Saturday, April 28, 2007

Against the Odds Sneak Peek-Paukenschlag U-Boat 1942 Game

This sneek peek is based upon my original never released DTP game, Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat)covering the devastating attacks by U-boats off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean, 1942. This is the historical part. The "what if" and the more exciting part is it supposes the Germans had developed some Amerika Bombers and had modified (well within their capabilities)their already exisiting He 177 and FW 200 long range bombers.Further, it supposes that Hitler had decided to seize the Azores (he had seriously considered it in 1940-41)to be used as a launch pad for long range bombing on the US East Coast! It was not that far from reality and actually quite plausible had Hitler demanded it. The German wolfpacks were ravenous against the unprepared and nearly defenseless east coast of America. It was like Pearl Harbor. By May, over 400 transports had been sunk off the US east coast, some two million tons of supplies lost with 5000 lives.

The game is the most innovative and accurate, yet playable, sub-air game ever. Sea and submarine movement is actually based on how German U-boat commanders plotted and tracked surface ships. Very cool!

The game was never released as a DTP because ATO secured it right off the bat, seeking to diversify their gaming line. Sub games, by their nature, are difficult to make interesting and fun (computer sub games excepted). Most sub board games have almost always sunk in their popularity--so, hopefully, this game will change it when Issue 22 comes out.

The counters shown are from the DTP game. The final ATO game will no doubt be more artistic and polished. Each strategic square is 550-600 miles. Each operational square is 55-60 miles. Each tactical square is 6-7 miles. Each turn is three days. Each sub is one submarine. Each convoy is between 10-50 ships. Each US DD, ASW, Cutter naval unit is two ships. Air units are squadrons of 6-12 aircraft. Each US CV, BB is one ship. Each turn is a week.

Excerpts from the Movement Rules:Movement on the Operational or Tactical Grids only applies to those opposing naval units in the same Strategic Zone (on the game map). The rates are the same per square, either 1 or 2 squares. Some ships (DD 11, 12, BB, CV) may move 3 squares. Prior to moving a sub, the German must decide whether it is submerged or surface. A submerged sub moves one square, a surfaced sub-two squares on the OSL\TSL grids. Only the final zone where movement ends and the presence of enemy ships determines if the OSL or TSL grids will be used. If the ending zone has none, nothing more happens. If it does, the involved units are removed and placed in the OSL and each player determines their precise location and units alternate moving until either opposing ships end in the same square or not. If they do, the TSL is used and the same procedure occurs. When opposing naval units end movement in the same square on the OSL, movement continues on the TSL. If the convoy exits the OSL before any subs have intercepted and ended movement in the same box on the OSL, nothing more happens…the convoy has escaped for this turn only.

German long range bombers may also conduct missions against various industrial targets along the East coast.

Aircraft IssuesThe reality was that had the Germans acted upon their first Amerika plans in 1940, the Me 264 long range bomber could’ve been operational by 1942, historically, only a few were done by late 1942. The He 177 was operational in March 1942. While the FW 200 had been modified. All three faced the same problems with aircraft engines being unreliable over the long flight (2-4,000 miles to the East Coast from either island) weather, pilot fatigue, and target recognition were major issues!
The He 177 and FW 200 suffered a 50% chance rate that the engines would catch fire during flights. A rather humbling event.

Flight times would average 7-8 hrs, thus, pilot fatigue would be an issue. Target ID would’ve been almost none existent, as even the U-boats had inadequate maps and generally used tourist maps to sail by along the coast.

Historically, the Uboats totally missed the CV Hornet being escorted from Key West to Norfolk in January 1942. In the game, you can go for it, if you fail, the American player can use it to attack the Azores where the Luftwaffe is based! It could've easily happened. Historically, the Hornet was sent to Pearl Harbor after being prepped in Norfolk.

Hopefully this sneak peek will still your interest!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Neat item on this ATO Magazine page

Hi: You may want to check out this webpage on the Against the Odds Magazine site:


Both games are now released! Koltov uses a unqiue system where both players issues commands to formations and then are revealed, thus, truly capturing the sense of war without using hidden movement or inverted counters.
For details go to:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Feldgrau, Casemate Publisher, Axis History

As a designer, one of the best resources when researching for a game are others!  Some of the most knowledgeable people post on various forums who provide valid, accurate information. The two best are:
My Goodwood book is available in the US from:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Agel Vitamins

I recently tried a new product, Agel vitamins. The selling point is that the vitamins are suspended in a gel and a foil pack. They are supposed to be absorbed quicker and stay fresher in this manner. While it is a different method of taking a vitamin, it is not at all new. Vitamins in gel have been a round since the 70's, usually taken by those who cannot swallow a pill. While it is true that the vitamins are absorbed faster, that is the only benefit.

Agel's drawbacks are many. Expensive, a carton of 30 packs for $60 retail or $30 wholesale. The are much larger than a tiny pill one can put into a pocket. The variety is very limited into not more than 10 assortments. You are stuck with vitamin proportions as you cannot simply have 1000mg of Vitamin C, or a specific amino acid etc. While the taste is OK, their appeal is limited despite the launch and money promoting it as a new MLM where one can make unlimited residual income, like Mary Kay, Cookie Lee etc. The other drawback is that while you can buy them on Ebay, usually you can only buy them through a rep who has joined the MLM at the retail price. They are not sold in vitamin-health stores.

Agel has a stiff competition from hundreds of vitamin companies on the internet, mass mailings, companies with hundreds of vitamins to select from such as Puritan or Swansons, to name only two. Their prices are WAY less than Agel's. Yet,Agel is thriving on the wannabe millions in hopes that millions can be made.

Hey, remember the Pet rock? Who would have thought?!.......

Rome's Greatest Defeat-The Battle that stopped Rome in the Teutoburg Forest at Kalkriese, Germany

Firefight's latest, Wicked Narrows, is out and ready for your enjoyment!  The game really captures the whole devastating battle that fateful day in September, 9 AD. The most unique aspect is that the German player decides when the game (the battle) begins. Until it happens, the Roman legions simply march onto the map in total oblivious to their surroundings! Combat is in rounds, with certain types being able to do certain things while others may not. The game, according to playtesters, usually ends within eight turns (eight hours) or sooner, depending on how well the Roman player handles the surprise attack. Moving into the dark foreboding forests is an option for the Romans, but one  steeped in other dangers. Moving through Narrows is truly a "wicked" affair, a mountain and forest on one side and swamp on the other!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


The following games are near ready for release:

The Koltov Corridor July 1944 - Covers the dramatic tank battles between the German Panzer Divisions and the Russian Tank Armies moving through the narrow gap at Koltov south of Brody. A unique game where players issue orders for formations and hope they chose the correct one!

Wicked Narrows - The Roman disaster at Kalkreise, Germany in September, 2 A.D. It was at the Narrows where the most wicked bloody battle occurred between four German tribes and three legions. The German attack destroyed all three legions!

Operation Fischfang, February, 1944 - Covers the only near successful German Panzer attack to crush the Allied landings at Anzio. The elements can either be a friend or for in this game at the right or wrong time.

Storm Over Taierzhuang 1938 - Covers the almost forgotten Stalingrad-like battle for the town between the Nationalist Chinese and Japanese forces. This is an area movement game designed by Terence Co, a great design and his first! Most Westerners have not even heard of this battle. It was decisive with aircraft and tanks as the Japanese drive inland seemed unstoppable!


One German, One Bullet August-Sept. 1944 This is a two map game!