Summer 23 Preview

I imagine that blog entries here will follow the same format as those Rick Loomis (of Flying Buffalo) had for his old newsletter "Wargamers Information".    That is, they will be published at astoundingly irregular intervals and 12 issues may be a virtual lifetime subscription.

But there's so much going on it's worthwhile to give a bit of a preview.   So, in no particular order, we'll look at our clients and our own products too.

Red Sash Games - has a new game out Frondeurs et Frondeuses: Political Mayhem in France 1648-1652.   It's up on the website now so check it out.

Red Sash Games - we also have a "patchwork sale" on we've put a set of complete games together from parts Red Sash shipped us from their old supplier and are filling in the gaps with our versions of what's missing.   The games are 30% off retail and and ship in canvas bags because some of the parts are too big for our boxes!

Hollandspiele - had a blast figuring out how to make standee monsters and standup buildings for their next game Kaiju Table Battles.   It will be out in late June or early July.  For more info I would suggest Amabel's informative blog entry

Over at Catastrophe Games there's alot going on.  I'll point out one title - Sadr City, which is the sequel to Zurmat and is set in Iraq.   If you're at Origins this summer you can check out the game at the Armchair Dragoons area where there will be several demos / playtests.

The Historical Game Company is releasing Battle of Stalingrad, bringing their Battle/Siege series into the WW2 era with tanks and planes while keeping low unit count, playability and short playing times.   Concurrent with this game, Battle of Son Tay will be released

And we've got a few things going on at Blue Panther.   Recently we released the third edition of Cock & Bull; The American Pub Game featuring rules on a business card and a canvas play area.   We also picked up Ty Bomba's Boom & Zoom in a small new portable edition.   And we are working towards releasing Brian Train's Guerilla Checkers this summer.   It's part of a new line of low-priced ($20), quick playing games with simple rules and excellent replayability.

On the wargame front, in July we expect to be releasing a joint venture with THGC called The Road to Independence:  The American Revolution 1776-1781 East and West Theaters.    This game uses an upgraded version of the engine first used in THGC's French and Indian War.  There is a version in development for the same system to cover the American Civil War and perhaps we'll go back and upgrade the original F&IW title as well.   This game is waiting for custom dice, then it will ship.

Recently, we also are working with Mike Nagel to release Dawn of Battle Designer's Edition.  This game is the definitive version by the designer and includes update and expanded rules, 20 new scenarios,  4 sheets of terrain tiles, a scenario developer guide and an example of play.  For those who have earlier versions of this game, an upgrade path will be available (rules, scenarios, terrain tiles) both physical and print and play.  This game will release in early July.

Finally we have been working on a new fantasy wargame with Hermann Luttmann and Fred Manzo.   To say our developer is excited would be to be doing an injustice to the word  :-)  We'll have some playable versions of the game at Historicon and WBC and CSW Expo this summer - expect an early fall 2023 release.

Turning our attention to titles that have been out for a few months, the excellent Land and Freedom by Alex Knight has been translated into Japanese amongst other languages.  And the game has been licensed to NAC Wargames for a Spanish edition that will ship in 2024.   Working with Alex and the rest off the development team Ryan Heilman, Tim Allen, Dave Shaw was quite a journey.  But at the end we had a game that not only is selling well, it put us firmly back on the map in terms of publishing our own games.  For this little company it has served as a sort of "breakout" title.

And finally a thought or two about finding your place.  Fifteen or twenty years ago , I had a bunch of game designs that I published under an earlier incarnation of Blue Panther - all the games were made out of wood and had wooden boxes.  This was in the era before everyone had a laser and a 3D printer, so laser engraving was still a new thing.   They looked great, everybody commented on how they looked.  Not as many comments on how they played.   Some 5s, 6s and 7 ratings on BGG, averaging high 5 low 6.   Catan they were not. Not the stuff of boardgaming legend.   And it turned out that not everyone wanted to pay the premium for a wooden game.

Then someone asked (I'm looking at you Clark :-) me if I would make piecepacks.  Why would I make something that had no intellectual property that anyone else could duplicate any time they wanted to?  It wasn't even a game, it was more like  a set of cards for board games.    And they sold.  It didn't take long to sell more wood piecepacks than all the wooden board games I had designed together.

A little while later Clark asked me if I thought about making dice towers or trays.   And that's when our business started taking off - and my product line was set for the next 5-6 years.   Then someone contacted us about making wargames for them and that's when the current incarnation of Blue Panther took shape, but that's a story for another blog post.

Blue Panther started as a play-by-mail company and did well for a while  back before Al Gore invented the internet (PBEM is alot cheaper and faster then US Mail).  Then it published a game (which we will always be fond of) but the game sank the company.   Then life intervened for a while and we tried again with another game and it didn't work too well either.   Then we got a laser and you already know that story.   And now we're on Rev 4 or Rev 5, depending upon how close you're reading this.   In that sense we're kind of like that castle in the swamp that Monty Python built.  After the fourth or fifth time, it stayed up.

It took a while, a long while but we found our place.  It's a combination of a lifetime filled playing all kinds of boardgames, especially wargames and some things we picked up from our day job about how to run a manufacturing operation.    I have my sensei at Toyota to thank for that part.  We have a location and a set of equipment that has upped the ante on our physical product.   We're so busy we even have employees now, and I've managed to figure out how letting talented people do what they want to do results in more and (most importantly) better games that I couldn't have done on my own.    Perhaps one of my college friends put it to me best - you are slow, but at least you are consistent...

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