GENERAL QUARTERS III ... from the designer


There have been a lot of comments floating around regarding GQ III over the past few months; some of which Bernie and Norm have shared with me.  Now that GQ III is done, except for graphics and some clean up, I felt it was time to clarify some misinformation and, in a few cases, strangely bitter impressions that seem to have grown up recently.


First, I have made it a point to avoid being involved in the e-mail traffic or GQ web sites up to this point.  I  have a very hectic aerospace job [I get about a hundred e-mails a day]  that leaves few hours available for more noble pursuits.  I decided that if I got into the e-mail stream, it would prove consuming and GQ III would never get done. I felt the time was better invested by keeping my head down and working on the game.  I've been very gratified seeing a few examples of issues discussed on the web sites that Bernie and Norm have shared with me.  While it's been entertaining to read several cases where folks claim to have gotten the OK from the designer for new details or "corrections" [I've not had any dialog with anyone], it's really great to see the creativity and hard work of fellow naval enthusiasts.  That, after all, is the whole idea.  GQ should be your game to grow and feature the things you want added or changed.   This all makes our hobby stronger and I hope to join some of the web site discussions once GQ III is wrapped up.


I particularity want to thank Bruce and Mike for some eloquent responses to inquires on how it's going.  They've very much captured the why these things take so long to bring to fruition.   If I could do this for a living, instead of working, GQ might have been done a lot sooner.  But, there's not much money in designing GQ; anyone who thinks so has truly misread the business realities of our hobby.  GQ is a labor of love that I'm happy to be able to share with other naval enthusiasts.  In a way, I guess it's my legacy.  I hope you'll like it when it comes out.


Now, here's the status.  The rules, ship charts and tables are finished, except for some changes on the final two pages of optional rules and graphics/pictures.   In the latter half of 2004, I tried out some new ideas to simplify some processes for WW I games.  These tend to involve more ships, etc., so streamlining is important to keep a scenario playable. The long suffering local playtest group quickly concluded the new approach was better than what we had developed, a definite step forward.  I agree.  So, I decided to evolve the new approach for WW II and convert GQ III to the new approach.  This meant revising every chart and a surprisingly extensive revision to the rules already written.  Funny how little changes have a way of affecting far more things than you could ever imagined.  I also took the time to clean up, simplify and make the game tables easier to read.  A lot more work than anticipated, but now it's done.  It's been well worth it.


GQ III is a complete update for WW II.  [Cost constraints keep it limited to WW II.   I'm planning a later WW I supplement for that fascinating period.]  GQ features a new "no odds" gunnery system with locational hits and a new, more realistic torpedo system.  New sections provide for radar and visual acquisition to effectively simulate the chance and confusion of night battles.  Shore batteries, minefields, MTBs and weather all get more coverage.  Since WW II was a war in three dimensions, there are detailed sections to simulate tactical air operations [with altitude level, dogfights, etc.]  and submarine/ASW operations.  There's also a much more extensive set of campaign rules for those like me who want to simulate longer missions and deal with the challenges of theater operations. Amphibious assaults, availability, refueling, repair, shore bombardment, spotting, logistics and more are all covered.  As part of the campaign rules, simplified air and submarine combat resolution procedures were developed which can be used equally well in tactical situations for those who want to quickly resolve these  attacks without spending much playing time on them.


GQ III's been tested by playtest groups in Canada, California and Colorado and others have helped from Australia and the UK.  So, it's been bounced against a variety of points of view in the wargaming community. Naturally, this demonstrated that you can never please everyone, but we reached consensus on most of the major issues.  Along the way, a number of suggestions were incorporated that are real improvements.   I appreciate that some of you also offered to assist with playtesting.  I limited testing to a few groups because of the administrative, configuration control and logistics effort involved.  It's a lot more than you would think.  I trust you will understand.


Throughout, the key has been to add more depth to the simulation while retaining the playability that's always been the GQ hallmark.  GQ III is a complete update using the same scale and time dynamics as GQ I and II.  You can use 1:6000, 1:4800, 1:3000 or 1:2400 miniatures.  Using inches for centimeters makes it  work equally well for 1:1200 - provided you have a large playing area.  So, the choice of scale is yours.  It does not use

hexes.  Some early versions employed hexes, which have a number of advantages.  However, many miniatures gamers find hexes abhorrent.  So, the hexes had to go.


When will it be available?  Well, that depends on when we get a publisher lined up.  Several of you have made suggestions to use "print on demand" services.  That's fine if your goal is to sell a hundred copies.  The key is not printing; however, it's marketing and distribution.  I experienced that first hand a few years ago when my armor rules were published.  No marketing meant little visibility and limited response.  The armor rules may or may not have been the best thing since sliced bread, but a number of inferior competitors have faired much better because they were promoted and marketed.  For that, you need a company that knows what it's doing and is motivated to promote your rules. That's a simple fact.


So, the simple answer to when is when a publishing arrangement is worked out.  After all this work, I don't intend to settle for a second rate presentation.  Got leads?  Let Bernie or Norm know and we'll follow them up.


Now lest you think this is about profit, I want to point out that even a success doesn't amount to much money.  Far less than pennies per hour, but that's OK because this is a labor of love and an abiding passion for the hobby.   What this is about is providing GQ III in the kind of professional presentation it deserves and making it available and known to the majority of our hobby.


It's always risky to mess with success such as the original GQ turned out to be.  But, I took the challenge because I thought it could be improved and make our hobby better.  Hopefully, you'll agree when it's available.


L. L. Gill

sloop Warbonnet