Opponents Wanted

Find Gaming Opponents!

Another new feature for Grognard.com, "Opponents Wanted" provides a quick and easy way to locate gaming opponents with similar gaming preferences. Requires site registration. Grognard.com Opponents Wanted

Gaming Clubs/Organizations

Gaming Clubs and Organizations

Please check out our new (and growing) database of gaming clubs and organizations world-wide. Please let us know of your gaming club, or any other clubs that you know about so we can make this a truly useful resource.

Spotlight Articles

Outstanding articles that are not necessarily linked to one particular game, but may have broad appeal to gamers.

First Draft of History: Designing a Military Simulation of the Russo-Ukraine War 2022-2023

Spotlight Article Graphic

"A book? A movie? An HBO series? How about a military simulation ('wargame') of the heroic struggle of Ukraine? ... Wiser men and women would avoid. But not us fools." Designers D. B. Dockter and Mark Herman discuss their approach to creating Ukraine 2022!, addressing an ongoing conflict! Check out the insights and quips as they forge ahead: "Ukraine 2022! should go on preorder in December 2023, and, with any luck, be published in 2024. ... Or some other event on the Richard Berg random events table could pop up."

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 12/1/2023

First figures painted in five years

Spotlight Article Graphic

"...I'm just pleased to be back on the horse - or elephant, if you prefer." Prufrock happily relates his recent painting efforts, which means he "...will now have enough Carthaginian elephants to be able to stage Bagradas in Lost Battles...!"

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 10/23/2023

Hail Caesar Ruleset Test

Spotlight Article Graphic

Check out why Norm Smith, in Battlefields & Warriors, says "...I think I am already preferring the Hail Caesar set." Norm sets out to see how the recent extension of the rule set does in covering a Wars of the Roses clash. He finds lots to like, to include fact that he didn't feel "...that any of the outcomes were a given. If the scenario were replayed again, a different outcome could easily be possible.

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 10/16/2023

Taming the boardgame collection.

Spotlight Article Graphic

"I am very conscious of just having far too many different rulebooks, too many different systems...". Norm Smith, in Battlefields & Warriors, striving to stay true to his "wargaming in small spaces" motto, discovers a way to maximize the value his collection brings to him. Check out the approach he develops, and the titles that contribute to it, when "...out of the blue, I was hit by one of those tidy-up and reorganise moments, the planets were aligned and I threw myself behind a proper game cull..."!

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 10/6/2023

More Spotlight articles...

Gaming Conventions

Gaming Conventions

Another new feature for Grognard.com, the Gaming Convention calendar will make it a snap to keep up with all the latest gaming conventions in your area. But we need your gaming convention information, so please contribute.

Grognard News

Grognard Challenge - Expanded Room for Comments! (6/25/2023)

The Comments entry area has been resized to 512 characters.

Grognard Opponents Wanted (9/14/2022)

New Opponents Wanted function. You can now set your ad expiration date, up to one year. Requires site registration.

Gaming Conventions

New Gaming Conventions calendar. You can see all upcoming gaming conventions worldwide.

If you are sponsoring a board gaming convention of some type, or know of one that is not listed on Grognard.com, then please contact us and let us know!

Gaming Clubs/Organziations

New Gaming Clubs/Organizations listing. You can search for existing gaming clubs worldwide.

If you belong to a gaming club, or know of one, please drop us a line and let us know so we can get it listed on Grognard.com!

New Search Features

Now you can search for specific games (or games by publisher) using the new Game Search feature, located at the top right corner of the this page. In addition you can now harness the power of Google to search the entire Grognard.com site for any specific information you'd like. Just enter a search word or phrase into the Google box labeled "Search All of Grognard.com" and click magnifying glass button. Search features will continue to be improved and enhanced going forward so check back often to see the latest stuff.

Grognard Originals

In addition to our links to great content all around the internet, expect to see more Grognard.com "originals" in the future.

Fast, simple, not expensive, little errata, but only reasonably fun. (War game Review)

In his review on BoardGameGeek, Brendan Whyte first turns a critical eye towards the components and rules and lists their shortcomings. Game play fares better: “…the game is fast and quite fun”. Whyte then goes into comprehensive details covering game mechanics and spares no criticism for the game opponent (AI). His discussion concerning solitaire board games vs solitaire computer games is very interesting.

PE TANG 1900 Q&A with Marco Campari

Some Q & A between myself and Marco Campari, designer of Pe Tang 1900 from Lumaca Games.

PE TANG 1900 Strategy Tips

This is the strategy I developed after playing Pe Tang 1900 from Lumaca Games.

PE TANG 1900 Optional Line of Sight Table

Here is an optional table to make it a little more difficult to eliminate the Boxer artillery.

More Grognard Originals...

Grognard Challenge

Latest Challenge

Have a look at the graphics for the latest Challenge and see past solutions and contest winners.

Recommended (archives)

Wargaming - General Info

Board Wargames

Miniatures Wargames

Computer Wargames

Academic Gaming

Board Games

Internet Based/PBEM Games

Individual Wargamer Blogs

Wargaming Magazines

Asst Software/Player Aides

In Memoriam

Grognards Lost

Please support Grognard.com by supporting our site sponsor, VentoNuovo Games


S T U V W X Y Z '-9
Alan Emrich: Victory Point Games
Grognard.com exclusive interview with Alan Emrich, head of Victory Point Games

Grognard.com: Hey, Alan, it’s always good to hear from you. First question: Victory Point Games has made its reputation on small-format games. Where did you get the idea that you could publish a monster wargaming series, beginning with Thunder in the East?

Alan Emrich: This is a happy outcome from one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” things. We had just sent our first out-of-house printed game, Dawn of the Zeds third edition, to press and I was thinking what other games might succeed if published thus. Then at ConsimWorld Expo some time back, Frank, Lance, and I were discussing the demand to “link” and “extend” the Campaigns in Russia series that spawned from good old Battle for Moscow (which Frank and I worked on back in 1986).

Well, one idea led to another, and before you know it, we conceived a game on the early part of the Russian Front using the Campaigns in Russia system, and that grew to cover the entire Russian Front, which grew to Europe, and then it grew to cover economics, politics, strategic warfare... Yep, it’s great what you can “blue sky” when you put some grog in the old grognards at Rula Bula [a popular Irish restaurant next to the ConsimWorld Expo site]. We decided that we should undertake this ambitious project and started to make plans to publish this, our first true “monster” wargame.

Alan Emrich - Victory Point Games

Grognard.com: Wargame publishers try to be a bit “hands on” with their games before release to make sure they’re ready for publication, of course. How hands on are you with Frank Chadwick’s ETO?

Alan Emrich: I’m pretty hands-on for this project. I am tasked with keeping everything moving forward at a good pace. This means that I am personally making the playtest components (counters, cards, player aids) and formatting and editing the rules.

Fortunately, Frank has largely taken charge of the map, so my tasks there are tidying up and making it ready to print in 11” x 17” sections that mate up for the playtest kits.

As the game has been progressing, this has been a very fluid process necessitating a lot of changes as we prepare to send out beta test kits. I confess that the “cruel taskmaster” job I seem to excel at is levying a barrage of emails to the team to help us hammer things out. Fortunately, they have answered with alacrity and the rules are in a pretty good state right now for the team’s Herculean playtesting efforts that remain.

The circles drawn around outstanding issues are getting smaller and smaller as we move to the beta version of Thunder in the East. Every system in TITE is tight, if you will, so our focus now is on the details to ensure that every little thing in this game is shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Alan Emrich Interview - ETO Game

Grognard.com: You have worked together with Frank Chadwick on Battle for Moscow back in 1986, and for Game Designer’s Workshop doing the second edition of Frank’s A House Divided. And you and Lance McMillan have produced the Star Borders games, the Napoleonic 20 series, and the Campaigns in Russia series. Are you essentially “putting the band back together” for Thunder in the East?

Alan Emrich: Heh, that’s pretty good! Don’t forget graphic artist Tim Allen on the keyboard (and mouse). Yes, we’re an experienced team not only at getting games published, but on publishing games together.

Frank Chadwick, alone, has a corpus of work making board wargames that can only be described as “legendary.” I was very blessed to work with Frank “back in the day” and I have always tried to learn lessons from him – the man is a sage. He demonstrated considerable patience working with me back in the 80s, both on wargames and on the Game Manufacturers Association Board of Directors, and I am grateful for all that Frank has taught me (and continues to teach me as we work on this epic project together).

Lance McMillan is a very smart, disciplined wargame developer, with a keen eye and a great sense of historical validity. Combined with my passion for “game narrative,” we have made a mighty duo on some amazing little games – I will always have a special place in my heart and on my game table for Star Borders, for example. In the Navy, they called Lance “The Fifty Pound Brain,” and it shows! He’s a one-man fact-checker, making games where the audience is very particular that you have the facts right!

Tim Allen is great, and what a super-nice guy! He found us after VPG started back in ’08 showing me “his versions” of our game components. “Dude!,” I said, as I often do (being a native Californian), “Let’s share that art!” And Tim has been on a graphic voyage of gaming artistry ever since. I have watched as his Photoshop skills have grown from Yellow-belt to Brown-belt and one day he will emerge from his Art Dojo a full Black-belt, I’m sure. Tim is so Canadian and low-key (powered by Tim Horton’s coffee), who makes great suggestions and takes them equally well. Our hobby is so much more impressive looking since Tim has come in and lent his skills to such a broad array of great game projects.

Alan Emrich Interview - Alan and Frank Chadwick

Grognard.com: Alan, people reading your various game credits and myriad article by-lines will find your name alongside many strategic level WWII games, most noticeably perhaps are Totaler Krieg! and Dai Senso! You seem to enjoy the grand-strategic “mini-monsters.” I guess what I’m asking is, what’s a gamer like you doing with a real monster game like this?

Alan Emrich: Well, like a lot of us, I have played many a Europa game (my favorite being Narvik), but I found the gameplay in SPI’s War in Europe much more companionable. In fact, when I was looking for a house nigh 20 years ago, my wife and I each staked out one thing that it had to have: for her, it was a back yard large enough to really garden in (which is a tall order in Southern California): for me, it was a game room large enough to set up and play War in Europe.

The idea of a “big player’s wargame” has always appealed to me. However, most monster games I’ve experienced have camped out in the weeds of chrome and minutia, which is not where I want to be for all the time it takes to learn and play them well. With Thunder in the East, you are playing a move-fight-move system that is as comfortable as your old sneakers. Instead of walls of counters opposing each other in too-damned-small hexes requiring me to level up my skills using plucking tweezers, in TITE there is usually one, or occasionally two, pieces in a good-size hex and, just as graphic designers love “white space” when laying out rules, you will encounter empty hexes here and there along the front line in Russia because your units’ Zones of Control simply need to get the job done covering it.

Frank Chadwick explained his evolving design philosophy using this analogy. Early on, Frank was an English gardener, filling in that patch of soil with more and more plants and decorations until it was so full you couldn’t add anymore – and at that point the garden was complete. Today, Frank is a Japanese gardener, removing plants and decorations from that patch of soil so it has less and less until, if you removed anymore, you couldn’t even call it a garden – and at that point, the garden was finished. That’s a good way to describe the design and development for the Frank Chadwick’s ETO series – we’re always looking for things that we can cut and simplify so that the player feels really in control of the game (instead of the other way around); we are constantly admonished by His Frankness with the mantra of “we’re at the point now of cutting things, not adding them.” Words to live by in great game design philosophy – “a game is not finished when the last feature is added; a game is finished when the last feature is removed.

And in Frank’s world, all design-for-effect mechanics must not be abstract (i.e., merely a mechanic designed to achieve the desired result) – they must also illustrate the causes of how that result was achieved (assisting the game’s narrative telling the story of what is happening on the map and why). In a Frank Chadwick game, “getting there” (to the desired effect) is half the fun.

Look, I’m not sure how many monster games we have left in us to design, develop, publish, play, and master, but I will say this: I will be very proud if this project turns out to be my magnum opus, because this wargame is fun! That’s really important to me because life is too short for wargames that are work; I want to play a strong, rich, historical simulation and really enjoy the heck out of it while doing so. For me, that is what the ETO series is all about and why I’m committed to it. Let’s push those panzers, manage those economies, and let the good dice roll!

Grognard.com: VPG has long been known as a print-on-demand company, but a game the size of Thunder in the East really doesn’t lend itself to that publishing model, which I understand you will be discontinuing in 2017. How will you be releasing games in the Franck Chadwick’s ETO series?

Alan Emrich Interview - The Publisher

Alan Emrich: Well, we’re still making the playtest kits in house, so they look pretty nice. However, you’re right, when the game itself is published it will be printed out-of-house as other wargame publishers do – you know, the “telescoping” box, die-cut counters, etc..

I understand that our plan is to Kickstart this project in hopes of raising enough money to print a good number of copies (2,000 to 5,000) and keep Thunder in the East in stock for a while. It is not only the cornerstone of the series, but a great East Front game in its own right and we expect people to be having a great time with this game for years to come.

Grognard.com: Is there any sort of “grand schedule” for the production of Thunder in the East? And after that, the remaining games in the ETO series?

Alan Emrich: Well, we have the four core games (East, South, West, and North), and the fifth product will be the “linking” Campaign Game kit that ties everything together and adds strategic naval warfare. If we can pull off one of those every 18 months or so, I would be a happy guy. FYI, Thunder in the East should be entering beta (i.e., out-of-house) playtesting around the time this interview goes live. There will be some dedicated months testing its myriad scenarios, but hopefully Tim Allen will be working on the graphics in parallel (everything is pretty tightly laid out for him already, which really helps speed things along – artists like some direction and not just hand waving with cajoling “make it amazing” words of instructions).

If ETO remains an in-demand success, we’ve discussed a module with map extensions to the Urals, Middle East, Iceland (I kid you not, Frank’s already prototyped it!), and more. All of these maps are already designed, by the way – Frank Chadwick just rolled them all out and we playtested with them at ConsimWorld 2015. I think there might be a module for the "Reign in Spain" scenarios, and almost certainly a “prequel” module (entitled Dark Beginnings) that puts you through the ringer of crisis after crisis in the 1930s, any of which would give you a new starting point for ETO as well as interesting scenarios in their own right (we’ve played module quite a bit and really like it).