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Mark Herman's Wargaming Blog
Saturday, 25 April 2020
COVID Diary #1
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Pacific War
Topic: Design Diary


It has been a long while since I used my blog as a design diary, but with the COVID sheltering in place I find my self on another step in my life's journey. While I never thought I would be in this circumstance, I suspect I am not alone here. 

 For this reboot of my blog I thought I would begin by focusing on Pacific War. Pacific War was originally published by Victory Games in 1985. I was 31, a new father, and running a game company in NY. Now I am 65, a new grandfather, and running my game design company in NY. When you think about it that is a long way to go just to republish Pacific War.  

 Here is a few key moments in the Pacific War reprint saga that began on 6 February 2009 when Kurt Shilling signed a contract to bring this back into print. For a variety of reasons this relationship ended amicably and I moved on with my life. Then NUTS approached me to pick this up and we duly signed a contract on 20 December 2013 that recently terminated for reasons unknown. Truth be told republishing Pacific War was never a priority for me, but after 11 years of messing around with it I decided that I needed to bring this chapter of my life to a close.

 I called up Gene Billingsley and asked him if GMT was interested. He instantly responded yes and to make a long story longer, on 23 April 2020 Pacific War went up on the P500 and in less than 6 hours it made the cut. So, thanks to all that supported this old design of mine and now I know what I am doing for the remainder of my COVID shelter in place phase.

 Of course I was instantly asked what is going to be different and this is what I wrote: 


Map: In the internet world someone will be unhappy about anything. The sample map is the actual map that will be printed with some minor corrections and typos.

Counters: The art for the counters is mostly complete. I have to make an inventory on the markers (several new ones) and sort all of that out.

Rules booklets: There will be three rules booklets. While the original rules were set up for a learning process they are annoying to find stuff in once you know how to play. This time there will be an Engagement Rulebook for beginners. A Battle Rulebook and a Campaign/Strategic rulebook. Each booklet will be complete and not reference the others. Right now I am reordering the Campaign/Strategic Scenario rulebook to conform to the Sequence of Play with a proper index. I am reworking all of the words, not changing the design, but once you reorder you have to reconnect everything. This is about half done, but that will take a bunch of time. Once this is done I will send it over to Markus to evaluate and then create the other two booklets along the same model.

Changes: The game comes with two mounted boards and one smaller unmounted map that covers what use to be the A map extended scenarios. This should make almost all of the Campaign scenarios one map affairs.

Rules: I foresee no changes to the charts and tables. After 35 years of playing it I think they generate repeatable historical results. However there are a few systems that are being amended.

Subs: Now uses patrol areas and allocated submarines based on a historical movement model. Think Torpedo Alley, the more subs the more chances that something will happen. ASW is also revamped into this new system.

Ground Activation: When you activate ground units you get a number of moves equal to the number of weeks of the offensive. So a two week operation gives you two land moves per unit. Of course any poor combat results still deactivate the unit.

Penalty Time: This is still in there, but once you go beyond a few cycles all units are sent back to a base with penalties, so no more extending an operation indefinitely.

OB: Revamped OB as I might have read another 100 books on this topic in the last 35 years. All of the air units now will have historical designations. I had a detailed air command system that was just too much work so, you still have 1E, 2E set ups at least the counters are less generic looking.

New Scenarios: Each scenario is being looked at for accuracy. The big change is I have a stronger idea of what was happening in China. There will be new China scenarios which I am working on right now. I now have a Nationalist Chinese OB that is less wrong than what I had in 1985, but its getting there. In addition Markus has created a number of one year strategic scenarios, so while I believe that the entire war is a once in a lifetime experience that is worth missing, at least you can see it set up in all its operational glory.

When? Please do not ask when this will be available (...are we there yet?). I will finish all of the work this calendar year to include art production etc. At that point it is up to the COVID situation to reopen supply chains, backlogs cleared and such, so I have no idea when it will actually get printed, just that I will be done by the end of this year.

 There will be much more to come, my plan is to write update this diary once a week so I and whoever reads this can track this projects progress.


Be Safe... 

Posted by markherman at 10:24 AM EDT
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