Where to begin… It has been a very busy two months. Late in October, Brian Johnson, a special friend, a great gamer, and a committed supporter of HMS, died. Attending his funeral, meeting his coworkers and his brothers and sister, we were determined to help in some way. The family, who live out of state, were only able to spend only a few days to arrange for his estate. Brian had a small 2nd-story apartment with difficult access. This meant no on-site estate sale was possible. And the weather/apartment complex would not allow an outside one. Of the estate sale places in Denver who would move the estate to an auction house, only one returned a bid: $0 after paying for moving/disposal/apartment cleanup costs.
We felt the bid was an insult to Brian’s collection and to his family. He was a passionate collector as many of us are. One look at the thousands of his books and the many hundreds of well-cared-for games and DVDs, convinced us that his collections were of very special value, especially to gamers and those who shared Brian’s passions.
We proposed a better deal that we felt would help the family (and ultimately HMS at well). But this would take a real effort on our part while we waited for the printers to give us a firm slot. We also knew we would be without space to receive the printed components if they were to appear. The printer assured us that the earliest they could start on the remaining Total War components would be late February.
Clearing Brian’s apartment was an enormous amount of work. He had about 1000 wargames, 5000 books, 500 video games, 1500 DVDs/VHS tapes, several hundred family games, furniture, gaming tables, plexiglass, clothes, etc. in enormous stacks reaching to the ceiling everywhere so that even walking about the small apartment was very difficult. Everything had to be cleared immediately and this took eight 16-24 hour days in a row. The end result was that Gar’s garage, basement, and most of his front living/dining room were completely filled.
As part of the deal, we arranged for the sale of a number of the estate items for the family. This required time with various local bookstores and DVD stores, as well as contacts with various Denver gaming groups. We also advertised on Craig’s List and held a local sale in Gar’s apartment complex clubhouse. Finally, we put a number of items out on eBay for the family. Overall, we raised about $3500 for the family, with more to come once the last items sell on eBay. We also did the work to donate all of Brian’s clothes to Goodwill so the family easily could claim another $3500+ in tax write-offs.
After all the work for the family, HMS gained title to the rest of the estate. This means we have nearly 1000 wargames (with many, most unpunched), about 3000 books (including several hundred military history hardbacks and a lot of science fiction/fantasy), all the video games, and many, many other items. We will be selling these items both on eBay and through the HMS website.
The wargames and most of the books will be listed first on the website for direct sale, at a discount to Europa Association members (and if you have a pre-pub for Total War, you are automatically a Europa Association member until issues #88 and #89 of The Europa Magazine go into the mail); only if they do not sell here after about two months will they move to eBay.
We plan to have the wargames list (at least the list of unpunched games) on the website at least a week before we ship Total War. This will allow people who are interested to combine orders from the list with shipment of their Total War and thus save some on shipping costs. The books will probably not be listed until after Total War ships – but they will ship by Media Mail (Book Rate), so it would be a second order anyway. The punched games will be listed only after we have inventoried and sorted the components sometime later this year.
We have also begun selling a number of the estate items on eBay for HMS. This is quickly amassing the money we need to fully fund the shipping of Total War (we already had the money to finish the printing), and bodes well for accumulation of funds for some future HMS projects as well. For those who are interested, our eBay store is at:
Note: The dozen or so wargames listed there are the remaining ones we are selling for the family.
We just finished several days of inventorying, reboxing, and rearranging the remaining items at Gar’s house so that everything fit into the basement – thus leaving the regular storage facility and garage open to receive the final Total War material and to allow room for assembly.
We are now working again with the printer. We do not have a fixed print date yet for the remaining Total War items, but they expect to be able to begin returning our material at the end of February. We will now resume the game component samples – with another one below: The Ground Chart.
The HMS Board of Directors has authorized the posting of all the remaining Total War charts. The first one (the front of the Unit Identification Chart – UIC) is appended below. Additional charts will follow every 3-4 days until we get last of printing back and start to ship the game. There will be some explanatory commentary about the new/changed (from previous Europa games) material on each chart as part of each post.
Below are two .pdf files, one showing the front of the UIC (how all the ratings on the counters and markers are laid out), and a separate file (an extract from the Axis and Soviet OBs) showing the unit colors used on the various counters in the game. The first thing you will probably notice is that the point size on this chart is lower than on previous charts. This was necessary if we were to keep this as a single chart size for Total War. For the equivalent Grand Europa chart this single side will expand to two sides, as there are many more ground unit types, air/naval unit types/codes, and special markers for the entire series than there are for Total War.
Other changes include: 1) a more detailed explanation of support status indicators, size designations, and fragile unit indicators; 2) A new arrangement of the various air/naval unit types into various “categories” as they are used in the rules, 3) a number of new air/naval unit codes
(Ex: P for Paradrop Expertise denoting transports trained to make air drops); and 4) a number of new marker types (disruption markers, limited mobility markers, admin move/strat rail markers, etc.).
As we close in on last bit necessary to finally ship Total War, here’s another piece of the starting OB for your perusal. The .pdf link below shows the Soviet Conditional Reinforcement events that govern how the initial Soviet Unreliable Baltic Units and Soviet Disorganized Fortifications work.
June 22, 1941. Operation Barbarossa began as Axis armies crossed the border and attacked Soviet forces. Total War, the latest (and very late to ship) Europa game to simulate Barbarossa, should be in the mail late next month. We had thought long ago that a June 22 date would be the ideal to begin mailing the game. Several print starts with the new charts and one booklet have shown that we had additional work to do for the printers. While this should not take a lot of additional time, medical issues have delayed the the printing and shipping.
Arthur has never been very keen about admitting any medical issues and only spoke about problems after he felt they had passed. In this case, the problems where not going to pass without treatment. We have now arranged for medical treatment to begin shortly and are assured that he will be fine once the procedures are complete. Initial examinations have also shown that he put off new glasses for far too many years and he will be sporting two new pair of lenses. Arthur has never had medical insurance and refused all but the most serious treatment. That has changed with the help of many of his friends. We both apologize for this delay and will let you know when he is back on-line.
One of the issues that the company has had for some years before we purchased it, was the obsolescence of our computer software. A good deal of experience with mainframe software issues led me to believe that we should not try to change horses (necessary systems) in the middle of a game (or stream). After we believed that the printers were set to go with the game, Arthur convinced me we could begin that replacement process. We now have that software (Adobe Creative Suite ) and a modest, but adquate Mac hardware upgrade largely in place. I was correct about its possible impact if we had still been working on game but the upgrade is now almost complete.
Using the new and sometimes complex software in the future will wait for A Winter War II. At least Arthur will be able to read the screens from farther than 5 inches. While it in no way makes up for the late shipment date, we will start to display samples of the game again. We displayed a new Terrain Effects Chart before. After receiving input from two customers, four of our volunteers and a close review by both Arthur and myself, we ended up with just short of thirty small changes to that chart. You can see the new and final TEC by clicking on the link below.