Kinetic Energy & the excellent Time on Target packs

tiger

I found a bit of history today, related to the third party publisher Kinetic Energy that produced the famous Time on Target packs.

Fellow “ASLers,”

In light of the tumultuous events in our mutual hobby over the past year or two, Mark Neukom & I have made a rather tough decision. As of June 1st, 1999, Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. will cease design, development, publication, and sale of all products that support and deal with the Advanced Squad Leader(tm) game (including all of its Modules).

There are myriad reasons for this decision, and I will not burden you with the details here. In a nutshell, it can be summed up as a case of the amount of personal gratification that we draw from our work not being enough to overcome the amount of “grief” we receive (an unfortunate byproduct of being a Third-Party Manufacturer in today’s hobby). That, along with the stark financial reality of operating in the “red” for a couple of years running, is all the justification we need. Rather than have this overflow to the point where we would cease enjoying the game itself altogether, we’ve decided to “case the colors” of Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc., as outlined in this announcement.

Mark & I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported Kinetic Energy Productions over the past six years. Extra special mention goes to KE Co-Founder John Knowles; KE Staffers Brian Abela and Chris Castellana; our volunteer Web-Master Bahadir Erimli; and Playtester suma cum Laude Fritz Tichy. We personally thank ALL of our other playtesters as well. The fruits of their labor show through in every one of our products, and are a key element of the success we have enjoyed in the past. These fine folk are too numerous to mention here, but you can find them listed in the credits of all our magazines & scenario packs. Finally, to those of you who purchased Time on Target magazine, and our March Madness scenario packs in the past, and/or attended the March Madness Tournament in Kansas City, our thanks as well. You helped keep our labor of love afloat for quite some time. We are quite proud of our track record, in quality and presentation, for every product we have published. In some ways, we feel gratified that our efforts have “raised the bar” and spurred others to better themselves as well, a good side-effect of the Third-party market that we sincerely hope will be allowed to continue in our absence. Further, we hope to see/hear AARs of “The Dogs of War” and other fine KE/TOT scenarios for quite a long time. However, please don’t take this as a license to freely copy & distribute KE/TOT “stuff.” Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. (and in the case of its absence, Mark Neukom) reserves all rights to copyrights on the three issues of “Time on Target” magazine, all of the “March Madness” scenario packs, the “British Rare Vehicles” pack, and all unpublished Kinetic Energy projects (e.g., playtest packages & materials). Please respect our wishes in this matter.

Finally, please understand that Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. will honor all orders that have been placed as of this date, and those that are postmarked on/before June 1st, 1999. Any distributors or individuals desiring to place any bulk order please contact me at mreed@sky.net ASAP. Orders postmarked after June 1st, 1999 will not be processed and will be returned to sender.

Regards,
Mike Reed
Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc.

Here are the responses from the ASL community.

This is the Christmas sales pamphlet, for 1999 – check out the prices!  

Enjoy!

Why can’t MMP use Kickstarter? What can’t MMP keep everything in print? And other everyday questions.

MMPA lot of us has been frustrated with chasing after out of print ASL modules at some point in our ASL’ing lives:

Why can’t MMP use Kickstarter?  

Why can’t MMP keep everything in print?

Some of us asked publicly and have gotten our answers at some point.  At one such occasion, I asked MMP’s Brian Youse for his permission to post his answers on my blog for reference.  Here’s what he said ..

I don’t believe we have any intention of kickstarting every, or even many, OOP game we have any time soon. 🙂

Why don’t we use Kickstarter – they take 8-10% the day your met campaign ends and everyone is billed.

A big game like Yanks/FKAC/Rising Sun/BV/etc. guesstimated costs us about 60-80k for the print runs we do, say 60k. Now we need a goal of 66k. Most Kickstarters have stretch goals (someone mentioned dice), add another few thousand. So I’m up to 70k easily as a funding point. How many games hit that dollar figure, when its a well established game (and most KS that are super successful have new minis – seems to us anyways and we’ve been watching for quite some time).

The problem is printers want to be paid in 30 days. A game like BV won’t sell -nearly- 60k in 30 days until some demand is generated. So RS, for example, has to be out of stock for a bit to build up demand.

The third real problem is we’ve had about six die-cutters in our existence. Each time requires the job be re-laid out to a die and that means proofing, because if you grab a layer badly, or something imports wrong, or any one of another issues then you’re missing the front AF or white turret ring. Our goal, of course, is to have things in a pick up the phone and say “print x thousand more” mode. Right now, I think only a few of our modules are like that. The French and the Italians need to be redone from scratch. So its not always -quite- so easy to just say “reprint AOO” – there’s some work involved and that work is just as easily spent on a new game which will sell more copies than a reprint of AOO – thus generating more income to keep doing things like paying employees, paying rent, keeping the shrink-wrapping machines repaired and well maintained, etc.

As someone said above, its a real balancing act on our end (in our opinion) to juggle new product, reprinting old product, determining what people may want next, won’t want next, etc.

It keeps Chas and Perry very busy, and me nagging them for “what’s next to keep enough rent in the bank.”

Kickstarter is very cool. It isn’t the cure-all a lot of people seem to believe it is, however. Again, in our opinion.

BTW – re: die cutting – getting an existing product ready for a new die-cutter is much, much easier than a new project (like Italians/French). We love our guy now, hope he’s in business forever, and doesn’t go nuts on price or product delay – I like our counters as much as any in the hobby, the die-cutting has been dead on balls accurate. Its an industry term. 🙂

BTW2 – while being OOP may seem like a constant state, its really a weird time-warp thing (IMO) because Rising Sun (for example) was in stock for like 3+ to 4 years. Took me by surprise, it -felt- like it was available for about 9 months. Chas had to pick me up off the floor when he said it was 4 years. Its not like some games i’ve seen / heard (Nintendo classic) which sold out in a month and is OOP for a decade.

We get occasional letters to reprint BRT (for example). That game was in stock for maybe 10 years, and we had to GIVE away the last 200 copies for what, maybe 10 or 15 bucks each? Pegasus Bridge was available for probably 15+ years and I know the last handful were sold for maybe 5 bucks at a show.

Its really tough to justify printing something that we had in stock for what seemed like forever and we couldn’t give away.

One more quick example – DAK. Reprint reprint reprint, so we did. Not a very large print run. Sold 500 of them fast. I think we sold most of the rest at a Black Friday sale over a few years for what was probably 20 cents on the dollar. 😦

We intend to reprint core modules. We will reprint starter kit “core” modules. We may reprint choice OCS and GTS. And the rest are way down the priority list…

Hong Kong Wargamer : Thank you Brian!

 

Mayhem in Manila, July 29 2016

People profiles

Benji at McDonalds

I got up rather early on the last day and so I checked out, took my luggage to the venue and went down to McD for a nice breakfast. I met Benji there. Benji travelled in from nearby via Uber. He told me how he’s been playing Mark Humphries every Friday evening. As a matter of fact John Knowles told me about Benji earlier and said he’s one of those guys who’s been picking ASL up really quickly. Apparently this is his first tournament and he’s enjoying it. He knows there’s a learning curve to be surmounted and he is focusing on getting through the first 100 games. I, on the other hand, is on my 123rd game and I am no where close to NOT feeling like a beginner. I didn’t tell him that.

The China crew

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One of the Dare Death editors with his BattleDice

The China crew showed up with 5 players this year (6 including myself). They have already been playing in regional tournaments so they are no strangers to most in attendance. These guys definitely held their own : after all Kyle, Johnny & Xavier are experienced players. Xavier, aka the X teacher, holds monthly ASL classes in a Shanghai game store. However, since he was never before ranked internationally, he is awarded “The Outstanding Newbie” award. Kyle & Zhen “Richard” Wang, are the two chief editors of the Chinese ASL magazine “Dare Death”. We even came in personalised team t-shirts, designed by Xavier.

Jamie Westlake’s Four Dice

One thing a lot of us noticed was Westlake throwing 4 dice at a time. He came in second in the tourney and so whatever he’s doing must have worked. Either that or it’s his superhero t-shirts. We asked him to explain this “Four Dice System”:

“Hi guys…..Aussie convention…..red and white first. Blue and yellow second. If multiple morale checks, top unit red and white, next blue and yellow. Then roll again for third and fourth etc. exception: if you roll HOB, blue and white become HOB resolution. If leader creation, yellow is next. When first introduced to this twenty years ago I hated it. Now I love it…..on a to hit roll, red and white is the hit, blue and yellow the kill. Instant gratification….whack!”

All the “other” folks I’d like to thank

Will Fleming

With so many players coming in from overseas and with a good number of new players, we knew there’s going to be an issue with maps and overlays. Will Fleming worked meticulously to put together good solid printouts of scenario maps on thick paper.

George Bates

George Bates couldn’t make the tournament because of real life issues. However, he’s instrumental to the success of Mayhem in Manila. He pushed through a lot of decisions and set the tone we want to bring forth in these tournaments. He was the one who went to Perry at Multi-Man Publishing and asked for sponsorship. That man showed me how it’s done.

Vlad See

Vlad See did the fantastic Mayhem t-shirts, amongst other things like driving players to airports. The graphics on the t-shirt is actually done by a professional design artist, not that it’s not noticeable.

The Sponsors

The sponsors! Oh my god, the sponsors!! They go such a very long way to make this a proper tournament. I can’t be more thankful of their support.

The Blog of Five Rounds

AP89 To the Pain, Bruce Probst

This is a Gary Fortenberry scenario from Action Pack 9 “To the Bridge”. The victory condition is a little out of the ordinary, there are multiple ways you can win. If you fulfil certain number of VC conditions at a certain point in time, the game ends. Otherwise it goes on to the next checkpoint until the 6.5 turn scenario is over.

Bruce Probst was my opponent on this first round. I played him in a Dare Death VASL tourney round before and he’s really one of the nicest chaps you can get matched up with.

If you look the picture above, the locations marked with a “V” are the places that allows the British to score. The arrows show where Probst’s Gurkha Rifles roamed. Probst was probing the left, centre as well as the right. My attention was draw more to the right because my asset allocation was more towards the middle. I don’t worry about the left as much since it’s a much harder terrain to traverse.

Probst took advantage of his mobility and shifted his weight from the left to the centre, where he started focusing on around Turn 3, our first “checkpoint” so to speak. I wasn’t setup very well and so I had no multi-man counters around the middle VC. However, I was confident that I could advance a MMG crew into the area and extend the game to the next checkpoint (from Turn 3 to Turn 5).

As luck would have it, the crew had to roll for an NMC on the Defensive Fire and produced boxcars. It’s easy for me to blame the dice for this but I shouldn’t be in this situation to start with. I should have focused much better on the Victory Conditions.

Focus on the VC!

J150 The Sangshak Redemption, John Knowles

This 5 turn scenario is from ASL Journal 10. Both the Japan side and the Indian / Gurkha’s side get to attack as well as to defend. All the buildings are huts apart from the building in the middle of the VC circle which is a stone church. The IJA wins by winning ownership of the church (even just briefly) and keep two building within the VC circle at game’s end. My opponent was John Knowles, John and I play every Thursday evening, from “Into the Rubble” scenarios to Campaign Game playtests.

Initially, the IJA faced off a weak India setup. I needed to capture the church as soon as possible and to kill those 2 guns, to get into the right positions and to preserve my forces for the Gurkha onslaught. I didn’t move fast enough, I don’t think. I also saw an opportunity to banzai through cover and take out his ordnance. Those ordnance weren’t even pointed towards the banzai’er. Well, that didn’t turn out so well. I was able to pile into one of the Indian squads but neither of the guns.

My guys were off position and then John got a CH on the church from his 76mm mortar.

The expert that he is, he took maximum advantage of the opportunity to push into the church. My IJA couldn’t shoot at all that day, the Gurkhas were stacked and unloading barrages after barrages into the huts that the IJA were holding onto for dear life. In the diagram above, the bottom two arrows were how the IJA made their initial push. The arrows on the top and on the right were the Gurkha reinforcements.

I could have conceded after Turn 3, which was 2 Gurkha Movement Phases after his reinforcement arrived but I fought on. I surprised myself when the battle lasted through to Turn 5 until the necessary IJA forces were KIA’d off the map. To me this is a terrific reason as to why one should never concede. You never know how things will go.

Never concede!

AP59 Taking Heads, Zhen Wang

This is a 6.5 Turn scenario by another Fortenberry pack, Action Pack 6 A Decade of War. My opponent was Zhen Wang. Zhen’s one of the chief editors of Dare Death, the Chinese ASL magazine. The IJA attack down from the top of the map pushing against some ELR2 Philippines Army (“PA”) personnel. They could either win by exiting CVPs off the board, or by a combination of killing US units / capturing buildings (largely to the left of the “Fake HT”.

My issue started before the game even began and is perhaps the key weakness to date in my game. The “weak” Americans also get a 37LL AT Gun and two M3 GMC’s which are halftracks with 75mm guns. If you look at the diagram above, the 2 “bright” red dots are where they were located. The 37LL gun was at the back and never got used. They never really got into the right and is a big reason why I failed to get as many IJA kills as I should when they advance down over the top part of the map. To prevent CVP losses by losing those halftracks, I took them out of play myself. It absolutely obvious but it never hit me until now.

Zhen was able to demolish my PA troops piecemeal all the way back into the village buildings.

Put all your assets into the fight!

 

ITR1 Debacle at Sungkiang, Akira Lu

I was the defending Chinese in this 6.5 Turn Scott Holst scenario from “Into the Rubble”. My opponent was Akira Lu who is a relative newcomer into the hobby. He came to the tournament with nothing, not even Beyond Valor, but he left the tournament with Mark Humphries’ old Raaco boxes & bag set. I guess he’s finally convinced!

Alan Smee had a quick chat with me about what he saw in my play. He said I need to get as many assets as possible into the fight. I can even fall back into Fortifications but don’t put my assets out of play by putting them the backfields. He told me how he’d do a A103 Mayhem in Manila defence and that point came through loud and clear.

The red points on the map are where I placed my two 76mm artillery.

I put most of my assets forward and engaged the attackers for half the game around the top part of the map. The IJA had to capture 11 of those multihex buildings I won this one by adjudication as we ran out of time. My opponent is a newbie but I could feel the difference from my change in approach.

Push your assets forward, you can always back into fortified positions

AP90 Smashing the Hook, Benji Dayco

This is my other favourite scenario out of Action Pack 9 “To the Bridge”. This is a fast 5.5 turn scenario. The British needed to either destroy both roadblocks or clear IJA units from around the roadblock area.

My opponent was Benji Dayco whom I met that very morning at McD!

I figured we will fight this one in front. I put my 75mm infantry gun on the hill overlooking the first ridge. I had a MMG there in case the gun needed support. I also had HIP units on both sides of the road in front just in case some of these British breaks or if a leader wandered to the wrong place.

This worked out every well. The British seemed torn between running for the first roadblock or fighting it out. I won this one by concession as I had to make for the airport.

Lesson learned.

Defenders can still choose to fight the attackers in the ground of their choice.

Siem Reap, Cambodia?

We did a quick vote towards the end of Mayhem regarding the location of the next tournament. Siem Reap came out to be the winner and Raphael Ferry can’t be more enthusiastic in taking that on.

Siem Reap, home of Le Franc Tireur, does seem to be a top notched idea.

Snake eyes in the shadows of Ankor Wat.

I was chatting with Witchbottles the other day. Given all the issues and problems we have in life, whether personal or professional, to be able to see each other once a year means the both of you probably didn’t have too bad a year. It’s a blessing really.

See you there, Summer 2017. Have a good year!