Unfinished Games

A blog by BenthamFish, alias Alan Paull, sometime games designer, sometime games developer, sometime games player.

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Finished game: Snowdonia Expansion - The Siege of Petersburg / The Channel Tunnel 1881

Alan Paull
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Here's a few pictures of our new stuff for Essen Spiel 2017:

Snowdonia Expansion - The Siege of Petersburg / The Channel Tunnel 1881



The Generals:


The Cousins' War: Events Mini-expansion
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Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:12 pm
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Dolphin Adventures: new prototype

Alan Paull
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With Gary Hampson and Charlie Paull, new prototype for our Dolphin Adventures game. Now stream-lined & spruced up. Best version yet!

Pic showing setup. Fish will be smaller and blue. Tokens smaller too. Shoals will be a cluster of fish.

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Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:42 pm
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Politics By Other Means: new card designs

Alan Paull
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Conference of Wargamers is coming up next weekend. I'm planning to run a session with Politics By Other Means, my micro-game based loosely on Clausewitz' On War.

I played it at the last CoW, but now it's had a face-lift. New iconisation of the cards will, I hope, make the play a bit slicker. It will at least require less reading, which is a good thing.

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Sun Jul 2, 2017 8:30 pm
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The Cousins' War: arrival

Alan Paull
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We have some copies!



Available from Surprised Stare Games stand (T9) at UK Games Expo in just over a week's time.
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Wed May 24, 2017 11:58 am
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Cousins' War: coming soon from SSG Wargames

Alan Paull
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Coming soon from SSG Wargames: Cousins' War.

The Wars of the Roses were fought between the Houses of York and Lancaster for over 3 decades during the 15th century in England. The houses were both branches of the royal family, therefore the Wars were originally known as “The Cousins’ War”. Each player represents one of the houses as they fight battles and gain influence to control England.

A new game designed by David J. Mortimer (Twilight Squabble, Pocket Imperium, [microfilms], Flock, Dragon Slayer). Artwork and layout by Klemens Franz.

Published by SSG Wargames, part of Surprised Stare Games.

An example of an Action card:
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Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:54 pm
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Finished game: Confucius!

Alan Paull
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The wonderful Klemens Franz sent me this link:

http://geekandsundry.com/3-hidden-gems-of-board-gaming-you-s...

Nice to see that Confucius is still getting some love.
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:28 pm
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Airfix tanks

Alan Paull
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A little bit of prep for Airfix Battles happened over the hols. Only a little, but the objective is to get a whole set of figures and minis in Airfix for use in Airfix Battles.

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Mon Jan 2, 2017 7:22 pm
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Politics By Other Means - Variants

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Continuing on from my previous two posts about my microgame project, based on Clausewitz' On War.

I omitted to put in a piccy of the Basic Game setup for the edification of potential readers, so here it is.



The Basic Game is abstract. It's all about getting the drop on your opponent, so you can either take their Home Country or ensure you can get more than half the available VPs - although there is the philosophical side to the game too. Once you've played the Basic Game, the idea is that you experiment with variants, either by tweaking the rules yourself, or by cracking on with a pre-set variant, as follows.

18th Century so-called Limited War


Here we provide 2 neutral provinces with VPs varying between 1 and 3, representing possible targets for positional warfare. You can't reduce your Home Country's VPs dice to less than 2 (king's tended not to want to devastate their own countries). You can't score VPs for your home country, if you have no armies there when an enemy army is also there. The intention here is to force players to defend their core logistical area. As it's limited war, the game ends when the first player reaches 13 points, compared with effectively 25 in the Basic Game. It's possible in this variant to play a delaying and obstructing game, focusing on scoring points, rather than committing to battles.

Napoleonic Wars

Representing the French conscription and war footing, Blue starts with 2 armies in France, strength of 2 and home country of only 2, as it has already suffered from previous invasions. The Allies (Orange) don't have their ATK+1 card, representing their lack of tactical flair, but can buy it for later with VPs. However, they have 2 armies in the neutral country, presumably Belgium and / or German states - but these are weaker than the French. Occupation of the capital ends the game, and the French have the early advantage, which may slip away.

World War 1 in the West

Getting to grips with trench warfare and potential stalemate is the objective here. In this variant, you can't move past an enemy fortified army, so it's possible to have a war of manoeuvre only until both realise the importance of fortification. The defender can discard a movement card to add 1 to their combat strength - representing reserves moving up to block threatened breakthroughs. In battle only one army is destroyed per engagement. While this looks like less casualties, in fact the dynamic means that armies have to be quickly re-cycled back into the meat grinder. If you score and pull your action cards back to hand without having attacked, you lose a VP - there's an expectation on both sides that you have to attack the enemy to win. Finally there are game end conditions for a negotiated peace (by agreement), a peace as a result of revolutionary collapse (no VPs), and a peace from military defeat and exhaustion (all VPs claimed, most wins).

World War 2 in the West

This final variant for now hasn't yet been played, and I'm not yet certain how many of the changes should be in it. Various changes reflect blitzkrieg, the forward defensive of the Allies into Belgium, German initiative, and the gradual increasing strength of the Allies. Using VPs as resources for increasing army strength represents industrial and manpower strength.

Conclusions so far

It's been a lot of fun so far. I've learned that a surprising amount can be accomplished by very small tweaks. I think this shows the framework is robust (at least according to me, and play testing seems to bear it out). I'm hoping that this will be a fun game to play, as well as providing some insights for those that have a more academic perspective.
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Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:32 pm
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Mission Command: The Joy of Research

Alan Paull
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I've been reading shed-loads of books and articles about Normandy '44 over the past few months, as I stumble forward (and occasionally back) with the design and development of Mission Command: Normandy beta version. Sometimes a little snippet of "new" information comes to light that seems to have been overlooked by many a professional historian (or, indeed, gamer). My latest read is Ben Kite's 2014 book "Stout Hearts, The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944", now available in weighty paperback from Helion & Co.

For best credibility of scenarios in historical games like Mission Command: Normandy, it's important to do careful research, lest you get held to account by, shall we say, "gamers who have great attention to detail". I've been researching and playing a set of scenario variants for the 6th Airborne Division's actions north of Caen for some while. One thing that's struck me is the amount of firepower available to our paras. Apart from the naval gunfire support from a cruiser and a destroyer for each parachute brigade, they had 9x 6 pounder and 2x 17 pounder AT guns.

It's often assumed that the AT guns, particularly the 17 pounders carried by Hamilcar gliders, were not available when the main para drop arrived early in the morning, because the principal glider landing was famously at 21:00 in the evening of D-Day. Hence the particular danger of the potential counter-attack by 21st Panzer Division during D-Day.

Ben Kite mentions this in his book: "Sergeant 'Jock' Simpson was a second pilot on a Hamilcar which landed on Phase three [the 21:00 landing] of operation TONGA with a 17-pounder anti-tank gun..". However, a reading of Ben Kite's quote from Sergeant Simpson shows that he landed with the Phase one gliders in the early morning: "A short time after midnight we rolled down the runway and took off...". As the crossing by towed glider was only a tad more than 2 hours, it's clear that Sergeant Simpson was not going to land at 21:00, but round about 03:30. Moreover, it's recorded in 5 Para Brigade's diary that 4 Airlanding AT battery, including attached 17 pounders, arrived safely (as ordered) about 03:30, confirming its operational orders. So, assuming it might take a couple of hours to deploy the guns, from around 05:30 in the morning of 6 June, 5 Para Brigade had 11 AT guns, including 17 pounders capable of dealing with Panthers and Tigers, more or less ready for action. Our Mission Command scenario variants take this into account.

This information is nowadays happily available online, but this type of potential error does show the importance of double-checking the evidence.
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Fri Aug 5, 2016 1:42 pm
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Airfix Battles: A sneak peak at Operation Cobra

Alan Paull
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Airfix Battles, The Introductory Wargame, has now hit the shops. If you've not yet seen it, have a look here: https://www.modiphius.net/collections/airfix-battles.

The basic game has 10 scenarios, many of which are geared to teaching you how to play the game. We thought it would be a great idea to present a whole campaign of scenarios to test out our more advanced players - enter Operation Cobra, the US offensive at the end of the Normandy Campaign that resulted in the (almost) encirclement of the German's 7th Army and 5th Panzer Army. This will be a PDF, print-and-play set, I believe.

The Operation Cobra Airfix Battles campaign is made up of 10 linked scenarios. At the end of each scenario the winner earns Cobra Campaign Points (CCPs). Most points wins at the end of the campaign. However, you're unlikely to play all 10 scenarios, because the outcome of a scenario presents some choices about which one to play next. Some of the scenarios are not necessarily balanced, but rather they might favour one side or the other - or your style of play may suit you to one type of scenario, but not another. So, if you think the next scenario is maybe a bit too demanding for your side, you may be able to opt to skip it, and move to a more palatable option. In this way the path through the campaign can be different each time.

We've also introduced a few new bits and pieces for building your forces, setting up the scenarios and ending them. Typically the Germans during Operation Cobra were scrabbling to keep up with the movement and materiel of the US advance. To reflect the German losses, in most scenarios German squads will start with less than their full complement, but they'll still cost the normal stars to buy. Your Grenadiers may have only 7 or 8 men, instead of the normal 10. Sometimes the German tanks are not fully repaired, so may have to start the game with 1 pip less on their Hit Dice, while at the end "The Last Throw of the Dice", German tanks cost an extra star each to purchase. In compensation, and because they're on the defensive, the Germans frequently get to place terrain where they want it to be, so their relatively smaller force sometimes has the advantage of the ground.

As Operation Cobra was an offensive of rapid manoeuvre, both sides will face having to split their troops. In Scenario 3, "Armoured Breakthrough", the US side has a main and a flanking force and tries to take an on-road objective worth a large number of points. In this scenario the Germans don't have any tanks, so their problem is how to shift infantry around to block a flank attack, while also parrying a frontal force. In Scenario 5, "Encircled!", the Germans attempt to break out or rescue a trapped force by running the gauntlet of the attacking Americans.

We've included a lot of variation in the scenario designs. The number of troops ranges from 10 Stars to 25, and many scenarios use both maps, so you'll have a lot of ground to fight over. We've also provided some very different end game and victory conditions. For example, in Scenario 2, "Opening Attacks", the Americans can choose to end the battle at the end of any round, thereby allowing them to limit their loss, take a quick victory, or go for broke by staying in the fight. On the other hand, Scenario 4, "Panzer Counter-attack" is a do or die that only ends when one side has been destroyed, routed or withdrawn.

Scenario 10: Allied Briefing - "That’s it, boys, the Krauts are beaten. I doubt they have a single tank left in the whole of France! It should all be plain sailing from here on." Or the Axis Briefing - "General, you may demand all you want, but I cannot make tanks appear out of thin air! The whole division is destroyed! What’s that? An order from Berlin? Then I suppose we have no choice…" Your chance to fight the enemy in Operation Cobra!
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Wed Aug 3, 2016 5:26 pm
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