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Subject: BGG Wargame Designer of the Month: Larry Bond rss

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Hunga Dunga
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This month's BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month is Larry Bond. Mr. Bond is both a prolific writer and game designer. He co-authored Red Storm Rising with Tom Clancy, has written five novels under his own name, and has designed well over a dozen games.

Mr. Bond’s Harpoon (1st & 3rd edition) gaming system was first published in 1980. Designed as a general-purpose air, surface, and submarine naval simulation, it combines playability with a wealth of information on modern naval weapons systems. Designed for the entry-level player, it has found acceptance in both the commercial market and the professional naval community. It is used at the Naval Academy, several ROTC installations, and on several surface ships as a training aid.

Mr. Bond’s most recent game is Persian Incursion, an exploration into the consequences of an attack by Israel on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. It uses elements of the Harpoon game system combined with a card-based political system that allows players to conduct aircraft and ballistic missile attacks, build weapons, and influence both domestic and political opinion. It was published by Clash of Arms Games in 2010.

In 1981 and 1987, Mr. Bond's Harpoon gaming system won the H.G. Wells Award as the best miniatures game of the year and is the only game to win the award twice. In 1990, the computer version of Harpoon won the Wargame of the Year award from Computer Gaming World. In 2003 Mr. Bond became an Origins Awards Hall of Fame inductee.

Mr. Bond served six years in the Navy, serving four on a destroyer and two in the area of Washington, DC. He also served in the reserves for two years with the Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. After leaving the Navy, he worked as a naval analyst for defense consulting firms.



Mr. Bond agreed to meet us for some sushi and sake at a local Japanese sushi bar near Washington, D.C..

Please join me in giving him a warm, BGG-Wargame-Subdomain welcome!
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Ryan Powers
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Very cool. One of these days I'll even get around to trying harder to find people to play harpoon with.
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Mitchell Land
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I remember acquiring my first game of Harpoon. I was a lowly Seaman 1st Class doing my duty as a Wardroom Bitch, er, KP duty...when I saw the game. I asked the officers about it, and they said "we never use that, take it if you want it."

*sigh*
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Adam Siler
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The other books this guy wrote are terrible and I hate them for all sorts of reasons.......BUT

Red Phoenix was the best WW3 book by far and up there with books like "Company Commander" for its description from the soldier's eye view.
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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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Peso Pete wrote:
Gosh, I remember playing Computer Harpoon so many years ago on my old desktop! That game was so great!


Watching the dodgy missiles hit the ship and then sinking to the national anthem (or similar). Great stuff. I bought the Harpoon rules on the strength of the computer game. So I guess it's - Mr Bond, we've been expecting you...
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Bryan Martin
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Ashiefan wrote:
Peso Pete wrote:
Gosh, I remember playing Computer Harpoon so many years ago on my old desktop! That game was so great!


Watching the dodgy missiles hit the ship and then sinking to the national anthem (or similar). Great stuff. I bought the Harpoon rules on the strength of the computer game. So I guess it's - Mr Bond, we've been expecting you...

+1 to all of this.
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Ed Wimble
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Larry's most recent design has gotten some major press of late. A list of some of it:


Here's the piece on National Public Radio:

http://www.npr.org/2011/11/12/142270041/board-game-plays-out...

And here's the article in "Foreign Policy" magazine that prompted it.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/11/08/the_persian...

and Wired.com's Danger Room:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/11/i-bombed-iran/

Also got a mention on Shalom Life:

http://www.shalomlife.com/business/16159/bomb-iran-from-the-...

And Elder of Ziyon:

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2011/11/board-game-on-israe...

Lastly: The Jewish Chronicle out of London:

http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/58412/iran-attack-the-b...
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David Redpath
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Harpoon got me interested in Modern Naval Wargaming - and I am a long time fan of this genre - everygame on the subject is on my shelves.

Although I now think the follow on iterations of Harpoon are too complex for anything but single ship type actions and really low unit density games - the best version was the Captains Edition rules that were playable and with just enough detail to allow for good tactics.

I also echo the comment on Red Pheonix - excellent novel.

Thanks Larry for starting it all off
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Brian Morris
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One of my favorite authors. Best compliment I heard about him was from Stephen Coonts who wrote "When I grow up I want to write like Larry Bond".
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Hunga Dunga
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Couple of questions for Mr. Bond - what made you decide to develop wargames using miniatures vs. the more popular hex and counter? What was it that made you decide cards should be part of your games?
 
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Larry Bond
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I designed Harpoon as a miniatures game because it is a tactical game. The characteristics of the ships, their position relative to each other, and even their individual courses are all important. I thought a minis game would provide more visual feedback than a boardgame.
Also, miniatures games don't require maps and counters, although Harpoon has always included counters for people who don't want to paint miniatures.

Larry
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Larry Bond
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Not sure what you mean by cards in Harpoon. The only game we've done that had cards is Persian Incursion. We used them in that game because they seemed like an efficient and fun way to present the players with different political opportunities.

Larry
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Hunga Dunga
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Yeah, I meant Persian Incursion.
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Larry Bond
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BTW, I owe Stephen Coonts several large beers. We've met several times, and he's a great guy and a gifted storyteller. Listening to him talk about the themes in Flight of the Intruder was like a grad school class in writing.

Larry
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Seth Owen
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My take away from Persian Incursion is that militarily, there's little to stop the Israelis from bombing Iran and doing serious damage (at least the Iranian military won't be stopping them) but the political consequences are much less certain.

The military aspects are pretty straightforward and data based, but the political game naturally involves a lot of judgment calls. How much of what is in the political game is what you think will happen and how much is just game-balancing stuff to give the Iranian player a chance?
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Larry Bond
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We did not attempt to balance the game, per se. We did try to make sure that we looked for all possible options for each player, so that they would not feel deprived or unable to pursue their strategy.
You can only balance a game after you've played it enough to see which side wins most often. Usually by that time you've determined what the optimum strategies are for each side Truthfully, we don't know who will win or lose the game most often. There are too many moving parts, which is one of the reasons we built the gam in the first place. Hopefully, during the interaction of the different elements, one or more will emerge as dominant.
The cards themselves, as well as the strategic events, are real-world incidents that have happened in many conflicts. It's not an exhaustive list. I'm sure there are many other cards we could add to the game. It would be fun to see what the players suggest. Maybe we could publish a supplemental card pack.
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Michael Gustavsson
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I started my gaming carrer in the early 90's, with Harpoon. I then continued with Command at Sea and then Harpoon4. Back then internet wasn't what it is today and I wrote several letters to Larry with questions about the rules, he always kindly answered those. I still got the letters.

Now I'm waiting for the release of Harpoon5, tell us more about it Larry

Michael
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