After having met Raymond Weiss in person last year at WBC after having done a few initial interviews with him for the blog (Rostov ’41: Fritz on the Don from Multi-Man Publishing and Imperial Bayonets: Liberty for Lombardy 1859), we have been impressed with the success to date with his new publishing company Conflict Simulations Limited. Recently we reached out to him to get a look inside his new Destroy All Monsters Operational Series (DAMOS).
Grant: How are you doing with your new publishing company Conflict Simulations Limited?
Ray: Good so far! Honestly, the most difficult thing currently is probably the fact that I still live in NYC meaning rent eats away at a good chunk of my budget occasionally, though my lease is up in 4 months so I am looking forward to not being under as much pressure. All of that said, no one has told me they hate any of the games yet so I consider that pretty good!
Grant: What have you learned over the past year as you have now published 9 games to date with more planned?
Ray: That is a good question. I feel like I am still learning to be totally honest. Still sometimes experiencing ‘Impostor Syndrome” but the one thing I think I’ve learned that has made the most impact on me, to paraphrase Mark Herman, if I worry about the history, the mechanics take care of themselves. Sometimes I’ll obsess over a design decision for weeks only to realize I am over-analyzing the issue and need to re-approach it, this recently happened with the new PRESTAGS inspired system I’m working on.
…the one thing I think I’ve learned that has made the most impact on me, to paraphrase Mark Herman, if I worry about the history, the mechanics take care of themselves.
Grant: How have you been able to design and develop this amount of games in this short of a time?
Ray: I have a team of volunteers without whom all of this would be impossible, Matt Ward develops the games, Trevor Henderson formats them, Nick Wade edits them, and Ivan Caceres + Ilya Kudriashov usually do the art for them. Frankly, I’ve neglected most aspects about my social life to work on this full time and I barely sleep, it helps that I can get manic sometimes. Haha.
Grant: What’s it like working with Blue Panther Games as a print on demand company?
Ray: Great on my end. Steve at BP is an absolute professional and all-around great human being. I’m proud of the fact that all of our games are produced in the USA as well. A bonus is that I can experiment with ideas that would otherwise not be commercially successful without having to worry about sitting on a giant inventory of games that won’t sell.
Grant: Your new East Front Series of games are part of the Destroy All Monsters Operational Series (DAMOS) system. What’s the inspiration behind such an evocative title?
Ray: I’m going to quote a CSW post from developer Matt Ward here as I think he explains it best:
“The name DAMOS pertains to the operational -system- and not just the three Army Group games. One doesn’t have to cast a very wide net in any direction to find monsters during WWII. It was -not- meant to indicate one or another side. There were monsters everywhere whether Allied or Axis. Certainly, Hitler and Stalin and their generals come first to mind, with Tojo close behind. But there were plenty of other monsters, Harris and LeMay qualify. Then there’s that atomic bomb thing, etc., etc. We tend to forget that brutality wasn’t just an Axis trait. This is a direct result of the winners writing the histories.
War is not something that is designed to bring out the best in us. The temptation to match the opponent’s perceived depredations inevitably leads to cruder and more depraved actions. Both sides felt they were destroying monsters. As the number of games using the DAMOS system expands there will be plenty of chances to destroy monsters of your choice.”
Grant: What is the main goal of design for the series and what challenges has this created?
Ray: I wanted to create a game where there would be little player downtime, between that and integrating ideas usually seen in other centuries, such as reactions, were the two biggest challenges. Over time the goal of the system has developed to be an original, crunchy take on operational combat during WW2 which could challenge grognards to change some of their assumptions about the Eastern Front.
Grant: What can we expect from the DAMOS system? What type of situations is it best designed for?
Ray: It’s designed to be compatible for a number of theaters and situations, tailored to each one. The Strength Point mechanics allow for the grinding attrition of the Italian Front while the ZOI mechanics can easily reflect the back and forth nature of the maneuvers in North Africa.
Grant: What do you think makes the East Front a great place to launch the system?
Ray: Because everyone loves the east front! 🙂 If I would have done it with anything else I don’t think it would have gotten as much attention as it has so far.
Grant: Why did you choose to divide the East Front Series into three titles?
Ray: By themselves, each game is operational in scope/scale but the game seamlessly transitions into a strategic scale in the grand tradition of the old GDW Europa games.
Grant: What sets your army group games apart from other East Front games? Why should we give your series a look?
Ray: I’m sure tons of people say this about their games, but I really do think that this is one of the most unique and original WW2 systems available that still reproduces historical results at a variable scale. There is very little player downtime throughout the game and both players are engaged equally during turns.
Grant: One unique aspect to DAMOS is the concerted attacks, with secret attack types. Can you run us through how that works?
Ray: Certain units (ZOI-Capable) are allowed to make special attacks while phasing termed Grand Assaults or Penetrations, these are both termed as Concerted attacks, normal attacks are Meeting Engagements and Standard Attacks. The difference between all of these options are basically a number of Movement Points the player can choose to spend on a combat (ZOI-Capable units can spend more), depending on the defense posture that the defender chooses, the attacker posture can have a number of different effects via the Combat Matrix, but generally, Concerted attacks grant better modifiers for the attacker, increase losses on both sides, and allow for greater exploitation movement (including the potential for bonus exploitation movement and combat).
Grant: What is unique about the Combat Matrix? What does this add to the play experience?
Ray: The combat matrix adds a layer of tactical granularity and chaos into the combat mechanics. Dramatic reversals can take place depending on the player choices in terms of posture, this creates an exponentially greater variable of combat outcomes than most wargames.
Grant: How are Zones of Influence handled in the design and what is unique about your take?
Ray: I treat ZOIs as basically an abstraction of unit training, morale, and available support assets. Conceptually, the more SP concentrated in a hex with a ZOI capable force, support assets are allocated to that force allowing them to act in numerous increased capacities. Additionally, non ZOI capable forces must move before ZOI capable forces, this both prevents ahistorical tactics where players have armor blowing holes in a line and shoving infantry through, and also forces the player to make tough choices as to simple tasks such as stacking.
Grant: What is Exploitation Movement and what typical mechanic does it replace? Why is this the best choice for your design?
Ray: Exploitation Movement and Combat abstract similar mechanics in WW2 games such as reserve/exploitation movement in OCS and SCS. Where that changes though is that a forces movement allowance can be increased as a result of excess hits in combat. Its basically a bonus activation that rewards the player for good operational planning.
Grant: What is next for the system and where would you like to take the series?
Ray: Next in the series will be a trilogy on North Africa, the scale is brought down to 9 miles per hex and the maps are all extended to include areas like Alexandria for a potential variant as well as a possible invasion target for the combined game for the Axis. The flat plains of the desert allow for the ZOI mechanics to really shine compared to other games on the topic. After that I am thinking of doing Italy, Normandy, and an expansion to cover 42-45 for the Eastern Front, but I’m not sure in what order yet.
Grant: What are you most pleased with in the series design?
Ray: I think that the game really creates an exciting narrative. There are points where you think you’ve done everything right to set up a combat and then several reactions or a lucky counterattack completely ruins your day, other times where the reverse is true. I enjoy games best when I forget I am playing a game and become immersed in the history. I think all of the interactive elements to the game manage to do that successfully and accurate to history without an excess of chrome, special rules or overhead.
I enjoy games best when I forget I am playing a game and become immersed in the history. I think all of the interactive elements to the game manage to do that successfully and accurate to history without an excess of chrome, special rules or overhead.
Thanks for your time in answering our questions Ray about DAMOS. We have the trilogy of East Front games (check out our unboxing video here) and are reading through the rules in preparation for a good play. We look forward to that experience but also to the whole host of great looking games that you have in the design pipeline.
To check out these games, please visit the Conflict Simulations Limited website at the following link: https://www.consimsltd.com/