Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Epic Victories at Gamex 2012

High Command went to Gamex this last month. We didn't have a booth or a demo table, but we ended up having three incredible meetings that set the stage for much awesomeness this summer.

The unsuspecting LAX Sheraton.
Can it smell what Ars Victor is cookin'?

Gateway, Here We Come

We spoke with Strategicon staff about doing a big event at the next convention: Gateway, from 31 August to 3 September. It's down at the LAX Sheraton, where 2,000 people spend the weekend playing board games and miniatures.  We're still hammering out the details; look for more news over the next month.  I won't reveal too much -- "Loose lips sink ships," and all that -- but I will say, we're going to try to do something big.  Something GRAND.

Emrich in yellow.  Doesn't the guy directly to Alan's left
look remarkably placid, considering he's surrounded
by such a savage bunch of co-workers?

Dark Satanic Mills

We also got to sit down for an hour or so with Alan Emrich and some folks from Victory Point Games.  He is a grognard from the early days of the boardgame hobby; his campaign ribbons include starting Strategicon, writing for countless wargame magazines, and multiple published titles.  These days, he's running a publishing company.

We tossed around some options for a limited "beta" production run of Ars Victor.  There's no way we're going to have a full production run by then, but our big plans for Gateway require that we have at least a couple of dozen high-quality units.  That's where Victory Point Games will hopefully come in.

What, you don't need a 30-minute explanation?
Let me try "Ars Victor in 5 minutes."

Meeting the Master

Richard Borg was the convention's guest of honor. He held a couple seminars, and ran a tournament for one of his games where he played the top three players simultaneously. He's one of a handful of full-time professional board game designers. He has over fifty published titles, which include the "Command and Colors" series of games: Battlelore, Battle Cry, Memoir '44, C&C Ancients, and C&C Napoleonics. Ars Victor is a "spiritual successor" to those games, and shares many of the core concepts that Borg uses.

I chatted him up at the Friday night meet-and-greet in the hotel bar. He is possibly one of the nicest dudes I have met: kind, gracious, considerate, and respectful. He asked if I was a designer, and when I told him about Ars Victor, he agreed to take a twenty minutes or so to look at the prototype I'd brought.

Sunday afternoon, we sat down and I showed him the goods. I've got to admit, I was a little nervous. If you've played any of Borg's "Command & Colors" games, you'll immediately recognize much of it in Ars Victor. I felt kind of like a painter walking up to Leonardo Da Vinci and saying, "hey, you know that Mona Lisa? I know it's pretty good. But what it really needs is a MUSTACHE."

It was my first experience "talking shop" with another game designer, and it was amazing. Whenever I explain Ars Victor to someone, I watch their facial expressions to see if they're "getting it", or if I need to go into more detail. It quickly became apparent to me that I could not explain things too quickly for this man. I would start to describe a rule, and he seemed to instantly know what that implied about gameplay, balance, and the other rules of the game. I realized that he's built this game dozens of times. In one form or another, he's tried every single individual system I've put into Ars Victor. At some point the explanation became more about the systems, instead of the rules.

We went through game mechanics, talked about ways to streamline play, and discussed publishing options. To top it all off, not only did this dude spend an hour and a half out of him packed schedule to talk with me, but he thankedus for showing him Ars Victor. He. Thanked us.


  1. Man that is so awesome! Let me know when you have a copy I can pay cash money for! I am all over it.