Behind the Lines
In This Issue
A Letter from the Editor
The Matrix folks here are all a buzz about football.
Not because the Seahawks lost, those bums... there goes another $20, but
because of Maximum-Football. M-F, in case you hadn't heard, is our
second sports game, and there are few things the Matrix staff loves more
than football! Whether it is Canadian, Indoor, or US style,
Maximum-Football has it. It's been a long time coming, but we
are very proud to say that it was worth the wait.
In other news, Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga is now available on
Mac. Suddenly Matrix has TWO games that are Mac compatible!
Despite the fact I don't own a Mac, I look forward to bringing some more
games in the future to the Mac platform. It's a huge step to growing a
multi-cultural community even further, so I welcome any new subscribers who
picked up either of our Mac offerings.
In this month's issue we've got some great stuff. I
have another interview; but not with a game developer, with the game
developer's wife! Our monthly editorial is on RPGs, Wargames, and where
the line is drawn. Our feature is a preview of Panzer Command:
Operation Winter Storm... so read on Matrix Fans!
Joe Lieberman, Editor
Feature Preview: Panzer Command:
Operation Winter Storm
Koios Works is known for producing some of the best games of 2004 and
2005. The Tin Soldiers series was as simple as it was brilliant.
It set a new standard in easy to learn, hard to master, with good looking
graphics and better looking gameplay. To this day and long beyond
there will be people singing the praises of Tin Soldiers- just look at the
So what's this Panzer Command!? What about the ancient battles?
Well before you get all upset, This game has the same things that made
Tin Soldiers great- yet is completely different.
Allow me to explain. Panzer Command is a 3D wargame, with much
better visuals than
Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar. It looks fantastic, surely one
of the best looking wargames in development. It takes place on the
eastern front during the desperate battles to relieve and encircle
Stalingrad and pits the player against the AI or another human opponent in a variety of scenarios.
There's no grand tactical side to the game, but the game does have a
full campaign mode for both sides as well as stand alone scenarios to play.
It is a "wego" system, which means simultaneous movement, also
similar to Tin Soldiers. However, the similarities pretty much end
there. You'll use combined arms, including infantry, tanks and
artillery to capture objectives, suppress and defeat your enemies and lay
waste to everything you can spot. In the alpha version I was able to take a
look at it was a pretty crazy sight. The game is turn based, but
when you enter your turns it plays out the round in full 3D. There
are shells flying left and right, bullets whizzing across the screen,
artillery blowing stuff up. I particularly like the kill cam option where it
zooms into almost a cockpit view when you destroy an enemy tank.
Each unit is accurately modeled in both stats and weapons to match the
equipment of the era, and while the game is not trying to go for absolute and
extreme realism, it is accurate enough to impress a fan boy wargamer like
It is looking like Panzer Command may be my personal pick for our best
wargame in 2006... but it is far too early in the year to decide that for
Want some more information? Visit the game information site at
RPGs Vs. Wargames
It was brought to my attention recently by my wargaming group that
someone in our group despised RPGs. I'm not talking about console
RPGs, I am talking about the old fashion pen and paper RPGs.
I was shocked! A wargamer who disliked RPGs? Of course, I
asked him why and he couldn't really tell me, other than "It just doesn't
grab me." My retort was "Neither does your wife," and this led to my
Wargames and RPGs are the same. What is an RPG other than a
wargame with a single judge to arbitrate rulings? The combat in most
RPGs is hex based, turn based (I-GO-U-GO). Each "unit" has very
specific stats and it all plays out in a tactical manner.
Occasionally a player will perform some action that is not covered in the
rules and a judge must arbitrate that. The judge is, of course, the
Doesn't this make RPGs a superior system to wargames? Maybe... it
all comes down to how good your judge (DM) is! It is that
flexibility that puts some wargamers on edge, I believe. It can be
very frustrating to have your plans spoiled because your DM doesn't
believe the world operates in the way you KNOW it does.
Some of my co-workers at Matrix Games pointed out that RPGs grew
directly out of wargaming and a desire by wargamers for more 'detailed'
units that followed from battle to battle, which explains many of these
I suspect the key difference and the thing that turns most wargamers
off RPGs is most RPGs are not ALL combat. The "pretend"
social interaction may be a factor that makes RPGs less fun than combat
loving wargamers. These social environs can also be viewed as a
"tactical battle" of a different sort. It is a battle of wit, fast
thinking, and possibly some good dice rolls. However, the lack of
structure and a non-objective DM may ruin this for some.
In my mind there is no winner in the epic struggle between RPG and
wargame, but perhaps my way of thinking will strike a cord amongst you and
we'll see a rebirth of good Wargame/RPG mixes. I want my level 11
Tank Commander with his Magic Homing Missiles, +2.... And is that so
Interview with David Winter's Wife
Last week I interviewed a game developer, but when I called up David
Winter to do an interview for him it was his wife who answered their
phone. Just like that poor David Winter lost his chance at true
fame! Worry not, you can still talk to both him and his wife on the
Maximum-Football Forum. So let's listen in on an interview with a
lady who ensures one of our game developer's doesn't starve himself to
death... and someday I hope to have an interview with a developer's
husband (Yes, there are female game developers... we just haven't signed
BTL: So Who Are you?
Jennifer Winter, a journalist of fourteen years. Now that I have
retired I do temp work. More of a consultant really. When things
go wrong I get called in to sort them out.
BTL: This game has
been in development for a long time. Has it always been a part of your
David was working on this before we met again...
BTL: Met again?
Oh, gosh, I guess everyone doesn't know the story! Dave
and I knew each other in highschool and hung out with the same friends and
were in a school play together. He was afraid to ask so I did it
instead and asked him out to the movies. The next day I found out his
father, in the military, had to go to Winnipeg. 18 years later I moved
to BC and created a LavaLife account, went on a few bad dates and stopped
logging in. On a whim I logged back on once and there was an IM from a guy named "Diver Dave" and Lo!
It was no one else other than Dave Winter. We discovered we lived real
nearby and AGAIN I asked him out... the rest as they say, is history.
BTL: Well, if it means
anything... my wife asked me out on our first date too. I guess us
gamers are nervous around the ladies. So you've always
known about the game, what's your opinion on making games.
Jennifer: It's a lot
of hard work. He comes home, goes down into his office, and I bring
him dinner- then he goes to bed. It's just what he does. It IS
cute when he shouts "Eureka!" and reminds me of Doc from Back to the Future.
BTL: And there goes
our image of the tough football player... but it is a good thing you keep
him fed; I think most game developers would starve to death without their
"other half." Does this affect
your time together? Do you have to plan it beforehand?
Jennifer: A lot of
times we do. You just have to work around it.
BTL: So on the game
being complete. Is he already talking about another game?
Jennifer: I made my
peace with the fact there game must be supported after release, so even with
it being finished it doesn't free him up for me permanently.
BTL: So do you watch
Jennifer: I used to
watch Monday Night Football back in the day, but now not so much. I
prefer the CFL.
BTL: So have you
ever considered helping him develop games, other than administrative tasks?
Jennifer: Well, dave
suggests I should learn to code, but at this time I am just supportive of
BTL: Where does the
name Winter Valley come from?
know... I never asked him. Hey Dave...
father has a model railroad in his basement. The name of that railroad
is Winter Valley.
(And there goes Dave's
only moment in this interview)
BTL: And here I
thought the name was because Canada is so darn cold! So if the game
does really well, does this mean you will have less time with your husband?
it would be the same as now. I am hoping it does really well actually,
because when he is happy I am happy, and I would hate to see the hard work
he put into this game not come about.
BTL: Anything else you
want to add for all those Maximum-Football Fans.
Jennifer: Just that I hope they
enjoy the game.
BTL: Do you have any
words of wisdom to bring us closer to true self awareness?
There's an old Irish saying I try to live
my life by: Sing like nobody can hear you and dance like nobody can
Well, thank you to Dave for making a
great game and to Jennifer for keeping Dave alive long enough to get it
made! If you happen to be up in the frozen north of Canada and you
hear someone singing like they were in a shower... at the mall... you can
say hello to Jennifer Winter!
Yes I know Canada isn't that cold, but
I kept joking about it with her during the interview and I couldn't resist
What on Earth are all these people talking about?
Matrix Games Voted Strategy Game Publisher of The Year!
The players voted and Matrix has bagged some more awards for excellence
this year from the Wargamer's Reader's Choice Awards. That's right,
the readers voted, not the editors, and this is what YOU said:
Board Game of the Year, GOLD: Mark H. Walker's Lock and Load:
Band of Heroes
You go Mark, you sly dog!
Wargame of the Year, SILVER: War Plan Orange : BRONZE: Battles
in Italy & Crown of Glory
Three Awards in one category! Congrats to Justin Prince and
2By3 Games (WPO),
SSG (BII), and Western Civ (COG)!
Developer of the Year, GOLD: 2by3 Games
As the primary publisher of 2by3s products this year, we certainly
want to include them in our celebration and give them a hearty
Publisher of the Year, GOLD: Matrix Games
This award is also an award for "Best Newsletter Writer" isn't it?
Game of the Year, SILVER: War Plan Orange
So as the "Olympics" of awards comes to
an end Matrix Games and our developers are able to claim 3 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 2 Bronze for
a total of 7 medals added to our cabinet and two more gold awards than
See the full article at:
Indoor Playlist for Maximum-Football
Marauders was kind enough to come up with some new plays for
Maximum-Football for indoor settings. His playbook is available to
download from the Matrix Games member's area:
Panzer Command Screenshots!
I posted the valiant story, and while it turns out that my victory was
likely caused by a bug (DOH)- it is still fun to watch...
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!
War Plan Orange 1.20:
Flashpoint Germany 1.10
Crown of Glory v1.20
Gary Grigsby's World At War v2.00
Keep an eye on the news page and forums at
information on these two upcoming patches!
A Parting Shot
I signed my last newsletter off with a remembrance of the Columbia
Space Shuttle. I liked that approach... but nothing jumped out at me
as far as "it happened in March" - Other than Caesar getting the knife to
the back. So I did some research: March is Frozen Food Month,
but that isn't all. It is also International Hamburger and Pickle
Month! Even more important than hamburgers and pickles, the first
week is also TV Turn Off Week... so you had better turn that TV off and
play some Wargames (Somehow, I think the point of that holiday is lost on
So really, did anything important happen in March? In America,
March 5th 1770 something DID happen that would help shape the world.
Any idea what? That's right, the Boston Massacre, as dubbed by Paul
Revere. In reality we now know it was mostly propaganda.
Civilians were taunting the British troops and instigated the event.
We can't say that firing on unarmed people is ever justified, but Paul
Revere turned a tragic death of 6 civilians into a rallying point for the
rebel cause. Many historians agree that, if not for this event, the
revolution would not have gained steam nearly as quickly. Good, bad,
depends entirely on who you are... but certainly at the time nobody
expected March 5th, 1770 to become a turning point in global politics.
As usual, if you have any ideas for next
issue just drop me an e-mail at
Happy International Hamburger and Pickle Month!