By Manny Aguilar
Designer of Indian Summer
I remember a picking up a copy of "They Died With Their Boots On!" Vol.I several years back. I did what many of us do with magazine games. I set it up, pushed some counters around, read the articles and tried to learn something about the topic. A little later I picked up Vol.II and gave it a closer look. At the same time I was doing quite a bit of reading on the Civil War in Indian Territory. I began to think that this system might be a good way to simulate the small campaigns that occurred in Northeastern Oklahoma. I posted this idea in the "Boots!" Vol. II folder where I was introduced to Dennis Bishop. He had written the historical article for the Villa "Boots!"module. Dennis and I began to correspond quite a bit about how such a game might work.
In my readings I kept running across interesting situations that could be simulated with the heroism marker game mechanic found in the "Boots!" system. Many of these occurrences were strange, wierd, incredible, or unbelievable. Some were just stupid. In fact you would probably need to use something like a heroism marker to make some of these events happen in a game.
I dug out my copy of Custer and decided to push the counters around again. In my second game The U.S. Army was closing in on the Hostiles. When it came time for the Hostiles to pick a sub-command marker they drew the group that the Custer 1/7 unit belonged to. The Hostiles faction played their "In to the Valley of Death" heroism marker. This allowed them to take control of Custer and the other unit he was stacked with. The stack was moved by the Hostiles into a situation where it had to attack three Indian stacks at poor odds. I remember thinking to myself, Well Done! The game Mr. Miranda had designed easily simulated Custer rushing ahead by himself and into a trap. All of this with just a minimum of rules. Custer didn't die though. He rolled well and the Indians didn't. He was able to get out of trouble by the next turn. The U.S. Army went on to win big and Custer became President in the 1890's. I became a big fan of the "Boots!" system.
When I heard there was a game proposal for a "Boots!" game on the ACW in the Ozark region I got excited and hopeful. I think its title was "Forgotton Front" or something like that. At the same time I had started working on a modified "Boots!" game on the ACW in Indian Territory only. I had done a lot research for a game map and OOB. The research led me to expand the the game to include portions of the surrounding states, especially the events concerning the Prairie Grove campaign. I continued to work while waiting for Decision Games to publish the results of the feedback. Interest must not have been too great as other games were chosen.
A pretty good while passed before I was able to create a prototype. I showed it to Dennis. I worked on the map some more, made some improvements. He in turn showed what I had done so far to Michael Kennedy of White Dog Games who liked the idea and here we are.
(Posted originally on Consimworld.)