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GMT Games: New P500 Goodness

posted Aug 5, 2012, 2:43 AM by Douglas Sun
Originally posted: March 7, 2009

GMT Games awakened this past week from what felt like a winter slumber when it added four new titles to its P500 pre-publication list. Normally, whenever GMT adds a bunch of prospective games to P500, there is at least one in the bunch about which I can say, “Meh; if I never play this game, my life will still be complete.” This time, however, all four are potential or certain winners in my book.

Case Yellow will be Ted Racier’s take on the German blitz through France in 1940. In scale and level of complexity, Racier seems to striving for something like his Clash of Giants WWI games (which, I must admit, I rather enjoyed when John Spalding talked me into playing The Marne from CoG I). Apparently, Case Yellow will use a chit-draw system to create a randomly-generated turn sequence, which sounds weirdly fascinating. Having cut my wargaming teeth at a time when the old IGO-YUGO was pretty much taken for granted, any attempt to create an asymmetrical or variable turn sequence interests me.

I immediately put in a pre-order for Chariots of Fire, and not just because I’m working on article on the Great Battles of History series for C3i. After 16 years and 13 distinct titles, you had to figure that Bronze Age warfare was one the most logical next places to go for GBoH. Having seen Berg and Herman tweak the system to reflect changes in the art of war from Alexander’s time to the classical Roman era, through the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages, I look forward to seeing how they adjust in leaping centuries backward from Alexander. I’m not entirely keen on the title, though, which puts me in mind of either William Blake or Vangelis — neither of whom I really want banging around my head as I contemplate the Battle of Megiddo.

I saw Red Winter in Andy Lewis’ playtest pile at the October ’08 GMT Games Weekend and didn’t quite know what to make of it. After reading its P500 page, I’m still not entirely clear on how the game will play. But I’m entirely willing to grant that it could be an exciting game, a good historical study, or both, and the odds are good that I’ll put in a pre-order at some point. Just about anything set in the Russo-Finnish War gets my attention; few conflicts in modern times have had such a compellingly perfect narrative frame (David vs. Goliath, in this case), and you can always get a good game out of that.

C3i #22 may just be the best of the lot. C3i has been on a roll lately; Rodger MacGowan seems to have it back on something resembling a quarterly publication schedule, and the last few issues have been packed literally cover-to-cover with savory goodies: scenarios, variants, and optional rules galore. I’m particularly looking forward to the Agincourt module for Men of Iron. Men of Iron had some promise as a prospective series; it was intriguing in some ways and certainly, there are many more battles that the system could address. But my impression is that it didn’t sell well enough to justify publishing a full-fledged sequel. However, generating scenarios for publication in C3i one or two at a time is a perfect way to let the system breathe and have some extra life. So bring it on.

Besides, a game system that addresses medieval warfare must have an Agincourt scenario. It just has to. Sure, it probably wouldn’t be much of a contest. But screw play balance. Every Anglophile wargamer knows that it’s all about beating up on the Frenchies.