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Subject: BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month: Lee Brimmicombe-Wood rss

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Hunga Dunga
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This month's BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, who has been designing both computer and board games for more than 16 years.

He is the creator of PC air combat simulators Team Apache and Ka-52 Team Alligator and is the author of the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. He has worked on game designs for the Xbox 360, Playstation 2 and 3, PlayStation Portable and PC, including the Warhammer 40,000-based Fire Warrior and Operation Flashpoint 2. His board wargame titles include the award-winning Downtown and The Burning Blue.

I caught up with Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood at Joe Allen's in Exeter Street, where he was eating black bean soup and enjoying the best whiskey sour in London.

Please join me in giving Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood a warm, BGG-Wargame-Subdomain welcome!


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Randy C
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Thanks for Burning Blue. It is one of my favorite games.
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and he has done game art as well






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Hungadunga wrote:
This month's BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, who has been designing both computer and board games for more than 16 years.

He is the creator of PC air combat simulators Team Apache and Ka-52 Team Alligator and is the author of the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. He has worked on game designs for the Xbox 360, Playstation 2 and 3, PlayStation Portable and PC, including the Warhammer 40,000-based Fire Warrior and Operation Flashpoint 2. His board wargame titles include the award-winning Downtown and The Burning Blue.

I caught up with Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood at Joe Allen's in Exeter Street, where he was eating black bean soup and enjoying the best whiskey sour in London.

Please join me in giving Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood a warm, BGG-Wargame-Subdomain welcome!



From Jim Dunnigan to hustling for interviews on the street? Oh, Hunga, how low you've sunk!

Welcome to Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood nonetheless and congratulations on surviving your brush with the Man on the Street.

You don't post a photo of the London meetup, just pictures of game pieces??? WTH?
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Hungadunga wrote:
This month's BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, who has been designing both computer and board games for more than 16 years.

He is the creator of PC air combat simulators Team Apache and Ka-52 Team Alligator and is the author of the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. He has worked on game designs for the Xbox 360, Playstation 2 and 3, PlayStation Portable and PC, including the Warhammer 40,000-based Fire Warrior and Operation Flashpoint 2. His board wargame titles include the award-winning Downtown and The Burning Blue.

I caught up with Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood at Joe Allen's in Exeter Street, where he was eating black bean soup and enjoying the best whiskey sour in London.

Please join me in giving Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood a warm, BGG-Wargame-Subdomain welcome!



Don't forget his very original upcoming game, Nightfighter!

Lee does great work and his research is always impressive. I recommend all of his designs that I've encountered so far with the caveat that they are well-designed wargames for wargamers, not euro-hybrids, as many of the now-popular wargames are.

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I think he has a 'thing' for night aircraft antenna arrays.
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Welcome, Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood!
In your own opinion, how would you compare your The Burning Blue to RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940?
(Yours seems to have more details but no solo option. soblue)
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Congrats Lee Brimmicombe-Wood! thumbsup

As a former B52 aviator, any game that has BUFFs will always catch my eye...
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Okay, I've finally figured it out, Hungadunga is Doctor Who.
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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
From Jim Dunnigan to hustling for interviews on the street? Oh, Hunga, how low you've sunk!


You know they are scraping the barrel when they get to me.

Michael Dorosh wrote:
You don't post a photo of the London meetup, just pictures of game pieces??? WTH?


We've burned the photos. He didn't mention that we ended up in the downstairs bar of Garlic & Shots trying to drink shot number 89 and something that came out of a bottle with a lizard in it.

I have since fled to Sweden. There may be a lawsuit involved.
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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
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Thanks to all for the welcome. I'm looking forward to some lively chat.

Kozure wrote:
Don't forget his very original upcoming game, Nightfighter!


Damnit! You gave away that I have something to sell!

(Thanks for the endorsement. I'll pay your five pounds and a pickled egg later!)

Kozure wrote:
Lee does great work and his research is always impressive.


Thanks. If there's a thread to my work, even the stuff that I simplify for fast play, it is that it is about the history.

Of course, I can get the history wrong.

xmfcnrx wrote:
I think he has a 'thing' for night aircraft antenna arrays.


You found me out!

Joking aside, radar is a fascinating subject and part of the narrative of Nightfighter is about the development of this completely new technology. Now, I've streamlined the technical stuff considerably for the game, but considering that in the space of a few years you go from nothing to metre-wave airborne radar to sophisticated centimetric systems, there's a story there that hasn't really been dealt with in a wargame before. It's nice to tread fresh ground.
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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
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Ashitaka wrote:
As a former B52 aviator, any game that has BUFFs will always catch my eye...


I'm pleased that I was able to model Linebacker II in Downtown. You don't often get to play with BUFFs in a tactical environment. I hope I did 'em justice.

Out of interest, what seat did you fill on B-52s?
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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
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sullafelix wrote:
In your own opinion, how would you compare your The Burning Blue to RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940?


To be quite honest I don't compare them because I see them as apples and oranges, as completely different scales. One game is grand-tactical the other operational. I can't find a link but last year I ran a long BGG forum post defining scales for air combat games. As I recall, in my proposal scaling went something like this:

* Tactical: Unit scale is single aircraft. Gameplay emphasis is on air combat manoeuvring and the individual victory.

* Grand Tactical: Unit scale is single aircraft to small tactical formations, possibly aggregated into raids. Map scope is a portion or whole of a theatre. Gameplay emphasis is on mission execution and interception.

* Operational: Unit scale is large formations (wing level and above). Map scope covers most or all of a theatre. Gameplay emphasis is on targeting, basing and sortie generation. Mission execution is to some extent abstracted.

This is not a clean breakdown. A lot of games cross categories to some extent. But it is a useful classification to help work out which 'hats' the player wears. RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940 to my mind leans towards the true operational game, though like many designers John Butterfield cannot resist incorporating grand tactical details and elements. The Burning Blue is a true Grand Tactical game and I tried to excise the Operational and Tactical from the game.

The Burning Blue was purposely a game in which the player wore the hats of the Group and Sector fighter controllers. Something that I felt no previous game on the subject had satisfactorily succeeded at.

By contrast, John's RAF game does a knockout job of operations: basing, targeting and sortie generation. In the revamped version he even managed to squeeze into the narrative the costs and benefits of the Stabilization Plan.

So I rather feel the games complement each other.

sullafelix wrote:
Yours seems to have more details but no solo option.


I'm afraid that's a feature, not a bug. My games, so far, all feature fog of war that relies on secret stuff that can't be handled solo.

That said, I am looking at possible options for solo games. I have been working on a design for a game on the South Atlantic air war. I have a two-player prototype but am considering whether or not it can be made solo, with the AI handling the Royal Navy and the player the Argentine air force and naval air.

In addition I have a design on the Dambuster Raids that I'm trying to recraft as a solo game.

I also have notes on a game titled Sod This For a Game of Soldiers, on the battles for Mounts Harriet, Longdon and Two Sisters that may be solo.

However, I need to study solo design more. I fear that many solo games end up as dry exercises in die rolling. That RAF does not is a tribute to some excellent design. Now I just need to kidnap John Butterfield, boil him down to his essence and distill whatever secret formula he has for making solo games.
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Hello Lee,

some questions about Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972
(forgive me for my bad english)

1)if i remember well i read once on the consimworld forum that nowadays you would not design a game like Downtown anymore. What would you change if you had the opportunity now? Or how would your design be different?

2)i really appreciated the design notes in the Downtown rulebook and i'm interested in game design. Can you explain the design behind the suit icons (spade, diamond etc) and the track table mechanic?

3)in the "Designing Downtown" section of the Rulebook (which i enjoyed reading) you wrote:
"SAMs were originally a much simpler rule, but the playtesters wanted to recreate the cat-and-mouse contest of the Iron Hand forces against the DRV’s ‘rocket forces’."

do you still have a draft of these early, simpler rules? or can you remember how they worked?

Thank you,
going downtown now!ninja




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Obsidian Man of Urik wrote:
Hello Lee, some questions about Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972

1) If i remember well i read once on the consimworld forum that nowadays you would not design a game like Downtown anymore. What would you change if you had the opportunity now? Or how would your design be different?


I think there's several bits to the answer.

First, I am never satisfied with a design. There's an old saying that every artist needs a large man with a hammer standing behind him to hit him over the head when he is finished. Left to my own devices I would tinker forever and it takes some discipline to kick the thing out of the door. (Though that usually coincides with the moment I get sick of it.) So what you get with any of my games is a snapshot of my thinking in time.

Second, it's not just the game evolving but the designer. Every day is a schoolday and I'm still learning how to do this game design thingy.

Third, as I learn more about making games I find I want to get more game and history out of less design. Some of this might be that I now have the detail monster out of my system. I am learning what details of history are important to capture and which I can take the scalpel to. Maybe I no longer need to throw the kitchen sink at a problem. Or it may be that as I slip towards my dotage I just want faster games that require less effort and investment of time to play.

Fourthly, I am uninterested in system games: reskinning a game system for a different war. Some of this comes from a belief (or delusion) that wars and campaigns are sufficiently different that you cannot use a single system to capture them all. But another explanation is that I always want to try my hand at something new.

So I think what you'd get with a redesigned Downtown is a much simpler game, with a lot more tactical detail abstracted and a bunch of die rolls ripped out.

Of course, that might not be to everyone's taste. So I'm now thinking of a new game design using some Downtown concepts as a chassis for a fast-playing game on modern jet interception. I have a working title of AWACS and, shhhh, though I haven't asked him about it yet, I hope to persuade Terry Simo to be my advisor on it.

Obsidian Man of Urik wrote:
2) I really appreciated the design notes in the Downtown rulebook and i'm interested in game design. Can you explain the design behind the suit icons (spade, diamond etc) and the track table mechanic?


Oh Lordy, I have to go and look at that again now. It's been a long time since I revisited that mechanic.

I think I wanted a very simple way of handling detection and breaking the raid into fourths seemed to be one solution around this. The suits seemed to be a simple, iconic way of handling the physical systems.

Obsidian Man of Urik wrote:
3) In the "Designing Downtown" section of the Rulebook (which i enjoyed reading) you wrote: "SAMs were originally a much simpler rule, but the playtesters wanted to recreate the cat-and-mouse contest of the Iron Hand forces against the DRV’s ‘rocket forces’."

do you still have a draft of these early, simpler rules? or can you remember how they worked?


I'm not sure I have an early draft of those any more. That was several computers ago. However, as I recall they were based on a single roll rather than an opposed roll, and they had less resolution than the final rule.
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pilotofficerprune wrote:


Now I just need to kidnap John Butterfield, boil him down to his essence and distill whatever secret formula he has for making solo games.


I'll have a bottle while you are at it.
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Charles Vasey wrote:
I'll have a bottle while you are at it.


Hmmm... I spy a market opportunity.
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pilotofficerprune wrote:
I can't find a link but last year I ran a long BGG forum post defining scales for air combat games.



Here it is: Air combat scales

Jon
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Thanks for that. Blimey, I'm long-winded, aren't I?
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pilotofficerprune wrote:
Thanks for that. Blimey, I'm long-winded, aren't I?


Yeah, but it's all pure gold mate
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Excuse me while I shill for a moment...

Kozure wrote:
Don't forget his very original upcoming game, Nightfighter!


Yes, Nightfighter is currently at the printers. GMT have it slated for a June release though it might possibly ship in May. Either way I hope see it on convention tables over the summer.

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-233-nightfighter.aspx

Then there is the next game, Bomber Command, my raid-scale game on the night bombing of the Reich, which at the time of writing is just shy of 500 pre-orders. If we can get a boost to this there may be a chance of seeing this later in the year, as the game is almost finished.

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-302-bomber-command.aspx
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Have you played Wings of War? If so, what did you think of it?
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Hungadunga wrote:
Have you played Wings of War? If so, what did you think of it?


Similarly, what about Birds of Prey? It's a game with your name all over it, yet I don't recall reading any of your comments on it.

In fact, more broadly, whilst you've been pioneering the grand tactical scale, what do you think of tactical scale air games (as a genre) in general?
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The thing that stands out most to me about Lee is the great job he does publicizing his games. He doesn't wait for the publisher to do the work; instead, he keeps posting interesting facts, pictures, stories, and all kinds of material about his games. Some designers "shill" in an irritating way, but I always find that I learn something from Lee's publicity efforts.
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Hungadunga wrote:
Have you played Wings of War? If so, what did you think of it?


When I first encountered it I thought it was yet another of what Mike Spick, my design guru, called the 'skating penguins' approach. 'They got wings, they move, but they ain't flying'.

Everyone glides round and round until someone gets a shot. Especially for aircraft whose stall speed was so close to their maximum speed I really don't think this is how it worked. Altitude is handled in a cursory fashion. I don't think there is any depth to this approach. I also have an aversion to plotted moves when it comes to dogfight games. I don't believe the historical fights were contests of anticipation.

However, the cards are a brilliant piece of design. So simple. Even my five year-old boy, who doesn't really understand how games work, can grok this. You can elegantly show subtle differences between types, such as rotary turns. And then there's the minis. The WoW guys really understand how the visuals and the heraldry sell the game.

So I'm well disposed towards Wings of War. I don't think it's good history, but it fulfils a desire for a simple and fast game. And a massed game, should you see one, is a thing of beauty to watch.
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