Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

FROM THE ARCHIVES: CAT / MOUSE (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, gameplay, wargame design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: CAT / MOUSE (by Tom Russell)

One of the things I really enjoy about John Theissen's operational ACW games (More Aggressive Attitudes, Objective Shreveport!, and Hood's Last Gamble, for those keeping score) is how difficult it can be to have a proper battle. Whenever you declare combat, your opponent usually has the option of attempting to Retreat Before Combat (RBC), with a 66% chance of success (sometimes more). With a successful roll, the enemy stack slips through your fingers. And, when the shoe is on the other foot, you slip through theirs. Both sides generally want to do battle with the enemy, because winning battles decisively...


THE OVERCOAT (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design

THE OVERCOAT (by Tom Russell)

On what I imagine to have been a pleasant September morning - being partial to autumn, I generally find September mornings to be pleasant - there rode a man who would be dead in ten days.  Now, by rights, he shouldn't have been riding. This man - an intelligence officer - had two days prior disembarked his ship to make contact with one of his assets, an enemy commander who wished to defect, and in so doing, turn over possession of a key fort. Having made the agreement, our young officer was to return to the ship. But in the...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: SCATTERSHOT THOUGHTS ON STEP LOSSES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game development, gameplay

FROM THE ARCHIVES: SCATTERSHOT THOUGHTS ON STEP LOSSES (by Tom Russell)

You nudge your little square division to the front, compare its attack factor of 4 to the enemy's defense factor, and roll the die: ugh, a six, AL, attacker loss. You flip the counter to its reverse side, reducing its attack factor to 2. Half the cardboard men under your command are dead. Only they're not, because as all grognards know, and as many rulebooks are quick to point out, a step loss doesn't represent death, but simply a reduction in effective fighting strength. That's bloodshed and wounds and prisoners, sure, but also general discombobulation and dispersal, exhaustion, morale collapse,...


FIRST LOOK AT THE GRASS CROWN (by Tom Russell)

FIRST LOOK AT THE GRASS CROWN (by Tom Russell)

The core idea of With It Or On It, the first game in our Shields & Swords Ancients line, was to create a simplified model that could capture the essential nature of hoplite warfare - the advantages, the disadvantages, and most importantly, the feel. Each individual counter is only as strong and as resilient as the counters adjacent to it, leading one gamer to dub the game's model "the hoplite buddy system". Winning a battle is a matter of putting pressure on the line, pushing at it, until you force it to weaken, to crack, and to collapse. I knew...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: THREE WAYS TO EVALUATE A DESIGN

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game development, game publishing

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THREE WAYS TO EVALUATE A DESIGN

When we evaluate a design submission, the first thing we do is take a look at the rules to get a sense of the thing. If it captures our interest, we then proceed to getting the game on the table. I don't have hard numbers on this, but I'd hazard a guess that only about a third of the submissions that we turn down get to that second step. If we've taken the time to print up a copy of the game, or to ask the designer to go to the expense of sending us a playtest kit, then we...