Dawn of Iron's 2022 (and plans for 2023!)
Many happy returns to you all this upcoming New Year! I can't believe we've completed another lap so soon, especially when I look back at what I wanted to get done this year! We'll cover off those individual tasks soon enough, but to start off I'd like to look at 2022 in a general sense.
When I look back on the year, I'm completely humbled by a singular thread that has weaved itself into the very fabric of the Dawn of Iron, and that's community. From the very start, I've been blown away by how supportive and engaged you all are and it's put a tremendous amount of petrol in the tank to keep me going, especially as the book neared physical publication! Members of the community have demonstrated the game on deck of life-sized replica of the USS Monitor, at game conventions in the US and UK, and more. Being located in remote New Zealand, I'm utterly grateful for the people organizing and playing these games abroad to expand our community even further! But we did have several demo games here in New Zealand as well, which was fantastic as I was able to participate and join in the fun too! So, I want to give a very hearty thank you to all of you who have made an effort to share our game with those in their communities, however big or small those audiences may be. I deeply appreciate the time and effort that you all have donated to help make this game possible!
Here's a gallery of your games, models, and battle reports for 2022:
Little Wars TV
One of the highlights of the year was seeing the game played on the deck of the USS Monitor replica at the Mariner's Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. East Coast Ironclads' own Patrick was there to help see the game through! Here's the episode in case you missed it!
The Other Partizan & Wargames Illustrated
The indefatigable Peter Harris led a crew to demonstrate the game at the Other Partizan show in the UK, running players through a few brown-water demo games. It was super cool to see their terrain and models, which really looked amazing!
Peter also spearheaded an article on the game for Wargames Illustrated, which was featured in the August 2022 edition of the magazine, along side some other fantastic pieces about modelling ironclads and other naval themed articles.
NZ Demo Games
I was able to run several demo games throughout the year, including this 2v2 capture the flag game, which was great fun. You can read more about the game here...
'22... A Year in Review
As for studio operations this year, I've had my fair share of bumps and wins along the way. Let's have a look at the ones that I set out to accomplish a year ago!
Dawn of Iron: First Anthology (Print-on-Demand Book and Cards)
This was, by far, the single largest investment of time all year, with bits of it still not entirely resolved! But it was by far the most rewarding. I started off compiling all of the 2021 battlepacks into a book format and added some new material, such as expanded history section, more scenario options, and more. After a little back-and-forth, the book was finally ready for purchase about halfway through the year, and it was a pleasure to get the final printed product in hand. If you are looking into printing your own rulebook, I would highly recommend WargameVault's OneBookShelf network!
The ship cards, on the other hand... If I were to go back and design another game, I would really consider making one that did not use cards as an essential component to the game. There are several reasons for this. The first one is that the publishers that handle the books are not the same ones that do the cards, so you end up dealing with two venders and proofing cycles. The issue of being located in NZ complicated and delayed the review cycle substantially, and it wasn't until about August that they would allow shipping to NZ so that I could review the proofs. When they arrived, there was some problems with the alignment and centering of the cards, which needed some adjustments to the cards and therefore a second review cycle, which is currently being sent here for review.
Despite these delays, the folks at DriveThru Cards were super responsive to my feedback and helped get things back on track, so I have every reason to believe that we should be nearing the end of that drama! I hope to be able to activate that product for general sale early in the new year, which will bring an end to the Print-on-Demand stream of work. At this point I must thank you all for your patience, as I know you've been very keen to get a hold of the ship cards!
Standalone Solitaire Rules
While the book was at the printers, I made a little downloadable playtest PDF for a simple solitaire system. I've played around with it, and there's some simplifications that I'd like to make, so I'll review the system shortly. However, if you'd like to have a try, please feel free to do so and drop me a line with some feedback!
Dawn of Iron: Land Battles
There are not that many major naval battles between CSA and USA ships remaining to be covered, so the natural area for the game to grow into are battles that involved land forces. There are many examples where one side of ships was forced to engage or run past shore fortifications, like Drewry's Bluff, Island No. 10, New Orleans, and Vicksburg. Other battles, such as Charleston, Fort Donelson, and Fort Fisher demonstrated varying degrees of army/navy cooperation and discord. Then there is the case for the Mississippi River Squadron, which operated in much the same way as the US Brownwater Navy in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, 100 years later.
So this is the place I want to get to, but to do it right, I need a clear runway to really think about how the game integrates land forces and what that means for the system in general. One question I'm forced to confront is whether or not the two are compatible or if they need to be separate systems. I designed the game with this crossover in mind, so I believe it's possible to achieve, at least I'll fight very hard to make it so for the sake of the Mississippi River Squadron! In the end I wasn't able to clear the runway in 2022 with the debris from the print-on-demand process still being tidied up, but I'm already looking to dive into that first thing next year to unlock the game's next realm.
Dawn of Iron: Second Anthology & Other Battle and Campaign Packs
I certainly didn't get as much done in expanding the the game's battlepack catalog this year, but I was able to complete two ACW battlepacks, as well as work with Rolf Grein who produced an excellent expansion covering the War of the Pacific (see below). Ultimately, though, these were not enough to warrent a second Anthology, so I'll aim to make that 2023's end cap instead, to include the land operations, forts, and more.
Bonus Wins for 2022
There were a few key bonus wins that I wanted to mention for this year as well:
I branched out a bit into youtube this year to cover some tutorials. While I can't commit to a regular stream of content on that channel, be sure to subscribe for when I'm able to upload some more!
The War of the Pacific
Last year, Rolf contacted me about collaborating on a War of the Pacific expansion for Dawn of Iron. While it wasn't in my schedule, I was intrigued and we teamed up. Rolf dug deep and came up with an incredibly thorough and well-researched pair of battlepacks that cover the entire conflict. We focused on the first of these that focused on the ironclad Huacar's rise to fame, and Rolf generated no fewer than 8 scenarios, backed by 18 pages of histories and maps of this half of the conflict. He did an amazing job, and all I needed to do was lay it up and generate the ship stats.
Patrick over at East Coast Ironclads made an excellent 3D pack of ships to go with it. What resulted is a fantastic battlepack that we can't wait to get into your hands next month! So while you're waiting for the release, head over there, grab the files and get your shipyards working hard to that you're ready for this 19th-century Pacific adventure!
Onward to 2023!
Last year I broke down the upcoming year into quarters. I'm not going to do that this year because I already know that 2023 is going to be a very very busy year for me! But I will commit to this: I want to complete the land forces crossover to expand the world of Dawn of Iron. Another thing I really want to work on is a solitaire campaign system. It's something that I really want to do (mostly for selfish reasons!) and I think I have just the angle to accomplish it. So watch this space!
Wow, what a year! Again, it would not be possible to do all these things without your continued engagement and support, for which I am eternally grateful. Keep posting your projects, send me your ideas, and spread the word. It all helps keep me motivated to create more and more.
Have yourself a terrific New Year, and all the best to you and your families the days to come!