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!

 

Farewell Fearless Leader John Hill

Art by Rodger MacGowan, Photo by Jackson Kwan

Mr. Patrick LeBeau sent a beautiful message to the “Squad Leader PreASL” YahooGroup to remember John Hill.  I asked and he kindly gave his permission to republish it here, for all of us whose memories Lt. Hill will forever be a part of.  

Farewell fearless leader

The original John Hill Squad Leader counter: Lt. Hill, a modest 9-1 leader.

When I purchased the famous purple edition of John Hill’s 1977 Avalon Hill game, Squad Leader, at the Origins held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that same year, I and many others were immediately hooked on the game system and ease-of-play. We attended all of John’s lectures and in a day or so mastered the game. By the end of the convention many of us were combining our game boards and units to play monster self-designed scenarios after having played all 12 scenarios in one long weekend.

Squad Leader would also win the title of Best Tactical/Operational Game of 1977

This was not my first encounter with John or his many excellent board and miniature games. Most notably in the mid 1970s was Johnny Reb, now known as Johnny Reb One. I still have the original mimeographed legal size cheat sheet printed on both sides, which was all you needed to play the first iteration of the Johnny Reb system. In that playtest addition, resolution used a single 12-sided die.

I mention these two games and I call them systems because they have an incredible longevity through continuous reprints, revisions and new editions, including new games derivative of earlier manifestations. Although the 1977 edition of Squad Leader is my all time favorite, the game would generate many supplements, which would lead to the development of Advanced Squad Leader. The whole Squad Leader family of games has sparked a gamer following that keeps the game alive (SL or ASL) to this day after almost all of the SL and ASL games are long out of print. ASL is directly responsible, I believe, to the development of the online VASSAL game engine for playing board/miniature games virtually.

Johnny Reb would lead to JRII and JRIII. From my perspective, I see Across the Deadly Field as John’s Opus Majus and final version of the Johnny Reb system. From my point of view, I believe ADF is his finest version and I hope it will emerge as his most popular American Civil War gaming system. I spent the entirety of 2014, from Fall In 2013 to Historicon 2014, and all those conventions in between, promoting ADF.

This brings me back to Lt. Hill, the U.S. 9-1 leader counter of the original Squad Leader. Many of us literally wore out our original counters due to continuous game play and finger handling. We of course replaced them by purchasing new games. This is not true with 99% of the board games I own. Further, in 1977, we understood the game as cardboard version of a miniatures game. Today I play the game using 15mm figures and terrain. My point is that as long as gamers continue to play John’s games he lives on.

In untold thousands of games, his old Lt. Hill counter has often suffered a KIA result or has broken under fire. At times it has conducted heroic acts, or has rallied squads at critical times. Whatever the outcome, Lt. Hill reemerges game after game to fight on and on to the enjoyment of the table top gamer whose only purpose is to have fun, learn history, study tactics, engage in competitive play and build friendships.

John was a good friend and his games build many life-long friendships.

I will miss him. We will miss him. However, as Lt. Hill, he will always be in our games, not only as a counter, a figure, a GM, a moderator, a game designer, a human, a man, and as one of the greatest game designers of all time.

Patrick LeBeau

January 13, 2015

FE27 The Bravest Thing I Ever Saw

This scenario from Fanatic Enterprises describes a situation in Bataan in January 6 1942.  The Americans fought a delaying action that saw the gunners from both sides exchange shells for shells.  Carl Nogueira played the defending American and I the attacking IJA in this after action report (AAR).  We actually exchanged sides and played this twice, with me getting my teeth kicked in both times.  This is already the less ugly version, rated PG-13.

The side that gained the most Victory Points (VP) wins.  You can gain Casualty Victory Points normally and you gain 1 VP for controlling each Level 2 hill hexes on your opponent’s side.  The Americans set up on the bottom of the map and the IJA on the top.  We get 5 and a half turns.

01 FE27 JT2 02 CC Kill-proc

IJA Turn 2 : You can see where the IJA guns were.  Line of sight (LOS) to the American hill tops were limited due to jungle terrain.  You can also see two hidden 2nd liners to slow down any sort of American counterattack.  The big stack in the middle of the top map were two IJA medium machine gun (MMGs), but their leader, a 9-1 who’s also the best leader in the IJA order of battle (OB) was killed by a sniper early in the game.  You can see the 3 lines of IJA advance on the American side.  The left most IJA rush would have been the most threatening but I failed to capitalise on the situation properly before they got wiped out.  The middle advance would be stuck for a while and in retrospect I should have strike out through the swamp towards the right to put the squeeze on the Americans on the hill on the right of the American positions.  On the right, the IJA caught and took an American 8-0 and a squad together with it in a flurry of hand-to-hand action.  At this point I expected the American guns to be towards the bottom of the map.

02 FE27 AT3 01 Start-proc

American Turn 3 : The IJA found the first American gun on the left by walking straight into it.  There was nothing left of the squad.  The attack on the left was also wiped out and the Americans started moving towards the right.  The attack in the middle was floundering as well.  The IJA on the right kept pushing towards the bottom of the map, fully expecting to find the second American gun there.

03 FE27 AT4 01 Start-proc

American Turn 4 : The American gun on the left malfunctioned!  The IJA forced their way through the bamboo to kill the gun crew before they had a chance to fix the infernal contraption.  You can see a blotch of red on the hilltop to the right where once again, the IJA found the other American gun the wrong way.  You can also see the pair of IJA MMGs moving in during the last turn as it didn’t look like the Americans were going to make a push to the north.

04 FE27 JT5 02 CC IJA dead US CR-proc

IJA Turn 5 : The IJA troops surrounded an American 8-0 and a 2nd liner in a 3 point stance.  The IJA were of course, feeling very pleased with themselves.  There was an IJA demolition charge laying on the ground in the middle.  That was the aftermath of an IJA half squad’s attempt to blow up the American MMG stack.  On the right, the IJA made another attempt up the hill and caught more Americans in close combat.  Unfortunately this IJA half squad could only take half of the American squad with it.  On the bottom right of the map you can see the Americans on a reverse slope defence configuration, looking to get the first shot in if any IJA pop over the crest line.  The probing stack of IJA troops however decided to move back up to their leader for a last push as time was running out.

05 FE27 AT5 01 Ring of Fire-proc

American Turn 5 : The “ring of fire” on the left broke the American squad but they failed to encircle the Americans properly.  Apparently you need to fire at the target sequentially for encirclement to happen (A7.7, note to self).

06 FE27 AT5 02 Ops-proc

American Turn 5 (still) : On the left, the broken American squad surrendered and the IJA picked the weakest (a 1-2-7) amongst the trio to be the guard.  That was the last mistake they would ever make.  The American 8-0 promptly jumped on the otherwise occupied IJA half squad in close combat …

07 FE27 AT5 02 Counter Capture-proc

American Turn 5 (aftermath) : The American 8-0 singlehandedly killed the IJA guards, rescued his men and found enough weapons to rearm half of his squad.  (Note to self : encircle properly & be mindful about who’s to play guards).

08 FE27 JT6 02 Banzai DC Hero-proc

Final IJA Turn : The IJA decided that they wouldn’t go down without a proper Banzai charge.  Therefore they targeted the gun crew who ventured out to retake a hill hex.  Just to be professional about it, they even short-strawed a poor chap to be a DC hero as well!  He was well perforated, his DC satchel went flying but he drew enough fire from his “friends” for them to jump on the American gun crew.

09 FE27 JT6 03 Wounded Leader-proc

Final IJA Turn (still) : An IJA leader in the middle rushed in and tried to grab the DC pack.  He got shot and was wounded as he picked it up and he never managed to place it.

10 FE27 JT6 04 CC again-proc

Final IJA Turn (almost done) : An MMG crew from the original “Ring of Fire” caught up with the American leader and squad on the left, knives drawn …

11 FE27 JT6 05 End-proc

Final : The banzai’ing IJA came victoriously out of the close combat on the right.  The folks on the left however would be locked in perpetual mêlée.  You would know I lost the game a long time ago if you can see the huge stack of IJA casualties.  Carl was nice enough to play this through to the bitter end!!

Lessons learned:

  • When playing against the Americans, the IJA needs to make good use of the Advance Phase.  Try to move into American Line Of Sight only in the Advance Phase, and if you can stay concealed, even better.  This way the IJA don’t have to take high American firepower with “First Fire Movement in Open Ground” (FFMO) and “First Fire Non Assault Move” (FFNAM) modifiers.  If the Americans fire in the following Prep Fire, they don’t get to move away and the IJA will have a chance to fire against their low morale (US Marines excepted).
  • Don’t give prisoners to someone who might not fare well in (close) combat.
  • Encirclement : remember to fire on the target sequentially.
  • Use 7 as a gauge, if you can get a result on a 7, it’s a good choice.  Alternatively, try to move in routes that stack so much DRMs on your opponent’s shot that he/she can’t get results on a 7.
  • Don’t spread your forces too thin.  There should be reserves behind an attack to exploit results.

Other thoughts?

What Do We Enjoy The Most About Advanced Squad Leader?

chL61 am747S ge548S M36GMC BanzaiAs an ASL’r who’s almost 1-year-old, I often find it hard to tell my family and friends what I enjoy the most when they see me fussing over cardboard counters and maps.

Why am I so drawn to Advanced Squad Leader?

Recently on the GameSquad forums, someone started a discussion about aspects of Advanced Squad Leader they enjoyed the most and suggested that perhaps the most enjoyable aspect is the “immersive” nature of Advanced Squad Leader games.

Robert Wolkey, a long time “ASL’r”, put it best. So I got his permission to share his thoughts verbatim.

1. The people. I only play face-to-face, because I enjoy playing the game with a friend. I’m a social animal and I like seeing how other people play and react to what happens on the board. The after game discussions are fun too. I also log into GS every day, because of you guys.

2. The competition. I’m highly competitive and ASL is a great way to match wits with another player. For that reason I could never play solo. Some players teach you something new and some make some boneheaded moves that make you scratch your head. I love tournaments and wish I could attend more than two a year. I will be going to ASLOK 30th to see all the guys again.

3. The variety. I crave variety. I always buy expansions for any game I own. I’m more likely to buy a game if I know there are expansions planned. No need to tell you about the variety that ASL offers. But, if a TPP offers new mapboards, squad types, leader types or new AFV, I will buy them over a regular scenario pack.

4. The fun / immersion / tactics. It’s just a blast to play and it sucks you in from the first Wind Change DR. Enough has been written about immersion. I love the tactics aspect. To win consistently you must have solid tactics. You can tell by the first few turns whether you should beat an opponent based on their setup, how they move and their fire discipline.

5. The history. That’s how I found wargames in the first place, because I was interested in WWII. It has to be based in history or I won’t play it. That’s why I have zero interest in DYO.

If you just started off and are on the fence about Advanced Squad Leader that is truly massive in physical size and intellectual commitment or if you are merely curious about this game, I hope Robert Wolkey helps you understand.

I hope you will make the jump.

RPT1 (Finale) Ferenc Jozef Barracks – A View of Advanced Squad Leader Scenarios

Painting depicting Greek soldiers on bayonet c...

Painting depicting Greek soldiers on bayonet charge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We picked the game back up at the start of the Hungarian Turn 3.  For those readers who just picked this up: the Hungarians are the ones with the pretty blue rim and the Romanians are the ones without.  The Hungarians were doing a fighting retreat from the bottom right of the map to the upper left.  The Romanians were hot in pursuit, racing the Hungarians through the city blocks and tried to stop them from ever reaching the barracks.

Two of the pursuing Romanian squads were ambushed by the retreating Hungarians.  Luckily the Hungarians weren’t looking for a fight but took the chance to slip away instead.  One of the escaping Hungarian squad even ran through a semicircle of gunfire to pull off their Houdini like escape!

Towards the end of the Romanian Turn 4, the Romanians caught up with a few Hungarian squads again but the preference was to position themselves to cut off the Hungarians from crossing the street back into the barracks.  Two of the Romanian half squads managed to slip through the Hungarians and took up a position on the side of street.  The other Romanian squad locked a Hungarian squad in melee, stopping them from running back in time.

T5 Romanian RPh - Start of the last turn

This is the start of the last Romanian turn, the last chance for the Romanians to get into, to clear and to hold onto the barracks.  Some of the Hungarian troops were held back, but some managed to cross back into the barracks in spite of Romanian gunfire in the open streets.  There was some pretty vicious hand to hand combat going on towards the top right of the map (“Melee”), strangers joint by an encounter by Chance and locked in perpetuity by Fate.

Sketch 2013-07-01 11_24_12

The Romanian 9th Cavalry poured into the streets amidst a wave of bloodcurdling screams.   The heavy machine gun (under the “9-1” leader counter) was a primary concern.   Some men ran to draw fire, others raced towards the barracks from all sides.  A Romanian 9-2 leader and a pair of half squads managed to run six hexes through the open streets and gun fire, jumped into the barracks and killed the defenders!!

T5 Romanian - CC end moment when Romanians has possession

Unfortunately their sacrifices were for nought as too many of their brothers had fallen.  The Hungarians folded back into the barracks in the last turn and negated the Romanian victory conditions of having to clear the structure of good order Hungarian troops.  Below is the Hungarian endgame.

T5 Hungarian End Game

A couple of thoughts for the Romanian player:

  • Your FP (of 3) is useless in cities. If you don’t have support weapons (most of mine malfunctioned), engage the Hungarians in CC.
  • Manage your schedule, if you can’t hold the Hungarians before the barracks you need to run up there quick and have at least 2 turns to battle through the barracks. Take a count of the hexes and you will realize the Romanians truly does not have time.
  • I suppose there are two approaches to this –
    • Move fast and try to make the retreating Hungarian units run through streets of fire
    • Go full contact and engage the Hungarians before they can break off towards the barracks.

If you happen to play this scenario as well, I’d appreciate it if you drop me a note to let me know how it went for you, especially if you played Romanian and you won!!

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S1 (Part 1) Retaking Vierville

On June 7 1944, one day after the Normandy landings. the 101st Airborne (“Screaming Eagles”) was sorting themselves out from all over the Cotentin Peninsula and was tasked with securing the eastern approach to the American landing at Utah beach. Vierville-sur-Mer was a major traffic thoroughfare. Although the Americans secured it earlier they had to moved westwards towards the German strongpoint of St. Come du Mont (see Mission Albany).

There are three groups of symbols in this map of Normandy.  The one on the top left is Utah Beach, the one on the bottom left is St. Come du Mont which was a German stronghold.  The group to the right is Omaha beach and a bit inland from Omaha Beach is Vierville-Sur-Mer.

An assortment of German units took the opportunity to deliver a counterattack and among them, the elite 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment. This day would see an all out brawl at Vierville-sur-Mer, paratroopers to paratroopers.

Erwin plays the Germans and I the Americans. We decided to play this Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit Scenario with full Advanced Squad Leader rules. The Americans win if there are no “good order” German units in the four buildings marked with “V”s on the map. By the same token, the Germans need to keep a “good order” unit in at least one of the four buildings at game end (notice the Americans have the last move).

Turn 1 German - MPh

Turn 1 German Movement Phase

Some elements of the 1st Battalion, 506th Regiment of the Screaming Eagles were making their way through the center of town when German units (1058th & 919th Grenadier Regiments) appeared from different directions.   (Right edge of the map is North.)

The Americans went straight to work.  Two full squads and the  8-1 leader went to the key buildings in the southwest, the other elements went to the northeast to meet up immediately with the 1058th Grenadiers.  The southwest element could potentially be isolated and might find itself fighting a much tougher battle until  reinforcements arrive.  Their mission was to play for time.  The northeast element was to clear the way for the reinforcements and were free to play to their strength in the attack.

Turn 1 American - Close Combat Phase

Turn 1 American Close Combat Phase

Other American elements started to arrive.  They used the grain field (which is in season) to make it across the open ground, using a building for cover.  A potential danger was that new German elements might appear behind them and cut them off from their rout paths.  So one squad stayed behind in the woods as the rear guard (circled in orange on the map above).

Sketch 2013-06-22 18_27_32

Turn 2 American Movement Phase

A broken American squad on the south west decided to step it up, rallied and went fanatic (battle hardened, marked by the asterick). In their desperation, a hero arose in their midst!  The reinforcing Screaming Eagles lost no time in closing with the 1058th Grenadiers on the northeast.  Hellbent on blasting their way through, they also drew fire away from their brothers who followed.  The German paratroopers arrived from the south east as well.  They carefully made their way through the woods towards the sounds of battle.  (Right edge of the map is North.)

Sketch 2013-06-22 18_40_09

Turn 3 German Advance Fire Phase

The 919th Grenadiers crossed the street in the south-west and pressured the squads on that corner of the intersection.  At the same time the 6th Fallshirmjäger moved to slice the battlefield in half, isolating the 8-1 and his little group.  To the north (right edge of the map), the Screaming Eagles couldn’t break through the 1058th Grenadiers.  They needed to clear a way to town fast ‘cause the key buildings are falling to the Fallshirmjäger soon, which also means they and their arriving brothers would all be standing outside the grain field with no protection if they couldn’t get into town.

Sketch 2013-06-22 18_45_21-1

Turn 4 German Rally Phase

The Screaming Eagles managed to get into close combat in the north.  A half squad was killed when they went in for hand to hand with a German squad and their 8-1 leader.  On the other side of the block an American half squad ambushed their German counterpart when they broke into their building.  The Americans slipped through to the other side and met up with the American paratroopers that were holding the Fallshirmjägers at bay.  However the American’s hold on the key junction was strained as they endured volleys after volleys of German fire.

So here we are at the start of Turn 4 in a 5 turn scenario.  Will the Germans succeed in capture at least one of the buildings at the intersection and hold off American attacks?

am747Sge548S

How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?

Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at jackson-dot-kwan-at-gmail-dot-com!!

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