September 19, 2021

5 Questions with… VUCA Simulations’ Patrick Gebhardt

Brant Guillory, 8 September 2021

VUCA Simulations are grabbing the attention of the wargaming world, with some high-quality output and some interesting games on the horizon.  Mike spent a lot of time with The Great Crisis of Frederick II.  Bawb gave us a look inside the upcoming Across the Bug River.  We’re all holding out for Red Strike, except Cyrano, who is anxiously awaiting Wagram 1809.

Patrick Gebhardt, the main man behind VUCA Simulations, took a few moments out of cranking out great new games to have a chat with us.

 

Where did the name “VUCA” come from?  What’s the story behind it?VUCA Logo 180x

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and was coined in the USA in the 1990s. The term stands for a complex, decentralized world that requires multidimensional strategies. Although VUCA originates from modern times, excerpts from it can also be found in historical battles as an essential strategic requirement.

This sophisticated strategy theory was thus the inspiration for our new brand name.

 

Your initial games cover a variety of topics, whereas a lot of publishers start with one niche and build from there.  Was that just based on the submissions you had when you started?  Were these games that were already developed by people you knew and were ready to go?  How do you get WW2 East Front, Frederick the Great, and Cold-War-Goes-Hot, and Napoleon in your initial releases?

From the beginning, we did not want to commit ourselves to a certain period of time or to be confined to it.

All our releases still needed a lot of development. That’s why we didn’t have such a high number of releases in the beginning.  Some of our designers we knew personally before, but not all of them.

It is important to us that our games are interactive, didactically optimally prepared and entertaining. In addition, they should ideally be completed in a long weekend. As long as a design can serve these parameters, we don’t care about the time period – or rather we find every era exciting enough to deal with it intensively

V-boxes
Upcoming titles from VUCA

 

What’s one game mechanic or idea from another designer that you wish you’d come up with?  Who out there has a ‘great idea’ that you wish was yours?

Well, since I’m not a game designer, that thought hasn’t occurred to me yet. But I think there are a lot of great game mechanics.  The important thing, in my opinion, is a high level of interactivity and the need for both players to constantly make decisions under pressure. Whether this is done using CDG or chit-pull mechanics, or something completely different is beside the point here.

 

What’s been the most under-appreciated challenge or difficulty in starting up a new company, especially in the wargaming space?

Of course, this is a niche market. But it should not be overlooked that the demands of our customers are constantly growing. And the range of new games is growing as well.

In my opinion no more immature designs should appear on the market these days, with rulebooks that do not deserve this name and game aids full of contradictions.

Time is tighter today than it used to be, so you can’t demand that players spend ages learning a rule system first.  For this reason, we try to perfect our rules and game aids as much as possible. Of course, there is a learning curve.

CtL-Move-to-Contact
Game detail from VUCA’s “Crossing the Line”

But the effort that goes along with it is of course a big challenge.  Another difficulty is the current logistics situation, with extremely high freight prices and very long delivery times.

Yep, we’ve talked about the logistics headaches before!

 

Your website includes a lengthy statement (in German) on the uses of consims for educational purposes and the study of history, as well as notes about symbolism and imagery within the games.  It’s interesting to see such a statement from a non-US-based publisher given how much of the focus on these sorts of issues have been so prominent on our side of the ocean for the past 2-3 years.  What was the inspiration (or necessity!) behind that statement, and what’s been the reaction to it from the public so far?

Our hobby is perceived critically in parts of (German) society. Since, in view of a general “shift to the right” in many societies, the phrase “new right” is once again becoming more widespread, we see the need to clearly distinguish ourselves from it. We would like to prevent all prejudices and make it clear that we do not tolerate any right-wing ideas.

With VUCA Simulations we are completely committed to the idea of international understanding and live this every single day ourselves. Our game projects have all been developed in international cooperation. People from more than 15 countries have been actively involved in the realization of our game projects. We have received very positive feedback for this so far.

That’s great that the feedback has been positive.  Thank you so much for joining us for our “5 Questions” interview!

 


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Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

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2 thoughts on “5 Questions with… VUCA Simulations’ Patrick Gebhardt

  1. I went though the lengthy – and 100% woke – statement in German mentioned in the last question. I now wonder if they want to know who I am voting for to determine if I am worth buying one of their games…

    1. Given the peculiarities of a German company releasing a statement in German targeting their German audience, probably best to defer to them as the subject matter experts on who that German statement was for and why they felt the need to release it.

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