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Subject: BGG Wargame Designer of the Month: Roger Miller rss

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Hunga Dunga
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This month's BGG Wargame Designer of the Month is Mr. Roger Miller. He has designed about a dozen games, including Washington's Crossing and Battles of the Bulge: Celles.

On his 14th birthday he got Avalon Hill's 1776 as a gift and was immediately hooked. He then got a lot of games during his high school years 75-79 and started designing them as well.

In the early 1980's Mr. Miller got a lot of rejections from publishers, and that put him on the road less traveled as a designer/publisher. "And that has made all the difference!", he says.



Mr. Miller has agreed to join us over some home made ice-cold lemonade to talk about wargames.

Please give him a warm, BGG Wargame Sub-domain welcome!
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Richard Handewith

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Congratulations Roger! It is well deserved. Roger is the hardest working game designer I know. I have always admired his scientific approach to game design. For example, Roger recorded all of the march distances and times for all of the formations in Washington's Crossing to ensure that the game modeled the historical situation.

In addition, Roger is a really great human being also

Richard
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Dundy O
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Congratulations, Mr. Miller. I bought Washington's Crossing when you first published it and enjoyed it as much as I could at the time. I think I bit off more than I was able to chew.

Now that I'm more comfortable in the war game arena, I'll be bringing it to the table in March. I learned the ropes with a number of war game titles, but would like to especially mention Celles, another design of yours.

I love that game, it's quick, deep enough for a fulfilling experience, and loads of fun. It's really a good time.

I buy from you all the time. You have a great company that you're building.
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Norman Smith
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Yes, Congratulations, a worthy holder of the title. I have both his Gazala and Celles games.

I have worked with him on a project, he is nice man who cares about what he does and the people he deals with and he puts an absolute ton of effort in getting the best out to the customer. Nice to see his effort getting deserved recognition.
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Handeman wrote:
Congratulations Roger! It is well deserved. Roger is the hardest working game designer I know. I have always admired his scientific approach to game design. For example, Roger recorded all of the march distances and times for all of the formations in Washington's Crossing to ensure that the game modeled the historical situation.

A commendable approach that one wishes more designers would follow.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Congrats Roger! A certainly well-deserved recognition not only for a great designer, but a great publisher as well. Gazala is one of my favorite games ever and that system you've created deserves more titles. I want to also let gamers know what a terrific developer Roger is, providing wonderful insight and suggestions to Stonewall's Sword that have made it a much better game. So Roger is a superior designer, publisher and developer ... the whole package and someone who definitely deserves some special attention here on BGG.
Hermann
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Michael Rinella
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Welcome to the club Roger laugh

A rare "triple threat" in the industry - designer, developer, publisher.
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Andrew N
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Congrats, Roger! What three games would you say have most inspired/influenced your take on designing games?
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Daniel Rouleau
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Congratulations Roger!

I was a little surprised when Revolution Games announced they will be publishing Stonewall's Sword: The Battle of Cedar Mountain. It's an excellent game (disclaimer: I was a platester) but it's larger (full countersheet) and somewhat more complex than the typical Revolution's offering.

Is this a new direction for Revolution Games?

Can we expect more games using the Celles/Gazala system? I would love to see an Eastern front game using the system.
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Roger Hobden
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Congratulations Mr Miller.
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roger miller
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First thanks to all for the many kind words. Nice to get the appreciation.

Daniel as for you question our games vary between a half counter sheet and a full one. So Gazala and Washington's Crossing also have full sheets. Rules have been between 8 and 24 pages and map sizes 11 by 17 to 22 by 34. So our games are always in the small to medium size range. So i feel Stonewall's Sword falls in our normal range.

There will be more games in Celles-Gazala system and I have tried hard to get others to send me designs using my system. The east front is an area I just do not know enough about to do a good game.

As far as other games for inspiration with Buena Vista it was Wellington's Victory. Washington's Crossing was Napoleon at Bay and Stonewall Jackson's Way. Celles and Gazala have their roots in The Korean War.

Those of you who are really clever will notice two of those 4 games are Joe Balkoski designs. So I seem to like his stuff.

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Richard Handewith

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Yes Roger but what was your most favorite Balkoski game??
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roger miller
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As Richard well knows it is The Korean War. Wore out one copy and the second one is in bad shape.

But seriously folks you can ask a question about any of our designs, including the upcoming ones, or why we do anything else the way we do in our business. We are an unusually communicative company.
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Lawrence Hung
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Quote:
Those of you who are really clever will notice two of those 4 games are Joe Balkoski designs. So I seem to like his stuff.


Riddle resolved! When I first played Celles, I wonder why I like it so much given a new game from a small company. This is the best Bulge game I ever played, with a winterized map at no extra cost. Will you have more Bulge games, using the same activation system at the same scale in future, as a series perhaps, other than my favorite eastern front theatre?

Congratulations to you indeed!

Here are some questions that I learned from the VGG community:

1. What's your best wargame?
2. What's your worst wargame?
3. What's your best military history book you read?
4. What's your best military movie you watched?
5. Do you play military music alongside the wargame play?
6. Who's your favorite wargame designer (my bet on Joe Balkoski)?
7. Of SPI, VG and AH, three companies which had gone in the history, which one you like the best and play most of their games?
8. Other than designing wargame, what hobby do you devote your time to?
9. Who's your favorite military theorist?
10. Do you play monster wargames?
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roger miller
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Not enough time right now to answer all of Lawerence's questions but I will start.

Favorite wargame-The Korean War. Empires in Arms a close second

Least favorite-Do not have one. I forget what I do not like

Book-The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler

Movie-Not much of a movie person for history. They usually drive me crazy. I would vote for Glory.

Music-No music when playing. I have friends who like to do that however so I have experienced it plenty of times.
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roger miller
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Designer-Joe Balkoski, Mark Herman

Company-Victory followed by SPI

Hobby-Model trains. N -scale

Theorist-Napoleon

Monsters-Yes. have played Campaign for North Africa several times. War in the Pacific, Europa, etc. etc. Had a club that met once a wekk for many years just devoted to monsters.
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Hunga Dunga
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Is there a little bit of reticence in hobbyists when it comes to buying from a small publishing house vs. a large publisher?

No data to back this up one way or another. Just wondering!
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Richard Handewith

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I am sure there is reticence over buying from a small company that nobody knows. In my opinion, there are a couple factors influencing this:

1) The unknown. I myself would be skeptical of buying from an untried publisher. I would need confirmation from other gamers and friends that a game is worth my investment.

2) Loyalty. I tend to buy from companies that have delivered good products. Which is why the GMT's, MMP, and COA tend to get my money.

How can a small company over come this? I think consistently delivering a good product that is a solid design, fun to play, and has good quality components at a reasonable price.

In addition, I think it just takes time and in the war-game market that means many many years. You have to develop a good reputation among the gaming community which builds the customer base and hopefully leads to profit




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roger miller
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It is much harder to sell a game as a small publisher then as a large one.
If we end up selling at 25% of GMT level we are doing well.

And we do have some data on this. For example when VPG got some of its Nappy 20 games republished by GMT. Massively changed the number of sales for those games.

Finally since the publication of Celles and Gazala we have had two major publishers want to buy existing titles or new designs or both in this system. There bet is they can sell games that we have already published. Only way that works is they know that just by changing the logo a lot of their customers will now buy them when before when it said Revolution Games they would not.

We try really hard to make our games the equal of or better than the big boys in art, production, rules clarity and just plain fun. In the long run we think this will ultimately change the markets thinking.
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John O'Haver
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FYI: I just ordered BotB:Celles. I like chit-pull act activation and after reading this thread and couple threads in the game's page, I thought it would meet my current requirements. Low counter density, smaller foot print and WW II subject matter and solo capable.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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I love the Blue Oyster Cult references in your avatar! I saw them in the late 70's at - of all places - West Point's Eisenhower Hall. Still one of the best concerts I have ever seen (right up there with my other two bests - ZZ Top and Rammstein). The most effective use of a laser light show I've yet seen.

More on topic - I'm also a big fan of chit pull games because of the "ordered chaos" they produce and the flexibility they provide, especially for a designer. That's also what first attracted me to Celles and Gazala.

Hermann
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Steve Carey
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Roger, first off congratulations on the well-deserved recognition.

The few Revolution titles that I have been exposed to have been quality products, and I expect that trend to continue.

If you're planning on attending Strategicon this upcoming President's Day Weekend, I hope to see you there!
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Dundy O
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Hi, Roger--

Do you have any plans on other games using the Washington's Crossing system?
Do you have any battle series in the works?
Is there a dream wargame you hope to design one day?
Do you have a favorite era in which you like to design? To play?


I noticed that you mentioned one of your goals as a company is to equal or better the bigger companies in the quality of art (among other areas). Celles has one of the most beautiful maps I've ever seen. There are times I'll just stare at it as I'm thinking through my moves.

Do you like bacon? (Of course you do)

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Lance McMillan
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Hey Roger, contratulations on the well-deserved nomination.

If I may, a few "low-ball" questions for your consideration:

1) When a design is submitted to you, what sorts of criteria do you look for when deciding whether to accept or decline the offer?

2) What are the top three elements you look for in a "good" game design?

3) How do you think board wargames are most likely to evolve in the future (in general terms, not specific to Revolution Games)? Not so much in terms of size and/or theme, but in terms of accessibility and complexity. Is the trend going to be towards smaller/simpler/faster, or are we going to go back towards bigger/more complex/longer games?

4) Where do you see the hobby going? Are we in a long, slow decline as that original large crop of wargamers from the AH/SPI days slide into their dottage, do you see a surge of "young blood" reviving our ranks, or are things simply going to remain in a sort of stasis as occasional new gamers emerge to replace those who fade away?

5) Which one wargame do you feel had the greatest influence on you as a designer/developer/publisher, and why?

And finally, it's always a great pleasure chatting with you on the regular Wednesday night sessions on CSW. Thanks for all the lively discussions!
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roger miller
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Answers for Dundy.

Washington's Crossing system will be used for 1778 this year and New York and Philadelphia campaigns in the future. probably 2-3 years between each one.

No battle series in the works.

No dream wargames to design.

No favorite era to design or play.

I know that sounds boring but it is exactly the opposite. I love the American Revolution. But WW2 is so cool. Playing Stonewall's Sword has made me so excited again about the ACW. It goes on and on. I have ancient greek naval minis right next to WW1 aircraft. I just love to read, love to play , love to develop, and love to design.

Thanks for the comment on Celles map. I think it is fantastic as well.

I do love Bacon. :-)

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