Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Introducing Fred Willard! 


Some of you are probably wondering where December's games are. Heck, some of you are probably wondering where the games you ordered are. While we've tried to keep you guys up to date on CSW, BGG, Facebook, and Twitter-- you're all following us on these various sites, right?-- we thought we had better take this opportunity to clear the air a bit. Basically, our printer had a catastrophic equipment failure that had him out of commission for the better part of a month. That put everything-- December's releases, the resupplies for our previous titles, the publication of the next issue of Yaah! magazine by our sister company Flying Pig Games-- way back. Things are up and running again now, and we've been busy little bees indeed, shipping orders as soon as we have copies of the games. The "December" releases will be available for you to order as soon as we have copies on hand. Speaking of which... 


In The Trenches: Dough Boys   


In the Trenches: Doughboys by John Gorkowski

The second Base Set in Tiny Battle's iteration of John Gorkowski's In The Trenches has three new scenarios and maps. Two of these are designed by Mr. Gorkowski, and cover historical engagements from The Great War. A third hypothetical scenario has been lovingly crafted by Trenches super-fan Mark H. Walker. As with the first Base Set, Devil Dogs, this has all the status markers and rules that you'll need to play any of the upcoming expansions. We're hard at work on those, but to give you a little tease... Our first expansion will cover some of the action at Verdun, while our second focuses on the Japanese. 


Savage's Station


Savage's Station by Tom Russell

Savage's Station is the third game in Tom Russell's Blood Before Richmond series. It has the same brigade-level crunchiness that you enjoyed in Gaines's Mill and Glendale & White Oak Swamp, but it's a smaller (and stranger) battle. Confederate command-control is loopier than usual -- which is understandable, since morphine's involved! The Confederate Player can tip the odds in his favor by calling in extra reinforcements, including the famous Land Merrimack, but at a cost of VP which he might not have the time to make up, as neither player knows when exactly the battle is going to end in a sudden thunderstorm. It's a very challenging battle for both sides, gorgeously rendered by Ilya Kudriashov. 


Downloads Now Exclusive Through Wargame Vault 


More than one customer has had an issue with disappearing download links. It seems like every day, I'll get at least one email asking me where the link is. I don't mind that so much personally, but I don't like the idea of having our customers jump through hoops to get the games they paid for. In pursuit of a better, brighter, more hoopless future, Mark and I have moved the digital component of Tiny Battle exclusively over to Wargame Vault. No need to worry about missing the link, no need to dig around for your transaction number: Wargame Vault handles everything on their site. Does this cut into our profit margin on the downloads? Yep, it sure does. You know what? You guys are worth it. :-) 


It's the Holiday Season 

From all of us at Tiny Battle Publishing, we hope you had a very merry Christmas and we wish you a very... 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Hey everybody, we just wanted to update you on the situation with the shipping delays experienced by some of our customers. Our printer had a catastrophic equipment failure, which put his machine out of commission for an extended period of time. And, yes, the timing was impeccable. He has finally fixed the evil machine and is now back up and running. Or, he may have been locked in a cage with a lion and unable to get out.

At any rate, we should have the first of the shipments from him in the next day or two, then we can begin filling back orders. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


On this day in history, December 16, a lot of important stuff happened.

Those party boys, Sons of Liberty, threw all that tea in Boston harbor.

This iconic 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier was entitled "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor"; the phrase Boston Tea Party had not yet been coined. Contrary to Mr. Currier's depiction, few, if any, of the tea dumpers were actually dressed as Indians. No one was fooled.

Jane Austen was born.

Jane Austen was an English novelist who wrote works of romantic fiction set among the landed gentry of the time. 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817
Saturday Night Fever opened.

Saturday Night Fever made John Travolta famous.

And those crazy Germans launched a last ditch counteroffensive, known to some as the Battle of the Bulge. Although at the time, the Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. It was the press who coined "Battle of the Bulge" to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps.

American soldiers of the 117th Infantry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard, part of the 30th Infantry Division, move past a destroyed American M5 "Stuart" tank on their march to recapture the town of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945. (Wikipedia)

Today being the first day of that famous counteroffensive, we at Tiny Battle wanted to remind you that we offer WINTER THUNDER an operational-level game simulating this famous battle, designed by famous designer Brian Train. It utilizes Brian's "nearly diceless" double-blind mission matrix system, a unique system that sets the game apart from the rest of the pack. 

Winter Thunder by Brian Train

A Mary Note about the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions, at 80,000 Americans. The assault began in early morning against the weakest section of the Allied line, an 80-mile poorly protected stretch of forest, because the Germans would never think to go through those woods. Ever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Tiny Battle Publishing's November releases are now instock and ready for your order!

John Gorkowski's In the Trenches: Devil Dogs 

Queuing to go over the top
John Gorkowski's In the Trenches World War I tactical gaming system was first published in 2009 by Grenier Games. Tiny Battle Publishing is proud to reintroduce this modern classic to gamers in a series of affordable folio editions, beginning with two brand-new Base Sets. Base Set I is Devil Dogs, a three-scenario look at the famous and brutal Battle of Belleau Wood that earned the United States Marines the respect of allies and enemies alike. Next month will see the release of a second Base Set, Doughboys. Either of these sets contain all the status and administrative markers you'll need to play any of the expansions that follow. Counter art is by Christian Sperling (Neuschwabenland, Sticks and Stones) with maps by Jose Faura (Our Royal Bones). The expansions coming in 2016 will include materials from the 2009 releases, appearing through the courtesy of Mr. Grenier.   

Blood Before Richmond # 2: Glendale & White Oak Swamp     

Alfred Waud's sketch of Kearny's sector of the confused battlefield

The second game in Tom Russell's Blood Before Richmond series recreates the battle of Glendale, plus the artillery-only sideshow that was White Oak Swamp. It's Lee's last chance to cut off the Union retreat before the boys in blue entrench at Malvern Hill. Can they take control of the vital Willis Church Road? This battle has some very challenging terrain for the Confederates, rendered beautifully by Ilya Kudriashov. The Rebels are also starting to look a little weary, and are opposed by fresh, high-quality Union troops. But it's a fairly even contest, especially if the Union Player adopts the handicap of the special "Galena Rule".     

Two Shields & Swords Games For the Price of One!   

Portion of the Bayeux Tapestry depicting William's Norman cavalry galloping off to face Harold's English soldiers

The Shields & Swords series of medieval battle games debuted in the first issue of Yaah! Magazine with Stamford Bridge and A Hill Near Hastings. Tiny Battle is proud to reprint these games in one nifty package for those gamers who missed them the first time around. The games have been revised and rebalanced so as to utilize the updated ruleset that powers Our Royal Bones and We Happy Few.  It also reprints the essay that accompanied the games, "A Tale of Two Harrys". This is intended to be the last S&S release for Tiny Battle, and so it's only fitting that we return to where it all began. Look for other reprints of popular Yaah! titles in the future.   

Speaking of Yaah!...     

Yaah! Magazine issue #4

Our sister company Flying Pig Games is shipping the fourth issue of Yaah! Magazine this month. In it, you'll find a fair amount of Tiny goodies-- scenarios for Sticks and Stones, Invaders From DimensionX!, and Glendale & White Oak Swamp; fiction based on Invaders; and a standalone three-scenario sequel to Sticks and Stones called Poland Strikes! Gamers have been enthusiastic about Mark's WW4 universe and his new Platoon Commander system. Find out why by picking up Sticks and Stones and Poland Strikes! You might also want to pick up the third issue of Yaah!, which is still on sale, as it contains a four scenario mini-campaign for Neuschwabenland, "Switcheroo".   

And Speaking of Mark...   

'65 Squad-Level Combat in Vietnam by Mark H. Walker

The next game from Flying Pig, Mark  H. Walker's '65: Squad-Level Combat in Vietnam has just hit Kickstarter. It's an exciting, card-driven hex-and-counter game with scenarios designed in the inimitable all-action Mark Walker style. As of this writing, it's already well on the way to be funded. Join the Kickstarter fun here. 

--Happy gaming!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Sergeant Stubby was a stray, homeless mutt who served with the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division, and has been called the most decorated war dog of WWI. He participated in four offensives and 17 battles. At Chemin des Dames, in Feb. 1918, he and his unit were under constant fire, day and night for over a month. The sergeant was wounded multiple times by grenades and injured by mustard gas. After recovering from the gas attack, he returned to his unit with a specially designed gas mask. Whether at the front or in the rear convalescing from his wounds, he was always able to improve morale. His exploits were front page news of every major newspaper in the U.S.    

From a 1920 article about Stubby

Stubby provided early warning of poison gas attacks, located and comforted wounded soldiers in no man's land, and his supersonic canine hearing allowed him to detect the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans. He could sense German ground assaults and would make a beeline for the nearest sentry and bite and prod the man to sound the alarm. He was there for the liberation of Chateau Thierry, and the ladies of the town were so enamored, they made him a chamois coat he used to display his medals. His tenaciousness and fearlessness in capturing a German spy by himself in the Argonne got him nominated for the rank of sergeant.    

Sergeant Stubby leads a legion parade

After the war, Stubby wasn't done yet; he marched in and often led parades, he visited the White House, met three presidents, received a gold medal from General Pershing, and with his human, Robert Conroy, attended Georgetown University Law Center where he became the Georgetown Hoyas' team mascot and quite probably invented the halftime show-- he would run out on the field and nudge the ball around to the great amusement of the fans.     

Stubby died quietly in his sleep in 1926. The New York Times gave the little fellow an entire half page obituary, much larger than many of the notable persons of the era received upon their deceasement.

Stubby's YMCA membership card

For further reading on this four-legged hero: Sergeant Stubby: How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend helped Win World I and Stole the Heart of a Nation by Anne Bausum and David E. Sharpe; and Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of WWI's Bravest Dog by Anne Bausum

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


In 1871, the victorious Prussian army parades in Paris.

I’ve been dabbling in game design of various types for a few years now, ever since a house move  unearthed a box load of half-realised, half-completed (and in some cases half-baked) ideas for a variety of table top games, both war games and RPGs. One thing had changed since I had filled all those notebooks with scribbles: the ability to self-publish games as downloadable PDFs. Yay, I didn’t need a publisher! I immediately set about producing my first game, Vectis, a hex-and-counter war game of a hypothetical French invasion of the Isle of Wight during the Napoleonic Wars. There was no real rationale behind this scenario, other than it sounded quite fun. 

The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer, an 1871 novella by George Tomkyns Chesney, began the genre of invasion literature and was an important precursor of science fiction.

Producing this first game sparked a memory of a story I had read some years before. The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer was a novella published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1871. Despite its age it remains a remarkably good read, which is probably why it was included in the Michael Moorcock-edited anthology Before Armageddon, wherein I discovered it. 

An unconfirmed photo of George Tomkyns Chesney

The story, written by a serving officer in the Royal Engineers called George Tomkyns Chesney, told of a successful German invasion of England through the recollections, many years later, of a volunteer who fought at the key battle near the Surrey market town of Dorking. Actually, the nationality of the invaders is not once stated, but they do speak German, which sort of narrows it down. Anyway, if you haven’t read the story, do so immediately: it’s out of copyright so an internet search should take you to a free Project Gutenberg version of it.  

I won’t go on about the importance of the story as a piece of literature, though I could at some length as the impact it had was quite fascinating. Suffice it to say that Chesney’s very clear style of writing coupled with his high degree of military knowledge give a fascinating glimpse of how this imaginary conflict might have played out. Wow, I thought, this is just crying out to be made into a game! So, that’s what I did.  

I started out with the same rules engine I had used for Vectis, which I had based on some corps-level Napoleonic rules published by Wessencraft a LONG time ago. Of course the rules needed adapting to accommodate advances in warfare, which mostly boiled down to both rifle fire and artillery fire being more deadly.  

But even before I started trying out the modified rules, I needed two credible armies. This required a lot of historical research, some repeated readings of Chesney’s story and a bit of conjecture. I based the German Korps on a Prussian Army List from the 1870-71 war. For the defenders, I expanded upon the few regular British regiments specified by Chesney, using Army Lists of the period (assisted by googling regimental histories) to come up with a credible mix of units garrisoned in vaguely the right part of England during that period. I could find no Army Lists for the militia or the volunteers, so I’m afraid I just made up the battalion numbers for these two forces. 

Map for Dorking 1875

Next I needed a map. Luckily, the 1871 Ordnance Survey maps for England were available as an online resource, unluckily not as downloadable files, so I printed the relevant ones out sheet by sheet, stuck them all together and then set about simplifying them to a hex equivalent. I wanted the basic unit of the battle to be the battalion, and set the scale accordingly. A key element of the battle would be the ability of the invaders to penetrate the defensive positions, so the battlefield needed sufficient depth (North to South) to give some meaningful objectives for the German side advance to. The breadth of the battlefield needed to be enough to give some options for manoeuvre. Chesney’s description of the battle concentrates on the sector between Box Hill and the eastern end of Ranmore Common: I widened the front line to Brockham in the east and a little beyond Westcott in the west, resulting in a pretty much square battlefield. 

Past experience gave me an idea of the right number of units to contest an area of this size. Referring back to the research, these numbers equated to a bit less than a German division and a bit more than two British divisions. To make the German division full strength I would need to increase the British numbers too, and that would make the battle a tad too cramped for my liking. But hey, this was a fictional battle, I could invent my own rationale! So the Germans, I argued, had left a regiment behind to guard their supply lines, while the British had thrown an extra brigade from another division into the mix when it became obvious the hammer blow would land at Dorking. 

Next the game mechanics. I started with my Vectis rules engine. But warfare had moved on and what worked nicely for Napoleonics was just too simplistic for the 1870s. The main infantry weapon was now the rifle, and artillery had advanced considerably. In Vectis, units hit by artillery fire would only be disordered: in Dorking, they might well be blasted away altogether. So I added a rifle fire phase, where infantry or cavalry units not engaged in melee could pour fire on an enemy unit within range. I also made artillery fire more deadly: equalling the score needed to hit a unit would disorder it, exceeding it by enough would destroy it (if it was out in the open: one benefit of cover would be that units couldn’t be shelled out of existence, only disordered). But just what sort of score would count as being “enough”? Here I was able to differentiate between the two sides, as there is little doubt the Germans had the better guns. So German artillery, depending on calibre, needs to exceed the “to hit” score by 1 or 2 to destroy a unit in the open, while regular British artillery needs 2 or 3. 

That leaves the British volunteer artillery… and this is a good place to talk about the volunteers. While the militia was a government-funded part-time force, the volunteers were privately-subscribed. You paid your dues, did some training in the evenings and hey presto, you were a volunteer. While Chesney conjectured that the government would issue what weapons it could to the volunteers, members were pretty much expected to equip themselves. The thought of volunteer infantry and cavalry, wandering around with minimal training and obsolete private weaponry, is scary enough: but there was also volunteer artillery. Quite where they kept their guns I’m not sure. Anyway, Chesney mentions that the volunteer artillery at Dorking was “heavy” so, assuming they would have outdated equipment, I decided they would be armed with 32-pounder smooth bore guns that had been in service in the 1860s. 

A 32-pounder smooth bore gun. This particular gun is 45 cwt (hundredweight).

It was mostly straightforward to make the volunteers the weakest units on the field – they have less Movement Points and lower Break values than other units, along with a penalty to rifle fire rolls. For volunteer artillery, though, I needed to introduce a separate firing table to reflect their reduced range and accuracy compared to the regular artillery. 

Another difference between the two armies was the cavalry. Firstly, British cavalry regiments typically had three squadrons while German regiments had five. How to reflect this? Luckily my research revealed that one German squadron would be undergoing R&R at any time, while the British would struggle to get all three of their squadrons ready for battle at short notice. So, if I used one cavalry counter to represent two squadrons, a British regiment would be a single counter while a German one would comprise two counters.  

Encounter during Franco-Prussian War

Another difference that my research threw up was that German cavalry tactics were evolving – certainly more so than the British. While they weren’t averse to the occasional suicidal massed charge, German troopers were increasingly willing to act as mobile infantry, harassing in small numbers before melting away.  

Dispersed Cavalry Table from Dorking 1875

Could this be simulated? Well, I wanted to try. In the end I came up with the option to remove German cavalry counters from the board and place them on a dispersal table with a corresponding dispersal marker. Dispersal markers could then be committed to the battle, effectively reducing the break value of the British unit they were placed on. Of course, this couldn’t be risk-free to the Germans, so the British would have a 1-in-6 chance of breaking a cavalry unit once it was committed to action in its dispersed state. 

The Martini–Henry was a breech-loading single-shot lever-actuated rifle adopted by the British Army. The Mks I-IV were in service from 1871-1888 in the British Army but remained in service throughout the British Empire until the end of WWI. In 2010 and 2011, US Marines recovered at least three from various Taliban weapons caches in Marjah.

My final consideration was rifles. The British has a brand new one, the Martini-Henry Mk.1. Looking at its characteristics, this was very similar in range and accuracy to the German’s Dreyse. But the Dreyse was phased out during 1871 to be replaced by the much better Mauser. This made me think long and hard. Despite the advantages of high ground and cover, the British had a lot of weak units and inferior artillery. Inferior rifles on top of that could really skew the game balance. Also, I was mindful that I didn’t want too many different rules for the different sides in case it affected the game’s playability. So I did the responsible thing and utterly ignored the Mauser, which for a battle set in summer 1871 was historically fine as its arrival in service was delayed some time. 

The Dreyse 'needle-gun' rifle was the first breech-loading rifle to use the bolt action to open and close the chamber, executed by turning and pulling a bolt handle. It had a rate of fire of about 10–12 rounds per minute. It was adopted by the Prussian army in 1841.

Of course, none of this happened in such a cut and dried way: the numbers of units, the mix of units and the finer points of the rules were honed during playtests. Once I was happy that everything felt “about right” (a highly scientific approach, then), more play-testing ensued to come up with some victory conditions. What I wanted were conditions that would reflect the fact that the invaders needed to push the British off the ridge to the north of Dorking and also weaken their numbers enough for a later killer blow. So I added a meandering line to the map that traced out the key features of the ridge: the Germans would win points for each unit that ended the battle to the north of it, modified by a bonus for each British unit broken (and a penalty for each German one). Two key features in the centre would also earn the Germans points if they were occupied at the end of the game.

With that decided, the final and longest phase of play-testing broke out. This was a bit more scientific, as I needed a certain amount of statistical confidence to set the thresholds for the various outcomes of the battle. 

Obviously I’m biased, but I was really pleased with the balance of the game.  If the battle is going to be one-sided, it will be because of naivety from the British player. Standing around in the open when the other side has Krupps artillery is a Bad Thing – and so it should be. But sensible use of cover and some well-timed counter-attacks can give the defenders a real chance of prevailing.  

The game, resplendent with my very, VERY basic artwork, was sold as 1871: The Battle of Dorking for a number of years, and did pretty well really, both in terms of reviews and sales figures (all things being relative of course, not enough to retire on, believe me!). So when Mary emailed me to say Tiny Battle Publishing were interested in buying the rights, I was in two minds. I mean, heck, this was MY game! But then, Tiny Battle Publishing could bring a level of production to it that I never could, and produce a good quality printed version – again something I could never do. So, I agreed to work with Mary and Tom to revamp the rules. During said revamp I discovered an Inconvenient Truth: while the original story was written in 1871, if you check the dates in it (which I now did, belatedly) they actually correspond to 1875. Oops. Well, all I can say is that Chesney based the course of the battle on what he knew at the time of writing. This isn’t a simulation of an actual event in 1875, it’s an attempt to play out a scenario imagined in 1871. So I think it’s justified to keep the assumed equipment (and hence the rules) unchanged, even though the real-world Germans would definitely have been using Mausers by 1875! 

The Tiny Battle cover for Dorking 1875 by Tom Russell.
It has been great to work with Mary and Tom. They never sought to impose changes – they were consultative throughout, and the modifications they suggested were almost always improvements. 

Also, they brought Ilya Kudriashov to the party as the artist: his work is great, especially when compared to my efforts! 

So, Dorking 1875: The German Conquest of Britain is now available in all its Victorian glory from Tiny Battle Publishing. Hope you enjoy it!