Hello everyone! Happy new year and all, I hope you all had a great holiday.
The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me. While I have finally moved, I also adopted two kittens to help with the generalized loneliness of working from home all day, granted now it’s 2 tiny mouths I need to feed so that of course means, more games!
1987: Glad to report that this game is almost finally ready to ship out. I had hoped to get this out quicker along with 1864 but put simply, the game was not ready and needed more work. We’ve done about 3-4 drafts of the rules and I think they are really solid now. As soon as I get all the final components and OK the final draft, I will likely start shipping these out as playtesting has proved fruitful.
1864: We are in the thick of development on 1864 now. The game was initially way more complicated than it is now, with enlarged ‘Battle Hexes’ to resolve combat, but this proved way too granular for the limitations of the 2140 series. It would have brought the playing time way up along for no real return on fun. I have reworked this game to play more like a traditional wargame. 1864 wont be doing anything that new or revolutionary, but I hope it provides an intuitive, quick playing simulation on a conflict people have often overlooked.
1995: In the process of rewriting the rules for this one now. They are essentially done, but I have been going over everything with all the fixes from 1987 as to cut down on development time. 1995 will probably be the PCS game with the least bells and whistles, but will be the most focused on operations and management with the introduction of Support Points, points that can be spent on additional DRM during combat. We have also sorted out Foot, Motorized and Mechanized movement having them interact with the Terrain chart in their own way.
DAMOS (AGN, AGC, AGS): Some updates on the upcoming WW2 series. Testing proved that ultimately 2 things had to be changed. Combat is now instantaneous as opposed to during it’s own phase. While this is less like Russian Front, one of my favorite wargames, it proved untenable mechanics wise. It would have required more counters to keep track of how many MP were spent on each combat to be referenced during a combat phase. We also got rid of Reserve mode/counters. With the step loss markers (should you decide to use them, or the unit tallies), there will be enough density on the board already. This lowers the playing time a bunch though and will facilitate adding all the games together, you could even have teams playing each map at the same time. Some have expressed concern to me privately about using step loss markers with stacking limits as high as 3-4 units, while that is a fair point, only SP losses can elegantly represent losses and the overall loss of quality over time. Ultimately, this is for the best given the Operational/Strategic scope of the game, and the limitations of the 2140 series materials. We will be offering additional SP Loss counters for around 6 bucks a pop.
Slogball: Cricket In The 19th Century: Fairly excited about this one. I have always been mystified by Cricket as what seemed to me, as an American, as an avant-garde version of baseball with no strikes. My crude attempt at oversimplification aside, as someone who generally is not very interested in sports, Cricket is a fairly fascinating game. It’s origins hark back to the 16th century, which makes sense if you think (even more crudely) of the wickets as little castles you are trying to take down with a ball and paddle. Strategy in cricket being more nuanced, as when to declare or retire and switch to the defensive/offensive, but similar in its basic performative structure makes it a great choice for a simulations game. Inspired by the best selling Deadball and Deadball 1909 by W.M Akers, I am really excited about this one.
Further down the line…
I am considering the possibility of using CSL to publish some of my earlier games, though because of their size, that of a normal wargame, will end up being more expensive than the 2140 series due to costs of POD materials and NYC rent. These will range depending on the amount of content included with the games.
Anyway, thanks for reading, as always you can get at me here, CSW, BGG, or Facebook
Introducing the Destroy All Monsters Operational Series of Games
A Sub-Series of Conflict Simulations LLC’s 2140 Series.
The Destroy All Monsters Operational Series (DAMOS) is a rules-engine for simulating WW2 at either an operational or strategic level. Each game by itself covers a theater, or period of WW2. Nearly all of the games will be stand-alone except for some of the campaign specific games that will tie disparate parts of the series together. The first in this sub-series of games is on Operation Barbarossa, Army Groups North, Center and South. When combined together, it simulates the entire 1941 campaign on the Eastern Front. A later expansion will cover years 1942-1944. Eventually, we would like to cover the entire war on both sides of the globe.
The main goal of this series is to create an intuitive, quick playing series that would appeal to the vast diaspora of WW2 wargamers that is neither too large a footprint nor a fortune. Players would be able to purchase games on the theaters they are interested in and pass on others. The following is a discussion of the combat mechanics which simulate engagements between forces (note, that a force is defined as a unit or a stack, most wargamers can follow what I’m talking about, sorry if you can’t.)
Combat in DAMOS is a straightforward process that involves both players totaling the number of opposing Strength Points (SP) in a single hex (all combat is in-hex at a scale of around 25 miles per hex) and then both rolling on a Combat Result Table (CRT). Those of you familiar with the combat procedure in 1812 will find this system to be similar but nevertheless different in several key ways. Both players roll 1-3 six-sided dice depending on the number of SP present in a hex modifying the roll in 2 different ways.
The attacker modifies dependent on the Movement Points (MP) spent on attack planning, during the movement phase, a step loss marker is temporarily used to mark either 1 or 2 mp spent on an individual combat. The defender modifies his die roll dependent on the terrain they are occupying and any hexside terrain the attacker is crossing. Attacking across a bridge generates positive CRT shifts for the defender possibly allowing them to roll more dice on the attack. Air Support grants a CRT shift for either side along with allowing the player to reroll a single d6 during combat. Individual games may also grant additional combat shifts or DRM for various aspects of support and auxiliary attachments.
Design wise, this is done to introduce a full spectrum of probabilities to combat. Lower numbers of units will grant a more unpredictable result (1d6) whereas higher numbers of units generate bell curves (2-3d6). CRT results are given in Loss Points (suffered by the highest SP unit in a force) which players mark with Step Loss markers (each SP is the equivalent of 1 step). A winner/loser is determined by comparing losses (defender winning ties unless a ♥ or ♦ card suit symbol indicates otherwise). The loser is forced to retreat 2-3 hexes, but if defending across a bridge or in a major city, they may absorb those retreat results through further step losses.
This approach allows for the game to accurately and quickly simulate maneuvers at an operational level by using strategic pacing. In-hex combat also cancels an Enemy Zone of Control (EZOCs) allowing units to run buckwild passed engaged units. Using otherwise established movement and supply rules allows players the freedom of operational games while encouraging players to follow similar strategies that were used historically. As with most of my games, I strive for an immersion in-game that allows players to forget they are playing a game and presented with the same choices, problems and considerations as their historical counterpart (army level commanders).
Once I figure out how, I will be putting up a poll to determine the next games in the DAMOS series. So far, we are still on track for a late Jan release, at worst early Feb. A special thank you to all of you who have pre-ordered the game so far and I hope this gets you excited about what is to come.
Ray Weiss - CEO of Conflict Simulations LLC
I’ve gotten many requests to detail some of my ideas and systems for AGN, AGC, and AGS and this blog post is here to help. I love Barbarossa games, what purveyor of the hobby doesn’t? There are for arguments sake, a billion of them already done, why bother doing another game on Barbarossa? Let me detail my reasons/grudges.
Size Kind of Matters
With the exception of AH and other classic publishers, many operational games on Barbarossa are gigantic. That’s all well and good unless you’re like me and live in an apartment, maybe with cats, or a significant other who will get mad at you for having a sprawling game out on the dining room table.
Scale Kind of Matters
Many Barbarossa games are at a Strategic scale, nothing wrong with that other than games can kind of devolve into a glorified chess match given the mass of the historical OOBs. Given the size of the theater and cost considerations, this ultimately makes ‘fiscal’ sense for most big budget companies.
History Really Fucking Matters
When was the last time you played a Barbarossa game that produced a historical result? I mean maybe some people have seen a very close German win but unless you have a relatively brain-dead Russian player, its fairly standard to figure out a way through ZOCs and terrain to slow down any panzers chugging along. This, at least to me, is something lacking in every single Barbarossa game, Stalin’s orders were not to retreat anywhere, any the Russians need victory conditions early on that they can win for blunting the German advance enough to prevent a historical result.
Every good Barbarossa game has a number of what-if options that allow for further historical uncertainty. A stronger Italian contingent fresh of a successful Balkan campaign, Turkish intervention, Early Finnish/Romanian intervention etc. This isn’t so much a gripe as it is something I think some games do well, with topics done over and over again such as these it's a necessity.
So with all of that said, let's talk about the design thesis for these games. The Barbarossa Trio of AGN, AGC and AGS seeks to fulfill a need in the industry for small-footprint yet granular simulations of every wargamer’s favorite subject. The fact that WW2 games sell better doesn’t hurt either, but in all seriousness, I want these games to be so intuitive that you can pull them out the box and after reading a quick summary of the rules, be ready to set-up and play.
Some of the more in the weeds discussion about the design ideas. I am a huge fan of AH’s Russian Front in terms of how it handles ZOCs, and have thought that with a historical setup or some incentive to replicate Stalin’s orders, the game quite elegantly allows the German player to truly achieve the massive and satisfying encirclements that historically occurred. Some changes would need to be made though for the operational scale of the game and I am currently working those out in experiments. I am so far leaning towards a simple move, fight, exploit sequence, but I am also experimenting with counter move/attack phases. Motorized/Mechanized units are likely to have some special characteristics in relation to movement, but I am currently working out the exact effects of ZOCs so I need to figure these out first. Likely, ZOCs will add +1 MP to leg units, but not motor/mech units who will have more freedom operating around enemy units. Turns are likely to be around 2 weeks, and hexes about 24 miles per hex.
Anyway, hopefully that satisfies your interest in the series, I will post more from my experiments as I plan on a deep dive on this next weekend, have been dealing with a number of household things distracting me from business, but im getting back on the work train. Hoping to have 1987 and 1864 finished this month, though with the holiday it could be that they don’t get shipped till after, either way I will post rules and Vassal modules as usual.
Past few weeks have been fairly stressful with friends/family health issues but things are finally starting to calm down a bit. 1950 is now shipping and we are hoping to start shipping 1812 this or next week. Hoping we can get 1864 out by the end of the month.
We have 4 (maybe 5) games planned for late DEC early JAN:
1995: Milosevic’s Last Gamble (PCS # 3)
Army Group North
Army Group Center
Army Group South
1968: Tet (PCS #4)
Hauberk: 900-1100 AD (game by Ryan Kirk, designer of Battle of Donetsk Airport)
Otherwise, you can now also download the rules + vassal module for 1916 and 1950 without buying anything, allowing you to try out the games. As soon as 1812 is shipping, I will be posting the rules and module as well.
Another exciting project, we may be getting into a limited Old School Role-Playing (OSR) game release. OSR has been growing in popularity in past years, but the most popular clones started with the “1st” edition of AD&D. For years, I played the shit out of the 1974 Original Edition version, the white box with 3 booklets. The game is fairly silly and unbalanced but it is the weirdest most fun iteration of the genre. So we will be working on a new old school clone meant to not only recreate the old school experience of the mid 70s, but include rules that cover settings like Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha. I can’t imagine this will sell all that well, but its more of a vanity project for me I suppose.
Anyway, keep in mind if you ordered multiple games, you will be getting them once all are printed. Shoot me a message if you want to get your games earlier.
I’ve been working myself into oblivion lately, but I have no time to bitch so have been plowing through getting things all ready to ship this month. 1916 is now shipping and I’m super thankful to those who pre-ordered the game, you’re the best <3
Apart from chain-smoking and staring at the screen, I’ve forced myself to take periodic breaks for the first time in a while. I feel a little less stressed so that’s a net positive. I got to play some gamma world over my birthday and it reminded me how much I love and miss playing RPGs, my first game to get published was an RPG as well. CSL may do a release of a tribute to the 1974 edition of D&D and all of the sister games like Metamorphosis Alpha and others. Been talking to a friend of mine who is well better versed in RPG publishing and we may team up for this, so stay tuned (also, I have a hilarious pdf of a cyberpunk RPG I never released written a decade ago, if you want it, shoot me an email through the contact form and I’ll oblige.)
I am somewhat nervous about how 1916 will be received. It is my first wargame to actually get published, even if on my own, and most of everything outside of the art, editing and formatting was done by Matt and I, me being new to nearly all of this along with Matt to a lesser extent. I’ve been worried like a terrified professor in a Lovecraft novel but that probably has more to do with my generalized anxiety. In all seriousness though, I hope you guys like the game, if you don’t and you hate it, I’m really sorry, I would love to hear from you as to why you disliked the game or felt that something was poorly done or represented. I’ve stated from the beginning that mistakes would probably be made, errata might happen, but I can assure you that I’m working my ass off non stop to make sure they don’t suck lol.
Anyway, we could use some more dedicated playtesters, people who can communicate and commit to play within a quick time frame as the amount I am having to test my games is frustratingly burning me out. To be honest I don’t even enjoy playing games nearly as much as I do designing them anymore. I can’t remember the last time I played a game other than my own at this point and that kind of sucks lol. Anyway, I’ll keep testing etc and roll with punches but if you want to help out with that, shoot me a note.
That said, we are actively planning new games for November-December. 1995 will be the 3rd PCS game covering a what if situation in Yugoslavia, and that may be followed by the October war and/or Tet. One of these days I will do a deep dive on the PCS system an why I believe it really works well for modern conflict simulation with a low level of overhead. Until then, I will keep my head down and keep working. I need a vacation or something lol. Anyway, thanks and goodnight.
The following is from a short guide I am writing on contemporary, amateur wargame design that I plan on working on for the next few years:
2.2.1 Prussian Space-Time Theory & The OODA Loop
OODA stands for observe, orient, decide, act, and in military terms is usually referred to how quickly a force can act upon receiving new information. One of the most severe historical examples of this concept in action is the first few months of the Franco Prussian War in 1870. The French army, who was highly regarded by most of Europe at this point, was utterly destroyed and conquered in less than 2-3 months by a united Germany. While the armies looked somewhat even on paper, the French army was constantly paralyzed by an inability to act. A commander would get shot and the unit would wait for hours until receiving orders to act. Troops would fail to follow the sound of guns without direct orders to do so, and the French army structure was simply incapable of this kind of flexibility given the French tradition of having the Emperor (Napoleon III at that time) command the whole army. While this worked for his uncle Bonaparte, Napoleon III was no tactical genius and suffering from gout for most of the war, he eventually was surrounded and gave up his empire on September 1st at the Battle of Sedan.
The Prussian army on the other hand, was in a perfect position to exploit this inflexibility because wargaming had come up with a new warfighting concept loosely translated as Mission Command. Mission Command meant empowering officers at a tactical level make decisions based on their own their own initiative and experience. The main result of these ideas being the Prussians were able to do several things in the time it took the French to do one thing. This breakthrough was simply too decisive for the French to make use of their superior technology or numbers in instances where they had the edge, like at Mars La Tour how the whole of the French army basically froze unable to retreat because of the harassment from a few Prussian corps.
There is a solid reason I went into this tangent, it’s because this phenomenon in military history is something that would be relatively easy to abstract and replicate in game form, it's also necessary to do for a wargame. Let's say you are designing a card game on this conflict, and each card in your hand represented various maneuvers your forces could make. Germany could, for example, have 5 cards in their hand as opposed to 4 for the French. That example is fairly quaint but the same concept applies on a number of levels. In a chit pull wargame, where units would be activated by drawing markers randomly out of a cup, we could put several activation chits for the Prussian units and only several for the French, meaning the Prussian side can act more times during a turn. A final example i’ll use is the idea of initiative, say units have a rating, 2-5 that represent their ability to think on their feet. We could give Prussian infantry brigades an infantry of 3 compared to a two for the french. Initiative would then be checked during a turn if units were, for example, outside of the command range of a leader.
Your ability to synthesize your research into concrete ideas for game design will ultimately depend on your knowledge of the topic and experience. In the most crude sense, you are simply applying abstractions and probabilities to your research, but depending on the scale, it can become more complicated. What I’d like you to take from this tangent is that a wargame must reflect actual history and not just simply in theme, if you are going to design mechanics around history, you need players to feel as though they are taking part in history, and the best way to do so is immerse them into the subject through relevant mechanics that require them to focus on the bigger picture.
BOY the past week has been an absolute shitshow for me. First off, I want to apologize for not getting the games out faster, but at the same time I kind of don’t apologize because I’ve been taking the extra time to double check and fine tune everything so what you get is the best possible thing I can produce.
You may have noticed, but I have commissioned all new covers for all the games. My art is fairly terrible and I wanted to create something that looked professional. Now thanks to Ivan Caceres, we have some amazing looking covers coming up. He has also done all the counters for 1916 and 1864. 1916 I got fairly lucky to have a play-tester point out to me that my OOB was a month off. After pulling my hair out for an hour or two I reworked the OOB to include everything that was actually there at start, and reconfigure a bunch of variables regarding Admin Points due to the new units. There are now approximately double the number of combat units than when I started.
After the emergency with 1916, I then continued with working on play-testing and development changes for 1950. As of all the games I’ve created, I may be the most proud of 1950. Inspired by Adam Starkweather’s game on the same subject, OSS KOREA by Compass Games, 1950 plays kind of like a bastardized, miniaturized homage. One unique aspect I manged to develop was the use of Randomized Combat Chits, though clearly not groundbreaking, I think it especially resonates well when it comes to modern combat. 1950 will reward the player for historical tactics but there is no promise that they will lead to victory. 1950 will also be the first game of my new Procedural Combat Series, which will focus on post WW2 wars and large scale battles.
The next game for the PCS series will be 1987, and then we are thinking about some others like what-if Yugoslavia in the 90s, Arab Israeli wars, and the Tet offensive. Anyway the next crisis I had to defuse was the formatting for all of this great new art and some of our rules was not to the publisher’s specifications. Everything had to be redone, this was a nightmare to get right but I have two people competent at these things in charge of getting everything ready for the printer now, as I know little to nothing about formatting and don’t have the patience for it.
Apart from dealing with that crisis, we began to rework 1812 because our illustrious map artist, Ilya Kudriashov, pointed out to me that the way I had fortresses and cities setup was completely a-historical, along with some of my assumptions about the war in general. What is now resulting is what I can say is an extremely unique set of rules where both cities and fortresses only exist in hexsides and they have no effect on combat, only morale and VP. This radically changes how most wargames work and I am working furiously on incorporating those changes and getting them to playtesters.
So again, I apologize for not getting the games out sooner, but there have been good reasons and you would have hated me more if everything came out shitty. I can guarantee that wont be a problem now. I may have underestimated how frustrating this process would be but I remain steadfast in the amount of work I pour into these every day.
We are hard at work getting 1916 up to snuff for release. We got word right at the last minute that our OOB was off by a month, so we hired an artist to add the correct OOB and add the old OOB as reinforcements. I and developer Matt are expecting to get proof copies for the final that we will be checking for final changes by this weekend.
1916: Hopefully shipping by early next week.
1950: Hopefully shipping by late next week, early the week after.
1812 & 1987: First week or 2 of November.
1864: Middle to end of October
Keep in mind that these only apply if you have ordered games individually, if you ordered a group of games, we will send your order once all games are ready. If you wish to get any of your games earlier or wish for some other arrangement, or want to complain or ask any questions, please feel free to contact us here.
Finally, we will have several copies of our games to buy at a discount at FaTDoG this year, come say hi if you plan on attending! Oh and I almost forgot, once we have everything finalized for 1916, we will email out modules and rules to all customers.
In the Americas where I grew up (NYC), the Second Schleswig war is unheard of. I would not be surprised of less than .0001% of people were aware of it’s occurrence. This makes a bit of sense taking into account the American Civil War and the enormous impact it would have on industrial warfare to come. The Danish war of 1864 on the other hand had more implications for the balance of power in Europe, implications that Napoleon III of France blatantly ignored directly leading to the rapid fall of the Second French Empire in 1870. As recently as a year or so ago, a major Danish TV series on the war won international acclaim as it chronicled the demise of Denmark as a regional European power. Prussia and Austria would shortly be at each others throat in 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War over supremacy in Germany after which Prussia reigned supreme. After Bismarck had masterfully goaded Napoleon III into giving into French public pressure to advance into Germany on the offensive, the German world united and bypassed the French army on it’s flanks, threatening the French rear right at the outset of the war.
At the outset of the design process for this game, I had decided that I wanted the game to straddle 2 scales, operational and tactical. The reason for this being is that at either scale by themselves, the war as a simulation struggles as a game. For one thing, the theater of war is relatively tiny, the only other game I know of to cover the war, Blood & Iron by Mike Benninghoff/Pacific Rim, does so as a tiny scenario that only uses a small portion of the map. Hence it becomes limiting to attempt at an operational scale as there is little opportunity for maneuver. Tactically, the battles themselves were in many ways very straightforward. The Danish would entrench, rely on fortresses, and attempt to use their Naval supremacy to transport men in order to threaten the German rear isolating both German armies as in the First Schleswig war. The German armies on the other hand would seek out the Danish flank and press them continuously, along with using heavy artillery to decimate Danish fortresses and entrenched positions. This pattern repeated itself throughout the entire war.
My solution design-wise to the challenges inherent to the conflict in regards to simulation was two-fold. My two objectives were to 1, allow players to gain some insight as to the challenges and tactics used during 1864 and 2 to provide enough player choice and variation that players weren’t railroaded into a predetermined narrative. In order to do this, I drew inspiration from an old and quirky Chadwick game, Crimea which deals with the Crimean war during a similar period and using a similar scale. In that game, whenever units end up adjacent after a strategic movement phase, it scales down to a separate action phase in which goes on as long as units remain next to each-other. This seemed like the most complementary approach as it gives both sides plenty of opportunities at a scale of 2.5 miles per hex. The second part of my design drew inspiration from Eric Lee Smith’s recent Battle Hymn from Compass Games, given that it presents a very interesting way to represent tactical combat at a brigade level, splitting Strength Points into adjacent hexes depending on enemy Zones of Control. This led to me creating separate battle maps to resolve combat with a scale of about 700 yards per hex. On the battle maps, players engage in a sequence of steps called an action phase, and resolve the effects of each battle on the map, ending once no enemies remain adjacent.
What results is probably my most complicated game yet, not so much because the processes themselves are complex, but they are unique to a few games that are unique in themselves and possibly counter-intuitive to some gamers. Those who stick it out though will be rewarded with an original, quick playing, enjoyable and accurate simulation of one of military history’s most neglected conflicts.
I’ll be putting this up for pre-order hopefully around this weekend.
1812 is a subject I’ve always been fascinated with, while simultaneously wondering why there weren’t more games on the subject. Apart from the conflict in the Americas, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was one of the more ambitious gambits in all of history other than the Swedish attempted conquest of Russia in the early 18th century. Both efforts would ultimately fail in part to similar factors. Both Karl and Napoleon’s armies were extremely far from their sources of supply, their lines of communication being extended far beyond the limits of what was possible in either century. While Napoleon had reached Moscow, the Russians rendered this massive achievement meaningless by burning down Moscow and retreating further into Russia to regroup.
The end result of the domestically unpopular strategy of scorched earth and fighting withdraws was decisively devastating for the French and the repercussions were far too grave for the French to ever recover, directly leading to the capture of Paris in 1814. Scorched earth tactics meant that the French could not draw any supplies from cities they had just captured. While this may seem like a relatively minor concern in more modern conflict, this tactic forced an army to be increasingly reliant on a supply train, something that was never really reliable until the dawn of the 20th century. Armies during the Napoleonic era, much like armies before, helped to sustain the good morale of their men and their basic needs by plundering anywhere they captured for supplies. This was a more nuanced issue for the French as some peoples would prefer the French to their own rulers, but the further the French pushed into Russia, the more hostile the country came surrounding the French army, dangerously overextended.
Accordingly, 1812 focuses on the nature of what is truly decisive in war. Clausewitz famously posits that war is an extension of politics, which boils down to basically say it is impossible to win a war without clear political objectives. Without clear political objectives, there can be no decisive result in war. The French player must decide on 1 of several ways to win the game, by either eliminating as many Russian units as possible, taking cities before Russia burns them down, and/or winning “decisive” battles defined as when players have enough SP involved that they both throw 3d6 during combat. The Russian player must finesse his forces to nudge the French into trying to do too much at once, so they can appropriately bring in reinforcements to counterattack the French army when weakens. Supply and Command points play roles in how effective units can be, or what units may activate.
ANYWAY I am fairly excited about 1812, it’s been a lot of fun to playtest and getting good feedback from one or two players, so we look forward to getting this title shipped out at the end of a week or two.
Owner/Operator at CSL
One of the better pieces of wargame design advice I’ve ever received, I think it came from Kevin Zucker’s game design dispatches, was that (and I am loosely paraphrasing here,) the best wargames tend to focus on one idea that the designer wants to showcase above all others. One old S&T game I am forgetting the name of (by Joe Miranda, maybe Wars of the Imperial Age?) had players rolling on a march chart every time they wanted to move to represent commanders not being able to accomplish everything they want in a given time. An example of this in action in one of Zucker’s games is where player’s roll dice in order to see if their headquarter units can exert full control over subordinate units within its command range, if not within range of a higher level headquarters.
It has taken me a while to get to a point where I realized how true this concept was, at least when it came to doing simulations as opposed to straight up games. Simulations can easily get bogged down when they attempt to simulate too many things at once. This can easily be seen in a number of later game that try to do a million things at once. That’s not to say those games aren’t fun, or that they don’t simulate something accurately, but it can get cumbersome and fatiguing to play.
One thing that works congruently with the format of the 2140 series is that given counter and package limitations, it forces me to concentrate on a point I want to get through to the player. One thing that consistently bugged me about games on Verdun was that while all of them feature attrition as a backdrop to tactical maneuvers, there were little to no games focused on the campaign at an operational scale which can better represent the combined effects of attrition. So the main focus of 1916 is Administration Points, which function as an abstraction of national morale, politics, bureaucracy and production. Players can burn these points in combat, attrition, or planning operations but must do so intelligently or they risk completely overstretching their forces and then unable to effectively react and maneuver to an opponent.
Most games on Korea (with most notably the exception of Starkweather’s magnificent OSS Korea) players know the makeup and relative competency of their forces. In reality, nearly all the forces were untested and green and there were wild variations in how units performed. Occasionally a green US task force would hold up an entire North Korean division, all while tanks menacingly rolled onto the Pusan Perimeter.In 1950, units are only given a unit quality rating, and movement allowance. Their combat strength is determined randomly, and then resets at the end of each half-month, two of those in a game turn. 1950 also uses a back and forth activation sequence that forces advance planning on both sides without knowing how those units perform beforehand, to a combat factor accountant’s dismay.
I am merely a manic amateur wargame designer but I’ve often told friends that I believe wargame design is not dissimilar to academia or creating and supporting an argument as in writing a paper in school. One must be able to support their ideas with clear sources and evidence. The art of wargame design at least to me then becomes how well one is able to transfer that argument into what essentially is a repeating set of instructions, much like an analog computer program. In my view, a game succeeds when it is able to allow the player to immerse themselves within the constraints of the command decisions made by those with the insight or initiative to do so successfully.
In closing, I propose that some of the most successful simulations hammer down on a single point they want to make, and then build the game around that point. I’ve already made some examples of games that do so but a total classic which represents this idea fully is PanzerGruppe Guderian, with it’s untested Russian units having both players with little to no idea where the majority of the Russian forces are located. Most of, if not all of the 2140 series games are being designed with this in mind. Each game has it’s own thesis from which the rest of the game is built around.
Hello all. I’m thrilled to let you all know that today we have started accepting pre-orders for our first 3 games, 1916, 1950 and 1812. Verdun will likely be finished first, followed by the others later this month. I am doing everything I can do to make sure these games are quality, fun, and worth your hard earned money. This company is my dayjob, and I plan on being as active as possible to focus on little else.
2 more games are currently in development which were meant to be released with the first 3, but because of a mixup they got pushed back a little bit. Those two games are 1987 (ww3) and 1864 (second schleswig war). After those I am planning on a few different ideas, possibly branching out into other strategic games outside of wargaming. We are also considering the possibility of printing larger footprint games for sale.
Thank you to all of those who bought games today, and I will be sending out Vassal modules and rules shortly. Please feel to reach out about your orders, any questions or concerns.
Ray Weiss - CSL Owner & Operator
As of out last post, we were planning on 1987 being our 3rd game out of 5 to be available at launch, but fate has intervened because I am a moron and misunderstood various map negotiations. Thankfully my incompetence hasn’t sank this venture before it has started and we are still on track to launch in a week or so, but with 3 games at launch instead of 5, the three being 1916, 1950 and 1812. I felt this gives a good range of eras and in terms of playtesting, these are the most solid so far so we decided to go with these three for the release.
As of this morning, we are nearly finished with the playtesting process for 1916. Admittedly, our process is recklessly expedited given my plan to launch so quickly, but we only have myself to blame for that. That said, I feel pretty confident in how 1916 is turning out given it has created the same historical ebb/flow of the frontline during the campaign. The focus on Administrative points is key as there is little other way to tie in the combined effects of attrition on both planning, and operations.
Oh and I nearly forgot the good news, We have secured a contract for 4 maps with one of wargaming’s hardest working and reliably solid artists in the industry, and we will reveal them along with some of their work for us next week, but they will be doing the map art for releases 2-5.
Our focus for this coming week is getting the 2 remaining games ready for launch. If you send us any proposals, it is likely I will not be able to review them until November, as of now this will soon be my only means of income and I will need to be focused on getting things up and running, until they are doing so.
In closing, apologies for the delay in posting but a lot has been going on behind the scenes. I haven’t taken a day off in over a month and I don’t care given I am so excited about being able to produce these games. If I can figure it out this week, I will start allowing people to pre-order items at an even better discount than our launch prices.
Ray Weiss - Owner/Operator @ CSL
Immediately after designing 1950, I realized that a slightly modified system using the same mechanics would be perfect for other modern engagements. The reason for this being the fast moving back and forth turns, plus the generalized confusion from not knowing what strength your units will end up with until the last minute. I decided on doing a hypothetical situation in order to test the limits of this system
The game adds in several new mechanics to the same generalized flow of 1950. The situation itself is based on the original intent of the Russian invasion of East Prussia in 1914. Two Russian armies moved west and were supposed to meet outside what was the Konigsberg, the seat of Prussian power in Germany. Tactically, the situation resembles what the Russian army had intended in 1914, though admittedly the situation itself is a-historical.
This game is simply meant to be a good time, most people enjoy the eastern front and WW3, so it made sense to combine the two. In addition, the absence of NATO heavyweights such as the US, UK, FR etc, it gives the players an interesting opportunity to maneuver with an interesting, historically accurate order of battle. Note that the above are playtest components, thanks for reading :)
1950 is the very first original game I’ve designed that takes place after WW1. I specifically wanted to design a Korea game that did not feel like it was scripted to recreate the campaign, but rather one that encouraged those tactics and maneuvers. Additionally, I didn’t want a game that accountants could abuse or break with strength factor counting, this felt totally antithetical to the nature of the Korean war in which everything seems confused and unknown.
After originally considering a more traditional approach to the war with attack and defense factors, exploitation phases and an IGOUGO sequencing, I then decided on trashing all of those ideas and starting fresh. I had recently played Starkweather’s OSS KOREA game and felt inspired enough by it to try to come up with similar ideas and approaches. I finally felt satisfied settling on the random combat chit resolution to stop players from what I saw as the wrong kind of gamey planning (not that I have anything against games that promote that type of thinking, like The Russian Campaign , Africa Korps etc, but they have already been done and done well.)
The combat chits create a more accurate experience by removing some of the domain battlespace knowledge inherent in most games, you only know the type, quality of a unit, and how far it can move. The exception to this is airpower as in order to accurately represent the strategic situation, players must be able to figure out how best to use air assets to support their units through the various options. Anyway, I ended up really liking this game of mine in terms of how I think it plays, no other korea game plays like it and it can get very interesting solo. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed designing it :)
1916 is our first game of the 2140 series covering the Verdun campaign at an operational scale. Many of the available games on Verdun are solely focused on the tactical situation at Verdun, which really pays little to no justice as to the actual objective of the Verdun campaign: attrition. Falkenhayn had wanted to both physically and emotionally drain the French by forcing them to defend a large flank attack against France’s most iconic fortress.
1916 uses Administrative Points to represent logistical, political and strategic capabilities available to each side. The campaign was a massive resource drain on both sides given the number of shells, men, and guns being gone through on a daily basis. No simulation would be comprehensive without placing this burden on the player. Players receive a finite number of Administrative Points making it impossible to possibly do everything a player wants, only what is absolutely necessary. The game also features tactical chrome such as hurricane barrages, flamethrowers, French Elan, and stripping fortress guns.
Ultimately, the French won at Verdun due to their innovations in defensive tactics. The French defended Verdun in the field in depth as opposed to from the fortresses. By the end of the Verdun campaign, it was clear to Falkenhayn that the effort was no longer worth the returns when French and German manpower evened out at a similar level. The French had figured out the solution to the Bruchmiller artillery tactics that had so dominated the war up to this point through their defensive tactics, though a decisive end to the war would not come until years later.
Playtest kits have been sent out as of last week and we are in the final playtest/development phase for the game. We have a great stable of playtesters at CSL but given the number of releases we plan on doing, we can always use more! As a playtesters, you receive a free demo copy of the game along with thanks and credit in the rules. That said, we expect our playtesters to quickly and thoroughly playtest given the games are designed to be playable in 2 hours, and we run on a fairly tight schedule for the sake of my continued survival and ability to keep this website up :)
Welcome to the design blog for Conflict Simulations Limited. Here we will discuss upcoming games, some of the ideas and rationale behind them, and other gaming related issues.
Our plan is to first release a large set of games under the 2140 Series. These games all take 2 hours to complete at most, include 140 counters, and are all very re-playable. Pains were took to ensure that players wouldn’t get only 1 play out of a $30 game. All of the games focus on low-complexity rules that allow players to immerse themselves within the framework of the spacial simulation. Players are not forced, but encouraged to follow historical strategies or tactics in an attempt to showcase history in motion.
A little introduction: my name is Ray Weiss and I’ve been designing wargames for several years. I had always wished there were more GDW 120 series titles and this is basically a homage to that series, but studying different topics. I tend to be fairly manic and work non-stop on nothing but game ideas so instead of trying to shop out a billion games at once, I decided to bite the bullet and get into the ‘distinguished’ and non-lucrative field of wargame publishing.
I am quite positive mistakes will be made, things may get misspelled, need errata, or other things go wrong in general, but since this is primarily a 1 man show I will attempt to do my best. Though I wouldn’t be able to do this without the select help of a few entities and individuals, namely Blue Panther LLC for printing, Matt Ward for development, and Tim Allen for map art and design advice in general. The contributions of these and countless others is why I am able to go ahead with this and Im extremely grateful for all of their input.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the games, I hope on putting them out fairly frequently as long as they don’t suck, this is primarily what I do with all my time. In time, I will set up a Patreon which will get you new games as they come out, and even a personal design request!