Ten Years of Content
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
Ten years ago this month, we began Daily Content as a means to promote that year’s Black Friday sale, which I think we called “Black Week.” That's the first counter art ever to run with a Daily Content piece, over there on the left. This year, we’ll mark Black Week by running some of our favorite older pieces as repeats, both to highlight them and the games on which they’re based, and to help a little with the heavy shipping volume of the Black November/Viking Funeral sales.
Our Daily Content Archive, on the other hand, only goes back about two and a half years. Over that time we’ve trimmed Content for games that are out of print, and stuff we just didn’t care to have in the archive. And then there were the gaps: Daily Content was not always daily in its first years, and during the worst of the company’s troubles a few years ago it wasn’t unusual for Daily Content to appear only a few times in a month.
We’ve held to a true Daily schedule since Martin Luther King Day of 2014 (or as it’s formally known here in Alabama, “The Combined King-Lee Holiday”), with new stuff every weekday and repeats, sometimes re-worked, on weekends and holidays. And on days when the server is uncooperative or we’re under denial-of-service attack – someone out there (and we have a pretty good idea who) doesn’t like Daily Content.
It’s been a pretty good run, and we certainly plan to continue it. Over that decade, we’ve fallen into a few patterns that will probably hold in the coming year. For many years, we ran occasional game variants with downloadable pieces. We’ve shifted those over to the Gold Club’s Golden Journal, where we can provide actual pieces instead of a download, and that seems very popular. That also lets us put the pieces in the Golden Journal, and run more scenarios for the variant as Daily Content, sort of a replacement for the 10-scenario booklets we discontinued. The variants are a lot of fun to do, and provide an opportunity to do strange things to a game.
Daily Content has finally regained its readership levels, and that makes it a potent marketing tool for Avalanche Press. People seem to like it, but there also have been the occasional death threats and assorted unhinged reactions. I guess that goes with the territory.
I used to look at Daily Content as a burden, but have finally come to see it as the marvelous opportunity it is: the chance to produce something cool five times a week. It's a major part of our identity at Avalanche Press and I want to continue to work at better integrating it with everything we do.
Lately we’ve gone more heavily on marketing materials than I’d like; I prefer to have at least one new history piece and one new play-aid (fancy carrier cards, extra scenarios etc.) run every week. I hope to get back to that soon.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
The Battle of Jicin, 1866
Written to support Battles of 1866: Frontier Battles, this piece included a wealth of primary research and I really liked the war the narrative flowed. I’ve always meant to add similar pieces for the other two battles in the game (NachodSkaltiz and Trautenau) but the first one took an enormous effort and I just have not had the opportunity to repeat it.
Great War of the Worlds at Sea
The Royal Navy versus the Martians, complete with pedantic literary analysis of H.G. Wells. What could be better?
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau
Kristin Ann High’s massive six-part exposition on the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau: technical specifications, construction, service record. It’s all here in meticulous detail.
Battle of Saipan
Dave Lippman wrote this piece for a military history magazine, which ran a greatly-condensed version. We presented it at full length; it’s masterfully-written and deeply researched.
Armored Cruisers at Jutland
This is the sort of piece I’d like to run more often – taking one incidence that forms one tiny part of a game’s history and exploring it in detail.
Crystal Meth: Hitler’s Secret Weapon
I like the odd and unusual, and the fact that the Nazis turned their soldiers into meth-heads was one I could not let go by.
Any excuse to talk about The Good, The Bad, The Weird makes for good Daily Content.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.