Behind the Lines
September 2007

In This Issue

 

Grazing Fire

You may notice that there have been more than a few changes to the way we do things for the newsletter. So, what's new?

This newsletter, that's what. A lot of time, effort, and contemplation has gone into the changes you're about to see here.

The newsletter has been continually changing in structure, content, and tone over the past few issues and we expect to see some more tweaks and improvements before this (hopefully interesting) document settles into its foundations and becomes a regular, periodic piece of reading you look forward to enjoying every month. One major change we'd like to stress first is the addition of a new email which we hope will serve as a suggestion box, so to speak. If you have any questions, comments, complaints, or anything else you can think of, we'd positively LOVE to hear it at our new email address feedback@matrixgames.com. Bear in mind that this newsletter is still very much a work in progress and any good ideas that come our way will absolutely be reviewed (heck, maybe even implemented!) so don't hestitate to give us a piece of your mind. Please also note that our feedback email address is NOT intended for support related issues. Please direct all support issues with Matrix Games titles to support@matrixgames.com.

Apart from our new digital suggestion box (which hopefully won't be crammed with junk mail by the end of the week), we're also looking to continue with our Historical Perspective section which has been running Mr. Trotter's historical piece on Saipan for the past few issues. We're also toying with the idea of adding a section that will offer commentary on the state of Wargaming, video games, board gaming, and anything else related. When we finally sat down with a hot pot of coffee and about 3 hours of free time, most of the staffers at Matrix realized that they actually have quite of few (once again, hopefully interesting) things to say about the industry.

You'll also notice that we've included an AAR for our up-and-coming turn-based strategy title, Advanced Tactics: World War II. While you may not find an AAR in every issue of the newsletter, we hope to at least provide some sort of enriching content for our titles. If you keep reading, there may even be some free exclusive content/scenarios for our most popular games available only from this newsletter.

Sound good? We certainly hope so!


Enjoy the newsletter,
The Newsletter Team


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This Week's Feature: Music for Wargames

The Feature Article section is designed to give an in-depth look behind one of Matrix's popular titles or to provide interesting supplements to our product line. Expect to see developer diaries, AARs, industry commentary, and the like here.

How long is it, after you install a new game, before you cut off the music? Five Minutes? Ten? Sooner or later, though, almost everyone does. If it's an "original" score, it's probably hack-work played on a synthesizer; if it's "period" music from the times depicted in the game, it may hold our interest for a while, but eventually you can predict when it'll start looping again, and it just becomes…obnoxious.

After The Wargamer printed the full text of Bill Trotter's The Constant Trumpet, an essay on the uses of music throughout history as a method of transmitting orders or rallying morale, there was sufficient buzz on the Forum to indicate several things: A) a lot of wargamers have catholic tastes in music, and easily switch between rock, movie soundtracks, and classical, depending on their mood, and many have dubbed their own "soundtracks" on to CDs, which they play in lieu of the canned music that comes with the games; and B) many of those folks are looking for new and suitable music, and would like a reliable source for it as well as some gentle guidance (without just blindly shelling out for un-heard recordings that might or might not suit their tastes).

Well, Trotter himself has helped us set up a little deal that can help with all of that. His web site is affiliated with a hardcore record-collectors' association called "Records in the Attic", which currently has more than 4,000 selections in its catalogues and collectively has access to approximately 10,000 more compositions, historical interpretations, soundtracks, and specialty albums, including many that have been out of print and virtually unobtainable for 30-50 years (they even list the first-ever recording of Beethoven's Fifth. (Berlin Philharmonic under the legendary 19th Century maestro, Artur Nikisch, waxed acoustically in 1913!).

Normally, they charge $13.50 for an 80-minute CD (a more-than-reasonable price, since their clients cherry-pick the contents), but by special arrangement with Matrix anyone who orders and identifies himself as a subscriber to this newsletter, pays only $10.00, postage, handling, and full-color graphics included). NOTE: Bill's "commission" on these orders amounts to about $0.87 per CD so it is a limited-time offer!!

Anyone interested in the special discounted rate should send their orders via email under a suitable Subject Line -- just mention this newsletter, or wargames, or anything logically connected to this side-bar). Bill can also arrange for interested parties to download the sites' huge cumulative catalogues, free of charge, and as time permits will dispense advice and suggestions. Just email him direct: wiltrotter@aol.com. But please don't spread that email adress too widely -- Bill gets enough crank letters as it is!

If reader feedback indicates keen interest, we can list 150 suitable items, a half-dozen at a time, in future editions, but for now, click on for a select sample of what's available…


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Historical Perspective

The Historical Perspective section is intended to give readers the "history behind the game." This week, Will Trotter gives us the second of a series of articles about the historic Saipan operation during WWII. The following is an excerpt of a larger portion which can be found on the Matrix webpage. To read the first installment to this series, click here.

Night of the Banzai Charges: The Strange and Bloody Struggle for Saipan - Part Two

William R. Trotter

The invasion fleet sailed from its assembly area (near Eniwetok, just north of the Marshall Islands and 1017 miles from the landing beach) on June 9; assigned to capture the Marianas were three Marine divisions (the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Marine Divisions, under the overall command of Lt. General Holland M. - "Howling Mad" - Smith), with one army division in reserve (the 27th, under Maj. General Ralph Smith); along with several thousand service and support detachments there was also a very keyed-up detachment of UDT specialists, on their first combat missions (Underwater Demolition Teams - "frogmen" -- whose hazardous job it would be to clear mines, protruding reefs and landing-craft obstacles from the beach approaches; even the first-wave Marine didn't envy them. Altogether, a force of some 130,000 men was committed to "Operation "Forager", as the Marianas invasion was designated; and they were sailing in, or protected by, a vast armada of 535 warships and auxiliaries. Even one year ago, such a force could not have been assembled, even if every Allied command had gone all-out. No greater testimony can be found to the efficacy of the "Arsenal of Democracy" than the fact that this operation would be mounted, 3400 miles from Pearl Harbor, during the same month as the Normandy landing in Europe, with its even more prodigious commitment of men and ships.

The news of D-Day in Europe was duly broadcast to all the embarked troops, and after one spontaneous outburst of cheers, few of the men bound for Saipan seemed very interested. Normandy was a whole world away and that invasion had been two years in the planning; Operation Forager had been cobbled together in about four months and the soldiers and Marines committed to it didn't have much empathy left over for their comrades in France; they may as well have been in another space-time continuum. Correspondents who noticed this reticence and inquired about it, were usually told: "Yeah, that's great and I wish 'em all the luck. But they're over there, and we're over here, and unlike the Jerries, the Nips don't take prisoners…"

Mitscher's carrier planes began intensive air strikes on the Marianas on June 11, keeping them up throughout all the daylight hours, meeting resistance only from scattered flak. In theory, and on paper, there were 1400 Japanese aircraft assigned to defend the Marianas, but many of them had been sent elsewhere, in sizable packets since January, to help meet other emergencies in places such as New Guinea and many more had been destroyed in earlier carrier strikes. The surviving planes were kept well hidden, so they could take part in Operation A-Go, and were under orders not to reveal themselves until Admiral Ozawa signaled that A-Go had commenced.

Read on here to continue Night of the Banzai Charges: The Strange and Bloody Struggle for Saipan...


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Game Spotlight: Advanced Tactics: World War II After Action Report - Part 1

Advanced Tactics: World War II is the successor to People's Tactics and is due to be released very shortly (tentatively September 2007).

Advanced Tactics AAR - Part 1

What follows is an after action report from Victor Reijkersz, the designer of Advanced Tactics, playing versus Tom Weber, beta tester. The scenario played is Russia 1941.

The AAR was originally published on the Advanced Tactics section in the Matrix forums and for brevity's sake the German part of the AAR has been omitted. However you can read it on the matrix games forums.

It is June 22, 1941 and the Advanced Tactics designer, in the role of Stalin's supreme general, is about to find out that his beta tester Tom is a better panzer general then he is.

Turn 1, 22nd of June 1941

The Germans have launched their attack on the unprepared Soviet forces. Casualties have been appalling. The Soviet order of battle is shattered before I can make my first turn.

Below the Pripiat marches, in the south, the German drive seems to be going for Kiev and secondarily to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Follow this link to continue reading the first part of the Advanced Tactics After Action Report.


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Latest News

In this section we provide a rundown of the latest updates from Matrix Games, just in case you missed a press release or two.

  1. A New Update is Released for The Operational Art of War III - Tweaks, changes, improvements, and pretty much anything else fit to be in an update are included in this massive release.
  2. Maximum Football 2.0 Now Available - Hut hut, hike! Maximum-Football 2.0 has been snapped to football fans everywhere!
  3. Napoleon in Italy Announced! - Hussar Games' latest and greatest startegy title will be bringing gamers some pretty in-depth and addicting Napoleonics action.
  4. Guns of August is Updated - The Guns of August boom with the new v1.10 patch release.
  5. A Carriers at War Update Now Available - The first update for Carriers at War has kicked its tires and thundered off the flight deck.
  6. Matrix Games Announces Hornet Leader PC - Oh yes, the rockin' card game is soaring into digital form: Matrix Games will be bringing fighter aces everywhere some tactical air sim action.
  7. For Liberty! Updated - Quick and small, includes a key fix for a 1.80 issue.
  8. John Tiller's Campaign Series Gets an Update - The powerful panzer that is this compilation of John Tiller's turn-based WWII hits has some shiny new armor and a new paint job.
  9. A New Commander - Europe at War Update Deployed to the Front Lines - PBEM improvements, balance changes and a whole bunch more zeroed in and launched into hard drives (oh, and don't forget our adorable little hotfix, too!
  10. For Liberty! Charges Forward With A New Update - The quest for liberty just got a whole lot better with some AI improvements and tweaks in this latest updates.
  11. Gary Grigsby’s World at War: A World Divided Updated! - Sheesh, getting sick of hearing about updates yet? This one brings new functionality and explanation for modders, plenty of rule tweaks, and improvements.
  12. Matrix Games Wins An Origins Vanguard Award! - Hats off to Harpoon 3 – Advanced Naval Warfare for bringing in yet another award!
  13. Matrix Games Announces Advanced Tactics: World War II - Versatility meets riveting gameplay in this turn-based strategy masterpiece. Take a gander at the new screenshots while you're at it.
The latest upcoming titles from Matrix Games.

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Help Wanted at Matrix Games

That's right - you heard correctly. Matrix Games is currently looking for a few good men (or women too, we are an equal opportunity employer after all) to help bring wargamers everywhere some awesome products. Right now, Matrix is particularly interested in hearing from anyone ready, willing, and able to take these positions:

  • Manual Writer/Editor - Matrix Games is looking for people who have strong verbal/written skills, experience in PC Wargaming, and a passion for learning every nook and cranny of a game. More details about the position are available upon request.
  • C# Programmer - Got some programming skills and want to show it? Matrix Games is looking for a C# programmer to help out. No degree or professional work experience necessarily required, just reasonable knowledge of C#, familiarity with DirectX, and an excellent work ethic.

Any interested candidate should shoot an email over to jobs@matrixgames.com.


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A Parting Shot

So that's it, our beefed up, upgraded, and (hopefully) vastly improved newsletter. We hope in the least that you enjoyed the change of pace and are looking forward to maybe even reading some more of it.

Next newsletter you can expect to see the historical feature about Saipan really start to heat up as the narravtive takes us into the thick of the action and bullets start really flying. Additionally, we have some positively fascinating historical vignettes for you and maybe even some insider information about some up-and-coming Matrix Games titles which may very well be making the digital trek to your hard drive sooner than you think.

Speaking of insider information, since you read all the way to the bottom of the newsletter - we feel you deserve some intel you can't get anywhere else! We've got some pretty rad titles lined up for October. Right now, we're tentatively planning on releasing Harpoon: Commander's Edition, John Tiller's Battleground Civil War, and John Tiller's Battlegrounds of the Napoleonic Wars in the coming weeks. The two new John Tiller titles are compilation re-releases of the classic Civil War and Napoleonics hits. Battleground Civil War will include Battleground Antietam, Battleground Bull Run, Battleground Chickamauga, Battleground Gettysburg, and Battleground Shilo. For our Napoleonics history buffs, Battlegrounds of the Napoleonic Wars will include Napoleon in Russia, Prelude to Waterloo, Waterloo, and Age of Sail.

But hold on, we've got more good news for you. Battlegrounds of the Napoleonic Wars and Battleground Civil War will each be $24.99 in digital download form and $34.99 boxed form, but anyone who purchases both compilations will receive $10.00 off the combined price. Both the Civil War and Napoleonics titles will be available for $39.99 in digital download form and $59.99 in boxed copy form when they are ordered together.

Of course, there's much more on the way from us but for now we'll have to keep our battle plan stuffed away safely in HQ. Stay tuned to the newsletter for more trinkets of Matrix intel.

We appreciate your patience, and anyone who would like to drop us a line and give us some feedback, complaints, death threats, etc., please don't hesitate to do so by sending an email to feedback@matrixgames.com.


Thanks for reading!
The Newsletter Team


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