Your Favorite Game Designer Right Now

As I was going over the nominees for this year's Charlies, I was drawn to the awards for people who are involved in bringing us the games we love so much. Of course, some of the names I hoped to see aren't there now because they've won these various awards in the past and are therefore not eligible. But they continue to bring us some stellar designs. Certainly there is no shortage of design and developer talent out there and the quality of the goods we see today is light years beyond what we enjoyed fifteen, twenty, even twenty-five years ago (and possibly even earlier).

Who is your favorite game designer producing games TODAY? Why?

Here's my pick--and I'll admit it's pretty tight competition:

Joseph Miranda. Never mind that he's outproduced Jim Dunnigan in the number of titles designed. Never mind some of his past work that is still state of the art (I think NICARAGUA! is the most sophistical strategic game on insurgency/counterinsurgency ever made--only competition is Kim Kanger's ICI, C'EST LA FRANCE). Just look at what he's been doing for Strategy and Tactics magazine as well as World At War magazine in just the past year. His designs are innovative and fresh, whether he tackles wars that get very little coverage elsewhere (such as the War of the Austrian Succession in his FREDERICK THE GREAT AT WAR, 1740-1748) or topics that you'd think you don't want to see again (such as his recent AFRIKA KORPS).

In my mind, he's not only the most versatile designer out there, he's also the most innovative. The strategic interplay in FREDERICK THE GREAT AT WAR is simply amazing. A four-player game in a magazine format that is incredibly suspenseful and full of friction/surprises. Just when you'd think you'd yawn at another Rommel versus the British in North Africa game, he brings a title in that has tons of chaos and uncertainty such as AFRIKA KORPS. And it just "feels" right!

Let us know who your favorite wargame designer is these days--and why!

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Comment by Andreas Lundin on May 8, 2010 at 4:48am
I'd second Dean Essig. The new Line of Battle system for ACW seem to take up CWBS/RSS up yet another notch. Also the OCS-system seem to develop in two different interesting directions. One with larger formations, and one with smaller formations. Looking forward to see more from Dean in the future!
Comment by Neil on May 7, 2010 at 7:46am
Ill say that my favorite game designer is Dirk Blennemann from Moments in History.. His impulse system in "Piecing the Reich" and "Triumphant Fox" does the best at reproducing the ebb and flow of battalion level combat. The casualty system is both realist and fare IMO and its a rare battle in which you are able to destroy a unit wholesale.. Chances are you will have units that a very weak but not destroyed..To me this is a more accurate portrayal of combat that eludes alot of games
Comment by Ralph Ferrari on April 28, 2010 at 5:55am
I would say Mark H. Walker. I think LnL is a great tactical game that has been able to span conflicts from WWII, to Vietnam, to the Falklands, to Somalia, and also Cold War battles soon. The game is on the lighter side when it comes to rules, but not light in depth of play. There isn't a need to have to refer to the rules during play very often.

I also really enjoy the World at War series of games, since I love Cold War era games a lot. They are also light on rules, but not in play. They play fast and no need to reference the rules very often. A very fun system that will also have a WWII version coming out soon in Nations at War.

I really like the graphics in the LnL and WaW games, and the quality of the components just keeps getting better. Aslo, looking forward to the computer version of LnL in Heroes of Stalingrad, will be a great addition to the LnL series.

I had the pleasure of getting to meet Mark at Fall-In and was able to get a Ring of Hills scenario in with him. A really great guy with some awesome games.
Comment by Brett W Avants on April 27, 2010 at 10:40pm
I am going to jump right in here and throw out Dean Essig, of The Gamers. I am no expert, but I do think his CWB and RSS series are very innovative as far as the command and control systems go, and while I was not present at any Civil war battle, it sure seems to me that the system portrays the ACW very well. The interactivity of these games is intense, and if you are not careful, and deploy your cavalry as recon and for screening purposes, you can find yourself surprised and your plans foiled. There is lots of room for maneuver, and maneuver is a necessary and critical part of the development of your operations. And the CnC aspects are awesome. Imagine that... your units don't always do exactly as they are told, or perhaps are slow to act. Welcome to the real world!

Likewise for his OCS series of games. Big, yes. Complex, according to some. But a very playable, seemingly accurate, and fun operational level set of games. People complain about the supply rules in these games, but if you have ever been in combat, or read eough on it, you know that so often, the tail wags the dog, so to speak. Dean's OCS makes you plan, plan, and plan again your operations. not only taking into account combat power, but maneuver and logistics. Sure, much of DAK is spent building up supply bases, but isn't this war in the desert!?

TCS and SCS, too. Plus, he's a great guy!

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