Issue 76 (Fall/Winter 2014)

Big Totally Massive Box of Giant Science Fiction: Ogre Reborn as the Designer’s Edition
by Jim Werbaneth

Designer's Response to “Civil War on River and Sea: A Review of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas” in Issue 75 of Line of Departure
by Mark G. McLaughlin

Coming Attractions: Designer’s Notes for The Battle of Sadowa
by Jim Werbaneth

Little War on the Frontier: Simple Tactics in the French and Indian War Battle Collection
by Jim Werbaneth

The General and the Old Tanks: Scenarios for the T-55 and T-62 in Avalon Hill’s MBT
by Jim Werbaneth


Adventures of the Great King: The Avalon Hill Version of Frederick the Great
by Jim Werbaneth


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The Bully Pulpit

Issue 76 (Fall/Winter 2014)

by Jim Werbaneth

A lot has happened since the publication of Line of Departure Issue 76. As my schedule filled up with two day jobs and my pursuit of a second Masters degree, this one in military history, I realized that I was running out time. Literally. There was not enough time in the day to do what I was trying to do, and some essential activities were being compromised. Looking at the publication schedule for Line of Departure over the last couple of years, it was clear that this magazine was one of them. There was always another paper to write, another class to revise, and always more assignments to grade. Finally, I continue to discover just what homeownership requires.

There was another activity that I was finding it in-creasingly to fit into my schedule, and that was my game development commitments to Turning Point Simulations. Deadlines became harder and harder to meet, and if anything, I saw them becoming well nigh impossible, in the near future. Thus, with a great degree of regret, I tendered my resignation as staff developer to TPS. The job is now in the able hands of Lembit Tohver.

I have to emphasize that my departure has nothing to do with any dispute or split with TPS or its management. This is absolutely the most supremely ethical wargame publisher with whom I have yet worked, and I really wish that I had more time to devote to their projects. They are great people and deserve your support and business.

You’ll continue to see my work appear in the TPS and Against the Odds lines in the future, still. I’m hoping that plans go forward for the publication of one of my articles in the magazine.

Further, and this is big news, I’m back in the game design business. Last year, I designed my contribution to the TPS series, covering the battle of Sadowa, also known as Königgratz, in 1866. My game is an operational-strategic treatment of the Austro-Prussian War in Bohemia, using the game system that my friend Paul Rohrbaugh designed for the Civil War. Then Paul got the job of developing my game for TPS. It is currently slated for publication in late 2015.

For all my game development work over the past ten years or so, The Battle of Sadowa is my first original game design since 1991, when I did Rommel at Gazala. That lay dormant until I self-published it in 2006. Recently though I took it off the market, at least from my own web site, as it about to be published in a professional edition by Lock ‘n Load Publishing. I already have an advanced copy, and it looks great; not only is the artwork fantastic, but the counters and map are enlarged, making it more inviting to play.

I don’t imagine that either The Battle of Sadowa or Rommel at Gazala will be my last game designs. I miss the inventive, more creative side of design and development, and don’t intend to spend another quarter decade away from it. Leaving the development side should free up some time, with the advantage that the only deadlines and time constraints that mean anything will be my own. Plus, the grad school assignments all give me additional ideas and research opportunities that might translate into wargames.

Now for this issue. I’ve been promising coverage of larger games over the last couple of years, ever since I bought my house around my library and game collection, and also that I’d address more science fiction games. Finally, I’ve specifically mentioned the designer’s edition of Ogre. Well, they don’t get any more science fictiony, or bigger, than that one. So Issue 76 comes through on all three counts, with a review of the new Ogre. This won’t be the last science fiction game, or monster, either; there will be more in the future.

The issue also has a special emphasis on armor. It is not a theme issue, as much early warfare comes in, but there is the Ogre review, and scenarios for MBT. Now, this might not be the last time that the original Avalon Hill version of the latter is going to be supported by Line of Departure, but readers can expect a general draw down. One big reason is that GMT expects to publish an updated version, with expansions. I expect in time to shift attention from the Avalon Hill edition to the upcoming one from GMT, and its expansions.

I further expect a general shift in scenarios and sup-plements too. In the last few years, they have been about Avalon Hill modern land tactical games, specifically MBT, its Middle East cousin IDF, and Firepower. I would really like to expand coverage, and present more support for games from other publishers, and on other subjects. Hence, over the last few issues, I’ve added material, and scenarios, for the old SPI games Red Star/White Star and Task Force. Yes, they were on the modern warfare of their time, and while the former covers mechanized warfare in Europe, as does MBT, the latter is a naval game. Of course too, they come from a different publisher.

As time goes on, I would like to add more scenarios and supplements for more varied eras too. I have the com-plete set of GMT’s version of Panzer, and expect to offer support for that. After all, it is close enough to MBT and IDF, frequent subjects of Line of Departure scenarios, that the transition shouldn’t be too hard. Further, I plan to expand the magazine’s support for Avalanche Press’ game systems, especially the Great War at Sea, the Second World War at Sea, and both the World War II and post-War implementations of the Panzer Grenadier system. So far, I have not published any scenarios for the naval titles or Panzer Grenadier, but that could change soon.

In addition, other naval games always offer fertile ground for scenarios and expansions. Look for more sup-port in that area, including others previously not covered.

Now let’s look at the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room, Line of Departure’s publication schedule. It is a top priority for me to get this all back on track, with four issues per year. As I said, I’m trending toward having more time for this, as my second stint in graduate school enters its home stretch. Then too, there is my reluctant and regretful departure from TPS.

I also got a really fortunate bolt from the blue, courtesy of subscriber Emory Toops. He sent me an extremely extensive analysis of games addressing the Sino-Japanese War. It is a fine article, on a subject never addressed by Line of Departure, and on games that can’t be considered the “usual suspects” in any ways. Plus, it promises to be a big help in getting the issues out the door more frequently.

Emory’s article is a bit long to be published in one issue, and I wouldn’t want a magazine to be centered on what is really a fairly obscure, one could say under-represented, topic. So I’ll do with it what I did with my own lengthy article on Victory Games’ The Civil War some years ago, and split it between issues. This lowers the burden on me to generate material for Line of Departure, and thus presents a golden opportunity to start rebuilding a reserve of surplus material for publication sooner rather than sometime further down the road.

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