GMT West Weekend at the Warehouse Spring 2023

GMT West Weekend at the Warehouse Spring 2023

GMT West Spring 2023


Having made the trip to Hanford once before, last fall, I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience. I had no idea that the stars would line up and let me attend again, and so soon.

somewhere in Oregon

The drive down was long again (24 hours total drive time, plus sleeping and eating), but spectacular. Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California. Easy on the eyes for sure.

I arrived in Hanford the afternoon of Wed, Apr. 19. I was unaware of the pre-convention get-together so I got settled in to the hotel and caught up on a little sleep. Got my games ready for Thursday. I had arranged a few things ahead of time, so I knew a bit about how my day would go.

First up Thursday was my scheduled game of La Primogenita with Karl Kreder. I'd met Karl briefly before, but this was my first sitdown with him. I'd not played the game yet, he'd played it once. He graciously allowed me choice of sides (or maybe we rolled for it). In any case, I was the defending Italians and he was the attacking Germans even though that was the side he'd played in his only previous play of the game.

Karl's Brit's hit the first Italian walls

This game is tough on the British for new players, so I ended up winning. Designer Kim Kanger has since given Karl and I some tips on how to play the Brits and bash through the first tough spots. As usual with Kim Kanger games, this has some unusual new mechanics, primarily the orders system. I really liked it, despite the limited appeal of the setting (East Africa 1941).

ignore the meeples, they define the board area used

 Next up was some playtesting of Steve Carey's next Blind Swords game. This one is set on the first day of Shiloh and features (I think for the first time in Blind Swords?) two maps. We played one of the smaller single map scenarios and had some great conversations about what's going on in the design. We were led by Revolution Games' Roger Miller. I also watched a play of the opening scenario, so I got to see a fair chunk of the game in action. I'd see more over the weekend as they tackled the third scenario.

                               Look at the size of that map (photo: BoardGameBloke)

Revolution had also brought their next two games in their pipeline with them. Grand Havoc is on the batle of Perryville and is the next Blind Swords release. Beautiful new map in a new colur palette on this one as the battlefield was parched. Way more tans and browns and less greens than we're used to seeing in Blind Swords. I look forward to playing this. I did a guerrilla unboxing that you can see here:

Grand Havoc Unboxing

richard.jpgRichard from Revolution with their next BIG game

And they also brought Eagles of the Sky, a real new direction for them. It's their first publication using and outside designer/developer team. And it's huge. There will be no ziplock copies of this one. It comes in a 3" box, it has beautiful huge counters, a mounted map, and a large deck of cards. It was on display all weekend and generated a lot of interest as folks were knocked out by the quality of components. I'm sure to have more on this game in the months to come.

Jim M contemplates his hand

 Friday morning was my scheduled game of Verdun: Storm of Steel with Jim M. I had the French and Jim had the Germans. Having read some comments online by Volko Runke, we also gave the Germans +1 Air Superiority to start. If you haven't seen the game before, it's sort of a block game, but not really as the blocks have no values, hidden or otherwise. I suppose it's more like a cubes game in that respect. But with a fantastic deck of cards for each player that run run the game. (And the artwork on the cards is equally fantastic. I know there's been some grumbling about the box cover art for this game, but if you see it in context with the card art, it all makes sense.) Jim and I had a great time playing. His Germans weren't able to break through in the end. Lots of discussion about what would be needed to win with the Germans. The good thing is that there are plenty of approaches to try.

                               Nick Marevich (L) and myself with avid onlookers (photo: BoardGameBloke)

Later that afternoon I got to play Combat Commander with Nick Markevich. I'm fairly new to this classic game, with maybe a half dozen plays so far, all from the base set. Nick was happy to agree to a scenario from the Med box, so I got to try the ANZACs vs his Germans in scenario 13. What a terrific game. Twice I thought I was completely out of it, twice I thought he was completely out of it. Such swings. In the end he won, and was very gracious in teaching me a couple rules my partner and I have been playing incorrectly.


To finish up the day, I interviewed Roger Miller of Revolution Games. I'll release that soon in a future episode. It was a really unusual conversation for me in that Roger is not only a designer, but now also principally a publisher. So a lot of our conversation is about how exactly the sausage gets made in the wargaming industry.

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Saturday morning was the traditional state of the company speech by Gene Billingsley, along with updates from all the designers who happened to be there. Gene's two main points were that the company was in good shape, and that his magnum opus, Mr. President, was finally finished.

gene mr presidentGene and Rachel demoing Mr. President

He also spoke about how he and Tony and Mark were all getting older, and were working on who would replae them when they retire. Turns out, Mark Simonitch is retiring in June. Not from designing, just from heading up GMT's art department. They have a replacement in place who's been learning the ropes, so here's to a seamless transition. Though I'm sure Mark will be missed, he's been a steady hand there forever.

                               Charles points out the flaws in my attack (photo: BoardGameBloke)


 After the designer roundtable, I played No Retreat: France with Charles Overbeck. I had the French. The twist in this game is that both sides choose a plan secretly which changes their Victory Conditions. Our game was particularly spicy as the plan I got let me go through a neutral Holland in the north, but also allowed me to do a southern dash through Switzerland. That was a big surprise to Charles and made for and interesting take on the situation as my panzers managed to bypass the weak Swiss units and get into southern France.

NR3 IMG 0026 Medi2um

We weren't able to finish, but we both really enjoyed the uncertainty of those plan cards.

pac chase demo

I followed that by taking in a demo of Pacific Chase by Jerry White. Seeing this prototype out was a total surprise to me. Jerry hadn't given us any clue he was even working on it, and many players of Altantic Chase didn't see how the system could be moved to the Pacific. Obviously, Jerry has found a way. After his demo, I interviewed him, since released in Pushing Cardboard podcast episode 19. Check it out if you haven't already. He's a very thoughtful guy about what he's doing, both as a designer and as a player.

willandfriendsWill Bauer (L) and friend play Conquest and Consequence

I had hoped to get in a play of This War Without an Enemy to finish things up SUnday morning, but it was just not to be. But being a convention, it was easy to pivot. I played the second scenario from Hollandpiele's Table Battles with my pal Will Bauer. We had a rule wrong that got us in a loop for a bit, but had a real blast all the same. Great game to have in the bag. And as Will had bought the only copy of Revolution's new Perryville game, I got him to let me do a quick guerrilla unbagging video (thanks to Tim H for helping me out and being a terrific hand model).

DIF IMG 0027 SmallThe Down in Flames gang (photo: BoardGameBloke)

With time for one more game before leaving, I hit up Chris Janiec to play Wild Blue Yonder. As he's the current designer/developer of that series, he roped in a few other players and we ended up with a 5 player game. As the rest of the group were veteran players for the most part, sometimes it was tricky to tell the trash talk from actual game talk. In other words, great fun. Mark A and I lost, but neither of us was shot down, and it was 6 of them vs 4 of us. We lost on points, but staying in the air was a moral victory.

A few mopre photos:

david siskinDavid Siskin plays 1944 with Joel

David Siskin organizes a list on BGG to help players plan matches ahead of time.

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This father/son team (sorry, I lost their names) don't get to play as much since the son left home, so they meet up at conventions. They had a couple goes at THE US CIVIL WAR over the weekend.

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And finally, as I saw last time, there were a couple guys playing Panzer Leader. Warms my heart. If I ever get back down, I have to ask to play next time.

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And that was the end of another terrific Weekend at the Warehouse. All that was left was 24 hours of driving north to get back home.

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