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G.W.
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18 October 1814:
"The escalation of the [British] naval department…had caused its commanders to believe that they could ‘by a trial of strength…decide the fate of the war.’ They had forgotten ‘their necessary identity with the land force…’…Now, instead of manifesting a ‘zealous, prompt, and cheerful co-operation’ when asked to move men and equipment, they viewed such requests ‘as hampering the powers of the fleet and endangering its safety.’”


That letter, cited by historian Robert Malcomson in Lords of the Lake, is just one of the times British Gen. Sir George Prevost vented his frustration over army-navy cooperation to Lord Bathurst, the secretary for war and the colonies.

In A Glorious Chance, I’ve tried to to simulate some effects of higher-headquarters pressures and interservice rivalries, as well as the challenge of joint army-navy operations in the early 19th Century.

Joint operations combining land and sea forces have been – and continue to be – a challenge for militaries.
Some elements in AGC that reflect the challenge of joint ops:

- Time frame:
From time to time in the War of 1812, the Americans or British would give their top Great Lakes naval commander periods of freedom seek a general engagement, or put them on a tighter leash in subordination to the army. I chose this particular summer of 1813 as the setting for the game for that reason. It was one of the few periods where both navies were simultaneously given full resources and encouragement to fight a decisive general action, and one of the few times they had a rough parity in firepower.

- The Convoy Supply Track:
It took time for either side to amass the men and materiel in this remote theatre for major army operations. You can’t just grab an army in the game and send it anywhere, anytime. The army depends on your ships to bring them the supplies they’ll need to conduct the operation. It’s your responsibility as naval commander to make sure supply convoys reach their destinations safely and on time. Do that – and perhaps capture some enemy convoys along the way – and you’ll advance your track marker to spaces that make Troops markers available for future Land missions.

- Troops markers:
These markers (three per side) are placed randomly on the Convoy Supply Track at the start of the game. They are abstracted markers, not specific units that you move and fight as in other wargames. They represent a tap on the shoulder by the army saying, “Hey, we’ve amassed the men and materiel to conduct an operation again, so we need a ride now.” In your role as naval commodore, you either succeed in getting a Troops marker to the hostile shore and support their attack, or you don’t. Just like a real naval commander, you decide how much navy you want to risk to support an army landing. But once the army wades ashore, your control ends. Alternatively, you could just ignore the army's transport requests and go about your naval business – but then the unused Troops marker gets removed from the game, and you forgo its potential benefit to a Land mission that turn.

- Risk vs. reward in objectives:
The game offers a higher potential Victory Point award when a navy lands infantry and uses ships’ gunnery to support their land attack. On the negative side, the enemy AI has intelligence that lets it “know” the turns you have a Troops marker to use. The AI doesn’t know whether you’ll use the Troops marker or its precise destination, but on those turns the Target Card deck gets configured in a way that makes the AI more likely to send ships to the most highly contested zones. When the navy conducts a Land mission without carrying a Troops marker, that represents a smaller action -- a raid with ships’ marines and small shore parties, or even just shore bombardment in isolation. Those types of Land missions can’t get you as many VPs, but you have the freedom to assign them anytime.

- Conflicting priorities and limited resources:
In AGC you experience a constant tension between operating your squadron as a unified combat force on the water vs. using it to transport the army. Ultimately you have to do both over the course of the campaign. But it's difficult to both within any single turn. The British side feels this dilemma most acutely. That’s because the British have the smaller squadron (5, later 6 ships max unless the British can capture some). Detaching just one or two British ships to land troops at the far end of the lake is a highly risky move, unless you've already neutralized the U.S. naval threat. The US player, with more vessels, has a lot more options for where to assign forces each turn. For the British it tends to be one principal mission per turn; an all-or-nothing proposition. Making that choice can be agonizing, though. There’s more at stake with each British mission and less ability to recover from failure within the limited campaign season. I designed the U.S. Solo Campaign first, so when I tested the British Solo Campaign for the first time I was amazed: Lake Ontario suddenly looked enormous, threats loomed everywhere, and my squadron seemed so small and barely adequate for the task.

-Army Requisition event:
When you support your Army in a Land mission, you not only risk damage or destruction to your naval squadron (from naval opposition, shore batteries, severe weather); you could draw a Land Event that forces you to turn one ship over to the army temporarily for the transport of wounded and prisoners, making it unavailable for a naval mission next turn. Usually this is just an inconvenience. But if you run into a major lake battle next turn without that ship, you may find yourself hating the army as much as your historical counterparts did!

See for yourself:
 
Visit Legion Wargames and place your preorder for A Glorious Chance today. We're down to within the final 90 or so CPOs needed for it to make the cut for final development, final artwork (by real artists, not my homemade prototype art you're seeing here) and publication.

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Joe Pilkus
United States
South Riding
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Great read...it was a pleasure meeting you earlier this year!
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Jim Ransom
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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This is the only look at me you will get. The first hint the bad guy gets that I am nearby will be the sound of the torpedo coming out of his baffles with high up-doppler.
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I really appreciate the effort and care you have put into this design. An excellent topic -- really looking forward to it!
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G.W.
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Sebastopol
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Thank you, Jim and Professor Joe, for posting your comments!

Designing a wargame can often be a long and lonely endeavor. So, even when it results in a game I'm pleased with, I always appreciate the reminder that there's an unseen fan base of real people across the world who are cheering it toward the finish line.

In the coming month, stay tuned for:

- A video of a live VASSAL playtest session, in which I teach A Glorious Chance from scratch to a new player.

- A video of the physical game on the table to show the components and gameplay on a real tabletop for the first time. It's still just my own playtest artwork and prototype printed components that I've had printed for demo purposes, but those who have asked to see the physical game will be able to enjoy a new and different look at it.

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The Redheaded Pharmacist
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Thank you for this write up. This idea of the logistical issues of a joint mission during this time period is very interesting. I'm impressed with your efforts in designing gameplay features that highlight those difficulties. I hope you reach the minimum number of preorders soon.
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D a v i d B u r k e y
United States
Fort Smith
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Thanks for the new info on the design. I sooooo am ready to be able to try out this game. Come on, people—get over Legions website and pre-order this.

(Not that I am getting impatient or anything.... )
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G.W.
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Thanks, Redheaded Pharmacist!

The "gameplay features that highlight those difficulties" are really fairly simple. They come more from the subtle interaction of several different mechanisms in the game over the course of time, than from added rules and chrome. My Designer's Note was just a way of pointing them out, showing how they work, and explaining why they're important historically as well as in the game.

I hope we get to 250 soon, too! Posting these Designer Notes and videos, etc., are the only ways I know to keep the game alive in the hobby's collective consciousness and attract new CPOs. Any new game struggles to get noticed in this wonderful age of so many wargames from so many companies. When it's a first game by a new designer, on a previously un-wargamed topic, the path to publication is that much more challenging. So I think we've made great progress, considering all that, in the 7 months since Randy posted AGC on Legion's "New CPO additions for 2016" list.

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