A brief history of the TSWW game series

Published by Andrew on

Following on from many years as a player of monster games, I was asked to help with another couple of products in the 2000s.  These products have never appeared (as far as we are aware) in the market as a result of the companies undertaking the work failing to deliver various things either as a complete item or on schedule – and despite contracts with me to develop software, never got enough done to warrant much mention!  Thus I inherited a variety of items as a result of various businesses failing to deliver. 

None of these were a complete product, so after a bit of soul searching, the raising of limited capital, and the support of 40 people who had a lot of faith in what we were trying to do, “I” became “we” as Cory Manka gave me massive amounts of research to help create the first game, along with input from many other people.  Thus was TKC reborn as my game development persona.

On 9th April, 2010, Diffraction Entertainment Ltd. commenced operations, with a view to distributing The Second World War Game Series – TSWW ™ to gamers and retailers around the world excited by the concept of a game with uniform rules and system concepts that worked from pole to pole, and all around the globe.  After a really difficult first year, in which our erstwhile printers left us with barely acceptable boxes, maps and no viable counters for our first edition of Blitzkrieg, we elected to take the risk, put more money in, and find a print solution that worked.

That led to the incredibly successful Balkan Fury, which has set the benchmark ever since for counter quality, map quality and box quality, leading us into happier times.  We resolved the problems with Blitzkrieg’s counters by having them reprinted (and revised) in 2012, giving us two successful games which then led us, in 2013, to what was at that time, the biggest board war game ever released.  Mare Nostrum… the war in Africa.  A massive game, and again very successful.  We also released our first add on – the Swiss and Slovak countersheet as we had forgotten the Slovaks in Blitzkrieg much to our chagrin, and our first Ziplock only game – Madagascar.  Not bad in essentially 3 years – 4 games, one addon! We welcomed David Hughes and Martyn Potts to our team through the development period of Mare Nostrum

Over the next year or so we got ambitious, announcing a vast programme to move the game series out of Europe and into the Pacific War, to undertake the holy grail of WW2 games – the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and to continue releasing smaller games as time permitted.  This programme commenced with our next print solution change – moving the maps to a whole other level by having them laminated.  Operation Merkur came out in time for Christmas 2014 and remains a key element in our range being small and fun to play repeatedly.

2015 found us running late on our next major game – Singapore! – as we had made a minor (but crucial) error in the map space allocated.  This took a bit of time to fix, but has in our view resulted in by far the best operational scale game ever done.  Modesty is clearly our strong point!  At the same time we released Foxhole: Utah Beach.  This third party developed game, which has not been properly supported by its designer, has, however been a crucial learning experience for us.  We are currently working with 2 developers to expand our portfolio and our developer contracts are much better written now!  That said we will eventually take the time to fix the Foxhole series and get it moving as the game plays really well when you learn the system.  Singapore released to great acclaim and gave use the impetus to complete that slow time project… Barbarossa.

Hakkaa Paalle, our 2016 game release, along with Operation Battleaxe, a minigame and major addon for that tiddler, Mare Nostrum, released just after Christmas 2015 using parts of the research we had developed for Barbarossa and work put aside from Mare Nostrum which was unable to be inserted into that game as a result of box size limitations.  Dealing with the infamous Winter War, and adding to the system the Swedish forces for the entire war, Hakkaa Paalle gave you all a taste for the East… something which we hoped might happen!  It improved print quality by moving the charts to commercial press, and set a precedent for us to continue following to the current day.  We also managed to expand our Singapore! game with the really useful Strategic Map display system – released as an add-on in time for Christmas of that year. We also plugged out our really handy Generic Counter Set – and the Arctic map set, designed to expand Hakkaa Paalle’s map area for use in the forthcoming Murmansk Convoys, and to help players play the games.

As development of Barbarossa ground forwards, two catastrophes affected our business.  I myself almost died in early 2017 as a result of a defective exhaust in my car, and Cory was seriously ill with respiratory problems.  With David and Cory both diverted, along with vast help from new faces in the back ground, we managed to release Day of Infamy which took the system into the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean and much to the surprise of many, is a fantastic way to learn how the war in the Pacific was fought during its early period.  Utilising a mix of scales, with much of the Pacific done at the strategic scale, Day if Infamy became the benchmark game for the Pacific theatre, and is a good indicator of how our later games in the area will work.

As my health recovered more rapidly than Cory’s I also took over the Wermacht in much of its entirety, enabling him to recover and Barbarossa research (yes, that name again) to progress.  This was a vast task and clearly took a lot of time to get done! David was buried in the Red Army (he took that over from me…. ) thus creating many entertaining phone calls to him as he demanded changes to how we do things in the games to make them work better in the Great Patriotic War.  You can guess he did not always get his way, much to his disgust at times!

In 2018 and 19, with Brexit fever at its highest, the team and I worked flat out to get Barbarossa research finalised, with minimal diversions.  By October of 2019, we had the files ready for final art.  This vast effort was reminiscent of the never ending story for everyone involved and has proven to be the most difficult of the games so far released to get out the door.  Many changes in presentation were desirable for this massive game, and thanks to the excellence of our printers, we moved to a combination of stich and perfect bound booklets in the game.  Months of proofing found hundreds of errors (Barbarossa is enormous in terms of the counter count, and the various changes to the units involved) delaying press date repeatedly….

Barbarossa box front

Finally, in early 2020, Barbarossa went on the presses, and despite repeated delays the components trickled in to my home.  An emergency operation about a month ago delayed my picking and packing, and just as the horrific Covid-19 crisis overtook the world, we managed to fill our first couple of boxes.  The game was at last complete and ready to ship.  At the time of writing most pre-orders and pre-sale clients have had their games shipped, with more to come in the next week or so…. Thank you to all who have helped, not just with Barbarossa, but with the content of every game released to date, and to all of you who have purchased the games thus enabling us to keep on with the process of game research, development, publication and marketing.  Without you all there is no TSWW, will be no BTW, TGG, TFWW, or Gladius….

1 Comment

Klaus Stolzke · April 25, 2020 at 3:18 pm

I have them all!

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