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Subject: July 27 Design Diary Entry rss

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Rachel Simmons
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http://www.simmonsgames.com/products/Gettysburg/diary/Entry2...
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Edwin Nealley

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This looks awesome! (And it's actually pretty funny too...)

I thought a little before buying Napoleon's Triumph, but I won't think twice before buying Guns of Gettysburg.
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Will Green
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Agg! Again, Bowen, you lead us to the edge of the cliff...the protagonist is hanging over the edge...the music on the soundtrack rises to a crescendo...and then * Wham * the lights come on as a voiceover trailer announces that we should "return for the epic conclusion of the 'cliffhanger' series...where we will learn if our young protagonist falls to his imminent death, or rises up above, carries himself up to the top of the cliff and survives for more thrilling adventures!!"

Cliffhangers...ya' gotta' love 'em. Looking forward to the next one in the continuing evolution of this one, known affectionately as...The Guns of Gettysburg; the Design Diary Entries.

Can't wait for your release of GoG!!
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James Fung
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Makes me wonder if artillery tokens will be retrofitted into the previous games.
 
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Devin Reed
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After reading the Clausewitz reference, I did an Amazon search for "On War". It's interesting who wrote the first review.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0691018545/ref=ase_th...

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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fusag wrote:
Makes me wonder if artillery tokens will be retrofitted into the previous games.


I don't think that would make any sense at all. They are entirely different systems.
 
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drimas wrote:
It's interesting who wrote the first review.


I had to look, at which point I figured out that you meant "who wrote the first review on Amazon".
 
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Seth Owen
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Sphere wrote:
fusag wrote:
Makes me wonder if artillery tokens will be retrofitted into the previous games.


I don't think that would make any sense at all. They are entirely different systems.



What I think is fascinating about Simmons as a designer is his ability to break with his own past. Most game designers who develop successful mechanics use them over and over again in their new designs, to the point that those techniques can become synonymous with their names. I think everyone knows what to expect in a Richard Borg, Larry Harris or Jim Dunnigan design.


Simmons, on the other hand, isn't afraid to start from first principles each time. This can be a little confusing, because the one constant is his devotion to the "look" first pioneered in Bonaparte at Marengo. But anyone who mistook its surface resemblance with BaM for how Napoleon's Triumph would play were in for a surprise. I think many BaM players found that NT was a lot more different than they expected.


Likewise, I expect to see the design entries for Guns at Gettysburg revealing something very different from either of the Napoleonic games.


From my blog at http://pawnderings.blogspot.com

And more thoughts:

I think the artillery tokens are another illustration of this Simmons approach. Reading the design diary the thing I am most struck by is Bowen's ability to focus on his design objective without letting other factors get in the way. The whole card-thing is pretty amazing because I think many authors would have a very hard time giving up something that they liked so much.

Contrast this (and this is not meant as a criticism, because the hex-and-counter design tradition has proven amazing robust) with the classic Dunnigan-era SPI product which, by Dunnigan's own account would start off from a basic universal set of rules that would then be modified as required to deal with the battle at hand. It worked to some extent, but it also required some brute force design techniques and often resulted in games that had trouble capturing the feel of the battle. Look at Marengo: Napoleon in Italy, 14 June 1800, Austerlitz: The Battle of Three Emperors, 2 December 1805 and Cemetery Hill: The Battle of Gettysburg, 1-3 July, 1863 for good examples of where this led.
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James Fung
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Sphere wrote:
I don't think that would make any sense at all. They are entirely different systems.

I'm just going from this line in the design diary:

Quote:
I can’t say that I was ever really satisfied with the way artillery was handled in my Napoleonic games. Napoleonic artillery was actually more or less dispersed through the organization of the army, but my games represented it as concentrated in a small number of pieces.
 
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wargamer55 wrote:
I think everyone knows what to expect in a Richard Borg, Larry Harris or Jim Dunnigan design.


I think I missed that memo. Having seen PanzerBlitz, Leipzig and USN, were Russian Civil War 1918-1922 (first edition) and Empires of the Middle Ages foregone conclusions?

wargamer55 wrote:
Simmons, on the other hand, isn't afraid to start from first principles each time.


Bowen certainly does this, and I admire it.

wargamer55 wrote:
Contrast this (and this is not meant as a criticism, because the hex-and-counter design tradition has proven amazing robust) with the classic Dunnigan-era SPI product which, by Dunnigan's own account would start off from a basic universal set of rules that would then be modified as required to deal with the battle at hand.


You say that as if Dunnigan should be measured by the quads alone. Or as if his designs were all hex-and-counter. This is the wrong place to argue it, and I don't visit blogs, but I couldn't resist registering my objection.
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fusag wrote:
I'm just going from this line in the design diary:

Quote:
I can’t say that I was ever really satisfied with the way artillery was handled in my Napoleonic games. Napoleonic artillery was actually more or less dispersed through the organization of the army, but my games represented it as concentrated in a small number of pieces.


I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere down the road he says that he wasn't entirely satisfied with some aspect of GoG, either. That's the nature of being a designer.

GoG isn't an attempt to fix a broken NT system. It is a brand new system, designed from the ground up to deal with a very different situation.

NT received the same level of care and attention as GoG is getting, and works beautifully as is. Plugging subsystems developed for an American Civil War game into it would not improve it. (Since this is the internet, I suppose I need the disclaimers: IMO, IMHO, whatever).
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James Fung
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Sphere wrote:
GoG isn't an attempt to fix a broken NT system. It is a brand new system, designed from the ground up to deal with a very different situation.

You are misreading me. If Bowen has come up with a mechanic that might address some of the aspects he was dissatisfied with in the previous games, I don't see what's wrong adding an optional rule in retrospect. (Beside how much testing it would take to see if the optional rule maintains game balance.) I'm not saying all the games should be homogeneous; I'm saying if a game can be improved, let it be improved.

Anyway, wasn't there a rule that Bowen came up with during the development for NT he wish he used in BaM? Something in combat, I vaguely remember.
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László K.
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fusag wrote:
Anyway, wasn't there a rule that Bowen came up with during the development for NT he wish he used in BaM? Something in combat, I vaguely remember.

Yes, there was (see below).

bowen wrote:
BaM Optional Rules

These are (for now) unofficial BaM optional rules, which basically incorporate some of the more easily integrated game system changes introduced in NT. I think that the changes will make the game more historically accurate and also improve the game balance. The French slow withdrawal strategy, which compared to Austrian pursuit is easier than intended, will particularly be made more complicated:

9. Maneuver Attacks

DELETE the rule beginning "A group making a maneuver attack into cavalry-obstructing terrain". It is no longer a requirement for a group making a maneuver attack into such terrain to include an infantry unit. Since it is no longer a requirement, there is no longer any need to turn a unit face-up to prove that an infantry unit is present.

12. Retreats

DELETE the four rules beginning with "An artillery piece that is forced to retreat", "For infantry pieces forced to retreat from reserve,", "Cavalry pieces forced to retreat from reserve", and "For each approach from which infantry or cavalry pieces are forced to retreat". These four rules together govern retreat losses and are replaced with the rule named below:

INSERT the following rule:

"Retreating units take losses as follows:

• Artillery units are eliminated.

• For each approach (other than the attacked approach if the retreat is from an assault) occupied by infantry or cavalry units, a one-strength point loss is assessed if the approach is narrow, or two if it is wide. The retreating player chooses which infantry and/or cavalry units from the approach will take the losses.

• If there are infantry units in reserve, a one-point loss is assessed if the attacked approach was narrow, and two if wide. The retreating player chooses the reserve infantry unit or units that will take the loss. Important note: cavalry units in reserve do not take a loss when they retreat."

As with all optional rules, players may use them by mutual consent.
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Devin Reed
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fusag wrote:
Makes me wonder if artillery tokens will be retrofitted into the previous games.


I don't think it would be worth it. Most of these tokens are designed to be used by specific Gettysburg commanders. In order to use this system for NT, new tokens would have to be designed for the corp commanders from that game. Also, we don't even know yet how artillery combat works. Surely those ridges (and their artillery bonuses) contribute to the result of an artillery attack. The NT map has no such bonuses. Therefore, an interesting complexity of this system would be missing.

So, in order to retrofit NT with the new artillery tokens:

1. New tokens would have to be designed, playtested and printed
2. Some sort of artillery bonus (stickers?) would have to be designed, playtested, printed and attached to the ridges on the NT map.

To be honest, I kinda like how the artillery works for NT. I'm not sure it'd be worth the trouble.


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Seth Owen
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Sphere wrote:
wargamer55 wrote:
I think everyone knows what to expect in a Richard Borg, Larry Harris or Jim Dunnigan design.


I think I missed that memo. Having seen PanzerBlitz, Leipzig and USN, were Russian Civil War 1918-1922 (first edition) and Empires of the Middle Ages foregone conclusions?

wargamer55 wrote:
Simmons, on the other hand, isn't afraid to start from first principles each time.


Bowen certainly does this, and I admire it.

wargamer55 wrote:
Contrast this (and this is not meant as a criticism, because the hex-and-counter design tradition has proven amazing robust) with the classic Dunnigan-era SPI product which, by Dunnigan's own account would start off from a basic universal set of rules that would then be modified as required to deal with the battle at hand.


You say that as if Dunnigan should be measured by the quads alone. Or as if his designs were all hex-and-counter. This is the wrong place to argue it, and I don't visit blogs, but I couldn't resist registering my objection.


Indeed, Dunnigan had it in him to break from his own mold, but it wasn't his usual approach. While it's not fair to judge his output by the quads alone, they are surely a good example of a particular game design philosophy that's quite different from Simmons.

This passage from Dunnigan's Complete Wargames Handbook is illustrative of this approach. He's talking about the design of The Drive on Metz (first edition) which has now appeared in a modified version as The Drive On Metz (second edition). The emphasis is mine.

Beginning on a following page are the game's rules. These were prepared by me in the space of a few hours. I used what we called at SPI a "rules master." It is a basic set of rules for no game in particular and was stored in one of the computers. All the staffer has to do was sit down at the terminal and order the machine to change all references to "First Player" to "American" and all references to "Second Player" to "German" and make a few other minor changes. One must type in one's Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Results Table, order of appearance, victory conditions and the like. It takes a few hours and provides one with a first draft of the rules. This is a common procedure learned the hard way. In fact, I was first introduced to this procedure by Tom Shaw of Avalon Hill years ago when he asked me to design my first game for them, the naval battle of Jutland (in 1916). I asked, "How do I start writing the rules?" He said, "It's simple. You simply take the last game we published and use it as a model." I thought for a moment and then spoke up, "The last game was Guadalcanal" (a game of U.S. Marines and Japanese infantry slugging it out on a tropical island in the South Pacific in 1942). Aside from that apparent mismatch, the idea is basically valid. It's not as easy to do as it used to be because of the great proliferation of different game systems, but you can usually find a game that matches the one you are currently working on. With the current proliferation of PC based text scanners, I know of more than one game designer that has scanned another games rules, done some heavy editing, and finished his own rules writing job much more quickly than in the pre-scanner days.



Again, I don't mean this as a criticism. Dunnigan's approach served the hobby well. I don't think S&T would have been possible without a system like that. Bowen's approach is creative, but that creativity comes at its own pace. His output is clearly marked by its quality and not its quantity.
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fusag wrote:
You are misreading me.


We may well be misreading each other. I'm not trying to be argumentative, and I don't think there was anything wrong with your question.

fusag wrote:
Anyway, wasn't there a rule that Bowen came up with during the development for NT he wish he used in BaM? Something in combat, I vaguely remember.


Anybody who has learned both BaM and NT will tell you that they are very different beasts, despite the apparent similarity. But I assure you that BaM and NT are orders of magnitude more similar to one another than NT is to GoG. Putting GoG's artillery rules into NT would require a major redesign, and I seriously doubt that the result would be an improvement.

Bowen wouldn't simply plunk in the artillery rules anyway, he'd have to redesign the other systems in NT as well. Basically the result would be an entirely new and different game on Austerlitz. With all the intriguing battles in history to choose from, I'd wager that won't be his next project.

 
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Barry Kendall
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Bowen, this is a wonderful addition to the diary. I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor, the whimsical perspective on design experiments that don't quite come off (and yes, I think the card backs were quite pretty) and the description of how your artillery treatment evolved.

I like your solution a lot. Without playing, it's hard to tell, but it looks to me as though it will capture both the offensive optimism about artillery possibilities seen in the battle (especially on the Confederate side) and the ultimate defensive advantage bestowed by artillery (as when the Defender answers an offensive gambit with More than Was Bargained On by the Attacker) [this last is a guess, as you haven't unveiled the combat mechanics yet].

There's just one thing . . . ever since "Pax Britannica" I've had a serious aversion to TRIANGULAR COUNTERS . . . could you possibly, maybe, puhleeeze, consider some other shape? Square, rectangular, lozenge-shaped, even round, for goodness' sake (well, maybe not round . . . you do have that holder dingus to put 'em on) . . . but triangular counters can be hard on one's fingertips (as in bamboo-under-the-nail hard) and I've found they're not as durable as other shapes.

Not that I won't preorder in a heartbeat anyway, triangles or no. Just remember the "ouch factor," please.

Great diary entry. The excitement builds like humidity on a July day in Adams County.
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Will Green
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Barry Kendall wrote:


There's just one thing . . . ever since "Pax Britannica" I've had a serious aversion to TRIANGULAR COUNTERS . . . could you possibly, maybe, puhleeeze, consider some other shape? Square, rectangular, lozenge-shaped, even round, for goodness' sake (well, maybe not round . . . you do have that holder dingus to put 'em on) . . . but triangular counters can be hard on one's fingertips (as in bamboo-under-the-nail hard) and I've found they're not as durable as other shapes.

Not that I won't preorder in a heartbeat anyway, triangles or no. Just remember the "ouch factor," please.



For what it's worth, the triangular counters are not "hard and pointy" like the ones on Pax Britannica. Here the "points" are softer and more rounded than what PB had to offer.
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Sphere wrote:
Bowen wouldn't simply plunk in the artillery rules anyway, he'd have to redesign the other systems in NT as well. Basically the result would be an entirely new and different game on Austerlitz. With all the intriguing battles in history to choose from, I'd wager that won't be his next project.

Agreed. Bowen isn't the sort to shoehorn a mechanic in a place it doesn't belong. Having only had a glimpse of what combat may contain, I don't know how major of a redesign it may entail. Anything bigger than "remove artillery units, use replacement artillery rules" would probably not be worth a retrofit, which is fine as BaM/NT are good as they are. Except that I usually to lose.
 
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Barry Kendall
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[q

For what it's worth, the triangular counters are not "hard and pointy" like the ones on Pax Britannica. Here the "points" are softer and more rounded than what PB had to offer.[/q]


It's worth hearing--thanks! Good news for the digits. Your info also suggests that production is also underway, which is good news for the warm glow of Preorder Day just over the horizon.
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Barry Kendall wrote:

It's worth hearing--thanks! Good news for the digits. Your info also suggests that production is also underway, which is good news for the warm glow of Preorder Day just over the horizon.


ninja Oooooooohhhh I so humbly await thee....
 
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