Saturday, December 31, 2016



With 2016 behind us what was accomplished?  For the Hexes and Soldiers podcast, 4 new episodes (44-47) were completed.  With the final target episode of 50, that ensures at least 3 more shows for the coming new year.  The number of shows declined in 2016 as the game design side of life soaked up most of any available free time.  As a result, Ostfront marked H&S GAMES 4th release.  Total game sales for all 4 releases rose significantly with customers from all over the world placing orders.  Other highlights include the completion of a Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (BGE) module for Ostfront (essentially a vassal type rendering) as well as an extremely interesting Joseph Balkoski interview at the WWII history museum here in NOLA.  

So what does 2017 have in store?  March 17 (St. Patrick's day) will mark the release of Advanced Platoon Leader (APL).  The original Platoon Leader was overhauled to include terrain cards which allow the configuration of numerous map variations as well as an improved combat engine, added detail and some overall fine tuning.  A limited amount of boxed editions will be available (a first ever offering from H&S GAMES thanks to Brian Winkeler) as well as ziploc versions and of course print n play.  I am also happy to announce that Robert Lenz hailing all the way from Germany is handling the artwork for the game.  Mr. Lenz assisted with Ostfront and is ensuring that the same quality control and high standards are carried over to APL.  

Post APL release should see a brief hibernation period followed by a number of possibilities including: Napoleonics rules (long in the making now), a fast play Arnhem game or even a Weird War sc- fi/alternate history themed game a la Dust tactics/warfare meets Cthulhu.  

So that's it for 2016, with all its highs and lows lets hope 2017 is a step up and may you and yours have a superb new year!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Advanced Platoon Leader (APL) is in the works!


Platoon Leader is growing up.  With a tentative release date of 1st quarter 2017, Advanced Platoon Leader (APL) will offer more detail, more options and improved graphics.  One of the main differences will include replacing the single map with terrain cards which can be configured into any number of map variations.  New, improved graphics ensure a more detailed and eye catching style.  The "buckets of dice" combat system will remain in place with additional tweaks and improvements while a number of random events turn each game into a story.   Each platoon will roll for command actions the result of which forms a single pool that each squad within a platoon must share and while often times there may not be enough commands to go around, you must decide who will act and who will not.  Finally, an innovative, fully fleshed out German AI promises to make this a true solo adventure so get ready because history awaits!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

ASL single map board holder

Ye ol Hobby Lobby has a number of frames half off right now.  This one was designed to hold 3x5's or a single ASL  map board.  The frame itself is concave and perfect as a counter tray.  There is room to spare on either end which will allow you to insert artwork etc.   Works out great.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Greatest Day is On Its Way

So another bullet bitten and i wonder how long my teeth will hold up to this kind of abuse.  The mind is a clever thing and will devise any number of methods to justify something.  In this case it's, "get it now before it goes out of print, otherwise you will have to sell a kidney to cover the cost."  Now as i've grown somewhat partial to my kidneys what could i do but give in?  But i suppose another more pertinent reason for picking thus puppy up is that i already own the other 2 games in the series and so have first hand proof that these games and the system that drives them (Grand Tactial Series) is Aces.  So hats off again to MMP and Mr. Starkweather for a job well done, your ability to taunt addiction is second to none.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Drawing inspiration from the game of war

I don't always design, develop and playtest wargames but when i do...The art, specifically the cover art is always one of my favorite things to tackle.  You know what they say about first impressions, well this statement is never more true then when you hold a game in your hands and stare at the art on the front of the box.  If it doesn't grab ya, your probably not gonna grab it.  

My love for the art of the game goes way back to when i was a young lad and barely able to grasp the history being represented much less the vehicle which was representing it.  There have been some fantastic renderings over the years and those titles as well as their respective ads have long inspired me to conceive my own.

With a bulging resume of promos and title cues for the Hexes and Soldiers Podcast as well as proper ads for H&S GAMES,  of late, i've taken to redesigning preexisting game titles.  It may seem sacrilegious to alter the holy perfection of the familiar but once you look past this thin veil of taboo the fun can really begin.

I should perhaps add that i am merely a student of this entire endeavor, barely able to navigate Photoshop and succumbing to a horrible but familiar graphics program better known as Ifranview.  The hands on the clock draw repetitious circles while i decide on fonts, font sizes, colors, text positioning, overall balance blah blah blah.  I suppose my point is that a number of the resulting images, some of which may appear simple enough in concept proved (for this author) less than simple in bringing to fruition.

Walk with me for a minute as we explore some game box art.

The first image is a reworking of my own title.  For some reason i seem to have a nostalgia for the old Blue Note jazz album covers.  The styles are simple but eye catching with color being an important theme. When not specifically rendered as such, any associated hue of war will only bring to mind olive drabs, browns, grays, black and the occasional blood implied red.  To infuse the subject with a more varied and exploratory palate seems  heretical but works.  Blue would turn out to be the theme of an alternate game cover for Ostfront (my most recent release.)  In fact, the entire project was intended to become a limited edition record album style packaging for the game.  Alas, this failed to materialize although i did manage to produce 1 fully functioning Ostfront album cover/sleeve.

Version 1

Version 2

Regarding the other, to be honest, it's not that i find myself disappointed with a particular game's skin which in turn drives me to "better" it.  Rather, i often find myself sucked into a completely separate but intriguing style that immediately demands its lending to a particular game aesthetic.  The following is perhaps my own personal favorite.  Always the fan of minimalism, the redesigned Squad Leader graphic screams in a clean, minimalist voice while whispering the muted colors of blue and purple.  

Stretching and shrinking the font was probably the most taxing aspect of the entire design.  

For the ASL Rulebook, i chose to draw from two particular jazz albums and in the process ended up combining them both into the final product.

Film is of course an endless source of inspiration and a medium that will most likely never be exhausted but one must be careful as its use will usually only ever result in something that is generic and derivative.

Note the upper right hand corner of the poster below:

For the next transformation, The Thin Red Line becomes the canvas for Rising Sun.

Cheap inglorious Baterds rip offs..

My most recent design is pulled directly from the latest Stalingrad cinematic incarnation.  

For the resulting image I combined the two stills from above and used a particular cut out setting in Photohop's filters setting.  After settling on a particular text style and position, i add an iron cross and get this:
The blending of the top and bottom halves as well as the color adjustment of the above half was a bit tricky but in the end i think it worked out.

Even war itself can be tapped and used as a mirror.  Numerous propaganda images sit as silent witnesses to the era that created them and though the political overtones are more often than not far too heavy, the theme nonetheless bares at least a minimal amount of examination.

The doodling will continue and if anything need be pulled from the growing collection as a whole it is this: that I afford myself the luxury of looking at a kind of geographical map in which i can readily see where i've been and from that infer just where it is i may be headed.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ostfront now available...

The newest offering from H&S GAMES.  It's 1941 and you must lead your platoon across the eastern front in this exciting solitaire simulation of infantry combat.

Print n Play