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The issues below are all in preparation.
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52 - Operation Ichi-Go
53 - ROME, INC.
54 - Monty’s D-Day
55 - Lee's Greatest Victory

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Subscribe to Against the Odds

Against the Odds magazine investigates military history from a broad perspective. The economic, political, religious and social aspects of warfare are examined in concert with events on the battlefield.

Each issue of ATO features:

Informative and insightful articles showcasing the history behind events, plus regular columns by noted game designers providing insight on the latest trends and events.

A challenging, fun wargame that drops the players into truly desperate situations but gives them multiple options to alter history.

Professionally printed graphics, complete with large playing map and 200 to 360 die cut playing pieces.

And much more! Look for Against the Odds to cover simulation design issues, order of battle research, rule writing, play testing and graphic techniques as it evolves. Get yourself truly "connected" with games and gaming by subscribing to Against the Odds!

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Guidelines for Designers

Designer Submissions


Against The Odds (ATO) has had several requests to publish our requirements for game submissions, so here they are. Note that ATO is at this time particularly looking for games with 280 or less counters, and solitaire games. If you have a design in mind, use these guidelines to help you submit your game. For your first ATO magazine game, we pay $500 to $1,000, upon acceptance by us for publication, and more for subsequent designs of yours published by us. If there are any points not covered below, please contact us.

Before sending a game please contact ATO first and ask if ATO is interested. This avoids the frustration of learning ATO already has a design on your subject, or your proposal does not fit with our theme.

1. Subject: Any historical subject is acceptable, so long as it covers a truly desperate situation where one side is facing military, political or cultural annihilation if it loses. However, games about mere "deadly quarrels" - where one side lost no more than a hundred men, or a minor bit of terrain - are not to ATO’s taste. "Speculative history" or "alternate history" games are fine (i.e. a game say, covering the proposed Japanese invasion of Hawaii in Dec. 1941) but not outright "science fiction" games (i.e. "spaceships" and "ray guns"). Solitaire games are particularly welcome (in this case, the stronger side should be the automata player).

2. Historical Considerations: ATO is looking for games that are historically accurate. Points to consider here are:

The game should recreate the historical situation, placing players in the position of the opposing commanders. They should have the same possibilities and problems to cope with and the same degree of knowledge (as far as possible) of the situation.

• The game should lead the players to think historically, i.e., to make historically reasonable decisions based on historical factors.

• The historical result should be possible and the game should allow the exploration of reasonable historical alternatives.

• The game should conjure up the "feel" of the historical period. Skillful touches in the rules ("chrome") can often do this without cluttering them up.

• Last, but not least, players should be able to learn something of history from the game.

3. Play Considerations: ATO is looking for games that are fun to play and retain their interest. Points to consider here are:

• Game mechanics should not dominate the decision making.

• There should be more than one possible strategy open to each player.

• It should be possible for each player to recover from a single mistake.

• All players should constantly have to make tough decisions.

• The game should be evenly balanced (or biased against the active player in solitaire designs).

4. Complexity: On a scale of 1 (introductory) to 5 (complex), we usually publish games rated 2, 3 or 4. We do on occasion publish the "complex" or 5 rating.

5. Playing Time: The ideal ATO game that can be played to a conclusion by two or more players in a single evening, say 5 hours. However, many ATO games take longer than this to play. In this case, the game should include a number of shorter scenarios (in fact, it is nice to have alternative scenarios, whatever the length of the game). Solitaire games may take a good deal longer to play and are a good way to approach the issue of long playing times.

6. Development: ATO is not set up to undertake extensive development. ATO expects the designer to have put in at least 80% of the design effort; our developer will put in the remainder. ATO appoints a developer for each game and he works closely with the designer and with the playtesters. The game must have been played several times before being submitted, and by at least one person not previously familiar with the rules.

1. Presentation: Please let ATO have 2 copies of all components. (One copy of the counters should be on die-cut or separated stock; the other should simply be written out on card or paper, in the standard format of an ATO counter-sheet). All written materials should be enclosed on a Zip or floppy disk (PC format) using PageMaker 6.5, MS Word or ASCII text files. All written materials must be printed out double-spaced on white 11.5" x 8" paper (on one side of the paper only) but don’t worry much about fancy fonts or bold or italics. Always number the pages.

2. Rules: Rules are generally the bane of the industry. Use the following tips when presenting your set for consideration:

• The rules proper should tell us how to play the game (how to handle units, when different things can be done, and equally important, what can’t be done) and not be about the game (design notes, history, background stuff) which is better put in the back.

• The rules should follow a logical plan of organization so the player can deduce the structure of the rules. All players need signposts to navigate with. Typically this is best done by presenting the rules in the order that the player needs to know them. For example if the Sequence of Play requires the player to do things in Sequence A, followed by B, followed by C, etc., the rules for A should be presented in their entirely, then all the rules for B, etc. Headings should be clear.

• The rules should separate non-playing information from playing information (for example, put a designer’s note somewhere else other than in the middle of an explanation of how to play a turn of the game).

• Where appropriate, the rules should cross-reference related rules (and play-aids). Rules must have an index; rule sections should be numbered by module (1.0), section (1.1), case (1.1.1) and/or sub-case (1.1.1A).

• The rules should present examples of play and design concepts, with illustration and discussion on separate sheets.

• The rules should contain complete "housekeeping" information – stuff about the game but not strictly necessary to play it. These include things like a contents listing, an introduction, designer’s notes, glossary of terms, player’s notes, etc. Map, unit and time scales must be clearly stated.

• The rules should adhere to the conventions of language. Rules are a form of technical writing and need to conform to the essentials of grammar, diction and punctuation in order to successfully communicate complex concepts.

• Please include names of playtesters, etc., to be credited, and a bibliography.

• Ideally, all rules, including the index, examples of play and charts necessary to play the game should fit within 16 typeset pages using 9-pt. type. Exceptions can and will be made for otherwise excellent designs.

3. Maps: ATO will not normally consider for publication a game which has a map area larger than one 34" x 22" map. This, however, may consist of one large map or several smaller ones, or just one smaller map like a 17" x 22". ATO will consider small "double-blind" designs where two copies of a 17" x 22" map are required. Maps must be drawn clearly and in color but may be hand lettered. There must be room on the map for both a color terrain key and a turn record chart and point tracks (if any).

4. Counters: ATO game upper limits are normally 280 double-sided counters using four color process (no gold or silver trim, please!). ATO may occasionally make exceptions e.g., go up to 480 double-sided counters. Counters should be legibly printed, mounted on thick material, and be die cut.

5. Historical Commentary: The designer should prepare an historical article illuminating aspects of the game for publication in the main body of the magazine. Carefully crafted prose is always welcome, but at a minimum, good spelling and grammar remain a writer’s basic tools of the trade. See the ATO Writer’s Submission Guide for more details on this.

Still game (pardon the pun)? Then with your game proposal, write to:

ATO Magazine
PO Box 165
Southeastern, PA 19399-0165
Attn: ATO Submissions

Or e-mail us at: gamesupport@atomagazine.com

Guidelines for Authors

Author Submissions


Against the Odds (ATO) has had several requests to publish our requirements for article submissions, so here they are. If you have an article in mind, use these guidelines to help you submit your manuscript. For an ATO magazine article, we pay the author (or authors) a total of five cents (.05) per word, upon acceptance for publication by ATO’s Editor. Authors of lead, secondary or game design articles, or regular columns will also receive a copy of the issue their material appears in. If there are any points not covered below, please contact us.

ATO interprets its subject as broadly as possible; from the study of classical and feudal warfare to the Napoleonic and modern; it embraces the study of conflict at sea and in the air as well as on land; it looks at war in its economic, political, religious and social dimensions as much as purely military aspects; and seeks to uncover why groups go off to war the way they do and what rules do they think bind them. ATO's preference is for material on warfare where one side is facing political, cultural or military annihilation if it loses. Articles about "mere squabbles" – wars where one side lost no more than a city or province - are not to ATO’s taste (though a particularly savage tactical action where one side was in danger of, or was actually destroyed is acceptable). Controversial material or conclusions will be accepted as long as they are well researched. Due to the lag in publication, extremely time-sensitive, or topical material is not encouraged.

ATO will also considered biographies, "speculative history" or "alternate history" pieces (i.e. an article say, covering the proposed Japanese invasion of Hawaii in Dec. 1941) but not outright "science fiction" (i.e. "spaceships and ray guns"). Comparative military history (why Khe Sanh was like the battle for Atlanta or comparing Westmoreland to Henry II, or how were the Confederate and Nazi Governments alike in the closing days of their regimes - if at all?) will be considered for publication as well.

Lastly, ATO is interested in how to model warfare using a board game format. Material covering design issues (unit and terrain evaluations, CRTs, ZOCs, sequences of play, etc.) order of battle or other research tips, graphic design, presentation, play testing, or other aspects of game design are welcome. Game reviews, marketing concerns, or "overall state of the industry" material will not be considered.

If you have something to say about any of the above, why not write for us!

Before sending in a manuscript, please contact ATO’s Editor first and ask if ATO is interested. This avoids the frustration of learning ATO already has an article on your subject, or your proposal does not fit with our theme. Your manuscript should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.


1. Format: ATO articles are of 5 types. These are:

A.) Lead Article – This piece highlights the game in each issue. Typically, ATO will offer that issue’s game designer first choice at write this material as he or she is most familiar with the topic. Alternatively, ATO will contact you about your willingness to write this piece. For planning purposes, envision about 10,000 words, though longer manuscripts will be considered. The author should prepare a series of sidebar pieces, examining the impact of weather, terrain, logistics, societal structures, etc. of the various sides in conflict and their impact on his game design.

B.) Secondary Article – This piece is similar to the above, but typically shorter (3,000 words). Format and layout are more flexible and essays are encouraged. Secondary articles hopefully stimulate public interest in seeing a game design eventually published on the topic covered. Secondary articles are fine vehicles for biographies, speculative history, alternate history, or comparative military history pieces.

C.) Game Design or Play Article – Material of this nature explores or highlights game design or game play issues (up to 3,000 words). If you’ve designed or developed a commercially published war game, use this piece to share your ideas.

D.) Book or Game Reviews – Not really our focus, there are many other fine publications out there in need of such material. However, surveys of a number of related works around a single theme (for example, a look at all the strategic American Revolutionary War games in print) are popular with the readership. E.) Guest Opinion Piece – If you’d like to advocate a point in print, let ATO know your ideas for a theme and we will contact you. A column should fit comfortably on one 8.5" x 11" page (say 1,300 words) although longer ones will be considered.

2. Readership Considerations: ATO is looking for manuscripts that are illuminating and retain their interest. Points to consider here are:

A.) Did the reader learn anything new from the piece? ATO is being marketed to people with 20+ years of reading military history under their belt. They're looking for meat - and not hamburger helper. Articles simply recapping the battles of Gettysburg or Waterloo once more simply won't do.

B.) Does it excite the imagination? Hopefully, the readers will come away energized and looking for a new game or book on the battle or campaign.

C.) Does it read well? Carefully crafted prose is always welcome, but at a minimum, good spelling and grammar remain a writer’s basic tools of the trade.

D.) Gear your piece around ATO's style and chosen references (e.g., The Gregg Reference Manual (Eighth Edition), Wordswabbing, Merriam Webster's College Dictionary (10th Edition), and use previously published ATO material as guides or precedents.)

E.) For those of you with other published works, it’s acceptable to work a mention of such into your material.

3. Historical Considerations: ATO is targeted at the gaming core. Points to consider here are:

A.) Is the article useful for game design purposes? Detailed OBs and TO&Es are of interest to the readers. Most ATO readers will be comfortable with wire diagrams and tables of data.

B.) Maps, photographs and illustrations are crucial for understanding the narration. Authors should enclose any material they have.

C.) Readers should learn "how war is made" to paraphrase Napoleon, and not simply encounter dreary rehashes of battle narratives

4. Copyright: In submitting material to ATO, an author recognizes that, on its acceptance for publication, its exclusive copyright shall be assigned to ATO. ATO will not put any limitation on the freedom of the author to use the material contained in the manuscript in subsequent published works of which he/she is author or editor. It is the author’s responsibility to obtain permission to quote material from copyright sources and to cover any charges incurred.


1. The Manuscript: The manuscript should be typed or printed on good quality 8.5" x 11" or A4 paper, single-sided, double spaced and with generous margins at head, foot and left- an right-hand margins. The right-hand margin should not be justified. Do not bother with fancy fonts, but headings should be clear. Always number the pages. Please supply as abstract of up to 100 words.

2. Disks: To speed up the publication process we request authors to submit articles on disk as well as on paper. ATO prefers a Zip or floppy disk (PC or Mac format) using PageMaker 6.5, MS Word or ASCII text files. Manuscripts can also be e-mailed to ATO directly at: editor@atomagazine.com

3. Illustration: All maps, diagram, figures and graphs should be submitted in the form of completed artwork suitable for reproduction, and if possible, on disk. They should be separate from the typescript (with a list of captions on a separate sheet) but their place in the text should be marked. No illustration (including caption) will be given more space than the text area of the magazine page, i.e. 8"x10.5". Figures should ideally be drawn for a reduction of one-third i.e. 3:2. Where possible all figures should be drawn for the same reduction. Authors who feel artistically challenged should instead neatly sketch any maps/illustrations required in sufficient detail to allow ATO’s Art Department to create professionally done material.

4. Tables: Tables should be typed on separate sheets. Indicate on the margin of the text where the tables should be placed.

5. References: References should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the text, and even though they will be set as footnotes they should be supplied separate from the main text. Books are italicized (underlined in manuscript), e.g. John Keegan, The Face of Battle, London 1976. In second and subsequent references to a work, an abbreviated title should be adopted, e.g. Keegan, Battle, p.48. A reference to an article in a periodical should include (after the author’s name and the title of the article and the title of the journal) the volume number (arabic), date in brackets, and the relevant page numbers, e.g. Jim Dunnigan, ‘Lost Battles’ Strategy & Tactics 28 (1972), 6-7.

6. Credits and Acknowledgements: Please include your name and address, the name and address of any co-authors, etc., to be credited, and a bibliography. Indicate how you want your byline to appear.

Still game (pardon the pun)? Then with your manuscript proposal, write to:

ATO Magazine
PO Box 165
Southeastern, PA 19399-0165
Attn: ATO Submissions

Or e-mail us at: editor@atomagazine.com