Hi everyone, and welcome to another interview! Today we talk to Marci from Assault Publishing about their new 15mm sci-fi game PMC 2640.
Hi Marcin, and thanks for taking the time to talk about Assault Publishing and your new game PMC 2640! First question, how long as Assault Publishing been around and who is Assault Publishing?
I've established Assault Publishing in 2011, but of course the preparation to it and designing of the first wargame started many months before in 2010. It is typical after-hours company, like many companies in UK (but running it in Poland is probably more troublesome :P). I consider it as the method of gain finance for next crazy ideas. Starting printing rulebooks in age of 30 made me one of the youngest wargame publishers in the world ;)
But in fact Assault Publishing in fact it's 2 meters on my desk and something about 1,8 liters in my skull, supported by a group of really fine people and cellar acting as rulebook stockpile. :D
What previous game design experience do you have?
My first serious publication was "Book of Nemesis" published in Fanatic Online.
Later I start to develop Sturmovik Commander, which was and is free. This game is about WW2 air combat and still is very important for me. Maybe next version will be semi-commercial. I'm not going to make the big money on it, but I wish to invest some money in better layout and illustrations, as SC deserves for it!
My first project published commercially is Hind Commander. The game about helicopter actions. A lot of research and hard work to make the game which is niche within a niche. Idea crazy enough to be successful. And it was. :)
Next crazy project was Arm Weapon and Climb Solo: Gulf War. AWACS: GW is experimental boxed game, designed from scratch as solitaire one! I wish to make the next parts in the future, but counting and packaging 12.000 5mm dices in six colors again terrify me a lot!
When did you start designing PMC 2640?
In September 2011, but in the early 2012 the concept was a little changed and I decide to start from scratch. The early version was fine, but for 3mm or 6mm scale. I still have "PMC2640 Battlezone" draft on my pen drive :)
What was the design thought behind PMC 2640?
To make the "true company scale" game. Most of the so-called "company scale" games I met tend to be unplayable with more than two platoons on the table. In PMC2640 you may play with a few and a few dozen units on the table and the ruleset works fine and smooth in both cases. It links the classic, proved solutions (like alternate activation with little modifications) with fresh, modern point of view. It is not the revolution, but evolution. We have to remember that nowadays the wargames has very strong competition in form of computer games and we cannot design the ruleset as it was made in 80's.
Why did you decide as 15mm as the main scale?
I looked at 15mm Sci-Fi minis from Oddział Ósmy and I felt in love in the scale! Also there is a huge selection of very cool models from many other companies. Minis are relatively inexpensive, look cool in bigger amounts on the table and have a big advantage: they can be easy and nice painted in short amount of time. Something very important in these crazy times, especially for older wargamers, who have little time for hobby.
What makes PMC 2640 different from other 15mm rulesets?
PMC2640 rules are very sharp, focused on simplify and quick game (It's not uncommon to play the games with more than 20 turns within a 2 or 3 hours) without losing tactical deepness. I was surprised how fine it works and the battles are much "realistic" than in much more detailed systems.
It required the changing the point of view during the designing the ruleset. In PMC2640 there are units composed from models not models forming the units. The unit is more important and all parameters are given for unit itself not for individual soldiers. The number of models modify of some of them (Firepower, Assault and Morale to be precise). These allows the player to feel like a company commander, without looking for equipment and condition of individual soldiers (it's sergeants' task - they are well paid for kicking the butts, aren't they?).
Also one of the main differences is morale system, which is one of the main aspect of the game. The soldiers do not die like morons with battle song on their lips, but instead they get suppressed/forced to retreat under fire. Even loosing even the single man struck the unit morale and the hand-to-hand combat/assaults are very rare, risky and decisive. It makes the battles similar to the modern ones not mindless quasi-medieval slaughters. Quite often the battles are resolved with a few men down (which are not so easy like in other games) and the remaining ones forced to retreat. The key to victory are good maneuvers, troop’s cooperation and risk management instead of putting pile of combo-stuff on your hero.
By the way the game is very anti-heroic. There are no heroes both in the table and in the story. No place for individuals and the soldiers on the future, soulless battlefield are the gears in the war machine.
The game demands a lot of flexibility from the players. For example the terrain is randomly generated BEFORE the randomizing scenario but before the composing the armies and just minor modification are allowed just before the battle. There is no setting the army for certain situation. Also "hard" statistic based on single rolls requires always having the plan B.
The other very important differences are the campaign system and separate, full chapter describing solitaire/cooperative games (with dedicated units and scenarios). Although PMC2640 is a bit closer to the mainstream when my other games I still do not afraid to experiment and adding uncommon aspects to the game.
How many figures do I need to play?
Starting game size ("Priority level 1") is from 4 to 8 units, each unit has from 2 to 8 models (average is 6) or a single vehicle. A few blisters are enough for the beginning. This is, let's say, small "skirmish". The real battles start from Priority level 2, where all limits are doubled.
Do you have points systems? How do you balance play?
Instead of points there is a Tier system. Every unit has its Unit Tier, ranging from I to V. Within one Tier where are completely different yet similarly useful units. There is also the Battle Tier, ranging also from I to V. It limits the sum of all Unit Tiers (in this aspect it acts a little like points) and the number of units on certain Unit Tiers. Also there are Priority levels, which describe how big the battle is. This allows the players to make battles more "green”, “elite" or "balanced". The Tier system is also important in campaign as the units are grouped into categories, which allows to promote them (e.g. Rifle infantry: on Tier II there is Rookie team, on Tier III Regular team, on IV Tier Veterans on Tier V there are Rangers).
There are some other secondary limitations (e.g. vehicle/aircraft limit and some units are limited per Priority level or army) but the Tier system is the most important.
At glance it looks a bit complicated, but everything is summarized in table. And in practice works fine.
Are there "official" 15mm figures for the game?
PMC2640 was developed with loose cooperation with Oddział Army, but these models are not "official" in anyway, despite I have them in regular sale. Even I personally have a lot of stuff from GZG to complete my army. For me the rulebook is main product and the miniatures are complement. I can afford to do it, as I do not run AP for living.
Are there army lists?
One big, common Mercenary army list (about 70 entries) and two short army list for Bugs and Rebels for solitaire/cooperative mode. Description of unit is quite general, so the players are free to use the models. RCL (Recognizable, Cool-Looking) replace classical WYSIWYG. We do not care if for example Rifle Team have classical rifles, laser rifles, neutron rifles or whatever which looks like a rifle and works like the rifle on the future battlefield. If you wish you may add sarge, medic, machine gunner, war correspondent, drone or whatever until there is no doubt that the unit as the whole represents. It has to look cool! :) From game point of view it's still rifle team - in such battle scale it is perfect solution. IHMO then the units are diversified by parameters and special rules only you feel the difference between them much stronger than in case of playing in resolving the single weapon fire.
How does the campaign system work?
Similar to skirmish system like Mordheim. You play the battles normally, but you develop your mercenary company in the meantime. You earn money (the victor takes more, of course!), purchase the new units, and existing ones may be promoted or get battle honor. What is interesting the unit may get also battle traumas, which reduce their performance (e.g. they may be alcoholics, have suicidal behavior, bad reputation etc.). You also promote the company to higher Company Tier, which allows playing higher-tier, better-paid battles and recruiting more powerful units. The players may join/left/re-join/pause the campaign any time, which makes the game perfect "club" system.
Do you have any expansions planned for the future?
It would be great! I wish to exploit my 2640 universe. My dream is to make two other independent, but fully compatible with PMC 2640 games (like Warmachine and Hordes), adding new fractions, scenarios and of course expanding my vision of future. But it is the far, far future and it depended on success of PMC 2640.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PMC does not mean Pre-Menstrual Crisis like one of German wargamer interpreted it in the joke. It is not the game about the apocalypse! :D
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, and I look
forward to playing PMC 2640!
My pleasure. I was honored. I hope to send the first copies to the customers in second part of May.