Behind the Lines
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
Remember we will be at the WBC (Philadelphia area) and GenCon
(Indianapolis). If you are interested in attending information can
be found at:
Still, it was a lot of fun and the BIG announcement is
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
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
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
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
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:
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.
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!
20,000 wargamers can't be wrong... Someone noticed that our forums are
reaching some nice round numbers.
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.
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
The Operational Art of War III 3.0014
PureSim Baseball 2007 v1.10
Flashpoint Germany v. 1.11
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
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!