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The Tuesday Interview – Tom Russell of Hollandspiele

Hollandspiele has joined the ranks of wargame publishers.  Tom stops by for a chat ~

Brant Guillory, 25 April 2017

So… another game company, eh?  Why break off and start your own publishing house instead of just bringing your games to an existing publisher?

Well, as far as my own designs go, I’ve done that. Of the twenty-five games I’ve had published, only six have come out through Hollandspiele. So, that’s nineteen times someone else has put up their money and said, okay, let’s have a go at this. And that’s satisfying and gratifying, but it has three real disadvantages.

Of the twenty-five games I’ve had published, only six have come out through Hollandspiele.

First, as far as monetary compensation goes, the designer really gets the short-end of the stick a lot of the time. This isn’t true all the time– I’ve had publishers that gave very generous royalties, and publishers that were a lot stingier. Now, I’m talking about wargames specifically here, because in the euro market, the designer gets better pay. I have a couple of euro-style games coming out in the next year or so from a certain publisher that I’m contractually unable to mention by name at this time, and my advance for that was more than the royalties on all my previous (non-Hollandspiele) games combined. So, with wargames, it’s a much smaller piece of the pie, though again, it varies. I was talking with a designer who is working with us on a game, and also has worked with GMT, and was surprised to hear that, in terms of royalty-per-copy, Hollandspiele pays better than GMT. Now, GMT has the volume, so they’re getting more money from GMT than they are from us, because they’re selling an order of magnitude more copies than we are. But still, I thought that was interesting, because while the royalties we give are more than what I got for most of my wargame designs, I didn’t think that our royalty rate was necessarily all that generous. I just thought it was equitable.

Unboxing B-17 Flying Fortress Leader

It’s a box that could break your toe if you drop it wrong, but what’s inside? ~

Michael Eckenfels, 22 April 2017

Mosby’s Raiders. Thunderbolt/Apache Leader. Patton’s Best. Cruel Necessity. These are but a few of my favorite solitaire games of all time, games I would be happy to return to the table any time, and each of which have prominent locations on one of my bookshelves. (Thunderbolt/Apache Leader happens to include both the DVG and GMT version, by the way.) Topping my list, though, is B-17: Queen of the Skies, a game by Avalon Hill from ancient times that I would easily play again and again without hesitation.

I was very interested when, quite a while ago, Dan at DVG made mention of a new tile they were working on – B-17 Flying Fortress Leader. My mind – and no doubt yours as well – instantly jumped to Queen of the Skies. Was it a remake? Was it a sequel? Was it an improvement? Most importantly, would it be good? I figured my time with this particular game would be a long time coming, so while I kept up with the thread in the GrogHeads forums to see where it was, I was very surprised when a copy landed on my doorstep today. Thanks to Dan and his team for sending this over for GrogHeads to get its paws on it and manhandle it appropriately.

This is the box – and holy crap is it hefty. I think I saw a post on Facebook in the Solitaire Wargames page that said it was 5.5 pounds; it feels more like 10, actually! Which means, mounted boards, tons of counters and cards, and just overall lotsa stuff packed into a large box.

The Tuesday Interview – Didier Rouy, Part Deux

Part 2 of 2, as Cyrano starts asking more Napoleonic questions ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 April 2017

When we last visited with Dr. Didier Rouy, he was discussing his Flight of the Eagle operational-level Napoleonic Kriegsspiel.  In this second half of the interview, he discusses crazy things wargamers can attempt in the RPG-like Kriegsspiel space; how bear hats and humming can scare grown men; how a tactical, Napoleonic wargame could have been influenced by Magic: The Gathering (shudder); and what might be next on his design table.

continuing the discussion from last week

c. You acknowledge the link between the Kriegsspiel-type games like Flight and role-playing games, something about which I tend to obsess.  One of the immense strengths of RPGs is the freedom to create it allows to both the game runner and the player.  What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen a Flight player try or argue he should be able to do in a game?

Oh Boy, that can be a long response ☺

The Tuesday Interview – Didier Rouy

Part 1 of 2, as Cyrano starts asking more Napoleonic questions ~

Jim Owczarski, 11 April 2017

There aren’t too terribly many people who can claim to have designed games about warfare while at the same time being able to consult on a wound from a musket ball.  Dr. Didier Rouy holds his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Paris – Diderot and his M.D. from the same institution, earning the former in 1992 and the latter in 1991.  In 1989, though, he published the first of what would eventually be over a dozen different Napoleonic wargames.  His Vive L’Empereur system has since produced eight volumes.  Even dearer to my own heart, he is the creator of the three-volume Vol de L’Aigle, an operational Napoleonic Kriegsspiel, as well as Le Combat de L’Aigle, a tactical system that can be used to work out battles in the operational game.

Dr. Rouy took time recently to answer questions about how he got started, how the whole medicine thing figured into his wargaming, and what is his deal with oblong unit counters.  His answers were so thoughtful — and so long — that this particular interview comes in two parts!

GrogHeads Central Command Origins Events

What’s coming up at Origins this summer? ~

GrogHeads Staff, 8 April 2017

Per GAMA, event registration goes live on 3 May.

What’s on tap this year?  Plenty!

  • Tournaments!  We’ve got afternoon/evening tournaments for Lock’n’Load Tactical, Quartermaster General, Spearpoint 1943, and Twilight Struggle
  • Team / Group events!  In addition to our Command Post Wargaming, we have a pair of Team COIN games back this year, plus big team games of Old School Tactical, Sergeants!, and Crucible of Force (Slaughter in the Snow).
  • Kids!  We’ve got a special wargaming program this year for the kids – yes, KIDS!  We’ve got 4 games that we’ll be running all weekend, in shorter 1-hour sessions.  And for any kid who plays all 4 games at least once each, we’ve got a special Junior General prize.  These games are for kids age 7-14, and they must have an adult come to the table with them.

Which companies are here with us?

  • Griggling Games!  Quartermaster General, and some expansions
  • Flying Pig Games!  Mark’s got 5 (five! fünf! cinco! V!) different games over the course of the weekend with us
  • Enterprise Games!  With their support for our GMT events again this year, we’ve Fields of Despair, Wing Leader Supremacy, some COIN events, C&C Ancients for the kids, and the Twilight Struggle tournament
  • Collins Epic Wargames!  We’re running Spearpoint 1943 events (for the kids, too), but look for Polyversal, also
  • Lost Battalion Games!  The always-awesome Sergeants! games are back, and look for their award-winning tiles, too
  • Proving Ground Games!  Bringing the lead to the battle, with their minis wargaming, and a special movie-monster scenario for the kids
  • Lock’n’Load Games!  Nations at War, LNLT, and tanks for the kids

Over 65 events across 4 days, for all your wargaming goodness.  Plus, show up Wednesday afternoon and see what the staff has on the table just for their own fun 🙂

When you’re looking for our events in the Origins master event grid, they all start with “GrogHeads Presents”.  We did that to make it easier to find when sorting through a giant spreadsheet with over 6000 events, however we stripped it out of the names on our event grid here just to simplify the listings.

Don’t forget that everyone who plays in our events gets a discount with our vendor partners, and gets entered for some great Sunday-morning raffle prizes.  There’s also at least one prize for one of the players at every one of our events.

Note that the kids’ events – as noted above – have a special prize for kids who check out all 4 of the different games, and do not have prizes for each individual event.

Click through for the sortable table of events

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics – EPIC!

Jim descends further into his Napoleonic madness with massive-scale gaming ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 March 2017

I have been waiting for this one for a long time.

It’s almost unreal to me that Battle Cry, the first of Richard Borg’s “Commands and Colors” series, was released in 2000.  I like the American Civil War well enough, but, from the beginning, I hoped that the simple, elegant system evident in the game could be elaborated into the best of all periods, Napoleonics.

In the years since, I’ve bought and happily played Memoir ’44 (2004), Commands and Colors: Ancients (2006), Battlelore (also 2006), not to mention the remarkable array of expansions, special editions, and the like for all these systems.  I gave Zvezda’s Samurai Battles a miss if only because it’s the only era covered that doesn’t appeal to me.

True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep.

And then it came out.  In 2010, GMT Games gave the waiting world Commands and Colors: Napoleonics.  Sure, it was wooden blocks not lovely figures.  Yes, it was the British, Spanish, and Portuguese versus the French.  And, yes, for reasons known only to the grim gods of game production, the Prussians were excluded from the included Waterloo scenario.  But it was Napoleonics and that, at first, was enough.

This was no longer the simplified rule set found in Battle Cry.  There was the forming of square; different grades of horse, foot, and guns; and even elegant rules to differentiate leaders and national troop characteristics.  In the latter case, French troops, and their famous columns, fight better in melee, while the British lines do real damage with ranged fire, &c.

After much fun was had, though, it was ultimately not enough.  True Napoleonic wargamers are obsessed with scope, spectacle, and sweep.  It is this that leads us to do really, really dumb things like this: Historicon 2010 Part V Wagram (Shako II) and Outro

For the record this is my shaky-cam — I’ve become better — but this game had run 14 hours before I had to leave with it far from finished.

A Look at the Playthrough Gaming Convention

We sortied out to the local game convention for a load of photos, and more ~

Brant Guillory, 26 February 2017Playthrough-Logo

Raleigh, NC has a pretty thriving game community – 2 local colleges have digital game design programs, there are at least 4 pretty active game clubs, and all three major game stores are packed most nights for any combination of D&D Encounters, minis warfare, Friday Night .\\agic, or general board gaming.  The Triangle Simulation Society runs 2 minis-focused conventions each year, but this year the Playthrough Gaming Convention took over one of the exhibit halls at the Raleigh Convention for a weekend of digital, tabletop, and live-action gaming, as well as seminars, tournaments, and a costume contest.

Looking over the gaming hall. Booths in the front, video games on the right, and tabletops in the back.

Looking over the gaming hall. Booths in the front, video games on the right, and tabletops in the back.

GrogHeads Reviews High Treason!

See you in court! ~

Jim Owczarski, 18 February 2017

Function before form!

Function before form!

My love of the Napoleonic era is high, wide, and deep, but I’ve always taken the age of empire to be my second true love, if such a thing can be countenanced.  Much of my early study of the era came from Jan Morris’ Pax Britannica trilogy, particularly the first volume, Heaven’s Command.  Far from an academic exercise, it’s an evocative series of sketches of the men and women who peopled the British empire, giving more weight, it has always seemed to me, to the interesting as opposed to the more objectively significant, although one can certainly be both.