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Subject: A long and winding road... rss

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Joe Pilkus
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Mr. Copley,

Let me begin by applauding your efforts with this game. You've struck an amazing balance, as you've stated previously, between realism and playability, seldom, if ever seen in this genre. As the Subject Line states, the road traveled to your game is long and winding indeed.

In the late '70s, I became a voracious reader of fantasy and a rabid Role Player from the earliest TSR days (D&D, Boot Hill, Gamma World, and Top Secret) thru today running campaigns for D&D 3.5, Traveller, and Serenity. For the grognards reading this and scratching their head asking why I'm out here...just wait.

In the '80s, I enjoyed Risk and later Axis & Allies (A&A). Into the '90s and through my first decade in the Air Force serving both overseas and at the Pentagon, I had opened my world to hex-based war games and "improved" (and by that I mean I added a greater degree of realism) A&A with an additional 20 pages of rules I had developed and play-tested which brought the game back to 1939, added several Economic dimensions, including but not limited to different costs per unit per country, Lend Lease, etc.; Diplomatic dimensions, such as Pacts, Influence Charts, etc; and Information dimensions through the use of Random Events tables and expanding the Industrial Technologies, by country. While I managed to sell only a dozen copies of my 'rule-set' I more thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating the realistic aspects of this amazing conflict.

Unfortunately, the reaction I had from most war games such as Advanced Third Reich , Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, and World in Flames was one of ennui. While all three of them captured my attention as strategic-level games, to me they each suffered to some degree from two issues ~ or namely one issue manifested in two completely different ways...Depth. On the one hand, the rule-sets were long, arduous, and at times counter-intuitive. The depth that Bruce Harper added to combat, while impressively written at times, made the game a chore to the uninitiated. On the other side of the coin, and having studied Strategy and War at Air Command and Staff College, war was more than a collection of naval fleets, armies, and air armadas, it included the diplomatic meetings and political situation of the time; it involved economies groaning under the weight of a collapse in 1929 and its effects felt world-wide, and it involved scientific breakthroughs, espionage, and intelligence efforts.

Flash forward to 2009 and a colleague at work asked me if I had played war games and after providing a short CV on my connection with this genre, I started play-testing games (and still do) for Strategy & Tactics and Modern War magazines. While I've enjoyed the games, especially the modern one entitled Red Dragon/Green Crescent; the others have left me a bit flat as they tend to be tactical or quasi-operational in nature...Munich, Lepanto, Sedan, and nearly a dozen other titles by Joseph Miranda, Ty Bomba, and other designers. So, last Saturday, while looking through the war game section at my local store, I happened upon The War: Europe 1939-1945 (TW). While it didn't include the Pacific arena, the heft of the box, coupled with the write-up on the back led me to research this one from among two dozen other WWW-II related games.

Over the past few days, I've researched both TW and A World at War. While the latter game certainly includes many of the aspects I'm looking for in a game, it suffers greatly from "living rules" syndrome. By contrast, TW's rule-set appears clearly-written, the combat system less convoluted, and it too includes many of the aspects which I interjected into A&A so many years ago in an approachable, straightforward manner. Yesterday, having returned to the local gaming store, I pulled TW from the shelf and smiling to myself, purchased it and sped home to review its contents. Simply put, it's magnificent. While we'll have other games to play-test for the magazines, this one will hit the table soon and we'll run through the 'beginner' scenarios (it's like getting a dozen games-in-one!) and post our review.

Again, Mr. Copley, from what I've seen and read (and that includes the 300+ posts across more than three dozen threads here on bgg), this was a massive undertaking (five-and-a-half years and 1,200 hours, if I recall correctly) and it definitely conveys the care and attention you applied to this endeavor.

V/r,
Joe Pilkus

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Ernie Copley
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The Professor wrote:
Mr. Copley,

Let me begin by applauding your efforts with this game. You've struck an amazing balance, as you've stated previously, between realism and playability, seldom, if ever seen in this genre. As the Subject Line states, the road traveled to your game is long and winding indeed.

In the late '70s, I became a voracious reader of fantasy and a rabid Role Player from the earliest TSR days (D&D, Boot Hill, Gamma World, and Top Secret) thru today running campaigns for D&D 3.5, Traveller, and Serenity. For the grognards reading this and scratching their head asking why I'm out here...just wait.

In the '80s, I enjoyed Risk and later Axis & Allies (A&A). Into the '90s and through my first decade in the Air Force serving both overseas and at the Pentagon, I had opened my world to hex-based war games and "improved" (and by that I mean I added a greater degree of realism) A&A with an additional 20 pages of rules I had developed and play-tested which brought the game back to 1939, added several Economic dimensions, including but not limited to different costs per unit per country, Lend Lease, etc.; Diplomatic dimensions, such as Pacts, Influence Charts, etc; and Information dimensions through the use of Random Events tables and expanding the Industrial Technologies, by country. While I managed to sell only a dozen copies of my 'rule-set' I more thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating the realistic aspects of this amazing conflict.

Unfortunately, the reaction I had from most war games such as Advanced Third Reich , Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, and World in Flames was one of ennui. While all three of them captured my attention as strategic-level games, to me they each suffered to some degree from two issues ~ or namely one issue manifested in two completely different ways...Depth. On the one hand, the rule-sets were long, arduous, and at times counter-intuitive. The depth that Bruce Harper added to combat, while impressively written at times, made the game a chore to the uninitiated. On the other side of the coin, and having studied Strategy and War at Air Command and Staff College, war was more than a collection of naval fleets, armies, and air armadas, it included the diplomatic meetings and political situation of the time; it involved economies groaning under the weight of a collapse in 1929 and its effects felt world-wide, and it involved scientific breakthroughs, espionage, and intelligence efforts.

Flash forward to 2009 and a colleague at work asked me if I had played war games and after providing a short CV on my connection with this genre, I started play-testing games (and still do) for Strategy & Tactics and Modern War magazines. While I've enjoyed the games, especially the modern one entitled Red Dragon/Green Crescent; the others have left me a bit flat as they tend to be tactical or quasi-operational in nature...Munich, Lepanto, Sedan, and nearly a dozen other titles by Joseph Miranda, Ty Bomba, and other designers. So, last Saturday, while looking through the war game section at my local store, I happened upon The War: Europe 1939-1945 (TW). While it didn't include the Pacific arena, the heft of the box, coupled with the write-up on the back led me to research this one from among two dozen other WWW-II related games.

Over the past few days, I've researched both TW and A World at War. While the latter game certainly includes many of the aspects I'm looking for in a game, it suffers greatly from "living rules" syndrome. By contrast, TW's rule-set appears clearly-written, the combat system less convoluted, and it too includes many of the aspects which I interjected into A&A so many years ago in an approachable, straightforward manner. Yesterday, having returned to the local gaming store, I pulled TW from the shelf and smiling to myself, purchased it and sped home to review its contents. Simply put, it's magnificent. While we'll have other games to play-test for the magazines, this one will hit the table soon and we'll run through the 'beginner' scenarios (it's like getting a dozen games-in-one!) and post our review.

Again, Mr. Copley, from what I've seen and read (and that includes the 300+ posts across more than three dozen threads here on bgg), this was a massive undertaking (five-and-a-half years and 1,200 hours, if I recall correctly) and it definitely conveys the care and attention you applied to this endeavor.

V/r,
Joe Pilkus



Hello, Mr. Pilkus - wow! that's praise indeed! I am honored by your comments.

I think you'll find TW is somewhere between Axis and Allies (at one end of the spectrum) and A World at War (at the other end of it). I've played both games many times. A central design motif for TW is to provide as much of the playability of the former as possible, while capturing at least a good portion of the realism of the latter. Some people complain about the length of the rulebook, but bear in mind that a very large part ofthe rulebook is charts, tables, definitions and examples that you don't have to read unless you specifically need to refer to that particular table or chart. There's a Sequence of Play card for each scenario, so you don't have to wade through the whole Campaign Game SOP (or lots of Campaign Game rules) to learn how to play them.

I suggest that you tackle the shorter scenarios (not just the learning scenarios, but the other shorter ones also) before tackling the big campaign games. By design, the learning curve for TW is meant to offer a much more gentle slope than AWAW.

Re: your observation about the Pacific. Yes, point taken - I haven't addressed that theater yet. Here's the philosophy (mine anyway): too many big WWII strategy games begin with an ETO version, then they try to port the system, wholecloth, over to the Pacific in a companion game. Usually the result is inelegant, due to significant differences in the fundamental nature ofthe two theaters. A good example is the Advanced Third Reich-Empire ofthe Rising Sun duo from the former Avalon Hill. A3R had (and has) many virtues, but Empire of the Rising Sun was a less-than-stellar product, IMHO. I do plan to do a Pacific title after completing my next two projects (see below), but although it will borrow many ideas from TW, it will essentially be a unique, stand-alone title.

The next two projects I am working on are: (1) an Expansion Kit for TW, which will offer 10 new scenarios (give or take); and (2) Munich 1938, a diplomatic game on 1930's diplomatic conflict covering the run-up to war, Fall 1935-Fall 1939. After we get those products out the door (assuming publisher approvals), I'd like to tackle the Pacific. In brief - there is a lot of work in the pipeline.

Welcome to TW. Let me know if you have any questions that I might be able to help you with.

ernie
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Joe Pilkus
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Mr. Copley,

I had forgotten to mention that another driver behind my purchase is the fact that you have proven to be an incredibly approachable individual, committed to the craft and possessing a desire to engage with this diverse audience, dedicated to the genre.

I will absolutely take your advice and while I've read through all of the on-line related comments here, I've found the consimworld forum quite difficult to navigate, so I'll continue to monitor this site for thoughts on strategy, rule-related inquiries, and general dialogue on TW. Additionally, I'll play the shorter scenarios to gain exposure and competence with the system before moving onto the larger ones.

I'm ecstatic at the notion that you shall design a Pacific game in the future. I can only hope that, unlike EotRS, you're able to integrate the two theaters into a large-scale game yet able to retain that amazing balance between realism and playability.

V/r,
Joe

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Ernie Copley
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The Professor wrote:
Mr. Copley,

I had forgotten to mention that another driver behind my purchase is the fact that you have proven to be an incredibly approachable individual, committed to the craft and possessing a desire to engage with this diverse audience, dedicated to the genre.

I will absolutely take your advice and while I've read through all of the on-line related comments here, I've found the consimworld forum quite difficult to navigate, so I'll continue to monitor this site for thoughts on strategy, rule-related inquiries, and general dialogue on TW. Additionally, I'll play the shorter scenarios to gain exposure and competence with the system before moving onto the larger ones.

I'm ecstatic at the notion that you shall design a Pacific game in the future. I can only hope that, unlike EotRS, you're able to integrate the two theaters into a large-scale game yet able to retain that amazing balance between realism and playability.

V/r,
Joe



Hello, Joe,

I check in on the Consimworld forum pretty often, but as you've noticed, I monitor this one also.

The Pacific game is in its very early stages - long way to go on that one. I think the PTO presents more design challenges, so in some ways it will be a more difficult project. Specifically:

1) It's always bothered me that almost all PTO games take the Pearl Harbor attack as a given - when in fact it virtually amounted to national suicide for Japan. Even at the time, Adm. Yamomoto refused to forecast any outcomes further out than 6 months. Most PTO games, AWAW included, either: a) start with the Pearl Harbor raid; or b) assume that even if Japan had attacked only the European colonies in Asia, the U.S. would have entered anyway.

I find it really hard to believe the famously anti-colonial Roosevelt would have wanted to go to war to save the Dutch East Indies, even if Congress had let him. The Japanese assumed that he probably would do just that...but that assumption was wildly off base.

2) In most PTO games, once the war begins, the vastly greater American resources mean the US just grind the Japanese down. Well, okay, that's realistic...but what does that mean to the fun and challenge of a good playable game? Usually it means Japan beats up the Allies for six months, then it's only a question of time until Japan surrenders. Japan "wins" if it survives until, say, Fall 1945, and "loses" if they give up by say Winter 1944. Historically, that fine, up to a point anyway. But as a game concept? Dull.

3) Diplomacy - In most PTO games, there isn't any. The determinism in such an approach is both dull and depressing;

4) Fleet in Being - In EotRS, and many other Pacific games, the Japanese use the Fleet-in-being concept for awhile, then there's a do-or-die gigantic Jutland-only-with-carriers style shootout, then you're done.After that, break the game down and start over. Not too exciting after the big shootout.

5) Scale - both in terms of geography and unit size, it knotty, because you have continental-scale stuff going on in China (corps, army and even army-group scale), while you have regimental or brigade sized action in places like Tarawa.

It will be a tall order to reconcile all these issues (and no doubt several more that will come up). But I do plan to tackle them, and take only those elements of TW Europe that really fit over to the Pacific version. Stay tuned, and thanks for posting,

ernie

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Joe Pilkus
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Ernie,

I've returned to the Consimworld site and I'll join for the purpose of reviewing the posts associated with TW. At a glance, I noticed the number of posts associated w/TW far exceed more than 70% of the other global WW-II games...that's impressive for 6-8 months of exposure.

Instead of responding to each of your comments on the Pacific version of the game, suffice it to say, I completely understand the myriad differences between the two operational theaters and what that must mean in terms of developing rules for solid game play and maintaining some level of realism.

Again, I wish you luck in your endeavors and should need additional play-testers, I'd be honored by the request.

Cheers,
Joe
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Ernie Copley
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The Professor wrote:
Ernie,

I've returned to the Consimworld site and I'll join for the purpose of reviewing the posts associated with TW. At a glance, I noticed the number of posts associated w/TW far exceed more than 70% of the other global WW-II games...that's impressive for 6-8 months of exposure.

Instead of responding to each of your comments on the Pacific version of the game, suffice it to say, I completely understand the myriad differences between the two operational theaters and what that must mean in terms of developing rules for solid game play and maintaining some level of realism.

Again, I wish you luck in your endeavors and should need additional play-testers, I'd be honored by the request.

Cheers,
Joe


Hello Joe - thanks for the offer on playtesting - I may take you up on it after I get some guidance from Compass,

regards,

ernie
 
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