(from the CEO & chief designer:)
(That sounds impressive).
Red Sash Games was started in 2001 or thereabouts as a cooperative design venture. As head of the project I decided to focus on the more obscure military topics, and on the 17th through early 19th centuries (which I consider to be a 'golden age' of manoeuvre warfare - as opposed to destructive blitzkrieg). Frankly, I was tired of Normandy and Battle of the Bulge games.
There are many good tactical systems for this period (La Battaille, BAR, Musket & Pike), and a few strategic ones (Frederick the Great, Maria), but very few operational ones, so we have developed an operational system for the pre-Napoleonic gunpowder wars. It is called the Lace Wars system (the core of the period is known as the time of the Lace Wars - nothing to do with foppish uniforms, but the acquiring of cloth markets and cloth factories at gunpoint).
So far, this system has covered the War of the Austrian Succession (1741-48), an extremely obscure Russo-Austro-Turkish War (1736-39), and the Jacobite Risings - including the war in Ireland that featured the Battle of the Boyne. I tend to follow historical threads when designing a game, so expect the next Lace Wars games to be lead-offs from those subjects.
This year (July 2011) we will be launching a new series, called Sea Lords. In essence, it is the naval complement to the Lace Wars games. The first game, Mistral, can even be combined with its counterpart, Queens' Gambit, to create a monster campaign.
What are the games like? Well, I strive for historical accuracy and period feel. The Lace Wars playing pieces, for example, are drawn to resemble real - and accurate - uniforms (which is totally unnecessary for an operational game, but no one has complained). The games come with a 50-70 page historical commentary. The games I'm most pleased with are the two Turkish ones, because I was able to use eyewitness accounts dug out of dusty archives.
Scenarios are plentiful, in most cases, and vary in size from small to massive. And, though there are often a lot of pieces, they are generally combined into just a few stacks; turns can often be played quickly. As an 'expert' I can finish an average turn in 10-15 minutes; scenarios may range from 2-3 turns up to 30 or 48 turns.
Other members of the team keep me grounded in reality, though - that is, we try to make the games enjoyable to play. The rulebooks are thick, but the various systems are quite simple. I prefer to give a complete explanation, rather than write a few lines open to misinterpretation. Complaints sometimes arise because the rules don't give a list of 'thou shalt nots'. I write rules this way deliberately. I like to give players enough rope to hang themselves. You're given the parameters, and the rest is up to you.
This is also a 'living' system. As a rule, I don't like tinkering. If a game is published, then we've done with it. All the same, the rules have been through 3 editions over the years, which has allowed most of the rough edges to be rounded off. So, we're always open to suggestions.