No secret that I love GMT Games and no secret that Mark Herman is my hero. All you have to do to verify these statements is take a look at our blog posts to see the plethora of reviews of their great games, interviews and strategy articles trying to figure out how to effectively play a Mark Herman game. After several months of not much news at all from the GMT monthly update emails (April was pretty good as it had several new reprints being offered including A World at War, Empire of the Sun and Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition), this month was what I have been patiently waiting for.
A new addition to the P500 is the best thing that comes out of these monthly updates and this month there was a new P500 offering and it was a big one! Well, big in name and big because of who designed it, but the game is actually a little game designed to be played in 25-40 minutes. It is really more of a “Lunch Hour Game”. Trademarked! But, I am excited to even get to talk about it as when I saw some pictures on Twitter from the designer in April, I knew immediately that I had to have this game.
In case you missed it, here is a link to the June Update email from GMT Games: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/GMT-Update–June-20–New-P500-Game–Digital-Update–Production-Update–More-.html?soid=1103480314715&aid=GV3hz-tzf7k
So, onto the news from this month’s update.
Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61
The new P500 offering this month is Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 from famed and very productive designer Mark Herman. I love Mark Herman games and own several including Washington’s War, Fire in the Lake, South Pacific: Breaking the Bismark Barrier and Pericles and have played and love others including Empire of the Sun. He is enamored with the use of the Card Driven Game (CDG) mechanic in his games and I also love it as it truly provides a great experience both in game play and in the experience of learning about history through the game and the event cards. Following in the footsteps of his previous designs, Fort Sumter is a two-player CDG portraying the 1860 secession crisis that led to the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the ultimate start of the American Civil War.
I was able to spend spring break in Charleston, South Carolina this year and one of the things we made sure to do was to visit Fort Sumter. To better understand the role Fort Sumter played in the Civil War and the powder keg that it was, I feel like a visit is very necessary. You see, Fort Sumter sits smack dab in the front of the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean to Charleston Harbor and was designed to protect the harbor from invasion. As you can see from the below map of the Charleston Harbor, the Federals at Fort Sumter were surrounded by Confederate forts including Fort Moultrie to the north, Fort Johnson to the southwest and the Cumming’s Point Battery to the south. When I stood in Fort Sumter, you can see each of these points, and to be honest, you can hit a golf ball to reach most of them from Fort Sumter itself. Due to its prominent location and the threat that it provided to shipping, the Confederates couldn’t allow one of their foremost trade centers in the south to be blocked by a few cannon so they had to force them out in order to do what they felt was their right.
Fort Sumter is a small footprint game (11×17” mounted map) that takes approximately 25-40 minutes to play. The game pits a Unionist versus a Secessionist player. Each player uses the area control mechanic pioneered in Mark Herman’s We The People design and immortalized in Twilight Struggle to place, move, and remove political capital. This aspect is one of my favorite parts of the Mark Herman designed games that I’ve played and I really love the mechanic in Washington’s War. The location of political capital determines who controls each of the four crisis dimensions (Political, Secession, Public Opinion, and Armaments). After three rounds of play, the game culminates in a Final Crisis confrontation to determine the winner. There also is a new unique mechanic that will be utilized in future Final Crisis Series games where you may elect to accelerate the crisis by breaching zones (escalation, tension, final crisis) that yield bonus political capital. This mechanic can be beneficial but it will set you back at least initially as you will lose victory point ground through its use. A fascinating set of mechanics that are sure to create a tense tug of war aspect to each game. The game ends with a Final Crisis, where cards set-aside during the three rounds complete your final political maneuvers that determine the winner.
Fort Sumter is now in its final testing and as mentioned above, it will be the first of a new fast-playing Final Crisis Series, covering topics as diverse as the Berlin Airlift, the Gulf of Tonkin, Remember the Maine, Martin Luther’s Reformation, and the Assassination of Julius Caesar. One other final point I’d like to comment on. I love wargames but have always been hampered by their long setup and play times. Don’t get me wrong. We love to play a good detailed 8 hour simulation on the Eastern Front of World War II or the sweeping conflict in the Pacific Theater, but a game that can be played in 25-40 minutes, yet is tense and strategic, and gives me a similar feeling is right up my alley. I am also excited to hear that there are other such games in development. If you are interested in ordering Fort Sumter, it is available on P500 for the reasonable price of $29.00. Here is the link to the game page: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-648-fort-sumter-the-secession-crisis-1860-61.aspx
Solitaire Game Options are En Vogue
As a wargamer, the hardest thing to find is an opponent. Until recently, I didn’t have this problem as my blog mate Alexander lived in the same town and we were able to get together at least weekly to play a good wargame. Now that he has moved away (he only lives about 45 minutes away but it seems like a major barrier), we haven’t played as many games together and I have been forced to go it solo on several occasions. But never fear. It appears that the masses are asking for more solitaire options in games and several previously announced games announced this month that they would be developing solitaire modules including Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987 and Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs. It is great to see this switch in the hobby as more and more people are becoming wargamers, but continue to have difficulty finding opponents. If you are interested, in April we did a series of Guest Blog posts featuring Vez Arponen on the process of creating these solitaire “Bot” systems. The Science of the COIN “Bot” Volume I and Hitler’s Reich or a “Bot” Driving Toward Moscow Volume II.
Conclusion and Summary of my P500 Orders
Lots of good information this month in the Monthly Update. I would like to wrap this post up, as I always do, with a summary of where my 25 P500 games stand as of June 21st. I know this is a lot but when they are all great games, how do I not order them?!? I routinely check the status of each of my games and also will show the change in orders as compared to the last time I wrote them down on April 24th (I didn’t write one of these posts for the May Update as there wasn’t much that was newsworthy).
- 1989: Dawn of Freedom – 195 [+9 orders] – Another slow few months. Why is this game moving so slowly? I have heard and read that it is amazing! And there are not many copies at all out there on the market. I actually looked for a copy of this at the recent Origins Game Fair because I want to play it that badly but with no luck. Please help me move this one along.
- Here I Stand: Wars of the Reformation 1517-1555 – 1,028 [+125 orders, made the cut!] I love anything about the Reformation! Holy War anyone? Also assigned a tentative shipping date of September 2017. Thanks to the announcement in April about the deluxe anniversary edition, this game has made the cut! Awesome.
- Space Empires 4x 3rd Printing – 399 [+44 orders] 4x games are awesome and I love a good Sci-Fi themed game! Also assigned a tentative shipping date of July 2017. I might look at ordering its expansions as well.
- The Hunters – 636 [+44 orders, made the cut!] WWII submarine warfare with the vaunted U-Boats! Looking like it will be printed and shipped in early 2018 with the other Consim Press games on the P500.
- Navajo Wars – 366 [+20 orders] I love stories and games about Native Americans. When I was a kid I read dozens of history books on Native Americans. Read my interview with Joel Toppen about Navajo Wars and Comancheria. With Comancheria having recently released, and lots of pictures showing up on Twitter, I expect that this one might gain some momentum over the next few months.
- The Last Hundred Yards – 566 [+21 orders, made the cut!] A WWII tactical game that exhibits the actions and reactions of real troops from initiative, to communication and other factors. Yes, please! Read my interview with designer Mike Denson that was posted in November! Designer has stated that the game is moving into the final design stage which puts them about 3-6 months from final art starting. This game could show up in early 2018, maybe!
- Hitler’s Reich – 703 [+28 orders, made the cut!] WWII Card Driven Game that plays in under 2 hours. Read my interview with designer Mark McLaughlin that was posted in December. Has been assigned a tentative shipping date of October 2017.
- Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62 – 1,517 [+117 orders, made the cut!] I love the COIN Series of games and Brian Train is an amazing designer. Read my 3 part interview with him on CT. (Part I, Part II & Part III). Game will be shipping on July 3rd and I cannot wait to get an unboxing video up and to do a quick preview, as well as to play the game! Here is the new cover released about 6 weeks ago:
- Bayonets & Tomahawks – 647 [+11 orders, made the cut!] – I love a good game about the French & Indian War. Read my interview with designer Marc Rodrigue about B&T! No tentative shipping date assigned yet.
- Holland ’44 – 1,326 [+88 orders, made the cut!] – Airborne paratroopers over the fields of Holland. Plus, Mark Simonitch can surely design a great game – see The U.S. Civil War. Assigned a shipping date of August 2017! Read my interview with designer Mark Simonitch about Holland ’44.
- Imperial Struggle – 1,975 [+53 orders, made the cut on 1st day!] Assigned a tentative shipping date of 4th Quarter 2017 but since it has now been bumped to 2018! I have reached out to designer Ananda Gupta for an interview but it may not happen.
- Ariovistus: A Falling Sky Expansion – 1,253 [+46 orders, made the cut!] – I love Falling Sky and when this one was offered, it didn’t take me long to order it! A 5th playable faction and some new upgraded components for the base game. My interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke was posted in October. No tentative shipping date set as of yet.
- The Russian Campaign: Designer Signature Edition – 1,175 [+42 orders, made the cut!] – I now own an Eastern Front game (No Retreat! The Russian Front) but this one is THE quintessentially respected volume! It will be mine. Tentative shipping date of early 2018 set at this point.
- Cataclysm A Second World War – 693 [+33 orders, made the cut!] – I am very interested in this sandbox style game of World War II that starts in 1933 and where anything can happen, including French tanks rolling into Berlin? Read my interview with Scott Muldoon and Bill Terdoslavich about Cataclysm! Tentative shipping date of 4th Quarter 2017 has now been moved to 2018.
- Roads to Leningrad 2nd Printing – 144 [+10 orders] – This game is medium complexity and has high suitability for solitaire. Also, this is the 2nd edition and they are fixing some of the rules, updating the map and player aides (full color) and also there are 528 counters! I love counters and this game has 528. Read my interview with designer Vance von Borries. Game was saved from P500 purgatory in May! Thanks for all who ordered.
- SpaceCorp: 2025-3000 AD – 1,090 [+74 orders, made the cut!] I love a good Sci-Fi themed game and this one looks great. I also really enjoy John Butterfield’s designs. I have reached out to him for an interview and he is working on it at this point. No tentative shipping date assigned as of yet.
- Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs – 537 [+143 orders, made the cut!] Congrats to Mike and his team on this game making the cut! Tank on tank combat in World War II for up to 8 players! Panzers, T34’s, what more could you want in a game? I have reached out to designer Mike Bertucelli and he is working on my interview (Mike?).
- Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – 665 [+140 orders, made the cut!] A fantastic looking abstracted game of civilization building in the Mediterranean designed by Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge. This game is sure to be a winner! Read my interview with Mark McLaughlin and Christopher Vorder Bruegge.
- Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India 1917-1947 – 998 [+97 orders, after only 2 days…made the cut!] – I love the COIN Series of games and this one includes a Non-Violent faction, in a wargame. I have got to see this in action! Read our interview with designer Bruce Mansfield which sheds a lot of light on how the game works.
- France ’40 2nd Printing – 81 [+21 orders] – Reprint of a great looking game on the initial push of the Germans into France during World War II and it is designed by Mark Simonitch.
- Andean Abyss: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Columbia 2nd Printing – 441 [+22 orders] – I love the COIN Series and have finally added this one to my list as it nears the required 500 orders. I cannot wait to play the first game in the series to see how the system has evolved from the beginning. Assigned a tentative shipping date of early 2018.
- A World at War 3rd Printing – 64 [+29 orders] – A monster wargame for sure but it is one that I have wanted in my collection for a while now. When it was offered in April as a reprint, I was sucked into its tractor beam and had no choice but to order it!
- Paths of Glory Deluxe Edition – 291 [+124 orders] – Ted Raicer’s fantastic Card Driven Game set in World War I, but this version will be deluxe, which means shiny and new. I had to add this classic to my list in April. When a game is on its 6th Printing, what does that say about it?
- Ardennes ’44 Reprint – 496 – I added this game to my list in late May as I have always wanted a good game on the Battle of the Bulge and have heard that this one fits that bill. Mark Simonitch designs are always good and this one actually looks great!
- Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-1861 – 266 orders in the first 18 hours! Wow! I will be reaching out to Mark Herman for an interview soon so look for that over the next month or so.
I ended up ordering 1 new game this month on the P500 bringing my total to 25! So, I will count that as a victory of sorts….well, maybe more like a draw! I still have my eye on several of the other recent new offerings (including Golden Gate Park and Red Storm) as well as others that have been on the list for a while (Absolute War! The Attack on Russia 1941-1944). Please consider helping me out by P500’ing one or all of these great games on my list! You will be helping me personally as I can get to play these great games sooner and you also will be helping out GMT Games, who has given us all such great joy with their creations!
“Fields of Fire” is another excellent solitaire option for lonely wargamers and the reprint of the first edition is due in August. I’m surprised it’s not on your list!
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My blog mate is getting it so I will steal his copy when I want to play.
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Great recap – I didn’t see the newest COIN game, Pendragon, on your list. Is that a game you’re considering for the P500? If not, I’d love to hear why that one isn’t on your radar!
It is not on my list because my blog mate Alexander has it on his. We try not to double up as we play those games together. I might end up getting it though as it looks great and I am a completionist and want to own all of the COIN games. I did a series of interviews with the designer Marc Gouyon-Rety last summer and it looks really good. Different take on the system and is definitely a new evolution for the COIN as is Gandhi as well.
Any comment on the Fort Sumter art? (playtest art to be sure…)
Playtest art for sure…but it is early! Every other game from GMT and Mark Herman has a great map and art so I am not worried.
You haven’t checked the playtest art credits have you? 😀
I’m looking for Feedback 😀
Doesn’t appear to be any credits on the game page itself. My guess is that Rodger MacGowan put them together or Mark himself as he is pretty crafty. I like the period feel of the playtest map but don’t like the color scheme. Haven’t seen the cards themselves so don’t know on them.
LOL. Grant, *I* did the playtest art. Admittedly the credit is very tiny and you can’t see it very well on the map graphic. The colors aren’t final. Some elements have been added over iterations. The blue and red definitely need to change because they are not color-blind friendly. My big concern is the yellow-orange-red of the crisis track since I was trying to make them stand out but it clashes a great deal. Any suggestions on which colors would work better are welcome.
Got it. That’s pretty cool. Sorry I’m so dense.
I am excited to get my copy of Colonial Twilight very soon!
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Won’t be long now! I am really excited about the 2 player aspect and the newly designed turn sequence. Should be great fun as always and Brian Train is a great designer.
Thanks for sharing our post and I’m glad you like the update. I spend a lot of money on the P500 but their games are so good I feel like I’m being paid. Does that make sense?