R. Ben Madison and Wes Erni

R. Ben Madison (1965-) is a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, where he lives with his wife Amy and their two cats, Marshmallow and Bailey. Ben majored in Soviet Studies, and graduated in 1989 – just in time for the Berlin Wall to come down and his degree to be useless. Since nailing down an M.A. in European History, Ben has published in the field of religious history and served as Church Historian of an obscure Mormon sect before veering into Episcopalianism. Ben’s personal interests include flags, foreign paper money, historical atlases, and exotic foreign food. His interest in wargaming dates from November 1982 when he bought SPI’s “World War II: European Theater.” That got him started on small games with a vast scope, a theme he has carried with him into the world of game design. “I don’t like games unless they have at least two national capitals on the map,” he says, noting that his game designs typically feature lots of historical chrome and random events. Ben describes himself as a historian first, and an “average gamer” more interested in research and design than in actually playing games, a combination that has successfully cried out for a competent co-designer and a ruthless developer. Ben has worked for a decade with math- and strategy-genius game design partner Wes Erni to produce a number of titles on a broad variety of topics, including the Charles S. Roberts Award-winning “Death in the Trenches,” a grand strategy game of World War I. The happy result has been such diverse games as “Byzantium Reborn,” “C.S.A.: America’s Civil War,” and the controversial “Liberia: Descent Into Hell.” Since 2011, Ben has been part of the Victory Point Games team, where ruthless developer Alan Emrich’s assistance to the Erni-Madison design team has led to Swing States 2012 (on U.S. presidential politics), Mound Builders (on prehistoric North America) and The First Jihad (the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate in late antiquity).