Behind the Lines
July 2006

In This Issue

 

A Letter from the Editor

The Matrix crew is back from a tremendous show at Origins.  If you weren't there you missed the sights, the sounds, and yes, the smells of thousands of gamers having a wonderful time.  So much happened, I don't know where to begin.  In this, my letter to you, I relay what went wrong, before I get into what went right.

Upon arrival at setup day two of our four mean machine computers decided to retire.  With quick thinking and quick acting we replaced them with laptops.  This gave rise to a new idea, which we may be implementing next year:  Laptops let the person in front of the computer see what is going on without causing neck strain from looking up at the monitor hung 8 ft up while the people behind the main user can see what is going on with the big monitor from further away.  This not only will save us shipping some shipping costs, but also make things a little easier for people showing the games.

The fun didn't end there though.  Our copies of Panzer Command arrived late and only with half the number that were supposed to arrive.  We were missing a couple different supply items, and to top it all off... now that I think about it... Mark H. Walker didn't buy me that beer he owed me! 

Remember we will be at the WBC (Philadelphia area) and GenCon (Indianapolis).  If you are interested in attending information can be found at:

WBC:  http://www.boardgamers.org/

GenCon: http://www.gencon.com/

Still, it was a lot of fun and the BIG announcement is below...

Joe Lieberman
The Editor

 

Feature: We are the Champions

It is with great pride and honor that I announce Matrix Games won their first AND second Origins Game of the Year awards this year at Origins.   

In the world of Origins, board games are king.  The PC games at the show are sparse, Matrix's only competition this year in terms of vendor booth space was some really poor looking Warhammer MMO.  I like Warhammer, but it really looked cheesy.  Still, it has been a goal of Matrix for quite some time to get Origins to accept the creation of a PC category.  This year we made a great stride in that regard, and Gary Grigsby's World at War won the Vanguard Award for Unique Products.  The Vanguard Game of the Year awards go to multiple recipients who are recognized for quality but not able to fit into any other categories.  We hope that next year we will be able to convince them to add a historic PC game category for the show.

As we sat around the award ceremony, Mark H. Walker piped up and said "Why are we here, it's not like we are going to win two awards."  About 2 minutes later Mark H. Walker's Lock N' Load: Band of Heroes had won Historic Board Game of the Year.  I actually had expected us to win, but I wish I had a camera aimed at Mark, our favorite pessimist.

So we ended the night with celebration and good Japanese food.  It was quite exciting, to stride up to the stage and take an award that is the female equivalent of an Oscar.  With all the cheesy acceptance speeches but not so many tears, it was certainly a night to remember.  Thank you to all the folks at Origins who voted for us, we very much appreciate your support!
 

Feature: Forge of Freedom and Battlefront

Two of the three big events we planned at Origins (the first being the release of Panzer Command: Operation Winter Storm) was the debut showing of Forge of Freedom.  Forge of Freedom is Western-Civilization's American Civil War Game based on the Crown of Glory engine.   Along with the absolutely incredible map graphics, it has made several major improvements.  The biggest is a more user friendly economic and political system.  The economy is much easier to control and manipulate and the complex politics of multi-nation treaties have been replaced with a more simple system involving the various foreign nations and their support. 

The combat system is changed too, making use of all kinds of new technology: From gunships to capturing objectives on the hex based map.  The solid fighting system gets better and more challenging as the well equipped northern troops clash with the higher morale and better trained southerners. 

I just had one question for the Western-Civ team at the show:  Will I be able to build the Confederate Rocket?  The answer:  You may be able to research a technology about that, but there will be no actual rockets fired.

More information on this spectacular Civil War game will be available soon.  To the lucky folks who got to see and play it at Origins, we hope you enjoyed this first look!

Not to be outdone, we also debuted SSG's Battlefront.  While we didn't have any of the illustrious SSG team there this year, we were able to show off some of this fine product.  While it shares some visual similarities to the Decisive Battles series (Korsun Pocket, Battles in Normandy, Battles in Italy), it is a completely new and original game.  It is an incredibly flexible system and will be shipping with four complete battles of very different nature.  Key to this game is the complete ability to mod it, letting players create whatever battles and wars they wish.  But hey, I can't articulate this new product nearly as well as one of the creators did in their Designer Notes located here:

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1185889

Article: Behind the Scenes

I bet some of you wonder how we glamorous wargame executives live.  Is it totally hot RPG chicks till morning?  Booze all night?  Limo service across the street?  Oh, it is much more than that my friends!  Allow me to detail what I remember of the show:

June 27th- I arrive at the airport.  I actually saw David Heath and Company IN the airport on my way out the door.  Being the kind of guy I am, I bum a ride in their taxi.

June 28th- Setup day.  We jokingly say that we may need to stay a little later than 9:00 PM for setup.  At 9:15 security escorts us out.  Escort service is a perk of fame. 

June 29th- Day 1.  It appears we have no signs for our new games.  I am dispatched to Kinkos at 7:30 AM to laminate signs.  I miss breakfast and am cranky the rest of the day. 

June 30th- Day 2.  We're in full convention swing now, churning out new wargamers like a factory of sales staff.  Come evening it is drinking to kill the pain in our joints and whatever boardgames we find.  Ironically I ended up playing Lock N' Load.  I also forget to pay my bar tab, and the serving girl asks "Where did that little man go?"  This would be the running joke the rest of the show.  Dave covers my tab... Thanks!

July 1st- Day 3.  Our factory's bearings are starting to break.  Groans in the morning quickly turn to lost voices by the evening.  I also got to do several live demos of Lock N' Load, which was a nice break from looking up at the monitors.  Also on the plus side after two years of going to Origins I actually got to play in my first game there (an RPG campaign).

July 2nd- Day 4.  Our troops are suffering from heavy fatigue and we are running out of ammo (AKA: We ran out of Panzer Command copies... and almost ran out of Starshatter copies).  As the day wears on our troops begin to leave the warzone (they lucked out and had early flights home).  Come 4:00 PM the show closes and I leave for the hotel and the airport.  In a sense of karmic justice, Tom, who's making the PC version of Lock N' Load, bums a ride in my taxi.

July 3rd- I arrive in Portland International Airport.  My limo driver (wife) says she's too tired to drive home.  Running on empty I drive the two hours back to my house and sleep for 14 hours.

And so now you know the glitz and glamour of a life amongst the stars... Don't envy me though, you too with years of dedicated hard work could enjoy the life of luxury.

Whispers...

What on Earth are all these people talking about?

Important:  If you plan on buying Harpoon 3 Advanced Naval Warfare and you own a recent copy of Harpoon 3, remember the upgrade offer ends soon! 

Hey, someone started a thread about who is going to Gencon to hang with the Matrix crew!  If you are going, feel free to post so we can be sure to look for ya!
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1189789

20,000 wargamers can't be wrong... Someone noticed that our forums are reaching some nice round numbers.  http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1186078

Fact: Matrix is going to be bringing you a game for your PDA.  Isn't that nice?  Now my social life can suffer EVERYWHERE!

Fact:  Mark H. Walker never purchased me that beer he offered from last newsletter.  However, someone else did... so I suppose it is ok.

Updates

This section provides links to the updates released between the last newsletter and now.  No more having to search for download links; we've got 'em right here!

Gary Grigsby's World at War v. 1.202

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=295

The Operational Art of War III 3.0014

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=317

PureSim Baseball 2007 v1.10

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/game.asp?gid=329

Flashpoint Germany v. 1.11

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=287


Coming Soon

Crown of Glory v1.20, War Plan Orange v1.205, War in the Pacific 1.802, PureSim Baseball 2007 v1.20

 

Keep an eye on the news page and forums at www.matrixgames.com for information on these two upcoming patches!

 

 

A Parting Shot

I'll share with you a conversation that went on over lunch at Origins.  The attendants of this conversation were two staff members of The Wargamer, one of our Matrix Developers, and myself.  It began when Sean Drummy began quoting Sun Tzu and his section on the pinnacle of military excellence approaching the formless and what impact such a strategy has on modern warfare ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_War ) .  The conversation lit up like gun cotton near the cooking fire when I said "I believe the best modern implementation of that tactic is terrorism."  Sean, on the other hand, advocated that guerilla warfare would be the best use of the formless command structure.  And so the debate was on, circling around the principal idea that questions where guerilla warfare ends and terrorism begins.  While I do not believe any of the four of us would be considered experts, we were all fairly knowledgeable and all had a slightly different spin on where one begins and one ends.  The Wargamer Editor-in-Chief, Jim Zabek, lamented not having an audio recording of the conversation that he could put on his site, so this is the best we can do.  I'd be interested to hear your opinions, but our general conversation seemed to circle around when innocent civilians are involved, defense vs. offense, and how much conventional military you have.  In general we seemed to lean in the direction that guerillas were more defensive, often ignored civilians, and often were found in control of or in the process of making a small conventional army.  Unfortunately each of these ideas have plenty of counter examples, which we debated fervently until food arrived.  The waitress didn't seem too interested in our attempts to pull her into our geeky conversation, and so between food and rejection the topic was laid to rest.

What's your opinion? E-mail me at JoeL@MatrixGames.com for a shot to have it appear in the next issue! 

Joe Lieberman
Newsletter Editor