Responses Are In
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
President, 119694_avalanche Press
It had been over five years since the last
time we did a poll of potential game topics
for our standard line, so last week we opened
a new set of
fun for your voting pleasure.
Thirty-three topics were placed on the list,
with voting choices ranging from "would
rather eat a bug" to "must have."
The 2003 poll also featured 33 choices,
and before weighing the 2008 results it might
be enlightening to see how those choices
have fared. Several went over very badly
and have not been heard from since; the very
last-place contender was tied to a game license
we no longer hold. A few others were rejected
nearly as forcefully.
Top vote-getter in 2003 was Panzer
Grenadier: Road to Berlin, which
we published in 2006 along with the second-place
World War at Sea: Bismarck.
Other games from the initial 33
to have been published since are Napoleonic
Battles: Austerlitz, Alamein,
of War, Panzer
Grenadier: Beyond Normandy, Second
World War at Sea: Leyte Gulf and
Malaya. One more, Infantry
Attacks: Empires End, is in
pre-order status now. A few others are in
the design stage and will eventually see
cardboard existence. But after five years,
nine of 33 are on game tables or on their
way there. At least one, Leyte Gulf,
certainly would not exist without the poll,
as this exercise confirmed something we didn't
really believe, that gamers would pay $199.99
for a gigantic naval wargame.
So who will move on from the 2008 poll?
Trafalgar at Last
The raw numbers don't really tell the story.
Study of voting patterns proves one thing:
Our series fans love their series. And some
of them hate the others, or perhaps they
feel that every naval game published keeps
a Panzer Grenadier title off the shelf. At
any rate, there are many individual voters
who placed a 5 next to Road to Stalingrad and a 1 next to Plan
Orange, and just as
many who voted the other way 'round.
The top vote getter among fans is also the
staff favorite, Age of Sail: The Trafalgar
Campaign. We've wanted to get into this era
for a very long time, and so the new series
should launch in 2009 as one of the first
new projects undertaken after the current
set of games in pre-order are finished. There
won't be a formal announcement until it's
very close to publication.
Right on its heels is Panzer Grenadier:
Road to Stalingrad, with Panzer Grenadier:
Across the Rhine very close to it. I am reasonably
sure we could sell Panzer Grenadier: The
Potato War if we made it a good game, and
the loyalty of the series fans must be rewarded
with more boxed games in 2009. Because we
want to do supplements set in the Far East,
the Philippines game gets added impetus for
publication since it will contain proper
terrain, even though it came in behind the
other two in the poll.
Second World War at Sea has its own dedicated
fans, and its games finished almost in a
statistical dead heat with Panzer Grenadier.
Aleutian Seas comes in first, with Plan
Orange and Z-Plan in a near-tie right behind it.
They'll all appear eventually, along with
at least one more SWWAS title.
An offshoot proposal, Second World War
in the Air: Targeting the Reich, came in third
among all 33 pieces of vaporware and that
makes it a pretty sure thing that SWWAS will
get a sister series at some point in the
future. This is one we're definitely looking
forward to, and I'm sure many players will
want the oversized aircraft pieces for use
with their Second World War at Sea games.
We'll definitely do our best to keep the
ratings and layout of the pieces the same
across both series.
Many proposals were for our $19.99 line,
something we want to expand in these times
of economic uncertainty. Overall they did
less well than the larger games proposed,
but that was expected since a much higher
ration of these games are sold in stores
than direct to customers. And those direct
customers (that would be you) form the base
of our poll voters.
Dinant Bridgehead, a game from an outside
designer, was the highest-ranked game proposal
of those outside the series/system "comfort
zone" of SWWAS/Panzer Grenadier and
their relatives. That doesn't guarantee that
it will get made, as it has not yet been
fully evaluated and if it fails at that stage,
it meets the Shredder of Doom no matter how
many fans wanted it to not suck. But the
designer's an old pro so it's likely to be
a good one.
And then there are the losers. Like NASCAR
races and Cretan bull-leaping, marketplace
failure holds a certain fascination for a
segment of the audience who'll want to know
where the hating landed.
As in the 2003 poll, there were a few proposals
added with the expectation that they would
fail to thrive. But dead last in 2008, and
this despite no record of any votes cast
in Croatia, was a game that actually exists,
at least in kit form, Day of the Blackbirds.
There's no more love for Tsar Lazar's knights
than in 1389, and so it seems their memory
must perish from this earth.
There's a drop in negativity before three
candidates are clustered closely together.
I expected that the Potato War might not
do too well, but it's a Holy Grail project
so hoping against hope, it went on the list.
Now it will disappear from it forever more.
Much more surprising was the near-identical
score racked up by Red Heroes: The Defense
of Volokolamsk, 1941. It's an Eastern Front
game, it has a popular game system, and it
has heroic acts. And it failed pretty miserably.
The third game in the cluster, Constantine:
The Campaign for Rome 312, is one from
an outside designer. I won't know how good
the game is until I have the developer's
evaluation, but at least now we know that
it has an uphill marketing climb among the
hard core if we decide to give it the green
The next one on the poorly-received list
was another shock to the personal Holy Grail
list, Soldier Empress. Soldier
been a very popular game and is based on
a conflict only slightly better-known than
the War of the Austrian Succession. Because
of the Soldier Kings connection — and
the fact that it's already been designed — it
might survive anyway, but only as a member
of the revised, no-credit-card-down successor
to the Classic Wargames program. It's probably
a little large to make it a Gold Club free
print-and-play game, or that would be an
option as well.
The 33 proposals were in no way a list of
everything we're working on or looking at;
others not listed include a fine game on
the War of the Roses, more Rome at War volumes,
and additions to the upcoming Infantry
Attacks line. And we'll continue to publish an extensive
line of book supplements, with several more
due out this year.
the massive masterpiece that
Order Leyte Gulf today!