A Shout Out to Great Play Testers

I wanted to give a quick shout out to Phil Mowatt, Edward Pundyk, and David Moseley. These gentlemen have been been providing some great play test reports and have kept me busy with the what-if’s. Their reports are well though out and detailed. I am humbled by their dedication and determination to make Fields the best game it can be. I can’t thank them enough.

Today I have spent a good part of the day pushing blocks around as we work to close potential loopholes with the “What-if” the Central Powers avoid Belgium altogether. Fields of Despair does not mandate a push through Belgium. Players are free to explore alternate strategies.

Here is the situation from a Vassal game with block values hidden to protect the innocent.

Photo Nov 07, 11 59 39 AM

Edward is the resident rules lawyer and has a talent for making the rules as written work to his advantage. His tactics make the design challenge ever more enjoyable. He is a player not unlike myself. In the example above he is dancing the line between a successful push into France, yet not quite successful enough to force British entry. I love it.

After this brief blog post, I will finish my reply to their report where we will no doubt discuss French counter tactics and tighter rules to avoid “gamey” tactics whenever possible.

Stay tuned.

Development Update

This summer I’ve worked on Fields almost every day for at least a couple hours. The rules have been posted online, edited and re-posted. So far so good on that front. I’ve spent the past week or more working to get the Scenario Book near finalized. Yesterday the strategy tips for all 3 scenarios were finished. This morning I finalized the Grand Campaign set up and scoring criteria.

Fields was originally designed as a 10-turn Grand Campaign. That’s the only way we played. Once the need to make smaller, more digestible scenarios arose, I broke the game into 3 parts: The Mobile War of 1914, the Stalemate of 1915-16, and the re-opening of the floodgates in 1917-18. What we found was that the players enjoyed playing the parts more than the whole. Now you can start in 1914 and continue to 1915-16 if time/desire permitted. You could start in 1915 instead of 1914 and play until the end. Reflecting now, it reminds me of how the scenarios work in the classic EastFront (awesome game).

Making the scenarios flow together better has been a product of recent development. We have shortened the game by 1 turn. The game is now 9-turns instead of 10. Recent work has focused on making the changing objectives work well together. In 1914, game objectives are different than in 1915-16 and change again in 1917-18. The Allies, for example, are driven by Plan XVII in 1914, are just trying take back what ground they can in 1915-16, and must drive the German army from France in 1917-18.

Development going forward will focus on polishing the solitaire scenario, and getting fresh eyes on the completed material. More as it happens…

Solitaire Play

Work has begun on a system for solitaire play using tables and charts to act as the AI. I’m designing it around the 1917-18 scenario with the player controlling the Allies in a effort to push the Hun out of France.

It’s too early to say how well it will work. I’m not much of a solo player myself so I plan to get as much feedback as I can at Strategicon this weekend. Stay tuned.



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