’d be pretty miffed.  I would have protested this mission up the chain of command right from the get go.  How could 7th Army ever get anywhere with this objective?  Of course, protesting the feasibility of orders up the chain, through the German High Command at this time wasn’t very productive. 

 


 

All of this raises a number of questions:

 

1)      How important is drawing unit boundary lines in orders?  Is this seemingly arbitrary task much more critical to the mission success than we realize? 

2)      Strictly following the historical boundaries at the opening of the Battle of the Bulge seems to have a huge impact.  Did these boundary lines doom the operation right from the get go?  (in addition to all the other problems working against the Wehrmacht.)   Could simply redrawing these lines and adjusting the opening OB create much better German results?

3)      What is your experience in real world, military operations with this?  Have you seen boundary line issues cause a mission to fail?  How much planning, effort and thought is actually put into drawing them?  How could this be better?

4)      From a game design perspective, should wargames enforce proper phase line and unit boundary limits?  Would that make them more accurate and better models?  Would that ruin them as games and make them less fun?  Would they be more fun?

5)      From a military science perspective, what can we learn from wargames?  How could this be used in real world command to improve unit performance?  Are Phase Lines and Unit Boundaries bad?  How could you command and conduct operations without them?  What type of command system would it take to allow real world units to freely shift as needed along the front without time delay and confusion?

 

What are your thoughts?  Comment below:

 

         

Supremacy Alliances

Sure, I’ll be your Ally….    Why not?  What is there to lose?  What is there to gain?  I can still attack you anytime I want.  Players always talk about being Allies but it doesn’t really mean anything.


This is a problem that plagues most multiplayer games.  Players can say anything.  What will they do?  If they can betray you and attack you at anytime, what good is an Alliance?   

What if it did mean something?  What if they really couldn’t attack you?  It was in the rules!  What if you also really got something out of it?  You could combine forces and coordinate together for attacks.  That would make an Alliance truly powerful.  

We have developed some new optional rules that you can add to Supremacy.  They do exactly that.  They put real meat into an Alliance.  They can’t just betray you.  It is against the rules.  Are they still willing declare an Alliance?  This completely changes the game. 

Where can you get these new Optional Rules?  They are now included in our Diplomatic Kit.   


IF

You were a Supremacy Backer

OR

Previously purchased the Diplomatic Kit,

Send us an email and we will send you a copy of these new Optional Alliance Rules for FREE!!

 

 

Dracula’s Brother

In our times, we rely on family for support.  We help each other.  Encourage each other.  Family is your foundation to build a life and face the world.  In a Medieval, aristocratic family, they were often your most dangerous enemy.

 

Dracula was the oldest son.  The oldest son inherits the throne.  Radu was Dracula’s younger brother.  What does the second oldest son get?  Comparatively, nothing.  Unless of course, something happens to Dracula….  There are many examples from this period, of  brothers, sisters, uncles, etc. murdering the next in line for the throne.  Only 1 person standing between you and the throne is a huge temptation.    

 

If Radu was a lot younger than Dracula, he would not have been as much of a threat.  If Radu was patient, he would likely have his own reign of power later.  They were however, only about 6-8 years apart.  Getting rid of Dracula was Radu’s only real chance at power. 

Vlad Dracul II

 

Their father, Vlad Dracul, rose to the throne of Wallachia by promising to pay taxes to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.  To further ensure his loyalty, he surrendered custody of his two sons to the Sultan. While there, they were both raped.  Dracula was filled with fury and hatred for Turks and Islam.  Ever wonder WHY  he enjoyed sodomizing Muslims with a 20’ pole?  Impaling them to hang on display and watching them slowly die for several days? 

 

Radu however, responded very differently.  He embraced Islam, the Turks and the culture.  Radu willingly remained in the Ottoman Empire and even became the Sultan’s lover.

 

Dracula, embraced Christianity.  He hated Islam.  When he assumed the throne, he refused to pay taxes to the Sultan.  The Sultan sent 2 envoys to Dracula, ordering him to report to Constantinople to discuss the situation.  The envoys had secret orders to capture and kill him as he crossed the Danube.  The savvy Dracula learned of the plot.  He seized and executed the Sultan’s envoys. 

 

Instead of continuing to Constantinople, Dracula marched to the Ottoman fortress of Guirgiu.  In perfect Turkish, he ordered the commander to open the gate.  He did!  Dracula’s soldiers simply walked in and sacked the fortress.  He then began a rampaging campaign, devastating Ottoman villages along the border, for “honor and the preservation of Christianity”.

 

The only remaining option for the Sultan was war.  Imagine being the Sultan.  If you win the war and kill Dracula, who are you going to replace him with?  The younger brother Radu, is the natural choice.  It is a pretty easy offer to sell:   Now is your chance!  You will never rule otherwise.  Besides, by this time Radu was a loyal and trusted friend and lover.

Vlad Dracula III

 

Dracula ruled with an iron grip of terror.  His reign meant hardship, blood and war.  Radu promised the opposite.  Leniency, peace and prosperity.  Yes, they would have to pay taxes to the Ottoman Empire but in exchange, their economy would flourish with increased trade.  Dracula was harsh and uncompromising.  Radu was agreeable, pleasant and diplomatic.  Wallachians weary of war, gradually switched allegiance to Radu.

Radu

 

Though Dracula fought and won many spectacular battles, overwhelming numbers forced him to withdrawal to the mountains of Transylvania.  He persisted in a guerrilla campaign but eventually gave up, seeking refuge in Hungary. 

 

Radu became the new ruler of Wallachia.  He remained in power for nearly 10 years.  He fought several campaigns against his son-in-law, Stephen III, who eventually defeated and executed him. 

 

Violent times, even for an agreeable and pleasant ruler.      

Dracula is Now Shipping!

Kickstarters are shipping.  The regular game is now available for purchase.  Check out Dracula:  Forest of the Impaled.

Affectionately dubbed ‘Risklvania’, this game is an interesting mix:

Things in common with Risk:

  • Short rules.
  • Easy to learn and play.

Things different about Dracula:

  • Short play time: 1-2 hours.
  • No player elimination.
  • No ‘Kingmaking’ or ‘prisoner’s dilemma’.

Instead, this game focuses on teamwork and communication.

Tracking Time

What is the Black die for?  Tracking time.

Play testing revealed that counters on turn tracks can get easily dislodged by unruly die rolls.  Counting turns with a big square die was much more stable and reliable. 

 What happens after turn 6?  Easy, just keep rotating.  Turn 7 would be a 1.  Turn 8 would be a 2 and so on. 


 While we are on the topic, how do you track commands for the turn?  You are of course free to do this anyway you want to but this is how we do it.

 We place chits near to turn die after they move.  If you string them out in a line, you have a record of who moved in what order. 

 

 We like to keep the pulled chits that haven’t moved separate, so it is easy to track where you are.  In this example, Greene and Knyphausen have already moved.  Sullivan was pulled to move next but he hasn’t moved yet.

Cornwallis successfully rolls to jump ahead.  So then we place his chit here:

 Sullivan rolls to jump ahead of Cornwallis but fails.  After Cornwallis actually moves, we would slide his command chit over like this: