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1046Flattop Proposal

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  • Art Brochet
    22 Sep, 2010
      Rob & all -

      A team play, double-blind, refereed game of Flattop is tentatively a
      go for BottosCon 2010. We will start Friday evening and run through
      Sunday noon unless one side has crushed the other before then.

      For the uninitiated, Flattop is arguably the best game covering
      carrier operations in the South Pacific in WWII. It has 20 mile
      hexes, hour long turns, and units representing individual ships and
      groups of 3 planes. The game as published (by Avalon Hill in 1981)
      was a two player game but it is greatly enhanced by having the search
      mechanism, and some aspects of the combat system, handled by a ref.
      This is often done in email play but our thinking is that a two teams
      in live play would make a killer gaming experience - especially for a
      long weekend con. So...

      Bill G. and Charlie Sheppard & I are planning out how this will work
      right now. We can't be certain it will work until we conclude our dry
      run of the rules and tools we are developing; we will drop it from the
      schedule and do something else if testing identifies some fatal flaw.
      But so far it is shaping up as follows:

      Individual players will directly control any task force which includes
      one or more carriers or battleships. Players will also directly
      control land bases. Planes sent out from carriers or land bases will
      usually be controlled by prewritten orders, as will smaller ship
      groups, submarines etc. Changes to orders and sighting reports from
      searching units can be sent by radio — but radio transmissions are
      prone to interception, loss, misinterpretation and (most importantly)
      disclosure of the sending unit's location. (Not a good thing for
      ships trying to stay out of harm's way.)

      The need to make high stakes decisions every turn, with too little
      definite information, will be very challenging. When coupled with
      tight timeframes for turning orders around and uncertain victory
      conditions the game will be almost painfully tense.

      Jay White has committed to play for the weekend and Jeff Christensen
      expressed interest when he was in Seattle for Dragonflight (Jeff -
      please email me off-line). That leaves room for up to 1-3 more
      players willing to commit to the whole game. Potentially we could have
      several more spots for walk-ons (e.g. - to take direct control of a
      strike force sent out to find and sink an enemy task force) but we
      need to test how well this works out (and how much fun it is). We
      might also split up land bases or include more forces if there is lots
      of interest.

      Email me directly if you are interested in a spot; I'll keep you
      apprised of how the testing is coming and what the (special) rules
      look like. Ownership of (or familiarity with) the game is probably
      necessary, and pre-registration is a must. Anyone thinking of playing
      will of course be banned from observing the mapboard used by their
      (potential) enemy or the referee(s). We may need really big screens
      and a non-disclosure form (or separate rooms and passwords).

      If it works out as I expect, playing this is likely to be something
      you will never forget. I've been wargaming for 40 years and—without
      question—my most exciting moments have been playing Flattop.

      - Art
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